Like The Condor, You Can Take That “Leap Of Faith”

Let me tell you a story, about the mighty condor.

There are only 72 left in the United States.  Once a baby is born, it needs to grow.  Hopefully it will last with the nurturing of its mother without being infected by lead in the meat she scavenges to feed it.  Once that baby has lasted 6 months or so, it slowly, by itself, starts to jump out to the rocks close to its home.

It looks up and down, and all around.  It learns how to flap its wings and contemplates its flight.  In order to survive, it must take that “leap of faith”, knowing that if it doesn’t do it right, it will not survive the fall.  But if it does, it could possibly live a long life, creating a family of its own.

So what does this have to do with you?

After a breakup or divorce, it’s a process getting back into the dating and relationship world.

Yes, some people try to rush it, filling a void with whatever or whoever comes their way.  Sometimes, we are even afraid to take that leap again.  However, what I know is this:  It’s a process, and you are not alone.

No one likes to make a mistake.  No one wants to feel as if they have no hope embarking on a new journey with a new partner.  And some jump earlier than they should.  We’ve all done that before.

So here are some helpful steps that will make that leap a little easier and more advantageous;

  1. Take time to go within.

After the end of a relationship, we feel a plethora of emotions, whether it be anger, sadness, or sometimes, relief.  Allow yourself to feel them, but only for a limited time, because you have some internal work to do.  Be your best friend.  This is the time to get to know yourself and what you truly want.  Some of us even accomplish our greatest achievements during this time.  And by far, try to see how the lost relationship allows you the chance to connect with yourself again, making you evolve.

  1. Define what you want, and own it!

If you want to date around, that’s great.  If you want to find a relationship, that’s great.  Know what characteristics you desire in another.  Know your expectations and deal breakers.  Know that you are perfectly fine with not settling for what you don’t want or deserve.  When you own it and stick to it, you can weed out those unfitted, or keep in those that are best suited to enter your life.

  1. Know that you’re not alone.

Enjoy family and friends.  These are the people who will support you at all cost.  Their love is eternal.  One mistake we do make is lessening our time with them once we are romantically involved.  Your family and friends are your roots.  They are your center.  You can’t fly without it!

  1. Take that “leap of faith”

Like the condor, you know when you are physically, emotionally and mentally prepared.  Listen to your authentic self.  The self that is confident in who you are, the self that knows its boundaries, and the same self that has evolved.It doesn’t have to be scary nor doubtful.  So when you are ready, when you’ve connected with yourself, you’ll be able to soar!

10 Signs He Wants to Be Your Boyfriend

Guys tend to have a bad reputation for caring about one thing, and one thing only. But even the biggest player in town soon changes his ways when he meets the right woman; all his personal rules go out the window, and he just can’t stop himself from throwing caution to the wind and giving away some serious “I’m into you” signals.

Are you wondering whether he’s thinking of you as “the one”, or just “the one for right now”?

Here are 10 classic give away signs that he’s hooked;

  1. He compliments your personality traits, not just your looks.

When a guy is only after a hookup, he might try to butter you up by giving some generic compliment that he thinks is flattering, but is dead obvious to you that it’s already been used on 50 other women (today). Instead of just saying something like “hey beautiful,” it’s a totally giveaway when he specifically compliments you on a personality trait like your kindness toward the restaurant server or your ability to quote SpongeBob (someone’s paying attention!)

  1. He’s never “too busy”

A lot of people today lead busy lives. With things like work, school, hobbies, friends and family eating up every second of every waking hour, it can be hard for a guy to fit a gal into his schedule. That being said, he will always find time for a woman he really likes and he won’t make excuses about being “too busy.” Which leads to…

  1. He’s reliable

Instead of the classic, “I’ll let you know”, response to your invite text, he is always reliable and punctual about getting back to you, and trying to fit you into his schedule.

No matter how busy he may be, he won’t take 12 hours to respond to your text or cancel on plans with you unless he has a very good reason for it, like a severe car accident.

  1. He wants to hang out in public places that require clothes

For this guy, “Netflix and Chill” is a thing of the past. If a guy genuinely likes you as a person he will want to spend time with you outside of his bedroom so he can show you off in any sort of public setting where nudity is unacceptable. Bonus points if said public setting occurs during daylight hours and doesn’t involve alcohol. Extra bonus points if the only kind of Netflixing you’re doing together is fully clothed Gilmore Girl marathons. That’s commitment.

