Lingering loneliness after divorce? 7 cures to move on

Seven years after my divorce, I believed my recovery was complete. I’d put those runaway divorce emotions to bed! Then, BAM! Out of nowhere comes a jolt of loneliness (for others, it might be jealousy, abandonment, anger, depression – any of the divorce emotional heavy hitters). Loneliness is my personal nemesis. It can pounce on me when I least expect it, even years after the gavel has come down – with the same impact as during the height of the divorce combat.

My job is to learn how to manage it, now, seven years later.

Today I said goodbye to a dear friend. No, not a funeral. She’s bright eyed and vivacious in her mid 60’s. She’s moving on – new job, new city, and new adventures. Tomorrow she flies to New York City where her journey begins. We gave each other hugs and the appropriate “Can’t wait to see your new place!” and “We have to set a regular time to talk.”

Truth told, I don’t know when I’ll see her again. I do know I’ll miss her terribly. I could feel the hole that her absence would leave. I told myself, “Be happy for her!” but I simply couldn’t conjure it up.

I walked slowly back to my car. It’s been several years since my divorce, but that familiar knot of loneliness came screaming back, cramping in my belly and tightening in my throat.  Tears filled my eyes. She had such excitement ahead of her! And what was I doing with my life? I wanted what she had: an exhilarating new beginning with palpable what-happens-next exhilaration.

I had none of that. I was alone.  I had recently ended a four-year relationship that I thought would be the love of my life. My adult kids have their own lives well beyond mine. Who needs me? I could feel the dark cloak of loneliness wrapping around my shoulders.

When I got home, I plunked myself on my couch. I cried hard.

Then came the mini intervention with myself. Let’s get real: I felt abandoned (everyone’s primal fear) and I felt jealousy, too. It’s so easy to see her grass as a lot greener than my own.

I didn’t want to be crippled, again, by those feelings so reminiscent of my divorce –  loneliness, fear of abandonment, and jealousy? What could I do?

These are the steps I took to provide an escape hatch from the intensity of the loneliness that I felt:

  1. Recognize this for what it is: A personal full blown pity party. It’s easy to slip into dramatic self-pity mode when you’re the one left behind, just as it was in my divorce. However, this is not my divorce, and my life will not be permanently altered. I’m feeling sorry for myself and it reminds me of divorce feelings. Note to self: gather up the drama and throw it in the garbage.
  2. I am what I think! My brain believes everything I tell it. I can choose the thoughts to think. When the destructive lonely thoughts emerge, I can refuse to accept them! Like a surfer waiting for the right wave, I can simply say to myself: “That’s not the thought I want right now. I’ll wait for a better one.”
  3. Get out the daily gratitude list that we’ve all been told to keep but somehow manage to forget. Write in it, right now! #1 – I am healthy and building a successful business. #2 – I have two grown daughters that love me very much. #3 – I’m blessed to live in a country where women aren’t persecuted and renounced. #4 – I’m much better off than I think I am. Need proof? Turn on the news.
  4. Laughter is still the best medicine. Combine it with music, and it’s a winner! Here’s my favorite You Tube. Here’s my second favorite. Music and laughter heal the soul and they could heal mine!
  5. I’ll get my derriere off the couch, and go for a walk. Physical exercise changes everything.
  6. I’ll post self messages all around my house: “What little mini-miracles are in my life right now?”; “What’s happening right now that I can be grateful for?”; “Spread smiles!”

How to manage those emotional gremlins that continue rear their ugly heads long after the divorce is over? I’m convinced that it’s a lifelong process of well-prepared self-intervention.

The question to ask is: Will I be the strong woman I am, and seek out creative ways to handle this upswelling of emotion from the past? Or, will I be crippled each time I have a flashback?

It’s a choice we have to make every day.

4 Tips To Put Your Best Foot Forward: Reinvent Yourself After Divorce

This morning as I was walking from the subway, a fabulously dressed woman in her early 30s paused briefly and said to me, “I love your style! You look so confident; it all works together. The earrings, the scarf, the boots. I love it.”

