Wednesday, July 31, 2013

50 Shades of G

A while back, after reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I blogged a bit about one of my past dating experiences, which was a complete fail because we both had dominant personalities and neither one wanted to cede and play the role of a sub.  But was it a complete fail?  I learned a lot from that relationship, and I am still friends with that man.  Why? There are lots of reasons, but the main one is that we are both good people and enjoy each other's company.  We may not be compatible as intimate partners, but there are so many other options besides just that one facet to a guy-girl relationship.

Before I go further, let me start at the beginning.  Until college, everyone called me "Gina" or "G," and I had the nicest high school sweetheart a girl could ask for, but we parted ways after graduation.  We had different goals and the long distance thing was not for us, so no hard feelings, it was just time to end things-- and yes, 20 years later we are still friends.

My senior year of college, I met my husband, who was a blond version of Ferris Bueller-- a brilliant daredevil, who made me laugh like no one else.  Unfortunately, after 12 years, we grew apart and got divorced.  Despite our disappointment, we rose above the situation and have managed to peacefully share custody of our son the last 8 years, during which time many have asked me if there is any hope of reconcilation.  Simply put, no.  I loved this man like no other, and yet we are better off as friends and co-parents.  He still makes me laugh like no other, and now I have a mini version of him who is learning to do the same, and that is his greatest gift to me.

On the rebound, I dated the opposite of Ferris Bueller, precisely because that is how rebounds work-- the pendulum swings to the other extreme.  The very traits then that attracted me in the beginning, however, drove me crazy after 6 months.  Since then, that pendulum has continued to swing, but not so drastically, and not with many.  (Remember, for girls it is about quality over quantity.)    In 2010, in addition to my own Christien Grey (the Dom in 50 Shades of Grey), I was introduced to the one I've dubbed "Jerry Maguire" not just because he is totally non-commital, but because he had me at "hello."  Obviously the inability to focus was not going to work for me, even though I understood he was raw from his divorce, and because we were both honest with one another, we have also been able to remain friends all these years.

My track record shows how rare it is for me to sever all contact, but if it needs to be done, I do it without hesitation-- act swiftly, get it done, and move on.  But before plunging into the next thing, I do find it helpful to take some time to reassess where you are-- what are you looking for now?  How does it differ from what you thought you wanted before?  What life lesson did you learn?

From each experience you learn a bit more about others and yourself, including what you want and need.  You also learn more about your dealbreakers, or what you can't stand.  In order to avoid making the same mistakes, you need to allow yourself some time to process what you just went through.  For me, the added bonus of having these friends from the past is that they can act as a great sounding board.  Guys can smell b.s. and desperation a mile away, and when I want a reality check, they are fantastic at that-- among other things.

Throughout all the years, let me just say that it is my girlfriends that have kept me safe and sane.  No matter what, I've learned that you don't ditch your girlfriends for a guy!  And yet, it is guys that have kept me entertained all this time.  Men are hilarious, and my guy friends have really opened up and given me incredible insight into the male mind, which is why I think they are 50 shades of fantastic!

Now stop reading about other people's 50 Shades, and go write your own sexy story!!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cash is King in a Divorce- So Find A Way To Level The Playing Field

I really hate to say this, but just the other day a judge told me "he who holds the gold has control."  It is sad but true, you may want your day in court, but can you afford it?  Not many can-- at least not without some help.  If significant sums of cash are not readily available to you, and you don't have a Line of Credit and can't borrow from family or friends, where are you going to come up with the $10,000 or more required as a typical litigation retainer?  I've seen many cash out their 401(k)s or IRAs in order to finance their divorce or custody disputes, and every day I see people settle in order to avoid digging a deeper financial hole for themselves.  These are not very appealing options to say the least.

There is a reason married men like to jokingly say, "it is cheaper to keep her."  A litigated divorce that is hotly contested is simply not cheap-- you are paying for legal services by the hour, and the average rates for a good attorney in DC will range from $300-600 per hour.  Custody evaluations start at $15,000 if you are using a private expert vs. the court services.  Vocational experts and business valuation experts also work by the hour and with retainers starting at least with $5,000.  If your child needs to have his/her own attorney, that is yet another expense that is usually pro-rated among the parties.  I will skip the full range of experts available, but hopefully you can start to see how easily the bills rack up.

Earlier this month, Good Morning America presented a story about a financial firm in NY that lends money to women going through a divorce.  Based on the assets involved, the bank can loan an individual up to $250,000 to cover not just attorney's fees, but also living expenses while the litigation is pending.  These are like short-term bridge loans, with interest rates ranging from about 8-20%  Obviously clients need to really do their homework to make sure this is the best option for them, but I definitely see this as a growing trend.

It was an honor to be able to contribute to this piece, and for those who missed the GMA segment, here is the link:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eat, Pray, Love- It Really Is That Simple!

I haven't read Liz Gilbert's book in years, and never saw the movie with Julia Roberts because I didn't want to destroy the images in my own head about how that story should be depicted, but the message from her post-divorce journey has stuck with me all these years.  When you suffer a setback, it can take awhile to return to your natural state of being, and those of us that are able to rebound quickly truly do abide by this simple formula: remember to eat, pray and love every day.

Why Eat? Because we all need nourishment, and breaking bread with another human being is a very social thing to do. To me, eating alone is a chore, and when I am upset it is the last thing in the world I want to do, but because my friends and family know this, what do they do when they want to make sure I'm ok?  They feed me-- they prepare the most delicious meals and remind me that I am not actually a machine, although sometimes I may feel that way.  While we eat, people share their stories with me, and they restore my faith in humanity, and to be honest, more important than feeding my body, they nurture my soul-- but the body needs actual food to survive, and that is exactly why my loved ones feed me.  So as much as I complain about everyone bugging me about eating, let me just say, my skinny butt actually does appreciate it!

Why Pray?  In whatever form you wish to do this, I think it is important to express gratitude for what you have, to show remorse for some of your shortfalls, and to project hope in a better future. Ever since I was a child, my grandmother taught me to believe in a greater power-- whatever that might be-- and I am convinced that it is my faith that has saved me all these years and allowed me to survive.  Despite what may appear to be a charmed life, I have had to face some very harsh realities over the years, but in those darkest hours it is my prayers (and perhaps those of others around me too) that have spared me from falling into the abyss.

