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Follow your bliss and the universe will open…


I have been considering what it means to be a leader.  Leadership is about having the ability to see and know the answer and be able to communicate the solution to a problem.

It is also about power and energy.

There are positive leaders who negotiate power from an interior source and there are negative leaders who negotiate power from an exterior source.

When you can ascertain a solution quickly, you feel an internal sense of ‘rightness”, and can communicate it efficiently – then you have power for others to listen to you, and you will be able to be a positive leader.

It is not the leadership in and of itself that will result in success or well-being.  Leading toward something of value is a key component to making a difference in a way that is seen as a positive leader – this is the energetic component of leadership and power.  Negative leaders have lost their internal sense of bliss and joy and are focused on the enticing allure of power in and of itself.

We all can remember a leader in our childhood who, had power, quick thinking and a powerful style of motivating the group; but only some of those individuals focused their energy onto a meaningful and successful path.  Some got lost in the effervescence of power itself.  Their charm and ease in directing the group made it so they lost their way and got caught up in the power – like a swirl of rapid that just circles around and in on a rock rather than moving the water down the river.

This stuck energy can be hypnotizing  It circles and feels so strong that one doesn’t notice they aren’t actually going anywhere, just circling in this feeling of power with no result or movement toward a goal. Individual’s caught in this find that others move on and they are stuck in the same position.  Much like a leaf caught in a swirl rapid around a great boulder in the river, swirling forever in the same place with great force and energy but getting nowhere.

How to get out of such a situation?

First, it’s important to recognize your circumstance.

Second, you have to focus your energy to not follow the current and truly shift your energy and focus.  When you’re stuck the best way out is like jumping the curve.  And the most effective way to do that is to discern your inner and undeniable bliss – if that is what you follow rather than that feeling of power then you will shift the current such that you can be guided out of the whirlpool and into the true current of life and life energy.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls – Joseph Campbell.

If you have been acting and behaving in ways to gain power but are pulling yourself away from your central sense of joy then you are not following your bliss.  You may be caring for others and giving energy to many in a sense of obligation and love but you may have incorrectly identified that your goal was to give away your power in this way to feel powerful.  This will ultimately deplete you, tie the other to you as they think they need you to survive, and create a whirlpool of energy that disallows true movement along the river of energy and life.

How can you ascertain this is what is happening?

Are you energized or depleted in your energy?  Does your energy fall deeply and do you feel exhausted when you receive disapproval?  Do you feel you rarely have time to focus on your own goals and are you often feeling pulled away when you do focus on your goals?  Do you feel that you are not the guide of your own path?

The first question is one of the most important questions.  This lack of energy, a sense of depletion, exhaustion, depression, and inner sadness or loss can indicate a long-standing focus away from your internal sense of bliss.

How to find you bliss.  Seems funny but some people have lost their internal knowing of bliss.  They don’t know or remember what brings them joy.  They are focused without instead of within.  The answer is to go within, to be still, to listen, to observe and pay attention to energy.  When your energy wanes you are moving away from your bliss – when your energy swells and grows you are moving toward or with your bliss, allowing it to guide you.

So to get out of the whirlpool of swirling circular energy that simply depletes you – you need to first identify your circumstance.  Observe what brings you energy and what depletes you.  Identify the activities that increase your internal sense of well-being and inner joy.  Then once you notice these patterns begin to adjust your life course so that what guides you is your bliss.  This may be identified as a single activity or a more diverse set of connected activities.  These will have some value and internal connection within you and they will increase your sense of vitality.

Once you have discerned this then you can begin to redirect your energy and behavior so that you are led by your bliss and in turn lead others in the direction of well-being and their bliss.

For some their response to your changes will be negative and fearful.  This is simply a fear based response because they have not yet connected to their bliss. Kindly, gently redirect them away from feeding off your energy.  Encourage them to discern their circumstance and find their inner bliss.

Following your bliss opens your world to so many beautiful opportunities, it increases your energy, and brings joy and well-being to yourself and those you love.  It is the way of mindful, loving leadership toward fulfillment, success, and peace.  It is empowering and powerful in the most enlightening way.

In bliss….love and light…

See you tomorrow.


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Balancing the Power Differential in relationship


One of the biggest impediments to having a healthy meaningful relationship is an unequal distribution of power between the parties.  It can set up an undercurrent of resentment and power plays that inhibit trust and intimacy.

