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Global Guide to Divorce

Jack Jack the Cat

Moving On

Finding Meaning in Life Post-Divorce

Divorce shakes one’s foundation, so doing some rebuilding of one’s life afterwards is a must. What seemed important when married such as extended shopping sprees, may be viewed as trivial now. Let divorce be the catalyst to shift priorities in order to have a more rewarding life. One can feel like they are drifting along and every day is the same. How to get your groove back after divorce? The secret is to discover what is meaningful to you and gives you a sense of purpose in this world.

Leo Tolstoy said “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” Volunteering is a great way to connect with others, while getting so much more back. Volunteering counteracts misconceptions of feeling worthless, powerless or weak which can be by products of a toxic marriage. Seeing tangible results of how you make a difference in the world is what gives meaning to your existence. I volunteer weekly for a cat rescue organization and the kitties’ purrs and affection just make my day. Other divorced friends help out at soup kitchens, delivering meals to homebound elderly, or use professional skills such as accounting. This is what ignites the spark in our lives. Think about what your interests are and find a position in one of those areas. In the public schools – we have executives who tutor youngsters over their lunch hours. The staff tells them that this is their most important job and these high powered individuals readily agree. The Dalai Lama stated “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.”

Reaching out and strengthening connections increases life satisfaction. There are all kinds of studies which show that having bonds to people increases longevity and contributes to better health. Rekindle old friendships which may have slipped away when married. Spend more time with family and be an involved aunt. Childhood is fleeting and your children grow up quickly. Give them undivided attention with your devices switched off and really listen. Plan fun outings and special pizza nights at home. I expanded my social network and feel more content. I am closer to my college pals post-divorce and this creates more pleasure in my life.

Discover what kick starts your passion and go for it. For us it is going on global journeys. We live frugally and diligently save cash to reach our goal, which is a good life lesson in itself. My sons and I become closer without the distractions of being at home. It is possible to travel to far flung places on a limited budget. For others it is dusting off an instrument, painting, hiking, treks in exotic places and so forth. Engaging in your passions is what quality of life is all about. This includes following your dreams.

Experiences give richness to our lives much more than another handbag or the latest gadget. It is the memories of visiting your grandparents’ farm or summer trips to an amusement park that are meaningful, not some item which was broken eons ago. Instead of buying things for the quick fix of feeling better, consider which experiences will give long lasting joy.   Please read more   divorcedmoms.com/articles/suddenly-single-and-seeking-purpose

 

Getting Rid of the Divorce Blues – Moving On

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when stress and loss mounts up in divorce. Going through monumental changes and downgrading one’s lifestyle can result in feeling blue. There may be financial worries and the realization hits that one will see the children only part-time. If a person is prone to depression all of this turmoil can be a trigger that pushes one down that slippery slope. One way to stop melancholy moods is with distraction. When sadness is like a DVD playing over and over in your head, substituted it with happier ones. The blues may hit expectantly like a huge wave, and that is when I mentally insert a DVD of fun times on holiday. Sometimes I can banish morose feelings when looking at our holiday photos and reminiscing about our adventures.

  • Many people have expressed being in nature rejuvenates them. This is as simple as eating lunch outside or taking a stroll in a leafy area to lift one’s mood. There are hundreds of studies that back up the physical and mental health benefits of being out in nature. A study out of The Netherlands analysed records of 195 doctors with the focus of seeing if living near a green space was beneficial to well-being. They found that there were less “disease clusters” for those who lived within 1 kilometre of a green space. This particularly held true for those with depression and mental illness. University of Washington has on their web site a result from a study where some participants took a walk inside and the others did out in nature. 71% of the ones taking a walk outside had a decrease in their depression as opposed to 45% who were inside. Professor Jules Pretty from University of Essex and other researchers analysed data from ten studies. The common denominator was being out in nature improves “mental and physical health”. Even five minutes in the green is shown to improve health.
  • Do something special for yourself. One friend has a glass of her favourite pinot grigio wine and watches a classic movie. This week she laughed her way through “How to Marry a Millionaire” with Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall. Last week her treat was watching “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” A divorced acquaintance watches snooker when thoughts of his ex-wife occur. When I am feeling blue, I enjoy a hands on treatment, such as facial (Neal’s Yard) or a pedicure.
  • Get out of your flat. Moping inside only compounds the blues, so go to a coffee or tea shop. If you are feeling lonely, chatting with other at the community table may be just the ticket. If not in a sociable mood, take your book or laptop and be surrounded by people, but not interacting with them. One elderly divorced woman made it to daily Mass with a treat afterwards. She was not auditioning for sainthood, but having somewhere to go every day was important to her emotional well-being.
  • Go to the cinema or theatre. Being engrossed in a thriller or comedy is a great temporary escape from the stress of divorce. Crying through a heart-breaking film releases pent up sadness and despondency and one can feel so much better afterwards. West End has so many choices for whatever mood you are in, and I feel comfortable going alone.   Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/post-divorce-blues/

