Me After We: Loving Yourself Back to Life When a Marriage Dies

A peak at my latest book:


Divorce or separation can be a challenging and emotionally trying time in anyone’s life. Your world is turned upside down as relationships change, living and financial situations change, and your vision for the future changes. This book is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to navigating all aspects of divorce and separation, offering practical advice and solutions at every step.

I cover all facets of managing life during and after divorce or separation. We’ll tackle the emotional aspects and mental health considerations, including coping with grief, loneliness, anger, depression, and more. We’ll dive into the legal process, ensuring you understand your rights and obligations. We’ll explore the financial changes and budgeting effectively as income and expenses shift. We’ll discuss telling the kids and helping them transition as custody arrangements take shape. An entire section of the book focuses on building the structures and skills for moving forward in your new chapter of life.

Chapter 1: The Emotional Impact and Mental Health Considerations

Going through a divorce or separation turns your world upside down emotionally. Even when the decision is mutual and amicable, the grief feels profound. Relationships with not only your former spouse but often shared friends and family members suffer collateral damage. Your vision for the future shatters along with so much familiarity within your daily life.

It’s an understatement to say the experience provokes intense emotions like anger, loneliness, resentment, and deep sadness. You may cycle rapidly through these feelings, feeling totally out of control. The loss of stability can exacerbate or contribute to mental health struggles with depression, anxiety, PTSD symptoms, and more.

Know that ALL these emotional reactions are expected after a separation or divorce. There is no “right” way to feel – be compassionate with yourself as you navigate the turbulent waves. And utilize healthy strategies to cope with the challenging mental health elements so you can begin moving in a positive direction.

Coping with Grief 

The grief parallels what someone may feel after the death of a loved one. That grief stems not only from the loss of the partner but also from the imagined future, the day-to-day familiarity, stability, and dreams that disappear. Allow yourself to grieve fully. Find supportive people with whom you can confide during this mournful transition.

Don’t criticize yourself for what you feel or when/how intensely the grief washes over you. Appreciate the stages of grief as part of the healing process:

•        Denial – Numbed shock set in initially for me when I first heard my spouse say they wanted to separate. I pretzeled every which way to justify why it wasn’t over and over. But denying the reality only postpones the pain temporarily.

•        Anger – When denial faded and the permanence set in, white-hot anger roared through me regularly. I felt so betrayed that they could upend my life. Journaling, exercise, counseling, screaming into pillows – find healthy releases for all that intense anger. 

•        Bargaining – I desperately sought any way to unwind time and save my marriage, willing to promise the moon if we could reconcile. But at some point, I had to accept there was no bargaining my way out of it.

•        Depression – After exhausting myself, raging, and negotiating to no avail, I crashed HARD into depression. The extreme sadness, isolation, and regret washing over me felt endless. Counseling and medication to balance my brain chemistry kept me functioning. 

•        Acceptance – One baby step at a time, I made peace with my new abnormal. My marriage was over; this was my life now, and I had to keep walking forward. I still get pangs of grief, but predominately, I’ve embraced surrender.

Don’t get down on yourself for how long it takes to reach “acceptance” or if you cycle back through the stages. Healing grieving takes time and patience with yourself.

Coping with Loneliness 

The loneliness of losing a life partner often overwhelms in those early days and weeks after separation. You may yearn physically and emotionally for their presence – falling asleep alone, waking up, and coming home to an empty house. Feelings of isolation can seem relentless.

Combat the tendency to withdraw entirely from others by proactively nurturing social connections. Reach out to loved ones routinely – not just when the angst becomes unbearable. Spend less time alone at home, ruminating over your thoughts and feelings. Push yourself gently to get out, do activities that generally lift your spirits, and participate in gatherings even if you don’t feel like it.

Also, consider seeking out divorce support groups in your local area. Connecting with others walking the same grieving journey can help normalize your experience and remind you that you will get through this. You may even build lasting friendships and networks from the groups. Knowing you are not alone makes a difference in combatting loneliness.

Anger Management Techniques  

Anger often emerges front and center after the sadness of a separation surfaces. You may feel infuriated by perceived injustices regarding how the breakup played out or how your former partner treated you. Resentments can erupt like volcanoes over assets lost or the costs of divorce and rebuilding. Anger towers when you perceive your ex is speeding through the grief and moving on romantically well before you’re ready.