Why Love? I hate to answer a question with a question, but without love, how can there be life?  Life is all about love-- learning to love yourself, your family, and your surroundings.  When you can accept the fault in all these things, and still see the beauty in all of them, you will find peace, and with peace comes love.  This took me a long time to figure out, but learning to let go of outcomes and just enjoy the journey-- without the need to have a final destination-- has brought a ton of peace, and as a result, love into my life.  Everyone around me can see it, so it is not just me, and these past few months I have truly learned to appreciate love's healing power-- it is a miracle cure beyond words.

There is only one thing I would add to this formula for happiness-- and no, it is not sex-- that falls into the category of love, and I think I've sufficiently blogged about, especially this past week.  More than anything else above, what I have always appreciated in my family and friends is their ability to make me laugh, and I think they would say the same about me.  It is crucial to have a sense of humor if you are going to survive this game called life, and to all of you that have made me laugh throughout the years-- I can't tell you what a critical role you played in preserving my positive spirit.

So, make sure you do eat, pray, and love (in EVERY sense of that word), but above all make sure you LAUGH!  I'm not sure when my time here on Earth will end, but hopefully I won't leave any doubt that I had fun-- and my sincere wish is that all those around me will say a good time was had by us all!        

Saturday, July 27, 2013

5 Key Benefits to Dating Younger Men

Many of us have a type, but what happens when that "type" continually doesn't work out for you?  Perhaps it is time to reassess things and broaden your horizons.  Generally, I would date older guys-- not a lot older, but 4-6 years older, until last year.  Dating someone over a decade older clearly did not pan out, so now I'm starting to think maybe going in the opposite direction may be the way to go?  This is much more accepted these days than 20 years ago-- just look at this week's news: Tina Turner (age 73) tied the knot with Bach (age 57), resulting in nothing but joyful wishes-- not a single scandalous remark.

Now, I am not saying I plan to follow in Tina's footsteps, even though she is one cool and strong lady!  After surviving the whole Ike debacle, she's continued to soar in her industry without ever looking back, and I hope she continues to serve as a shining example for other DV survivors out there. But I don't mean to digress, this is about the benefits of dating younger guys.  So here are some of the positive points that I've come up with thus far:

1. Fewer power struggles- I can only hope that someone who has yet to experience certain things and is in an earlier phase in their career will not get into some stupid competition with an older woman, who is more established in her career and life, perhaps just by virtue of age, if not also greater opportunties.

2. More Energy- In general, energy diminishes with age, just as health issues tend to rise.  Some guys will suffer from low testosterone and decreased sex drives after 45, while their female counterparts may just be ramping up as their kids get older and are more self-sufficient.  Younger guys have a clear advantage here.

3. The Eye Candy Factor- Let's face it, a lot of guys don't age well.  They get beer bellies, lose some hair, and may even slack off at the gym because they are "too busy at work."  Whatever- not to be superficial, but just as guys have expected women to keep it together for years, guess what?  We are now expecting the same from them, and yet no matter what your average 55 year old guy is just not going to have the same kind of body as a 35 year old.  If I'm a kid in candy store, really there is no contest here.

4. Better Life Perspective- Guys that are younger than me have been far more exposed to liberated women, and many have strong, successful mothers as role models.  They've also grown up in a time where our society is more open-- it's not weird to them at all that we have inter-racial couples and same sex marriages.  They are also much more comfortable with technology, and can bring a different and fresh perspective to conversations.

5. Open to Change- There is that saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks for a reason-- the older you get, the more set in your ways.  But, if you go for someone younger, they tend to be more open to change, and that is an amazing asset in life, which constantly presents with new twists and turns.

I am sure I have missed some points, but as I mentioned in the beginning this is a whole new venture for me, and I'm still warming up to this concept.  In the past, I never even considered this option, but maybe Tina, Demi, J.Lo, and countless other savvy Hollywood hotties are onto something.  There is only one way to find out...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Why Are Women So Complicated?

I get this question a lot- most recently the exact question was this: as beautiful as you ladies are, why is it always served with a dish of complexity... can't it be served in a fun, easy, chilled out manner... a la carte?  What I love most about this question is that it shows the guy is actually putting some thought into this social conundrum, and I truly appreciate the honest desire he is expressing, which is rare.  So, let me try to shed some light on this common issue men seem to have with us...

First, not that I am a sociologist, but we can all accept that for centuries, a woman had to multi-task at home, caring for the needs of many and not just herself.  Simultaneously playing the caretaker role as a daughter, mother, and wife can cause a lot of internal conflict, and often women who have not learned to say "no" or realized that they can't please everyone at once, will go into emotional overload or have a meltdown.  It is not that we are more "emotional" than guys, it is just that previously we took a lot more in, whereas before guys, who were just trained to be hunters, would go out on their singular mission (to provide) and in the process screw the prettiest young thing they'd fancy. As the saying goes, guys have a one track mind-- problem is, girls don't.  If guys could just learn to communicate with us better, instead of seeking the path of least resistance by avoiding difficult conversations, they may actually heighten their emotional IQ and find us much more willing to be easy-going.

Second, Generation X women grew up under Title IX, which means we were bred to believe that we could do anything a guy can do-- except maybe write our names in the snow. So now we can hunt just as well as our male counterparts, which means unlike before we are just as inclined to move on and go hunt again rather than try to talk it out when things get complicated. While we are on the prowl, however, our upper hand is this: we care more about quality over quantity, so we can actually exercise patience.  Especially those that are in the top 10% (based on income and education levels)-- these women know exactly how much leverage they have, and if their needs and desires aren't going to be met, why waste time?  Guys are thrown for a loop by this, mainly because few men have had maternal role models that share a GenXer's attitude.

Third, none of the people I hang with-- men or women-- feel like there is one simple way to define success.  It used to be the goal was to get married, have a nice home and pop out a few kids.  Not everyone shares this dream anymore.  We truly have come to accept that each individual will define success in his/her own way-- and for many of us true bragging rights are earned when you take a creative idea and see it through to fruition.  I don't know any girl that brags about her cooking abilities or any guy that brags about his wife's home-making skills.  We've morphed into a whole new species really, where each person is driven by a different set of ambitions, so now more than ever guys will have to hone in on their communication skills to figure out what makes a woman tick and will make her happy.

After our lengthy discussion, my friend said he was reminded of that old saying: How do 2 porcupines mate?  ...very carefully.  Indeed-- guys are generally easy to figure out-- as long as they are fed and have sex on a regular basis, they are good.  But we are not that simple, and never have been.  It's just that now we have added power and independance, so the rules of the game have drastically changed.  Therefore, I would urge guys to proceed with GREAT caution-- you need to learn and understand the animal you are dealing with before you can even attempt to tame it.  :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sex Advice from a GenXer's Version of Dr. Ruth

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is now 85 years old, and although it has been ages since I've listened to her speak, I can recall her voice as if I'd heard it just yesterday.  I remember how controversial this vocal sex therapist was back in her day.  Times have definitely changed, and given our vastly different generations and backgrounds, I'm sure we wouldn't see eye-to-eye on everything, but sharing our opinions about sex unabashedly is definitely something we share in common.  So maybe one day I can aspire to be the Dr. Ruth for GenXers?  Heck, I'll just start today because there are a couple of conversations that I've had lately with my peers that require immediate attention...

