Divorce 360, Divorce Apps, Home, Mindfulness
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Splitopia.com Is Live

rsz_img_1232Since my book came out in March, I’ve been looking for ways to further share the research with more people, and offer insight and inspiration for those moving through divorce and on with their lives.  I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Splitopia.com, the first-ever comprehensive “divorce wellness” website.  This is the beginning of what will be workshops, lectures, online classes and community.

We have great stories from so many talented writers.  I’m particularly proud of the personal essays that writers have shared, as well as the “1 Question, 3 Lawyers” section of honest legal input on the kinds of questions that can keep anyone facing divorce up at night.  George Washington University law professor and author Naomi Cahn has been hugely helpful with this column, and I’m grateful for her efforts.

David Callahan, a.k.a. “my ex-husband,” has been a supporter and champion of Splitopia.com, bringing to bear his experience from his own content site, InsidePhilanthropy.com. Years ago, I published a dating book based on fairy tales, and speculated that after Cinderella got divorced from the not-so-charming-when-he’s-your-husband-after-all prince, they remained friends, and his support helped her launch her own line of fashionable footwear comfortable enough to clean the house in.  I feel a little like the character in that imagined sequel, really benefitting from the good friendship I’ve formed with my once-spouse.

Trending on Splitopia.com this week:

“A Letter to My Daughter on the Eve of Her Divorce”

“How Do I Find a Good Mediator?”

“Child Support Guidelines Vs. Us: Can’t We Create Our Own Plan?”

We’ll be rolling out more content, courses and community events in the future.  I’m looking for great writers, and people with good divorce stories for the new site.  Please write to me with suggestions, questions and ideas at wendy@wendyparis.com.

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Amicable Divorce, Cognition, Resilience
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Finding Humor in Heartache

SPLITOPIA for Social media (1)I’m hosting the first-ever Splitopia Improv show on September 7, at Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica.  If you’re in town, please come out to see these incredibly talented improvisational actors find the humor in the very real challenges we all share.  Actors performing include Jeff Feazell, Holly Brown, Joey Greer, Leah Kirkpatrick, Rich Baker and Kiki Aldonas.

There’s a large and growing improv scene here in Los Angeles—improvisational actors and an ever-expanding pool of amateurs, taking to the stage to create instant sketch comedy scenes based on a word or idea or diary entry.  Or, book.

Improv and divorce go together for a couple reasons.  Rule #1 of any improv class is that you say, “Yes!” to any whacky suggestion lobbed by a fellow improv actor on the stage.  Saying  yes lets you build a scene, whereas an instant “no!” can shut down creativity.

I think this automatic yes can be helpful in so many ways.  Mediators I’ve spoken to talk about a “yes-based” negotiation strategy when dealing with divorce and parenting.  A skilled mediator might focus on what a couple easily agrees about first, creating a feeling of collaboration and success, and then building from there to more difficult discussions.

Taking an improv workshop is also a way to reconnect with a playful exuberance many of us lose as we age, and certainly can have trouble finding in the stress of divorce.  Improv puts you right in the moment.  I recently took a two-hour workshop, and found myself laughing so hard, tears were running down my face.  I don’t even know what was so funny, but having that experience was like a physical break from my normal, not-so-giddy daily life.

Come out next Wednesday, to see what we’re up to here.  And write and let me know if you’ve tried something like improv, or dancing, or volunteering, that has helped you get through divorce.

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Cognition, Resilience, Self-Care
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Divorce Recovery 101: Practice Self-Compassion

Check out thiths excerpt from Splitopia about self-compassion on the Greater Good Science Center website.  Based at the University of California at Berkeley, the Greater Good Science Center offers some of the best research and tools for living a happier, more meaningful life.

The GGSC sponsors research on well-being, and its website can connect you to inspiring blog posts, helpful podcasts and “Science of Meaningful Life” seminars.  I am so pleased that the GGSC chose to share the research on self-compassion cited in my book, and to let more people know about the work on this topic by Kristin Neff, at University of Texas at Austin and David Sbarra at University of Arizona.

