: Divorcees

Finding Your New Normal

Hello everyone:

When I talk to divorcees and widows, one of the first things we talk about is finding out what we all want to be when we grow up. That would be, by the way, a very good thing to do right now.

Your life has changed. No matter how you wish you could hit the “rewind button” (remember the days of video tapes and Blockbuster Video stores?), it’snot going to happen. Maybe you are glad that there isn’t a rewind button on life. Sometimes, things can get so hectic you might think you are stuck on fast-forward. Okay, I’m dating myself here, to admit I remember these two speeds but they did occur on cassette tapes and VHS tapes. Blockbuster used to have big signs that they were going to charge you through the nose if you didn’t rewind before you returned one of their products. But I digress.

So, where are you now? I was just thinking about that today. Where we are now can be really, really exciting. I hope you see things that way. It’s rather like finding the glass is half full, not half empty.

Think about where you live now. It’s not the place you used to be, but I was reminded of the Code of Ethics I used to recite for many years as a Home Interiors and Gifts displayer. It said, in part, the following:

We believe the home should be a haven, a place of peace, a place of harmony, and a place of beauty.

What a lovely thought! No matter where you are in life, don’t you want your home to be a reflection of those very things: a haven, peaceful, harmonious, and beautiful. It can be. Just look and see who’s there. You. God. It doesn’t get better than that, for now.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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What If Life Gives You Lemons and You Don’t Like Lemonade?

Hello everyone:

Now, I am the first person to order diet lemonade at Chic-Fil-A. But what if you don’t like it and life’s lemons turn out poorly? What’s a person to do?

Well, folks, that sometimes happens. My first question is: What are you doing with lemons if you don’t like lemonade? You know, sometimes things don’t turn out like you and I plan and maybe you really hate lemonade, but there are plenty more things you can do with lemons that have let you down.

There are lemon bars with confectioner’s sugar, lemon meringue pie, lemon cake, or as a substitute for onions and garlic. Just ask Martha Stewart, who offers 20 different lemon recipes online.

Now, my well-ordered world was shaken pretty substantially during the end of 2018 and most of 2019, but I have come through it and you can, too. This is a new year with new beginnings and new goals (if you set them). How can you be a blessing to others? How can you reach out to someone who is having a difficult time?

When I first moved to Virginia, I only knew a few people. Those folks made the transition, which was difficult, so much smoother. There were things I would have preferred to skip but they have led to a new life that is very rewarding. Be encouraged as the new year begins. If I did it, you can too.

Who knows? You may find that the plans you had for those lemons are better stirred into a different recipe.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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All Moving Companies are Not Created Equal (or Equally, if You Prefer)

Hello everyone:

Okay, so I’ve moved a few times. Twenty-seven to be exact. You think I would be pretty good at it, and you are right, more or less.

I have worked with two professional moving companies in the past year and would like to share some insight into the topic at hand: the difference between the good guys and the bad guys (please understand that the good guys have women working for them, and very capably, I might add).

The good guys, who I will call JK Movers in Maryland, protected both my hardwood floors and my carpets and they wore booties to further guard against soiling or hurting my flooring. They brought the correct tools for the job, and had a staff that was peopled (I can’t say “manned” because two of the folks were women) with enough trained individuals to handle the job efficiently. My furniture was protected every step along the way. Those folks worked their backsides off and did not even stop for lunch. By the way, they showed up on time, on both ends of the trip. They also cost a small bundle….but let me tell you, compared to the bad guys, they were worth it.

Then there were the bad guys, who shall now and forever be known as Brand X. They really were all guys. Three of them showed up at 10:51, after being scheduled to show up about 9:30-10:00 am. They had to drop off a truck to someone else, they said. Yes, they were very pleasant. Yes, they cost less. They got paid by the hour, so there was time for a vaping break (the dude said he was smoking CBD stuff. That was exciting news. ) You get what you pay for, as the old saying goes.

My floors were not protected in any way. Indeed, the furniture was scrapped across the wood floors, both coming and going. They had to borrow tools from three neighbors (both coming and going), so they could take some of my furniture apart. They had only a sledge hammer and a flat head screwdriver. (I was worried when I saw the sledgehammer.)