1. Don't Worry About Numbers- Recently, while talking with some highly educated single women in their 40s I heard a few express concern about not having too high a number of sex partners.  Seriously?  Who the f--k cares?  It is not like this is some publicized number that goes on your resume!  Guys don't want to know details about your past, and you don't need to over share.  Keep your mouth shut, but for God sakes have fun!

2. Don't Let Kids Ruin Your Fun- Many of my married friends with young kids talk about having zero energy at the end of the day.  Work and children can zap us of all our strength, and yet people-- you need to make time to have sex- and I'm not talking about a quickie once a week.  WTF?  Hopefully you had fun "trying" to have a child-- so there is no reason why you shouldn't allow yourself to continue to have fun after kids come into the picture.  Make all the excuses in the world you want, but I promise you that if you lose intimacy with your partner, you are entering very dangerous territory.

3. Sex Improves with Age-  Well, at least up to a certain point.  For those ages 20-45 let me just say that in general how you enjoy sex will change over time.  As you become more confident in your skills, and less inhibited, you will become more vocal about your preferences, and you won't even try to fake success.  Either you got the job done or not, and maybe sometimes you need to engage in a little show and tell to help out the overall team performance.  If it is true that it all goes downhill after 50 (don't know for sure, thankfully that is a decade away), then for the love of God, make the most of time you have before you start to plateau.

4. Be Smart- I seriously do not understand people like Anthony Weiner or Eliot Spitzer. Momentary lapses of reason can so easily go viral these days in our techie world.  I've blogged about this before, including my Safe Sexting Tips last month, but I will say it again- screen your partners carefully and watch what you say online.  I have no doubt there is some NSA officer that has probably been assigned to monitor what I say, but I'm not really sweating it because (1) I'm not running for office, and (2) I do actually filter a lot.  We all have crap, but take that s--t and run it through a filter in your head so by the time you post anything is looks like clear drinking water!

Those are my tips for the day.  Please spread the word among your friends & enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Creating Mutually Beneficial Relationships

A decade ago, while happily married, I could not understand how people would get into these FTF (friends that f..) situations.  At that time, it seemed to me that people were wasting their time and possibly closing off opportunities to actually find Mr. or Mrs. Right.  But of course, that presumed that everyone was on a mission to meet his/her soul mate, and I obviously now realize that is not the case for many, who find the very idea of just one "soul mate" to be a ridiculous Hollywood concept-- makes for great movies, but doesn't accurately reflect real life.

With age, and experience, I have mellowed over the last 10 years.  I now see that at different stages in life people need/want different things.  Who are we to pass judgment on another person's life choices?  As long as they don't cross any legal boundaries, I say live and let live.  But if you are going establish a Friends with Benefits arrangement, you need to have an honest discussion with each other to make sure it is a mutually beneficial relationship-- in other words, make sure you are on the same page before you embark on this venture.

Here are a few topics I think should be covered when creating an FTF arrangement:

1. Are you going to leave it open about posting things on FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc?
2. Are you okay with PDA (public displays of affection)?
3. Have you both been tested/treated for any STDs?
4. What kind of birth control are you going to use?
5. In case of any accidents, how do you feel about an abortion?
6. How many other partners, if any, are you going to have in the mix?
7. What things are off limits to you?
8. Are you okay with a last minute booty call text?
9. Do you require follow up the next day?
10. Do you expect to go out on dates, or just screw?
11. Do you expect to sleep over, or do you like sleeping in your own bed at night?
12. Are you going to leave stuff behind- toothbrush, change of clothes?
13. Do you have an expectation re the frequency of your encounters?
14. Why is it that you are both open to this arrangement?

These are all important questions to cover-- and the last one to me is super important.  Usually, someone is focused on other things or has been through a bad break up and isn't ready to commit to anything other than an FTF situation.  Just be cognizant of each other's emotional state, and try to be sensitive to the fact that overtime this relationship will morph.  It is quite possible that someone may develop greater feelings for the other and want more, or that the other person's interest wanes overtime.  It is normal to attach to someone that you are having an intimate relationship with, and if you don't share those feelings, you need to be honest and nip that situation in the bud before it spirals out of control.

As long as you are not using or misleading anyone, I say you create whatever works for you in your own life.  Just get the tough questions out there in the beginning so you are all on the same page, be safe, and have some fun!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

5 Steps to Help Cast Out Evil Spirits

My grandmother was a very spiritual person, and she definitely believed in evil spirits.  When I left home at 14 to go to boarding school, I'll admit I forgot some of the lessons she passed on to me, mainly because in those ivory towers, I was shielded from many of the harsh realities of life.  But after a decade of living in my beautiful Utopia, I was sent back off into the real world, armed with an incredible amount of knowledge and my pen as my sword to go fight in the legal arena.  Admittedly, in the beginning I enjoyed the brawls, and many of my colleagues probably remember the victory dance that I'd engage in after a blood bath where I'd annihilated my enemy.  Those were the days... NOT my glory days, but rather the days when the dark side almost got the best of me.

Giving the gift of life to another brought on a new set of responsibilities, and changed my view about the world.  I began to re-think the values I wished to instill upon this newborn warrior-- and I do mean to use the word warrior because the last 15 years I have seen a very sinister side of humanity, which has convinced me that my grandmother, who lived to the ripe old age of 97, indeed had it right-- there are evil spirits in this world.  And yet, she managed to cast them out of her life, so I know it can be done, and here is how:

1- Cast out the demons within you.  It turns out facing our own demons is far scarier than any outside threats I'd ever encountered.  Working through painful issues from the past is never easy, but  the only way out of the rabbit hole is by going through it.  When you come out on the other end, you will be amazed at your strength-- and the inner peace that you find you will guard dearly.

2- Show gratitude every day.  You don't have to necessarily pray the way my grandmother did every day, but you should develop some sort of daily ritual where you give thanks for things we often take for granted like food, shelter, family, friends, and life itself. If you adopt this minimalist attitude, soon everything extra will seem like a bonus.

