I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I spent it at home; we hosted about 14 people. It was the perfect number to have a full house with lots of conversations and kiddos running around but not too many that we were stressed. Everyone brought something and it made for a fairly laid back day for us.
A week later was my birthday! 44! I feel very deeply rooted in middle age and honestly, I love it. I’ve reached the feeling of no-nonsense confidence about what I do as a Divorce Coach, helping people work through the divorce process in the most dignified way possible. When I started out I felt a lot more nervous about it. I was worried about people judging me and thinking I was encouraging divorce which is SO far from reality! It feels so good to help someone get through something so challenging and on to the other side of it all. It's amazing when they get there and they are SO PROUD of themselves. Proud of how they handled the divorce. Proud that they handled it with grace but didn't give up. And very often, although maybe not right at first, surprised by how GOOD they feel to be divorced.
Ben surprised me by inviting my closest friends and family for dinner at my favorite restaurant Blackband. I was SHOCKED! I thought it was just going to be the four of us for dinner and suddenly we were led to the mezzanine where parties gather and I quickly figured out what was going on. It meant so much to me that so many people took the time to come out, get a babysitter and have a really nice meal just for my birthday.
Ben really is a dream. I’ll get more into the reality of that in a moment but he’s just such a neat guy. He’s creative, funny, cute, athletic and loves to write and play his guitar. He’s a wonderful dad, husband, brother and son. Elderly people, children and dogs love him, so you know he must be the real deal!
Back to my comment about him being a dream. Maybe not exactly a dream but after my divorce my wonderful friend Chrissy who sat across from my cubicle at my bank job and I were talking. I was in the throes of the dating world and listed off what I wanted in a guy. She laughed and said, “okay, good luck with that…sounds like the perfect guy!” But I knew EXACTLY what I wanted.
Not long after that, who showed up at my coffee shop? You guessed it. Ben. He was the handsome new teacher in town (yes, VERY Hallmark Movie - esque!) who rode a motorcycle but sat at the coffee shop and wrote poetry. He loved football but he also was thrilled to pack up charcuterie and have a picnic on Grand View Drive (where we had our first date, got engaged and got married!)
Manifesting. Dreaming. Wishing. Call it what you want, but if you name it, you can get it. I am a big believer in this and I’ve experienced it over and over again for myself. An even more powerful tool in discovering what we REALLY want is to make a Vision Board. I’ve done this a few times in my adult years and almost everything I’ve ever had on mine has come true.
A vision board is a powerful tool often used in personal development and goal setting. It's a visual representation of your goals, dreams, and aspirations created by collecting and arranging images, words, and symbols on a board. The goal is to create a tangible and vivid representation of what you want to achieve or manifest in your life.
Now, of course as someone who has been divorced and helps others navigate their divorce process, I am keenly aware that life often feels hopeless. If you've experienced heartbreak, a vision board can be a valuable tool for healing and moving forward.
I am so excited to offer an in-person Vision Board Workshop at MUSE in January! It's not just for people who have divorced or are in the process of it; in fact, we won't even talk about divorce unless it's something that comes up organically through conversation. Anyone can come and this would make a great gift for someone!
January 20, 2023
Lunch, light snacks and drinks provided.
Please bring a pair of scissors and magazines if you have them that can be cut up
Everything else will be provided.
Sign up here: https://forms.gle/Cv3EKmnZHtoZjw8A6
It's Thanksgiving week and while there is a lot to be thankful for, I am keenly aware of the feelings that occur when it's someone's first Thanksgiving after (or during) a divorce. I had a client talk with me today about it and it thrust me back to MY first Thanksgiving after my divorce. In fact, I think I literally finalized my divorce the week OF Thanksgiving if I recall correctly! I remember feeling so alone and having it feel like a bright red mark that I showed up solo. No partner to walk in with. No one to leave with. No one to sit close on the couch with after a delicious meal. And seeing images on social media of couples gathering with their families was painful. I remember my ex was traveling with his family and I was so envious. I had a new business I was running and could not leave. While my family was all local, it just all was so painful. I was stressed about my new business, still working hard at a very busy full time job and had no time away from my job or new business. I was sleep deprived, sad, depressed and felt unlovable. I've definitely learned that being sleep deprived makes everything seem worse and so much harder to manage emotions!