 

How To Boost Your Happiness

You may be going through the motions of life while others seem to have the secret to happiness. Happiness may have alluded one during marriage and finding it after divorce is high on the list. What exactly is happiness? It is a transient feeling which requires frequent boosters. Planning an exotic getaway, buying designer shoes on sale, or a day at the spa bring on happiness temporarily. Once the boost is over then one looks for another fix. We are born with a set point for happiness and various studies put it between 33% to 50%. This means that how happy we are is partly due to genetics and we can control the rest. Some people seem to be born cheerful and others more morose, as I have witnessed in the school setting. Andrew Carnegie, the American philanthropist born in Scotland, said “If you want to be happy – set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” During divorce, just surviving and getting through it may be the goal. After divorce come up with long-term ones such as exploring the world, a better financial situation or balancing family and work.

POSITIVE OUTLOOK

Cultivating a positive outlook helps one to view the world as a friendlier, safer place. If one expects to be treated badly, then they perceive normal interactions with others as negative. In one study on happiness, people were asked to think about a memory. The happier folks thought of happy ones. The test subjects who were depressed gravitated towards sad or unhappy remanences. What is the secret to happiness? Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert states “The quality of connections with people is the biggest predictor of happiness.” This message is echoed in a 72 year study by Harvard of 268 men in regards to life satisfaction and happiness. Psychiatrist George Valliant was one of the researchers who found that “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” Post-divorce focus on the quality of the connection with other people. Having several close friends brings more happiness than 500 ones on social media. What is important is engaging with others. Strengthen your ties to friends post-divorce. American psychologist Jaime Kurtz has done much research on happiness in the field of positive psychology.

How to Sustain Happiness

To sustain happiness is to have meaning and purpose in life. Ask yourself these questions. What inspires you? What is your passion? What drives you? If you are drifting along and not sure what you want to do after divorce, map out a life plan. Where do you see yourself next year, in five years, in ten? Giving back to others, whether volunteering, doing pro bono work, or mentoring helps give meaning to life. It is easy to be self-absorbed and reaching out to others creates healthy connections. Some people post-divorce started practicing gratitude, where they learned on a regular basis to appreciate the good happenings in their lives. Stop and notice the little things.

If you were on your deathbed now looking back over your life – did you accomplish all that you set out to do? What would any regrets be? What would you have left unfinished and do you have a legacy to pass on to family and friends? This is a good starting place to examine what you want to still accomplish. People that I talked to on their deathbeds, wished they had spent more time with others or had travelled to specific destinations. Let this guide you into have a more fulfilling life which brings happiness.

Schedule fun activities with friends and family. Since these only affect happiness on a short-term basis, fill your calendar with these events. This may be the time to adopt a pet who showers you with unconditional affection.  It takes time to heal after divorce or other adversities, however if feeling like you cannot climb out of a black pit, then seek some help.  Originally published in The Divorce Magazine

 

Take a Pause in Divorce

Divorce can seem like a roller coaster ride – speeding along at break neck speed with a multitude of decisions needing to be made. During this frenetic time it is okay to put the brakes on and take a breather. The mind gets overloaded when stressed out and one can feel like they are wandering around in a fog. This is when you hit the pause button. The Harvard Business Review said that taking a break from tasks helps one to reevaluate what they are trying to achieve. It is a way to step back and look at the whole picture so as not to get caught up in the minutia. This advice is helpful in the divorce process when one tends to just see what is immediately in front of them instead of the future outcome.

It is okay to inform your mediator or solicitor that you require a short pause in the proceedings. Just as a computer stops and reboots for optimal functioning – do this yourself. Taking a pause, whether for a day or a week, resets your mind and body. Walking in a nearby park is relaxing and helps one to face the crazy day. There are many studies showing the benefits of nature on one’s mental and physical well-being. Dr. Marc Berman of the University of Michigan, USA conducted a study which found that walking in nature improved test subjects’ memories and attention spans by twenty percent. If you are forgetting details during your divorce, consider taking your break in a leafy area.

