By Sharon Pastore
With just under 5 months to go to our first Make Divorce Healthier Symposium, I decided it’s time to get the thought leader conversation going.
I’ll start with full disclosure. (Makes sense since that’s considered a fundamental part of a healthy divorce process.)
So why did I choose to hold a full-day event? Truth be told, I tried to talk myself out of it. I dislike planning events. They’re deadline-driven, stress-inducing activities. The whole process is fixated on turnout, or how many are registered. On top of that, I have to fill up my calendar with committee meetings. All this without knowing exactly whether this will contribute directly to my bottom line (although both gut and experience remind me it’s about way more than that.).
In the back of my mind, I can hear my well-intentioned aunt saying, Sharon, do you HAVE to do a symposium? Ah..just forget about it.
But the idea of a symposium wouldn’t leave me. The word ‘symposium’ wouldn’t leave me. It reminded me of a book I am currently reading, Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear. In it, Elizabeth Gilbert says that ideas find you - not the other way around - and they won’t stick around forever. It knows when it’s not wanted.
Yet, after every meetup, someone remarks just how grateful they are to have found this group of kindred spirits. Therapists, mediators, lawyers, and financial professionals alike.
Over the past 3 years, we’ve wrangled with hard topics, like Dealing with the Reluctant Spouse, and we’ve gained much-needed insight from listening to such diverse perspectives.
I started to notice that something bigger was happening here.
I witnessed the forming of relationships of people who genuinely want to do business with one another. People left recharged about the tough, yet rewarding work they are doing. I heard stories of how they shifted aspects of their practice to achieve better outcomes for their clients.
All well and good, except...
A bi-monthly breakfast was really just the tip of the iceberg. A critical mass of changemakers needed to be formed to move the needle on making divorce a healthier process.
Back to that symposium idea.
I put out feelers to see if people would invest in making such an event happen. We then held two planning meetings. Both resulted in tangible optimism and instant commitment to get involved, thereby validating the need I sensed so strongly. We agreed quality of people in attendance was paramount (over quantity), and that the event would be primarily participant-driven. And no way, no how would we do this without a top-notch event planner.
In those discussions, we began to define what a ‘healthy divorce’ looks like. A few of us struggled with the term. Does it mean staying out of court completely? Does it mean primarily emotional? Why ‘healthy’?
We quickly recognized that the symposium itself would need to bring a larger group of these same kind of passionate professionals together to define what it means to make the divorce process healthier and dispel the common divorce myths. That would me including: attorneys and divorce mediators, financial guides and advisors, parenting experts and community educators, advocates and mentors, bloggers and authors, entrepreneurial thinkers and connectors, wellness coaches and healers, and those who simply have the courage to be curious.
We would create a creed or manifesto around it, and in doing so, reassure our current and potential clients that we practice with this set of principles, and those professionals with work with would also be aware.
That’s why the process of how we put the symposium together and what follows is as important as the actual event, if not more.
So that, even if spouses don’t communicate well with one another - WE communicate well with one another and, in turn, that helps them to better communicate.
So that, even if spouses don’t communicate well with one another - WE communicate well with one another and, in turn, that helps them to better communicate. Or even if current legislation doesn’t reflect how we want to practice (at least not yet), we don’t have to wait for legislation to change. We become the change we wish to see.
We can shift our own mindset so those couples who choose divorce can make healthy choices for themselves and their families.
That’s why I’ve started to call this event a ‘Suppose-ium’ instead of symposium. A safe place to talk about “what if’s” and “supposing new ways of doing our work.” It’s the only way to manifest ideas.
Alright..now that I’ve gotten the ball rolling, I think I’ll follow the success of of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I’m going to pick a colleague to go next and share their perspective on why they are involved. Ellen Morfei of Progressive Conflict Solutions- tag, you’re it.
Are you a changemaker?
The future of divorce is now in session. Join us on November 15th as we embark together at Make Divorce Healthier Symposium.
Sharon Pastore is Chair of Make Divorce Healthier Symposium. She is also Co-Founder of Main Line Family Law Center, which was established in 2012. She is on a mission to generate awareness, understanding and trust around mediation as a healthier option for separation and divorce well before a client's first consultation. She draws upon over 17 years in nonprofit, education and marketing to enable more spouses to "get to the table" and mediate successfully. Connect with Sharon on LinkedIn.