The dissolution of a marriage is serious — emotionally, financially... every which way you can imagine, actually. But once you’ve made the decision to split from your spouse (and certainly by the time the divorce is final), you might want to lighten up a little. Here, we share some suggestions for the newly single — from the ritualistic to the rockin’!

1. Do the rite thing. Engage a Celebrant (this is relatively new to the States, but they have deep roots in Australia) to perform a ceremony that turns your divorce into a moving, meaningful event. “Anyone making this choice needs the support and acknowledgement of friends and family to make peace with the past and begin building a positive future,” says Boston-based Celebrant Cindy Matchett. “A thoughtful, respectful ceremony empowers the individual and provides the context for this healing.” The ceremony will be tailored to your feelings, culture, beliefs and traditions, and costs start at around $500. To find a Celebrant in your area, visit

2. Declare your independence to those who supported your decision. “I designed divorce announcements to thank my friends and family for supporting me through the multi-year process,” says Sherri Hill, 45, from Bethel, CT. “On the front, I printed the lyrics to REO Speedwagon’s ‘Time For Me To Fly’ and added a personal note inside. From the feedback I got, the recipients thought it was a wonderfully creative way to acknowledge what I’d been through and that I was moving forward.”
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3. Smudge your home with sage to banish any lingering bad energy. Native American cultures know that burning a bundle of dried sage — also known as smudging — can result in spiritual housecleaning. Ignite the sage and, starting at the doorway, move throughout your space counterclockwise, paying special attention to the door and window frames, walls and corners. When the smoke clears, you’ll have purified your home — and purged your ex. Find sage bundles to burn at

4. Find a new four-legged companion to cudde. We’re not talking about a rebound relationship, but one that’s healthy, fulfilling and unconditionally loving — with a pet. Philadelphia-based life coach Gari Julius Weilbacher did just that after her own divorce: “I adopted a dog from the SPCA,” she explains. “Not having children, I needed something in my home to call my ‘family,’ something to ground me and obligate me to come home.” She now recommends getting an animal companion to her own post-divorce clients. A wonderful dog or cat is waiting now at a shelter near you!

5. Think before you ink. A new (or your first) tattoo can be a visual reminder of your decision to start fresh. “You could get the word ‘freedom’ in Chinese letters,” suggests Jon Jon, a tattoo artist with Triple Diamond Tattoo in Brooklyn, NY. “Or, if you’re getting out of a relationship with someone who never let you do anything, get something crazy, like a skull in flames.” A bird, a butterfly or a rising sun also convey the ideas of freedom and rebirth.

6. Fly solo somewhere daydream-worthy. “The day my divorce was final, I went — by myself! — to an Earth, Wind & Fire concert,” says Corin Ramos, 40, of Anaheim, CA. “I had never done anything like that before, but they were my favorite band growing up and I figured it was a good start to connecting with a happier me (while at the same time, finding a new me). I had a great time — 70,000 people and I stood up and danced in the aisle!” Inspired? Select something that’s always intrigued you — whether it’s an art class or a surfing lesson, karaoke night or a Caribbean cruise — and take yourself out for a treat.

7. Get showered with love (and replace a few household items, too). Did your former spouse make off with the towels and cookware... not to mention the coffee table, TV and the best books in your shared collection? Well, newlyweds aren’t the only ones entitled to gifts! “A divorce shower can replace many of the things that were given up to the ex,” says Weilbacher. “It’s also a party to mark the change in marital status and can focus on fun indulgences as well as pots and pans.” If a shower with traditional presents isn’t necessary or doesn’t feel right, make it for gag gifts only — everybody has to bring an odd piece of silverware. It’s an excuse to throw a blowout party for yourself and have a blast.

8. Run to remind yourself how strong you are — both physically and emotionally. Train for a 5K, 10K or even a marathon... or simply sign up for a walkathon. If there’s a charitable cause involved, that’s a bonus, but remember: You’re doing this for you. “Oftentimes, people going through a divorce feel a sense of failure,” says Shelly Rachanow, author of What Would You Do If You Ran the World?: Everyday Ideas from Women Who Want to Make the World a Better Place. “Running a 5K or doing a walkathon is a great way to re-connect with your sense of personal power and accomplishment.”

9. Go on a road trip Guys, think Sideways (except for the wedding at the end). Ladies, think Thelma & Louise (except for the equally dismal finale). Even if your best friends aren’t single, if they’re in sound relationships they should certainly be able to take off for a weekend to travel with you. Go back to the place where you and your best friend made memories together decades ago, or navigate somewhere that you’ve never been before (and make it the first of many new adventures). “A road trip will help you remember how fun life can be,” says Rachanow. “It’s a wonderful way to christen a new road to a new happily ever after.”

10. Redo your bedroom. You may not have the funds or fortitude to overhaul the whole house, but there’s no reason to endure boudoir décor you hate. Even if you have to keep the furniture, a fresh coat of paint in your favorite color, new drapes that you really dig and a cool lampshade or two will make the bedroom your personal sanctuary.

11. Get the band back together. Or have a three-hour gabfest with a faraway friend. Or finish the great American novel (the one you’re writing, not the one you’re reading). The point is to revel in whatever activities your ex found foolish or you just couldn’t make time for while you were married. You may have subjugated this activity for so long that you forgot what it was that made you want to complete it. Pick up that passion again now — and crank it to 11!

Nina Malkin is the author of An Unlikely Cat Lady: Feral Adventures in the Backyard Jungle.