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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Five Things Women Shouldn’t Do After Divorce

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And they say women are complicated! Ha! They are actually quite predictable. Whether they are going through a divorce or breakup women have very similar patterns on how they deal with their anguish. They are always worried about the future; consequently, they spend their precious moments agonizing about it. Why isn’t he calling? I can’t believe he left me! I need to find myself a husband! On and on their minds spin into a visceral wooly scarf that will eventually become their emotional noose. For every poor decision they make in the early days of the break-up they will pay a price that will only enlarge exponentially if they don’t knock it off! Here are five behaviors that women need to stop doing after divorce or a bad breakup:

 

1) I’ll show him! Spending money immediately after the separation.

Most women consider retail therapy either a vengeful act of indignation or as a source to brighten a weak moment. They run out and buy new clothes, sex toys, lingerie, jewelry, cars, etc.  None of the items they purchase will give them the result they are looking for. Divorce is a time to slow down your emotional engine and reassess your life, finances, careers, children and understanding that during this difficult time you should not trust anything your ego is telling you. Making any financial decision big or small should be halted for at least a year after separation. The only dividend you will receive at the end of your bountiful spree will be remorse for the debt you have accumulated over the past twelve months.

 

2) A friendly visit to the local plastic surgeon.

Yup, that’s what they do. They internalize that somehow they were not young enough, pretty enough, big breasted enough or whatever nonsense their insecure selves can convince them of. And, it is at this vulnerable state they will justify their shortcomings just like a good attorney and come up with a million arguments convincing themselves that a boob job, a shot of Botox or some filler will forever change their lives and give them the confidence they need to forge ahead. And it’s a wonder men tell us we are too emotional!  Ladies, the failure of your marriage or breakup had nothing to do with your physical looks! In this case, bigger is not necessarily better. Let me simplify it: Your marriage ended because one or the both of you decided to break the contract - marriage is a contract. Your extra wrinkles or wilted boobs had nothing to do with the wreckage of your vows. Before you go and change your exterior, which may be permanently altered, please look to change your insides first. Changing the way you view the world will change the way you view yourself.

 

3) Boo Hoo! Woest me!

Cut it out, will ya! Nobody wants to listen to a crybaby. Stop playing victim and how you’ve been so wronged and he is such an SOB. Blah, blah, blah, same story, different characters. The bottom line; the marriage didn’t last forever and ever like the fairytale promised. Surprise, surprise! It’s not the end of the world, but it can be the beginning of a wonderful opportunity to recreate yourself and discover parts of you that you never knew existed. Trust yourself and the universe that this event occurred to take you to a place even better. I know, while you are going through this agonizing time life seems so futile; practice non-resistance with all your emotions and soon you will find the bad ones will float away and be replaced with a new sense of verve for life. Offer yourself the gift of hope for the splendid future that awaits you.

 

4) Jumping Into Another Relationship ASAP

Yup, that’s exactly what every man and woman needs immediately after breaking up with their life partner; replace them with a new partner; surely this will fix all your heartache. I DON’T THINK SO! I find it fascinating that people feel the need, not just the desire, but also an actual need so strong they believe they will suffer physical pain if they don’t find another partner immediately. This makes me think about the first time as a child I placed my hand on the burner of a stove only to find out that it was not only hot but it burned the skin right off my little hand. I promise you I have never touched a burner since that day without wearing a pair of heat mitts. I also went to the doctor to mend my tiny paws immediately. Humans are a fascinating species; they fall (which usually represents some sort of physical pain) in love, get burned and just like a drug addict they hit the streets again to find more crack, ahem, I meant love… Deciding to fall into another relationship tout de suite after a calamitous love affair is so obviously inappropriate it is subtle. Statistically, almost 65% of remarriages end in divorce. Hmmm, me thinks you ought to make sure you understand what it is you really, really want out of your life. Your first and only job after divorce should be to work on thyself. There is no way you are going to be successfully available emotionally or legally for that matter, until you take a long look inside your spiritual being and hire a good divorce attorney (not sure if there are any.) Now go and tell your ego to take a hike so you and your spirit can begin the process of healing your mighty self. Oh, and, don’t forget to bring a pair of hot mitts on your journey.

 

5. Over Analyze The Broken Relationship

Come on… you know you do it. I did it too, shamelessly, I might add. What is it with women? They want to talk about the same small details over and over again ad nauseum. Somehow we believe by talking about it and getting everyone to side with us that he was a dirty rotten scoundrel will somehow vindicate us and make us look like perfectly innocent victims. How many victims do you see being swimmingly successful in life and relationships? Hmm, wait, I’m thinking…still thinking…Oh, that’s right, NONE! Not a one! I have a policy in my world: No Victims Allowed. You should put a placard on your front door with those words on it so that every time you walk through the doors to your kingdom you are reminded that you are a stalwart for strong, independent women and not a mamby pamby fatality of your own psyche.

 

Listen my friends; take note of all the wonderful benefits your broken relationship offered you. If you have children from the voyage be in gratitude for the man that helped you create this spectacular child the two of you created in love…at the time at least. Be very careful when spewing negativity towards exterior factors for the demise of the relationship you were a co-creator in. Take responsibility for your part and learn from it. Make a conscious effort to find love inside of you. If you are looking for love and happiness through any exterior circumstance you will most definitely be disappointed. Love lives inside of you. Now go in search of it.

 

Take great care my friends ~


If you have a question about love, marriage, divorce, dating or your breakup, please contact me at: agi@dearagi.com or www.dearagi.com

 

 

Posted By Agi Smith At 10:36 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tribute to Nora Ephron


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Everybody Dies, But Some Live on Forever: Here's to Nora Ephron

Posted: 06/18/2013 6:34 pm


If you had told me when I was 25 that at 50 I would be divorced and raising a daughter on my own I would have looked at you like you were nuts. Yet, here I stand at 50, divorced, single and raising my shining star. Although my marriage remained intact for a mere seven years (or was it six? I can't truly remember) my divorce continues on after 12 years, and counting. Nora Ephron coined the phrase: "Marriages come and go, but Divorce is forever..." Which in essence means, happily ever after should include a clause outlining the high probability that your imminent divorce (statistically speaking of course) will last longer than your marriage. Sadly, Nora was all too accurate. The good news is; yes, there really is good news after divorce; you can and should find humor even when all seems bleak; life does get better, and falling in love and perhaps even dipping your toe back into the newly unchartered waters of marriage may grace you again.

Nora's movies were filled with romantic love stories and endings that made all of us yearn to be living in New York only to climb the Empire State building daily in hopes of meeting our very own Tom Hanks. Her books on the other hand gave us a glimpse into her own painful struggle of divorce and the bitter tangled web it can weave. Even with her romantic story lines she always found a way to pepper them with a dose of humor filled reality. Remember the repartee between Meg Ryan and Rosie O'Donnell in Sleepless In Seattle :

"Now that was when people KNEW how to be in love. They knew it! Time, distance... nothing could separate them because they knew. It was right. It was real. It was..."

"A movie! That's your problem! You don't want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie."

Indeed, I have come to realize that most of my life I wanted to be in love in a movie. Now I realize, I just want to be in love with life and if someone saunters into my production as a leading man, then I will simply welcome him into my repertoire. I miss Nora's practical sensibility, her coy approach to life's relationship challenges and her never ending optimism that life always finds a way of working out. She has left an indelible mark on my life and the way I view my broken marriage, my meaningless divorce and the future of my love life. Somehow, the combination of all her work continues to make my heart do a little dance in hopes that someday someone will be the butter to my bread and the breath to my life...

I miss you bunches Nora Ephron.

Agi Smith  - www.dearagi.com



Posted By Agi Smith At 6:51 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Turning 50!

January 16, 2013

fifty

Agi Smith

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I Wish I Had Turned 50 A Decade Ago

Posted: 01/16/2013 3:32 pm



We've all heard the various versions of 50 being the new 40 or 40 being the new 30, blah, blah, blah. It seems as though the general consensus is; we should all act a decade younger than we are. Having turned 50 this past year I can tell you with all candor that I have no desire to be 40 again. It was a crappy decade. I got divorced, moved to a new city with no friends, changed careers, became a single mom, worked three jobs to keep a roof over our heads, dated and broke up too many times, felt insecure, had a therapist on retainer, exhale, dramarama, do you really need me to go on?

Turning 50 was a respite from the decades gone by that were filled with pure awkwardness in my teens, complete self absorption in my 20s, trying to be cool in my 30s, to exhaustive survival mode in my 40s. So, no, I have no desire to be 10, 20 or 30 years younger. In fact, I wish I had turned 50 about 10 years ago because at 50 I really like myself just the way I am and I am falling deeper and deeper in love with me everyday. It seems I have come full circle, as I am once again self-absorbed in the most selfless of ways. My selfishness is no longer based on trying to impress, please, acquiesce, charm, humor or seek acceptance from anyone around me. In fact my motto these days is simple:

What you think of me is none of my business!

