Friday, December 26, 2014

So what are you doing New Year's Eve?

Here's my take on New Year's Eve:  Don't put so much pressure on the actual date you celebrate.  You can have so much more fun if you ignore Dec. 31 itself.

I'm celebrating it on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28!

I really don't want to be in the middle of all the craziness on Dec. 31, and I'm not so enamored of any of the current men in my life (none of them is "the one") to undergo all the pressure that comes with being someone's date for New Year's Eve.  (More on my dating philosophy in my Prepare to Be Loved program, and blog posts in the new year.)

So, I have two super-fun events coming up for the weekend after Christmas.  On Saturday, Dec. 27, I'm meeting some of my best women friends in the world (and they're also my ready-to-party aunt, cousin, and two ex-wives of my brothers -- the mothers of my nieces and nephews).  We'll be going out for margaritas and Mexican food, and out for line dancing after that.  And, probably sleeping it off at my aunt's house.  I love these women, and can't wait!

On Sunday, Dec. 28, it's the December meeting of the women's wine-tasting group I'm a part of, and we'll be meeting at the beautiful home of one of the members, with the theme of Winter Wines . . . (and celebrating my birthday, which was Dec. 24).

I find that it's so much easier to schedule wonderful time with women friends (both married, divorced, and single) when you do it between Christmas and New Year's -- so that's what I do!

These two events will be the highlight of my holiday season.  I find Christmas with the family just a little depressing and stressful, since there's hardly anything on which we see eye to eye.  Yet, they're family, and I do it.

So what should you do on the dread New Year's Eve itself?  If your kids are with you, order pizza, watch some movies and make noise at midnight.

If you're on your own?  Indulge yourself in any way that feels good to you -- especially by doing things that your ex didn't like or didn't approve of.

Of course, you can use this time to take a look at your year in review and decide how to make the new year different.  I show you exactly how to do this here.

But, for many of you, it's a much happier idea just to let it all go, and get to bed before midnight.  By the time you awaken, a beautiful new year will be here!

Before you turn in, you can make a little ritual of kissing the old year goodbye, or maybe exorcizing it from your life with a few rounds of lion's breath -- open your mouth wide, extend your tongue, and forcefully exhale everything that brought you to your knees in the past year.

You can take a cleansing bath or shower during which you symbolically wash away every disappointment, regret, and fear, and call in everything you want to be part of your life in 2015.  Use a wonderful scent that makes you feel protected, calm, and strong.  Whatever scent you like is a good one for you!

2015.  It's your year to make of it whatever you will.  Make a resolve that no one else will hijack your beautiful life for their own purposes.  I want to propose a new definition of selfishness.  It means that you are full of yourself, full of the person who you were always meant to be.  An example of beauty, strength, and happiness, who draws like-minded people to you.

I'm wishing you the very happiest new year ever!

Friday, December 19, 2014

The problem with gratitude.

Feeling more attitude than gratitude?

As you read all sorts of advice to feel grateful for what you do have rather than angry and grief-stricken about your divorce, you may be feeling frustrated.

You sit there with your journal, listing ten things a day for which you are grateful, but in the pit of your stomach, this doesn't make you feel any better.  It just makes you feel exhausted.

If one more person tells you that, no matter how bad things may seem in your life, that you're still better off than 99% of the world's population, you secretly want to smack her.

What you don't dare tell anyone is that this is how you really feel:  "It's so unfair.  Can't anyone focus on me for a while?  I'm soooo tired of being strong and handling all this on my own.

"Isn't there anyone here for me, someone who really cares about what I'm going through?  Isn't there anyone who is concerned about me and wants to comfort me?  Even just a little?"

It can feel so shameful to be thinking these kinds of thoughts.  But sometimes, you can't help it, when you're running way past empty trying to care for everyone else.  In fact, you've been doing it for so long that no one even thinks about what you might need anymore.  Maybe no one ever really thought about what you needed even before your marriage blew up.

So, here's what I suggest.

1.  Stop trying to be grateful.  Just stop.  Instead of writing that gratitude list, start writing a "putting myself first" list.  Replace the gratitude list with at least 3 or 5 things each day that you can do for yourself to make your day a little easier and happier.  (Hint:  A great list-starter is to think of things that you wish your ex had done for you, and start to give those acts of kindness to yourself.)

