As of November 11, 2017, I will have gone out with 40 men. Some became relationships. Some were short coffee “dates” where I ordered water rather than feel guilt when I realized I had no interest in the guy.
When I decided to put the effort I put into the rest of my life into dating, I created 50 First Dates, a private Facebook group with 90+ people, many of whom wanted to approach dating in a supportive community of other single parents. Some were new to the dating world and others, like me, were just burned out.
The “challenge” was not to meet 50 people but not allow myself to quit dating unless I had. It was inspired by the gold stars I earned doing a yoga challenge. I figured if I applied my same goal oriented attitude towards dating, I would certainly have success. I am suddenly feeling like going on 40 first dates is no success.
After being challenged in the group about why I’d been on so many first dates, hearing Sandy Weiner’s Your Last First Date Podcast Offline Dating with Camille Virginia on the subject of dating and seeing one of my favorite dating coaches, Evan Marc Katz’s Tedtalk, I deleted my online accounts and decided to pivot. I'm not sure I ever deleted the accounts before but I have hidden my profile probably more times than I’ve gone on first dates. This time when I hit the delete button, it asked me if I was prepared to lose all of my conversations. I decided to burn the bridge.
What I’ve discovered about myself is I said “yes” to many people I should have said “no” to. I now realize the lack of screening I was using on them, they were also using on me. There was no skin in the game on either part and we treat each other very differently than we would IRL.
My own superficiality felt “icky” and at the same time, my ego didn’t like the process either. My energy around online dating was just bad. I invested very little because I expected very little. As someone who believes what we put out into the world comes back, THIS is NOT the energy I want.
My new approach to dating is going to be getting out in real life and making myself a little bit uncomfortable. A few things I learned from the interview I'm going to put into practice is meeting friends out but showing up 20 minutes early. I will also be initiating conversations with strangers, even the good looking ones I’d normally be too shy to talk to. Now, when I am out in public rather than burying my head in a phone, I’m going to risk appearing alone and vulnerable, hold my head up high and make wait for it...eye contact. I am going to find things to do outside my “bubble” -join Orangetheory and initiate Meetup activities.
WIthin a half an hour of deleting the dating apps, I got a message from someone I’d given my number to but had dropped the ball on our conversation. I told him though I was no longer online dating, but he’d gotten in under the wire. We shall see.
Let me go on the record and say I HATE online dating…or at least I used to. In the four years since my separation and subsequent divorce, I have changed. Divorce gave me some time and perspective on which I found a lot of room for improvement.
While I don’t like online dating, I like being single even less so I decided the only thing I had a choice about was my attitude. I decided to embrace dating as an adventure and among the things I did was create a “50 First Date” challenge and I invited my Facebook community to join me. I gave myself the following rule - I would not allow myself to “quit” or “give up” dating until I met at least 50 men. ( I don’t want to meet 50 men by the way. I want to meet “the one” and stop counting)
I began dating on 11/11/17. Leading up to this time, I learned as much as I could about dating. I listened to podcasts, read articles, took online webinars and had many conversations with other “daters”.
I read a great book, “Calling in the One”. The author ended up marrying a man she never would have considered dating. If you are really open to meeting someone, you have to let go of your preconceived notions about who you’ll date or not date. For me, saying “yes” when I would have previously said “no” allowed me many experiences I never would have had.
Before the challenge, I waited for men to engage me in conversation and ask me out. As a result of a dating webinar I listened to, I learned a woman does not exist to a man until he’s met her IRL (In Real Life).
Another great book, “If the Buddha Dated”, said you need to show up authentically. If you attract someone wearing a “mask”, eventually the truth is going to come out. This also means communicating honestly about what you want/need in a relationship.
I learned A LOT more out in the field and decided to share it…or you can be like my kids and learn the hard way. Go ahead…touch the stove top and see if it burns ;)
Bring on date #28.
If you’ve ever read the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill written in 1938, you may remember a story where he describes a person who wanted to be in the home of the US president. I don’t remember the story exactly but it demonstrated the idea of “thoughts become things”. When you really want something and believe it is possible, you will live life to make it happen.
This week will mark four years since my separation and begins the last year of my 40s. The last four years have been the hardest, best, but most importantly transformative years of my life. I have shared much of it on social media as my ENFP personality loves attention. I also shared my journey to uplift others who might not be brave enough to reach out for help themselves but needed the encouragement and an example to keep putting one foot in front of the other remembering “this too shall pass”.
