Tipping “Normal”: Adult Singles in America

3567904905_66cf7378da_bOne by one—but as a singular collective group—we’ve tipped “normal.” For the first time since such data has been tracked, there are more single than married adults in the US. That “I’m the only one” feeling you had walking into your first post-divorce school meeting? No longer valid.

What does this mean? I’ll leave the ramifications of changing lifestyle choices and spending priorities to the economists, but this statistical verification that we are getting better at leaving legal unions than creating them reveals disjointed and turbulent times—where we can easily connect from an Internet-cloaked distance and yet live alone in a crowd of neighbors.

This isn’t really about marriage. It is instead, a vision of our growing disconnection—where “busy” has become the standard response to “How are you?” and slow-cooked conversations have become a luxury meal. With so many fast-flying opportunities, we’ve applied efficiency beyond its “intended use,” compressing relationships to fit available calendar windows instead of creating the space to grow them well. Mobility, efficient living and a lessened focus on fundamental connection skills has left many of us as unconnected islands—more archipelago than community.

An unfortunate career or financial choice, divorce, death, chronic illness… all of these can breed isolation and start a secluding spiral. From childhood “time outs” to penally-administered solitary confinement, isolation is a clear communication of “unacceptable.” For connection-craving creatures such as us, isolation grows loneliness, and lonely people often make desperate choices to fill the unwelcome emotional space—grabbing at unhealthy behaviors to pull their heads above water, no matter how they may ultimately harm themselves or others.  From the quiet individual tragedy of an unfulfilled life to the headline-generating disenfranchisement of a generation, lack of connection leaves too many with no lifelines to support, correction and perspective with which to find their way back.

Our new “normal must include purposeful connection—born of proactive kindness and intentional interactions. Rather than networking resources, we need to connect people. Not gathering them as knots to be used in our own ascent but rather, weaving them—one to another—into society’s fabric. This is how we will harness hope, create vision and channel volatile energy into forward momentum…because the difference-making handout will never come from a government or political entity. It will be the one we stretch out to the lonely one in need of a friend.

Date Like A Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends

 

5 Keys to Dating Like a Grownup

EonN5Keys5 Keys to Dating Like a Grownup

The Difference Between Dating and Dating Well

Single? Hello, your name is “Average American.” It turns out that there are a lot of us bypassing bulk food bargains in favor of single servings. In its August 2014 data report, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics revealed that for the first recorded time, more adults are unattached than married in America.

And often, the first instinct of the newly single adult is to be part of a couple again—maybe not in a marital, “let’s get this court-stamped” sort of way, but Dating? Sure. A new, better relationship? Please! And preferably, we’d like to be coupled up again before we’re passing green beans to Aunt Bev around the holiday dinner table.

But before you toss your online profile into the ring, it’s well worth gauging your dating readiness first. Otherwise, you risk treadmill dating—an emotional workout that will wear you out without moving your life forward.

Evaluate the following:

1) Who You Are Today. One of the worst bits of advice my widowed sister received as she reentered the dating arena was “don’t date anyone you wouldn’t have dated in high school!” Huh? While the intent was, perhaps, to encourage stability, the message—that we are somehow stuck in time with our “beginner self”—is ludicrous. You’ve changed. Picking someone who fits who you were will chafe against who you are now becoming.

2) Your Confidence. Have you brushed off the dirt and let the wound heal? A tumble in divorce court or the death of a spouse is trauma. There’s a rehab period. Racing back into dating too soon raises the likelihood of making need-based choices. These are non-sustainable space-fillers that will waste both time and energy. “I don’t want to be alone” decisions only create ruts from which to complain about our lack of good dating prospects. Using Dating as a life patch will work about as well as a spare tire on a road trip. Stabilize your vehicle before you begin the journey.

3) Your Financial Stability. Divorce rarely leaves us with a bigger bank account. Compromised goals and deferred dreams can be difficult to face—but do it. Come up with your own Plan B. If you’re aiming for a long-term sustainable relationship, don’t allow another person’s finances to impact their attractiveness. Your best insurance against using the dollar sign equivalent of “beer goggles” will be gaining traction on your own financial situation before you begin dating.

4) Acceptance. If the divorce playback still has a hero and a villain, you might want to wait for the remake. Rarely is a relationship breakdown a one-person debit. Most often, there has been an ongoing pattern—an accommodation of “unhealthy.” The divorce is either a continuation of the dysfunction or an attempt by one or both parties to break free of a rut-digging pattern. Bitterness and rearview regrets will sideswipe forward momentum.

