What you do now affects the rest.

We are all blessed with the ability to make a decision in present time.

I met with two women over the last couple of weeks who had a similar story.  They talked about how their divorce had gone relatively well.  They had children who are now thriving and close with both co-parents.  Then, they told me that their husband (second husband) and his children, however, had a very different story.  Both new husbands were still in litigation with their former spouses and co-parents.  Their children were in high school and college and both had been in litigation since the divorce when the children were much younger.  As you can imagine, they told me those children are not doing as well.

Then, another story.  A guy told me that he had recently married his wife and they are very much in love, but her former spouse will not let her move on.  And, he predicts a similar story as the ones above just beginning for him.

What I realized from listening to them is how important our decisions in the present moment are to our future.  Do you see that too?  It is easy to say, “well, if one wants to be litigious and not let go there is nothing you can do.”  But, I know you have heard me say before that it only takes one to make a change.  There are always two in conflict.

When one finds herself in conflict in divorce and possibly litigation, it is so important to have help to see through what  is truly going on.  What are the triggers? Why is she fighting so hard, why is he?  Most likely in these situations, there is a wound very deep.  If you and your ex and co-parent could have a mediated or therapeutic conversation about that wound today, it would not be able to fester into the future and affect the rest of your life and your children.

Here are some tips on how to take care of things now so you are not in litigation in 10 years.

  1. Take responsibility and shine a light on your part in the conflict.
  2. Even if you disagree with the main point, find common ground.  Try to agree with something your ex is putting out there.
  3. When you are having a conversation about something, keep on topic.  Don’t let yourself stray into old issues and hurts.  Stay on topic.
  4. Work on forgiving your spouse for the hurts you do have.  Know this takes time, but it starts with the desire to let go and forgive.
  5. Think about your kids first — before money, before your hurts and resentments.  Know that children need both parents in their lives whenever possible.
  6. Respect the other parent’s house and parenting.  They may do it in a way you do not approve of, but if you can let that go, your child will be happier and your co-parenting relationship will thrive.

Is there something that has helped you in your co-parenting relationship?

Number 6 was HUGE for me.  Once I stopped judging that Kate stayed up late to watch movies at Dad’s (and I really struggled with the judgment and worry about “routine” and whether she was getting enough sleep here), I saw the value in that, I respected him more as a Dad and for what he could give her that I would not.  Now, she loves and knows so much about film — black and white movies, etc.  She is an amazing writer and visionary.  She is making cartoons and animation videos.  I am not sure she would be doing all of that had she not had those late night experiences on the weekend with her Dad.  I credit him for instilling in her love of film.    She may have lost a couple of hours of sleep at 4, but she doesn’t remember that today at 8.  She has memories of her and her Dad and quality time.

Just let go of some things.  Watch how it changes response.

I know there are some things you can’t let go of but can you just change the way you respond to them?

Remember,

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  Viktor Frankl  

This week’s interview is with Natanya Lara.  Natanya and I met talking about the joys and challenges of co-parenting.   It is such a dance and one you learn as you move through each day.  I hope you enjoy this conversation on parenting as much as I did.

 

As an intentional parenting coach, Natanya works with parents who are struggling with parenting and are challenged and triggered by their children’s behavior.  With authenticity and compassion, she guides her clients in creating a parenting practice that is based in their values, which provides the foundation for confident, empathic parenting. Natanya has been a stay-at-home mom, full-time working mom, entrepreneur mom, married mom, and solo mom,  She has two boisterous boys, ages 5 and 7, who keep her on her toes and practicing her own work daily.  Visit her at www.natanyalara.com, to receive your free audio class, The Key to Intentional Parenting.  And, don’t miss her parenting summer camp!

http://natanyalara.com/parenting-summer-camp/

 

Here’s the link to the interview.

 

We are blessed with the ability to make a decision in the present time.

Lots of love to you,

 

 

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There are bright skies.

 

I have been listening to a mentor lately talk about the flip side.  Whenever there is lack, there is always abundance.  Wherever there is gray, there is bright blue.  Wherever there is a feeling that everything has gone to you know where, there is a feeling of joy and happiness.

It is how the universe works.  One day things are really low, the next they are beautiful.  Whatever goes up must come down, and whatever goes down will come up too.

We have to trust that the universe or god has a divine plan, and if we are in a difficult place, we are here to be rewarded with the lesson that will get us to the next place.  Tomorrow, next week, or next year, we will look back to here and remember how we felt and hopefully see the benefit to our feeling of hopelessness, fear, or anger.  The feelings are okay, we are blessed to be here and going through whatever it is we are going through.

