Divorce is more than a piece of paper

(From author Cheryl Nielsen’s book, Meritage Divorce)

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself – Mark Twain.

get busy living

Too bad divorce can’t be a piece of paper you sign one day and then wake up the next in a happy new wine-life sporting your wine-colored glasses.  It would be oversimplified to think of divorce the way the legal system defines it.  We know all too well that a marriage blend has other physical and emotional contracts that bind and can be more difficult to sever.  Long after the divorce is final, these other contracts could still be in force, however unenforceable, and know matter how hard you try to sever them, it takes time to heal and move on.

Over time, these contracts become void.  One thing is for sure: you have to work for a new wine-life.  The postmaster doesn’t deliver it to you with your divorce decree.

Loneliness can creep into your bottle and try to make a home inside you during your divorce journey.  Try not to let it in; tell it you are enjoying drinking your own wine.  There are a few good ways I found to run solo out and feel comfortable.  Running solo, by the way, is a decadent lavish lifestyle that is all about YOU-you can get intoxicated drinking your own wine.  Trust me; there is no excuse to stay at home alone when you have the opportunity and time to venture out.  Activity will give you a break from your thoughts -a hall pass out of the barrel. After your break, the barrel will be waiting for you and might even feel good again, safe and warm.

Here are a few examples of ways to run solo:

  • Sign up for a cooking class
  • Go wine tasting
  • Join a club or spiritual small group
  • Volunteer at a charity
  • Help out at an animal shelter
  • Take a book to Starbucks

Your emotional contract can be kept alive by not forgiving yourself or your ex.  I learned forgiveness was on the other side of blame or anger, and forgiveness did not mean I forgot.  It meant I let it go so it didn’t have a stranglehold on me.  Forgiveness was the gatekeeper that permanently rendered the emotional contract null and void.  You are not really divorced until all contracts are no longer in force.


This time of year is often about comfort food we embrace as a tradition around the holidays.  Here is a healthy alternative to pumpkin pie packed with flavor and nutrition! Courtesy of thisrawsomeveganlife.com:  Raw harvest pumpkin pie: makes one pie.


1 cup cashews

1 cup almonds

1/4 cup raisins

1 cup dates

1/8 teaspoon salt

pumpkin filling:

1 sugar pumpkin (about 7 cups), peeled, gutted and cut into cubes

1 cup dates

4-5 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1-4 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & cloves)

To make the crust, process the nuts in your food processor until they are like a rough flour. add the dates, raisins and salt. pulse until it all sticks together in a lump. press into the bottom of a pie dish and refrigerate.

To make the pie filling, process the pumpkin cubes until they can’t get any smaller in your food processor. add in the other ingredients and process until it can’t get any smoother. transfer the filling to your high speed blender and blend on the highest setting to get it super smooth like the cooked version. add whatever you think it needs. spread the filling onto your pie crust and let it set in the fridge for a few hours.

Serve with raw ice cream or cashew cream in celebration of thanksgiving, the colourful fall season, or for the simple reason that life is beautiful!

How do I pair this deliciousness with wine, you ask?


Enjoy a nice MULLED WINE with it for an aromatic warming experience!

The dried flower buds of a tropical evergreen tree, cloves impart their deep, almost hot flavor to a variety of holiday dishes, both sweet and savory. Used whole, they’re a favorite for studding hams, while the ground spice is used to flavor seasonal cakes and cookies. The name of these little nail-shaped spices comes from the Latin word clavus, for “nail.” Here, cloves and nutmeg are combined in a square of cheesecloth or tea ball for steeping in the wine mixture.


  1. 12 whole cloves
  2. 2 nutmegs, cracked into pieces with a hammer
  3. 2 bottles (each 750ml) dry red wine
  4. 1/2 cup sugar
  5. Stripped zest from 2 oranges and 2 lemons, plus more zest for garnish
  6. 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  7. 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  8. 2 cinnamon sticks


Tie the cloves and nutmeg pieces in a small square of cheesecloth, or put them in a large metal tea ball.

In a large nonaluminum pot, combine the wine, sugar, orange and lemon zests, orange and lemon juices, and cinnamon sticks. Add the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Heat over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise from the pot and the mixture is hot, about 10 minutes; do not let it boil. Remove the clove-and-nutmeg bundle. Keep the wine warm over very low heat until ready to serve.

Ladle the wine into cups or heatproof glasses, garnish with the citrus zest and serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Christmas Entertaining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2005).



With This House, I Thee Divorce

Cheryl Cooper, Author, CDC Certified Divorce Coach® & CA Licensed Real Estate Broker

divorce houseThe housing market recovery may afford the opportunity for divorcing sellers to split home assets that were previously underwater.  Sellers may be able to avoid the alternative short sale and free up equity to be used towards new housing possibilities.  Good news for many in today’s market. Housing during divorce is often an emotionally charged subject that deserves in-depth planning and consideration. This will help eliminate unnecessary grief and anxiety from worrying about the fear of the unknown (not to mention the thought of giving up a place called home).  By formulating a realistic housing plan that addresses concerns and generates solutions, a bridge is created that leads to a new beginning that restores peace, empowerment, and often times excitement for the future.  Some of the questions surrounding the fear of the “unknown” that get addressed with proper planning include:

• What is my home worth?

