According to a New York Times article, about 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year, and only about 10 percent of it is recycled. The rest of it is simply thrown away, and an estimated seven million tons ends up floating around in the ocean — every year.
One simple change in mindset can reduce that by quite a bit.
You know that clean, shiny plastic spork you might use to eat lunch? What would happen if you washed it off and saved it for another reuse? Just once. Or that plastic cup (or paper, for that matter) that we drink out of once and then toss … rinse it out and use it just one more time?
Imagine if everyone did that. Use a perfectly good disposable item twice, instead of just once.
Imagine how much of a dent that would take out of those tons of plastic going into the environment. In a perfect world that would cut the plastic use in half, but of course that’s not the case, as there are many plastic items — such as in packaging — that can only be used once. But still, a significant portion of plastic use is … well, knives and forks. Plastic cups. A plate. Things that are perfectly reusable.
What if you reused them just once? Or maybe more than once?
Now, I know the next step is to wonder about substituting actual reusable items instead of disposable ones, but let’s not get carried away. We’ve got a 300 million ton plastic ship going full throttle here — there’s no way you’re going to stop it on a dime. But big changes can come from small, tiny changes. Easy changes.
Like rinsing out that cup and using it again before you throw it away. Or — be daring! — use it three times. Four!
It’s easy, and I urge you to start doing it today, and please urge your friends and colleges to do it too. Just make that simple, easy change.
Just reuse it once. Maybe twice. Something so small, it’s not that big a deal, but cumulatively it could be a huge big deal.
Sources: Raising Awareness of Plastic Waste (NY Times); U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
I have found the key to happiness.
It’s not an original idea. You’ll find forms of it throughout various cultures, religions, philosophies and the sciences.
The more experience I gain in this lifetime, the more I notice everything moves in cycles. I started studying these cycles, and found the most interesting and useful ones sustain themselves. Here I’ve attempted to strip the most relevant two down to their simplest form. I call them the Positive Loop, and the Negative Loop.
The goal in life is to get into as many of the Positive Loops as you can, and away from the Negative ones. To do this you must first become aware of the various loop cycles you’re in, identify the negative ones, and make conscious effort against habits you’ve formed to break out of them.
Once again, these are very simplified, much like representing an entire automobile engine by showing a single piston. By doing this, it makes it easier to see the solution. And, yes, the solution is simple, though identifying it may not be.
Now if this were a self-help book, I would spend 20 pages convincing you to read the book, three pages of introducing the idea, and the next 140 pages convincing you the idea works through endless sets of examples. My friends, I’m not going to put you through that. I want to share this with you because it can make your life better. By making your life better, it makes the lives of others close to you better, and so on.
If you already get the picture, you can stop reading right now. Go find examples of Positive and Negative loops in your life. Write them down. Study them. Figure out where you can break the Negative loops and turn them Positive.
Seriously, that is your mission. I want you to do this. It’s good for you, your friends, your family, and even for me. For everyone.
It’s a very good thing to have dreams and aspirations. The problem is, which ones do you chase? Which ones do you lock in as a goal, and work toward? For some people this is a no-brainer, but for others — especially creative types who have a very large range of interests — choosing can be difficult. So difficult, in fact, that you end up making no choice at all.
Another pitfall is choosing to pursue something that, in the end, you lose interest in. The time in your life is finite, and it’s a shame to waste that time and energy chasing something that turns out to be a whim. That’s why it’s best to take some time up front, studying, to discover what it is you really want out of life, before you dedicate a lot more time working toward it.
It’s like that Talking Heads song Seen and Not Seen, where the guy spends years slowly changing the shape of his own face to an ideal, which — halfway through — he decides isn’t what he really wants.
Here’s what I did, and it worked for me. Maybe it will work for you as well.
Spend a couple weeks making a list of the things you really want out of life. Don’t be afraid to think big. What is it you really want?
Don’t worry about listing them in order, and if you think of something else later, you can add it in at any time.