  1. He communicates just to say hi

You know he’s thinking of you as something more if he frequently goes out of his way to send you goofy Snapchat selfies or even just a quick good morning text. Guys don’t go out of their way for things that aren’t important to them.

  1. He asks you questions about yourself

He’s curious about your career goals, your family and what makes you tick, and he really listens to what you have to say. He wants to know about you as a whole to see where he fits in, not just your bra size and how soon he’s going to “fit in” to your bed.

  1. He takes things slow, or sticks around if things move fast

He doesn’t pressure you into sex on the first date and then call you a prude if you say no. He waits until you’re ready because making sure you’re comfortable is more important to him than satisfying any sort of sexual needs. On the flip side, he doesn’t lose interest in you or call you a slut if you have sex with him early on. Instead, he admires your enthusiasm around him, and knows it comes from a deeper connection.

  1. He talks about the future with you

If he invites you to his parents 30th wedding anniversary in 6 months’ time, he’s really hoping you’ll still be interested in him by then. Anything planned in advice is a sure sign he is looking to get long-term serious.

  1. He remembers little details about you

You know he’s paying attention when he remembers minor details like your favorite song and then texts you some lyrics from it just because he knows it’ll make you smile.

  1. He straight-up says so

Guys are really pretty simple, for the most part. If they want something, they ask for it, so you can take anything he says directly to be honest truth… as long as it’s not part of a 2 am booty call text.

If even a few of these apply to the guy you’re interested in, you can rest assured that he probably won’t be disappearing any time soon!

5 Ways to Deal with Divorce

For those of you going through a divorce right now, I know exactly how you’re feeling. Because not all that long ago, I was you. I was exactly where you are, I know exactly what you’re thinking, I know exactly what you’re feeling.

You’re worried. Terrified almost. Your older kids already know, and the younger ones are still trying to figure it out. They’re confused. And that’s to be expected. You have no clue where you’ll end up; physically, emotionally, financially…and you’re terrified.

You’ve all but filed the papers, or you’ve already filed the papers, and begun the process of selling what you had…that is, if the bank hasn’t already taken it. Or one of you has left the home that you once shared. Whatever furniture you had, you’ve split down the middle (naturally, with some disagreements as to who gets what), and you’ve finished “Craigslisting” whatever was left.

Now you’re in a new and unfamiliar place, and you’re broke.

If you’re a woman/mother, you’re living “hand to mouth” with the kids. You’ve been a stay-at-home mom, raising the kids and taking care of the house 24/7. You have no job or income or savings for that matter, to “tide you over”, and you’re shitting bullets with worry. The Christmas Season is fast upon us, and you don’t even know how the fuck you’re going to buy milk and bread, never mind gifts and Christmas dinner.

If you’re a working (outside the house) mom, you’re sweating over how in the hell you’re going to make this shit work on ONE income. You’re sick over the fact that you and your children just might go hungry, and your ‘soon to be ex’ is no help; you’re fighting over child support (he’s holding out), and he’d just as soon let you live you under a bridge somewhere.

But you can’t let that happen. This is where you turn it around.

I know you’re scared. I know that this shit isn’t “fair”. But ‘they’ say that “life’s not fair”. “They” suck.

Sometimes it’s completely unexpected, and for others, it’s a miracle that it took as long as it did to get to this point. But regardless of how it went down, it’s nothing that you can’t handle. You can DO this.

These are the 5 things that helped me through…gave me some semblance of strength and sanity;

1. Make PEACE with “worst case scenario”.

If ‘worst case’ for you is moving into your mother’s place with your kids, make peace with it. Once you do that, it’ll feel like you’ve taken a huge breath of pure, cleansing air. Odds are, that you won’t ever get to ‘worst case’, but if you’re okay with it regardless, you’re bulletproof.

2. Let go of the “stuff”.

The courts aren’t there to take sides….period. They’re kind of like that crowd of people who will stand around watching a fight, but no one will step in to break it up. So many women think “well…we had ‘x’ number of dollars in the bank, so half of it is mine….” Which is great, but unless that money is already in your hands, it’ll be a cold day in hell before you see a dime. You’ll spend eternity in court trying to get back what’s “legally yours”, and my BEST piece of advice here, is “Let it go”. It’ll take you a LOT LESS time to figure out a way to make the money that you’re bound to lose fighting for it in the process; whether you lose it to a lawyer, or to a spouse who ‘insists’ on getting/taking more. Make peace with the fact that it’s gone, take a deep breath, and let it go. I can’t say that enough.

