ABOUT

The Dorset Phoenix

LIFE AFTER DIVORCE

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Phoenix feather logo from Women After Divorce

I am now divorced longer than I was married and in the ten plus years that followed his leaving, I went from victim to survivor, warrior to a queen.  I met some wonderful people on my journey of discovery, found myself and put the demons of my past to rest. 

If you will allow me, I would love to share my stories with you as they are published.  No matter what stage you are at there will be something for you.

I’d also like to send you resources from time to time, that will help you rise from the ashes of your own divorce.  And if I don’t meet your expectations, you can simply unsubscribe.

Introduction - About Me

Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to visit this page and find out a little more about me and my life after divorce.

My name is Tina and I live in a little country cottage, in Dorset, a county on the south-west coast of England.  The perfect location from which to enjoy rural walks in nature and drive to lovely sandy beaches or go dancing or shopping in a nearby city of my choosing.

Blessed to be a Mum to two grown daughters and a teenage son; and a Granny to two lovely boys.  I was educated at a secondary modern school and a tertiary college in the 1980s. A clerk-typist turned veterinary nurse; telephone sales turned marketing manager; victim turned hero.  I think I can probably turn my hand to anything now.

Life hasn’t always been easy but if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s my life and my story, and we all have a story.  I guess we don’t all choose to share it with the world but maybe we should.  There is a disappointing discrepancy between reality and fairy-tales and this is me, trying to set the record straight, by telling it like it is, so we can help the next generation manage their expectations.

Tina Lancaster the Dorset Phoenix Woman After Divorce

Once upon a time...

It was 1987, and as an unmarried pregnant young woman barely out of my teens, I was still battling with society’s expectation to be married before starting a family. It didn’t help that the guy I choose to fall in love with was an infantry soldier in the British Army. But as we had both come from families with divorced parents, we felt justified in holding off, even if we did have to explain ourselves constantly.

So there we were at age 21, feeling like we had a lot to prove, with a baby and a hefty mortgage on our first home. Then the recession of the Black Friday stock market crash bit like ninja shark. The interest rates rose, and our mortgage repayments with it, spiralling us into negative equity and lumping us with debt — not the first or last test of the strength of our relationship.

At age 23, while baby number two was only twelve weeks old, to keep the wolf from the door I was back working full-time in marketing and events, whilst simultaneously breastfeeding, taking night classes at college and topping up the income with money from my Anne Summers’ party sales to pay for childcare, while he took a second job.  It was just about enough to keep ourselves fed and the childminder paid but not always enough to cover the TV license stamp.  We spent many weekends ducking down under the window so that the TV Van man couldn’t see we were home.

But we made a good team and eventually got married and got the finances under control, and in 1996 I joined my husband in his self-started business.  Despite our ups and downs, I couldn’t have been more content.  Age 37, we were expecting again, this time, although married, I was considered to be an older mother! 

THE LESSON: Society is never happy and there will always be judgement from someone, no matter how hard you try to please.

They all lived happily ever after... Or did they?

By the time I was 38 years old I had a loving husband, our two girls had grown into gorgeous young women that we are so proud of, and we had a beautiful baby boy to continue the family name.

Our house was in-build, and we had the pleasure of two ponies, three businesses, a six-figure income, two holidays a year, a new car and thoughts of retirement.  Aside from a good night’s sleep and having my pre-Mummy body back, I had just about everything I ever needed.  It seemed like all the hard work and sacrifices were finally paying off.

Living with teenagers, a baby and running businesses with staff and responsibilities is not easy, and while outwardly things seemed no crazier than any other family, life was far from perfect. Like a lot of other families, we still had our marital stresses and bad times associated with everyday living struggles. And, unbeknownst to me, after the death of one of his closest friends, my husband was battling a mid-life crisis and found himself loving someone else.

After his affair was discovered, and despite my desperate marriage rescue attempts, things seemed to go from bad to worse. He left and I tried to juggle nursing a baby, helping two teenagers get through their exams and running a business, whilst project managing the building of our family home.

I couldn’t shake off the thought at the back of my mind that he might see how much he was giving up, and he’d want to return. We had got through tough patches in our marriage before, and we had made a vow, “Until death us do part.”  That had to account for something? Right?  In hindsight, it was never going to end well.

THE LESSON: There is only a finite amount of time and energy and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Doing your best is enough and all you should ever ask of yourself.  