When things fall apart, what do you do to help to bring yourself back — because the the fear is not real.  We have to bring ourselves back to the reality of the situation, the reality of our day.  When we let ourselves go into the worst possible places we are allowing ourselves to drift in illusion.

Here are some things I do to get myself back ::

  • I sit quietly on the floor, with my eyes closed and breathe.  I don’t time myself.  I just do it until my mind is clear and my heart feels calm.
  • yoga.  Even just legs up the wall for 5 minutes.  I like to turn myself upside down.
  • Go for a run.  And, I don’t mean 3 miles — I run for about a mile to a mile and a half.
  • Do an angel tarot card reading for myself.
  • Prayer.  I pray that god and the universe helps me to see more clearly.
  • Light incense.  I love the tiny sticks — Morning Star.
  • Organize the clutter on my desk.  Usually when my mind is cluttered, so is my desk.
  • Go do the dishes or the laundry.  It usually clears my mind a bit.
  • Go for a walk in the woods or down the street.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Water the plants.
  • Figure out something to give and make it happen.  Give a gift or sign up to give my time to a non-profit.  I volunteer.
  • Music.  I put on some spiritual chants.  Music that is created to clear the chakras.
  • Write up my gratitude list.  There are always things I am grateful for no matter how bad things get.

Most of the time, I do a combination of these.  Do whatever is going to help you to get there.  Don’t numb yourself with alcohol or other substances if you can help it.  That only puts off what can be dealt with today.

I hope these are helpful.  Please email me if I can help in any way — if you need an intuitive reading or a coaching call.

Much love and warmly,

P.S.  Check out the North Star Interviews — there must be something that you have been needing to learn about to help with the divorce process :: http://www.candacesmyth.com/north-star-session-interview-series/

P.S.S. If you are in the Washington, DC area and looking for a support group to help you through the divorce process and beyond.  Email me for the details.  We will be meeting at noon beginning May 22 at the Center for Mindful Living at Tenleytown.

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Exercise Your Compassion Muscle.

Good morning!

We had a beautiful weekend celebrating Kate’s 8th birthday.  Last week she was in a play (two shows) and had her school’s annual performance night where she sang “Who Says” and played a piano piece duet with her piano teacher.  She (and all of us) were busy to say the least.  So, on Sunday, I drank lots of tea, rested, and watched Game of Thrones.  Does anyone else love that show as much as I do?  Yesterday was my day because Kate was with her dad.  I would love to have Kate every day of my life, but it is not possible and has not been possible since her dad and I separated.  I had to find the gift in it, and I know it to be that I am given days of rest, a day to read what I want to read, to spend time alone with my husband, to garden, to have brunch, to do whatever I want (within reason, of course).

I was talking to someone not too long ago about how difficult it was when I had to “let go” of having Kate every day and night.  It had to have been one of the hardest things I ever had to do.  I could not stop thinking about all of the days and activities that I was missing of her life.  What would she do that I would miss this week?  It is still a little painful to think about — especially because she was so young at the time.  I minimized the time away as much as I could, and I believe that it all worked out in the end and that Kate is much better for it.  She is strong and loved.  She loves being home with us and she loves going and being with her Dad too.

You have to find the gift in it when what is is not how you would prefer it to be.  Let’s not be the victim, but instead, the student.    For me, I had to learn to have self-compassion and to use the time to take care of me.

What is your Game of Thrones-like gift to yourself?

We learn from our experiences — good and bad.  We grow, we learn to love more and bigger hopefully.

I want to share with you an exercise that I learned at a recent event.  It is called the Compassion Exercise and it is a very simple five step process to personal peace. Go to The Avatar Compassion Project to get more information and your own free compassion kit.

Here are the five steps.  Focus with attention on your spouse whom you are separating from or divorcing (whatever stage you may be in right now) ::

Step One :  With attention on your spouse, repeat to yourself :

Just like me, ____ is seeking some happiness for his/her life.

Step Two :  With attention on your spouse, repeat to yourself :

Just like me, ______ is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life. 

Step Three :  With attention on your spouse, repeat to yourself :

Just like me, ____ has known sadness, loneliness and despair.

Step Four :  With attention on your spouse, repeat to yourself :

Just like me, ______ is seeking to fulfill his/her needs.

Step Five :  With attention on your spouse, repeat to yourself :

Just like me, _____ is learning about life. 

Close your eyes, deep breath in, and out.

And, as we are talking about letting go and compassion, this week’s interview with Rachel Strisik gets into the physical domain.  How do you deal with your space and the accumulation of stuff in a marriage when you are going through divorce.  What do you keep, what do you give away, throw away?  How can you use your space to take care of you?  Listen to the interview below!

