“I’ m so stressed!” How often do you find yourself saying this in your mind or to family and friends?
Stress, as a modern term, arose from physiological studies in the 1930s, becoming the commonplace term as we know it today during the 1950s. Not that our ancestors didn’t have stress – they most certainly did (think disease, invasions, wars, natural disasters) – and who’s to say if theirs felt more or less intense to them than ours does to us today. We don’t want to be too quick to label our stress as the exclusive domain of the “modern” world. Maybe it’s more about the choices we make around the activities, events, and people we find stressful rather than the century that we occupy in history.
As divorced women, we are not strangers to stress. What if, though, while we are suffering our stress and becoming intimate with its ramifications in terms of health, peace of mind, and quality of life, we were to consider that there just may be another side to the tapestry that is our life? And, what if that other side is actually the “front” where the threads are smooth and the colors bright, and we’ve been living on the “back” where the picture is vague and the threads full of knots? What if it were possible to reduce the stress in our lives so that we began experiencing life as taking place on that smoother, brighter side? On the more “stress-less” side of divorce?
We’re all familiar with the notion that it isn’t a particular situation that’s stressful, but our response to it, especially our thoughts about it. Granted, sometimes stress is an autonomic response – a sudden shock or fright, but sometimes stress is about the choices we make. The habitual thoughts we think in response to stress can sometimes exacerbate the accompanying stress we feel in our minds and bodies. For example:
As a single mom you’re trying to balance it all on your own…your kids, your career, your home. You have a deadline for a work project, but it’s your child’s first high school soccer game and you promised you’d be there. The clock reminds you that you’re cutting it close for both! You can respond to the stress by:
tightening your jaw and saying, “It’s all so-and-so’s fault!”, or
yell, hit something, and say, “I always wait to the last minute – what’s wrong with me?”, or
pause, consciously relax your muscles, take a deep breath, close your eyes for a few minutes (if not driving!) and reframe the moment by stating, “I have all the time I need to (fill in the blank).”
For each stressful situation, there are responses that soothe us or make things worse. When we are stressed or fearful, we don’t make good decisions. This often creates a spiral of negativity and stress that, worse case, can literally be fatal.
When we can lessen our stress, sometimes just a notch or two, things begin to swing the other direction and the stress begins to ebb. That pivot point is where stress management kicks in. And having the tools and techniques in place to make that shift can make all the difference in our lives!
We hear a lot about change throughout our lives; we experience a lot of change, too. We all agree that change is inevitable, though most of us believe it certainly isn’t desirable. Often change comes sweeping into our lives, dramatically altering the landscape we have worked so hard to establish. During those moments, especially, it is hard to view change as something meant for our betterment. You may even have found yourself feeling this way during and after your divorce.
But the truth is that change is a good thing, and in order to have a successful life, we have to be accepting of the changes that take place. Adaptation may seem like a survival strategy, but by adapting, we are also growing. By accepting and adapting to change, we are ultimately making a choice in the direction of positive personal development.
It usually takes time and perspective to see the benefits of change. In addition to our divorce, most of us can easily look back on our lives and recognize times of change that at first seemed destructive rather than productive. Looking back also provides the necessary view of seeing how everything has actually turned out okay – that the difficult changes that took place did in fact bring about personal growth, opened new doors of opportunity and offered unexpected shifts in seeing ourselves differently.
So the next time change brews up in your life…and it will… try shifting your perspective, approach it differently, and remember the following…
1. View the change as an opportunity for personal growth. See and accept change as a way of personally developing into more than you thought you could be. Find that inner strength you never knew you had! Bettering your life can only happen by first removing what is holding it back. The ‘old set’ has to be torn down first before a new, more vibrant one can be built. This is the only way circumstances will improve.
2. Recognize that change is hard to swallow in just one gulp. Give yourself the time you need to accept change on your own internal timetable. We each have our own internal clock that is different
than anybody else’s. We transition through many stages of change that can range from denial on the one hand to commitment on the other. This process takes a different amount of time for each person. Surrender to the process and accept however long it will take to work your way through these stages of change. If others can get through change quickly, good for them. Go only at the pace that’s right for you!
3. Conserve your energy. People spend so much energy fighting and resisting change rather than using their energy in more productive ways of acceptance and letting go. We can choose to channel our energy in more positive ways that can make us feel empowered to deal with change rather than seeing ourselves as mere victims to change. When we direct our energy
toward more positive ways of dealing with change, we invariably create better outcomes in our life.
4. Accept change. Don’t just give the change in your life a handshake… embrace it! Welcome the chance to emerge from your difficult situation with much more strength than you possibly imagined you possessed. Strength brings confidence, and confidence is the necessary precursor to success.
Here are some fun suggestions to get you going:
“Put Your Records On” — Corinne Bailey Rae
“That Song In My Head” — Julianne Hough
“Vogue” — Madonna
“Pick Yourself Up” — Dina Krall
Now go listen, dance, sing out loud!
Also, why not share some suggestions of your own?
