Autism: Is It a Case Of Over-Diagnosis?

Could this be true? Weigh in about it in the LTD Community!

A report from the Center for Health Statistics finds that 13% of children who were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders lose their diagnosis after later tests. The study, which uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first to look at a large, nationally representative sample of children.

Source: - Health

Home DIY : Finishing Projects Little by Little

Melissa Bahen

Get your house ready for Fall! We found a great article that takes DIY one step at a time.

Fall front porch with pumpkins, squash, and cornstalks

Every time I write one of these posts, I hope that it’ll be one where I get to show you the big reveal of some project we’ve been working on. Like my office in the basement that was supposed to be finished in March. And we’re this close to actually having that done! The walls finally got textured and painted, and the trim and cabinets were installed a few weeks ago. And literally every single day I hope I’ll get a text from the contractor saying he’s on his way over to install shelves and flooring. Because that’s all that’s left to do! In the meantime, I have bookshelves and a desk, all of my photography equipment, props, craft supplies, wall art, a lamp, house plants, and SO MUCH STUFF that is waiting to go into the completed studio. Some of it is in the closet, some in the hall, some in the laundry room, and some all over the dining room table. And chairs. And floor.

basement studio featuring benjamin moore white dove

basement studio featuring benjamin moorie white dove wall color

green anthropologie cabinet and shelf hardware

In other news, we decorated the front porch for Fall! I wrote about some gorgeous Fall front porch inspiration in my last Style Spotters post, and thanks to a very abundant garden, we covered our porch with pumpkins, squash, and cornstalks.

white farm house with a green front door and stained wood barrel vault entry

Another dream house update has to do with the fiddle leaf fig I bought earlier this year for the corner of our entry way. Doesn’t it look amazing? That’s because it’s fake. The real fiddle leaf fig looked so beautiful until one day when it suddenly dropped all of its leaves and died. It maybe didn’t happen exactly overnight, but it only took a few days for my precious plant baby to go from fab to drab. My mom finally threw its sad carcass away a few weeks ago when she was visiting for the afternoon, and replaced it with this really stunning and totally low-maintenance faux version from Home Goods.

faux fiddle leaf fig from Home Goods

And last but certainly not least, remember when I told you we were redoing our master bedroom? Well we’ve actually been working on it! We swapped out our hideous brown and orange accidental quilt with a simple white one from Pottery Barn, and added touches of navy and indigo thanks to an inexpensive blue and white quilt folded across the bottom of the bed and an assortment of really beautiful throw pillows. We even bought what every navy bedroom needs–a starburst mirror! It is huge and very heavy, and I’m almost scared to hang it above the headboard, but I think it’ll look fantastic. We’re also figuring out what to do with our furniture. The current dresser configuration takes up the wrong amount of space without offering very much storage. If you have any really good recommendations on dressers, I’d love to hear them!

navy and white bedding for a master bedroom


A Divorce Mediation Case – Part 4 of 4: Agreements Reached & Reviewing the Costs

A Divorce Mediation Case – Part 4 of 4: Agreements Reached & Reviewing the Costs

By Lee Chabin

Bill and Angela have come a long way in handling their own divorce. We have been with them through: The Decision to Try Divorce Mediation and the Consultation (Part 1); the Sessions on Parenting, Income & Expenses (Part 2); and then the sessions dealing with Assets (Especially the House) and Debts (Part 3) in which perhaps their biggest disagreement emerged, along with the strong emotions that came with it. Here we will a) be with them briefly as the mediator helps the parties deal with remaining issues; and, b) conclude by taking a look at the money the couple spent on mediation.

February 25th, 2016 - Session #5

After getting a value for the house, the spouses talked about other matters regarding the home. Now that the question of how much the house was worth had been answered, a serious disagreement remained about how much of that value belonged to Bill and to Angela; Angela was arguing for a 50/50 split, while Bill believed that he was entitled to a higher percentage due to work he had done on the house, and the increased value that resulted from that work.
Angela said that Bill was just making things difficult; that he knew she could buy him out at a 50% split, but couldn’t at any more than that. Bill denied this.
The mediator asked if they wanted to take a short break; neither one did. Then the mediator asked for more information that might enlighten the discussion. More information was shared, but no agreement on the house was reached.
The mediator brought up other matters, including: filing taxes, whether/how to share in the case of a tax refund, or an audit; how to handle costs for writing the agreement, review attorneys and the court filing fee. Angela and Bill reached agreements on these issues relatively easily. though both were still upset, and Angela especially was concerned about dealing with the house.
The session ended, both still upset, and with Angela especially concerned about dealing with the house.

