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Telehealth/Video/phone counseling available

Relationship issues, depression, anxiety making your days difficult.  Work stress getting you down.   Make a phone or computer appointment with Paula.  Need some coaching on life challenges call Paula.

30 minute video/phone session.  Credit card payment in advance required.  $50.00

50 minute video/phone session.  Credit card payment in advance required. $100.00

Clock tree video call is available

Pay 10 sessions in advance $1000.00 and get 11th session free, paid in advance by credit card or mail prepayment

Call 847-9227862  to schedule a time.





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Make this an Action not Re-action Year in your life.

By Paula Randant,  LCSW  1/25/2011

Often we spend our life in reaction mode.  We react to the words of others.  We react to situations.  We react to opportunities.  When we react we put the presenter in charge of our life and our plans.  The original stimulus/action/thought are not ours, we are REACTING.  Taking action to plan what we want to participate in or achieve in life gives us control over our life.  Being in control requires dreaming, thinking, self evaluation, planning and then goal setting.  Reacting is often easier.  It requires no advance work but it denies us achievement under our own terms.  It also often leaves us not going after personal dreams.  To ‘shoot for the moon’ you have to dream of some achievement first.  Often we set aside our dreams because they seem far off, too difficult or others don’t agree with them.  There are many excuses:  it takes too long, it won’t pay enough, other’s are smarter, it costs too much, I don’t have the time to study, going to school is hard, I’m too old, I’m too young.  I’m sure you can think of even more excuses.

Dreaming is critical.  What do I want to be, to do, to experience or how do I want to live opens up our imagination and the scope of possibility.  Dreams can be personal.  Should I marry?  Do I want to have children? Should I buy a house? Should I go to college?  Where should I go to school?  What type of life style do I aspire to?  I want to play football.  I want to play golf.  I want to write a book.  I want to dance or sing.  I want to garden. I want to join a church.  Be a politician.  Be a Senator.  Have a good job.  Have a career.  Be the best attorney.  Be the best mom.  Be President of the PTA.  Travel the world.  Make home made bread.  Be an astronaut or be a professional athlete.  Our dreams can change over time.  As we become more mature and have more life experience we may change our dreams and expectations of life and ourselves.

Thinking is next.  When we think we are in the evaluation and gathering information phase.  We learn about our dream in practical terms.

Next we need to self evaluate.  What are our gifts, talents and personal resources that we bring to the table?  Am I intelligent, how hard am I willing to work to achieve my dream?  What will hinder me?  Not enough money, illness, and responsibilities that already exist in my life may play a factor in my success.  Can I overcome the challenges that could get in my way?  This phase is very important and needs honest methodical consideration and possibly some outside consultation.

On we go to planning and goal setting.  I want to become a baker and open my own business.  Goal stated now you need to plan and set interim goals.  What do I need?  A license, education, training, financial help to achieve my long term goal.  Steps that can be short term goals come next.  I need training, what is it, when would I start how much does it cost?  How much do I need to know to move forward to the next step?

Does achieving the goal of owning my own business as a baker mean that I am done?   Achieving my stated goal is just the beginning.  Now I live my dream and set knew short and long term goals.  Most of us have many goals not just one.   I’m now living my dream, my goal but now I have to work to get good at my dream.

The growth and excitement of life comes from setting goals, achieving goals and becoming better and better at what we do and at who we are as individuals.

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Developing A Peaceful Home.

Developing a Peaceful Home.

By Paula Randant

What is a peaceful home environment?  I’m sure different families would have a variety of definitions.  I am going to attempt to establish a definition here so you know what we are trying to achieve.  A peaceful home starts the day with a gentle beginning.  Alarm clocks are good.  Gentle personal waking is ok.  Gentle waking would be opening doors to let other household sounds and light in, maybe a “wake up sleepy head kiss or touch”, snooze alarms with music are good.  Things to avoid to start a day off well, turning on bright lights when still sleeping, dumping someone out of bed, yelling, name calling, raised voices, cold water or any other abrasive action. Structure is important.  Make a schedule for each family member.  If they are adults let them take care of themselves.  Under 18 years of age a schedule and structure is effective.  On school or work days have a morning routine that includes time for wake up, dressing, breakfast, finishing homework, putting on coat and leaving on time without hurrying.   A peaceful home supports family members at school or work with good wishes, help in organizing, lunch and snacks ready to go.   On time transportation and pick up.  A peaceful home has an established routine for after school or after workChildren respond to structure which may be just a chart that records the usual routine or scheduled activities such as sports, music lessons, dance lessons, religious education etcetera.  Language is a large part of peace in the home and family.  Language to avoid when trying to have a  peaceful and loving household.  There should be no tolerance for swearing, vulgar language, yelling, name calling, put downs, bullying, and physical aggression of any kind.  The word of any day should be everyone no matter how young or how old deserves to be treated with respect.  Parents who swear or use vulgar language are teaching their children this language and modeling disrespect and verbal abuse.  There are so many words in our language that we should never run out of possible word choices to express ourselves.  A peaceful dinner or any meal time is very important.  When meal times are conflictual or stressful it becomes difficult to eat and digest food.  Tone at meal times is important.  Letting go of conflict or disagreement at meal times is important.   Topics of conflict or that criticize don’t belong at the dinner table.  They produce anxiety and stress and interfere with eating and digestion.  A peaceful bedtime is also important.  It is hard to fall asleep and stay asleep if your stomach is in knots or you’re angry and upset.  Bed time rituals are important to produce restful sleep.  Warm shower or bath, night time prayers or stories, a night light near by all help to set the stage for restful sleep.  Use soft voice tones, stay away from criticism or negative thoughts at bedtime.  Sometimes music is helpful to set a restful mood.  Peace can be illusive but it does not have to be.  If you find yourself angry and unable to be gentle it is time to look at your own demons.  Talk to a therapist or trusted friend or pastor for guidance and relief.

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Stress! Stress! Stress!



Paula Randant, MSW

There are many stressors in life.  We need some stress.  It motivates us to eat, to work, to be active.  There are physical stressors such as hunger, cold or heat or illness.  There are emotional stressors such as death, loss, relationships, birth, marriage, buying a house, moving, conflict and criticism to name a few.  There are also cognitive stressors.  Cognitive stressors may come from work, school or home.  They present a challenge to solve a problem, develop a plan, understand a process or create something new.

Stress is not a bad thing until it tips the scale of balance in our lives.  When stressors are in balance in our lives we function at our most productive.  When the balance scales tip a little in one direction we will strive to rebalance.  Our bodies and neuro-chemical systems activate to return to balance.  Long term continuous stress or multiple stressors can begin to move our bodies and emotional and cognitive functioning out of balance and impede our optimum functioning.  The longer the stressor continues to overload ones system the more difficult to return to balance without assistance.

Our bodies are wonderfully designed.  Our bodies work automatically to return to stasis.  As stressors pile on or continue in an unrelenting fashion our systems can begin to break down.  We see the evidence of the break down with illness, depression, inability to manage daily life and loss of joy in living.  So what can one do to manage stress in our lives and maintain the balance necessary for optimum functioning.  Let us take the three realms of functioning I’ve mentioned physical, emotional and cognitive stressors.  All three areas benefit from physical exercise, appropriate levels of sleep and good nutrition.

Physical stressors are probably the easiest to remedy and return to balance.  Hunger, temperature/climate, and illness can be remedied directly.  Food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment can relieve and rebalance these stressors.

Emotional stressors may be the most difficult to remedy.  Stages of grief differ in length and duration for each individual.  Life events such as birth, marriage and buying a house may be positive but none the less  may produce stress reactions.  Conflict and criticism may result in interpsychic injury  that resists remedy.  Physical exercise, good nutrition and sleep are a start.  Talking to a trusted family member or friend can assist in working through emotional reactions.  Sharing feelings, discussing events and problem solving all may assist the return to balance.  If the individual begins to deteriorate  and has home life and work impacted it is probably time to seek professional help.  Counseling with a trained professional can help to assist in the return to balance.  If symptoms become more serious with daily living skills deteriorating or self destructive thoughts or actions occur it is time to combine counseling with the assistance of a Physician to consider medical interventions such as medication or hospitalization.

Cognitive stressors also respond to exercise, sleep and good nutrition.    Writers block is an example of cognitive distress.  Some suggestions for  restarting our creativity are quiet time, thinking time, change of activity or routine, social interaction, play and change of scenery.  Sharing ideas and feelings with family and friends may also be helpful.

Stress and it’s roots can often be complicated.  Finding ways to manage stress is important.

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6 Motivation Tips When You’re Feeling Depressed

6 Motivation Tips When You’re Feeling Depressed

Written byMeredith Walker

Depression is a difficult illness for even the most iron-willed of individuals. Whether you’re clinically depressed or just in a rut, depression can make basic tasks like cleaning the house, taking a shower and even getting out of bed incredibly difficult and physically and mentally draining. It is important to stay motivated to continue to live your life and work towards feeling better, even when you’re at your lowest point. Here are some simple ways that you can motivate yourself on a daily basis:

•    Don’t be too harsh with yourself. It’s going to take time to get things done like you used to and to feel like your old self. Changes are not going to happen overnight, so don’t be overly critical of yourself if you make mistakes or don’t get as much done as you’d like. You’re having a hard enough time without getting on your own case.

 •    Be realistic. Making a laundry list of things to do is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure. Start with small positive changes and work from there. If you’re not realistic you’ll just end up frustrated and more depressed.

•    Surround yourself with people. While you may just want to curl up and be alone, this isn’t the best or easiest route for you when you’re depressed. Having others around you to give you a helping hand, talk to you and provide you with inspiration is important to feeling better and getting back into the swing of things, even if you feel like you just want to shut everyone out.

•    Move around. Lying in bed all day or hunkering down on the couch isn’t going to do much but give you more time to feel bad about things. When you force yourself to get up, even if only for a short walk or to tend to some plants outside, you’ll be helping yourself feel better physically and mentally.

•    Start a project. For many, this may seem like that last thing they want to do but an enjoyable project can give you something to concentrate on that will bring your thoughts away from depression and give you something to feel proud of when you’re done.

•    Make a plan. If even the smallest tasks seem like a chore, start small with planning out what you’re going to do each day. In the morning, write down the things you’d like to accomplish and in the evening, go back and check off what you did. This can help you regain your sense of control over your life at a time when it seems the most chaotic.

Recovering from depression is a hard road, but with some planning and slow but steady progress you may be able to start feeling optimistic about your life again. For a list of more great depression resources, click here.

Meredith Walker is a guest blogger for PickTheBrain.com.

Here are few websites that might be helpful.

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5 Myths about sleep!

Till Roenneberg

1.You need eight hours of sleep per night.

That’s the cliche. Napoleon, for one, didn’t believe it. His prescription went something like this: “Six hours for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool.”

But Napoleon’s formula wasn’t right, either. The ideal amount of sleep is different for everyone and depends on many factors, including age and genetic makeup.

In the past 10 years, my research team has surveyed sleep behavior in more than 150,000 people. About 11 percent slept six hours or less, while only 27 percent clocked eight hours or more.  The majority fell in between. Women tended to sleep longer than men, but only by 14 minutes.

Bigger differences are seen when comparing various age groups. Ten-year-olds needed about nine hours of sleep, while adults older than 30, including senior citizens, averaged about seven hours. We recently identified the first gene associated with sleep duration —  if you have one variant of this gene, you need more sleep than if you have another.

Although it’s common to hear warnings about getting too much sleep — and 80 percent of the world uses an alarm clock to wake up on work days — it’s not difficult to figure out how much sleep we need. We sometimes overeat, but we generally cannot oversleep. When we wake up unprompted, feeling refreshed, we have slept enough.

In our industrial and urban society, we sleep about two hours less per night than 50 years ago. Like alcohol, this sleep deprivation significantly decreases our workperformance and compromises our health and memory.


2. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Benjamin Franklin’s proverbial praise of early risers made sense in the  second half of the 18th century, when his peers were exposed to much more daylight and to very dark nights. Their body clocks were tightly synchronized to this day-night cycle. This changed as work gradually moved indoors, performed under the far weaker intensity of artificial light during the day and, if desired, all night long.

The timing of sleep — earlier or later — is controlled by our internal clocks, which determine what researches call our optimal “sleep window.” With electric light, our body clocks have shifted later while the workday has essentially remained the same. We fall asleep according to our (late) body clock, and are awakened early for work by the alarm clock. We therefore suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, which we try to compensate for by sleeping in on free days. Many of us sleep more than an hour longer on weekends than on workdays.

My team calls this discrepancy between what our body clocks want and what our social clocks want “social jet lag.” This is most obvious in teenagers. Their tendency to sleep longer is biological, not because they’re lazy, and it reaches its peak around age 20. Studies show that teenagers who sleep later and start school later exhibit improved academic performance, higher motivation, decreased absenteeism and better eating habits.

Yet, many cultures reward people who start work early, even if they’re operating on reduced sleep. As a result, many successful people are short-sleeping early-risers such as Margaret Thatcher and Bill Clinton. Fortunately for those of us who like to hit the snooze button, success is not restricted to early birds. Albert Einstein and Elvis Presley, for example, were late sleepers.


3. Exercise helps you sleep.

Exercising may contribute to falling asleep earlier, and it certainly helps us sleep soundly through the night. But it’s light, not physical activity, that proves the German proverb “Fresh air makes you tired.” Exercise often means being outside and getting more light — on average, 1,000 times more than indoor levels. Exposure to sunlight synchronizes our body clocks with daylight.

Sleep is not only regulated by the body clock, but also by how long we were awake (also known as the buildup of “sleep pressure”). But not all waking hours are equal. We’ll get more tired skiing, for example, than sitting at a desk sending e-mail. This is one reason we sometimes lie awake at the end of a long day at the office despite utter exhaustion.


4. Sleep is just a matter of discipline.

Most parents and teachers think that if teenagers are zombies in the morning, they just lack the discipline to go to bed early. Although it is true that exposure to computer and television screens late at night makes for late rising, early-to-bed teenagers will still have a hard time getting up at the crack of dawn.

Think of teenagers as early shift-workers who suffer the most social jet lag. They go to school at their biological equivalent of midnight with profound consequences for learning and memory. They suffer from sleep deprivation during the school week and certainly should be allowed to catch up on weekends. However, they should sleep with daylight coming into their bedrooms and should refrain from using light-emitting devices after 10 p.m.


5. Most couples have very different sleep habits.

We’ve all heard stories: A woman tries to sleep while her husband is reading. Or one spouse needs to sleep in, but the other wants to start the day. When I ask lecture

audiences whether such scenarios sound familiar, I frequently see a majority of hands go up.

But again, this is a matter of biology and genetics, not habits and personal preference. Women generally fall asleep earlier than men, who tend toward night owlishness. Women, however, tend to control the sleep times in a partnership. Husbands of women who work late shifts at night, for example, go to bed much earlier when their wives are at home than when their wives are working late, research has found.

One finding that might be surprising, given how much time we spend in our beds: Men and women don’t seem to give any consideration to sleep patterns when choosing a mate.



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A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experience.

An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment

A loss of interest in judging other people

A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others

A loss of interest in conflict

author anonymous  12/31/15

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Back to School with Paula 2015

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It is that time of year when college students are getting ready to leave for school, high school students are getting ready to begin classes and fall sports such as football or activities such as Marching Band are starting.   Elementary and Middle School students are starting to bicker at home and Mom is getting ready for the kids to head back to school.  School produces a lot of anxiety in children.  The academic work load is significant for today’s students.  Even students in Kindergarten have homework.  Besides the work load children are often involved in sports or music lessons or religious education and more.   Though most of these activities are valuable they also increase stress and our children may have little down time.  Hours on video games don’t reduce stress.  How does a family organize life to lower stress and maintain achievement.

Here are some ideas.

College students: 

Students leaving home for the first time have the most difficulty.  They are leaving friends and family for the first time and though excited for new life experiences are fearful of the challenges and losses.   When someone is leaving anger may pop up as a way to cope with leaving.  Parents can manage this by being empathetic and responding to the underlying emotions rather than the anger.   Parents are often under stress at this impending change in their life as a loved child is growing up and leaving home for college.  Sharing thoughts and feelings of pride in a child’s growth and success in life is important as well as love and affection recognizing that being apart may make one sad.  Preparing together is a good thing.  Shopping, planning and discussing the excitement and challenges of college are important.  Encouraging and reinforcing your student and their abilities is helpful.  Planning parent visits to campus is also important.  It is better for a student to get connected with their new school and develop new friends and engage in the full experience of college life than to come home too often.  Holiday and extended breaks at school are better choices for visits home.

 Elementary and Middle School students:

K through 8th grade students face many stresses and challenges.  The school day is intense.  The academic work load is significant for today’s students.   Good sleep habits, good eating habits and exercise are important.  Most children benefit from structure.  A schedule chart at home can be useful and reduce conflict or tasks not completed.  A chart should include the morning (before school) routine and the evening (after school) routine.  Charts can be tied to a reward system that provides positive reinforcement for cooperative behavior.  Many students have sports, or classes like dancing or music after school and schedules can be tight.  It is important that children have play time to be active and unwind as well.  Homework can be a challenge.  Students should have a quiet place where parents can monitor homework progress or help when necessary such as the kitchen table.  TV time should be saved until homework and dinner are done.  As students reach 3rd or 4th grade assignment note books become important to manage school work.

Bedtime Difficulties:

When children have difficulty getting to sleep at a reasonable  time the following ideas might help.

Have a bedtime routine.  Schedule bedtimes by the child’s age and sleep needs.  An eight year old and a twelve year old should not have the same bedtime.   After dinner and homework, time should be monitored and baths, brushing teeth, quiet reading alone or with a parent and prayers are some of the activities to prepare for sleep.  A child should have their own bed.  Reduce stimulation by ending video games, TV or rough housing prior to the bedtime routine as they interfere with sleep.

High School students:

High school students are often stressed.  The academic and social challenges of high school are significant.   Adequate sleep, healthy eating habits and physical activity are important for high school students.   The use of cell phones, iPods, and computers and other media increase stress, reduce focus on academics and may interfere with sleep.  Parents should remove phones and other media at bedtime when your student is expected to sleep.  Peers often call each other during the night interfering with sleep.   Keep up with your teen’s life.  Try to find ways to meet their friends and learn about the social context of their life.  As they mature they will be exposed to activities that are risky such as alcohol use, drug use or sexual experimentation.   Parent involvement in their student’s life by frequent meals together, activities together, and religious activities are important ways to keep channels of communication open.  Let your teen put their music on the car radio, driving time with kids often is a door to what is going on in their life.  Knowing the influences in your teen’s life will help you to head off problems.

Comments on the topics discussed in this article or ideas you would like to share are welcome.

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Diet Myths? Busted!!!


Your Best Fitness

With so many people offering advice on weight loss, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. All too often I’ve overheard a hardworking gym-goer sharing a well-meaning but ill-informed tip with another exerciser. And I’m not the only one who’s heard fitness folklore being swapped on the training room floor. I spoke to top experts in the field to find out the common fitness myths they hear from clients. From the pseudo miracles of the“fat-burning” zone to the misguided magic of working out on an empty stomach, here are the fitness falsehoods you should never follow.

MYTH #1: The best way to lose weight is to drastically cut calories

“Our bodies are smarter than we think,” says Jari Love, star of the Get Extremely Ripped: 1000 Hardcore DVD. “When we eat too little, our body believes that it’s starving so our metabolism slows down and holds onto fat as a potential energy source.” A much better approach: Eat more often, but eat less food at one time—and focus on these 7 Foods Not to Ditch When You Diet. For the fastest weight loss, break up your total daily calorie allotment—don’t eat fewer than 1,200 calories if you’re a woman or fewer than 1,800 calories if you’re a man—into five to six small meals to keep your metabolism humming.

MYTH #2: Heavy weights will bulk you up

“This just isn’t possible for most women,” says personal trainer and Preventioncontributing editor Chris Freytag. “Ladies have too much estrogen in their hormone makeup. Yes, heavier weights build muscle and strength, but most of us women aren’t lifting anything so heavy that we are at risk for building man muscles.” Plus, muscle is the secret to a revved up metabolism, as it burns more calories than more fat, even when you’re sitting on the couch or at your desk.

