All posts by tomituel@comcast.net

How to Get More Out of Your Breakup than Just Heartache

There I was newly divorced, tears streaming down my cheeks, watching my children drive away with their father, wondering how did this happen? Me, a new aged Alice in Wonderland.

How did we get to this point? Why is she better for him than me? I found myself asking these questions as if they were part of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Well to me, at that time, they were. I think anyone recently dumped for someone else knows what I am talking about here.

You know the hurt, the confusion, and the overwhelming feeling of just getting through the day. You know what it feels like to wake up in the middle of the night and know something isn’t right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. And then it hits you like a Mac truck leaving the tread marks of reality across your flattened body.
For a long time, that was me. I tried to answer the “why” question at least a million times a day and I always came right back to square one begging the question why, again.

I questioned my childhood. I questioned my upbringing. I questioned my career choice, my schooling, my taste in clothes, my cooking skills, my personality. I questioned everything about me and about why I wasn’t good enough!

But after several months of self-reflection on where I went wrong, I began to see that it was no wonder at all that we had ended up this way.

Did you catch that?

Let me repeat what I just said. I said, “after several months of self-reflection on where I went wrong.” I know what you are thinking. He left you, so why was it your fault?
Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who cheats has a huge character flaw. There is nothing to debate about that.

But here’s the secret to moving on. And no one tells you this stuff. You usually have to figure it out on your own. But what I’m going to tell you right now may change your thinking from here on out. It may change your thinking so drastically that you will hate me at first, then later you will thank me.

Want to know what the secret is? I’ll tell you right now. If you want to move on from the hurt, you have to ask yourself, “How did I contribute to my own divorce?” You have to hold yourself culpable to some degree, in due time of course.

Hate me yet?

If you’re still reading this and haven’t deleted my email, bare with me as I make my point, because if you are at all like me, I’d be cussing me out right now and would be using this article to line my hamster cage! I don’t even have a hamster, but I might buy one just so that I could.
After realizing that perhaps I was guilty of ignoring the red flags in the beginning or that quite possibly I had jumped into something too fast at too young an age, I began to see that it was no wonder I was at this spot in my life. You know the spot I’m talking about—the center of the target waiting to take the next bullet.

There I stood alone with twenty bucks to last me two weeks. I had two mouths to feed with one still in diapers.
I saw the warning signs before the wedding, but chose to ignore them. If you really think about it, maybe you did too. Maybe you ignored the excessive drinking, the drug use, the dead end job, the violent temper, the controlling behavior, the insatiable need for new toys, or the wandering eye.

The hardest part to getting a divorce, isn’t actually the divorce, which is hard on its own merit. No. The hardest part about getting a divorce is getting back to happy—finding your new normal. The other hard thing is admitting to yourself that perhaps you were wrong about this person when everyone else was right.

Did I touch a nerve?
The divorce bull’s eye is no place to hang out, it’s like Deadman’s Land. But Deadman’s Land is where you will be after a divorce. At least temporarily. It’s the spot where all the sole providers stand when they are barely scraping by financially. It’s the spot where all those who are overwhelmed stand contemplating what just happened? It’s the spot where the walls are caving in and everything around you is broken. In short, it’s the spot where you are stretched, pulled, striped, and tapped of time, money, and energy. It’s the spot where you stand alone.

And just so you know, you’re going to stand there for awhile, if you are like me.
Having a poor picker is only part of the problem. Sometimes a person’s character traits don’t manifest until later in life and you never could have predicted a divorce in a million years. Not knowing enough about who you are before you get married is the other part of this equation.

How I got more out of my breakup

For about the first year after my divorce I was in survival mode. My sister told me to always have a plan B. I didn’t have one at first, but then later when I got one, I kicked it into overdrive. I filed bankruptcy and called it a “B-K” because it sounded better. I slashed all my expenses, cut services, and had a garage sale. I staggered my purchases, and stocked up on discounted food. I shopped at thrift stores, worked out like a fiend, and hung out at the country club looking for a rich dude. I was always getting stood up by the good ones and stampeded by the bad ones.

Then humor found me and told me to slow down.

After all the crazies of the first year, I got reacquainted with a childhood friend, Jim. We were both going through our divorces at the same time. We’d go on separate dates and recount the misery of the date the night before. We’d laugh hard—belly laugh hard. The kind you had to cross your legs and hope your urinary tract muscles didn’t fail you, hard.

Do you understand how precious that is? To find a friend going through what you’re going through and be able to laugh as if you didn’t have a care in the world?

We’d get to talking about Dr. Phil and how we should write a book. One bad date after another, Jim would call and say, “Hey, I’ve got another chapter for the book!” We’d laugh at his tragic evening and glean a few new principles to apply to the post divorce guidebook we were some day going to write.

Then opportunity knocked.

The state agency I was working for had a massive layoff. My position would be saved, but I was redeployed to another line of work. Until that time, I had nothing to do. I was an analyst and there were no projects, so to at least appear busy I started writing “the book.” Pretty soon I had my first chapter. I’d work on it at home and when the kids were asleep or with their dad.

I didn’t want anyone to discourage me and tell me I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t a writer. I was an accountant. So I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book, except Jim. My parents didn’t even know until thirteen months later when I was done writing it.

When I finally told my parents that I had written a book it felt as if I had hidden a pregnancy. You know the kind where the young girl moves to Europe before she starts to show and comes home with a huge, but risky surprise nine months later. That’s what I felt like.

I made sure I had an agent before I told anyone. That way I knew people would take me seriously. And even if they didn’t, at least I did.

Shortly after I released my book, 101 Things I Learned AFTER My Divorce, I was called to give interviews and make guest appearances on live television and radio on the lessons I had learned after my divorce. It was finally my chance to help others navigate the divorce process—and it is a process.

My book became an Amazon bestseller.

But I’m not telling you this to brag. I want to help every single person struggling through the ups and downs of divorce get more out of their breakup than just heartache. And to do this it comes back to that one secret. That one thing you must strive for before your next serious relationship.

Remember what I told you about self-reflection and about figuring out where I went wrong? Well that’s what you have to do if you want to get the most out of your breakup. Figure out where you went wrong. Because you see, there are lessons during this time in your life that can change you forever, if you are paying attention.

Spend time getting to know yourself before you jump back into the fire. If marriage taught you nothing else, it at least taught you this: Marriage will teach you what you don’t want. So learn from that and know this:  in order to find your soul mate, you must first be in touch with your own soul.

You divorced for a reason and though you might like to believe this untrue, it wasn’t because you were 100% perfect and they were 100% flawed. Unfortunately, many people rush back into the security of a relationship before they have done the hard work that is required from being alone. Spend the time self-reflecting. It is essential to making a change within.

Everyone knows the divorce rate for first time marriages is 50%, but it is no wonder the divorce rate for second time marriages is even higher at 60%. People just don’t do this simple little thing. They don’t take the time to learn from this experience.

So where’s the map to Wonderland?

How do you get there from here when all you can do is think about them and how sucky your life is because of your ex? Don’t despair. This map is within you. It’s buried beneath the surface, just past the anger. It is a treasure hunt to find it, but you must seek the treasure! The riches will reveal themselves from your struggles, that is, if you chose to learn from them.

You can do it.

I believe in you.

So get started.

Right freaking now.

 Tomi Tuel is the author of 101 Things I Learned AFTER My Divorce. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to get more out of your breakup than just heartache, check out her blog on www.tomituel.net.

 

HOW TO GET MORE OUT OF YOUR BREAKUP THAN JUST HEARTACHE – Webinar

Tomi here. Has your marriage gone wayward?  Is your nickname Alimony Jim? Does the word “estranged” describe how you look? If not, then hooray. You’ve made it through. But for those just going through a breakup please keep reading.
Let’s face it divorce is sucky and going through one is a pain in the behind, in the heart, and in the wallet.
Your life has been turned upside down and it’s enough to give you a head rush.
Sadly, it’s all part of it.
But, through humor you can get through just about anything—including the heartaches of divorce.
This I know.
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I was divorced sixteen years ago. It was ugly. I had just finished my master’s degree in Accountancy which was grueling on its own and in hindsight was a cakewalk compared to what came next. You see, I had two small children (a 22 month old, and a four and half year old) when I discovered my husband was having an affair with a woman where I worked.
This is where I insert a pause for all the jaws that just dropped. Mine included! I know. It should be a crime.
I felt all the normal things a person would feel: betrayed, devastated, humiliated, jealous, overwhelmed, and of course depressed. I think I was even a bit traumatized because there are parts of if I have no recollection of. My dreams were shattered. I couldn’t sleep at night, I had anxiety attacks and well, the list goes on and on. So I get it. I get what you are going through my dear friends.
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My program, “How To Get More Out Of Your Breakup Than Just Heartache”,  is the roll call for all new recruits navigating the mine field of divorce. Join me, Tomi Tuel, your Brigadier General for the lesson of your life as we forge Heartbreak Ridge and survive in the trenches together.
I will get you through this.
Life has thrown you a curve ball and this is the class that no one teaches you. I’ll teach you the covert operations of the battlefield!
This uplifting workshop will ease you into what to expect after your divorce and uses humor to guide you through the steps of divorce recovery.
We’ll take a lighthearted approach from divorce avoidance, to divorce recovery and self-rediscovery. We will talk about being rejuvenated, getting to indifference, striving for the ideal divorce, the hardest part about getting divorced, and the benefits of humor in the process.
Whether you’re going through a divorce or just want to avoid one, this workshop is designed to help you find your way through the ups and downs of separation and divorce. It will guide you on what to expect when you are divorcing.
My goal is to help you find your way back to happy and go from survive to thrive! I hope to see you there.
Tomi
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Something We Can All Learn From Pinocchio

“When you wish upon a star 

Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come true.