Posting a “resume” on Facebook - one that will put it all out there - letting friends and family know - I am looking for and ready to receive love is probably the scariest, most daring thing I have ever done socially, but I am jumping off the diving board and going for it. (I HATE HEIGHTS.)
Of course, the act itself is not scary. It’s merely taking a screen shot of something I’ve written and putting it out for the universe and all my 1000+ Facebook friends to see. The hard part is being both authentic and vulnerable about what I want in the face of judgment.
Years ago, people would have been ashamed about using online dating to “connect” with another person out of concern others would judge them as “desperate”. Now, it is estimated one out of three single people will meet their partner this way.
Something I haven’t shared with many people is that I ended up with Adam, my ex-husband because of Jdate, an online dating site for Jewish people. Back in 1997, I’d been dating someone who wasn’t Jewish but really wanting to marry someone Jewish. When I felt like I’d exhausted the entire supply of Jewish men in the Tampa area, I heard about Jdate. Back then, it was free and we really could date anonymously. There were no cell phones and digital pictures were hard to come by. I posted my profile with the pseudonym “aligator” and described myself as “a fit, Jewish girl” ( in a nutshell). I was so embarrassed I didn’t even tell my friends I’d done it. As a result, I reconnected with someone I would doubtfully have met as we lived in separate cities and then spent more than 17 years together. It turns out we not only knew each other but had actually gone on a date back in college.
Had I not stepped outside my comfort zone, we wouldn’t have co-created our three amazing girls (who are no doubt going to be mortified with what I’m doing).
That said, when I make up my mind to accomplish something, I might be described as fairly tenacious. (The exception of course lies in whether it’s legal or moral. I’m still a rule follower ;).)
As single people, we are bombarded with dating coaches, self help programs, online dating, match makers, singles events, etc. to find love. Not only do we live a culture that emphasizes couple hood but I believe we were created to be in partnership with another person. Not just for procreation but for the growth we can attain when we have a partner to journey through life with.
I am not seeking a partner because I “need” a person to complete me or to take care of me. I am seeking a partner to journey through life with. To be by my side when my children leave the nest, when my parents pass and when age brings about changes to my body.
I envy the people who go to a high school reunion and reunite with a past love. Since I have moved literally across country, the chances are slim I will “bump into” someone from my past or someone I knew from high school.
I learned in a seminar I took, Landmark Education’s The Forum, we regret the things in life we don’t do more than the things we do so I have decided to step completely outside my own comfort zone and challenge even my own ego in an effort to find “my person”.
I hope this is the beginning of a new trend where others will put themselves out there and feel comfortable sharing what they’d like. After all, we can ask for a recommendation for a doctor or a place to vacation. I believe as much as social media keeps us disconnected, it is also an amazing tool for “connection”. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.
Last week I threw away my Girl Scout sash, my prom corsage, and various other things I’d held onto from my childhood. As my daughters and I prepare to move out of our family home this coming summer when my oldest daughter goes off to college, I have the opportunity to re-vsiit my childhood, identify the items that are most important and give my daughters the opportunity to claim my belongings while I am alive and healthy.
I started Silver Linings Transitions, as a senior move management company but added divorcing clients to our business model as a result of my own divorce when I realized divorcing people face similar emotional challenges and are also likely downsizing. Like the clients we work with, I am having to sort through a lifetime of belongings and determine which items I'll keep and which I'll need to discard. Going through my belongings brings up a mix of emotions but certainly is part of giving up on the life I expected to have.
With both personal and professional experience, I wanted to share some key things I’ve learned along the way. These tips interweave, the current trend of “Swedish Death Cleaning” (from Swedish words meaning ‘standing” and “death“) emerging as a result of adult children facing the task of going through their parents belongings (after a death or when the parents are downsizing) and realizing they don’t want to leave the daunting task to their own children.
So here are some tips to get started:
Make sure all of your passwords and usernames are written down and in one place. Remember to let somebody know how to access this information. There are sites that will store your passwords too like LastPass which offers a free version.
Go through your belongings and do a photographic inventory of anything you want to go to loved ones. As someone who had a personal experience after my grandmother’s sudden death, leaving clear direction will save your grieving loved ones from many unnecessary battles. Make sure you make notes about any items of value so they can be sold for their value and won't be accidentally discarded. There are software programs likes Fairsplit.com you can use to create these inventories and assign belongings.