MYTH #3: Keep your heart rate in the fat-burning zone

If you’ve been exercising at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate in order to shed flab faster, you could be slowing your slimdown. “The fat-burning zone is a complete myth,” says Wayne Westcott, PhD, Preventionadvisory board member and fitness research director at Quincy College. “While it’s true that you burn a higher percentage of fat calories when exercising at a moderate pace, you burn fewer calories overall.” For instance, if you get on a treadmill and walk at a 3.5 MPH pace for 30 minutes, you might burn 250 calories. If you raise the speed to 7 miles per hour, you’d burn 500. Bottom line? “It’s much better to go at the faster speed.” Prefer the elliptical trainer? Make sure you’re not making one of the Top 10 Elliptical Trainer Mistakes.

MYTH #4: Boosting cardio is the best way to bypass a plateau

“The most effective way to lose weight is to include both cardio and weights in your routine,”says Love. “One study found that when individuals cycled for 30 minutes a day, they lost 3 pounds of fat and gained a half pound of muscle in 8 weeks. But individuals who cycled for 15 minutes and weight trained for 15 minutes a day lost 10 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of calorie-burning muscle.”

MYTH #5: Ab exercises are the fastest way to a flat belly

“Doing abdominal exercises can strengthen the different ab muscles, but it won’t burn body fat and reveal the ‘6-pack look,’” says Aaron Swan, Private Trainer at the Sports Club/LA-Boston. “Abs are made in the kitchen—not from doing crunches.” A proper diet low in refined carbohydrates and full of lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of low-glycemic fruits and vegetables will bring you closer to the flat belly you’re after. Still, you should work your tummy! Here are 6 Surprising Moves for Flatter Abs.

MYTH #6: Doing squats will make your butt big

“This one cracks me up,” says Freytag. “We all know what makes your butt big and it isn’t squats. All of us who sit in front of a computer, at desk, or in a car seat all day are at risk for developing weak glutes unless we actively do something about it.” One of the best fixes: Squats! “Science shows that this move will help to lift, firm, and strengthen your buns,” says Freytag. “Just be sure to focus on good form. Keep your knees above your shoe laces and sit back into an imaginary chair; squeeze through your glutes as you return to standing.”

For more great exercise ideas, check out the Free Feel-Your-Best Fitness Newsletter from Prevention.

MYTH #7: It can take only a few weeks to reach a reach weight loss plateau.

“Recently, a woman told me she had been training for one month and the scale had already stopped moving,” says Love. “She insisted she had been sticking to her diet and that she was in a plateau, but that likely wasn’t the case.” Why not? A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that it takes 6 months for an individual to reach a weight loss plateau. “If you are only a couple weeks into your program and weight loss has halted, you probably need to watch your diet,” says Love.

MYTH #8: I can slim down by switching to diet soda

There may be zero calories, but chugging those cans of chemicals could be plumping your paunch. “A study at Purdue University found that rats given artificial sweeteners ate more calories and gained more weight than rats given sugar,” says Love. “A better option is to drink water that is naturally flavored with lemon or cucumber slices to keep calories low and hydration high.”

MYTH #9: An empty stomach means more fat burn

You’ve probably heard that working out sans food forces your body to tap into fat reserves to work, but this is far from true, says Freytag.“Science has shown you need to have some glucose in your system in order to ignite your fat-burning furnaces. If you run out of stored glucose, your flame goes out and you start burning up muscle.” Having a little pre-workout snack—check out our list of 14 Snacks That Power Up Weight Loss for ideas—30 to 60 minutes before your workout gives you the energy to go longer and harder, which boosts your burn.

MYTH #10: You can target trouble spots

It would be nice to be able to choose where our bodies store fat (bigger cup size and thinner thigh, please!) but that just isn’t possible.“The scientific truth is that your body decides where to burn fat  based on genetics, regardless of the body part you are exercising,” says Samantha Clayton, personal trainer and co-star of YouTube’s Be Fit In 90.  Instead of focusing on one area, spend your time doing full-body workouts that blast calories, like running or body-weight circuits, for all-over slimming.

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6 Motivation Tips When You’re Feeling Depressed

6 Motivation Tips When You’re Feeling Depressed

Written by Meredith Walker

Depression is a difficult illness for even the most iron-willed of individuals. Whether you’re clinically depressed or just in a rut, depression can make basic tasks like cleaning the house, taking a shower and even getting out of bed incredibly difficult and physically and mentally draining. It is important to stay motivated to continue to live your life and work towards feeling better, even when you’re at your lowest point. Here are some simple ways that you can motivate yourself on a daily basis:

•    Don’t be too harsh with yourself. It’s going to take time to get things done like you used to and to feel like your old self. Changes are not going to happen overnight, so don’t be overly critical of yourself if you make mistakes or don’t get as much done as you’d like. You’re having a hard enough time without getting on your own case.

•    Be realistic. Making a laundry list of things to do is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure. Start with small positive changes and work from there. If you’re not realistic you’ll just end up frustrated and more depressed.

•    Surround yourself with people. While you may just want to curl up and be alone, this isn’t the best or easiest route for you when you’re depressed. Having others around you to give you a helping hand, talk to you and provide you with inspiration is important to feeling better and getting back into the swing of things, even if you feel like you just want to shut everyone out.

•    Move around. Lying in bed all day or hunkering down on the couch isn’t going to do much but give you more time to feel bad about things. When you force yourself to get up, even if only for a short walk or to tend to some plants outside, you’ll be helping yourself feel better physically and mentally.

•    Start a project. For many, this may seem like that last thing they want to do but an enjoyable project can give you something to concentrate on that will bring your thoughts away from depression and give you something to feel proud of when you’re done.

•    Make a plan. If even the smallest tasks seem like a chore, start small with planning out what you’re going to do each day. In the morning, write down the things you’d like to accomplish and in the evening, go back and check off what you did. This can help you regain your sense of control over your life at a time when it seems the most chaotic.

Recovering from depression is a hard road, but with some planning and slow but steady progress you may be able to start feeling optimistic about your life again. For a list of more great depression resources, click here.

Meredith Walker is a guest blogger for PickTheBrain.com.

Here are few websites that might be helpful.


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What Makes Someone a Likable Person? by Emily Roberts MA, LPC

How to Become a More Likable Person

What makes someone a likable person? You may think that some people have a better personality than you, have an easier time talking to others or that likable people are just born that way. Nope, you too can be a more likable person, it just takes some practice. If you learn to cultivate the tools in this post when interacting with others, you’ll feel more confident in social situations, have healthier relationships and feel happier in the skin you’re in.

What Makes Someone a Likable Person?

Think about a person you feel is likable — someone who gets along with almost anyone, can strike up a conversation at a business meeting or dinner party or who seems to know what to say or how to appear confident even in awkward situations. What makes them more likable? What makes people drawn to them? It is often their confidence, or apparent confidence in the situation. See, likable people try to make others feel at ease and do their best to be mindful of their own discomfort. They try to act in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable.

Five Ways to Be a More Likable Person

  1. Do you want to be a more likable person? Do you know what traits make someone likable? Here are five ways to become a more likable person instantly. Read this.Ask good questions. If someone is talking, listen. Pick up on something that interests you. For example, if you’re meeting someone new, say, “What part of town are you in?” or “How do you like that area, I’ve heard great things.” This shows them you want to learn more about them, which makes them feel good. Asking questions means you are acting interested and people want to feel heard.
  2. Act interested.  Listen to what they are saying. Nod, smile and respond with comments or questions that relate to the conversation. Put away your phone, too. Texting in the middle of a conversation or even checking your phone is incredibly disrespectful. Instead, show that you are committed to the conversation by not distracting yourself or insinuating that you are not interested.
  3.  Make genuine compliments. When you compliment someone about something specific and unique to them, you become more likable and appear confident. “I really like that color on you. You look fantastic in blue,” or “I love the way you handled that frustrating email, you are so good at calming customers down.” These are genuine and unique to the person and mean more than just a few nice words.
  4. Try to be kind to everyone. Kindness makes people likable instantly. I was with a client at a coffee shop recently and a woman was very rude to us as we were waiting in line. I wanted to shout back at her ( I wouldn’t do that) but I took a breath and said very nicely, “I’m so sorry we are taking a bit longer to make a decision, would you like to go in front of us?” She didn’t say thank you and I didn’t make a face (although I wanted to roll my eyes). When we finally were ready to order, the cashier said, “That was so nice of you; sorry that woman was so rude.” I said, “Oh she was probably in a hurry or something; it’s no problem.” Not only do I want to be a good example for my client, but a kind and likable person to the world. Likable people don’t waste energy on people who disrespect them.
  5. Validate others. Validating others doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. Say your friend decides to yell at her boss because he didn’t pay her on time. You can still validate the frustration she must have without telling her advice she doesn’t want to hear (you shouldn’t have done that to your boss). Validation is a way for others to feel that you hear them and empathize with them. “I’m really sorry to hear he hasn’t paid you; that must be so frustrating. I hope he gets the money to you soon.”

Another thing to remember about likable people is their intention isn’t to be liked, it’s to make others feel comfortable. That’s because they become more confident and comfortable, too. Chances are you are already a very likable person and remembering these tips will help you feel even more confident in any situation.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

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What successful people do in the morning!

What successful people do in the morning

IncBy Jessica Stillman | Inc – Thu, Jun 14, 2012 9:24 AM EDT

The day may have 24 hours of equivalent length but author Laura Vanderkam says not every hour is created equal. Drawing on her own research, surveys of executives, and the latest science on willpower for her forthcoming ebook What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Vanderkam argues that making smart use of the early morning is a practice most highly successful people share.

From former Pepsi CEO Steve Reinemund’s 5 a.m. treadmill sessions, to author Gretchen Rubin’s 6 a.m. writing hour, examples of highly accomplished folks who wring the most from their pre-breakfast hours abound in the book. What do they know that the average entrepreneur might not have realized yet?

“Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself before you pay your bills. If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over. Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen,” Vanderkam writes. “If it has to happen, then it has to happen first,” she says.

But what if you’re a night owl by inclination and you go pale at the thought of setting the alarm for even five minutes earlier? Vanderkam explained to Inc.com that there is hope for nearly everyone.

Around 10% to 20% of folks are confirmed night owls. Screwing up your schedule is not wise for these folks–and they may have to choose professions and ways of working and ways of dealing with their families accordingly. Everyone else is in the middle–and my thesis is that there are real advantages to training yourself toward the lark side,” she said.

And luckily, you don’t have to rely on sheer force of will to make the switch to earlier mornings (though some of that is, no doubt, required). In the book, Vanderkam lays out a five-step process to help you make the change with the minimum of pain:

Track your time: “Part of spending your time better is knowing exactly how you’re spending it now,” writes Vanderkam, who recommends you, “write down what you’re doing as often as you can and in as much detail as you think will be helpful,” offering a downloadable spreadsheet to help.

Picture the perfect morning: “Ask yourself what a great morning would look like for you,” suggests Vanderkam, who offers plenty of inspiration. Shawn Achor uses the early hours to write a note of appreciation. Manisha Thakor, a personal finance guru, goes in for transcendental meditation. Randeep Rekhi, who is employed full time at a financial services firm, manages his side business, an online wine store, before heading off to work.

Think through the logistics: “Map out a morning schedule. What would have to happen to make this schedule work? What time would you have to get up and (most important) what time do you need to go to bed in order to get enough sleep?”

Build the habit: “This is the most important step,” writes Vanderkam before explaining how to gradually shift your schedule, noting and rewarding small wins along the way.

Tune up as necessary: “Life changes. Rituals can change, too.”

Check out the short-but-useful ebook to learn more details on becoming more of a morning person, as well as additional ideas on how to put those reclaimed hours to use.

What’s your morning ritual?


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Removing stigma of mental illiness so important

By The Daily Herald Editorial Board

It was one of those special days when the black clouds part for people suffering from mental illness. For people who care for and about people with mental illness. For all of us.

On Monday, President Obama called for the hushed conversation about mental health to be drawn from the shadows and be brought into the national consciousness.

In opening a White House conference on mental health, Obama said those affected by mental illness should know they don’t have to suffer in silence.

“Struggling with a mental illness or caring for someone who does can be isolating,” he said. “It begins to feel as if not only are you alone but that you shouldn’t burden others with the challenge.”

He trotted out actors Bradley Cooper and Glenn Close, both of whom have played memorable mentally ill characters, to give the discussion some Hollywood cachet.

Closer to home, how serendipitous that Myers Place — a long-anticipated 39-unit apartment building for people who are disabled, mentally ill or formerly homeless but have the ability to live independently — opened the same day in Mount Prospect.

And that the village of Wheeling on Monday night settled with the developers of PhilHaven, a proposed 50-unit building for low-income residents who have mental illness but can live independently.

The Wheeling village board had fought PhilHaven’s construction by rejecting it twice — overruling the recommendation of the village plan commission. A judge, however, called the village’s rejection discriminatory after the developers sued and gave village leaders no confidence they could prevail.

Myers Place is the first supportive housing development in the Northwest suburbs, and residents will begin to move in this week. With all 39 units filled, there are still more than 300 people on a waiting list, said Jessica Berzac, with the Daveri Development Group, which built Myers Place, will build PhilHaven and has plans for similar projects in Palatine and other towns.

In Washington, the administration laid out an agenda that includes discussion of insurance coverage for mental health care and substance abuse, recognizing the signs of mental illness in young people and improved access to services for veterans.

Local news stories here continue to illustrate how acute the problems of drug use and suicide are in the suburbs.

Nationally, the overarching goals are to reduce the stigma of mental health problems and encourage those who are struggling to get help.

Let’s hope that as time wears on, prejudices and fears about facilities like Myers Place and PhilHaven ebb.

“These are individuals who desire the same things we all do,” Berzac said. “A safe place to live that they can call home.”

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Trying to have a loving relationship but find yourself sometimes angry and unkind to your partner.

Some ideas:  Love wants the good of the other.  When we say we love someone by definition love wants the good of the other person. Not what we want.   So how do we develop loving habits.  A suggestion,   before you speak or act ask yourself “Is this a loving act.”  If what you are about to do or say does not pass this test STOP THINK AND if it does not pass be silent.  Rethink your act or words and change them to loving words or actions or just don’t do them.

Make this a habit.

Paula Randant

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How One Nonprofit Found Its SROI

How One Nonprofit Found Its SROI

“Show me the money.”

Though few say it with as much fervor as Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character did in Jerry Maguire, we all in the social purpose sector have heard this theme before.  When donors ask about leverage or impact or sustainability of results, they’re subtly asking us to “show them the money” or more likely, the return on their investment.

Of course in our case, our returns are of a different sort.  They’re social returns on investment: the positive social cash value that can be created as a result of families being healthier, communities being safer, and moms and dads going back to work.

At The Cara Program — a suite of professional skill-building bootcamps and businesses that help adults affected by poverty get and keep good jobs — we have attempted to articulate, refine, and articulate anew our SROI, which basically boils down to this: for every dollar invested in our programs, we produce about $5.74 in social cash value over a five-year time horizon.

That amount is calculated by looking at a cohort of individuals placed into permanent employment a few years back, and examines two things:

  • Contributions made to society in the form of income taxes paid, social security paid, and sales tax dollars spent on stuff that can now be purchased due to an individual having more cash in their pocket
  • Savings to society in the form of public supports, food stamps, and unemployment no longer leveraged when an individual is gainfully employed, re-arrest and incarceration costs no longer incurred when an individual doesn’t recidivate, and emergency rooms no longer used when an individual has sustained benefits, etc.

We total both those aggregate amounts and look at that sum over a five-year time horizon and discount to today’s cash value.  Then we divide by our operating costs to derive the final calculation. One dollar in equals $5.74 out over five years.

The good news?  This process uses real people, with the real supports they were leveraging upon entry into the program, and real depletion of those supports once an individual gets and keeps a good job.

The other news? This methodology took a long time to create. Getting to this product took about 18 months of hard thinking by really smart people to get to right and fair calculations.  And there are flies in the ointment.  In fact, a few great audience members at the Do Good Data Conference earlier this year pointed out some things we need to evaluate to make a stronger SROI calculation moving forward — up to and including whether our veracity on the use of counterfactuals is strong in all cases, or only in some.

But therein lies the trap.  This stuff is rabbit-hole business.  And you can very easily let perfect be the enemy of good.  What we are really seeking to do is to provoke a conversation with investors and influencers in this work to flip the conversation around “nonprofits.”  The reality is that we are not “nonprofits.” (And who does that by the way?  Who defines themselves by what they are not?)  We are social purpose organizations that do, indeed, have to produce a profit.  We just reinvest our dividends in a different way.

So when we talk about social return, we are elevating the notion that we are not an “aw shucks” charity, but an organization providing vital solutions to the persnickety challenges of poverty alleviation.  And we are doing so in a way that sticks.

We might be wrong to some degree here and there, but we are right in a good piece of the puzzle.  Our arguments are defensible.  Most importantly, they create a platform on which to have a meaningful exchange about what we’re actually doing here – inviting those with the power of money to recognize that they’re not just giving a gift, but truly making an investment.   An investment in a solution for sticky, positive change.

Show me the money, indeed.


Maria Kim
After 13 years in the insurance industry (with her last position leading the technology division for a $400m insurance firm), in 2005 Maria Kim joined The Cara Program – a workforce development and leadership development organization helping men and women affected by poverty to secure and sustain quality employment.  As CEO, she is charged with the oversight of The Cara Program’s strategic plan to create or secure 3,500 jobs over five years, through two training campuses, and multiple social enterprises designed to drive jobs for the most difficult to employ, while building diversified revenue for the firm.  Maria received her MBA through the Executive MBA Program of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
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9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier


9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier

IncBy Geoffrey James | Inc – Thu, Dec 20, 2012 6:39 PM EST

Happiness is the only true measure of personal success. Making other people happy is the highest expression of success, but it’s almost impossible to make others happy if you’re not happy yourself.

With that in mind, here are nine small changes that you can make to your daily routine that, if you’re like most people, will immediately increase the amount of happiness in your life:

1. Start each day with expectation.

If there’s any big truth about life, it’s that it usually lives up to (or down to) your expectations. Therefore, when you rise from bed, make your first thought: “something wonderful is going to happen today.” Guess what? You’re probably right.

2. Take time to plan and prioritize.

The most common source of stress is the perception that you’ve got too much work to do.  Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first.

3. Give a gift to everyone you meet.

I’m not talking about a formal, wrapped-up present. Your gift can be your smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even a friendly nod. And never pass beggars without leaving them something. Peace of mind is worth the spare change.

4. Deflect partisan conversations.

Arguments about politics and religion never have a “right” answer but they definitely get people all riled up over things they can’t control. When such topics surface, bow out by saying something like: “Thinking about that stuff makes my head hurt.”

5. Assume people have good intentions.

Since you can’t read minds, you don’t really know the “why” behind the “what” that people do. Imputing evil motives to other people’s weird behaviors adds extra misery to life, while assuming good intentions leaves you open to reconciliation.

6. Eat high quality food slowly.

Sometimes we can’t avoid scarfing something quick to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or an imported chocolate. Focus on it; taste it; savor it.

7. Let go of your results.

The big enemy of happiness is worry, which comes from focusing on events that are outside your control. Once you’ve taken action, there’s usually nothing more you can do. Focus on the job at hand rather than some weird fantasy of what might happen.

8. Turn off “background” TV.

Many households leave their TVs on as “background noise” while they’re doing other things. The entire point of broadcast TV is to make you dissatisfied with your life so that you’ll buy more stuff. Why subliminally program yourself to be a mindless consumer?

9. End each day with gratitude.

Just before you go to bed, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened. It might be something as small as a making a child laugh or something as huge as a million dollar deal. Whatever it is, be grateful for that day because it will never come again.

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Childhood mental illness

sad child image

By Kelli Miller
WebMD Health News

Childhood mental illness is a public health crisis that needs increased awareness and intervention, according to a report released today by the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on mental health care for children. “The Children’s Mental Health Report” reveals that more kids are living with a psychiatric disease than cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. And yet, few are getting the help they need – making them more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol, and get tangled in the juvenile justice system. Harold Koplewicz, MD, the institute’s co-founder and president, talks about the key findings and what parents can do to keep their kids healthy.

Q: What is most significant finding in the Children’s Mental Health Report?

A: It’s the number of children in the United States who are suffering from these disorders. The fact is, 17.1 million young people up to the age of 18 have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. These are the most common conditions of childhood and adolescence. To give you some reference, there are 7.1 million American kids who have asthma. There are 200,000 American kids under the age of 20 who have diabetes. There are 7 million American kids who have peanut allergies. And yet we have 17.1 million young people with a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. This is a true public health crisis. I think the other important issue is that more than two-thirds of these kids don’t get help.

Q: Are there more kids with these illnesses than in the past?