If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do.”

– Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, “Pinocchio.”

Can you hear the musical tune?

I love the words to this for two reasons. First of all it’s from the Disney classic, Pinocchio. Having had a nose job at the age of 17, I think I share a connection with old Pinoc. But the real reason I love this is the message. Dreams really do come true and this is what you must truly believe if you ever want something bad enough.

I remember reading The Notebook shortly after my first husband left me back in 1998. I stayed up reading the book until one in the morning balling my eyes out—the kind of crying that when you wake up the next morning your eyes are swollen and you need an aspirin. I think it hit home so hard because I desperately wanted that kind or love in my life, that perfect love.

I was so inspired and moved by the love story in The Notebook that I wanted to someday meet the author who wrote it. I truly credit Nicholas Sparks for planting the inspiration in me to write, but who hasn’t he inspired, seriously! Over the years I have written a few manuscripts and screenplays that sit on my closet shelf. Eventually they will get published or optioned. I hold onto that dream and believe they will. I mean I really b-e-l-i-e-v-e  it will happen.

Last week, the dream I have held onto longer than any other, including getting a book published, came true. I finally got my chance to meet Nicholas Sparks. Settle down. I know that might not be a big whoop for some of you guys, but I’m sure some of the ladies out there understand. To me, it was huge. Plus, I’m not talking like meeting him at a book signing or at a party or in an elevator, nothing like that. I’m talking about, “Hey Tomi, come on over. We’re hanging out by the pool and Nick is here in town. I want you to meet him.” Long story short, his sister-in-law and I met in 2010 and became fast friends.

I had attended one of Nick’s book signings and left a chapter from a manuscript I was working on. The story goes: he read it and liked it and then his sister-in-law called me looking for someone to write with. It was writing, my passion, that he inspired, that brought us together. My point is when you believe in something things naturally gravitate it the direction of that belief. The friends you make, the connections you have all are part of the natural happening that is in your mind’s eye when you believe.

Hold on to your dreams and wherever you are wish upon a star.

The Number 1 Lesson You will Learn After Divorce

books_and_appleAt the very beginning of my divorce, a good friend, who happened to be divorced himself, told me, “Everyone should experience a divorce once.”

I looked at him baffled. “You’re kidding, right?” I exclaimed. He insisted I hear him out.

He told me, “You may think it’s absurd now, but you will see what I mean.” You will learn things about yourself and about others. You will learn how to appreciate the other person in your life more. You will relearn things you thought you already knew and your perspective will change.”

As the years passed, I remembered his words. How true they rang!

Divorce will benchmark many of your life’s future challenges. I now look at things like, “Well hell, if I can get through a divorce I can get through just about anything.” It does that for you, but it also makes you realize that there is always a brighter tomorrow, life does go on…and it really does only get better.

I didn’t always feel this way. At first I didn’t ever think my life would be normal again. I didn’t think I would ever feel joy when all I could feel was sorrow and sadness for myself and my two children. I was now on the dark side. I had somehow crossed over. My children were now of divorced parents. I no longer filed my tax return as “married filing joint”, I had to get used to saying the “D” word.

At first there was something about admitting I was divorced that bothered me. I would cringe at checking the “divorced” box on those marital status questions when filling out any kind of medical history at the doctor’s office. It was like confiding that I was someone who didn’t know how to work out relational problems with others. I felt like that one word just said it all, divorcee (i.e. relationship loser). I could tell that even my widowed friends hated being confused for someone that was divorced. There seemed to be this unspoken stigma about being divorced even in this day and age.

Prior to my divorce I held a very narrow view of divorced people. When I was married I equated them to a different class, the them’s and the us’s. I think a lot of married people who have never been divorced do subconsciously segregate people based on their relationship status. When I was married and everything was good, I didn’t understand why people couldn’t just work out their problems.

I later learned to embrace my new found marital status and change my view of divorcees. I found that there is an immediate bond shared by people who have been divorced. They are able to recognize what stage you are at in recovery quicker than others. They know your pain. People who have been through it (to hell and back) know that divorce is something you survive. They have an acute homing device that says, “Ah, there’s one in trouble now.” Suddenly the people who I thought needed to learn the most about relating were now my superhero mentors for survival.

Even though I feel I learned more of life’s lessons than any legitimate university could have ever taught me, going through a divorce is a lot like enrolling in a crash course on emotional survival at the School of Hard Knocks. The difference is there is no grade at the end and you don’t have to pay tuition to attend. There is no instructor, no classroom, and no rules. There are definitely no rules. There are occasional tutors and other students in this lesson with which to share notes, but overall you are on your own for the final exam in life. There are no professors holding office hours to guide you. If you are confused and in need of help you can explore your misunderstandings with a professional therapist.

Divorce opened my eyes spiritually, but the number one thing I learned after my divorce is that I have more to learn… Visit tomi at www.tomituel.net.

Going It Alone With Children

Going It Alone With Children – A Divorce Warrior’s Way

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Here’s one I wrote for Singlemindedwomen.com for their March 2009 issue.
It’s tough raising kids and even harder as a single parent. Hang in there, it does get easier.
After divorce, the process of morphing your life from ‘married’ to ‘divorced with children’ is a lot like going through Army boot camp for divorcees. You get a break when they say you get a break (they being the court). And you quickly learn to improve upon your time management skills. The rude awakening you are in for, will only serve you well. And one thing is certain, divorce is no Camp Cupcake!
Playing the role of both parents can be hard and sometimes leave you craving a break from your little darlings. When your “break” does come, it is usually consumed with running errands and grocery shopping. And if you blow off your responsibilities and have any kind of fun at all (like go on a date) during this so called “break,” you and every other divorce-warrior, like you, will be doing double time in the week to come. But fear not the hungry children awaiting you whom aren’t interested in your excuses. The Divorce-Army has taught you well. You will be prepared as evident by the crockpot meals you have learned to master and the trip to the grocery store on Monday’s noon hour…now, Double time MARCH soldier!
When it comes to bedtime, you will learn to be militant in your routine. As a single parent you can not afford the luxury of talking on the phone during the early evening. Between 8:30 and 9:15 you will be bedding the children down for the night. You will learn not to take even a five-minute call, as it will set you back thirty minutes making you late for the 9:30 roll call with Captain Kitchen. Ingeniously, you will learn to unplug the phone and let the messages go to voice mail until the children are asleep. Friends and family will know you are doing combat and will wait for your 9:30 distress signal…Mayday, Mayday!
When you start dating again you will have a curfew, of the court-ordered kind, to pick up and receive your children. Detaining the enemy is bound to inject a hostile situation and should be avoided at all cost. However, when this happens you will once again rely on your military training in hostage negotiation. Ultimately, you will learn to limit the distance of your retreats on your ‘off’ weekends…About FACE!
When parents are at war, children often become the POWs. Just remember, children will have divided loyalty, but will always defend the underdog parent. They don’t care who was right or who was wrong. They just want peace and freedom…Oh, Say, Can You See?
Be kind to your ex – at least eventually, and don’t talk bad about him/her in front of the kids. Just because you may not like your ex doesn’t mean you should crush your child’s image of them. They will eventually develop their own opinion without your help. Did you hear me soldier? Don’t teach them to hold your grudges…Yes, Drill Sergeant!
You’re soft! You’re weak! Quit your pouting! Of course disciplining children alone is hard. As a single parent you have to be both the nurturer and the enforcer. It is a hard role psychologically and as a single parent, you have no one to back you up. But you’re a divorce warrior, you can do this. Keep the rules simple and the consequences logical…Now drop and give me twenty!
Always keep in mind that your children come first. Do you hear me Private? This will guide you in your decisions. It’s not about you and your ex anymore. It’s about the children. Keeping this in the forefront will help guide you when you are not quite sure what to do. It’s not always about doing for your kids; it’s about doing what’s right for them. Now that you are a single parent, your life will have challenges you didn’t have before. Sure you may be more inconvenienced, now that you have to do it all, but when you weigh the inconveniences out with the benefits, you just learn to suck it up because it will payoff 10-fold in the long run…Atten-HUT!
Children can give you immense strength and are great teachers of the obvious, especially when you’re in the trenches. Just asking a child what they want can give you clarity. I’m not talking about leaving decisions up to a child, that’s not fair to them. But, when you are confused and need clarity, just ask your child what they think and then just listen, go brain dead after that and don’t judge their opinion…At EASE!
Location, location, location! Live close to your ex, at least while the kids are school age. It may be hard and you may not like it, but if it’s possible, living closer together for the sake of the children will make your life simpler. For one reason or another, it may not be possible — the neighborhood may not be of your choosing, or it may be too far from your job. But if both parents share custody, it will make your life a whole lot simpler as the children get older and you shuttle them between activities and each other…Recon! Recon!
When divorce strikes like an air raid, we have to be ready. We didn’t all recruit ourselves, some of us were drafted. Everyone’s divorce reality will be different, but one thing is certain, it can be the most difficult thing you ever go through and the most life altering experience you ever come out of. Many soldiers have fallen from the battles of Heartbreak Ridge, but not you. You are a survivor, and that’s an order from your Brigadier General!
Tomi Tuel is the Author of 101 Things I Learned AFTER My Divorce. You may visit Tomi at her website: www.tomituel.net or on Twitter.