Fifty in my opinion is not the new 40 or whatever number you pick, it is simply the best of everything yet to come. There are so many aspects of what I appreciate at this point in my life. The most important is the devotion I have built for myself and caring for me in all areas of my life. I have spent the past 50 years trying to get an A+ from everyone and in the end I realized that life is not about the grades, it is about passing with flying colors. I thought I would share some eye opening awakenings I have had since turning this magical number.

Here are the top five things I love about being 50:

1) The realization that I am the one person I can count on and trust in any and all situations. This revelation has freed me from placing unfair expectations on those around me. Past circumstances had the ability to carry a continual incongruity between my assumptions and what actually occurred, which tortured this little control freak for years. Surrender, has become my new favorite word. My epiphany has allowed me to accept others for who they are and not who I think they should be. So, to every man I have ever dated, I sincerely apologize for all the times I thought I could fix you and mold you into my perfect amore. The truth is, even if I had the power to mold you into Michelangelo's David you still wouldn't have been my perfect mate, simply because, I was not fully cooked yet.

2) I feel complete acceptance and gratitude for all the love, friendships, family members, ex-boyfriends and any person who has touched my sphere in one way or another. They have all played a crucial role in my life so I could become the woman I am today. Through my experiences I realize I no longer have to postulate or blame others for the emotions I have allowed myself to breed internally. All the trivial oddities no longer strike a chord in me, they simply role off my back. I purposefully choose not to involve myself in situations that I know are destructive for my internal spirit. I am free, free of regret and free of the youthful indignation that allowed me to at times drink from the vile of poison in hopes that the other person would die. I have accepted and made peace with my responsibility in the co-creation of any and all events in my life. Peace is now a land I live in daily.

3) Fifty has given me the clarity that allows me to capture moments in my life that are filled with pure ironic humor. I laugh a lot daily and out loud making my existence joyful, exciting and drenched in love. The dramatic irony of past erroneous behaviors has brought with it the knowledge that it came from pure ignorance no matter who was the instigator. I now understand and have a deep appreciation for the saying; "With age comes wisdom." Indeed, there is great power in these words.

4) I own my opinion. I feel no insecurity about my thoughts, perspective, interpretation or outlook. They are mine and mine alone. I do not need anyone to agree with me, like me or respect me. I already do all that for myself.

5) I love that my body and mind are still here and functioning. Not always in tandem, but together they stand. Yes, my body is changing. It happens to all of us. Instead of viewing the imperfections of my vessel I exult at the idea that every year I get to experience the world with a new physique. It is certainly better than the alternative.

In the end, I mostly love who I am becoming and I look forward to all the unearthed treasures that lay ahead of me. My life has transformed into a sweet love song where every day brings to light a new discovery.

Instead of wishing I were 10 years younger I am embracing my present self and the joys that life gives me at this age, in this moment, in this body and with this mind. Yes my friends, I truly feel as if I have finally arrived. And so, let the party begin!

Take great care my friends ~

If you have a question about love, marriage, divorce, or your breakup, please contact us at:agi@dearagi.com or www.dearagi.com

 

Follow Agi Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@AgiSmith



Posted By Agi Smith At 10:14 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Nora Ephron Change My Life

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How Nora Ephron Changed My Life

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Posted: 06/27/2012 3:45 pm



I am not here to tell you what you already know about Nora Ephron. I'm sure we all agree that she changed the canvas of movie making with her superlative ability to string together words that rolled off the actors' tongues and left us laughing until we cried or simply left us crying. She reinvented romance when she wrote "When Harry Met Sally" and taught us about the long lost art of wooing. Who can forget the timeless line that Harry told Sally and ultimately raised the bar for every man across American who endeavored to love a woman:

"I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible...."

I for one am still waiting for Harry to show up. We can all laugh and arguably agree that Sally feigning an orgasm in the middle of a restaurant will go down in history as one of the funniest movie moments of all time. Then to follow it up with Rob Reiner's mom proclaiming "I'll have what she's having..." Classic. Nobody said it better then Nora when it came to conversational, romantic, honest, funny lines.

Her wonderful books will sit on the shelves in my office eternally as I scour through them from time-to-time when I need a dose of reality or a good laugh. She wrote with such ease and comfort; it was obvious that her writing was indicative of her personality and the way she viewed life. She was a realist about love, divorce, family, marriage and getting older. I have a personal story to share about Nora:

I became passionate about finding a way to help others after my divorce. I'm not rich, so putting money towards a cause wasn't an option. Then I thought about writing. Writing? I have never been a writer and my education was in business so how was I going to do it? Instead of arguing with my internal naysayer, I decided to listen to my inner spirit and I began taking writing courses at Stanford, Harvard and any other online class I could find.

A couple of years later I was referred to an editor via my professor at Stanford and I started writing pieces for a subsidiary of AOL. Lo and behold, AOL then bought the Huffington Post, which happens to be founded by one of my other heroes -- Arianna Huffington. Through the Common Wealth club in San Francisco, I signed up to see two of my favorite women speak --Arianna Huffington and Nora Ephron all in one weekend. Late in November on a stormy Friday night, I jumped in my car to trek into the city to hear Arianna speak. I had been counting the days, hours and minutes for this fateful night. I had decided I would march up to her after her speech and tell her I was a fan and I am now a writer for AOL. I was sure we would be instant friends, maybe even grab a coffee after the event together. I drove in the torrential down pour for over three hours and arrived at the Common Wealth Club late, but I didn't care -- I was going to meet Arianna! Running from the parking structure through the rain, I ran up the escalator in anticipation of a packed house. As I got to the top I noticed the room was unusually dark. I began to bang on the glass doors, desperate for someone to let me in because Arianna and I were going to have coffee. A young woman appeared on the other side of the glass door and looked at me quizzically. With a big smile on my face, I proclaimed. "I'm here to see Arianna Huffington speak." "Oh" she said, "I'm sorry she was here last night..." My smile instantly turned into nervous laughter, then bewilderment and back to gut-wrenching laughter. Like I was going to have coffee with Arianna Huffington. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and so I accepted my disappointment-filled Friday night, holding my dignity high and knowing that something better would come of this.

On Sunday morning, I drove another three hours to Menlo Park to meet a girlfriend and attend a book signing by Nora Ephron. We sat in the second row, front and center, and I watched as Nora walked onto the stage with her signature black turtleneck and black leather pants. She captured everyone's attention with her sleek look and her one-liners filled with wit and profound intellect. I brought my copy of her latest book," I Remember Nothing," and stood in a long line to meet this icon -- the woman I had admired for years. As I approached the table where she was sitting, I saw her quickly sign each book presented to her and I began to panic about what I would say. I held in my hand a newly printed business card with my fancy title on it Agi Smith - Writer. In one small step I was standing before Nora Ephron and I blurted out like a schoolgirl, "I am your biggest fan!" She looked at me coyly and began to sign my book then looked up at me again. She scanned me head to toe and said, "Are you divorced?" Without missing a beat, I chuckled and said, "Of course I am, who isn't?" She smiled and said, "I want you to contact Sara Wilson our editor at Huffington Post Divorce and write for us."

"Write for us... write for us... did Nora Ephron just tell me she wanted me to write???"

My knees were shaking with excitement and then she said the words that forever changed the direction of my life: "Tell her Nora Ephron sent you."

I nearly passed out at the thought that I would get to send an email saying "Nora Ephron referred me... ". In her cursive writing, she wrote down Sara's email address and handed it to me. That afternoon, I wrote Sara an email and I have been blogging for the Huffington Post since. In one instant, Nora Ephron saw something inside me and altered the direction of my life forever. Because of her, I now have a national advice column, "Dear Agi", and I have had the opportunity to help others heal from divorce, broken relationships and the hardship that life can bring. She helped me achieve a goal I had set years before: to help others through my writing. To this day, that sticky note sits on my desk with its edges curled and tattered from being shuffled around. Every time I sit down at my desk, I see this sticky note and I am reminded how Nora Ephron changed my life, and hopefully through me, the lives of others.

I have never been able to get myself to throw the sticky note away and now I know exactly what I will do with it. I will frame it and place on my wall to remind me of the incredible woman who touched my life and the lives of so many. I am profoundly sad and yet so immensely grateful to this brilliant woman, prolific writer and a powerful force who believed in helping women rise to their higher ground. She was and still is my hero, my silent mentor and a constant role model. I still haven't met my other hero, Arianna Huffington, but I know that one day I will and when I do I will share my story of Nora and I. Who knows, maybe we will have that cup of coffee after all...

www.dearagi.com


Posted By Agi Smith At 4:12 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Friday, May 4, 2012

Dear Agi Column Featured in Focus Magazine




"Dear Agi" 

Featured in Focus Magazine


go to page 40

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Posted By Agi Smith At 6:23 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Friday, April 27, 2012

Stop Hating Your Ex

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10 Years Of Hatred -- Get Over It!

Posted: 04/26/2012 8:29 pm

Dear Agi,

I am a 54-year-old woman who has been divorced for ten years. In retrospect, the divorce was the easy part, but the events post-divorce have affected me the most. About four years after our divorce was finalized, my ex-husband told me that he was gay and that he had informed our three children (all teenagers and young adults) about it two years previously. He had asked them to keep this secret from me. Needless to say, I was devastated. Two of my children have suffered significant psychological distress, I believe, due to the above. Two years after this event, my ex-husband lost his license and business due to sexual misconduct with several clients (he is a psychologist.)

