Top 6 Divorce Movie Picks from The Dynamic Divorcee

I've never done a divorce movie list, and I'm kind of not thrilled about other lists I've seen . . . so it's about time to share a few girl power movies about starting over and/or waking up from a life that's become a bad dream.

Let's start with a few starting-over films that were written and directed by women:

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)  There's no divorce in this movie, but there is a young woman who boxed herself into a suburban lifestyle too soon, pursues a random fascination with a different lifestyle, and changes everything in the process.  The divorce will come after the credits roll.  I also love this movie because it's about what I consider regular people:  suburban middle-class and scruffy bohemians.  Rosanna Arquette, Madonna, and Aidan Quinn.

Something's Gotta Give (2003) I can't imagine that there's any over-40 woman who hasn't seen this film, but it's one of my favorites, and grows on me the older I get.  If you're a single woman of a certain age, you'll recognize the Jack Nicholson character as someone you've encountered on innumerable dates, and from innumerable online dating profiles (you know, the ones where old, paunchy guys photograph themselves on speedboats and next to sports cars).  Perfect solo weekend viewing -- reminding yourself why enjoying a weekend pursuing your interests at home can be way more rewarding than a coffee date (or, worse, dinner) with that silver, not-so-foxy old fox.  Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson.

Enough Said (2013)  Years ago, when I was offering weekend-at-home movie picks on this blog, I wrote a whole blog post about this film.  A massage therapist, divorced mom begins dating a regular guy, a self-described "slob" who is actually a person at her own level, and, with this, she immediately begins to find fault.  Should she settle for him?  Should she deserve better?  Intruigued?  Watch and find out what happens.  James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. 

Now, for a few girl power films written and directed by men (but feel like they were channeled by a female muse):

An Unmarried Woman (1978)  If you only watch one of my six picks, make it this one.  I know . . . 1978 . . . how relevant could it possibly be?  Except for the excellent 1970s fashions and silly disco music, this could have been made today.  I love this woman.  She figures out what she wants, on a day-to-day basis, and doesn't get sucked into anyone else's world.  An inspiring filmic role model for navigating the divorce year.  Bonuses:  Vintage New York, the sexy Alan Bates as love-interest, and if you're a fan of Gilmore Girls, check out Kelly Bishop (Emily Gilmore) as one of the lead's gal pals.  Jill Clayburgh and Alan Bates.

Educating Rita (1983) As I've sought out movies about divorce over the past ten years, it's surprising that most of them feature upper-middle-class people, living lifestyles that most of us don't even dare to dream of.  Here's one about a working-class girl who feels the walls closing in and wants a bigger life.  And, I also love that there's no Prince Charming or relationship-centered happy ending.  Julie Walters and Michael Caine.

Begin Again (2013) The most nuanced separation/betrayal/breakup film among these picks.  The story is structured around some of the most beautiful songs about loneliness and despair ever.  A girl who gives away too much to the wrong person, but knows what's she's doing and stays true to herself.  Deep, a little tangled, and full of quirky hope.  Bonus:  Keira Knightley sings.  Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and the adorable James Corden.

Where to view these attitude-shifting divorce slash breakup films:

All of my women-directed picks are available for streaming on Amazon.  As of this writing, An Unmarried Women and Begin Again are streaming on Netflix; Educating Rita is available on Putlocker and other hosted file sites.

Do you have a favorite divorce- or breakup-related film that doesn't involve rich, white Californians or similarly privileged New Yorkers?  Films with a more diverse cast of characters, while staying free from ethnic stereotypes?  I would love to hear about and share your recommendations.  Please tell me about it in the comments!

Wish you could have a card reading right now? Here you go!

Occasionally, I do card readings for my coaching clients, and it's often a way to break through to a solution or to a new way of thinking about a stubborn issue or problem.  I have a unique way of doing this:  I use a bunch of my favorite card decks all at once.

I thought that maybe you'd enjoy this process, too.

Here's how it works: I pull one card from each of five beloved card decks. Square card at the top of each spread is from one of several Louise Hay decks. Next card down comes from the Art of Kundalini deck. Third card from the top is drawn from the Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards.  Fourth card is from one of several Abraham Hicks card decks.  And the final card is from The Chakra Deck.

I don't labor over this process, I just focus, shuffle, and lay down the cards.  They may or may not form a consistent theme among them, but my intention is that they give you not only a message, but some thoughts and techniques to work with.