3. Get over the ‘spite’.

Sometimes, in the divorce/breakup process, we do stupid shit purely out of spite. It feels great for all of a split second, but in the short run, it’s unhealthy, and all it does is take precious mental and emotional and financial energy away from where they should be going. Put that energy into managing the stress of the situation.

4. Put your ‘expectations’ aside.

Again…when/if you end up in court, most expect that a judge will simply see that they’re “right” (whether or not that’s the case), make a judgement in their favour, and the whole thing will be wrapped up inside of a couple of hours. It NEVER works that way. Not ever. You can be certain of 3 things in this process, right or wrong; it’s gonna take FOREVER, it’s a crap shoot, and you NEED to go in with no expectations…period.

5. Ask for what you need.

I know that this sounds really ‘hippy dippy’, but I believe in the power of the universe like I know my own name. In my experience, I remember sitting on my bed one night, and completely distraught, I said, “I NEED a lawyer. But I need one who won’t charge me up front for this because I do NOT have the money. Please GIVE me a lawyer who won’t charge me. I also need it to be a tough lawyer, not some pushover…”.  And with that I went to sleep.

The following day I called my brother, and asked him if he knew a lawyer who fit my description (tough…free…). He told me that he didn’t personally know a lawyer, but that a friend of his used to work for a lawyer who was, in his own words (and I swear this is true), “a pit bull”. Long story short, I got in touch with her, she became my lawyer, and without my mentioning the money ‘thing’, she didn’t charge me a dime. (I’m sorry I can’t give you her name, as she doesn’t generally work for free.)

The key to getting what you need, isn’t asking, and then sitting on your ass waiting for it to fall into your lap. The key to getting what you need, is asking, and then moving in the direction that you’d be moving in if you were going to make this thing happen for yourself. Reach out to anyone you think could help, or might know someone who could help. Once you start asking for what you need, with specificity, everything simply falls into your path. I’m not saying that it won’t be difficult. I AM saying that you’ll be much better at managing this thing.

You. Can. DO. This.

Peace xo

How to Avoid Making Your Lawyer Rich or Damaging Your Children

There is no such thing as too much love.

My mom used to say there is “enough love to go around” for her four children and, of course, the children of her ex-husband’s new wife, who often stayed with us while they travelled, and any other child who happened to be around needing a reassuring hug or a boost of self-confidence. That is the lesson I learned as a child of divorce. In over 20 years of practising primarily divorce litigation, one thing I can state for certain is that there has never been a case where a child has suffered from “too much love.”

The everyday family law issues often include posturing as to who is the better parent, who is entitled to time sharing, when, where and for how long, unfortunately with the curiously absent analysis of the best interests of the minor child. Distress over the “he or she never did that when we were married” regarding bathing, feeding or general everyday care-taking, are all too often looked at with cynical judgement, rather than an acknowledgement that sometimes people rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done. In any event, the “new” interest and involvement, whether perceived or real, most certainly can only result in a happier, healthier child. In a world where the Department of Revenue brings suit over non-support by parents and extraordinary efforts are made by some to avoid the financial

and emotional responsibilities of parenthood, why is there so much fighting between the two people when they both just want to be involved and loving parents? While the answers are never simple, they may be simpler than the lawyers and your well-meaning family and friends would lead you to believe, if people are honest with themselves in response to the following questions:

1. Do I view the children as mine? Often I hear a party to litigation in a family law matter refer to a child as “my son,” “my daughter,” “my child.” It is with this erroneous premise that the games begin. This child is a product of two people. Whether you gave birth to the child, or were the only one to ever feed, bathe, clothe, take him or her to a soccer game or care for the child when sick, does not make them “yours.” Start to say, until you begin to believe it, “our” child. Children are not possessions to be parcelled out by the Court. In many jurisdictions, those without the ability to foster loving relationships between the child and the other parent, have failed to meet a duty mandated by law. It begins with a lesson we learned in kindergarten, you must share the things you love.