3- Words of Affirmation. Make sure you affirm yourself every morning as you start your day-- no one else may do this for you, but you won't even crave external validation if you can do this for yourself.  Pick 3 short phrases that will trigger happy thoughts in you.  Mine are usually these: I am safe; I am smart; I am loved.  This becomes like a shield so that no matter what happens during the day, I know that I am physcially safe, capable, and not alone.

4- Find a Secret Weapon.  No, I'm not talking about concealing a loaded gun or anything like that-- I mean find something symbolic that will give you strength in a time of need.  For example, depending on what I am facing, I may wear a heart necklace that was given to me on my wedding day, or a guardian angel that my dad gave me, or a cross bracelet that my brother gave me-- this way they are with me when facing any challenge.  Loved ones are our greatest source of strength, and their gifts often serve as wonderful reminders of that power.

5- Trust Your Inner Voice.  When your gut tells you to avoid something, listen to your instincts.  Nature has hard-wired us to avoid danger, and when the universe is sending you all sorts of signals that something is wrong, don't ignore those signs. This skill is especially key with what I call shape-changers-- the type that initially present as decent human beings, and then morph over time into something entirely different.

I used to think my grandmother was reading the Bible a little too literally, but now I've come to appreciate her viewpoint a bit more.  We are all surrounded by people that have not managed to conquer their own demons, and if left unchecked, their spirits will become corrupt.  These negative forces can become like a dark cloud that blocks the sunlight in your own life.  Do not let them invade your space, but rather cast these spirits out-- understand that you cannot tame them, however, you can control who gains access to your world.  You are your own gatekeeper, so grant access wisely, and allow yourself to bask in the beauty of the sun.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Standing Up to Bullies

Every single week I seem to have to deal with bullies-- not the school yard type, although I'm  sure it probably started back then, but I mean the grown up version that like to make threats as a sick way of feeling in control or powerful.  You can't let their threats scare you-- although of course, you have to be careful and protect yourself, but to give in to their demands just empowers them further.  For every inch you give, they will take a mile, so if there is one thing I can tell you unequivocably, it is this: DO NOT CAVE IN. 

Whether you win or lose against a bully doesn't matter as much as the fact that you stand up and fight.  This is the same advice I would give to a child just as much as I would to an adult, perhaps much to the chagrin of some school counselors out there, but my point is that sooner rather than later in life you have to make it clear that you will not be anyone's doormat.  For me this defining moment occured at the age of 8, when I confronted my first adult male bully.  This is how I know it can be done early on, and your size doesn't matter, it is your fiesty spirit that will allow you to confront a bully of any age and size.

I understand that some people may lack my resolve, which is why people often hire an attorney to fight their battles.  Obviously, I don't have a problem doing that for you, but I so wish you would all just empower yourselves a bit more.  To help you, let me share a philosophy that someone shared with me: in this world, their are 2 types of people-- those that screw with others, and those that let themselves get screwed.  If you just go with this for a minute, then answer this question: of the two choices, which would you want to be?  The answer should be obvious.

Throughout my 15 years as a matrimonial attorney, I have seen people at their worst.  I can only hope these people move on to a better place in life after I'm done amputating the part of their life that is no longer functioning for them.  But while they are in crisis mode, I often get people that want to treat me like a crutch or use me as a punching bag.  I make it very clear from the beginning that I am neither one of those things.  I have no doubt they may try to do that with others around them, and for your own sanity, I am begging you to not allow this to happen.  Set your boundaries, don't let down your guard, and remove yourself from unhealthy relationships.

Everyone is entitled receive love, but before you can truly love another, you have to love yourself.  Sticking around sick people is undoubtedly going to make you sick-- this is scientifically proven.  Stress causes disease, and there are certain personalities that unfortuantely have a knack for creating stress in not just their lives, but the lives of all those around them.  There are drama queens, narcissists and borderlines with severe attachment issues.  These people lack insight into their own actions and rarely can empathize with those around them.  They tend to accumulate problems, and they fail to understand that their problems are not everyone else's problems.  When you encounter these types, you need to stand up for yourself-- and if you lack the strength, get help.  Help is out there!   

Some people have the flee instinct when faced with threats; litigators do not.  Many, who just want the nightmare to end, want to walk away from certain rights, including in my experience child support, custody, property rights, or alimony just to be rid of an individual that is harassing or berating them.  We sometimes call these bullies "tar babies" because no matter how hard you try to make them go away, they stick to you.  We are used to tar babies, and a good lawyer should be able to help you develop some coping techniques, at least while you wait out the litigation in the case.  Meanwhile, a good therapist/ counselor will provide you with greater tips for managing these people later in life, long after the court case is over.  You need both if you have allowed a tar baby into your world.

While I prefer to mediate and facilitate dialogue between parties, I do recognize that 20% of our population is made up of these high conflict personalities, and unfortunately, these types often believe that they are above the law, or I guess they fashion themselves as little dictators, who think they can act as the judge, jury and executioner.  They are black and white thinkers or think they are always "right" and everyone else is just "wrong."  They are "good" and those that don't agree with them are just "bad."  They cannot embrace the world of gray that I live in, and clearly don't get that we are in the USA, which believes in a balance of power.  I try to remind myself of their severe deficiencies regularly in order to feel some sympathy towards them instead of anger.  Do whatever you need to do to avoid anger, because it will only cloud your judgment, infect your soul, and it is the the last thing you need when trying to escape them.

I used to think that we all mellowed with age, but sadly I have learned that some people just grow nastier and bitter with old age.  Enough blows I suppose, and a person can truly become a FUBAR.  Most will not be able to handle a legal situation with one of these individuals, and in fact you may need a whole team by your side-- emotional, financial and legal assistance are all imperative when battling with HCPs (high conflict personalities).  A good team of experts will help you focus on the big picture and winning the overall war, while HCPs often cannot see that-- they are too busy relishing each little "win" they think they've accomplished.  They fail to see the devastation around them, and this is why even when these jerks do succeed in court, they are baffled by their overall failure in the game of life. 