 

Top 5 days of the Year for Romance

Here are 5 of the top days throughout the year that romance is a must. These tips are not expensive eitehr, but are big on impact. These were just a jew quick ideas, but please let me know if you have some better ideas. I would love to hear from you.
1. Birthday – Ask in advance of her actual birthday what she  wants to do. If she doesn’t give you any ideas, then make plans for her prior to  the day. Plan a day trip to take a drive, hike, walk, or bike ride. Start her  birthday out with flowers and coffee and the rest will be gravy.
2. Anniversary – Have a weekend-get-away somewhere. Buy each  other’s anniversary gift in the town you get away to. It will have extra special  meaning. Make it something for the house and you will see all the time.
3. Valentine’s Day – Draw her a candle light bubble bath. Leave  her a gift of jewelry wrapped up in her towel. (Be sure the tub is clean and the  bathroom is tidy. She will appreciate the little extra touch.) Have headphones  and her favorite CD waiting along with a glass of champagne, then disappear.  Leave her a bell to ring when she is ready for your return. When you return  bring her two chocolates on a plate and the bottle of champagne with another  glass. (This is the part where you are naked!) Pour yourself a glass of the  champagne then hop in the tub with her. Feed each other the chocolates, then  enjoy the champagne and each other.
4. Christmas time – Share in the delight of your family at this  time of year. Take a night to see the lights around town together as a family.  Sing Christmas songs together as you drive around in the warmth of the car.  Maybe do this in your p.j.’s. Pack hot chocolate and Christmas cookies for the  ride. Build a fire when you return and watch a classic Christmas movie together  under a blanket with the kids all around.
5. Special Occasion – Give her your credit card and let her pick  out a nice outfit for your special occasion prior to the event. Make  arrangements for the kids and on the night of the event take them to their  activities for her while she gets ready and get make sure they are fed. Have the  car ready and the route planned. Leave plenty of time for dinner and the event.  Take a picture of her before you leave. Tell her how beautiful she is. Get to  the event and ask someone to take a picture of the two of you together. Hold her  hand and make lots of eye contact.
What are your top 5 days?

Do You Suck At Valentines?

Do You Suck At Valentines Day?

Do you struggle with coming up with the perfect Valentines Day gift? Don’t. It’s not that serious. The key to a memorable Valentines Day is to keep it simple. Time is the best gift you can give some. It is something you can never replace, never take back, and comes in limited quantities.

So when you are stuck thinking, how should we spend our time, or what should we do, just remember: KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. (I’m not calling you stupid, that’s just the expression.) Women love the traditional Valentines Day gifts: a box of chocolates, flowers and jewlry. So what if she’s on a diet, we all love to receive chocolates. We all love flowers and jewelry too. These things don’t have to cost an arm and a leg either.

Use your imagination and just do something together or alone if you are single at the moment. Get out of the house for awhile and just go do.

What are some of the best ways to spend Valentines Day on the cheap? I’d love to hear your ideas or ways you have spent cheap Valentines Day together. The cheaper the better.

Everybody Wants To Find Their Soul Mate, but…

Everybody Wants To Find Their Soul Mate, But Do You Have Soul?

jumping

Let’s face it, if you suffer from Relationship-ADD your chances of finding your soul mate are slim. You have some work to do. When you are sincere about finding lasting love, you will project sincerity. Though unspoken, it will be heard.
If you are ever to find your soul mate you must first be in touch with your own soul.
By that I mean, what moves you? What gives you goose bumps in life? What energizes you? What are your priorities and what are your beliefs? How do people remember you? These are the things that define your soul. When you can define yourself in this way, you are more in touch with your soul.
Some people are motivated by causes to help others, others by the desire to please, and still others by challenges. Ask yourself what motivates you? Being more aware of who you are increases the chances of finding your soul mate.
The coming together of two hearts can happen in the simplest of moments. When one soul recognizes another like soul, it is magic. When I first met my current husband, my soul knew immediately. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I was standing in a doorway watching him, and I remember thinking to myself, “Darn it, I’m going to like him.” I was just starting to like being alone, and then, without warning, it was over. My soul knew before I did.
I was attracted to his soul first and then his looks. Two weeks after he touched my soul, my heart felt the attraction. What does that mean, you ask? During that initial two week period of seeing Todd more and in different clothes, different situations, and studying him, my heart began to feel the attraction. But how he touched my soul is a different story – that was instantaneous.
Ask anyone who has ever experienced the soul connection and they will tell you very specifically when and where they were and what they were doing. Todd touched my soul through my 3-year old daughter. As I stood in the doorway to my kitchen I watched him practice tying his shoes with her. It was that simple. The strange thing about it is, you could ask 100 different men to perform that simple act and it would not mean anything other than grown men tying their shoes with a 3-year old. So why was it so significant to me when Todd did it? I don’t honestly know, but I can tell you that fate had a lot to do with it.
Like every good tale, there is a story behind this story. Prior to meeting Todd I had briefly dated a guy in construction. One day he was trying to be helpful and unscrewed the drain line to my water heater. In protest I told him not to mess with it. It was old and had never been drained. It caused a slow leak and over a couple months caused some major damage.
Not everyone believes in fate, but I do.
Todd was my claims adjuster and I felt that fate had sent him to me. It was a Monday afternoon and he came to inspect the damage my water heater was causing.
Having a soul attraction is different from a physical attraction. The best way I can explain the difference is that a soul attraction will scare you. It’s that pivotal moment you swallow hard and think to yourself, “Uh-oh what’s that I’m feeling?”

The No Fault Divorce

gavelDivorce Warriors Unite!! Hey did you know there is such a thing as divorce insurance. If you’re interested here’s the site. http://www.safeguardguaranty.com/. John Logan is the President & CEO. Nice guy. I’m sure he can help you out for your next marriage. Hey it’s a great wedding gift too!

I have always thought it amazing that both parties in a divorce usually feel they have been wronged – no matter who left whom. Like many injustices we experience, we want the world to know the divorce wasn’t our fault. Unfortunately, there is no way to place legal blame in California and many other states. I remember how mad I was when I started filling out the paperwork to file for divorce. I kept looking for the box that said “Cheater” or “Adulterer,” but the only choices were “Irreconcilable Differences” or “Annulment.” I wanted to blame him, and there were no categories for that. I felt gypped.
At least in car accidents you have the choice of no-fault or you can cast 100 percent of the blame on the poor fool that rear-ended you. Not so in divorce, even though I sure felt like I had been rear-ended. It’s a little ironic. A total stranger can rear-end you by accident, and you can sue him for damages. Depending on the circumstances you can put him in the poor house, take his license away, and ruin his driving record if he is found at fault. But your own spouse can ruin you financially, devastate you emotionally, and turn your world upside down, and you can’t even legally have the satisfaction of blaming him for causing you so much pain and anguish. You don’t get to legally say it was his fault or her fault. Instead you have to check the box that says “Irreconcilable Differences” (code words for: OUR FAULT)! I hated this description because it made me feel like I was somehow responsible for the divorce, when he was the one who left. I was mad about that at first; Why should I be blamed for something I didn’t do? I hadn’t learned yet how I had contributed to the divorce.
In the end, you find out it doesn’t help to try to blame the other party. You both suffer financially, emotionally, and in many other ways no matter who or what caused the divorce. What is needed is no-fault divorce insurance: something to protect you against the ensuing damages. But I’m here to tell you, you are your own best insurance plan.