The Victim

The harder I tried to hold on to everything, the more it was like trying to hold water in my hands. The tougher life became and the more I learned, the hard way. I struggled on through the silent tears, failing business and debt, and, as predicted by the doubters in 1987, I had become that single Mum.

I battled depression, feelings of rejection, unworthiness and grief. Seemingly smiling on the outside, in reality, I was numb on the inside and what’s more, childhood experiences were coming to the surface of my emotions to haunt me.

This part of my life I refer to as my ‘teabag moment’ for it is only when up to your neck in hot water, you realise just how strong you are. When your back is against the wall, it is amazing how resourceful you become. And for this moment in my life, I am grateful for and must apologise to all the wonderful friends, family and customers that had to live with me and hear me re-live every sordid moment of the breakup of my marriage again and again and again.

To you, beautiful people, you probably don’t know how much it meant for me just to be heard. As much as I tried to hide it from you, it is a time of my life, I was in so much pain, drowning in a well of despair. A time that I felt worthless and genuinely thought the world would be better off without me in it. And so I thank you from the bottom of my heart for rescuing me.

THE LESSON: The comfort zone is not always comfortable, and if help is needed, it should be sought.

vintage key

The Survivor

Throughout the many years that it took to get a financial settlement and come to terms with the fact that my marriage was over, I would wonder, one hundred times a day… Why me? Why is this happening to me? I was angry and frustrated that I had no control. I would constantly be telling myself that it couldn’t get any worse.

I would be alright in all the moments I felt grateful, if only for the little things. Like having our health and, there being no bombs dropping from the sky like there were in Afghanistan at that time. But then I would be thrown off balance, and the cycle would start again; something would break, someone would need paying, the bailiffs would appear. First-world problems but still very impactful.

It did get worse, but what I found was that when you are plate spinning, it is inevitable that one or two will drop and break and no one will notice; but even more fascinating, when leaping from one crisis (plate) to another, there is no time to dwell or feel sorry for yourself or have one crappy thing taking priority over another. The aim is to get through the day with the thought, “This time next year this won’t be a problem anymore.” Well, the thought got me through, but the problems needed a little more persuading! 

THE LESSON: No matter how bad things get, always find something for which to be grateful. 

Warrior Shield with Phoenix emblazoned and a phoenix feather

The Warrior

At age 41, after painstakingly preparing for an FDR (Financial Dispute Resolution) hearing which allowed me to have a clean break divorce, I remortgaged our commercial property in settlement. And then, shortly after, had to deal with the consequences of the financial crash of 2008, which had a massive and dramatic effect on commercial enterprises, banking and lending in the UK and on my overall business strategy and ability to provide.

As the business took a dive and customers and staff began to see my struggles and pull away, I tried to get myself on a new path. With a young boy about to start school, I needed to work in a flexible job, or ideally, to work from home.  So, after careful research, I spent around £7,000, (on my credit cards), on a foundation degree training to become a Home Inspector. 

I loved seeing other people’s houses and had learned a lot from designing and managing the build on my own property. The whole opportunity seemed perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed the course, even though it meant commuting and had to be fitted in around my retail business, childcare, bookkeeping, divorce proceedings, and studying. In spite of it all and with the support of my loving family, I passed all my exams, had all my kit and looked forward to finishing my case studies and finding work as a trained professional.

THE LESSON: Find your passion, take notice of what motivates you.

To succeed, the hero must first overcome adversity

And then the next body blow. Home Inspectors were axed – 2010 new Government directives change the Act of Parliament. House sellers would no longer need a Home Condition Report to sell their home – What? How often does an Act of Parliament get reversed? I was blind-sided, no new work from home profession, no transferable skills and no refund. I was out of time and out of money. I felt I was drowning.

To compound matters, The banks put a stop on all commercial building lending. The project that I had been nurturing in the back-ground, to sell the commercial property to a property developer on a joint venture basis, expecting to net around three million pounds, collapsed. I was so unbelievably disappointed. I felt broken. 

The money from the sale and subsequent development would have sorted out the entire family – re-paid the mortgage, set-up the girls that had finished their education, sorted out the now ex-husband who was living in a camper van with as much credit card debt as I had. It would have bought a lovely home for my son and me, and given me the ability to pay back family members for the money that was initially borrowed to buy the property at the outset. Hope was all gone, and faith was only just hanging on by a thread. 

THE LESSON: Keep a tight hold on faith. It may be all you have, but it is priceless.

