All posts by Dee Kelly

I'm a single mom who has gone through my share of struggles. As I work to improve my life I also hope to help others along the way. It hasn't been easy but it is always worth it.


When my children were born I had this sense that I would get to watch them grow up over time. I watched as little by little they changed and learned. Each milestone was photo worthy – rolling over, sitting up, crawling, pulling themselves up, walking, talking. The first few years went by in a flurry of camera flashes to record each precious moment.

But at some point the obvious physical changes slowed down. The learning continued but not in a way that was easy to document with pictures. They learned to dress themselves, pick up their toys, share, and eventually read, write and so much more.

Suddenly my daughter is about to turn 13. Suddenly she’s fighting to become her own person, no longer going along with what I say just because I’m the mom. Suddenly she’s more critical than praising, more disagreeable than agreeable, more independent than dependent.

I know this is all part of growing up. I want her to question and challenge me, or at least the part of me that wants her to grow up to be a strong woman does. I am her safe space. I am the person she can challenge who will always love her.

I need to teach her to challenge and question respectfully. There are right and wrong ways to do it. But teenagers need the freedom to grow into an independent human being. They need to be allowed to make mistakes now so that they can learn there are consequences to their actions, beyond the ones I dole out. It can be hard to stand by and watch, knowing I could help but also knowing that allowing her to make these mistakes is better than any advice I can give her.

Suddenly I need to learn how to be the parent of a teenager. It’s not going to be easy. I know that. But I also know that she will grow up to be a beautiful, strong, independent leader. She will know she can do whatever she decides. I will support her the best I can, but I also know that one day, suddenly, she will be on her own.


It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken

When dealing with divorce, or the end of any relationship, it’s easy let sadness and self pity overwhelm us. As I’ve mentioned, I used a new relationship to help me avoid dealing with my divorce. As soon as that relationship ended I started looking for a new one. I was in a self destructive pattern that ultimately would lead me nowhere.

I came to this realization on my lunch break at work following a text conversation with the person I thought I was dating at the time. I had seen him a total of 8 hours in 3 weeks, amidst promises that his time would free up sooner rather than later. Here is how it went:

Me: “Can I ask you something?” (brilliant opening line – but at least makes sure that he is available to respond)

Him: “Yes”

Me: “Are you still interested?”

Him: “I am but…”

Me: “But?”

Him: “I don’t think I can give you what you need.”

Me: “So, you’re interested but I’m too needy?”

And I never heard from him again. To my credit I deleted the conversation and never attempted to contact him again.

Devastated that I was still alone, I finally went looking for answers outside of a new relationship. I love to read so I searched for books on dating, realizing the problem was me and knowing that the answer had to be out there somewhere.

I found many books and will post about the best (and worst) ones. There was one book that really helped me put this relationship into perspective: It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Break-Up Buddy.

Co-authored by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt, it truly let me see the folly in trying to have a relationship with this man. This is a book I return to after every big breakup and it has helped me focus on improving myself instead of wishing for something that just wasn’t there.

Try it out for yourself and post a comment letting us know what you thought!


Being a single mother has filled me with questions; questions about myself, my life, parenting and so much more. I wonder who I am, if not a wife and mother.  I wonder what I really want out of life, and how I’m going to get there alone.  I wonder how I can not only help my kids cope with divorce but learn and grow through our experiences.

Being a single mom of two young girls has been the scariest thing I’ve ever attempted. Managing the house, fixing problems as they come up, living with only one income and handling everything alone was overwhelming at first.  Add to that the demands of two children – cooking meals, homework, reading stories at bedtime, packing lunches, extra-curricular activities, birthday parties, school events – and I felt like a juggler standing on one hand trying to keep the balls in the air with just my feet!

Sometimes I wonder how I made it through those early days, but it has also been a time of the most amazing growth I have ever experienced. I never could have become the wonderful person I am now if I’d stayed in that toxic relationship.  I have developed a sense of self-worth I never knew was missing.  I have achieved things I didn’t know I could accomplish alone.  I have learned that I really can juggle with just my feet while standing on my hand, and I have developed friendships with people who will catch the balls that I might otherwise drop.

My girls never would have grown into the strong, confident leaders they are becoming. Watching them today I feel a different sense of wonder.  It’s the feeling you get when watching the most beautiful sunset.  They’re not perfect (none of us is) but they are remarkable and often surprise me with how grown up they are.

Knowing how far we’ve come, the struggles we’ve been through, I feel a sense of wonder at how much control we really do have over our lives. The world is ours!



When you think of parenting do you think of uncompromising standards or needing to compromise at every turn?  For me, and I would guess most of us, it would be a bit of both.

Raising kids, especially as a single mother often requires compromise.  I can’t fight the girls over every life detail.  They don’t want to clean their room?  Close the door.  They don’t want to eat what I have planned for dinner?  Have them help make something different that they do want.  They don’t want to help plant the flower beds?  Invite their friends over and turn it into a party.  Compromise.

My life is full of compromise.  But I do have standards, ways in which I am uncompromising.