Should I Change My Name?

Sorry guys another girl post today…

After divorce you are faced with so many decisions and whether or not you should change your name is always a consideration. For me, I wanted the association with my children and so I did not change my name back. It wasn’t until I remarried that I changed it. The reality for us women is that we loose a bit of our identity when we get married and if you’ve been married a long time you don’t look forward to loosing it again to those friends who only know you by your married name. It’s a real pain in the you-know-what sometimes. These deicisions we women have to make can drive you batty.
Chime in…what are some of your thoughts on changing your name after divorce? I’d love to hear from you.

Fishing Down the Mainstream – Online Dating

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Hey there fellow Divorce Warriors,
Online dating wasn’t really at the level it is now when I was back in the saddle. So, consequently, I never tried it. Some people swear by it. Here’s an article that may resonate with some of you. Enjoy!

Friends love to set us up on blind dates. As good as their intentions are though, there is something to be said about anonymity when dating.
The thing about Internet dating is that you prescreen your date not your friends. But don’t be naive. What you see isn’t always what you get. How truthful are people when they post their profiles on the Internet? How can you be sure the self-proclaimed knockout blonde is a knockout, or a rich dude is really rich and is in fact a dude? The same caution that applies at a nightclub needs to be practiced online. People are just as likely to falsify their income, marital status, and employment, online as offline.
Internet dating is a pretty disposable way to weed through people. Before Internet dating, there were the personal ads, which always seemed to have a desperate connotation associated with them. I conducted a survey at various area Starbucks and online medium to see if people’s perceptions have changed over the years. Here’s what I found:
66% of people polled said they view people who do Internet dating as Adventurous. 33% of people polled said they view people who do Internet dating as Desperate.
Internet romance activities are much more mainstream than ever. According to a March 2006 study conducted by PEW/Internet’s they found that 31% of American adults say they know someone who has used a dating website and 15% of American adults – about 30 million people – say they know someone who has been in a long-term relationship or married someone he or she met online.
When meeting someone offline for the first time is it a good idea to practice some common sense rules of dating: Meet in a public place Do some background research on your date before you meet (even if it means paying for a background check) Ask for photos Ask for phone numbers Trust your gut instinct

The General Rules: Re-Entry Dating

THE GENERAL RULES – What Every Re-Entry Dater Should Know

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Hey Warriors, Another article for you from the archive…enjoy!
So you’re out of the gates and dating again. You’ve been out of the dating scene for ages and are clueless about the rules. What are the boundaries and who’s writing the manual anyway? You need to know.
GENERAL RULES FOR THE RE-ENTRY DATER
The general rules for divorce etiquette and “re-entry” dating are like the general rules in life. They are the unwritten codes of conduct that most of us understand, but don’t always abide. For example, if you are feeling fat, don’t talk about how fat you are around someone who is fatter. That sort of thing. We all understand that you don’t wear your slippers to the bus stop or around town, for that matter. You don’t walk up to someone’s front yard and start picking fruit off their trees; you don’t pick your nose or pop a zit while in traffic, and you don’t name your kid “Osama.”
Knowing the dating rules are one thing, applying them is another. Trust me when I say, you can do this. You can! You are a divorce warrior and it is just a date. Besides you are lookin’ hotter than ever! So before you talk yourself out of it, here are a few pointers for that uncomfortable first date all us new recruits have experienced.
Rule #1: What You Should Wear The general rule is to act your age and dress age appropriately. If you need some help, just comb through a clothing store catalog for some ideas. Go to a department store and see what’s on display. Ask for help. Sales associates love a dating mission. Polish your shoes, and bring breath mints. For men, trim all probing facial hair and unibrows. Pull out the tweezers, for goodness sakes. Ladies too! Now go and have fun!
Rule #2: The First Date Should Not Last Longer than Two Meals A general rule is that the first date should not exceed the length of 2 meals. You can pick which meals, but I recommend starting with just coffee. This date is commonly called the “Meet and Greet” date. It is short and sweet, and if you hit it off, it could turn into lunch. And if the date isn’t going anywhere, you can save your money and get on with your day. It is just safer that way.
Rule #3: Always Have a Plan “B” If you learned nothing else from your divorce, you should have learned to always have a Plan B. This is a must! Anyone who has survived a divorce has had to kick Plan B into overdrive at one time or another. Plan B is what paid the mortgage the first month after you were separated. Plan B is what got you through when alcohol was not an option!
So when it comes to dating, always have someone waiting or something to do later. Have a friend call and check in to see if you need rescuing in case the date is a dud. This is why I never recommend dinner for the first date. If you are the one paying, it can get costly. Spending money on people you will never see again or who may not appreciate the dinner is a bad investment. Spend your money wisely and keep the first date short and sweet.
Rule #4: Do Your Club Research. If you are at all like me, your first naked encounter came way before you actually took off your clothes. I’m talking about that first blast of humility you get when you walk into a bar for the first time in ages. Suddenly the Emperor has no clothes and tag, “you’re the Emperor!” A good rule of thumb is if you’ve never heard the music they are playing, then you are probably in the wrong bar. Better places to go are hotel chains that cater to an older crowd for dinner and dancing.
Rule #5: Topics To Avoid If you just raked your ex over the coals, don’t brag about it. That kind of stuff has no place for impressing a potential date. It won’t be funny to them. Chances are either they themselves were, or someone they know was, screwed in a divorce unfairly, and you become an easy target. Avoid talking about your troubles on a first date, period!WHAT THE RE-ENTRY DATER SHOULD WATCH OUT FOR What is ironic is that by the end of our divorce we crave companionship, but the reality is we are not ready for another relationship, even if we think we are. It is a Catch-22.
We want to date, but the chances of being successful depend on how you define success. If that means having sex, then a meaningful relationship isn’t in your plans, and by virtue of your own definition you will probably be successful. But, if successful dating to you means finding your soul mate, then odds of that happening greatly increase when you seek to understand your own shortcomings. Most divorced people learn this after they’ve been doing the dating thing for a while and nothing solidifies. They soon learn that it is important to take time to rediscover themselves first. (See Chapter 8 – Being Rejuvenated)
So fast forward, you have spent time rejuvenating yourself and you are now ready to date. Let’s get you reacquainted to the swing of dating. Just know this, what you thought worked in your 20s may not work for you now. Besides how long ago was that, a decade or two? The whole scene is different now. To get you up to speed, here are some lessons and principles that will help you meet and grow with that special someone.
DON’T RUSH You’ve heard this expression before, but have you ever really paid attention to it? When a relationship is new, everyone is on his or her best behavior and intentions of being a good partner are 110 percent. Moreover, when the sex is good, a new couple can’t get enough of each other. They enjoy each other’s company and want to spend a lot of time together. Pretty soon they know each other’s schedules and calendars and are thrown into an unspoken commitment. Suddenly, when one person needs space and the relationship it halted, the one left behind feels used. These kinds of romances beg for air. When no space is built into the relationship, it is safe to say it began with neediness. If this situation is all too familiar, then my next bit of advice may shock you. This wouldn’t happen if everyone would just settle down and get out of heat!
Many people think “not rushing” means waiting a month or two to have sex. Not so. Not rushing things means waiting to get to know the other person before you have sex. That can take much longer than two months. In today’s dating scene, waiting this long would seem abnormal to most people. That’s because our society is so impatient, and the expectation is that if you haven’t “gotten any” by the third date, there must be something wrong. Avoid this trap. Don’t let your sexual activity exceed your level of commitment.
Relationships need time to flourish and grow. Most new couples have to endure some bumps in the road before a relationship hits its best cruising speed. So don’t panic if you are guilty of rushing and your partner tells you they need some space. Give it to them on a long rope with no anchor and be highly patient. If nothing else, dating after divorce will teach you patience.
IMPLIED/UNSPOKEN COMMITMENTS–It’s a Trap In my book, you are not committed to anyone until you have talked about whether it is a mutual commitment. If you feel like playing the field for a while, then do that and don’t feel guilty. The general rule here is: Make no assumptions when it comes to commitments. Commitments are not implied at this stage in life. This is difficult for the newly divorced because once you have been divorced, you seek comfort in absolutes, and knowing where you stand in your new relationship is one of them. Be careful though, because this can frighten a potential partner who has been single for a long time. You could come across as clingy.
Too often when commitments are implied, a misunderstanding is certain to happen and one person ends up getting hurt. So before you speak to your partner about wanting a commitment, ask yourself, “What do I want?” Do I want to keep it light with Brian and see what happens with Rich, or do I want to jump back into another serious relationship? If the goal is to find yourself, but have companionship along the way, then now is not the right time to be committed to anyone except yourself.
Try not to confuse having sex with someone as the “implied commitment.” That’s the trap for both men and women. Ask yourself this question: “Would you buy a house without researching the market?” Probably not. You’re going to see what else is out there, run a few comparables, see what fits your budget, check out the location, etc. People who don’t invest the time to really define what it is they are looking for in a relationship, wind up settling for that property near the substation. You should have fun during this phase of your life. You finally have that second chance you so boldly worked to achieve. Don’t give up the farm too quickly. Do your relationship research!
RELATIONSHIP END-ITS It is important to understand that not all post-divorce relationships are equal, and the reasons for their ending can seem unclear to us if we are the one dumped.
The Rebounder Sexship Rebound relationships are based on sex and companionship, henceforth, it is a “sexship”. The rebounder is usually the first person we have a pseudo-relationship with after a major break up. If they are clued in, the rebounder will know their status and will proceed with caution. So here’s the tip: Being the rebounder is risky and is best left to people who want to fill a temporary void in someone’s life. The rebounder should realize there is no future in this relationship. It is what it is.
The trouble with being the rebounder is the rebounder may not realize they are one. Naturally, rebounders may not be too understanding when you suddenly tell them you might have unresolved feelings for your ex.
So how do you avoid becoming the rebounder? Ask your partner the simple question, “What would you do if your ex came back tomorrow?” Their answer should be very telling. The only answer you want to hear is this, “That already happened and it didn’t work.”
As a rebounder, to avoid any surprises, it is good to get dialed in right away on where you stand. Your first clue is where you fall on your partner’s post-divorce relationship list. If you are the first person they have dated, chances are you are the rebounder. Wise rebounders give their partners plenty of time and space, and they don’t rush into anything, including sex, if they want the relationship to last.
The Relationship of Convenience Sexship The relationship of convenience is a “sexship” too and is based on one thing, sex. This relationship works well with two people who are comfortable with each other, but don’t ever want a relationship together and they are both clear on that. Relationships of convenience can end when one party is no longer available for the bootie call (see chapter 7…it’s a good chapter) or the enjoyment of sex with that person runs out. If you were involved in what you thought was a relationship and it ended suddenly, perhaps what you were in wasn’t a relationship at all. Maybe it was a “sexship”.
From the Tuelbox Making the Honor Roll at the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ is not easy. Your GPA is based on your post-divorce dating IQ. The more you know about the General Rules the better your chances of acing the test!