March 10th, 2016 - Session #6 (the last session)

On March 10th, Bill and Angela reached an agreement on the house, and tied up the remaining loose ends. Bill acknowledged the importance of the house not only to Angela, but to the children as well. And since Angela would probably be keeping the house for many years, during which time some expensive repairs were likely (on things that Bill didn’t have the skills to fix, though he was willing), he could come down on the percentage that he was asking for. Angela expressed appreciation for the work Bill had done on their home, and for his willingness now to accept a lower percentage (than he had demanded earlier).
After further discussion, Angela proposed that either: a) Bill walk away with more of the assets than they had already agreed upon; or, b) that Bill take a small percentage of the house upon its eventual sale, which would likely be after their younger child graduated from high school. Angela agreed that she’d have to pay Bill that percentage from some other source of money that she would hopefully have at that time, or sell the house to pay him while incurring the expenses to sell the house.
The spouses reviewed their assets and talked further, ultimately deciding that Bill would take a greater share of the assets; an amount that Angela agreed she could live with.
And so, the mediation ended.

As previously mentioned, the “separation agreement” will need to be written. Bill and Angela have been advised by the mediator to each meet with a lawyer to review the separation agreement with them before signing it, which they have agreed to do. Shortly after that, the separation agreement can be filed with the court.

So what did it all cost?

Mediation Fees:

$ 50 Consultation
$3,300 11 hours @ $300/hr
$3,350 TOTAL

Other Expenses:

$1,500 Separation Agreement (needed whether people mediate or not)

The fees charged by an attorney to review the separation agreement should be relatively low, as this review is the only job that the lawyer will be doing for the client. There are no court motions, no depositions, no trial (and so no trial preparation), etc.
Court filing fee (needed whether people mediate or not)
In mediation (as in litigation), there can be other expenses, such as when spouses decide to hire an expert, such as a financial planner. But, contrast a mediated divorce with a litigated one, and the difference in cost is often quite dramatic.

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All blog posts are for information purposes, and should not be considered as legal advice.

Does Your Body Want To Fall Back?

Story highlights

  • Although the time change adds an extra hour of sleep, it can be jarring for the body
  • Don't stay up late, even though it feels like you can

DailyBurn: The truth about how to lose belly fat

"The time change is kind of a society-imposed jet lag," says Dr. Ilene Rosen, who serves on the board of directors for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and is board-certified in sleep medicine. Here's how to re-acclimate by Monday morning.

DailyBurn: 10 ways you're sabotaging your workouts

What Is Daylight Savings Time?

The time shown on the clock from November to March is known in the Northern hemisphere as "standard time." The rest of the year is considered the exception, or "savings time." Countries in the Southern hemisphere, however, reverse this, observing daylight savings time during their summer — between November and March.

DailyBurn: How to stop food cravings in 10 minutes or less

Making matters even more confusing, daylight savings time (DST) isn't practiced everywhere in the world. Most of Asia and Africa as well as parts of Australia and South America don't observe DST at all — nor do Hawaii, Arizona, or many US territories, like Guam and the US Virgin Islands. (Utah may also consider dropping DST, based on public outcry.) Even where it is practiced, clocks are set forward and back on different dates, leading to even more regional variations.

Why Do We Have It?

If you live in a part of the world that experiences wide shifts in weather and daylight hours between summer and winter, you probably relish any extra time you get to spend outdoors in the summer sunshine. Moving the clock forward an hour in the spring gives people an extra hour of daylight in the evening, when they're typically not working, rather than the morning. Added bonus for night owls: It also moves the sunrise an hour later, keeping late-risers' bedrooms conveniently dim.

It's not clear, though, whether all this inconvenience is worth it. One hundred years ago, when DST was first introduced in war-torn Germany, there was a case to be made for saving energy. Moving the clock forward in the spring reduces the number of waking hours between sunset and bedtime (since bedtime remains static while sunset occurs an hour later, according to the clock). Fewer post-sunset evening hours ought to mean fewer lights turned on, and less money spent on energy.

Newer studies throw this hypothesis into question, though. When DST was introduced, lightbulbs were the primary use of household electricity. These days, we use our TVs, computers and other small appliances just as much, whether it's light or dark out. Meanwhile, lightbulbs have grown more efficient. And now that we live in a world where we can control indoor temperature (phew!), it's possible that having more waking daylight hours could, in fact, increase our energy use, since air conditioning uses so much more power than a few measly lightbulbs and is typically turned higher during daylight hours. Studies are inconclusive, but even if it does save money, the savings are estimated to be no more than one or two percent.

How to Deal

In a perfect world, DST wouldn't shock our circadian rhythms twice annually. "Ideally we would be able to allow our internal circadian rhythms to move along naturally with the light-dark cycles that change from season to season," says Dr. Rosen. Since that's not possible, try these tips to transition back to standard time with ease.