I only hope they put my treadmill back together correctly. It does tend to list to the side now. Two pieces of my furniture now have dings and my brand new paint job at the new house has traces of black filing cabinet on it. Oh, one dude tracked mud onto my brand new carpet; that was also exciting.

So, here is the bottom line: If one mover is cheaper than another, there is probably a very good reason for it. Unless you want furniture dinged and floors disrespected, then do not hire the cheapest guys in town. If I had to do it over, I would pay the extra money and pay for the good guys. No question about it. JK Movers, you folks rock.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Buyer Beware or Buyer Be Aware

Hello everyone:

After a month off for moving houses and buying a new one, I have a fount of new information to share with you, my beloved readers. And it deals with the purchase of your home-on-your-own. Even if you have purchased a house or condo as a single before, things have probably changed since the last time you made such a huge purchase. Here are some tips for navigating the new waters of home alone.

When I purchased my new house, little did I know that my seller would take it upon himself to spackle over all of the nail holes in all of the walls. The dear fellow also sanded over his handiwork. And then he left it. Every wall in my new house has huge blotches of white spackling compound on top of the dark brown paint he apparently found attractive, since he used it throughout the house, except where he painted the walls a medium gray.

Well, he was correct in assuming I would repaint. He was incorrect in thinking I planned on doing it before even moving in. But, with the mess he made, it became necessary for my personal sanity to, in the very least, repaint the walls that I would see every day.

Fortunately, I have a new dear friend whose family thrives on remodeling. She and her kinfolk repainted (beautifully, I might add) my entire first floor the most gorgeous shade of light blue with white trim, while I was in Florida visiting my family over the Christmas break. Bless their hearts.

Another interesting tidbit is that I have textured walls. In Florida, they call it “orange peel.” In Virginia, it is simply “textured.” Do you know what happens when you sand textured walls, like my seller did? It removes the texture. This means that your entire wall is textured, except where you sanded it. This makes it necessary to re-texture the wall where it was sanded, unless you are fond of glaring smooth spots on an otherwise textured wall. Not fun, folks.

Did you know that, if you have light fixtures that look like something from Dungeon and Dragons, they shed a yellow light on everything? The really good news is that they are pretty easy to replace with more palatable light fixtures (palatable from a decorating standpoint, that is) AND some consignment shops will sell your old fixtures for you! Don’t throw them away, offer them in the re-sale market. Someone whose taste is more reflective of their design might fall in love with them.

Finally, as a former settlement clerk, I found it fascinating that buyers and sellers do not attend settlement together (at least in Virginia), nor do they see one another’s HUD- 1 settlement sheet. Privacy laws have apparently hit the world of house buying and selling, so don’t expect that you will meet your counterpart, unless you happen to run into one another. The HUD-1 is now a two-part document with only the information appropriate to you in front of you.

If you live in a state where they will meet, you should become concerned if they don’t show up. In Maryland, where our marital home was sold, my real estate agent and I sat for two hours and fifteen minutes before the buyer’s agent called to say the settlement was not going to happen that night. Yeah, fella, we did kinda get the idea that something was wrong when the buyers hadn’t done their walk through yet, after we had already been there for an hour. Make sure that your agent keeps on top of things and that he or she makes phone calls and sends emails and texts, if things look dicey.

Happily, the settlement did happen the next morning but, because of the way things were conducted, we won’t get the proceeds of the house until…whenever. A too-similar event happened with the sale of another property we owned. The buyers had been in the property for a month and a half before the settlement check showed up. Have any divorce papers handy, showing who gets what money. Do not assume that they will automatically split things in half. They have to see certified court documents before the title company can disperse the funds.

Again, stay on top of things as best you can but do not plan that you will have your exit money right away. Plan for the worst while hoping for the best. I hope you found this info helpful!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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So, You’d Better Watch Out…for Pick Pockets

Hello everyone:

Well, my visit to Orlando International Airport did not go as expected yesterday. I went through the TSA checkpoint, got patted down and my britches opened, and then got my university ID card stolen by someone who brushed by me.

I didn’t realize it immediately but, a little while later, I noticed that my university ID card was no longer hanging from my purse. It took a little longer to realize that the person who banged into me, right under the eyes of the TSA, had clipped it off and walked away with it.

