Monday, December 11, 2017

Positivity Blog: Reading List

               One of my good fortunes is that I love to read.  Reading brings me all sorts of pleasure, expands my mind, takes me out of present realities of toothaches and worry, transports me to worlds I don’t know about. I read before falling asleep, mostly because as a practical matter, this is when I have time. Recently I was thinking about the fact that whatever I’m reading sort of imprints on my brain as I move from my conscious world into the sleep-world and I realized that although I hadn’t actually planned to do so, one of the books I read before bed is always about positive thinking.  It is Diana Nyad telling about her Cuba swim, being stung by deadly jellyfish (literally) and somehow living – and continuing to swim! – by sheer will.  It is Jen Sincero reminding us to ‘be the badass we were born to be.’   Or Roz Savage writing about her more than one-hundred-day solo row across the Atlantic. Or a myriad of other books….
               We can choose to read and we can choose what we read. (In truth, I'm always reading several books at a time and currently, in addition to these positive thinkers, I am reading two James Baldwin books and a book of Lorraine Hansberry’s writings – brilliant thinkers, positive in their own way, but also difficult, distasteful truths imparted.)  
So, here’s my positivity tip for today: Choose to read at least one “can do” book and if you can, read before you fall asleep.  If you let it, you will receive these positive messages into a deep part of your brain, which will improve even the most difficult parts of your life, including your very pressing worries about your divorce, your finances, the wellbeing of your children, etc….And like most of the things I suggest: even if you don’t love it, it’s not going to hurt you so you might as well try it!

·        your local library
·        your local bookstore
·        your own bookshelf
* OR feel free to email me for book suggestions --    

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What Has Nature Done for You Lately??

            "Go take a hike" -- you might want to say this (scream this?) to the partner you are splitting up with.  (Okay, let's be honest, you might want to yell something much worse at the top of your lungs....)  If you both were to take this advice, go out for a walk in nature, your divorce and custody proceedings would probably go a lot easier.  Science backs up what we know intuitively -- when we are walking and breathing in nature, we actually feel a lot better, calmer, and are helping our physical health as well.
            Walking in the woods is advocated by governmental agencies, at local, state, and international levels.  In Japan and Korea there are "healing forests."  The State of New York touts: "Think of it as a prescription with no negative side effects that's also free."  
             Being in a forest won't magically make your very difficult custody dispute or your frustrating fight over assets disappear, however, it almost certainly will help lower your blood pressure and calm your mind as you deal with these issues.  I hope you try it -- if nothing else you will have spent a few minutes taking a break from your problems....


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Positive Thought + Positive Action = Positive Reality

          IT TURNS OUT WE actually have the ability to use our powerful brains to create positive outcomes, even in the face of seriously difficult circumstances.  Apparently our brains are wired to hold onto negativity more easily than positive stimuli, however, we can change this wiring.  Telling ourselves positive things helps our brains to build more positive experiences.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

On the Benefits of Smiling

(My Mom at Hilo Botanical Garden, 2012)

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." ~Thich Nhat Hanh

                YOU MIGHT ASK: "Can we make ourselves smile and if so, why would we?"  It's a worthwhile question.  A few years ago (when I was in the middle of a time that was not so easy or happy), I happened to read an interview with Yoko Ono.  She said that after John was shot and killed, there were days she had to make herself smile.  She forced a smile because of her son...she didn't want him to see her sad and frowning all the time.  Smiling certainly didn't change the horrible facts she was dealing with -- the murder of her husband, the loss to their young son -- but it did change her reality.
                I am not saying it's good (or even possible!) to ignore the difficult facts of our lives -- whether they are in our personal lives or in our nation.  Actually I think we need to acknowledge truths, even those that are not pleasant.  (There are vast benefits from the truth  -- and much that can be written -- see my future blog post!)  However, even in midst of the bleakness that is sometimes the truth, it is possible to find a way to smile and even a forced smile yields many benefits.  

                Some super cool things that a smile does:
  • sends endorphins to your brain
  • causes other people to smile
  • changes your mood
  • changes your reality
  • changes the world
  • makes your face look more beautiful
                Seriously...try it on for size!  A little smile right now as you're reading...another tomorrow when you're stuck in traffic...and again the next day when you learn your ex is taking your kids to Paris....Make yourself smile....("Smile though your heart is aching.../That's the time you must keep trying/Smile, what's the use of crying/You'll find that life is still worthwhile if you'll just smile...")


