Life after Divorce

Kelly collapsed on the steps, right alongside life as she knew it.

Her husband had been having an affair, and he was leaving her. Loneliness and despair crept in on her until her dog tethered her to reality and gave her the strength to call her mom.

“I couldn’t even get the words out I was crying so hysterically,” said Kelly. “Normally it takes 40 minutes for her to get to my house, but that night she was there in 20.”

Having a failed marriage started to make Kelly feel like a failure in general. She started to think she was a terrible nurse, a bad friend, a loser in life. But with every day that passed, she got more perspective and realized that with every end comes a new beginning.

“There’s a sadness, a grieving, but in some way it’s almost liberating, like this is my new starting point,” said Kelly. Here are some ways she got through her divorce.

  • Find a healthy distraction.

Kelly had just started a nursing job when she was going through the divorce process, and she credits that with not only pulling her out of a deep depression but also with helping rebuild her confidence.

  • Work it out.

Divorce creates a whirl of emotions – everything from intense sadness to anger to apathy to elation. To stabilize emotionally, head to the gym or go do something outside. Kelly took quick runs or did some yoga to work through her emotional swells and felt an immediate improvement in her overall mood.

  • Surround yourself with support.

Kelly took a vacation with her family right after she told them she was getting divorced. She was worried they were going to be disappointed in her because no one else in her family had ever divorced, but by spending time with them she learned that they’d have been more disappointed than if she’d stayed.

“That helped me build up my confidence,” she said. “They made me feel like I can do better and I can move on.”

  • Decide to be happy.

When you’re staying in your pajamas and going through a box of tissues every day, deciding to be happy seems impossible. It’s absolutely counter to what you’re feeling. But it’s important to choose that path ultimately or you will be consumed by bitterness, and that could affect your future relationships (yes, if you want them, you will have future relationships).

“It’s funny because I wanted to be angry, but I didn’t want to be angry,” said Kelly. “It’s really an inner battle. Do I want to be angry with him, and if I am, what does that do for me? It was a conscious decision for me – don’t be angry, don’t be jaded, and don’t be that miserable person because that will just consume you.”

  • Live your own life.

Kelly said she struggles sometimes with seeing her friends living the life she expected to have. They’ll have babies or celebrate anniversaries, moving full speed ahead with their lives while hers has come to a screeching halt. Those feelings will creep in, but, as Kelly said, “You really have to tell yourself that this is your life and you can’t compare it to other people.”

Divorce comes with depression, sadness, loss, grief. But it also comes with possibility, excitement and opportunity. Just like all the other tough things in life, divorce can help you be a better person if you let it.

“I learned I was strong, that I can support myself, that I don’t need anyone to help me,” said Kelly. “I learned me – re-learned me – because I went back to figuring out what I like to do, what I enjoyed. It was like a rebirth for me.”

From working woman to stay-at-home mom

Molly sat with her parents at lunch one day when she was 30 years old. The conversation shifted to life goals, and the trio pulled out some business cards they had stored in their wallets and started making a list. Six years later she came across her list again and realized that while she’d accomplished most of her career goals, there were two personal goals that she’d made no progress on.

Be married by 32.
Have kids by 33.

“I realized I hadn’t accomplished those dreams,” said Molly. “I was so career focused, but I’d always, since I was a little girl, wanted to be a mother. I was getting a little nervous because I wasn’t married yet and was concerned that the biological clock was about to run out.”

Shifting gears from career to family didn’t necessarily come naturally. Molly’s own mother was very career focused, and Molly took pride in her professional performance. But when her mom was diagnosed with cancer – ultimately losing her battle – Molly knew that she couldn’t waste any more time to have the life and the family she wanted.

“Before baby, I was the person who was all about how much money I was making, being the top producer, driving a certain kind of car, looking a certain kind of way,” said Molly. “I never could have imagined being happy being as a stay at home mom and doing the simple things and making three meals a day. It’s just been a complete 180 for me from one identity and way of being to another.”

Making the transition to new mom took some adjustments for Molly, mainly in the way she looked at her new life. Here are some things she does to make every day at home with her son feel like the incredible gift it is.

  • Appreciate the simple things.

“I used to not understand how women could be happy being home all day with their children,” admits Molly. “But I am amazed at how much happiness you can find in the simple things. Sitting outside blowing bubbles for my son, taking my son swimming in the pool, going to the park, going to the beach, watching him play with rocks, just seeing his discovery of the world. Every moment that we’re together, every moment of the day is incredible. I just can’t believe how happy the simplest things make me.”

