Re-Inventing Yourself After Divorce: 5 Tips To Dump A Bad Habit For A Good Habit In 20 Days!

I’ll admit it: After my divorce, I checked my former spouse’s Facebook page every morning.

It was downright self-destructive to my recovery. The self-pity party it wrought for the entire day didn’t help. Why did I do it? Because prior to the divorce, my then-husband and I wrote messages to each other on Facebook every morning.

It was a habit that needed to stop. Now.

We all have annoying old habits that hold us back. Some need to stop because we’re starting over after colossal change, like divorce. Some should end simply because they’ve outlived their usefulness.

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5 Tips To Deal With Your Friend’s Divorce Drama

“Best friends forever”: It’s a phrase can get pushed to the limits when you’re the go-to support person for a devastated friend after her divorce. Initially, you’re right by her side, especially at midlife and beyond, when you’ve been friends for decades.

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Top Five Divorce Songs: Music That Saves Your Soul

I was frozen, the proverbial deer in the headlights, when I watched my attorney trot away from the courtroom tossing a casual, “Good luck! You’ll be fine!” over her shoulder.

The gavel had come down, and presto! I was single again after…

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Divorce Blues? The 6-Stop Gratitude Positioning System

After my divorce, it seemed like every one of my loyal supporters told me to adopt an “attitude of gratitude.”

I understood the concept and appreciated their help, but I just wasn’t feelin’ it.
Nonetheless, in spite of big doubts, I wrote my “gratitude list” every morning.

For a while, it worked. I got out of bed when a dive under my pillow was really what I wanted.

Then boredom hit. The usual five suspects were appearing every day on my list: my daughters, good health, a trusted therapist, supportive friends, and a roof over my head. I was thankful for all of them, but it appreciating them over and over was getting old.

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As Seen On Huffington Post: Re-invention Ain’t Easy: Top 10 Actions To Take When Anxiety Nightmares Strike

Last night, I dreamt I was alone with a scary, grubby man. He handed me a knife and said I had to kill his dog before I could go home.

In horror, I scrambled to leave. But there was no way out! He took out a poison cookie and fed it to the dog. I woke up, my heart pounding, paralyzed with terror.

Yep, that was a nightmare: the sit-up-straight-oh-my-god kind, where the unthinkable happens. The “unthinkable” usually has nothing to do with your real life, but occasionally, the nightmare may re-enact a real-life horrific, traumatizing event.

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As Seen On Huffington Post: 7 Ways To Use Fear To Your Advantage

A hard bright light dawned on moving day. Dozens of brown, cardboard boxes filled with my belongings were stacked everywhere in my otherwise empty house. My entire history was packed up, ready to be hauled off to San Francisco where I would reinvent myself. My 33-year marriage was over. I was single again.

And I was terrified. Even though I’m a strong woman, a leader, a person who normally doesn’t break down, I cried tears of desolation. With red, swollen eyes, I looked at my friend and whispered, “Oh, Michael, I’m so scared.”

He grabbed my shoulders, placed me squarely in front of him and said, “Look at me, Kat. If you’re not scared, you’re not doing it right.”

He was right, of course. Not only is it OK to be terrified, it’s necessary. It was a lesson that helped change my life.

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Starting Over After 50: Getting into bed with the dating game

You’re alone again… starting over.  You’ve taken that big step forward… you’ve decided to date. here you come!  You feel vulnerable, slightly insecure, and a tad off balance.  Welcome to the world of dating after midlife: it’s a weird combo of fun, surprise, great laughs – and downright intimidating at the same time.

I’ll bet you can identify with this: the first 3 dates with Bernie went really well.  A lot in common, mixed with giggling, profound discussions, hand holding, and a few little quick kisses.  This is the fourth date and he’s delivered you to your doorstep.

You’ve got a lifetime of wisdom and savoir-faire, and yet, here you are standing on your own front doorstep, seeing yourself like an awkward teenager in a movie scene.  Do I invite him in?  He’s intriguing.  Should I?  Shouldn’t I?  Believe me, he’s asking himself the same questions!

In any case, the question is: is intimacy with this man in the cards for you tonight?  The answer is different for every woman (and man) depending on your personal comfort level with this person and your background.  Rule #1 has not changed in the 40 years since you were a teen: Say no if you don’t want to!  It’s ok, and it honors your self-respect.   Wait until you both are ready.