1. Don't Stay Up Late

When you set the clocks back each fall, "your circadian rhythms will cause you to want to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than your external environment," says Dr. Rosen. "One of the biggest mistakes that people make ... is staying up later and thinking that they're going to get an extra hour of sleep," she adds. Because your circadian rhythms may wake you early Sunday morning, it's important not to count on that extra snooze time.

2. Use the Sun

The fall time change is easier than the spring, says Dr. Rosen, particularly for those who work standard daylight hours, since you're able to hack your sunlight exposure. Try to get as much late afternoon sun exposure before switching the clocks back, and as much morning sun exposure as possible after switching the clocks to help ease the transition.

3. Take Your Time

"If you work a non-traditional schedule, or have a little extra time in the morning, it might ease the transition if you go to sleep and wake up 10-15 minutes later each day the week before the time change," says Dr. Rosen. As always, adding a nap can help fend off drowsiness for anyone still struggling with the switch back to standard time

Source: - Health

Who’s The Parent Here?

Divorced Parents: Don’t Let Your Children Start Parenting You!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

Children who experience their parents’ divorce are helpless to change the circumstances. But they often try. They want to do something to “fix” the situation, but they haven’t a clue how. Sometimes they create solutions that make sense in their young minds, but actually cause greater complications. That’s why it‘s so important for parents to take the emotional burden off of the shoulders of their children. Reassure them that Mom and Dad are still their parents and will continue to be there for them with compassion and love. Tell them they need not worry … and remind them that none of this is in any way their fault or responsibility.

Divorce is tough enough. When children try to protect their parents from its consequences, the parenting is moving backwards and the results are devastating. Always be careful of what you share with your children regarding your own emotional state during and after your divorce. It can create enormous confusion for your children, along with guilt, frustration and despair.

Children can be very resourceful in how they behave when they sense either one of their parents is vulnerable or hurting. Often they will side with one parent over the other as a means of support. They may fear that expressing happiness about time spent with one parent can seem like a betrayal of the other. They worry about hurting the feelings of the emotionally weaker parent – or experiencing the disapproval of the emotionally stronger parent. Either way, it’s a lose/lose situation for the child who feels caught in the middle.

Parents are not always aware of how children interpret their comments or emotional displays. If a parent confides to a child that they are very lonely when he or she is with their other parent, it frequently creates a need to “protect” the sad parent. So the child may elaborate on the truth by telling you what they think you want to hear. “I miss you too. I wish I could always be with you. If I didn’t have to stay with Mom/Dad I’d never be there.”

These small white lies can grow into larger stories – even outrageous lies – with the intent of protecting one or both parents. It can also become a vehicle for pitting both parents against one another. Children easily sense when they can manipulate their circumstances – and their emotionally vulnerable parents. This becomes even easier and more tempting when the parents are not speaking to one another or co-parenting cooperatively. The result can be devastating for everyone in the family – each pointing the finger at the other in blame.

When parents are too caught up in their own self-righteous dramas to put their children’s needs first, those children have little recourse but to start parenting themselves. The consequences for the children can take many directions: a sense of mistrust of adults, guilt about knowing they are exploiting their circumstances and deep insecurity because their world is no longer safely guided by parental boundaries. The responsibility here must always fall upon the parents – not the innocent children who are trying to cope with an adult-made situation beyond their control.

Communication is the key to avoiding these complex backward parenting situations. Talk to your children about divorce-related issues as a parent, not a confident. Remember that your former spouse is also a parent that your children love. If your communication with that parent is poor or limited, you are setting your children up for compensating in any way they can – with guilt, frustration, confusion, shame, anger – even revenge – as the motive.

When you accept responsibility for creating a Child-Centered Divorce and co-parent in the best way for your children’s well-being, they will feel more secure, stable, loved, protected and supported. That gives them permission to continue being children without bearing the burden of having to parent their parents after divorce.

Do you want your divorce to rob your children of their right to enjoy their childhood? Of course not! Then understand the serious consequences of backward parenting and communicate mindfully and responsibly when discussing divorce or related family issues with the children you love.
* * *

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! The book provides fill-in-the-blank templates for customizing a personal family storybook that guides children through this difficult transition with optimum results. For more information about the book, divorce and parenting issues, free articles and free ezine visit

© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.

A Divorce Mediation Case

A Divorce Mediation Case (Part 2 of 4: Sessions on Parenting, Income & Expenses)

By Lee Chabin, Esq.

In my previous post , I introduced Bill and Angela who had decided to get a divorce. Angela called and learned more about mediation, and shared the information with Bill. After further discussion, they decided (Bill, a little reluctantly) to schedule a consultation, at which they got a sense of who the mediator is, and had more of their questions answered.

Here, I continue with both their first and second sessions.

November 10 – Session #1
● With the spouses permission, the mediator turns the discussion to parenting.

● Angela says that she wants ‘full custody’. Bill becomes defensive. They argue for a few minutes. The mediator listens and considers whether the verbal exchange is constructive, and then raises a question.