  • Get out and have adventures.

Molly said a lot of new moms are scared to leave the house or don’t want the hassle, but she thinks that getting out and doing something is definitely something that helps her in the right frame of mind.

Take walks, go to the park, head to the mall, visit friends. Giving them new worlds to explore will keep them occupied, and fresh air will keep you from feeling cooped up.

  • Give yourself a break.

Patience takes time to work up to, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or like it’s about to break you, take a break.

“So many moms are afraid to leave their children, even for just a moment, but if you need a breather, take it,” said Molly. “Sometimes you have to put them in their crib, put them in the high chair, and just step outside, take a deep breath, maybe call a friend.”

Those few minutes can rebuild your enthusiasm, your perspective and your patience. And that’s best for your baby..

  • Ask others for help.

It really does take a village, so reach out to friends, family, other new moms, and especially your husband. Hire a babysitter for an afternoon if you need to, or trade babysitting with another mom. Find a way to get the help you need.

  • Take care of yourself too.

“The most important thing I’ve learned is I have to take time for myself,” said Molly. “For five months I was at home, with my son, by myself, no friends or family helping out, and I hit a major wall. I knew that if I wasn’t happy as a person, I wasn’t going to be happy as a mom.”

Molly started running again, going to get her hair or nails done, meeting her girlfriends for happy hour, anything that made her feel like she was taking care of herself too.

“When he was born, the doctor put him on my stomach and I looked down at him and the perfection was just mind blowing,” said Molly. “In an instant, I realized the weight of ‘I’m responsible for this life.’ It completely took me over and changed me and my life. I’ve never felt that abundance of love for anyone or anything at any time in my life.”

Turning 30 and looking better than ever

Turning 30 is a little bit like crossing a threshold. No longer are you flying by the seat of your pants, trying to figure what’s right for you in the moment, falling flat on your face, dusting yourself off and continuing on–you just don’t do that anymore. You are learning from your mistakes and settling into yourself.

For Samantha, a single musician living in Los Angeles, leaving her 20s brings on nothing but positive emotions, “I feel so hopeful for what’s in front of me versus what was behind me.”

Samantha looks younger and happier at 30 then when she was in her 20s. As she becomes more grounded and secure in herself, the more it blooms and lights up her face. “Being a woman, like a fine wine, gets better with age, but you need to take care of yourself,” says Samantha. “You want to preserve that for as long as possible, so I have some tricks that I do with beauty stuff and lotions are very important… treat your body like a temple, treat your body as you would anything else that you love and cherish, because this is what your going to live with the rest of your life.”

“I used to not even think twice about what I look like on stage and I had this long crazy hair and I didn’t care what I was wearing and I just did it,” says Samantha. “But I realized that if I feel like I look really good and I’m put together–it’s kind of a good meditation to put my makeup on, put my lotion on and my clothes–that helps me kind of get in synch with my performance.”

Here are a few pieces of advice to help you age with grace:

  • Take care of your body and accept your limits

“Your body is your temple and you need to take care of it regardless of how invincible you think you are–I think I’m the most invincible person in the world, I can go on three hours of sleep and get on the airplane and get off and play a concert and go to bed in a hotel and wake up the next morning and be fine. But the reality of it is that my voice is going to get tired. I’m going be a little bit fatigued and that kind of shows, especially as a performer. I’m kinda glad that I have to put myself to bed every night by 11 o clock every night and drink tons and tons of water because it makes me feel better in the morning. I can get up and go on a run easier and that type of stuff.”

  • Take every opportunity

“It’s so easy to put limitations and boundaries on what you’re trying to create, but now that I am 30, life explodes into a million different opportunities and I never looked at life like that before. I thought life had to be this one straight shot, north and south, but I didn’t realize I can also be an artist, I can paint, I can direct movies, I can start a non-profit business, we can do anything we want, really, if you can just let yourself. That’s a beautiful thing.”

  • Have a positive attitude

“Being very enthusiastic and being optimistic and positive have always worked, they never fail. And that has carried me through some tough times, if things aren’t really going your way or something happens with your career or your relationship or you want to make a move in your life, you maybe want to try living in a different city or just make a change, enthusiasm will always get you through the day. It’s infectious, other people around you feel it and that helps you out.”

  • Take ownership of yourself

“I feel like I can accomplish so many more things in my day and I’m so much more fulfilled because I know, I’m trusting that even if there’s a couple mistakes thrown in there, I’m still correcting and adjusting them. I’m never going to be perfect, but I am going to lead a much more well-rounded life and my decisions in general are going to be a lot better.”