 

6 Challenges to Managing the Aftermath

sunset1Hi Divorce Warriors,

Thought I would share with you an article I contributed to and was published in Details Magazine. The article came out something different from this. Sorry gals, this one has more of a guys slant to it…

The list can go on and on, but these are some of the biggies to managing the aftermath.

1.  HOW TO DEAL/COPE WHEN SHE STARTS DATING
· First of all alcohol is not is option! So, if you are still in love with your wife this is a painful experience. Just remember you are worthy. If your goal is to win her back just remember and it isn’t too late and stranger things have happened. I always say the only way to fight for love is to fight with love. It may kill you, but be her friend. Be her confidant, and be consistent with the kids.
· Now, if you both agree it is time to move on, then just remember and be prepared for the sting. It is just human nature to react when you take the kids back to her and the new bo answers your door or is mowing your lawn. Just remember, to breathe. Remain calm and be as normal as possible. Your goal is to be a nice guy. It will make the new guy wonder why you split and it will work in your favor.
Then, go visit a friend and let it all out. Just get through it.
· When your wife starts dating before you are ready to, start taking care of yourself. Do what you have to do to get yourself straight in the head. Spend time with your kids if you have them, work out, treat yourself to some small reward, keep life simple, and eat right.
· Surround yourself with people who love and care about you.
· Stay busy.
· Take out a female friend. Sometimes just the attention and company of the opposite sex will lift your spirit.
2. HOW TO GO ABOUT DATING YOURSELF – What are the rules to Re-Entry dating?
· How to find Miss. Right. · You must first be in touch with your own soul if you are ever to find your soul mate. Figure out what gives you goose bumps in life. How will people remember you, these are the things that define your soul. · Join a gym, start a project, take up a hobby, take up a low impact sport (cycling…women love bike rides) · Where to go for a date. · I always recommend coffee for a first date. Coffee is something that is inexpensive and can be morning or night. After coffee, you can meander to a book store, or take a walk. Keep it simple. Picnics are a little too romantic for a first date. · How long should the date last? · In the beginning, the date should not last more than 2 meals…preferable in the order, breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Not dinner, then breakfast if you know what I mean. · What to wear? · Comb a Spiegel’s catalog or hit the mall. Sales girls love a dating mission. Bring breath mints and trim all probing facial hair! · Don’t rush into anything. · Wait 2 good years before jumping into your next serious relationship. You wouldn’t buy a house without running a few comparables. So do your research; otherwise, you will end up with the same spouse who happens to have a different name!
3. HOW TO HANDLE THE SOCIAL STIGMA OF BEING DIVORCED
These days there’s only a social stigma if you’ve been divorced more than once. So, learn from this experience. The divorce rate for second marriages is 60%. · Social settings that may get a little awkward for the newly divorced include sporting events for your children, dinner invitations that seem more like a set up, or work related functions maybe. · You’ll come out ahead if you act kind to your ex or take your personal matters up privately if you are both invited to the same function…for example a crab feed for a school fundraiser and both you show up with dates, but let’s face it, who can afford a fundraiser…you’re in the middle of a divorce, remember!
4. HOW TO ANNOUNCE THE SPLIT
· How do you inform? I’m not a big fan of the shotgun announcement with e-cards. People send them for many reasons; one reason is so that you only have to tell the story once. But my friend, it is a personal announcement, so make it personal and tell your friends personally. You wouldn’t send an announcement if you were undergoing a vasectomy or hair transplant. So, my advice is keep it discrete and when the time is right, tell. · Who do you inform? However, a few people need to know immediately: your boss, your children’s teachers, daycares, your children’s coaches. Bosses need to know so they can make adjustments to your workload and understand when you need a mental health day or two. Teachers and daycares need to know so they can monitor your children and if there are any court orders in place. Coaches need to know so they can get the schedule changes to both parents.
5. HOW TO NOT BECOME THE CRAZY BACHELOR
· Who’s to say what motivates some one to go through, what I call, the PIG Theory after their divorce. For whatever reason, if you have to go through this just be educated about it. Know that you will get a reputation if you continue through this phase longer than the socially acceptable norm (4-12 months). There’s nothing worse than an ignorant Pig! · Don’t let your level of sexual activity exceed your level of commitment. · Date many people (not to be confused with screw many people). The last thing you want to do is jump back into a serious relationship and have a crazy girlfriend to contend with. You fought hard and sacrificed much for your freedom, so be smart. · If you find yourself going through this phase, then do the honest thing and tell the women you are dating you aren’t emotionally ready for any kind of commitment and it is, what it is. And guess what? If you score then you’ve achieved Pig status. Maybe you’ll get lucky and she’ll be in this mode too. · If you need the tactile touch of another, go get a massage before your date.
6. HOW TO REGAIN SINGLE FRIENDS YOU LOST WHEN YOU GOT MARRIED?
· This will just happen naturally. By now most of your friends that were single then are probably married now. · It only takes a phone call to reconnect with and old friend. They are not the issue. The issue is all of your friends are married making it hard to do things with them presently. So they may end up taking a back seat in your life for awhile. They will understand and your true friends will always be there for you. · The bright side to divorce is that you will establish new friendships. You will gravitate toward other people who are going through what you are going through. These friends become your pillars of strength and your support network. They are what I call, Chump Friends. They will relate to you better than anyone and will give you perspective…what you need.

