Henry & The Boy Wonder

Last night after Henry’s appetite was satiated, thanks to a dinner of salmon and rice, and after a rather pleasant constitutional, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rested idly on the couch. With all the reverence I could muster, I said this to his Highness, who without any question, descends from royalty:

“Master Henry, as I am heading to the country soon for a long, relaxing weekend, would you be so kind to post a blog in my stead?” Continue reading

Responding to Hannah’s Question

Few of us are ever ready for shared custody. Seems incomprehensible and so unfair to have to give up our child for a week, a weekend or even for a day. You didn’t bargain for this. You went into the marriage believing it was forever, till death do you part, and that you’d raise your children together. Then divorce happens and frankly, it’s rotten. But you are stuck with it. So, it’s up to you to decide: Continue reading

Second Saturday (aka, Divorce 101)

The funny thing about divorce is that it’s not something you learn how to deal with in advance. Sure, my high school taught me all about Home Economics–how to bake cookies, set a table, and sew a stitch. We had Driver’s Ed classes, too. But, I don’t recall any classes on the in’s and out’s of untying the knot. No siree, Bob!

Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall. Photo credit: Jim Spadoni.

And, if such a class had existed, who among us would have signed up for it? After all, don’t we all want to believe that when we marry, it’s for good? Happily ever after, till death do us part, and all that.

Had there been such a class, I might have been ready when my marriage hit the skids. Maybe I wouldn’t have been free falling, and feeling like it was the end of the world.

And, it wasn’t. More like the end of a dream. The dream of a house with the proverbial white picket fence, a dad and mom with kids, a tail-wagging dog and perhaps, a fluffy cat in the yard.

Instead, my reality was a husband with cheating ways, a house with a crab-grass lawn and ants wreaking havoc in the kitchen, and one over-flowing toilet. Plus, we didn’t have a dog—royal or otherwise—but we did have a cat that loved peeing on everything. The only part I seemed to have gotten right were the kids, and I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Ah, divorce. Suffice it to say, I was miserable during that time. And, I was flailing. But then, I learned of a workshop, called:

Second Saturday Divorce Workshops

I signed up and, I will tell you, taking that workshop was the beginning for me. It gave me an inkling of hope, something I hadn’t felt in a long time, and made me realize I wasn’t alone, as I sat in the classroom surrounded by women facing the demise of their marriages–and their dreams. It was like discovering there was a manual all along, on how to get started, figure out finances, family law and also, on how to get through the emotional roller coaster that comes with divorce.

They say knowledge is power, and I certainly felt empowered after taking the class. I even found a therapist through the Second Saturday workshop, one who offered a group therapy that focused on connecting with your emotions through–

WRITING!!

Talk about tailor made for me! I loved, loved, LOVED my therapy and looked forward to each session. Today, I thank my lucky stars that I enrolled in Second Saturday, a workshop that, to be honest, I haven’t thought about in years. Not until I sat down to interview two financial experts, and soon discovered that they are the brains behind Second Saturday, which is now available in over 40 states!

Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall have dedicated themselves to helping women with their finances, through their nonprofit website, WIFE.org (Women’s Institute for Financial Education). Not only are they responsible for creating the divorce workshops, their website is a must for any woman.

WIFE.org offers countless tips and free resources, such as:

  1. The 21-Day Makeover, where you can sign up to receive daily tips for three weeks, that will help you get on track for being debt-free and saving; and
  2. A Money Club, in which you and your friends can get together and help each other improve your finances. The tools to get started are all there—and it’s free!

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, be sure to check out my interview with Wall and Bahr. I think you’ll agree, their motto is a sound one:

A Man is Not a Financial Plan

Walk for Animals Update: In other news, you’ve been so generous in making contributions for the upcoming San Diego Humane Society’s Walk for Animals and, because of this, I’ve decided to hand out two awards, not just one.

So, congratulations to Valentine Logar and Susan McBeth!

You will each receive a Kindle copy of Little Boy Blue by Kim Kavin. Please contact me at monicastangledweb@gmail.com and let me know the email address you would like me to use in order to gift you the Kindle book.

And, to all who have contributed to the Walk for Animals, Henry and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

And I Quote

Divorce is kind of like the story of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. One day you’re married. The next day you awaken sleeping next to a cockroach. Who is this creature beside you, you wonder, and what ever happened to the person you married?