She didn’t know that I had tossed and turned all night after my 3 a.m. “anxiety gremlins.” That I’d crawled out of bed that morning later than usual. That I had thrown on the first “professional outfit” I could grab. That I barely made it to the subway on time – with no breakfast or coffee to boot!

Nonetheless, her praise made me smile and stand a little taller. It’s lovely when a stranger flatters you. And it’s a real boost when friends, therapists, and family tell us that we’re doing “so well.”

Ultimately, however, the belief that we’re doing well has to come from the inside. For many of us recovering from divorce, the dependence we had on our former spouse’s opinion caused significant pain. So we should tell ourselves exactly what that adorable younger woman declared to me in the subway.

Read more on Huffington Post

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…

Read more on Huffington Post

Dr. Maya Angelou: Her Latest Re-Invention

Dr. Maya Angelou: Her Latest Re-Invention

(1928 – 2014)

Here’s what the media deluge says: Maya Angelou passed. Stop the presses!  She didn’t really die. She simply did what this magnificent literary genius has always done: she re-invented herself – again.

For Maya Angelou, re-invention was survival – all of her life – dodging, slamming, and bunting that nasty curve ball that life had pitched to her, using it to her advantage. Now, in failing illness, she stepped up to the plate again – one more re-invention.

For little Maya, named Marguerite Annie Johnson at birth, childhood was a horrific, traumatizing event. As a little girl, her parents split. She and her brother were sent to live with an aunt in Stamps, Arkansas around 1932. Not a hotbed of liberal acceptance! She saw brutal racial discrimination, unthinkable trauma and went into complete silence for several years. When life crashes in and you slam into a wall, isn’t it interesting how you adapt?

Maya Angelou begins to re-invent herself at age 7

  • At age 7, Maya was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She witnessed the further horror of her uncles’ killing of the rapist . It traumatized her so that she stopped talking – became mute from 7-11 years of age.
  • Re-invention: During her mute years, from 7-11, she saw herself as a big ear: “I thought of myself as a giant ear which could just absorb all sound, and I would go into a room and just eat up the sound. I memorized so many poets. I just had sheets of poetry; still do. I would listen to the accents, and I still love the way human beings sound. There is no human voice which is un-beautiful to me. I love them, and so I’m able to learn languages, because I really love the way people talk. I would listen”  (from Terri Gross’ interview on NPR).  It was a dedicated poetry teacher who brought her out of her silence. She bated her by accusing Maya of hating poetry – and that the only way she could love it was to read it out loud. Eventually, that’s exactly what she did – and the rest is history. Poet laureate re-invention!
  • As a pre-teen in Stamps, Dr. Angelou experienced the terror and brutality of racial discrimination on every street corner.
  • Re-invention: The passion and music of her unshakable faith and the values of the traditional African-American community diffused her fear and aroused a love of singing and dance that turned young Marguerite into a vocal talent unparalleled. As a very young teen, she sought out and won a scholarship for dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School – voila reinvention!
  • She needed money to continue to live in San Francisco.
  • Re-invention: In 1942, at age 14, she dropped out of school to become San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor.
  • After graduation from high school, she found herself pregnant with her son, Guy. She was 16 and unmarried. Her autobiographies describe how she traveled around the country with her baby, earning her living as a waitress,, prostitute, madam, singer, actress and writer. The lure of dance, music, and written word continued to beckon her to a better life.
  • Re-invention: She needed a stage name. In 1952, the future genius of literature wed Anastasios Angelopulos, a Greek sailor . She shortened his surname and adopted her childhood nickname “Maya” as her first name. Meet the new Maya Angelou, about to become star of stage and literary icon.


The re-inventions go on and on – and we know them well. In 1957, she was now actress and singer,  re-invents herself as civil rights leader. After living in Egypt and Guana, she befriends Malcolm X and Dr. Marten Luther King and comes home.  With their assassinations and her profound grief, she was urged by James Baldwin to write her memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, reinventing herself as an all time best selling author.