  • Celebrate your body

“I never allowed myself to feel like I was super hot and sexy before and I know I can do it. I never, ever allowed to be who I am and now I really take ownership of that sexuality and sensuality as a woman. Knowing that I am beautiful on the inside and the outside and allowing myself to feel that way and celebrate that. I think a lot of women don’t do that, especially in this culture and I think they should because it just makes everybody else so happy.”

“With the knowledge that I’ve gained in my 20s with living life and pursuing my dreams and just being a woman, really being a woman in an American society–experiencing the things that everyone experiences, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom,” says Samantha. “I can gracefully enter my 30s with a sense of vitality and inspiration and hopefulness.”

Chosing fulfillment from the start

While most of us spend our days the stuck in the office, Nicole is busy wearing flip flops, getting covered in whip cream or running a cookie business.

No, she’s not your typical NYU grad.

When Nicole graduated college one year early, summa cum laude, with a pocket full of job offers from prestigious New York corporate companies, she headed west to take her place as camp director.

Faced with the crushing pressure to be awesome (and to pay off student loans), Nicole listened to the advice of her favorite professor–always make room for fun. She chose fulfillment from the start.

“I couldn’t do the same thing for 365 days of the year,” she said. “I couldn’t do it. I would be bored out of my mind. I think I’m lucky in that I recognized that pretty early about myself. I graduated a year early because I paid for it myself and because I was bored.”

Well there’s nothing quite like running a day camp and managing a brand new cookie shop to keep things from being boring! Whether it’s making a presentation to the city counsel, fixing the cash register, or helping a 5 year-old who misses her mom, being in charge means that Nicole is problem-solving all day long.

“I want my career to entail not just being successful but being fulfilled. I think that often times those things are confused,” said Nicole. “I want to know that when I go home from work everyday that I have done something that makes some kind of difference to someone, that it’s not just me earning my paycheck.”

As Nicole crafts her place in the world, she knows one thing for certain: it’s not just about where she is going, it’s about how she is getting there.

Nicole’s 3 tips for finding balance:

1. Admit your limitations

2. Find a job that fits within them

3. If you’re not having fun, something has to change!

What are your tips for staying sane and preserving your quality of life? Share it in the comments.

Hula hooping my way to fitness

Six years ago you might not have recognized Christabel, the now famous ‘Hoop Girl.’

If you had bumped into her on her campus, you would have seen a young woman well on her way to a career as a university professor, a serious student who had received her master’s degree in cultural anthropology. You would have also seen that Christabel was wearing baggy unflattering clothes, uncomfortable with her body, and tipping the scales at 180 lbs.

According to her, she was the product of living in a college culture that considered eating and partying a popular pastime.

All this changed when Christabel attended a conference on sustainability in Los Angeles. “They had this icebreaker exercise involving hula hooping, so everyone went out into the streets and had hula hoops. I was one of the few people in the group who couldn’t keep the hoop up at all. It was intimidating, but fascinating to me, so I decided to buy a hula hoop and take it home so I could practice.”

Christabel found renewed health and well-being through hula hoping, virtually by default. “It wasn’t like I told myself, oh I am going to work out now with my hoop. I was more like, now I have some time to go hoop in the park. That’s literally why I did it, because it felt good and I wanted to have fun with my friends, turn on the boombox and have an excuse to hang out together, but also stay active and be inspired by the different dances we were each doing.”

“I think it’s about creating a lifestyle, it’s about creating a way of living your life that feels good. It feels good learning to re-educate yourself about what’s really good for you.”

The self made ‘Hoop Girl’ soon began performing for movie openings, galas, concerts and guest starring in commercials. She was satisfied with her love of hooping, but was concerned that it wasn’t fulfilling a higher purpose in the world. “I was becoming aware of the obesity epidemic, and people needing ways to be physically active, and I realized I had to take something that I love doing for artistic reasons and find a way to tie it to a larger purpose—wellness.

Christabel created a company called Hoop Girl and began providing teacher training certifications, classes, hoops and instructional DVD’s to men and women all over the world. “What makes hoop dance today different from what people look at as hula hoping of the 50’s era is that it is a true dance form. It’s almost like crumping or breakdance, but it’s more fluid and less intimidating. It’s sexier, but also more accessible.”