Throughout the years, I have found great safety and comfort in my legal world, where we have developed an elaborate set of rules that try to maintain decorum and predictabilty throughout a legal battle.  We pride ourselves on civility, which makes sense since the law was created to maintain a basic level of peace within our society.  However, I have come to understand that this is not everyone's world, and in real life there are bullies that don't abide by any rules.   Whatever you do, don't try to negotiate with these sickos while you are under duress. Get yourself to a safe place fast.  That is priority number one, and don't let yourself get down because you retreated-- we all have to do that at times in order to re-think our strategy.  Each day, you will grow stronger and calmer, and you will eventually find a way to stand your ground. Believe in yourself, and just remember this: whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

As long as you don't let the bully kill you, standing up to him/her will bring you this amazing source of strength-- this I know to be true, for it is exactly what happened to me all those years ago as a child. 32 years later, I have managed to piece it all together, and if you want to know why I don't suffer fools well, you just need to go talk to that little 8 year old girl that has stood by me through every single challenge and remains a  huge part of my life.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The True Color of Money

When I see green, I think of plants and natural life, but when money discussions come up, all I seem to be surrounded by are people either out for blood using their lawyers as hired guns, or wanting to die by ingesting all sorts of crap into their system that obviously isn't doing a good enough job of numbing their pain, but will surely kill them one of these days.  Suffice to say, these last 15 years, I have seen a very dark part of our society, and in my humble opinion the true color of money should be red to symbolize the fiery hell it is creating here on Earth.

For 25 years, I have been observing the rich and famous, ever since they granted me access to their world when I was shipped off to an elite boarding school through a scholarship program for gifted but underprivileged NYC youth.  This is why I don't have the typical immigrant mentality, which focuses on survival.  I grew up with old-money values: (1) don't flaunt your wealth, (2) pursue something you are passionate about, and (3) give something back to society.  The problem is that these old-money values are increasingly rare to find in a technologically advanced world obsessed with instant gratification.

The tragedies that hit our headlines every day, the most recent one being Corey Monteith's overdose, may puzzle many, but not me.  How brilliant people like Whitney Houston or Amy Winehouse, who should feel on top of the world, can come crashing down and wind up dead well before their time should be up is not a mystery at all- having money and fame is both a blessing and a curse.  Being able to hold competing emotions is difficult, and withstanding the daily scrutiny of the pulic eye requires nerves of steel and great discipline-- a trait noveau riche often lack.

It seems that fortune without the fame is the best case scenario, and fame without fortune we can all agree just sucks.  These days, however, most top dogs don't have the luxury of great fortune while preserving their anonimity,  so these rich and famous types are constantly plagued by one incredibly fundamental and perplexing question: are people spending time with them because they genuinely enjoy their company or because they like the fringe benefits that come with hanging with that person?  It is so hard to understand someone's real motives for doing anything, and meanwhile it is so easy to be cynical these days...

In addition to wondering every day whether people just like you for who you are, many also worry about meeting expectations.  Most of us don't like disappointing people, but if you are a super star, you are wired to want to exceed expectations-- and how do you keep doing that all the time?  What happens if you don't meet up to the hype? The higher up you climb, the harder the fall is a very real fear that plagues many on the rise, and sadly, if they did not come from a family of means, those around them won't be able to understand their plight leaving them with immense feelings of disconnect.

Now, even if you come from money, there are still tremendous pressures for you to further the family fortune.  Why?  Because (1) you come from "good genes" and (2) you have been afforded every opportunity possible to promote success.  The problem is coming from a "good family" doesn't guarantee the genius gene, and with expectations set so high, many will rebel against all the pressure to perform as well if not better than their ancestors. "What does it all matter?" is a common question among the offspring of the well-off.  Of course, they have the luxury of a huge safety net, regardless of poor grades, addiction issues, or just a total lack of ambition.  They delve into recreational drug use and random hook ups at an early age just to dull the pain and pass the time.  If this goes unchecked, these habits will cause major problems throughout their lives.

To engage in a life of hedonism or remain the perpetual student contemplating lofty ideals has always been a privilege of the aristocratic class.  Meanwhile, those of us who come from nothing have always had to work hard, often with little recognition or true monetary reward.  Ironically,it can almost better to be born poor-- because when you come from nothing, there are very few expectations imposed on you at an early age.  As long as you don't wind up in jail, doing drugs, on or welfare, you are considered a success story.   More importantly, perhaps it is precisely the belief that we have nothing to lose, that prevents us from worrying about failure. 

It is probably true that because I did not grow up with money, I place little value on it-- but I don't see that as a negative.  Instead, I learned to value wealth in terms of education, experiences, and those connections you have in your life.  Not everyone shares this view, and I know a lot of my friends are baffled by the fact that many of my endeavors are not for profit.  But if you could see what I've seen now that I've stepped off the treadmill and taken a good look at those around me who are still in the rat race, maybe you would understand-- money does not buy everything.

Money puts a huge strain on family ties, and it corrupts people that become obsessed with it.  Throughout the ages it has caused so much resentment between the haves and have-nots, and while I get it, I don't think those in the latter category truly understand how life is not a panacea for those with means-- they have a completely different set of issues, but no easier to bear than those in the have-not category.  They suffer heart-ache just like everyone else, and this I know for a fact because it has been my job over all these years to unravel their bad break-ups.

Those that fall into money are often shocked to learn that money does not solve all problems, and in fact, often it can compound them.  It will never buy you love, but it can buy you a ticket straight to hell if you let it kill your soul.  The plain truth is this: a rich bank account does not necessarily equal a rich life. Believe me, I have met many throughout the past few decades with significant "net worth" and yet a totally depraved human existence. 

So in the end, I hope you will all pursue your dreams, and that you obtain the fortunes you want-- however you choose to define that-- but always remember you get to define wealth within your life.  Don't worry about what others have-- you have no idea what it is that they are lacking.  Just focus on your own mission and goals, and don't ever lose sight of the true color of money.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Is College Worth All That?

In this month's Money Magazine there is a whole article about "Does College Still Pay Off?" and many other journals have been asking similar questions, especially with law school and the dearth of jobs for recent grads.  As many parents struggle right now to justify their expenses, and brace themselves for the departure of their kids heading off to college or grad schools next month, let me just weigh in on this timely issue with a few additional thoughts that may not be getting coverage in the press.

First of all, between the ages of 18-25 a young mind is aborbing information like a sponge.  These are formative years in brain development-- and the time to maximize on learning potential is early on, not later in life.  During this time, we are given the tools that we will need to think critically and be analytical.  Learning from the great minds and masters of various subjects is how we build the future leaders of our country.  They will have the rest of their lives to focus on work, but this very narrow window of time to finish honing in on key skills that will serve them the rest of their lives.

Second, aside from measuring the return of your investment in dollars, how about taking into account certain intangibles that cannot be quantified?  How could you possibly measure the value a family gains by feeling proud that one of their clan members has graduated college?  How do you put a price tag on the sense of accomplishment one feels when fulfilling a dream?  How can you begin to ascertain the extended benefit others will derive in our community by having a well-educated, well-grounded citizen within our midst?