• What will the proceeds look like upon sale?

• What are some of my housing options? Rent or Buy?

• Could I qualify for a loan to buy on my own?

• Where will I be able to afford to live?

• How can I eliminate the most stress when selling?

• Can I find a place that works for the family dog?

• What is the best market timing for transition?

• How can I optimize my situation for the best possible outcome?

• Can I find housing to keep my children in the same schools?

• How do I handle the communication with my divorcing spouse?

Listing a property for sale with divorcing couples can be fraught with hazards. They have to be in their legal right and timing to sell a property. Communicating with the professional handling the legal aspects of the divorce first is a prerequisite before listing a property for sale if divorce has been filed. To eliminate some of the disagreements that come up after property is listed, every effort is made to get the buy- in from both sides on the overall housing plan upfront, leaving less to deal with latter. This makes for a smoother transition.

As a CDC Certified Divorce Coach and licensed Real Estate Broker, I blend a dynamic set of skills to facilitate the sale of property resulting from divorce and plan for transitional housing needs. By utilizing my coaching skills, I can work effectively in high conflict divorces by breaking the process down into less overwhelming steps while remaining neutral to both parties. I can communicate with both parties independently as needed. I then pair this with over a decade of real estate experience and a cutting edge brokerage creating the perfect blend of resources to meet the unique needs and objectives of each client. Housing planning is a value added service when facilitating the sale of property.  It’s not hard to see that I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of those impacted by divorce. Many divorce professionals add me to their team for this reason. Call me so I can make a difference.

Office: 310-957-2829

Recipe of The Week


A friend of mine is allergic to pumpkin, so she loves this alternative. A taste of fall, without the trip to the hospital.

sweet potato pieSWEET POTATO PIE

3 1/2 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes

3 medium sized potatoes

1 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs well beaten
1/2 stick butter melted
1/4 cup evaporated milk – canned milk, or for a richer taste use heavy whipping cream. It’s decadent but delicious.

Mashed sweet potatoes to a fine paste. Add sugars, spices and eggs. Mix milk and butter. Stir into potatoes mixturePour into a unbaked pie shell
Bake at 350 F 40-45 minutes until firm

I found this recipe athttps://realbrother.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/best-sweet-potato-piein-the-world/ a while back and just love the southern style.

In place of homemade whip cream, or in addition to, try the caramel pecans. OMG. #TODIEFOR #sweetpotatopie#meritagedivorce

Possible Wine pairing:

Monbazillac is an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) for sweet white wine produced in the village of Monbazillac on the left bank of theDordogne River just across from the town of Bergerac in South West France. The appellation covers almost 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of vineyards.

Syrah (also known as shiraz) is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce red wine.

Syrah is used as a varietal and is also blended. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world’s 7th most grown grape at 142,600 hectares (352,000 acres).

Has your marriage died on a vine?

Has your marriage died on a vine?

Are you deeply unhappy and in need of changing your life?  Should you drink the bitter aftertaste of a marriage blend to avoid becoming a divorce statistic and presumed failure?  No!  You mustn’t equate divorce with failure.  Perhaps as you mature, your taste changes as wine does when it ages.  What once blended well no longer compliments the other and the two of you paired have aged into a concoction that you no longer recognize or have the taste for.  There are many other reasons for not labeling divorce as a failure.

tough vineHow can your life experience that helped you evolve and provided you with wisdom ever be deemed a failure?  The marriage delivered something of great value at one time.  There are parting gifts that will forever be yours such as your personal growth, good memories, maybe children, and experiences that helped shape who you are today.  These gifts don’t get returned.  They are yours to keep forever.

For those of you who are embarking on this tumultuous journey, I am here to tell you that you really can get something positive out of the experience of divorce. You may not be able to escape the pain, but you can use divorce as a refinement process that gives you a better version of yourself than the one you had before – a more drinkable one.  Always remember: things do happen for a reason – even if that reason isn’t apparent at the time.

Trust your instincts.  You are going to become the winemaker of who you want to become.  If you trust the process, you will re-produce yourself and deliver the new you on the other side of the journey.  emerson quoteUse this time to embark on self-discovery and in the process, try on a few shades of wine-colored glasses and see if you like the way they fit:  golden yellows of Chardonnay, burgundy hues for those delicious varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir to name a few.  Try them all until you find a pair that fits and you can see perfectly out of them.  Throw the rose-colored glasses out and make way for the wine-colored glasses – you’ll be able to see with better clarity.

The divorce may be a symptom of something inside that you need to heal from.  Pain has a way of connecting to buried parts in us that we have ignored but may carry more power over us than we realize sometimes responsible for creating the tannins in our relationships.

Keep an open mind and embrace the journey as it will birth the fruit of your soul.  I recommend keeping a journal that will help you connect the dots along the way.