My [highly edited] personal example:
- See New Zealand
- Get a pro camera
- Write for a living
- Become a gourmet chef
- Paint pictures
- Pursue photography
- Own a Starbucks
- Live in a beach house
- Own a Bookstore
- Learn computer programming
- Learn database programming
Make sure you don’t lose this list. I kept mine on a Palm Pilot, because iPhones weren’t around yet and I carried my PDA with me everywhere. You can keep it on your computer, in the cloud, or in a paper notebook you know you won’t lose. It doesn’t matter where just as long as it’s accessible and safe.
Now, over the course of the next 6 months to a year (or even longer if you’d like), go down this list and rate your desire for each one on a scale from zero to ten, using decimals if you so choose. Do it at least once a month. When you’re done, you’ll have a list of numbers beside each:
- See New Zealand – 8 / 3 / 5 / 9 / 9 / 6 / 7 / 7 / 8 / 10
- Get a pro camera – 8 / 9 / 9 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 3 / 7 / 8 / 10
- Write for a living – 7 / 9 / 8 / 9 / 7 / 6 / 9 / 10 / 9 / 10
- Become a gourmet chef – 7 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 3 / 4 / 8 / 4 / 5 / 4
- Paint pictures – 7 / 8 / 4 / 3 / 0 / 2 / 4 / 3 / 7 / 0
- Pursue professional photography – 6 / 10 / 8 / 2 / 0 / 2 / 3
- Own a Starbucks – 5 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0
- Live in a beach house – 9 / 8 / 10 / 8 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 8 / 10
- Own a Bookstore – 4 / 0 / 3 / 0 / 2 / 2
- Learn computer programming – 1 / 1 / 0 / 2 / 4 / 0 / 0
- Learn database programming – 1 / 3 / 0 / 1 / 2 / 4 / 1 / 1
You can see immediately the goals I’ve consistently craved over time are things like a beach house and a really cool camera. One of the things obviously a whim was my desire to open a Starbucks of my very own.
Now, average each one up and sort them highest to lowest:
- Write for a living – 8.5 Average
- Live in a beach house – 8.4 Average
- See New Zealand – 7.3 Average
- Get a pro camera – 6.9 Average
- Become a gourmet chef – 4.5 Average
- Pursue professional photography – 4.5 Average
- Paint pictures – 3.8 Average
- Own a Bookstore – 2.0 Average
- Learn database programming – 1.8 Average
- Own a Starbucks – 1.2 Average
- Learn computer programming – 1.1 Average
And there you go. You have a well researched list of what you want out of life. Concentrate on the top of the list, and forget about everything averaging below a six in your ratings.
I did this about eight years ago. I’m now writing for a living, I’ve saved up for and bought the camera, but I haven’t made it to New Zealand yet — though I have made it to Europe several times. And while I don’t live on the beach, I’ve found a beautiful place nestled right up against stream. So you see, once you’ve set your goals you know what to focus on and work toward — you can achieve them!
Now right in the middle of all this you may stumble into something else that fires your rockets. Add it in. Pursue it a bit. Study it as well. Times change, interests change … if I were to do this list now, it would look substantially different.
The most important thing is to make sure you enjoy life, and keep enjoying it. It could turn out that something on your list (that you’ve wanted for over a year) will suddenly drop off after you’ve started pursing it. Maybe something you pursued while you were making your list takes its place.
It’s okay. If you feel a passion for something, and the passion doesn’t fade, you may not even need to make a list or study your long term desires.
If that happens, then go for it!
If not, then at least you have a solid place to start. And everything you do, learn from it. If you can do that then nothing is wasted, and you’re living your life to its fullest.
I’ve seen this happen over and over again among family and friends, and it hurts to watch. And as far as I can see it never ends well.
To generalize this, let’s make up a story about Dick and Jane. I’m making Dick the controlling partner, because I usually see it on the male side of the relationship, but it isn’t always so. This is written hopefully to help Dick understand why it seems the world has turned against him, and what he needs to do makes things better for himself and those he loves.
So as our story begins, Dick and Jane fall in love and get married. Immediately afterwards, Dick’s attitude toward Jane changes. She’s his property now, his wife, and he is the husband. Dick is now the Lord and Master of his castle.
Incidentally, we can’t blame Dick for this sudden attitude shift. This is what he’d been taught by his parents, which they in turn had been taught by their parents. This is not what you’d call an enlightened family, more a traditional one. In the old days this was the accepted rule of thumb.
