Publisher’s Notes: Making a Plan and Establishing a Routine

Kristen Kart

It’s been nearly a year since I started my “new normal.” Looking back on this time in my life, it’s amazing to me how far I have come in just a short period of time. Certainly the beginning of the divorce process was challenging, devastating, and stressful, but I’ve found light at the end of the tunnel.

Once I got past the initial shock, I took time to reflect on how I wanted to move forward and began making a plan. In my mind there were two paths to take—I could sit around and feel sorry for myself day after day or I could wake up each morning excited about the endless possibilities in my future.

One of the things that helped me most during this transitional period was establishing a routine early on for me and my two kids. It’s refreshing to set a schedule according to what you want to do and when you want to do it, and not having to answer to anyone else. For the first time in a long time, I felt complete control over my life and the decisions I made. I also felt a true sense of accomplishment once certain goals were achieved. Something as easy as successfully doing the before and after school routine with two kids all by myself made me feel fantastic. At times, it’s all about the baby steps and making lists. You can only do one thing at a time and although occasionally there is an intense feeling of being overwhelmed, once you start to tackle the list, the feeling you have at the end of each day is unlike any other. You know that everything that was accomplished, was completely done by you.

Some people may think that my planning has gotten out of control. But to me, it is the only way that I feel like I can manage my busy life with my children. I have never really been the type of person who just lays around and waits for something to happen, but I think I have taken planning to a whole new level. I tend to make plans way in advance and, although at times I admit to being a little neurotic about it, planning helps give me a sense of control. I feel more prepared to deal with the everyday life, anticipate certain challenges and get excited about what the future may hold.

Kristen Kart is the publisher of Pittsburgh Better Times. For more information, you can contact her directly at

Forward is the Only Direction

Antoinette de Janasz

By Antoinette de Janasz

My divorce left me in debt, without a car, in a dilapidated apartment, and with two children to raise. Things could only get better, or at least that was my mantra to keep me going!

My children were my first and foremost priority. The divorce was very hard on them, made harder by the mud that was slung at me by their father. Keeping up with our traditions and rituals helped my kids keep a sense of family and gave them some much needed security. Any doubts I had about the divorce were erased when my son told me that I never laughed when I was married to their dad. I made it a point to laugh more after that, even when there was nothing to laugh at.

I tried to keep my financial hardship from them but they were old enough to figure it out. Especially when I had to discourage their friends from snacking at our home because they would eat our week’s food supply in one afternoon! Teenagers are like locusts!

[Read more…]

A Blueprint for Life After Divorce: Pittsburgh Author’s Book Inspires and Empowers Others to Find their “New Normal”

Gina Mazza

By Daniel Casciato

Pittsburgh-based journalist, author, editor, and publishing consultant Gina Mazza lives by the philosophy that everything happens for a reason, and as she writes in her book, “Everything Matters, Nothing Matters,” it’s not about what happens to us in life—it’s our response to it and, more importantly, who we are going through it. Her book is the story of her inward journey to fully embracing creativity and higher consciousness. It offers principles for finding balance, embracing the sacredness of every day and living an intention-based life with gratitude.

It’s not lost on her that the book launched just a couple of months after Mazza and her husband of nearly 20 years separated. It was “a supreme opportunity to road test the veracity of my life philosophy,” Mazza says. “Our core beliefs are most profoundly tested when a crisis or moment of truth arrives—that’s where the rubber meets the road. The book’s principles served as a continual blueprint towards my own self-realization through the divorce process. It helped me through it immensely.”

The most challenging part of the whole divorce process for her was dealing with ongoing betrayal and dishonesty; that was an affront to her emotional sensibilities and, being an emotion-based person who feels things deeply, she says that it was no walk in the park.

“In spite of that, my goal was to go through the experience with as much grace, dignity and integrity as possible,” she says. “Ultimately, I reached a point where I wouldn’t accept being bullied anymore—that was my lesson to learn. After I made that decision and took action in that direction, everything shifted.”

