Tips For Getting Through The Holidays During Divorce

The holiday season can be hard to face when going through proceedings or newly divorced. If you want a quiet season, then let people know. They may be trying to fix you up with a date or adding your name to guest lists. Be direct and state that you will sit this one out and not be on the party circuit this year. Some divorcing people want to escape the frivolities and this is fine.

Get out of town

One way to get out of your environment is to go away and rent a flat, as one acquaintance did in Rome. She gorged herself on pasta, wine and ancient ruins. Another divorced friend went to Asia over these holidays on a tour. She enjoyed the sunshine and fabulous temples. Post-divorce, my sons and I took a cruise around New Zealand and to Australia. We felt the stress and tension from my acrimonious divorce melt away. It was healing. There are some great last minute deals for those that want to take a break from divorce in an exotic locale.


Others may want the distraction of throwing themselves into the frenzy of the season. Individuals might revel in attending office parties, neighbourhood potlucks, films and more. There are plenty of places that you can go solo, to enjoy the festivities. I go to concerts at St. Martin- in- the- Fields in London by myself. Weeks before my marriage was over, I went to a Christmas pantomime of Cinderella. It was hilarious and took my mind off my situation, plus many other singles were in in the audience. Post-divorce I have gone by myself to the lighting of Oxford Street, yet have been surrounded by thousands. You can have fun going to functions alone, when no longer part of a couple.

Family gatherings

One can concentrate on family gatherings and avoid the rest of the seasonal events. Borrow some nieces and nephews and do kid related activities. Release your inner child by going ice skating or pursuing other amusements.

Start new holiday traditions

If you are a parent, ask your youngsters what holiday rituals that they would like to continue and what new things can be added. Shake up your routines during divorce and adopt a few new holiday traditions. This helps one to let go of the past and to move on. My sons and I changed what we do on Christmas. We substituted a big brunch for Christmas dinner and go to a movie. Afterwards, we partake in a simple, but elegant supper. The bonus is I now have more fun and am not stuck in the kitchen.

Be kind to yourself

Buy yourself a present, such as something pampering like a luxurious skin serum or decadent chocolates. One guy is purchasing fitness equipment this year that he has been coveting. Take a pause this season to put your feet up with a good book, go on a hike or whatever is rejuvenating. Whether or not you are staying in, consider the short-cut of buying delicious take away and bakery items to savour over the holidays. When feeling overwhelmed during divorce, see what can be eliminated in your life.


When children are in the picture, you may be splitting up the holidays with the other parent. This is hard, so have an activity planned for their absence. Perhaps go over to your parents’ or get together with other singles for a meal. Some meet up with friends at the pub. Have a distraction ready, so that you are not sitting around feeling blue. My sons would ask me what I was going to do when they were gone. I did not want them to worry about me, so this forced me to find something enjoyable. Celebrations do not have to happen on the actual day and if presents are opened before or after Christmas, then okay.

Have more quality time

Post-divorce, I make less types of cookies, do less decorating and entertaining. Instead I have gained so much more quality time with my sons and am relaxed. I enjoy the holidays now that I am divorced, instead of running around ticking things off my to-do-list as I did when married. If you are struggling, talk to friends about your feelings. They can be a source of support.

This article was originally published on Paradigm Family Law’s web site in York, England.

How to Navigate Celebrations After Divorce

Getting Through Valentine’s Day When Single Again

Valentine’s Day can be like rubbing salt into a raw wound when going through divorce. People are coupled up and you may be the odd man out on this holiday. Others who are exiting a toxic marriage, may feel relief not spending it with a nasty person. There are different facets to Valentine’s Day besides romance. One is platonic friendships, and many of us exchange cards with our pals. Instead of mourning the void that comes with a loss of a partner, focus on celebrating Valentine’s Day in a new way with different people.

Flip the holiday around. Change the evening celebration to one at the beginning of the day, as there are less people in pairs. Get together with friends for a morning cappuccino with a pastry or for lunch. If your social circle is comprised mainly of married folks, catching up at a bakery is doable since it would not interfere with their dinner plans. When celebrating Valentine’s Day mid-morning, there is less pressure to feel one needs a date for this occasion.

Extroverts may want to be around others, yet not be ready to start dating. This can be accomplished by sitting at the communal table in coffee shops and cafes. One man claims he turns down holiday invitations because he has so much fun at these communal tables which are like “one big party.” has groups for various interests and some of these gatherings are scheduled on holidays. Singles can participate in activities or dine with interesting companions. My divorced friend enjoys spending Valentine’s evening with the singles group at her church. They have events on some holidays and sponsor Friday Movie Night. Check around to see if you can join others on this night.

Do your celebrating on the job. Organize a pot luck, or bring in a fabulous treat to make the day more festive. I work part-time at an elementary school and it is party time on Valentine’s Day. The children’s excitement is contagious. Volunteering at their Valentine’s dances is a fun evening without a date. Some people request to work on holidays and enjoy spending it with co-workers instead of being alone.

Children can be a great distraction from thoughts of no longer having a spouse on this holiday. After my divorce, my sons and I would go to an Indian restaurant for dinner. One divorced friend gave a Valentine’s Day party for her young son and his classmates. She said it was the best time that she ever had on that holiday. The kids were hilarious, food was great and she was kept extremely busy. Consider planning some distractions on Valentine’s Day.

Escape Valentine’s Day by having an adventure abroad. When my marriage was falling apart, my mother and I took a tour to Ireland in February. We had a wee bit of snow, but I was thankful to avoid that holiday by being away. Maybe lounging by the pool in the tropics is more your style. Talk to your travel agent or go online to find some great travel deals.

A variation on this travel theme is to volunteer in another part of the world. Organizations, such as Earth Watch, can arrange for one to assist researchers etc., in an exotic locale. There are also plenty of opportunities right at home to help others and boost your self-worth. I volunteer weekly for an animal rescue group and this year it falls on Valentine’s Day. I will be feeling great after cuddling homeless kitties and being the recipient of their unconditional love. Consider helping out on that day with a charity that grabs your interest.

Determine if you would rather hide away or go out on the town. Either way is fine. For the first option, some individuals have gotten a boxed set of DVDs or enticing novels and stayed home. If cooking for one is depressing, then plan ahead and buy some delicious take away or a decadent dessert. Pamper yourself, such as having a spa night with a facial or doing a fitness routine. Find an enjoyable activity.

A millennial who is now single, told me of course he is going out on Valentine’s Day. Although he is no longer part of a couple, he states there is no way he would sit home. This fellow does not have any definite plans, but is confident he will find something going on in Boston. Other millennials were vague and said they would wait and see what their friends were up to on Valentine’s evening. The millennials were going to decide what to do at the last minute and the Baby Boomers were planning things way ahead of time, even if it is to stay home.

If you are feeling lonely around this holiday during divorce, consider adopting or fostering an animal. Having four feline housemates, helps make Valentine’s Day more lively, now that I have an Empty Nest. Whether or not you decide to celebrated Valentine’s Day – it is only one day out of the year.

Originally published on Divorce Force which is a resource or information, plus has a forum




Dealing with Holidays When Going Through Divorce

The holiday season is right around the corner and this can be a challenging period during divorce. It is hard to celebrate when one’s world is crumbling. Experiencing intense anger, fear or hurt, stops one from bubbling over with Christmas cheer.   Keeping busy is a way to avoid dwelling on one’s situation. There are plenty of fun distractions during the holiday season to help take one’s mind off divorce and to reduce stress.