2. Do I harbour anger, hurt or resentment at the other parent for the failure of the marriage/relationship? How many decisions, actions/reactions are made from a place of pain or the desire to inflict pain? Are you really acting in the benefit of your child? Are you saying “no” to a request because you want to show control? If you are angry, this is a normal emotion, but it is never the catalyst for good decisions or good health. Get a good therapist, because healthy children come from emotionally healthy parents.

3. Can I articulate at least one positive thing about the other parent? Remember you picked him/her. Presumably, for most people, once upon a time you looked into this person’s eyes and said, “I love you” for some reason, whether he or she was handsome or beautiful, funny or a good provider. Look at this child you love so deeply and recognize you would not have this child without the benefit of the other party. List all the wonderful, quirky and fun things about your child, and give the other parent credit for at least a few.

4. Do I believe I can replace the love of the other parent for the children? Simply put, you can’t. You can be the parent better at organizing school work or coaching football, just like in an intact marriage, but you cannot “replace” the other parent for the child. It is our lack of time, perspective and sometimes ego that leads to disastrous results and very rich lawyers. Each and every individual who enters the life of your child adds something to their world.

5. Do I feel threatened by the thought of someone else loving my child? Imagine your child without love. No kiss or hug goodnight. No hug when they have a bad day. Does that feel right? Think seriously about the alternative to allowing your child to be loved. (See 4 above, you will not be replaced).

6. Do I feel a need to win? Am I trying to show that I am right, that I am the better parent or even that I am a good parent? It is better to believe we are the best parent we can be and really believe it without needing to be better than anyone else. There are no winners in this particular senseless fight, and the losers will be your children.

7. Have I made an honest assessment of what is in my child’s best interest rather than what is in my own? Often children are used as the last apparent bastion of control over the other parent. Ask yourself if this person is so horrible why did I marry him or her, have children with him or her, leave him or her alone with the children when you were together. Make sure you are really not using your child for your agenda.

8. Do I hold the other parent to unreasonable expectations? If you are expecting anyone to be a “perfect” parent, you will be disappointed, whether that expectation is of yourself or your ex-spouse. Recognize people’s limitations. People are a product of all of their life experiences. That means no two people think exactly alike. The other party will not parent just like you. Balance is a good thing. Glass half-full, here people because perception is reality). Choose battles very carefully. Focus on the positive. It may not be easy in the face of hurt, but it will go a long way to a happier childhood.

9. Am I willing to feel pain, hurt and loneliness to spare my child from the same? People like to tell me they would do “anything” for their child. (Well, as long as “anything” doesn’t mean giving up “my” night so my ex can take “my” child to a football game.) This is the big one because no one has children expecting to have them half the time, not tuck them in every night or allow someone else in as another parent. It hurts, physically hurts, to be separated from your child. It is not fair, not what you signed up for, and an understandable lament. However, in most situations, the only truly faultless party is the child. Our job is to spare the child from any more unnecessary pain; so lay down people, your train is coming

Your child is only yours for an instant. You will blink and they will be grown and gone and hopefully out into the world as well-adjusted adults. Every minute is precious. Let go of anger. You and your former beloved are on the same team, your child’s. Spend your money on a therapist or coffee with a friend, not on your lawyer! (And yes, I recognize a new attitude could put me out of business. For the sake of the children, let’s hope so.)

10 Ways to Get the Hell Out of My Office As Fast As You Can

In a perfect world you would have read the article 10 Ways to Stay the Hell Out of My Office, and you would not need me (oh, and I would win the lottery, travel the world and run my charitable foundation, but I digress). Alas, this is a wonderful, but less than perfect world and divorce lawyers are a necessary evil. Some marriages cannot and should not be saved. Some were never right to begin with, some are broken beyond repair, and some marriages have only one person holding its shattered pieces together with duct tape and chewing gum.

The ending of your marriage is a beginning of a life full of love, but you have to get to the end first. Hopefully you will do it with the least amount of collateral damage possible. If not, you risk trading your child’s hard-earned college funds or your retirement accounts for outrageous legal bills. I can tell you for certain, if I had to hire myself, I would be in big financial trouble. Long ago, when going through my own divorce even paying for incoming and outgoing faxes at $1.00 per page set me back $90, and I thought I was going to be sick, with a small child to care for it might as well been $900. An hourly rate of $400 translates to over $6.50 a minute and those hours and minutes add up quickly. Even the simplest divorces can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars better spent just about anywhere else. A nice sabbatical in Paris will do more for your soul than getting the china, I assure you. Pay for your child’s education or pay for your attorney’s child. Many times the choice is yours.