I can't seem to be able to move forward and stop blaming myself for marrying this man knowing he had serious issues and thereby not protecting my children. I am battling depression, panic attacks and I avoid being in any social situations. I did have a relationship with a former college boyfriend that ended. I, too, thought that we would get married and "live happily ever after." Boy, was I wrong. He dumped me unceremoniously after telling me that he "was no longer attracted to me." This has dramatically affected my self-esteem. I feel unworthy, unlovable and incapable of finding happiness.

I maintain so much anger toward my ex-husband for his actions and I struggle not to bad-mouth him to my children. Two of my children seem to be doing well; the third has aligned himself with my ex and rarely speaks to me. I have lost many friends in the past several years because they wouldn't stick with me throughout all the drama. This has added to my feelings of failure and loneliness. Fortunately, I have a wonderful career, which sustains me, but I am unhappy in most other aspects of my life.

Agi, I would appreciate any insight, suggestions, help that you can provide!

Sincerely,
Downtrodden

Dear Down, but not for the count;

Yes indeed, it sounds like you have had a very rough experience for far too long. I am going to try and address everything in chronological order because I don't want to miss anything you present. Let's start with the post-divorce shocker -- gay ex-husband. Shocked, I could understand, but devastated, why? What do you care what his sexual preference is post-divorce? You are both free to live your lives as you see fit and his asking your young adult children to keep it from you is his prerogative. I get that the first place you want to go is "our whole marriage was based on lies!" This is a self-destructive story your ego has concocted in your head, because the reality is, you and your husband had a successful marriage. If you had not married this particular man then you would not have these particular children, whom you love very much. Everything would have been different, including your children. For this issue I would like to see you change your point of view and live in gratitude for the union you shared with your ex and know that the two of you were meant to be. As far as his discrepancies in his career; again, I have to ask; Why do you care? This is no longer your problem, so stop wearing it. Try to show some compassion for the pain he must have felt all those years trying to be someone he wasn't. He must have been in agony constantly concealing his true nature and living like a CIA agent who had to remain undercover. Let it go and wish him peace.

Regarding your current emotional state of mind; depressed, panic attacks, avoiding social situations, well, I think those issues reach further back in your life than just to the years in which your ex-husband entered your world. I hear you when you talk about the former boyfriend ending it in a crappy way. His saying he is no longer attracted to you was unkind and unnecessary; however, it could serve you well if you are willing to look deep inside of yourself. What I'm hearing from you is that all your pain and anger is being triggered from external sources, when in fact, the cause lies within you. I know this is a real "ouch" to hear, but I have to be straight with you since I only have this one article to send you. The easy escape from our own pain and suffering is to place blame anywhere that isn't near you or your nasty ego -- by the way, I'm not calling your ego names, it's everyone's ego. It is such a slippery slope when we try to look externally for happiness or find blame in others for what we are responsible for internally. I wish there was a simpler way for you to discard your pain but the hard facts are, you have to do it yourself. I have ideas for you so hang on...

I really want to address your statement: "live happily ever after" with your fellow who was ignorant. First of all, happily ever after is not a realistic expectation for anyone. As humans, we are never in a constant state of any one emotion. In fact, we are more prone to bounce all over the emotional Richter scale. Therefore, placing an expectation into the universe that something will last forever in a static position is only our ego-centric mind being foolish. Pure trickery. This former college boy came back into your life to force you to look inside and ask important questions; Why am I so angry? Where does my anger stem from? And so on. Your anger towards your ex-husband or anyone for that matter is a cover for the fear that is lurking inside of you. Fear of survival, whether it be emotional or physical, can make us react with extremism. What's really going on here is your internal child was hurt somewhere along the line by someone she trusted long ago and she has been living in survival mode ever since. Today is the day you can help her walk out into the light and let her know that she is safe at this present moment. She can no longer be hurt by anyone and the two of you are safe and loved, by each other. You're not really angry at your ex, you are just stuck in an old story of betrayal, but it has nothing to do with him. Here is a good exercise for you; start by writing a letter to your ex-husband. Let him have it! You get fifteen minutes to spew all the gunk at him that you want, then, in the next fifteen minutes you will release him and tell him what was between the two of you is now over and he no longer has a hold on you. Tell him good-bye. Moving forward, everything in his life is between he and his maker. Don't send the letter. Keep it.

Listen up, my sweet spirited friend, you need to breathe and release all the fear that rattles up the anger, which inevitably only hurts you. Your friends were all teachers trying to let you know that spewing anger for long periods of time is toxic to you and those around you. You should never bad-mouth the father of your children. He is off limits to you and your opinion moving forward. Your only focus from this day forward should be to heal your internal self and discover the beautiful sapient being that resides inside of you. Whenever you feel the trembling of anger rising up into your throat, find a quiet spot, sit down, close your eyes and take a deep breathe. Then tell yourself that you are safe and whatever lies your mind is blabbing at you are simply not the truth. The only failure you speak about in this journey would be if you gave up on yourself. Move into your future with loving grace towards yourself and those around you. I promise you the anxiety and anger will dissipate. Love your life, because your life wants to love you.

Take great care my friend ~

If you have a question about love, marriage, divorce, or your breakup, please contact us at:agi@dearagi.com or www.dearagi.com

 

Follow Agi Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@AgiSmith

Posted By Agi Smith At 5:21 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Monday, April 23, 2012

The 5 Don'ts After Divorce



A Call To Action!

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How can we collectively reduce the Divorce rate

in this Country?



Posted By Agi Smith At 10:05 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, April 12, 2012

Make a Plan To STOP Divorce


It's time we make a plan to stop Divorce and the pain that goes with it.

What do you think would be a good solution?





Posted By Agi Smith At 8:56 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, March 22, 2012

10 Years Of Hatred - Get Over It!

Dear Agi,

I am a 54 year old woman who has been divorced for ten years.  In retrospect, the divorce was the easy part, but the events post-divorce have affected me the most.  About four years after our divorce was finalized, my ex-husband informed me that he was gay and had informed our three children (all teenagers, young adults) about it two years previously. He had asked them to keep this secret from me. Needless to say, I was devastated. Two of my children have suffered significant psychological distress, I believe, due to the above. Two years after this event my ex-husband lost his license and business due to sexual misconduct with several clients (he is a psychologist.)

I can't seem to be able to move forward and stop blaming myself for marrying this man knowing he had serious issues and thereby not protecting my children.  I am battling depression, panic attacks and I avoid being in any social situations.  I did have a relationship with a former college boyfriend that ended. I, too, thought that we would get married and "live happily ever after." Boy, was I wrong.  He dumped me unceremoniously after telling me that he "was no longer attracted to me."  This has dramatically affected my self-esteem.  I feel unworthy, unlovable and incapable of finding happiness.

I maintain so much anger toward my ex-husband for his actions and I struggle not to "bad-mouth" him to my children.  Two of my children seem to be doing well; the third has aligned himself with my ex and rarely speaks to me. I have lost many friends in the past several years because they wouldn’t "stick with me" throughout all the drama.  This has added to my feelings of failure and loneliness. Fortunately, I have a wonderful career, which sustains me, but I am unhappy in most other aspects of my life.

Agi, I would appreciate any insight, suggestions, help that you can provide!

Sincerely,

Downtrodden

 ~

Dear Down, but not for the count;

Yes indeed, it sounds like you have had a very rough experience for far too long. I am going to try and address everything in chronological order because I don’t want to miss anything you present. Let’s start with the post-divorce shocker – gay ex-husband. Shocked, I could understand, but devastated, why? What do you care what his sexual preference is post-divorce? You are both free to live your lives as you see fit and his asking your young adult children to keep it from you is his prerogative. I get that the first place you want to go is “our whole marriage was based on lies!” This is a self-destructive story your ego has concocted in your head, because the reality is, you and your husband had a successful marriage. If you had not married this particular man then you would hot have these particular children, whom you love very much.  Everything would have been different, including your children. For this issue I would like to see you change your point of view and live in gratitude for the union you shared with your ex and know that the two of you were meant to be. As far as his discrepancies in his career; again, I have to ask; Why do you care? This is no longer your problem, so stop wearing it. Try to show some compassion for the pain he must have felt all those years trying to be someone he wasn’t. He must have been in agony constantly concealing his true nature and living like a CIA agent who had to remain undercover. Let it go and wish him peace.