The way in which power is measured in relationship varies.  In marriages, money and decision-making on how it is spent, sex and how leisure time is distributed, and feeling a sense of collaboration or division of tasks are all areas of power distribution.  Even how a relationship proceeds has to do with an agreement on how power is shared in the relationship.  These features and equations, in general, determine how power is divided and determines the power differential.  Some of these issues can be applied to work partnerships and friendships.

If the differential is too great or not consistent with internal expectations there will be conflict and strife that could upset the continuity, fiber, and longevity of the relationship.

When talking about power the definition has to do with an internal sense of empowerment in the style and course of the relationship as well as the capacity to get done that which the individual feels is necessary or important to the relationship and/or individual.  This includes an internally consistent picture of self by the other.  In other words if I perceive myself to be talented and strong and my partner treats me in a fashion that exhibits that his picture of me is that I am talented and strong – then that is an internally consistent picture of self by the other.

A sense of feeling empowered would consist of a sense of joy, contentment, and strength; together this would feel like a sense of inner control.  In this instance the person would experience  that his values are valued by his partner and that he has the ability to direct his life accordingly.  A sense of feeling unempowered or disempowered would consist of a sense of disillusionment and a lack of inner control.  In this instance the person would experience that her values are not valued by her partner and that she does not have the ability to direct her own life.

In the former situation relationship struggles are dealt with in a fairly direct and above-board fashion allowing various opinions to be identified and discussed and a reasonable negotiation to be found.  Both parties would offer honest and clear information and have rather full disclosure of their wants and needs.  The outcomes to these conversations would be supportive to both parties’ needs further increasing the internal sense of control for both parties.  Energy toward change would be dealt with proactively.  Even difficult discussions would be confronted in an honest and compassionate way.

In the latter scenario above there would be a less honest set of disclosures with ever decreasing identification of problems outwardly.  Actions might be taken passively and in an under-cover way so that issues would not be dealt with directly.  There would be a tone of reactivity and defensiveness.  In this scenario there would also be an internally inconsistent picture of self by other.  This is an example of a power differential that is out of balance.

Listening to the language style, tone, and word choice between partners can give you clues to the power differential and if the differential is in balance or not.

A dearth or paucity of conversation and interaction can indicate an imbalance.  This is especially true if it appears that one member is initiating contact and this initiation is met with silence or if the lack of connection appears to be one-sided.  Other signs of an imbalance is a sense of defensiveness or reactivity in tone or word choice, bickering or side-talking without resolution.

If you notice that you are in a relationship that is out of balance look for ways to right the balance.

Observe where you feel resentment or you hear resentment from your partner.  Try to slow down your interaction and compassionately confront the silence or resentment.  Work with the words, tone, or silence lightly, directly and with an earnest interest in learning from your partner.

If the resentment or defensiveness is within you – try to discern what the original driver of the feeling was – could it be a longstanding feeling of unimportance or lack of power or a single incident that has injured you in some way.  Think of what you need to feel whole again – and then gently ask for that.  Try to encourage your partner to reconnect with you on this deeper more loving level.

Try to remember what brought you into partnership and see if you can rekindle the lightness and love.

If what you discover is that you have lost that sense of lightness than try to move to a neutral place so that you can leave the relationship without further injuring the other or yourself.

Power is one of the core issues of development.  All injuries go to power and all successes are related to power.  How you relate to power and how you create a balance of power in relationship is directly connected to the level of joy contentment and strength of that relationship.  Begin with your personal relationship with power within yourself.

Review the power differential in your relationship and how power is distributed – consider how this situation has evolved.  If you discover that you want a different power differential but you want to maintain your connection to your partner then gently discuss the changes you seek to create increased balance.

Balance is the key; clarify for yourself first and then with your partner what you desire and what you want to discard this opens the door to balancing the power differential in relationship.

See you tomorrow.



Shifting Perspectives, my personal adventure


When I was in college I spent a semester abroad studying Italian Art, Architecture, Language and Literature in Roma, Italia.  It was a very powerful period in my life.  I had been studying Sociology in school and was intrigued by paradigms, cultural relativism, and Gestalt figure/ground perspectives.  I was an open-minded person with a sense that I would or could do anything and had a naive belief that I could effect a positive change in the world.  I was young and enthusiastic.  My experience in Italy was painful, transformative, joyous, strengthening, and enlightening.  It was an adventure.