Rachel Strisik is an organizing extraordinaire – Rachel uses creativity, style and a little elbow grease to help clients get their homes, schedules and lives in order. A professional organizer, Rachel empowers her clients to live more organized, productive lives.  Over the course of her career, she has worked on Capitol Hill and with start-ups. Most recently, she served as Director of Operations for a national personal styling company, Style for Hire, co-founded by celebrity stylist Stacy London from TLC’s What Not to Wear.  Rachel lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and five year-old identical twin daughters.  Read more about her and how to get organized at : http://www.rachel-company.com/.

Click Here for the Interview. 

With love and light,

P.S. If you would like to talk with me about mediation and how it might help in your particular situation, call me (202) 587-2772 or email candace@candacesmyth.com.  I provide in-person (DC & MD) mediation sessions and skype sessions for those outside of the metro DC area.  Learn more about them here.

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Our Casualties of War

Good morning.

The trees are still as I look outside my windows.  It is also chilly again — in the 50s.  The weather is not something we can feel confident in at all these days.  I never know how Kate should dress for the day.  She is doing a great job at picking out her clothes lately and layering.  Layering.  I never knew about layering growing up in the South, but I have found it to be one of the most useful dressing know-how essentials.  I am thankful that Frank — having grown up in Jersey — can assist with the wisdom there for Kate and for me.

This weekend I was around a group of amazing women.  I was sitting at lunch with a couple — one of which I interviewed for the North Star Sessions almost a year ago — Teri Goetz.  Her website is http://healthybeing.com.  We had just listened to a phenomenal speaker who  I had never heard speak or heard of before.  His name is Bo Eason and he is a former pro football player turned speaker and playwright.  His play, Runt of the Litter, was just turned into a screenplay and is being directed by the director of Shawshank Redemption and the Green Mile.  I was blown away by the way he presented his story.  It made me think about why I do the work I do, a little deeper.

What came to me at lunch — on the way to lunch and in the lunch is that I am driven by the pain others are going through.  I am on a mission to lead a global movement to stop and change the way divorce happens in our world.

This why goes back to being a child when my grandaddy shot himself.  I did not understand and can clearly remember the adults around me trying to deal with the pain themselves and avoiding, ignoring me and my pain.  They thought that if they just dealt with it on their own and didn’t talk about it (actually pushed it under the closet doors to never talk about again), I would be fine.  Or, I am guessing this was there thinking.  In the mean time, I was a mess and really hurting.  I became my grandaddy’s defender in every way and wanted to make sure he and his memory were clearly visible at all times.  I erected a make-shift plywood sculpture” in his honor and tried to force the adults to a strict observance of holidays “like grandaddy wanted us to do it this way.”  Any time I heard that he was an alcoholic, I would remind everyone in the room that he LOVED his grandchildren more than anything and we loved him.  The adults seemed to forget the very important and magical relationship this man had with his grandchildren.  He may have been diagnosed paranoid schitzoprhenic, had been an abuser of my Granny (who I also love more than anything), was an alcoholic and killed himself.  But, he was one of the only adults growing up who truly GOT ME.  He was able to show love like no one else and he was able to see me as a human being even when I was a child.

Children should not be treated as if they are invisible.  They are right here in front of us, and they matter.  It is also important to remember that children form their own relationships with people.  Just because we have a difficult relationship with our spouse, does not mean that their relationship will also be difficult or even abusive.

We have our very own casualties of war in this country that have nothing to do with Afghanistan or Iraq.  They are our children, and they have virtually no say in how their parents divorce.  They have no control over the effect it has on them as children.  WE as adults are the only ones who can turn this war around.  We do have the control, and we have a responsibility  to stop acting out of fear, anger, resentment, shame and start acting like adults.  Only we can take the steps necessary to change the course of our divorce.  This may be one of our greatest challenges, but it is here for us to move through and to the other side.  No, it may not fair.  But it is.

The truth is only we can let someone else’s words or behavior hurt us.  We have the power within us to be okay just as things are and to end our own suffering and the suffering our children experience.  Conflict engagement or war takes two.  If one disengages, what happens?  In most cases, the other disengages because there is no one to engage.  It only takes one to stop the war.  I say this all of the time and it really comes down to who wants the war to end most.  If one of the two feels powerless or like the other owes him, one has to ask what is most important and also learn to trust that the universe is rearranging itself for your best interest.  How can you move onto your new greatness when you are dependent?  Don’t you choose to be free?

Trust that everything is going to be okay.  Trust that things are happening in this process for a reason.  When you know the effect this is having on you and your children, begin making choices from a place of inner strength, not fear and insecurity.  Know that you are loved, and love yourself.  Loving yourself (i.e., taking care of yourself) may mean absolutely, positively walking away.