Third, for those that like to focus on numbers, it is well documented that on average college grads will earn 50% more than those without a bachelor's degree, and that those unskilled labor jobs are dying out fast. While we sit here in DC arguing about whether to pass a new living wage law, many of us are dumbfounded that anyone here can even survive earning less than $15/hour.

$200,000 seemed like a lot of money to invest 20 years ago, and it is still a lot of money today no doubt, but if I really question the return of my investment in college and law school, the fact is over the last 15 years as a lawyer in DC, I have more than realized the economic return on that investment, not even taking into account the amazing friendships, networking contacts and life opportunties that my alma maters have afforded me over all these years.  Honestly, I could not put a dollar value on all the joy that I have derived as a result of my education.

I do realize that times have changed, and my post-high school education today would cost someone over $300,000; meanwhile the job market for lawyers is very different from what it was a decade ago, so these decisions should not be made lightly, however, I believe most economists agree that a $100,000 investment in a 4-year degree at an in-state college rate is a no-brainer when you look at the return (based just on potential income) over the life of the individual.  The only thing we all need to be cautious about are those super pricey schools and the amount of debt you are taking on to justify those inflated sticker prices.  As long as you are smart with your money, you'll be fine.

So, is college worth all that?  Absolutely-- all that, and a bag of chips! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Will We Do With Domestic Partnerships?

Recently, someone was trying to claim the existence of a domestic partnership, even though the parties had not lived together very long and the other person denied any intent to create a domestic partnership.  Suffice to say, at times like this I appreciate how clear and precise the law likes to be, which is why we have committees that work out the definitions of all sorts of things, including a domestic partner.  Most states (and insurance companies) require the couple to live together for at least 6-12 months, and often there is a registration process.  They will also want proof of your joint residency and that you rely on one another, not just for love, but also financial support-- so a joint bank statement or loan documents, as well as evidence of having each other designated in the other's will, power of attorney, etc.  If you want to make sure you cover all the bases, it is best to consult with a family law attorney in your area.

Originally, many states created domestic partnerships to try and provide some rights (like insurance benefits) to gay partners that could not be legally married in that state, but in other states this could apply to heterosexual couples as well.  Now that DOMA has been repealed so that our federal government will have to recognize gay marriages, more states will surely follow suit-- if for no other reason than to keep things clear and simple.  This then begs the question- what will happen to domestic partnerships?  I'm hoping more states will open up this option to heterosexual couples, and that perhaps we can all enjoy this as a "Marriage-Lite" alternative that will enable couples to recognize their commitment legally, without risking full financial exposure in the event things don't work out.

For those that may never want to get married again and risk full financial exposure in the event of a divorce, I kind of like the idea of being able to legally recognize that you are in a long-term, loving and committed relationship for purposes of deriving certain benefits, but without opening yourself up to a fight over marital assets or alimony.  If you are done having kids, and are over the age of 40 with assets, I think this may be a nice way to commit-- without over-extending yourself or needing a prenup.  This marriage-lite option, which is quite popular in Europe, is really under-utilized here in the US-- especially by heterosexual couples, and it's something  I am really warming up to these days!  Only time will tell if America agrees with me. :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

What Qualifies for An Annulment?

This question keeps coming up-- as if people expect me to be able to hand them an eraser so they can just wipe away the need for an involved legal process that requires at least six months to one year of a physicial separation, depending on the jurisidiction, before they can actually file for a divorce and have the courts recognize the dissolution of their marriage.

People are stunned to learn that although it is rather easy to tie the knot, it is not that easy to get divorced.  Trying to avoid the whole process by claiming there was never a valid marriage is clever-- but shrewdness alone will not get you an annulment.  Again, depending on the laws of each state, you often have to prove the following:

1. Marriage was entered into under fraud;
2. Your parnter did not disclose some material fact-- like a criminal history, impotence, or STDs;
3. One party lacked the mental capacity to knowingly enter into the marriage;
4.  You were related by blood;
5. You got married under duress, in other words, threats were used to coerce you to enter Into marriage;
6. One party was already married, without having obtained a divorce, and therefore was ineligible to marry another.
Annulments are hard to prove, which is why so few people ever file for them.  You also need to do a cost/benefit analysis-- there are many emotional reasons, especially if children are involved, why someone would never cooperate with an annulment but will gladly sign a Separation Agreement and permit a party to proceed with an uncontested divorce. 

We all have moments from our past that we wish we could erase, but in the legal world, we don't take kindly to that-- so go ahead and purge everything (once the legal paper work is done)  that may remind you of this unfortunate part of your life, just don't get your hopes up that the courts will help you void out a marriage so easily.  We make it easy to say "I do," but not to say, "I'm done."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

5 Tips for Engaged Couples

Summer love is in full swing, especially with some great tunes!  Personally, I am digging Taylor Swift's break up song, as I walk around feeling like I'm "22" and navigating some seriously "Blurred Lines."  Many are probably dancing until the crack of dawn out to "Get Lucky" and looking for that "Ooh-la-la."  But, if you have managed to get past all of this and decided to tie the knot, you are now playing in a whole different ballpark.  You are less focused on which parties to attend and more focused on hosting the biggest event of your life.  Excited yet nervous at the same time, you have some major issues to work out with your significant other.  After 15 years of helping couples with their prenups, and sharing my words of wisdom as a matrimonial lawyer on things to avoid, here are my top 5 tips:

1. Talk about finances- you may not want to do a prenup, but at least have the discussion about (a)what you think should be kept separate, (b) what you consider to be joint, and (c) how you will handle the household budget.  If you are willing to memorialize this in a prenup, even better.  These do not cost a lot of money and buy you a tremendous peace of mind.  In the meantime, if you feel overwhelmed by money talks or find that the two parties have vastly different views on spending vs. saving, go meet with a financial planner.  On a more pratical and immediate level, however, you need to set a realistic wedding and honeymoon budget.  These are not minor or easy discussions, and they often involve other family members, so these can be fairly sensitive discussions-- better to get these out of the way sooner rather than later under incredibly calm (preferrably sober) circumstances.  .