A: No, I don’t think so. Let’s take obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example. (It) was thought in the 1980s to (affect) 1 percent of the children that came to a psychiatric clinic. So that’s 1 in 100 of psychiatrically ill children. Today, we recognize it’s 3 percent of the general population, or 3 in 100 of children in general. How did that happen? Did it go into the water? Is it something in the electrical wires? How could you have such a massive increase?

What happened were two things. A medication came out called anafranil that turned out to be incredibly effective in treating kids with (mental health) disorders. Then, a group of psychologists developed a treatment program called exposure response prevention, which was incredibly effective in treating OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) symptoms. Then people started talking about it. A woman named Judy Rapoport from the National Institute on Mental Health wrote a book called The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing. So, all of a sudden, you have two effective treatments and some public awareness, and people came out of the closet. When they were told they could treat it, they were no longer ashamed of it. With a lot of these diseases, people try to keep to themselves. They are holding back. They don’t want people to know how much they are suffering.

Q: Why do you think stigma remains around mental health?

A: One of the biggest problems we have is that we do not have a blood test or an objective test that finds that someone has the illness. We still make the diagnosis the way we did for years with heart disease. We take a history — we say if your chest hurts and the pain is radiating down your left arm, you might be having a heart attack. Now, we have measurements and tools that can measure (heart problems). In psychiatry, however, we are looking at behavior. We look to see if kids are behaving in a certain way that is different from normal. We ask, ‘How severely different is it than what we consider normal?’ I think also as parents, when we don’t understand something, we are ashamed of it, and we feel guilty about it, and so we deny that fact that our kids have it. We are so willing to say ‘Oh, they are just being a boy,’ or, ‘They are just a moody teenager.’ We are not embracing the fact how real, common, and treatable these conditions are, which is contributing to the public health crisis.

Q: How can parents recognize that their children have a mental health disorder?

A: The most important thing is, the parents have to know their kids. They have to recognize what their appetite, sleep pattern, social activities, and academic performance are like. When there are changes in that behavior, that should be a red flag. It’s important to consider that there is a general discrepancy between a parent’s and child’s report on the degree and nature of the illness. Children report more illness about themselves than their parents report about them, particularly if they are anxious or depressed. Parents don’t see the symptoms as often as the child does. That means if a parent sees a change, they shouldn’t wait. It’s most likely more severe than they suspect. (A child does not naturally talk) about how worried, sad, or irritable they are.

Q: What happens when a child with mental illness is not treated?

A: I think the worst thing that that can happen to a child is they can have damage to their self-esteem. They start feeling ‘less than’ or inadequate. That happens if they are put in situations where they don’t have the skills to succeed or to thrive. If we pretend that a child doesn’t have a problem, and yet they can’t sit still or pay attention as long as other kids, or they can’t pick up the language the way everyone else can, or they’re so anxious that they can’t concentrate, we put children into a real-life situation on a daily basis where they are feeling truly inadequate. They become demoralized. They want to avoid that situation.

That, in my opinion, is what contributes to the high rate of academic failure and school dropouts that occurs with kids who have a psychiatric diagnosis. Seventy percent of the youth in juvenile justice settings have a psychiatric diagnosis. We know that left untreated, kids start feeling bad, and when someone feels bad in a situation they try to avoid it. Once you start avoiding school you are more at risk for bad things happening to you.

Q: Your report recommends using medications in combination with psychotherapy as the most effective way to treat mental illness in kids. What would you say to parents who may be reluctant to put their child on medication?

A: I think if you read the report very carefully, we are talking about medication for very specific disorders. We are talking about medication for ADHD, depression, and anxiety disorders. What’s really interesting is we are using data from national studies that compared medication to other things, whether it’s a placebo or specific talk therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of talk therapy with medication. So parents who read this will be better informed about how well this works.

For instance, look at the treatment for anxiety. We show that combination therapy effectiveness after 12 weeks is 81 percent using Zoloft along with cognitive behavioral therapy. Therapy and Zoloft alone are about the same, 60 percent and 55 percent. But at 36 weeks later, each one (is about the same) rate. Combination therapy, behavioral therapy alone, and Zoloft alone come to 83, 80, and 82 percent. So a parent looks at this and says “OK, my kid can get better in 12 weeks if he uses the medication and the behavioral therapy. If we wait long enough, behavioral therapy alone will get us to the same treatment (success) rate.”

But how much longer do you want your kid to suffer? During the first few weeks when the kid isn’t well, he won’t be attending school (and) he might not be able to sleep in his own bed. At least now, parents have the ability to look at this report and understand the effectiveness of … evidence-based treatments. The Child Mind Institute doesn’t accept money from the pharmaceutical industry, which I think puts us in a very unique position. So when we are telling you some of the most effective treatments are medicine, we, as physicians and clinicians are talking about what we know from nationally federally funded studies. Not studies funded by the drug companies.

Q: What else should parents know about mental health treatment?

A: Sometimes, a child will need more than just therapy and one medicine. You might need two medicines. Some of these are hard conditions to treat. I think for parents who are concerned about using medication, they need to have an understanding of medicine works. Medicine seems to give a quicker response, and gets your kid less symptomatic, faster. But by no stretch of the imagination is medicine a magic bullet. Cognitive behavioral therapy can really make a world of difference in the long run for these kids.

Q: Finding help for a child can be difficult, time consuming and expensive, as many providers do not take insurance. What can be done to make this easier for parents?

A: We have produced a guide online called Parents’ Guide to Getting Good Care. I wouldn’t hire an architect, for example, without a guide. And yet parents are so worried and distressed when they finally decide to get mental health care for their kids, they don’t do the due diligence process that we think is necessary. So we’ve created a guide that gives parents the right questions to ask. It describes the difference between the types of mental health professionals. The guide also helps them find the right person to help their child in their neighborhood. There is also a symptom checker on our web site that gives them some idea of what may be troubling their child. This is where parents really need help. They need to understand when their child is in trouble and they have to make sure they are getting their kids truly effective treatment.

Parents have a hard job. Definitely part of the requirement of being a good parent is to not to deny when you see symptoms. In the hopes that you want your kids to be healthy, sometimes we tend to look the other way. But this is really one of those times when looking the other

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The awful effects of Anxiety by Tanya Peterson, MS

It’s quite common for those of us who live, or have lived with, anxiety to bemoan, “These awful effects of anxiety must stop!” I have a serious question for anyone who has ever uttered similar words: what, specifically, do you hate about anxiety? Chances are, it’s the effects of anxiety that are wreaking havoc on you and your life.

The awful effects of anxiety can make us miserable in many ways. These awful symptoms are common effects of anxiety.

“Anxiety” can be vague, and vagueness is very difficult to target. The awful effects of anxiety, in contrast, are concrete. When we can practice mindfulness meditation and be still and silent with our anxiety long enough to determine what it’s doing to us (no small task if anxiety has you so agitated you feel as though you might jump out of your own skin), we can pinpoint what, specifically, it is that must stop.

Some of the Effects of Anxiety Can Make Us Miserable

Anxiety’s symptoms can be different for different people, of course. However, some of the effects of anxiety are common to many. Perhaps some of these are part of your own experience:

Overthinking, overthinking, overthinking: Anxiety can make our minds race with worries, fears, and what-ifs. Did I do this right? What if I did that wrong? Why did I say that? What did he mean by that? What if my loved one isn’t safe? On and on it goes, any time of day or night. While brushing your teeth, driving your kids to school, standing in line, grocery shopping, signing your name or lying in bed, wide awake, in the middle of the night — anxiety’s incessant thoughts are maddening.

Memory making? More like memory taking. Anxiety can mess with memory. One reason for this is that it takes control of your mind so that you pay attention to the worries and fears it forces upon you. So when you lie awake at night ruminating about all of the things you said and did wrong in the last several days/weeks/months/years, but you are hard-pressed to remember what you ate for dinner or what your son told you about his day, begin to rest assured. This is an effect of anxiety, and it doesn’t have to stick around forever.

Exhaustion and physical illness: Anxiety robs us of quality sleep. Further, it puts the brain and body on almost constant alert. Living in fight-or-flight mode is taxing. Anxious thoughts and feelings race through us so fast and fill us up so much that the effects of anxiety can include us feeling dizzy and nauseated and ready to vomit.

Pain: Anxiety feels a lot like what I imagine being stuffed into a washing machine would feel like. The spinning, the ricocheting around the metal drum, and the water (don’t forget the water, filling the lungs and creating a drowning sensation) just plain hurt everywhere. One of anxiety’s cruel effects is that we can be in pain and want to rest, but our brain and body are so agitated that we cannot rest. Therefore, we continue to feel tired and in pain.

The Awful Effects of Anxiety Must Stop

Anxiety and its effects get in the way of life; therefore, they must stop. Thankfully, the effects of anxiety can be drastically reduced and even eliminated from our lives. It is possible to make it stop! Managing anxiety is a common theme on Anxiety-Schmanxiety, and past and future posts explore ways to reduce these horrible effects of anxiety.

You can also connect with Tanya J. Peterson on her websiteGoogle+Facebook,TwitterLinkedin and Pinterest.

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Happiness is a habit – cultivate it

Happiness is a habit – cultivate it.” ~ Elbert Hubbar Happiness is one aspiration all people share. No one wants to be sad and depressed.


We’ve all seen people who are always happy – even amidst agonizing life trials. I’m not saying happy people don’t feel grief, sorrow or sadness; they just don’t let it overtake their life. The following are 21 things happy people make a habit of doing:



1. Appreciate Life

Be thankful that you woke up alive each morning. Develop a childlike sense of wonder towards life. Focus on the beauty of every living thing. Make the most of each day. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

2. Choose Friends Wisely

Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. Friends that have the same ethics as you will encourage you to achieve your dreams. They help you to feel good about yourself. They are there to lend a helping hand when needed.

3. Be Considerate

Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. Respect them for who they are. Touch them with a kind and generous spirit. Help when you are able, without trying to change the other person. Try to brighten the day of everyone you come into contact with.

4. Learn Continuously

Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, skiing, surfing or sky-diving.

5. Creative Problem Solving

Don’t wallow in self-pity. As soon as you face a challenge get busy finding a solution. Don’t let the set backs affect your mood, instead see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to make a positive change. Learn to trust your gut instincts – it’s almost always right.

6. Do What They Love

Some statistics show that 80% of people dislike their jobs! No wonder there’s so many unhappy people running around. We spend a great deal of our life working. Choose a career that you enjoy – the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it. Make time to enjoy your hobbies and pursue special interests.

7. Enjoy Life

Take the time to see the beauty around you. There’s more to life than work. Take time to smell the roses, watch a sunset or sunrise with a loved one, take a walk along the seashore, hike in the woods etc. Learn to live in the present moment and cherish it. Don’t live in the past or the future.

8. Laugh

Don’t take yourself – or life to seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Laugh at yourself – no one’s perfect. When appropriate laugh and make light of the circumstances. (Naturally there are times that you should be serious as it would be improper to laugh.)

9. Forgive

Holding a grudge will hurt no one but you. Forgive others for your own peace of mind. When you make a mistake – own up to it – learn from it – and FORGIVE yourself.

10. Gratitude

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial. Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life.

11. Invest in Relationships

Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. Don’t break your promises to them. Be supportive.

12. Keep Their Word

Honesty is the best policy. Every action and decision you make should be based on honesty. Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones.

13. Meditate

Meditation gives your very active brain a rest. When it’s rested you will have more energy and function at a higher level. Types of meditation include yoga, hypnosis, relaxation tapes, affirmations, visualization or just sitting in complete silence. Find something you enjoy and make the time to practice daily.

14. Mind Their Own Business

Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Don’t judge. Everyone has a right to live their own life the way they want to – including you.

15. Optimism

See the glass as half full. Find the positive side of any given situation. It’s there – even though it may be hard to find. Know that everything happens for a reason, even though you may never know what the reason is. Steer clear of negative thoughts. If a negative thought creeps in – replace it with a positive thought.


16. Love Unconditionally

Accept others for who they are. You don’t put limitations on your love. Even though you may not always like the actions of your loved ones – you continue to love them.

17. Persistence

Never give up. Face each new challenge with the attitude that it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You will never fail, as long as you never give up. Focus on what you want, learn the required skills, make a plan to succeed and take action. We are always happiest while pursuing something of value to us.

18. Be Proactive

Accept what can not be changed. Happy people don’t waste energy on circumstances beyond their control. Accept your limitations as a human being. Determine how you can take control by creating the outcome you desire – rather than waiting to respond.

19. Self Care

Take care of your mind, body and health. Get regular medical check ups. Eat healthy and work out. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water. Exercise your mind by continually energizing it with interesting and exciting challenges.

20. Self Confidence

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. After all no one likes a phony. Determine who you are in the inside – your own personal likes and dislikes. Be confident in who you are. Do the best you can and don’t second guess yourself.

21. Take Responsibility

Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their life. They take responsibility for their moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words. They are the first to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

Begin today by taking responsibility for your happiness. Work on developing these habits as you own. The more you incorporate the above habits into your daily lifestyle – the happier you will be.



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Challenge yourself.

Grace and love are the essence of God. “God is love,”  writes the apostle John(1John 4:8).  When have you been touched by God’s love or grace, and how has his love affected you? 

( Dr. Henry Cloud, Changes that Heal.)

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of “big, thoughts from Maria Kim

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of “big”, and how that has bombarded me over the decades – the big hair of my teen years, the big envy of the houses on the other side of the tracks, and the more recent iterations of big through “mega deals” and “super size” and “the most dramatic rose ceremony EVER”. And I realize, with increasing clarity that bigger isn’t always better. In fact, bigger – without a plan to stay bigger – is sometimes just a bust.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m writing today’s blog from the heart of Seattle – on the perimeter of Pike Place Market, where artisanal business is the norm (in fact, it’s required – no chains are allowed), and where micro (as in enterprise) is sexy. This place – this philosophy, this ecosystem even – is a vibrant metaphor for not just what social enterprise is, but what social enterprise could be – small (and in some cases artisanal) businesses with a big, fat, complex social mission.

I think it’s no coincidence that this is where I was moved to put pen to paper, because it inspires a clean re-framing of current expectations on social enterprise. Let’s convert today’s expectation, to tomorrow’s recognition.  Here’s what I mean:

Social enterprise is a business that’s doing social good. 

As was teed up in a recent REDF convening, the term “social enterprise” is amorphous and can mean different things to different people. And since we all share the niche of being social enterprises under the umbrella of workforce development, we have an even larger challenge to confront.  In our case, social enterprise is a business that’s producing a good or service – the delivery of which builds skills and employability in the process (an even higher bar to achieve).

As social enterprises, we are in a class (and a set of expectations) unto ourselves.

We must recognize that we are small businesses with the compounded stresses of a double bottom line – not just profitability, but also promise-ability – giving adults affected by poverty the opportunity for long-term employment.

Mission drives market.

Small businesses should only be created to address market needs.  Small businesses created exclusively to build skills of its employees, but not to provide value to the market, simply cannot survive.

All growth is good growth.

Sustainable growth is good growth.  Everything else puts your business at risk.

Economies of scale are linear. 

We don’t just produce goods or services, we develop people; and those people reach their pivot point to their next step at an unpredictable cadence.  So our economies of scale are therefore a bit lumpier than our private sector competition.

My hope is that as we look in the mirror and recognize who we are – small businesses with the added complexity of not just one, but two, bottom lines (the social bottom line often achieved at the expense of the business bottom line), then we will better subject ourselves to the rigor and reality of traditional small business.

We can then embrace stronger decision making – perhaps following this arc:
1. Ideate your idea.
2. Test it to develop proof of concept.
3. Incubate it.
4. Make a decision to build or not build it based on incubation results.
5. Keep trucking until you achieve sustainability.

This framework seems clean and in some cases kind of “duh”; but the reality is our industry is often buoyed by the optimism of passionate socially-driven leadership, and the power of belief (“a great idea, leveraging people in need to build skills while they bring that idea to market, must work”). And so our industry is flooded with many businesses that skip right from step 1 to step 4 in the rubric above. (At The Cara Program, we only have the “duh” wisdom to put such a rubric in place because we’ve skinned our knees a few times trying to accelerate the process before its due time.)

Small business is tough. Small business with a mission to get its best staff employed elsewhere is even tougher. Marginal cost calculations are not overtly easy to calculate – because we are not just managing inventory of product, or streamlining delivery of service, we are managing the development of people and responding to the ebb and flow demand of private sector employment. Compound all of this with the fact that operational efficiency is sometimes achieved at the expense of mission, and you begin to understand how social enterprise for jobs is – on the spectrum of difficulty – perhaps the most difficult small business archetype of all.

So let’s talk about it. Let’s respond to an active and recurring invitation to talk about our ugly, to lift up our failures in this work, to draw into question our sustainability (or lack thereof). We believe that this is what will – in the end – make this work sustainable, not just for the businesses, but for the missions of lifting individuals up through employment, and helping them pivot to self-sufficiency.

Indeed, bigger is “meh”. Sustainability is sexy.

– Maria Kim left the insurance industry after 13 years, where she ran a $400m technology division, and joined The Cara Program in 2005 – a workforce development and leadership development organization helping men and women affected by homelessness and poverty to secure and sustain quality employment.  Maria serves on the boards of directors for EPIC Academy and Chicago Women in Philanthropy. She was a fellow for Leadership Greater Chicago’s Class of 2008, a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow and a 2013 TEDxMidwest Emerging Leader.  Maria received her MBA through the Executive MBA Program of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

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Do Your Kids Rule the Roost? 7 Strategies to Avoid Permissive Parenting–from Natural Parents Network

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“Parents want their kids’ approval, a reversal of the past ideal of children striving for their parents’ approval.” – Elizabeth Kolbert, in Spoiled Rotten: Why Do Kids Rule the Roost?” in the New Yorker.

“The model of parenting most of us grew up with was authoritarian parenting, which is based on fear. Some of us may have grown up with permissive parenting, which is also based on fear. Authoritarian parenting is based on the child’s fear of losing the parent’s love. Permissive parenting is based on the parent’s fear of losing the child’s love. Connection parenting is based on love instead of fear.” — Pam Leo

I don’t buy Elizabeth Kolbert’s claim that most parents in the United States raise their children permissively because the parent wants the child’s approval.  Why? Because when teens are surveyed, most of them say their parents used physical punishment at some point. That’s hardly permissive parenting.

So while I see many frustrated parents, I see very few kids who rule the roost. But what I do see is busy parents who try to be patient, but don’t know how to set appropriate limits or help their child with the emotions that drive inappropriate behavior.  So they bribe or threaten, or they give up until they’re at the end of their rope, and they finally lash out.  What does the child learn?

  • When I push the limits, Mom and Dad usually give, so I’m going to keep pushing until I find out where the real limit is.”
  • “I don’t know why I’m acting out, and no one is really able to help me with these mean feelings. I must be a bad kid.” 

The parent, frustrated and worn out, starts yelling, threatening, and lashing out. Later, feeling guilty, the parent often indulges the child in an effort to repair the relationship.

In other words, many parents veer back and forth between permissive and authoritarian parenting because they don’t know other ways to get their child cooperating.  Sound familiar?  Then you’ll be glad to know there’s a better way.  Here’s your game plan.

1. Use Empathic Limits.  Children need guidance.  It’s dangerous and rude for your three year old to run around the restaurant. Your six year old can’t punch his playmates. Your nine year old shouldn’t go to inappropriate movies. Your twelve year old doesn’t belong at a party without adult supervision.

Setting limits is hard. But it never needs to be mean. In fact, the more empathic your limits are, the more your child will cooperate: “You wish you could….I understand….And the answer is No…I see that makes you sad.”  Every time you set a limit and your child somewhat willingly gives up what he wants to do things your way, he’s building self-discipline. (On the other hand, if he’s forced, he isn’t building self-discipline. Self-discipline is choosing to give up what he wants for something he wants more, which in this case is his relationship with you.)

Most parents worry that they can’t “enforce” their limits if they don’t use force.  And with young children, sometimes you do need to pick them up and move them physically. But if you have a close bond with your child, and you calmly, kindly, insist on your limit, your child will usually cooperate. The mistake most parents make is yelling from across the room, which just teaches your child to tune you out. Instead, touch your child, make eye contact, and make it clear that you’re not moving until she complies. Once she knows you’re serious, she’ll do what you’re asking.  (For more on setting limits: How to Set Effective Limits for Your Child.)