Roquefort Pear Salad and a Chenin Blanc

A delightful combination to lighten the senses and tantalize the tastebuds.

pear salad

2010-Bougrier-Chenin-Blanc-PourOriginal recipe makes 6 Servings

  • 1 head leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size piece

  • 3 pears – peeled, cored and chopped

  • 5 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled

  • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

  • 1/4 cup white sugar

  • 1/2 cup pecans

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

  • Directions

    1. In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/4 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool, and break into pieces.
    2. For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.
    3. In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans, and serve.


Are you crushed?

This harvest season, remember when you enjoy your wine that the grape was crushed to get its juice out.  That is the only way that delicious wine showed up in your glass to be enjoyed.  You too have to get stomped on as a grape to get your juice out!  We have to look at the stomping we get in life as a chance to learn and refine our perspective.

grape crush

All your pain and sorrow will give you the ability to relate, tolerate and understand.  Sadness will eventually turn to joy and happiness.  Open your heart, learn to forgive, and recognize it is impossible to be perfect-although some wine comes pretty close!

We’ve got to grieve to love again, and have the courage to take the chance to decant fully with all the vulnerability, so we can taste the sublime nectar of life.

Our hearts may break and we may even lose everything we have ever known.  If we are lucky, we won’t lose our humanity or our ability to desire more.

kids crushEmbrace the harvest season and your crush….you’ll like the wine you become!

This week’s wine pick is a delicious a:


2009 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

This vintage is a dream come true for Winemaker Rob Davis, combining both an excellent growing season and our new direction with fruit sourcing. Visually stunning with a deep garnet-ruby hue, this wine possesses an unprecedented elegance of fruit expression, lively acidity, tannin structure and oak integration. Aromas of blackberry, black cherry and cassis are supported by subtle hints of baking spice and vanilla from oak aging. Enjoy now or cellar through 2025.

Enjoy the link to the Jordan Vineyard & Winery video featuring Veraison which is the changing color of green grapes to red when sugar accumulation begins and acids decrease.


fig camembertContributing recipe from Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook:

Toasted Camembert, walnut & fig tartine

1 slice of Sourdough Bread

1 tbsp Fig Jam

3 0z ripe Camembert or Brie cut into 1.4 inch slices

4 walnut halves, roughly chopped

black pepper

Preheat the broiler (grill) to a high setting. Lightly toast the bread.  spread the fig jam on top, cover with the Camembert and then sprinkle the walnuts and a little black pepper over the tartine.  Place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt.

Serve immediately.


Have You been Drinking Bad Wine?

Sometimes over the course of a relationship people change and take on new characteristics.  What was once a great marriage blend can sometimes turn into a concoction that neither of you has a taste for or can swallow.

THE LESSON LEARNED HERE is that  Life really is too short to drink bad wine.  Don’t settle.  Sometimes you have to know when to spit it out and dump the bottle.

That’s where I come in.  My name is Cheryl Nielsen and I am a Certified Divorce Coach and author of the book entitled Meritage Divorce.

So why hire a divorce coach? So you don’t have to get divorced alone! You’ll have a thinking partner to help guide you through the process.

I also help my clients identify the appropriate divorce support system to meet their specific needs, goals, and objectives.

Every effort is made to streamline the divorce process and break it down into less overwhelming steps. The more prepared you are to sit in front of your hired professionals to focus on what they do best, the less money you will spend in broader ranges of concerns.

By helping a client engage efficiently, a divorce coach can greatly reduce the cost of divorce.

My clients are also given the opportunity to embark on the Meritage Divorce Journey and embrace the “barrel refinement process” of transformation with guided self-reflection exercises.

Divorce Offers an opportunity to go back into the barrel and become the wine you want to become.  A kind of Barrel Refinement Process.  You are the Winemaker, hop in..it’s a good place to hide out, safe and warm.  The wood will protect your fragile being and hold you together.  You get to re-produce yourself in here!  Make the most of this time communing with yourself.

You’ve got to spend some time drinking your own wine..spitting out what you don’t like along the way, and deciding what you will swallow.

Wine as it rests in a barrel goes through subtle chemical changes, resulting in greater complexity and character.  It also softens the harsh tannins.  the barrel imparts the character of the wood into the wine and delivers distinctive flavors and sophistication.

The time you rest in the barrel will have a profound effect upon the wine you become.


Tears of sorrow will enhance the flavor.  Your personal growth, reflection, and self-discovery will deliver character.

The tannins of your backbone will become smooth with perspective, compassion, and humility.  Your character may change..even your body.

It’s time to let go of the labels of the past, while embracing the wine you will become with a purpose for the future-a wine to be shared, appreciated, and enjoyed for those willing to drink.

You won’t need to hide under any labels.  People will want to drink you up for your richness of flavor, matured to perfection.

As a Meritage Divorce Coach, I will look inside your barrel and make sure you are still in there, or at the very least, still decanting. My goal is to help deliver a better version of you on the other side of the journey, wearing your own pair of wine-colored glasses—and able to see with better clarity!