● The mediator asks each to answer, “What do you mean when you say ‘custody’?

● The mediator listens and checks that s/he understands what each has said. The mediator then suggests that maybe the question isn’t “Which of you will have custody?”, but rather, “What agreements can you reach so that you can be the kind of parents you want to be to your children?”

● There is further discussion, some of it angry. The mediator helps the spouses to fully express their concerns, and asks clarifying questions. The mediator believes that, though Bill is having difficulty really listening to Angela directly at this point, he is able to hear her through the mediator’s restatements of what she is saying. The focus is forward looking. Each party acknowledges that the other has an important role to play in the children’s lives; neither wants to ‘take the children’ from the other. With his fear of ‘losing the children’ alleviated, Bill especially becomes less tense, and the conversation is less strained.

● Bill and Angela agree to talk about parenting arrangements; at least for now, they are willing to leave the legal designations aside.

● Angela and Bill talk about the children: where they attend school, what they enjoy doing, their usual routines, and so forth.

● The mediator helps them to set out different possible parenting plans, which are discussed.

● The parents reach a tentative agreement on a schedule for the children. And, on how decisions involving medical, educational and religious matters will be handled in the future. (The latter comes easily for them.)

● The mediator gives each spouse a blank form for setting out financial information. Angela and Bill are both confident that they can fill in the information about their respective incomes and expenses within a week to ten days. With that in mind they schedule the next session for two weeks later; if either needs more time to complete the income/expense parts of the form, they will let each other and the mediator know, so that the date of the next session can be rescheduled.

● The session ends after two hours, and Bill and Angela each pay $300 of the $600 fee.

November 23 – Session #2

● Angela and Bill arrive. The mediator asks how they and the children are, and whether anything of note has happened since the last session. They briefly discuss Thanksgiving plans.

● Angela asks a question about property. The mediator gives the spouses a brief overview of Marital and Separate Property (and Debts), and makes a point of saying that this information is not “legal advice”. For instance, if either/both wants to know what a judge might decide regarding property, they are welcome to contact an attorney to get that advice. Both respond that they don’t see a need; instead, they’ll each meet with a ‘review attorney’ to review the separation agreement before signing it.

● The mediator then begins setting out Bill’s and Angela’s respective income and expenses. This is done using a flip-chart, so that all three of them can see the figures that the spouses supply.

● Bill questions why Angela is paying $400 month for clothes for her and the children. Bill isn’t angry; he just thinks the number is high. In discussing the matter, it turns out that Angela based her calculation on her September credit card statement, which has higher costs than average due to purchasing back to school clothing. Their daughter needed a lot of new thing because of how much she has grown over the past few months. Angela says that before the next session, she will look at her statements over the past year, which she can find on the computer, and take the average of that twelve month period. Bill thinks this is a good idea. The mediator makes a note to come back to this question.

● Angela asks if, since money will be tight, Bill can cut down on his recreational spending. Bill bristles at the suggestion, but looking at where his money goes, decides this is reasonable. In particular, Bill says that he can spend a lot less on sporting events and movies. Bill does a quick calculation, agreeing to reduce this spending by 10% each month, starting this month. He is confident that he will bring it down further, but feels comfortable starting at 10%. The mediator, noticing Angela’s facial expression, asks if she wants to say something. She answers that, “Well, I have mixed feelings. I think Bill could do more here.” (Bill immediately becomes upset.) “But,” she adds, “Bill is willing to commit to this, and says he’ll do more; and I believe he will. (Turning to Bill) And maybe it’s a good idea that you start with 10%; that way, you won’t feel deprived. If you spent less now, you might hate it, and be angry with me, and we’d be worse off. So, good. Do the 10% for awhile. Then, we can talk about it again in month or two. Can we do that?” Bill is still annoyed, but he also knows (and feels) that he is being heard by his wife. He says, ‘Yes’. They discuss what to do with the money that will be saved. Bill wants to use it to pay down a credit card, and Angela agrees to this.

● In regard to expense and income figures now displayed on the flipchart, the spouses agree that the numbers are pretty accurate.

● Bill raises a concern he has about the parenting agreement. He says that he has what is a minor change in mind that would allow him to spend more time with the children during the summer, if Angela would be ok with it. Bill shares his thought. Angela says that the change would be alright with her, if another small change can be made when it comes to the Thanksgiving holiday break, starting the following year. Bill tells Angela that he is willing; while he likes the Thanksgiving break and doesn’t really want to change the schedule they had agreed to, the change over the summer is a much bigger deal to him, and he thanks Angela for going along with his suggestion.

Next time: Assets (especially the House) and Debts

All blog posts are for information purposes, and should not be considered as legal advice.

From Hollywood To Your Divorce

Seems like this is the latest buzz of the week, we thought you should check it out and see if this can happen to you.

