The other night I had dinner with a former professor of mine. I originally reached out to her for some career advice, suggesting coffee or drinks now that I was living back in the area. Though we hadn’t spoken in over a year, she was happy to meet with me. That night she arrived with the sweetest gift. The inscription in the book she gave said everything it needed to.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that this always-prepared powerhouse did a little sleuthing before our meetup. She found out I was getting a divorce and came armed with all of the love and support. We drank and ate and laughed for hours. She regaled me with tales from her career and gave me some phenomenal advice. I left that night feeling empowered and so grateful.

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.

– John C. Crosby

At this point in my career and personal life, having a solid network of mentors feels super important. At first, I  was hesitant to reach out to potential mentors because I didn’t want to “bother” anyone. I’ve come to understand that when these relationships are genuine they are mutually beneficial. Now, I’m making an effort to reach out to folks that I respect and admire, even if it’s for a ten-minute chat session.

Though I’m working hard on being my own champion, it never hurts to have a handful of phenomenal people in your corner.




Great expectations

I came home from a fabulous weekend away to a pile of mail. Amongst the catalogs and coupons was a flimsy little envelope from the county family court. I knew what it was the second I saw it. I’d been waiting for it. I placed it to the side.

I opened my other mail and found space for a beautiful candle I’d received as a gift. I cleaned up around the apartment. Circling back to the counter I remembered the letter was there. I opened it mechanically, scanning past words like “plaintiff” and “defendant” to the hearing date in the center of the page.

Some random Wednesday
The honorable judge whoever
uncontested hearing

Filing for divorce was not as bad as I’d originally thought. There was a good amount of paperwork to navigate, but you’re getting a divorce in New Jersey there’s a fairly useful “Self-Help Guide” floating around on the internet. And, keeping things amicable really helped.

Having made agreements about how we’d split things early on, we chose to go the “no-fault” route. All that’s left is to show up on hearing day and answer a few questions. I texted the news about the hearing to a few people and responses ranged from “okay, good” to “how are you feeling about that?”

In all honesty, I wasn’t feeling anything about it. I had no major reactions. I started searching…was I supposed to feel something? My feelings on it were the same kind of feelings I’d have about paying a bill or turning in an assignment at work.
Box = checked. Task = done.

You can’t force yourself to feel something that you don’t. I often do this thing where I anticipate how I’m going to feel about something before it happens. I make self-fulfilling prophecies about whether I’ll be happy or sad in a certain situation. All of these expectations almost always lead to disappointment. 

“Peace begins when expectation ends.”
– Sri Chinmoy

Part of self-awareness is being where you are when you’re there. If time and space allow, you make a conscious effort to evaluate how you are feeling when you’re feeling it. As I move forward in my practice to be present I’m actively pushing away superfluous expectations to make space for what’s right in front of me. 

How am I feeling about this journey with no expectations? I guess I’ll know when I get there.



Eat. Pray. Love.

It was early this past spring when I decided I needed to get the hell out of dodge. On a whim, I booked a flight to Tampa, Florida. As I was going through the thick of it, I took solace in the fact that I had something to look forward to. I figured three days away from the mess that was my life could only help to center and ground me.

I left just a few days after the house went on the market. Armed with a journal and a couple of bathing suits, I plotted a course for self-care.

I dubbed it my “Eat. Pray. Love” trip. More than just needing to relax and recharge, I wanted to get some answers. Once the house sold I would be living on my own again. I needed to know if I could be alone without feeling lonely. In some ways, it felt like a test-drive for my unmarried life. Would I find joy in my own company? Would I feel sad and empty? I wasn’t sure what emotions would come up or if I’d be ready to face them when they did.

The airport shuttle dropped me off at a strip-mall spa across from the condo complex where I was staying. I had a massage, facial and something called a “detox body wrap” which seemed fitting.