Regarding your current emotional state of mind; depressed, panic attacks, avoiding social situations, well, I think those issues reach further back in your life than just to the years in which your ex-husband entered your world.  I hear you when you talk about the former boyfriend ending it in a crappy way. His saying he is ‘no longer attracted’ to you was unkind and unnecessary; however, it could serve you if you are willing to look deep inside of yourself. What I’m hearing from you is that all your pain and anger is being triggered from external sources, when in fact, the cause lies within you. I know this is a real ‘ouch’ to hear, but I have to be straight with you since I only have this one article to send you. The easy escape from our own pain and suffering is to place blame anywhere that isn’t near you or your nasty ego – by the way, I’m not calling your ego names, it’s everyone’s ego. It is such a slippery slope when we try to look externally for happiness or find blame in others for what we are responsible for internally. I wish there was a simpler way for you to discard your pain but the hard facts are, you have to do it yourself. I have ideas for you so hang on… I really want to address your statement: ‘live happily ever after’ with your fellow who was ignorant. First of all, happily ever after is not a realistic expectation for anyone. As humans we are never in a constant state of any one emotion. In fact, we are more prone to bounce all over the emotional Richter scale. Therefore, placing an expectation into the universe that something will last forever in a static position is only our ego-centric mind being foolish!  Pure trickery. This former college boy came back into your life to force you to look inside and ask important questions; Why am I so angry? Where does my anger stem from? And so on. Your anger towards your ex-husband or anyone for that matter is a cover for the fear that is lurking inside of you. Fear of survival, whether it be emotional or physical can make us react with extremism. What’s really going on here is your internal child was hurt somewhere along the line by someone she trusted long ago and she has been living in survival mode ever since. Today is the day you can help her walk out into the light and let her know that she is safe at this present moment. She can no longer be hurt by anyone and the two of you are safe and loved, by each other.  You’re not really angry at your ex you are just stuck in an old story of betrayal, but it has nothing to do with him. Here is a good exercise for you; start by writing a letter to your ex-husband. Let him have it! You get fifteen minutes to spew all the gunk at him that you want, then, in the next fifteen minutes you will release him and tell him what was between the two of you is now over and he no longer has a hold on you. Tell him good-bye. Moving forward, everything in his life is between he and his maker. Don’t send the letter. Keep it.

Listen up, my sweet spirited friend, you need to breathe and release all the fear that rattles up the anger, which inevitably only hurts you. Your ‘friends’ were all teachers trying to let you know that spewing anger for long periods of time is toxic to you and those around you. You should never bad-mouth the father of your children. He is off limits to you and your opinion moving forward. Your only focus from this day forward should be to heal your internal self and discover the beautiful sapient being that resides inside of you. Whenever you feel the trembling of anger rising up into your throat, find a quiet spot, sit down, close your eyes and take a deep breathe. Then tell yourself that you are safe and whatever lies your mind is blabbing at you are simply not the truth. The only failure you speak about in this journey would be if you gave up on yourself. Move into your future with loving grace towards yourself and those around you. I promise you the anxiety and anger will dissipate. Love your life, because your life wants to love you.

Take great care my friend ~

If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your divorce, love life or break-up please submit here.

 

 

Posted By Agi Smith At 10:47 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Friday, March 9, 2012

Emotional Or Physical Abuse = Divorce

Dear Agi,

I have found the Divorce section of the Huffington Post to be one of the most fascinating places on the Internet.   I recently read an article that you wrote called "Divorce Over Infidelity."  The article stuck out because it was similar to my situation.   I am just about to turn 29.  I have a 4 1/2 year old and a 2 year old.  My husband I have been married 7 years.  He is an Active Duty soldier in the military and is currently not deployed.

The best way to describe our relationship is to truly compare it to a roller coaster.  When it’s good it’s great, when it’s bad, it’s torture.    Cliché, I know.  However, we have had a lot of highs, the births of our children, buying our first house, all the "things" that should qualify as a high.  We have had a ton of lows.  He has the worst temper, he has cheated on me twice that I know of. Most recently, he had an affair and the most gut wrenching part of it was that not only was it physical, but it became emotional too.  We were having an argument one night because I had walked outside when he had been drinking too much and I overheard him arguing with his girlfriend/affair. He was crying to her on the phone;

"I love you. You and your children are the first thing I think about in the morning." 

Needless to say, this set me off. Nonetheless, they continued to have a relationship, despite denying it continually.  They went behind not only my back, but her husbands as well.  During the course of all these events I began to withdraw from all areas of my life. I no longer cared if he went out of town for travel or if he went out with the guys.  I saw this as a liberating time to show that I could really live on my own and take care of my two wonderful boys by myself. At one point, I had a moment of weakness where I flirted with a co-worker, just flirting, nothing more.  My husband witnessed my flirting and to this day now treats me like I did the worst possible thing.  He now watches my phone bills, what I purchase, where I go and to whom I speak with.  He has become controlling. 

As I mentioned earlier, he has a horrible temper, something all his friends and family know about.  At my Holiday party for my office in December 2010, he became so inebriated that he lost control of who he was.  While we were driving home, he had convinced himself that the car was bugged, and that he had to "kill me" in order to save me.  Suffice it to say, it was a horrible night.  I drove him to his supervisor’s house not the police.  To this day, I am not sure why.  I figured I didn’t want my kids to have to deal with any of this.  He swore up and down he would never touch hard alcohol again.  Well you guessed it, that didn’t last long.  He was at a happy hour with the other woman (I forgot to mention he works with her) and he came home flipping out at me.  He broke my bedroom door down.  I finally said, either you leave or I will leave.  He packed a backpack and left for the evening.  He called me bawling hysterically.  He did the ultimate worse thing possible; he told our 4 year old that "mommy is making me leave." 

I consider myself a very smart woman in life, just apparently dumb in love.  I have a great job, a degree from a good school and two wonderful children.   Yet, I can’t seem to get my marriage right. A good friend who knows the situation is so concerned about my safety she has given me a key to her home in case I ever need to leave. However, when push comes to shove and he is putting me down, or getting upset at me, I can’t leave.   I have in fact saved him numerous times from being demoted or thrown in jail.  I think I am worried about my children and how would I be able to support them on my own.  I know I am doing the cliché thing by staying.  He keeps telling me he can change and he wants to and that he will spend forever proving it.  It will never happen Agi, will it?  We may go up that roller coaster, but eventually it’s going to come flying down until one of us gets hurt.  Do you think it’s possible for change?  Should a relationship even be a roller coaster?   

Sincerely,

Roller Coaster Wife

 ~

Dear Mother,

I name you mother because that is what you are first and foremost. This makes you the person who is responsible for caring enough for herself so that she can care for and protect her children. Let me get straight to the point:

Danger Will Robinson!!! (Red Hazard light flashing with the screeching sound of a warning buzzer bellowing.)”

Mom, you are in trouble and you need to get help now! I am very much an advocate of marriage and not divorce, however, when you tell me that you fear for your safety, which in turn means your children too are in danger you need to take action quickly. He told you he had to ‘kill you!’ This is a crisis situation and you must make immediate arrangements to extract yourself and your children from this environment until he gets the appropriate help he needs. At this point his indiscretions are minimal compared to his violent threats, behavior and misuse of alcohol.  Please get the support you need to help you make this move quickly and safely. There are many resources you can tap into. For example, you can go online to a women's shelter group and anonymously ask for help. It is very common amongst military wives who are being abused to not seek help for fear of ruining their husbands’ career. Please don’t let this stop you from seeking help. The military offers many programs for spouses in your position. One of them is to contact the Family Advocacy Program designed specifically for the military.  They can help you and your children transition along with getting your husband the help he needs.

My dear child, your husband's cheating is the very least of your problems. Your only focus right now should be to seek safety for yourself and your children and thereafter, you can begin to heal the wounds that you don’t even know are apparent. Any relationship that emulates a rollercoaster ride is one that will inevitably end with someone getting hurt either emotionally or in your case physically. You need to go to a different amusement park, one that offers you love, kindness, respect and compassion. You are a beautiful soul who should be cherished not abused or threatened. As to your question “It will never happen Agi, will it?” I can’t say yes or no. Sometimes people do change, but it is my experience that change only comes when someone has a primal scream internally shouting at them that they need help and must change. In other words, very rarely do people change. What I do know is that you are looking for the right type of change in your life and by doing so you will teach your children a better way. Be very proud of yourself that you are reaching out. I am guessing it has been a while since someone told you how special you are. I am here to tell you;

You are a unique sparkle designed specifically for this time and space. This makes you perfect and beautiful. This life is here to love you.’

Now, go get the help you need to love yourself.

I wish you all the best my friend ~

If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your divorce, love life or break-up please submit here.


Posted By Agi Smith At 10:48 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Friday, March 2, 2012

As Featured On The Huffington Post

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It's Complicated!

Posted: 03/12/2012 8:25 pm



Dear Agi,

I have read your columns on the Huffington Post and I am hopeful that you may have some insight regarding my story. I am a fifty-four year old woman and have been single for eight years. This past year has been exceptionally difficult for me. It began by dating an ex-boyfriend from college who didn't share that he had a girlfriend, and after testing the waters with me he told me about her and his decision to stay with her. That was a major let down but I somehow stumbled through it. This past July another old boyfriend from my twenties emailed me. We were quite serious back then and once he got into a Master's program he dumped me. I was a mess and it took me years to recover from this relationship. I always believed he left me because I wasn't good enough.In his email, he said he wanted to reach out and see what I had been up to for the past thirty years. He shared with me that he was married with children, etc. I emailed him back and told him about my last thirty years and I shared with him how devastated I was when he left all those years ago. His response was shocking! He told me he had loved me for the past thirty years and he was in a loveless marriage. I could not believe it! From here we began communicating daily until we both agreed to meet in person. He told me he asked his wife for a divorce and he wanted us to remain together for eternity. He took a job close to where I lived and we began the process of mapping out our future together, including finances, living arrangements, kids, getting married and growing old together. I was smitten and in love.

