Category Archives: new beginnings

One Giant Leap For Divorced Mankind

I think, just as either you or your spouse did when this whole thing started, you realize at some point something needs to change. There’s a little “ding” that goes off in your head that tells you; this isn’t working and it’s time to move on. I think for a lot of people the frustration sets in when they can’t decide what that means or what direction to go.

After a divorce, your first item of business is to survive. Your entire focus is adjusting to the new reality and overcoming the fear that your world is going to completely crumble. This is especially true if yours was a twoUnknown-1 income household which is suddenly down to one. Your mind is consumed with how this is going to work. When will you see the kids? Who pays for what? How do I juggle work and childcare? Can I afford it? Is it going to be a daily battle? All of it can scare the crap out of the strongest and most secure individual.

Through the ups and downs of the ensuing months, you find an offbeat rhythm and find yourself kind of making it work. But it still feels uneasy. Your first thought is, it’s time to move on and build a new life. And as anxious as you may be to create this new utopia, walking away from a marriage and attempting to start over is easier said than done; both physically and mentally. And everyone sees it but you.

Eventually, at some point, you wake up and realize you’re in divorce purgatory. You’re no longer married but you haven’t quite rebuilt your life either. You’re sustaining yourself, but not really progressing the way you had been prior to the divorce. You’re kind of stuck somewhere in the middle trying to figure out what’s next and how
do you get to a place that feels like you’re living again. You may even be sitting there wondering, “Is this it? Is this what my life will be from now on?”

Well, you can look at it that way. But to me that’s a sign that you’ve reached a new plateau. Your mind has wrapped its head around the situation and you’ve come to terms with some things that had been difficult to let
images-5go of. Perhaps it was guilt or aspects of your relationship that you were holding on to. In all likelihood you’re ready to move forward, albeit with a very small well thought out step.

I think what you have to decide now is, where do you want to go? As much as you may feel held down by the baggage you now bring to the table, the truth is you’re probably freer than you’ve been in years. You’re making choices and decisions you haven’t had the prviledge of making on your own. Whether the courts decided your time with the kids or you and your ex did; at some point your children will have a choice. The foundation you create today really is up to you. How you move forward is truly your decision, although it may not always feel that way. You can look as things as either a tether or as a blessing. It’s really up to you. Embrace your relationship with your children and ALWAYS put them first. Nothing else matters. I truly believe that. Just remember, there is a balance. You have to have faith in the cosmos. When you have to let go, let go. Just remind your kids how much you love them and how much you love it when they’re with you.

I was once told by a very insightful lady that we attract in life what we truly believe we deserve. At some point you’re going to recognize you deserve better. You’re going to recognize you have more going for you than you realize. You’re going to realize that what you’re managing is awe inspiring. When you reach that plateau and find that inner strength, you’re going to find it much easier to let go of the past and move forward. When you hit that point you’re going to want it all to happen tomorrow. But give it time. Trust it; and yourself. A divorce has a way of forcing you to man up. And once you find that strength my gut says you’re going to find it in you to take that first big step toward building a new and much better life for yourself AND your family.



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It’s All Downhill From Here

Being born in Western, NY, I grew up with snow. Hence, many of the stories I tell my kids about my childhood involve snow and lots of it. It’s something I think every kid should experience and something I want my kids to know. I want them to know what it feels like to fall face first in it or go, what feels like 120 mph, completely out of control down a hill with 30 mph winds blowing fresh powder in their face. I want them to have a memory ofchesnutridge6 rolling around in 18 inches of fresh pack powder and then defrosting in front of a warm fire, only to go back out into the frozen tundra for another round. I want them to feel huge snowflakes on their eyelashes as they walk up a hill listening to the crunch of the snow packing under their footsteps.

Unfortunately, being that we live in the south those are hard memories to come by.  So every year around this time my kids and I watch the weather forecast in Buffalo, NY very closely. And upon the first sign of a good lake effort storm we pack our bags, grab a new set of long johns, boots, gloves and anything else we may be missing and stay glued to the Weather Channel App. And when it hits, no matter when it is, we jump in the jeep and we head north.