A Dose of Savvy…
I feel like the Fall friendzy is just around the corner! I just finished going through the calendar from now through the end of 2010 with my former husband, filling in the weekend and holiday and school schedules. Even though two will be away at college, they are still on the schedule… getting to school, Parents’ Weekends, getting to and from school for holidays. And then there are Back-to-School nights, sports schedules, SATs and college visits for my two high-schoolers.
I hear from single moms all the time about the frustrations and stresses of co-parenting. Many times the challenge isn’t just in making the schedules; it’s in sticking to the schedule, as well as the poor communication between the parents that makes things complicated.
Between custody, school, activity, and vacation schedules and day-to-day life, it can get tough to keep track of it all while trying to work and run a household. Things may be missed or even forgotten, schedules may be switched at the last minute, and in some cases one parent has been known to keep information from the other parent. Unfortunately, this only hurts the children!
If you need help with communicating information and family schedules, or even expenses, I recently came across a resource that can literally change your life! Our Family Wizard is an online information manager that allows you to easily schedule and track parenting schedules, share important family information and expenses, as well as create clear communication. Both parents, as well as the children, can have access to the system which includes the family calendar, message boards, private and shared journals, expense logs, and a family information bank (for vital information such as school information, emergency contacts, health care providers and health information). Money can also be transferred for expenses and is logged for future reference.
If you’re not divorced yet, you can even use the system as you create your family plan. Our Family Wizard has common plans already in place that you can choose. Courts in over 35 states have ordered that the parties use this system in contested cases.
Life as a single parent is not always easy so take advantage of any resources that can simplify things. The Our Family Wizard system protects kids by keeping them out of the middle and reduces divorce conflict between you and the other parent by eliminating miscommunication, reducing stress, and avoiding arguments. Ultimately, though, it allows you to focus on and improve your parenting!
A Dose of Savvy…
A Dose of Professional Savvy…
Did you know that, according to The Center for Women’s Business Research, women are opening businesses at twice the rate of men? From the beginning of time, women have shown their entrepreneurial spirit by starting businesses either in or out of the home.
Believe it or not, a recession is a perfect time to start your own business! Most successful businesses have been started during a recession, and many even during the Great Depression. Trader Joe’s, Apple, and Revlon were all started during recessions and many businesses continue to thrive despite the recessions. Just look at Pay Pal!
During tough economic times people seem to become more creative and resourceful., which is something we, as divorced women, have learned well. Hungry to succeed on our own, we are open to all our options. So, why not you? Why not take advantage of the recession to follow your passion and start your own business?
First, though, you must determine if you have the personality to be an entrepreneur. Are you a risk taker? Are you willing to invest in yourself and your business? Are you ready and able to work long hours for little or no pay initially? Many of us are, and do just that, in order to follow our dreams. Sometimes doing what you love just doesn’t seem like work; but the reality is, you still have to pay the rent or mortgage and feed your family. Make sure you are ready with a good business and financial plan, and are committed to doing whatever it takes to make your business successful.
Many communities have a small business center that caters to women looking to start their own business. They will assist you in launching your business, taking it from business concept to business plan with workshops, seminars, and coaching. Many of these resources are free or low-cost so be sure to take advantage of this support. Many local business women volunteer in these organizations to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs. Call your local Chamber of Commerce or do a search on your local area for “Women’s Business Center”. You might be shocked at who you will find to assist you!
If you have always dreamed of starting your own business, make sure you have a plan, get your finances in order, and move forward. Do not allow a recession to stop you because it may just be the very best time to get your business started successfully. Join the many other divorced women who are finding economic independence through entrepreneurship!
For additional support in starting or growing your business, I encourage you to take advantage of the information shared by the 12 Top Experts who participated in my Savvy Divorced Chicks Online Biz Bootcamp. Click here for all the details!
A Dose of Financial Savvy…
Many women find that their standard of living dramatically decreases after going through a divorce. Though there are many factors that go into that (including family size, custody arrangements, alimony & child support, career, child care, & household expenses), your relationship with money may also be preventing you from having financial independence after your divorce. Regardless of their divorce settlement, many women fail to make their lives better.
Money affects all the areas of our lives. We actually have a personal relationship with money and it starts at an early age. We receive messages about money from our parents, which often continue to influence us in our adult lives. Our unconscious beliefs and patterns about money can often cause stress, anxiety, and fear. How we view ourselves with money plays directly into how we choose to use our money. However, when we become aware of our money habits and behaviors (how we think, feel and react to money), we can make happier and healthier choices.
Regardless of your financial situation, you can change your relationship with money so that you can get the most out of what money you have now.
1. Rather than focusing on everything you don’t have, focus on the gifts you do have and be grateful!
Change your money mindset! Choose to be fully empowered personally and financially. What we focus on, we tend to attract. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Be grateful for what you do have in your life (both the people and the material things) and occasionally treat yourself to a gift.
2. Create a detailed budget
Write down everything. If you intend to buy a triple mocha latte ever day, or twice a day, put that in the budget. Nothing is too small, not even a pack of gum. You’re going to plan to buy it so it goes into the budget. Make sure you follow your budget. Make your plan and stick to it!