Perhaps this is the year that you sit out the frenetic round of parties. People understand when an individual is facing trauma and not up to participating in festivities. Pick what is most meaningful for you and let go of the rest.   When invited to events, feel free to say that you are unavailable and cannot attend. Explanations are not required. One may want to curl up on the couch and catch up with reading or watching classic television specials. It is fine to have downtime and get ready for what lies ahead in divorce proceedings. Do what is best for you.

It can feel lonely not being paired up anymore. One may be tempted to forego going out altogether. Some newly single people felt more comfortable being in places where it was not apparent they were by themselves. There are various ways to feel connected to others when attending events alone. One is enjoying concerts (often free) in different settings, such as churches. Another is being part of a crowd awaiting the lighting of a town square or tree. When in London, it was thrilling seeing a dark Oxford Street spring to life with thousands of Christmas lights and live music. Sharing this exciting experience with so many others kept me from feeling lonely.

See what your single friends are doing and accompany them to holiday gatherings. My divorced friend and I are willing to go to each other’s events. My married pals will meet up during the day and are happy to indulge in decant Christmas desserts and lattes.  When married, one may not have paid much attention to socializing with colleagues. Let them know that you would like to join their get-togethers.

During divorce and beyond, many people I talked with, said that they spend holidays with family who may live nearby or across the country. They feast a large part of the day and partake in other activities. These now singles, said how their families fill a gap on holidays left by a departing spouse. After my divorce, my two sons and I went away for several Christmases. I am an only child and my parents are deceased. Getting away helped my family of three start new traditions post-divorce and end the ones which no longer fit. Consider doing the same action, especially if you have children. Ask your children which traditions are the most meaningful or fun and then continue them. Ditch the other ones.

Go to Divorce Magazine for this article and many other ones

Having Happier, Healthier Post-Divorce Holidays

Weathering the holidays after a divorce can be difficult for a newly-single parent. You’re trying to make sure the season is a fun, festive time for kids whose family photos will likely look a lot different this year than last, while possibly balancing the wants and needs of the other parent.  

But, even with all of those demands, it’s critical to take care of your own physical and mental health, particularly if the despair of divorce left you depressed. Here are some suggestions that could help you and your loved ones have a happier holiday season. 

Share the Season 

Under most circumstances, both divorced parents should share the joys of the season with their children. To make that as painless as possible for everyone involved, it’s important to set a schedule you can agree on and communicate clearly. Rather than visiting one another’s new homes — which may well be decked with holiday decorations you once shared, or sadly under-adorned — consider dropping off and picking up the kids on some neutral ground that’s festively festooned for the season.   

If the kids are staying with your ex for a while, make plans to spend time with others rather than going it alone. You may also consider joining a support group or signing up for volunteer opportunities. Doing for others will help keep you from dwelling on your divorce, according to Divorce Magazine. Studies have also shown that volunteering can lower depression, increase people’s sense of well being, and even lead to a longer life span. Experts say the positive effects could come from the good feelings volunteering creates, the increased social connections, or the simple act of getting off the couch.   

In addition to making time for others, you should devote some days to self-care. Make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating right, and exercising. Burning off some calories justifies some guilt-free holiday indulgences. Finding time during the hectic holiday season to work up a sweat and balancing good nutrition with an occasional slice of pie will also help boost your spirits without having the same effect on your weight.  

Watch the Weather 

If your mood declines with the temperature, don’t discount depression as a run-of-the-mill bout with the winter blues. It might be a case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For most, symptoms start in the fall, stretch into the winter months, and become more pronounced as the season continues, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although it’s less common, spring and summer bring on seasonal affective disorder for some. In either case, symptoms could include changes in appetite or weight, sleep problems, and difficulty concentrating.   

Specifically, symptoms of fall- and winter-onset seasonal affective disorder could include:  

  • Oversleeping 
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates 
  • Weight gain 
  • Tiredness or low energy   

It’s normal to have some down days, especially after a life-changing event like divorce. But if you feel depressed for extended stretches and can’t get excited and motivated to participate in activities you typically enjoy, it might be time to seek help. This is especially true if your appetite and sleep habits have changed or if you indulge in alcohol to feel comfortable or relaxed. If you have persistent thoughts of death or suicide, it’s critical to call your doctor even if you haven’t experienced other signs of depression.    

After a divorce, you may feel as though you’re doing double duty as a parent during the holidays. But taking care of your own physical and mental well-being when you have so much to do for friends and family isn’t seasonal selfishness. Rather, it’s essential to helping everyone have a happier, healthier holiday season that will bring up warm memories for years to come. 

Author is Paige Johnson      Paige is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast and avid cyclist.  website













How to Enjoy a Sober St. Patrick’s Day

Feel like everybody but you is going to drink alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day? It may seem like you’re the only sober person left in your city – or heck, even your country – but that’s simply not the case. In fact, just 20% of adults of adults plan to consume alcoholic beverages on St. Patrick’s Day. Even if your entire family or group of friends typically down brewskies on March 17th, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy this holiday while remaining sober. From documenting the night for pals to transporting folks around town, here are 4 ways to have a blast this St. Patrick’s Day without consuming adult beverages.

Become a Designated Driver

Approximately 1 out of 3 driving-related deaths involve alcohol. If you don’t want your loved ones to become part of that statistic, offer to drive them to and from their St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans. You don’t have to actually attend the events with them unless you’re comfortable doing so; you can bring a book or electronic device and wait in the vehicle until they’re ready to leave.

Want to make some extra cash while you transport intoxicated passengers? Apply to drive for services such as Lyft or Uber.

Photograph Pals

Stay busy during St. Patty’s Day festivities if you want to avoid the urge to drink alcoholic beverages. One way to do this is by grabbing your camera or smartphone and following your friends around as they engage in drunken adventures. Avoid taking photos of anything that may embarrass them or make them uncomfortable the next day, like if they’re throwing up in a potted plant or falling down drunk in the street.

Arrive Prepared

You may find it easier to decline offers for alcoholic drinks if you bring your own beverage with you. Some restaurants don’t allow outside drinks, but you can probably show up with soda, juice, or water if you attend a house party or St. Patrick’s Day parade.

You may also want to bring some healthy snacks with you. Sometimes people mistake hunger for thirst, so you may find it easier to resist beer or whiskey if your belly is full.

Chill With Other Sober People

If you’ve battled  alcohol addiction or abuse in the past, you’re not alone. More than 15 million American adults  have experienced an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and approximately 1.3 million of them have sought treatment from a facility that specializes in addressing this condition. Depending on how well you’re doing with the long-term treatment of your condition, you may find it stressful to mingle with intoxicated people or attend events where alcohol is present. Luckily, there are tons of people who are also in recovery for AUD, as well as people who have never consumed alcohol in the first place.

Not sure where to find sober folks? Start your search at Alcoholics Anonymous. This well-known association offers meetings  around the world for people struggling with alcohol dependence. Meetings are held 7 days a week, even on holidays, so you can easily find a group of like-minded people to spend time with on March 17th. The organization also offers events for members, such as bowling or swimming, so that may be an option if you don’t want to sit at a meeting.