So if you are getting divorced, it’s okay, go ahead and WINE about it, you might feel better.  We can do this together, the divorce and the drinking in moderation of course.

You might be asking yourself, how does a Meritage wine relate to divorce?  A Meritage Divorce is a blend of financial, physical, emotional and spiritual guidance.  It’s important to trust the process if you are going to spit out the past, reproduce yourself, and decant a future.

In the process, try on a few shades of wine-colored glasses and see if you like the way they fit:  Golden yellows of Chardonnay, burgundy hues for those delicious varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir to name a few.


We’ll try them all until you find a pair that fits and you can see perfectly out of them.  Throw the rose-colored glasses out and make way for the wine-colored glasses–you’ll be able to see with greater clarity.

And remember,

With God and a Divorce Coach, and yourself, you really aren’t alone.


Jodi Arias – Evil or Disordered?

Many people are in relationships with personality disordered individuals and do not know it!  For some, the disorder shows up during a break-up.  A good example of Borderline behavior was found in the Jodi Arias trial.

I gave this speech to a group of Toastmasters to present my case, you decide!

My name is Cheryl Nielsen

I am going to present a compelling argument to prove Jodi Arias is not Evil but Disordered!

You will be jurors responsible to deliver your verdict if you agree or not.




I imagine when Jodi Arias came into the world she looked like every other baby

  • Eyes of wonder, innocent and pure
  • She didn’t want to be a cold blooded killer and do EVIL things

If she isn’t pure EVIL then What happened to her?  What created a cold blooded killer in Jody Arias?


  • Research shows infancy and childhood abandonment trauma as the leading cause of BPD
    • Inadequate bonding and emotional closeness with a child’s mother or primary care giver
    • Traumatic physical or sexual abuse

This results in:

  • An underdeveloped psyche without full emotional integration
  • trauma can shatter the psyche
  • You can loose a sense of yourself
  • Permanent emotional deregulation


Here’s the thing:  Borderline suffer from ABANDONMENT TRAUMA so they go to great lengths to get their needs met.  They have A BIG WHOLE of unmet needs

  • Coy, Lie, Jealousy issues, boundary issues, inapropriate behavior.


  • She became a Mormon
  • She moved to California to Arizona
  • She participated in her sexual fantasies

AT THE END OF DAY she was rejected.  This type of abandonment can trigger the original core wound of abandonment and DISTORT EMOTIONS  to unbelievable levels.  The rage they express can be fueled by the trauma and they can do things they might otherwise not be capable of.

Jodi’s opportunity for a normal life was taken away from her a long time ago.  She has lived in an emotional prison in pain, feeling empty, and in constant fear of abandonment.




An now ladies and gentleman of the jury it is time to render your verdict!

For more information on Borderline Personality Disorder visit www.bpdcentral.com.

No one signs up for a personality disorder, it is usually handed to us genetically or by our caregivers and others.  Trauma is often the major contributing factor.  It is estimated that one in fifty people suffer from BPD.

Wishing healing for everyone involved.

If you are contemplating a split from a Borderline, please seek the support of a licensed mental healthcare professional.

Of 40 Toastmasters that voted, 38 of 40 believe Jodi Arias is Disordered, not Evil.









It is important to note that people with BPD can get treatment to manage the disorder and live productive and happy lives.



Don’t Date a Pinot Noir!




Don’t date a Pinot Noir!

When I decided to date  after divorce, I had something special in mind.  After being with the same boring bottle of corked Cabernet Savingnon for nearly seventeen years, I was ready to broaden my wine palate and take a gamble with a new varietal – something smooth & more drinkable was calling my name…….

The biggest RISK I could take in dating would be on a Pinot Noir.

Why you ask?

Because a Pinot Noir is one of the most silkiest, seductive of wine, and most fickle.  Either GOOD or BAD and rarely anything inbetween.  Chances are they will love you and leave you.

They fit the profile of a word I would like to share with you.  As I share this word, I would like you to think of the first thought that comes to mind.

This word is “Sociopath”

Who did you think of?

It is estimated that Sociopaths AKA Pinot Noirs represent 4% of the population or 1-25.  They are more common than you think.  Sometimes they are our friends, lovers and co-workers.

Recently Sociopaths have been re-defined by mental health care professionals and defined as those who suffer from  “antisocial personality disorder”.  Here is how it is defined:

  • Reckless disregard for the safety of themselves or others
  • Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors
  • Deceitfulness & repeated lying
  • Deceit for personal profit or pleasure
  • Lack of remorse for actions that hurt other people

How did they become like this anyway?

There is some controversy over whether sociopaths are born with a pre-disposition in their brain development or created by their environment or the way they were raised.  Sometimes perhaps both are factors.

What are the tasting notes of this character –Charming, confident to the point of grandiose, often highly intelligent, attractive, and able to disarm you easily, seductive, silky and make a lot of promises on their labels that they rarely deliver.  They will fool you with their academy award winning performance.

I met a Pinot Noir at a wine tasting event when I decided to start dating again.  I had a long list of the tasting notes I desired in the wine I was looking for and this day I found it in a Pinot Noir.

