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Visions Anew

Announcing the $50 for 50 Fundraiser

Visions Anew $50 for 50 Fundraiser

Visions Anew Institute is so excited to be celebrating its 50th Divorce Survival Weekend Retreat on October 24-26, 2014. Over 800 people have attended the weekend over the last 15 years and have been transformed by the experience

To help celebrate this event, we are kicking off our 50 for 50 Fundraiser

Please donate $50 to Visions Anew Institute in recognition and celebration of the lives that have been changed in the past and the ones that will be changed in the future.

Click Here to Donate. Continue reading “Announcing the $50 for 50 Fundraiser” »

Visions Anew

Visions Anew 50th Divorce Survival Retreat – Join Us!

Visions Anew 50th Divorce Survival Retreat
Join Us October 24-26, 2014

“I’ve seen first-hand how impactful and life changing this weekend is. I feel empowered to move
forward knowing I have the resources to create a new life.”   Mary G., VAI Retreat Graduate

Over the last 15 years, more than 800 women have experienced the hope and healing that brings transformation in their lives. They arrive at the retreat feeling scared and alone. Along the weekend journey they learn, share, laugh, and cry. They leave with renewed spirit, courage, and critical information that helps them survive the challenges of divorce. Continue reading “Visions Anew 50th Divorce Survival Retreat – Join Us!” »

Visions Anew

Candy’s Corner – October 2014

Candy’s Corner – from the desk of the Visions Anew Executive Director

“When I came to the retreat I was in a fetal position. Three years later I am flourishing.”  Sonja J.

Is Visions Anew still around?

This is a question I’ve heard several times as I meet with alumni, sponsors, and new partners. The answer is a resounding YES! Visions Anew is stronger than ever. After 15 years, Founder Margo Swann has passed the baton to a new team and we’re excited to be fulfilling her original vision. We’re looking for new ways to serve those who are hurting without losing sight of our core mission and values. There is a vital need for Visions Anew that is not currently served by any other organization.

Continue reading “Candy’s Corner – October 2014” »

RELATIONSHIPS; 
In long unions, divorce rate rising

Location: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

by: Gracie Bonds Staples

After decades, many leave unsatisfying marriages. ‘You’re taking an entire history apart.’

First there was John and Elizabeth Edwards, law school sweethearts who split after more than 30 married years because he had an affair. Then came Tipper and Al Gore, who after 40 years of marriage said they simply grew apart. And now Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, who last week announced they were severing their 25-year union because Arnold reportedly had a love child more than a decade ago with a family maid.

If you happened to find the news shocking, you shouldn’t have. Although divorce rates have been going down for most segments of the population over the past 20 years, they have increased sharply for the over-50 crowd, said Stephanie Coontz, director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families and author of “A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.”

A good part of the reason, Coontz said, is that with longer, healthier lives, people are less willing to stay in an unsatisfying marriage, and they have more options outside of it. “That sense of growing apart is actually more common then a dramatic case of adultery like Arnold’s. Although men tend to have someone waiting in the wings when they initiate a divorce, women, who initiate the majority of divorce both late life and early life, tend to just be fed up,” she said.

Not everyone found the Shriver-Schwarzenegger split surprising. Margot Swann didn’t and neither did Linda Dudley or Almeda Hooper. Although saddened by the news, they know from personal experience that the dissolution of marriage after decades of togetherness has become fairly common. “I think it’s so sad when a couple has invested 25 years as [Shriver and Schwarzenegger] have in each other and their children because there will be repercussions,” said Swann, 65, of Marietta. “When you take a family apart, you aren’t just taking two individuals apart, you’re taking an entire history apart and that’s very sad.”

Because most divorces happen within the first 10 years of marriage, statistics show, we often have the impression that long-term marriages are “divorce-proof.” And even though divorce after 40 years of marriage is a rare occurrence statistically, recent trends suggest that the number of couples getting divorced after 20, 30 and even 40 years of marriage is on the rise.