Fast forward to the new millennium. This is no longer how society works. Change which began a half century before has now come to fruition. Man and woman are equal partners in a relationship, and in society.
Jane has been taught this, if not by her family then by society itself. She is a equal and free person. She has equal rights, and no limits to what she can pursue in life. She can run for President of the United States if she so chooses.
This archaic rule her new husband is now trying to impose upon her does not sit well. Jane has sudden and serious second thoughts about this marriage, but something keeps her in it. Be it love, or a sense of obligation, or stubbornness – or most likely, the false hope that she can change him – something makes her stay.
The first few years are a period of adjustment anyway. Quibbles and quarrels are part of the natural landscape. Over time they settle into a sense of equilibrium, especially as children arrive into their marriage.
But slowly, over time, Dick has devised (or perhaps, evolved) ways to control Jane so that he feels secure. Here’s a few examples:
- Monetary controls – she only has access to specific amounts of money, if any at all.
- Communication controls – he checks on her constantly.
- Transportation controls – she doesn’t have a car, or at least not a reliable one.
- Social controls – he has approval/disapproval powers over who she can have as friends.
If Jane has accepted this – if she has the type of psyche where this makes her feel secure – then she may grumble but that’s the end of our story. But our story is not about that type of Jane. Our Jane is resentful, feels trapped, and against her will has started thinking of Dick as The Enemy.
Now, you see, Dick loves Jane. To him, he’s taking care of her.
Jane, however, is now starting to resent, and starting to fall out of love with, her own husband. She begins pulling away, trying to free herself, to demand some autonomy.
Dick will have none of that. In fact, the moment he feels he’s losing control he starts to panic, and does rash things. He lashes out, tells her she’s misbehaving, tells her she’s causing all sorts of trouble. He punishes her psychologically and sometimes even physically. Worst of all, he puts all the blame on her.
This does serious damage to the marriage. Jane now goes undercover, pursuing her freedom in covert ways. Dick has ceased being a life companion and has now totally become The Enemy. Her love for him may not be fully extinguished at this point, but hate has crept into the picture … it’s become a love/hate relationship.
Dick doesn’t know what else to do. He was brought up with the understanding that control is the only path, that he must remain in charge. When he inevitably catches Jane doing the unthinkable – outright defying him – it throws him into blind panic. He doesn’t understand why the woman he loves has turned against him, and so now he feels betrayed. As far as he’s concerned, he’s given her everything.
And he may have – as far as all her material needs, and her physical needs. But he has denied her the one thing she needs most: freedom.
At this point it’s probably too late to save this relationship. Too many bridges have been burned. Dick and Jane are getting divorced.
Sadly, if Dick doesn’t learn what caused this disaster, he’s doomed to repeat it with other people in his life. He’ll drive away his own children, and probably his next wife as well.
However – and unfortunately – Dick is usually the type of person who blames everyone else for all his problems, as he literally doesn’t see or understand that he caused them. So step one for Dick is to accept responsibility for his own actions.
Dick needs to do something called “root cause analysis” on his own life. He has to look at his problems and ask himself, sincerely, “What did I do to cause this,” and he has to be brave enough to accept the answer that will inevitably come to him.
It is never too late to change. It’s never too late to turn a new page in your life and start again.
Here’s a to-do list for Dick:
- Accept responsibility for your actions and stop blaming other people.
- Accept that you need to change, and truly want to do so.
- Accept that in many cases you’re not the victim of your problems, you are the unwitting culprit who caused them.
- Accept that the choices you make cause the things that happen in your life.
- Accept that you make mistakes, and that’s okay as long as you learn from them.
- Learn to let go of the illusion that you can control people. You cannot. The only person you can control is yourself.
- Accept that the only person you can change is yourself.
- Learn to accept people as they are.
- Learn to love unconditionally. Do not demand or expect things in return.
- Learn to trust people, especially those you love.
- Learn to give people freedom, and trust that – because you’re sincerely trying to be the best person you can be – they will not abandon you.
- If they do leave you, you have to let them go and trust that it wasn’t meant to be. If you let them go graciously there’s always the chance they’ll come back.