My client today was also feeling sad and frustrated. She found out her ex husband was HOSTING Thanksgiving for a large crowd....and doing all the cooking with their kids to boot! He had never done anything like that before. She had done all of the immense amount of prep work, cooking and clean-up. She sighed...."if only he had done those things while we were married." And while she has been invited, it just feels like a slap in the face. It doesn't feel good. She feels like an outsider.
"If only." I hear this a lot and remember those feelings myself. When suddenly you see your ex do the things you had wanted/asked/begged them to do. And it hurts. "Why did you not care about ME enough to want to do those things?" "Now that I'm GONE, you do those things!?" "Why was our marriage of so little value to put that effort in before?"
It's hard to wrap our heads around those feelings. The feeling that WE weren't good enough to inspire them. The feeling that it seems they WANTED to go against our wishes just to hurt our feelings. The feeling that MAYBE they're now doing these things out of spite.
Getting in shape finally. Going to church. Taking the kids shopping. Cooking dinner. It's not just the holidays where we'll see those new actions out of our exes.
The best thing we can do is prepare ourselves to witness their change. Divorce is a change. And suddenly, even in their anger, they feel our absence. The absence of what we did. And while most of the time they'll never admit they miss us (and maybe they don't) they DO miss what we did. Just like there are things THEY did for us that we'll miss. We won't miss the stress and fights and frustration, but now someone needs to mow the lawn and blow the leaves out of the gutters. If not them, who? Us? A service we hire?
Feeling angry or sad during the holidays during or after a divorce is 100% normal. Don't add to the stress by telling yourself that you 'should' be happy or 'should' be thankful. You can be thankful for what you have and I definitely believe making a written list while you sip your favorite tea is a healthy practice, you can also allow yourself to grieve what you don't have this year. Allow the anger to pass though you. Write about it too. You'll get through this, and eventually, that anger will be a distant memory that will only creep up when someone you care about goes through it themselves. Like what happened to me today. This year, for the 16th? 17th? year I get to celebrate, still locally, with my family. But I have my sweet husband Ben and our two kids. We are hosting, together. I no longer have to work Black Friday with a retail business. Despite that hard, hard Thanksgiving, fresh out of the judge's chambers with signed divorce papers, I've only grown. I just told my husband last night that I wish I could go back in time and give my 25 year old self a HUGE hug and tell her how proud I am of her. She did that for me. She did that for Ben and my kids. She didn't know how it would turn out but she trusted her gut that it was the right thing to do.
I'm thankful for you and for those of you who trust me to help you navigate your divorce process. I don't take that trust lightly. I know this is the hardest challenge that many of you will ever have in your life.
One of the more common reasons for wanting a divorce, yet the most filled with shame is, "We just don't act like we're married. It's like we're just roommates." There's no abuse. There's just NOTHING.
No passion. No conversation. No intimacy. No empathy. No excitement. No arguing.
The cycle usually happens like this:
A couple gets married and although things aren't perfect, they're not terrible. They take the next steps to have children. All of the little annoyances suddenly become BIG annoyances. But they get shoved under the rug. Ignored. Or if they are brought up, changes never happen. Sure, there might be promises and attempts for a brief period of time, but nothing sticks.
One partner asks the other to go to marriage counseling. There's either a flat-out refusal or a half-hearted attempt which is usually abandoned after that partner feels attacked or like everything is resolved. So, it feels easier to go back to the usual rhythms of 'nothing.'
The unhappy(iest) partner festers. He or she decides to stick it out until the kids have graduated. They learn how to put on a good facade in public but at home they barely speak.
When divorce finally is brought up, the other partner appears shocked. Despite not putting in any effort or attention, they put all blame for the divorce on the partner who suggests it. A fresh cycle of shame and guilt begins again.
I say all of this because often when someone calls me and shares a similar story they feel so much shame and embarrassment. They think they're the only ones to ever experience this story. They don't think they have a valid reason to divorce. After all, there hasn't been abuse or an affair. But it's FAR more common than most people realize.
If you've tried counseling and tried to work with your partner and nothing has changed, there's very little point in waiting. If divorce feel inevitable, the longer you stay together, the more your finances will become enmeshed. The less time you'll have to start fresh.