If you’re religious or don’t mind attending a Christ-based treatment program, you can find sober friends at Celebrate Recovery meetings. Meetings aren’t held as often as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but you can request for your local church to launch the program if you don’t already have one in your area.

You don’t have to spend St. Patrick’s Day cuddled up on the couch with your pets – unless you want to, of course. Follow the tips above to have a fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day without consuming a single drop of alcohol.

Author Sarah Lockwood put together The Prevention Coalition after watching her daughter struggle with addiction for years. With The Prevention Coalition, Sarah provides an online forum where loved ones of people dealing with substance abuse can meet and get support.

Holiday European River Cruise to Christmas Markets

img_3143Holiday River Cruise to European Christmas Markets

Take a European river cruise to enchanting Christmas markets to get you in the holiday spirit. My sons and I had wanted to do this for a decade and finally went on a Viking River Cruise last December originating in Budapest and terminating in Munich. Although we had been to most of the places before, these cities are very different at this time of year with the incredible wooden stalls decked out in Christmas finery. Pack for both Artic and spring like conditions as weather can be a bit unpredictable. Throw in a few smart outfits for the evenings, but nothing formal. The beauty of river cruises as opposed to ocean ones, is that they are docked in the centre of the city in the midst of the festivities. The Christmas markets are usually about a ten minute walk from the ship, which is lovely for quick strolls after dinner. The wooden stalls full of toys, ornaments, food and much more are lit up like a fairyland in the evenings. What is nice about these markets is that one is buying directly from the artists, bakers and toymakers. The markets are often in the heart of the city near the shops, which makes ticking items off your holiday gift list quite easy.

A Christmas river cruise is on a ship of around 100 to 150 passengers. There is much mixing and interactions among the passengers. Meals are open seating with dinner at a specified time with beer and wine included. Activities take place in the lounge and this is a time to mingle with others. One night we had a German Children’s Choir who sang carols in either German or English. They were adorable. There are a variety of lectures, concerts, folkloric dances, a cooking demonstration and so much more.

There is an on board library with reference books and games. There are shelves of books that others can take and replace with one that they have read. I really like the cappuccino/hot chocolate machine that is available round the clock. In the afternoons, local cookies and pastries are provided. The young European staff are amazing and the concierge will arrange for tickets, taxis, reservations or whatever is desired on shore. The holiday décor on the ship is exquisite.

The itinerary includes city excursions which may very slightly during the winter. In the summer we went to a marvellous organ concert in Passau, Germany. On this cruise we went to a gingerbread store that had been in the same family for generations instead. It was interesting learning about the different types of gingerbread and nibbling on the samples. One Christmas market was a bit of a drive, and that was in lovely Salzburg. Fun to see where “The Sound of Music” was filmed. They had quite an extensive market and a very walkable city

The markets in various cities have specialities. We got the potato dish in Bratislava and the cheese recolette in Salzburg, and Munich. Bratwurst was prevalent everywhere.  Hot mulled wine was available in all of the markets and even in the gingerbread shop in Passau. Budapest had unique baked goods as did the other markets. Viking gives handouts on what to buy, both in crafts and food at each market. They explain what is unique in the markets and cities being visited. Their history of the regions and maps are helpful.

This trip was my Christmas present to my sons and we arrived home on December 21st. I bought a few treats on the trip for Christmas morning. This river cruise to the Christmas markets was magical and is a worthwhile addition to anyone’s Bucket list.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine

Vacations for Single Parents, NZ and Australia

When one is newly divorced, there is the dilemma of where to go on vacation. Do you repeat family trips that you did while still married, or start different types of adventures with the kids? Is it sad or reassuring to follow vacation rituals from pre-divorce?

A little over a year after my divorce, my healthy mother had a quick series of vascular events and ended up in Hospice. My two sons and I already had a week cruise to Alaska scheduled and Hospice insisted that we go on it, since we were on the verge of breakdowns. This time was so special and we bonded over having normal conversations again that did not involve death. The incredible scenery and other passengers were just the tonic we needed at this point.

Before she had her medical crisis, my mother had demanded that we go on a Christmas/New Year’s cruise to Australia and New Zealand (I am an only child). While on board the ship in Alaska, it seemed like she was whispering in my ear to book the holiday trip for my two sons and me. Holland America kept saying that there was availability, but the pricing was not correct. They had to give the cruise to us at the price on their computer, which was three for the price of one passenger! The day this happened turned out to be the very day my mother passed away. That was her parting gift to us. My travel agent later said that this nominal cost was unbelievable.

What a special adventure this turned out to be and a more pleasant way of spending our first Christmas without her company. We flew into Auckland, NZ, checked into our ship, and threw our luggage into our cabin. Several people told us before we left, that Waiheke,  a magical island caught in the fifties, was a short ferry ride from Auckland. Indeed it was a fantasy of laid back people in a breath taking environment. The coffee shop, beach, and plethora of flowers just banished any blues. This was our second Christmas since my divorce and we decided to start new rituals.

Distraction is a way to divert energy from worrying about troubles, into having positive experiences. There were plenty of diversions in New Zealand, such as going to a wildlife center, a farm to watch sheep shearing, and learning about Maori culture and that was just the first port of call. New Zealand has warm people, stunning fiords, and Napier which is an Art Deco city. We went from a horrible divorce, my mother’s death, to laughing and viewing life in a more light-hearted way. Steward Island, NZ is mainly a nature preserve with citizens that came for a holiday and have stayed for a decade or so, such as the barista in the coffee shop. Bring medicine for sea sickness if you sail from there through the Southern Seas to beautiful Tasmania. After Melbourne, we ended this journey in breath-taking Sydney. Kids will love Sydney as there is so much to do, such as the aquarium and going to Bondi Beach.

Consider going on a cruise to break away from past rituals when starting your life anew post-divorce. A single divorced pal did a similar Christmas/New Year’s cruise and loved the festivities and not needing dates for dances. The ship’s décor and live holiday musical performances was exactly the pampering I required.   Please read more

Spending Father’s Day Alone

It can be difficult when Father’s Day does not fall during one’s time with the children. Perhaps a holiday swap is feasible, with trading Mother’s Day or another one for Father’s Day. With my parents’ divorce, I spent the holiday with whoever’s turn it was to have me. Decide if you want to be around others or by yourself on your special day. Sorting out your feelings will be a guide for what to do on Father’s Day.

  1. Do something enjoyable. I was on my own for Mother’s Day, so bought a book and went to a coffee shop with comfy chairs where I could linger. Some of my male friends can happily spend a chunk of the day wandering around a large hardware store. Check with the Chamber of Commerce to see what events and activities are happening in your community. Think about taking a guided walk in your own city. One divorced fellow told me he had a great time going on a “Ghost Tour” when living in London.
  2. Volunteer on Father’s Day. Charities are particularly short staffed on holidays and can use an extra pair of hands. Shelter dogs have to be walked and the homeless have to eat. Think about what gives meaning to your life and consider volunteering for a non-profit in that area. Divorced friends have volunteered at lively festivals, and ushered at concerts and plays.
  3. Find out if your family is having a get-together on Father’s Day. Give your dad special attention and take your folks out to lunch. Perhaps you can go over to a sibling’s house and have some fun with nieces and nephews. This can be family time even though your kids are not there.
  4. Distraction works great for taking one’s mind off troubles and missing the youngsters. Is there a film you have been longing to see, but is not kid friendly? Are there some projects that you have been meaning to finish? This could be the day to visit an exhibit or museum that has been on your to-do-list.

