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{ Photo by @Alexanderdpaul }

My dear friend Flo is a hilarious, loyal, big-hearted, bubbly gal from New Zealand who also happens to be a crazy talented singer-songwriter. If you like Joni Mitchell, Jewel, or Taylor Swift, you will LOVE her. She went through a really difficult breakup last year and turned it into this really gorgeous gift of music. I asked her to write a guest piece because with that music she wrote, she is now in the top 40 of a VVVV important competition (think online American Idol), and if she wins, she will get to record a 4-song EP with RedOne, perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and get $25,000 hot cash money. Let me clarify: As of posting this, she was #38 out of 9,000 PEOPLE IN THIS COMPETITION. (Which is not a surprise, because she is amazing.) All you have to do to help her win is watch her videos – which is an even bigger win for you, because her songs are beautiful. There is no voting – all she needs are views, so please watch and share if you love her like I do. I’m planning to watch on repeat just like I did with Hanson’s MMMBop until she wins on Tuesday. GUYS, WE NEED TWO LADIES TO WIN ON TUESDAY. Flo, thank you so much for this piece and for your music!

My Own Personal Lemonade (or How Beyonce Helped Me With My Broken Heart)

by Florence Hartigan

Queen Bey

{Queen Bey}

My name is Flo, and I’m an actress and singer-songwriter and, until July last year, I lived in a little apartment in Silver Lake, LA with my boyfriend.  Life was pretty good, we’d been together five years, and while our relationship wasn’t perfect, we loved and cared about each other a lot, and we were both working hard at it.

Then, one day, it ended.

Now, I had been heartbroken before, but this was different. This was my person.  I’d spent every holiday with his family, we’d lived together in three different apartments, we co-owned a couch.  And so even though it was pretty much mutual, and definitely the most positive move for both of us, I was devastated.  I mean, I was incredibly, incredibly sad, of course, but the worst thing about it was that everything just felt so WEIRD.  Putting food into my body felt alien and wrong (which was a real kick in the teeth for a human that enjoys eating as much as I do).  My mouth would physically dry up when I would talk about my breakup, so my tongue would make an incredibly appealing clicking sound as I tried to find words to describe the nearly unbearable, and surprisingly physical pain I was feeling in my broken heart, to whichever poor sap I had conned into listening to me that day.  My life was suddenly so different, I felt like I had wandered into the upside-down.

Stranger Things

But, in the immortal words of Kelly Clarkson, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (actually, I’m pretty sure she didn’t make that up, but the wisdom still applies). I got through one of the most difficult times in my life, and you will too.  Here is my three-step heartbreak pain-relief process, should heartbreak ever befall you – (and if it does, let me first tell you, YOU ARE GOING TO BE OK!!!!) Here’s how:

  1. 3. Reach out to friends and family and let them love you.  The people in your life want to support you, so don’t be a hero, be real about where you’re at and ask for help when you need it. Warning: You WILL cry.  It will not be cute, and it will often be in public.  I’m talking on hikes, at coffee shops, at bars in front of well-meaning strangers, at other peoples’ homes in front of their uncomfortable husbands, or at the end of your pop-physique class.  But crying is important, and so is talking it out, and you will feel better afterwards.
  2. 2. Watch 30 Rock.  Watching a hilarious show where the status quo is restored at the end of 26 minutes is the best thing you could do to combat your spinning brain, which at the moment is trying to remind you of everything you’ve ever done wrong and affirm your suspicion that you are warped to the point of eternal unlovability.  Also, 30 Rock will show you a world in which it turns out that even if you break up with Matt Damon, there’s still a James Marsden out there waiting for you, which is obviously VERY comforting.  Mmm, James Marsden.

James Marsden

{Fact: James Marsden is delicious.}

  1. 1. And this is the most important. MAKE SOMETHING!

The thing about pain is that it wakes us up.  It’s the pits, yeah, but… it’s also kind of magical.  There’s a reason there are so many breakup songs, everything is suddenly so weird, it’s almost like you get a layer of skin removed.  You’re raw and exposed and everything in the world seems more, more terrible, or more beautiful. You notice things you wouldn’t usually.  Pain makes us more aware of how we feel because we feel so bad it is un-ignorable.  And that’s the gift heartbreak gives you.  It breaks you in half, and the energy that comes out of that is surprising and authentic, and beautiful, and uniquely you.   And you can make anything out of that – maybe for you it’s a poem, or a journal entry, or the motivation to give that right hook an extra bit of oomph in kickboxing class.  Maybe it’s an awesome souffle.  For me, it’s music.

After my breakup all I wanted to do was listen to music.  I listened to Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker to the point of obsession, I listened to the Mountain Goats, and Jenny Lewis and Joni Mitchell. And then, just when I thought I was never going to feel better, Beyonce dropped Lemonade, the ultimate soundtrack to heartbreak.

Listening to these voices, people making music that matched my insides, I felt not alone, but part of an inevitable human experience.  If Supreme Queen Bey is allowed a moment to question why her relationship went off the rails, then I guess I could allow myself a moment of guilt-free self-doubt, too.

I started writing music, voraciously.  Some were songs about my broken heart, and some were songs to just plain cheer me up.  Like this one.

Writing songs helped me get clear about how I was feeling.   And the more I played them to people, the more people told me they connected to those feelings I was feeling, as well.  Heartbreak is everywhere and sometimes hearing someone else has felt the same is all you need.

So now I wouldn’t trade my run-in with heartbreak for anything.  Not only because I know that my ex and I are ultimately better off as people, but because the pain I went through made me a better human being.  I’m no expert, but here’s my theory – if you can make lemonade out of life’s lemons, make something you can share out of your pain, you are HELPING.  Even if the only person you’re sharing it with is yourself.  You’re reminding the person on the receiving end that they’re not alone.  We’re all just weirdos walking around trying not to screw up, we all experience hurt and loss, and we all come out the other side, stronger, and wiser.  Even Beyonce.

If you didn’t already have her music playing as the soundtrack to this guest piece, WATCH HER NOWYou can also follow her on Instagram @fl0bie and on Facebook, too. Thank you, Flo! I can’t wait to say “I knew her when…” when you’re playing sold out shows all over the planet.


  • Brandy says:

    how relevant for today. #heartbroken

    • Annie says:

      Could not have been more relevant. I am still in a heartbroken fog. I keep trying to write something about it to put up here on the blog, and haven’t been able to organize my thoughts yet. Devastated.