5) Connection. “Great to meet you! Say, would you mind holding my hopes and dreams?” Yes, people do this. It most often happens with the disconnected as they mistakenly tie their future happiness to somebody else’s wagon. Guard against this by building connection—good old-fashioned, face-to-face friendships. Creating choices for yourself will allow you to say “no” without fear and “yes” without expectations. Life must be bigger than your next relationship for sustainable love to grow.

Originally published in Eyes On News | Lifestyle section.

 

Resolutions for Building a Bigger Life


Resolutions for Building a Bigger Life

Psst…It’s About Connection.

A bigger life. No, this isn’t a reference to carbo-loading before your next triathlon. Nor is it a call to upsize your house, number of dependents or credit card bill. Towards the end of holiday grazing season, it’s easy to focus on dress sizes over life sizes. But a bigger life, one that is rich in connection, will enable traction on long term goals such as legacy-building and dream achievement, creating credible paths to fulfillment and success.

People generally trek into one of two camps as January approaches: either methodically listing their New Year’s resolutions or categorically shaking their heads at such unmeasured optimism. But the majority of us will at least pause for a brief moment of reflection as we cross the border into a new year. For it’s a marker. A roadside sign that shows how far we’ve traveled and how far we’ve yet to go.

Every other “put your best foot forward” article is going to tell you to set goals for your health, finances and career —which is great advice. So do that. But consider that most of these laudable choices will be more effectively achieved with a powerful interpersonal support system.

So pause and measure. How connected are you? Forget the obligatory work comrades, neighbors with whom you have a nodding acquaintance and those sideline parents who are more of a “familiar face” than functional friend. Consider whom you interact with as opposed to those you stand or sit alongside. A life webbed with strong interpersonal connections holds more opportunities and is worthy of your time and effort to build. If you have a lengthy list of “should call” and “should do lunch” names buried under good intentions —it’s grow time.

Clear Space.

Who has the time? None of us. And yet making strong connections will actually save time in the long run. Your more fully developed network will provide you with recommendations for mechanics, accountants and new hires. It will be your backup when you have a sick child or no way to pick up your dog from the kennel. Your network will be both your sounding board and your fan club. Admit it. You need this. So it is well worth devoting calendar space to some connection time.

Choose Your Connections.

If all your friends work in HR or have matching company logo coffee mugs, you need to diversify your friendships. This is like having a team of quarterbacks. Who’s going to catch the ball? Surround yourself with women with varied careers and pursuits. You aren’t going to learn anything new from a high-heeled clone of yourself. And if you don’t know how to throw a decent dinner party —and hang out with similarly stunted friends— you aren’t going to eat very well on the weekends. Seek passion, conviction and commitment. Encircle yourself with accomplished or motivated-to-accomplish women. Energy sparks energy, so look for inner momentum. Solid positive connections will create bridges to anywhere you want to go.

Keep Your Eye on the Glass Ball.

Juggling too much? That sounds about normal. Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, once described multi-tasked living as a process of keeping rubber and glass balls in the air. While our tasks will differ, prioritizing our families requires that we designate them as one of the glass “do not drop” balls. Redesigning your kitchen is a rubber ball that will bounce. You may even be able to double dribble some of your lower priority social connections as well. But bubble-wrap your spouse/significant other and children and keep an attentive eye on that ball.

Find Two-fers.

One terrific strategy for creating connection time is to incorporate another tangent goal. You plan to hit the ground running in January? Literally? Then seek out a running buddy. But don’t stop there. Regular gym workouts with weight work will make the difference between getting older and aging gracefully, and may actually hold the process at bay for a while. Do your weight sets with a female friend to build in accountability and connection. Split the cost of a trainer and you’re making a more economical financial choice as well —all while growing a relationship with a like-minded friend.

Face-to-face.

Phone calls don’t count unless they’re punctuated by actual face-to-face communication. Choosing to create time for someone establishes esteem for both the individual and the relationship. Value your friendships, old and new, by scheduling regular coffees, lunches or happy hours. Aim to create at least two one-on-one friend spaces in each calendar week. And be open to spontaneous opportunities. Maintain growth by seeking out potential friends and business contacts and following through with at least an initial coffee. A certain number of relationships will fade through job, life or location changes —so continue planting seeds to maintain a continuous season of connection.