Do something physical to let off steam and release angry or sad emotions.  Please read more

How to Spend Mother’s Day Post-Divorce

When Mother’s Day comes in the midst of divorce proceedings, it can be upsetting if your children are not scheduled to be with you. Some parents have put in their parenting plans that the kids spend Mother’s or Father’s Days with the parent that is being honored. Others do an informal trade for the day.

Post-divorce, my sons and I started new traditions to make the day seem more like it belonged to us. We exorcised the ghosts of Mother’s Day past, and did not do anything like we did when I was still married. We shook up our routine and had a simple meal out followed by an anticipated movie. Celebrate in a new way, whether or not you have the kids with you.  My mother was happy to go along with our changes.

Here are some ideas for embarking on new traditions for this day. Have a brunch at your place and invite other women, whether or not they are mothers. Make it extra festive with some champagne or Bloody Marys.  If you have family nearby, get together with them and the kids will have fun with cousins.

Ask your children for suggestions on how to celebrate this occasion in other ways.  When I was little, I treated my divorced mother at a reasonably priced restaurant in a nearby town. The scenic drive was half  of the fun. Give your kids the chance to do something nice for you.

What to do if you are alone on Mother’s Day? See what your single friends are doing, or be the social director and plan an outing with them.  Distraction is the key when feeling lonely or melancholy. Going to a cinema or watching a boxed set at home can help.  My mother would get a great mystery to read on Mother’s Day when I was not home, or she would work. Sitting around moping makes things worse.  Consider getting away on a vacation. You can be with others on a tour, or check off something from your Bucket List. Then you are not around happy families on this day, when you are alone.  Pamper yourself with some new spa products. Whatever I do on Mother’s Day, high quality chocolate will be part of it.

Unhappy Holidays May Trigger Divorce

Some people have chosen to stay together until after the holidays for a variety of reasons. It may be to give the children one last Christmas together. One agony aunt printed a letter from a woman whose daughter-in-law is filing for divorce at the beginning of the year. She questioned what to buy an exiting in-law for Christmas and how to deal with this charade around her grandchildren (who are not informed of the upcoming parental split).

A couple may be hoping that the holiday season will patch up any holes in their relationship. The magic of Christmas does not extend to fixing a broken marital partnership.

The holidays can shine a spotlight on problems that are bubbling up just under the surface. Busy day to day activities with a packed schedule can mask issues that are not being addressed. When one or both have long job commutes or kids with jammed agendas, this enables a couple to pretend that everything is okay. When interacting with each other (or attempting to avoid it) during holiday time off from work, spouses can feel empty inside.

When holidays are lonelier being married than they ever were when single, this is a warning that something needs to be done. Holidays can be the big wakeup call that you really do not want to be with your partner for the next set of holidays the following December.

After a few excruciating New Year’s Eves with her husband, a woman thought over their relationship. Coming to the realization that she did not ever want to be alone with him, pushed her into ending her marriage. Although now divorced, her solo New Year’s Eves are something she anticipates rather than dreads.

The holidays are over and people are thinking about New Year resolutions or changes that they want to make in their lives. This introspection is one reason that divorce solicitors and mediators are extra busy in January and February. Feeling hollow and that the holidays were lacking something, can point that all is not well with an area in life. If things are going fine at work, with kids and so forth, then look at your marriage. Some spouses do not see that they are avoiding each other by participating in a whirlwind of holiday events.  Please read more…

New Year’s Eve as Newly Single and Divorced

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and many are thinking of how to avoid this whole holiday. Others are celebrating their newly found freedom and will be partying the night away. Decide if you want to be a hermit or around others and plan accordingly. One way to not be alone, yet be distracted from the holiday, is to work.  On your job, you can treat the holiday as another work day/evening, or join in the staff festivities and potlucks.  When you are serving the public or dealing with projects, your mind will be on the task at hand.

Some newly divorced have shied away from small, intimate gatherings and gone for the big galas instead where conversation can be  more superficial. One aspect of New Year’s Eve is that couples may be together, similar to Valentine’s Day and less apt to invite single friends as they do for Thanksgiving. I felt lonelier when still married, on New Year’s Eve than I ever did post-divorce. I then celebrated with my mother and sons watching the ball drop while eating a luscious treat. I slept in on New Year’s Day, watched a parade, went to the movies and made a simple, but delicious meal. Think about starting different New Year’s Eve/Day rituals like I did with my sons. It may be offering to babysit your niece and having a pizza party. Kids are a great distraction and provide amusement. If they aren’t yours, then their parents will love you for letting them get some couple time away.

Other divorced friends have turned down invitations and enjoyed pampering themselves, such as with a facial mask and a great book. If you don’t want to go out for an expensive feast on New Year’s Day, then meet pals at a coffee shop.

The Washington Post had an article that said 49% of adults over 18 are not married (but some still may be co-habituating or in relationships). This is a large number of people not joined at the hip with a spouse on this holiday. About.Com stated that in 2010 of the 11.7 million single parents living with their kids, 9.9 of them were single mothers. That adds up to many single people deciding what to do on New Year’s Eve/Day.

The UK Guardian stated that in 2011, married and civil partnerships comprised 47% of the adult  population. In the UK, from 2001 to 2011, one person households increased by 1/2 million.  What used to be mainly couples celebrating New Year’s is now many singles. This in turn provides new ways to celebrate these two days and with more unattached friends.

Whatever you decide to do, have a fun New Year’s Eve/Day and remember to take Milk Thistle supplement to support your liver with the extra alcohol consumption.

Christmas Experiences Beat Materialism

Budgets may be stretched to the breaking point after a divorce – so think about concentrating on experiences vs a mountain of presents during the holidays. If you reminisce about your childhood, it is the fun times during the holidays that you remember – not the particular Barbie outfit or model airplane received.

Taking the focus off materialism and on to what is really meaningful, is a life lesson in itself. The children are now getting two sets of presents after divorce. Do not try to compete with your former spouse in the gift arena nor try to make up for their divorce experience with extravagant material goods. Shift traditions from having the opening of gifts as the main event, to more of a short activity before the festive feast, visiting grandma or whatever.

Explain to the children that you have less money to spend on gifts and to let you know one (or several) things that are most important to them. My sons’ favorite present is their stocking bursting with chocolate and small goodies. Decide together what holiday activities would be fun to do. Here are a few suggestions mainly supplied by my sons, to do before Christmas instead of blowing money:

  • Go to a live nativity and especially enjoy the animals who are stealing the show. A nearby church has one every year with hot chocolate, cookies and carols. The sheep, donkeys etc. are just adorable (and ornery).
  • Walk downtown in the evening and enjoy the festive holiday displays. It is like wandering around in a fairyland of lights. We top that off with lattes and a treat afterwards at a coffee shop which is opened late.
  • Check your Chamber of Commerce or another local guide for free holiday events, such as a tree lighting, Santa parade, children’s chorus and so forth.    Please read more:

Banish the Holiday Blues Post-Divorce

It can be difficult facing the holiday season when still recovering from divorce. Reliving the past can make the season be less merry. Your life may seem like the subject of Elvis’s Blue Christmas song:

I’ll have a Blue Christmas without you

I’ll be so blue just thinking about you

Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree

Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me

Acknowledge your emotions such as sadness. Burying them does not make them go away, but rather backfires when they surface at inopportune times. Recognize that you are facing a loss and are still grieving when the rest of the world seems caught up in the frivolities of the season. What helped me was watching comedies and reading humorous stories. Laughing a lot lessened any pain. Do what works best for you.