By Daniel E. Clement, Esq.

Celebrity divorces are great teaching tools. High-profile divorces present the same issues as non-celebrity divorces, just with bigger numbers and a lot more tabloid coverage.

The Huffington Post is reporting that the husband of actress Kaley Cuoco is seeking spousal maintenance and an award of counsel fees as part of the divorce. This should not be a surprise.

While this case, I imagine, will be decided by California law, if this case was New York case, the husband would have a legitimate maintenance claim, particularly if the new and soon to be effective New York maintenance guidelines were applied.

As reported in the Huffington Post, the couple was married for two years. A google search reveals Kaley Cuoco earns one million dollars per episode for starring in the Big Bang Theory. I cannot find her husband. Ryan Sweeting, a professional tennis player’s earnings. For illustrative purposes, I will assume she makes, $26,000,000 and he earns $100,000.

Since the couple did not have children, maintenance would be calculated by applying the following formulas; the lower result would presumptively be the correct amount of maintenance to be paid:

a. 30% of the payor’s income minus 20% of the maintenance payee’s income or
b. the sum of the combined income x 40% minus the maintenance payee’s income.

The law further provides that Ms. Cuoco’s income should be capped at $175,000, although a New York divorce court has the discretion to apply the guidelines to income in excess of the $175,000 cap. It would be safe to assume that since her income exceeds the cap by nearly $26,000,000, the court will certainly apply the guidelines to some portion of her income in excess of the cap; how much more is an issue to be litigated.

At a minimum, applying the maintenance formula, Sweeting should expect to receive at least $2,708.33 per month in maintenance. ($32,500 per year calculated as follows: (.3 x 175,000) - (.2 x 100,000)= $32,500 which is less than 275,000 x .4=110,000.)

One the other hand, the couple enjoyed a very short marriage. Since the parties were only married for 2 years, maintenance should be paid for 3-7 months; the maintenance guidelines provide that for marriages of less than 15 years, the duration of maintenance awarded should be 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage.

Clearly, this is an extreme case and a court could entertain a full lifestyle analysis to determine the correct amount of maintenance. For the two years of the marriage, Sweeting experienced a lifestyle well above his income as a tennis player. But again, this was an extremely short marriage. Expect a deal to be made.

( The ) Empty Bucket

By Melinda Truitt

Who wants an empty bucket?

How about an empty box?

Ok, an empty bag. And that’s my final offer.

What if it’s wrapped with a big bow or a bag that’s overflowing with beautiful tissue paper? You get excited because the anticipation of wondering what’s under the bow or hiding in
the tissue paper could be something spectacular that’ll blow your mind.

Put the box on a shelf right now and the bag with the tissue on a chair and let’s talk about
the bucket...

A bucket is a pretty straightforward thing. Not much pretense here and not easy to wrap. But all 3 of these things have the capacity to carry something.
Go back to the chair and pick up the bag. Take out the tissue and peer down into the bag.



Reach for the box. Unwrap the box. Savoring the luxuriousness of the bow. Now lift the lid.


A realistic reaction would be to look at the person who gave you these with
confusion in your eyes mixed with incredulous disappointment.

“What is this? You are giving me an empty box? An empty bag? Are you daft?”

The person who gave these looks back at you with disbelief.

“I gave you all I had to offer. The wrapping. I’m as empty as that bucket over there by the door.”

The silence is deafening.

“Wait…what? Surely I’m missing something here. You put so much
thought and effort into presenting me with these beautifully wrapped containers but
then left them empty. And that’s your gift to me?”

“I used what was left of my heart to make a grand presentation but the truth is I was giving you the opportunity to fill the box and bag with parts of your life to give back to me.”

The lesson here is dramatic but very real. I've done it. Not literally but in the way I've approached a relationship in my past. Wanting to and being satisfied with just playing a bit player in his life. It doesn’t work for a variety
of reasons....

Despite what some may think very few people want an empty person to
share life with because what would you share? One person’s life divided by two
is not sustainable. Each person must give something. It’s only when fear of
rejection takes hold that you second guess everything you were going to put into
the box or bag so you end up giving nothing.

What will you fill the bag with to give to someone of yourself?

Not In A Relationship? Enjoy It!

The Blissful, Unexpected Zen Of Not Being In A Relationship
By Serge Bielanko

In the midst of true heartbreak, we long for carefree and casual.
Ever since my divorce back in January of this year I've played all the possible roles a divorced dude can play.

I've worn genuine grief and sorrow like a cheap suit. I've smashed my fat head against the proverbial wall of regret so often that the wall is gone; once a tall and solid part of my world, I reduced that sh*t to a heap of dust on my living room floor.

Tears? Oceans. Fears? A galaxy full. Punching myself in the face? Oh, hell yes.

I've been wandering out across long stretches of over-thinking — everything from how much our three young kids mean to me to what went wrong in the marriage.