To illustrate the encounter, I will read an excerpt from my book entitled “Meritage Divorce”:

This bottle stands out on the shelf when you are shopping for wine with its beautiful label.  This wine is the most seductive wine, with the most intoxicating bouquet.  One taste of this stuff and it will blow your palate.  One taste will not be enough; you will be hooked by the first sip.  You’ll drink them up so fast you’ll be intoxicated before the alcohol level reaches your bloodstream.  As a matter of fact, you might feel drunk just being around them without taking the first sip–as I did.  But it won’t be everything it’s cracked up to be and you wont know your dying slowly because you’re drunk. Love drunk.  Red flags will be quickly dismissed because nothing can get you to relinquish this bottle once you have it in your hands.  You will want to hold on tight and not share it with anyone.  This special bottle is the sublime nectar of the Gods and you found it.  If you share it, no one would return it and it would slip from your hands forever.  After you taste this wine, it will set a new standard and you will wonder if you could ever drink anything else again.   Hang on is all I can say when choosing this wine–it’s going to be a volatile journey.  And once you dump part of the wine out in your bottle to make room for them to pour themselves in, you’ll be left wondering how you get your wine back.

Sociopaths want something from you and in order to get it they are willing to work for.  They might work hard to please you, and treat you like a Queen or King and hang on every words you say as they study you and take notes to use against you in the future.  For them it is all about controlling you to get what they want.  They will eventually use your vulnerabilities against you to weaken you in an effort to control you.  It’s a form of domestic violence.

  • They don’t love, and connect like normal people do so you are living a BIG FAT LIE!

It’s best to spot the warning signs and don’t’ even crack open the bottle.

*Watch for lies, inconsistencies in stories, their on-line presence (usually exaggerated).  They may try to take you out of circulation in your own life and not want you to see your friends or family.

Here are some safety rules for dating , especially on-line where sociopaths troll for victims.

  • Don’t tell too much about yourself on-line – you are giving a sociopath an opportunity to build a seduction plan
  • Don’t allow your date to pick you up and don’t tell them where you live
  • Don’t tell you date too much about yourself for a period of time
  • Provide a friend with all the information you have of your date before meeting them
  • Don’t leave a drink unattended to go to the restroom
  • If possible, utilize the service that protects your cell number
  • Watch their body language…don’t let them get in your personal space – they should have respectable boundaries
  • Watch for superficial flattery
  • Watch for exagerations
  • Don’t let them walk you to your car, pay for valet if available

If you sense you might be dating a sociopath at some point or have already established a relationship see a mental health care professional for advice.  It can be very tricky when breaking off with them and staying safe.  Do not approach them with your suspicions of them being a Sociopath you could put yourself at further risk.  Move out while they are at work and change your number and do not respond to any form of communication – go cold turkey.  Run, don’t walk.

With any luck you won’t date a Pinot Noir.


You’re Going Back in the Barrel

See this Jordan Winery’s video link below:

In my book entitled Meritage Divorce, I describe how divorce offers an opportunity to go back into the barrel and become the wine you want to be—a kind of “barrel refinement process.” You are the winemaker. Hop in—it’s a good place to hide out, safe and warm. The wood will protect your fragile being and hold you together. You get to re-produce yourself in here—make the most of this time communing with yourself. You’re going to spend some time drinking your own wine—spitting out what you don’t like along the way, and deciding what you swallow. You have to be courageous and learn to live by faith, as it can be dark in the barrel—but there is wine, and that is a good thing.

The length of time wine spends in the barrel is dependent upon the varietal and style of wine the winemaker chooses to make. Pinot Noir may spend less than a year in a barrel, while a Cabernet Sauvignon to blow your palate may spend up to two years. Your length of time in the barrel will be uniquely yours and according to the wine you want to the wine you become.

Take your time, you are building character, it can’t be rushed if you want to mature to perfection.

Wine as it rests in a barrel goes through subtle chemical changes, resulting in greater complexity and character. It also softens the harsh tannins. The barrel imparts the character of the wood into the wine and delivers distinctive flavors and sophistication. The time you rest in the barrel will have a profound effect upon the wine you become. Tears of sorrow will enhance the flavor. Your personal growth, reflection, and self-discovery will deliver character. The tannins of your backbone will become smooth with perspective, compassion, and humility. Your character may change—even your body.

My time in the barrel delivered a spicier and more complex version of me on the other side— no longer a flat, one-dimensional wine that rarely came out to play. This wine likes to open up and have fun. The experience awakened a higher spiritual awareness as a result of having only faith and a barrel to carry me through the darkness of loss and grief. I got back in touch with the varietal of my core and realigned with my authentic self. I didn’t need a label. I’ve learned how to be happy with what’s inside. It became easier to let go of the labels of the past, while I embraced the wine I became with a purpose for the future—a wine to be shared, appreciated, and enjoyed for those willing to drink. I was transformed; you will be too. After you take this journey, you will see how.