Grow Group Gigs.

Growing your connections can be as easy as setting up a regular, open-to-all happy hour meeting. Encourage friends to bring friends to multiply new mutually beneficial links. This low pressure, two-hour commitment will allow you to sift through “contacts” to choose “connections.” And by encouraging an inclusive atmosphere in which all are invited to invite, you create an infinity pool of professional and social possibilities.

Maintain an Inflow.

Yawn. Yes, sometimes. But it is difficult to grow a diverse network from an insulated workspace where time constraints force most of us to focus more on culling the flow into inbox, voicemail and calendar than on expanding our sources. Filtering is a necessity, but closing off the stream will eventually dry up the pond, so aim to schedule regular business/ social networking events. Remember that you don’t have to score a direct association at an event for it to be construed a success. Contacts have contacts (who have contacts) who could become a connection.

Be the Mentor.

Remember those early job interviews when you agonized over resume wording and sending the right message via your choice of pumps? There are women —on this very day— laying out conservative earrings and practicing a firm-gripped handshake and friendly greeting for tomorrow morning. Help them. You’ve earned your confidence. Share it with another. What’s in it for you? Connection to someone who will birth new ideas and improve what you’ve begun. And chances are quite good that you will learn something in the teaching of another.

Resist Connect-the-Dot Thinking.

It’s tempting to view connection as a connect-the-dot sort of endeavor, achieved by working a room with a fistful of business cards augmented by quick phone call “check-ins” between appointments to fan the flame of friendships. But it can —and should— be so much more. Instead of doing the time saving, quick tie knot —”Here’s my card. Let’s connect on LinkedIn”— focus on weaving connection into the fabric of your life. People themselves are the discoveries that lead to innovative ideas and solutions. Your key connections, male and female, will provide valuable support, provide affirmation, spark ideas and help you along the path to being your best self. Having reliable connections —ones you can occasionally lean on and, often, laugh with— is that valuable extra layer that will enable you to weather personal and professional squalls with dignity, grace and assurance. Building a bigger life through connection will perpetuate a better one.

How Can I Help My Stuck-in-a-Rut Spouse?

Author, Columnist, Speaker, Voiceover & Video Spokesperson

Cabernet Coach Connector

How Can I Help My Stuck-in-a-Rut Spouse?

Passed Over For Promotion

Dear Heather,

My husband is a firefighter. His dad and uncle are firefighters too, and it’s all he’s ever wanted to do. He was up for captain and had a good shot at it we thought, but he got passed over in favor of a guy with a little more seniority. My husband is devastated. I’ve never seen him like this. He can barely drag himself out the door to be at the station, and those guys are his buddies. He doesn’t want to do anything. Just comes home and watches TV on his off days. He said he’s not sure he’s cut out for the job anymore. What can I do??

Katie

Dear Katie,
Watching a loved one struggle for footing is painful. Every instinct within you wants to fix this situation over which you have no control. It can leave you feeling fairly helpless and hopeless yourself. Since you can’t change the disappointing circumstance or make him “snap out of it” — this is his journey — focus instead on helping him rediscover his own strength.

Remind him of whom he is. This was a big ego blow. He may need to be reminded of his capabilities in very specific terms. Avoid “Oh honey, you’re great” in favor of “You are such a great communicator” or “The guys really know they can count on you.” He was just told — in his mind — that he isn’t good enough. Help him pivot the picture to where he can clearly see his assets. In time, perhaps you can discuss the qualities he might develop to put him in a better position for the next promotion.

Remind him of why he loves his job. His “saves” are about much more than retaining a key account or project — he’s an everyday hero willing to put his life on the line for complete strangers. Recalling specific successes he has been a part of will tap into the emotional highs and sense of responsibility that drew him into such a demanding profession. His job gives him the ability to save lives and property. He’s a life-changer. Help him remember why he puts on the uniform.

Remind him that he has your support. Tell him you believe in him, that you love him and that you understand he is going through a difficult time. Don’t push the happy face, but look for openings to reinforce any positive responses and steps he’s able to take. Avoid denigrating the new captain or the decision-makers. Instead, help him hold his head up by listening to his disappointment and sitting next to him for a couple of evenings while he sits and mentally sorts via bad TV escapism. Suggest physical activity, a movie, dinner out, etc. Eventually he’ll be ready to roll out of his rut.