Although she has since remarried, Swann’s first marriage came to a screeching halt in 1993 after 20 years. “We grew apart,” Swann said of her relationship with her ex-husband. “Our friends were different. Our interests were different. And our values were different.” Two years after their divorce was final in 1996, Swann founded Visions Anew, a nonprofit that educates, supports and connects women in the divorce process. In addition to support groups, the organization holds divorce survival weekends.

Even though her husband initiated the split, Swann said it didn’t take long for her to figure out her part in the divorce.

“I was not as respectful to him as a wife needs to be of a husband,” she said. “Men need accolades from their wives, to know their wives think they’re the best. It wasn’t I didn’t think that he was. I never said it. He was a very charming, accomplished, intelligent man, and it never occurred to me that he needed my respect.”

Since starting Visions eight years ago, Swann said she has seen an uptick in the number of women and men, for that matter, seeking help. She agrees with Coontz that baby boomers are less enthusiastic about staying in an unhappy union than their adult children. “We were the ‘me’ generation,” Swann said. “It’s all about us.”

But it’s also about children growing up and leaving the nest, about women being able to take care of themselves, and about people living longer, she said. “The first two decades of marriage you’re busy doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing and then the children go and you realize you didn’t have much of a marriage to begin with,” said Jerry Connor of Norcross, a divorce counselor with a practice in Norcross.

Even in her practice, Connor, who said she divorced in 1980 after 13 years of marriage, said that it isn’t unusual to see people divorce after 40 and 50 years of marriage, and she works with as many men as she does women.

“It’s that baby boomer generation,” she said. “They are out there in abundance and they are needy.” Almeda Hooper of Atlanta said she divorced in 2005 after 20 years of marriage, the last eight hoping for reconciliation. “He wouldn’t go to counseling,” she said of her husband.

Linda Dudley of Marietta divorced the same man twice — once after 20 years of marriage and again, she said, after 15 for lack of emotional and financial support. In both instances, Dudley, 57, said friends and family were surprised the marriage ended.

“We all have our public and our private persona,” Dudley said. “Everything looks calm on the outside, but you just can’t tell what’s going on in somebody’s house. “I was a human resource manager. Like any professional, you’re not supposed to have issues.”

Connor said it’s not unusual for married couples to put their best foot forward in public, even though they may not even share the same bed or bedroom at home. For three years, her husband’s law partners didn’t know he was in the midst of a divorce, Swann said of her ex.

While early divorce might be less shocking to the public, whether a couple divorces after one year or 21 years, Connor said the effect is the same.

“It’s all a death, dying and grieving process,” she said. “The longer the marriage, the more you have invested, the more intense things are, but nobody gets married thinking they are going to divorce.”

Divorce for the Baby Boomer Generation

People living longer
Women can plan better for divorce
66% not interested in staying after kids leave
Stigma is not lost
100 men vs 135 women college educated

Be sure this want you to do.

The boomer divorce rate is triple that of their parents’ generation, according to Ken Gronbach, author of “Common Census: The Counter-Intuitive Guide to Generational Marketing.”

“They got married, they got divorced and half their money goes out the window,” says Orman, who hears from many divorced boomers on her shows. She worries that starting over financially in mid-life may be too difficult for some.

Now 35 percent of all baby boomers have been divorced and that generation makes up the majority of all divorced people in America.

“the Office for National Statistics states the rate of divorce is dropping in every age group, except the over-60s.”

As we walk through different chapters in our life, our priorities change. What we want in our 20’s is different from what we want in our 30’s. And, what we want in our 30’s is very different from what we want 40’s and so on.

For me, some things become less important. At this time in my life, I could care less about the latest handbag, fashion trend or flashy car.

Right now, what matters most to me is the happiness and ultimately health of my family. But at the same time, my happiness is key. As my husband says, “If my wife is happy, everyone is happy and we have a happy home.” He is such a wise man (or a smart aleck).