Two weeks before he was to move he called me and said: "Things were complicated."

He needed a few months to settle in and get situated before he could move forward with our relationship. After this I never heard from him again. Once again, it seems I am not good enough. I am a fool and I feel terrible. All I have ever wanted was a best friend, a partner, someone I could trust and spend my life with. He said all the right things and I believed him. Now I am left feeling depressed and trying to find a way to move forward. I can't imagine I will ever have another relationship because I am petrified of being hurt again. I just wish I could crawl under a rock and disappear. How do I get through this?

Yours truly,
Under a Rock

Dear Rock,

For starters darling, please stop dating any Ex's who left you and never, ever date a married man. Leave the past where it belongs -- behind you. It's never a good idea to go backwards in life; in fact, you should stay focused on the present moment and allow the wonderment of your being to unfold. Sadly, life doesn't work like a Hollywood movie where an old flame reappears and the two of you live happily ever after. Let's leave those stories to the creative minds of the big screen and we'll cope with the reality of living consciously in the present moment.

First, I would like to offer you my empathy. I know how painful it feels when love takes a wrong turn and I am so very sorry that your heart got bruised. This may be difficult to hear, but, I want you to ponder this and be open to what I am about to say: the behavior of these men had nothing to do with you not being good enough. This is an old story you produced long ago that keeps replaying in your mind, and it is not true -- so toss it out the window and start from scratch. I would like to see you do something different in the way you view yourself and your life. Think of yourself as a great writer and director and you are about to produce one of the best motion pictures in all of history. You get to pick any genre you want, decide on the location, develop the characters you see in your film of life and choose how the story will end. Make sure you fill it with adventure, grit, harmony and romance. As the writer and director, your end goal is to win an Academy Award. Therefore, you must be well thought out and precise as to what you really want to create in your life. Do you want to be the hero or the victim? I would like to see you as the leading lady, which will require you to bring out your internal charisma and bravado. You never want to be the woman who exclaims, "You had me at hello." She is a victim and will always feel desperate to a man. You want to be the character that says; "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!" I don't want to hear any more talk about you not being good enough -- Snap out of it!

From this day forward I want you to begin your day by writing down one attribute about yourself that is worthy of being loved and cherished. If you can't find that attribute, let me help you out: for starters, you should love and cherish the fact that you can breathe without the help of any machine. From this point of view you can only go up. Next, I want you to make a date with yourself once a week. On this date you are to go dancing, this could mean dancing in your own living room, I really don't care where, I just want you to be listening to some fun, good rhythm music that will help you get your groove on. Shake it baby until you feel your inner sexy self pouring out. The objective of these exercises is to develop a love for yourself and bring out the fun spirited woman who lives deep inside of you. You can't expect anyone to love and cherish you if don't do that for yourself. Baby girl, it's like they say in the movies; "If you build it, he will come..." Now go out there and rebuild your beautiful self. Carpe diem -- seize the day and make your life extraordinary!

I wish you all the best my friend ~

If you have a question about love, marriage, divorce, or your breakup, please contact us at:agi@dearagi.com or www.dearagi.com

If you have a love story to share please submit here

 

 

Posted By Agi Smith At 3:26 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Friday, February 24, 2012

Should I call off my separation?

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You Need A Spanking Not A Divorce

Posted: 02/24/2012 2:12 pm

Dear Agi,

A year and a half ago I left my husband of 30-years because I was unhappy with what our lives had become. We hung in together through hard times and celebrated many joys, including our grandchildren, but a string of disasters such as a death in our family, bankruptcy, along with my husband's seemingly perpetual dark moods following the end of his career led to a total breach between us. It became an emotionless, sexless valley of despair. So, I decided to spread my wings and fly. I was exceptionally heartbroken, but at the same time I was excited at the thought of starting a new life.

In short, I had an affair, which gave me back my self-confidence as a sexual and emotional being. My new lover and I met on business trips and we developed a strong sexual bond. However, I soon realized he was not "the one" by a long shot. Yet, the experience left me exhilarated and it made me feel alive again. My husband did not know about my fling and was therefore blindsided when I asked him for a divorce. He was crushed and pleaded with me that he could change. It all seemed too little, too late, but I agreed to a separation instead of a divorce.

I secretly joined an online dating site and had a bit of fun in the process. During our separation my husband became involved with another woman. At first I was furious, jealous and hurt even though I knew I had no right to be. I think he ended the relationship because of my reaction. My hurt caused by his affairactually seemed to bring us together as we tried to work through the confused state we found ourselves in. We began seeing a marriage counselor where we discussed our feelings for the first time in years. I told him about my affair but kept my post-separation dating a secret. We both began to change in ways we never had before.

Now days, we meet a few times a week, share dinner and have sex regularly. The sex is not electrifying, but it's good and the feelings between us are comfortable, intimate and warm. This is where I become confused. Agi, I have really enjoyed our separation, my husband has never been more attentive and appreciative. You could say I have it all. I get his steady love, attention and sex. I am considering taking him back; however, I am worried his 180-degree turnaround will disappear if we resume our old roles. I don't want to play the fool again. On the other hand, I don't want to lose the person I have invested so much of my life with and may still have a long future with. Is it just stupid hope, or do you think we can make it? Agi, I'm asking you; should I go back to him, or can I keep the best of both worlds and stay separated?

Sincerely, 
Alive Again

Dear Still Alive,

Your story is quite unique, mostly because people who have gone the distance and passed the thirty-year mark usually stay put. A part of me admires your moxie for making a drastic change in your life, but the other side of me thinks having an affair was not the best way to achieve it. I can hear your pain and frustration when you share the story of personal disasters; conversely, life is made up of ebbs and flows and the commitment you both made to each other over thirty years ago was not only a contract but an eternal promise:

'I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad (dark moods or good moods), for richer, for poorer (bankruptcy or lottery), in sickness and in health (death in the family or birth of a grandchild.)'

Somewhere along the journey the two of you got side tracked and didn't communicate to each other in ways that may have prevented the collision of your relationship. All that has brought you to the place where you now question whether to take back your husband or keep the best of both worlds. Hmm... Let's look at the obvious. You can't just stay separated forever and expect your husband to hang around and wait for you. At some point you need to have a come to Jesus moment with yourself and decide what it is you really want. In all honesty, you're behaving like a man going through mid-life crisis. He strays and then expects his wife to hang around and wait for him while he continues to go out and taste the fruits of other women. Not cool and not a formula for success. You both deserve better than that after spending thirty years of your lives together. I'm going to try and be gentle about this with you; You have a lot of nerve getting upset with your husband when he began dating after you had an affair and asked him for a divorce. You might as well have taken out the kitchen scissors and cut his twins off.

When a couple spends as many years together as you and your husband have, they tend to create a symbiotic relationship that will either have a negative or positive affect. In your case, it sounds like the symbiosis was turning into a mushy pile of mud. Your husband's dark moods may have been a reflection of what was going between the two of you, or in this case, not going on between the two of you.

I understand you're having fun dating, well, I have news for you -- dating is supposed to be fun! However, dating is tricky business; there are a lot of love addicts out there who are looking for the initial high you get in the early stages of a relationship. Some of them even mistaken it for love, but if you have learned anything through this process you should recognize by now what real love it. It's someone who loves you on Sundays as equally as they do on Fridays. So, if you want a deep visceral connection with someone you can trust, admire and respect for the rest of your life you won't find them by staying in the dating phase because you already have him.

Try being different and give your marriage a second chance. This doesn't mean you have to move back in together right away. Both of you should have to work a little to regain each others' trust. Start by creating some ground rules, which should include not dating anyone else while the two of you are dating. My rule of thumb when it comes to dating:

"If I am sleeping with you we are to be monogamous. Not only out of respect for what we may be creating but for physical safety."

Set up a time frame that you both agree on for moving back into the family home. Once you achieve this, schedule date nights, and once a week each of you are responsible to surprise the other. It could mean an evening of romance or a day of going scuba diving. Sometimes adding a little cayenne pepper to a relationship can heat things up in the most unexpected ways.

I wish you all the best my friend ~

If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your divorce or break-up please email us at: agi@dearagi.com



Posted By Agi Smith At 1:31 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Friday, February 17, 2012

Infidelity Doesn't Equal Divorce

Agi Smith

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Divorce Over Infidelity? Not So Fast...

Posted: 02/ 1/2012 3:00 pm

,

Dear Agi,

I have recently discovered the Huffington Post and I love it. Today I read your article "Does saying I'm Sorry Matter?" The article spoke to me, because I'm not sure saying "I'm sorry" in my current situation will make a difference. So here I am writing you for advice because my whole world feels like it is crumbling into a million itsy-bitsy pieces. 


My husband and I are in the process of splitting; well, it really kind of depends on the day of the week. We are in that stage where we both have moments and days where we think that we might be able to make it work and other days where we think, "It's over." Agi, how do we move through this stage and make the best decision for the two of us individually and for our family? We are still living together with young children.