I've thought about abandoning the idea of true love forever. I've stared at the walls and asked myself if I wouldn't be better off just bouncing around from one hot random sexual liaison to another.

In the midst of true heartbreak, we long for carefree and casual.

Night after night, I've thought long and hard about every angle/facet/detail about what the hell I'm supposed to do with this crumbled past I carry around in my hands, like some three-year-old snot-nosed kid hauling around a smashed slice of his own birthday cake.

What the hell am I supposed to do with all this? Could you do me a favor and just get rid of it for me?

Anyone who tells you that divorce was exciting or enjoyable for them is either a pure idiot or they hadn't been in love with the person they divorced for so long that divorce is probably the wrong word altogether.

They should just call it something else like "deadtome." They should go around saying, "We're deadtome," not "We're divorced."

My divorce hurt and I was left spinning and in a lot of ways, I'm still spinning.

But something's changed lately: I'm getting high on the Zen of being single.

That's the right word, trust me: Zen.

Being alone is a choice I've arrived at on my own — not because I can't get a date because I'm a repulsive but because I'm wandering into a place where I intrinsically know I belong right now.

And that's a bada*ss feeling.

We're living in a time and culture where the whole idea of being single doesn't really mean being single at all.

And for a while there I was actually believing the hype, buying into this whole notion that being single could only mean that you were on fire with the desire to find the right person to fill all those un-fillable needs in your unquenchable soul.

Whenever I scrolled down my Facebook feed, it was always one article after another about couples in love, couples who hate each other, how love really works, foods that make you a better lover for your partner, how to find the right soul mate at that sh*tty job where you work, why you absolutely should demand a partner who likes the same overplayed kink in the bedroom that you like even though, truth be told, everyone else in the world likes it too, and also, you probably suck in the sack and won't admit it.

Then a few weeks ago, I'd finally had it. F*ck all that noise, I thought to myself. I'm 43. I need to catch my breath. I'd rather put a bullet in the roof of my mouth than fire up the Tinder at this juncture.

And just like that, I began to understand what you may or may not already realize: it's mostly all bullsh*t.

Everything that people expect you to do after divorce or heartbreak — even everything that people hope or dream for you to do when you're just starting out in this life but you don't have a boyfriend or a girlfriend — it's all just utter bullsh*t.

People are simple-minded gerbils, mostly. People are just scared for you to be alone because most people are scared of being alone themselves.

Until, that is, you're finally alone.

Until you can think about yourself by yourself for a change.

Until you can find the time to deconstruct all the relationship vines you've been caught up in for so long and leave them in a heap over in the corner of the garage or out on the fire escape.

Until there's no one else but you now. And so, now what?

Until one evening you plop your fine ass down on the couch, have a glass of wine, dump some chips in a bowl, and flip on The Walking Dead and slowly start to understand that, hey, this is kind of the best date you've ever been on in your entire life.


Being single is where so many of us need to be — not just for ourselves but for the world at large, too. We need to not be smearing ourselves all over the night and other single people's lives when we don't have any right to be.

We'll know when our time has come. We'll know when we're ready, when we're feeling something right and true inside. We'll know when we might need to fall in love again — or for the first time in our life.

I'll know. And I know that I'll know. But until then, this hanging out with myself has been mystical. I've warmed up to the undiluted Zen of it all, to the simple joys of being by myself and talking to myself and falling asleep by myself to the beat of my very own heart.

Or, I've finally just gone completely batsh*t insane.

I can't even tell.

Options For A Modern Day Divorce

Demystifying Divorce Series, Part 1: Mediation

Arianna Jeret walks you through a 5-part series on the most current options in modern divorce.

