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Interview with Jeanie Rule the Solo Mama

Congratulations to Jeanie Rule for being the Connecting Moms Featured Mom of the Month! It’s a pleasure to have you here and we’re delighted to find out more about you. Let’s get started.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A:
I’m a Southern California native—I’ve lived in the Pasadena area for many years. I attended University of Oregon & Cal State Los Angeles, majoring in psychology and journalism. After college I dabbled a bit as a freelance writer and small business owner (a desktop publishing business), and I also got married. Then I had my kids. I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom while my kids were young. I got a divorce after ten years of marriage and started out on my own again, with kids of course! The coaching industry was relatively new at the time and I found it completely fascinating. I hired a coach of my own to “get a feel” for it, and I loved it. I enrolled in a formal Coach Training Program at Coach University, one of the foremost coaching programs in the world. I graduated eighteen months later and started my coaching career in earnest. Recently I have also teamed up with another coaching company based in Seattle, Washington. Working with Power helps women thrive in intense cultures. Our work with women is similar, but in different environments. Working with Power focuses on women in the corporate environment, and Solo Mama focuses on personal development. But both are about empowering women when the heat is on! I am their Regional Director for Southern California and have been enjoying bringing their body of work to companies in the So Cal area.

Q: Tell us about Solo Mama and why you created it.
A:
I created Solo Mama specifically for divorced moms. The focus of Solo Mama is to help moms heal from divorce in a positive way, to become empowered and proactive in their own lives, and to recreate a life they really love in spite of being divorced. After many years of working with both men and women going through divorce, I saw that moms and dads had distinctly separate types of challenges. Both are equally important, but I found myself enjoying working with mothers more. Solo Mama provides a forum for divorced moms in which they feel inspired to become their very best; safe and secure enough to open up and learn to trust again; and connect with other like-minded moms on the same journey. It’s one of my greatest thrills in life to watch moms blossom as they go through the Solo Mama process.

Q: Tell us about Divorce Alchemy and Life Rules Coaching.
A:
Life Rules Coaching and Divorce Alchemy are no longer in business. They were my first two coaching practices, but I decided to focus only on Solo Mama. Life Rules Coaching helped mom entrepreneurs balance working from home (including time management, value-oriented living, and “pajama marketing” techniques). Divorce Alchemy was a membership site for both men and women going through divorce. It was a complete departure from the standard coaching practice model, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. It was “alive” for about two years, and I was blessed to meet many great clients through the process. But I was really unhappy. Because of the nature of the site there were massive amounts of technical details to manage everyday, which just bored me to death! I hired an incredible business coach (Amanda Murphy) and she helped me transform my business back into something I love—so Solo Mama was born and it’s been a great experience ever since.

Q: How did you develop an interest helping others through coaching?
A:
I already had a natural interest in helping others. I studied psychology in college, and was a life-long learner of anything that would promote empowerment and better lives. I’ve always been intuitive and a skilled listener, so coaching seemed a natural fit for me. And after I hired my first coach the effects were so amazing, I was hooked!

Q: What made you choose divorce coaching specifically?
A:
I went into divorce recovery coaching specifically because I saw the need for it. At the time I decided to do this type of coaching I was often discouraged by others’ (all well-meaning) because they felt it wasn’t a good niche for making money. Financial challenges are common in divorce, after all. But developing this niche was just something I couldn’t shake. I thought about it all the time. I saw so many divorced people struggling and suffering (and their children as well) and I knew masterful coaching would help them.

Q: How did you enter your own divorce emotionally, and how were you able to work through it with your family?
A:
Going through my own divorce was extremely difficult but also enlightening. I never felt that I was ending our marriage or leaving my husband. Rather I looked at it as a necessary reorganizing of our family. The dynamics of our marriage were so unhealthy—and no amount of therapy seemed to help—that after ten years I decided to leave. I had no job, no recent job experience, and very little money … and two young children. It was tough, and scary! There were many fights and lots of trauma—that’s when I hired my first coach. She really helped me step-up and handle the whole situation better. While my ex and I aren’t close friends and we don’t hang out together, we can relate well to each other when needed. And our kids have thrived, which is the best part.

Q: What are some of common mistakes individuals make while going through a divorce?
A:
There are a lot of pitfalls when going through divorce. The more common ones are:

1. Getting into a serious relationship too quickly. This doesn’t give the person time to really heal and is often just a succor for feeling alone. Divorce rates actually rise with each subsequent marriage, so that’s a good indication that getting seriously involved too soon is not a good idea. By all means, go have fun, just give time to heal too.

2. Staying stuck in their divorce story. In other words, not letting go of the past, not forgiving, playing the victim endlessly, not establishing a new, healthy individual identity. Everyone knows someone who’s been divorced for twenty years and is STILL talking about their terrible ex! That’s what happens when you stay stuck in your story.