So if you can’t stay the hell out of my office, here are a few ways to get out as quickly, economically, and as painlessly as possible for the sake of your wallet and your sanity.

1. Hire a good therapist.

If you want me to be your lawyer this is not a suggestion, it is a requirement. You will be faced with difficult issues throughout your divorce and long after. These decisions will have lasting financial and emotional consequences for you and your children. The dynamic of the marriage is likely the dynamic in the divorce. There is often one party with more power, one party who is more prepared to move on, and numerous issues of communication and trust (or you might not be here to begin with). All of these issues play an important part in how effectively and quickly this process works. Your motivations and expectations need to be examined by someone who is not your best friend or your Mom. Most of us generally operate under the premise that we don’t have the luxury of a nervous breakdown. We are too busy with kids, parenting, work and just trying to remain effective or at least moderately functioning. Never underestimate the power of losing your crap once in a while. Therapist offices are perfect for that with comfortable furniture and plenty of tissues. Healthy people make good decisions because they have worked to understand how they got to this place. Getting help to get past the pain will allow you to make decisions for the right reasons. You will also benefit from being less likely to need a lawyer the next time around.

2. Have realistic expectations your divorce and of the process.

It is hard for people to understand this will take some time. The timeline and deadlines are prescribed by law and our Courts are packed. This will not happen overnight. Disclosure takes time. No matter if you have Clarence Darrow as your lawyer, anyone who tells you that you will “win this thing” is short sighted at best. You will not get everything you want in this process. Divorce starts with simple math, and divide by two. No matter how much (or little) you have to begin with, you will have less. With this divorce will come two mortgages, two cable bills, and so on.

There are no guarantees in Court. I have “won” cases I thought I would surely lose and had terrible outcomes in cases I thought were as clear as can be. The idea that you will just leave this process to the judge who will determine what is “fair” is a dangerous game. I assure you, the Court’s idea of fair is significantly different from yours. But fair is the place you get funnel cake not anything you will see in divorce. This is true no matter who your lawyer is or how much money you spend. There is a big difference between what is right and fair from a moral standpoint and the law. Often the Court, although well intentioned, has its hands tied by a little thing called the law. The law always wins out over everything else.

Reasonable expectations and positions lead to less fighting and therefore less fees. The sooner you understand that this situation is rarely “fair”, the faster and cheaper you will get the hell out of my office. Fights over principal are expensive and really never change anything in the end. I would rather hold onto a few more dollars than prove that I’m right on just about any issue.

3. Treat Your Divorce as if it is a job.

Be aware of your deadlines. I know it’s easy to try and ignore the situation, but this will not make it go away. Get those documents to us before they are due. Extensions cost time and money. Don’t dump documents on us in a disorganized fashion as it will take us additional time and money to put them together. Return our calls promptly and keep us informed of changes in finances or other situations. The more you do, the less I have to do. Even paralegal time can be $100 per hour or more. Think of how hard you work to make $50,000 a year at your job. You work 40 hours a week or more for 50 weeks out of the year. The work you do and the focus you give to this divorce can make you thousands of dollars better off in your result. No one knows your life better than you do, including relevant details about your spouse, or about that account in the islands. It may be easier to “just let the attorneys handle it,” but the more you stay involved, the less you will spend.

4. Choose your battles and how you fight them.

There is no reason to pay an attorney to fight over your personal property, but people do it every day. I am sure your stuff is fabulous. Your couch is one of a kind and no other couch will do. You are Goldilocks and this particular couch is “just right”. For $400 an hour for each side and add another $400 an hour for your mediator, you can buy some really nice new stuff. The cost benefit analysis is crucial. Sometimes the motivation for decisions has nothing to do with the issue in front of you. It is really never about the couch. (See number 1- Hire a good therapist).

Letting the other side know you care too much about the outcome of any one issue can be counter productive to getting what you want. Act ambivalent, or better yet, actually be open to compromise as much as you can. You will often find it easier to end up with the house or more importantly Christmas morning with the kids. Most of the things you are fighting for are just things. The rest tend to work out in time after the heat of the emotions dies down. Timesharing cases often settle into one of two scenarios. The person fighting so hard but never stepping up before does not take the time sharing arrangement they fight so hard for, or they really step up to the plate and your kids are better off for it.