2. Premarital counseling- This is totally different from couples counseling that you seek when things are already breaking down-- if you are there, that is NOT a good sign.  What I am talking about is a pro-active effort to get some professional advice on strategies that will enhance your relationship.  Many religious institutions offer courses, and there are some great on-line resources or workshops for couples, just one weekend if you like, where you can have a facilitated dialogue about how you envision your partnership working.  What is important to you in a spouse?  What are that person's needs and desires?  Do you share the same core values and vision for the future?  How can you ensure that you continue to communicate well?  Can you establish some rules for resolving conflict? A quick workbook that you can purchase to help you with these discussions is "Focus on Forever," which is available at

3. Learn Your Love Languages- Dr. Chapman wrote an entire book about this, but you also go to his website and take a 4 minute quiz to determine your love languages.  Rarely do we pick a partner with the same love language as ours, so you need to learn to use theirs and appreciate when they are expressing love in their own language.  For example, mine is Quality Time- you will know that I love you if I make time for you, and similarly I will know that you love me if you make time for me.  If I am paired up with someone who needs Words of Affirmation, I am going to have to make a serious effort to praise that person.

4. Build Your House- I'm not suggesting you literally go buy a bunch of bricks, but you need to work on your emotional foundation every day.  Don't take each other for granted-- just because you put a ring on someone's finger, does not mean you have purchased them.  Dr. Gottman talks about building on your friendship, which is your foundation, and working through your conflict resolution skills by avoiding the four dark horsemen.  (Get his book: Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work).  With trust and respect as your two pillars, you can slap that roof on top and work on nuturing your dreams and aspirations together.

5. Set Boundaries- Dr. Cloud wrote a great book, "Boundaries in Marriage," which explains the need for us to remain true to ourselves while forming a partnership.  You don't actually become one, you remain two separate individuals that are now overlaping in large areas of your life.  To make this union work, you have to know and respect each other's boundaries.  For example, my work and my son are top priorities in my life, and these are fully my own domain.  If anyone ever tried to undermine either of these two aspects of my life, they would at the speed of light see me bail.  It is okay to have a zero tolerance policy on certain things like drugs, adultery, smoking, anger management issues... the point is that Mr. or Mrs. Right will know how to walk that line.

Not everyone will be able to successfully negotiate all the details of merging two households, and that's totally okay-- better to find out sooner rather than later, trust me on that one!  This is why I would recommend at least a nine-month engagement period, and there really is no better way of knowing someone than when you live with them.  While doing so, pay attention to your feelings, and how others around you perceive the whole situation.  Is everyone around you supportive, or are they expressing concern?  Are you happy, or are you dreading each and every decision that needs to be made?  Don't ignore your gut-- your instincts are there to protect you.  If you need more time to sort things out, someone that loves you will understand and will not try to pressure you.  Don't let anyone rush you or try to guilt you into doing something you are not ready to do- ever.

I have talked with a lot of people that have called off engagements-- both on a professional and personal level.  Not a single one has ever regretted that decision.  Meanwhile, over the years I have had to counsel over 1,000 people going through a divorce, and every single one that ignorned the signs has regretted lacking the courage to call it quits before the big day.

The reason it is such a big day is precisely because marriage is not easy-- it is hard work, and you need to take your time to find the right partner that is not just your "ooh la la," but also your rock.  Finding someone to have fun with is rather easy, but when you come across someone you can trust and respect and grow with--now that is a challenge.  You need someone that you can not just build a house with, but a life together-- that requires loyalty, and a commitment to working things out and never taking each other for granted.  Without these sentiments, the ring, the house, the big party are all meaningless.

So, to those of you that have managed to find that meaningful someone, I send you my heartfelt congrats!  I know the journey was not easy, and is probably littered with discarded frogs along the way, but now you are about to close that chapter and start a new life, which is a huge cause for celebration-- just remember my 5 tips and have a blast!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Savor Those Home-Runs!

No I am not talking about sex today, although don't get me wrong you should savor those home runs.  But using baseball as an analogy for life, we all have days where we feel like we're up at bat, not quite sure that we'll properly hit the balls being thrown at us from various angles, and then every so often (hopefully) you have one of those days or weeks where you just feel like Bryce Harper-- your bat is not just making contact with the ball and scoring singles or doubles, but you are literally knocking that ball out of the park with the bases fully loaded.  Well, this was one of those weeks for me.

It is rare to have a day where everything goes right, so usually I am just happy with a balanced day-- some good, some bad, as long as it all evens out in the end.  Over the years, I have just learned that when you are pulled in a million different directions, it's just not possible to be going at 100% in all the areas of life, but I try to keep in mind that 90% is still an A.  It was not easy to let go of some over-achiever tendencies until recently, but those of us in our 40's juggling work and home life with young kids have to recognize that we can't keep running with all the cylinders at full blast-- you can try, and you will most likely kill yourself or burn out.

So my week started with the request to comment on Tuesday's show for Good Morning America, which thankfully was well-received.  Then I took one day off to attend camp with my son.  To be honest, I was a bit nervous about spending Parent's Day at his summer camp-- you never know how kids will react to you, and you never want to embarass your child.  Luckily, they all seemed to like me-- especially after gymnastics hour, where I somehow managed to pull off some old tricks.  After 20 years, who knew I still had that in me?  Luckily, no videos exist of the moment, so there will be no Youtube videos going viral. :)

The fact that I could get the rest of my work done for my clients, plus plan the children's book launch, and make time to have dinner with friends and my brother 4 nights this week was a total bonus.   So what is the likelihood that I'll have another week like this any time soon?  SLIM.  This is why you need to savor these moments-- and don't let anyone rain on your parade.  Block out those negative forces and enjoy your MVP of the week experience-- oh yeah, and if you can schedule time to also hit a home run in the other sense too, now that is a real bonus.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Serenity Prayer for Divorcing Couples

Alcoholics Anonymous has made this serenity prayer famous: Grant me the ability to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  I wish divorcing couples (and their attorneys) would embrace this as their mantra.

Every day I see people totally lose it.  It is a bit like having someone pee on my carpet, and then I'm left with a mop to try and clean it up.  As a matrimonial attorney for over 15 years, I have become an expert at damage control, yet as I work my magic I often ask myself that famous line from Forrest Gump, "are you crazy or just plain stupid?"

Honestly, few people in DC are stupid; in fact we have one of the most densely populated areas of highly educated individuals, and yet some of the most brilliant professionals I have ever met do insane things in their personal lives.  Why?  Simple- because they are realizing that things are completely outside of their control.  There is nothing more disturbing to a control-freak than the moment when they are forced to reckon with the fact that they can't control everything or everyone around them.

As I watch the chaos around me, it all becomes a bit surreal-- kind of like a Matrix moment, where somehow I find a way to just hit pause in the movie, and while everyone else around me is frozen, I allow myself to laugh at the absurdity of it all and think through some options calmly.  Unfortunately, not everyone has this ability, including some of the attorneys involved, and so perhaps we should just recap some main points that people need to remember in a divorce:

1. You will no longer be able to know at every moment where your children are or what they are doing with the other parent;

2. You will no longer be able to know your spouse's every whereabouts, who they socialize with, or  how much they earn or spend each week;

3. You will no longer be able to get an immediate response to a call, email or text-- you are separating and therefore you no longer will rank at the top;

4. You will no longer be able to make demands of the other person-- if you want their cooperation, you need to play nice.  A positive attitude will usually receive positive reinforcement whereas a negative attitude will rarely get you anything other than venom.