When one feels pushed into hasty decisions – this can backfire down the road. Making snap decisions to move house or not taking a more diversified portfolio when splitting assets, can haunt you later. Think about taking an afternoon off from work and then sit in a coffee shop as one divorcing woman did. She felt this mental health break was worth it and was able to think through issues calmly while sipping lattes. I felt better after seeing comedies at the cinema with friends. Get your mind off your proceedings by doing something fun in town or going on a mini holiday.

When life is hectic and one is juggling so much more besides divorce, hit that pause button. When life is hectic and one is juggling so much more besides divorce, hit that pause button. Trade babysitting with a neighbour or drop off the kids for a fun overnight with your parents. The idea is to give yourself some space to get centred. When your needs are being met – you are in a better position to focus on the divorce tasks at hand. Feeling less frazzled helps one to be more attentive to the children. I was lucky that a trip was already scheduled pre-divorce with my mother and sons. That was my pause button from proceedings. We came back rejuvenated after traipsing around castles and cobbled stone streets. I was so much calmer and ready to get back into the divorce fray.

Think about areas in your life, besides divorce where you could use a pause.    Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/taking-a-break/

Fun with Friends Post-Divorce

One can have fun out with friends and not break the bank. Years ago, an acquaintance of mine was going broke in NYC because her pals only met up for dinner at pricey restaurants. They split the bill evenly so Mandy was funding filet mignon for others when she was ordering salad. This got me thinking about how to have an active social life while having plenty of cash left over for my passion in life, travel.

  1. Ditch the expensive restaurants or go there occasionally for lunch. Tally up your share and add 25% which includes tax and tip when presented with one bill for the group. I just put my money in and do not participate when someone tries to make all pay the same price. It is not advanced math to do this simple calculation which is fairer. Some upscale grocery stores have a nice buffet with plenty of tables both inside and out. I occasionally meet friends there.
  2. Meet your friends at a coffee shop for lattes instead of lunch. One orders at the counter and pays individually which is simpler. Those that want delectable food can get it. Another alternative is to meet pals in a Starbucks that seem to pop up in many grocery and discount stores and do your shopping together.
  3. Go to a reasonable nail salon for pedicures. The Asian owners can accommodate around six people for pedicures and charge a great price. We like the coffee shop a few doors down and sometimes combine these two indulgences.
  4. There are some free lectures in town and great plays at a nearby college. Nice that the student center has a coffee shop which serves lattes. Check with the chamber of commerce for free community events from concerts, craft fairs to the annual tree lighting on the green. I’ve gone to a few high school plays that have been outstanding.
  5. Watch DVDs and have a potluck at someone’s house. One friend has a small art studio which is perfect for these movie nights. This group of friends was so nurturing to my sons during my divorce and beyond. Sometimes we do quick meditations before the movie which gets me back on track.

Go to a class together. My Zumba one only charges $5.00 and my Qigong one is close in price.   Please read more divorcedmoms.com/articles/girls-night-out-10-ideas-for-fun-that-wont-break-the-bank

 

 

Playing the Victim in Divorce

Many people go through divorce playing the role of the victim and are oblivious to their part in the end of the marriage. Casting oneself as the victim in this drama is putting the blame onto their spouse. Blaming their spouse for what went wrong relieves them of any responsibility for a failed marriage. These people may go through life being the victim in other settings, such as on the job. One older man blamed his two ex-wives for his divorces and reduced finances. He was bitter and said his life was miserable because of them, even years after they had left him. A former friend of mine kept talking about her divorce and how she was wronged by her spouse. It was all his fault. On the job her boss supposedly was out to get her and she claimed to be the victim of co-workers’ jealousy. This got old and we eventually parted ways.

Some seem to be comfortable in the role of victim and derive satisfaction from it. They may take centre stage when telling tales of their divorce. It is like they are a leaf on the water, floating wherever the river takes them. This fatalistic view has them drifting along and not exerting energy to make changes. Getting out of victim mentality requires introspection and a willingness to see both sides of issues. Feeling like a victim can impact divorce proceedings. The situation will not be viewed realistically and the person may too passive. They may not be receptive to a fair distribution of assets if they interpret the divorce is 100% the other spouse’s doing.

What some solicitors and mediators do in this circumstance is mandate both spouses have at least one session with a life or divorce coach. The victim can have a reality check and get help with viewing the divorce from a different perspective. The spouse being blamed can get some support and strategies to deal with their soon to be ex.