From the moment one spouse had told the other they want to divorce, the number one emotion at play for both individuals becomes confusion.
Yes, there may be sadness, relief, anger, and fear, but unless you are a family law attorney, you are unlikely to know what to do next, other than the hackneyed, antiquated phrase — “lawyer up.”
Despite urban legend that divorce rates are rising, they are actually on the decline in the U.S. and have been for the past two decades. In spite of that corrected misconception, divorce accounts for tremendous financial waste, mainly due to the fact that most couples have poor to little understanding of the choices available for divorcing outside of a courtroom.
There are only four basic methods through which a couple can get a divorce.
• Do-it-yourself/paralegal assisted
• Traditional courtroom-based litigation
• Collaborative divorce
• Mediation
Some couples end up mixing and matching as they go, but for now I will stick with providing a basic understanding of these four, including pros and cons associated with each. Today I will lay out what a basic divorce mediation process may look like.*
Mediation is a private, confidential, and cooperative dispute resolution process in which the mediator serves as a neutral 3rd party in order to facilitate communication, balance the power dynamic in the decision-reaching process and ensure both spouses have a reasonable understanding of the full range of information necessary to reach thoughtful conclusions.
Mediation is always a voluntary process. Unlike arbitration, in which the arbitrator has final-decision making power in the same way a judge would, a mediator will never have the power to decide anything for either of you.
Typically, the mediator and the spouses develop an agenda of the issues to discuss and start gathering information and documents. Throughout the process, the mediator facilitates communication so that each party can safely express what is important to them and why. The mediator assists both parties in negotiating an agreement that meets their individual and family needs, interests and values.
The overall goal is for the parties to reach an agreement that will be considered comfortable enough that both parties will honor the agreements reached without need for any future conflict resolution or court enforcement.
STEP 1 – Consultation
Most mediators will offer a consultation at no cost in order to explain the particular policies of their practice. This meeting offers an important chance for both spouses to ask questions and make sure they each feel comfortable with their choice of mediator.
STEP 2 – Individual Sessions
In many mediation practices, the first step will be for each spouse to schedule a one-on-one meeting with the mediator, during which they have the opportunity to air their concerns, grievances, hopes and goals without fear of upsetting or hurting the other. These sessions provide the mediator with critical insight into the specific issues and dynamics involved in each case, benefiting both parties in the process.
STEP 3 – Joint Sessions
Next the mediator will begin meeting with the couple in what are known as joint sessions, in which all three of them work together towards outlining the necessary agreements for their divorce. In general, there are three categories of agreements to be developed, including, but not limited to, the following:
1. Parenting plan
2. Division of assets and debts
3. Spousal support and/or child support
In some instances, a couple may have no minor children and therefore no parenting plan or child support to determine. Many couples have beloved pets whose custody and care must be taken into consideration. All of the above and more is taken into account along the way.
STEP 4 – Memorandum of Understanding/Final Judgment
Once a couple has come to terms regarding all necessary issues, they receive a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining these details. Each spouse has the opportunity to review the MOU for accuracy, after which it is converted into the form of a stipulated judgment or mediated settlement agreement (MSA).
When both spouses are satisfied with the terms, the judgment is submitted to the court for the judge’s approval. Once entered by the court, a mediated agreement legally binding and enforceable in the exact same way it would be if it had been developed over the more arduous process of a litigated divorce.
*Note: The process detailed above is the basic outline I have developed for my own practice. The process used by other mediators may be shaped by their own unique different philosophy and/or approach. The process detailed here should be considered a guide to understanding the basic concept of divorce mediation, rather than used as an instrument with which to measure the quality of another mediator. While the first most important factor in the success of any divorce mediation will be both spouses’ willingness to come to reasonable agreements, and an extremely close second runner-up will be both spouses’ comfort level with the mediator you hire.
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A Near-Miss, Blame and Co-Parenting

A Near-Miss, Blame and Co-Parenting
By Alisa Jaffe Holleron

Does this happen to you?
My husband and I were driving through British Columbia recently on a narrow windy two lane road pulling a fifth wheel. We wound up behind an ancient-looking, worn out travel trailer going half the speed limit. Stuck behind him for quite some time, my husband was waiting for the perfect opportunity to pass. When it finally came, he edged up close, and then began to move out to the left to pass.

A couple of split seconds before that, a guy in a car behind us, not reading the sign that my husband was getting ready to pass, pulled out to pass us. My husband didn’t see that the guy pulled out, and so he kept going, basically forcing the guy off the road on the other side. A wild few seconds ensued: furious honking, mud splashing from a puddle the guy hit on the shoulder of the other side of the road, swerving and hearts pounding. We were three vehicles abreast on a two lane road and a car coming toward us in the distance. The guy in the car to our left put his foot on the gas and zoomed past us back into the right lane. My husband moved over as soon as he could. Crisis averted. We continued down the road.

My husband, understandably shaken, started to grumble. “Didn’t he see that I was about to pass? That blankety blank blank.” Just then, I looked up and saw that traffic was stopping. It was a construction zone. My heart started racing. The guy who we almost ran off the road was right in front of us. I knew my husband thought it was the other guy’s fault, but I was certain the guy thought it was my husband’s fault. Now that we’re stopped, I was sure the guy would get out of his car and come yelling at my husband.

I counseled my husband about how to handle this potentially dangerous situation. “If the guy gets out of his car and starts yelling at you, just apologize, even if you don’t think you’re wrong. We’re in another country, please don’t aggravate the situation, it’s not worth it.” Just as I finished instructing my husband about how to behave, and he finished rolling his eyes, I looked up at the car ahead and to my utter amazement saw the guy waving to us in his rear view mirror; waving in a friendly, relieved sort of way. He was smiling! The look on his face, coupled with the wave, seemed to be saying: “Hey fellow Human Being, we just survived a potentially disastrous incident. I’m glad to be alive, and I’m glad you’re alive. Hugs and kisses! Have a good day!”

