Book: The Wisdom of a Broken Heart

Earlier in the summer, late on a Friday afternoon, I received the following text message from a friend:

“Went to the library and decided it’s a self-help book weekend.  I thought you would like this quote from one, ‘the heart that is broken has been broken open’, about being open now to transformation.  Sounded interesting.”

The book she was referring to was Susan Piver’s The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, An Uncommon Guide to Healing, Insight, and Love.  My friend tore through the book over the weekend and then urged me to read it as well.  So, I bought myself a copy.  And I’m so glad I did.

Susan Piver offers a unique approach to dealing with a broken heart:  she suggests that one choose to view it as a gift instead of a curse.  A Buddhist, she prescribes a seven-day program of healing to be obtained through meditation, writing and reflection.  But don’t worry, she’s not all high-and-mighty about her suggestions.  Throughout the book, she humbly tells the story of her own broken heart and subsequent sobbing insanity.  She admits to her unflattering actions and emotions as a result of her heartbreak.  It’s clear that Susan’s unique perspective was arrived at by way of painful personal experience.

Susan talks about mood swings, fleeting affairs and the stories we tell ourselves to help (or hinder) the coping process.  She reminds us of the strength that can only come from an authentic state of vulnerability in which your heart may be broken over and over again.  She urges us to forgive and be grateful.  As I turned the pages, I laughed and cried.  I felt exhilarated and exhausted.  I softened and strengthened.  One of my favorite parts of the book was when she talked about the tears…

“One way to think of all these tears is as a flood of love.  Liberated from it’s object, love now flows freely, powerfully, mercilessly, as rain, as sorrow, and as longing.  …in some sense your limitations in love have been removed… 

…This is your heart.  Freed from the containment of a relationship, it roars.”

I have to agree with Susan.  In my own experience, I discovered a wondrous liberation when I surrendered to the grief brought on by my situation.  In sitting with my self, I realized that my love, kindness and compassion towards others had multiplied exponentially as a result of my pain.  This new vision has allowed me to see the humanity in everyone— even those who are supposed to be my “enemies”.  I am continuously overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for the beautiful agony which I endure(d) (am i over it yet?).

My broken-hearted friends, I hope you find the courage to gratefully embrace the “roar” within you.  And then, spend some time learning from The Wisdom of a Broken Heart.


Saturday’s Song: Blue Orchid

Throughout the Summer of ’07, The White Stripes were a staple on the playlist.  It was the first I’d heard them and I quickly fell in love with the album, Get Behind Me Satan.  A few weeks ago, out of the blue, this song crept into my head.  Five years from the first listen, it’s taken on a whole new meaning.

The video (which is kinda creepy, you might not want to watch it), features Karen Elson, who later married and divorced Jack White.  I’m noting this fact because, when the couple split, they did so amicably and even held a divorce party (I hope you click that link and read the invitation).  #awesome (am i allowed to use hashtags outside twitter?)

Anyway… here’s Blue Orchid, by The White Stripes.  Have a great weekend!


“Blue Orchid”

You got a reaction
You got a reaction, didn’t you?
You took a white orchid
You took a white orchid turned it blue
Something better than nothing
Something better than nothing, it’s giving up
We all need to do something
Try to keep the truth from showing up
How dare you
How old are you now, anyway?
How dare you
How old are you now, anyway?
You’re given a flower
But I guess there’s just no pleasing you
Your lip tastes sour
But you think that it’s just me teasing you
You got a reaction
You got a reaction, didn’t you?
You took a white orchid
You took a white orchid turned it blue
Get behind me
Get behind me now, anyway
Get behind me
Get behind me now, anyway
You got a reaction
You got a reaction, didn’t you?
You took a white orchid
You took a white orchid turned it blue

Divorce on TV

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across the sitcom, Happily Divorced, online.  I vaguely remember hearing about the show before it aired.  Intrigued by the title, I watched a couple episodes.  The gist of the show is simple:  husband confesses after many years of marriage that he’s gay.  He can’t afford to move out due to the economy, so they continue to live together while moving on after their divorce.  I wasn’t impressed, and it wasn’t just Fran Drescher’s voice that turned me off.  I thought there were too many jokes and not enough realistic struggle.  Of course, I only watched 2.5 episodes… it might have gotten better as the season wore on.  If anyone knows for sure, please tell me in the comment section.

Another “divorce” TV show that was popular for many years was Reba.  Again, I only watched one or two episodes (years ago), but I liked it.  On Reba’s show, she played a divorcee and mother of three/grandmother of one.  Her ex-husband left her for a younger woman and he and the OW were very much involved in the lives of Reba and her children.  That one gave me a few genuine laughs.

My favorite (I think.  For now anyway.) TV program featuring a divorced couple is The New Adventures of Old Christine.  This one featured Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a divorced mother, living with her younger brother (actually, her brother lives with her) while her ex-husband has moved on with a younger “New Christine”.  Admittedly, I probably like this one the best because I watched it the most.  I appreciate the humorous way Christine blunders about in the dating world as well as the mommy circles.  I like the obvious connection that remains between Christine and her ex.  It’s all very genuine as well as amusing.

Of course, I appreciate all of these entertainment options because they display a respectful and cooperative relationship between exes, even on the heels of a betrayal.  The children on these shows enjoy presence and positive relationships with both parents.  They aren’t coached to hate, they aren’t asked to pass notes.  It’s beautiful.