You might try to escape the barrel with thoughts that you are a good wine already. Why go back into the barrel? If you try to resist, you will deny your soul a chance to use this experience to re-produce you; therefore, you are at risk of becoming bitter and undrinkable. If you don’t go into the barrel willingly now, you might get another opportunity in the future because your soul could be asking for this experience. The divorce may be a symptom of something buried in you that needs to be identified and healed from, so you can be in alignment with your authentic self and, therefore, able to live your best life.  At least it was for me.

Escape the barrel and life may provide another opportunity—another wake-up call. Eventually, you are going in whether you want to or not. Do it now. Opportunity is knocking. Relax; after you are re-produced, you’ll like the new wine you become. People will want to drink you up for your richness of flavor—matured to perfection, perhaps with a little pepper around the edges for distinction. The depth of your character will be deeper and more flavorful. You will be smoother on the palate and softer on the finish. You’ll enjoy getting back in your bottle with increased confidence and going on the tasting appointments of life. You will deliver an authentic experience because you will have the opportunity to get back into your own skin. It is the skin of the grape that gives wine color. That’s why I drink reds over whites—they have more skin in the game. You will too.

When I gave myself over to the barrel refinement process, it was as though everything I was running from—all the demons of the past—were cast into the barrel with me. For all intents and purposes, the barrel was purgatory and I had to decide if I was going to see the light of day, or if I was going to live forever in the dark. Demons don’t like light, so you have to spend time with them in the dark on their turf. It’s the only way you can see them. You can offer them wine in the barrel; they’ll open up more and you can wrestle with them better. In the end, by confronting them, they will lose their power and evaporate into thin air just as alcohol burns off when cooking with it.


It was a dark journey for me, but it was worth it. The time I spent in the barrel refinement process through my divorce was a time of personal reflection, learning, and spiritual growth. A journey I would not have taken otherwise, that changed my perspective, and reconnected me with the real wine I am, not the type of wine that hides under labels. I like the new wine I am. It makes the old me look like a young undrinkable wine. In hindsight, divorce gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.

Have you ever wondered what happens inside a wine barrel?  This video will illustrate:


Winemaking in action: battonage in clear-top Chardonnay wine barrel

Watch Jordan Winery’s Cellar Master Patrick Fallon perform battonage (the stirring of the Chardonnay lees) inside a demonstration wine barrel.

Celebrity Divorces

Folks, this is just for fun.  I like speculating how divorce changed a celebrity. This is a result of the character refinement I write about as part of the “barrel refinement process”……

C E L E B R I T Y   W I N E   P R O F I L I N G

GEORGE CLOONEY: He’s been divorced.  Chances are he went into the barrel for some refinement.  We’re talking about some good root stock here and nothing wrong with the grapes either.  What went in was pretty dam good to begin with.  My hunch is it just made him a bit spicier than before.  His humor throws most people off his scent as though to say – “you can smell the essence of my bouquet and admire me for my body and complex characteristics but you can’t taste”.  If you could, probably a good mouth feel with balanced elements – fruit, tannin, and acidity.   He’s been stored well too.  I can see that he will continue to age well and he will be forever hot.  George is possibly the most confirmed bachelor that subscribes to the thinking that it is better to stock your cellar with plenty of options instead of the same boring bottle of wine day after day;  Although, it does appear to take him awhile to get bored of the same bottle of wine.  I think he prefers to drink around.  I thought he might consider blending with an Italian wine for a while, my mistake.  Maybe one day he’ll find a bottle he wants to blend with that satisfies him and he’ll find reasons why he is so much better blended than he is running solo.  I’ll have to choose a wine to represent George that stands on its own well, fully matured and doesn’t need to be paired with food since he is the main course.

The bottle of wine I have chosen to represent George is:  Abacus Why?:  Each year he gets a little more refined and builds on what is already yummy


A short and swift divorce settlement between Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise has shortened Katie’s “barrel refinement process.”  Her timely and strategic announcement that she was divorcing Cruise is a tell tell sign that the normal mourning of the end of a relationship might have been going on well before she decided to pull the cork.  In this case, I see Holmes  maturing during her marriage and growing into her own skin as a confident, sophisticated, complex women that is no longer the paired companion to Tom.  No this girl stands on her own proudly.  She stayed in the relationship for what seemed like a good experience but as soon as it threatened her values or control over raising her daughter, she did what she felt was the right thing.  She is an inspiration to all women to not compromise your values to be controlled by the man in your life – even if that man is Tom Cruise.  I can’t wait to watch Katie as she releases herself on the other side, proud, confident, elegent – this wine is on steroids and her glass runnith over.  Pour yourself out Katie – you’re delicious!

The bottle of wine I have chosen for Katie is an sophisticated Jordan Cabernet Savingnon Why?  She’s arrived.




Goodreads Book Giveaway!

Goodreads is good to me! 

I want to thank everyone that entered the Goodreads book giveaway.  There were dozens of people that responded and I was overjoyed by the enthusiasm.  Five winners were selected by Goodreads.  I was given the names and mailing addresses – the books were mailed last week!  I hope all you winners enjoy the book and it provides you with a message that speaks to your personal journey.  There are so many ways to find support with an on-line community and I am thankful for Goodreads.