Send a message to me to schedule a free consultation to see if 1:1 coaching is right for you. Or check out my online course, available immediately HERE
2023 started with a lot of excitement, although not in the good sense. We were sitting at home, relaxing after what felt like weeks of celebrating. Our son Finn’s birthday is New Year’s Eve so the partying doesn’t stop at our house for a while! We finally had the time to rest though. My husband was practicing his guitar and I was scrolling my phone when a text came through: “Aimee’s apartment is on fire.” Then another, “We’re all evacuating, there are four firetrucks here.” As we waited not so patiently for the phone call from the fire chief asking us to come to the property, I had a surprising sense of calm. This was our second fire in less than two years. I knew what to do. I knew who to call when the time was right. I knew it would all work out.
As I sat in this emotional space, I noticed that I had some of the same empowered feelings as I do when I help a client navigate their divorce process. I thought a lot about how much I love being that sense of calm for my clients as their marriages are figuratively burning. When I finish a consult and someone texts me a little while later thanking me, telling me that they feel like a huge weight has been lifted from their chest, I know they are starting to see how their lives can and will be rebuilt. That this crazy sense of stress, changes and unknowns won’t be like this forever.
Just like checking your smoke detectors and keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, you can do some things NOW to prevent major damage to your life if you do end up divorcing.
-Know where all of the money is (keep a list of financial institutions with account numbers and updated balances)
-Have an emergency fund (preferable) or credit card that is enough to cover the start of the divorce process ($3-7k)
If you think you’re ready to start the process and you need clarity on what that will look like, contact me to schedule a free consultation. I can help guide you through the next right steps to take and empower you to know what is real.
2022 was a busy year but I still found time to read! Even if it's just a few minutes before bed at night, I love how it helps me unwind. I read a few fiction books but mostly I enjoy growth minded books or autobiographies. My favorite book was one I just finished: "Heartbreak" by Florence Williams. She deep dives into the post-divorce grieving process from a scientific but relatable perspective. She talks about how heartbreak truly affects our health and well-being and what we can do to heal ourselves. I loved her relationship with nature. If you've been with me for long enough, you know how much I support and encourage getting out into nature, specifically the woods. It's what helps re-center me when I feel overwhelm or sadness, like after my grandmother passed away.
I decided to compile a list of my favorite books for people who are navigating the divorce process, including kids. I've broken the list down by age group so it's easy to pick what you need. I hope to add more books for teenagers in the future, and would welcome recommendations.
I hope you like this list! If you choose to purchase from my links, I will receive a small portion of the sales for the Amazon referral which helps to keep my costs as low as possible for my clients. Thank you for your support!
2-6 Years Old
Dinosaurs Divorce: https://amzn.to/3Y5xqzt
Two Homes: https://amzn.to/3UK32Yp
When I Miss You: https://amzn.to/3VGvoV0
4-10 Years Old
I have Two Homes: https://amzn.to/3utnKRX
We Will Always Love You: https://amzn.to/3UCXvD5
My Parents Still Love Me Even Though They’re Getting a Divorce: https://amzn.to/3XZuuod
8-12 Years Old
Mom and Dad Love Me the Same: https://amzn.to/3uvyhvE
Divorce Is Not The End of the World: https://amzn.to/3P6jktD
Mum, Dad, Can You Hear Me? https://amzn.to/3W2sDNB
Atlas of the Heart: https://amzn.to/3iP2nHW
I Just Want This Done: https://amzn.to/3PblE2w
Every day the sun comes up is a day you can
take that first step to a better life.
Is what/whom you woke up to today what/whom you want to be waking up to in 5 years?
20 years? 30 years? At the end of this year? I know I woke up today to my amazing, sweet husband and two hilarious kids!
I know I would never have experienced this amazing life had I not taken the first step in my divorce 16 years ago.
If you've tried therapy, marriage counseling, and new boundaries has your relationship gotten better? Or is it stagnant? Maybe even worse because of what those things have brought to the surface? Do you look at other couples with envy for their happiness and contentment? Are you suffering from emotional, financial or physical abuse?
Stalling just prolongs the inevitable and often makes it worse as kids get busier, finances get more enmeshed and friendships co-mingle longer.
Today is as good as tomorrow which is as good as next week or next month or next year to take that first step. I'll help guide you along, confidentially and judgement free. There are a lot of unknowns in the divorce process. I help bring clarity and confidence to the decision making. I take that first step with you so it's not nearly so scary.
Don't let the fear of the unknown stop you. I would bet a lot that the unknown is better and more magnificent than you can even imagine!
Contact me today to schedule a free 30 minute consult to determine if working together through your separation and divorce is a good fit! Use the link below or call/text 309-840-0881!