On the other hand, if you feel a little tingly, and it sounds like an intimate romp might be fun, go for it!  From my years as a human sexuality educator, let me tell you: sex can be just as enjoyable and, in many cases, even more fulfilling than when you are younger.

Some crucial rules have changed, however, and you need to be aware of them so that the passion payoff for you is pleasure, not pain.  Here are the issues you really need to know about – and other dating sites don’t address.  Going in with eyes wide open will make for a sexier, more fulfilling, and safer evening for both of you.

How to Get Ready for Bed

Here are the top 8 non-negotiable tips for a safe and sexy evening.

Be flexible and keep your sense of humor:

  1. Your intimate routine and his won’t match at all, at first, I guarantee. You’ll fumble around comically. Expect it. Like you, he’s doing the best he can with what he’s learned. Expect surprises and create your own new intimate dance. Be patient.
  2. Remember, he has no idea what your preferences are. Communication is key. After your initial intimate interludes, open the conversation. Tell him what you liked and what you would rather sidestep. Ask him what he liked and what changes he’d like you to make.
  3. Keep your sense of humor: Bonnie, 69, had checked her make-up and decided she looked younger without her glasses, so off they came. Tonight would be their third date, and first real intimacy. Where’s the lube? She grabbed the sample in the foil packet, then went off to Glen’s. Hours later, sheets move, hands wander, mouths connect, breath comes fast. Bonnie grabs the lube, rips open the packet, and lowers it under the sheets. Suddenly Glen stops. What’s that smell? Nail polish remover! Oops. Wrong foil product! Bonnie’s note to self: Keep glasses on when locating lube! By the way, Bonnie and Glen are still together – and still chortling over the foil packet episode.

On the serious side…

  1. Carry condoms with you. Our generation tends to rebel against using condoms, mostly because of being in long-term relationships and skipping over the AIDS epidemic. Today, the threat of getting infected is alive and well. The 55+ population has one of the fastest growing HIV diagnosis rates.
  2. Learn to ask if your new sex partner is clean, meaning clear of any STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Most women shy away from asking. It’s tough to do, but it can literally save your life. Here’s the question to ask: “Are you clean from STIs?” or “Do you have any STI’s?” It takes 2 seconds to ask. A STI lasts a lifetime – and you have to tell every man you ever have intimacy with, about it. I vote for the 2 second investment of asking. If you don’t know him well enough to ask, it’s not time for intimacy, yet. He’s most likely free and healthy. Nonetheless, please ask.
  3. Carry lubricant. Women’s natural lubrication lessens after menopause. Use lots of lube. It makes all kinds of intimacy  possible—and pleasurable. No lube? Use saliva. Yes, it’s ok.
  4. Understand about men at our age. They’re worried about performance. Be considerate and patient. Things happen more slowly for them, too. (Men—ladies are worried about body changes. Things have shifted in the last 30 years. Be complimentary.)
  5. Think pleasure, not performance. Let go of the orgasm- mania you felt in your 20s and 30s. You can be just as happy (and so can he) without an orgasm. Yes, you can.

Intimacy after midlife is a wonderful relief after the pressures to perform of youth. Take your time, don’t take yourself too seriously, and enjoy your evening under the sheets. Don’t take health risks, however. Conjure up the courage to ask what you need to know. For more information about sexuality and intimacy after midlife, take a look at my book Sexperienced: Guide for the Seasoned Woman Seeking New Possibilities. Funny, poignant, and practical. Men love it, too!

Please join our conversation about this article, add your comments below.


3 Non-Negotiable Steps to Starting Over at 50, 60, 70, 80

One of my favorite expressions is: Yougottawannawanna. When life throws you a curve ball, you’re tempted to shout “foul” – but the truth is that the curve ball is as much a part of the game as the perfect center pitch. Your best bet is to step up to the plate, take a deep breath, and shout out loud, “Play ball! I’m in it to win it. Let’s go!” You’ve got to want to play and win. It sure isn’t easy after midlife, particularly when your self-esteem muscles are out of shape, and you’re starting over once again.

Starting over? Starting again? This is nothing new.

You’ve spent your life learning to start over. As women, we were thrust into a world where we had to learn to maneuver. Our little girl roles weren’t as well defined as our little brothers. We had to learn how to communicate our needs without being a “cry baby.” We had to figure out how to interact socially and walk the line between flirting and aggressiveness. If we “developed” earlier than other girls, we were “fast” – as opposed to our brothers who were “big for their age.” The result: we were on our own to figure out where we fit. As teens, we tested our roles. In our 20’s we began to perfect our natural talents. New jobs, new partners, new responsibilities led us to the “arrogant 30’s.” Many of us felt as if we had a whole myriad of strengths – we were invincible in our 30’s.