Want to receive your own insightful reading?  Focus on the image below, while feeling into a question, issue, or problem you've been facing lately.  When you're ready, choose the vertical column that speaks most to you.

Want to receive your own insightful reading?  Focus on the image above, while feeling into a question, issue, or problem you've been facing lately.  When you're ready, choose the vertical column that speaks most to you. Column #1 (purple card at the top), Column #2 (green card at the top), or Column #3 (orange card at the top).  Keep scrolling down for your messages to be revealed.

Choose your reading by the color of the card at the top.  (Purple, green, or orange.)
Purple:  I am willing to let go.
Green: I am at peace.
Orange: My life works beautifully.

When you've chosen a column, scroll down to see all of your cards right face up, and receive your messages.

Purple (Column #1 in the original photo):

Keep reading below for card interpretations.
  • Louise Hay affirmation (top): I release others to experience whatever is meaningful to them, and I am free to create that which is meaningful to me.
  • Art of Kundalini (right): In perfect alignment, you are crystal.  (To me, this means that when you are consistent with your own truths and personal ethics, the path to take becomes clear.)
  • Goddess Guidance Cards (center): Brigit/Don't Back Down: Stand up for what you believe is right.  Be assertive. Don't worry about what others think. Trust that your actions will work out fine. Speak your truth. Stick to your opinions. Put your foot down.
  • Abraham Hicks affirmation (left): I can make a career of living happily ever after: A very good career choice would be to gravitate toward those activities and to embrace those desires that harmonize with your core intentions, which are freedom and growth -- and joy. Make a "career" of living a happy life rather than trying to find work that will produce enough income that you can do things with your money that will then make you happy. When feeling happy is of paramount importance to you -- and what you do "for a living" makes you happy -- you have found the best of all combinations.
  • Chakra Yoga (bottom): Thunderbolt/Rock pose.  This pose helps you to digest emotions as well as to strengthen your digestion in general. 

If you enjoyed having this kind of card reading, and you're curious about other ways that I work with clients (women only), please contact me here.

Green (Column #2 in the original photo):

Keep reading below for card interpretations.
  • Louise Hay affirmation (top): Divine peace and harmony surround me and dwell in me.  I feel tolerance, compassion, and love for all people, myself included.
  • Art of Kundalini (right): Tend your inner fire.  (To me, this means to allow yourself more time to do the things you love to do.  Give yourself a hug many times each day!)
  • Goddess Guidance Cards (center): Sedna/Infinite Supply: You are supplied for today and all of your tomorrows. Don't worry about the future.  Know that you'll always have enough to eat.  Your needs will always be provided for.  Spend time at the ocean.  Go swimming, sailing, or surfing.
  • Abraham Hicks affirmation (left): I will praise success wherever I see it: When you find yourself critical of the way anyone has attracted or is using money, you are pushing money away from you.  But when you realize that what others do with money has nothing to do with you, and that your primary work is to think and speak and do what feels good to you, then you will be in alignment not only about the subject of money, but about every important subject in your physical experience.
  • Chakra Yoga (bottom):  Heart Chakra/Love and compassion.  Basic issues: love, compassion, kindness, relationships, self-acceptance, forgiveness, hope, sympathy, empathy.  Foods that may assist you: green, leafy vegetables.  Gemstones and crystals: rose quartz will bring you peace and help with self-love.  Essential oils: neroli/orange, rose, and (my own choice) rosemary. 

If you enjoyed having this kind of card reading, and you're curious about other ways that I work with clients (women only), please contact me here.

Orange (Column #3 in the original photo):