2.  Let it all out.  You need to get those feelings out of the tissues of your body, where they hide out and make you feel awful in a physical, tangible way.  Have a moment alone at home?  Bury your face in a pillow and cry your eyes out.  Get it all out.  Or drive your car someplace private and scream your heart out. Swear at your ex to your heart's content.  Or just collapse into a fetal position and cry like a baby.  You can't just bury these emotions under a facade of everything being okay.  (Trust me, I tried.)  And these really strong, scary emotions might not be ones that you want to reveal to your friends or your children.  You might decide to schedule a weekly date alone in your car to purge all those horrible feelings that make you sick to your stomach.  You'll know when you're done with this step.  While you're working on this step, find a confidante (see step 3).

3.  Find someone who will listen to you, and not judge you.  I don't mean that this person listens to you vent in a highly emotional manner for hours on end (that's what your car or pillow is for).  But, you do want someone who will listen and empathize.  A person who has also been through a bad breakup or divorce is an excellent choice.  You don't want them to join you in vilifying your spouse.  You don't want them to fan the flames of your hurt and anger.  You just want them to listen and actually care.  Give you a hug and hold your hand.  Baby you a little bit.  You can set a time limit so that you don't wear down your friend or family member.  Because you may need to confide in this person again and again.  It's not just a one-time thing.  And, yes, you can do it on the phone, but it's very nurturing to be sitting on the couch with someone who cares and can hold your hand.

4.  Decide when you will speak of it no more.  Do allow yourself to get it all out.  But once you hear yourself repeating for the 15th time the same sad story, you know that you're ready to speak of it no more.  Continuing to speak of it keeps it alive and keeps you hurting.  You'll know when the time is right to promise yourself that you will not tell the sad, sad story again.  When you need to refer to your divorce, you can summarize it in a few calm, descriptive sentences -- but no longer allow yourself to go back into all the raw emotions.  By doing so, you keep those emotions alive.

5.  Increase your self-love and self-care even more.  You've been writing a daily self-love list (step 1).  Now's the time to draw from the list and start showing yourself how important you are -- to yourself.  It's the first step in becoming truly important and valuable in the eyes of someone else.

Want more about this?  You can contact me at

Friday, December 12, 2014

8 Secrets to Wake Up Feeling Great

What are the toughest times of day for you as you begin life post-divorce?

Most of my clients say that the worst times in each day are often bedtime and first thing in the morning.

Because morning is so crucial to having a successful and happy day, I wanted to share some of my strategies for getting out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face.

These are some of the real-life habits I developed back when I felt my life was over, and I was engulfed in grief and remorse 24/7.  For me, mornings were actually worse than evenings because I found that I had the greatest number of negative thoughts as I lay in bed in those first waking moments before arising.

Maybe you feel the same.

Want to feel happy and hopeful every morning rather than full of dread?  You can, and all it takes is about 30 minutes of preparation, one time only.

So, here are the questions you're going to ask yourself to prepare for creating a happy morning.  Can you list at least 3 responses to each of the questions below?  Five responses or more are even better!

The questions:
1.  What do you like best about mornings (even if you're not a morning person)?

2.  What activity do you super love love love that you're hardly ever able to fit into your day (maybe you just wish you could read a fascinating book for a few minutes)?

3.  What completely new at-home activity have you been meaning to try for years, but never got around to it (a craft, a recipe, a beauty treatment, bonsai, explore your feminine sexuality . . . )?

4.  What totally silly physical activity are you way too depressed to even think about doing right now, but some part of you smiles to think of how crazy it would be to jump out of bed in the morning and do it?  (Think jumping around with earphones while listening to your favorite high school party song -- on one hand, no way, you feel way too awful to do that, but you've been feeling awful for so long that you're ready to try any fool thing in order to feel better.)

Okay.  Have you answered the four questions above?  You now have a little list of items for each of the four questions.  Now, you are ready to create a magical start to your day that will powerfully shift those dreadful morning mental and emotional states.

Just one more pre-planning step:  Circle all of the possible activities that take 15 minutes or fewer to perform.  Or, see how you could break some of those activities into baby steps, and fit something fun into about 15 minutes.

1.  For your first try at this, decide to set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you usually do.  (Get to bed a little bit early if necessary.  It's really worth a try!)

2.  Set your alarm to a favorite, uplifting song, and not a buzz-tone from your alarm clock or phone.  Make the song something that has a lot of girl-power to it.  (And definitely nothing that reminds you, in any way, of your ex-husband, or any ex for that matter!)  Are you thinking, "I have *no* idea what kind of music I'd like to wake up to"?  Check out this girl power playlist from Pop Sugar (that has many of my own favorites).