Empowerment is the opposite of being a victim.

This is taking control of one’s life and doing the necessary actions to stay on course. Knowledge is a part of empowerment, whether it is learning about divorce law or emotionally supporting oneself. It is taking an active role in the divorce process and seeking advice on the most advantageous spit of assets. Empowerment is taking classes to keep current in one’s career for better financial footing post-divorce. Empowerment is discovering strengths and talents in order to feel good and be fulfilled.

Avoid feeling like a victim by taking responsibility for your life. This is taking charge of yourself. When a person admits their mistakes, they learn from them and can move one. Get out of childhood patterns of behaviour such as feeling you are a victim with the world out to get you. Break free from the past to ensure healthy relationships in the present. You are in the driver’s seat for your life, and not a passenger going along for the ride. If repeating old ways of interactions, consider seeking professional guidance to learn how to communicate more effectively.

Does feeling like a victim bring happiness? No. It is vacillating between being helpless and angry. The victim mentality can lead to depression when one feels powerless.

Please read more  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/victim-in-divorce/

 

How to Prevent Loneliness Post-Divorce

It is natural to feel lonely after a divorce and there are ways to make this transition easier. The secret to beating the “I feel so alone blues” is distraction and making connections. I experienced more loneliness during my marriage than I ever did post-divorce. The divorce process itself drains time and energy away from pursuits and people. These tips are what I did to combat loneliness and a collection of worked well for others.

  1. Gather your support system around you like a protective cocoon. Reach out to people who are   sticking by you through this transition. Allow friends to do things for you and accept their assistance. Ask for help and this can be challenging at first. I asked a neighbor to have my younger son over for dinner a few times, which lowered his stress and was fun. If you are still in shock post-divorce, let others know to contact you with plans. I wanted to go out for lattes and appreciated my friends calling me with these arrangements1. Gather your support system around you like a protective cocoon. Reach out to the people who are. I just had to show up for movies, etc. without making decisions and coordinating these events.
  2. Join Groups and meet new people. MeetUp.com is international with local groups having a variety of activities, such as hiking. You meet new folks in a relaxed setting having fun, getting fit, or volunteering. I joined The Transition Network through this organization, and met many new women also going through life changes. We are each other’s boosters. Consider joining a book club. I developed a love of Scandinavian mysteries through mine, and lonely weekends are a thing of the past. Some divorced people have become more active in their church and synagogue groups plus added these people to their support team.
  3. Volunteering takes the focus off your woes. Giving back to the community distracts you from being caught up in the merry-go-round of thoughts swirling around in your head. You are concentrating on your activity and making new connections with humans or animals. I joined a cat rescue group and one morning a week feed, clean cages, and cuddle the kitties. A purring kitten reaffirms that I am being appreciated. Others enjoy the camaraderie and physical exertion of building houses and other charity projects. Taking supplies to South Africa post-divorce, enriched my life more than it did for any recipients.

4. Do not try and fix loneliness by jumping into a new relationship. Do spend some time to heal and work on yourself first.     Please read more    divorcedmoms.com/articles/7-ways-to-combat-loneliness-after-divorce

De-Cluttering During Divorce or Downsizing

Divorce is a unique life transition where one has the challenge of making decisions of what possessions to keep and what to let go. This is an emotionally charged time, so the secret is to calm your mind with meditation, relaxation CDs or whatever works for you so that clear headed choices are made. Leaving precious items behind out of spite or anger can cause regrets down the road. Selling items in a panic can backfire. I sold a cherished book from my childhood and the money received for it was insignificant.

One may have to leave the marital home to sell it during a divorce. After the division of personal property, how does one sort through the remains? Moving out of my house gave me the extra motivation to go through my books, clothes, decorations and crockery to save on moving fees. Noticing the lack of storage available in my much smaller new home was another motivating factor. I had a yard sale a week before I moved and another smaller one a few months later after determining that I still had too much stuff.

Practical Tips

How does one get started de-cluttering? One way is to enlist a friend to help you begin this daunting task. She is neutral without the emotional attachments to your things and can give objective opinions. If one is undecided about some articles, then box them up and store them for a short while. Not feeling pressured to make quick decisions can take the pressure off downsizing. Packing heirlooms and important items first gives momentum to carry on to the more questionable ones.

Have your teenagers pick out their favorite childhood toys and books, then put these in storage boxes. My sons were glad for the extra cash the remainder fetched at yard sales. I keep my sons’ precious drawings (edited collection) in expandable folders and some are used as holiday decorations.

