The dissolution of marriage is serious-emotionally, financially, every which way. But once you've made the decision (and certainly by the time the divorce is final), you might want to lighten up a little. Here, some suggestions-from the ritualistic to the rockin'!
1. Do the Rite Thing
Engage a Celebrant (officiates are relatively new to the States but have deep roots in Australia) to perform a ceremony that turns your divorce into a moving, meaningful event. "Anyone making this choice needs the support and acknowledgement of friends and family to make peace with the past and begin building a positive future," says Boston-based Celebrant Cindy Matchett. "A thoughtful, respectful ceremony empowers the individual and provides the context for this healing." The ceremony will be tailored to your feelings, culture, beliefs and traditions, and costs start at around $500. For more information go to Matchett's website (www.meaningfulcelebrations.com) or to find a Celebrant in your area visit www.celebrantusa.com/map.htm
2. Declare Your Independence
"I designed divorce announcements to thank friends and family for supporting me through the multi-year process," says Sherri Hill, 45, from Bethel, Connecticut "On the front, I printed the lyrics to REO Speedwagon's Time For Me To Fly and added a personal note inside. From the feedback I got, recipients thought it was a wonderfully creative way to acknowledge what I'd been through and that I was moving forward."
3. Smudge With Sage
Native American cultures know that burning a bundle of dried sage, also known as smudging, can result in spiritual house-cleaning. Ignite the sage and, starting at the doorway, move throughout your space counterclockwise, paying special attention to door and window frames, walls and corners. When the smoke clears, you'll have purified your home-and purged your ex. Find sage bundles at www.incensewarehouse.com.
4. Find Someone New
We're not talking about a rebound relationship, but one that's healthy, fulfilling and unconditionally loving-with a pet. Philadelphia-based life coach Gari Julius Weilbacher, of www.coachingpartnerships.com, did just that after her own divorce. "I adopted a dog from the SPCA," she explains. "Not having children, I needed something in my home to call my -family,' something to ground me and obligate me to come home." She now recommends getting an animal companion to post-divorce clients. A wonderful dog or cat is waiting at a shelter near you!
5. Think Ink
A new (or your first) tattoo can be a visual reminder of your decision to start fresh. "You could get the word -freedom' in Chinese letters," suggests Jon Jon, a tattoo artist with Cutting Edge Body Arts in NYC's West Village. "Or if you're getting out of a relationship with someone who never let you do anything, get something crazy, like a skull in flames." A bird, a butterfly or a rising sun also convey the idea of freedom and rebirth.
6. Fly Solo
"The day my divorce was final, I went - by myself! - to an Earth, Wind & Fire concert," says Corin Ramos, 40, of Anaheim, Calif. "I had never done anything like that before, but they were my favorite band growing up, and I figured it was a good start to connecting with a happier me while at the same time finding a new me. I had a great time-70,000 people and I stood up and danced in the aisle!" Inspired? Select something that's always intrigued you - whether it's an art class or a surfing lesson, karaoke night or Caribbean cruise - and take yourself.
7. Get Showered
Did your former spouse make off with the towels and cookware, not to mention the coffee table, TV and the best books and CDs? Well, newlyweds aren't the only ones entitled to gifts! "A divorce shower can replace many of the things that were given up to the ex," says Weilbacher. "It's also a party to mark the change in marital status and can focus on fun indulgences as well as pots and pans." If a shower with traditional presents isn't necessary or doesn't feel right, make it for gag gifts-everybody has to bring an odd piece of silverware. It's an excuse to toss a blowout and have a blast.
8. Run for It
Train for a 5K, 10K, even a marathon, or sign up for a walkathon. If there's a charitable cause involved, that's a bonus, but you're doing this for you. "Oftentimes, people going through a divorce feel a sense of failure," says Shelly Rachanow, author of If Women Ran the World, Sh*t Would Get Done. "Running a 5K or doing a walkathon is a great way to re-connect with your sense of personal power and accomplishment."
9. Road Trip!
Guys, think Sideways (except for the wedding at the end). Ladies, think Thelma & Louise (except for the equally dismal finale). Even if your best friends aren't single, if they're in sound relationships they should certainly be able to take off for a weekend. Go back to the place you and your buddy raised hell, or somewhere you've never been (and raise hell there…). "A road trip will help you remember how fun life can be," says Rachanow. "It's a wonderful way to christen a new road to a new happily-ever-after."
10. Redo the Bedroom
You may not have the funds or fortitude to overhaul the whole house, but there's no reason to endure boudoir décor you hate. Even if you have to keep the furniture, a fresh coat of paint in your favorite color, new drapes that you really dig and a cool lampshade or two will make the bedroom your personal sanctuary.
11. Get the Band Back Together
Or have a three-hour, long-distance gabfest with a far-off friend. Or finish the great American novel (the one you're writing, or the one you're reading). The point is to revel in activities your ex found foolish or you just couldn't make time for while you were married. You may have subjugated this activity so long you forgot what it was. Pick up that passion again-and crank it to 11!
Nina Malkin is the author of An Unlikely Cat Lady: Feral Adventures in the Backyard Jungle.
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