- Always focus on trying to be the best person you can be.
The most important thing Dick has to accept is that you cannot force people to love you, and that you cannot force people to stay with you. Instead you have to learn to become the type of person people would never dream of leaving. To do that you must be willing to give them:
- Unconditional love
- Unconditional encouragement
- Unconditional freedom
If Dick cannot do that, then he is doomed to repeat his failures.
And he will always be a Dick.
When you’re happy, you smile. So, if you smile will it make you happy?
According to studies, the answer to that is “Yes.”
More and more it’s coming out that the connection between the smile and the happiness is not a one-way street. The signals sent from your brain to your body to make you smile when you’re happy can also be used in reverse. Some studies even suggest that it’s the smile itself which comes first … that your happiness is in fact triggered by the smile, not the other way around.
I am not happy as I write this (romantic problems) so let’s try an experiment. I’m sitting here at Starbucks, sipping coffee and writing on my trusty Sony Clie, and I’m going to try to cheer myself up simply by smiling.
6:42 pm – Big fake smile on my face. Still feeling sad.
6:44 pm – Still wearing a big fake smile. I’m right in the window and people are walking by. I’m on display with this stupid grin on my face, and I’m feeling more than a little foolish.
6:45 pm – The smile is now genuine because it’s starting to become funny.
6:46 pm – I am really starting to feel like an idiot now, but it’s still funny and people are smiling back at me. And, yes, I definitely feel more cheerful than I did a few minutes ago. So it works for me.
Now let me take the experiment one step further. The next person who comes through the door frowning, I’m going to talk them into smiling.
Later now. My victim’s name was Dave, a nice guy about 40 years old, wearing glasses and talking with an Australian accent. He admitted he was feeling down because of his financial situation, so I convinced him to sit across from me and try the smiling experiment. We smiled at each other until he finally asked if I were gay or something (no, I told him, this is a real experiment). A few minutes later he was laughing, and I asked if it cheered him up … and he said yes.
So in this unscientific little test of mine, I have concluded that something about smiling does in fact lighten your mood. I know from prior experience that forcing yourself to laugh works as well, but you can’t really sit down by yourself in a public place and laugh for minutes on end without frightening people.
Let’s not end this here … why don’t you try it? Maybe we can make this world a happier place one smile at a time.
Every night I go to sleep with a CPAP machine strapped to my face, and it’s wonderful.
Used to be that I’d fall asleep while driving so often that I had my kids trained to pull the hair on my arms to keep me awake. I’d routinely fall dead asleep during meetings at work, and even once during a job interview. When visiting friends, I’d always end up dozing off on their couch. I even used to catch myself falling asleep while standing in line.
Coffee only had a limited effect. Herbal stimulants could only do so much. It was bad. I thought I had narcolepsy.
My doctor pegged it, though — she said I probably have sleep apnea. The moment she described what that meant, I knew she was right. People often told me that I snored loud, and then stopped, and then started again. During camping trips my snoring would scare other campers — my friend’s wife even thought I was an angry bear.
Spending the night at the local sleep lab confirmed the diagnosis. When I’d go to sleep, my throat would slowly close and cut off my airway. I’d stop breathing. My lungs would fight for air, which would wake me up only enough to gasp and open the airway again. Then, drifting back to sleep, it would happen all over again. All night long. Waking up every five minutes.
No wonder I kept falling asleep while I was driving. So many times I’d nod off and then come back just in time to avoid flying off the side of the road, or slamming into a wall of concrete. Seriously, that happened so often I’d lost count of how many times I almost died.
It was because I wasn’t sleeping at night.
The solution to the problem turned out to be a machine called a CPAP, which stands for “Constant Positive Airway Pressure.” It’s basically a specialized air pump with a hose and a mask. The mask comes in various designs, all meant to put air into your nose at a specific pressure that’s just enough to keep your throat from closing while sleeping.
Let me tell you, I was very dubious of being able to sleep with what I considered a SCUBA apparatus strapped to my face all night long. But being that it was so hard for me to stay awake in the first place, it only took me twenty minutes or so to drift off even with the strangeness of the contraption. I slept so well that first night, I woke up a new person. I’m totally serious, it was that profound. It had been so many years since I actually had a full night’s sleep that when I finally did, I felt like I’d just woken up from a coma.