Make sure and visit storage units and attics and include these items in the inventory.
Begin to “re-gift” belongings. If you are going to someone’s home and would normally take a hostess gift, thoughtfully consider bringing a token of your affection from your personal belongings rather than spending money.
When going through your belongings, consider this criteria:
Will anyone be happier because I saved it? Rather than put items in the garbage, send old letters or photos to childhood friends who will undoubtedly appreciate the trip down memory lane. I recently attended my 30th high school reunion and there was a table set up for people to share items. I also photographed old letters and sent them via email.
Would I be okay if someone found or read this? If there is something you aren't ready to get rid of but don't necessarily want someone going through it, create a box marked "Private: Please discard without opening the contents."
If you are holding onto something because you think it’s valuable, do some research. I held onto a Guess jean jacket I’d purchased in 1985 for $85. I almost refused to allow my daughter to take it to sleep away camp until I looked it up on Ebay and discovered it was only worth $35.
Make the process an event inviting loved ones to participate. You and they will appreciate the opportunity to learn more about each other and what your life may have been like in your youth.
When I speak to groups of people who are now grandparents, I encourage them to consider the the belongings they’ve been storing for adult children and determine whether or not the adult child has any intention of taking it. I went through my childhood bedroom in Florida a year ago and traveled home with many of the things I’d held onto. After shipping them across country, my girls didn’t want any of it.
If you have high school students, have them do their own version of Swedish Death Cleaning. It helps them prioritize, frees up space and is a wonderful opportunity to reminisce about their childhood.
Anything we do proactively is going to be less stressful. Taking charge of your life, your belongings and on your terms will have an impact.
Here is a link to more information and the book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson
After my last failed attempt at a relationship and during the time I decided to spend being “in the pain” versus trying to distract myself from it, I began to examine the common denominator in all these relationships. Me!!
The men had one thing in common and I had chosen to be with each of them.
The answer for me was that I wasn’t truly ready for “the one” because according to my faith, and perhaps the eyes of G-d, I was not truly available.
I realized that although my civil divorce had been final for more than a year and half, I never had the religious one. I had been married in a religious ceremony, by a rabbi in a synagogue and had signed both a marriage license issued by the state and a Jewish marriage license called a Ketubah.
Since the ceremony had been conducted by a rabbi, so too the divorce should be. There is a Jewish divorce ceremony called a “Get”. All I really knew about it was that there were some rabbis who would not marry two Jews who’d been through divorce unless they both had “gets”. I didn’t have any marital prospects so I hadn’t thought much more about it.
Although I wouldn’t consider myself to be a religious Jew, I do consider myself to be spiritual. I have a personal relationship with G-d that has strengthened in the years since my separation.
Since I never got the Get I started to wonder if this was G-d’s way of letting me know I wasn’t released from my marriage since in the eyes of some Jews (and perhaps G-d), I am still considered married.
I met with the Rabbi of my congregation, a newly divorce single mom herself for counsel. She explained the intention of the Get was for the husband to sign a decree granting the wife her freedom from the marriage and his permission for her to marry another man.
She asked if I wanted to be “released”. There were many reasons this was not the answer for me but I knew I needed to do something spiritually to unbind me from my marriage and make peace with G-d (and myself).
Because our very new congregation is unaffiliated with any sect of Judaism, we are evolving as we go. This means there are no “definitive rules” which for a religion with 613 mitzvot (or commandments) leaves a lot of room for interpretation. She suggested I could design my own way to mark my spiritual divorce.
After several ideas, I decided on going into the mikvah. A mikvah is a ritual bath that is used for many things including conversion, life transitions and in order to purify a woman after she’s menstruated so she can be “clean” for procreation with her husband. I was not raised in an orthodox manner, so I’d never gone. My friend Audrey, also a divorced woman, suggested the mikvah and agreed to accompany me.
I searched the internet and picked some prayers that would be meaningful to me. Along the way, eyes filled with tears, I read through many prayers. Ultimately, I decided on mixing two different ones.
When it was time for my mikvah, I followed a lit and landscaped path adjacent to the synagogue and rang the bell to meet the attendant. She was a very kind, orthodox South African woman. While I waited for her to bring me in, I read the first prayer. I forgave my ex-husband for any of his wrongs during our marriage and leading to it’s end and asked G-d’s forgiveness for him as well.
