I wrote this article when I turned 55: Today I am 55 years old. Yep, double nickels. Not sure how that even happened. I feel so much younger than 55! The thing is, as I reflect on the past year, there have been wonderful, amazing days and weeks, but I’ve had some real challenges this year, as well, health wise mostly. That said, I continue to feel truly blessed in life and love after divorce and beyond.
In celebration of my birthday, I’d like to offer a gift to my readers, especially those who might be having a birthday right after becoming separated or divorced. It might feel a little depressing to be turning another year older and at the same time being in the middle of a divorce. I remember being there several years ago.
My advice is: don’t let your divorce ruin the one special day of the year that is all yours. The two have nothing to do with each other.
Here are 55 things I’ve learned about life and love after divorce:
1. Every morning, before you get out of bed and before you look at your phone, take 2-3 minutes (or as long as you’d like, and just think positive thoughts. Think about the people you love, think about your health, think all the wonderful things today is going to bring.
2. Talk to your kids about everything. Make sure they know that there is nothing they can’t talk to you about, and that you won’t judge. Kids also love hearing about the times you messed up in life. Show them it’s OK to make mistakes, and that it’s how you move forward that matters.
3. If they are still with us, call your parents every single day. Even if it’s a 3 minute phone conversation. It will make their day.
4. If someone feels toxic, get him or her out of your life, meaning they are too negative all the time, they are jealous of you, or they make you feel badly about yourself.
5. Smile with your liver. (This is a quote from the movie, “Eat, Pray, Love.”) When every organ in your body is smiling, they feel appreciated, happy, and non-stressed, and they function better!
6. True friends are happy for you when things go well, not just when things are bad.
7. Think about if your friendship with your ex is real. It’s OK not to be best friends. Just get along enough so that co-parenting goes smoothly and the kids are happy.
8. What you are worried about today won’t be an issue in a year from now, or even 6 or 3 months from now.
9. If you want something, as long as it is reasonably within your budget, or if you can finance it for free, go buy it.
10. Getting a dog was one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made.
11. Forgiving someone helps YOU too. Forgiving also doesn’t mean forgetting or pretending it didn’t happen.
12. Don’t let political differences ruin your relationships. That’s such a waste. Remember that as Americans, we all want the same things.
13. It’s OK to be angry. Feel that emotion and process it. It will help you move forward.
14. You are never too old to reinvent yourself. I can’t count the number of people I know who did that after divorce, including moi.
15. Going back to work can feel scary, and change is hard, but you are so much more competent than you think. You are going to get so many gifts in the coming months, which can include a raise, promotion, new friends, better self-esteem, and a better relationship with your kids.
16. Try not to judge others. You have no idea what they are going through.
17. If a guy doesn’t call you back, it’s not personal. He doesn’t know you well enough for it to be personal.
18. Getting divorced takes a long time. Be patient and try to enjoy your life while you’re going through it. I know it’s not easy, but there is so much good to be had in every single day.
19. If you don’t feel like working out one day, don’t.
20. Enjoy food and stop the guilt. Just stop.
21. Enjoy wine and stop the guilt. Just stop. I will say, please be careful not to get into a pattern of drinking wine every night. It’s just not a good thing for your emotional or physical health.
22. You are never alone because God is with you and you don’t have to go to church or temple to feel His presence or to pray.
23. You won’t be alone forever. I promise.
24. It’s OK to cry. You have a lot to cry about.
25. If one or more of your friends stops calling you after divorce, it’s their issue and has nothing to do with you. Shame on them!
26. Don’t think about him so much. Think about YOU.
27. If you are on social media and you feel like you got excluded from something, it’s nothing personal. It’s them. Shame on them.
28. You deserve to drive a nice car.
29. Look at your dates from the inside out. Personality drives attraction.
30. Read a book outside on your porch at least 3 times a week.
31. Happiness is about people, not things.
32. Think about how great your coffee tastes while you are drinking it.
33. Focus on what you like and love about yourself-not about your faults, flaws and imperfections. You are looking way too closely.
34. Do something kind for someone at least once a day-it might be a phone call, nice text or just saying something kind to a stranger.
35. Divorce is such a wonderful time to reflect on yourself and get to know who you are now, what you want, and what you think you deserve.
36. Make sure you laugh every single day–if nothing seems funny, try a Seinfeld episode or a Family Guy.
37. Pray for what you want and need, but express gratitude in your prayers, too.
38. Getting remarried is not road to happiness unless it’s the right person.
39. Send a handwritten card to a friend or family member for no reason.
40. Calling or visiting the elderly is one of the best good deeds you can do.
41. Helping someone get a job is one of the best good deeds you can do.
42. Doing good deeds will make you feel so good and bring so much happiness into your life.
43. Ignore anyone who you think is judging you. It’s not easy, but why does that person’s opinion matter? It doesn’t.
44. Get off your iPhone. Take a break! You don’t have to answer every text in 30 seconds.
45. Say thank you more often and build up people’s confidence. People need to hear they are doing a good job. You have no idea how much it helps them.
46. Stop trying to change him. He will never change. That’s why you are getting divorced.
47. Don’t look back and dwell on the mistakes you made in your marriage. It serves no purpose. Just try to learn from them.
48. Don’t settle for anything. If you aren’t happy with someone, try to change it. If you can’t, maybe they shouldn’t be in your life.
49. Everyone has health issues. All you can do is take care of your body as best you can. So much of it is out of our control.
50. Hard work truly pays off. That is a certainty.
51. Don’t think about your body during sex, think about the sex. That’s what he is doing.
52. Nothing is out of your reach no matter how old you are. Be realistic with your goals, but you will be so surprised at how much you can achieve if you try really really really hard and do the work, and be patient. These things take time-sometimes years. But enjoy the ride!
53. Relationships get challenging when people aren’t happy with themselves.
54. Life is good, isn’t it? Yes, you have this thing called a divorce looming over your head, but focus on the goal of having it be overwith, and starting your new life.
55. Your birthday is your day, so do what you want and spend it with who you want. Celebrate YOU because you deserve it.
A happy life and love after divorce WILL happen to you if you believe in and love yourself, if you make good, healthy life choices, and if you have patience and faith..
On your birthday, put your impending divorce, your bitter ex, your financial fears, and your sadness aside and celebrate YOU—your life and the gift you are being given of another day of blowing out candles, and looking in the mirror at your beauty, inside and out.