Living Happily Ever After


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A New Year, A New Life

It’s a new year–a time to reflect on the past, learn from it, and also to look forward to the new adventures, opportunities for growth and the many other “unexpected” things life brings. As such, I have reflected lately on many things. (After all, it has been almost five years since I began this blog and nearly six years since I began my unexpected life–a life I’m so busy living that I hardly have time to write about it much less share the lessons I’ve learned from it!) And after all is said and done, one memory stands out in my mind.

It was July 2009. I had just moved to Utah and was getting things settled in my new home. I entered the laundry room, closed the door to sweep behind it and came face to face with a poster left by my home’s previous occupants. (It was so perfect for my situation at that time, I wondered if they knew about me and had intentionally left it for me.) It said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Wisdom from Dr. Seuss.

I couldn’t stop the tears. (They came easily and frequently back then.) And as I stood there sobbing because of everything that had happened, crying because of everything that was over and wondering how I would ever smile again much less smile because anything had happened, I realized that should be my eventual goal and the eventual outcome for everyone living life, unexpected as many of those lives turn out to be.

Reflect on the past, learn from it, and then move forward (with a smile!) choosing to use the experiences that come to become better. Perhaps Jeffrey Holland said it best: “As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.”

Welcome, 2015.

Welcome, unexpected life, whatever it turns out to be.

I’ve learned for myself that every end is also a new beginning. That every life, even the unexpected ones, have the potential for joy and happiness–all it takes is moving forward, carrying on through the difficulties, never quitting, being thankful for what you DO have, and continually striving for happiness and joy no matter what happens.

Life “ain’t over till it’s over.” (Yogi Berra) So hang in there, this year and in every year to come.

And now I end this in the manner of every good story and with what I hope will always be said of me:

She lived happily ever after. (After the hard times, after the difficulties, after everything and even sometimes, despite them! Haha.)





The Speech Concluded: ‘R’ is for Resilience

The original definition of resilience had to do with a material’s ability to resume its shape or position AFTER being bent, stretched and compressed: the ability to “bounce back.”

To help you bounce back, I recommend the following:

1. Reflect. Think about other challenges you’ve faced and how you successfully overcame them. Do those things.

2. Write about your feelings. Writing processes thoughts and feelings differently in the brain by putting words to them. Writing about something can change the way you view it. Interestingly, I heard about a 1994 study on job loss that found that participants who wrote about their loss 30 minutes each day for five consecutive days found work significantly faster than those who didn’t.

3. Find the lessons in your loss. Writing can help you do that, too. No matter how bad the circumstances ask, “What can I learn from this?” These lessons can help you avoid giving up despite setbacks, too.

4. Reinvent yourself. Sometimes, you have no other choice–you lose your entire life (like I did) and you’re forced to create a new one. If you aren’t forced to completely reinvent every aspect of a new life, learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, join a new group or meet some new people.

5. Move forward! The shortest way to the other side is through your challenge. Don’t be a pickle sucker. Get through your challenge and move on. And “suddenly” (no guarantee on how long it takes!) you’ll realize your smile is real–not something you’re faking for your children or the world. You’ll realize, with shock, you feel like your “old” self again. You’ll realize your new life is good, although not exactly the same, as the one you lost. And you’ll realize that you’re happy.

So…believe in wearing lipstick. Believe in pink.

Laugh, it’s the best calorie burner.

Be strong when everything seems to be going wrong.

Remember that happy girls are the prettiest ones.

Believe that tomorrow is another day. Believe in miracles.

And you’ll find yourself living your own personal one. Your “happily ever after.”

Ad-libbing to the Max: The Unexpected Life

“If life is just a stage, then we are all running around ad-libbing, with absolutely no clue what the plot is. Maybe that’s why we don’t know whether it’s a comedy or tragedy.” Bill Watterson

Three years ago, I lost the life I’d known and loved for most of my adult life and was thrust into a life I never expected.

The life I live today is different in every respect from the one I lost. Sometimes, this far into it all, it feels like the previous life, the fallout and the consequences my children and I have endured as a result of the Ponzi scheme perpetrated by my former husband happened to someone else—in someone else’s life. Sometimes, it hardly feels real anymore. And then, sometimes, things happen that remind me all of it was all too real!