There is a crucial piece of this puzzle I must reveal. My husband recently ended an affair, which I have known about for the past five months. He told me twice before that he ended it when in fact he did not. I feel so shattered and confused. How do I move forward after this affair has put a permanent blemish on all the years we have spent building our lives together? How can I ever trust him again? His covert behavior has made me become someone I don't even recognize. For example, every time he comes home late from work or goes out to the gym, I wonder if he is with her and is still lying to me. What are some good strategies for rebuilding the trust that is lost when there is infidelity?

Thank you for any help you can offer, 
Shattered & Confused

Dear Confused You're Not Shattered,

It's obvious that this is a very challenging time in your life. I feel your pain and commend your ability to stay calm and sensible about approaching this life-altering decision. I'm impressed that you haven't gone the route of playing victim and questioning why he cheated on you, because the why doesn't matter. What matters is whether the two of you can find your way back to being friends, partners and parents. Most men and women go straight to the position of victim and try to personalize the other person's behavior. For anyone who is reading this I want to make it very clear; the actions of another person have nothing to do with you ever. I can't emphasize this enough. Your husband's infidelity is a result of an internal struggle heis having and unfortunately, you and your family have been caught in the crossfire.

However, if you and your husband have not been intimate for a long period of time this should have been a red flag to both of you that there is trouble brewing. Intimacy is one of the most important aspects of any solid marriage. Infidelity however, is not the answer. An open flow of communication is crucial to any successful relationship. This doesn't mean he should be banished from the castle and thrown into the dungeon for eternity. However, if he really wants to keep his family together -- and I hope he does -- then the two of you will have to do a lot of work and be fully committed to helping each other rebuild trust again. I am by no means defending your husband, I believe when people lie or cheat there are two things to consider: is this behavior inherent in his personality, or, did he stray only this one time? If he has a history of being deceitful even about mundane issues, then yes, it is probably inherent in his personality and you have to either accept him for this trait or move on. On the other hand, if he has been a great husband, friend and father for all the years you have been together and he chose to make this catastrophic mistake, then maybe the two of you should find a way to reconnect and continue to build your lives together.

Recovering from any form of infidelity -- emotional or physical -- is not going to be easy, but it is plausible. I'm going to suggest a few options to help you with the questions you posed. First, I think it is important to release some of the dark tension this situation has brought onto both of you. Pick a day to spend together sans your children. Plan a fun outing like going to an amusement park or hiking in the mountains with a picnic in tow. During this day neither of you are allowed to discuss anything divorce related including the infidelity or any topic that is heavy. You are simply to have fun and keep your hearts light and free so you can see if you are still a mutual match at the core level of friendship.

If you find a spark of compassion and love for each other then your work as a couple is to stay fully open and honest with one another. This includes your husband's willingness to stay completely transparent with his comings and goings. All phone calls made by your husband should be disclosed to you anytime you need to ask him who is calling. Rebuilding trust is a tedious process and the only way to tackle it is to continue to have open communication -- but this does not include verbally bashing the other. Both of you should write a list of what you want to share with your life partner when it comes to your values and morals and see if you match each others' lists. If there are items on the list that don't match then discuss ways you can both compromise. It is utterly important you accept him for who he is and not try to change him in ways that will not serve either of you. Be aware that your mind will try to control him and the situation and when this occurs you need to stop yourself, take a deep breath and ask yourself, "Where is this coming from?" We are not meant to control anyone, we are only meant to be in acceptance. Do not acquiesce to the temptation of pointing your finger at him by telling him how awful he is. He is, after all, the man you chose to spend your life with, so look for the goodness that lies deep inside of him, the man you once fell in love with. Forgiveness can only begin internally. Once you get to a place of accepting yourself, him and your current situation, you will find a lightness unfold in your soul and it is then that you will realize you cannot get hurt.

This time in your life is an opportunity to recreate newness by allowing yourself to connect with your inner spirit, which has always been there for you. Remember, you are a sapient being whose promised birthright is to be happy. You are safe and loved first and foremost by yourself. Divorce doesn't have to be the only option, but if you both decide to go this route then be in acceptance of it and move forward with grace and dignity. Honor him for the father he is and the man that you once loved. Whatever you do, don't ever stop believing in the love that the two of your share for your children. You are bound eternally by those little spirits, so honor them because they deserve it.

Take great care my friend,

If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your divorce or break-up please email us at: agismith@comcast.net



Posted By Agi Smith At 2:16 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, February 16, 2012

Women & Money

THE FEARLESS WALLET: IMPORTANT MONEY QUESTIONS FOR WOMEN

Is it true that women can’t manage their money as well as men? Or are we just afraid of it?

Placing boys and their pricey toys on the mental shelf for a moment, let’s be honest: How many times have you yearned for that pair of designer shoes when you couldn’t really afford them? The ones with the black lace wrapped around the cream satin toes and the perfect heels – the ones that make your legs look long and luscious. They cost more than your rent and you know you can’t afford them, but as you slip them on your feet, the dialogue of desire begins:

Self: “I know I don’t have the money in my checking account and I need to pay rent with my next check. Hmm…I can put it on my credit card and I will stay vigilant and pay it off next month.”

“Enjoy your new shoes, Miss Smith, and thank you for shopping at Needless Markup!”

A month later, your credit card bill arrives and the warm fuzzy feeling of gorgeous kicks has turned into a full-blown bunion on your bank account. You find yourself crawling under the covers and praying to the gods above that somehow this week you will be the lucky lotto winner.

Women are earning more than ever, yet money is a topic of fear and discomfort for many of our sex. So if it’s any comfort, you’re not alone. (Although I wouldn’t get excited about this because collectively, we are part of a nation that has gotten ourselves into so much debt we’ve been downgraded from a triple A to a double A, and I’m not talking about cup size.)

It’s silliness to think women can’t budget, invest or manage their money as well as a man, but there are very real cultural factors affecting our gender when it comes to cash. As women, we are taught from early childhood to care for others and place ourselves last. Our natural instinct is to give everything we have away, leaving ourselves with nothing. In love, we give our whole heart away and any other organ we have if it means keeping a man. As mothers, we give our children every last morsel even if it means we starve to death. In life, we give away whatever we have as long as we fit in with the trendy crowd.

I counsel women frequently about money, especially in the wake of divorce, and the good news it’s not such a scary topic it’s been made out to be. Let’s talk about ways to avoid a financial disaster so we don’t have to move in together like Bea Arthur and Betty White in the Golden Girls.

If you are a married woman, I hope you stay in marital bliss forever, I do. But the facts don’t lie; up to half of you will end your marriage in divorce. Don’t shoot the messenger. I have interviewed hundreds of women who have gone through divorce and I can’t tell you how many times I have been told:

“I gave up my dream and went to work to support my husband while he finished school.”

The status quo won out, and these women trusted that their husbands would be the greater breadwinner. So, they put their hopes and dreams aside to build a life for their family. You see, we give, give, give. Nearly all of the women I have spoken to post-divorce have told me their financial situations are in dire straights. A woman is far more likely to live in poverty after a divorce than a man; despite expensive child support and alimony, most men eventually end up faring much better financially a few years out from a divorce than do women.

I pose this question to all of you, married (happily or not) or single:

“Why not prepare for war when at peace?”

The infamous Chinese General Sun Tzu famously said, “In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected.”

 As a married woman, you are an executive in your family corporation and you should be involved in all financial decisions.

If your husband is running the financial side of the household ask him to teach you all about it. Assure him it’s not because you are planning an exit strategy, but rather, a lifelong family strategy that involves being financially responsible.

As a single lady, find ways to save money and put it aside. (This goes for married couples, too.)

Every time you get a paycheck make sure you pay yourself first. A good rule of thumb is to take out 10 percent of your paycheck and put it away. Find an investment services company that offers a money market account where you will accrue interest. Many of these companies offer free classes at their local branches on financial planning, stock trading, and more.

The importance of taking these steps is to release your anxiety about money and get to know it better.

We all have fear that we don’t have enough money and we constantly desire more of it. Either way, money is a scary proposition and we are basically at war with it daily. Sun Tzu is correct; war is a matter of life or death and the journey there is either to safety or to ruin. I choose safety, and therefore, my solution for anything that scares me, is to self-educate. Take online courses about financial planning or basic accounting or just read financial magazines. By taking these steps you will subconsciously become more aware of your money and you will have less fear attached to it. On a higher level, rather than resisting information about your finances (“I’ll just put it on my credit card”) practice non-resistance. Whenever I let go of anything that I am holding on to tightly it turns around and begins to flow to me with great ease. The Buddhist’s have a great way of describing this:

“The ocean waves come crashing upon the shore then silently returning to the sea. If you walk into the wave and resist the swell you will stay stuck in it until you tire out and perhaps die. However, if you let the wave carry you it will wash you ashore safely. Your emotions are like a wave, they come crashing in and then they flow out. However, if you resist the emotion you will hold on to it and it will not leave. You must allow yourself to feel it, observe it, and welcome it. Then, and only then will it wash out of you.”

