It has been more than seven months since Katie Holmes shocked the world by filing for divorce from one of the most famous actors on the planet, her husband of six years, Tom Cruise.
But since ditching that “TomKat” nickname and her involvement in the Church of Scientology, Holmes has clearly become a whole new woman – embracing her new found freedoms and her immediate family.
“Katie was so sweet and just so happy. She came in with her mother and her Aunt was just so excited to be together for a girls’ weekend,” an eyewitness, who saw Holmes stopping by the Godiva Rockefeller Center Boutique in New York City late last month. “Katie kept talking about how her sister and niece were coming to town that day to spend the weekend all together. She was walking through, nibbling on every piece of chocolate, taking tiny bites and then sharing the rest with her mom.”
And don't expect this 34-year-old to be sobbing over her single status on Valentine's Day. The source said Holmes will celebrate the day by making red pancakes – something she and her own mother did throughout her childhood.
“Katie said that this year she would be spending Valentine’s Day with [her daughter] Suri, keeping alive the tradition of making red pancakes,” continued the attendee.
Another source recently spotted Holmes and young Suri taking an early morning stroll through New York City's Central Park, sans security, and looking unmistakably smiley.
And what a way she has come.
In the few months since signing her divorce papers, Holmes – who was strangely soft spoken and demure while married to Cruise – has taken absolute charge of her career. Immediately after she ended her marriage, the former "Dawson's Creek" star fired her Cruise-constructed personal posse, including her security detail and publicist. Holmes reportedly even gave then-stepdaughter Isabella the boot from her role at Holmes’ fashion label.
Last month, Holmes took another step and severed ties with her long-time agents at CAA (where Cruise is a fixture) and moved on to new pastures with ICM.
And immediately her divorce, Holmes seemingly threw herself into furthering her fashion aspirations with her line Holmes and Yang.
Last season she showed her collection at Fashion Week, but this time around she opted out of the bells and whistles of a live runway show in favor of one-on-one private showings, which took place at the prestigious New York Palace Hotel last week. Both Holmes and Yang were reportedly on-hand to walk powerful taste makers through the chic and simple forthcoming collection.
Earlier this year, Holmes also ventured deeper into independent business woman territory – fronting a campaign for Alterna Hair Care – in addition to taking on the position of co-owner of the organic and upscale hair care company.
And when it comes to her acting, Holmes is also taking on more interesting roles. Rumor has it her ex-husband predominantly controlled her film choices and the projects she was and wasn't allowed to attach herself to. There are even murmurs that he “forbade" her from participating in a “Dawson’s Creek” movie reunion.
Next up, Holmes is slated to star alongside Chace Crawford in the romantic comedy “Responsible Adults,” in which she plays a somewhat creepy older woman who falls for the guy she used to babysit.
“Katie Holmes is a beautiful young actress, very talented and with a bright future in front of her. Undoubtedly, without the wackiness of Tom Cruise associated with her she will have more opportunities as time goes on,” observed Ronn Torossian, of New York-based firm 5WPR.
And even though it is unclear whether Holmes is maintaining her Cruise-era friendships which included the likes of Victoria Beckham and Jada Pinkett-Smith (she has not been publicly photographed with either post-divorce), it seems Holmes is at least making new buddies far removed from the entertainment industry.
Sources told FOX411's Pop Tarts column that Holmes was a surprise spectator at a court hearing last month, where she listened to opening statements for the trial of Hang Bin Li, a man accused of violently shaking his two-month-old baby daughter to death in 2007. We're told she sat quietly and went mostly unnoticed by legal authorities and other attendees – including the judge.
A rep for the actress confirmed that she was there to support the prosecuting district attorney in the case, Leigh Bishop, as the two recently became friends.
Holmes is also back on the dating scene, according to RadarOnline. But she is reportedly keeping her heart guarded amid concerns that a partner would entail "major personal sacrifices" and impede her new freedoms.
“Katie is doing what any smart woman does after a marriage ends; she's focusing on her daughter and building herself up by pursuing her career and interests. Her body language shows a woman who feels confident and focused. Near the end of her marriage, her body language was more reserved and withdrawn,” explained L.A.-based psychotherapist, Stacy Kaiser. “It will be difficult for her to return to dating after a failed marriage, and she's in the limelight. To protect herself, she needs to take things slow and build herself up into an independent, strong self. She also needs to get some clarity on the type of man she wants – something different than she had before.”
A rep for Holmes did not respond to a request for comment.