Many have mentioned that taking a break from their surroundings helped speed them along in healing. Not going to where they celebrated Christmas Eve dinner or to other places that they went as a couple, reduced dwelling in the past. Skipping some holiday rituals that were done when married, contributed to being able to move on. You are making a break from your old life this holiday season and embarking on a new adventure. One way is by taking a trip – whether to the heart of Europe or discovering new sights in the UK. There is something mystical about the Highlands for me.

When I was in Australia and New Zealand for two holiday periods with my sons, people did not seem to be depressed. They were busy going to the beach, hiking and enjoying the various outdoor pursuits. The sunshine was a mood lifter during the holidays. The Aussies’ Christmas cheer was contagious during this extended daylight. A divorced friend took a small packaged tour to Asia and had the same experience. She also enjoyed the camaraderie of the other travelers over the holidays along with the sun.

In the Northern Hemisphere our holiday season falls in the height of darkness. The perpetual clouds can add to the gloom one may be experiencing post-divorce. The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA) charity estimates that 21% of UK residents have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to some degree, which surfaces during the winter months. The symptoms for SAD are: feeling lonely, lethargic, moody, sleep disturbances and finding it harder to be with people. These are also what people can experience after a break-up. It can be extra challenging when someone has the double whammy of having SAD during winters, with a divorce on top or that.

Please read more…

First Christmas Together When In A New Dating Relationship

Your divorce or break up is over and you have moved on. Now you have been seeing someone for only a couple of months and the relationship is quite new. Christmas is looming on the horizon and you are not sure what to get or how much to spend on a present. The holiday season is about celebrating with family and you have not even met your date’s relatives yet. Here are some tips on getting through the holiday season with a recently met love interest.

First thing on many people’s agenda is “what do I get them for Christmas?” Something too cheap appears that you have a slight interest in them. The too personal or expensive gift hints for commitment (or possibly marriage). Avoid fine jewellery that could suggest stronger intentions than you may have. Ethnic jewellery may be okay- however several guys recommended staying away from that too. One man buys vibrantly coloured silk scarves for new girlfriends.

Something in the in the middle is a safer bet, but what? Consider purchasing an item in their field of interest that is unique, but not a big ticket thing. One woman who travelled for business, picked up golf balls and inexpensive logo accessories from esteemed golf courses. This was a major hit. A chef might like cool new gadgets with some exotic ingredients (African spices for example). Foodies may appreciate a custom made gift basket from a gourmet shop. Guys may want to pop into a skin care shop, such as Neal’s Yard Remedies to have an expert staff member select some fabulous serums and lotions. Get natural products with essential oils or organic ingredients which will appeal to more women. One fellow goes to a local store on his travels and picks up regionally made hand cream, lip balm and so forth. This is well received.

The goal is to give a personalized gift without screaming how much it costs. Several smaller items grouped together a as present, makes it less obvious what the monetary value is. One divorced woman  does  searches to see how much was spent on a bracelet, etc. when she is on the fence about a relationship. She uses that as a guideline for selecting gifts for new relationships.

I had started dating a guy who noticed that I could use a small bookcase. That was one of the best presents that I received. If you are handy making something, that is a thoughtful gift. If not the imaginative type, ask some co-workers for a few suggestions.

If you recently started dating, you may not have met each other’s families yet – including children from previous relationships. This is the time of year when you may be meeting almost all family members at once during large holiday gatherings. Yes, you may be judged, but keep a pleasant demeanor and be a good listener. Do not get drawn in to family conflicts, just stay on the side lines. These celebrations can involve a copious amount of alcohol and it may be tempting to overindulge to calm your nerves. Do not give into this temptation. You cannot go back in time to undo embarrassing antics or take back stupid comments said, when you got a little too tipsy. Make sure to drink water to stay hydrated and nibble on food when consuming alcohol at these parties.

It helps to find out ahead of time how dressy or casual an event will be. You do not want to show up in formal attire for a laid back party where people wear their worst holiday sweaters received as gifts. When I start dating someone around the holidays or am invited to a boyfriend’s’ family get-together, I take my signature Italian cookies.  They are different and show that I put care into baking these goodies.

Insert  fun into a new relationship by enjoying holiday festivities. Walk around downtown gazing at the Christmas lights. Go ice skating at an outside rink. Allow the holiday season to bring out your playfulness.





Christmas as a Single Parent – Some Tips

Divorce is a way to weed out holiday rituals that have become stale, from the ones with meaning. Revamp your holiday to-do-list with some fresh traditions to start your new life as a single parent. Since it is only my two sons and I in our city, we go to the cinema on Christmas Day for an exciting blockbuster film. It gives us something fun to anticipate after opening presents and having brunch.

Ask the children for input on what they like best about Christmas Eve/Day and their answers may surprise you. Consuming an elaborate dinner that takes hours to prepare may not even be on their Wish List. Getting a pizza or eating comfort food on Christmas Eve while watching a marathon of holiday movies, may be what they desire. Save yourself loads of work by incorporating new, low key traditions into this frenetic Christmas season. My sons wanted to stop the tedious activity of making and frosting sugar cookies. They substituted assembling a pre-cooked gingerbread house from a German kit. They enjoy creatively decorating the house and it is fun instead of a chore.

It is the uninterrupted time spent with children that matters– rather than frantically flitting from one holiday event to another. This means turn off your devices and be fully present. My sons and I attended a children’s Christmas concert in Germany last December. These angelic voices were heavenly, yet an American woman in the front row was glued to her smart phone. A few of the young soloists looked hurt as they watched her not paying attention to them. When my now adult sons look back upon our Christmases, it is time spend just hanging out together watching “ The Grinch that Stole Christmas” and others, while downing holiday goodies that means the most to them.

If you are negotiating how to split holidays – think about which part is more special to you.  Please read more…

Blended Families at Christmastime

It is challenging blending families together and merging holiday traditions. Some families have Christmas Eve as the main celebration and for others it is the following day. The holidays turn into a juggling act – spending a chunk of it on the road going between houses. When two sets of children and four biological parents are involved, having step-siblings spend some holiday time together gets complicated. Both parents may have remarried and have blended families. Step-siblings may desire opening presents together so previous arrangements may have to be altered to accomplish this.

The Parenting Plan meticulously sets in place how the holidays are to be divided up, which worked well in the past. When one or both parents get remarried, having kids be with step-siblings over holidays can be a logistical feat. Some parents have gotten around this by having large gatherings for all. Step-parents get to meet the other step-parents with grandparents and relatives thrown into the mix. The kids get to be with everyone.