The sooner you can accept these 4 basic facts and try to live by the Golden Rule of treating others the way you want to be treated, you will be well on your path to creating a dignified post-divorce life.  Letting go of control is not easy for many, but ironically the more you are able to master that skill, the more you gain control of yourself and your emotions.  If you think of emotions as full of energy, just find a way to channel that energy productively rather than in destructive ways.

Embrace that serenity prayer-- we simply cannot control the chaos around us, just our own actions. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Divorce Financing- A New Trend?

The crash of the housing boom has been felt by everyone-- trust me, I see it every day.  People used to just sell their homes, split the proceeds and go their separate ways with a nice chunk of change.  Not so much the last couple of years as people have seen their home values take a dive, leaving many with homes under water.  In a divorce, this issue is further exacerbated by the fact that few still have Lines of Credit or Home Equity Lines that they can borrow against to help pay their legal fees.  So what are people that need legal assistance supposed to do in order to pay for desperately needed legal services?  They need to borrow cash-- at least $20,000 on the low end for a litigated case, and as much as $400,000 depending on the complexity of the issues and assets at stake.

Today, on Good Morning America we will be talking about a growing trend in the US-- obtaining a loan through a divorce finance company to assist not just with legal fees, but also living expenses until the divorce is finalized and the assets are distributed.  Nicole Noonan, who is a former New York matrimonial attorney, and is now director of client services at BBL Churchill Group, will be featured on GMA for her efforts to assist women that are short on cash re-gain some bargaining power through the short-term loans her company can provide them.  This is an incredible solution to a problem I've been grappling with the last 15 years as a divorce attorney in DC.  Here is why:

1. Credit cards- Many have already maxed out their limits, or perhaps they have no credit of their own and have been cut off from their spouse's cards, so often these are not an option.  If it is an option, it is often at a very high rate of 18% or more.  That is a really steep price to pay.

2. Family & Friends- Few are in a position to really lend much money, but even so you need these people for emotional support and that is worth its weight in gold.  Borrowing money from them is going to put an added strain on your relationship with this core group of people that you will need to get you through this tough transition period in your life.

3. Retirement Funds- If you raid your IRA or 401(k) to pay for legal fees, you will most likely have to pay taxes and penalities if you are withdrawing the money early, and before you consider this option, you really need to talk to a financial advisor and weigh the pros and cons very carefully.  Furthermore, in many states you are not supposed to raid a marital asset during the divorce process, so this may not even be an option, so you need to check with an attorney before you do anything rash.

Matrimonial attorneys are not allowed to take cases on a contingency-- there are ethical rules that prevent us from doing this, and there is no greater strain to the attorney/client relationship than the issue of financing litigation.  High conflict cases can be very pricey-- experts, subpeonas, depositions, custody evaluations, court appearances all add up quickly.  There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to execute certain strategies because your client cannot afford them, but the fact is if you are going to war, you need to have a war chest. 

Kudos to Ms. Noonan and BBL Churchill Group for coming up with a wonderful alternative that restores some balance in the negotiation process for couples divorcing and helps preserve the attorney-client relationship!     

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independance Day for Alpha Females

As I celebrate this Independance Day with my son in our nation's capitol, there is just so much that I am grateful for, especially in terms of the free will I have been afforded in my life.  By being born in this country, and then having been given the gift of an amazing education, today I am able to be the master of my own domain beyond what I ever could have imagined 20 years ago while backpacking through Europe by myself.

The summer of 1993, after I finished my studies in Spain, I decided to travel a bit on my own.  I was surrounded by so much beauty, and because I was alone, I was able to wake up when I wanted to, eat when I was hungry, see whatever I wanted to see or skip whatever did not interest me, and set my own itinerary each and every day.  Looking back 20 years later, it all makes so much sense now-- I have always been a strong and independant soul.  So when you fast forward to the present, it really isn't that surprising to find that I run my own business, where I take the cases I want and turn away those that I don't think will be a good fit.  In the meantime, I develop my own tv programs and manage my own independant projects, like my lectures or the children's book that will be released next month, all while also running my own tight ship at home. 

As one of my college friends, a former special ops guy, recently pointed out to me-- I am the epidemy of the alpha female.  Yes, well, we are a special breed, and I am not going to lie-- to survive, you are going to have to embrace solitude.  By that, I do not mean that you have to live alone forever or feel lonely.  But the fact is those with beauty and brains don't really need to compromise much, and we don't suffer fools well.  So, you need to be okay with just doing your own thing and finding your own fun.  Enjoy the freedom that you have in life, and don't worry about not having a mate.  People will come and go in your life, and you need to go with the flow when it comes to relationships.  Finding Mr. Right is simply going to take a very long time, so get comfortable with hunting for yourself.  Focus on what you want in life, and go for it!

To be perfectly candid, over the past few years, many of my female friends have done extraordinary things in their careers, and yet struggled in their personal lives-- especially in this search for the right partner.  Some have opted to freeze their eggs in order to stop the clock, and buy themselves more time with respect to the choice of raising a family either alone or with the right guy, should he ever miraculously appear.  Being able to skip some of these tough decisions, I feel quite fortunate for I have already walked down that aisle once and played princess for the day.  I have my son, and his dad is incredibly supportive of my endeavors.  As sad as it is that our marriage didn't last, we are good co-parents, and all this definitely helps me move forward with zero regrets.

At this point in my life, I have lost count of how many people have told me I have a brass set.  If you have heard this a few times in your life too, then chances are you are also an alpha female-- and that is a term I embrace with pride.  There is nothing wrong with being assertive (and there is a big difference between that and being aggressive), strong (without being over-bearing) and having direction (as long as you don't lose your moral compass).  Just remember that with great power comes great responsibility, and I am a firm believer that women need to help other women-- and as Madeline Albright said, there should be a special place in hell for those that don't.

Alpha females--today and always, celebrate your independance!  Proceed full force in pursuit of your wildest dreams.  Go foward with all your missions, and just try keep an open mind if a suitable guy comes along that will be supportive of your dreams.  It won't be any run of the mill kind of guy, so perhaps you need to post this warning: Alpha Female- ISO Man with a Matching Brass Set. :)