If he can’t seem to shake this defeat from squashing his enjoyment of life, suggest professional counseling and discuss if there are other real reasons he needs to make a career change, but chances are that time and your support will help him reset and move forward.

Heather

Originally published at Salary.com.

Stuck in “launch” mode? Unsure of your best option in navigating a workplace issue? Looking for perspective on a critical relationship? Or maybe you’re one of the new—often isolated—single majority seeking next steps for this next stage of life… Send an email and your question may be answered in one of Heather’s columns.

7 Ways to Lead in Business and Basketball

KDurant7 Ways to Lead in Business and Basketball

Kevin Durant’s emotional acceptance of the 2014 NBA MVP award transcended sports and speeches. The Oklahoma City Thunder power forward delivered an eloquent acceptance speech spotlighting his supporting cast, revealing the heart of a true leader, and offering a glimpse into one of the more successful teams in the highly competitive world of professional basketball.

The star athlete’s speech illustrated key elements that can be real game changers in leading a successful team. Here are the big points to take to the office.

Connection Breeds Collaboration.
Durant’s speech has been lauded for the very personal manner in which he thanked others, and Durant focused almost exclusively on valued relationships. “When something good happens to me, I tend to look back at what brought me here.”

A good team draws strength from the relationships between its players. Employee interactions will either foster company success or drain positive momentum. When management actively promotes good employee relationships, it creates an atmosphere conducive to idea generation with better receptivity to constructive criticisms and greater shared motivation toward common goals.

The Little Things Count.
The quick email acknowledgment of an employee’s contribution to a big project, a public “good job” to the gal who brought in a key new client, the pause to say “hello” en route to the elevator — these things might seem little to you, but they’re not. Yes, we toil for paychecks, but small kindnesses prompt bigger efforts.

Durant mentions the special pre-game handshakes that “get him going” and better prepared him for the game. What little thing will spark your regional sales manager to better coach her team? What small encouragement might prompt your assistant personnel director to generate more effective training material?

Little things play a big part in creating and maintaining a positive company culture. Want to attract top candidates? The employees you already have will generate much of the positive (or negative) buzz on social media and in your industry.

Culture of Inclusiveness.
More than once, KD spoke to newer team members, saying, “You just got here” and “I didn’t know who you were…” Immediately, he went on to describe each newcomer’s unique value to the team and to him personally.

Change can be a hard sell. How easy is it for newcomers to assimilate into your company culture? Is your team so tight that it’s slow to warm up to new hires? Consider the drag an exclusionary atmosphere might create on ramp up times for new team members. Employees will generate better results—sooner—when they’re solidly welcomed to a team.

Cultivate Potential.
Throughout a childhood marked by challenges and even teasing for his rim-reaching height, Durant didn’t recognize his own potential. The NBA star’s early dreams extended no further than coaching underprivileged kids in rec league basketball. That’s why, in his speech, Durant thanks those who believed in him before he believed in himself.

How actively do you facilitate employee development? Hiring the right talent is good. A continued focus on growing the human assets of your business is better.

Ignored employee potential represents untapped skill and talent that could be working for your company’s future success. Unrecognized and underutilized talent will wither into wasted opportunity — or be hired away to a competitor. A visionary leader may note unconnected skills and bridge them to enable an employee to expand his contribution.

Be Specific With Praise.
Even with callouts to more than two-dozen individuals, Durant avoided generalities and was very specific in citing unique contributions. Particular memories—of a note from teammate Caron Butler, of GM Sam Presti’s late night text messages—and mentions of players’ unique personal qualities, added authenticity to Durant’s gratitude.

Specific praise lands with more sincerity and effect than general appreciation. Keeping notes of laudable actions will make it easier for a manager to positively reinforce—and motivate—his or her employees.

Culture of Excellence.
“You elevate my game.”

Durant recognized the high caliber play of others pushed him to a higher level of achievement. He cited teammates’ work ethic, consistency, and hard driving competitiveness as significant factors in making him a scoring champion. He recognized his mom’s tenacity and the investment of the coaching staff in pushing him toward excellence.

Professionalism indicates competence and builds confidence. It can show up in the less obvious details like a clean break room and grammatically correct emails. Even if outside the public eye, tolerance of a “B effort” will eventually bleed into public image and company productivity and innovation.

Value high performance over perfection in individuals, while realizing the efforts of multiple highly capable individuals collaborating on common goals should result in near perfect work. And work with everyone to make sure the little details are consistent with your big picture.