3. Seeing their divorce as an ending and not a reorganization of their family. This often creates a harshness between ex spouses that really thwarts any positive personal development, and it really cripples the children emotionally. When couples view their ex as the enemy and see them as unnecessary it guarantees on-going pain and suffering. Viewing it more as a restructuring helps so much with the healing process and helps the children to feel more secure.

Q: Tell us about your monthly workshops.
A:
My monthly workshops are so fun! They are a time for moms to get together, get pampered with a delicious meal in a lovely setting, and learn new ways to handle their divorce struggles. I choose topics that I know my clients are interested in such as Releasing the Anger; Powerful Communication & Negotiation Skills; Letting go of the Past; etc. It’s a two to three hour event, and the goal is that the participants leave feeling refreshed & supported. I have sponsors that donate quality gifts for the moms as well, so they get some fun treats too.

Q: How many children do you have, and what are their ages?
A:
I have two children: a sixteen year old son and fourteen (almost fifteen) year old daughter. They keep me busy but they sure are great kids! I have primary custody and we have a beautiful black lab, a sassy cat, and a turtle. My ex has regular time with the kids each week and on alternating weekends.

Q: What are some common mistakes parents make with their children while going through a divorce?
A:
1. Depending on their children for social or emotional support. Many parents begin to live through their children as a way to deal with the loneliness and lack of meaning in their lives. That puts way too much pressure on the children, and is inappropriate.

2. Putting the children in the middle of themselves and their ex (this includes the ex’s family as well). Probing questions or unkind comments about the ex or his family only makes children resentful and confused. This is a time they need some cohesiveness and support in their lives.

3. Not recognizing that children have their own healing process to go through too—one that is different and on a different time line than the parent’s process. Parents often feel like once they are over it their children should be as well. For most children of divorce there will always be a little grieving going on. Parents need to be sensitive to that and not take it personally.

4. Having a rotating door of dates and suitors! Really think about who you are bringing home to meet your children—and why. If it’s someone you are dating but not serious about, keep it on the down-low and out of your children’s lives. If it’s someone you’re going to develop a life with, introduce slowly and sensitively and don’t expect them to be the “new dad.”

5. Keeping a chaotic and inconsistent home life. Keep it simple, predictable, and calm. Children of divorce need at least one “safe port in the storm,” where they can process everything that is going on. Our environments are powerful—they can move us forward or hold us back. Create a home environment that promotes healing.

Q: How do you balance your work and family?
A:
I’m not sure I “balance” work and family! I’m not sure “balance” even exists!! I do integrate the two, along with my own personal needs. I do this by simplifying my life; by taking extremely good care of myself and making my needs a priority (sounds selfish in the world of motherhood, but it is not. I’ve found over the years that I have much more to give if I am not completely depleted); orienting my life around what is meaningful to me; and I live by a set of standards that is suited for a divorced mom (in other words … we don’t eat dinner together every night like we did when I was married. But we do connect deeply each day, which to me is the more important issue. So while we might not break bread together, we do read together at the end of the night, or sit on each other’s beds and have a fun talk, or go on walks together, etc.—it’s a whole different set of standards)

Q: Are you able to implement your own coaching skills and knowledge into your personal life well?
A:
I sure hope I am able to implement my coaching skills into my daily life! I think I do a pretty good job of that, but I am human too and I do make mistakes. Ask my kids. They’ll be happy to tell you. One thing I will say, I never expect a client to do something I myself wouldn’t or couldn’t do. I guess that’s where being human plays a big part. And many of my best coaching insights come from my own mistakes! They give me the opportunity to look at things differently and observe the process of living a divorced life.

Q: Do you have anything new in the works?
A:
Yes, I have an exciting new project in the works! Thanks for asking. I am putting together a three-day Restorative Retreat for Divorced Moms. It’s for divorced moms who are ready to take true ownership of their lives. No dates have been set, but it will probably take place late in 2008.

Q: What are some key elements you can share as a coaching professional with our Connectingmoms community?
A:
Key coaching elements for moms (I’ll say moms, not just divorced moms, so more of your readers can get something out of this).

1. Practice daily self-care. Most women do what I call “crisis care”—meaning they wait until they’ve gone through something really horrible until they treat themselves to something nice. Really, we need to be practicing self care on a regular basis. When we do it daily, fewer crisis show up in our lives, we are happier and we are able to cover much more ground every day. Plus, we deserve it!!! Self care doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming either. Put some flowers on your desk, step outside for lunch, pat a dog—those small acts go a long way!

2. Letting go of doing everything yourself! We women take too much pride in doing it all. Learn to receive support along the way, and stop thinking it’s a weakness. It’s a strength to let others in.

3. Embrace your own unique way of showing up in the world, and especially your own unique way of mothering. Conforming really kills off our spirits—and it’s our spirit that gives us our spark and juice! Stop doing what all the other mothers are doing, and find your own unique way of living life. You’ll love it and your children will be inspired.

Photo Courtesy of Connecting Moms

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