As if the life I now live isn’t proof enough, occasionally I find myself on television. Tonight, it will be national television. “American Greed” on MSNBC, to be specific; an episode featuring my ex-husband dubbed by others as “The Mormon Madoff.” While some of the interview based on our experiences focused on the tragic aspects of the unexpected revelations of Shawn Merriman, I did my best to find a few comedic moments as well (to laugh is sometimes the only way to get through tragedy of unexpected proportions). And of course, living and enduring through all of it, has required I “ad-lib to the max.”

What do you do when your life ends in one moment and you find out everything is gone? What do you do when you discover your husband of 20 years, the man you have known and loved most of your adult life, has been living a double life and deceiving you, your children and the rest of the world? What do you do when you find yourself the sole parent and support of four children? What do you do when government agents enter your home and seize everything of value that you once thought was yours? What do you do when…?

You pick yourself up and carry on. You teach your children not just how to survive tragedy, but to triumph. (A life skill they’ll need throughout their lives.) You look for the good in what you’re left with and smile (although it takes some time before the smiles become real again.) And you rebuild, out of the ashes, something even better than you had before.

The Unexpected Life.

And while I have no idea of the content of tonight’s show, that’s what I hope shines through in my life and in the words of this blog. Because every life, no matter what happens, is worth living. That’s just one more thing my unexpected life has taught me.

Better Than Spock

“My first crush was Spock. I thought it didn’t get any better than Spock.” (Selma Blair)

Selma’s wrong. It does get better. Donny TOTALLY beats Spock! No contest.

I know, because I met him. (It was work related, I’m in PR and he’s the spokesperson for my company’s product.)

I’m too old and sensible to have been starstruck when I first met Donny Osmond (or maybe it’s that I was too frazzled  to stop and think about the fact I was meeting a celebrity because I was late—just the kind of thing you want to be when you’re meeting a legendary entertainer, beloved by generations, for the very first time.) But I confess I found Donny absolutely professional, energetic, friendly, looking and acting much younger than his chronological age. However, despite his accomplishments and talents, I came away from meeting him for the first time convinced that his greatest talent may be his people skills—remembering names, calling people by their names, making everyone feel at ease around him, his friendly manner, etc…It was very impressive.

Not only that, Donny is wise: ”If you’re climbing the ladder of life, you go rung by rung, one step at a time. Don’t look too far up, set your goals high but take one step at a time. Sometimes you don’t think you’re progressing until you step back and see how high you’ve really gone.” So true.

Donny has values: “My father instilled in me the attitude of prevailing. If there’s a challenge, go for it. If there’s a wall to break down, break it down.” Go, Donny.

And he’s genuine: “I never smile unless I mean it.” :)

Although I interact with Donny in a professional capacity, I remain a fan. In fact, I’m an even bigger fan having met him and because I work with him. I also admire his humility. When he emails it’s “Hi Andrea, Donny Osmond here…” (as if I might not know who he is if he didn’t tell me!)

Yep, the unexpected life takes us down some very unusual paths. When my old life fell apart in 2009 and I thought my world had ended, or in those early days following my return to the workforce when I fled to the women’s restroom several times each day and cried over having to leave my children all day and work full-time for the rest of my life, I confess I never saw Donny Osmond in my future.

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Still experimenting…in the unexpected life.

And Dinner Was Served

“Men are like fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and its our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you’d like to have dinner with.” (Kathleen Mifsud)

Unless you’re #5 and you start out mature (ie. older) and YOU do the stomping by dumping your fiancee BEFORE dinner! It happened like this…

On that fateful Sunday night, #5 had invited his family to my home for dinner. He arrived early to help with preparations, all of our children were in the basement and we were in my kitchen. Somehow we got on the subject of two children (one of his, one of mine) and we had a disagreement.