BOOMERS MAKE UP MAJORITY OF ALL DIVORCED COUPLES

SEEK COUNSELING EARLY – ALL MARRIAGES ARE STRESSFUL – LIFE IS STRESSFUL.

Divorce for those of us over the age of 45 has even more impact! We have spent years raising a family, making plans together for our golden years and BOOM! It ends.

There are issues that women over 45 have that others simply do not have…

It is frightening and often devastating to find ourselves alone and starting over at this point in our lives. There are issues that women over 45 have that others simply do not have. We have been out of the social scene for years. We are physically different then we were when we were single. We may have been out of the workforce for years. And more.

Time is no Longer Seemingly Infinite

We are now faced with the reality that we must get ourselves together and think about what we want to do with the rest of our lives. If there are things that we have always longed to do, to be or to have, then it’s now or never.

Baby Boomers have the Advantage

We realize that we are a great deal wiser now than we once were. We have a much deeper sense of what holds meaning for us. Even the pain of the divorce has reiinforced what we know to be true about life.
What is Important to us Now is very different from Twenty Years ago
In our twenties, thirties and even forties, life’s realities were major factors in the decisions we made. We often took jobs in order to pay the mortgage and raise our families. We now have the chance to make choices that are run less by life’s circumstances or our spose’s desires and more by what is truly important to us…and what is important to us now, the questions we ask ourselves, are very different from ten or twenty years ago.

What does it all mean?

Many of us find ourselves doing some deep thinking about what it all means especially during and after a divorce. We long to ensure that our lives will be happier and have some meaning.

The Time to Act is NOW!

How do we want to spend the rest of our lives? What do you want to do with this one, precious life that you have? Now is the time to begin this inquiry so that we can maximize the quality of our lives from this point forward.

Imagine the bitterness and regret at not having lived the life you wanted. You can do something about the rest of your life.

Summer fun helps kids, 
divorced parents strengthen bond

Where: Atlanta Journal Constituion

July 2012

On a sunny Florida beach, the miles between the homes of Kevin Batson and his 18-year-old daughter, Morgan, wash away like a sandcastle in the tide.

Summer is the season when parents separated by divorce have extended time to visit with their kids, share old memories and create new ones. And exes left behind can take a well-deserved break.
The Batsons get 20 days of summer to bond as father and daughter with a blended family and embark on adventure. This week, Morgan of Columbus is sunbathing with her Atlanta family in Seaside, Fla.
“For 14 years, we burned up the highway — I saw her every other weekend,” said Batson, a dutiful dad and software salesman. “But as they get older and get into high school, it becomes really difficult. They have so many activities and friends. In many cases, summer is the only quality time you get.”

Navigating summer visitation is not always easy for families split by divorce. Hurdles can get in the way of quality time between noncustodial parents and their kids. Hurdles like family reunions. Summer school. Teens with ties to neighborhood friends and summer jobs. Childhood crushes.

“A lot of teens don’t want to go on one family vacation, and now, because of divorce, they have to go on two,” said Atlanta attorney Randy Kessler, chairman-elect of the American Bar Association’s Family Law section. “When you are 10 years old, you want to go to Disney World with your parent. When you are 15, you want to go to Destin with your friends.”

If divorce agreements don’t address the “what ifs” of visitation, planning summer vacation or holiday fun for both sides can be an issue. Since 2009, Georgia law has required divorcing couples to establish a parenting plan to explain in detail how visitation will work under special circumstances and how other decisions will be made.

“A parent that doesn’t think about their child first may be more concerned about their own time with the child than with the child’s goals,” Kessler explained. “You’ve got to think about the future, look at a calendar and figure out any potential problems. Can Mom always take the child to family reunions? Will Dad get a few weeks of uninterrupted time in the summer?”