Because mikvah is an orthodox ritual, I felt very nervous about not doing it “right”. I was honest with the attendant and explained it was both my first mikvah and I had come there due to my divorce.
She took me into a bathroom and instructed me to clean myself throughly. This included removing any nail polish, flossing and brushing my teeth, showering and combing my hair, removing all jewelry and removing my makeup.
After cleaning and preparing my body, I put on a white robe like one you’d find in a spa and stepped into the room with the mikvah. The room reminded me of a spa with a deep hot tub.
It was a tile room with steps leading down to a warm pool of water which while standing, reached up to my neck.
While Audrey and the attendant observed, I was to take three dunks completely submerging myself in the water while lifting my feet off the bottom. Typically you dunk three times but I went four because I held my nose the first time I went under. Completely submerged meant that my nostrils would need to be exposed to the water and not blocked by my fingers.
The second set of prayers I chose accompanied my three “good” dunks. The first asked G-d's forgiveness for breaking my vows.
The second was giving thanks for my marriage and what it produced. Also asking G-d to bless me with another chance at love with a new partner.
The third was asking G-d to remove my pain and help me to heal.
One of my favorite psalms is Ecclesiastes reminding us that to every thing there is a season. We can not experience joy unless we’ve experienced pain. I have faith this time is temporary and I will come out of it stronger and better.
After the official “mikvah”, I was left alone for a short time. Being alone in the water, I was overcome with emotion. The reality of my divorce set in and I wept.
Audrey described the mikvah experience so beautifully when she said it was the only ritual of Judaism that truly was a whole body experience. There I was completely naked and vulnerable experiencing a custom that had been around for thousands of years.
I came out of the mikvah feeling renewed like I had created a space or a delineation from my old life into my new one.
I hope to marry again in a small ceremony at sunset on the beach under a a chuppah. If the officiating rabbi requires a Get, I suppose I’ll need to “get” one.
“Thank your for being my therapist”. R.S.* I just hung up the phone with (R.S.), a divorcing woman married for more than 25 years. She is facing her first move alone and has decided since her children are grown to leave San Diego and pursue a graduate degree.
For her and other clients facing divorce, the move is one of many scary transitions coming at you at one time. We were organizing the logistics of her move and she broke down when she started talking about which belongings she was going to keep from her adult childrens' childhood.
As she choked back the tears I reassured her that it was okay for her to feel sad and reminded her everything she was experiencing was normal. I could say this with empathy and certainty because I too had gone through my own divorce and remembered feeling the same way.
It was at my own divorce attorney consultation I was told a judge could force me to sell my home while going through divorce.
“Not everybody understands the emotions and the ups and downs. I am blessed to have you understand.” R.S.*
Unless you’ve experienced divorce yourself, you really can’t grasp the pervasive affect it has on your entire life (read a past blog for more on the subject).
A couple weeks ago, I received a call at 10 p.m. at night for a panicked divorcing client. Her home was in escrow and we needed to coordinate the logistics of her move. The conversation naturally turned to her loneliness since her children were with their father for the weekend and she hadn’t quite found her place when she wasn’t “being a mom”.
This clients move was more challenging because of her autistic daughter needing consistency and routine. We took pictures of her room to recreate a room where she could feel comfortable.
This couple was referred by their mediator, Alison Patton of Lemonade Divorce and CDFA, Carlie Head (Certified Divorce Financial Analyst) who’d both been trying to get the wife to agree to sell the home and move. As is often the case, one party wants to keep the home and provide a stable place for the children as they come to grips with all the changes a divorce brings on the family. Sadly though the reality of splitting the family income and maintaining two homes usually isn't realistic. She reluctantly agreed to meet with us and after hearing about our program decided to trust us and move forward with the sale.
Last week, while she is at work, the Silver Linings Transitions team got her settled into her new home. The pictures above represent the move and the expression on her face (as well as her children). We could not take the pain of the divorce away but we were able to work as a team to make the process just a bit easier.
More about Divorce Home Solutions. Jami Shapiro, owner of Silver Linings Transitions, a move management company joined Bryan Devore my Realtor Partner of Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty and I were introduced by a mutual friend a few months after both of us were separated.