Huh! Is he serious? He’s not going to blame us? I was flabbergasted. Is this because we’re in Canada, or did we just get lucky that it was a really nice guy? Whatever the reason, it got me thinking about blame and how it is our “go to place” when something goes wrong. My husband quickly made a case for why the other guy was to blame. I quickly assumed the other guy would blame us and was shocked when he didn’t.

When you think about it, blame is a pretty weird thing. The idea behind blame is that things are supposed to go a certain way, but somebody does something wrong, and then everything is screwed up. It implies that life can and should be perfect, and that the only reason it’s not is that there are stupid people who made mistakes. In other words, everything that goes wrong has to do with somebody doing something wrong. If only everybody was perfect, then life would be perfect.

Even though we all want it to be true, we know that this idea of perfection is ridiculous. It is just not the real nature of life. Things just happen, like the near-miss. My husband was doing the best he could, trying hard to take all information into account, as was the other guy. Neither one of them meant for something to happen, neither one of them wanted to get into a disastrous accident, and neither one of them was grossly careless. Yet, if they had gone into the blaming mode, they would have made it sound like the other guy had intentionally, stupidly done something wrong. Each guy would have made the other guy into an idea of a person that they’re really not.

Brene Brown, a well-known researcher of shame and vulnerability created a humorous, but very poignant, cartoon video about blame. In it she says that blame is the discharge of distress. It is distress about the fact that life isn’t perfect, that we can’t control everything and that things go wrong. It’s hard to accept that life is that way, and we get scared and mad about it, and we blame. If we blame, then we can continue to believe that life can be perfect, if only so and so didn’t do such and such.

Life is hard, messy and unpredictable. This is a very hard thing to accept in general, but it is especially hard when it comes to parenting. The stakes are so high- we want our children to do well, to be happy. And when things don’t go well, or we’re afraid they won’t go well, it is easy to blame someone or something. It is painful to accept that we cannot control everything when it comes to our children.

Co-parenting situations are a set-up for blame because there is so much distress, and therefore so much opportunity for blame. Divorced co-parents worry about their kids, and the idea of something going wrong with their kids, or their relationship with their kids is almost intolerable, and that distress can so easily go to “it’s my co-parent’s fault. If it wasn’t for my co-parent, everything would be perfect.” Nice idea, but probably not so.

We blame because we are worried about our children but ironically, blaming is something that actually hurt kids. It is very hard on children emotionally when one parent is pitted against the other. It contributes to feelings of insecurity and distress. Even if you are not intentionally putting your children in the middle, when you blame your co-parent, you are inadvertently forcing a child to figure out who is the good one and who is the bad one. Emotionally and psychologically, this is not good for them.

And yes, co-parents do things that they shouldn’t do. But blaming them over and over again for the things they have always done, and are likely to continue to do, doesn’t help you and certainly doesn’t help our children. And let’s face it, blaming doesn’t make anything better. When people are being blamed, they usually feel attacked, and when people feel attacked, it is difficult, if not impossible to listen in an open-minded way to what is being said. If the guy in the near-miss had come out of his car cussing at my husband about what a blankety blank he is, it is unlikely that my husband would have seen this as an opportunity for personal growth. I doubt he would have said: “Oh yes, kind Sir, I see your point and I will take your feedback to heart. Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness in letting me know my mistakes and shortcomings.”

Giving constructive feedback or criticism can be helpful, but it takes a healthy, mutually trusting relationship for this to be possible. Most co-parenting relationships are not solid enough for constructive feedback to be possible. And, blaming isn’t constructive feedback.

So what to do?

First, determine if the issue is worth fighting about. There are issues worth fighting about. If you think your child is in danger or being neglected or in harm’s way, of course you have to do something about it. But just blaming is not the answer. You have to know how to fight smart about the battles that are worth engaging in.

But if it’s a battle that is not worth fighting, work with yourself. For your own sake, and the sake of your children, do the difficult emotional work of learning to let go of blame. In doing so, you will have to accept that life isn’t perfect and that as hard as you try, you can’t always make everything right or good for your kids. You will have to accept that you can’t change other people, especially your co-parent.

The ability to stop blaming comes when you face these truths. Acceptance of these truths and grief go hand in hand. Letting yourself feel grief will bring you to a more grounded, level-headed place. From that place you may be able to say: “Maybe my co-parent was doing the best he or she could” or “Maybe my co-parent didn’t intend to make a mistake” or “my co-parent is someone that is going to continue doing what they’ve always done, and continuing to get mad and blame them is not going to make anything better” or even “I guess I’m not perfect either; none of us are.”

Learning not to blame does not mean that you’re letting them off the hook. It just means that you’re being realistic about what you can and can’t control, and the truth of the imperfection of life. The truth will set you free.

From one imperfect human to another, good luck!