When the horse is dead, stop flogging it and get off

It took me a while to admit that the business had to close. It had failed with me at the helm. It was a hard decision, knowing how much the whole family had invested in it. The closure of the businesses and redundancy from the next little job I took meant that the inability to repay the mortgage was inevitable. I was admitting defeat.

At the age of 47, after almost ten years in divorce limbo, crashing through a post-divorce relationship, and despite my best efforts and so many sleepless nights, I finally surrendered and sold up. Though by hanging on to the property, it had dropped in value as the financial crisis was still rippling throughout the commercial property market, and it didn’t sell easily.  Not even at auction. 

THE LESSON: At some point, we all have to let go of what was. The past is the past. Once you can be honest with yourself and take responsibility, surrender is actually quite liberating.

How does it feel to fail?

The failed property auction meant the repossession proceedings began. I decided to end the 4-year post-divorce relationship that had been keeping me balanced, and now it was time to release myself fully from any grounding that remained. Yes, I felt like a failure and was just about to become homeless, yet ironically, I had gained so much from the whole experience. Without it, I would not have known who I am or what I am capable of. In those darkest moments of divorce limbo, I had found myself and learned so much of my strengths and weaknesses. 

My biggest weakness is that I don’t show my vulnerability. I pretend I don’t care what others think, but I do. I am trying to put that right by publicly blogging to demonstrate that I am more than the spirited woman you see, I want to be the inspiration you feel. My strength is that I am self-reliant and, as I said at the start, I can probably turn my hand to anything. But my biggest takeaway that I got from this whole process, was; no matter what anyone else thinks of me, I now know that I AM ENOUGH. 

THE LESSON: Failing is not the same as quitting. Failing is learning, and learning is growth.

A Phoenix is re-born

Looking back over the journals of my divorce, I was something of a car crash. I am certainly not that same broken person now that I was then. I have evolved and learned the harsh lesson of how to take responsibility.

My journals reveal the lessons of my past and include my current daily challenges as I live with my son, spend time with my family, dig the allotment, look after the pets, mend the car and washing machine; write business and marketing plans, deal with creditors, grief, lost PE kits, troublesome animals – Did you know tortoises could climb?

All this while restoring an 18th-century cottage with an overgrown garden, looking for a soul mate and continuing to keep up with new ways of doing things in the twenty-first century. (So much technology to plug into only two electric sockets per room!). 

I am grateful to the online marketing community of the Six Figure Mentors that I joined four years ago. The people in that incredible community have not only taught me how to blog; they have shown me the importance of a bucket list. They have my back while I plan an amazing and fulfilling future, and they have taught me how to enjoy the moments of ‘now’ for what they are. I may well fail again. But I will rise from the ashes again, always wiser and more humble and in the knowledge that I am exactly where I need to be.  

THE LESSON: You do not die from a broken heart.

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us all we need to know

Becoming aware of how technology is affecting the future of our economic culture has empowered me. The twenty-first century has printers printing prosthetic limbs and robots serving at tables. And I have become a blogger, which let’s face it, was never an option discussed at any of our Career Options Days of the 1980s!  

We live in a push-button society where our personal information and data is harvested for the profit of Government institutions and capitalists alike.  And where many jobs of the future will apparently cease to exist.

It is a challenge to correlate today’s state education with the jobs of tomorrow that have not even been created yet. My son is an astute and creative computer whiz, and appears to be embracing the digital era into which he was born. While a mere GenXer like myself (and probably you reading this), has had to evolve. Although, I do hope, that like his sisters before him, he has gained some of our generation’s resilience to help see him through the tough times.

Nothing in life is perfect, but the way we deal with a break-up and life after divorce shapes all our lives and creates the values for which we will judge each other. I have discovered that nobody cares if you’re a single parent. They can look down their noses in judgement, but the truth is, they don’t care about you. They are only interested in themselves.

We must teach our children that something positive can come from divorce in the way of self-discovery, growth and the ability to overcome adversity. Help them recognise that there is no room for judgement and cruelty in this world. Each of us has our own life to lead, our own values to live up to, and we will always judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else ever will. 

Our children’s life choices are changing at a super-fast pace. Any interaction with social media mines their information, creates their reality and shapes their reputation before they have even left home.

THE LESSON: GenXers are an amazing generation, whether we are married or divorced. It is an honour to be tasked with bridging the gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials, with compassion and leading by example.