Alice in ‘No Wonder’ Land

aliceThere I was newly divorced wondering how did this happen? How did we get to this point? Why is she better for him than me? I found myself asking these questions as if they were part of the Seven Wonders of the World. Well to me, at that time, it was. Anyone recently dumped for someone else knows what I am talking about. You know the hurt, the confusion, and the overwhelming feeling of just getting through the day.
But after several months of self-reflection on where I went wrong, I began to see that it was no wonder at all that we had ended up this way. Did you catch that? Let me repeat what I just said. I said, where I went wrong. I know what you are thinking. He left you, so why was it your fault?
Don’t get me wrong. Any one who cheats has a huge character flaw. There is nothing to debate about that. But here’s where, if you want to move on from the hurt, you have to ask yourself, “How did I contribute to my own divorce?” You have to hold yourself culpable to some degree, in due time of course. Bare with me as I make my point, because if you are at all like me, I’d be cussing me out right now and would be using this article to line my trash cans!
After realizing that perhaps I was guilty of ignoring the red flags in the beginning or that quite possibly I had jumped into something too fast at too young an age, I began to see that it was no wonder I was at this spot in my life. You know the spot I’m talking about – the center of the target waiting to take the next bullet.
I saw the warning signs before the wedding, but chose to ignore them. If you really think about it, maybe you did too. Maybe you ignored the excessive drinking, the drug use, the dead end job, the violent temper, the controlling behavior, or the wandering eye. The hardest part to getting a divorce, is admitting to yourself that perhaps you were wrong about this person when others warned you.
The divorce bull’s eye is no place to hang out, but it is where you will be temporarily after a divorce. It’s the spot where all the sole providers stand when they are barely scraping by financially. It’s the spot where all those who are overwhelmed stand contemplating what it would be like to have a life of their own. It’s the spot where the walls are caving in and everything around you is broken. In short, it’s the spot where you are stretched, pulled, striped, and tapped of time, money, and energy. It’s the spot where you stand alone.
Having a poor picker is only part of the problem. Sometimes a person’s character traits don’t manifest until later in life and you can’t predict the future. Not knowing enough about who you are before you get married is the other part of this equation. Spend time getting to know yourself before you jump back into the fire. If marriage taught you nothing else, it at least taught you this: Marriage will teach you what you don’t want. So learn from that and remember, in order to find your soul mate, you must first be in touch with your own soul.
You divorced for a reason and though you might like to believe this untrue, it wasn’t because you were 100% perfect and he was 100% flawed. Unfortunately, many people rush back into the security of a relationship before they have done the hard work that is required from being alone. Spend the time self-reflecting. It is essential to making a change within.
Everyone knows the divorce rate for first time marriages is 50%, but it is no wonder the divorce rate for second time marriages is even higher at 60%.
So where’s the map to Wonderland? How do you get there from here when all you can do is think about them and how sucky your life is because of him? Don’t despair. This map is within you. It’s buried beneath the surface, just past the anger. It is a treasure hunt to find it, but you must seek the treasure! The riches will reveal themselves from your struggles, that is, if you chose to learn from them.

Divorce Court: 5 Eye-Opening Things…

Divorce Court: 5 Eye-Opening Things You Should Know Before You Go

There’s no denying it, divorce court is sucky. Taking your spouse to court is not fun, especially if you have children together. Splitting of the assets is one thing, but when it comes to splitting of the children it is quite another. Hang tough, you will get through this phase and eventually you will find some common ground with your ex, it just takes tickety-tock, time.

Going to divorce court for the very first time can be a life-altering ordeal. Sitting before a judge with your spouse is never easy. It is a humbling experience and one you never wish to repeat. Yet, the process surprises many people because they simply did not know what to expect.
No body prepares you for court really. It is one of those things that you have to fully experience to understand. Some counties are now trying to alleviate some of the first court jitters by requiring divorcing couples to attend an orientation session before their actual court date to discuss custody and the splitting of assets. Kudos to those counties now doing this; however, now you can have two days of loose stool instead of one. I mean it is a nerve racking ordeal to see your ex in court or even orientation for court.
In today’s entry I would like to point out a few of the unspoken things no orientation can prepare you for. For example, who’s writing the etiquette manual on this anyway? When your day in court is over and it is time to exit the building here’s what no one warns you about…you and your ex have probably parked your cars in the same vicinity and guess what? You get to walk all the way out to your cars together as if total strangers. Or, worse yet, if your ex has no common sense, they will try to strike up an argument about the outcome in court from 10 paces behind you. My advice to you, is get all your paperwork done then and there and then run like your hair’s on fire to your car. Ask for an escort if you feel unsafe and avoid contact with your ex at all cost this day.
1. Debunking the Preconceived Notions about Divorce Court People have preconceived notions about what goes on in divorce court. We envision a long drawn out battle with attorneys taking the floor and submitting photos taken by an undercover agent catching our ex in the act. As much as you would like to believe the judge cares if our ex slept around, or burned your belongings, they don’t. Here are a few preconceived notions we have.

  • I will look better if I make my ex look bad. Quite the opposite happens if this is your approach. Let the facts speak for themselves. Just remember family court judges have heard it all. You hope for an empathetic judge, but you must realize it is just another day in court for them.

 

  • I will get to take the stand. It doesn’t work like that. No one is on trial here. You and your ex sit before the judge and he goes through the division of your assets, and if you have children, the custody arrangements too.

 

  • We have a court date; therefore, we will be the only ones in the court room. Yeah, you and about 25 other couples! Yours is not the only case du jour. There will be a room full of other divorcing couples and the judge only has a few minutes to hear your case. You are truly part of a cattle call and if the judge can get through most of them by lunchtime, it will be a good day! Oh yeah, and because you are part of a cattle call, you will get to hear everyone’s dirty laundry and they will get to hear yours.

2. The Courtroom Experience (before, during, and after)

Before

  • Be prepared. Get all your paperwork in order. Submit all documents to the court you intend to discuss that day. Serve all papers that need to be served. Practice what you want to say and achieve.
  • Be and look professional. You want to make a good first impression with the judge and this is the fastest way you can do that.
  • Get there early.

During – The Do’s/Don’ts of how to act. Know it is going to be awkward. Sitting there in court with your soon-to-be ex is never comfortable. A good judge should be mindful of this, but some forget. It is okay to let the judge know this is difficult for you.

  • Don’t talk over or interrupt your ex. Let them complete their sentence.
  • Do ask for permission to speak
  • Do address the judge as “Your Honor”
  • Don’t loose your temper or say something snide

After

  • Avoid each other. Know that it will be emotional. Tempers may flair.
  • Avoiding each other may be hard to do when you are parked near each other and walk out at the same time. Ask for an escort if you feel threatened.

3. How To Alleviate the Stress of Going to Court Sit in on a few cases days before your case is to be heard. You will see how fast cases are heard and you will see what the judge faces every single day. You will get to see the room you will be in and how the process works.
4. Tips for handling the judge’s decisions Try not to despair. Just because things maybe didn’t go your way in court, doesn’t mean that later you can’t work out a different arrangement. Nothing is forever and things always have a way of working themselves out. And if things went your way in court, then maintain your professionalism and don’t jump up and down. Be considerate of your ex’s position.
5. Top 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Divorce Judge Regarding Child Support (Tomi’s List). 10. That’s too much child support, I can’t afford that. I’d have to get a second job! 9. I don’t have a job. 8. I’m livin’ in my car and you want me to pay their medical insurance? So what if I drive a Porsche! 7. Why don’t I just pay for her boob job too? 6. It doesn’t cost that much to feed those brats! 5. The ultimate denial, “They’re not my kids!” 4, Your Honor, he gets paid under the table, I know because we faked our tax return. 3. That’s a lie! 2. I don’t mean to interrupt you judge, but… 1. And the number 1 thing you should never say after you’ve been awarded child support is……..Yaba Daba Doo!

 

When Opportunity Knocks…

Sometimes fate works in mysterious ways. I believe it does. Why else would my world have been rocked upside this week with huge anticiaption of my big break. So imagine this…I am changing into my running clothes to go for a noontime run with my running girls when my cell phone rings. “Hi, is this Tomi Tuel?  This is CJ from The Morning Show…it’s a fox affiliate. We are wondering if you would be interested in coming on our show day after tomorrow. Oh by the way we are in New York. You’re in California is that correct?”
Wow! Like that is even a question they would have to ask. Oh course I was interested, but how did they get my information, I wondered. I mean, in some cases I have solicited local radio for months on end and get no where, and then this…out of the blue, blahblam! They sought me out. The first time this ever happens to you, it is an amazing thing. You keep pinching yourself.  I could be in New York by tomorrow. I have never been to New York and to get a chance to go at Christmas time was beyond my wildest expectations. If I got this spot, it might be my big break launching sales of my book enough to get some attention.
So, I had all my friends sending positive energy and karma my way. But when I hadn’t got a call back by noon the day before the show was to air, I started to doubt my big trip. As it turned out, the producer was under the wire and brought in another expert. So, my big break didn’t come, yet. I have no doubt it will happen. It isn’t my time yet, but I believe it will come.
My message to you is this, have hope and faith, and don’t give up. All that you are learning through your divorce process can be applied to life after divorce. It’s like that book, All I needed to know in life, I learned in Kindergarten. Hence the title of a future book, All I learned in Life I learned from My Divorce. Divorce makes you stronger and when you have ups and downs in life you can take them in stride, because nothing can compare to the ups and downs while you are in the middle of a divorce. It becomes your benchmark for all other ups and downs in your future.
So, I am being positive that after the new year I will get to New York and be on that show. You too have much to look forward to after the new year. Stay positive. We’re in this together!