Here are the winners:

Michael Hilwerda, Dina Cox, A. Becker, Jailine De la Cruz, Carl M.

Remember, Divorce does not define us, it realigns us, and refines us!




Establish a baseline of Health and test for Sexually transmitted infections!

Below is an excerpt from the book Meritage Divorce, written in wine metaphors

 In the early stages of divorce, I recommend establishing a current baseline of your overall health. If you have any current health issues, you want to address them sooner versus later. The increased stress of divorce can potentially weaken your immune system. You don’t want your health to suffer more by the increased stress you are taking on. If you are given a clean bill of health, great, next is to maintain it and possibly even improve on some aspects of your physical health. See your personal physician for a complete physical examination and follow your doctor’s recommendations for any further evaluations.

Consider testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or “sediments” in a Meritage Divorce. You could be carrying a sexually transmitted infection with no visible signs and not be aware that you contracted it in your seemingly monogamous marriage blend.

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is an infection passed from person to person through intimate sexual contact. This contact can be in many forms. I’m not going to list all of them here—use your imagination—you should know what happens when two bottles get together. There seems to be a presumption that a condom will protect you from all STIs. Not the case. For one thing, condoms can break. Also, some STIs are spread easily by skin-to-skin contact. You’d need a full body condom, which doesn’t exist.

Think you are not at risk? Think again. There are 19 million new infections each year according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Furthermore, newly divorced middle-aged women who sometimes feel they can no longer become pregnant and are not in the demographic to be at risk don’t worry about using condoms. Take off your rose-colored glasses and get some wine-colored glasses before it’s too late. Actually, the divorced pool of people having sex, and perhaps also a little naïve since they didn’t concern themselves with this while married, are potentially high-risk carriers as a result of not practicing safe sex.

Think you’ll take a pill and everything will go away? Think again. There are several that will be with you for life (unless a cure is found). We all know about HIV, but there are others that can be potentially life threatening. Take HPV for instance (Human Papillomavirus). Some sources estimate at least half of people who are sexually active will contract the HPV virus at some point in their lives. There are 100 or more types of HPV. Some types can cause cancer in various parts of your body. Ask your doctor about STIs, and ways you can protect yourself. In the case of HPV, It can be transmitted from skin-to-skin contact, so a condom is not a guarantee. At a bare minimum, use a condom.

If you plan on blending, why not ask them to see a doctor first and get tested for sediments? Then they can present a copy of the lab report before you go near them. Doesn’t sound very romantic? Neither do any of these sediments. Perhaps a Pinot Noir would be taken back by this request, but hey, you don’t want to cork yourself either.

Three Things A Divorce Coach can help you with


By Geoff Williams
Sept 19

(Reuters) – Getting unmarried is as time-consuming  and detail-oriented as tying the knot in the first place, so if  you were the type to hire a wedding planner, it’s not a far leap  to think you’d want a divorce coach.
“The whole process is an emotional roller coaster,” says  Candace Pittenger, 51, a natural healer in Carlsbad, California,  who used a divorce coach this year to help end her 13-year  marriage.
“You’re splitting up everything – your house, your stuff,  our children, which in our case are our furry pets. I knew a lot  of emotions would come up, and I needed someone to help me deal  with all of those.”
Just as the 1990s brought the rise of life coaches, the new  millennium is the age of the divorce coach. It’s a concept that  appears to have started with Dr. Kim Lurie, a Merrick, New York,  attorney who began calling herself a divorce coach in the 1990s.  The phrase “divorce coach” doesn’t begin turning up in newspaper  archives until the 2000s, when attorneys, financial mediators,  psychotherapists and other professionals began reinventing  themselves and calling themselves divorce coaches.
In recent years, businesses around the country have taken  divorce coaching to a new level: A couple works with several  coaches, each specializing in things such as finances and  co-parenting.
The key to finding a competent divorce coach is researching  your coach’s background – whether it’s law, finance or  counseling – and deciding if it will lend itself to helping you  navigate your divorce.  Some divorce coaches do receive  specialized training, but if you aren’t careful, you could wind  up hiring a divorce coach whose only experience is having been  divorced. The industry is in its infancy even as its (mostly)  affluent clients struggle with very grown-up problems.
So if you’re thinking of hiring a divorce coach, here is  what they can help you with.

