By Laurie Itkin
The First Year is the Hardest is a new book that provides an honest, anecdotal accounting of one woman’s recovery, discovery, and reinvention of herself after divorce. The author, Jennifer Raphael, bravely recounts her first year as a newly-single woman. She bares it all–the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. The First Year is the Hardest began as a personal journaling exercise to understand the myriad of emotions surrounding her divorce but evolved into a book which is intended to help other women navigate this difficult life transition.
Each chapter represents one of 52 weeks in the first year after divorce and includes Jennifer’s original art work which makes the book so beautiful and comforting to read.
Transitioning from married to single life is not only difficult emotionally, but also financially. Many of the book’s chapter titles summarize in just six words relevant advice for women during the first year after divorce.
Pause to Acknowledge What You’ve Lost
Jennifer discusses how the lifestyle she and her family experienced during the marriage would no longer be available to her, at least not in the short term. A big house and expensive vacations were no longer on the table and she mourned the loss of material comforts. However, this sense of loss gave her the opportunity to decide what was really important to her and rethink what she keeps in her home and what she brings into her life. She discovered that she came to love her simpler lifestyle and a new, smaller home.
Focus Upon What is Most Important
Jen reminds readers to focus on what is most important in life. Developing a budget and tracking spending are necessary activities in order to make the tough decisions regarding what is most important.
Be Brave Enough Not to Quit
Although Jennifer began her career as a nurse, for much of her marriage she was a military spouse who moved to support her husband’s career. Although she received spousal support as part of her divorce settlement, she needed to start generating income on her own. But as a woman over 50, it wasn’t easy.
So she started in retail sales, working with peers who were her daughter’s age. She strategically chose the retail chain at which she frequently shopped in order to score a clothing discount for her and her daughter. The job was outside her comfort zone, but she was brave enough not to quit.
Working built her confidence and provided supplemental income as she developed a client base for her new business, Less-Stress Organizing Solutions, where she helps other women embrace a “less is more” approach. She is proud of helping clients who suffer from chronic disorganization and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Utilize Your Resources, Strengthen Your Independence
Jennifer describes how building a team of advisors can help strengthen one’s independence. From a financial standpoint, most women will want to hire a financial advisor, tax preparer, and estate attorney. These will be HER advisors…not her spouse’s. She gets to pick and choose who she wants on her financial team.
Treat Yourself to Something That Sparkles
Jennifer explains that if your budget is tight, you can still treat yourself to something that sparkles. Think of sparkling movie dialog, sparkling bath salts, or a clean sparkling counter-top at day’s end. Sparkles can show up in many forms and lift our spirits when the budget feels tight.
The First Year Was the Hardest
The last chapter of Jennifer’s book is titled, “The First Year Was the Hardest.” She urges readers to acknowledge the bumps along the road while finding their “new normal” and embracing and celebrating the new life they are building.
You can find many articles about how the first year of marriage is the hardest. But we all know that the first year of divorce is even harder. According to one Amazon reviewer, “This book is beautifully written and insightful. It offers hope to those traveling the path of divorce. It affirms each individual’s journey and the cycles of grief, self-reflection, independence and steps towards healing. It is a must-read for those newly-divorced and for those who have weathered this path but still need support when self- doubt creeps in.”
About the Author
Laurie Itkin is a financial advisor, certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA), and the author of the Amazon bestseller, Every Woman Should Know Her Options. For less than the cost of a one-hour meeting with an attorney, her online course, Woman’s Guide to Financial Independence After Divorce, teaches separated and divorced women essential financial concepts. You can request a free consultation or subscribe to Laurie’s newsletter by visiting TheOptionsLady.com.