You will not get everything you want, and you will have to give up things that are important to you. That really great one of a kind couch, your house and even a few friends may be casualties of this divorce. There is no good outcome when you have to spend even one night away from your young child or when you have to sell a home you have lovingly created over many years. We say in this business a good result is one where both parties are unhappy. You get less than you believe you are entitled to and the other party gives up more than they wanted.

5. Listen to your Attorney.

I was not my own divorce attorney. I hired someone who could be objective when I could not be. You are paying your lawyer a ton of money and presumably, they are seasoned in what they do. Listen to them. You will save yourself a considerable amount of money and aggravation in the end. They have been down this road a time or two. When they tell you not to do something, don’t do it. Sometimes you may not understand the big picture the way your lawyer does or the serious implications of acting a certain way or taking a certain position. If you don’t want to take your attorney’s advice and are hell-bent on doing it your own way, save your money and do it yourself.

6. Remember this is not your friend’s Divorce.

Here in Florida, I call it the PGA pool syndrome. Everyone talks to their friends about how much alimony and/or child support they are receiving and thinks their result should be exactly the same. No two results are ever the same as there are no two identical sets of facts. Your friend may be receiving permanent alimony but they were married 25 years and you were married 10. They may be receiving $15,000 per month but their spouse earns twice as much as yours. There are numerous factors in play and comparisons to anyone else are likely to set unreasonable expectations from the outset. Your divorce will be based on your factors, not anyone else’s. Comparison to anyone else is just a poor idea in your divorce and generally in life. Don’t ask why you can’t get more, ask if you will have enough.

7. Let your attorney hire the experts needed.

There are many times when outside experts are needed to properly evaluate and present your case. Forensic accountants are often crucial to the proper and efficient presentation of the evidence. While the initial expense may be intimidating, hiring an expert can often save money in the end. Remember you get what you pay for. Things will move more quickly if you hire someone who has the proper expertise. Let your lawyer present the best case possible.

8. Tell the truth.

Beware of anyone who encourages you to do otherwise. Credibility is everything, in Court and in life. It does not matter what you fail to tell the truth about, big or small. My job and the job of opposing counsel is to catch you in your lie (and most of the time, we do). A lie then colors all you say to the other side making settlement more difficult or worse in Court where to the trier of fact will give a little weight to your testimony. Be transparent. Provide the documents the other side is requesting because if you don’t, you will spend a ton of money and more than likely have to turn the documents over in the end. If you don’t tell your lawyer the truth, they can’t help you. Tell the truth because it is the right thing to do. Tell the truth because you are required under the law and because if you don’t, you will likely have to find a new lawyer.

9. Be cooperative with each other.

Get informed about your finances and collect all the documents you can together with your spouse to avoid duplicative efforts. Help each other when you can. Watch the children so your soon to be ex-spouse can work. Be on time. Talk to each other about schedules, activities and finances. Send the kids with clean laundry, share clothes and toys. The more you cooperate with each other, the less the lawyers need to be involved in the micromanagement of your life.

10. Get perspective.

Divorce sucks, I get it, I have been there. However, in the scheme of life there are worse things, much worse. Health issues, a sick child or the loss of a loved one are things you really need to worry about. This divorce stuff will pass, it really will. This divorce will bring you a new life, which is hard to see when it feels like you have been punched in the stomach. You need to get some perspective. When my daughter was a baby, there had been an accident and she was significantly delayed with her speech. When she qualified for special services, I was devastated, literally sick and felt like my life was so horrible. Why did this happen to me? As I was walking out of the facility, feeling quite sorry for myself (when it was my daughter that was struggling), I noticed there was a row of neatly lined up tiny wheelchairs. I was quickly brought back to reality that my issues paled in comparison to the struggles of so many others. It could have been worse. Instead of feeling sorry for myself that my daughter had issues, I was reminded to be grateful there were services to help her. I am quite sure that was a turning point for me. Perspective is something I try to remember whenever things feel overwhelming. Keeping your divorce in perspective makes it easier. Perspective is powerful; it gives us the ability to control our outcomes even when we feel out of control. Opportunities to get a little perspective are all around you, you just have to look outside your own issues. Spend a little time helping others when you are hurting, it just feels good. Perspective helps you heal, and the faster you heal, the faster the process and the sooner you get the hell out of my office.