Be A Team Player.
While the trophy bears Kevin Durant’s name, his words made it clear he considers it to be another team effort and a shared victory. His mom, his teammates, the coaching staff, and many more were included as critical components of his success.

Celebration is both bonding and inspiring. In larger companies, the magnitude of a key success is often diluted into a featured paragraph in the monthly newsletter or as happy gossip in the elevator. Generously tabulating the contributions of many and including them in a business success expands the motivating impact of a victory.

Originally published at Salary.com:

Photo Credit: ShuttrKing|KT via Compfight cc

9 Ways Job Interviews are Like Online Dating

9 Ways Job Interviews are Like Online Dating:

A List of Things That are Unlucky in Love and Job Search.

HD1At first glance, dating and job interviews don’t seem to have much in common. But as I was writing “Date Like a Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends,” I began noticing missteps common to both endeavors.

Are you coming off as desperate? Bad-mouthing an ex? Turns out there’s a lot job seekers can learn from going on first dates and online dating in general. So when you’re headed to see the hiring manager, remember these hard-learned lessons from the front lines of dating.

Don’t Be Desperate
The most common cause of poor dating choices is loneliness and the fear of being alone. An empty space on Friday night’s calendar leads many to pick anybody over nobody at all, starting downward spirals that lead to even lonelier places.

Similarly, the first instinct of the newly unemployed is to do a panic grab towards any position that might fill that 8-5, Monday-Friday space in their workweek. Better to breathe first, assess second and then make strategic moves. Desperation repels. Cloudy thinking will waste time, energy and opportunity. Rather than react, make a thoughtful choice.

Don’t Be Irrelevant
One of the biggest hindrances for the newly single is navigating changes in the dating landscape. If the previous relationship was of significant length, they must contend with the new phenomenon of “social obsolescence” and actively upgrade their connection skills.

Similarly, the unemployed must advance their professional skills to compete in a job market with openings for only forty percent of active seekers. Come-from-behind victories are hard work — better to stay well versed on industry trends and to keep your professional/social connections active and solid.

Don’t Dwell on Shortcomings
You want to stand out? Be you. A vague or overly general self-assessment guarantees you’ll blend in, but wallflowers are last to dance and slow to be hired. You can’t have every skill. While highly desirable, that would be equally unbelievable. So instead, be specific about where and how you excel.

On dating sites, this translates into profiles that display genuine personality. On a resume, that means focusing on your “star quality” attributes, and showcasing those top talents to fit the job to which you’re applying.

Face-to-face? Don’t apologize for your lack of managerial experience. Instead, draw attention to your creative initiative.

Don’t Wear Rose-colored Glasses
If you start dating someone who is constantly traveling on business, then you can’t get mad down the road when you’re unfulfilled. And if your date asked for bail money the first time you talked but you didn’t heed the warning sign, that’s on you.

This kind of wishful thinking and seeing only what we want to see can lead to interviews at companies with negative histories, into too-good-to-be-true scenarios, and other employment situations in which perception doesn’t match reality.

Do a little research online and within your network so you can lead with your head instead of your heart.

Don’t Compromise Too Much
A little flexibility is good but know when to hold firm. What can you live with? What can’t you live without? Too much pliability is a set-up for failure.

Some singles are so eager for coupledom, they’ll load up on Benadryl to welcome the allergy-inducing cat. But reality and resentment are great levelers. Better to be real, both in love and in your job search.

If this job is only about money, think long and hard. Do you see a job or a career path? Is it more of a stepping-stone to something better and less of an ideal, long term match? Plan accordingly.

Don’t Go It Alone
You’re going to do this alone? Seriously? Don’t think so.

Adult singles fare poorly compared to those who have a support network to yank them back from emotional disasters. Similarly, job seekers who have mentors and supportive colleagues will make better choices and find better opportunities. That big buzzword “networking” is really just about making genuine connections—building your own community that will stand ready to help you.

Don’t Be Dishonest
Failure to portray oneself in an accurate and positive light is one of the biggest problems in both online dating and job search.

If you’ve been on a blind date, you’ve likely uttered the phrase “He/She doesn’t look at all like the picture.” Either that shot was taken 10 years ago during better times, or it’s just made up. Likewise, if you embellished your resume, work experience, or skills to the point you could be considered a fake, you’re going to be found out — and summarily dismissed.

It sounds trite, but be yourself. Sure it may not work out because not everyone (or every job) is a good fit, but at least be honest.