Ultimately, there is only one person you should rely on to take care of you and your financial future…you. Do it consciously.

Be mentally present every time you spend a dollar. Embrace your fear of money (in fact, embrace all your fears and watch them melt away). Trust that you will always be adding to your abundance and through this practice you will create wealth not just monetarily but spiritually as well.

If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your fear of money, please email us at: agismith@comcast.net.

Editor’s note: Agi Smith is a women’s advisor and author. Catch her articles about divorce, women and business, and learn more about her own personal story of triumph, at the Huffington Post.


Posted By Agi Smith At 2:06 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, February 4, 2012

Divorce Over A Gay Child? Really?

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Silicon Valley Divorce Over A Gay Child?

Posted: 09/06/11 06:44 PM ET

Dear Agi,

I write you today with great pain in my heart and an ample dose of endless shame. My husband of twenty some years is a high profile Silicon Valley executive and our world is extremely public because of his position. We have two grown children who are both college educated and model citizens that any parent could be proud of. I have always considered my family to be close, open and loving. No, we are not perfect, but we have muddled through difficult times and in the end found our way home to be a family. Our son has brought us much pride since he graduated from school and followed his father into the tech industry as a blossoming young executive. Our daughter has also made us proud when she graduated from college and went on to a successful career too. Recently, I finally realized why my little girl hasn't gotten married yet. It's not because she hasn't found her soul mate, she tells us she finally has, but he is a she.

Our daughter is gay, a lesbian and an enormous shock to us all. How did I not see this? Of course I love her no matter what, she is still our daughter and nothing will change how I feel about her. My husband on the other hand hasn't had the same reaction. He is furious, he feels she has been lying to us and he even told her she has shamed the family. He said he doesn't approve of her lifestyle choice and is unwilling to speak with her any longer. He is furious over how this will affect his public persona and refuses to discuss it further. Our daughter is broken by the words of her father and I am beside myself. I have never felt such anger and disgust for him as I do now. When he began to receive acclaim for his work, I admit, I lavished in the limelight and the accouterments that came with his success. Now, I would give it all up just to have my family back.

I have nowhere to turn because I live in a very public fishbowl and if were to share this with even one friend it will spread like fire throughout this famous valley. I feel desperate, scared and I don't know what to do. I want to break out of this life and shout my pain from a mountaintop but I feel stuck. I don't care about thisfamous life anymore and I want out! How can any parent turn their own child away with such hate in their heart? Does fame mean this much to him that he is willing to disregard his own family? I don't know who this man is anymore. I feel that divorce is the only way for me to proceed in this situation but I need some advice. How do I get out of this? Please help...

Sincerely, 
Desperate Silicon Valley Wife & Mother

Dear Silicon,

As a fellow mother, this is undoubtedly one of the most painful stories I have read and I thank you for having the courage to reach out and share your family's dysfunction. It saddens me whenever I hear about any form of prejudice. Somehow, I continue to hold out hope that people collectively have matured, and yet we still have to witness such painful ignorance.

Let me begin with the description of your family being close, open and loving; somehow those words do not fit the behavior you are describing. I am guessing your daughter has known about her sexual preference long ago and if she felt she was in an open family then why didn't she share this with you before? Probably because she feared she would encounter the reaction she has gotten from her Father. So, now on top of being disowned by her father her mother is considering divorce after twenty odd years and she will have to bear the burden of this too? Listen, I don't mean to sound harsh, well maybe just a little, but you can't honestly tell me you didn't see this coming? I used the word dysfunction earlier for a reason when referencing your family, because it is clear to me that your family has been defective for years. Imagine the burden your sweet daughter has been carrying all this time. Not being able to share her true self with her own parents. The most important responsibility we hold as parents is to love our children...no matter what. Your husbands behavior is outrageous, and quite frankly, disgusting.

I would imagine your husband has always held prejudices towards many situations, so you couldn't have been all that shocked when he held it against your own daughter. Where in the book of 'parenting' does it say that you get to choose how your adult child should live? If I may conjecture for a moment; I would guess you have more than one pink elephant living in your house. I'm not sure divorce is the answer to your problem in this particular situation. Your husband has shown you who he is long ago and his inability to show support to your daughter has put you on the spot to react...finally! Okay, I will stop lecturing now and try to give you some advice that will help you and your family send this elephant back out into the wild.

Your job right now is not to focus on you and your emotions. You must buck up and be emotionally present for your daughter. The first thing I recommend you do is tell her how very sorry you are that you never made it safe for her to come to you before. Let her know that you accept her completely for who she is and your pride of her is endless. Even though she is a grown woman she needs her mothers love and you should wrap your arms around her and hold her tight. When was the last time you held your daughter? Invite her to sit with you and bundle her up in your being for as long as possible. I promise you in that moment you will witness the miracle of love and the healing powers of physical contact.

Now let's deal with the anger at your husband. Anger is simply a mask for the fear that resides deep inside of you and it may also be a reflection of how you feel about yourself. Ask yourself what you're so afraid of. Money and power can be very seductive but it can also be a dangerous drug that can destroy the beautiful spirit you were meant to be. I believe you lost your purest self long ago, but the good news is, she still resides inside of you. So my dear, the choice is yours, you get to decide how this story ends. Let me offer an alternative to ending in divorce... Starting over with love. Here's how;

Your husband clearly had a knee jerk reaction that was tided up in his ego. My belief in both the human spirit, and your husband, is that he will come to his good senses and love your daughter just the way she is. I suggest you have a heart to heart with your stubborn husband (are there any husbands who aren't stubborn) and start with the hugging exercise. No words, just wrap him in your arms. Remind him of the day your daughter was born and the joy the two of you sensed when you first laid eyes on your precious little girl. Reminisce how you both felt when you held your baby girl and how both your hearts broke the first time you heard her cry. Now, ask him when was the last time he held his little girl. Even his Silicon Valley persona will not be able to deny the love he has for his daughter. Finally, find the laughter and joy together. Life doesn't have to be so serious. Ask him;

Who say's it has to be Prince Charming to make our daughter happy? Maybe, it's Princess Charming who will make her happiest!

As a parent all we want for our children is health and happiness. From what you've described your family has it all. My advice to you both is to find gratitude in your daily lives. Ask your Silicon Valley hotshot husband what his neighbor Steve Jobs would do in this situation. I am pretty sure Mr. Jobs might tell him to live and love everyday as if it were his last...

Divorce doesn't have to be the solution for all marital woes. Sometimes reminding ourselves of where we began can jolt us into the present with a renewed sense of appreciation. You are a woman with many blessings, start counting them...

I wish you all the best my friend ~

If you have an outrageous marital situation and you live in Silicon Valley email us at: agi@dearagi.com


Posted By Agi Smith At 3:12 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Me and My Body

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Every Woman's Body Has a Story and Here Is Mine...

Posted: 07/07/11 08:00 PM ET



My body and I have a long history together and it wasn't until recently that I recognized the true friendship and loyalty my body has unrelentingly given me. We are now entering into our 49th year together and as I look back over all our adventures I can't help but admire her. I have no recollection of when she was tiny, pudgy and cute, although I wish I did, because it may have been the only time I would have looked at her with non-judgmental eyes and innocent love. When we were in grade school she embarrassed me regularly because she was so darn skinny. Everyday I would look for creative ways to hide her by dressing her in baggy pants and oversized tops just to conceal those bird legs. No matter how much chocolate I shoved in her mouth or Doritos I forced her to munch on she just wouldn't gain a pound. All my classmates taunted us regularly and relentlessly because of our boyish figure. It wasn't until later in life I wished I could have that boyish figure back and the freedom to eat chocolate and Doritos guilt free. My shame of her waif like body left her sweaty and miserable almost every summer, yet, she never complained and she always had the fortitude to carry me on any new adventure I desired.

As the years passed she began to change her appearance by growing two little lumps on her scrawny frame, unmanageable hair and a set of crooked teeth making her look like a really ugly boy, or as my parents used to say, "an ugly duckling." Again, I was totally unsympathetic to her and would curse her for her ugly self. Even with all my loathing of her she stayed true to me by being strong, healthy and agile allowing me to play, swim, learn and explore the world around us.

The entry into puberty brought continuous change and I stayed committed to hating her for not mutating in a way I believed would have brought both of us joy.

We were clearly not on the same page.

Somewhere in our 20s we grew us some long curly hair, which I promptly bleached blonde, obviously her choice of color was in poor taste. I still wasn't happy with her legs, stomach, rear end, nose...

Oh, let's face it, she was just not cutting it!

I had to push her daily to exercise and eat only what I thought would serve me not her. We spent our entire 20s fighting like two little old ladies. Just like a couple heading for divorce we grew to hate each other, only in this case, there wasn't a judge in the land who would be able to separate us.

I was stuck with her and she was stuck with me.

She was needier then a bad boyfriend, always asking for food or sleep and the more she asked the less I gave her. Instead, I would punish her with hours of Olivia Newton John's Let's Get Physical aerobics and running as often as I could. Only then would I offer her a cup of frozen yogurt to shut her up. She had no idea of the pressure I was under to make her look good, not to mention the pressure of finding a boyfriend. The only girls the boys were interested in at the time were tall, lanky, big bosomed blonde bombshells.