Hello Friends! Thank you for being part of the Focused Forward Community!
Although it’s still summer, I just finished a book called “Wintering” by Katherine May. Personally I love winter and while I fell right into her cozy imagery of blankets, candles and hot toddies, that wasn’t the purpose of the book.
Katherine writes about Wintering as an analogy for how we handle the hard times in our lives. The job losses, the illnesses, the parenting struggles and other dark periods of life. Her story takes us through her own Wintering. As I read it I thought of my own darker times as well as what my clients and future clients are navigating right now. I only wish I had had the chance to read this book two decades ago!
Divorce tends to be a different type of grief. A grief that is suffered alone, often in shame. Tucked away so it doesn’t offend others. Rather than face this grief head on and accept the Winter as it is (as Katherine builds out beautifully in her book) we especially hide this grief out of embarrassment of feeling like a failure for disrupting a pillar of society.
And so we suffer silently, alone at home. Maybe in a new house that doesn’t quite feel like home yet. Maybe we don’t feel accepted in the communities we are in. Maybe our church doesn’t support divorces. Maybe our friends have gone dark because they “don’t like drama” (more on that another time…)
I’m excited to help my clients through their Winter. Maybe the snowflakes are just starting to fall and preparations are needed. Maybe it’s full on Dark-at-4pm. Maybe your Winter is at the point where the snow crocuses are starting to peek through but it’s still bitterly cold.
How can we make our Winters work FOR us? How can we EMBRACE our Winter so we care for ourselves properly? How can we find the RIGHT community to Winter with?
If you are in a stage like this, I’ll leave you with this: Embrace it. Winter does not last forever. Allow yourself to feel the grief and care for yourself gently. Know that Divorce involves a grieving process not unlike the death of someone you love. Too often the shame of divorce overpowers the realization of the need to grieve. Allow yourself to grieve.
I always appreciate referrals! If you know someone who might benefit from my service, please send them my way! They can text or call me at 309-840-0881 or visit my website www.katievandenberg.com to learn more!
We’ve all heard this: "Divorce is so hard on children; parents should stick it out for the kids!"
Yes. It is.
But so is living in a home with fights, tension, jealousy and unmet needs. A home where the kids find themselves tip-toeing around their parents. A home where the kids learn to manipulate the fighting parents to get what they want. A home where healthy relationships are impossible to model.
I won't sugar coat this. Divorce IS hard on children. This is a huge reason why I do this: To help my clients be the best versions of themselves as they navigate their divorces so they can be the best versions of themselves for their children.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce with younger children, here are two books I recommend to my clients! I picked these up at our local library but they also can be found on Amazon.
I always appreciate referrals! If you know someone who might benefit from my service, please send them my way! They can text or call me at 309-840-0881.
Hello! It has been a busy summer at our house! Between the kids being home, selling another small business, the constant cycle of work on our rentals and of course, helping my clients, I haven't had time to share this yet!
About a month ago, Andy Dahn from WBBM Chicago messaged me. He wanted to interview me about my divorce coaching practice. Click the link to listen!
Nearly two years ago I had a revelation.
I learned a friend was going through a divorce. While she had a good attorney, she was so emotionally drained she couldn't understand the process. She didn't have the energy to even know what to ask. The legal lingo was confusing. The options overwhelming.
I asked her if she would be willing to meet with me. Through her tears we talked about her situation. She was thrilled when I was able to join her at her attorney's office the next week.
The meeting went flawlessly. We paved the path for better communication, cleared the way for expectations and created a follow-up plan. Because I was not emotionally invested I could re-focus if we got too far into the Story of her divorce so we could make massive strides in the Business of her divorce.
My friend finally could get to focus on healing her heart. She was able to call and text me when she was confused about the legal process rather than rack up $$$ in attorney fees for re-explanations. She was able to trust the process and know her attorney truly was working for her.
It was then I knew I wanted to become certified as a Divorce coach. The situation my friend found herself in is sadly far too common. Sadness, anger, envy and revenge get in the way of the divorce process and often sabotage the results.
And....my friend ended up with a far better settlement than she ever expected!
If you are searching for divorce support at ANY stage of the process (even if the process seems like it won’t start for awhile OR you’re done and still need help moving forward!) please call or text me at 309-840-0881.
Katie makes her life surrounded by river valleys and surprisingly beautiful cornfields. Her days are spent helping her divorce clients, working with her tenants, spending time on her pottery wheel and loving her family.