The divorce process will be hard and often painful but you will get to the other side and be happy again. This I can promise. You will love and be loved again. You will laugh a million times. It will be a part of your story, but not the most important story of your life. You can handle anything this life hands you. You have done it every day of your life so far. So, as much as I enjoy helping people through this difficult time, I would rather get you out of here as quickly as possible, maybe you will send me your best friend, unless, of course, she makes the Choice to Stay.

The Power of Self Esteem

It’s a quiet Friday morning at my house. I’ve got my coffee, I’m wrapped up in a blanket, I’m comfortable and I thought I’d take this time to finally put to keyboard, something that’s been on my mind all week; the power of something called ‘self esteem’.
Self-esteem is defined by the dictionary as; “belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance…” It’s something that doesn’t come as naturally to some as it does to others.

I’ve been thinking for a very long time, about how our sense of self-esteem, or lack thereof contributes to everything we do, say, think and feel. How we act and react to others is all about self-esteem. How we think about ourselves is, in the short run, much more important than what others think of us. Think about it; if you have a healthy sense of self esteem, what’s to keep you from doing anything you damn well please? You DO it, or at the very least you attempt it because your sense of self or your level of confidence tells you whether or not you are worthy of trying such a thing (whatever that thing might be), whether others think you’re capable or not. What others think of you, isn’t any of your business, and you shouldn’t care enough to make it your business.

We don’t think about this thing called “self esteem” until someone tries to take it away, lessen it, chip away at it, or otherwise diminish it in some way. Some of us have had experiences with others whose self esteem might not be as intense as our own, and as backward as it sounds, many with a lower sense of self, have a tendency to criticize those who they consider to be “high on themselves”. Those who question their own confidence will belittle or make fun of, or sometimes in a relationship, in addition will ignore or neglect the person with a sense of self that is otherwise ‘healthy’.

Your sense of self touches everything you even think about from the moment you wake up in the morning to the second you fall asleep at night. There is absolutely nothing in your life that this characteristic does not affect. Whether or not you start that business that you’ve wanted to start for the last 3 years, or end the relationship that you’ve been miserable in for the last ten, is largely dependent on whether or not you think you can ‘survive’ on your own. Self-esteem is that ‘thing’ that either moves you forward, or keeps you stuck right where you are.

That book that you’ve wanted to write won’t get written if you don’t have the confidence to get it started. Don’t give me that song and dance about how you ‘don’t have the time’. We’re all busy. Some just push ahead, regardless of the excuses because they think past “the beast”. “The beast” is what I call that negative self-talk that we like to occupy ourselves with when we fear that we actually do not have the confidence to do what it takes to get exactly what we want.

I’ve found in my business, that women are more prone to low self-esteem than men are, and divorced, or divorcing women much more so than your ‘average Jane’. Divorce has a serious tendency to completely rob you of whatever self-esteem you had before it.

A healthy sense of self-esteem is the key to happiness and success.

So, you ask, “How do I get or improve this thing called self-esteem?”

Well, the good news is, it can be done! Here are some tips!

1. For one week, look at yourself in the mirror, and observe your inner / outer beauty and speak positively about yourself. This includes traits and attributes that make you feel beautiful, strong and confident. Write down these affirmations and keep this chart wherever you find yourself thinking negatively. When you repeat these affirmations, you are speaking them into existence and within yourself.

2. Think about who you are and what makes you unique. Keep a journal containing any feelings that you have about yourself, negative and positive. For the negative feelings, ask yourself why you have this view, and what action you can take to understand it and build confidence. For the positive, make a mental note of why these positives make you unique, beautiful and strong.

3. Take stock of your environment. Is a friend, family member or co-worker criticizing you? Put some distance between yourself and this person, or resolve not to let his or her opinion get to you.

4. Carry yourself with confidence. Head up, shoulders back. People will respond positively to you, strengthening your image and self-image all at once.

The key to positive self-esteem is to remember that you have control over your situation. When you’re feeling down about what you perceive as a character flaw, remind yourself that only you can take action to change it.

Work like the devil not to base your opinion of yourself on the perceptions of others.

Happy weekend all!

Peace xo

“Throwing in the towel” for sanity’s sake

Have you ever been trudging through the divorce process, and thought to yourself, “I’m about done with this. I want out.”