Christabel is a proponent of what she calls body-mind fitness, a state of being that combines the physical body and the emotional body, the spirit. “Hooping gives people a way to bring wholeness and well-being to every part of their lives. It can be a spiritual experience for those who are able to make space in their mind and connect with a larger sense of the universe, than they might otherwise allow themselves to do. And it’s all through this very unassuming plastic ring that is accessible to anybody.”

Check out her website and get hooping!

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Hoop It Up
Find hoops, DVDs, classes, clothes, performances and everything else you need to wrap your mind around the Christabel Hoop Girl phenomenon.

Spin Me Right Round
Get more Christabel – in dramatic performances, how-to videos and playing around – at her personal video page on YouTube.

Get Physical
Featuring personalized programs and support, Women Fitness shares healthy recipes and gives you access to the weight loss experts.

Diet Right
To better understand Christabel’s diet shift, check out Vegan Action, a website that shows you how to – and what to – eat if you’re thinking of making the change too.

Laugh It Off
Does the dumbbell phone sound as ridiculous to you as it does to us? Really? Because someone actually made it and tried to sell it. For money. See it and other silly gadgets at First Page Fitness.

The biggest dating mistake women make

Wendy, author of the ultimate women’s dating guide The Boyfriend Test, readily admits that she sounds like an old mom from the ’50s by proclaiming the biggest dating mistake women make is sleeping with someone too soon.

But, nevertheless, she stands by it. Wendy says that women all too often have sex before there is a worthy amount of trust, and that is usually their tragic relationship flaw.

“I don’t mean trust that you’re going to get married, or that you’ll live together, or that this relationship will last forever,” she said. “But you should have some trust in your biology and in the fact that you have some type of emotional connection with this person.”

Wendy says we often fantasize about who a guy is and then find out the hard way that we’ve created a person who doesn’t match the guy standing in front of us. Rather than idealize him, Wendy says we need to let the guy reveal himself to us.

“There is only one rule about when you should sleep with somebody: when trust happens,” she says. “It takes some time for people’s personalities to unfold and for the connection you make to become trustful, but there’s no timeline for exactly when that will happen.”

Before you jump in the sack, ask yourself:

  • Should you really be sleeping with this man?
  • Are you ready? Why or why not?
  • Is he ready?
  • Have you thought about all the things that go into a sexual relationship?

“Consider what makes you feel safe, healthy and emotionally stable. Make rules for yourself and then stick to those rules,” Wendy advises. “The most damaging thing you can do to yourself as a woman is false advertising. Figure out who you are and be proud of it. I promise you that no matter what your sexual personal rule is, there’s a match out there for you.”

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

A Good Dose of Wendy
Visit Dr. Wendy’s official web site for more insight on how to find yourself in a healthy, thriving, long-term relationship.

Interplanetary Conflict
Source of advice and counsel from the author of the iconic “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.”

Making it Work
Follow the path to healthier relationships in your life.

LuvemOrLeavem
Visit the LuvemOrLeavem Relationship blog covering dating, marriage, and other popular topics.

Multiple multiples & how one mom keeps from going crazy

Twin births are on the rise and bringing them home presents a whole different experience then just one baby. Laura and her husband Paul should know, they have welcomed home two sets of twins!

Laura was unaware that twins ran in her family until her second pregnancy. She had a premonition that she was expecting twins but no one believed her until an early dating ultrasound showed 2 heartbeats. After that, Laura found out that her mom’s grandmother had 3 sets of twins and her father’s grandmother also had a set of twins!

Kayley, Laura’s first child, was eight when Pablo and Mallory were born. Laura soon found out that things with twins are a lot different than when she brought Kayley home.

Breastfeeding posed a difficult challenge, as did sleeping, showering and just about everything else. The exhaustion was overwhelming and recovering from the birth was taking longer too. Laura quickly learned that with twins, routine is everything.

Eventually, things fell in to place. Laura and her husband Paul decided to expand their family and were elated to find out that they were expecting. What they didn’t know for nearly half of the pregnancy, was that it was twins, again!

These days, Laura’s twins are 5 years and 4 years old and she offers this advice to expectant parents of twins:

  • Find a balance between fun and organization
  • Get a schedule and stick with it
  • Join a twin club
  • Ask for and accept help

As crazy as her life may seem Laura says, “There is a lot of joy in our life. Every day is like a loud crazy and chaotic play date but it’s so much fun.”

You can find Laura talking about life with 2 sets of twins at her blog Lala girl and you can find out more about twin clubs in your area through NOMOTC website.

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