His real estate business combined with Silver Linings Transitions, my move management company were a natural “marriage” ;) and together we started Divorce Home Solutions.
There are a ton of great Realtors in San Diego but none offer our combination of unique and emotionally supportive services while helping divorcing couples manage the logistics of dividing belongings, selling their home and moving, allowing them to ultimately open the door to their fresh start, a space of calm where they can begin healing.
As evidenced by these before photos I took three months before I started practicing yoga, it is likely obvious to see I was not in great shape. When I started yoga, it was because I was sick of my back hurting, my hip sticking and quite frankly not feeling good in or about my body.
When I started, the yoga studio was a convenient place to exercise (only a few blocks from my house). I suppose you could describe me as an accidental tourist.
My addiction/habit/love of yoga has changed everything I ever believed about my body, my ability and my mindset.
I am a person who believes seeing others overcome obstacles inspires us to do so as well. As extroverted as I am, even sharing these feels like too much. As you might imagine, they are embarrassing and remind me of how sad I was at that time in my life. I am doing my best to live authentically and vulnerably so here's me walking the walk.
One of the ways my life has opened up is by feeling the sense of connection to everyone else. I started noticing it when the the class was instructed to breathe together. In these photos, I might be you.
Yoga has seen me through what I hope will be the worst years of my life. If life gets harder though, I plan to use yoga (in any way I can) to see me through. On the occasion of completing 1000 classes at Soulshine, the yoga studio in my neighborhood, I was gifted photos by the owner Martina.
Lesson #1 Timing is everything
I started a regular yoga practice 4 1/2 years ago. Thirteen years earlier, I purchased the 10 session package to a yoga studio in Jacksonville but it was not for me. I am pretty sure I have about seven classes remaining.
When we moved to California, there was a neighborhood studio that I passed by for two years. I can’t recall the price but I decided it was more than I wanted to spend. A Groupon for one month at a point that I was disgusted with myself and determined to get back in shape for my oldest daughter, Gillian’s bat mitzvah, got me in the door.
I’m not sure I loved it but I didn’t hate it. At the time, the studio was hot. I’d put my mat by the door and step out several times during the class. I worked my way up to staying but taking child’s pose frequently. After the month was over, yoga had become - sort of - a habit.
I remember watching others do poses and thinking, “there’s no way I’ll ever do those poses, I just want to get in shape". Ironically one of the women who inspired me moved away and came back several years later only this time she was inspired by me. (Jackie!!)
Yoga saw me through some very tough parenting years, starting a business and going through a divorce. I can’t even imagine how different those times would have been if I had not had yoga to fall back on.
When the kids were with their dad and my home was empty, yoga filled the void.
No matter what came into my life - good or bad, my mat became my “touchstone”. I cried on my mat…A LOT!!! I felt the warm tears during still poses flowing down my cheeks deeply. It also felt like God pointed me in yoga’s direction at a time I would most need it.
Lesson #2 - Sometimes one door closes but an even better one opens.
When my original Groupon expired, I negotiated a membership deal paying for a full year in advance. Two or so months later, the studio closed and we merged with a gym that was not walking distance from my house and was not a yoga studio.
To say I was bummed was an understatement. I loved the convenience of a neighborhood studio but because I was locked in and noticing a difference in my body, I kept going.
Then Aminy and Martina opened an even better studio.
The classes weren’t hot. There was more space and the vibe changed. It’s hard to describe but it became a community and the people there became my support network.
Lesson #3 What you resist, persists.
I’m not sure when yoga switched for me from exercise for my body to lessons for my soul but slowly my practice started shifting my “Type A” control freak personality to the person I am now.
I absorbed so many inspirational messages shared by the teachers and my practice became a platform for so many metaphors.
Possibly the most significant lesson was how to surrender. There were some very uncomfortable poses and my mind eventually went from “no freaking way” to “I’m going to breathe into this pose and remain”. Like life off the mat, I realized the best way to get through the pain is just to “be” in it. I describe hard times to my girls as an opportunity to build resiliency muscles. You can’t build a muscle if it’s never exercised.
Lesson #4 Listen to your body.
One of the best things that could have happened was the original injury I sustained during my first attempts at yoga more than 13 years ago. If I had been paying attention to my body instead of watching everyone else, I probably wouldn’t have been hurt. That reminder kept me “true” to my body and as a result think I also was able to chip away at a lot of my ego. During the course of my practice I injured my shoulder, developed tennis elbow, struggled with a hurt wrist and had another back injury from an unrelated occurrence.