I had not planned to go to Italy.  My boyfriend, who was an art major, was going and I thought “oh I should go too”;  I didn’t realize that he had wanted to go without me so he could experience the world unencumbered.  In retrospect it would have been more useful to ask him what his plans were before inviting myself along.  This discovery was painful – finding him happily courting a tall woman from Oklahoma – I mention her height because it was the thing that was so irritating about her to me being a small petite girl – she was like an amazon woman stealing my boyfriend away from me.  He was, of course a complicit and willing partner – no stealing – I was the only one who was unaware of the situation.

I was stunned.  Alone in a foreign country and so sad.  He and I had been the best of friends for a longtime and I wasn’t sure of exactly how to proceed.

For the days that followed my discovery I was on auto-pilot, disconnected, unfocused, just putting one foot in front of the next.  Then after a while I began to re-focus on the beautiful amazing country that surrounded me.  I started to identify what I wanted to do, see, accomplish and experience.  In this re-evaluation I discovered myself.

There was a lovely young man in our group from England he was polite, handsome, kind, and ever so smart.  I liked him and he seemed to like me.  He was good friends with a young man who was very involved with Roman politics.  It was exciting to hang out with them and learn about how young people in Rome spent their days.  Quite different from my own experience they were VERY involved in politics, very early.  Paolo, my handsome friend’s friend, had lost his best friend to a bomb due to political issues two years before when he was a teenager.  He had strong opinions and sound arguments to back them up.  It was so exciting to be in their company and begin to develop my beliefs about politics, my country, and theirs.

My handsome young man whose care I had fallen into was even more intriguing.  He had gone to school in England but his family was Persian.  He was one of the kindest and most gentle men I had ever known but he had dealt with great tragedy and difficult situations.  We came to be very close and he showed me a fascinating world that I could never have imagined.  His gentle eyes had both a sadness and a playfulness in them and I felt the safest I had ever felt with anyone when I was with him.

In the middle of our time together we went to Austria.  It was beautiful and magical.  I saw Freud’s house and we played together.  It was like a fairytale.  But the purpose of our trip there was far from the magic and fantasy of Disney.  He needed to get a visa to come to America.  He had gone before and followed the stealthy steps outlined by whomever was assisting him to do so, and he had lost money, and he had been denied.  Half of his family resided in Iran and half was in America.  There was still a great deal of wariness about young Iranian men coming to the states and so he had to go through this secret process not knowing the outcome and risking treachery from outside.

He was successful and this was a celebration that he would be able to join his siblings in the states.

We had a blissful time together in Rome through the rest of our time in school. After, on my way back to the states I joined him briefly in London and then we separated.  I returned to my home and he to a new home in San Francisco.  I visited him once later for a brief time when I went out to a college friend’s wedding, and then we lost track of each other.

He once said to me, while we were still in Italy, that his father would never have approved of him seeing me because I was American.  His father was no longer alive and his mother was still in Iran.  I never thought about how my parents would have responded; they seemed to be open-minded and accepting.  But I was aware that to me he was not his country or his culture but rather an individual person with whom I was in love.  I had not considered the problems between our countries until he made this comment.

Both these men, the boyfriend with whom I went to Italy, and the boyfriend I met in Italy, had perceived their time in Italy as a time to experience being with someone not accepted in their real or home world.  They each had seen it as a break from the cultural and normative expectations to experience more fully a deeper self that they would not take with them except in their memories; and that however their experience may have changed them it must be left in Italy.

I had been so naive that I didn’t understand any of that and yet my experiences with each of them left indelible marks on my sense of self and my character.

I have studied sociology all my life and I would say that I view the world through a sociological lens and yet even with that I experience each person individually.  Sociology takes the position that one’s self is completely bound up by one’s culture and that self and mind are really just an introjection of the society or culture within which you live; but my experience is that individuals interact with their culture in innovative and unique ways to develop intricately specific and personal selves.  That one can see the culture and beliefs within another’s personality and characteristics but that self, and character are profoundly personal.

My dear beloved boyfriend with whom I traveled to Italy said to me upon our return that although he abandoned me for this exciting opportunity to be with that tall girl he ultimately had a depressing and uneventful experience because she went on to another boy and he was left without either her or me.  And I, in my action to respond to his abandonment, had a true adventure.  Sadly, for him this was true.  Joyfully for me, he was right.

How you respond to your world is your only true offense and defense in the action of life.

And perspective is everything.