Even now, over 10 years later, I’m awake all day long. I never fall asleep while driving. I don’t snore anymore. I’m a totally different person. The CPAP doubles as a white noise machine, and is quieter than a fan. You can usually get your health insurance to pay for it — mine did, twice. Even if not, you can now find them on the Internet for a fraction of what they used to cost.
A beneficial side effect I’ve found — and my doctor has confirmed — it may also solve any acid reflux problems you have at night.
I’m writing this to help anyone facing the decision of going with a CPAP to know that it’s not horrible — it’s wonderful. And I’m hoping that if someone else out there recognizes these symptoms, please go to your doctor and have it diagnosed and treated. Not doing so can take a serious toll on your health, and also — and more immediate — falling asleep while driving can not only kill you, but the people with you, or the other people who you might hit.
More information about sleep apnea: Sleep Apnea – Mayo Clinic
This is a very embarrassing topic, but my girlfriend urged me to write about it as a public service. “It could make a difference in the relationships for hundreds of couples,” she told me.
The subject is control over how long a guy lasts during lovemaking.
Quoting my girlfriend: “Why is it that so many men don’t care about control when it is so very important? Don’t they realize that it makes such a huge difference to their relationships? Why can they not see that a satisfied woman will do anything for her man?”
This is obviously a wide spread problem, otherwise you wouldn’t see it as one of the most popular subjects for annoying Spam mail.
The ironic thing is that teaching yourself how to last longer in your lovemaking is simple, and unlike what all those junk emails tell you, you don’t have to buy a pill or special cream. All it takes is the willingness to learn. Or, actually, unlearn.
Because of the sexually frank nature of the subject, those who might be offended should stop reading right here. I mean it. Stop reading.
You’re still reading? Okay. Let’s get right to the point, then.
Premature ejaculation in men is nothing more than a bad habit.
The habit is learned usually as a boy during puberty, directly after experiencing his first orgasm. He’s not to blame, either, it’s our sexual prudishness that is the root cause of the problem. The fear of getting caught.
All boys masturbate. All of them. Most men do it as well, and most will lie about it too. It’s extremely embarrassing, and guys would rather die than be discovered.
Why? Because we’ve all been taught that sex is bad. It’s dirty. It’s a sin.
Well, it’s not, but that’s not the point of this article. However it is this stigma over self-gratification that causes boys (and later men) to rush through it as fast as humanly possible. They feel the urge, they find a quiet place, and they take care of business. Over and done with. The original wham, bam, thank you hand.
The human penis is a simple creature. It only has a couple jobs in life, and it only does what it’s been taught to do. It stands to reason that if you spend years teaching it to ejaculate quickly, then that is what it’s going to continue doing. It doesn’t care what the circumstances … or what is doing the stimulation. It knows what it knows.
Fortunately, a penis can learn to change. Slow down. Relax and enjoy the journey instead of focusing only on the destination.
The simplest way to unlearn the bad habit is doing the very same activity which originally caused it, but with a different mindset. There are two feelings you have to master, one which you know and another you may not be too familiar with.
Lesson number one starts with you getting friendly with yourself. That’s right, it’s okay. You have an excuse. This is a class.
Start getting friendly with yourself, but pay close attention to what you’re feeling. There’s a point of no return, and there’s a point right before orgasm. They’re two separate places along the journey. Get to know these two places, but more specifically, get to know the difference between the two.
So it’s feeling good, and you feel it working up to that point, then … pay close attention … you’ll feel when it changes. You haven’t reached the point of imminent orgasm, but there is that place where you know it’s going to happen any moment. There’s a point where there’s no going back, it’s going to blow. Then, anywhere from a split second to maybe ten seconds later, you know the orgasm is about to happen.
Then it happens.
Did you feel the difference? Can you spot these two points? Don’t worry, it may take a while, but here’s the good news. You have permission to keep trying. You’re not going to unlearn this bad habit overnight. Give yourself three or four weeks of practice.
When you start being able to feel that place where you know, if you keep going, the orgasm will happen … back off. That’s right, back off from what you’re doing. Stop and let it calm down for a few moments, then start going again.
