To end the year and welcome in 2017, I want to wish all of my beautiful readers a Happy New Year! That is what you are: beautiful!
Every morning, (most times before the sun comes up) I am at my computer with a cup of coffee, starting my day by reading the comments and e-mails sent to me by readers.
My readers are both men and women, who range in age all the way from those in their twenties to those in their seventies. Although every single one of their situations are unique, they all have something in common: they are all in pain. Not only are they seeking advice, but they want someone to listen to them, to hear them, and or to validate them.
People who read and write to Divorced Girl Smiling and Divorced Guy Grinning are either thinking of separating because their marriage has become unhealthy, or they are newly separated because either their spouse has decided he/she wants to leave or has cheated and is in a new relationship, or despite trying for several years, they are facing the fact that they are no longer in love with their spouse and don’t know how to get out of the relationship because of the kids and the guilt.
I try to answer every email and reply to most of the comments I receive in an effort to let the writer know that someone hears them. Also, I try to give the best advice I can, based on my own experiences. I am not a therapist and don’t claim to be right. My desire is to help and offer support, even if it’s in a small way.
So, whether you are thinking of separating, newly separated or broken up, in the thick of your divorce, divorced and lonely, or dating and frustrated after divorce, to ring in 2017, I’d like to offer 17 tips to helping you stay happy! Here they are:
1. Stop doubting yourself. I received a comment from a reader today saying she isn’t 100% sure she “wants to let him go,” meaning her soon-to-be ex-husband. My dad always says, “If you make a decision, stick to it. It’s the right one.” In other words, your gut told you what to do. Don’t doubt it.
2. Remember that you can reinvent yourself at any age. This reader also said she is in her 40’s and life is going downhill. NOT TRUE!! When I was 49, I went through a break up of a long-term relationship. I tossed in the towel and figured I would never find love again (and was almost accepting of it.) Two years later I am really in love and happy. People also think they are “too old” to change careers. My opinion is that the older you get, (despite the wrinkles, health challenges and weight gain–LOL but not really) the smarter and more efficient you get. Older people can be more daring-in a good way. They are more self-confident, smarter, and more at peace. They are more mature, less impulsive. They see the bigger picture. Getting older truly does have advantages. You just have to have the guts to change what you don’t like, no matter what age you are.
3. Stop comparing yourself to other people. I can name 20 women whose bodies I envy or whose houses I wish I could live in. But, I know nothing deeper than what I see. I don’t know if they are happily married, I don’t know if they have health issues or financial issues, or much else. I see the surface. What seems perfect might not be. The best thing I can do is make my life as close to perfect as I can, meaning take the steps for a better body, work hard to have better finances, and thank God every day my beautiful, healthy children and all the love I have around me.
4. Don’t be afraid of being alone. Back to my reader’s comments. She said she is afraid of being alone. If you fear that, you are wasting your time and energy. You might be alone for awhile, but what’s so wrong with that?? Nothing! Enjoy the peace. Let yourself heal. Mr. or Ms. Right is out there if you want him or her. You just have to be patient. It’s not easy, I know. Just have faith, believe in yourself and take some steps in an effort to meet people. The rest will fall into place.
5. Love your body. You’re 10 pounds overweight, your jeans barely fit, you feel bloated and saggy. You have varicose veins and stretch marks. Fact of life—age takes its toll. BUT, you are healthy, your body has the ability to work out, to run, to breathe, to feel good. So, love it and care for it. Feed it the right foods, take it to the gym. Appreciate it. It deserves that. And, if you treat it well, it will show.
6. Breathe. Did you know that it is impossible to engage in deep breathing and be stressed at the same time? So, when you feel stressed, start breathing deep (like the breaths they teach you in yoga) and I guarantee you will feel better. Do that several times a day!
7. Love those kids with everything you have. Hug them. Kiss them. Make them giggle. Smile at them. Tell them they are beautiful—inside and out. Cherish every memory. Take pictures. Ask them questions. Dig deep. Tell them they can tell you anything and you will never, ever judge them. Tell them stories about when you were a kid. Tell them stories about you and your ex and how you fell in love.
8. Forgive. If you stay bitter and angry, you are only hurting yourself. Chalk up the loss and give in. You are helping yourself if you stop caring (for real, though.)
9. Focus on today: not tomorrow or yesterday. Looking back is unproductive. Worrying about the future is unproductive. Living in the present is very very productive. This day and every new day is a gift. Treat it that way.
10. Open your heart. Get to know people before you judge. You don’t know the whole story. Don’t be afraid to let someone love you. Don’t be afraid to love someone again. He isn’t your ex. She isn’t your ex.
11. Stop the fight. A divorce lawyer said this to my friend, “Do you want to be right and spend a ton of money? Or do you want to settle?” Think practically.
12. Verbalize gratitude every single day. I started doing this in 2016 and it works. Every morning when I wake up, almost as a form of meditation, I talk to God about what I am thankful for—my kids, my parents, my siblings, my boyfriend. I give thanks for our health and safety. I’m telling you, it works. It sets the tone for the day. Can you think of a better way to start a new day?
13. Be a little selfish. Buy what you really want. Eat what you want (sometimes). Go to a place you’ve always wanted to go. And, don’t’ feel guilty for doing for yourself.
14. Carve yourself a piece of enjoyment every single day. If it’s 10pm and you are getting ready for bed and you haven’t had any enjoyment for the day, shame on you. I know you had to work all day, feed your kids, bathe them, do chores, run errands, etc. But ANYTHING you can do to laugh or feel good for some of the day is very important. You deserve that!
15. Talk to God. He is listening. You don’t have to be in church or synagogue. He is everywhere. Express gratitude and ask for stuff! He is listening.
16. Give. Philanthropy and random acts of kindness are good for the world, good for others and good for your sole! Giving makes you feel like you can fly, doesn’t it?
17. Love yourself, Beautiful! And if you don’t, then start doing things so you will. We are all so hard on ourselves. No one is perfect. We can only set expectations of ourselves and try to stick to them. You have inner and outer beauty. Do you see it? If not, you need glasses.
Happy New Year, Beautiful! All the best in 2017!!
Like this post? Check out my blog, “Women Over 40: What’s In Your Purse?”