The key lies in expressing the anger in appropriate, not destructive ways. Yelling, throwing things, and plotting revenge will only breed more hurt and entrench you in negativity. Healthier strategies include:

•        Vent to trusted friends/family who can empathize. Feeling listened to provides a healthy outlet.

•        Journal extensively about your raw feelings. Getting them out on paper can help you process them. 

•        Engage in intense exercise like kickboxing classes or working out to sweat out the anger coursing through your body.

•        See a counselor who can help constructively unpack the anger and hostility to find a resolution. 

•        Channel the passion into causes or activities fighting injustices that upset you in the culture.

•        Allow the intensity to subside instead of reacting instantly when upset. Pause, breathe, and remove yourself from the situation, heating your anger until you respond calmly.

The goal lies not in squashing justified anger but appropriately channeling it so that it is a constructive force, not a destructive one.

Coping with Depression, Anxiety and More

The level of life disruption, uncertainty, and grief triggered by separation and divorce can readily spiral into psychological struggles like depression and anxiety disorders. Rates of both conditions skyrocket in the aftermath of a marital dissolution. Additionally, some develop symptoms of PTSD in response to the trauma and chaos that turned their lives upside down unexpectedly. Mental health struggles can paralyze you from effectively responding to the pressures and demands already besieging you during this challenging transitional time.

Thus, recognizing when to seek professional treatment proves essential. If you had no preexisting mental health conditions but battle the following symptoms for two or more weeks, reach out urgently to a psychologist or psychiatrist:

•        Depression – Loss of interest/joy in activities once pleasurable, overwhelmed by hopelessness nearly every day, lethargic fatigue, sleeping too much or too little, noticeable unintentional weight changes, excessive tearfulness or crying spells, recurrent thoughts of dying or suicide.  

•        Anxiety Disorders – Constant nervous feelings that won’t subside, panic attacks, irrational worries about a host of everyday situations, obsessive thought patterns you cannot control, uncontrollable compulsive behaviors.

•        PTSD – Reliving the traumatic event through intrusive memories/flashbacks/nightmares, avoiding reminders of the event, emotional numbness/withdrawal from life, feeling perpetually on edge or jumpy, negative sense of self or the world, difficulty recalling specifics of the trauma.

Counseling, medication from a psychiatrist, group therapy, or often a combination of these interventions tend to work best in combatting divorce/separation-related mental health conditions. As symptoms improve, usually you can reduce or phase out the treatment supports in place. Prioritize finding this help ASAP – you shouldn’t have to live feeling miserable, anxious, or emotionally paralyzed in the wake of losing your marriage or partner. The right interventions can help encourage significant emotional healing.

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Mastering the art of life


Life is messy. The world is chaotic. With endless stimuli and distractions demanding our attention from the moment we wake up, it’s no wonder many of us feel lost. We grasp for the familiar in jobs we dislike, expired relationships, and routines that numb our senses. The noise of the external world muffles our inner voice, obscuring our true passions, needs, and purpose.

In the quest for stability and sanity, many of us turn to self-help books, podcasts, and gurus promising fulfillment. We absorb the advice: Discover your calling, curate your social circle, practice mindfulness, and radiate positivity. This sounds wonderful, but is it achievable amidst the swirling chaos? Can we implement such noble principles when our day-to-day reality is so turbulent?

This book follows one man’s journey to find his best self in an imperfect world. John’s path of self-improvement and struggle teaches us that while life will never stop being messy, we can control how we respond to external chaos. Happiness is not found in controlling outside forces but in nurturing inner calm and light.

John’s story shows how habits like mindfulness, optimism, and resilience allow us to navigate life’s storms. By letting go of external attachments, focusing inward, and accepting that the chaos will never cease, we can find inner peace and continue improving. While the world’s noise is sometimes deafening, tuning into our inner voice helps us stay grounded.

John’s transformation illustrates that real change comes from within. Even when all seems lost externally, we can shift our mindset and actions. We can clear the clutter of toxic habits and thoughts holding us back. Though the journey is challenging, inner work liberates us to thrive amidst the chaos, find fulfillment in simplicity, and uplift others.