How to be a Queen after divorce rusty crown

Everyone wants a happy ending

I have worked for myself for seventeen years, but for the most part, have had a brick and mortar’ shop’ that had to be opened and manned. Taking time out was like planning a military operation, and there were times when I considered working for a boss may have been a better option. 

But my early 9-5 jobs meant missed sports days, rushing to do the school run, manic weekends catching up on housework and worries about childcare.  After I closed down the shop, I did not wish to return to that twisted gut from having to let down either the children or the boss. Instead, I started a home ironing business.  I collected people’s clean laundry, ironed it and returned it to them.  As a work from home business, it worked perfectly as a stop-gap to put food on the table and pay the bills.

We finally escaped the clutches of a near repossession, and I bought a little country cottage with the little money left after the creditors were paid. The location chosen was for the excellent school, but too far away to keep the ironing customers, so I needed to make a career change.

I had already tried, party plan, Amway, Anne Summers, Betterware, Avon, Phoenix Cards, and a linen sales company. And they were okay as far as a side-hustle goes but selling to friends and family and trying to book parties to keep up the sales, gets harder and harder. There are only so many hours in a day and for that reason, direct selling in this way does not scale even when you spend time and effort recruiting your down-line reps.  I needed something more. Something that would scale and help me put money in the bank for when the child maintenance stops, and when I’m living alone with no pension.

Also, I want to be able to travel. Do all the things I haven’t been unable to do because my priority has always been raising children, working to pay bills and using free time to look after the house and pets, for the past 30 odd years.  I want to be prepared for my empty nest.

I checked out personal development books and speakers to get myself out of divorce limbo and back on track. As I did so, I stumbled upon a training programme on YouTube for digital marketers, and I was intrigued. I’d heard about people making money online, but I had no idea where to start. So here I am, writing and learning, implementing and teaching and still looking for the elusive soul mate but looking forward to ‘retirement’ travel and having my own plans for the future.

The Heroine

Will my blogging ever make enough money to retire? Who knows. But it is cathartic, and if my writing about my life falling apart helps just one person re-build theirs, then it would have been worth it. My blog may not set the world on fire, but the mere fact that I am sharing my life after divorce stories on the world wide web means that the embers will live on. I am hopefully inspiring anyone reading it to break the habit of sweeping their emotions under the carpet.

I used to think that my divorce was the worst thing that could have happened to me. For a long time, it was all I could think about – Thoughts of how I had failed as a wife, lover, mother and daughter consumed me. I have since learnt that taking responsibility is not the same as punishing myself, that self-love perpetuates self-worth. No-one is perfect, and that practising gratitude has had the most profound effect on me and everyone around me.

Will I find the man of my dreams? Well, I am open to it now, at least.  There was a time when I would have told any Knight in shining armour just where to shove his sword.  But now I’m looking forward to being able to do what I want when I want, and hoping that opportunity means I will find someone worthy to share my time with to make new memories.

Three years from now, my son will be an adult. Not only will I feel my life’s work of raising children is complete but I have only until then to provide enough income for myself. I want to ‘retire’ into the full laptop lifestyle, where I can work from anywhere in the world I choose to be, with the peace of mind that all the bills are paid and my only challenge is to check every box off my bucket list, hopefully with my Knight by my side.

Join me in my adventures

Please feel free to click around on the links on this page, they will take you to more of my articles that may be of interest. Please comment on and share any topic that resonates with you.  Join me on social media and, if you haven’t already, sign up for my free ‘How to Thrive After Divorce’ guide.

I look forward to the day our paths cross.  I hope you are as excited for my future as I am for yours.

All my best.
Tina

PS: If you are feeling inspired by the ‘work from home’ lifestyle and you want to give it a try, this is the exact set of videos that got me started.

I have already met many of these wonderful people, they are for real and this isn’t one of those get-rich-quick schemes! It’s an education, cheaper than becoming a home inspector, trains you to be more tech-savvy than your kids and there is so much personal growth training, it’s very impactful. 

The first 7-day video series is free with my compliments, and if you think you’d like to train with us, the monthly membership is less than the price of a week’s grocery shopping but you are under no obligation and you will not be asked for your credit card unless you want to enrol at the end of the 7 days. 

There are various paths such as Amazon Seller, Affiliate Marketer, Blogger, Vlogger, Digital Marketer and opportunities to work inside of the company itself, but from home! Give it a try, you have nothing to lose.