Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Year, New Me

As someone who has spent most of my life involved in academia (either my own or my daughter's), September has always felt like New Year's to me.  Around Labor Day I feel a need to get my house ship shape (in this sense, it's fall cleaning, not spring cleaning, for me - I'm about to move back indoors after the summer and I want my nest to feel good), but I also tend to get reflective at this time of year about the shape of my days and of my life.

This year, there is even more to reflect upon.  Divorce has it's own huge set of problems - heartbreak for Katherine, scheduling conflicts, "doing it all" on my own, financial burdens, childcare where once I was there for childcare, and a whole lot of adjusting - but it has many positive changes, as well, and I realize that all this change is a chance to create new habits, to cultivate the type of life I most want for myself.

Here are my questions for myself as I structure my new life.  Perhaps these are not unique to me: doesn't every divorcing/newly divorced person need to ask themselves these questions?  Ultimately, I am getting divorced because I believed it would immensely improve my own life, and ultimately improve my daughter's life, so I can not squander that opportunity. 

A new year is a new chance to get it right.

Questions and Ideas to Ponder:

I'm going to wait another couple of months to figure out how paying for the nanny and some house repairs impacts me, but then I'm going to visit a financial planner.  I am way behind on retirement savings, my personal savings is next to nil, and I also want to make sure that Katherine has a growing college fund. I am ready to face all of that.  How shall I structure my finances?  What is "responsible" and how much is allotted for "fun"?

And I want to travel, and I need to figure out how to make that happen.  I was born to travel, and Katherine was, too, just is just learning that.  I have frequent flier miles that have languished for a decade (no, I didn't lose them, fortunately) and she and I need to see Europe - maybe Italy, or perhaps France.  And I want little local trips, too, to fun small towns nearby, as well as beautiful cities only a couple hundred miles away.  What is feasible?  What are my life's travel goals, and how can I reach them? What am I willing to give up (travel is expensive) to make travel happen?

And there's hiking, camping, and backpacking.  And skiing - perhaps cross country this year, because it's less expensive, but I would dearly love to downhill again (I learned as a child but haven't skiied in a decade), and I know Katherine would love skiing.  And we always snowshoe, and we love that.  (Especially if we mix in sledding.)  Can I fit in these outdoor activities that I love?

And then there's the day to day practical stuff.  How to fit in exercise for the dog and myself, how to structure my week to allow for grocery shopping, food preparation, reading to my beloved girl (which I admit on the too-busy days just doesn't happen).  How to make sure that we get down time, but also time with friends and extended family.

And should we schedule a "family" dinner once a month?  A time for Katherine to have both of her parents together so that she can feel wholeness?  Or is that just too weird?  Could we do it?  (If Bryan was crabby, I can't imagine it would help her much...)

And how many hours am I willing to work?  There's the 8-6 that I am committed to, of course (including commute), but what about weekends and evenings?  As we build a business, should I give more than that?  How much more?  Should that be built in, too?

And church.  And volunteering - I haven't volunteered since I started working again.  How does that fit together?

And can I make a Sunday meal that carries over into leftovers for the week?  A roast, a soup, a lasagne or enchiladas or something like that that we can share with friends or family to end the weekend on a gentle note, and to prepare us for the week ahead?

And what about my "off" days, when I am sans Katherine? How should I use those days?  What percentage of them should be spent on working vs. home projects vs. travel vs. down time?  Can I carve out time to write?

Do I want to consider dating?  When?  How much?  To what purpose?  Am I ready to look for a mate (yikes, that sounds daunting) or am I ready to look for fun (hmm, is it actually fun to date?)?  How do I feel about post-divorce sex?  Am I capable of having a sexually fulfilling relationship with a man who isn't partner material, or am I really much more old fashioned now than I used to be?  And if I wanted to date, how on earth would I find suitable dates?


I don't know the answers, but I do love the questions, and in my experience, if I keep asking myself the questions, the answers will come.  At this stage of my life, I know better how to listen to those answers when they come to me, and I'm better disciplined to heed those answers.  I know that I feel better when I go to bed at 10pm, when I eat a salad for lunch, when I don't drink too much wine, when I carve out time to really be with Katherine and not just get from point A to point B through the day.

So, my questions for you, dear readers:

What questions are you pondering as you contemplate life post-divorce?  For those of you who are just embarking on this scary journey, what do you anticipate for your own questions?  For those of you who alongside me, newly separated, how are you managing your own questions, and do you find it exhilerating or frightening or both?  And please, for those of you who have this behind you, please please advise me, and all of my readers!  I want to learn from you, and I don't need to reinvent the wheel: please share your wisdom.

Can't wait to hear from you!


  1. I think your positivity is wonderful, and all the questions, equally so. As one who is many years beyond the stage where you find yourself, I would suggest that you not feel you have to answer any of the questions immediately. Let them take their time, don't bite off more than you can chew (we're all more sensitive about our abilities when we're going through a tough life event), and also, know that you will change your mind about certain issues as time goes on.

    Isn't that true with everything in life? Did you think you had to have everything figured out embarking on marriage, or parenthood for that matter?

    Use that fine positive spirit to accept that the adjustments may come in fits and spurts, that even if there are setbacks, that doesn't mean there won't be forward motion again, and cut yourself slack.

    Especially in the "doing it all" category.

    That, for me, was the hardest thing. Still is.

  2. BLW, if we could figure out the cure for "doing it all" we'd be rich, wouldn't we?

    I do struggle with always feeling behind, even when I'm really ahead. It is a terrible feeling that doesn't serve me, and I'm working on identifying it so that I can toss it out in the trash.

    But I love my questions, because they are filled with hope. Hope is a beautiful thing, and when the days are long it's what keeps me going.