A business of her own

How entrepreneurship empowered me during divorce

“Do you have any assets?”

“What do you mean?” I asked the volunteer lawyer sitting across from me at the WIZO office.

“I mean, do you own anything? Property, a car, investments?”

“Just the house and the two cars. But they belong to both of us.” I answered.

“Do you have any family here? Anyone in Israel who could support you?”


She saw the worried look on my face.

“Don’t feel bad. I just need to know what is yours so I can prepare you for the divorce.”

What is yours. I fixated on these words.

I had lost everything that was mine: My marriage, my family, my identity, my trust in men. Like the earth had dropped out from underneath me, leaving me hanging in mid-air. I watched it plummet at speed until it was nothing more than a tiny dot in the dark atmosphere.

I hung there in the darkness for a while – in shock, in hurt. Deciding what to do next is hard when you don’t understand how you got where you are. Then one morning, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize.

“Hi Leigh, it’s Hannah. We worked together a few years ago, remember me?”

“Yes, of course.” I answered.

“I’ve started at a new company as the Director of Marketing. We need a freelance copywriter and I immediately thought of you. Are you available?”

I had put all of my freelance writing retainers on hold when I separated from my husband. The darkness is a cold and foggy place, where new thoughts and ideas cannot exist.

But that morning, Hannah’s question awoke something inside me. A part of me that was there before I was a wife and a mother.

Writing was something I knew. I chose it as my career because there was a high demand for English-speaking writers in Israel, and I was committed to making it on my own here. When I was writing, I was focused, motivated, creative and happy. Just me and my thoughts, the way I liked it.

I told Hannah that I was available, and the fog started to clear. I sat down at my laptop for the first time in months, and focused. Soon the motivation came. And then the happiness.

I called all my former clients to let them know I was back in business. I even rented space at Wework to get out of the house and meet more self-employed people like me.

My business was the one thing that remained constant in my life when everything else was changing. It helped me focus on the things that I could control, and less on the things that I had no power over. I could shape my business in any way I wanted, to fit the new life I was building for myself and for my kids. And no matter what happened, no one could take that away from me.

“I just need to know what is yours so I can prepare you for the divorce,” the lawyer said.

“I have my own business.” I answered. “That’s mine.”

About the Author
Leigh is a Communities Manager at Waze, Google. She moved to Israel from Toronto, Canada, in 2001, right smack in the middle of the Second Intifada. She’s obsessed with Jewish family history and uncovering the secret lives of the heroic Bubies and Zaidas that came before us.
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