I’m still reeling from our first Make Divorce Healthier Supposium (spelled correctly), a gathering of over 130 divorce professionals who, by showing up, committed to making divorce kinder, more mindful and more affordable.
So many thoughts - where to start?
First, people seemed to be astounded that this was even pulled off with a sellout crowd in year one. But I really wasn’t surprised. I’d been paying close attention to the needs of this community ever since I co-founded Main Line Family Law Center and got into the divorce business (yes, it is a business) 5 years ago.
See, I’m a bit of an outsider. I come from the world of education, nonprofit, marketing and entrepreneurship. I don’t know any judges personally, nor the inner workings of family court. I have no political ties. So in that sense, ignorance was bliss. Perhaps my kind of skills and background were just what the field of divorce needed.
In growing our business, I’d met so many caring and generous people who’d been touched by divorce, only to find themselves called to help others. Their stories of resilience have become woven into the fabric of the larger conversation. Then, this past year, I finally heard a call of my own - to bring a larger community of these kinds of folks together. People who were starving to be seen as part of the solution and not furthering a problem.
I’d also quickly discovered that healthier divorce was actually a cause that has been largely ignored in our culture. After all, there’s a choice to divorce - unlike, say, cancer.
But I’m really not one for rhetoric....I’m more of a get-it-done kind of gal. I like dreaming big, working with remarkable people, creating content, and monetizing ideas that matter.
This supposium couldn’t be a day where we leave depressed, burned out, and apologetic for the work we do, because we rehashed just how bad divorce can end up for families.
Could I simply create a command to “Make Divorce Healthier” - then expect an awakening? Would a call to action like “Make Divorce Healthier” help people find their tribe on a larger scale?
I admit it was hard to gauge the content level because of the interdisciplinary nature of the audience. I also knew the roundtable discussions might be noisy, but I also felt there was power in the energy of 130 people in same room, all having related discussions. Each person was pushed to listen that much more closely to each other over “the noise.” What an unlikely metaphor and exercise for making divorce healthier.
I only met one lawyer who said he was there for the CLE’s. Even he was surprised with how much he was enjoying himself, and said this was not the typical CLE program.
Many would agree that there was something magical about the day. Just to prove it, I noticed six coincidences in my symposium experience:
And now, the biggest coincidence of all. The event was held exactly 1 week after the most contentious election in our entire lives. Between a man and a woman, no less. Just enough time for a little emotional distance, but not so far out that it was still on all of our minds on Tuesday.
Think about it. We spent months watching candidates unwittingly play to win - at all costs. Insults hurled to motivate their base. These tactics ultimately caused a nation to become divided, full of blame, deep sadness and grief. Repressed anger has been unleashed. What we see now are heels digging in further, guards going higher, fear making its way into our hearts and spirits.
What we are actually witnessing or feeling in this country is the pain of divorce.
The Make Divorce Healthier Symposium instantly became part of a nation’s healing - one couple, and one divorce professional at a time.
That’s why I believe it was magical for so many.
Lastly, I learned something about myself in all this. As an artist and social being, nothing gives me more joy than when I create - create a space for each person to play a role made just for them. To watch all those individual pieces work together for the greatest good is just awe-inspiring.
I thank you all for offering me a palette of colors to work with, allowing me to mix the colors boldly, and create this work of art that I call the Make Divorce Healthier Supposium.
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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.
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