I hope the individual enjoys getting into the communication faculty office area because that’s really the only place I am authorized to go. After he or she arrives, the offices in the inner sanctum are locked and the card will only take the person that far. Knock yourself out, thief.

I guess you thought the card was for some big company that had a lot of stuff on computers. Well, in some ways you were right but I don’t have access to that kind of information. Too bad for you.

This did make one thing clear: the importance of being aware of your possessions while traveling. What if that had been my passport? My credit cards? It was quite a bit of time before I realized what had happened and the thief was long gone by then.

I was traveling alone and it really could have been a whole lot worse than my needing to walk across campus tomorrow, to cancel that card and get a new one, after paying $25.00 for the card.

Folks, please be vigilant this holiday season, and all year round. The bad guys (or gals) are out there and they know how to grab and run (or walk). So, you’d better watch out.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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The Car Insurance Blues or How to Spend an Hour and a Half Trying Your Patience

Hello everyone:

Well, it had to happen. That one task that my hubby always did has finally fallen to me. Or perhaps I should say “has fallen on top of me.”

I had to get new car insurance yesterday. Be still my soul! I also had to arrange for some other insurance, for the home I will be living in. This is the tale of that challenge, with the hope that you will be able to steer your way clear of some of the pitfalls that I fell into.

First, make sure you know EVERYTHING about your car. I mean everything. Next, make sure you know everything about your new home.

The car was relatively straightforward, after the agent was certain which car, model, make, year, (and, probably, the birthday of my vehicle). Then we moved on to some “easy” house questions.

What kind of pipes does it have? What kind of shingles? Siding? Roof? Flooring? Walls? Heat? Do you smoke? Do you drink? Do you have a pet? (No, but I have a plant I’m fond of.) Do you have kids? Do you have a pool? (Mister, you’re looking at the Zillow listing for the house- does that tiny backyard look big enough for a pool, other than a little kiddie’s wading pool?) How about a trampoline? (Mister, I confessed how old I am- how old I REALLY am- do you really think I jump around on a backyard trampoline???)

Do you have a washer and dryer? What kind of appliances do you have? How old are they? Where are they? (In the house, thankfully.) Do you have a garage?

How many bedrooms do you have? How many bathrooms? Are they full bathrooms? (You’re looking at Zillow, you tell me….)

I started wondering, one hour into the conversation, if we would ever be finished. Apparently not. It felt like the Spanish Inquisition, minus the blood, guts, and gore…but I digress. We still had a mere twenty minutes to go, though I did not realize it at the time. He kept saying, “Only a few more minutes…”

Do you have a fence? Well, there are three tiny fences around three baby trees. The deer were trying to eat the bark….Oh, you have deer? Well, not personally. He lives in Ohio, so I didn’t tell him about the coyotes in the area. They have been known to eat things- like the dog I don’t own.

Please tell me your tale of insurance woe, so I don’t feel quite so alone….What have you experienced in the world of “Let me bet I’m going to have a tragedy befall me” while the insurance company bets I won’t. Hence their willingness to insure us in the first place.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Planning Ahead to Survive the Holidays

Hi folks:

The holidays will be here before you know it. Thanksgiving is followed very quickly by Christmas. How do the newly-single make it through? Although the focus of this website is usually practical in nature, here is a slight twist on that practicality for you, in the form of making it through the upcoming family-oriented stuff.

First, keep your focus on the point of the holidays: being thankful and celebrating the birth of our Savior. How do you do that? Get involved in something a whole lot bigger than yourself. Do you have any programs at church that will take up a lot of time, will be fun, and will be a blessing to others? Do them.

Yes, I know you are busy. Perhaps you are just making it a day at a time, but “stay local” for a minute. What are you going to do every evening if you don’t do this program? Stay at home and watch endless reruns of HGTV? Yes, I love the shows as much as anyone but do you really need to watch the same couple repeatedly agonize over hardwood versus laminate? A tile back splash in gray versus black? White kitchen cabinets versus brown?

Tarek and Christine’s have post-divorce arguments over the smallest of things. Although I really love the show, the early divorce (aka “Breaking up is Hard to Do”) reruns are the hardest Flip or Flop episodes to watch. And as much as I adore Chip and Joanna, their decorating style is not my taste.