In Georgia, at age 14, a child can choose whom they want to live with, but they can’t decide not to visit with somebody, Kessler said.
Family therapy experts say involving divorced kids in summer visitation vacation plans can make the experience more exciting for them as they get older. But moms and dads shouldn’t blow the budget and be “Disney Land” parents planning pricey getaways they can’t afford. And they shouldn’t get offended if their kids have other plans that shorten their stay or would rather bring a half sibling or friend along on the vacation.

“My feeling is children should always get their say, they don’t necessarily always get their way,” said Andra Harris-Martin, a therapist with Visions Anew of Marietta, which provides divorce resources for women. “We can ask children about the kinds of activities they like. … But often with children living in between two homes, there is less money for camps and outings. I also think parents should be considerate of the fact that teenagers are busy. They should be flexible, but I don’t think spending time with a parent should be negotiable.”

Morgan Batson brought a high school friend from Columbus with her on the trip to Seaside with her dad, her stepmother, Julie Batson, and her half sisters, Meredith, 11, and Lauren, 7 . When the Batsons went to the Bahamas earlier this summer, Morgan came alone.

“It’s been a blast,” said Morgan, who is in Florida through Saturday and will soon head to college. “I took off work to come here. I have two half sisters. It is really great to see them. With my dad, just being able to see him builds our relationship. In high school, I was in competitive cheerleading. It was hard to coordinate schedules.”
Exes left behind should make the most of their time and not try to control the summer visit with demands on their ex or by overwhelming their kids with instant messages.

“They shouldn’t be texting, e-mailing and calling their kids constantly when they are visiting with the other parent,” said Visions Anew founder and CEO Margot Swann, a remarried mom. “Stay busy. Do things that are fun. Get together with girlfriends.”
Joy Rollins, a divorced mom in HYPERLINK “http://g.ajc.com/r/Ch/” Cobb County, says she has more time to travel and exercise since her 10-year-old Torria has been visiting with her dad in Texas.
“School got out on May 21, and she left on May 22,” said Rollins, a social service director. “I’ve been to Jamaica, Texas and Savannah. … I go out to eat. I go on dates. Dad has her for six weeks. It’s just enough time for me to collect my thoughts. I find comfort in my quiet time and know that she is going to be OK.”

Spending uninterrupted time with a child helps love to grow between them and their noncustodial parents, added Batson.

“When you spend 10 days with your child, it’s a big difference,” he said. “At the beginning of the vacation, she is still the visitor, but by the end, she feels like part of the family.”

Divorce Mailbag

Margot Swann, the Founder & CEO of Visions Anew Institute, The Divorce Resource for Women, answers your divorce questions.

Dear Lady,

During divorce it is especially hard to parent. Children often reflect the chaos they feel around them and divorce creates chaos. Because I am not a therapist I am going to defer to Ms Jerry Connor, LPC. Jerry understands children and divorce.

Not being heard is a major parental complaint even when divorce is not in the equation. During divorce there is often a lack of unified support from the other parent.

2010-Womens-Journal-December

PROMINENT ATLANTA ATTORNEY TEAMED WITH VISIONS ANEW TO OFFER WORKSHOP ON “DIVORCE: A JOURNEY OF TRANSFORMATION

Bob Boyd of Boyd Collar Nolan & Tuggle, LLC, a law firm that specializes in divorce and family law, and Margot Swann, founder of Visions Anew Institute, a non-profit divorce resource center, have teamed up to offer a unique workshop titled “Divorce: A Journey of Transformation.” The workshop will examine the toll that divorce takes on a person, and how to navigate this challenging passage in a way that strengthens faith, deepens hope, and releases energy to build a new life. The workshop is open to anyone who is going through a divorce, has ever experienced divorce personally, or has concerns for a family member or friend.

Special emphasis will be placed on the role of the church in helping people heal. “When I went through my divorce almost 20 years ago,” says Boyd, “there was a lot of shame attached to it for me. I felt somehow that I had failed. When I looked to my former church for support, I got none. In fact, their response was to distance themselves from me and that only made things worse.” His decision to offer this workshop stems from that experience.