Phenomenal Woman – a gift from Maya Angelou to you

 For all of us beautiful, phenomenal women who are re-inventing, re-creating, or starting over again, Maya Angelou has a gift for us. Through all her trauma, all her success, all her fear, all her achievements, she remained a “Phenomenal Woman”, and proud of it.  This poem is breathtaking spoken from her lips – a gift of love to all women.

Please listen: Click Here.

When we begin to doubt ourselves or what we can accomplish, I will turn to Maya Angelou for inspiration. I hope you’ll join me.

I never had the chance to ask her, but I know she would unequivocally agree with me on this: You’re not getting older, you’re getting started℠.

Passed? Not this lady! She’s re-inventing herself again. I can feel it in my feminine gut.

Did anyone else besides me hear that newborn baby cry? Watch out world, here she comes again!

Photo Credit: pennstatenews via photopin cc

Barbara Walters: She opened the door for other women to compete competitively in the media

Barbara Walters – 84

(September 25, 1929)

“Relentless,” “fearless,” “trailblazer,” “aggressive,” “gifted,” “gutsy”- all words used to describe Barbara Walters, 84, retiring (to some extent) at the end of 2014. Whatever you think about this pioneer of Women-In-The-Media, one thing is for certain: her boldness made her a household name. She broke the glass ceiling more than once and opened the door for other women to compete competitively in the media.

Consider this:

  • First woman anchor on The Today Show in 1963
  • First woman to co-anchor the Evening News with Harry Reasoner in 1976
  • First woman news anchor to make one million dollars a year
  • Only reporter to land a joint interview with Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin in 1977
  • First US reporter to interview Fidel Castro, 19

Perhaps her most famous interview was with Monica Lewinsky in 1999; a record 74 million viewers watched it.  When she asked Ms. Lewinsky what she would tell her children about the scandal Ms. Lewinsky replied, “Mommy did a bad thing.” Ms. Walters ended the interview by turning to the camera and announcing, “That’s an understatement.”

Although she was well educated, driven, and articulate, she has been forever mocked for her slight speech impediment; that never stopped her determination to get the story. Additionally, she’s had her share of stress at the height of her career she was: a single Mom, supporting her parents, caring for a disabled sister, and raising her daughter.

What’s her dream ‘get’ (interview)? The Pope. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do TV talk shows! Nonetheless, we can only imagine what this driven woman could get him to discuss.

Hats off to Barbara Walters for opening up opportunities for women in the media that we take for granted today. Retirement will be re-defined by this tenacious woman! You can expect to see her back on camera any time a good story looms.

Gilda Radner: Most of us remember her for the hilarious “Roseanne Roseannadanna”

Gilda Radner

(June 28, 1946 – May 20, 1989)

Hats off to a woman who made the world laugh at itself. It’s the 25th anniversary of the untimely death of the funniest darn woman I ever met. Gilda Radner lived across Hill Street from me in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1968. We worked together at WCBN radio station, at the University of Michigan. I recall thinking she was destined for greatness.

Every time she walked in the room, she made you laugh. She was one of those people who had “I want to be with her” written all over her. You simply rose to a higher level of pheromones when Gilda was around.

She didn’t need to die. She was misdiagnosed for 11 months before doctors figured it out. She had advanced ovarian cancer. Remission was hers for a few years, but in the end, during the height of her wondrously humorous career, during her marriage to Gene Wilder, she succumbed. I miss her still, today.

Most of us remember her for the hilarious “Roseanne Roseannadanna” and “Baba Wawa” in the beginning glory days of Saturday Night Live with Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and John Belushi. She was the first female comic on the show – a first for women. Her parodies of Lucille Ball, Patti Smith, and Olga Korbut were legendary.

When she went in for her last CT scan, she begged not to be sedated. She told Gene Wilder she would never wake up. She was right. She went into a coma and died three days later.

