My name is Nancy Gabriel and I am a peacemaker.
When my husband died unexpectedly in 2008, I found myself in probate litigation, being sued by my step-daughter about the distribution of the family business. The lawsuit was scary, ugly and expensive. Every phone call or email from my attorney caused my fragile outer shell to crack a tiny bit. His monthly bills set off a full-fledged anxiety attack. It was bad enough that I lost my husband, but I felt betrayed by my step-daughter; someone who I had grown to love and who I thought loved me. We ultimately settled the lawsuit out of court, but what I lost in the process was greater than the tens of thousands of dollars it cost me. I lost a relationship. I lost an entire family.
But as human beings, we are generally hard-wired to survive, and so I did. As I was searching to find my “new normal,” my journey was hampered by my continued feelings of hurt and anger. Because I spent much of my adult life as a paralegal and legal administrator (and a skeptic about a system that’s designed to produce winners and losers), I began to think that there must be another way to resolve conflict. One that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. One that doesn’t take years. One that doesn’t destroy relationships.
Soon, a lightbulb called “mediation” found me, and without doing much in the way of research, I found a training program that made sense. I signed up and a few months later, I started school to become a mediator. From the very beginning, it was a good fit for me, both with respect to my legal background, and my personality. After I received my credential, I took an advanced course in divorce mediation, and soon thereafter, I began helping people resolve their conflicts through mediation.
My first paying clients were married dancers in an adult club. Only in Vegas, right? But they were very respectful of each other, and both wanted the least amount of anxiety for their young daughter. In my office, and with my help, they crafted a personal, flexible parenting plan that worked for their family moving forward. We discussed a variety of details beyond the standard ‘who pays for what,’ and ‘who gets to spend which holiday with their child.’ It was done in a non-threatening, safe environment and took only a few sessions, costing a fraction of what it would have cost if they had each gone to separate attorneys. What’s more, these two parents were able to make their own decisions about their daughter’s future, without risking that future to the findings of a judge who knew nothing about their family dynamic.
My mediation practice is not limited to divorcing couples. I’ve helped people resolve their own conflicts in all sorts of situations: two business partners buying out a third; never-married parents who were contemplating marriage to others; blended families; adult siblings in conflict about their aging parents; the list goes on and on. I like to say that if people in conflict can sit in the same room with each other, I can help them come to a resolution.
I sometimes think that my own painful experience in probate litigation was the road I had to take in order to arrive at the destination of helping others avoid that same path. Being a peacemaker, and sharing the tools I’ve learned is the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done.
If you or someone you know is in need of mediation services, please contact me at (702) 561-8754.