“I see so many people in my office that need more than legal help,” says Bob Boyd. “It is vitally important that we begin to recognize not just the practical but the emotional and spiritual needs of this growing population. We need to do what we can to help them regain their balance, maintain their faith and restart their lives.”

The team Boyd has assembled to participate in the workshop includes Margot Swann, head of Visions Anew; Lalor Cadley, a spiritual director, writer, and educator; Peter Gorday, a marriage and family therapist; and D. D. Petters, a licensed professional counselor, educator, and speaker.

This multi-faith workshop will be held on February 25 and 26, starting on Friday evening at 6:30 PM, and then continuing all day Saturday (8:30 AM to 5 PM), at Trinity Presbyterian Church at the corner of Howell Mill Rd. and Moores Mill Rd. Cost is $55.00. Topics will include: divorce as a process rather than an event; how to deal with the grief, anger, and fear in healthy ways; and how to develop spiritual practices that can help strengthen your spirit and deepen your faith as you journey from chaos to freedom.

###

51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse

The New York Times calls Visions Anew.

Resulting article features Visions Anew’s Elissa Terris and Carol Crenshaw!

By SAM ROBERTS; ARIEL SABAR, BRENDA GOODMAN AND MAUREEN BALLEZA CONTRIBUTED REPORTING. (NYT); National Desk

In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.

Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.

In addition, marriage rates among black women remain low. Only about 30 percent of black women are living with a spouse, according to the Census Bureau, compared with about 49 percent of Hispanic women, 55 percent of non-Hispanic white women and more than 60 percent of Asian women.

In a relatively small number of cases, the living arrangement is temporary, because the husbands are working out of town, are in the military or are institutionalized. But while most women eventually marry, the larger trend is unmistakable.

“This is yet another of the inexorable signs that there is no going back to a world where we can assume that marriage is the main institution that organizes people’s lives, “ said Prof. Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “Most of these women will marry, or have married. But on average, Americans now spend half their adult lives outside marriage.”

Professor Coontz said this was probably unprecedented with the possible exception of major wartime mobilizations and when black couples were separated during slavery.

William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, a research group in Washington, described the shift as “a clear tipping point, reflecting the culmination of the post-1960 trends associated with greater independence and more flexible lifestyles for women.”

“For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage,” Dr. Frey said. “Younger women understand this better, and are preparing to live longer parts of their lives alone or with non-married Partners. For many older boomer and senior women, the institution of marriage did not hold the promise they might have hoped for, growing up in an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ era.”

Emily Zuzik, a 32-year old musician and model who lives in the East Village of Manhattan, said she was not surprised by the trend.

“A lot of my friends are divorced or single or living alone,” Ms Zuzik said. “I know a lot of people in their 30s who have roommates.”

Ms Zuzik has lived with a boyfriend twice, once in California where the couple registered as domestic partners to qualify for his health insurance plan. “I don’t plan to live with anyone else again until I am married,” she said, “and I may opt to keep a place of my own ever then.”

“A gentleman asked me to marry him and I said no. I told him, “I’m just beginning to fly again, I’m just beginning to be me. Don’t take that away.” Elissa B. Terris, Divorced in 2005 after being married for 34 years.

Sheila Jamison, who also lives in the East Village and works for a media company, is 45 and single. She says her family believes she would have had a better chance of finding a husband had she attended a historically black college instead of Duke.

“Considering all the weddings I attended in the ‘80s that have ended so very, very badly, I consider myself straight up lucky,” Ms Jamison said. “I have not sworn off marriage, but if I do wed, it will be to have a companion with whom I can travel and play parlor games in my old age.”

Carol Crenshaw, 57, of Roswell, GA, was divorced in 2005 after 33 years and says she is in no hurry to marry again.

“I’m in a place in my life where I’m comfortable,” said Ms Crenshaw, who has two grown sons. “I can do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. I was a wife and a mother. I don’t feel like I need to do that again.”