I think of my dear boyfriend that I met in Italy, living in America, and I wonder how well he is thriving.  I wonder if his family still in Iran is faring well through the strife in his country, and I pray that he and those individuals like him will be able to develop a country that better speaks to their needs.

See you tomorrow.


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Creating Internal Space


Space creation is more than just a starting point to a project it is a requirement for any new creation to happen.  Often the first thing one does is create a space in which to work – cleaning off your desk, starting a new page on word, or cleaning out the space for drawing and construction.

Sometimes clearing out the space physically performs the function of creating an internal space for change.

Other actions that can help create that internal space are mindful meditation, yoga, focused breathing, prayer, writing about the issue, and listening both to others and yourself.  The latter is a modality you can use all the time in relationship and interaction.

Listening to the non-verbal components in conversation, the tone, and the language or word-choice all offer ways for you to increase your understanding in communication.  Through these techniques you can see or hear where you are out of sync with reality or how you are acting or thinking based on an inaccurate belief system.  It opens your internal system of thinking and being.

The most difficult space to create is the space within to change thinking and behavior patterns.  Changing habits requires identification of the problem as a first step.  The space creation to change is like a stretching out so that you can observe from a different perspective.  Often influence from outside is the first glimmer of understanding that shifts your focus to the inaccuracy of your habit.

This can be an aha experience or it can be insidious, a slow developing awareness over time.

Creating that inner space starts with the questions What is at the center of this thinking or this behavior ?- What is the underlying belief or value that drives it?  And then once discerning the answers, defining if that value or belief is consistent with what you actually believe.

It requires a slowing of actions and a reworking of thinkings.  Breathing, applying mindfulness, looking for and creating balance, applying compassion and understanding – all these allow for an increase in awareness and delay action to allow for re-working thinkings with a renewed perspective.

Recently I was struck by an internal belief that I had been using to organize my behavior and thinking.  I discovered that it was not actually an accurate description of reality, but rather a picture of a misunderstanding from my early childhood that had been frozen in time, not allowed to incorporate new information or ongoing analysis; it was a stuck, rigid, fear-based belief.  I had been acting from a position that I must prove my worth and my intelligence.  That I had to bring something extra to a relationship because just being myself was insufficient for friendship.  This was the opposite of what I taught my children and patients, and yet here I was acting from this inaccurate perspective.


It was a powerful and profound experience to discover both the internal belief and  that I no longer had to act from this inaccurate space.  Seeing it, recognizing it, and understanding its etiology allowed me to create the internal space to let it go and to shift my perspective to incorporate the full or whole of my life experiences, not just that one event.  It was so freeing, and so opening; it created the internal space to make a change in my thinking and my behavior with respect to this issue.

Mindful reflection and paradigm shifting create internal space so that change can happen.  Utilize the methods that best suit you to open a space for you to view and review your internal systems and create a space for internal change.

You may find you are freed from a restrictive belief system that is not an actual representation of reality.  In doing so you may create a space to live more freely and more happily.

See you tomorrow.


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Parenting your parents and forgiveness


I have had a request to write about how to deal with parents or in-laws in a mindful way.  So here are some thoughts.

It’s not really that different from parenting  your children.  The key is the combination of  forgiveness, acceptance, and staying out of feeling defensive.  Think about Turning NO to ON as applied to relationships with history.

Remember the blog titled Interpreting bias in decision-making – posted August 5, 2010?  In it I wrote about the problem with responding from a defensive place and through bias and how this interfered with decision-making.  Defensiveness and bias skew how information is interpreted.  Each skew to the negative and set the stage for reaction rather than mindful response.

Bias is sometimes a result of a belief that may have represented a previous experience but is not necessarily Truth.  Defensiveness can be a result of habit, history or misapplication or misunderstanding of the other person’s intention, tone, or action.  In this way defensiveness can be like bias.

Being clear in a neutral, non-defensive tone, with unbiased and uncharged language allows for fuller communication and an opportunity to re-work old issues with a peaceful and active resolution.

So here are some ways to help you move into neutrality when interacting and also get a handle on what you may be bringing to the situation that is unhelpful, defensive, or a habit reaction pattern from earlier in the relationship.  After you identify that there is something left over, an old unresolved issue or belief then you can determine whether you want to keep it.

These can be applied to any personal relationship or situation, but is most applicable toward parent or in-law relationships.  Our relationships with our parents are very powerful and so hold a lot of complicated meaning about our own power and sense of self.