As the years went by, we were slammed with a tsunami of change. Some of us settled into a comfortable life and were able to dodge the tough stuff. Others had head-on challenges that called her inner strength to task. In any case, whatever your former situation, now is the moment to revisit the determination and focus of your childhood, the assertiveness and confidence of your 30’s, and the wisdom that life has handed you – giving you more power and definition than you realize. The power within you needs to resurface.

Step One: As a little girl, you communicated in no uncertain terms. Do it again, now!

Communicate Your Needs – to yourself and to others. Another favorite phrase of mine: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” No one will do it for you. Say what you need. You might get it, you might not. The point is not to get what you want, but to be heard and get that knot out of your stomach that comes from holding back. There’s a whole support system that wants to help you grow, but you have to ask.


Step Two: Find new friends creatively. Here’s how:

A few years ago, meeting new people was easier – jobs, hobbies, children – all provided easy inroads to new friends. Accepting the reality of your new life means understanding it’s more difficult to meet new friends, now. Don’t listen to the internet naysayers. While you have to be careful (lots of crazies out there), I know many women who have met the love of her life on (or any of the other sites). Check out and type in an activity you love and your age. Dust off your computer and hunt around.However, most people still meet new friends through existing friends. Make a list of your closest friends – both men and women. Call them and ask to “hang out.” Don’t wait for them to call you. They love you, but you aren’t top of mind with them. Call them! Don’t get discouraged – people react slowly. Keep at it! If your friends know you’re looking for evenings out with new friends, they’ll rise to the occasion. You have to speak up, first.

Step 3: Feel the fear. So what?

I remember after my divorce, I felt like a deer in the headlights. Scared, discombobulated, and terrified to move. Of course you feel lost after a giant life change! Who wouldn’t – especially when the old familiar roles from the last 25 years are evaporating before your eyes. Your next step into the unknown is darn scary.

Another favorite phrase of mine, given to me after my divorce: “If you’re not scared, you’re not doing it right!” You’re going to feel fear. Fear is a sign that you need to take action. Think in positive terms – You’re not getting older, you’re getting started! What you tell yourself is critical. If you step back and look fear in the face, it can actually help you.

Let fear guide you back to yourself. Identify your fear. Tell yourself it’s normal and necessary. Then ask yourself, “What can I do to distract me from this fear?” Go do that! Take a hike? Go to a movie? Cook a fabulous recipe? Listen to mind blowing music? Go ride your bike? Go to your “arsenal list” of friends to call when you need to reach out?

Always know that the fear will pass. It always does. It’s up to you to change the energy with something you love, and allow the fear to pass.

By the way, if the fear becomes incapacitating, anti-depressants may help you. See a psychiatrist who understands the subtleties of the medications. If you take natural remedies, do it on recommendation of a professional who understands the herbs.

Divorce, death of a spouse, retirement or an empty house does not mean the end of your purpose in life. It’s really a chance to live again, on your own terms. Use this opportunity to invest in yourself and your new adventures in life, one step at a time.

How to Rebuild your Life After Divorce

Going through divorce is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can face at midlife and beyond — comparable in grief to the death of a loved one. But divorce has its own particularly haunting sting. Divorce often fosters additional feelings of hurt, loss of self esteem, fear, betrayal and resentment.

Though these feelings are normal – and an important part of the grieving process, if you hang on to them for too long, they’re guaranteed to stop you from finding your happiness, and put a plug in your ability to love life. You become defined by your divorce rather than the fresh start you long for.

If you really want to experience a new life after divorce, it’s vital that you finish the grieving process and move on. Easy? Hardly. Necessary? Absolutely.

Today, rearrange your mindset and start telling yourself, “I can do this. Yes, I can!”

Build your support system: Humans are not intended to go through life alone.

After divorce, it’s critical that you have loving friends to fall back on. If your support system is too small, enlarge it. Start with your closest friends. What clubs, sports, or associations are they in? Can you tag along? It’s easier to start when you walk in with a buddy. Check out book clubs at the library. Go back to your spiritual/religious roots – attend weekday activities when people tend to interact more, rather than expecting camaraderie at the formal service. For some, divorce recovery groups are helpful – check online for a group near you. The bottom line: it’s up to you to insure that you aren’t alone during the healing process.