“As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there”—as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of victim, that you’re suffering in paradise.”
― 
Byron Katie, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

———-

Part of this struggle is getting ahold of your finances during and after divorce.  This week, I have interviewed a financial advisor to help think through some of the financial issues and planning that come up in divorce.  Information and educating yourself about the things you do not know helps to alleviate fear.  Listen to this week’s North Star Sessions interview with Chris Brasacchio.

 

 

Chris Brasacchio has been in the financial planning business for over 20 years.  He is a certified financial planner and has his own fee-based planning firm, Chart House Financial, in the Washington, DC metro area.  You can find more about Chris and his work at www.charthousefinancial.com.

 

Click here to listen to the interview.

 

 

 

With love and light,

 

 

 

P.S.      If you are struggling to find a way through this process, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  I also provide skype mediation sessions for those outside of the DC metro area.  (202) 587-2772.

P.S.S.  If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

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How Mediation Helps You File for Divorce on Your Own + Heal.

Good morning!  Ahhhh, Spring!  We have so many different birds out and about now.  There is one that has the most beautiful song — three notes — dum, dum dummmmmm.  I have to find out what kind of bird this is — its tune is so beautiful and different.  This weekend, I also got into my flower bed out front and did some excavating of my poor tulips so that they can peak above the surface.  I am ashamed to say that I have been neglectful with them this past year, so taking care of them made me really happy.  Here are the beautiful colors out my front door.  Please share your’s with me!

 

Divorce can be as easy or difficult as you want to make it.  I often feel like we self-sabotage the process — I know I did — by assuming that the process is going to be terrible, that our soon-to-be former spouse is going to be a nightmare. In fact, there are so many conversations that I have experienced among women where it is expected to be supportive of others as they rant about how terrible their ex is — how vile and evil.  No doubt there are some ex spouses that just don’t know how to behave, but we are being just as negative in our behavior when we tear them down with our words.  Worse.  As we tear our ex down — so too do we tear down that other half of our children.  No matter how difficult it is at times to take in, our children are not just of ourselves, they are of two people.  And, as we tear down our ex, we tear down them and ourselves.  We are truly all one.

“Fear-based ego is nothing more than the belief that we are separate beings, . . .  Only love is real.  And when we’are not thinking with love, since only love is real, then we’re actually not thinking at all.”  – Marianne Williamson

Today, I thought I would talk a little about how mediation can really help you file for divorce pro se, self-file, file for divorce with the assistance of attorneys.

Here’s the usual way things go down :

A husband and wife may try to work things out on their own.  Things come to a stand still or worse — things get ugly.  Each of them goes out and throws down thousands of dollars in retainers to hire attorneys.  They spend months each paying for their individual attorneys who are trained to fight for the respective client’s rights and interests.  (Note:  the children don’t usually have attorneys fighting for what is best for them.)  At the end of it all, maybe the attorneys will help the couple negotiate a settlement so that they do not find themselves in litigation, but usually the couple is truly bitter at one another in the end even if they are able to settle it out of court.

The problem with the family legal system is that it views everyone as very separate with independent right and interests.  It automatically pits two people who once loved one another (and really still do on some level) against each other.

What if, however, when a couple decides settling the issues is not possible on their own, they go straight to a mediator?

In mediation, it is most often about the whole picture and working out the details as amicably as possible.  Mediation is about listening to one another respectfully even when it is difficult to hear.  It is about working out the anger and fears by looking behind them to the triggers there.  With the help of a mediator,  a couple can actually come to an agreement on their own and file the divorce paperwork with the court themselves — saving time, worry, and money.  Each party may (and is encouraged to) have an attorney review the final settlement document, but comes to a self-made agreement, hopefully and commonly more stable emotionally and financially at the end of it.

Consider these statistics taken from a study by Dr. David Emery.  Dr. Emery’s studies at the University of Virginia’s Center for Children, Families and the Law used random assignment to ensure that both divorce mediation and litigation groups included the full spectrum of couples — determined by their ways of relating to one another. Divorce or custody dispute couples evaluated as “cooperative” “distant” and “angry” were randomly distributed to both groups.