Defensiveness comes from a need, or interpreted need, to protect ourselves from attack – if we have had miscommunications, or simply mis-takes in how we related with our parents then this can be overly charged and difficult, and can be intensely layered over time.  Following these steps will assist you in working through some of this to increase positive interactions.

  • If you feel defensive wait – stop talking, breathe, open your mind, be open to what the other person is trying to say – move into receive rather than send in your communication.  Try to clarify what you really want from the situation and then focus on that, and only that – don’t get distracted and moved onto a more negative path.
  • Think about, and feel into, what is behind the defensiveness, follow it like a thread back into your history – this gives you a place to tether the defensiveness – then you can determine if that original event or set of events continue to apply, or how you would like to shift the energy.  It is through this process that you can identify where you want to focus your interaction with the other person.
  • If you feel angry, wait – stop talking, breathe, open your mind, try to receive what the other person is trying to say – try to simultaneously discover what is triggering an angry response in you, then as above, consider whether it is something you need to resolve then or let go and refocus on the current issue.
  • If you have a block or just can’t understand – or see – what the other person is saying – stop, try to look at it from a different perspective and see if you can identify what perception or interpretation you have that may be blocking your understanding of the other person’s point of view.  Get the other person to re-describe their feeling, experience in different words or give an example so that you can better understand what they are saying.
  • I am not suggesting that you must agree with their point of view, I am suggesting understanding comes from seeing both perspectives – remember the figure-ground issues – looking at the images below – see the bear and the vase or the duck and the bunny .  This is Steven Covey’s concept of seek first to understand.  When you understand the other, then you can understand where you connect with and disconnect from the other person and this allows for a place of resolution agreed upon communication about any subject or issue.

Increasing your awareness and applying your mindfulness to the situation allows for increased understanding and increased connection.   This may result in a different course of action.  It may not result in a change, but in this case you will be able to support the situation through a more mindful, neutral approach.  It may allow for a negotiation that incorporates both paradigms – not a compromise, but a collaboration or blending that meets the needs or perspectives of both parties.

Just as in parenting your children you are focused on being mindful and interacting in the present moment taking into account your child’s needs and your personalities; this is like turning a NO to ON but focused on your historical relationships and bringing them into present time and creating them to be positive.

Be truthful and honest in the content of your communication; kind and caring in the tone of your communication; and warm and real in your presentation.  This style and these actions will go the furthest to create a space for a powerful and positive interaction that can increase the depth and breadth of your relationship with your parents or parent-in-laws.

You will have wonderful results.

See you tomorrow.


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Parenting as a way of transmitting your gifts


Often it is the milieu in which a person is raised that allows her to see the world from a distinct paradigm that changes her perspective and leads to innovation.

I was a huge Star Trek fan as a kid.  Loved the original and the Next Generation.

Shatner’s character Kirk had an episode where he was challenged to get rid of the trauma of his life and be free – he said he needed his pain, it’s what made him who he was.  And Piccard did a vignette wherein he had a whole lifetime of experience, that was distinctly different from that of being a captain, all transmitted in a dream.  Through that dream he was able to know an entire group of people who had since become extinct and it changed his perspective of what to do in future situations.

I remember even as a young person these ideas held deep meaning for me.

In my experience, your response to adversity is what makes you unique and can create space for a new perspective in the world, a new paradigm through which to view your world or circumstances.

Parenting offers a way to transmit your gifts from your early experiences to your child so that he or she can learn through your adversity and have innovative approaches to old problems.

This is one of the very best actions that you can take to assist your children, to openly and directly approach and discuss controversial and profound issues with innovative and honest ideas.

Certainly one of the things that interferes with this is when you are holding on to a hurt and feeling injured.  That injury can cloud your full capacity to understand and learn the gift presented through your injury or trauma.  That clouding can actually create or allow for the transmission of prejudice, hatred, and stereotypes.

The best way to clear up the injury or cloudy perceptions is to use a mindful approach to the traumatic experience.  To use a paradigm shift in how you perceive the events, making an effort to shift from figure to ground – from the injury (figure) to the background and context of the event (ground) to more fully understand their relationship to each other – it gives you a more holistic picture.