We will be on time for commitments, whether it be work, school or meeting up with friends.

We will maintain the common areas of our house at an acceptable level of messiness.

We will behave responsibly.

We will treat those around us with kindness (ok, we’re working on this one).

We will have fun, enjoy life and appreciate all we have.

In these ways, I am uncompromising.  I encourage my kids, friends, family and those around me to be uncompromising as well!


What Makes You Happy?

Are you happy? When I was married happiness always seemed elusive. “I’ll be happy when” was a common thought.

*I’ll be happy when the car is paid off.
*I’ll be happy when the project at work is finished.
*I’ll be happy when the kids are sleeping through the night.
*I’ll be happy when the kitchen is remodeled.
*I’ll be happy when I go on vacation.
*I’ll be happy when I get my tax return.
*I’ll be happy when I get a promotion/raise.

I was almost happy but if things were just a little different, a little better I’d be happier.

After my divorce I wondered if I could just BE happy. What did it take to be happy? Surely it can’t be this hard to just be happy. I Googled “happiness” or “how to be happy” or something similar (yup…honestly). I read what Gretchen Rubin wrote about her Happiness Project (before she turned it into a book in 2015). I read The Pursuit of Happiness by Jennifer O’Neill.

And I started to form a plan. I was going to choose to be happy. I was going to work on things that would lead to real happiness.

It didn’t happen overnight. It actually took years of reading, thinking and learning to actually figure out how to be happy. But the thing about happiness is that it’s all in your mind. It’s your perspective of events.

I started to take each negative thought (“I hate my life”, “I’m so lonely”) and instead think something positive. I decided to do something about what I was thinking negatively about. I’ve always liked writing so in response to thinking “I hate my life” I signed up for an online writing course (my schedule with my kids kept me from taking a live class which would have been even better). When I started to feel lonely I got online and started looking for Meetup groups to join (if you haven’t heard about Meetup check them out online and I’ll post about my experience later).

I started pushing each negative thought into a positive action. What negative thought could you take action on today?

Cauliflower Hash Browns

This is one of the easiest cauliflower dishes I make.  I use just 4 ingredients:

1 cup precooked riced cauliflower, cooled

1 egg

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use 2%)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

I buy the frozen steam in bag riced cauliflower to save time.  The cauliflower must be cooked prior to creating the hash browns and it will need to be cool enough to work with.

Tightly squeeze all water from the cauliflower.  There are many ways to do this.  You can wrap it in cheese cloth and squeeze.  You can wrap it in paper towels (you’ll probably need to repeat this a few times to get most of the water out).  I tend to just use my hands.  The more water you squeeze out of the cauliflower the better the consistency of the hash browns.  This is the hardest part of this recipe and honestly in a rush I’ve skipped it all together and it tasted just fine.

In a separate dish whisk one egg until it’s well blended.  Then add in the cauliflower and cheese.  You can add salt, pepper and any other seasonings you like.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a small frying pan and preheat the pan over medium heat.

Using your hands form the cauliflower mixture into a patty and place in the hot oil.  Cook until both sides are light brown.

Helpful hint: I prefer my patty to be very thin, but that can make it hard to flip.  Instead I make a thick patty, let it cook on one side, then after I’ve flipped it to the second side flatten it until it’s thin.  Then before removing the patty I’ll flip it over one more time to fully cook the first side.

Photo provided by Objects and the Distance Between Them. I’m so glad you tried this. Thanks for the picture!

What Does the Future Hold?

If you’ve read my previous posts, so far I’ve talked about choosing to start over after my divorce.  I was unhappy and unhealthy and I knew that this was not what I wanted for my life.  I didn’t know how to change it, I just knew I needed to start by changing me.  That’s it.  That’s all I had to work from.

So I started with what I love – reading.  I went to the library and checked out books.  I Googled books on self-improvement and parenting.  I talked to people about books they found influential. And I read.  I read all the time.  

One of first books I read that really changed my thinking was The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.  It was recommended to me by a virtual stranger one day so I downloaded it and read it.  I can’t say that I agree with the overarching ideals of the book, but I will review the book in a separate post.  The premise of the book is that you can control your universe by controlling your thoughts.  

While I had a hard time with concepts such as “if you think about money coming in, money will appear” there were a lot of ideas in the book that really spoke to me.  Most importantly, as a result of this book I took time to visualize what I wanted my life to be; visualize who I wanted to be.

This was my first time writing in a journal, but I felt that I needed to write down a picture of what my life could be like.  I tried to be very concrete and included details that might not end up matching reality but that brought this future to life.  I included color, sounds, smells, names.  I wanted to be able to see this every time I closed my eyes.  Over the course of several weeks I would add to or change this future I was envisioning for myself but most of the larger components remained the same.

What came into focus from this exercise were my priorities.  I started to realize what was most important to me, what areas I wanted to focus on first.  

My current life is nothing like the one I envisioned so many years ago.  But this was truly the first time I felt completely in control of my future.  If you’ve never tried this before, try it now and let me know how it goes!