[Read more…]

Separated and Later Widowed–Why Domestic Violence Curriculum Needs to be in Schools

Carolyn Bell Murphy

At age 17, I went away to college and was introduced to a world that I didn’t know existed. At the beginning of my junior year, I started dating a smart, handsome guy who eventually became my husband. When we started dating he began showing signs of abuse very quickly, trying to control every minute we were not in class or working.

When I didn’t show up at the time he thought I should have been somewhere to meet him, I was drilled and often accused of lying. I thought it was love and that he must really care about me since he wanted to be with me so much. We got married and I knew things would change because married people loved each other and showed it. That’s the way it was supposed to be.

[Read more…]

Going Through Life’s Hardships: How One Woman Rebuilt Her Life After Becoming a Widow and a Divorcee

Joan Koonce

Becoming a widow soon after she was married at a young age was emotionally devastating for Joan Koonce of Athens, Georgia.

“I really enjoyed being married and loved my husband dearly,” says Koonce,  an Associate Professor and Financial Planning Specialist for the University of Georgia. “He was the first person that I truly loved. I was happy and excited about our new life together.”

Koonce got married the first time on November 28, 1992 at age 36. However, about six weeks later (during the first week of January 1993), her husband was diagnosed with leukemia.

“The day the doctor told us that he had leukemia; he initially told me that he did not want to go through treatment,” she recalls. “Without treatment, the doctor indicated that he would only live about another month.  I was devastated with the thought of losing my husband so soon, but then he decided to undergo treatment.”

[Read more…]

Moving Past the Pain and Moving Forward After a Divorce

Dr. Donna Thomas-Rodgers

Dr. Donna Thomas-Rodgers knew that her marriage of only 2 ½ years was ending several months before her ex-husband finally said, “This isn’t working for me anymore.”

“There was just something about hearing that it was over,” says Thomas-Rodgers, a leadership expert and business manager who lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

After her husband professed this, Thomas-Rodgers recalls falling to her knees filled with sorrow and tears and begged him to stay.

“After all I was 965 miles away from home, I had an infant child and I was swimming in debt,” she says. “As I look back, I really was not crying because he was leaving—I was mad at myself for being so stupid and thought how could I have gotten myself into such a mess? I knew better.”

[Read more…]

Reality Show Co-Star, Business Coach and Author Inspires Women to Make a Difference in their Lives

Wendy Robbins

Fifty percent of all divorces are about money and 95 percent of all people over 65 in this country will be broke. If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, will you be able to retire with the lifestyle you dream of? Business coach and author Wendy Robbins is a leading expert on mastering the millionaire mindset, and how to manufacture and market ideas to millions.  She is author of the book, “Why Marry A Millionaire? Just Be One! (And While You’re At It, Change the World!” In her book she urges people to stop complaining about money and create a revolution.

[Read more…]

I’m a Survivor!

Dr. Cathy Cameron

By Dr. Cathy Cameron

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll you that I’m a very giving and caring person as well as extremely compassionate. I wear my heart on my sleeve. With that said, I am no “push over,” for I learned the hard way to fight for what I believe in. I had to learn to become strong willed. I communicate and discuss problems nothing ever gets swept under the rug.

My experience being a widow is not the norm—for my late husband was addicted to cocaine and I was in a physically abusive relationship. Therefore, while married I was widowed in a sense, for I actually had no support emotionally, physically nor financially.  So when he passed away, from a cocaine overdose, although heartbroken and sad for my son I knew we would survive! [Read more…]

How Tony Little Did It: A Profile With the TV Pitchman and Fitness Expert

By Daniel Casciato

For over 20 years, we’ve all seen him somewhere on our television sets as we flipped through the channels. You couldn’t miss his blonde curly ponytail, his infectious energy, his signature Gazelle trainer, and most especially, his voice booming the most famous catchphrase in Infomercial history: “You can do it!”

Yes, indeed, there is more to product TV pitchman and fitness expert Tony Little, who has earned a reputation as a master motivator and proponent of healthy, positive living. After all of these years in the public spotlight, you might think we know all there is to know about him. [Read more…]