Live in the present, don’t relive the past. Honor the relationship for bringing you to this day, for your kids, and any other memories you would like to remember. The relationship is a part of you but you get to decide how much a part of your narrative it makes up.
As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Paulina Szafranski, Vice President of Kris Kenny Connections a high-end matchmaking service, and a 20-year marketing and branding development expert with a passion for spirituality.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I was born in Warsaw, Poland, and moved to Denver, Colorado with my parents in the early ’80s, where I then grew up my entire life. I was raised Catholic but started studying Kabbalah for my spirituality in my mid-20s which has had a big impact on my life since. I attended the University of Colorado with the ambition of being a fine artist or writer, before starting my career in marketing. Growing up in Arvada, a quiet suburb outside of Denver, I wanted to see the world and once I was old enough I always made travel a priority. Starting at the age of 19 I was comfortable traveling overseas by myself and that instilled a lifelong love of travel in me that only grew momentum.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My love of bringing people together through personal introductions and events from a young age, lead me to an interest in how people make decisions on which events they will attend, which restaurant they will eat at or which product they are likely to buy. It was a very organic approach to the psychology behind consumer decisions that brought me to a career in marketing/branding and most recently to becoming a high-end matchmaker.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
One of my favorite stories was when Lotus Concepts Entertainment agreed to let me secure a new musical artist that my friend in the music industry turned me on to for a club appearance. The cost at the time was 2,500 dollars for 3 songs performed at the upscale nightclub Suite 200 on Larimer Square after the artist’s headlining concert. I remember I was particularly nervous that day, which was uncharacteristic of me as I had booked dozens of famous performers at that point in my career. That evening during the final soundcheck and leading up to the event, for some reason I just knew this booking would stand out in my mind for years to come. Right before the doors opened the manager and I noticed a part of the staging had become a bit loose and we needed a thin long metal screw to re-enforce the stability. There was no time to go buy one so we improvised with the prong of a standard metal kitchen fork. During the entire robust performance with the singer and her two backup dancers, I just prayed the stage would hold up. The artist was Lady Gaga.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It was the opening night of the A Bar lounge in the Union Station and I had advertised a fashion show as the night’s main attraction. The concept’s interior designer, Jeffrey Elliot, was good friends with the top hair artist Charlie Price and as a favor secured him to not only do all the hair and makeup but also produce the fashion show which I was very grateful for since up to that point I had not executed a full professional fashion show. I put my efforts on marketing and all the details that go into a grand opening. With a few hours to the doors being open to the public, the producer asked me when the staging would arrive. I had not ordered staging because I thought the show was more of a trunk show style. I was mortified that I had ruined the fashion show, the grand opening, not to mention two important relationships. Luckily, both Charlie and Jeffrey were super nice about it and we made it work to present a flawless show. I definitely learned to create a production sheet no matter how small or big the event from that point on.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
This quote has served me for the last few years because of its simplicity and purity that really resonates with me.
“The favored Daughter, beloved by the Creator.” This quote is from a portion in the Zohar. The number one thing that has helped me consistently rise above any chaos in my life has been spirituality and I found that spirituality and my connection to God through Kabbalah. That quote in particular reminds me that my relationship with the Creator is like one likened to a father and beloved daughter, which I know well being an only child and being especially close to my dad. At one point I wrote this on a sticky note and had it on my computer to remind myself everyday to keep trying and God would take care of the outcome in work, in my relationships, in parenting. I just had to make a genuine effort first and not give up.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, I am happy to announce, as of January 2021 I accepted the Vice President position at Kris Kenny Connections, providing first-class match-making services. I have been friends with Kris for years as well as one of her clients. I am really excited we are joining forces. My most exciting project has been becoming and being a mom. Since my son was born May of 2017, every decision I make includes him in some respect. It has been so fulfilling to change my perspective and priorities since his birth.
Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a bit about your experience going through a divorce, or helping someone who was going through a divorce? What did you learn about yourself during and after the experience? Do you feel comfortable sharing a story?
My experience was going through a separation when my son was only 6 months old and I learned how strong I was and it was a great reminder of the mom I want to continue being and the values I want to teach my son growing up. I learned to also ask friends and family for help if I was faced with an obstacle that seemed overwhelming like finding a perfect new home and all the challenges of starting a new business at the time. The story that sticks out to me is I was on my daily walk at Washington park with my son sleeping in his stroller and had just gotten off my phone with my business lawyer about a potentially contentious situation and after the call, I was emotionally drained and overwhelmed. As I continued my walk, 5 feet ahead, approaching me at that exact moment, were two good friends also on a walk. They asked me what was wrong and I shared my challenges including finding a new home and that I felt overwhelmed to even start looking. One friend gave me the contact of her movers and the other friend put me in touch with her apartment manager in her luxury highrise in Cherry Creek North, I moved into my new home two weeks from that encounter in the park.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
Biggest mistake is blaming the other person for the divorce/ separation. I wish I had taken the position, regardless of why the relationship failed, I have responsibility for it being in my movie. I allowed the relationship to happen to this extent therefore I am just as responsible for where we are now. I think removing as much emotion and ego from the situation and looking at facts is a great way to move ahead.
People generally label “divorce” as being “negative”. And yes, while there are downsides, there can also be a lot of positive that comes out of it as well. What would you say that they are? Can you share an example or share a story?