Do an online search to see what some of your objects are worth. This will give you an idea whether to sell or to donate them. If you can wait a bit for extra cash, consider a consignment shop. It may take a few months for the right buyer to appear, but that can mean a bigger payment. I went this route as well and had money trickling in over the first several years post-divorce. I sold all of my wedding china and crystal since keeping these presents would have been a tie to my ex. After divorce one may not be giving huge dinner parties nor want all this of this excess goods.   Please read more  www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/declutter-divorce/

On the Fence About Getting Divorced?

The beginning of a new year is when people take stock of their lives and see what is not working out well so that resolutions can be made. Relationships are one aspect that comes under scrutiny. New Year’s resolutions may be to exercise more, cut down on booze or make a decision about the future of an unhappy marriage. It is time to resuscitate a dying marital partnership or end it. When on the fence about divorce, consider marital counselling, even if your spouse refuses to participate. This will help you recognize if the marriage is salvable or if you have been missing these clues that have led others to file for divorce.

  • You are repulsed by your spouse and do not want to be alone with them. Being in different postal codes would be even better. Sex is a distant memory. Doing things together is just not your cup of tea. You do not even like them and feel trapped being in the relationship. This is not the same as couples losing the spark that initially attracted them to each other. That often can be relit by a holiday in an exotic local or discovering a new passion that draws them back together.
  • Are your beliefs and ethics opposite? When a spouse continues to have affairs and states that you are overreacting, then consider making a permanent exit. It is being callous with complete disregard for your feelings to say you are the one with the problem, since you cannot accept it. This repeated bad behaviour with no remorse, is showing a lack of respect for you.
  • Your partner has an addiction and no amount of rehab has stopped it. There are repeated promises and tears, yet the problem remains. It could be gambling away your joint finances or being impaired. You have been patient but enough is enough. It is not healthy for you to watch someone you love self-destruct with this slow suicide. Stop playing a part in their destructive drama and walk away to protect your well-being.

One or both of you are completely indifferent. You may lead separate lives but still share the same address.

  • Having a spouse turn into a roommate keeps you trapped in a rut. Consider breaking free to have a fulfilling life and the opportunity to meet someone else. Getting a divorce takes money and energy and this may not be the path you choose at this moment in time.

Is there some type of abuse, even if not physical? Emotional and financial abuse erodes a spouse’s self-worth.

Please read more   www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/when-to-get-a-divorce/

A Place of Refuge is Needed during Divorce

Divorce can be a time when lives are in an upheaval and the stress level climbs to stratospheric heights. One’s mind and body need a break from the chaotic atmosphere of divorce. What some people do is escape to a special place for a breather to regroup. Is there a destination that brings you joy and contentment? For me it is Kirkwall in the Orkneys or being on a relaxing sea voyage. A divorced friend goes to Aspen, USA to hike and breathe in the fresh mountain air. This revives her to face whatever is ahead.

Think about a short getaway from daily burdens during an acrimonious divorce or when post-divorce issues are emerging. Go on a day trip if going farther afield is not feasible. Some have gone back to the comfort of their childhood homes and met up with old friends. The point is to recharge your batteries by going to your place of refuge. It can be as low-key as spending the afternoon in your favourite café people watching and reading. Coffee shops are friendly and one can get to know the staff. My friend and I have ours in Marylebone, London and they ask us if we want “the usual.” It is a way to feel connected and have a pleasant time while forgetting about one’s troubles. A local pub might be someone’s sanctuary (I have one of those too) where you laugh and chat with the regulars. It might be somewhere quite different, such as a bookshop. Hatchard’s on Piccadilly knows my taste and always recommends some great books. Getting engrossed in these mysteries also is a way to shut out the world.

There are therapeutic trips to consider – yoga retreats near home or in distant places like India. Getting pampered in a country hotel spa or around the corner, such as Neal’s Yard, helps one to look and feel rejuvenated. There are divorce retreats and workshops in picturesque places around the UK. Sometimes it is easier to take off from work when going to a professional conference. Pick one that includes a tour or is set in an exotic locale. It is interesting to meet with foreign colleagues and learn some new job skills. I went to some great nurses’ conferences in places such as Kenya and Egypt. In the middle of my divorce I fled to one in South Africa while my mum stayed with my teens. This is probably what saved my sanity in the midst of contentious proceedings.