Whatever came, I didn’t stop yoga but I did adjust my practice.
Lesson #5. It’s important to have a hobby.
For me having yoga means I always have a place to belong. My practice gets better and better and my athletic ability and flexibility continues to improve.
There are people in class 10 years older than I am who can do far more than I am able to. Improving my practice and building my poses gives me a goal. Sharing an interest with others also gives me a community of people where I can find a place to belong almost anywhere.
Lesson #6 If you don’t have your oxygen mask on, you can’t save anyone else.
Yoga is the one thing I make time for even when life is crazy. No matter where I am (physically or emotionally), At the same time, I am in the best shape of my life and I’m able to do things people younger than me can’t.
There are a lot of things in life we can't control and life rarely goes as planned. The only real choice any of us has is how we cope. You can stay stuck and unhappy or you can take one small step forward.
Three years ago today, I separated from my husband of 15 years. If I described it as the worst three years of my life, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
First, my own feelings of abandonment and rejection were “triggered” (using teen lingo but appropriate none-the-less). As a three year old, I was sent to live with my father and subsequently “poorly treated” by his wife. There were also all the other “divorce dominoes” (a phrase I’ve coined because it seems like just about every area of your life is affected and knocked over).
The “divorce domino” included navigating legalities that would affect the rest of my life of which I was completely uneducated; figuring out how I was going to earn enough money to support myself after leaving my career for my ex-husband’s career across country; working out custody schedules and parenting alone; and the accompanying emotions of grief, disappointment and embarrassment. There were things I hadn’t even considered. Suddenly, I felt like I was back in my 20s when everyone was getting engaged and married and had a ring on their finger which translated, for me, to mean “I’m wanted”. Walking into a parent meeting or into synagogue, or anywhere else bare fingered was like having a sign flashing “failure”, “failure” “failure” or worse “unwanted”.
Being alone was a completely different alone then it had been before I was married. After almost 17 years with one person, there was no one in my bed, no one to make important life decisions with, no one to call when something good or bad happened, and empty rooms (but a clean house) when my children were with their father. Even my friendships were affected because I was living in a world that my close friends could not relate to. I had to climb ladders at 3 a.m. to change smoke detector batteries and I had to take out my own trash.
Perhaps even harder than that, I went back into the dating world as a woman in her 40s who’d nursed three children and had not had a boob job. (I’m going to save the dating article for another time because I could literally write a book about that!!
Of all though, fear and envy were the hardest part. Suddenly, it felt as if I was in a vast ocean and paddling desperately to stay afloat. I clung to men as if they were life vests. While I worked in commissioned sales almost my entire marriage, my husband’s steady income was the safety net to which I could fall. It was that steady income that gave me the courage to start my own business.
It seems as if everything I was juggling was exacerbated by my desperation to have a “partner” partly for companionship, partly for the escape from reality, partly for financial security and if I’m being honest because my ex-husband had someone.
The absolute worst thing I had to confront was my own envy. While I faced the ups and downs of dating, never being with any one person for more than four months, falling for men who were emotionally unavailable, and pretty much only dating guys who’s schedules seemed to be exactly opposite mine, my ex-husband and his girlfriend (for more than two years) had every other weekend without kids and traveled the world vacationing together. I didn’t have a partner and I couldn’t afford to even take the the trips.
There was no hiding my depression from my children. I remember coming home on a weekend without kids, thinking the house was empty, falling onto my bed and sobbing. The hard, body shaking, wailing sob. It was such a hard cry that it wasn’t even possible to do the “in front of the mirror and watch my eyes turn green” cry. And then my then 15-year-old daughter walked in.
When I was four, I remember watching my mom cry and to this day, it has stuck with me as one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life.
Because I was simultaneously building a new business and adjusting to this huge transition I went looking for help anywhere I could get it. You know what happens when you realize your children are watching? You take very small steps forward.
As I did, people, things and experiences began showing up on my path. It may have been a book someone told me about, it might have been a course that came up while reading the book or it might have been something said by one of my yoga instructors.
As things began to “work out”, I began to learn to just trust. One book that really helped was “Uncertainty” written for entrepreneurs. In the book they talked about the concept of going to zero. Imagine just about the worst case scenario and give yourself a “Plan B” for how you’d survive. They shared the story and this quote by J.K. Rowling, the famous author and creator of Harry Potter.