Dr. Emery’s results found that twelve (12) years later after an average of only five (5) hours of mediation at the time of the parties’ divorce 

  • 28 percent of the nonresidential parents who mediated saw their children at least once a week, in comparison with 9 percent of parents who were assigned by the study to resolve their divorce or custody dispute by litigation.
  • 36 percent of nonresidential parents who litigated had not seen their children in the last year, in comparison with 16 percent of divorcing parents who were assigned to mediation.
  • Among divorce families who mediated, fully 59 percent of nonresidential parents talked to their children weekly or more often, compared with just 14 percent of nonresidential parents who litigated.
  • Finally, in comparison with families who went to court, the residential parent of divorcing couples who mediated, consistently reported that the nonresidential parent discussed problems with them more and participated more in the children’s discipline, grooming, religious training, errands, special events, school and church functions, recreational activities, holidays and vacations.
See more of the details from Dr. Emery’s study here.  

If you are having difficulty in your process, why not contact a mediator and just see if she or he thinks it might be helpful right now?  Call a few — see what they say.  Every mediator has his or her own style.  Make sure you find the right fit because it is an important relationship, much like a couples counselor in my view.  The more information you have, the better you are going to feel.

Going through any divorce process is difficult work and most find they do not take care of themselves through the process.  This week’s interview is about giving you simple ways to stay as physically healthy as possible through difficult times.

Linda Tabach :: Easy Care of Your Body Through Divorce.

 

 

Linda Taback is a holistic health coach, blogger, writer, running coach, half marathoner, mom of two grown children.  Linda received her health coaching certification fro the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and works mainly with women going through midlife transitions.  Linda has been featured in the Huffington Post and the book Health Tipping Point.  You can find her and more information about nutrition, healing, and running at http://lindatabach.com.

 

 

Click here to listen to the recording.   With love and light,

 

P.S.      If you are struggling to find a way through this process, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  I also provide skype mediation sessions for those outside of the DC metro area.  (202) 587-2772.

P.S.S.  If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

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Meditation in Meditation

I have the windows in my office raised this morning. Okay, it is still a little chilly, but I am loving being connected to the outdoors while I am inside again. I feel so cooped up in the winter time. I like the burrowed-in feel for a little while and then I think my body and mind go a little crazy for sun and fresh air. This winter has been WAY TOO long for me. Do you feel that way? How have the last few days been for you?

I have a couple of things happening this week that I thought I would share with you.

First, my birthday! It is on Thursday. I turn 40. I wanted to do something in honor of it, for you, so I have decided to do something really special that day. I will let you know as soon as it is ready.

The second thing is that I have opened up my office in another location two days a week. I will be holding workshops and office hours at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington’s Center for Mindful Living. This is a dream come true for me as it provides a space that truly fits what my practice is all about. With the new space, I will be opening two local 6-week group sessions in May. One for individuals going through divorce and the other for those struggling with co-parenting either in or post-divorce. I will send more details on the groups in the next week.

I say and type the word mediation so many times throughout the day. I notice that I often say meditation or type it instead of mediation. Even when I google mediation, meditation sites pop up in answer to my search. I had not really thought much about that connection, those synchronicities until right now.

The truth is, when you are mindful about your life and how you show up in the divorce process, you are in a sense meditating. We work to keep our flight or flight – amygdala or limbic brains — centered, in a calm place so that we can think and communicate rationally about the issues before us, while using our breath, and reminding ourselves that we are okay. It is not easy. In mediation sessions, I see the rise and fall of fight or flight so often throughout, but what is clear, is that when couples are given tools to use, recognize the importance of them, and want to end the divorce in a loving way — we are using meditation in mediation.

To combine the energy of a meditation center with the heart of my mediation practice is perfect. I will post photos later in the week!

I highly recommend turning to spiritual exercise when faced with divorce. Whether meditation or prayer, the centering and calming effect of spiritual practice is unmet by any other. It is not just a band-aid.

Here are some resources that I love ::

Insight Meditation Community of Washington

Tiny Buddha

Brene Brown

Danielle LaPorte

Eckhart Tolle

Email me now :: candace@candacesmyth.com for a free guided meditation centered on awakening and being centered through the divorce process.

And, what better time to listen to an interview about vulnerability, shame and what it means to dare greatly in divorce?  This week’s North Star Sessions interview is with Amy Tatsumi.  And, here’s the link to the other North Star interviews in case you missed them.

Amy Tatsumi

Amy is a licensed professional counselor, psychotherapist, and board certified art therapist in Washington, DC.  She specializes in working with women who are depressed, anxious, stressed, in transition, or who feel stuck to help them live a more balanced life with meaningful connections.  Amy is currently working with Brene Brown to Connections Certification .  To learn more about Amy and her work, go to her website : http://tatsumiandjones.com.

Click here to listen to the recording.

With love and light,

P.S. If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  I also provide skype mediation sessions for those outside of the DC metro area.  (202) 587-2772.

