7 Tips for Getting a Friend Through a Divorce

When the Dalai Lama says that his religion is kindness, you may think that he’s being a little simplistic. But have you considered what it means to be kind? It means really listening to others, allowing your friends to open their hearts and listening to their problems without judging them, then finding the right response that may lead them gently in a new direction.

 A classic time to be truly kind is when one of your friends is going through a relationship breakup. The end of a relationship is one of the most difficult upheavals many people will ever face. It’s an emotional roller coaster that you would like to help your friend survive, but how do you do that?

 Here are 7 tips for how you can help your friend navigate this emotional mine field.

  1. Be careful not to assign blame. Your friend may be blaming his soon-to-be ex, thus fanning the flames of anger. Or he might be blaming himself for failing to keep the relationship alive and healthy, and is angry at himself and guilt-ridden. You can remind him that not all relationships are meant to last forever, and the romantic relationship can transform into one of friendship, which is especially important if children are involved. Suggest he find a place where he can express his anger safely and release his guilt, such as in group therapy.
  2. Encourage your friend to express her feelings, whatever they are. If she’s being stoic, remind her that emotions that aren’t expressed can get trapped in the body where they can do physical harm. She can take up beating pillows or kick boxing or going down to the beach to holler at the waves, whatever it takes to let the emotions run their course.
  3. Help him understand that this is a period of significant loss. Loss of a significant other can be worse than death, and requires a mourning period and great personal adjustment. Grief is normal. He may be losing all their mutual friends, where he lives, even his pets. Remind him he has the opportunity to gain a better understanding of who he is by himself, without having to defer to another, an understanding of what he really wants in life, and what he needs to do in order to heal himself. All of which require time.
  4. Reassure your friend that her sex life doesn’t end when the relationship does; in fact, it may improve. She is still attractive (no matter how old she is) and worthy of finding love again, when she is ready. Her self-esteem need not be lessened by divorce, and there’s no need to “prove” her desirability by jumping into another relationship right away. And if your friend is of the gender of your own preference, don’t think jumping into bed with him/her is an act of kindness, it’s not. Stick to being friends without “benefits.”
  5. Help him with practical matters that may be new to him, like setting up a kitchen and cooking. He’d probably love help with moving, getting settled in the new place and making new friends. Above all, stay in touch with him so he doesn’t feel alone.
  6. It’s very therapeutic to watch others going through the same things you are. Watch movies with your friend that can help her express what she’s feeling, from “The First Wives Club” and “War of the Roses” to “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Waiting to Exhale,” “The Squid and the Whale,” “Wonder Boys,” and a host of others.
  7. We all “get by with a little help from our friends.” Be the friend who can make your friend laugh.

As Oprah has said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” Now that’s the kindness of a true friend.


See Me, Love Me, Vote for Me

There is a special pleasure that comes with being recognized, when the spotlight shines on your hard work and turns it into a moment of glory. Nowadays, those moments can be broadcast instantly across the globe since most of us are plugged into our digital devices constantly. Your rising star can be shot into the limelight through the many outlets of social networking and internet sites.

You have a book you want to publish? While the publishing industry reinvents itself, you can put your e-book online and be an instant author. You have a song, or a whole album full of songs, you want heard? Put them online. You have opinions and insights that you’re sure everyone is waiting to hear? Roll out your blog. Got nothing you want to share with the world? How about voting for somebody else’s big moment? The next American Idol, the next big star with the X Factor, the next big Voice is dependent on your vote.

Suddenly, everyone counts. Everyone has a say in what’s happening. What does it all mean?

We all want to be seen, to be known, to be recognized for who we are. In fact, we not only want it, we need it. Social acceptance is the cornerstone of our self-concept, the vital ingredient in cooking up a positive identity. We thrive when others look at us with high regard. Every kindergarten teacher knows this.

But nowadays we live in a virtual world. We often have “virtual dates” before we ever meet face to face. In a world that pushes us to accomplish more and more on a daily basis—tackling overwhelming to-do lists while taking in more and faster images and information than ever before—the human dimension of seeing and appreciating each others’ unique gifts can shrink. With our fingers poised over a keyboard and our eyes glued to a screen, the river of kindness and care that should flow between individuals, the simple act of listening to and expressing gratitude for one another, can dry up. You can be left with an unnamed thirst for real connection to another human being.

We are, after all, social creatures who thrive when we have a sense that we belong. To the degree we lack a vital sense of belonging, we can feel isolated, alienated from any social network. When we are listened to and heard, our biochemistry stabilizes. Empathy is a healing force, yet a society that is constantly on “push” mode runs roughshod over our vulnerability, the space we need in order to really hear someone else. For many a fame- and attention-seeker, the need to grab the limelight is a symptom of a much deeper desire.

Perhaps this explains the growing fascination with grabbing that coveted 15 minutes of fame. American Idol and its clones, reality TV, Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube all feed into the collective thirst for belonging. But does that 15 minutes of fame or a 140-character rave review really quench your deep thirst? Or is it a substitute for the real thing—a deep soul connection that satisfies your true longing to be embraced in your wholeness.

A powerful practice that can break your sense of isolation and heal the place where you feel alienated is expressed in a bumper sticker slogan: Practice Random Acts of Kindness. This is the most basic means by which you can be the change you want to see in the world.

Next time you feel impatient or angry toward a stranger—you know, one of those people you are not “friends” with—try this experiment. Challenge yourself to let go of any negative interpretations of another’s behavior and give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Even though your knee-jerk response may be annoyance or frustration, note that you are assuming ill-will on their part. Did you respond in kind without much thought? For example, if someone cuts you off on the freeway, watch your reaction closely. Do you automatically shout, “You %&#@!”? Do you pre-suppose the driver did this to annoy you, rather than considering that perhaps you were in his blind spot when he went to change lanes? Or that he’s so upset about his father’s recent passing, that’s he’s blind with grief?