Going to one’s sanctuary during divorce can be internal and not on a physical level. Several divorced people said that they mentally visualize their special place and go there whenever needed. It may be a beach, city or rural setting.

Please read more www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/during-the-divorce-process/

 

Forgiveness Sets You Free Post-Divorce

Forgiving your ex-spouse is not about them – but is about you. Forgiving a former partner gives you closure before embarking upon a new chapter in life. Forgiveness is like when a business stamps a receipt “Paid in Full.” That bill is paid and the account is closed and back to zero. Forgive your ex and visualize “Paid in Full” stamped on that relationship. You then emotionally do not owe each other anything else and can go your separate ways.

You made mistakes in your marriage and so did your former spouse. Some were petty and others seemingly monumental. Both spouses contributed to the demise of the marriage. Forgive yourself. In hypnotherapy school – we learned that people do the best that they can in their circumstance. Feeling overwhelmed in a stressful situation is like having tunnel vision. Not all information can be absorbed when on the verge of a breakdown during a toxic marriage or divorce. Reactions are quite different than when not in crisis and being in a more relaxed state. Give yourself a break and realize that hindsight is 20/20 when ruminating about the past. You did what you could at the time, so forgive yourself.

By forgiving your ex – that affects the present. Forgiving them severs the bond between you and sets you free. When no longer tied to your former partner, then interactions can be more impersonal – polite with less of an emotional charge. Forgiveness lessens any power that an ex may try to have over you.  Please read more    www.divorcemag.com/blog/forgiveness-after-divorce

De-cluttering During Divorce

When one is faced with major life decisions and transitions – having to determine what to keep is one more burden. Separate your emotions from the practicality of de-cluttering during divorce. Do not get rid of objects when in anger. My enraged spouse left behind the gifts that I had given him when he moved out of our marital home. I was overjoyed when they later sold on E-Bay. This is a project for a clear head. Reacting in haste can cause regrets down the road when you wished that you would have kept your cherished childhood toy.

One woman got rid of her household goods after her husband departed during their divorce. She was fuming and claimed that she did not want the “junk” from her marriage. When she went to refurnish her house, she got a big surprise. Prices had gone up on these items and she struggled to replace them on her meager post-divorce budget. Her friends had not heard of the new trend, “Divorce Shower” so this woman was out of luck. Getting rid of some things to start anew makes sense, starting out from scratch when flat broke does not. However, several people I know mainly left with clothes and personal items and never looked back. See what works best for your situation.

Be cognizant of items that have particularly painful memories and possibly eliminate these first. What to do about your wedding gown? If a daughter or niece does not want it, consider donating it to charity. When I tried to sell mine online, they were only going for a pittance. Last Halloween, there were several wedding gowns as costumes and that is one creative solution. These “Gruesome Brides” had fake blood dripping down their gowns and were having a great time at the party.

Meditate, listen to relaxation CDs, or get to a place internally where you are calm, before tackling emotionally charged items. De-cluttering in a panic can backfire. Have a “Sell”, “Trash”, “Donate” and “I’ll think about it for a few days” bins. Knowing that you do not have to make snap judgments regarding your possessions takes some of the pressure off you. I had a huge yard sale the week before I moved out of the marital house. After I got settled in my new, smaller home, I had another one a few months later.

I already had a paid trip that was scheduled before my divorce commenced. Since it looked like I would be losing some nice decorations midway through the divorce, I used this opportunity to purchase a few new items. I really enjoy looking at the hand painted tiles and pottery from that vacation that was during the worst part of my collaborative proceedings.

The hardest part is the initial step. Once you get going, you build momentum. Look through your possessions and see what brings you joy as my grandparents’ china does for me. Other things that bring sadness or regret can be let go. If you can look at the cat statue from Italy and appreciate it for itself, then great. If it reminds you of exploring Sorrento on your honeymoon, then Goodwill would be a better spot for it. Enlisting a neutral third party can help you be less emotional and more realistic with paring down possessions.

Be careful of well-meaning family members unloading their clutter on to you. Your parents may try to give you some of their household goods or mementos. Just say something like this “I really appreciate you wanting me to have these treasures, but I am downsizing and am not the right home for these. Thanks for thinking of me.” You are required to make choices, but do not let guilt be one of them.

Getting rid of unwanted and unnecessary goods is mentally freeing also. Too much clutter is a mental distraction and can be an energy drainer. The trick is to have some open spaces, whether in your closet or your schedule, so new treasure and adventures can come your way.  Originally published in Divorce Magazine