2. Meet Needs. Your child’s challenging behaviors are a clumsy attempt to meet basic needs.  If you can figure out the need and meet it in another way, the behavior vanishes.  So if your son makes loud noises when you try to put the baby down for her nap, consider that your intimate moment with the baby triggers his fierce desire to have you all to himself. (How would you feel if your partner went into the bedroom with someone else and closed the door?) Instead of yelling at him, which makes him more needy, “fill his cup” with some concentrated attention beforehand, and then set him up with an engrossing activity like an audio book.

3. Emotion coach.  Children can’t understand and articulate their emotions, so they “act (them) out.”  So when your child acts out, it’s a red flag that she needs help with her emotions. Create safety by staying compassionate, even as you set a limit: “Ouch! The rule is no hitting. You must be so upset to …….”  If you’ve been doing Special Time, and you stay compassionate in the face of her anger, she’ll show you the fear or hurt behind it.  The meltdown helps these unruly emotions melt away, so she WANTS to cooperate with you.

There will be times when you’re in such a rush that you can’t take time to help your child with emotions. That’s why you do Special Time daily — it gives kids a chance to surface and giggle out feelings that will otherwise burst out at inconvenient times.  When your child is acting ornery, trigger a “scheduled meltdown” at your own convenience. Just set a kind, firm limit and nurture her through the resulting meltdown.  But if you repeatedly find yourself too busy to help your child with emotions, you might want to rethink your priorities.  This is an essential part of raising children, and without it you can expect your child to be difficult. A backpack full of stored-up tears and fears makes kids rigid and explosive.  (For more on Emotion Coaching:  5 Steps To Nurture Emotional Intelligence in Your Child)

4. Manage your own emotions. When our child is sad or angry, most of us feel an urgent need to make those feelings go away.  We say it’s because we can’t bear our child’s unhappiness, but it’s really because our child’s upset triggers our own anxiety.  We’ll do almost anything to make them feel better, such as:

Distracting. “Look at that doggie!”  Even if it works, your child’s upset will surface later in challenging behavior.  And you’re giving him the message that feelings are too dangerous to be tolerated.

Negating their feelings. “It wasn’t that bad…What a drama queen!”  Of course she’s over-reacting. Those feelings in the emotional backpack may have been waiting weeks for a safe opportunity to surface. The only way to make feelings go away is to feel them so they evaporate.

Bribing. “Don’t cry, we’ll get you a new one.”  Bribing teaches children all the wrong lessons, and the emotions will get stuffed in the emotional backpack to surface later in “acting out.”Besides, you don’t want your child to think shopping solves all problems.

The solution, of course, is to manage our own anxiety so that we can tolerate our child’s emotions.  How?  Breathe and notice your feelings, but resist the urge to take action.  Really. Just Breathe. Channel your inner Queen Elsa and Let It Go. The more you can breathe your way through your own upsets without taking action, the calmer you’ll become. And the more your interactions with your child will soothe the storm and invite cooperation.

5. Ditch the guilt.  Most parents feel guilty at times.  We know we aren’t always the parent we’d like to be. But guilt doesn’t make for good parenting, because it pushes us to make decisionsbased on keeping our child happy for the moment, rather than on what he needs to thrive. You don’t have to be perfect (and you can’t be.)  You just have to admit when you were wrong, apologize, and keep trying to do better.

6. Find win/win solutions.  Avoiding permissive parenting doesn’t mean you act like a tyrant.  That’s just as bad for your child.  The more you can find solutions that work for both you and your child, the healthier and happier your family will be. So get clear on what’s non-negotiable for you, and find a win/win solution that satisfies your needs as well as your child’s. If he doesn’t want to take a bath, for instance, can you make a game out of hosing him down outside?  Won’t he get just as clean?

7. Stay Connected.  Children who feel connected to their parents WANT to behave, as long as they don’t have pent-up tears and fears driving them to act out.  If your child isn’t cooperating, the most effective thing you can do is empathize to re-build your connection. No, you aren’t “rewarding” bad behavior.  You’re giving your child the reason he needs to WANT to behave. You’re still setting appropriate limits. But because you’re offering empathy, your child realizes you’re on his side, and wants to follow your guidance.

What’s Wrong with Permissive Parenting? It robs kids of the opportunity to develop self-discipline.
What’s Wrong With Strict Parenting?   It raises kids who rebel, or who can’t stand up for themselves.

Connection Parenting raises empathic, self-disciplined kids who think for themselves and want to do the right thing.  Isn’t that the kind of person you’d like to raise?


This article is part of the series Are Kids Today Spoiled and Undisciplined?

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Allowing Crying Without Practicing Cry-it-Out from Natural Parents Network

Allowing Crying Without Practicing Cry-it-Out

Written by NPN Guest on February 24th, 2011


I practice attachment parenting and I co-slept with both my boys, now aged 2 and 8 months. I loved the closeness of it, the ease with breastfeeding it gave me, and the restfulness that came with it.

So I was shocked when it wasn’t working anymore.

I was waking in the morning grumpy, groggy, and frustrated, and it lasted all day. I couldn’t give my children the attention they needed in normal waking hours because I was up with them all night. The strain was showing in all of us. We needed a change.

I am adamantly against Cry-it-Out (CIO). I can’t think of a less sensitive way to parent than to tune out a crying baby (or toddler, or child), and I wasn’t willing to try it.

I was scared though. I’ve seen episodes of Supernanny, and after a couple of those it’s hard to believe any child will go to sleep on their own without iron-fisted discipline – no matter how many Dr. Sears books you’ve read.

We’d already snapped up the low-hanging fruit – daily routines, bath, bedtime stories. We just couldn’t get to the next step of sleep. Exhausted from 10PM bedtimes and 4AM wake-ups (with a few feedings thrown in for good measure), I was desperate. I stumbled across Janet Lansbury’s RIE website, and started reading about sleep.

I don’t agree with a few aspects of RIE founder Magda Gerber’s advice, but I appreciate that the underlying foundation for the RIE belief is respect.

This was the first place I’d read about crying, and allowing children to cry, in a context other than CIO.

The premise is that transitions are difficult, and children will struggle with them. Struggling may lead to crying, but struggling is OK. We don’t need to protect our children from struggling – we need to protect them from suffering.

So it’s OK to allow them to struggle. It’s OK to put them in situations where they’re uncomfortable. It’s OK for them to cry.

The key is how we react when they cry. Are we listening intently, or are we tuning out? Do we know if they’re panicked, or just uncomfortable? Do we know when the struggle becomes suffering?

I decided we were all going to get a better night’s sleep together, so I laid out my plan. My older son (27 months old) would sleep in his room, in his own bed (newly covered with a fire-engine quilt that he was very excited about). My younger son (8 months old) would sleep in our spare bedroom, in a play yard. I would sleep in my bedroom, in my bed, with my husband (who was previously on the couch).

The bedtime routine would be what it always had been, but I lowered the times to 6 and 7 instead of 7:30 and 8 to avoid over-tiredness (this advice came from Janet’s guest author, Eileen Henry). For my older son, that means bath and brushing teeth, pajamas on, and three short bedtime stories. For my younger son, it means breastfeeding and a lullaby. But instead of laying there with them, I left the room.

The first few nights were rough. They cried. I was up a lot, soothing them, and I felt even more tired because I had to get up from another room. I wasn’t sure if it would work. But I needed it to, so we persevered.

I talked to both of them. I told them I understood how difficult the change felt. I told them it was OK to be upset about it. I held them, I stroked their hair, and I sang to them. I picked them up when they needed it, and calmed them down. I told them why we were making the change, and how important it was for us all to be well rested. And the change came.

Falling asleep is quicker. On some nights there isn’t a noise at all, and on others a fuss or two. There are still occasional night wake-ups, but far fewer than there were before, and the return to sleep is much easier. Morning wake-ups have returned to a civilized hour (6AM). We’re all more rested, and happier to see each other and spend our days together.

I thought by letting my children cry, I would become less sensitized to them, but in fact I’m more sensitive to their needs. We’ve come through a struggle together, and are closer, and have a stronger bond. I learned to listen more closely, and have been rewarded by watching us all grow.

I didn’t realize there was any way to be sensitive to the needs of a child while allowing them to cry. I thought leaving them alone to sleep meant either completely ignoring them or waiting for a clock to tell me it was OK to check on them, and those are methods I just couldn’t live with.

I was so relieved to find that I could let my children struggle, but still support them. I could listen to my instincts and know when they needed me, and comfort them through the transition. I could let them cry but still listen to them, and to my heart.

Photo Credit: sad isaac by surlygirl, on Flickr



Suchada is a blogger, former Army officer and aerospace engineer, and stay at home mama to two energetic and hilarious boys. At MamaEve.com she writes about natural birth, breastfeeding, and green living, among other natural parenting topics, and she is an advocate for the same in her community. Her views on raising children are strongly influenced by growing up in Southeast Asia and observing parents around the world.

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Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds   by Arthur Chu

Nerdy guys aren’t guaranteed to get laid by the hot chick as long as we work hard. There isn’t a team of writers or a studio audience pulling for us to triumph by getting the girl.
I was going to write about The Big Bang Theory—why, as a nerdy viewer, I sometimes like it and sometimes have a problem with it, why I think there’s a backlash against it. Then some maniac shot up a sorority house in Santa Barbara and posted a manifesto proclaiming he did it for revenge against women for denying him sex. And the weekend just generally went to hell.

So now my plans have changed. With apologies to Big Bang Theory fans, this is all I want to say about The Big Bang Theory: When the pilot aired, it was 2007 and “nerd culture” and “geek chic” were on everyone’s lips, and yet still the basic premise of “the sitcom for nerds” was, once again, awkward but lovable nerd has huge unreciprocated crush on hot non-nerdy popular girl (and also has an annoying roommate).

This annoys me. This is a problem.

Because, let’s be honest, this device is old. We have seen it over and over again. Steve Urkel. Screech. Skippy on Family Ties. Niles on Frasier.

We (male) nerds grow up force-fed this script. Lusting after women “out of our league” was what we did. And those unattainable hot girls would always inevitably reject us because they didn’t understand our intellectual interest in science fiction and comic books and would instead date asshole jocks. This was inevitable, and our only hope was to be unyieldingly persistent until we “earned” a chance with these women by “being there” for them until they saw the error of their ways. (The thought of just looking for women who shared our interests was a foreign one, since it took a while for the media to decide female geeks existed. The Big Bang Theory didn’t add Amy and Bernadette to its main cast until Season 4, in 2010.)

This is, to put it mildly, a problematic attitude to grow up with. Fixating on a woman from afar and then refusing to give up when she acts like she’s not interested is, generally, something that ends badly for everyone involved. But it’s a narrative that nerds and nerd media kept repeating.

I’m not breaking new ground by saying this. It’s been said very well over and over and over again.

And I’m not condemning guys who get frustrated, or who have unrequited crushes. And I’m not condemning any of these shows or movies.

And yet…

Before I went on Jeopardy!, I had auditioned for TBS’s King of the Nerds, a reality show commissioned in 2012 after TBS got syndication rights to, yes, The Big Bang Theory. I like the show and I still wish I’d been on it. (Both “kings” they’ve crowned, by the way, have so far been women, so maybe they should retitle it “Monarch of the Nerds” or, since the final win comes down to a vote, “President of the Nerds.” Just a nerdy thought.)

But a lot of things about the show did give me pause. One of them was that it was hosted by Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong—Lewis and Booger from Revenge of the Nerds. I don’t have anything against those guys personally. Nor am I going to issue a blanket condemnation of Revenge of the Nerds, a film I’m still, basically, a fan of.

But look. One of the major plot points of Revenge of the Nerds is Lewis putting on a Darth Vader mask, pretending to be his jock nemesis Stan, and then having sex with Stan’s girlfriend. Initially shocked when she finds out his true identity, she’s so taken by his sexual prowess—“All jocks think about is sports. All nerds think about is sex.”—that the two of them become an item.

Classic nerd fantasy, right? Immensely attractive to the young male audience who saw it. And a stock trope, the “bed trick,” that many of the nerds watching probably knew dates back to the legend of King Arthur.

It’s also, you know, rape.

I’ve had this argument about whether it was “technically” rape with fans of the movie in the past, but leaving aside the legal technicalities, why don’t you ask the women you know who are in committed relationships how they’d feel about guys concocting elaborate ruses to have sex with them without their knowledge to “earn a chance” with them? Or how it feels to be chased by a real-life Steve Urkel, being harassed, accosted, ambushed in public places, have your boyfriend “challenged” and having all rejection met with a cheerful “I’m wearing you down!”?

I know people who’ve been through that. And because life is not, in fact, a sitcom, it’s not the kind of thing that elicits a bemused eye roll followed by raucous laughter from the studio audience. It’s the kind of thing that induces pain, and fear.

When our clever ruses and schemes to “get girls” fail, it’s not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we’ve absorbed.

And that’s still mild compared to some of the disturbing shit I consumed in my adolescence. Jake handing off his falling-down-drunk date to Anthony Michael Hall’s Geek in Sixteen Candles, saying, “Be my guest” (which is, yes, more offensive to me than Long Duk Dong). The nerd-libertarian gospels of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and how their Übermensch protagonists prove their masculinity by having sex with their love interests without asking first—and win their hearts in the process. Comics…just, comics. (too much to go into there but the fact that Red Sonja was once thought a “feminist icon” speaks volumes. Oh, and there’s that whole drama with Ms. Marvel for those of you who really want to get freaked out today.)

But the overall problem is one of a culture where instead of seeing women as, you know, people, protagonists of their own stories just like we are of ours, men are taught that women are things to “earn,” to “win.” That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end. Like life is a video game and women, like money and status, are just part of the reward we get for doing well.

So what happens to nerdy guys who keep finding out that the princess they were promised is always in another castle? When they “do everything right,” they get good grades, they get a decent job, and that wife they were promised in the package deal doesn’t arrive? When the persistent passive-aggressive Nice Guy act fails, do they step it up to elaborate Steve-Urkel-esque stalking and stunts? Do they try elaborate Revenge of the Nerds-style ruses? Do they tap into their inner John Galt and try blatant, violent rape?

Do they buy into the “pickup artist” snake oil—started by nerdy guys, for nerdy guys—filled with techniques to manipulate, pressure and in some cases outright assault women to get what they want? Or when that doesn’t work, and they spend hours a day on sites bitching about how it doesn’t work, like Elliot Rodger’s hangout “PUAHate.com,” sometimes, do they buy some handguns, leave a manifesto on the Internet and then drive off to a sorority house to murder as many women as they can?

No, I’m not saying most frustrated nerdy guys are rapists or potential rapists. I’m certainly not saying they’re all potential mass murderers. I’m not saying that most lonely men who put women up on pedestals will turn on them with hostility and rage once they get frustrated enough.

But I have known nerdy male stalkers, and, yes, nerdy male rapists. I’ve known situations where I knew something was going on but didn’t say anything—because I didn’t want to stick my neck out, because some vile part of me thought that this kind of thing was “normal,” because, in other words, I was a coward and I had the privilege of ignoring the problem.

I’ve heard and seen the stories that those of you who followed the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter have seen—women getting groped at cons, women getting vicious insults flung at them online, women getting stalked by creeps in college and told they should be “flattered.” I’ve heard Elliot Rodger’s voice before. I was expecting his manifesto to be incomprehensible madness—hoping for it to be—but it wasn’t. It’s a standard frustrated angry geeky guy manifesto, except for the part about mass murder.

I’ve heard it from acquaintances, I’ve heard it from friends. I’ve heard it come out of my own mouth, in moments of anger and weakness.

It’s the same motivation that makes a guy in college stalk a girl, leave her unsolicited gifts and finally when she tells him to quit it makes him leave an angry post about her “shallowness” and “cruelty” on Facebook. It’s the same motivation that makes guys rant about “fake cosplay girls” at cons and how much he hates them for their vain, “teasing” ways. The one that makes a guy suffering career or personal problems turn on his wife because it’s her job to “support” him by patching up all the holes in his life. The one that makes a wealthy entrepreneur hit his girlfriend 117 times, on camera, for her infidelity, and then after getting off with a misdemeanor charge still put up a blog post casting himself as the victim.

And now that motivation has led to six people dead and 13 more injured, in broad daylight, with the killer leaving a 140-page rant and several YouTube videos describing exactly why he did it. No he-said-she-said, no muffled sounds through the dorm ceiling, no “Maybe he has other issues.” The fruits of our culture’s ingrained misogyny laid bare for all to see.

And yet. When this story broke, the initial mainstream coverage only talked about “mental illness,” not misogyny, a line that people are now fervently exhorting us to stick to even after the manifesto’s contents were revealed. Yet another high-profile tech CEO resignation ensued when the co-founder of Rap Genius decided Rodger’s manifesto was a hilarious joke.

People found one of the girls Rodger was obsessed with and began questioning if her “bullying” may have somehow triggered his rage. And, worst of all, he has fan pages on Facebook that still haven’t been taken down, filled with angry frustrated men singing his praises and seriously suggesting that the onus is on women to offer sex to men to keep them from going on rampages.

So, a question, to my fellow male nerds:

What the fuck is wrong with us?

How much longer are we going to be in denial that there’s a thing called “rape culture” and we ought to do something about it?

No, not the straw man that all men are constantly plotting rape, but that we live in an entitlement culture where guys think they need to be having sex with girls in order to be happy and fulfilled. That in a culture that constantly celebrates the narrative of guys trying hard, overcoming challenges, concocting clever ruses and automatically getting a woman thrown at them as a prize as a result, there will always be some guy who crosses the line into committing a violent crime to get what he “deserves,” or get vengeance for being denied it.

To paraphrase the great John Oliver, listen up, fellow self-pitying nerd boys—we are not the victims here. We are not the underdogs. We are not the ones who have our ownership over our bodies and our emotions stepped on constantly by other people’s entitlement. We’re not the ones where one out of six of us will have someone violently attempt to take control of our bodies in our lifetimes.

We are not Lewis from Revenge of the Nerds, we are not Steve Urkel from Family Matters, we are not Preston Myers from Can’t Hardly Wait, we are not Seth Rogen in every movie Seth Rogen has ever been in, we are not fucking Mario racing to the castle to beat Bowser because we know there’s a princess in there waiting for us.

We are not the lovable nerdy protagonist who’s lovable because he’s the protagonist. We’re not guaranteed to get laid by the hot chick of our dreams as long as we work hard enough at it. There isn’t a team of writers or a studio audience pulling for us to triumph by “getting the girl” in the end. And when our clever ruses and schemes to “get girls” fail, it’s not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we’ve absorbed.

It’s because other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned—they can be given freely, by choice, or not.

We need to get that. Really, really grok that, if our half of the species ever going to be worth a damn. Not getting that means that there will always be some percent of us who will be rapists, and abusers, and killers. And it means that the rest of us will always, on some fundamental level, be stupid and wrong when it comes to trying to understand the women we claim to love.

What did Elliot Rodger need? He didn’t need to get laid. None of us nerdy frustrated guys need to get laid. When I was an asshole with rants full of self-pity and entitlement, getting laid would not have helped me.

He needed to grow up.

We all do.

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Why Do We Have Obsessive Thoughts?

Why Do We Have Obsessive Thoughts?

The first thing to understand about obsessive thoughts is that they serve a purpose. This purpose may be to distract you from thinking about a deeper issue in your life, to avoid facing the fears that may accompany that act of “moving on”, or to offer you a false sense of safety by making you believe that by thinking about a situation you are doing something about it. It is not uncommon for people to report that the presence of obsessions somehow creates the illusion of filling a void. The second important thing to understand about obsessions is that they can be self-reinforcing. Simply engaging in obsessive thinking can give your brain the message that the object of obsession is “worth obsessing over” and, therefore, the habit of doing so becomes amplified. Almost like scratching an itch to relieve it, only to realize that the itchy sensation is now stronger. Dealing with Obsessive Thoughts You may be wondering “why bother putting in the effort to overcome obsessive thinking?” The answer is simple: to achieve and sustain inner peace and to spend your mental energy on positive thoughts, and consequently, actions. Obsessive thoughts can be draining, can suck your energy, and leave you neglecting important areas of your life.


Let us look at 4 ways to begin freeing yourself from obsessions:

1. Practice guided meditation exercises: One of the most effective ways to quiet the mind is to learn the skills of becoming present in the moment. This may look something like shifting attention to different parts of your body, your breath and the sounds in the room. (Watch guided meditation video)

2. Find an alternative release for your thoughts: Sure, talking about your concerns to a friend can be helpful and will make you feel supported; however, it might also end up being a verbal expression of what is happening in your head. Try to come up with creative, non-verbal outlets for self-expression such as vision boards, drawing, playing an instrument etc.