Through senseless loss, like the passing of Gilda at such a young age, and the silencing of a gift that gave us the belly laughs so badly needed in such an anxiety ridden society we were alerted to the dangers of ovarian cancer. The gene is transferred from mother to daughter. Her mother, her aunt, her grandmother… wouldn’t you think they would have connected the dots?

That was another time and another place but because of her death, the disease has been studied at the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai (established by Gene Wilder) to screen high-risk candidates. It’s no longer the absolute death sentence it once was. Still very dangerous, but it can be handled if discovered early.

Gilda, you make me laugh to this very day. One quirky grin, and I can be in stitches. I miss you. We all do. I can only begin to imagine the laughs we would have had over the last 25 years. Thank you for the short, sweet, very wacky, zany, and poignant moments with you.

Ellen DeGeneres: Laugh as much as you can. Laugh until you cry.

Ellen DeGeneres – 56

(January 26, 1958)

“Just go up to someone on the street and say, ‘You’re it’.  Then run away.”  – Ellen DeGeneres. If humor is the best medicine, Ellen doctors us all – including herself.  She Loves Life Now through her gift of laughter.  Her life has been no joke, however.  She’s seen it all: abuse, rejection, hatred, joy, and wild success.

Our lesson from Ellen is to keep on laughing, even through the tears.

“Laugh.  Laugh as much as you can.  Laugh until you cry.  Cry until you laugh.  Keep doing it even if people are passing you on the street saying, “I can’t tell if that person is laughing or crying, but either way they seem crazy, let’s walk faster.”  Emote.  It’s okay.  It shows you are thinking and feeling.” ― Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously… I’m Kidding

No, life hasn’t been a giggly game of Chutes and Ladders for Ellen.  As a teen, she watched her mother struggle with breast cancer while secretly struggling against sexual abuse from her stepfather.  In 1997, she declared to the world “Yep, I’m Gay” on the cover of Time Magazine.  For that courageous coming-out, she paid a price: losing her Ellen show, the near end of her partnership with Anne Heche – and the resulting media swirl that led her into 3 years of deep depression.

Laughter literally saved her life.  In 1980, when she was 21 years old, she lost the first love of her life abruptly to an auto crash.  That incident caused her to write her first monologue: “A Phone Call to God.”  She made us laugh about mortality.  It was her first stand-up job, emceeing at a New Orleans comedy club. Her performance won her the 1984 Showtime’s Funniest Person in America award.

After many loves and breakups, Ellen married her beautiful girlfriend Portia de Rossi in 2008, at their L.A. home.  She says, “What can I say.  I’m the luckiest girl in the world!”

For other fun factoids about Ellen, check out this article in People Magazine.

Like the rest of us, Ellen’s ridden the roller coaster of life through the ups and downs, the pain and the joy.  She teaches us to love ourselves just as we are, to laugh through it all – that life is always worth the chance to enjoy the ride.  You just have to keep going.  She’s the epitome of my message to many of my clients, “What if it were just fun?”

Please comment about what Ellen means to you.  Also, if you have suggestions for other women 50+ that deserve honoring, please let us know.




Sophia Loren: Mature beauty is very different than youthful beauty.

Sophia Loren – 79

(September 20, 1934)

The most beautiful woman in the world! – Kat’s opinion.  Her grace, her charm, her style, her disarming honesty, her outspoken views on mature beauty, and her oft declared most cherished role – that of the mother of her children – all of these mold this timeless teacher of true beauty into a classic role model.

Sophia Loren personifies our Love Your Life Now, Step 5: ADORN – the wisdom and commitment to drape ourselves with pleasing attire and attitude that makes us ooze with contentment and confidence.

This is her conviction: “Mature beauty is very different than youthful beauty.  It demands a different approach.  Youthful beauty is ‘dewy cheeked and made up to disguise an imperfect nose.’  Mature beauty is knowing and sophisticated.  It admits to effort.  It is also much richer and more complex. … I’m convinced that nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is so” (Women & Beauty, 1986).