3. Earn More Money
If you need more money, earn more, do not borrow more. The single thing that gets most people in trouble is so simple, but many of us do it anyway. We spend more than we earn. We live above our means. Instead of finding a way to make more money, we find a way to get more credit, thus making matters worse. Be creative in looking for ways you can supplement your current income.
4. Save Money and Invest Money
In your budget you must have a set amount that goes to savings each month. You’ve heard it before, you know it is true…pay yourself first! Aside from general saving, you should invest some money long term each month too. Make sure you seek the advice and experience of a financial advisor. I know it is a recession right now, but there are still some excellent investments. Remember that the greatest generation on earth suffered a depression, and today they are better off than the rest of us.
By taking control over these factors, you can change your relationship with money to a point where you feel a freedom that you may never have felt before. By accepting that you cannot afford to buy that new pair of expensive shoes today, but you can afford to buy them in a few months after you save the money, you will create a situation where you have power over the money rather than the money having power over you. Don’t limit yourself from living the fulfilling and prosperous life you desire.
If you are really ready to take action with your finances and are really serious about eliminating your debt, check out Bruce Ammon’s Debtonator Course at http://bit.ly/9yWtrs.
It is normal to feel lost and confused at times, but don’t let yourself stay in that place… it’s time to take back your power. You are a strong and capable woman, so step up and take control of your life. No one else is there to help make decisions. It’s all about you. Don’t let this drag you down, or make you feel bad. It’s meant to lift you up! You have the power to control your life now!
Now’s the time to recharge your batteries and rediscover what made you tick before marriage. You may not be able to go back to exactly what that was, especially if you are now a single parent, but perhaps you can find something better. Maybe your passions have changed over time or maybe it’s time to explore new ones. Whatever you do, don’t just turn inward. Make decisions and take action on those decisions.
Embrace your new life. Travel when your kids are away, pick up a new hobby, find a career you are passionate about…whatever it takes to get into the world of living and not just existing, do it. The past is the past and the entire world lies ahead. Don’t go out into the world just to find the next person to marry. Try your hand at living for you. Life does not have to be about living in pairs. It can truly be about living life on your own terms, but only if you will let yourself. Your life is not over after divorce…it’s just beginning!
Wednesday’s Dose of Financial Savvy…
It is inevitable that our finances are affected in a divorce. Unfortunately many women find themselves resorting to using credit cards in their life after divorce. Credit card companies have become known for their sneaky practices of raising rates and shortening grace periods without the customer knowing, and ultimately negatively affecting consumers’ credit scores.
Fortunately the government is addressing some of these credit card issues. Some new laws went into effect this week as part of the Credit CARD Act of 2009. Some of the major changes include…
* Credit card companies cannot raise your rate on your current balance unless your promotional rate has ended or you are more than 60 days delinquent on your account.
* Credit card companies must notify customers 45 days in advance if their rate will be going up and then it only applies to the new charges. Customers have the option of opting out by closing their account and then they continue to pay the old rate until it is paid off. Unfortunately, though, there is not cap on the rates.
* Anyone under age 21 applying for a credit card must have a co-signer 21 or older if they cannot prove they have the independent income required to be approved.
Though these new laws will better protect consumers, experts predict that there will be some repercussions such as higher annual fees; fewer promotional offers with low introductory interest rates; fewer perks such as gifts and miles; and tighter credit card approval standards. The best strategy to protect yourself is to take responsibility for your own financial savvy and use your credit cards wisely to develop healthy spending habits.
Here are a few simple tips to keep you out of credit card trouble and avoid “giving away your money” by paying unnecessary interest…
* Make it a habit not to use your credit card to make “necessity” purchases. This includes food, gas and clothing. Buying simple everyday items on credit can easily develop into a bad habit of substituting your credit card for cash. By always using your cash or debit card, you will avoid paying any interest on your every day purchases.
* Do not apply for multiple credit cards. This will give you a false sense of financial security and ultimately get you in trouble when you cannot pay off the balances.
* Try to develop a habit of paying off your credit card(s) each month. If that’s not possible, be sure to pay off more than the minimum-only payment(s). When you make the minimum payment(s) each month, you are not only increasing the length of time it will take for you to pay off your debt, but also increasing the overall amount of interest you will pay.
* Make it a habit not to use your credit card to buy things you cannot afford. Living off borrowed money only gets you into debt and financial trouble. Learn to make disciplined decisions when it comes to buying items you “need” versus those you simply “want.”
* Always let your creditor(s) know in advance if you are having financial challenges and will not be able to pay your monthly payment(s) on time.
If you are honest about the situation and show good intent, most creditors will be willing to offer some type of temporary assistance or at least wave the late fees. It is crucial that you address this before the payments are late, though.
* Do not exceed with your credit limit! You should aim to stay under 50% of your total credit limit. A major part of your credit score reflects the quantity of the debt you actually have as compared to the amount you have available to you. Therefore, it is important to keep your balance(s) low in order to preserve good credit standing.
Making poor purchasing decisions and being irresponsible with your credit after divorce has long-term effects on you and your children. These habits will ultimately affect your ability to make those “big” purchases down the road such as a new car or a new home. Poor credit now affects future interest rates for mortgages and car loans, but also for everyday expenses such as car, homeowners, and health insurance!