3. Confront, release, repeat: The mere act of catching yourself when you are having obsessive thoughts can set the stage for overcoming them. We cannot always control what thoughts pop up in our heads; but we can control what we choose to do with these thoughts. By confronting and consciously rejecting the thought you are already making progress.

4. Minimize environmental triggers: If you know that going on Facebook, watching a particular show, talking to certain people or reading fashion magazines might trigger a chain reaction of obsessive thinking, try to eliminate such things from you environment, at least for a short period of time. Surely, the goal is not to permanently rely on avoiding every single thing that might trigger obsessions. However, when you are still at the beginning of this process you may want to get rid of anything that will make it harder.

This article was written by: Olga Gonithellis, MA, LMHC, EdM is a psychotherapist with a private practice in New York City. She is a licensed mental health counselor and specializes in the emotional health of artists, performers and creative individuals. She is an expert contributor at Good Therapy on the topic of creative blocks and was recently published in the American Counseling Association’s publication, Counseling Today. You can follow her blog and find her on Google+ and Facebook. To be a guest author on the Your Mental Health Blog, go here.

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Violent children can tear extended family apart.

By Carolyn Hax

Q. I’m having trouble dealing with my violent niece and nephew, 5 and 7. I have two children of my own a little older. We are a tight family that (mostly, despite this big issue) enjoys hanging out together quite often. It’s common for the 5-year-old to hold my 7-year-old down and just swing punches.

The boy was kicked out of day care at 2 for his violent tendencies. In an effort to not tear the family apart, we’ve tried to deal with it by telling ourselves that in time it will go away. Things aren’t better, except that he is wiser now and waits for when he thinks we’re not watching to hit our kids. At a recent birthday, the two hit or kicked every kid at least once.

I am as nonconfrontational as it gets, and as a result I think my kids have learned that being hit by them is OK. In a world of bullies, I need to send the message that it is most definitely not OK, even with family.

I just don’t know how to open the parents’ eyes. They don’t express any concern or impose any real discipline and leave everyone else to deal with them. The children don’t take our discipline seriously as a result of a lifelong use of empty threats by the parents.

I love them and want them in our lives, but I’m worried about causing a rift in our family. As of now, we just make up excuses for why we can’t hang out.

A. If your plan is to wait on the sidelines until you’re sure you can “open the parents’ eyes,” then you’re in for a bad case of bleacher-butt.

As you sit there, you’re also abdicating other important responsibilities, ones that are actually within your control where other people’s eyelids are not.

You’ve identified the most immediate one yourself: You have a duty to protect your kids, both from their cousins’ haymakers and, far more dangerous, from the mindset that it’s better to take abuse quietly than risk a disruption. You can project that into other areas of their lives, can’t you? When they’re in their 20s and an intimate partner is hitting them, but they don’t speak up for fear of ruining Christmas?

There are many ways to teach the life skill of setting personal limits, from telling your kids to let you know whenever their cousins hit them, to supervising the kids and stepping in when it gets ugly, to saying openly that if the kids keep hitting then you will ask them to leave, to enrolling your kids in martial arts. Pick your popcorn. All that matters is that you mean it, and your kids see it.

Two other major responsibilities you have are to your niece and nephew, and to society. You do none of them any favors by being the adult who was in a position to flag this problem early but chickened out.

If you don’t think intervening with troubled kids and teaching your kids to stand up for themselves are worth a family rift, then please keep thinking. Avoiding a rift is primarily about your comfort. As a priority, it doesn’t stand up to a moment’s scrutiny.

It’s also a goal you’re not even accomplishing. You aren’t comfortable, you’re upset; you aren’t keeping peace with the family, you’re hiding from them. When you stand to lose something of value to you, that’s when you most need solid principles. This problem might cost you a sibling, and that would be terrible, but that would also be the fault of parents who won’t do their jobs. If this problem costs you yourself or your kids their confidence or health, then that will be on you.

Q. I am sitting here listening to some family members talk about my sister’s recent announcement. I need to vent to someone.

It annoys the crap out of me hearing them talk about how they knew instantly she was pregnant based on a turned-down drink. I wonder how many times they “knew instantly” and were wrong. Yet anytime a woman of child-bearing age turns down a drink … she must be pregnant.

I’m not drinking tonight; I wonder if they think my finals are just an excuse. I really hate that drink preferences are so closely monitored. Thank you for letting me vent.

A. Happy to, since such handicapping is often seen as benign and affectionate interest. Yet I hear steadily from women anxious about revealing a pregnancy before they’re ready to.

It’s also a sly precursor to the not-benign treatment of pregnant women as public property. “I just knew,” then belly-touching and “You’re eating that?!” Even just crowing about your observation skills is making others’ lives about you.

So, yeah, vent away. Maybe tonight a few more club sodas will be respected as none of anyone’s business.

• Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at 11 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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Into the Unknown

Kathleen T. Sulllivan
Into the Unknown
In the letting go
There is laughter and dance.
 A piano with broken keys
That we still play. …
A song, a chord, a note,
A chorus of penetrating glances
Whirling In circles, in rhythm,
Through time.
 In the letting go
There is introspection and isolation.
 Fumbling down halls
And into rooms
Littered with cardboard boxes.
Books and china,
 Poetry and religion,
Raw argumentation.
Gingerly I touch
Every contour,
Every edge: jagged or smooth.
 My fingers pass over each moment
Of a life known to me.
Each item, once caressed is set aside.
 Released one by one,
Are the objects, the feelings,
The beliefs, and the voices
 That contributed to who I was to become
 In the letting go
There is little solace,
 Only focused navigation Into the unknown.
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Winds of Change…. Warren Buffet

Winds of Change…. Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of tho…se to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have this message.  This is one idea that really should be passed around.  *Congressional Reform Act of 2013  1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.  2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.  All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.  3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do. 4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.  5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.  6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.  7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/31/13. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.    Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.  If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Don’t you think it’s time?  THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!  If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete.
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Paula Randant

The Mount Prospect Sister Cities Commission had an Exchange with our Sister City Sèvres, France September 14 to 19, 2013.  We have been Sister Cities since 2000.  The relationship has been rich with learning about our respective city’s and people.  Our French guests arrived on 3/14 in the afternoon after a long flight from Paris and a short excursion through US Customs.  We picked them up and brought them to Village Hall for a short reception and to meet their Host families.  It has been the tradition on our exchanges that we stay in each other’s homes.   Light refreshments and beverages were served and greetings shared.  The French Delegation then went home with their Hosts for dinner and rest.  Sunday was the first day of out exchange beginning with a visit to our French Market at the Mount Prospect Farmers Market.  We had been hoping for sun but were greeted with rain.  The rain was gentle and warm so did not seem to deter shoppers or venders at the market.  Ours guests met local shoppers and listened to French stories at the children’s Library story time at the market.

Musicians playing violin and guitar provided lovely French music in the background of the market.  At noon we headed with our French guests to Lions Park for an old fashioned American picnic.  Rain moved us to the gym but the chefs, our Sister City members were at the grills barbecuing hamburgers and hot dogs to perfection.  The traditional fare of potato salad, cole slaw, chips, and an array of condiments culminating in dessert of apple and cherry pie were served.  Entertainment was the Arlington Squares, a square dance group.  It was great fun.  They demonstrated square dancing and then taught the group the dances.  Everyone had a great time dancing and laughing.   The afternoon was topped off with baggo and some whiffle ball.  The afternoon ended about 5PM so our guests could have dinner and an evening with their host families.

On Monday morning we met at Village Hall to board our so cute Village Bus and cars to drive to Paddock Publications to tour the Daily Herald our local newspaper.  One of the owners and CEO Bob Paddock greeted us and took us under his wing sharing family history, local newspaper history and their modern operations.  The paper was founded in the 1890’s.  We also visited the plant looking at the presses, paper and the amazing process to publish a daily paper.  Around 12:30 we headed to Pilot Pete’s a restaurant near the production plant at the Schaumburg airport.  It is a small local airport and lunch  was a unique experience being situated on the edge of the runway and able to watch small planes take off and land as we dined.   At 2 PM we were off to our next stop the Villas of Sèvres a local Mount Prospect Townhouse project named for our Sister City.  Randhurst our newly renovated mall was our next stop.  Since their last visit it have been torn down and rebuilt in the modern genre of a mixed  use and open format.  Visiting the hotel and the AMC Theater were big hits.  We of course had a few minutes for shopping before dinner.  Dinner was at one of Randhursts new restaurants, The Black Finn, presenting typically American fare.   Our day was not yet at an end after dinner we were off to the Mount Prospect Public Library for a tour and public reception.  The reception brought in over 100 local residents to greet and meet our French guests.  The Library and our Hostess Mary Ann Sibrava provided dessert and greetings from the Library.  Library Board members and community members attended.

Tuesday brings us a sunny warm morning.  We meet at Village Hall to walk to the Mount Prospect Historical Society for a short visit to their sensosry garden on our way to the Mount Prospect Child care Center, a local private daycare and preschool center.  Michael Davey and his family own and operate the center.  40 children from 2 years to 5 years were in attendance.  The children sang for us and showed us the newly remodeled play yard.  The Mayor of Mount Prospect, Arlene Juracek, accompanied by Chamber of Commerce members did a Ribbon cutting dedicating the new play yard.  The visit culminated in a French guest and a teacher reading a book to the children in French and English.  The children were divided into two groups by age for the book reading.

The day was lovely and warm so we walked back to Village Hall to board the bus for our next visit.  The Bosch Company has a large research and development plant in Mount Prospect.  They provided us with a tour, demonstrations of tools and a trip to the Board room for history and a fabulous lunch.  They generously provided each visitor a Bosch portfolio to take home.  Bosch has a rich history with German roots and socially conscious reputation.    Who knew that tools could be so much fun!

After our visit to Bosch we headed to our next stop John Jay Elementary School for a tour and visit with some students.  Our delegation was greeted at John Jay by students and the Superintendent, Principal and Chairman of the School Board, Brian Kiel, who had arranged the visit.  Fifth grade patrol members were our tour guides accompanied by a staff member.  Students were busy working in classrooms.  We visited the Library for a short film on the school and some historical information.  The school is very proud of its multicultural background and bilingual program.  We were able to visit several classrooms.

5th grade students met with the delegation and introduced themselves in French and asked questions of our French guests.  It was an amazing sharing and we were all impressed with the hallway decorations and reminders of behavior and values teaching.

Our day is marching on.  From John Jay we loaded the bus for the Southside Community Center in Mount Prospect.  The Center is a Library branch and health and community service center providing outreach to the Southside of Mount Prospect.  The visit was short but provided a peek at outreach to disadvantaged parts of our community.  Then back to Village Hall to return to host homes for a short rest and refresh before dinner at a local Restaurant, Retro Bistro.

Retro Bistro is our local French restaurant and they provided an elegant and relaxed dinner.  Everyone had time to commiserate and chat about the day.  There was fine wine, great food and friendship.

Wednesday headed us to Chicago for some sightseeing.  We boarded a trolley, The Flying Lady for our drive downtown.  It was fun and the rush hour experience.

We arrived at the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue for a Boat tour on the Wendella.  We experienced the locks between Lake Michigan and the Chicago River seeing the marvelous skyline of the Lake front with an excellent tour guide explaining what we were seeing.  The day was sunny and warm so presented Chicago and all her beauty.

The Locks are also always an interesting navigational experience.

After our boat trip we headed down Michigan Avenue for a 20 minute walk to the John Hancock building and lunch at the Signature room.

The Signature Room is on the 95th floor of the Hancock building.  It provides amazing views of the city of Chicago and great food and service.    We were in the Chicago room offering great views and a private lunch.  Our guests were able to walk around and enjoy the views and chat about all they were seeing.  The contrast of the city from the lake and now from the towering Hancock gave a broad perspective of the city of Chicago and all her majesty.

After lunch some time was open for personal sightseeing or shopping at Water Tower place or along Michigan Avenue.  The Hersey Chocolate store was a favorite.

The Flying Lady picked us up at 3:15 for a drive down Michigan Avenue passed the Bean on our way home to Mount Prospect.  Upon our arrival in Mount Prospect we had a break to rest and change prior to a Community Banquet at 7PM.

The Community Banquet was a dinner honoring the Mayor of Sevres, François KOSCIUSKO-MORIZET  and our Mayor Arlene Juracek. The banquet was open to the community at large for a fee.  Local dignitaries, elected officials and the General Consul of France for Chicago were invited.  The Quartet Current provides American Jazz and Motown music for the event.  Cocktails began at 7PM giving attendees time to socialize prior to dinner. A 50/50 Cash raffle was held and two fine wine baskets were also raffled.  The Program consisted of introductions and words from our Sister Cities of Mount Prospect Chairperson, Dorothy Kucera, Our Mayor Arlene Juracek and Graham Paul , the General Consul of France in Chicago.

An invocation was presented by Fred Joob, Associate Pastor at Christian Life Church.

After Dessert Service toasts and the gift exchange were held.

Mayor Arlene Juracek gave a toast to  François Kosciusko-Morizet and the delegation and the French National Anthem was sung by Fred Jood and Mayor François Kosciusko-Morizet gave a toast to Arlene and the local Mount Prospect group and the American National anthem was sung by Fred Joob.

Gifts were then exchanged between the towns to the towns and then individual gifts  to each delegation member.

The program ended and music began again and dessert and coffee service continued.  The event had approximately 160 attendees.

This was a great opportunity for the French delegation to speak to local community members and to share the rich bonds developed between cities’ who have Sister City relationships.

Thursday most of our guests left in the morning.  Two guests remained.  The Mayor and a deputy mayor.  We arranged a visit to River Trails Middle School on the north side of Mount Prospect.  It was a great visit as the middle schools program offer a significant change from Elementary.  They were able to visit a French class and speak in French and English to our students allowing them to experience native French speakers.


Our last two guests were transported to the airport Thursday evening for return to France.  We will visit Sèvres in 2015.






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The Trouble With Bright Girls: VERY INTERESTING!

The Trouble With Bright Girls

      For women, ability doesn’t always lead to confidence. Here’s why.
Published on January 27, 2011 by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. in The Science of Success

Successful women know only too well that in any male-dominated profession, we often find ourselves at a distinct disadvantage. We are routinely underestimated, underutilized, and even underpaid. Studies show that women need to perform at extraordinarily high levels, just to appear moderately competent compared to our male coworkers.

But in my experience, smart and talented women rarely realize that one of the toughest hurdles they’ll have to overcome to be successful lies within. We judge our own abilities not only more harshly, but fundamentally differently, than men do. Understanding why we do it is the first step to righting a terrible wrong. And to do that, we need to take a step back in time.

Chances are good that if you are a successful professional today, you were a pretty bright fifth grade girl. My graduate advisor, psychologist Carol Dweck (author of Mindset) conducted a series of studies in the 1980s, looking at how bright girls and boys in the fifth grade handled new, difficult and confusing material.

She found that bright girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up–and the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts, rather than give up.

Why does this happen? What makes smart girls more vulnerable, and less confident, when they should be the most confident kids in the room? At the 5th grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject, including math and science. So there were no differences between these boys and girls in ability, nor in past history of success. The only difference was how bright boys and girls interpreted difficulty–what it meant to them when material seemed hard to learn. Bright girls were much quicker to doubt their ability, to lose confidence, and to become less effective learners as a result.

Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

How do girls and boys develop these different views? Most likely, it has to do with the kinds of feedback we get from parents and teachers as young children. Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their “goodness.” When we do well in school, we are told that we are “so smart,” “so clever, ” or ” such a good student.” This kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness, and goodness are qualities you either have or you don’t.

Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., “If you would just pay attention you could learn this,” “If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.”) The net result: When learning something new is truly difficult, girls take it as sign that they aren’t “good” and “smart”, and boys take it as a sign to pay attention and try harder.

We continue to carry these beliefs, often unconsciously, around with us throughout our lives. And because bright girls are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, they grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves–women who will prematurely conclude that they don’t have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena, and give up way too soon.

Even if every external disadvantage to a woman’s rising to the top of an organization is removed–every inequality of opportunity, every chauvinistic stereotype, all the challenges we face balancing work and family–we would still have to deal with the fact that through our mistaken beliefs about our abilities, we may be our own worst enemy.

How often have you found yourself avoiding challenges and playing it safe, sticking to goals you knew would be easy for you to reach? Are there things you decided long ago that you could never be good at? Skills you believed you would never possess? If the list is a long one, you were probably one of the Bright Girls–and your belief that you are “stuck” being exactly as you are has done more to determine the course of your life than you probably ever imagined. Which would be fine, if your abilities were innate and unchangeable. Only they’re not.

No matter the ability–whether it’s intelligence, creativity, self-control, charm, or athleticism–studies show them to be profoundly malleable. When it comes to mastering any skill, your experience, effort, and persistence matter a lot. So if you were a Bright Girl, it’s time to toss out your (mistaken) belief about how ability works, embrace the fact that you can always improve, and reclaim the confidence to tackle any challenge that you lost so long ago.

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals is available wherever books are sold. Please follow me on Twitter @hghalvorson

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Getting Ready for School!


It is that time of year when college students are getting ready to leave for school, high school students are getting ready to begin classes and fall sports such as football or activities such as Marching Band are starting.   Elementary and Middle School students are starting to bicker at home and Mom is getting ready for the kids to head back to school.  School produces a lot of anxiety in children.  The academic work load is significant for today’s students.  Even students in Kindergarten have homework.  Besides the work load children are often involved in sports or music lessons or religious education and more.   Though most of these activities are valuable they also increase stress and our children may have little down time.  Hours on video games don’t reduce stress.  How does a family organize life to lower stress and maintain achievement.

Here are some ideas.

College students: 

Students leaving home for the first time have the most difficulty.  They are leaving friends and family for the first time and though excited for new life experiences are fearful of the challenges and losses.   When someone is leaving anger may pop up as a way to cope with leaving.  Parents can manage this by being empathetic and responding to the underlying emotions rather than the anger.   Parents are often under stress at this impending change in their life as a loved child is growing up and leaving home for college.  Sharing thoughts and feelings of pride in a child’s growth and success in life is important as well as love and affection recognizing that being apart may make one sad.  Preparing together is a good thing.  Shopping, planning and discussing the excitement and challenges of college are important.  Encouraging and reinforcing your student and their abilities is helpful.  Planning parent visits to campus is also important.  It is better for a student to get connected with their new school and develop new friends and engage in the full experience of college life than to come home too often.  Holiday and extended breaks at school are better choices for visits home.


Elementary and Middle School students:

K through 8th grade students face many stresses and challenges.  The school day is intense.  The academic work load is significant for today’s students.   Good sleep habits, good eating habits and exercise are important.  Most children benefit from structure.  A schedule chart at home can be useful and reduce conflict or tasks not completed.  A chart should include the morning (before school) routine and the evening (after school) routine.  Charts can be tied to a reward system that provides positive reinforcement for cooperative behavior.  Many students have sports, or classes like dancing or music after school and schedules can be tight.  It is important that children have play time to be active and unwind as well.  Homework can be a challenge.  Students should have a quiet place where parents can monitor homework progress or help when necessary such as the kitchen table.  TV time should be saved until homework and dinner are done.  As students reach 3rd or 4th grade assignment note books become important to manage school work.

Bedtime Difficulties:

When children have difficulty getting to sleep at a reasonable  time the following ideas might help.

Have a bedtime routine.  Schedule bedtimes by the child’s age and sleep needs.  An eight year old and a twelve year old should not have the same bedtime.   After dinner and homework, time should be monitored and baths, brushing teeth, quiet reading alone or with a parent and prayers are some of the activities to prepare for sleep.  A child should have their own bed.  Reduce stimulation by ending video games, TV or rough housing prior to the bedtime routine as they interfere with sleep.

High School students:

High school students are often stressed.  The academic and social challenges of high school are significant.   Adequate sleep, healthy eating habits and physical activity are important for high school students.   The use of cell phones, iPods, and computers and other media increase stress, reduce focus on academics and may interfere with sleep.  Parents should remove phones and other media at bedtime when your student is expected to sleep.  Peers often call each other during the night interfering with sleep.   Keep up with your teen’s life.  Try to find ways to meet their friends and learn about the social context of their life.  As they mature they will be exposed to activities that are risky such as alcohol use, drug use or sexual experimentation.   Parent involvement in their student’s life by frequent meals together, activities together, and religious activities are important ways to keep channels of communication open.  Let your teen put their music on the car radio, driving time with kids often is a door to what is going on in their life.  Knowing the influences in your teen’s life will help you to head off problems.

Comments on the topics discussed in this article or ideas you would like to share are welcome.

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Grandmother says… Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee; “Which are you?”

