Meritage Divorce

My divorce journey through wine colored glasses...

     My divorce began in 2007 after being married since 1995…  
We had just purchased a large property on four acres and planted a 600 Cabernet Sauvignon boutique vineyard.  The small root stocks were springing to life while the marriage was dying on the vine.  I stayed at the property to sell it while my husband moved to a rental property that was previously occupied by a tenant.
     My husband worked as a Financial Advisor for his own firm and I worked as a Real Estate broker for my own firm.  The two of us, like so many others, were hit hard with the financial market conditions of that time.  Without enough cash flow to carry the property, I concocted a plan to turn the property into a wedding venue to try to stay afloat until I could secure a buyer.  I lasted for a little over 3 years or so. No buyer in sight for a luxury property, the estate foreclosed. Pruning and nurturing the vines while living here birthed a voice in me. I adopted a writing style that uses wine metaphors for entertainment value for wine lovers.  In my book entitled Meritage Divorce, I describe my journey as follows:
     Books, wine, dogs, and a few friends, and a vineyard were my constant companions throughout my divorce.  More often than not, however, I was alone drinking wine and working in the vineyard.  The dogs watched me grieve.  I poured myself into my work while I tried to spit out the past, re-produce myself, and decant a future.  I thought I was living life through wine-colored glasses-the ones you can see through with the most clarity-and I thought I was alone; yet neither turned out to be the case.  If we have God and ourselves, are we really alone?  I think not.
     God knew I was deeply unhappy and in need of changing my life.  The Creator wanted me to live a more purposeful life, with love and joy and needed to soften the tannins of my backbone, and give me some additional maturity and complex characteristics to prepare me for the happy life ahead of me.  I was released on the other side of divorce with the burning desire to share the wisdom of my experience and give hope, support, companionship, and guidance to those of you who are embarking on this tumultuous journey, and to tell you that you really can get something positive out of the experience. 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 happen for a reason-even if that reason isn’t apparent at the time.
     Since the publishing of my book, I have worked over the years to develop a coaching program I call  “Meritage Divorce Journey” to empower women with knowledge to make good decisions and exercises to embark on self-discovery so divorce can be used to return us to the varietal of our core.  Our authentic selves.
     You can embark on this journey online through an at home self-paced virtual learning platform with educational videos, and helpful handouts (start date to be announced).  Join our community too so you can receive invitations and notifications of future events.  The Meritage Divorce Journey Workbook is being offered for free with a book purchase until the online courses are available (on this site).
     My divorce journey did not end entirely when my divorce was final in 2009.  A property dispute erupted in 2016 between my Ex and I.  It resulted in post divorce litigation to request orders from the court over the disposition of a rental property his parents were living in that my mother was to benefit from according to our original judgment.  He wanted the unit sold.
     As a result of the cost of litigation (attorneys fees), that were draining my retirement account, I made the decision to self represent myself. This plunged me deep into challenging waters.  For two years litigation was my full-time job.  I was buried with discovery requests and I felt I was living with psychological warfare daily. I however, refused to give up. Ultimately, the property wasn’t ordered sold. My mother benefited from it, and I bought my Ex out of his court ordered community interest. Apparently the language in our agreement was perceived with ambiguity.  What I felt was mine, became “our” property.
     Other disputes arose over the previous handling of money and his attorney’s fees.  It was a blood bath.  If I were to lose, it would be complete financial collapse for potentially years to come. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were on the table. It was do-or-die for me. Although I did not have to pay his attorney’s fees in excess of $125k, the cost of my time was financially devastating.  The education was priceless, however; and although our original divorce was mediated, I had a new understanding for the court and litigated divorces including the toxic fallout you have to heal from.
     I’m on the other side of the journey once again, and I feel I spent some additional time in the barrel of transformation.  All of our life experience is not wasted.  I am rich once again in the wisdom of the experience.  Complete with more depth of character, and a little salt and pepper around the edges for distinction.  I’m comparable to a bold Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged in the barrel to drinkable maturity. 
    I look forward to sharing some of the wisdom of my experience, and I hope once again others will benefit.  Until then, may your glass always be half full and when you are given water, turn it into wine! 

Cheryl Nielsen