“I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized and I still had a daughter that I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
I came up with my “Plan B” which meant moving into my mother-out-law’s spare bedroom, getting a job at Starbucks and letting the girls stay with their father. I went from holding onto everything so tightly out of fear to slowly, slowly releasing my grip. Sometimes, it was an easy decision like when things synchronistically happened and sometimes I just made the choice to try it anyway. Quite frankly, I was sick of trying to control everything.
Life did not work out the way I expected it to. If I had gotten my way either my ex would have come back pleading with me to work things out OR I would have continued dating my first post-separation boyfriend.
If either of those things had happened, I wouldn’t be where I am now which quite frankly is the happiest I’ve ever been. There is more than I can possibly share in this blog now but highlights include 1000+ yoga classes and doing poses I never dreamed of doing at 48, getting fish pedicures with my daughter in Mexico, zip lining and rock climbing (I have a huge fear of fish and heights) and talking about my sex life in front of 50 people at an open mic night.
Best though I learned who I am and why I am. I learned to accept myself exactly as I am and work on the things I need to change without beating myself up. I learned how important gratitude is. I learned to quiet the voice in my head that said anything that wasn’t kind.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
No matter what is happening in your life, it is going to change. The only good choice available is to embrace what is and figure out how to find the “silver lining”.
Unless you've been seriously burned by an ex-spouse or a past love, if you are divorced, it is very likely that you've dipped your toe into the "dating pool". Tread lightly my friend, the water is POLLUTED!!!
In all seriousness, when I was single the first go round, life was A LOT simpler. As a single parent there is a whole new set of criteria and limitations. Now, I need to consider someone's custody schedule before I even establish whether or not there's chemistry. Since my last time being single was in 1997, it feels like the dating world is a completely different planet.
I would consider myself fortunate because I split custody 50/50 and two of my children are old enough to babysit. For those who aren't as lucky, there are also costs associated with babysitting.
Now imagine I've gone through the time it takes to meet someone online, engaged in conversation, gotten my hopes up and primped and traveled for the date only to discover I've been "kitten fished". (Kitten fishing is when someone falsifies their profile - either their age, height, job status, etc.)
Between parenting, working and maintaining a household, I don't have the luxury of extra time or the bandwidth to handle the emotional roller coaster and neither do my single parent friends.
So I had a thought....
Why does all the time and effort spent getting to know someone need to go waste? Why not share the guys who've represented themselves honestly with my friends and spare them the agony of the "kitten fish" time suck? Kind of like vetting dates.
So I’m in the process of creating "Swap Meet”, an online tool to "exchange" dates. How I envision it working is that we decide the person isn’t for us but they appear to have honest profiles and seem to be nice enough to introduce to a friend. When (and if) they ask for a second date, if you aren’t interested you offer to add them to the Swap Meet group. The only criteria for membership would be that someone already on the page has met you in person and takes a picture with you from the date.
The post can include some important information like age, height, body type, etc. and a completely positive note about the date. (Think who’d you’d be willing to set up with your best friend.)
I believe it was McDonald you said you could turn a frown upside down. Now you can turn an awkward date into someone else’s mate (ok cheesy for sure but I can only come up with a good idea once a day ;). Regardless of the weak ending, if anyone can be spared the “kitten fish”, the project will be worth it.
About me, Jami Shapiro -
Together with Bryan Devore, a fellow single parent, we’ve used our divorce to make lemonade out of lemons by making the divorce journey a bit easier for others going through it. "Swap Meet" will be one of these projects. Other projects include a free support group, a dedicated Facebook Live show, Real Divorce Talk, addressing divorce and Divorce Home Solutions - solving all of the home related concerns from making the important financial decisions to sleeping comfortably in a new unpacked, organized and decorated and peaceful space allowing divorcing clients to take many of the significant stressors off their plates.
I was talking to a recently divorced friend today who was divorced longer than I have been but separated a much shorter time. Our conversation quickly turned to my suggestion that he might be on the roller coaster that pretty much every one of my divorced friends knows all too well. In fact, to this day, I think the ride is finished and then, there's this little jolt.