Come to think of it, I think that's all they are still interested in. What nerve my body had to stop growing when we hit 5'4!

By the time we arrived to our 30s we were at an all out war with each other. We started out the decade by tearing our knees into shreds during a ski trip. I remember waking up in the hospital after surgery begging her to heal and allow me to walk again. Being the devoted friend she took our crumbling legs and walked us back to a place where we can still exercise today. Nevertheless, I continue to scold her for our knees perpetually screaming like girls, and they in turn, relentlessly continue to holler back at me. I am of the firm belief that someday I will teach those patella's to work for me not against me. Its not like they have a choice, if I don't exercise I get cranky and when I get cranky I tend to drive into bad neighborhoods, which is often inside my own head. I remind myself that my body will forgive me... eventually.

One day in our late 30s my body and I decided to change the world...we got pregnant. During this time it was my turn to show compassion towards my body as she stretched, bloated, got sick and winced in pain. I even allowed her to eat all the foods she craved; chips, cookies and lots of French fries -- I still allow her a generous amount of flexibility when it comes to French fries. What I didn't allow for was the idea of having anyone use her as a milking cow. We were not going to breast-feed and that was my final answer! This was the only attribute of hers that I really felt proud of and I was extremely protective of them. She on the other hand really didn't care what I said and during the pregnancy she allowed them to grow into the size of two peaches on Barry Bonds type steroids. I could see the storm that lay ahead of us as we got closer to giving birth. In fact, I was convinced we would be giving birth to a teenager because we were pregnant for what seemed like an eternity. We inched towards the last days of our pregnancy very lovingly and for the first time I felt we were a team. She was stretched as far as she could be without popping and I was exhausted listening to her kvetch for the past nine years, oh, I mean, nine months, but we were a united front. Together we gave birth to the most beautiful little spirit, she was pink and perfect, 
until...
until...

the doctor told us she was very ill and would probably "not make it"
not make it...
not make it... 
not make it...

Like a fly stuck in a jar I was bouncing around in my brain feeling helpless and scared. My body, well, she was calm and knew exactly what to do. She marched into the ICU and told the nurse to hand that baby over to her and then she created another miracle... she began to feed our precious baby with the two most valuable assets we had... our breasts. Eleven years later, our baby girl is growing her own bumps and she continues to be our little miracle.

Today, I stand before myself in the mirror and see the hips that were once boyish padded with love, love that carried our little girl for years every time she looked up at us and said, "uppy." Our face is lined with many wrinkles, wrinkles that were once an enemy, now they represent pages in our book of life and they tell the story of a beautiful friendship between my body and my mind. Together we have traveled many seas, chased dreams, caught moonlight and have now begun to grow old...er. We are kindred spirits brought together in this life span and she has generously loaned me her vessel to help me sail through my journey of this existence. A day -- hopefully a long time from now -- will come when we must part ways and I will need to lay her down to rest permanently. Now days, I try to tell her how much I love her, how beautiful she is and how sorry I am for the years I abused her, disrespected her or let her down. She rewards me daily with a renewed sense of energy and continuous health. Every morning she places our two feet on the ground and takes us anywhere I wish to go. At times I still look at her and feel disappointed in her shape and how she is beginning to show the signs of an old weathered ship, but then I remind myself how far we have come and how we still have so much to do. Sometimes I see her struggling, but she never gives up, she just keeps going even when she is pooped. I love my body, and she has shown me time and again how much she loves me. She is beautiful, superlative and uniquely one of a kind. We are perfect together and I am eternally grateful for her choosing to take me on this glorious ride... My body and I have a long ways to go with many more stories to tell, but for now, I am happy to say that we are a true love story...

If you and your body have a story to share please contact us here.



Posted By Agi Smith At 9:03 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finding The Perfect Man...

Agi Smith

Posted: January 6, 2011 09:04 PM





Finding the Perfect Man Après Divorce


perfectMan.jpg

The advice people gave me after my divorce was to find a nice guy. As if this would be the cure-all for my life falling apart. In hindsight, it's hard not to burst into a full-blown mirth over the whole concept, falling out of one relationship with broken wings and expecting to fly into another successfully without repairing oneself. I'll be honest, at the time I too believed finding a nice man would be my cure all. Boy, was I wrong! Its good to know I have moved forward in a more mature fashion since then.

It all began with my post-divorce girlfriends telling me about the lists they were writing outlining the qualities of their perfect man. A lot of the attributes were the same across the board; nice, handsome, rich, funny, loyal, mind numbingly boring.... While others had some rather unique attributes; body of Adonis, Mega CEO, famous, never married, dream on, dream on.... I too found myself writing a list. It was hard not to be encouraged to do so since some of my friends ended up with a man that matched most of their wants. Even Oprah has suggested writing a list of your perfect man to help manifest him. Surely, if Oprah says I can manifest a man via a list then of course I had to write one.

As I read my list nightly, I envisioned a puff of smoke rising up out of my journal swirling around me and in a poof my perfect man would appear. Clearly, this never happened and I quickly realized finding the perfect man could easily turn into a second full time job. Eventually, I generated some traction in my hunt via friends who set me up on blind dates with the guy that was perfect for me.

First, there was Terrance, a smart handsome successful attorney. Our initial date and ahem, last, went on for hours, filled with interesting conversation and mutual divorce stories. Everything was going swimmingly well until he told me that his mother was the final decision maker when it came to his personal life. Listen, I am all about a guy who loves his mom, but the vision of him driving me out to the dessert with a shovel and duct tape in his trunk after his mother disapproved of me just wouldn't get out of my head. Then there was Rick, handsome, VP of a public company, divorced with a young daughter, and as a bonus he had a cute smile. We met for a glass of wine on our blind and final date, at a quaint French Bistro. After five minutes of niceties, he began sharing tales of his recent egregious divorce and how he hired a pit bull for an attorney. Jubilantly, he chirped on how he went for his ex's jugular. He was nearly singing in delight at his witty and evil retorts toward his soon to be ex and her attorney. Two hours later, after not having eked out one word, he said; 

"You were so wonderful to talk with I would love to see you again."

Are you kidding me? All I could think was I hope I wasn't that bad during my divorce.


I've had so many of these fab blind dates it's a stunner I haven't been offered a free dog by now. I began to wonder if Mr. Perfect really existed or was he simply a character constructed by the creative minds of Hollywood. After all, I could see myself dating Tom Hanks - he was so cute in Sleepless in Seattle, the perfect partner with the perfect child and the perfect circumstance of no ex-wife. When it comes to Hollywood, everyone knows that a lasting marriage is a statistical anomaly, so why do we eat their romantic garb and believe that such a fantasy could translate into our lives? I'll tell you why; because, no matter how much it hurts or disappoints, love will keep on fogging our clarity allowing ourselves to continue to search and crave more of it. We will starve without it, so we forage through life in pursuit of our proverbial soul mate no matter the cost. The cost emotionally, physically, financially or spiritually is great, yet, we still move onward with a Panglossian verve to achieve this emotion called Love, yet again and again and again.

There is no doubt love and marriage is a mystifying phenomenon, driving people to behave in the strangest of ways. At the end of my divorce I found myself curled up in a ball, listening to unrequited love songs, sobbing breathlessly, and reaching what I believe was the closest I ever hope to see the depths of hell. Then, just like childbirth, I forgot the pain and forged ahead to look for the latest version of the drug called love. Why can't life be like the perfect sitcom, with a kick ass beginning, middle and The End, where we can always find humor? Unfortunately, life doesn't always play out like a sitcom, unless you're Jerry Seinfeld. Let's face it, our beginnings have already been written, but our middle and endings are reliant upon our ability to internally write our own humor filled sitcom. And that is exactly how I have moved forward in my life, living it filled with joy and laughter and the ability to create my own happy ending. I finally discovered divorce is not a destination it's a journey. It is my firm belief without the failure of my marriage I would never have been able to succeed in the most important area of my life, me. My love of self and internal joy has grown exponentially because of the deep soul searching I have done après divorce. We all need to just calm down and let life unfold as it is suppose to without placing pressure on ourselves about needing a soul mate to complete us. Cuz, the reality is, Tom Cruise has yet to burst into my living room to exclaim;

"You - complete - me."
Nor has my best friend like Harry from When Harry Met Sally proclaimed;

"When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."
What I do believe is translated perfectly by one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's characters;
"All life is just a progression toward, and then a recession from, one phrase - I love you."

No matter how difficult my divorce was I still remain a great paladin for the justice of my heart, which remains wide open. I will not settle for less than what I am offering me. Loving and cherishing me, showing compassion to others and myself and speaking the truth all the while laying on the same common ground with my partner - wherever he may be. Divorce hasn't made me bitter nor has my endless hunt for the perfect man. Who knows, some day I may discover another soul who matches me and together we will experience something new, something that has never been. I now trust myself enough that if and when my perfect man comes along, somehow I will just know it. 


Posted By Agi Smith At 5:38 PM • Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)
Life is a fast moving train; we live, we love, we work and we die. The in-between better be good. Ask Agi for advice to help make your in-between exceptional!

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