Keep reading below for card interpretations.
  • Louise Hay affirmation (top): Everything in my life works, now and forevermore.
  • Art of Kundalini (right): Open your window.  (To me, this means: Let yourself see something new in the situation. Stop the mental noise that keeps repeating in your head, and look for a new way to see the situation -- a way that offers a way out or a way to get some movement in a stagnant situation.)
  • Goddess Guidance Cards (center): Sige/Quiet Time:  Take some quiet time alone to rest, meditate, and contemplate. Go on a retreat.  Listen more and talk less.  Avoid loud noise and sounds.  Meditate.  Surrender mind chatter to heaven.  Know that you're more sensitive to noise right now.
  • Abraham Hicks affirmation (left): My goal of happiness is important enough.  The reason you are not conscious of any specific prebirth goals is because there were no specific goals.  You had (before your birth) general intentions, such as being happy, being an uplifter, having continuing growth . . . but the specific processes to achieve those things are up to you to decide here and now.  In this time -- *you* are the creator.
  • Chakra Yoga (bottom):  Shoulder Shrugs. Here's a super-detailed tutorial on shoulder shrugs but, since the theme of this reading is quiet time and meditation, and most people know how to do a relaxing shoulder shrug, just make it a starting point for relaxing your neck and shoulders and deepening your breathing to quiet all the noise around you and have a few moments of freedom.  You can do this in your car, in bed before you rise in the morning or just before you turn off the lights at night.

If you enjoyed having this kind of card reading, and you're curious about other ways that I work with clients (women only), please contact me here.

Life After Divorce: What to do with your divorce settlement

I don't coach on the financial side of divorce, but I do want to share my experiences on how to invest a lump-sum settlement or your financial share of a marital property settlement.

I lost 10 years of potential earnings through investing with high-fee "advisors," so this post is about how to avoid that trap.

At the time of my divorce, I had no idea what to do with my share of our financial assets.  My father recommended his brokers at Wells Fargo, and with no financial knowledge of my own, I went with his recommendation.

Divorcees, beware of financial advisors!

As the years passed, I kept waiting to see my investments appreciate in value.  There was very little growth.  After eight years of this, I realized that I was going to have to become more knowledgeable.  

My first step was to find out how much I was paying in fees.  It turned out that one account was costing me 2% a year, and the other, 3% a year.  No wonder these accounts were stagnant -- Wells Fargo's fees were eating up almost all the earnings during a few bad years.  And, in addition, my "advisor" made some bad recommendations that lost half their value before he got me out.

If you're counting on your advisor to watch over your portfolios, and you're (to him) a small investor of less than a million dollars in assets, you're on your own.  You would need to have the expertise to monitor your accounts, and be in regular touch with this person with your concerns.

Silly me.  I thought that was what I was paying the advisor for.

Who needs this kind of "expert" advice?  My personal experience with post-divorce investing is by no means an isolated incident.  For example, during my marriage, my then-husband's stock broker brother talked him into an investment that quickly lost all of its value.  I've heard countless stories like this from my coaching clients.  Playing games with your money is not a smart choice for the average, middle-income divorcee.

How to invest your post-divorce assets

After realizing I was a fool to invest via a financial advisor, I thought a good solution would be to seek the advice of a non-fee-based financial planner.  Naively, I thought that I could get some basic advice for a few hundred dollars.  Imagine my shock when no one would talk to me for less than $2000 to start.

It was time to read one of those Investing for Dummies books, so I did.  One of the things I learned was that people without financial knowledge, and who didn't want to spend time managing their portfolios, shouldn't bother trying to beat the market.

Turns out that the rationale for paying a percentage of the value of your portfolio to a broker is that experts, in theory, are supposed to get the investor a better rate of return than the stock market average.  But, even if your financial analyst succeeds in this, a good portion of the return on investment is eaten up by his account management fees (which can be accrued in a number of ways, so it can be hard to get a handle on exactly how much you're paying, but that's another story).

Luckily, there is an easy alternative for know-nothing investors like me:  Index funds.

Instead of trying to beat the market, an index fund attempts to replicate the performance of a given index of stocks or some other investment type, for example, to match the performance of the S&P 500.  Conservatively speaking, over a 20-year period, one could estimate a return on investment of about 6% a year, which would double your investment every 12 years or so. 

My personal solution was to invest with a reputable robo-advisor, with my portfolio based on index funds, and incurring very low fees.

A robo-advisor is an online wealth management service that provides automated, algorithm-based portfolio management advice without the use of human financial planners (yay!).

Once you've established an account, you truly can sit back and let time and the market grow your portfolio.  And, of course, speed the process by making regular deposits into your account.  Over time, you will start to see amazing things happen that will make you feel much more secure about your future.

I chose to invest with Betterment, which is currently the industry's biggest robo-advisor and consistently rated as one of the best.  

What I love about it is that the online interface is very easy to understand and to use.  Its annual fee is . . . wait for it . . . just .25% (no matter how little you initially invest).  And, if you refer others to Betterment, you can receive fee-free months when your accounts just earn money without costing you a dime.