Some children go to the other parent’s house every other week or weekend. Parents can opt to spend whatever holiday falls during their time entirely with the kids. No switching back and forth. My parents did this. When Christmas or whatever occurred when I was with one, I stayed there and celebrated it with that parent.

Feel free to mix up traditions. Memories can be attached to certain ones and shaking them up a bit ensures a merrier time. If you always went out for a big Christmas Eve dinner when previously married, turn that around into an elegant Christmas brunch or pub lunch. Do fun activities you enjoy with the kids, but in a different order. That gets rid of the ghosts from Christmas past in order to enjoy the present.

Consider starting totally new holiday rituals. Or have family members state one or two holiday traditions that are important to them. See how they can be incorporated into your new family life. It may be tempting to do too much. Yes going to The Nutcracker, pantomimes, parties galore are fun, however downtime is important. Watching “Elf” on TV while munching on pizza is hanging out together and strengthening the family bond.

If things seem strained with step-sibling interactions, consider allowing their friends over or inviting your nieces and nephews to join in the holiday fun.  On occasion, having extra kids around can help diffuse tension and calm the atmosphere. Do activities with new step-children. Some step-mothers baked Christmas cookies or taught culinary skills to their young family members. Step-dads have done sports with step-sons when their mums were in the kitchen for long cooking sessions near the holidays.

Although Blended Families represent a new chapter – they are formed as a result of losses.  A couple is brought together due to a death or breakup with a former partner. It is okay for youngsters to display mixed emotions. They can still love a new step-parent while mourning the loss of their former life. Bonds take time to strengthen. The first Christmas as a blended family may be more volatile with the following ones peaceful and delightful.  Hang in there, your patience will be greatly rewarded.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine

Go on a Christmas Cruise Post-Divorce

IMG_1613One way to start new Christmas traditions is to get away from it all and wipe the slate clean after divorce. No more “this was what we did when we were still married last Christmas Eve.” One happily divorced woman who is now my friend, went on a Christmas/New Year’s cruise solo. She chose to surround herself with many people and felt the Christmas spirit. Not needing a date to dance the night away on New Year’s Eve was a bonus.

On cruises, there are often get-togethers for the single passengers of all ages. Beats moping around one’s flat when friends are occupied with their own holiday plans. Both my sons and I did two holiday cruises on Cunard’s QE2 with my husband and mother. Then just the three of us did two post- divorce ones on Holland America.

What are holiday cruises like?

The anticipation starts months ahead of time when selecting the destinations. The cruises are a nice mix of exploring other cultures during the day and consuming scrumptious meals on board while possibly being serenaded by a string quartet. It was a unique experience hearing a steel band in the Caribbean playing carols and seeing Gibraltar decked out in Christmas decorations. There are different types of entertainment – concerts, musicals, comedians, magic shows, plus much more. Other activities are lectures, cooking demonstrations, computer classes, quizzes, and bridge, just to mention a few. One can be sociable or chill out reading in a quiet corner. The kids are kept busy and the single parents get some alone time or to interact with other adults. The staff puts on a show and sings carols. The QE2 had a traditional British Christmas which included a hilarious pantomime. Holland America embraced its Dutch heritage with their special foods and celebrations.

I packed my sons’ Christmas stockings with several small gifts. I picked up something on the trip, a local t-shirt or souvenir, since the cruise is their present. Having just a few stocking stuffers to open gets the focus off material goods and puts the emphasis on shared experiences. At home we never attended so many holiday programs or ate such feasts as we did on board.

The ships were decorated exquisitely and not having to take down the tree and so forth is a gift in itself. The time we did not spend getting tasks done in the frenetic holiday season meant we could bond in a stress-free environment. A few singles told me that they tucked away presents from their families and looked forward to opening them on Christmas Day. If you enjoy a surprise, consider going to a shop with items you like (skin serum for me) and pay them to wrap up something you can have on Christmas day.

The adults seemed to enjoy Father Christmas’s appearance on Christmas almost as much as the children.

He and the elves gave out presents while the adults sipped their spiked egg nog. My twenty-two year old was excited that Father Christmas remembered the college kids on board too.

A priest conducted lovely Christmas Eve and Day masses (actually every day). Classic holiday movies are shown in the cinema and being on this type of cruise is truly magical.

Book early since the holiday ones sell out.

I bring two non-religious holiday cards and put a little cash in them. One is a present for our cabin steward and the other for the waiter and the assistant at our table.  The money I do not spend on gifts, decorating, entertainment and food pays a chunk of the cruise price. It is possible to get cruise ships out of Southampton and other UK ports which saves on transportation costs.

As a single mother it is easier to budget for a cruise holiday, since I know the costs up front. We drink water and do not have added fees, such as a beverage or alcohol package. We eat in the main dining room which is included, and forgo the pricey specialty restaurants which are not. Some cruise lines include shore excursions in their price and others alcohol with meals. Look carefully at what is included and do some comparison shopping.

I asked various singles if they felt lonely on a cruise over the holidays and their answers were a big “no.” On the various holiday and regular cruises, quite a few passengers are travelling on their own.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine

Ways to Reduce Stress during Christmastime

Holidays stressing you out? Divorce is a time to start anew and a good excuse to notify others that one is simplifying their life. Divorce can be the catalyst to spend more holiday time with your children and less on making the party rounds or stressing out about getting through your holiday “to do” list.

Below are 7 tips for reducing stress during the holidays:

1. Change your focus from a to-do-list to a let’s-have- fun-list. We check off some holiday activities as if they were chores. Scrap the list, start over,  and decide what you and the children really want to do. Making seven kinds of cookies is deleted and baking loads of one kind, like gingerbread, makes the new list. Next year bake a different type or enlist family members to each make their favorite cookies and then share.

2. Decorating for Christmas is fun. Sipping hot cocoa while watching “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” and hanging ornaments on the tree is relaxing. The Christmas wonderland in your house is lovely, but contemplating putting away all of those baubles post-holiday, is not. Avoid that stress by this method. In January, have a fun place for lunch selected or a movie for a certain time. Enlist your little elves to gather the holiday decorations from around the house and put them in one place. Remove the tree decorations and box up everything for storage. It is almost a game at my house and we can get everything down, put away, and the naked tree outside, in one half hour. Then we go to our fun activity. No fuss or nagging.

3. Reduce holiday stress by telling people that since you are divorced, you are making some changes in your life. You are no longer buying presents for the extended family and a long list of acquaintances. You may hear sighs of relief when others tell you they had been feeling the same way. Suggest a simplified plan, perhaps just the cousins get small gifts or one for the whole family. My friends buy a game for the families on their list. We were at the John Lewis store in London, where a salesman plays board games with the customers. The new ones were so enjoyable, that my friends got most of their Christmas shopping done right then and there in September.

4. Go with the flow. When we have too much scheduled, it is stressful and we are not focusing on the activity at hand. Mentally we are planning the logistics for the next several events, instead of being fully present in the moment. Do less and enjoy what you are currently doing, more. Have a flexible schedule with plenty of space, to allow impromptu fun to happen.   Please read more…

Single on Valentine’s Day – How to Have Fun

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and one can feel like an outcast from Noah’s Ark – where everyone is half of a pair. It is difficult to be alone when it is the first time in a decade or so on this romantic holiday. Here are some suggestions on how to get through this difficult period. A valentine does not have to be a partner, but rather anyone! My four cats are my valentines and we will all devour some treats, me chocolate and them, tuna. If you have children at home, cooking a nice meal together including a decadent dessert will keep you occupied. Babysitting the neighbor’s kids or your nieces and nephews will be engaging and a bit of fun. Children and pets are entertaining and a diversion from any gloom.