It takes a lot of effort on everyone’s part to make the trip work. Driving that many hours crammed in something other than a mini-van is not something I would recommend for anyone with a weak stomach. But having traveled as much as our kids have in their short lives, they’ve become pros. So they burry their heads in DVD’s, i-pod touches, and Nooks and buckle in for the long journey demanding I go through the drive thru to save 20 minutes. After twelve hours on the road, we usually commandeer an unsuspecting family member’s home. We then proceed to partake in winterpalooza and enjoy two or three days of non-stop sledding, snowman building, chestnutridge5chicken wing eating, snowball fighting and hot chocolate drinking. It’s become a tradition and this year was no different.

I won’t lie. It’s an effort. Twelve hours (both ways) in tight quarters all for the sake of a few hours of playing in the white fluffy stuff is a test for any family. But I’ll tell you. It’s worth it. To hear the first exclamation of “LOOK SNOW!” as we head into Ohio. The giggles of anticipation. To witness the first snowball thrown during a routine stop for fuel and bathroom breaks. And then to see them all bundled up in their snow pants, boots, gloves, scarves, hats and mittens. Ready to brave mother nature’s fury. It’s just amazing and worth every mile.

There was one point on the third day when we had stopped for our last day of sledding. Wind gusts were 50 mph off the lake and it was only about 20 degrees out. One of the kids refused to get out of the car. But I had promised the other two they could have one more day so I literally picked the disgruntled snow bunny out of the car and carried her to the lodge. Three hours later she was the one pleading for one more time down the hill. And that’s how it goes. Part of the trip isn’t just about the experience of the snow and the environment. It’s about continually demonstrating to the kids what happens when you push yourself a bit. When you go outsidechestnutridge4 your comfort zone and try something you otherwise would forgo in leu of sitting on the couch watching an episode of i-Carly.

To accomplish that, we as parents sometimes have to push ourselves as well and go outside our own comfort zones. In the process we ourselves gain experiences we otherwise would never know the joy of. If I’m thankful for anything, it’s not just the memories of playing in the snow. It’s about the experiences I’ve had because of the kids who pushed me to do things I myself would have never attempted. All for the sake of ensuring they themselves had the chance to try something different.

One thing my ex and I agree on is that memories and experiences far outshine things. It’s not always easy, especially when life gets crazy. But I think it’s important to make these kinds of events the highest priority. Jobs will come and go. Tests can be retaken. Bills will always be there waiting. But their seventh year will only happen once. And then they’ll be going off to college; eventually telling their own kids about their childhood memories. Today is the day to create those memories.

If there was ever anything worth the effort. It’s creating moments for your kids that will last a lifetime. For us one of those memories will be snow.


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Left Wing, Right Wing, Chicken Wing!

Congratulations. You made it through the holidays and 2012.

As many will attest, the holidays can be a stressful time. It’s perhaps one of the most stressful times of the year, particularly if you’re divorced with kids. As a single parent you wear the stress of many people, not just
end-of-2013-start-of-2013_shutterstockyour own. Along with the joy of dealing with the solitude when you don’t have the kids, carrying the full load when you do have them, finding time to shop for presents and then wrapping them, juggling schedules, school breaks, stretching finances; everyone around you is equally stressed out creating levels of anxiety you never dreamed existed.

The kids of course are experiencing a great deal of their own stress. In many cases it means the majority of their vacation is spent on the road, visiting more than one family, adjusting to a major holiday without mom and dad together and dividing what time they do have between both mom and dad. In some cases it also means trying to understand why mom and dad may be getting along but aren’t together as we do our best to create a harmonious environment to ensure their holiday memories are good ones.

There are family members who are stressed because they don’t understand your situation necessarily and don’t know how to act around you. There are others who; despite your reassurances that everything is fine; ask you 76 times if you’re “really” alright and worry about how you’re handling it all or how the kids are coping.