This is lesson number two. Play with yourself for as long as you can without reaching your orgasm. Work yourself almost up to, but not past, that point of no return. Having a hard time figuring out where? Keep slipping past it? No problem. Here’s what you do: if you even think you’re near it, stop. I don’t care if you have to stop every five seconds, just stop. Let it calm down. Start again.
Keep going. I don’t care how much you want that orgasm, you goal is not to have it. Why? Let me quote my girlfriend again: “Why can they not see that a satisfied woman will do anything for her man?”
That’s why. There is absolutely nothing in this world like completely satisfying the woman you love. So…
Keep practicing. See how long you can keep it going without passing the point of no return. Challenge yourself to go longer and longer. When you feel you are starting to get the hang of it, it’s on to lesson number three, which is putting it to practice with your lover.
Now remember, you’re still unlearning the bad habit. Don’t be discouraged with failure … just keep trying. You will get better.
Let your lover know what you’re doing. Let her know you need to be in control, and why, and I’m betting she’s going to be more than willing to help. Don’t rush through the foreplay, and when it’s time to enter, pay close attention to what you’re feeling. Move slowly, don’t get too caught up into it. The moment you even think you’re getting close to that point, pull out, and let it calm down. Then continue.
You’ll find something amazing. Your penis is not so dumb after all. It can learn something new, and you’ll find that — as you get used to not rushing headlong toward that orgasm — your penis is going to get better at letting you know when that point of no return is. Also, you’ll find it takes longer to get there as well.
That’s the penis learning.
Aren’t you proud of it? Good penis! Well done!
If you haven’t noticed by now, there’s a benefit to you as well as your lover. The longer you hold back your orgasm, the more intense it’s going to be when you finally reach it. Instead of just an, OOOH! AHHHH! WOW! it will start becoming a OOOOOOOOHHHHAAAA OH MY GOD! AAAAAAHHHGGHH!!!!! YES YES YES!
And she’ll be proud of herself for giving you such a big one, too.
If you’re not convinced yet that this is worth the effort, consider this (especially you married guys) … bad lovemaking leads to less lovemaking, which leads to even worse lovemaking, which can lead to zero lovemaking. A downward spiral. Conversely, good lovemaking leads to MORE lovemaking, which leads to BETTER lovemaking, which leads to EVEN MORE lovemaking. An upward spiral.
That’s the kind of love that makes your world go round. It can make you healthier, happier, and live longer too. And, let me quote my girlfriend one last time: “Why can they not see that a satisfied woman will do anything for her man?”
So guys, what are you waiting for? Get busy. Practice makes perfect!
Every first grader knows that 1+1=2. Those who’ve read George Orwell might also say they’re familiar with the concept of 2+2=5. Today I’m going to tell you that in some circumstances, 1+1=11.
The number 11 is a perfect symbol for a strong, loving relationship made of two very compatible people.
Of course, when one person joins with another it makes two people. But in a really good relationship synergy gets involved, so that the total is greater than the sum of the two individuals. Two people can bond and reinforce each other to become much more than just two. Much stronger than two. More confident than two. More capable than two.
So you add 1 and 1 together, it makes 2, or it makes 11. It’s a different way of putting the ones together, but symbolically it works.
The number 11 depicts two ones standing together to make one number, yet that number is far greater than the sum of one and one. And while being a single number, they retain their individuality, standing side by side, inseparable, reinforcing each other.
Just like two people in a strong loving relationship.
Two pillars standing side by side will support far more than twice of what either pillar would individually. Two minds, put together, can brainstorm far better. Two passions together can ignite hotter, stronger flames.
The number 11 is also a prime number, which cannot be divided by anything other than itself.
All this is why, to me, 11 is the number of true love.
Right up front I have to tell you that this is not legal advice, this is just the experience of one person doing his own divorce. I have to tell you this up front because, especially in Texas, even distributing forms and instructions can be construed as legal counsel. That threatens the sanctity of the lawyer’s domain (and their income) so they come after you with all the fury of someone defending their own children.
Woe to anyone charged with offering legal advice without a license. Remember, most judges were also lawyers. They protect their own, and in my opinion, that’s the sole reason law seems so complicated. However, it’s not that complicated.