Don’t Be Selfish
Ever been on a date that’s been completely one-sided, in that the other person won’t stop talking about him/herself long enough to even consider finding out about you? Being so focused on yourself doesn’t lead to many second dates, and the same holds true when it comes to job search.

While it’s essential to spotlight your achievements and general excellence during a job interview, there has to be more than that. Hiring managers will ultimately based their decision not on what you’ve done in the past, but how you fill a crucial company need in the future. That means listening to what the company needs and making a legitimate effort to be of service.

It’s a two-way street.

Don’t Be Something You’re Not
Blithely comment, “It’s not you, it’s me” to a roomful of singles and watch the eye rolls. But it’s often true—in both dating and the hiring process.

Being the most skilled financial auditor won’t lift your resume over the moderately qualified actuary applying for a valuation modeling position at a life insurance company. He fits the job, you don’t. And wrong fit jobs lead to unhappy employees, dissatisfied employers and a rapid rewrite of the resume.

Squeezing yourself to fit the wrong job increases your chances of failure, or, even worse, a cycle of short tenure positions. Be real on what each of you offer and require.

Originally published at Salary.com.

Divorce: Dead-end or Detour?

BenchMore men and women are finding themselves in alternate lives they didn’t really plan for. And they’re discovering that…maybe, they didn’t pack so well. Even the most amicable divorce—and few marital disconnects end in a happy handshake—can strand the unprepared on the other side of forty like a roadside ex-con palming the stub of a one-way bus ticket.

As painful as a public display of private dysfunction may be, for many, it’s what comes after the divorce that isolates, derails and depresses opportunity. All those years of raising kids while pursuing a career and growing a marriage—well, being married at least—didn’t leave much time for building more than a basic carpool-based support system. And an abrupt deposit into the fortieth, fiftieth or sixtieth decade of life absent a spouse—at a time any offspring are branching into their own separate lives can be alarming. Addressing basic changes such as housing, finances, insurances and legal ramifications is all consuming. When there is finally time to survey the new landscape, the midlife single may find that, after final social divisions, his or her circle of friends is more of a desolate dot at the edge of a crowded canvas.

Somehow, this feels shameful. No friends? Well you should have thought of that back in your thirties before you started cocooning with the hubby and kids. Now, well…it’s a little too late.

And it can feel that way. Handholding couples drift by, and all the others are in such a hurry… It’s not like anyone advertises “Friends Needed,” so the midlife single often sticks to the shadows of life—living “on pause” until they regain the “couple’s pass” for a merge back into society. This is a dangerous time for the isolated, because loneliness makes fools of us all. Looking for a relationship with which to bridge reentry often leads to more unhealthy connections, second and third divorces and diminished confidence.

Many give up, settling for cyclical shallow relationships or for silent, solitary lives. Depression can move in like heavy cloud cover. And while these single adults may have more time for careers, they’re unlikely to be performing at top capacity—insulation tends to stifle innovation and creativity.

The answer? Purposeful connection. Acting as a bridge for others, whether they be divorced, widowed, newly transplanted or simply isolated. Because this isn’t a government issue. It’s a (lack of) community issue. Which make it my issue and your issue.

Here are my three drops in the bucket:

1) Cabernet Coaches. Weekly all-inclusive “women only” gatherings that create opportunities for friendships and built-in connecting time. This is not an “until I find a relationship” commitment—it’s a lifetime, “Yay for the Girls!” celebration. Every Wednesday.

2) Coed Cabernet Nights. Informal come-one, come-all weekend get-togethers. With a broadcast email to selected connections and an open invitation to friends of friends, we gather and branch out. This isn’t a couples or singles event—it’s a “people” night. The focus is on connection rather than any relationship attachment—and the coed “cabernet” is more likely to be a lager.

3) Inclusive Readiness and Proactive KindnessBusyness has enabled a culture of polite oblivion—our eyes skirt past those at the fringes of life to follow the more engaging action in the middle. We’re planning next steps, future conversations and treading schedules that don’t allow our feet to touch down! We are isolating ourselves and quite frankly—in our race toward the horizon, we’re missing the journey’s innate joy. Inclusive readiness requires peripheral vision—an alertness to others. Proactive kindness is the action step—the willingness to pause for engagement.

Without effort, our worlds contract. Without calendar space, our connections atrophy. Without awareness, the divorce detour can be a dead end. Only through connection can the divorced and widowed build bigger, better lives.

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