It’s All in the Follow Up

No one takes you by the hand in the publishing business, I’ve found out. It is going on four years and well I’ve only received one very meger royalty check. No it’s kind of like college. I remember in one a Marketing Research classes I had. The instructor took a poll that day. Looking back, I wonder now if he was silently laughing to himself to see how many of us actually bought into this. He asked, “How many of you here in this class expect that you will be corporate executives someday?” Without hesitation I raised my hand with about a third of the class. I was surprised when some students didn’t raise their hand and looked blank faced back at him. I guess I had bought into the notion that was what was going to happen immediately after I graduated with my undergraduate degree. I thought I was being primed for that. Maybe that is the ego of a young college kid, but really what I later learned was that I was just nieve and all those other students, the ones that didn’t raise their hand, knew that it took more than just a degree.
My piont is that lesson has been applied time and time again to my life. I remember that lesson as something that humbles me. Because, I am not a corporate executive, perhaps by choice I like to think. I am very content doing what I do, no I haven’t quit the day job…yet. That reality of my life is a constant reminder that no matter how hard you work to get somewhere in life, it is all about the follow up and the relationships you build. I think that is so true in anything. I have been in this business barely four years if you count from the very first day I put pen to paper to scribe my first book. I have been in the promotion end of this business barely six months. And I can honestly tell you, if you want to get anywhere you have to follow up with your contacts. Sometimes several times. I was able to secure my first Borders book signing after 22 emails and 12 months of follow up. I had some issues with the timing of my book’s release and then Borders book buyer didn’t actually agree to buy my book for their shelves. BUT, nonetheless, I still managed to have a book signing and nearly sell out of all my books that night. Not bad for not even being picked up by them at first. This is still being worked out hopefully will bode well with the buyer at corporate.
My biggest endorsement would not have happened if I hadn’t followed up that last time. John Gray, PhD and best selling author of the Venus and Mars books actually endorsed my book. His quote is on the front cover of my book. But I almost missed this huge endorsement. It took nearly 11 months of monthly follow up calls to his office. At one point, my manuscript had been lost and because I followed up I found this out. So I sent another copy. Then another 5 months of calls to check in and see what the status was ensued. Each time his staff was just as nice and could be too and would tell me he had many to get through, it is next in his pile, etc. So the day I decided to call for the last time I had to convince myself to push through it and make the call. I felt like I was a nuisance, and almost didn’t make the call. Again, as they had always been they thanked ME for my patience. I was the one who should have been thanking them. But here was the kicker. They told me that he had endorsed my book, but because they didn’t have the correct email it bounced back and he was heading to Austrialia for an extended trip. Ugh!  I thought I was destined for this kind of luck all my life, when she told me she could forward his email/endorsement to me. So she did and that is the story of how I almost missed the biggest endorsement of my life!
Just today I followed up with Dr. Phil, Ellen Degeneres, The View and about 3 other contacts for various magazine articles. It only takes a few minutes, but the personal phone call is key. So how did I get the contact information…that’s another conversation we will get to tomorrow.

Dating After Divorce – The 5 Biggest Challenges

goal postSo, you’ve been out of the dating scene for ages and are feeling sort of clueless about the rules. What are the boundaries? Where do you go around Sacramento? What do you do? And who’s writing this manual, anyway? Let’s start with the basics.

Challenge #1: Getting Up to Speed
Knowing the dating rules are one thing, applying them is another. Trust me when I say, “You can do this!” No, really—you can! You are a divorce warrior, and this is just a date. So, before you talk yourself out of it, let me just tell you that you are lookin’ hotter than ever!

The First Date After Your Divorce
Here you go. You’ve just accepted your first date for coffee, and suddenly you are flooded with emotions. The last time you accepted a date, it turned into marriage, and that turned into—Yikes! Relax. What you’re experiencing is just First-Date Jitters. They will pass. Just remember: It’s only coffee, it’s not a marriage proposal! This is a useful mantra, incidentally (“It’s only coffee… It’s only coffee… It’s only coffee!”)

What To Wear
The general rule is to act your age and dress age-appropriately. If you need some help, flip through a clothing store catalog or a few fashion magazines for some ideas, or go to a department store. Sales associates love a dating mission. Men should trim all facial hair, including ears, nose and unibrow. Ladies, this goes for you too!

Keep The First Date Short and Sweet
This date is commonly called the “Meet and Greet” date. It’s short and sweet. A general rule is that the first date should not exceed the length of two meals. You can pick which meals, but I recommend starting with just coffee. If you hit it off, it could turn into lunch. And if you don’t, you can still get on with your day and all you’ve lost is the cost of a latte.

Always Have a Plan “B”
If you learned nothing else from your divorce, you should have learned to always have a Plan B. Plan B is what paid the mortgage the first month after you were separated. Plan B is what got you through when alcohol was not an option!

When it comes to dating, too, always have an escape route. Have a friend call and check in to see if you need rescuing, just in case the date turns out to be a dud.

Where to Go & What to Do
The beauty of the old movie-followed-by-dinner formula is that it gives you something to discuss across the table. Looking for something more exciting? Tango by the River offers drop-in dancing and lessons on Thursdays nights (www.rivertango.com). Sacramento’s river trails are another great option—share a bike ride or a nature walk, or, for less than the price of dinner and a movie, you can rent a boat and cruise the river. (Make it a double date, and you can split the cost for an even better rate.) Get online and ask around—there is plenty to do out there.

Challenge #2: Being Open To New Experiences
It may not be comfortable (at least not at first), but stretching outside your comfort zone and trying new things will give you back the confidence you may have lost in your divorce. And confidence is key when you are dating.

I know… A date is probably the last time you want to risk looking like a fool. That’s why I recommend group activities to get you started. You can connect with others while doing fun things, but without the pressure of being on a date.

Challenge #3: Getting Comfortable in Your Own Skin Again
So, how do you bring sexy back after having three kids and enduring the rejection of a disinterested spouse? The process works from the inside-out. And getting in touch with your own soul is the first step to regaining your inner peace (and your outer glow). Here are a few questions to help you do that: Ask yourself, what gives you goose bumps in life? How would people remember you if you died tomorrow? If you were to write a happy ending to your life, how would that story go?

Take care of yourself, and do the things that make you feel good about yourself. It’s just a matter of time before you will blossom!

Challenge #4: Practicing Patience.
By the end of a divorce, we may crave companionship intensely, but in reality, we are not ready for another relationship, even if we think we are. It’s a Catch-22. I believe it’s important to wait two years before jumping back into a serious relationship. Spend this period of your life dating many different types of people. If you don’t, you will pick the same spouse but with a different name!

Challenge #5: Dating as a Single Parent
You’re exhausted from your week and wonder if you even have the energy left over to draw a bubble bath, let alone go out on a date. Making time for a date is important, and sometimes that means letting go of routines. You may have to go grocery shopping on your lunch hour Monday or switch laundry night.

Then there’s the challenge of finding a sitter. It may be tough to find one who can drive herself home at midnight. It’s a gift to find a sitter whose parents will pick her up after your date or one who lives just a few doors down. Cherish that sitter.

Being back from your weekend date by the court-ordered time can limit your plans. I call this the “Cinderella Syndrome.” The distance you can travel and the length of your trips are severely restricted when there is inflexibility with the ex. Luckily, Sacramento is perfectly located for weekend getaways—whether you want to visit the City, relax at Lake Tahoe, or hike the Sierra Foothills, it’s as easy to get there as it is to come home.

From the Tuelbox:
If you want to change your life, instead of waiting for life to change you, you have to be willing to face some challenges. Remember that every challenge you face is a chance to discover something wonderful and new about yourself. Visit tomi at www.tomituel.net.

The Definition of Divorce

dictionary booksI recently read that only two percent of American adults have parents that are still alive and married to each another. I’m one of the fortunate two percent, but my children are not. Divorce has had an impact, in some way or another, on most of our lives, but what does it really mean?

The American Heritage dictionary defines the noun divorce as:
1.The legal dissolution of a marriage. 2. A complete or radical separation of things closely connected, from the verb “vorced.”

Yeah, it’s a radical separation alright. Separation from your pension, your house, your family, your dreams, just about everything and everyone you love. Yes, divorce is a radical separation of things closely connected.

Our lives become intertwined through marriage. We take our vows, “Till death do us part” and it is only natural to assume our marriage will last forever. And when it doesn’t, separation from even the smallest things seems radical.

The dictionary goes on to define the verb “divorce” as:
1. To dissolve the marriage bond between. 2. To shed (one’s spouse by legal divorce). 3. To separate or remove, disunite.

Is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking?

What the heck does it mean “to shed one’s spouse”? I always thought of shedding as something my dog does. “To shed (one’s spouse…)” Definitions like that make marriage and people seem so disposable. Like a Dixie cup. “Okay, I’m done with you, so ta-ta. I’m shedding you now. Bye-bye, in the trash you go.”