Whatever you choose to do, please consider staying away from high-fee managed accounts.  You will lose years and years of precious time waiting to see substantial gains.  And, please know that many advisors of all stripes will push their own financial products, so do beware.

My last 12 months with Betterment

Betterment is not the only robo-advisor out there, but it is the leader, very responsive to questions, and I do love the online interface.  You can sync up all of your non-Betterment accounts to your Betterment dashboard, so you can keep track of all your assets on one page.  It's very easy to make one-time or automated deposits into your account, transfer money among several Betterment accounts, and track your financial progress overall.

When you first visit the site, a great place to start is with the Betterment retirement calculator, where you can set a post-retirement income goal, the number of years you have to get there, and receive an easy-to-understand investment plan, as well as suggested portfolio.

In the 12 months since I kissed Wells Fargo goodbye, my earnings are 11%, and I couldn't be happier.  I still know next to nothing about investing, but I'm no longer playing Russian roulette with my money -- and expecting a so-called "expert" to be worth his fees and create miracles with my money.

It's so much fun when you see that you can provide for your own future, even if you start out, post-divorce, in a much less than enviable place.

Dynamic Divorcees:  Don't let loved ones talk you into spending your retirement fund on them

Sisters are doing it for themselves, and, among other things, this gives you the freedom never again to be at the mercy of a bad relationship, or tied to a bad job at age 75!  Every year (or, at least, most years), you get to see your wealth go up and up.  

The only challenge will be to keep that money invested, and not let some seeming soul mate or sob-story relation talk you into funding his crazy dream or bailing him out.  Or allowing your kids guilt you into funding their higher education when you haven't fully funded your own retirement yet.

You can circumvent this by never talking about your investments with the victim personalities in your life.

Women are so often taken advantage of financially, and people who want your money will promise you literally anything.  You'll want to believe their promises, but, truly, you've lived long enough to know that you must protect yourself.  Where are all of those people, now, who made promises to you in the past?  Case closed. 

If you know that it won't be possible for you to pay for your children's higher education, teach them now to save for their futures in the same way you are doing.  If your children are young, you can start them off now, investing little by little and gaining this valuable habit early.  Be up front, now, and let them know that they'll need excellent grades, stellar extracurricular activities, and a background of community service in order to earn college scholarships instead of going into debt for their own college loans.

Share the wealth of helping everyone you love to become self-sufficient and empowered.  There is no better gift you can give to the important persons in your life.


What's your favorite flavor of s**t sandwich?

Make mine with chocolate and pistachio . . . or maybe lavender . . . or butterscotch . . .

Make mine with chocolate and pistachio . . . or maybe lavender . . . or butterscotch . . .

One of the concepts in Liz Gilbert's book Big Magic that changed my grumpasaurus attitudes forever was the s**t sandwich.  

During my entire adult, and, before that, my weird childhood and adolescence, I kept wondering, "When does this get easier?  When do all these roadblocks and potholes go away?"

It took me this long to read a book that told me the truth:  They don't go away.  

But, you do get to choose what flavor of annoying, exhausting problems you like best -- or, perhaps better said, you get to choose what all the exhaustion, setbacks, and monkey wrenches will be in the service of.

How to choose the flavor of awful that you like best

Here's an excerpt from Big Magic:

“What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich? . . . Every single pursuit—no matter how wonderful and exciting and glamorous it may initially seem—comes with its own brand of shit sandwich, its own lousy side effects. As [self-help author Mark] Manson writes with profound wisdom: 'Everything sucks, some of the time.' You just have to decide what sort of suckage you’re willing to deal with. So the question is not so much 'What are you passionate about?' The question is 'What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?' Manson explains it this way: 'If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands, of times, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a hotshot court lawyer, but can’t stand the eighty-hour workweeks, then I’ve got bad news for you.' Because if you love and want something enough—whatever it is—then you don’t really mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it.”

Wow.  So I can stop waiting for the gold at the end of the rainbow.  There won't be a magical reward at the end of all these decades of dreaming, and endless endless hard work.

All I have to do is look at some of my heroes in order to know this is true.  Think of any woman you truly admire.  Look at her life story.  There was no "happily ever after."  In fact, there's probably no "happily ever after" in any truly interesting life.  The melodramatic plot is what keeps the heroine moving, creating, and having a fascinating life.