“Thus, we see that one of the obvious origins of human disagreement lies in the use of noises for words.” (Algred Korzbyski)

He dug his heels in in defense of his son, I dug my heels in in defense of my son, and things degenerated from there. It got so petty we even argued about the boys’ ages. When I suggested his son was the older child so he should set more of the example, he corrected me, saying his son was just one year older so they were basically the same age. In a burst of maturity I got even more petty by correcting the age difference: “Well, if you’re going to get so specific and picky about it, your son is actually 19 MONTHS older–and two years older in school!” (Wow. 19 months. Two years in school.  That’s a lifetime. Petty, I know.)

Unexpectedly, he stood up and said he would get his son and leave. He had NEVER done that before, by the way. He turned and walked out of the room. I stood there, alone in my kitchen, stunned.

I was dumbfounded.

Leave? Because of a disagreement? When his family was due to arrive any minute? We hadn’t had many disagreements our entire engagement–I think I’ve chronicled all two of them–but he headed to the basement to call his son. For some reason, I followed him.

“You’re just going to leave?” I asked.

He was. He said he was sorry, but that he just couldn’t do it anymore. That maybe the timing was bad. That he’d never planned to get married until his son was 18, but then he’d met me and it had changed everything. However, after all of the time we had spent together and during the course of our long engagement, there were things that hadn’t changed and he didn’t know what else to do–so he was leaving.

I was appalled. “You’re going to leave, without even fighting FOR us?”

Before he could answer, in the pause, the doorbell rang.

His family.

It was like a bad movie.

Too late to leave, #5 expressed his displeasure with a roll of his eyes, muttered, “Oh, CRAP!” and then kicked into performer/entertainer mode. He answered the door with a smile, acted like everything was fine and normal, was friendly to everyone (except me) and prepared to serve dinner. Unfortunately, I’m not an actress.

His brother walked in, took one look at me and asked, “Andrea, are you all right?” To which I lied, “Yes, fine!” He looked at me, puzzled, and asked again, “Are you sure? You look tired or something.” I changed the subject and carried on. Or attempted to, anyway.

Later, as the kids came up for dinner, my high school son walked in, took one look at me and asked, “Mom? Are you all right? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I lied.

And dinner was served.

“Here they are, top of the food chain, and dinner is served.” (Jeffrey Jones, “The Devil’s Advocate”)

Are You SURE?

“Madam your wife and I didn’t hit it off the only time I ever saw her. I won’t say she was silly, but I think one of us was silly, and it wasn’t me.” (Elizabeth Gaskell)

When you have children, meeting the other parent of your fiance’s children is part of the engagement leading to remarriage experience. It sort of snuck up on me. So although I don’t know what I was expecting that meeting to be like, it wasn’t what I expected at all.

We were at an event for #5′s oldest son. I didn’t know anyone, but #5 had been very good to introduce me to everyone. At some point he asked me how I was, if I was having fun and if I’d met everyone yet. I said, “I think so. But there’s an older woman here who looks a LOT like your oldest daughter that I haven’t met yet. Is she your ex-wife?”

He gazed in the direction I was looking and said, “Yes, that’s her. Come on, I’ll introduce you.”

We walked over to where she stood, #5 introduced us and then he got out of there! My conversation with his ex-wife was brief. She told me #5 is a really good person. She thanked me for being kind to her children. And then she said something about wanting me to know she would never do anything to cause a problem or come between us.

I appreciated her positive comments, but it was all a little surreal for me. I’d never expected to be divorced, much less getting remarried and having a conversation with someone’s ex-wife! And to have to discuss the drama ex-spouses can be (when I’m not a drama queen AT ALL) almost mortified me. I didn’t quite know what to say, so I agreed with her that #5 is a really good person; I told her how much I loved her children; and then said something like, “Oh, I’m sure you would never do anything–especially when there’s no reason to as I know I came around long AFTER your divorce–we don’t even need to talk about it, but thanks for saying that.”

Here is what I remember thinking:

“Am I REALLY having this conversation?” (The drama potential is SO NOT me.)

“She’s older than I imagined.” (I later found out she is older than #5; I don’t know why I didn’t expect that.)

“Wow. She is SHORT!” (I think the top of her head hit somewhere between my elbow and my shoulder. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that, either.)

“I really like her.”

Afterward, when we were driving home, #5 asked me for my thoughts about the day. I told him my feelings and then said, “But you’ll be amazed who, of everyone, I really liked.”