  • If you're interested, come to my workshop on finding your joie de vivre even in the middle of your difficult divorce.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Divorcing Peacefully

Photo: Essaouira, Morocco May 2017

As a family law mediator and attorney, I usually describe my practice as "peaceful law."  This is often met with a somewhat incredulous smirk, followed by curiosity as to just what is "peaceful law" in a divorce and further, does it really happen???  The short answer is that "yes," it can be done.  The longer reply is that it does take concentrated effort.
                What is "peaceful law"?  In my law practice (as well as in my life outside of family law and mediation), my intention is to do no harm (or to put into crude parlance: to try not to be an as___le).  Obviously there are challenges to this noble intention, especially in a hot divorce situation.    
                How to practice peaceful family law when the other party's attorney is not (and is threatening to take my client to court, threatening to remove children and assets, etc.)?  Very challenging.  And still, I believe that in most circumstances, it is possible to practice peaceful family law.  For example, various peacekeeping techniques include: not threatening to file an RFO (Request for Order) every time the parties/attorneys are in disagreement; not hitting reply on that nasty email you've just written -- even when it's in reply to a nasty one received; taking a break when tensions flare -- this can be done whether in person by stepping out of the room or on the telephone by "taking a moment" or suggesting the call be continued to the next day. 
                In family law mediation, sometimes it's necessary to allow the "un-peaceful" stuff to be aired and as a mediator, I try to pay close attention to what is being expressed and work toward getting the parties to hear each other.  Most often during mediation when the parties listen and acknowledge the feelings the other person has been having, they can then work together to move forward in a peaceful manner.  (It might sound too good to be true, but it really does work!)
                Keeping the peace also includes not fanning the fires of hurt and anger in my clients by telling them they can "get" their ex by going to court.  Instead by acknowledging my client's very real feelings, we can work together to respond from a reasonable and objective place.  Again, I'll restate the obvious: these things are not always easy in family law when emotions are raw and there are so many serious life issues on the line.  However, the benefits to practicing peace as part of any family law proceeding are huge -- financial and emotional.  Sure it takes some work, but so does practicing war and in the end, I think given a choice, most people would choose peace....

  • There's even a WikiHow page on this topic:
  • What parties can do to get peaceful:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Getting Physical!

Sometimes you just have to get physical.  Nothing else will do.  Your body craves it; your soul needs it.  Okay...I'm not talking about having sex (although of course, humans -- women as well as men -- need that too).  I'm talking about working out -- sweating out those toxins, flooding your body with endorphins. 
                Lots of ways you can do it.  When I'm not swimming, my favorites include riding my very old (found for free on the curb) stationary bike, interspersed with a little weight lifting, followed by a quick sprint, closing with some of my preferred Yoga poses --  Warrior and Downward Dog and Tree.  (Is it evident that I just had a good workout??)  A satisfying Yoga class in a good studio can also work wonders.  Some people love Pilates.  A bike ride is also fun and satisfying.  Lots of choices.
                The point is to do something, let the physical activity take over, let your brain have a mind of its own without you controlling it, let the thoughts go wherever they go.  As you start working up a sweat, you actually sweat out toxins, and magically while all this is happening, your body becomes flooded with endorphins and other neurotransmitters. 
                When you've finished, you feel like you could solve every single problem that the world might have -- and if you're a concerned citizen and/or if you're going through a messy or heart wrenching divorce, you have plenty of problems to choose from.  As a divorce attorney and family law mediator, I can't guarantee you any results but I can pretty reliably assure you that you will feel better, more centered, more balanced, more able to handle whatever comes your way.
                Multiple scientific studies show that in addition to working out tension, exercising increases our resilience, which helps to sustain us, for example as we're going through a long and difficult divorce.  Exercising also seems helpful in reducing extreme stress and also depression -- both common for people going through a divorce.  To thrive during and after your divorce, I recommend:
  • regular exercise -- at times pushing your physical limits
  • a good support network -- old friends, new friends, family
  • a great divorce attorney and/or family law mediator -- a lawyer who listens to you and who you trust

Sunday, April 2, 2017

P.S. from the Dalai Lama....