What we often don’t realize is that when we react with anger or annoyance toward another, when we judge or are unkind toward another, we also hurt ourselves. That’s right, you hurt yourself with judgment because the ill-will is occurring in your mind. Think about it. You judge another harshly, you zoom in on their faults, tally up the score, and decide they have in one way or another failed or lost. What have you gained? A sense of superiority? A boost in your confidence at the expense of hers? And what is the state of your mind? Are you full of love and peace and understanding? The truth of this situation can give you a new and, in a sense, entirely selfish motivation for practicing kindness.

Here’s another experiment. The next time you catch yourself judging someone, shift your attention and focus on what is beautiful or skillful about that person. Zoom in on details that can be celebrated and encouraged. Offer that person your approval by seeing him or her in the highest light possible. Now take note of the condition of your mind. You have just tapped into what I like to think of as the river of Ultimate Approval.

You have within your heart and mind the ability to quench that deep thirst for being seen, for being recognized for who you are, and the best way to start is simply to give your approval to someone else.

Applause. Applause.


Breast Cancer: First comes fear

First comes fear. You felt a lump while showering. You got called back for additional tests after your mammogram. You heard the doctor say surgery and chemo and radiation and your mind went blank. Thank goodness someone was with you in the office. The train of your life, which was on one track, has jumped the rails and gone in a totally different direction. You have breast cancer. Or your mother, or sister, or daughter, or best friend has breast cancer.

Is there anyone who doesn’t know at least one woman who has battled this disease? The statistics show that one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Over 200,000 new cases were expected to be diagnosed in 2010, as well as over 50,000 cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, more than 1 in 4 cases will be breast cancer. And 40,000 women were expected to die in 2010 from this disease.

So fear arises: Will I die? Who will care for my children? How will I afford treatment? Will I still be able to work? Will I lose my breast(s)? My hair? Will I feel like a woman?

I know what it feels like to hear the words: You have cancer. Mine was cervical cancer, which also dealt with a vital part of the female anatomy. I know the fears. I know the way cancer changes your life.

Many of the celebrities we admire know the same fears, and many have served as incredible examples of courage and dedication to the cause of raising awareness of breast cancer. Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie), the original Charlie’s Angels Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith, singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, activist and co-founder of Ms. Magazine Gloria Steinem,  fashion designer Betsey Johnson, pop star Kylie Minogue, Suzanne Somers, Good Morning America cohost Robin Roberts, Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon, singer-songwriter Carly Simon, TV journalist Cokie Roberts, Olympic ice-skating champ Peggy Fleming, cohost of Today Hoda Kotb (who let cameras track her treatment), actress Christina Applegate, Olivia Newton-John, Oscar winner Dame Maggie Smith . . . the list goes on. And who could forget Melissa Etheridge’s courage at the 2005 Grammy Awards in rocking Janis Joplin while bald from chemo?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What can you do to prevent or deal with the effects of breast cancer? What changes can you make in your lifestyle now that will make a difference? Where can you get support? How can you best help a friend or relative as she battles breast cancer? Do alternative treatments and complementary energy medicine help? There is much to think about. Try to put the fears aside so you can do the research and take charge of your own health. There is life beyond the fear.

Cancer, as I discovered in my own journey, does not have to be a totally negative experience. I value it as a force that changed the direction of my life in a very positive way. Join me in helping to bring new awareness to breast cancer.


What do the colors in your aura mean?

Everyone has an aura—the colors that portray the electromagnetic field that emanates out from the human body. Of course, every living thing and every object in the world also have auras, as we are all composed of particles of vibrating energy. In a person, the aura extends out about 2-4 feet from all sides of the body (as well as above the head and below the feet) in an egg-shaped field.

I teach how to sense auras and what the colors indicate about someone’s feelings, thoughts, behavior, and health. Once trained, you’ll be able to sense where imbalance exists and what needs to be corrected. Keep in mind that you can sense colors, using your whole body, and that “seeing” is less reliable than whole body sensing.

So what do the colors of the aura mean? There are some generalizations, but there are many gradients of colors, each with subtle differences in meaning. For example, the color red in the aura often relates to the life-force of the physical body, including the heart and circulation. We usually associate red with the first chakra, and indeed a deep red can indicate that someone is well-grounded, realistic, or oriented to survival.

Red is the densest of all colors, which means it can create the most friction, as in anger, anxiety, or obsessions. But look at the range that is possible: a muddied red can point to anger, while a clear red is powerful and passionate—just think of a woman who can carry off wearing a bright orange-red dress: she’s confident about herself and her sensuality. If it’s a bright and clear color, chances are that person has a healthy ego.

When red veers off into pink, new meanings arise. If the pink is light and bright, there may be a new romantic relationship happening. Or it can indicate clairaudience, artistic leanings, sensitivity, or tenderness. A murky dark pink, on the other hand, shows that the person may be immature or have a dishonest nature. A dusty pink can mean that someone is being “nice” instead of being “real.”

Each of the colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, as well as gold, silver, black and white, and earth colors—can change constantly, depending on your mood, what’s happening in your life, and what you’re up to at any given moment. Those who are trained to “read” auras have to have a lot of flexibility in their interpretations because different tones of the same color can have such different meanings. There is also confusion caused when someone else’s energy is in the aura.

Be careful of believing what someone tells you about your aura unless you totally trust that person’s abilities and integrity. It takes a lot of intuitive wisdom to interpret the colors of your aura.