“Who?” he asked.

“Your ex-wife,” I replied.

And since I’ve always been a big believer in marriage and families, especially intact ones, I couldn’t help but add, “Are you SURE you shouldn’t see if you can put your original family back together? Your ex-wife seems nice. Your children could have their parents together again. Your ex-wife wouldn’t have to struggle… We could take a break while you see what you could work out. I would completely support you in that.”

I thought it was a very kind, generous offer on my part–I knew what I felt about #5 and what I would be giving up for him to do that, but I felt I had to suggest it, to do my part to see if there couldn’t be one less broken family in the world. Instead, #5 looked at me like I was completely looney. And in the interest of being concise and discreet,  I’ll sum his response with two words: “No, thanks.”

“Well, whaddya expect in an opera, a happy ending?” (Bugs Bunny, “What’s Opera, Doc?” 1957)

I sure do. Which is why on one other occasion during our engagement, I made the same offer to #5 again and asked, “Are you SURE you shouldn’t see if you can put your original family back together?”

To which he replied, “Andrea, you can decide you don’t love me. You can decide you won’t marry me. But no matter what, and even if it means I’m alone the rest of my life, the option you’re suggesting is not something that will ever happen.” And then, with a smile, he told me if I suggested such a thing again he might get really, really mad.

I may be slow, but I got it.

I decided I had done all I could do on that front, so I’d just enjoy the opportunity that was mine and continue to work toward my own happy ending.

“I’ve always felt that life is a novel, and part of it is written for you, and part of it is written by you. It’s up to you to write the ending, ultimately.” (Lynn Johnston)

A Hairy Proposition: Life

“Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.” (Author Unknown)

As I write, “Hairspray” is on t.v. and it has gotten me thinking of Tracy Turnblat. Now there was a girl with hopes and dreams and challenges. She didn’t necessarily have everything going for her, but she didn’t quit. She managed to make her dreams come true despite her unexpected challenges in life–and never stopped singing about it, or dancing!

Tracy was more than a cute, perky bouffant. She was on to something. In fact,  I think we don’t have to look past the strands of our own hair for the keys to living a happy life.  (And not to tout my credentials or anything, but having had the 60s pixie cut, the 70s “Dorothy Hamill”, the Farrah Fawcett do, Olivia Newton John’s “Xanadu”–ribbons streaming down the side twists of my hair, the 80s bob, the 90s “Rachel,” and my share of perms and highlights, I like to think I know what I’m talking about.) Here’s what I’ve gleaned from…hair.

How can I control my life when I can’t control my hair?” (Author Unknown)

Lesson #1. You can’t control life or the unexpected things that happen. Don’t even expect to. Just know sometimes things beyond your control are going to bless your life, and you’ve just got to “relax” until your hairstyle becomes you again.

“It is foolish to tear one’s hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness.” (Cicero)

Lesson #2. Tearing your hair out, won’t improve the situation. Baldness doesn’t always make sorrow sweet, and I don’t think it’s conducive to dating (if you’re a woman.) Scream into a pillow, punch a pillow if you must, but then plaster on that smile (fake as it may be in the beginning sometimes) and press forward. Things WILL get better. And until they do, take it easy on your locks.

“Hair is the first thing. And teeth the second. Hair and teeth. A man got those two things he’s got it all.” (James Brown)

Lesson #3: Count your blessings, especially in the midst of adversity. (I’ve had my bad attitude days of counting only two blessings: that I was still breathing and that I was a mother, but I still found two!) We’re all richer than we realize. And James is right: hair and teeth? Check. You’ve got it all!

“Gorgeous hair is the best revenge.” (Ivana Trump)

Lesson #4: Remember that eventually, you’ll have good hair days, even happiness, again. I think that is the best revenge on the unexpected life–hair-flipping-happiness once more! So when the lice of things unexpected infest you, when through no choice of your own your beautiful, flowing tresses are shaved away by challenges, circumstances, adversity, the actions of others and every other part of the unexpected life, don’t give up. Grow your hair back–better, longer and more beautiful than ever!