6a267e83118d66269156e45fd180e4b2-dog-feels-bad-for-knocking-over-christmas-treeAt work; staff and clients are stressed out as everyone is trying to get things done before the break and their moods are swinging back and forth as they deal with their own multitude of home holiday stresses which of course filters its way to your office.

The checkout girl at Kroger glares at you when you have the audacity to ask for paper instead of plastic because SHE’s stressed from all of the overtime hours, the kid who just dumped a dozed eggs all over aisle 9 and not being able to find the little bar thing that separates everyone’s groceries on the conveyer belt.

And let’s not forget the dogs who are picking up on everyone else’s stress and acting up because they’re level of anxiety is at an all time high with the damn tree and presents they’re not allowed to pee on or tear up; all the strangers who come by, having pictures taken with some stupid little elf on their back, the UPS guy ringing the doorbell every 30 minutes and having to spend more time outside or in their crate so that they’re not tripped over.

Then to top it all off the world was piling it on as well. You carried with you the stress of a potential fiscal cliff
and stared a fading NHL season square in the eye. (You may laugh, but NHL fans were struggling with both the nhl_lockout640_640lock out and the fact that people didn’t care.)

From right wing politicians to left wing hockey players and owners fighting, foreign nations in civil conflict, school shootings leaving us all emotionally drained and then of course people arguing over gun laws. I swear, just thinking about it makes me want to check some whiney congressman (or woman) into the boards with an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.

But hey! You made it. It’s all history and somehow 2013 started off with some lights at the end of the tunnel. Despite a few bumps in the road and a few dollars missing from your paycheck, everyone made it to the other side. Family visits are over, presents are opened, lights are taken down (or at least turned off), hockey starts in two weeks and D.C. will live to fight another day.

So grab a Molson, order yourself a dozen chicken wings, put on a pair of underwear that Santa stuffed in your stocking and pat yourself on the back. As you do, look back at the past year and recognize all of your
accomplishments. Think about everything you experienced, everything you felt and everything you’ve learned.

Stop for a moment and consider how much stronger you are and how far you’ve come. You’ve answered a lot of questions and overcome a lot of issues. New ones will arise of course, but you’re better equipped to deal withPresident Obama Hosts Congressional Leaders To Discuss Fiscal Cliff them. You have a better sense of who you are and where your life is headed. This will be a year of continued growth and understanding; a year of discovering new strengths and abilities. You’ll learn a little more about who you are and what you’re capable of. Of what you’re deserving of and what you need to be happy. And come next Thanksgiving, you’ll find yourself even better equipped to navigate the stresses of another holiday season.

For now look at the new year as a fresh canvas. A chance to spread your wings just a little wider and let your breaths be just a little deeper. It’ll be tumultuous at times no doubt, but you have new tools and skills to carry you forward. Time to pick a new north star and start dreamin’.

In the words of Cakehole Presley, “Choose your spot, grab a rock and hold on.”


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Elf Invasion

So, the holidays are upon us and with them, in our house anyway, comes the annual visitation of what has grown into a trio of elves from the North Pole. They seem to have grown quite fond of our kids and follow them regardless of whether they’re staying with their mom or at my house. I’ve done my best to document these visits as well as the shananigans311113_10151256618312908_1341310992_n these jolly little beings have bestowed upon our household, but they can be sneaky little devils.

They arrived this year after much anticipation, riding together in a Barbie Camper they no doubt commandeered from a young doll I later caught one of the boy elves with. Needless to say, it became apparent early on that we were going to have to set some ground rules this year, as it seemed they had become a little “too” comfortable with our home and its inhabitants.

The first couple of weeks were relatively quiet with the three amigos greeting us each morning with the typical hide and go seek game we’d grown accustomed to over the past few years. Some days we’d find them “on a shelf” or “on a lamp.” And of course there would be days we’d find them in their favorite spot nestled within the Christmas tree. But for the most part 58991_10151250524737908_787395670_neverything was fairly tame and the kids would have fun starting off their day at the crack of dawn searching every room of the house to find where they were hiding.