This book is an inspiring tale and a practical guide to becoming your best self in an imperfect world. John’s example provides hope to those who feel lost in the madness and desire positive change. His story teaches us to embrace chaos as the backdrop for continued self-growth because the only thing we can control in this unpredictable world is ourselves.

Chapter 1

John woke with a start, slapping his alarm clock into silence. As he wiped the sleep from his eyes and sat in bed, he felt a familiar dread wash over him. It was Monday morning—time to return to his soul-sucking job that he hated.

John begrudgingly showered, choked down a bland bowl of cereal, and put on his most boring suit. Just another manic Monday, he thought bitterly. He walked the crowded city streets like a zombie, avoiding eye contact with the other disgruntled commuters crammed onto the subway.

John’s mind began to wander as he settled into his tiny, windowless cubicle. He looked around at his coworkers in the office, all mindlessly typing away. He internally groaned, thinking about the mountain of data reports he had to file that day. John’s job as an accounting clerk for a big insurance company made him numb. Meaningless numbers on a screen. Endless spreadsheets and paperwork. The office’s harsh fluorescent lights only added to the agony.

The worst part was that John’s surface-level life looked pretty good from the outside. He made decent money, lived in a lovely apartment, and seemed to have things under control. But internally, he was miserable. He dreaded coming to work daily, feeling no passion or purpose in the tedious corporate job.

Things weren’t much better outside of work. John’s long-term girlfriend, Emily, had broken up with him a few months ago, leaving him devastated. He spent most weekends just drinking beer alone and watching TV, trying to distract himself from his sorrow.

John had a few casual friends from college he would text occasionally, but no one close to whom he opened up to. He was shy and insecure about putting himself out there to meet new people. So John just felt stuck, lonely, and depressed.

As John listened to his boss ramble on about their department’s quarterly quotas, he thought seriously about driving off the road into a tree on his commute home. If he didn’t do something to improve his life soon, he felt like he might lose control of these suicidal thoughts.

Something had to give. John knew deep down that he deserved more out of life than this daily misery. He was only 25 years old – he couldn’t fathom enduring this despair for decades to get his pension and gold watch. Unfortunately, his first step to positive change would have to wait until the weekend. John gritted his teeth and pressed on for the rest of the long, painful week.

Illuminating Social Media: A Creator’s Guide to Lighting Indoor Video

Illuminating Social Media: A Creator’s Guide to Lighting Indoor Video

Lighting is one of the most important yet often overlooked aspects of creating quality video content for social media. With so many people now watching videos on their mobile devices, proper lighting is essential for ensuring your videos look polished and professional.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need about lighting for indoor video shoots. We’ll cover key terminology, different types of lights and their uses, where to position lights, how to use natural light effectively, and much more. By the end, you’ll understand the fundamentals of 3-point lighting techniques essential for great-looking social media videos.

Empty photo studio with lighting equipment

Key Terminology

Before we dive into setups and techniques, let’s go over some essential vocabulary around lighting that will help you better follow lighting concepts:

  • Key light: The leading light that primarily illuminates your subject. This is usually placed at a 45-degree angle from the camera-subject axis.
  • Fill light: A secondary light source that fills in shadows created by the key. It softens and balances out harsh shadows.
  • Backlight: A light placed behind the subject to help separate them from the background. Adds a rim light around the issue for added depth.
  • Intensity: How bright or dim a light source is.
  • Color temperature: A light source’s “warmness” or “coolness” is measured in degrees Kelvin. Lower Kelvin ratings are more yellow/warmer, while higher ratings are whiter/cooler.
  • Soft light vs. hard light: Soft light comes from a diffuse source, creating soft shadows and highlights. Hard lights have focused beams, creating harsh contrasts and sharp shadows.

Types of Lights

There are many options when it comes to selecting lights, each with its pros and cons. Here are some of the most common types:

Continuous Lights

  • LED panels: Bright, energy efficient, long-lasting. They come in a variety of sizes and color temperatures. Great for beginners.
  • Florescent lights: Affordable but lower intensity. It can have an unnatural color. They are still used often for interviews.
  • Tungsten lights: Hot color temperature. Traditional stage lights but high power consumption.