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The Five Mindsets That Build Conflict

This morning the birds are chirping.  They are all back and hoping (as I am) for more sun, more Spring-like weather.  Kate and I were away for Spring Break last week down in Alabama visiting with family.  I spent some of my time just walking around the beautiful large yard where I grew up, stepping between the trees I have known since childhood and the memories they hold.  The Azaleas, the banana bloom tree, dogwoods, the pecan trees and oaks.  Walking and feeling blessed to be with nature, to be back home was very healing, meditative.  It almost helped to reset my psyche and the blessings I have in my life.  Even through the loss of my parents, many aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends, those trees still stand.  It is that sureness with which I feel centered in nature.  It is all okay.  We run around the trees with our dramas and life changes, but they stand with a stillness and strength of eternity.
My husband could not go with us on our trip last week, and I missed his presence so much.  Being away from him and spending that time being quiet brought me home feeling so grateful for our life together.  That gratefulness, that spirit comes and goes with disagreements, however.  We are so very different in how we communicate but so very passionate about our love for one another.  From my experience, passion and fire in conflict go hand in hand.  But, conflict does not have be engulfed in fire and it does not have to end the relationship.  It is possible to have communication miracles in your relationship or in your divorce negotiation.

In mediations, I so often see similar communication issues come up.  These are passionate couples — couples that are engulfed in fire.  You can tell why they fell in love with one another immediately.  And, then instead of using the fire to love one another completely and melt into the flames as one, they find themselves using the fire against the other.  I truly believe that for some of these same couples, staying together is possible.  It only takes one of the two to turn it around.  Sure, both have to want to make it work, but only one must notice, pay attention to what is going on and not react to the dynamic in the same way as before.

What does it take to be that one person? It takes love and presence.  It takes being an adult and not letting the childhood triggers run your life and relationship.  And, of course, it is not easy.

When another loves us and we feel we are in the presence of unconditional love, it repairs our childhood wound of feeling unwanted, unloved.  It is not possible, however, for the unconditional love and presence to be constant — it is not human.  And, in divorce, we as a couple are learning to separate from one another, and often the unconditional love is not present through the divorce process.  David Richo who I have talked about before in this space discusses the “five mindsets of ego” in his book : How to Be an Adult in Relationships.  Learning to acknowledge and work with these five mindsets so that you can be present in the relationship and/or conflict can truly shift your dynamic miraculously.

These are the five ego-driven mindsets that invade our mental space to disallow our presence in the moment and with the person in front of us.  They are very good at distorting reality too.  From Richo’s book:

  1. Fear :: “I perceive a threat in you or am afraid you may not like me so I am on the defensive.”
  2. Desire :: “I am trying to get something from you or this.”
  3. Judgment :: “I am caught up in my own opinion about you or this.”
  4. Control :: “I am attached to a particular outcome and am caught in the need to fix, persuade, advise or change you.”
  5. Illusion ::  ”I have a mental picture of or belief about you or this and it obscures what you are really like.”

Which of these plagues you and your relationship or divorce process?  Which of these can you vow to being mindful of so that you can stay present with your emotions and the reality of the situation?

If you are in the divorce process, be mindful of these ego-driven mindsets and know them as that.  They are there to protect you the only way they know how.  It is your job to notice them, thank them but tell them you can take care of yourself in this.  Notice them and release them so that you can deal with the present situation, argument, moment with as little ego and as much love as possible.  Presence is the key to resolving conflict.

With love and light,

P.S. If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  (202) 587-2772.

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The Quite Possibly Worst Addiction Out There

The number one destroyer of a mediation going smoothly is the same as the number one destroyer of intimacy in close relationships.  Blame and Criticism.

Blame and criticism are costly addictions, and the truth is that when we criticize it doesn’t have anything to do with the thing we are criticizing.  When we blame someone or something, we are doing it because we are trying to weaken the flow of positive energy.  Gay Hendricks has talked about how when you go into criticizing or blame mode it is as if you are in a hypnotic trance.  When we’are in the trance, we really believe that the other person has done wrong.

 

Isn’t this so true?  When we criticize or blame haven’t we absolutely convinced ourselves that the other person has done something wrong?  They deserve to hear it and we want them to make amends.  When they don’t?  Well, that’s just more reason they should be blamed and criticized.  And, ladies, I hate to say it, but we sometimes have the most critical tongue.  ”When a woman criticizes a man, whether she does it deliberately or not, she makes it impossible for him to feel connected to her.  Where there is withdrawn or silent man, there is usually a critical woman.”  – Patricia Love and Steven Stosny

Some of you, however, right now as you read this still do not understand why blame is a negative.  Don’t they deserve some of this?  I know I have had my share of what I thought to be justified blame.  There is no truth in what we are dishing out.  What is true is our feeling about their behavior.