(Now, as far as Hilary Farr and David the real estate guy go, those shows are move-in ready and right in line with my idea of decorating, but there are only so many times the couples can say “Love It” as we watch David get crushed and defeated yet again.)

So what can you do? Audition for a part in a program, if you are so inclined. Offer to paint the sets, fix the food that keeps everyone happy, or volunteer to sew costumes as part of an on-site team. The point here is to get involved. Don’t sit at home and mope about how you are alone and nobody cares. Meet new friends and have some fun. Go for it!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Old Home Week: Memories of an Old Story

Hi everyone:

I was reminded the other day of a story I read in college. It was told from the perspective of a husband who no longer wanted his wife. It seems the fellow had found someone new, someone who excited him, someone who was considerably younger than the wife he had worn out.

He really did care for his longtime wife, as much as was possible. I mean, he wanted no harm to come to her. He simply wanted to move on to a much younger model.

He decided that the kindest thing he could do was to mistreat his wife so that, when his news of their divorce was openly shared, she would be glad to get rid of him. She would shed no tears; that was his plan.

So he set to work. What could he do? Oh, that was easy to come up with. He began to hit her verbally in every area of life that was important to her self respect. He destroyed any vestige of her self esteem. And his plan worked. He watched closely and carefully as the light of love dimmed and finally went out of her eyes. He rejoiced at his success.

The only problem with this story is that I can’t remember what happened next! Can anyone tell me how the story concluded? Also, do you know the name of the story? I’m just curious.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do, even if it’s with Your House

Hello everyone:

Have you ever been in mourning? For a house? That’s what I have faced recently, as a home that has been in our family since 1948 is being sold and the house where I raised my two sons is also on the market. Breaking up is hard to do, even when you’re talking about brick and mortar.

There’s the tree where your kids played cops and robbers or the porch where you swung on swings while chatting with your aunts and drinking iced tea with so much sugar that the spoon to stir it almost stood bolt upright. The front yard of your family home is there, neatly trimmed and running over with deer each evening. The tiny yard where you caught your first fireflies in mason jars is carefully pruned to show the house to its best advantage.

And there you stand on the outskirts, knowing that the properties have to sell but almost praying they won’t. But they must. So there you have it.

It doesn’t even have to be a house that you’ve owned for a long time for you to regret having to sell. I spoke to a couple this morning in such a situation. He kept telling me how much he loves his house. Present tense. He is going to sell it, to move near the grandchildren, but he worked so hard on the house that he has bonded with it. His wife stood nearby with tears in her eyes, but knowing that their path has been set in a different direction. They are moving hundreds of miles away.

Someone told me recently that, if someone is too busy looking back, he or she can’t see what God has for them in the future. The Bible talks about the man who puts his shoulder to the plow and how the fellow will mess up his plowing if he looks behind himself.

Simply put, we can’t see the blessings ahead if we look backwards all the time. They say that you shouldn’t cry over something that can’t cry back. While a house can’t tell you what it’s feeling, it is okay to grieve. But afterwards, you need to move on.

What are your thoughts on moving?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Watch out for Real Estate Agents Who Don’t Have Your Best Interests at Heart

Hello everyone:

The majority of the real estate agents I know are superb folks who work very hard. They focus on getting sellers top dollar for their homes and help buyers get into the house of their dreams in a financially responsible way.

And then there are those you need to watch out for. The latter are the folks I will be writing about today. (Let’s face it, this story is much more interesting!)

One of my suddenly single friends placed her out-of-state house on the market with a local real estate agent who appeared to be the top in his field. He wasn’t. Almost one month after listing her house, the agent had not done anything to market the home, including not having put the home into the Multiple Listing Service, not placing it on his website, not taking any pictures of the home’s interior, and not showing the house to anyone except his son, who was a flipper.

It gets worse. The son made a low-ball offer on a house that had been valued by the real estate agent. They then insisted on a quick close. And the house still hadn’t been listed on the MLS. When the home owner and her hubby called the real estate agent out on the issues, the realtor’s son withdrew his offer, the house was immediately placed onto MLS, and an offer was made by someone else. Someone who insisted on an immediate decision.

What do you think my homeowner friend should do? I would love to hear what you think, and then I will tell you “the rest of the story” in a future blog posting.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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