Strobe Lights

  • Speedlights: Small shoe-mount flashes. Very portable but has limited power. Great for fill lights.
  • Studio strobes: Powerful off-camera flashes. It allows for creative lighting but is more expensive.

Natural Light

  • Windows: Gorgeous diffused light. Changes color/direction with time of day. Blinds/sheers help control.
  • Doors/Skylights: Add additional ambiance. Consider the path of light.

As you can see, every light type has advantages and limitations. We recommend starting with LED panels as they offer the best balance of control, power, and ease of use for social media videos.

Key Light Positioning

The critical light plays a vital role in lighting your indoor videos. Your key’s position, angle, and quality dramatically affect the look.

The most common placement for your key light is at a 45-degree angle towards the front of your subject. This angle casts nicely defined shadows on the face, creating contour and depth without heavy clouds. Position your crucial light high enough so light falls onto the subject’s face but not so high that you lose the lighting intimacy.

If placing the key at a 45-degree angle isn’t possible with your space, you can position it straight ahead, facing towards the subject. Just know this frontal lighting is bright but flat, losing much of that dimension on the face.

Here are some essential light dos and don’ts:


  • Place key to complement subject’s position
  • Use softboxes or diffusers to soften harsh lights
  • Match brightness color temp with other lights


  • Don’t place the key behind the subject, casting shadows on the face
  • Please don’t make it too bright, blowing out the image
  • Don’t use unfiltered hard lights, creating sharp shadows

Getting the key set up correctly takes some tweaking. But nailing it goes a long way in having professional quality lighting.

Fill Lighting Purpose and Position

The next step is adding fill lighting once your key light is positioned correctly. As mentioned, fill lights help soften shadows created by the harsh key. This balancing effect makes the lighting look more natural and appealing.

Standard placements for fill lights are on either side of the camera, low towards the front of the subject. This frontal position better reaches shadows created by that key source. The fill eliminates dark patches under the eyes, nose, and chin. Fill intensity should be around half the key’s strength, kissing enough to softly even ratios.

You have options for sources – using LED panels, spotlights, or reflectors to bounce in natural light. Having enough separation from the key prevents washout while still brightening facial shadows. Be sure to adjust levels for a smooth gradient of light and shadow.

Back Light for Added Dimension

At this point, you have essentially completed the standard 3-point lighting setup. But you can take things further by adding backlighting for extra background separation.

Backlights, also called hair or rim lights, create nice halos of light around subjects, making them stand out from the scene. Position your backlight above and behind the talent. Angle this down towards the top of their head so light grazes around the front edges of hair and shoulders.

This back rim light adds excellent depth, moving from a brighter talent to a darker background. It works exceptionally well in videos with busier environments. Use flags or sheets to prevent the backlight from spilling towards the camera, ruining contrast. With a properly balanced 3-point lighting scheme, your videos will pop with professional quality dimensions.

Manipulating Natural Light

While artificial lighting provides ultimate control, natural daylight can be used effectively if manipulated correctly. Here’s how to make the most of ambient sun and skylights:

First, ensure your critical natural light source is diffused by positioning it next to large windows, reflective surfaces, or shooting under cloud cover. This gives soft, flattering light vs overly harsh shadows.

Next, pay attention to directionality – where shadows fall based on the sunlight path- and use these patterns to your advantage. Shooting earlier/later in the day casts a more excellent angled glow vs midday overhead.

Thirdly, shape incoming light by blocking direct rays but allowing a maintained bounce glow with scrims. Similarly, cut down intensities with white diffusion sheets when overwhelmed. Window blinds/curtains also help control levels.

And finally, fill in underexposed areas with reflectors or LED lights. These balances contrast for more even exposures under otherwise unbalanced natural conditions.

Natural light can elevate overall production value by thoughtfully shaping distracting highlights/shadows, embracing golden hour glows, and filling overly contrasty regions.