This isn’t to say to negate the pain but rather to look at what benefits came out of the trauma. To investigate what aspects of the experience were due to a lack of clarity on your own part, what had to do with an internal misbelief or misunderstanding, and what about the experience was a catalyst to change your life for the better.  There are experiences, like the death of a child or loved one, which will not offer any of these kinds of insights – in those circumstances the way through the cloudiness or pain is to discern how to change your response to the adversity or how to keep the positive memory of that person alive through your actions.  In my own personal experience I learned to always let my loved ones know they matter whenever I took leave of them because that may be the last time I would see their faces or hear their voices.  I learned to think about how I relate to others so that it is mindful and not hurtful.  I have seen others start profound agencies to help others in response to a profound loss.  In this way the loss has given rise to the gift of helping others on  a large-scale.

Through this process you can allow yourself to perceive events in a new way and offer a new perspective on how to be or act in the world.

Your actions create a webbing or thread connecting you to others and your future to your past.  Acting from  a mindful perspective increases your focus and purposive action/creation in your world.  Transmitting your gifts through parenting assists your children to have fuller more clarified lives.

It is a ripple effect; you are transmitting a new way of being that is based on mindfulness and wellness responses to adversity and stress.  The effect of which will be more balance and health for your children.

See you tomorrow.



Holding to your truth creates a safety rope in the adventure of negotiation


The hardest thing to do is to stay true to yourself in the face of adversity or in the face of another’s desire for you to leave your truth and follow theirs.

One is challenged to deal with this when engaging in group dynamics.  It is a function of most aspects of life, blending projects and collaborating in complicated, multilevel ventures in business or social interaction such as bringing together families in marriage or partnering in business.  This is the challenge to remain true to yourself while incorporating another’s perspective when negotiating between individual and group needs as well as negotiating integration of ideas, theories, and groups.

Knowing your truth is helpful when evaluating how to integrate with another.  And because not always what the other says is what the other wants, listening to the whole of another’s message and resisting the need to just swallow whole the other’s position is important.  It is necessary to pause and be mindful in these encounters.  Then you can hold to your truth while being flexible with the other.

I have a facility for languages.  Not just formal languages like French and Italian, but also personal languages of individuals and groups.  It is important to understand what it is that underlies the language of others – what has meaning and how the words contain idents of what matters to people.  The style and quality in which people speak gives clues to what it reveals and conceals.

This is a natural talent, it is second nature to my being.  I can blend in easily and enjoy the experience of seeing through different paradigms, which is a fantastic asset in my life’s work.  It gives me the freedom to experience life from a variety of spaces or perspectives.  I learn a lot by trying on these various styles and viewing from the inside out.

Anyone can step into another’s world, his  language and the paradigms that underlie his style of speaking.

In America you can get the culture of various parts of the country through language.  The south, midwest, west, and east have specific qualities hidden within their word choice and sentence structure, even what is or isn’t said.  The facial gestures, and impressions that assist the verbal language are highly specialized and carry specific meanings.  This can be traced to religious, cultural and personal heritage and experiences.  Additionally, there are unique patterns within families, working groups, and educational backgrounds.

Part of what makes us feel comfortable with another is this similarity or familiarity among and within groups – often first felt and understood through verbal and non-verbal language.

This whole repertoire of behavior and language has its own manipulative force.  There is an underlying push to agree and align, corroborate and connect, underlying the most normal and natural of group dynamics.

I am one of those people, who when talking with another whose speech pattern is interesting and distinctive, may begin to speak in the same way or take on a  funny gesture which strikes me as having character.  Having this natural facility is like being a chameleon.  I find that my ease at being a chameleon is problematic when holding to my truth.  The balancing agent to this is to have a strong and secure sense of who I am at my core.  This allows me to have the capacity and freedom to enter another’s world, even try on some of the more fun or fascinating characteristics, and still remain true to my authentic self.

Holding to your truth is an interesting process of being connected with an even hand-strength:  too strong and you are inflexible, not strong enough and you can get lost.  Being overly flexible leads to instantaneous understanding and connection but when overly expressed it can dilute authentic purpose or self.

I find the best ting to do is to remain in a mindful state, an open, observing, interested curiosity.   The use of a mantra or phrase which allows you to tether yourself to your authentic self so you don’t lose your way can be very efficient.  This allows you to explore with others their world without losing your own center.

It’s like a safety rope that frees you to explore and negotiate with a fullness that can be exhilarating.

See your tomorrow.


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Balancing comfort and adversity to develop inner strength


When thinking about child development it’s important to apply the rule of balance in comfort and adversity to develop inner strength.