Grandmother says… Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee; “Which are you?”

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. “What’s the point,grandmother?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?


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“She fell down, got right back up, and smiled.” Maria Kim sharing a moment.

Last Wednesday, a small community of friends and family said farewell to a woman far too young to see the omega of her days, but taken swiftly and without haste nonetheless.  It was a terrible day, cloaked in fatigue and weary and sadness so thick it dwarfed even the heavy drape of rain.  She lost her life in a whisper or a shout, and her loved ones mourned her absence, her palpable, humid absence, as they leaned in to each other for strength.

As with most celebrations of life, the words and musings of the family – each with their own layer of honesty, broken, heavy and light – got to me, most especially those of the older brother.  He began with the words: “to fall, to get back up and to smile a little bit,” and then shared a story of a video his parents had taken of his sister when she was maybe four or five.  She had just received Barbie roller skates for Christmas and could barely wait to put them on.  She scooted out to the patio, took her first bold steps and quickly fell flat tush-side down.  Only instead of wailing for someone to pick her up (as I undoubtedly would have done), she caught a glimpse of herself in the glass, checked herself out, eked out her smile (that apparently was ‘signature’ even at this early age), and wiggled her way back up to do it all over again.  The next time was barely better, but the routine remained the same –

She fell down, got right back up, and smiled.

In looking at her life in arrears, the brother had realized that his sister had lived all her days with this same kind of fearlessness.  She lived her life out loud – without border, with full embrace, and with a century-deep capacity for love and forgiveness.  This same fearlessness also got her into some bumps in the road, that pushed her proverbial tush-side down in the decades that followed her innocent run on the skates.  Her big brother, trying to make sense of her loss too soon to seem real, saw that those early days were in some measure a bittersweet foreboding of what was to come.  We may not be able to make sense of why his sister left us so soon – not now, not this time when so much was going ‘right’ for her (new place, new job, new friends); but we can take solace in the fact that those closest to her got their sister, daughter, and friend back, even for a short while over these past few months, and in the purest, most complete sense of the word.

Sometimes at funerals, I feel a voyeur – peeking too far behind a curtain that is not rightfully mine. 

But quickly I’m reminded that the passing of a life – whether in a whisper or a shout – is a fast forward, rewind, slow motion and aspiration of moments of wonder with people and things.   I’m also reminded that despite all we do to keep it together, the reality is that we are all in recovery.  It is most palpable when we lose someone like this family and this community had, or when we don’t live fully with the family we have and the family we choose.  Life is often by accident, and if we’re lucky by intention.  And as I reflect on why this funeral has weighed on me with the thud of a heavy heart, it is absolutely because we lost a lovely young woman way before her time, but also and perhaps consequently because we are faced with a choice to live life alive.  To allow ourselves the terror of a first date, to discover and rediscover our partner with each passing year, to pause to understand our parents as they were before mom or dad, to unearth the bunker of his or her story, to choose the tougher more awkward conversation, to confess the blues even when we don’t know the root cause, to forgive and forgive, to call out our own bull shit, to recognize our beleaguered muffin tops and to be pissed at the original architect of that horrible term, to grieve our losses of friendship and family equal to our losses of truth, to have the strength and humility to defibrillate the ones that will bring us back, to stutter and trip as we become our own version 2.0, to learn and be learned, to believe and then to be someone worthy of this walk around the sun, someone whose footsteps will mean something, will crush and be crushed, will form a constellation with equal wonder and bemusement as the galaxies above.

Some folks live a lifetime without living it out loud, and with this much capacity for innocence and adventure. And for this, her family and friends will forever be changed and will always be grateful.

May you rest in peace, dear C.  And like the deluge that passed through our sky on the day you were put to rest, know that the trees and the flowers are brighter and bolder because you stormed through town and kissed the breeze along the way.

Maria Kim

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Five relationship-ending red flags: What do you think: Comments please!

Interesting Article:  What do you think?  Comments?

Five relationship-ending red flags

By Chelsea Kaplan

Five relationship-ending red flags
It’s entirely normal for anyone to feel jittery when getting into a committed relationship — heck, you’re saying goodbye to dating and the single life (at least for now). But if you can’t shake the feeling that devoting yourself to just one person might be a big mistake, it might be time to re-think making such an important commitment right now. Below, you’ll find five scenarios where ending your relationship may actually be a good idea… and doing it sooner could spare yourself from heartbreak down the road:
Red Flag #1: You and your partner have differing views on family If you love having weekly Sunday dinners with your folks while he’d rather spend them at home watching football (or your sweetie would like to have six kids, but you’re not even sure you want one), these issues won’t likely get resolved — or even slightly change — once you’re committed and cohabitating together. In fact, they’re probably going to become more contentious if you get married, says Patrick Schneid, a dating and relationships coach in Washington D.C. “Many couples enter into a relationship with completely different notions about family — including how they relate to their parents and siblings as well as the future family they hope to have with their potential husband or wife,” he explains. “These couples usually assume that everything will work out because they love each other. However, love isn’t always enough to make that relationship a healthy one. You and your partner must essentially be on the same page about the roles you’d like your respective families to play in your own lives as well as the family you envision creating together as a couple. If you’re on different wavelengths when it comes to these issues, I can almost guarantee your marriage will be a rocky one — if it lasts at all.”
Related: How to know if you should stay or go

 Red Flag #2: Your partner has a history of being unfaithful According to Dr. Terri Orbuch, relationship expert and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship, trust is perhaps the most important and essential aspect of any successful long-term relationship. “When you trust someone, it means that you believe that person tells you the truth, won’t hurt or deceive you, and has your best interests at heart,” she says. “If a betrayal of trust happens, you probably want to take a step back and either end the relationship (or postpone the wedding, if you’re already engaged) so you can see what’s going on with your romance, your partner, or your partner’s inability to be honest and dependable.” Take this time to discover what’s really happening with your beloved and consider whether he or she is sincerely remorseful and apologetic about any questionable behaviors before you commit to being each other’s one and only.
Related: Confessions: 7 reasons why women cheat
Red Flag #3: Your partner’s been caught engaging in risky behavior It should go without saying that if your partner is routinely engaging in sketchy, scary or harmful behavior, it’s a good idea to reconsider being in a committed relationship with this person. However, many engaged folks believe that these behaviors may abate over time after they’re married, or that their love is enough to inspire their partner to change for the better once they move into their first shared home. Not so, says Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole, coauthor of Dangerous Instincts: How Our Gut Feelings Betray Us: “If your partner is demonstrating signs of physical aggression toward others, drug and/or alcohol abuse, criminal behavior or other unsavory or even illegal activities, choosing to partner up with this person for the rest of your life isn’t just unwise — it’s actually dangerous.” If this sounds familiar to you, it may be time for you to get out — and the sooner, the better, O’Toole advises, because finding a way to break up now ensures he or she can’t put you in harm’s way later on.
Related: 10 reasons to dump a guy… immediately!
Red Flag #4: Your partner is unable to handle conflict or stress in healthy ways Before you walk down the aisle together, take a good look at how the two of you manage stress and disagreements. “How both of you behave when you have a disagreement now says a lot about how you will — or won’t — resolve problems in the future,” says Dr. Orbuch. Because life constantly throws curveballs at us, the odds are good that both you and your partner will encounter stressful situations once you’re living together. Weathering those storms in a positive way is essential, says Dr. Orbuch. “If your partner handles disagreements with others (or with you) in a destructive way — i.e., by cursing, screaming, or talking down to the other person — you may want to reconsider whether this is really a future you’d like to sign up for,” she says. “A good relationship is one where the two of you fight fair,” asserts Dr. Orbuch. “My research also shows that you are more than twice as likely to break up over time if you handle conflict in a destructive way.”
Related: Traits unhappy couples have in common
Red Flag #5: Your family and/or friends really dislike your partner While even the most charming, genuine people can occasionally rub others the wrong way, if the majority of your family and friends think that your partner isn’t nearly good enough for you, don’t assume they’re just trying to give you a hard time (or simply aren’t happy for you). “Often, when people are coming to love from a desperate place — perhaps they’re on the rebound, or worried that this may be their last chance at love before they’re too old to have a family — they choose partners who aren’t right for them,” says Schneid. “The problem is that because they’re seeking love out of a sense of desperation or loneliness, they’re able to convince themselves that this person is the key to their future happiness and therefore overlook that person’s deficiencies (however big or small they may actually be). Sometimes, the only people who can help pull someone out of this kind of delusion are that person’s family members or friends.” So if loved ones that you trust and whose opinions you value highly tell you that they’re not as sure about your choice of partner as you are, listen to them. “It’s worth hearing them out — especially before you walk down that aisle towards spending a lifetime with someone who may not be your true Mr. or Ms. Forever,” advises Schneid.
When DC-based journalist Chelsea Kaplan isn’t helping you solve your relationship problems, she’s making jewelry. Check it out at www.chelseabellejewelry.com.

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Up to 20 percent of children in the United States suffer from a mental disorder,

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Up to 20 percent of children in the United States suffer from a mental disorder, and the number of kids diagnosed with one has been rising for more than a decade, according to a report released on Thursday by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the agency’s first-ever study of mental disorders among children aged 3 to 17, researchers found childhood mental illnesses affect up to one in five kids and cost $247 billion per year in medical bills, special education and juvenile justice.

Children with mental disorders – defined as “serious deviations from expected cognitive, social, and emotional development” – often have trouble learning in school, making friends, and building relationships later in life, the report said.  They are more likely to have other chronic health problems, such as asthma and diabetes, and are at risk for developing mental illnesses as adults.
“This is a deliberate effort by CDC to show mental health is a health issue. As with any health concern, the more attention we give to it, the better. It’s parents becoming aware of the facts and talking to a healthcare provider about how their child is learning, behaving, and playing with other kids,” Dr. Ruth Perou, the lead author of the study, told Reuters in an interview.
“What’s concerning is the number of families affected by these issues. But we can do something about this. Mental health problems are diagnosable, treatable and people can recover and lead full healthy lives,” Perou added.
The study cited data collected between 1994 and 2011 that showed the number of kids with mental disorders is growing. The study stopped short of concluding why, but suggested improvements in diagnoses as one possible explanation
“Changes in estimated prevalence over time might be associated with an actual change in prevalence, changes in case definition, changes in the public perception of mental disorders, or improvements in diagnosis, which might be associated with changes in policies and access to health care,” the study said.
Perou told Reuters more research was needed to determine the specific causes of mental disorders, and that greater awareness could lead to an uptick in diagnoses. A host of environmental factors, including chemical exposure and poverty, can also affect a child’s mental health, she said.
Lead, for example, is known to be “one of the biggest toxins to impact behavior and learning,” Perou said. Poor children are at a higher risk for developing certain conditions, according to the study.
The most prevalent mental health diagnosis, as reported by parents, was Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which affects 6.8 percent of children. Also common were behavioral conduct problems (3.5 percent), anxiety, which consists mostly of fears and phobias (3 percent), depression (2.1 percent) and autism spectrum disorders (1.1 percent). Many of these disorders occur together, the report said.
Boys were found more likely to have most of the listed disorders except for depression and alcohol abuse, which affect more girls.
The study also noted that suicide, which can be precipitated by an untreated mental illness, was the second leading cause of death (after accidents) among children 12 to 17 years old.
The CDC report was based on multiple other studies that collected data and interviewed children and their guardians about their diagnoses, habits, behaviors and other factors.
(Reporting by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bob Burgdorfer)

Copyright © 2013, Reuters

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I remember by Kathleen T. Sullivan

by Kathleen T. Sulllivan
I remember
Root Beer Floats on the fourth of July
Creamed  Tuna on Fridays
Luaus when the big kids came home
And poetry after dinner
The Perseids
Cygnus the Swan …
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
And struggling to see
The Little Dipper
Eggs and bacon
The Chronicle, the funnies, the editorial page
The back yard,
Mocking Birds, and Blue Jays
Nellie Gray
“Life is Rich”
“This is Ambrosial”
And “For Pete’s sake”
I remember
Dinner at Grandma’s
Canned peaches and cottage cheese
High Balls and smoke rings.
Aunt Gertrude playing the piano
Making up sins on Saturdays
Ten “Hail Marys” and three “Our Fathers”
The Guitar Group on Sundays
Praying to St. Anthony
“If you don’t like it, do it yourself!”
“God damn it: Quit swearing!”
A skinny wrist and a shaking fist
Three purple candles
And one pink,
Presents on Christmas Eve
And Mass at midnight
The Stations of the Cross
Incense and bells
Giving up something, anything
For six weeks!
I remember
And chocolate bunnies
Colored eggs
And a new white dress
But mostly,
I remember you.
And I miss you

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 Did you know that people who get enough sleep (about 7-9 hours a night) are more likely to have higher productivity, feel more energetic throughout the day, and experience less stress? Sleep is crucial for concentration, memory formation, and repairing and rejuvenating the cells of the body. Both mentally and physically, a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and your energy.

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Emotional Detachment For a Better Life

Emotional Detachment For a Better Life

By Remez Sasson
 Do you take everything too personally?
Do your moods go up and down often?
Can an insignificant incident destroy your whole day?
Are you easily affected by what people say or think about you?
Do you allow situations and people to affect your moods and your behavior?
Do you lack inner peace?
The good news is that some degree of emotional detachment can help you change this situation!
Emotional detachment is useful at home and at work, in your relationships with your family, relatives, friends and co-workers, and with everyone else.

Imagine how free, relieved and happy you would be, if you could stay calm and poised in the midst of whatever is happening in your life. Think how much physical, emotional, and mental energy you could spare, if you could avoid becoming upset, angry or moody.

Lack of emotional detachment leads to attachment, to fear of letting go, and to avoiding changes. You need some degree of emotional detachment, if you wish to feel free, and to improve the quality of your life. Otherwise, people and events, your memories, thoughts, and past, will tie you down.

Emotional agitation, anger, and hurt feelings, cause stress and unhappiness, and lead nowhere, except to more pain, suffering, and broken relationships. They disturb your mind, disrupt your concentration, and prevent you from focusing on the matters at hand. If you wish to enjoy inner peace, it is imperative that you try to gain at least some degree of emotional detachment.

Too much emotional involvement with matters that do not concern you, or are not important, take too much of your time, energy and health. Excessive emotional involvement agitates your mind and feelings, and obstructs inner peace, common sense, and right judgement.

Emotional detachment would not necessarily make your life problems-free. You will still encounter disturbing circumstances and disturbing people, because this is part of life, however, your attitude toward them, your state of mind, and the way you react, would change.

Detachment, as taught in this book, does not make you want to avoid meeting people or experiencing feelings. You can interact with other people, show warmth, compassion and love, and yet, maintain a state of equanimity, calmness, and inner strength.
  • Emotional detachment produces a state of inner peace and equanimity, which is unaffected by external circumstances, nor by people’s moods or states of mind.
  • Emotional detachment is essential for every person who wishes to become free from worries, fears and anxiety.
  • A state of emotional detachment is most useful in many situations, when dealing with family or friends, or at your job.
  • True detachment is an inner attitude, which allows you to interact with other people, show warmth, compassion and love, and yet, maintain a state of composure and equanimity.
  • Emotional detachment can help you maintain a state of calmness, self-control and psychic integrity, when handling your daily affairs of life and in your interactions with people.
  • Learn how to avoid dwelling on distressing or unpleasant events from your past, and reliving them in your mind over and again.
  • Learn how to avoid becoming agitated by what people say or do, and by circumstances and events.
  • Find out how to remain calm and unaffected in the company of people, who burden you with their worries and problems, or hurt your feelings.
  • Discover how to remain calm and balanced, and use judgement and common sense in pressing and difficult situations.

Emotional detachment is a skill, which you can learn like any other skill, and is vital for every person, everywhere, and in all walks of life. It is the antidote to constant thinking about the past, worrying about the future, dwelling on what this or that person said, and taking everything too personally.

Emotional detachment, as taught in this book, has nothing to do with avoiding people or feelings. It is an inner attitude, which enables you to maintain a state of composure and equanimity, and at the same time interact with other people, show warmth, compassion and love.

Well-developed emotional detachment produces a state of inner peace and equanimity, undisturbed by circumstances or other people’s moods and states of mind, just like a calm lake that is undisturbed by winds or waves.
  • One of the important characteristics of emotional detachment is the ability to avoid getting involved with unnecessary or unhealthy emotions and reactions.
  • It helps you avoid becoming upset by what people say or do, or by their emotions, reactions or behavior.
  • Emotional detachment protects you from being upset by external conditions or situations. It does not necessarily change your circumstances, but it allows you to act and react calmly and with common sense, without emotional agitation, which often clouds the judgement and wastes unnecessary emotional and physical energy.
  • With this ability, you can keep away thoughts about distressing or unpleasant events from your past, and avoid reliving them in your mind over and again. This ability will also help you stay away from worries about current problems, and from worries about the future.
  • Emotional detachment can be applied in your relationships with strangers, and also in your relationships with people you know, with family, relatives, co-workers or friends, and with anyone else. It protects you from being manipulated, disturbed, or hurt by emotionally demanding, manipulative or negative people.
  • A state of emotional detachment is most useful in many situations, such as when a driver behind you keeps honking, even when you cannot drive faster or let him pass. It is useful when dealing with family or friends, who try to manipulate you through guilty conscience, making you do things that you don’t want to do. It also helps you stay calm and unaffected, when in the company of people, who intentionally or unintentionally burden you with their worries and problems, or hurt your feelings.
  • This skill can also help you at your job. If your boss, colleagues or customers demand too much of you, or are harsh on you, you will be able to remain calm, undisturbed and fearless.

This book was written in the form of a conversation between a teacher and a pupil, which made it possible to ask questions the reader might ask, and answer them in a simple and easy to understand language. This format makes it possible to clarify, guide and instruct the subject in a more personal way, as if the reader is actually in the presence of a teacher.

Remez Sasson, the author of the book, teaches and writes about self-improvement, positive thinking, inner peace, spiritual growth and meditation.
He has been studying and practicing these subjects for many years, and therefore, speaks and writes from personal experience. You can read many of his articles at this website and at many other websites.
Remez Sasson is also the author of the books “Peace of Mind in Daily Life”, “Willpower and Self Discipline”, “Visualize and Achieve” and “Affirmations – Words with Power”, all available at this website.

True detachment brings into one’s life inner strength, self-discipline, open-mindedness, common sense, better comprehension, and the ability to see the pros and cons of every situation. It also guards you from being adversely affected by the moods, and negative thoughts and emotions of other people.

Adopting a detached attitude enables you to exercise your best judgement, handle efficiently every situation, and become a tower of strength for others in times of need and difficulties.

By refusing to open yourself to emotional turmoil that does not concern you, you protect your physical, emotional and mental being from becoming drained out and from exhaustion.

Hi Remez,

I just finished reading “Emotional Detachment for a Better Life.” I plan on reading it again soon. A friend of mine suggested that I read it.

I felt compelled to reach out to you, since what I learned is so powerful. I’ll be 45 next month. It seems all my life, up until this present moment, I’ve been trying to fix what I have broken. I’ve made some bad decisions, and I’m paying dearly for the consequences of my actions from my younger years. Your book really gave me a new outlook on how to deal with things, and I look forward to gaining better emotional health, and to be comfortable with myself and my relations with others.

Before I read your book, I felt like I was doomed with no hope or chance for inner peace, and because you were here on this Earth and wrote this book, and my friend turned me on to it, I am forever grateful. I want to thank you personally for saving my life and giving me hope again.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Michael DiVito

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Understanding Emotional Detachment

Understanding Emotional Detachment: Why You Need It

Posted on 19th November 2012 in Articles, Emotional Detachment, Family Topics

Understanding emotional detachmentFor someone who’s had a childhood full of turmoil: a mother who was using her nagging skills to wake the children up early in the morning, a father who often stays at work because he never wanted to spend another minute arguing with the almost always hysterical wife, and siblings who seem to find the slightest reason to punch each other in the face; you’d probably think this someone may have had lost her sanity and composure along the way.

But no; instead, as she grows up to be an adolescent, she finds herself at the back-most part of the lecture room with no seatmate to chitchat with. And now as she enters the world of professionals and adulthood, she seems to find it a little difficult to relate to her workmates and even find someone from the opposite sex to start in what could have been a normal intimate boy-girl relationship. She seems guarded and uptight; people brand her as someone “withdrawn” or “detached”.

For people with traumatic emotional and even physical experience, the body’s normal coping mechanism is to find an exit and get away from all the stress. Thus, emotional detachment takes place. They begin to create their very own bubble, carefully guarding it from someone who attempts to penetrate it, they become more at peace and comfortable when they keep the intimate and personal matters to themselves.