The experience of separation gave me the opportunity to be optimistic again that I would meet and marry my soulmate. For me, it was a new beginning and I knew it was up to me to make different choices in the future. It allowed me to rewrite my criteria for a life-long partner and also to redefine my non-negotiables. Through Kabbalah, I have learned that the Creator presents us with opportunities for our soul to learn lessons, if we ignore those opportunities they resurface in our lives until we eventually learn them, the more missed lessons the more painful the lesson that will continue to present itself.
Some people are scared to ‘get back out there’ and date again after being with their former spouse for many years and hearing dating horror stories. What would you say to motivate someone to get back out there and start a new beginning?
Know your new dating boundaries and comfort level. I am too traditional to ever use a dating app or online platform, the idea has never appealed to me. I decided to go through a professional match-making service, because I knew the people I would get set up with were interested in a serious relationship so you both have that in common from the start. I could also give my criteria to the match-maker and have her do the work, including background checks and compatibility. That is how Kris Kenny and I reconnected and eventually discussed working together. I am now even more particular than ever about finding someone who is kind and works on his personal transformation, first and foremost. I would also advise to give yourself time and don’t feel bad politely declining date invitations before you are ready to date again. Be patient, it is a process. I have been very selective as to whom I accept dates with, quality over quantity. I don’t have to explain myself. I think a mistake I have seen women and men do is just jump right into a new relationship, just to be in a relationship, then when that one is not right jump into the next relationship that presents itself. I would suggest going on a lot of dates with people first. Slow to hire, quick to fire. Wait until someone amazing comes along. In the meantime do all the things you imagine yourself doing if you were in a romantic committed relationship. Take yourself on dates, buy fresh flowers for the house, travel to dream destinations. Overall remind yourself of your worth and don’t settle!
What is the one thing people going through a divorce should be open to changing?
Your lifestyle and budget. The first year after my separation I made a few changes to my budget but not enough! List all of your expenses and make sure you are comfortable with the new costs and financial responsibilities. Recognize the things that matter to you and still budget them in but cut back where you can to always be financially independent.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Put your health first both, mental and physical health. My 45 minute daily walks or workouts have from the beginning been crucial to my optimism. Even when I have my son, which is the majority of the week, I am creative and incorporate my son into the workout. We do a Fit4Mom Stroller Strides class outside or do a streamed Tracy Anderson Recess workout class for moms and toddlers or just go on a nice walk to the playground. I also try fun new things to reconnect with my soul like daily meditation and a Crystal Bed healing session in which I choose to be connected with my soulmate energy. It was life-changing.
- The divorce or separation was a finite point on your timeline. It does not define you.
- Live in the present, don’t relive the past. Honor the relationship for bringing you to this day, for your kids, and any other memories you would like to remember. The relationship is a part of you but you get to decide how much a part of your narrative it makes up.
- Volunteer or find another way to give back to your community. When you are busy helping others is when the universe takes care of you.
- Find a life mentor or teacher, for me, my Kabbalah teacher, Yehuda Dan, helped me look at the big picture instead of focusing on the details of the separation. Those bi-monthly phone calls were amazing at keeping me accountable for my growth.
The stress of a divorce can take a toll on both one’s mental and emotional health. In your opinion or experience, what are a few things people going through a divorce can do to alleviate this pain and anguish?
Try to find some humor in the whole thing, I know for me at one point due to outrageous lawyer fees I was frustrated and I just made myself see the humor in how I got myself to that point! I wasn’t hard on myself, I just spoke to myself in a tone that I would a beloved child that made a Play-Doh mess in the living room, “Well, what do we have here?” I recognized the mistake of spending too much money on professionals I mistakenly thought had my best interest and moved on to a new solution. Next.
At the very beginning following the separation instead of texting my friends a few times a day with new “developments”, that were probably only of interest to me, I found a great therapy and counseling app, Talkspace, first mentioned in Departures Magazine. You can text your assigned therapist as much as you want a day, granted they were only required to reply once a day but a great resource just to vent. At a fraction of the cost of seeing a therapist in person and more convenient.
I also started attending performances at the Colorado Symphony more. The music was a great escape and I met like-minded individuals from attending the shows.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
My go-to podcast is the “Weekly Energy Boost” I love that it is on Mondays and sets me up with the energy of the upcoming week and gives me proactive tools. “Divorced not Dead” is a fun sophisticated take on life after divorce. I listen to the weekly I Ching from Bobby Klein on Sundays. To change my beliefs about love I read “Rethink Love,” by Monica Berg. All these resources emphasize that the universe is abundant, with enough for everyone.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think during a divorce or separation there is so much emphasis on lawyers and mediators and I believe there should be a shift that focuses on co-parenting, if kids are involved and make family counseling mandatory. I also think the court system is not set up to give all the options of separation, it is only recently that I learned that both parties can have the same lawyer. The education around the court procedure is vague and very learn-as-you-go, again, creating too much dependence on hired professionals, I would love to see an entire restructure of the family court system.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Gary Vee. I first saw Gary when he was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Digital Summit Series in Denver was inspirational. I respect his vision and he is years ahead of business insights/marketing on every level. I am confident one breakfast or lunch would give me even more of a competitive edge.
Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!