“Once you’ve had chemotherapy, there’s no such thing as a bad-hair day.” (Elizabeth Tilberis)

Lesson #5: Keep it all in perspective. I mean, when you’ve lost your entire life, you learn to appreciate whatever life you’re left with or that you can salvage out of the destruction. As my mom used to say, something is better than nothing! And in my experience, the something is even better, in many ways, than what used to be.

After all, “It’s not the hair on your head that matters. It’s the kind of hair you have inside.” (Garry Shandling)

Now if I could only learn to French braid…

NOT Some Kind of Soft Drink

“I can remember a reporter asking me for a quote, and I didn’t know what a quote was. I thought it was some kind of soft drink.” (Joe DiMaggio)

Something happened in my unexpected life I’ve been holding back on. I almost spilled the beans last month the day I blogged that something exciting was happening the next day. (In fact, Bachelor #5′s mom read that post and called him to ask if he was getting married the next day! Sorry, no. It actually had nothing to do with that.)

But I guess today is the day to share.

Last month, a reporter from NBC’s Channel 9 in Denver, CO, Cheryl Preheim, contacted me via email. She had found my blog, read it and wanted to talk to me. My first inclination was a resounding “No Way.” But, in true Andrea Merriman style, I read on anyway. And then I re-read the whole email. And then read it again.

Cheryl told me she was interested in my story from the perspective of my children and helping them through our challenge. She told me about her family, her children and her philosophy of life and motherhood. (Mothers know the way to other mother’s hearts, don’t they?) She said all the right things; and for some reason, I believed her. I was wary but warming to the idea of talking to her.

I turned to my trusty co-workers for advice. They are sharp, smart good men who haven’t led me astray in the 15 months I’ve known them. The comment I remember most came from our Emmy-winning film guy who said, “You’ve worked with media, you know reporters are never your friend.” So I googled Cheryl Preheim to find out what I could. I thought about it. And then I responded to her email.

We talked on the phone, emailed, got to know one another and…I liked her. I trusted her. (Can you believe after all of the lies and deception by someone so close to me I still trust people? But I do.) I had a good feeling about her and what she wanted to do. So we made a plan to meet.

She and a very nice cameraman named Ken flew to Utah and spent a day with my children and me. They were kind, generous and respectful of our family. They were easy to talk to. They became our friends. We were nothing showy or impressive, but they sat around our kitchen table and ate dinner with us anyway–and filmed my 5-year-old eating hot dogs and chips. I begged Ken not to show the unhealthy meal I was serving my young son, so he graciously zoomed in on the carrots my son WASN’T eating! We opened our home, our lives and our hearts to Cheryl and Ken and in the end, were so sorry to see them go.

After they left, I gathered my children together and asked them what they thought and how they felt. They said, “It was fun. They were nice.” It was a positive experience for them.

I was struck by it for different reasons.

The interview brought everything full circle for me. I’ve thought about my experiences, I’ve written about them, but I’ve never verbalized any of it on record. It was also eye opening to see how far we all have come. I observed my children objectively, and I realized they seem completely normal. Healed. The smiles and the laughter are real. (As are the bad manners, unfortunately!) I feel like it was the final chapter to this portion of the unexpected life that was thrust upon us last year.

Afterward, all I could think was, “It was unexpectedly fun and positive, a good experience for me and my children. And I REALLY like Cheryl Preheim. She is a good woman. A genuine person. A caring human being out to make a positive contribution to the world. A friend.” (Not to mention the fact she’s a talented reporter and a great writer.) Regardless of the outcome of putting myself out there, I stand by that.

And now I’m looking forward to seeing what she has done with my story.

Tonight. On NBC’s Channel 9. In Denver, CO.

I just wish I’d had time to have my hair done. Lose 20 pounds. Or maybe get a little Botox.

“I wish my name was Brian because maybe sometimes people would misspell my name and call me Brain. That’s like a free compliment and you don’t even gotta be smart to notice it.” (Mitch Hedberg)

Random Strangers

“What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to save a solid gold baby? Maybe we’ll never know.” (Jack Handy)

Ok. I’m going to sound old here, but “back in the day” (one year ago) when I was operating in absolute shock mode, simply trying to get through each day, one at a time, as I adjusted to the unexpected life that was mine, and while I was waiting and worrying about a miracle for my son, I got a small one for myself.