No, these people are not crazy nor psychotic. Believe it or not, they are simply protecting themselves. Emotional detachment is a necessary step to take when one’s safety is threatened. This explains the behaviour of the person who grew up in a very chaotic environment often a recipient of painful words, traumatic occurrences and even emotional abuse.

When a person detaches herself or himself from someone or something that causes negative feelings, the person thwarts the probability of going through the same thing over again. Sometimes this is necessary to keep ourselves whole and free from disturbing and distressing events or people.

However, emotional detachment often times becomes a difficult process to reverse, henceemotional detachment tips the behaviour of the child. While it is something one can switch on and off, the process is not that easy as it involves looking into the innermost emotions of that person, and it is only that person who can decide whether or not the button stays on or off.  And while emotional detachment safeguards a person from threats of emotional pain, too much of it actually can upset his or her entire life.

We need affection, intimacy (both physical and emotional) and relationships to evolve holistically as a person, therefore omitting an aspect of our behaviour and personality such as being dull to certain emotions and failing to connect, relate and develop bonds with people could similarly threaten our psychological, social, and even social state. A person who fails to awaken from a period of emotional detachment could be staying asleep throughout his or her entire life. That person becomes withdrawn, analytical and safeguarded, causing people to stay away and back away. When all these happens, everything not-so-nice follows; the person will find it difficult to trust anybody, relationships could be a very stressful thing to achieve and even maintain, meaning, he or she will be deprived of what is supposed to be a  normal person’s life.

Therefore, emotional detachment needs to be properly assessed; it is vital to know when it is needed and when it is not. Emotional detachment can be both a life saver and a life destroyer, thus, this is a very important matter that needs utmost care and consideration.

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Everybody has habits that they don’t like. But breaking them is tricky!

By Heather Larson

Everybody has habits that they don’t like. But breaking them is tricky because you often do them without even realizing it. That’s why the first step to banishing those behaviors is recognizing that you do something irritating in the first place. Then, replace that practice with something that serves a similar purpose. Eventually, that’ll become a habit. Here are other expert strategies for stopping some popular practices. Photo by Thinkstock.

1. Biting Your Nails
If you hide your hands because you’ve gnawed your nails to nubs, it’s time to change that. Identify what you do before you bite your nails, suggests James Claiborn, PhD, co-author of The Habit Change Workbook: How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones. Do you search for uneven or jagged edges, and then bring your hand to your mouth? Instead of moving a finger toward your face, clench your fists. Continue clenching them for a couple of minutes until the urge to bite your nails disappears. When you feel you’ve made progress changing this behavior, treat yourself to a well-deserved manicure.

2. Knuckle Cracking
Even though you may love the sensation, you probably want to stop as a courtesy to people who don’t enjoy that grating sound. Dr. Claiborn recommends relying on a “competing behavior,” a.k.a. doing something instead of cracking your knuckles. Punching your other hand or fanning out your fingers will prevent you from going to town on your knuckles. To crack down on cracking for good, keep a record of your successes-when you substituted another behavior for your bad habit-and your relapses. Figure out why you slipped, and you’ll be closer to a knuckle-cracking-free life.

3. Gum Snapping
Again, you may enjoy that gratifying sound, but it’s irritating to everyone who can hear it. So ask yourself how important it is to keep chewing gum, says Dr. Claiborn, and consider giving it up altogether. With a stick in your mouth, it’s tough to resist snapping it. If you’ll miss the pleasurable process, try deep breathing or a relaxation exercise-it may calm you just as effectively. On the other hand, if you chew gum to freshen your breath or stave off hunger, pop in a mint instead.

4. Sleeping in Your Makeup
You’re just so tired by the time you go to bed, you can’t even think about scrubbing your face. Keep cosmetic-remover wipes on your nightstand, so you can at least wipe off your makeup before you hit the hay, says Yael Varnado, MD, who answers health questions at AskDoctorV.com. Or create a bedtime ritual of using a face-washing product and moisturizer you love while soothing music plays. Need more motivation to remove makeup at night? Sleeping with it on can cause acne and wrinkles, because it dries out skin around your eyes.

Related: Discover 75 timeless beauty tips.

5. Interrupting
You’re eager to share your thoughts, but if someone else is speaking, you’ve got to bite your tongue (unless you want people to think you’re rude!). Focus on listening, says Dr. Varnado. The more intently you hear someone out, the less you’ll feel the urge to interject. “If the speaker pauses to take a breath or collect his thoughts, don’t use that as a window to speak,” she adds. Instead, breathe deeply, count to ten in your head and reflect on what the speaker said. You might also ask a pal to tactfully remind you of your goal when you lapse and celebrate your successes with you.

6. Noisy Eating
You’re aware you make sounds while you munch, but aren’t sure why. Tape-record yourself to isolate whether you hum, click or make sucking noises with your tongue. Finding the specific sounds helps you focus on the solution, which could include changing where you keep and how you move your tongue during meals, chewing more slowly, chewing smaller pieces or keeping your mouth closed while eating (which is always a good idea in front of company).

7. Being Late
Conquering this habit requires a compelling reason to be on time for appointments, says Ken Lindner, author of Your Killer Emotions. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you respect other people’s time? Do you want to appear to be rude? Or would you like to be perceived as thoughtful and professional? When you decide to change, start by visualizing your arrival at an event five to ten minutes early-feels good not to annoy others, right? Or try writing down appointments 15 minutes before the scheduled time to ensure your promptness.

8. Reading Over Someone’s Shoulder

That invades their privacy! Putting yourself in that person’s shoes could help you quash your curiosity, says Lindner. Imagine how you’d react to someone looking over your shoulder. Now picture that person calling you out in a room full of people. That kind of embarrassment will most likely push you to want to stop this behavior. If it’s not enough, sign up for a free habit-changing site, like HabitForge.com, which emails you daily to see how you’re doing.

Related: Check out these 9 bad habits that are good for you.

9. Talking Loudly on Your Cell Phone
Consider what might happen if your conversation leaked to the wrong person or got posted on Facebook or Twitter. Would you lose a big client or a close relationship? When you’re in public, you have no idea who might be listening or where bits and pieces of your conversation might end up. To remind yourself to take or make calls privately, write a trigger word or phrase on your smartphone in a place you’d see all the time, says Lindner. His word is “Mario Lopez,” one of his biggest clients.

10. Fidgeting
Moving around because you’re anxious can be seen as a sign of weakness, says Lindner. To prevent that perception, consciously think about what you’ll do with your hands in every situation before it happens. If you’re standing, put your hands at your sides and imagine they’re glued there so you can’t move them. If you’re seated at a table, place your hands on your knees under the table or fold them on top of the surface. Concentrate on not moving them until you need to use one.

Related: Learn about the best body language for any situation.

Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.


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The tragedy of life without a father.

By Luke Rosiak

-The Washington  Times

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


  • Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father. (AP photo)
Nicole Hawkins‘ three daughters have  matching glittery boots, but none has the same father. Each has uniquely colored  ties in her hair, but none has a dad present in her life.

As another single mother on Sumner Road decked her row-house stoop with Christmas lights and a plastic Santa, Ms.  Hawkins recalled that her middle child’s father has never spent a holiday or  birthday with her. In her neighborhood in Southeast Washington, 1 in 10 children  live with both parents, and 84 percent live with only their mother.

In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents,  rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the  country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent  households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3,  live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just  11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.

America is awash in poverty, crime, drugs and other problems, but more than  perhaps anything else, it all comes down to this, said Vincent  DiCaro, vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative: Deal with  absent fathers, and the rest follows.

People “look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ But what we do is ask, ‘Why does that child need help  in the first place?’ And the answer is often it’s because [the child lacks] a  responsible and involved father,” he said.

Dangerous spiral

The spiral continues each year. Married couples with children have an average  income of $80,000, compared with $24,000 for single mothers.

“We have one class that thinks marriage and fatherhood is important, and  another which doesn’t, and it’s causing that gap, income inequality, to get  wider,” Mr. DiCaro said.

The predilection among men to walk away from their babies is concentrated in  the inner cities. In Baltimore, 38 percent of families have two parents, and in  St. Louis the portion is 40 percent.

The near-total absence of male role models has ripped a hole the size of half  the population in urban areas.

Tiny selfless deeds trickle in to fill that hole as the natural human desire  for intimacy is fulfilled: One afternoon last week as a girl hoisted a  half-eaten ice cream sandwich high over her pigtailed head, Larry  McManus, the father of the girl’s sister, bent down to eat out of her hands  as he picked up the girls from school.

“I know dads that say they ain’t their kids. I see dads being disrespectful  of the mothers. And I see ones who take other men’s kids to football games  because they know their fathers aren’t around,” said Mr.  McManus, an ex-felon who said he is “trying to make a lot of changes right  now.”

Asked his daughter’s age, he consults with her sister.

“Five. She’s in pre-K,” the girl answered.

“She’s 5,” he echoed. “Mmm, that was good,” he said gently of the ice cream  sandwich. “Can I have another bite, please?”

Though income is the primary predictor, the lack of live-in fathers also is  overwhelmingly a black problem, regardless of poverty status, census data show.  Among blacks, nearly 5 million children, or 54 percent, live with only their  mother. Twelve percent of black families below the poverty line have two parents  present, compared with 41 percent of impoverished Hispanic families and 32  percent of poor white families.

The schism is most apparent in the District, which has a higher portion of  two-parent families among whites, at 85 percent, and a lower share among blacks,  at 25 percent, than any state.

In all but 11 states, most black children do not live with both parents. In  every state, 7 in 10 white children do. In all states but Rhode Island and  Massachusetts, most Hispanic children do. In Wisconsin, 77 percent of white  children and 61 percent of Hispanics live with both parents, compared with more  than 25 percent of black children.

“Something has to be done about it, and it starts with the culture and  reversing the attitude that marriage is not important. The president has a role  to play in that. He’s a married African-American father who can probably make a  huge difference with words alone,” Mr.  DiCaro said.

But the move toward single-parent homes has included every race, and from  Curtis Bay in Baltimore to Millcreek outside Salt Lake City to Vancouver, Wash.,  just north of Portland, there are 1,500 neighborhoods with substantial white  populations where most white households lack fathers. Maine, Vermont and West  Virginia have the lowest dual-parenthood rates for  whites.

Southern cross

The decline has hit disproportionately in the South, which considers itself a  bastion of traditional family values.

Even in places where the percentage of the black population declined, single  parenthood increased over the past decade, The Washington Times’ analysis of  census data shows. In South Carolina, where the black share of the population  fell by 2 percent, single parenthood rose by 5 percent. In Kentucky and  Louisiana, where the black population was constant, single parenthood increased  6 percentage points.

“In places you’d think values are at least talked about, they are not lived  out necessarily. Education and income seem to trump them. The people who might  not be preaching family values, like coastal upper-class communities, those are  the people who are waiting to get married,” Mr. DiCaro said.

The largest geographic area of sustained fatherlessness contains the rural,  largely black poor across Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, tributaries of  broken homes running 400 miles along the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn.,  where in some neighborhoods 82 percent of children live with their mothers  alone, to Baton Rouge, La., in parts of which less than one-fifth of children  have both parents at home.

Black families differ from other racial groups in that the average black  single mother has more children, not fewer, than her counterpart with a father  present. Hispanic single mothers were most often dealing with the most mouths to  feed but still had fewer children than their married  counterparts.

To have and to hold

Mr. DiCaro points to a desire among the  poor to produce something.

“When you have very little going for you in your life, having children can  give purpose to it. If you’re married, you’re going to be much more cautious.  There’s health care costs and our jobs, whereas if we were both just kind of  doing whatever, then why not just have another kid?”


Mr. McManus is quick to blame the  absence of fathers to deaths or incarcerations, though women point out that many absent fathers live around  the corner. Mr. McManus attributes that to  the young age of many parents who are not ready to be “tied down.” He said women  who need help with their children will seek the companionship of other men who  they think can be father figures.

Ms. Hawkins, the mother of three, lives  with her youngest child’s father but considers herself a single parent.

“When he’s home, he’s watching TV; it’s his time. I get no help. Financially,  he’s been a good provider,” she said, even for the children who aren’t his. But “as far as being involved in activities, not so much.”

Her relationship with her eldest child’s father ended over his refusal to  support their offspring, and her second child’s father is in prison.

“My oldest was raised by both parents, so it’s just selfish,” she said, but “my middle one, he wasn’t raised by either parent, so he doesn’t know how.”

“We need more fatherhood initiatives,” she said, pointing to government- and  nonprofit-funded programs at churches, prisons and community centers, such as  those offered by Mr. DiCaro’s group, “so  they can see what they’re missing.”

Just then, her daughter Nadya picked up a tree branch and strummed it like a  guitar, jumping up and down, all smiles. Ms.  Hawkins reconsidered her thoughts on government programs.

“Though to me, that’s the initiative right there,” she said. “You can talk  till you’re blue in the face about how to do it, but ultimately, you just have  to do it.”



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Family Scholars Propose National Agenda to Reverse Decline of Marriage in Middle America

Family Scholars Propose National Agenda to Reverse Decline of Marriage in Middle America

Contact: Matt Kaal, Institute for American Values mkaal@americanvalues.org; 212-246-3942

Embargoed until 12:01 a.m. December 16, 2012

NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2012 — A team of family scholars today released “The President’s Marriage Agenda for the Forgotten Sixty Percent” to tackle the striking yet little-discussed decline in marriage among “Middle America” – the nearly 60 percent of Americans who have completed high school, but do not have a four-year college degree.

Among that group, 44 percent of children are now born outside of marriage, up sharply from 13 percent in the 1980s.

The agenda is the centerpiece of the latest State of Our Unions report, an annual, joint publication of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Institute for American Values in New York City.

According to numerous studies, children born or raised outside of marriage are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional and social problems – including drug use, depression, attempted suicide and dropping out of high school – compared to children in intact, married families, as summarized in past reports such as “Why Marriage Matters” from the same team.

While debates over same-sex marriage have filled the headlines, the rapid hollowing out of marriage in Middle America – more than half of births among women under 30 now occur outside of marriage – has received scant attention from national leaders, the report notes.

“Marriage in Middle America is at a tipping point, with unwed childbearing threatening to become a new norm,” said report co-author W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and a professor of sociology at U.Va.

“The children of Middle America, already vulnerable to economic challenges in their communities, are exposed to even greater risks when their parents are unable to form and sustain a healthy marriage,” said report lead author Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values.

To reverse that prospect, the report’s recommendations include:

  • Eliminate marriage penalties and disincentives for the poor, for unwed mothers, and for older Americans, including lesser-known disincentives present in current Medicaid and Social Security policies.
  • Triple the child tax credit to shore up the economic foundations of family life in Middle America.
  • Help young men to become more marriageable and better husbands and fathers with job apprenticeship programs championed by report co-author Robert I. Lerman of the Urban Institute, military programs like the Strong Bonds Program, and prison programs like Within My Reach.
  • Enact the Second Chances Act to prevent unnecessary divorce.
  • Provide marriage education for newly forming stepfamilies.
  • Invest in and evaluate marriage and relationship education programs, especially those that target at-risk individuals and couples, such as Virginia’s Strengthening Families Initiative, the Family Expectations program in Oklahoma City, and First Things First in Chattanooga, Tenn. Fund such programs by devoting 1 percent to 2 percent of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grants.
  • Engage Hollywood, much as the anti-smoking movement did, to help shape positive American attitudes toward marriage and parenting.
  • Launch social media campaigns about the facts and fun of marriage, perhaps led by the U.S. Surgeon General.
  • Model how to talk about shared marriage values from a variety of perspectives.

“These recommendations would do a lot to signal that we value families,” said report co-author Linda Malone-Colón, founder of the National Center on African American Marriages and Parenting.

Even modest improvements in the health of marriage in America will reduce suffering and yield savings for taxpayers, the report argues. One study calculated that reducing family fragmentation by just 1 percent would save $1.1 billion annually as fewer children repeat grades, are suspended from school, require counseling or attempt suicide.

Noting that the disappearance of marriage in Middle America is tracking with the disappearance of the middle class in the same communities, the authors argue that strengthening marriage is a vital pathway to opening social opportunity and reducing inequality.

“The retreat from marriage is both a cause and a consequence of increasing inequality in America,” said report co-author David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values.

Marquardt closes: “The president and all our nation’s leaders must confront the marriage challenge in Middle America with the urgency and compassion it deserves.”

For information about this report, or to schedule an interview with the authors, contact Matt Kaal at the Institute for American Values at 212-246-3942 or email mkaal@americanvalues.org.


The authors of “The President’s Marriage Agenda for the Forgotten Sixty Percent” are Elizabeth Marquardt, director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values; David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values; Robert I. Lerman, fellow in labor and social policy at the Urban Institute; Linda Malone-Colón, founder of the National Center for African American Marriages and Parenting based at Hampton University; and W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

Also appearing in the latest issue of State of Our Unions is a new evaluation of publicly funded marriage initiatives, “Marriage and Relationship Education: A Promising Strategy for Strengthening Low-income, Vulnerable Families,” written by Theodora Ooms, senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, and Alan Hawkins, director of the Center for Studies of the Family at Brigham Young University.

The National Marriage Project, founded in 1997 at Rutgers University, is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian and interdisciplinary initiative now located at the University of Virginia. The project’s mission is to provide research and analysis on the health of marriage in America, to analyze the social and cultural forces shaping contemporary marriage, and to identify strategies to increase marital quality and stability.

The Center For Marriage And Families is located at the Institute for American Values, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to strengthening families and civil society in the U.S. and the world. Directed by Elizabeth Marquardt, the center’s mission is to increase the proportion of U.S. children growing up with their two married parents. At the center’s website, FamilyScholars.org, bloggers include emerging voices and senior scholars with distinctive expertise and points of view tackling today’s key debates on the family.

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Marriage Decline is unspoken tragedy.

By ,

Dec 16, 2012 01:00 AM EST

The Washington Post

As politicians compete to prove who loves the middle class more, they’re missing the elephant and the donkey in the room.The middle class needs not just tax breaks and jobs but also marriage.
This is the finding of a new University of Virginia and Institute for American Values report, “The State of Our Unions,” which tracks the decline of marriage among the nearly 60 percent of Americans who have high school but not college educations. This has far-reaching repercussions that are not only societal but economic as well. By one estimate cited in the report, which was written by five family scholars, the cost to taxpayers when stable families fail to form is about $112 billion annually — or more than $1 trillion per decade.Obviously, marriage or the lack thereof isn’t the only cause of our deficit spending, but neither is it irrelevant. Consider that in the 1980s, only 13 percent of children were born outside of marriage among moderately educated mothers. By the end of this century’s first decade, the number had risen to 44 percent.That we seem unfazed by these numbers suggests a lack of attention to the reasons marriage matters in the first place. It isn’t so that wedding planners can bilk daydreamers out of $50 billion a year or so that bridezillas can have reality TV shows. Marriage matters because children do best when raised in a stable environment with two committed parents, exceptions notwithstanding.

For whatever reasons — a fear of appearing judgmental or hypocritical, perhaps — no one makes a peep. Many of us, after all, have divorced. But this fact doesn’t mean that marriage is no longer important or that children’s needs have changed. Furthermore, this report isn’t concerned with the well-educated, who are typically better equipped to cope with dysfunction, financial or otherwise.

What happens to the other 60 percent? And what happens to a society upon whose beneficence the offspring of these broken or never-formed families ultimately may depend? Why isn’t anyone talking about this?

In the past, dramatic family changes have prompted calls to national action. The Moynihan Report of 1965 focused attention on the alarming rise of African American children born out of wedlock. In the 1990s, rising divorce rates and single motherhood spawned a fatherhood movement and welfare reform. Recently, same-sex marriage has dominated our interests.

The hollowing out of marriage in middle America cries out for similarly impassioned action. As lead author Elizabeth Marquardt writes in the report:

“Marriage is not merely a private arrangement; it is also a complex social institution. Marriage fosters small cooperative unions — also known as stable families — that enable children to thrive, shore up communities, and help family members to succeed during good times and to weather the bad times. Researchers are finding that the disappearance of marriage in Middle America is tracking with the disappearance of the middle class in the same communities, a change that strikes at the very heart of the American Dream.”

Our current debate about the fiscal cliff and entitlement spending can’t be separated from the breakdown of marriage. In the absence of stable families, economic and societal need increases. And while most good-hearted souls wish to help those in distress, we are essentially plugging holes in leaky boats. Shouldn’t we build better boats?