I separated 2 1/2 years ago tomorrow on February 6, 2015. This is actually the first blog I've written since my official divorce on 7/7/17. There was a LOT of significance to this because my ex and I had a "number" the way other couples have songs. We had our first date on a 6, got engaged on a 6, married on a 6, a couple more things happened on 6's, separated on a 6 and then ultimately signed the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) on 6/6/17. To say I was shocked when I read the mediator's email officially declaring us divorced as of 7/7/17, would be an understatement. Anyone who has gone through this process knows it typically takes a MUCH longer time. Even our mediator confessed she'd never had one go through that quickly and mentioned we must have some high up connections. (These days, I don't doubt it ;). )
What I can say now that I am safely off the ride and standing on the platform is, I had many more moments of doubt than I can comfortably admit. Even more than that, I NEVER dreamed I would end up thinking it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I remember going to Second Saturday, on February 14, 2015 and sitting in the room with the other women contemplating or already going through the divorce process. Second Saturday is an amazing organization that educates women on the divorce process. They have mediators, attorneys, financial planners and therapists who give attendees advice about what they are in for. Every time I sit in that room as a "vendor", I am taken back to that day and how I felt. I see women cry and nod their heads as the therapists describe how they might be feeling. When given the opportunity, I love sharing that I was where they are and felt like they feel. It's kind of like when you have a new baby. When you are in it, you can't imagine it ever getting better. But then, suddenly, the baby is sleeping through the night and you feel like a "normal person".
Normal is a "new" normal though. It's a life-changing normal. It's an "I can't believe this is me, I never thought I could be this happy" or "I like myself this much" normal.
It is not though, an "easy" normal.. Here's a confession...I wanted to skip this time. I wanted to go from my husband into a relationship so that I wouldn't have to go through feeling so uncomfortable, lonely, scared and uncertain. If things had gone the way I'd wanted them to, I would never have gotten HERE. What I discovered, reluctantly, is that you can't go around, over or under this pain. You have to go THROUGH it.
If I hadn't gone through it, I would never have discovered my need to control EVERYTHING because of my insecurities and need to feel like I actually had some control. For the first time in my life, I can truly say I have "let go" of trying to know the answers and have embraced uncertainty. My mantra has become "All will be well" because I have seen so many situations not work out the way they were supposed to, turn out event better. There is so much freedom in the absence of worry. (I should probably mention I'm Jewish and neurosis is part of my DNA.)
I recently, (2 days ago) had my computer stolen. The old me would have been freaking out. The new me sat calmly and looked for the lesson. When I was single "the first time' and in the first two years of separation, I accepted things in relationships I would never accept now. Now, I view each disappointment as a lesson. One of my yoga instructors shared something that I think is so powerful. Whether you are in a good moment or a bad moment, it's going to pass. The best option is to live in the present. I've also found through yoga that what I resist, persists. If a pose is uncomfortable, the best way to get through it, is to breathe and be in it.
I recently reread the book "You Are a Badass" by Jen Sincero. She described a bird flying into a window continuously trying to get out. Serendipitously and concurrently, I experienced both in real life and metaphorically the same thing. A bird trapped in her home, keeps flying into the window trying to escape. Rather than calm down, stop and assess the situation, seeing that she has opened a window in her home, the bird continues throwing itself into the glass. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results.
What I realized is that I WAS that bird. I held onto hopes rather than accepting the reality and looking for the window.
August 6, 2017
The night I wrote this blog, while driving my daughter to her father's, she started to talk about something she was going to do with her father and his girlfriend. Then she paused. I understood her reluctancy because she was afraid of hurting my feelings. I told her she shouldn't feel bad about liking her father's girlfriend and that the girlfriend had nothing to do with our divorce. The next morning, I was on my yoga mat where I always seem to have epiphanies. I realized I had still not entirely accepted the reality of my divorce and my ex's now long term relationship with his girlfriend. I knew what I had to do. My chest started beating so hard that I couldn't even remain in my favorite pose, Svasana. I immediately left the room and texted my ex that it was time for me to meet her. Less than five minutes later, a bird flew into my garage and continued to fly against the glass window. (That had never happened.)
So now, I am divorced. My ex is in a happy relationship. My kids are taking trips and spending holidays with their new "blended family" and I am learning to be happy regardless of what is or isn't in my life. I'm happy with me. I can honestly say it's the first time in my life, I'm not chasing anything. I'm just munching on popcorn and a waiting for the next scene.