Find your purpose: Make a new road map for your life.

When I work with clients  who are starting over after divorce, I see women fragmented and questioning their self worth. If the “X” left them for another woman, the loss of self esteem can be devastating. One tip: write one page in a journal every morning. Scribble notes about a new goal or dream. Then, take one very small step towards your dream  that very day. You’d like a new car? Go online for 10 minutes reading about it or be bold and visit a car dealership. No need to buy. Just look! Avoid the vicious cycle of work-eat-sleep-repeat by moving yourself forward with one small positive action every day, no exceptions. Write it in your morning journal, then do it! At night, jot a brief note about your experience. Keep it small and easy to do.

Enjoy your freedom to be by yourself: Reframe your newfound oneness.

You’re free to live the life you choose! Embrace it. Start enjoying yourself! Your own company can be lovely. Take yourself on dates. Take up dance. Find an intriguing destination and go solo – whether it’s 10 miles away or halfway around the globe. You don’t need permission, so whatever it is that you have always to do, step out solo and go do it.

Stay positive: Pity parties come early and often to divorcees.

To avoid them: remember that your brain believes everything you tell it. It’s all about shouting down the gremlins and taking control of your own thinking. When the sadness sets in, be ready to pull yourself out. Keep a running list of literal phrases to say to yourself (“I’m safe and I can do this!”, etc.). Know the music that lifts your spirits and put it on. Put the old pictures away. Know that there is an amazing new life beckoning you. Don’t miss out. Be prepared. Kick out the demons of doubt. You are a beautiful, zesty, talented, confident woman. Don’t let those nasty self-defeating thoughts hold you back.

Make yourself a pact: divorce will not hold you back! A new start, a new life awaits.  Press the refresh button in your journey toward greatness. There’s a world out there waiting for you, but you have to get out of bed, first, and take that first step. You’re not getting older, you’re getting started!

Body Image Blues: Shopping When Nothing Fits

Sometimes, practicing what you preach is not as easy as it looks.

On Black Friday, my daughter and I were at the shopping mecca of New York City: Fifth Avenue. We were betting on grabbing good deals at the high-end boutiques, and guessed that shoppers would be fewer in this more chic area of town.

If nothing else, we would window-shop, admire the elaborate “sidewalks dressed in holiday style” as only NYC can do and cap the day with a glass of wine at the St. Regis Hotel. What fun! We giggled about playing “grown up” for a day.

I decided to splurge on something magnificent for my speaking engagements – a holiday treat to myself to celebrate being with my daughter for five luscious, luxurious days in New York City.

We stepped through the doors of a tasteful, elegant, and very expensive retailer. We were immediately immersed in racks of lovely clothing to adorn the woman of style in her 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. The boutique was inviting and gracious, albeit with a staff that seemed only moderately congenial and interested in helping us. (Was it my NYDJ jeans?).

Nonetheless, the garments were so beautiful that I asked to have four outfits brought to me. I could see myself modeling them for the gentleman I’m dating, and feeling oh-so-confident in front of my next audience of beautiful, zesty women.

The retail clerk brought the requested treasures. That Mandarin red jacket! And that gentle peacock blue silk blouse with matching silk tank! Delicious. With black silk pants – a magnificent outfit!

Then I tried them on.

“Well, well,” I thought. “It seems clothes now fit a little tighter than last year. That’s OK.  I’ll just get one size larger.

But as I tried on more tops, slacks, jackets and skirts  — all of which didn’t fit, I began to get that horrible feeling that I call fitting-room fatigue, or body image blues. I didn’t like my body: That turkey neck, those heavy arms unable to fit comfortably in the sleeve, that blubbery tummy making the trousers and jackets tight.

Frankly, I was feeling old and unattractive, and I said so to my acting advisor, my daughter.

Suddenly, she stood up straight, put both hands on my shoulders and said, “Mom! You teach this stuff about managing your thoughts while shopping! So stop the self-defeating thoughts right now!

“Get real. Let go of the size thing. These clothes weren’t made for you. Big deal! And nobody looks good unclothed in front of these mirrors. Where is that beautiful, confident, sophisticated mother of mine? Let’s leave.

Isn’t it amazing how our own offspring can give back what we so blithely hand out? She was correct, of course. Those clothes weren’t right for me. It didn’t mean I needed to lose 20 pounds or commit myself to the gym. It simply meant it didn’t work this time. That’s it!

I hope this lesson will help all of you destined for fitting rooms over the holiday season.