Does she love her life NOW?  In her own words: “I always wake up early and jump out of bed—sometimes not wanting to, because one can always find an alibi not to exercise—and then I take a walk for an hour.  And as I walk round the park I always think, ‘Maybe round the corner I am going to find something beautiful.’  I always think positively.  It is very rare that you find me in a mood that is sad or melancholic.”

Little Sophia learned the harsh rules of poverty as a child, living with her mother and her grandparents.  She shared a bedroom with eight people.  World War II bombs ravaged her struggling village of Pozzuoli.  She lived in famine – her mother resorted to capturing water from the car radiator and rationed it by the spoonful.  Bomb shrapnel flattened little Sophia and split open her chin with a scar she bears today.  Her sickly physique earned her the nickname “little stick.”

At 14, everything blossomed, and the beauty we know today emerged.  The war was over, and the family opened a pub in their living room, popular with American GIs.  Sophia waited tables and washed dishes.  Fate changed at age 17 when she landed her first acting job, an extra in Quo Vadis (1951), then Hollywood, and over 100 movies.

Through it all, she has kept her style, poise, savoir-faire, and incandescence.

Good news: Sophia Loren has a film comeback due out soon, in an Italian adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s 1930 play The Human Voice (La Voce Umana) which charts the breakdown of a woman who is left by her lover – with her youngest son, Edoardo Ponti, as director.  Filming purportedly took under a month during July 2013 in various locations in Italy including Rome and Naples.  It will be Loren’s first significant feature film since the 2009 film – Nine.

We welcome our stunning Sophia Loren back to the silver screen!

Please leave us your comments about Sophia Loren, and please give us suggestions of names of women in their 50’s who exemplify loving life now.

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.

An Unexpected Wake-Up Call


So there we were, my daughter and I, nestled in our seats at an off-Broadway play in the Big Apple. The show was Mr. Burns, a smart, offbeat play in which cartoon character Bart Simpson and his friends help a post-apocalyptic America recover.

Since every word counted, my daughter and I were the picture of rapt concentration. Yet we struggled to hear what the actors were saying.

Now, it’s easy for anyone who’s had too much wine at dinner beforehand to fall asleep in the darkened theater. And someone apparently had. We heard deep, regular breaths. Loud guttural snoring.

The entire theater audience started to fidget. A woman three rows ahead of us stood up to see who had fallen asleep. Assuming it was a man, I said to my daughter, “Wouldn’t you think someone sitting near him would wake him up?”

No one did. The snorer was so loud that he was upstaging the actors’ rapid-fire dialogue. And the snoring continued for the entire first act.

How could someone be so rude?

I decided the snoring was intentionally being pumped through the speakers as another way of eliciting emotion from the audience. Especially since the actors didn’t seem to be bothered at all. How clever of them, I thought. It was a ploy.

Still, I decided that I was tired of being “had.” Whether this was a real person disturbing us or a trick of the play, I would leave at intermission. At Intermission, I turned to the couple next to us to share my irritation. The theater had emptied as patrons streamed into the lobby for the short break. That’s when everything changed.

We all saw her. At the far end of our row, an older woman sat in a wheelchair next an oxygen tank, which was hooked to a ventilator in her mouth. The “snoring” was her ventilator. She was alert, though unable to move. It dawned on us that she was here to enjoy the play. Just like the rest of us.

It’s all in your perception, isn’t it? The second act began, and I tuned out her “snoring.” Of course, it was only right that she shared the play with us. We could hear over her.

This story reinforces what I tell my audiences and clients on a regular basis: Your brain believes everything you tell it. In that scenario, I chose not to remain offended.

Our five senses constantly deliver data for our brains to interpret. At the play, I let my assumptions get in the way of really hearing. In my six-step process, step two, which is Adjust, allows us the precious freedom to redefine how we hear and see the world around us.

Next time someone disrupts your life, tell yourself, “I choose not be offended.” You may just find a woman on a ventilator that explains it all.