I woke up the next morning and got ready for an early yoga class by the bay. Sherry, the instructor, welcomed me with open arms and started the practice with a  beautiful reading. Halfway through our class, some dolphins swam past and I’d never felt so at peace. I left that morning near tears. It had been a long time since I’d felt that kind of strength and clarity.

Later that day I found myself at a beach bar with my book and a beer. When I started up conversation with someone new I tried really listening to how I told my story. Was I happy? Was I excited to start this new part of my life? I figured whatever I was putting out into the universe was a part of my truth.

For the first time in a long time I was listening to myself and I liked what I was hearing.

A few days later I landed at Newark with a fresh perspective, a tan, and a great offer on the house. My little trip gave me what I needed to start packing and figuring out my next move. I’ve come to realize that as I move forward through this journey my inner voice acts as both my compass and my anchor. Now all I have to do is listen. 



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Doing my homework

I live and die by my research. I once spent two weeks investigating how to brine the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving. I weighed the benefits of dry brine and wet brine. I watched video tutorials and read foodie blogs. In the end, it was a damn fine turkey.

When it came to ending my marriage you can bet your false eyelashes I was studying up. My google searches went something like:

“How to have a friendly divorce”
“How to have an easy divorce”
“How to file for divorce”
“Can you have wine delivered in New Jersey?”

After reading a host of articles from all over the interwebs I bought a book on amicable divorce.

Splitopia: Dispatches from Today’s Good Divorce and How to Part Well by Wendy Paris, was an excellent resource for me. It offers practical advice for working with your soon-to-be ex-partner on splitting assets, dealing with family, and working through the emotional fallout. I was able to apply lessons from this book directly to my experience and I’m so grateful.

More than all of that, Paris’ book offered me hope. The simple fact that I was not alone in this experience, despite knowing that I would soon be alone, was comforting. I left the final pages feeling centered in my decisions, armed with a plan to move forward, and hopeful for my future.

Divorce is not just a closing-down of one life but also an opening of another.
– Wendy Paris

Diving into research gave me space to think and plan. I was able to create a narrative about what I was going through for those closest to me and set boundaries where I needed them. This research was also my first brush with mindfulness practice, self-awareness, and self-love. I started out on a journey toward finding my truest self and becoming whole again, a topic I will be touching on A LOT on this site.

For me, reading about others experiences with divorce was a great help. I believe in the power of storytelling which is why, in large part, I am here telling mine. Do you have a story to share? If so, I’d love to connect with you.



Before you get it together, it has to fall apart.

Even after all this time I am surprised when people are supportive. I’m even more surprised when people call me brave. Calling it quits on my marriage, selling our big, beautiful house, and moving to a small apartment in my old college town did not feel brave. It felt like failure.

At first, when I told someone what I was going through and they said, “I’m sorry,” I heard, “I’m sorry you failed.” I realized, perhaps too late, that what these folks were actually saying was “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” I know now that I feared failure above all else. In recent months I’ve learned how to release that fear, how to be where I am when I’m there, and, most importantly, how to forgive myself. I can’t say I always do these things well or with grace, but I’m sure as hell trying.

It was well over a year ago that I confided in a dear friend about my struggles. I told her even if I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t, in fact, married the right person I would probably still stay because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. The way she looked at me in that moment spoke volumes. Living for other people is no way to live. Even then, I promised myself I’d give it the old college try. I knew if I walked away with any shred of doubt, I’d never be able to forgive myself. I jumped headfirst into trying to fix what felt broken and trying to disprove what I likely already knew.

This site is about my journey and my experience starting over. I won’t write about my ex-husband here, what we went through or what went wrong, but I will say that there is no one I’d rather go through this with. He is a great person, but he is not my best person and I am not his.

And that, my friends, is okay.

Over time, and with the support of some very magical people, I started to internalize that there is bravery in asking for and seeking out what you want in life. Sometimes things fall apart, especially when they are built without a solid foundation. And that too is simply okay. You grow and you change and you learn what to do differently next time. Slowly but surely you start picking up the pieces and getting your life together. And this is that journey. This is Ellen getting her life together.