When things are too easy the child is unable to tolerate adversity.

When things are too challenging the child develops a learned helplessness.

I remember when I was in college and I learned this I was determined to be the Mom who put the toy just a little too far away, thinking I would be able to encourage  mastery through one’s own efforts.  Over time what I observed is that there is enough adversity in the world, enough that gets in the way of being there for your child that you don’t have to go out of your way to create it artificially.

What’s important is to maintain a balance of response and inner strength development.

My friend likened this to the idea of hardening-off with seedlings.  When starting plants from seeds the first thing to do is create the most supportive and nourishing environment to get them to sprout and grow into seedlings.  In time they need to be hardened-off by creating a slightly less nourishing environment so that they can develop a degree of hardiness – a capacity to tolerate adversity.  If they don’t go through this hardening-off process the seedlings are unable to tolerate the change from perfect conditions to life in the garden – more little plants don’t survive.

The issue is when and how. When to develop the hardiness and How to create the balance of comfort and adversity.   You aren’t always in control of this element.  However, creating pathways to earning rewards, challenges to the development of skills, and teachings about how things work helps.  Significantly, it is a matter of reading your child and offering opportunities for challenge while simultaneously creating a space to retreat to for comfort.

Humans need a dose of adversity to develop resilience and inner strength.

The children who always have things their way and are pampered have difficulty identifying within themselves the strengths required to be resilient, persevere, and try again.  They don’t have the inner mechanism to figure out how to get through the maze.  Often they fail by not trying.

Conversely, the children that have big challenges through which they continually fail to succeed learn to NOT try – it’s a type of learned helplessness.  These children may be extremely gifted in their intelligence but they do not have the mechanism to push through to succeed because they do not believe they can succeed.  Often they fail through not trying.

A balance of adversity and comfort is the key.

Get to know your children.  They will be different from each other even though they will have similarities.  Observe to what they are attracted and repelled.  Note their temperament:  do they have a natural perseverance and stick-to-it-ive-ness or a natural desire for ease and easily give-up.  This will give you clues about how to structure the balance of the comfort and adversity equation for each.

The goal is to focus on how your child learns and notice when your child is showing signs of overwhelm.  In those circumstances you can break up the problem into smaller more graspable parts or offer opportunities to review ways in which he or she has previously succeeded in a similar endeavor.

The temperament that seems to be most complicated is the child who has a strong internal will and is willful but has an internal sense of insecurity due to trauma or significant adversity.  This child will look over-powering and create many power struggles.  The mistake on the part of the parent or teacher is to try to squash the willfulness and power struggles.  This is a mistake because often it squashes the inner sense of strength in the child.  The more useful action is to separate the inner strength and the power struggling behavior through verbal discussion and also creating a tiered response to power issues.  This allows for the guidance to use the power in a productive way.

What guides a child to learn, grow and develop is significantly different among children, even among siblings raised close together – because it is a unique function of nature and nurture – or genetics/temperament and experiences.  Inner strength and resilience are developed through a balance of comfort and adversity.  These tools assist you in developing a strategy for guiding your child from the perfect nourishing environment to the garden of life.

See you tomorrow.



How to stay in the driver’s seat of your life


As children we are free to focus our playtime toward what is attractive and feels fun.

From here we develop an attraction to specific structured activities where we exhibit talents or skills.

Then children go to school and develop those talents and skills, even, if it seems right, to extra training in college or other training centers.  Through this process we choose a way to spend our work time that feels as much like play as we can fit into our jobs/careers.  This is that theory of following your bliss.

At least that is the plan, but what I have noticed is that somewhere along the way individuals stop driving their path; and the structure, expectation, or needs of others starts to drive that path.  So instead of a person’s skills and talents guiding them to the perfect bliss-filled job  other people’s expectations and desires pushes a person onto another path.

This is what I think leads to a lack of satisfaction in one’s life, to depression, and to disillusionment.  A lack of motivation and people just not wanting to go to work – it’s uninteresting because it isn’t derived from an inner state of joy.

It’s a subtle, pernicious thing, related to managing outside expectations and inner needs.

The way to shift out of this is to get back into the driver’s seat of your life.  And the way to do that is to bring fun, or what Depak Chopra calls bliss, back into the equation.