Illustration for the book cover, "The Metamorphosis," for the Simon and Schuster classic series. Selected for the 2009 CA Illustration Annual.

It’s a time of upheaval and massive change. You’re being wrenched in so many directions, wondering how you’ll get through it, drawing on all your coping mechanisms and figuring out where you go from here. You may wonder about the future and what’s in store for you, and how you’re going to take the reigns of your life, once and for all. Divorce is the time for all these things, and at the other end of the divorce spectrum is the discovery of who you really are.

I’ve written about some of my coping mechanisms, which helped me through the process. Like talking to strangers, finding comfort in music, and fighting my ex’s perception that I would never amount to anything.

Well, here’s something else I did. I started collecting quotes. At first, the quotes related specifically to divorce and love and being single again. But then I started expanding (which was a good sign that I was healing), and pretty soon I had a journal of quotes. Many of these quotes are from famous people. A few are from ordinary citizens.

And, all of them provide something to think about, whether or not you’ve ever experienced divorce.

Here’s a sample:

“How many torments lie in the small circle of a wedding ring?” – Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker’s longtime friend and writer

“Find your blessings every day because none of us is going to get out of this life alive.” – Capt. Harry Jenkins, who died in a small plane crash, August 2, 1995.

“Lick it, put a stamp on it and mail it to someone who cares.” – Kyra Sedgwick’s character in the film, Something to Talk About.

“Being alone. There’s a certain dignity to it.” – Bridget Fonda’s character in the film, Singles.”

“You seem so different, yet the same. It’s as if someone turned the light on inside of you. Why wasn’t it me?” – Timothy Hutton to Meg Ryan, after he had broken off their engagement in the film, French Kiss (My ex actually said something like this to me around the same time, which gave me no small satisfaction.)

“One of the things that needs to happen after a divorce, it seems to me, is to let go of the bitterness and anger or disappointment about what happened in your marriage and turn the page. You can’t do that if you keep rereading the old chapters.” – From an article about single mothers in Redbook magazine, October 1996 issue.

“I spent too many of my younger years looking for guys, trying to be in love—and therefore ignoring the things that I needed to do for me, such as reading, learning, and opening up to new places I wanted to find in myself.” – Sally Field

“I think life is a series of difficult choices and then life throws the inevitable curve ball. I think more and more, getting through life is finding a sense of humor and being this wise person who laughs at everything.” – Glenn Close

“People, like angels, come when they are loved, wanted and expected.” – Deborah Tadman, my son’s art teacher when he was nine. I didn’t really know her, but one day, when I arrived to pick him up, she could see that I was in need of an angel.

“There’s absolutely no point in sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. The great power you have is to let it go, and allow it just to be their crap. You focus on what you have, not what has been meanly, or unkindly, removed.” – Minnie Driver, discussing her then recent breakup with Matt Damon.

“If everyone has someone who is perfect for them, then perhaps everyone has someone that they are drawn to like a moth to a flame who is all wrong for them.”—From an article about a bigamist in Entertainment Weekly, circa 1997.

“I am on a lonely road and I am traveling, traveling. Looking for something what can it be? Oh, I hate you some, I hate you some, I love you some. Oh, I love you, why not forget about me?” – From one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs, All I Want

“We women need to stop taking ourselves so seriously 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We need to put our foot in our mouth more…Listen with our hearts. So what if they get broken? We are resilient. We always have been able to pick ourselves up and keep right on steppin’.” – Author Terry McMillan, in an interview for Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year, 1996.

And one more:

“I can’t believe I’m making moral choices based on a B-movie.” – Phil Hartman’s character, Bill McNeal, speaking to Dave Nelson (played by Dave Foley) in one of my favorite shows, News Radio, referring to Dave’s favorite film, Logan’s Run.

So, tell me. What’s your favorite quote?

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Just in time for the new year, I offer a gleam of hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know, because I have reached it. It took a while. Years, really, but I know it’s there because I’ve been there. So, if you have experienced, or are experiencing divorce, or if you have been touched by it in some way, or know someone who is contemplating one, please read my blog on the Huffington Post site.

Even if you’re just going through some hard times right now, this one’s for you. It’s my latest piece, The Light at the End of the Tunnel. Check it out, and may 2012 be the year that you, too, reach the other end of the tunnel.

For those of you who have already reached the light at the end of your tunnel, what advice would you share with others who may be still trudging along?