A local grocery store, Macy’s, was having a case lot sale. I went and stocked up on some food items for my little family at a bargain price. It was Saturday night, I was newly divorced and couldn’t help but think what a loser I was to have a shopping trip as my only plan, the big thrill, for the evening. As I walked into the store, I was sure every other customer knew I was single, knew my shame (why I was single), and was staring at me.

When I finished, as I walked out the door pushing my grocery cart piled high with cases of canned food, a man driving by in his car called out a comment to me, ridiculing me for my purchases. I couldn’t believe it! In all the years I had grocery shopped in Denver, no one had ever commented on my purchases or made fun of me for the amount of items in my cart. It was only after I had moved to Utah, the land of family and food storage, that I was ridiculed.

I walked to my car feeling so dumb.

I was embarrassed.

And believe it or not, my emotional state hung in such a delicate balance one year ago, that my feelings were actually hurt by that stupid comment from a thoughtless stranger.

I wanted to cry out, “I’m just a single mother trying to feed her children!”

Or, “Believe me, buddy, I already know what a loser I am–I don’t need your help and encouragement!”

But I tried not to think about it as I fought back tears, opened the trunk of my car and began to unload my cart in the parking lot. I was grateful it was dark so no one would see me, the biggest loser among all women, married or single, crying like an idiot in the dark while she unloaded her shopping cart.

I felt more alone than anyone else in the parking lot.

I wondered how I was going to get through the rest of the weekend, the next week and the rest of my life feeling as I felt. Instead of feeling rejuvenated by the weekend and able to face the coming week, I was crushed.

And then, out of the darkness, and without a word, a man was standing beside me, helping me unload my cart. He didn’t really say anything while he unloaded everything into my car, but as he handed me the last case, he paused for just an instant and smiled at me. It was dark, but I was struck by his beautiful, clear light eyes as he looked into mine and smiled. And then he got into his old, dark-colored SUV parked next to mine, that I hadn’t noticed until that moment, and drove away.

I stood there. I watched him drive away, my burden so much lighter from our encounter. I marveled at such kindness from a stranger, especially on the heels of exactly the opposite experience from another one.

He was probably just some nice man, a former Boy Scout, doing what he does for everyone, for me, that night. But to me, it was as if he was heaven sent, that moment, that night. He will never know what his small act of kindness meant to someone like me. In the parking lot of Macy’s grocery store.

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” (Tennessee Williams)

Especially while living an unexpected life.

Don’t we all?

Dinner With Santa

“He’d grown a beard since I last saw him. I asked, ‘what’s with that?’ He said it was the caveman look.” (Jane Marshall)

My only advance request for our date was that he not act like he was meeting me for the first time. (I didn’t want to look like a loser single woman so desperate for a date that she had to meet men she didn’t know at restaurants!)

He did a pretty good job honoring that request, but he was so polite he probably did say, a little too loudly, how nice it was to meet me. But thank goodness he recognized me when I walked through the door because his gray beard made him look completely different than his online profile picture! I don’t know if I’d have known it was him (except for the warning about the gray beard.)

He was tan, taller than me, had hair (dark but graying at the sides), was nice looking with white teeth, a nice smile, and very warm brown eyes. Not a bad start to a date with Santa! However, unlike that jolly old elf, Bachelor #5 did not have a big belly. He was fit and trim.

We talked all through dinner and when he asked my divorce story, I told him everything. The whole thing. (Remember, this was before I changed that approach.) He was very kind about it and seemed to take it all in stride. He was a VERY nice man, just totally out of my league age-wise. Translation: too old!

After we finished dinner, he was friendly and talkative as he walked me to my car. I made a mental note that I’d just completed my first date with a grandpa AND a man sporting a gray beard, and that although he was too old for me, he was nice.

I had no idea if I’d ever hear from him again, I had no idea what his thoughts were or what his plan was; life is unexpected that way. After all, as the great philosopher Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan ’til they get kicked in the mouth.” Divorced people have been through their fair share of kicks, regardless of their story, I’ve learned.

Another unexpected lesson of the unexpected life that has become mine.