3.  On your nightstand, or next to your pillow, scribble a little note of your wake-up activity for the following day.  (You pick two responses from the four questions above.  For example, if you love to see the sunrise, then check out tomorrow's sunrise time, rise five minutes before sunrise, go outside, and see it.  Or, if the sunrise is not visible from your house, pull up one of my favorite sunrise videos on your phone.)

4.  Just choose two things from any of the four questions above and have them ready to go.  If you're going to dance it out for three minutes, have your song cued up.  If you're going to read a few pages of a book you've been dying to dive into, have the book in bed with you.  If you're going to try that relaxing facial mask, throw the ingredients together the night before.  Here are some great recipes.  Make it a gift to yourself to have whatever it is prepared the night before.  You'll feel as if someone is really taking care of you.  And, it's true.  That person is you!  Being able to lavish attention on yourself is one of my 4 Signature Steps to Divorce Recovery, so keep it simple, but know that preparing your tomorrow is a key way to love yourself up!

And, it's morning:
5.  Alarm goes off (with cool, inspiring song).  Do the first activity on your note-to-self next to your bed.  Do it, even though for the first 30 to 60 seconds you are groaning, your eyes are rolling, and you do. not. feel. like. it.

6.  Check in with yourself.  How do you feel?  If you feel great, then ignore activity #2 and move ahead with your day.  Yay!  If you're still feeling like a very sad grumpasaurus, move on to activity #2.  Yes, I know, you still may not feel like doing it at all.  But it's just 15 minutes more (or maybe fewer).  By the time you finish that one, there's a 99% chance that you are set up for a happier day.  Don't you want to find out if that promise is true?  Then try activity #2 on your note-to-self.

7.  If you do this for a week, swapping out various activities from your list, you'll find out which ones really make you feel wonderful.  Keep those on your "magic mornings" list, but also add new stuff you'd like to try to your list.  And, please let me know how it goes!


.8.  Bonus goofiness.  I dare you to try this one:  Before you get out of bed, pretend you're a beautiful, powerful, in-demand diva (because, you are, but you might not know it yet).  Say aloud five times, "I am a goddess, and I now create my day!"  If this sounds totally preposterous, at least you'll laugh before your feet hit the floor.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What would you change? It's all written on your face.

What would you like to change about your past life when you look back 10 years?  What about looking back 20 years ago in your life?

And, more importantly, if you could see into the future, what would you be so shocked to see that you would make changes immediately to avoid that outcome?

Since it's December, it's natural to think about Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol, in which the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge has the opportunity to revisit his past, gain insight into his present, and glimpse an unsavory end.

But, what if the average woman could see into the future?

My thoughts about this began as I read a wonderful article by Susan Minot about photographer Nicholas Nixon's 40-year (and counting) project of taking an annual photograph of his wife and her three sisters.  You can read the article and see all of the portraits here.

I couldn't help but wonder about the life stories of these four women as I saw their expressions and body language change from year to year.  I wondered whether, if they could have seen the 2014 portrait way bacn in 1975, they would have done anything differently.  Would they have been shocked?  Would they have been proud of the strength that shows in their faces, or would they think, "My god, I must have lived a hard life!"  Or perhaps they might feel a little bit of both emotions, and many more emotions in between.

Watching this video started me thinking:

What if you could have a time-lapse, four-minute encapsulation of your life -- see yourself 40 years from now?  In your face, you would be able to read so many things:  the struggle, the disappointment, the roads not taken.  Or, perhaps joy, the process of aging in contentment, with a satisfied heart and peaceful mind.

The thing is:  We can do this without the time travel!  Imagine:  If life continues as is, what face will greet you in the mirror in 40 years?  We can live each day for a better outcome now.  (And enjoy each day along the way, in the process.)  A sort of Picture of Dorian Gray in reverse.  Every day, we can become stronger and more beautiful.  It is a choice -- but it takes mindfulness, and sometimes it takes minute-by-minute shifts from habitual patterns of thinking.

Passionate desires and a picture of your life as you want it to be really help and make the practice of mindfulness fun.
I am choosing as my mantra for 2015 this quote:  I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change.  I am changing the things I cannot accept.
Divorce is the wake-up call to give each of us valuable clues about what we've been missing in the past, and how we'd like to change it.  And, this is just the time of year to consider how to make this happen, using fun and self-nourishing ideas to give birth to your life as you want it to be.