Get out of town and have an adventure! Last year I had a business trip to a large city and arrived early afternoon on February 14th. It was one of my best Valentine’s Days and I was alone. My centrally located hotel was near a lovely bookstore and I purchased a British mystery. I ended up at a department store where I had a facial and bought chocolates. Reading late in a teahouse was heavenly. Sometimes being away from your familiar environment is the antidote to sadness on this particular night. There are plenty of packaged tours that will send you to a glorious place in the sun or to an exotic locale where the holiday may not be a big deal at all.

Surviving this holiday involves distraction. Shake up your usual routine and do something different. Go to an ethnic restaurant or a place with a communal table. My son will be working at a Japanese restaurant on this night and I will enjoy some shrimp and salad. I will have great service from a charming young man and be among other diners. I have a Scandinavian mystery tucked away for after dinner. Have your treat during the day at a fabulous bakery with a latte, if going out solo in the evening seems depressing. It is when you have nothing to do but mope and reminisce that this is evening seems long and morose.

Facing New Year’s Eve Post-Divorce

IMG_1403Divorce is particularly challenging during the holiday season. One is used to having a date for New Year’s Eve and now for the first time in several decades, one is alone. Take stock of your situation and decide if you want to be with others or hole up at home. It is nice when family members are nearby and would enjoy your company watching global festivities on the telly (as I did with my mum the first two New Year’s Eves post-divorce). Get in your sister’s good graces by offering to watch your little nephews on that evening. Get the word out among friends and co-workers that you are available to babysit. Plan something fun to do with those extra pounds earned, maybe a spa treatment or two.

Near the end of my unhappy marriage, I did taxes one New Year’s Eve.  After my divorce, I knew any New Year’s Eves would top some of the ones I had while still married. Putting my life in perspective helped me to move on and enjoy the holiday. If you want to spend New Year’s Eve home alone, you can say that you already have plans, if asked. Otherwise, well-meaning friends may want to drag you along to some gatherings with their social circle. Save an exciting new novel for that evening.

Post-divorce, I was on a cruise ship for two New Year’s Eves with my sons. There were extravagant decorations, much fanfare, not to mention the scrumptious nearly midnight buffet. The dance floor was so crowded, that a partner was not required. The festivities included a show, concerts, and a raffle on the second cruise. I won the grand prize of a cruise for two, so my evening was ever so exciting.

Consider going away, as several other divorced friends have done. One went on a group tour to India, and she enjoyed the camaraderie of the other travellers.  Another women took her kids to Sri Lanka and the hotel was decorated beautifully and her kids learned how New Year’s is celebrated elsewhere. Closer to home are lovely country hotels with holiday packages and festivities.

My divorced mother used to work on New Year’s Eve as a nurse. She was around other people and the employees had a potluck party. The patients’ families remembered the staff with more goodies. Perhaps working is an option and then you can avoid this holiday when it is painful.

If New Year’s Eve is depressing consider doing your celebrating on New Year’s Day as we do. My sons will be out and about on the Eve, and I will be with my cats. We spend New Year’s Day together. My sons and I watch the telly during brunch, then get a latte out before seeing a film. We come home and have a delicious, but easy meal. People are not paired up on New Year’s Day, as they are on the Eve, so this could be the time to celebrate with friends. If holidays seem unbearable, consider seeing a divorce coach to get you back on track. Distraction is a good method to get through this holiday when feeling lonely.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine


Ways to Start New Holiday Traditions Post-Divorce

IMG_1410Divorce is a time to start anew with holiday traditions. Have a pizza party and ask your children what rituals they enjoy and what would they like to skip. You may be surprised with their responses. We get caught up in the frenzy of the holiday season and our kids may just want to chill out next to the Christmas tree. When I was married, I annually threw a big bash for my husband’s colleagues and clients, not realizing what a dent it made in the time I spent with my boys. I tackled holiday rituals as if checking them off a “to-do” list, instead of being totally present in the fun moments with my sons. Now we watch Christmas programs on TV and have quick meals. They ditched making frosted sugar cookies and now decorate a gingerbread house from a kit. This is an example of giving a former tradition a new twist.

How To Build New Holiday Traditions After Divorce:

1. Streamline activities to free up more time for relaxation. Make two types of cookies instead of ten. Some moms go to a “Christmas cookie exchange” where each participant brings a lot of only one type of cookie and everyone goes home with a variety. Keep holiday meals simple, yet elegant. You do not have to cook everyone’s favourite dish, alternate them different years. I cook an already pre-cooked pot roast and do my veggies the night before. Then I actually enjoy Christmas Eve and Day with my small family, and not tethered to the stove.

2. Start new holiday hosting traditions with your family. Alert family members that with your divorce situation, you are unable to host Christmas dinner. Or have it potluck, with you supplying the place, utensils, and hot cider. Perhaps you would be willing to host a family get-together with soup, salad, cookies and board games a few days before or after Christmas. It is hard to say no, but offer suggestions for new Christmas family gatherings.

3. Do free Christmas activities on a tight budget. Go to your city’s tree lighting ceremony or check out Christmas light displays. We go downtown and walk amid the lovely Christmas lights and then get hot chocolate or lattes at a coffee shop which is open late. My sons and I go to a live nativity with a multitude of adorable animals. That church has carollers, cookies, and hot drinks which adds to the festivity.

Short cuts during Holidays

IMG_1420The holiday season is sneaking up on us again along with endless to-do-lists and frenzied shopping. How to keep your sanity, good mood and stay ahead of the game? The secret is taking short cuts and doing tasks ahead of time. One may have court dates, mediation or collaborative sessions and feel too drained to join in the festivities. Pick the holiday celebrations that bring you the most joy and do not feel obligated to attend every one.

  • If you are usually the one hosting Christmas dinner or the family gathering, then it is time to have a frank discussion. Let others know in advance that you are no longer up to doing this with your divorce and offer some suggestions. The holiday dinner could rotate every year to a different family member’s house. Having it potluck makes it easier on the hosts.

One divorced mum decided that family holiday meals would be at a nice restaurant so no one was chained to the kitchen or on clean up duty.

  • Bundle tasks together to free up some time for relaxation. I write my Christmas cards and letters while enjoying a holiday movie on the telly with my sons. Have a wine party with pals while you each wrap some of your Christmas presents. You get a chore done while partying. Spend time with a godchild while you bake Christmas cookies.
  • Cheating is okay. Not every dish has to be made from scratch. Good Housekeeping magazine for example, has a meal or single product from a variety of stores which is blind tested and then judged. These tasters rate them on most like homemade or best flavours. Take the winner, dump the packaging, place it on your nice china, and wait for the compliments. I buy pre-cooked meat for some holiday meals and heat it up with my homemade herb marinade. My sons enjoy it.