Optimizing Exposure

Your lights may all be perfectly placed, but effort is wasted if not properly exposed. Follow these tips for optimizing exposure:

  • Use light meters to gauge brightness levels on subjects objectively. Most cameras/phones have these built-in now.
  • Ensure subjects are neither over or under-exposed based on histogram or blinkies. Boost lights if underexposed, and diffuse/adjust if overexposed.
  • Set custom white balance according to your lights so colors are accurate. Most cameras allow manual color temperature settings.

Get familiar with exposure warning tools, adjusting aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to center ideal brightness ranges while balancing the desired depth of field. This ensures lighting is shown in its full high dynamic range glory.

Accessories to Enhance Lighting

Beyond fundamental lighting sources, accessories like reflectors, bounce cards, flags, and diffusers add further finesse:

Reflectors: Inexpensive mirrors that redirect existing lighting. Use to fill overly dark shadows and facial contours.

Bounce cards: Lightweight whiteboards that achieve similar fill effects to reflectors. More flexible.

Flags: Solid dark fabrics that cleanly block light spill contamination between areas, like key > fill zones.

Diffusers: Translucent sheets that soften harsh light sources by scattering rays. Fasten to lights with clips.

Gobos: Templated light blockers create patterns used to isolate regions. Stencil spotlights/backgrounds.

By thoughtfully incorporating secondary modifiers, you gain even more control over your indoor lighting designs’ shape, texture, and contrast.

Achieving Cinematic Looks

Thus far, we’ve focused primarily on balanced, naturalistic lighting aesthetics. But more stylized cinematic techniques can be applied for extra visual intrigue when appropriate. Here are some ideas:

Low Key Lighting – Dominated by shadows. Only partially illuminates subject, obscured environments. Evokes mystery.

High Key Lighting – Very evenly lit, blown-out background. Clean, modern with flat gradients.

Split Lighting – Shadow runs halfway down the subject’s face. Dramatic.

Butterfly Lighting – The high and centered key creates a shadow under the nose. Fashionable.

They are strobing / Flashing – On/off pulsing lightning. It can feel glamorous on set or chaotic in narrative.

Implementing these alternative schemes sporadically adds flair and cinematic style to your creative vision.

Optimizing Lighting for Different Skintones

A vital point we have yet to cover involves adequately lighting diverse skin tones. Due to differences in melanin levels, dark and light complexions react differently under light. As such, special accommodations should be made so that all talent looks great on camera, not just more delicate-skinned subjects.

Here are tips for lighting various skin tones effectively:


Increase exposure slightly. Reduce color intensity. Add warming gels if they are too bright/blue. Watch for blown highlights.


Golden skin can turn grey if there is an incorrect white balance. Boost amber tones slightly. Watch for shadow depths.


Use redheads/tungsten lights to emphasize rich tones over sickly green casts. Lift shadows to prevent muddiness.


Boost exposure significantly. Add more frontal fill light to compensate for underexposure. Cool down orange hues. Lift blacks.

You do justice by tailoring adjustments to complement melanin levels by representing diverse subjects beautifully. Don’t simply default to conventions that favor certain complexions.

Lighting on Darker Backgrounds

We’ve primarily addressed lighting against white/light backgrounds. But videos increasingly utilize darker, more cinematic backdrops. Here are quick tips for lighting these richer scenes:


Dramatically under-exposing backgrounds add inky richness. Use flags to shield fills/backlight spilling onto walls/floors.


Use gelled lights matching vibrant walls to model subjects with color—teal backlight against the teal wall.


Inject subtle floor lighting to give standing subjects a glow from below. Use cooler temps like tungsten.

These moodier high-contrast setups create striking focal points around subjects. But preserve fill illumination so important facial areas don’t get lost!

Common Lighting Issues & Fixes

Even well-conceived lighting plans can develop problems. Here are common headaches and how to alleviate them:


Are certain sections excessively bright or dark? Reshape lights to distribute them more evenly.


Add more frontal fill to soften dark hollows. Diffuse or re-angle key source.


Compensate orange sodium vapor or blue haze with a custom white balance.


Increase subject-background light ratio with more exposure up front and less behind.


For multi-cam shoots, use objective light meters to match levels across angles.

Identifying and addressing these symptoms quickly gets lighting back on track.