This defining verb, “to shed,” equates divorce to snake-like behavior, but as unscrupulous as it may sound, this definition is fitting in some cases. Take the infamous Henry the VIII, who, after tiring of a wife, would “shed” her. Only he didn’t divorce his wives; he had them beheaded.

I think if I had to define “divorce” in my own words, it would be more like this: 1. a pain in the royal behind, in the heart, and in the wallet. 2. From the adjective “sucky.” There’s not a whole lot more to say about divorce than that.

Statistically, divorce will drop your wealth an average of 77%. As a divorced person, you lose economies of scale with living expenses and investments. What were once shared expenses, between presumably two incomes, are now essentially
double.

It’s definitely not a pleasant part of any relationship or life. But, like a lot of things, divorce has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. After you’ve gone through one, unless you’re a complete dummy, you will come away with a better understanding of life, and the big picture.

From the Tuelbox
Take note. Divorce is a radical separation. If you are contemplating divorce or just want to quantify the experience, however difficult or “sucky” you think divorce will be, take that number and multiply it by the rotation of the earth, then hang on! Visit tomi at www.tomituel.net

Tomi’s New Years Resolutions

Tomi’s New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t think any of my resolutions are that crazy this year, but I thought I would share them with you nonetheless. I figured mayby by hearing mine you might be able to trump them, because like I said, they aren’t too crazy.
Last year my resolution was simple: To get paid for having fun. I think I accomplished that. I love my job and I love to write. I will continue to add this goal to my list, but here are the few I came up with:
1. I think I would like to actively pursue date night again with my husbands. Did you catch that typo! I meant with my husband (singular)! Eek-gads, one is hard enough! We have a three year-old and my husband has a crazy work schedule. Going out without the little guy is tough, but I also have a teenager at home who is always willing to babysit—the perks of having kids ages apart.
2. I would like to tythe more. Is that how you spell it? See I don’t even know, so obviously this is a good one for me. Up until now, charity has always begun at home. I need to change this and be more generous. One of my characters in my book, The Bird’s Willow (which I am currently seeking representation for) says this about his relationship to money: I can’t wait to make more money just so I can give it away. That’s a motto I want to live by.
3. I want to spend more quality time with my family. I’m in the process of defining what this means. We spend a lot of time together at home playing with the little one, but I think we need more of a balance of getting out together more too. I need to feel less guilty about growing as a writer when it takes me away from them. Haven’t found the balance yet.
4. I want to reach more people who are experiencing divorce and the aftermath.
5. I want to help my husband more so he can work less and have less stress in his life.
6. I want to see my parents more. I am 2% of the adult population who’s parents are still married and still living. I should be so lucky to have that!
7. I want to do more to give my children rich environments for their creative and academic talents and nurture them.
8. I want to grow and nuture my relationships with friends and colleagues. Would love to have more parties in 2014. Maybe I’ll come up with some theme parties just to get us all together.
9. I want to read more books and watch more movies in 2014.
10. I want to write another book and screenplay in 2014.
Send me your new years resolutions. Truthfully, I didn’t have any until I sat down and wrote this. I came up with all of these in about 15 minutes and I could still come up with more. Try it. It will be good for you and you’ll be glad you did it.
Most of all have a happy New Year!

How to Avoid Being the Rebounder – The One Question You Should Always Ask

man_with_roseMany times when we come out of divorce we don’t know the “re-entry” dating rules, which by the way, are significantly different in our thirties and forties than our twenties. For the newbie, it is difficult to recognize what type of relationship you may be in. We are all vulnerable at this stage and knowing what to avoid is key. No one seeks to be the ‘Rebounder’, but the sad truth is we can get sucked in before we realize our status.

How do you know if you are the rebounder? What single question should you ask? And what single answer do you always want to hear?

Think you might be the rebounder or simply want to check your new squeeze’s commitment temperature? Here’s a sure fire way to get an accurate reading.

We’ve all heard the rebounder is typically the first person we have a pseudo-relationship with after a major break up, but this isn’t always the case. Your guy or gal can still be on the rebound several flings later. Sorry, that just didn’t help did it?

So how do you know if you are just another notch in their belt?

Realizing you might be the rebounder can be very unsettling, and there is no sense in wasting any of your pretty green energy over it. If you suspect you are the rebounder then proceed with caution.

Being the rebounder is risky and is best left to people who want to fill a temporary void in someone’s life. The rebounder should realize there is a risky future in this relationship. It is what it is.

The trouble with being the rebounder is the rebounder may not realize they are one until it is too late. Usually this revelation comes after finding out your partner might have unresolved feelings for their ex.

So how do you avoid becoming the rebounder?

To avoid any surprises, it is good to get dialed in right away on where you stand. Your first clue is where you fall on your partner’s post-breakup relationship list. If you are the first person they have dated, chances are you might just be the rebounder, but as I mentioned, this isn’t always the case.

So what single question can and should you ask to find out?

The answer to this very poignant question can be a potential deal breaker at the beginning of any relationship, so brace yourself and simply ask: “What would you do if your ex came back tomorrow?”

There is only one right answer to this question. You should only hear them say that they have experienced this scenario already, the reunion already took place, it didn’t work out, and as a result, the two of them moved on.

Statistically, most couples get back together one last time before calling it quits for good. So, if the scenario hasn’t happened yet, then it should put you on notice that there is a very high probability that a reunion may still be in store for them in the future and to proceed with caution.

Wise rebounders give their partners plenty of time and space, and they don’t rush into anything, including sex, if they want the relationship to last. Visit tomi at www.tomituel.net.

Great Holiday Gift Ideas for the Single Mom

Christmas is coming and already the publishing industry is gearing up for their holiday issues. So, let me know what some of you are wanting for this holiday season…besides a man! As a single person with two small children (which I was for 5 years) I loved gifts that made my life easier, pampered me or saved me money. Here are ten of my gift giving ideas for the single mom:

  1. A toaster oven (saves on heating a large oven)
  2. Someone to pay the phone bill for a month (serves as free counseling sessions with friends)
  3. Starbuck gift cards ( I was too poor to justify the splurge…loved treating the kids to hot chocolate)
  4. Quality dinners already prepared (http://www.dreamdinners.com/)
  5. New slippers and bathrobes for you and the kids
  6. Lawn mowing service
  7. Housekeeper or Handyman for a day
  8. Flowers
  9. A manicure or pedicure
  10. Time Alone

What was the best gift someone gave you as a single mom/person?

 

Christmas Shopping in High Heels

high heelWhat was I thinking when I left the house in my heels. Still doning the outfit I wore to work, I did a once over as I passed by the mirror and decided I shouldn’t waste time changing my outfit, and besides I might as well look like I have money to spend, even if I don’t. Believe me, I am the first one to admit I love being comfortable while I am shopping. I’m not much of a shopper really, in fact, I feel a little overwhlemed and my dyslexia starts to show. But for some strange reason I felt the need to look spiffy. I am paying the price for it now. My dogs are barkin. Even my comfy fussy red Walmart slippers can’t save them now.
So where were we…oh yes, deal breakers. I was recently on the Armstrong and Getty talk radio show.  http://radiotime.com/RTPlayer.aspx?ProgramId=10154&TopicId=31053765& They featured my book and did an interview of me I think. It happened so fast and when it was over, I wasn’t sure what really happened. There’s a joke there somewhere. But the PR was good and that’s all that matters. These two guys are punchy and political and controversial. Their show airs in parts of the bay area and northern California. So, after what was about the shortest interview of my life, they continued on for the next hour with callers calling in their deal breakers because of something I had written in my book.
People called in with all sorts of deal breakers. They ranged from the ridiculous to the wise. For example one caller said he broke up with a girl because she let her cat drink milk out of her cup and then went back to drinking it. Another caller had a good bit of advice that raising voices in the thick of an argument is a deal breaker and when that happens they take a break from the argment. Good advice.
My point in the chapter where I talk about deal breakers is that everyone has their “end-its” or boundaries if you will, that will end their marriage in divorce. I remembered having a conversation with my ex early on in our marriage about each other’s deal breakers. Mine was, I would agree to a divorce if he ever wanted out and if he ever had an affair it would be instant grounds for divorce for me. Those were my boundaries and my point was it was black and white. I don’t really remember his, probably because I was so focused on my own end-its and I wanted to make sure he understood them, that I probably tuned him out. I didn’t want there to be any confusion. I think his were very simple, if I ever wanted a divorce he wouldn’t stand in my way. Now mind you, this conversation was very early on in our relationship…way before kids even.
So when he did start seeing someone else outside of our marriage there was no guessing what I would do. But the funny thing was, at that point, he really didn’t care. He was in his own world. It was later, not a lot later either for those of you going through this now, that he wasn’t sure about what he wanted after all and that perhaps he had made a mistake. I found that my boundaries that were once black and white could be gray and that there were no rules and no absolutes.