Valentine’s Day Adventures

Get out of your comfort zone and boost your self-confidence and fitness level. Challenge yourself to train and complete charity treks and cycling trips over Valentine’s Day. On February 13th, VSO Charity has a climb up Kilimanjaro and Charity Challenge has a cycling trip from Saigon to Ankor Wat.  Great Ormond Street Hospital has a cycling trip around Rajasthan, India starting on the 14th. There are many possibilities such as going to the Rift Valley, Morocco, hiking the Inca Trail, and other exotic locales.  Check charity web sites for these adventures and up-to-date departures.

Gwen was devastated to be newly single and dreaded being alone. Her adult children were sympathetic, however they had their own lives elsewhere.  A girlfriend told Gwen about a charity trek to Kilimanjaro and the two pals commenced training and hiking together. This trek required a certain amount of pledges to be raised for a charity, so these two were busy asking co-workers, businesses, and family to donate money. Gwen and Rose bonded with others in similar situations on this trek and made life-long friends.  They felt empowered, fulfilled and loneliness was a thing of the past. Gwen’s children were relieved that she moved on with her life in such a positive way.

Valentine's day ideasOutward Bound has programs in the wilderness with some around Valentine’s Day. Participants “emerge to find out that they can do more than they thought they could.” You leave with a sense of personal growth.

If you want to get out of town before Valentine’s Day or other holidays, check on volunteer trips. You can assist archeologists on intriguing research right in the UK. Or you can travel to far flung places with volunteer associations. I went to a travel talk by a person who did scuba diving in Australia, counting marine life for Earthwatch.

Some people have done part of a Gap Year for Adults Program post-divorce. There are numerous books, web sites and resources devoted to this subject of doing Gap Year mid-life.   A divorced woman over 50 gave a fascinating slide show about her Gap Year installing and maintaining computers in a rural hospital abroad. You discover hidden talents and interests when embarking on these new post-divorce adventures.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine .



The Valentine’s Day Blues

Facing your first Valentine’s Day during or post-divorce can be like pouring salt into an open wound or a “non-event” as many people disclosed.  You may feel like holing up at home screaming at the world, or out and about as if it were any other day.  Assess your feelings to see which strategies would work best for you.

Those that did not really celebrate Valentine’s Day while married had the easiest time post-divorce.  A few who had been married to doctors that either were too busy, or chose not to commemorate this occasion, did not even remember their first Valentine’s Day when newly divorced. Kelly has been divorced twice, yet can only recall recent ones. People who had the most difficult time when newly single, were the ones who had been wined and dined on this holiday. This would be the time to start inventing new Valentine’s traditions that are special for you.

Some friends have said that their children have been a happy distraction on Valentine’s Day post-divorce.  They have a special dinner and play games or watch a movie.  They stated that it is difficult to feel lonely or “poor me” when busy with youngsters. Endear yourself to friends by offering to babysit their little tykes on this night.  Invite your niece over for a pajama pizza party and show chick flicks. Veronica had a full-blown party for her young son and his buddies on her first post-divorce Valentine’s Evening with yummy food, fun activities and luscious treats. She was having a great time and was too busy being hostess, to dwell upon any sad thoughts. This is still Veronica’s best Valentine’s Day.

Coffee shops and cafes often have a communal table where solo diners can enjoy being around others on Valentine’s Day. These gatherings sometimes become a party, and one couple who met at a restaurant’s singles’ table, are now happily married.  After Benny’s breakup, he discovered the communal table at his upscale natural grocery store and spends his holidays there. They have a salad bar and gourmet food that can be eaten on the premises with lattes. He enjoys the camaraderie especially during a holiday and now shuns invitations from his married friends. Erin went to her country club solo for her first post-divorce Valentine’s Day dinner. She forgot that the country club’s clientele was mainly married, so was the only diner at the single’s table.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine


Children of Divorce at Christmas and Holiday Visitation

IMG_2946It is a frenetic time with all we have to do at Christmas. We have our own stress level to deal with and children can get a bit lost in all of this. They may be more quiet or acting out for your attention, but there are ways for all of us to thrive during this busy time. If your kids are bouncing off the walls, then do a physical activity together, possibly taking a walk around the neighborhood.

The key to this is distraction. Find some fun or relaxing distractions for you to partake in during the holidays. It may be reading a best-seller or being curled up with some special British magazines. The important idea is to have something concrete to do.

Then let your children know what this specific distraction is. Whether it is reading with your cat nearby or going out for lattes with a friend at the only coffee shop open on Christmas.  If your children know you are doing a certain activity, then they can be more relaxed and enjoy their time with the other parent.  Mine were more reluctant to leave me until I showed them my pile of magazines.  My cat just had emergency surgery early in the morning on  Christmas Eve, so I said we’d hang out together in front of the tree.

It also helps if you have a special holiday ritual to do when they return. The kids have something to look forward to do with you and be a part of your Christmas celebration, even if late in the evening.

If you take care and nurture yourself, then your tank won’t be so empty that you can’t give to others. If friends ask what you’d like for Christmas, then hint that pampering spa products would be appreciated.

Take deep breathes and bring out your bakery made quiche and desserts.  You may even enjoy a bit of pampering or me time for  when your kids are on visitation.

10 Tips for Getting Through Thanksgiving When Alone

Thanksgiving can be a challenging time especially when going through a divorce or newly widowed.  You may be undecided whether to crawl under your covers or do something more social. If you are experiencing  grief, it compounds the situation. If your children are spending the holiday with your ex, then it can be an extra sad time.  Thanksgiving can be easier if you stay busy.

1. See if there is a singles’ group in your town or church who may be getting together on this day. My local MeetUp. com group is meeting at a fun restaurant for a Thanksgiving Day lunch. This is especially nice when you don’t have the cash or time to travel across the country to be with your family.

2. My sons and I started our new tradition of going to a movie before our feast at home during my divorce. We watch the Macy’s Day Parade, then have a latte near the cinema and see a much anticipated movie. Choose new rituals for this day.  It may be breakfast out and then TV and a hike. New traditions may include  friends.  See what fits for you.

3. Many people volunteer on this day and say they get so much more back than  they give. Classic volunteering is cooking or serving at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. There are other options.  Remember animals still need to be fed, loved and have their cages cleaned at an animal shelter, etc.

4. Go to a restaurant or an upscale grocery store and eat their ready made food at their community table on Thanksgiving. My former  boss goes to Whole Foods and eats turkey while enjoying talking to the others.

5. Shake up your day by having a breakfast feast at a restaurant and  then veg out in front of the  TV. You can do your normal rituals, perhaps in a different order.

6. Have your traditional Thanksgiving Feast, but in a different environment.  If you live in a more tropical area, consider a picnic.

7. Take a trip somewhere, possibly out of the country. If you are on a group tour, there will be camaraderie and a special holiday menu. Or maybe go to a culture that does not celebrate this holiday and do something totally different. This may be the time for your Spa break. I’ve had seafood near the ocean on a Thanksgiving beach vacation.

8. Have an adventure.  Book a trip with Outward Bound or some other outdoor company. Being in nature will recharge your batteries, while distracting you with physical challenges.

9. Remember it is just one day. Get a jump start on writing your Christmas cards or planning your Christmas list.

10. Go through a pile of magazines or save a best-seller book for this day.  If you are staying home, pick up a delectable treat the day before.  Recently read that Thanksgiving as we know it, will be gone in about 5 years, since it is another shopping day already.