And that’s when things started to take an odd turn. We woke one morning to find that they were apparently unhappy with our method of decorating the house for the holidays and felt we were lacking the proper amount of festive lighting. We caught them in the middle of stringing lights throughout the kitchen with no real concern for whether their plan fit into our overall decorating scheme. And this was just the beginning.

This latest display had raised a certain amount of concern on my part, but I was truly unprepared for what was to come next. I was aware of their reputation to take holiday cheer fairly seriously, and knew that these guys had a tendency to be a little “over the top.” But I was still of the mindset that they were relatively harmless. So imagine my surprise (as well as my kids) when we walked into our living room / kitchen area, only to find that they had helped themselves to our stash of toiletries and TP’d the entire downstairs. 77045_10151278127332908_421981261_n

It was at this point that my son (age 7) decided it was time to take drastic measures and capture the team on video. He worked up a little system with a hidden camera and set it to record each evening before he went to bed. The first couple of nights he was unable to capture any video although the elves managed to grab the camera and take some self portraits. Then, on the morning after the third night, I woke to the sound of my son screaming, “I GOT THEM ON VIDEO!!!” And sure enough, he caught one of them attempting to turn off his camera.

You can see the actual video here:

I have to admit we were all a little freaked out after that. Just knowing that these little guys were capable of some of the activities we’d witnessed is something that would shake up even the most experienced “Big Foot” 75261_10151276516177908_2048404350_nenthusiast. My son is still considering what to do with the footage and whether or not he wants to expose our little friends to the dangers that would come from people attempting to capture them. The elves meanwhile must have come to the same conclusion as since that time things have been relatively tame.

We all have our special holiday memories that we look back on for a smile now and then. Thankfully our family will have these memories to last a lifetime. And the best part is that they’re all documented with photographic and video evidence to be passed on from generation to generation.

As I’ve written before, a divorce doesn’t have to mean the end of joyous holidays and fond memories. There are plenty of places to find the joy of Christmas as a family and bring cheer to each and every member of the household. The level of Christmas cheer within our walls continues to grow thanks in part to the efforts of some very creative little elves. Hopefully your home is equally filled with a spirit that brings smiles and warmth to your kids regardless of whether your kids live in two homes or one. The important part is that they continue to build fun memories they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives.


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Screw Negativity!

When you’ve been knocked down enough times, you would think a victory would have you jumping for joy. And yet, what’s interesting, is that it’s much easier to instead anticipate and prepare for the next smack upside the head rather than relish the high. I’ve watched others close to me live their lives afraid to celebrate their own victories, instead choosing to find new reasons to worry.

I wrote once about life being a series of waves and how the trick is to learn how to ride the good ones for as long as you can. I still believe that’s the secret. Lord knows we’ll have plenty of opportunities to be battered by them, why not take a moment to stretch out your arms and cheer when you’ve managed to catch a good one and ride it for all its worth. You’ve earned it. You’ve earned the smile and that lilt in your soul. Don’t let pessimism and the hell your divorce, or anything else for that matter, keep you from experiencing joy.

Chances are you’ve had plenty of moments of worry, stress, angst, anger, depression, and just plain blahs. You deserve a victory now and then. Especially when you’ve worked your ass off to achieve it. You’ve pushed yourself emotionally, financially and physically to new limits. You’ve over come countless adversities and changed the very essence of who you are as a human being in the process.

So for the love of GOD allow yourself the moment of peace you’ve waited so long for. Sure tomorrow may knock you back down a beat, all the more reason to look adversity in the eye today and say, screw you, I’m happy damn it! The reality is, once you do it enough times, nothing can bring you down because you know in your heart you’re capable of overcoming anything life throws at you. Nothing can keep you from being happy.  Eventually, negative becomes just a word, a word that will invigorate you rather than suck the life out of you. Because you know the sweet taste of kicking negative’s ass and how it feels to be the positive force it can’t beat.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten that fact. Well, I’m reminding you.


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