If you can keep a to-do list and fill out forms, you have the skills necessary to do your own divorce. When I first started the process I thought I was getting myself in way over my head, but after following through and looking back, it turned out to be nothing. It was simple. My ex and I saved ourselves thousands upon thousands of dollars.
For it to work you need one thing: the ability to agree with your soon to be ex. If you two are so angry at each other you can’t agree on anything, and your goal is revenge instead of the basic separation of your lives, then get a lawyer. You can’t do a do-it-yourself divorce if you can’t agree on the terms of the divorce.
A divorce is nothing more than an agreement in writing that follows legal guidelines. You agree on who gets what, who pays what, who sees the kids and when, and then a judge gives a stamp of approval. That’s all a divorce is. That, and a stack of legal forms. Those you get from the Internet. If you go to Google or Yahoo and search Texas Divorce (replace your own state, of course) up will pop a plethora of ads and links for legal forms services.
For some of them, you pay around $300 and then talk to a paralegal on the telephone. They ask you questions and fill the forms out, then send the forms to you. What I did, I paid less and answered the questions online. They plugged my answers into standard legal forms that were in Microsoft Word format, which they emailed to me. What I ended up with was a set of instructions, and these forms:
- Original Petition for Divorce
- Waiver Of Citation
- Final Decree of Divorce
- Prove Up Script
With the exception of the Waver of Citation, none of these look like regular everyday forms. In other words, they don’t look like a credit application. It’s more like script that reads, “This is who we are,” and “this is what we want,” and “this is how we’d like to do it.”
That’s the key right there. Using the guidelines of the instructions that should come with your forms, figure out between the two of you exactly who gets what, who pays what, and how. When you have this worked out, you can proceed with form filling and filing.
The Original Petition is the one you actually file with the court. For me, it was a simple matter of taking several copies down to the local county clerk, forking over some money, and having them stamp them and assign a case number. I believe at this point you can opt to pay the court to have your spouse served with the papers — most people do that — but because my ex was in on all this and she was in agreement with the terms, I sent her a copy personally along with a Waver of Citation.
The Waver of Citation, if you can get your spouse to sign it and return it to you, tells the court that your soon-to-be-ex agrees with everything that is in the divorce, does not intend to challenge any of it, and in fact may opt not to even appear in court.
Next comes the cooling off period, designed to make you think about what you’re doing, and possibly to change your mind and stay together. This waiting period varies by state. Also, if there’s children involved, you may be required to attend a class for how to deal with children during a divorce. If you have children and you care about them, I highly recommend you attend this type of class even if it’s not mandatory. There are a lot of behaviors which to you may seem natural or even healthy, but which will mess your children up or even turn them against you. Take the class, read a book, do something.
Also during this waiting period, it’s time to go over the details of The Final Decree. You see, in the Original Petition, you’re declaring to the court that you intend to divorce. The Final Decree spells out the terms of the divorce.
That was the biggest surprise to me in this whole process — I’d wrongly assumed the court would dictate to us how the divorce would be. No, it’s you who decide the details, you write the decree. It’s YOUR divorce. You have to follow the guidelines, and the document service will have created a rather generic version for you, but it’s up to you and your spouse to add the details.
The document service should have also created for you a Prove Up Script. You may or may not have to modify this to fit your details, but make sure this is done and you’ve read it over out loud until you’re comfortable with it. This is what you will stand up and read before the judge, the formal request for the divorce.
When the waiting period is up, you contact the court and schedule a trial. I found I could do that over the Internet by filling in a form. In your case, it may be that you have to call, or perhaps even go down to the courthouse.
After you’ve got it scheduled, and the big day arrives, dress nicely and show up to the courthouse with copies of your Final Decree and your Waver of Citation (and/or whatever other documents are required for your state), and also bring that Prove Up Script. In the court, you’ll sit and wait while other business is attended to, and when it’s your turn you approach the bench, read your script, and hand over your papers. If all goes well, and all your paperwork is in order, the judge grants the divorce right then and there, stamps it, and it’s done.
I spent less than $500 for mine.
This article originally appeared in GroovyMojo.com back in 2007.
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