This seems like a simple suggestion, even obvious but it is harder than you think.  People are unhappy and bored but they are also habituated to the routine of their lives.  Change, even change for joy and fun, seems to be deeply resisted.  Weird but true.

The best way to move over into the driver’s seat from the back seat or passenger seat of your life is to start by simply observing when you feel good and when you do not.  Don’t take any action at first.  Just notice and maybe even document what you are noticing.

“Do you wait for other’s goals to be presented and then fit your needs into their goals?  Back seat.  “Do you observe a problem, secretly or privately solve it for the other person before identifying it to them, while simultaneously doing your required work?”  Passenger seat.  “Do you not take the lead even when it is offered, ie:  “Where do you want to go to dinner?”  “Oh I don’t care, wherever you choose is fine.”  Removal from Driver’s seat to Back seat.  “Do you plan for and even push for your desired goals?”  Driver seat.

Notice how you go about your days, your interactions with others at work and in your personal life, are you consistently putting yourself into the Back Seat of your life, even removing yourself from the Driver’s seat?  Then you may want to consider what is driving that habit within you so that you can choose to move into the driver’s seat of your life.

Remember notice and document first then once you have enough information you may be able to re-choose what action you want to take in a given situation.

If your change is going to upset another’s expectation of you – then you may want to let them know about your plans for change first and to involve them in the process.

This is an enlightening process both in how it can open your eyes to your actions (bring light to the picture) as well as free you of some burdens lighten your load).

Being in the driver’s seat of your life has its own responsibilities, but what it allows you is the opportunity to connect with your authentic self and live the life you want.

See you tomorrow.


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Spring cleaning applied to beliefs


I think one way you can look at change is from the perspective of how to recreate yourself.

Going through your closet and ridding yourself of clothes that don’t fit is a great metaphor for this.  You can see that an outfit, pair of pants or dress don’t fit.  Maybe your shape has changed or the item is out of style, in each case the clothes and you don’t match.  This is a metaphor for how certain beliefs or paradigms can become out of date or a mismatch to your true self.

A belief that is no longer a fit needs to be discarded; a new more authentic belief taking its place.

Sometimes when you are doing spring cleaning with your clothes you find an outfit that doesn’t work in its current shape or style but with altering can remain a part of your wardrobe.  Beliefs can be like this.  The whole belief may be off in some way but with altering and a make-over it may be just right.

Clever metaphor to get you on the right track for evaluating what aspects of your beliefs are a good fit and congruent with your authentic self and which need to be discarded or altered (what I call unlinked) in some way.

The best way to start to apply this metaphor is to think about what pattern in your life repeats itself in a way that is discouraging or bothersome.

Once you have that then look at what belief underlies that pattern.

For example:  If the pattern is that you seem to always be a giver in relationship but not a receiver – look at what YOUR belief might be to drive that (not the other person’s belief).  Why your belief?   Well, think of it as part of your wardrobe – a covering that you are choosing to wear – then you can look to see if it fits, if it needs to be completely discarded or if it needs to be altered.

Then you can make the appropriate adjustment to the belief so that you can create more of what you want in your relationships – like more give and take.

In the above example you could find that you have a core belief of feeling like your are not enough – that you have to give to be loved, that who you are without giving is not lovable.  This could have developed from an early childhood incident that gave you the impression that being yourself, in and of itself, didn’t result in love from a primary caregiver.  Without blaming that caregiver or getting stuck in that old memory try to view the event from a more objective, understanding, lovingkindness perspective both toward yourself and the other person.  Then see how you can unlink that belief.

Start with an affirmation:  I am lovable.  And then identify proof of that affirmation – if you can only identify proof of the feeling that you are unlovable – go deeper and apply more compassion toward your being.  Ask for some proof from people you love and trust about your lovableness.  Keep working with this until you can feel an inner peace or sense of grace about the situation.  Once you have achieved this you will know whether you need to discard the belief completely or alter it by unlinking some part of it.

The result of this kind of action and focus is a sense of competence and contentment with yourself.  Think of how you feel when you wear an outfit that fits perfectly and is completely in style – that is the same feeling as living inside the paradigms that best fit too.

This is a powerful process.  It can result in amazing growth.  Have fun with it and be kind toward yourself.  And keep that metaphor of spring cleaning in mind.  Sometimes you know something doesn’t fit but you want to hold onto it for some other reason.  That can happen with beliefs too; be gentle with yourself.  It will work out perfectly in the long run.

See you tomorrow.