I got to that point somewhere around my 3rd visit to the courthouse. Those of you who’ve gone through the divorce process are well aware of the painfully slow pace with which anything happens in court. Every ‘visit’ solves absolutely nothing. I couldn’t believe that I’d been made to spend half a day waiting for absolutely nothing to happen. And I mean that literally. I often walked out of the courtroom asking my lawyer, “that’s it?” For a process that’s so involved with taking up other people’s time, you’d think that it would advance at a much quicker pace. I found it sickening.

Back in 2006, the child support guideline in Canada got an increase of 15% across the board. You’d think that this increase would automatically be implemented to those who were already paying support, but NOOOO. We had to (you guessed it), go back to court and apply for the increase. So, I went to court and filed the paperwork. Of course (big surprise), my ex balked at a 15% increase to an amount that was already well below what he should have been paying anyway. But I digress.

One day, on another uneventful, 3+ hour “visit” to the courthouse, my usual comment to my lawyer (“that’s it?”) brought a different response. She said, “Nothing happens in court unless you both agree, even if it IS a governmental increase to the guideline. So if he doesn’t agree to it, we could do this forever.” My jaw was on the ground. THAT is when I decided that it was time. I’d had it. The very thought of walking into that gawd awful courthouse one more time, literally made my stomach sick. It was causing too much anxiety and stress. My hair was falling out. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t take it anymore. So I said, “If the money is that important to him, make sure someone lets his family know that they should put it in his casket when they bury him, because I can’t do this shit anymore.”

I’ve never been back to that courthouse. The ex is still paying what he was paying before the increase for the one child that I have left at home. I got to the point where I didn’t care anymore. I knew that I’d rather make my own money, than indulge his need to control me financially by dragging me back into court over every fucking nickel. That was where my divorce determined who I would become, and how I would make the money that I needed to support the three beautiful children that God gave me.

The second that I decided “Enough”, I felt a huge weight leave my body. I gained a sense of control that I didn’t have when I was running to and from court on an almost monthly basis.

Once you decide where / when you need to draw that line, do it. Believe me, the feeling of freedom that it gives you is unmatched. Only you can decide what’s more important, your sanity, or ‘winning’. I’d say that keeping your sanityIS winning. Wouldn’t you agree? :)

Peace xo

The Life of a Single Mom is Kind of Like a Show…

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a huge watcher of television. Yes, there are the odd couple of shows that I’m addicted to, but that’s honestly just a couple. My attention span is too short to be paying attention to it for much longer.

At The Joy of Ex, I spend a fair amount of time fielding questions that land in my inbox, from single moms trying to find the best way to maintain some semblance of sanity, and I tell them exactly what I do.

Since my divorce, I’ve been known to compare my own life to a TV show.

As the ‘boss’ of my now four person, one parent household (or “the cast” as we’re affectionately known), I’m the Producer and the Principle, or main character. Not to sound ‘big headed’, but everything revolves around me (single mom), because as you mom’s well know, that’s how we roll in real life. If mom decides that she actually wants to do something for herself, the whole damn thing falls apart.

My show is about this crazy life after divorce, that most single mothers can relate to. It includes my three (sometimes insane) children, also known as my co-stars, who test my friggin patience on an hourly basis. Their friends are character actors and guest stars, as are my own friends, family, and dating potentials. There are a couple of things that I’d probably add, but this show is essentially the way that I want it to look.

Single mom…your life is like a show. This is your show. As in life, there’s a camera on you practically at all times, and all of the say as to who you ‘cast’ in that show belongs to you. If you’re dating someone who is proving terrible for ‘ratings’ (ie; the jerk who treats you badly, that your ‘viewers’ and co-stars can’t stand), you simply dump his ass, and easy peasy, you write his ass out of future episodes.

Boom. Done. Next.

Easy, right? Isn’t this fun? 😉

The so-called “best friend” who professes to be your ‘rock’ to your face, but takes any and every opportunity to slag you behind your back? You get to cut that bitch from future episodes too! How you choose to do that is entirely up to you, but you know that the power is yours.

The neighbour who’s constantly needing a favour, never offering to return it; If you were watching this show on TV, would you be yelling at your on-screen self to “just say no!”? This is where you get to take your own advice.

In your show, is your ‘character’ a strong, self-assured woman, or is she that spineless woman who lets others walk all over her? What kind of woman do you see yourself as, in your show?

You create, allow or control everything that goes on in your show. If the person that you’d be in your show, isn’t the person that you are now, what’s holding you back?

Peace xo