Self-compassion is my first Principle of Parting, both because I was excited by the work of Sbarra on self-compassion in divorce, and because focusing on self-compassion is just the kind of counter-intuitive—but scientifically sound—approach we need more of.  It may seem like so many other things would be more important in divorce—making sure you have enough money, hiring a lawyer or mediator, finding a new place to live.  But as Sbarra’s research shows, and the experience of many confirms, going easy on yourself during a tough time can be the first step to positive recuperation and rebuilding.  It can help you avoid lashing out at your almost-ex in front of your children or making bad decisions driven by fear, anger or a scarcity mentality.

Sbarra’s work was some of the first to investigate positive psychology practices in divorce. The field of positive psychology more generally is beginning to look at how so-called “happiness research” can help people facing really difficult times, and I’m looking forward to Martin Seligman’s forthcoming book on the new subset of “positive psychotherapy.”

In the meantime,  we can probably all benefit from spending time on the Greater Good Science Center’s website.  The “core themes” listed on the website highlight its areas of focus: gratitude, altruism, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, happiness and mindfulness.  I’ve spent many hours listening to the very helpful “Happiness Matters” parenting podcasts by sociologist Christine Carter and registered nurse Rona Renner.  I’m currently thinking about taking the center’s free, 10-week online course on what it means to lead a happy and meaningful life, The Science of Happiness, taught by legendary well-being expert Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas.

Here’s to a happy and meaningful life for all of us!

 

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Amicable Divorce, Getting Along Better, Post-Divorce, Parenting
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The Good Divorce, Canadian-Style

I was so happy to see this great article today in Canada’s largest-circulation national paper, The Globe and Mail, about how divorce is changing for our neighbors up north. “Divorcing with dignity: How modern exes are treating a split as an awakening,” looks at Canadian couples who co-parent cooperatively, celebrate holidays together, and even help out with each other’s laundry. I spoke to reporter Zosia Bielski when she was writing her piece, which is the most thorough and balanced piece of reporting about today’s changing divorce that I’ve seen.

As Bielski writes:

“These husbands and wives want what’s best for their kids, which is family, and they want to salvage their own sanity. Many are doing things differently because they saw the carnage of their parents’ divorces, with mom and dad not speaking or badmouthing each other in front of the kids. There are good reasons why some divorces go very badly: chronic infidelity, abuse, mental illness and addiction can make separating traumatic. But for others parting under less extenuating circumstances, divorce can be an awakening: Some people find they are better ex-spouses than they were spouses.”

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Cognition, Mindfulness, Resilience
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The Secret Power of Letting Go

I had an epiphany on the subway in Manhattan today. While waiting on the platform for the #1 train to go downtown, I watched an uptown train pull into the station, load its passengers, and then rush right back out again. Whirrrr! The lights, the sound, the increasing velocity—the train sped into the dark tunnel and disappeared.

I’d like to let my own negative thoughts speed away, I thought. Just swoosh themselves right out of the station.

I never liked the subway when I lived in New York, and not having to cram myself into a dark, dirty underground transportation tube is one of the joys of living in Los Angeles. But today, it struck me as a great visual metaphor. The speeding-away train was a perfect image and reminder of what it might be like to notice one’s own negative thoughts and feelings as they enter, sit calmly on the still platform, and watch them rush back out.

I was thinking about this because I was holding a dog-eared paperback on my lap that I’ve been reading called The Untethered Soul: the journey beyond yourself, by Buddhist teacher Michael A. Singer. He writes about the idea that our true self is the one who observes our inner and outer world, not the details or disturbances that we see.

In the meditation and mindfulness traditions, overly identifying with our outer circumstances or inner thoughts and feelings is the cause of a great deal of unhappiness.

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