          A few days after my last post, about bringing compassion into divorce I read a passage from the Dalai Lama that seemed to exactly amplify my point.  One of the many books I'm reading is "The Book of Joy", by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams.  In a chapter about "acceptance," the DL said:

...Imagine that you are living next to a difficult neighbor. You can judge and criticize them. You can live in anxiety and despair that you will never have a good relationship with them. You can deny the problem or pretend that you do not have a difficult relationship...None of these is very helpful.
Instead, you can accept that your difficult and that you would like to improve it. You may or may not succeed, but all you can do is try. You cannot control your neighbor, but you do have some control over your thoughts and feelings. Instead of anger, instead of hatred, instead of fear, you can cultivate compassion for them, you can cultivate kindness...This is the only chance to improve the relationship. In time, maybe they will become less difficult. Maybe not. This you cannot control, but you will have peace of mind. You will be able to be joyful and happy whether your neighbor becomes less difficult or not.
     I get it -- your ex is not (usually) your neighbor. And "relationship" with your ex might sound like a stretch (although see my earlier blog post about this). If you can look a little deeper, the wisdom which the Dalai Lama is imparting is really useful whether it applies to a difficult neighbor or a difficult ex.  Hopefully these words, from the mouth of the compassionate and wise DL, are helpful.

Source: "The Book of Joy" (ibid.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bringing Compassion Into Your Divorce

           Although it may be quite difficult, I highly recommend bringing compassion into your divorce.  You can start by having compassion for yourself.  Acknowledge that you are going through a really big change and it is likely you are feeling some sadness and some confusion, maybe some anger, maybe some joy.  It is a time of big emotions.  Take care of yourself, be understanding to yourself.  Even if you find yourself engaging in conduct that you're not so happy about, see if you can make a decision to change those behaviors , and then give yourself a pass for your past conduct.  You can give yourself TLC while still facing up to your "flaws" because we are human beings and we all have flaws....
                Which leads to thoughts of your ex...after you get the hang of self-compassion, try to find that same compassion you have been showing to yourself, and work to cultivate it toward your divorcing ex.  Yes, that's what I said -- show compassion and empathy toward your ex.  If you can do this, some benefits include:
  • ·         reducing negativity in your life 
  • ·         using your energy for your positive actions 
  • ·         your compassion toward your ex might be reciprocated
  • ·         if you have children, by showing compassion toward your ex, you will help your children to be able to feel loving toward both their parents
  • ·         by cultivating compassion toward someone who you might not like so well, you are giving yourself a tremendous learning opportunity
  • ·         if you are still working out the details of your split, through litigation, mediation, or on your own, you and your ex can begin to trust each other's communication, which will help move you forward while also keeping the peace

 Please note: I am not saying that if your ex is abusive you should take it; however, even in an abusive situation, it is possible to show compassion without condoning or "taking" the abuse. 


Sunday, February 12, 2017


                 It's embarrassing how long it's been since my last blog post.  I have good reasons, of course (we usually do).  I have started many posts (which should be an article on its own), and I've procrastinated quite a bit (which should definitely be the subject of another difficult to write post).  And I've also been busy developing my work (excellent in-depth mediation training -- which I would love to write about!). Perhaps most importantly, I've also been engaging in some very important work for my clients.
                Although I've frequently been asked, I don't have a "testimonials" section on my website.  In large part this is because my line of work is often very sensitive and personal and I never want to intrude on my clients' privacy in any way.  (Also, with admiration and respect to all my fellow attorneys, it might not the first trait you think of to describe an attorney, but in truth I am pretty modest and don't often put myself into the spotlight.) 
                Having said that, I would like to share part of my experience because when my clients tell me how much they have been helped by my work and how much they appreciate me, it makes me feel very very happy and reminds me of exactly why I do the work I do. part as an explanation of why my last blog post was so long ago and in part just because I'd like to share the light I have been receiving, this is some of what I've heard from clients over the last few months of intense work:
  • Your work was indispensable to me
  • Thank you so much, you're the best attorney, ever
  • Thank you -- you did a great job
  • I couldn't have done this without you

                In a public way (while also retaining client privacy), I want to say a big thank you to my clients.  You make my work so very worthwhile and my work enables me to keep growing and learning and enjoying my life....