Ani Difranco once said, “Art may imitate life, but life imitates TV.”  As divorce gains more exposure in our society, I hope this statement holds true.

So… what TV programs did I miss?  I know there has to be more out there that are set in the wake of a separation.  What’s your favorite?

Book: Falling Apart In One Piece

The easiest way for me to consume books is to listen to them while I’m driving my car.  That’s how I absorbed the content of Stacy Morrison’s Falling Apart In One Piece:  One Optimist’s Journey Through The Hell of Divorce.  It made my daily commute a lot more enjoyable.  And…at times… awful.

I discovered Stacy Morrison at the Start Over Smart Divorce Expo earlier this year.  After hearing her speak, I vowed to read her book.  I read a lot of nonfictional-self-help-type divorce books.  This one was autobiographical as it was Stacy’s recollection of the process she went through after her husband came home from work one day and told her he was “done”.

On one hand, audiobooks kinda suck because I can’t page through the piece, highlight my favorite parts and quote them here.  On the other hand, it was somewhat of a treat to listen to Stacy tell me her story in her own words.  As she recounted the dramatic events, I identified with her initial bewilderment coupled with her strong work ethic and drive to perform regardless of what was happening at home.  As a mother, Stacy shared her joys as well as her hardships while navigating divorce with a young child.  She talked about the struggle to reconstruct her social life, the difficulties of vacationing as a single parent and the nights she spent crying on the kitchen floor.  It was all very raw and real— no sugar-coating.

What I appreciated most was Stacy’s attitude.  Even though her world was crumbling around her, she stayed strong and true to herself and her family.  She stated early on that she didn’t want to be the one who was right, nor did she want to be the one who was wronged (love, love, love that statement!).  What she wanted was peace and understanding.  She realized that she needed to create her own story- that she and her ex had to blaze a unique path through their separation instead of getting caught in the currents of animosity born from the jagged pasts and filtered frights of so many peers.

Of course, the journey to peace and understanding is never an easy one.  As Stacy shares the highlights of her divorce, she imparts the bits of wisdom she learned along the way— little lessons such as “You Don’t Get To Know Why, But Ask Anyway”, “Grief Is Not a Mountain, It Is a River” and my personal favorite, “Anger Hides Everything You Need To Feel To Get Past The Anger” (that mouthful so simply says it all).

Through the initial shock… the uncertainties… telling the family… picking up the pieces… the leaning… the crying… the angry outbursts… the journey is unique, yet the territory is not.  The story is familiar but not boring.  And the lessons hold true regardless of the path that led to their discovery.

I’m glad I found the time to observe Stacy’s process of Falling Apart In One Piece.  Did you read it?  Did you like it?  I’m open to discussion @relativevolutions, or my Facebook Page.

Healing Words of Truth

Earlier today I was listening to an interview between Cheryl Richardson and Iyanla Vanzant* and I heard something that caused me to hit the pause button and reflect for minutes on end…

They were discussing the concept of “no sacred cows” and stating that respect is always necessary, even in relationships with family members.  Iyanla was recounting a personal story involving a conflict with her grandson and she stated, as if she were speaking to him directly:

“I love you very, very much.  I love you.  And I have given you everything that I could.  Please forgive me if I wasn’t who you needed… I’m still gonna love you.  But I’m complete.”

Her sentiment struck me with a force I wasn’t prepared for.  My vision blurred with tears as I felt the sting of old wounds, awakened by her words.  How appropriate for separating couples, I thought.

Pain and anger so often drive us to declare war.  And what purpose does that serve?  Regardless of what side of the door you’re on, the truth is the same:  Love, though present, is not enough.  And we don’t need another person to make us whole.

The key to Peace is to find your Self and release the other person from your expectations.  Accept what is.  Breathe, love, forgive and move on.  You are complete.


*If you’re interested in the full interview, you can listen here.

And please excuse my ego for just a moment as I remind you that you can now follow my Facebook page for updates, blog posts and more.

I Sent Her Flowers

Yes, you read that right.  Last week, while celebrating my independence, I sent a dozen dark pink roses to The Other Woman.  Dark pink roses symbolize gratitude and I’m feeling rather grateful these days.

The snarky way of explaining my actions would be to say that my ex is an ass and I’m oh-so-happy that he is out of my life.  But those of you who know me know better.  I don’t believe in badmouthing exes.  In truth, this has nothing to do with him and very little to do with her.

I sent flowers because I was ready to put my money where my mouth is.  I was ready to “walk my talk”, to truly express appreciation for my current circumstances.

The flowers aren’t to say the hurt is gone.  It’s not.  My gesture doesn’t mean that I condone her tactics.  What she did was selfish, immature, unethical and downright destructive.  She caused an abundance of pain for a lot of people, and she was “blissfully joyful” about the outcomes of her efforts.

I think the Hurricane Analogy explains it best:  Everyone knows hurricanes cause mass devastation.  They level homes.  They uproot that which was once healthy and thriving.  Within a matter of hours, well-known landscapes become unrecognizable.  It sucks.  It really, really sucks.  However.  Anyone who has walked on the beach after a storm knows that this is when the ocean churns up some of her deepest treasures and places them at our feet.

I lost my home.  I lost my family.  Yet, as the sun rises on this new day, it warms away the cold, dark places and further illuminates the unforeseen gifts that otherwise would have remained buried.  I discovered a different perspective, some wonderful new friends and a few old dreams I forgot I had.  It’s enough to reclaim and rebuild my life.  And for that, I am thankful.