But what about all those lucky chicks with the awesome husbands?

It's the "lucky" minority of women that keeps us jealous.  But, how many of these deliriously happy cases are there, really, and is there really no downside?

There seem to be a few special women who were lucky enough to marry a may who is easily able to provide for her every material need and wish.  And, because of this, these fairy tale princesses never had to worry about their financial well-being after they sealed the deal.

But, we'll never know the rest of the story.  Maybe, they'll never know if they could have made it on their own.  Perhaps, behind closed doors, they aren't treated with the love and respect they may have wished for.  Or, other aspects of their lives are not as they portray it on facebook.  Who knows what other dreams may have been given up in order to live on easy street.

What about the truly great husbands (who may or may not be financially successful)?  The ones who compliment and appreciate their wives.  The ones who are there to listen and there to support their wives' dreams.  The ones who know how to put down the remote or electronic devices and pay attention when it counts?  

Like anything, wonderful relationships usually require compromise and trade-offs.  And usually, even with these wonderful guys, in our society, women tend to do quite a bit more of the work, and more of the compromising than the guys do.  Is it worth it?  Only each woman can say.

Let the s**t sandwich concept help you navigate your post-divorce life

If we now realize that practically no decision will be s**t-free, we can start making every choice by looking at what flavor of s**t sandwich it will bring.

How does this differ from the good, old-fashioned pro/con list that lots of coaches/therapists may suggest that you make?

What I like about the s**t sandwich concept is that it goes much deeper.  Everyone gets it:  Everyone has had multiple experiences of choking down these less-than-tasty meals.  They're not just "cons" on a list; you can deeply feel them.  You know what you're in for.  You've been there.

You can ask yourself, "Given this likely s**t sandwich, is this (divorce fight, career change, destructive personal habit, method of therapy, relationship, or whatever) still the best choice for me?"  Or, "Am I willing and even happy to eat this because I care so much about what I'll gain if I persist?"

Because we now know that there will almost always be sacrifice, with almost every important choice in life -- and the sacrifices that may be worth it for someone else, may not be right for you.  The s**t sandwich that someone else may find completely unedible, may be pretty easy for you to choke down (along with a little cheese and hot sauce) because you love your dream and believe in yourself so much.

Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce: Sex in the City for Divorcees

I'm currently watching the Bravo series, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, which is now streaming on Netflix.  

For ages, I avoided giving it a look because, from the promo (well, all I really needed to see was the promotional thumbnail), it looked like a bunch of obscenely privileged LA chicks enjoying the kind of post-divorce tragedies that we could only dream of.  Yes, give me their problems.  I'll have what they're having!

However, I queried some divorced facebook friends, and they said, yeah, they're watching.  So, I watched an episode and got hooked.

Basically, it's Sex in the City with 40-ish divorcees instead of promiscuous, on the prowl, 30-somethings.  Except I like the Guide to Divorce chicks much better.  Maybe it's that they're a little older, so they're more interesting as people.

I'm now mid-way through Season 2, and at this point in the story, the requisite four girlfriends are: a Latina upscale vegan bakery owner;an ex-model with a wrong-side-of-the-tracks backstory; a celebrity author who's rebranding herself as an online columnist (and toying with getting back together with an almost ex-husband -- they just haven't filed the paperwork); and a not-yet-married, elegantly beautiful partner at a top law firm (being pressured into marriage by her older, controlling, billionaire boyfriend).

So that's all a mouthful.  And, yeah, there's casual sex, but not on the ewwwww level of Sex in the City.  And, without the level of desperation that seethed under the surface of just about every SITC episode.

Here's the thing.  Though most of us won't relate to the lifestyle (or am I the only one who doesn't shop all my troubles away), I'm pretty sure that you'll identify with lots of what goes on in this show.  Especially if you're a working woman.  

If you've explored romantic relationships after divorce, you'll identify.  If you've had seemingly irrational fights with friends and said things you're afraid you can never take back, you'll identify.  If you've thought about getting back together with your ex . . . well, you get the picture.

As I write this, two full 13-episode seasons are streaming on Netflix, and there are three short, 7-episode seasons to come.  By the time you read this, the third season will probably be up for streaming.  And, of course, if you have Bravo, Season 3 has already streamed.

So, binge away!