Here’s the thing, when we blame we are blind and choose to be so.  We remain unaware of the fact that by blaming we are telling ourselves about the other’s behavior and that stimulates our pain.  This lack of awareness causes distress and also keeps us powerless to do anything about it. Even though we attempt to reduce our distress by continuing to throw the heat on the other person by blaming and criticizing, the fire in us burns even greater.  This is because when we blame it mirrors back onto us because the truth is we are all one.  Another way to look at blame is that it is just a tragic expression of an unmet need.  If you call your spouse cold and heartless, this is more about your hurt, what you feel you were lacking in the relationship.  This is about your needs and his or her inability to meet them and our disappointment or hurt that they could not or did not.  By expressing the unmet need through blame and criticism we almost guarantee that our need will not be met.

 

So, what can we do about it?

Stop it.  (If you can’t, seek some help because it is an addiction.)

Just as blame is a protective measure based on fear and ignorance, compassion is a countermove based on courage and understanding.

So, when you start to feel the rise of the need to blame or criticize, take a moment to feel whatever it is that is bubbling up in you.  Where is the feeling located?  Is it in your stomach, your throat, your heart.  What is behind the blame you want to throw out there?  Are you scared?  Are you lonely and sad?  Are you angry because he or she is not giving to you what you need?  Can you now ask for what it is you need without blaming or criticizing.  ”I am really sad because I have wanted to be close to you.”  ”I feel scared because I don’t know how to do this alone.”

In divorce, just as in marriage, the feelings behind the blame or criticism should be discussed so that some of these age-old relationship dynamic wounds may be healed.  Divorce can be such a healing process.  And, we need that more than anything.  When we decide that the marriage must end, why do we think that it should be the biggest and meanest fight ever?  Why not wrap it up, bless it for the lessons and for the moments of kindness and joy, and send it on its way so that we may move forward to have the capacity for enjoyment, for new loves, for joy.

Amen.

 

With love and light,

 

 

P.S. If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

 

P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process and you live in Washington, DC or Maryland, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  (202) 587-2772.

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How to Know You Have Hired the Wrong Attorney in Your Divorce.

I woke up this morning needing to tell you something that shines a light on what is most important in hiring an attorney for your divorce.  You see, one of the reasons I started this business (being an attorney myself) and feel so passionate about it is because I have seen family law attorneys (and attorneys in other areas of the law) become part of the process in a not so positive way.  Some attorneys thrive on conflict, and others thrive on the power it gives them to advocate on behalf someone who cannot advocate for themselves as well.  Being a public defender, immigration attorney and GLBT advocate, I know latter syndrome really well.  It makes the attorney feel better that they are able to take the burden off the client and some become almost a caretaker.

What often happens, though, is the client is disempowered by the relationship.  The client relies and looks so up to the attorney representing him or her that the attorney becomes the client.  The client is silenced.  The client is not part of the process anymore.  In family law, this is especially detrimental, in my view, to the process because the attorney-client relationship essentially ends and one of the key people in the family is not talking for him or her anymore.  The compassion, love, memory of the relationship from that perspective no longer speaks.  Once the divorce process is over then, that client is left to his or her own abilities to co-parent successfully, to communicate with his or her ex, and be an adult in life and in another (hopefully) healthy relationship.

 

Here are three very unique ways you know you have hired the wrong attorney to handle your divorce : 

 

  1. Your attorney begins to say in negotiations or in discussions with you, “well, I could never sign something that says that” or “I would never agree to that.”  If your attorneys stops remembering that you are the one that must decide (with his or her advice, of course) whether it makes sense for you and your family to sign something, you have a red flag.  If you begin looking to your attorney for every answer and have difficulty going inside yourself, you may need to seek counsel elsewhere to break the cycle.  I don’t care how much you want to bow out of the divorce process, when you do, you are not being an adult in the process.  I will save this for a future blog post because I was there one time and can speak to the feeling very well.  But, to avoid all now only makes it worse later.
  2. Your attorney never gives you an understanding of where the other side is coming from.  There are always two sides to any case, and if you are in litigation, a court may be asked to decide.  If your attorney accepts your story wholeheartedly and goes after the other side without thinking, asking or talking with you about your spouse’s emotions and triggers and the positives of his or her case or what a court might do in this situation, you have another red flag.  This is when you end up in court having spent tens of thousands of dollars and then get surprised by the result.  (and, usually you realize that you could have had that result in the beginning just trying to work it out.)
  3. Your attorney communicates with your spouse or spouse’s attorney on something important to you without discussing it or showing you the communication.  Talk about how miscommunication happens and how it escalates conflict.  Attorney-Client communication is key to having a healthy relationship and a divorce process with the least amount of conflict and drama.  When you already have more than two people in the mix, the telephone game is bound to start.  But, if you have an attorney who clears the communications with you, you ask yourself the three questions : is this true, is this an attack or retaliation move, is this really how I want things to look in the future?, and you still feel like the communication should go out, then you are good to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember, you are wise.  You know what is right when you are quiet, still and listen to your higher self.  Love is truly the only answer here.  Only you, not your attorney, can speak to that truth.