We’ve covered many ground discussing approaches to light indoor video content for social media effectively. From fundamentals around 3-point lighting to manipulating natural light to more advanced techniques involving color and contrast, you now have a framework for establishing creative, flattering lighting setups.

Just remember, knowledge is useless without application! Rig up cheap shop lights and an iPhone and experiment with the above core concepts. Learn through doing.

Great lighting is truly the unsung hero behind exceptional cinematography. Start playing with light, and your videos will shine brighter than ever on any social platform.

When Someone Lets You Down, It’s Okay to Let Them Go

We’ve all had people who have disappointed us or let us down in some way. Maybe a friend broke a promise or went behind your back. Perhaps a family member said something hurtful or failed to show up when you needed them. These experiences can be painful and make us question the relationships. However, as difficult as it may be, it’s often healthiest to accept what happened, realize it says more about the other person than you, and then let them go from your life.

gray rolled asphalt road under cloudy sky

Trying to cling to a relationship after a significant breach of trust or act of disrespect usually leads to more pain. It may keep you chained to the past rather than moving forward. You might try forgiving them and giving them another chance. But if they don’t own up to their actions, make amends, and show through changed behavior that they want to reconstruct the relationship, you are not obligated to keep them in your life.

You are standing up for yourself by acknowledging their poor choice and its consequences – namely, that you don’t feel comfortable having them play an intimate role. Rather than raging against them or reacting angrily, you are sending the clear message that you deserve to be treated well. If they cannot or will not do that, you are more than ready to walk away and focus your energy elsewhere.

This isn’t about spite or revenge. It’s about self-respect. You know your worth and expect mutual care, understanding, and reliability from your close relationships. While others can live by their standards or make their own decisions, even hurtful ones, you can choose who occupies a prime place in your life. When someone’s actions reveal they don’t value you as you love them, it simply means they no longer deserve that coveted spot. The most constructive thing you can do is gracefully remove them from it and make room for those who treat you the way you want and deserve to be treated.

Learn to Manage Your Own Life to Become a Great Leader, Practice What You Preach

Leadership is a skill that can be learned and developed over time. One of the most critical aspects of leadership is managing your own life effectively. When you are in control of your own life, you are better able to lead others.

Here are some tips on how to manage your own life to become a great leader:

  1. Set goals and priorities. What do you want to achieve in your life? Once you know your goals, you can start setting priorities. What is most important to you? What needs to be done first?
  2. Make a plan. Once you have set your goals and priorities, you need to make a plan to achieve them. This includes breaking down your goals into smaller steps and setting deadlines for yourself.
  3. Delegate tasks. If you can delegate tasks, do it! This will free up your time to focus on the most important things.
  4. Manage your time effectively. Time is one of your most valuable resources. Make sure you are using your time wisely. This means avoiding distractions and staying focused on your priorities.
  5. Take care of yourself. It is essential to take care of your physical and mental health. This includes eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It also means taking breaks when you need them and managing stress levels.

In addition to managing your own life effectively, practicing what you preach as a leader is also important. This means setting a good example for your followers and living up to the values and standards that you expect from them.

Here are some tips on how to practice what you preach as a leader:

  • Be honest and transparent.
  • Be fair and just.
  • Be respectful of others.
  • Be accountable for your actions.
  • Be willing to admit when you are wrong.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic.
  • Be a team player.
  • Be supportive of others.
  • Be committed to your goals.

When you practice what you preach as a leader, you build trust and credibility with your followers. This makes them more likely to respect you and follow your lead.

Here are some examples of how practicing what you preach can benefit you as a leader:

  • If you expect your employees to be honest and transparent, you must be fair and transparent. This means being open and upfront with your employees about your expectations, goals, and challenges.
  • If you expect your employees to be respectful of others, you must also be respectful of them. This means treating them with dignity and consideration, even when disagreeing.
  • If you expect your employees to be accountable for their actions, you also need to be responsible for your actions. This means owning up to your mistakes and taking responsibility for your decisions.

You can become a more effective and respected leader by practicing what you preach.


Managing your life effectively and practicing what you preach are two of the most important things you can do to become a great leader. You build trust and credibility when you control your own life and set an excellent example for your followers. This makes them more likely to respect you and follow your lead.