1. Pre-legal advice
Many people use divorce coaches to minimize talking to their  lawyers. It’s a chance to vent about what a jerk your ex is to a  professional who isn’t going to bill you as much.
Pittenger used her divorce coach to take lawyers almost  completely out of the equation. She worked with an  attorney-turned-divorce coach, Laura McGee, who referred her to  Sarah Elder, who runs Divorce with Dignity, a service that  specializes in legal documents needed for divorce.
Mostly, though, divorce coaches are used in conjunction with  attorneys.
“I love them, and if I had my way, I’d never work without  them,” says Brigitte Bell, a Chicago divorce attorney. “They  help manage the clients and support them by bringing a different  set of skills to the divorce process than we do.”
Randall Cooper, co-founder of CDC College for Divorce  Coaching in Tampa, Florida, which provides training and  certification to divorce coaches, says the average cost of a  divorce coach is $100 to $150 per hour, versus several hundred  per hour for an attorney. The cost of either often depends on  geography.
McGee, of San Diego, charges $225 for a 90-minute coaching  session and $375 for a 2.5-hour session. Someone with a really  complicated divorce may want to spend $675 for her five-hour  session.
Just don’t mistake a divorce coach’s advice for legal  advice. “It’s not,” says Cooper. “That’s the realm of the  attorney.”
 2. Hand-holding
While some people lean on friends and family for support,  that can come with its own emotional baggage.  Many divorced  individuals, says Dave Hilton, a Dallas-based financial conflict  coach, have “family members pushing them extremely hard to take  their ex for all they are worth or hurt them in another way.”
Cooper says his job is to be his client’s “thinking  partner.” Divorce is a long process, and the coach goes along  for the ride – not as legal counsel or therapist, but as a  guide. “It’s all about creating a safe, supportive,  nonjudgmental and patient environment,” says Cooper.
And the objectivity of a paid coach can be useful, says Beth  Ashby, 46, a former nurse in West Lafayette, Indiana, who is  getting her divorce coach certificate from CDC. “A divorce coach  can really help someone define and refine their goals and let  you pare down and peel the onion layers and get to what really  matters,” she says.
But be aware that even if coaching costs a lot less than  most lawyers, fees can add up if you book a lot of hours.
 3. Organizing
You may have your emotions in order but not your paperwork,  so there are free and low-cost services available, such as legal  aid societies and software programs like DivorceWriter.com and  RocketLawyer.com. But if that’s still too difficult, a coach is  one level up in help (and cost).
Chris Furney, a project manager at a consumer products  company in Atlanta, and his wife Anna ended their marriage in  2010 using Divorce Innovations, which specializes in divorce  without lawyers. Two coaches helped the couple with everything  from navigating their taxes to working out child-support issues,  which was very helpful, says Furney, who admits to not initially  understanding the nuts and bolts of the process.
Furney says he spent about $3,000 on his attorneys and  $7,000 at Divorce Innovations, which shows that divorce coach  costs can add up. But he estimates he might have spent three  times that if he had only gone with lawyers, and would have lost  plenty from the financial mistakes he would have made on his  own.

Divorce and Wellness – Book Launch Tour Drawing

In Meritage Divorce, I recommend establishing a current baseline of your overall health.  If you have any current health issues, you want to address them sooner versus later.  The increased stress of divorce can potentially weaken your immune system.  You don’t want your health to suffer more by the increased stress you are taking on.  If you are given a clean bill of health, great, next is to maintain it and possibly even improve on some aspects of your physical health.  This is why I am very excited to introduce Margaret Dinhluu Bredehoft, DrPH of Vitale Wellness where a program exists that embodies this philosophy!  This is what she has to say:

“One of the main goals in our wellness approach is to develop our adaptive strength.  We can never eliminate stressors, nor can we ever eliminate the possibility of negative events causing us to feel distress.  What we can do is raise our threshold of adaptation so that we can withstand difficult circumstances and even be strengthened and energized by them.  Wellness is not just about building physical health, but it is also about building a sense of well-being and personal effectiveness.  There are methods and skills that can be learned to improve your health, quality of life and sense of personal power.  This is a new perspective on health; it asserts that a road to a more fulfilling life can be found by improving health at different levels of body, mind and emotions.

A great place to start is finding out where you’re at by establishing a baseline.  Wellness IQ is a robust program which factors in specialized lab testing, detailed follow-up consultations with our Registered Dietitians to provide lab analysis and recommendations, and personal supplement advisors able to compound customized supplements based on each individual’s needs.  This program gives you a detailed view of your current health status and actionable items to help make practical lifestyle changes.” – Margaret Dinhluu Bredehoft, DrPH.

As Managing Director and founder of Vitalae Corporate Services and Vitalae Wellness, Dr. Bredehoft leads the company’s overall strategic direction.  Dr. Bredehoft has been serving the Orange County community for over 18 years in the areas of public and corporate health.  She attended Loma Linda University where she obtained her Master’s Degree in Health Promotion and Education, and her Doctorate in Preventive Care.  A self-made entrepreneur, her career has been dedicated to creating award-winning programs and leading research and development in lifestyle practice, advanced functional testing, health and productivity management, childhood obesity and exergaming.  Dr. Bredehoft’s personal philosophy about life is best echoed by the words of Emerson, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded.”

links below:





On September 18, 2012, post on this page below your wine profile – if you were a bottle of wine what would you be and why?  Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay perhaps – you decide.  We will select the most clever answer. The post should be 20 words or less. The winner will receive a $20 Starbucks gift card. The winner will be announced the next day.

Link to drawing: http://meritagedivorce.com/?page_id=207

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