Yuriko Nichols has a personal saying: “Life is full of surprises.” After 29 years of marriage, life surprised Nichols, and she found herself in a situation she never expected—single, and starting over.
“My divorce changed my whole life in many ways,” she said. “Divorce is one of the most difficult transitions in life.”
Now, the Redmond resident helps others adjust to single life, by organizing social events for the Meetup Eastside Divorce Social Group.
In the wake of her divorce, Nichols remembers feeling at a loss.
“After such a life-changing moment, you don’t know what you’re going to do,” she said. Encouraged by her son, who lives in Redmond, Nichols pulled up her Florida roots and headed west.
That was six years ago. She now lives in downtown Redmond and has succeeded in creating a rich new life for herself, thanks in large part to the social group.
After joining the group in 2008, Nichols offered to help organize events. There are now two to three gatherings per week, and attendance has skyrocketed. Popular activities include happy hours at , or , as well as dancing, game nights and movies.
She emphasizes that the group is not a singles dating group—it’s for people who want to build a new social network and learn how to be comfortably single again.
“There's no dating intention," member Elaine Chan explained. "People do meet other people and some may fall for each other, but the atmosphere is not that kind of group at all.”
It’s also not a support group, in the traditional sense. “We’re not professionals,” Nichols says. “Just getting out there, meeting other people, enjoying a meal together—that’s what gives the support.”
Although she’s a city girl at heart, Nichols says Redmond has enough going on to meet her needs. She thinks the is great, and likes how easy it is to take the bus to Seattle.
“I feel safe and comfortable here. I walk everywhere. I hardly ever get in my car,” she said.
This petite, vivacious mother of three, who doesn’t look nearly old enough to have four grandchildren, writes poetry and loves to travel. “I would go anywhere!” she says.
But her biggest interest is people, and that has made the group especially rewarding for her.
“The spectrum of people are so diverse. That’s what makes it interesting,” she said.
Nichols, who works full-time at a company in Redmond, devotes a lot of time to keeping the group going. She says it’s worth it if it helps people. “It’s something I feel I can give.”
Chan says Nichols and the group helped her through some difficult years.
“Yuriko is so kind, sweet, gentle, compassionate," Chan said. "She always makes sure she sets up the events carefully and in detail so whoever’s new coming in will feel welcome.”
Nichols knows that it can be hard to get out and pursue activities as a single person, but says, “Just because you’re divorced shouldn’t change the things you want to do.”
In addition to organizing social opportunities, she also provides a listening ear to new members reeling from the traumatic change in their lives.
“I just want them to know I’ve been there, (at the point) when you don’t think it’s going to get any better,” she said. “You don’t know what’s around the corner. You have to appreciate life in the moment.”