Dear Rosie & Sherry,

Maybe you could give me some advice about how to start a completely new way of life, to meet completely different kinds of people than you are used to, etc. The facts are: I am a divorced woman with two wonderful kids and an awful ex (though he's a very good father). I can't seem to find any kind of job. I am sick of only meeting men who want something short of marriage, or have emotional problems. Is there any way to meet NORMAL people?

Lisa in Brazil

Dear Lisa,

When your life isn't moving in the direction you hoped it would, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Trying to rejuvenate your career at the same time as your social life can be too much for most people. We recommend that you approach these major changes one step at a time.

Your first order of business should be finding a suitable job, which will boost your self image. Try breaking it down into smaller tasks. This is the key to success in any important venture.

Breaking it down into smaller tasks is the key to success in any important venture.

First, get a notebook and set aside time to write down thoughts about your job experiences, training, skills (including those developed as a volunteer, hobbyist, or homemaker), interests and references, and any difficulties you might face (children’s schedules, transportation, incomplete degree).

If you really can't find "any kind of job," you may need to better identify jobs that are suitable for your experience, training and skills. Avoid positions for which you are over- or under-qualified. If the jobs you really want are currently out of reach, remember that even a " substandard" job may be good in helping you adjust to a regular work schedule, build self-esteem, gain skills and experience and establish contacts for the future.

While you put your energies into a job search, you should probably stop dating for a few months. Taking a break from dating is recommended for anyone who is as disillusioned with dating as you seem to be. Spend your newfound "free" time on one or two activities you select purely for your own enrichment. Attend a Japanese cooking course, computer skills classes, activities that can help increase your understanding of Judaism, or a weekly recreational activity to share with your children.

In addition, if you don't have a regular exercise or sports activity, adopt one. Regular physical activity helps reduce the emotional stress each of us experience, in addition to giving our physical health a boost. After your two to three month "vacation," you'll be able to return to the dating scene with a fresh outlook and feeling better about yourself.

After your "vacation," you'll return to the dating scene with a fresh outlook and feeling better about yourself.

When you are ready to return to dating, go through the same kind of introspection we suggested as a prelude to your job search. Write down your thoughts. Think about your personal strengths and talents, and where you'd like to see your life moving in the next six months, one year, five years. Identify your purpose in dating -- to marry again. Your search should focus on the kind of man whose strengths, talents and goals will compliment our own.

Meeting dating partners becomes harder the older we get. Singles bars and parties don't provide many opportunities to meet someone whose goals compliment your own. We have found that networking is one of the most effective ways to be introduced to prospective dates. Almost anyone can develop and nurture contacts with friends, relatives, co-workers, educators, rabbis, and more-than-casual acquaintances.

You can expand this roster (and at the same time enrich yourself on other levels) by getting involved in a community-service activity, attending synagogue services and/or Jewish educational programs, or finding a group outlet for your creative or athletic interests. Let the members of your network know the kind or person you would like to date, and ask them to think about someone they can introduce you to.

A growing number are changing the way they look at modern-day "Yentes."

You may not have considered a matchmaker as another source of introductions. A growing number of intuitive, dedicated men and women are slowing changing the way they look at modern-day "Yentes." Ask around for recommendations and make sure you are comfortable with your matchmaker's personal style. You may be asked to pay a nominal registration charge, to give a donation to tzedakah (charity), or even a set fee if the "match" is successful. But if you and your matchmaker can achieve results by working together, the payment will be well worth it.

Entering the work force and changing your social life are two major transitions that can seem overwhelming. Just try to make each change one step at a time.

Good luck, and let us know how you're doing.

Rosie & Sherry