 

 “When we turn on light, the darkness disappears; and when we turn on love, the ego disappears.” — Marianne Williamson

 

I hope this is helpful to you.  Please let me know what you think by replying to this email, leaving a comment on the blog http://www.candacesmyth.com/blog/ or on the facebook page.

 

I hope you have a blessed day today.
With love and light,

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you are looking for a coach to help you divorce different and do it less expensively (much less!) and with a huge reduction in conflict, contact me by replying to this email now or call me (202) 587-2772.

 

P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process and you live in Washington, DC or Maryland, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  (202) 587-2772.

 

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What’s V-Day Got To Do With It?

First of all, I just want to let you all know how blessed I feel this morning to be here with you.

These last couple of weeks have been the scariest of my life, I think.  My daughter has always been healthy, but we found ourselves in Children’s Hospital last week with a bone infection.  If you know the symptoms of such an infection, you know how painful and debilitating it is for anyone, much less a little one.  I found myself thinking some dark thoughts several times, but I always meandered my way back with the tools I have learned on my life journey and that I share with you each week and with my clients.  Kate is really okay now.  We had to get the antibiotics going and after a week in the hospital we are home.  After a few doctor’s appointments, she will be back to school full-time.  Grateful and feeling blessed beyond measure.

Life, the universe, god sends you these times for a reason.  If we were never tested, we would not know much.  We would not grow into the next us.  They are reminders of our human-ness, our inability to make it through this life with trust of a more powerful source than ourselves.

Divorce is one of these.

In so many ways, divorce is a gift of spirit.  It is here to help guide us into the next phase of our lives, however painful, it is here to guide us into a more joy-filled destiny.  One in which we are even more present that we were before.

So, that brings me to Valentine’s Day.  This Thursday.  Do you have a plan?  Having a plan changes everything, it helps you to feel empowered because you are deciding affirmatively what you are going to do.  There is no way for you to be sad and alone (and feeling like a victim) on Valentine’s Day when you choose and take actionable steps to have the day you desire.

Here are some great ideas on what to do on Thursday to make this Valentine’s Day a happy, nurturing one :

  1. Give to others – Go to a local nursing home or Children’s Hospital, soup kitchen, where others need you.  Find a cause you like and spend some time helping others.  The true, time tested elixer for getting us out of our own pain-bodies, get up and give to someone else in need.
  2. Host a party – invite all your friends over to celebrate with you.  Nothing keeps us busier than cooking, decorating and hosting a party for others.  Relax with a few other friends, drink some wine and be together.
  3. Pamper yourself – treat yourself to something you love.  Get a massage, a 95+ points bottle of wine, dark dark dark chocolate, bath bombs, a pedicure, restorative yoga.  Spend some time and money on yourself.  Or, just get cozy in bed with that book you haven’t had time to open up lately.
  4. Write yourself a love letter – make a list of all the things you love about yourself, why not? You deserve it!
  5. Limit your exposure to romantic movies or love songs, doing so might only make you feel worse.  So give yourself a break.
  6. Be creative – Start that painting you have been thinking about, go on a photography shoot of your neighborhood, local graffiti or nature, go hiking, try out a rock climbing class or trapeze.  Do something daring!
  7. Go out with friends – enjoy the evening with other friends who appreciate you and what you have to offer.

Let me know what you planned!

Why don’t you give me a call between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. ET?  I am holding office hours again.  So, just call me at (202) 587-2772.  I would love to talk with you!

With love and light,

P.S. Let’s keep this work going.  I am getting ready to open up a new North Star Sessions group.  The Sessions are beginning on February 19.  You have to register here to be a part of them : http://www.candacesmyth.com/the-north-star-sessions/
And, remember the EARLY BIRD discount ends on Valentine’s Day.  So, you need to go ahead and get in there before midnight on Thursday.  Here’s the link again.  Call me if you have any questions about the program : (202) 587-2772.

P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process and you live in Washington, DC or Maryland, call me to discuss my family mediation services.  (202) 587-2772.

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