Last weekend, I attended the Start Over Smart Divorce Expo. It was the first in the region, so it’s kinda like I became part of a major historical event. I hope the idea catches on because the event was fabulous, on so many levels.
When I first heard about the expo, I marked my calendar and planned to attend both Saturday and Sunday, but BullyGirl’s medical bills caused me to rethink my plans from a financial perspective. I ended up taking the train into the city on Saturday afternoon, spending only one night in a Manhattan hotel and immersing myself in the expo all day on Sunday before departing that evening.
Saturday night, I attended the opening party. This was where I met Kyle Bradford, AKA Chopper Papa (as well as his lucky lady, The Queen), in person, for the first time. I was also delighted to meet Laura Campbell, founder of The D-Spot! The Huffington Post was there with a little stage set up so they could film stories for The Moment I Knew. You can see me among the confidently divorced in this video (too bad they got my name wrong). Having not been to the expo on Saturday, I was happy to speak with several people who had been, and told me that they were impressed with the amount of information they obtained. I couldn’t wait for Sunday…
…And Sunday didn’t disappoint me. I spent my first hour visiting the exhibitor booths before taking a seat in Theater #2 to hear Chopper Papa discuss his experience of becoming a single dad and dude. As he told the story of his divorce, he wove in the lessons he learned and urged the audience not to make some of the same mistakes he did. It was a highly relatable presentation.
I was only able to catch the Q&A following Cheryl Richardson’s keynote speech. I’m sorry I didn’t see the whole thing. Ms. Richardson’s presence, compassion and optimism were enough to make me hit the “like” button on her Facebook page.
One of my favorite presentations of the day was Stacy Morrison’s talk about claiming divorce for yourself. The reason being, of course, that I whole-heartedly agreed with much of what she said. As she spoke of her experience, she confessed to the pain and difficulties she faced. However, she and her ex cooperated throughout their divorce and today they remain bonded friends. She spoke about anger and how it hides those things we must feel in order to move on. She mentioned the people who asked about infidelity, as if that’s the only acceptable reason to end a marriage. Ultimately, her presentation was about staying true to herself and walking her own path instead of getting caught up in the dramatic labels and roles— right, wrong, heroes, victims, etc— that society assigns throughout the divorce process. She found her way.
Next I headed to a workshop led by Life Coach, Heidi Bernstein-Krantz. It was a simple and yet highly productive session in which attendees were asked to rate our level of satisfaction in various areas of our lives. We were then challenged to set one goal to accomplish over the next week that would increase our rating in one area by one point. My goal was to officially submit my manuscript, thus beginning the process of publishing my book (I said “was”… meaning, I did!).
After setting that goal, I joined Rosalind Sedacca for her presentation about how parents can avoid common mistakes made during divorce. We were fortunate to be joined by Ms. Sedacca’s son (now an adult, but he was 11 when the divorce happened), who took questions from the audience and spoke from his perspective. Rosalind and her ex had a unique and heartfelt way of breaking the news to their son through a personalized storybook which told the story of how they met, the life they shared, how much they love their son and the simple reasons why it’s best for them not to live together anymore. Isn’t that a great idea? You can order a similar book for your family here.
The last presentation I attended was like Heaven for a nerd such as myself. I was ashamed to be a few minutes late as I scurried into Paul McGinniss’s presentation about overcoming the extreme emotional aspects of divorce. I was delighted to discover that what he was saying wasn’t touchy-feeling chick stuff. He spoke instead about the evolution of the human brain. He used terms like “Lymbic System” and “Pre-Frontal Cortex” to explain why people get a little crazy during the divorce process. I thought his lesson in neuroscience was the perfect way to end the day.
The presenters weren’t the only stars of my experience. The following also makes my Favorites List for the expo:
- A New DAWNe… Theresa Dedovitch is a minister who conducts divorce ceremonies themed after the 4 elements. She can also help you plan an alternate event to commemorate your new place in life. Her approach is holistic and therapeutic and I am so going to contact her to talk more.
- Maria Coder wrote this book called InvesitDate. Is he really too good to be true? Be your own PI and find out.
- The Ultimate Divorce Organizer is the book written by Laura Campbell. While at the expo, I was able to flip through this masterpiece. All I can say is that the name serves it perfectly. Not only does the binder contain appropriately categorized information about what you’ll need, it also includes folders to help you stay organized.
- Shame on Jane will give you some simple and statemental new jewelry to take the place of your married bling. (I’m so intrigued by the name. I wonder who “Jane” is and why she is being shamed. I have my own thoughts…)
- I’m not going to single out the mediators and financial planners and real estate agents and professional stylists and organizers… but they were there too. And there were others… more than I can name in this post.
Overall, the expo was everything I thought it would be: a one-stop shop containing a multitude of information to help people navigate all aspects of divorce (not a meat market or a pity party). A little bit of fun, a little bit of glamour, a whole lot of useful information. I hope this is the start of a new trend. We need it.