The report’s scholars suggest doing this with a series of federal and state proposals. One is to change the tax and welfare system, which frequently imposes financial penalties — up to 20 percent of family income — on low-income couples who choose to marry.

Another suggestion is to triple the child tax credit for children under age 3, which would have the added benefit of encouraging married people to have more children — much needed in the longer term to support the nation’s elderly.

These are but two of many, which can be viewed online at stateofourunions­.org, along with an urgent plea that President Obama include some of these thoughts in his State of the Union address next month. It insults no one to encourage couples to marry before having children, thus making a public as well as private commitment to love and care for them.

Perhaps most important, to ignore the marriage deficit among America’s middle class is essentially to be complicit in perpetuating a society of winners and losers. Those born to married, well-educated parents are more likely to prosper, while those born to fragmented families are more likely to repeat the patterns of their parents.

Therein is a national tragedy worthy of our attention.


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The Permanence of Tears

The Permanence of Tears

by Kathleen T. Sullivan

Wisdom and poise dismantled
We wander alone and together
Through a doleful landscape
… … We’ve come to know.

These watery sentiments now familiar
Require a truce that simmers
Between our absolute desire
And an unyielding truth.

Silence is our veil of composure.

A glance becomes a gaze
And a mutual recognition
blooms between us:
Joy and hope are transitory forms.

Wondering whether, or at what point
Should we hear your voice ever or again,
How will it be?
And until when?

*Title inspired by Galway Kinnell —


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12 Things Happy People Do Differently

by Jacob Sokol of Sensophy

“I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed.  I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live – that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.”
-Dan Millman

Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness.  These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives.  (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)

I want to honor and discuss each of these 12 points, because no matter what part of life’s path we’re currently traveling on, these ‘happiness habits’ will always be applicable.

  1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  Kinda cool right?  So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that’s without having to go out and buy anything.  It makes sense.  We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.
  2. Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it.  She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous.  If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority.  Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out!  If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made.  What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place.  If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an older version of yourself.
  4. Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside.  What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness.  How extraordinary is that?  Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on.  A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin.  Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.
  5. Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  WHOA!  There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with.  We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.
  6. Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable.  Forrest Gump knows the deal.  It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.
  7. Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being.  You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.
  8. Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.
  9. Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
  10. Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.
  11. Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists.  Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”
  12. Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected.  Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft?  Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

Jacob Sokol is committed to living an extraordinary life.  Today he released “Living on Purpose – An Uncommon Guide to Finding, Living, and Rocking

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The 9 Secrets of Happy Couples

The 9 Secrets of Happy Couples

By Redbook

By Redbook | Love + SexThu, Mar 8, 2012 11:07 AM EST




Loving couples: In a world where 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, you can’t help but notice them. There they are, finishing each other’s sentences or laughing in some dusky corner of a Chinese restaurant. They seem so wonderfully in sync, and they make the work of being a couple seem effortless. Of course, no intimate relationship ever is, especially once you factor in life’s built-in pressures, like work deadlines, laundry and your daughter’s orthodontist appointments.


But, says Jane Greer, Ph.D., Redbook Online’s resident sex-and-relationships expert, there are certain core values that make some marriages more intimate and resilient than others. You could probably predict the list: trust, mutual respect, commitment and a strong sense of “we” in the relationship. What is surprising, experts point out, is that when you ask loving husbands and wives about the key to their devotion, over and over you’ll hear the same things, specific habits that mirror these values. Learning these secrets can make your marriage closer too.
Related: 50 Fun, Cheap Date Ideas


1. They use terms of endearment


Sure, you may find it cloyingly sweet when you overhear other couples talking like 2-year-olds, but endearments are actually a sign of a healthy rapport.


“Pet names take you back either to the happy childhood you had or the one you wish you had,” says Manhattan-based family therapist Carolyn Perla, Ph.D. “They signal a safe, supportive environment.” Also, these days, when we’re stretched to the limit trying to juggle jobs and kids, “pet names give us the chance to let down our guard, to be vulnerable and childlike. And they make us feel close to one another.”


These same feelings of intimacy can also come from using a special tone of voice with each other, sharing silly “inside jokes,” or pet-naming your spouse’s intimate body parts. The point is to connect with some private message system that’s meaningful to you alone, as a couple — not to the outside world. “This type of playfulness is a statement that you’re feeling comfortable with each other and with the relationship,” says Dr. Perla.


Related: 25 Snacks Under 150 Calories


2. They do stuff together


When that pheromone-crazy feeling of falling in love passes and happy couples no longer spend all day in bed, they look outward. They start businesses, refinish the attic or take up cooking together.


Of all the variables in a relationship — from commitment to communication — the amount of fun couples have together is the strongest factor in determining their overall marital happiness, according to a landmark study by Howard Markman, Ph.D., codirector of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. Time spent playing together, says Dr. Markman, is an “investment in the relationship”; it provides a relaxed intimacy that strengthens the bond between two people. So even if your life is impossibly frantic, make the time for play. And do all you can to eliminate distractions. Leave the kids with a sitter, ditch the beeper and cell phone. The activity doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or costly. Exercising together, browsing in antiques stores, or renting a classic movie can help bring the two of you closer.


3. When the going gets tough, they don’t call Mom or Dad


The first task facing all young couples is separating from their families of origin, points out San Francisco-area-based family researcher Judith Wallerstein, Ph.D. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go home for the holidays. But if there’s a crisis over whether to have a second child or relocate for a new job, or even if there’s good news about a big raise or the results of a medical test, the couple should talk about it together first before dialing Mom. “You wouldn’t believe how many people who are getting divorced say to me, ‘She was never mine,’ or ‘His mother always came first,'” Dr. Wallerstein observes.


Related: 23 Power Foods to Eat More, More, More Of


4. They stay connected to their parents


This doesn’t contradict No. 3: You can talk with your mom every day and still be clear about where your attachment to her ends and your love for your mate begins.


“Staying connected to parents, siblings, cousins and the like can be excellent for a marriage because it gives a sense of family continuity,” says Dr. Greer. “It generates positive feelings, especially when you incorporate your spouse into that family. You’re sharing that part of you with each other.”


5. They don’t nickel-and-dime about chores


It’s no secret that most wives continue to do more in the housekeeping and child-rearing departments than their husbands. Still, when partners become double-entry bookkeepers, adding up every dish washed and every diaper changed, they may be headed for trouble.


“Most couples think they should strive for a relationship that’s 50-50,” observes Dr. Perla, “but the fact is, they should each give 150 percent. In good relationships, couples give everything they can. They don’t nickel-and-dime each other, and they respect that each person gives different things.”


Related: 17 5-Minute Marriage Makeovers


6. They fight constructively


There’s fighting and then there’s fighting. When couples start yelling and throwing things, when they dredge up every single complaint they’ve ever had (or “kitchen-sinking,” as marital experts typically call it), you can be sure that they won’t be celebrating their silver anniversary together. “Studies show that the way couples handle conflict is the most important factor in determining whether or not they stay together,” observes Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont.


“Happy couples have learned the art of constructive arguing,” says Dr. Markman, whose research has demonstrated that it’s possible to predict whether or not a couple will divorce after watching them argue for 10 or 15 minutes. In strong marriages, he says, the partners take control of their disagreements by establishing ground rules. They may, for example, call a mutually agreed-upon time-out if the conflict is escalating and unproductive, agreeing to continue the discussion after a cooling-off period. They also truly listen to each other and won’t prematurely try to solve the problem before they’ve heard each other out. Above all, no matter how angry they get, they don’t resort to name-calling and insults — key danger signs, says Dr. Markman.


7. They give each other gifts


Couples who are deeply connected often give each other presents or write little notes, says Thomas Moore, Ph.D., best-selling author of Care of the Soul. What they’re doing is preserving the rituals, and the magic, of their courtship.


The gift should carry no strings. Sarah sometimes comes home from work to find that her husband has prepared a candlelight dinner. “But it’s not set up to be a prelude to sex,” Sarah says laughingly. “John does it because he wants me to feel loved.”


Related: Easy Ways to Burn 100 Calories


8. They never lose their sense of humor


Humor, as many psychotherapists have observed, is the Krazy Glue that keeps a couple together. When a couple can no longer laugh together, Dr. Moore says, it’s a signal that the soul has gone out of their marriage and they are headed for trouble.


But Dr. Moore is quick to point out that lighthearted couples never mock each other. They instinctively know what is — and isn’t — fair game. “Sam would never dream of making fun of my big butt,” notes Catherine.


9. They take “for better or for worse” seriously


Contented couples encounter their share of life’s miseries — whether it’s the car breaking down, a nasty cold or a missed promotion — but they help each other get through. You don’t, for example, hear them say, “How could you let that happen?” when a spouse loses a job. “Couples who do well together tend not to do anything that increases their partner’s suffering, like become resentful or criticize,” notes Dr. Young-Eisendrath. In good marriages, people feel safe from the outside world. Each spouse, stresses Dr. Greer, has the feeling, “I can count on you, our world is all right.”

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Successful treatment of depression

Depression Treatments

Successful treatment of depression is a realistic goal. The majority of people with  depression can get better with treatment. A common approach is a combination of  prescription medication and talk therapy. Some people may try natural remedies or   lifestyle changes. Together, you and your health care professional can determine      the appropriate option to effectively treat your depression.


Prescription medications 

There are several types of prescription antidepressant medications that are divided  into different classes. Each antidepressant class affects the levels of chemicals   in the brain called neurotransmitters, which are thought to be involved in regulating  mood. The most commonly prescribed prescription antidepressants are SSRIs (selective  serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors).   SSRIs are believed to treat depression by affecting the levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. SNRIs are believed to treat depression by affecting the levels  of two neurotransmitters called serotonin and norepinephrine.

In general, it can take several weeks to feel the full benefit of a prescription  antidepressant, although some people will start to feel better sooner. It is important   to give the medication a chance to work and to take it exactly as directed by your health care professional.

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Consequences of Bullying ! NIMH

Consequences of Bullying

Washington, Oct. 31 (ANI): Kids who have been a victim of bullying may have long term health consequences like general and mental health issues, behavioral problems, eating disorders, smoking, alcohol use, and homelessness, a study has revealed.

“What is apparent from these results is that bullying victimization that occurs early in life may have significant and substantial consequences for those victims later in life,” Leana Bouffard, Director of the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University, which carried out the study said.

“Thus, the adverse health consequences of victimization are much more far-reaching than just immediate injury or trauma.

“Understanding these long term consequences is important to assessing the true toll of crime on its victims and on society as well as responding to victims more effectively,” she said.

The study, ‘The Long Term Health Consequences of Bullying Victimization,’ recommends investing in victim services and effective prevention programs, such as the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a school based initiative for violence prevention.

Programs can help address the immediate trauma, both mental and physical, that victims experience.

“This type of investment may also have the added benefit of reducing the long-term deleterious effects identified in this and other studies, thus reducing the high cost of victimization born by the victims themselves, the health care system and society in general,” Bouffard said.

The current study is based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a long term study that tracks a sample of U.S. residents born between 1980 and 1984.

19 percent of those surveyed said that they had been a victim of repeated bullying.

The study found that those bullying victims had more negative perceptions of their general health and mental health and higher rates of emotional/mental or behavioral problems that interfered with school or work.

They were also more likely to have an eating disorder, smoke, consume alcohol, experience subsequent violent victimization, or be homeless.

“While these are adverse consequences themselves, they may also serve as intermediate mechanism for even more long-term health issues, such as cancer, alcoholism, depression and other serious problems,” Maria Koeppel, co-author of the study, said. (ANI)


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More good advice from Dan Pearce /read on

More good advice from Dan Pearce
13. Don’t pressure each other.
Pressuring each other about anything is always a recipe for resentment. I always felt so pressured to make more money. I always felt so pressured to not slip in my religion. I always felt so pressured to feel certain ways about things when I felt the opposite. And I usually carried a lot of resentment. Looking back, I can think of just as many times that I pressured her, so I know it was a two-way street.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d make it a point to celebrate the different views, opinions, and ways that she had of doing things. I’d find the beauty in differentiation, not the threat.
BONUS! authentic happiness becomes a real possibility. And so do authentic foot rubs.
14. Don’t label each other with negative labels.
Sometimes the easiest phrases to say in my marriage started with one of three things. Either, “you should have,” “you aren’t,” or “you didn’t.” Inevitably after each of those seemed to come something negative. And since when have negative labels ever helped anyone? They certainly never helped her. Or me. Instead, they seemed to make the action that sparked the label worsen in big ways.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I would learn to stop myself before saying any of those phrases, and then I’d switch them out for positive labels. Instead of “you should,” I’d say “you are great at.” Instead of saying “you aren’t,” I’d say “you are.” Instead of saying “you didn’t,” I’d say, “you did.” And then I’d follow it up with something positive.
BONUS! the noblest struggles become far more conquerable. And you don’t think or believe that you’re a schmuck, which is always nice.
15. Don’t skip out on things that are important to her.
It was so easy in marriage to veto so many of the things she enjoyed doing. My reasoning, “we can find things we both enjoy.” That’s lame. There will always be things she enjoys that I will never enjoy, and that’s no reason not to support her in them. Sometimes the only thing she needs is to know that I’m there.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d attend many more of the events that she invited me to. I would actively participate and not tell all the reasons why I’d do it differently or how it could be better or more fun or time better spent.
BONUS! go to something she knows you don’t enjoy and the gratitude gets piled on later that night, like whipped cream on a cheesecake.
16. Don’t emotionally distance yourself after a fight.
I never got to experience the power of make-up sex because any time my wife was mean or we got in a fight, I’d completely distance myself from her, usually for several days. Communication would shut down and I’d avoid contact at all cost. This never let things get worked out, and eventually after it had happened enough times I’d explode unnecessarily.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d let myself communicate my emotions and feelings more often, and I’d make sure that she knew I still loved her any time we had an ugly bout. Sure, we’d give each other some distance. But not days of distance.
BONUS! Fantastic make-up sex. Or at least that’s the theory.

I had lots more, but the list started getting super long so I’ll stop right there. It’s amazing when you’ve had relationships end, just how much you learn and know you could have done differently, isn’t it?

My sister and her new husband will be amazing. Hopefully she’ll always be giving amazing marriage advice in the future and never have to hand out the “keep your marriage from ending” advice like I get to.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. Would love your comments on today’s posts. What do you agree/disagree with? What did I miss?

PPS. If you’re new here, we would love for you to follow along with Single Dad Laughing! We have a ton of fun around here. A great place to start is with my top posts from the past.
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Don’t be stingy with your money.

As the main bread earner, I was always so stingy with the money. I’d whine about the cost of her shampoo or that she didn’t order water at restaurants, or that she’d spend so much money on things like pedicures or hair dye jobs. But seriously. I always had just as many if not more things that I spent my money on, and in the end, the money was spent, we were just fine, and the only thing my bitching and moaning did was bring undo stress to our relationship.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d tell her I trusted her to buy whatever she wanted, whenever she felt like she needed it. And then, I’d actually trust her to do it.
BONUS! sometimes she will make bad purchase decisions, which leads to makeup purchase decisions. Like that new gadget you’ve had your eyes on.
8. Don’t argue in front of the kids.
There was never any argument that was so important or pressing that we couldn’t wait to have it until the kids weren’t there. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist or super-shrink to know why fighting in front of the kids is a dangerous and selfish way of doing things.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I would never, ever, not even once fight in front of the kids, no matter how big or how small the issue was. I’d maybe make a code word that meant, “not with the kids here.”
BONUS! when you wait to fight, usually you both realize how stupid or unimportant the fight was and the fight never happens.
9. Don’t encourage each other to skip working out.
I always thought it was love to tell my spouse, “I don’t care if you don’t take care of yourself. I don’t care if you don’t exercise. I don’t care if you let yourself go.” But that was lying, and it was lying when she said it to me because the truth is, we did care and I wish that we would have always told each other how sexy and attractive the other was any time we’d go workout or do something to become healthier.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d ask her to tell me that she cared. I’d ask her to encourage me to go to the gym. I’d ask her to remind me of my goals and tell me I’m strong enough to keep them.
BONUS! exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people don’t kill other people. (Name that movie!)
10. Don’t poop with the bathroom door open.
I don’t know why, but at some point I started thinking it was okay to poop with the bathroom door open, and so did she. First of all, it’s gross. Second of all, it stinks everything up. Third of all, there is literally no way to make pooping attractive, which means that every time she saw me do it, she, at least in some little way, would have thought I was less attractive.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d shut the damn door and poop in private.
BONUS! when she does think of your naked body, she’s not going to be thinking about it in a grunting/squatting position.
11. Don’t stop kissing her.
It always got to a point when I’d more or less stop kissing her. Usually it was because things were stressful and there was tension in our relationship, and so I’d make it worse by refusing to kiss her. This of course would lead to her feeling rejected. Which would of course lead to arguments about it. Other times I had my own issues with germs and whatnot.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d kiss her in the morning when she looked like people do in the morning. I’d kiss her at night when she’s had a long day. I’d kiss her any time I felt like she secretly wanted a kiss. And, I’d kiss her even when my germ issues kicked in.
BONUS! she feels loved when you kiss her. That’s bonus enough.
12. Don’t stop having fun together.
Age shouldn’t matter. Physical ability shouldn’t matter. Couples should never stop having fun with each other, and I really wish I wouldn’t have gotten into so many ruts in which we didn’t really go out and do anything. And, I’ve been around the block enough times to know that when the fun is missing, and the social part of life is missing, so also goes missing the ability to be fully content with each other.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d make a rule with her that we’d never stay home two weekends in a row.
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By Dan Pearce ·


You know what blows big time?

The other night I was sitting with my family, most of whom are very successfully married. We were going in a circle giving our best marriage advice to my little sister on the eve of her wedding. It’s somewhat of a family tradition.

But that’s not what blows. What really blows is that I realized I don’t have any good marriage advice to give. After all, I’ve never had a successful marriage out of the two marriages I did have.

And so, when it was my turn, I just made a joke about divorce and how you should always remember why you loved your spouse when you first met her so that when times get tough you can find someone new that is just like she was.

There were a couple courtesy giggles, but overall my humor wasn’t welcome in such a beautifully building ring of profundity.

They finished round one, and for some reason started into another round. And that’s when I realized. Hey. I don’t have marriage advice to give, but I have plenty of “keep your marriage from ending” advice (two equivocally different things), and that might be almost as good.

It eventually came to me again, and what I said would have been such great advice if I were a tenth as good at saying things as I was at writing them.

And so, that night, I sat down and wrote out my “advice list” for my little sister. You know… things I wish I would have known or done differently so that I didn’t end up divorced (twice). After writing it, I thought maybe I’d share it with all of you, too.

I call it my “Ways I Blew My Marriage” list. Also, for the list’s sake, I am just going to refer to “her” instead of “them” even though they almost all were true in both marriages.

When I first dated the woman I ended up marrying, I always held her hand. In the car. While walking. At meals. At movies. It didn’t matter where. Over time, I stopped. I made up excuses like my hand was too hot or it made me sweat or I wasn’t comfortable with it in public. Truth was, I stopped holding hands because I stopped wanting to put in the effort to be close to my wife. No other reason.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d hold her hand in the car. I’d hold her hand on a star. I’d hold her hand in a box. I’d hold her hand with a fox. And I’d hold her hand everywhere else, too, even when we didn’t particularly like each other for the moment.
BONUS! When you hold hands in the winter, they don’t get cold. True story.
2. Don’t stop trying to be attractive.
Obviously when I was working to woo her, I would do myself up as attractively as I possibly could every time I saw her. I kept perfectly groomed. I always smelled good. I held in my farts until she wasn’t around. For some reason, marriage made me feel like I could stop doing all that. I would get all properly groomed, smelling good, and dressed up any time we went out somewhere or I went out by myself, but I rarely, if ever, cared about making myself attractive just for her.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d try and put my best foot forward throughout our entire marriage. I’d wait to fart until I was in the bathroom whenever possible. I’d make myself desirable so that she would desire me.
BONUS! when you trim your man hair, guess what. She returns the favor.
3. Don’t tell your spouse her weaknesses.
For some reason, somewhere along the way, I always ended up feeling like it was my place to tell her where she was weak and where she could do better. I sure as heck didn’t do that while we were dating. No, when I dated her I only built her up, only told her how amazing she was, and easily looked past all of her flaws. After we got married though, she sometimes couldn’t even cook eggs without me telling her how she might be able to improve.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I wouldn’t say a damned thing about anything that I thought could use improvement. I’ve learned since my marriage ended that there is more than one right way to do most things, and that the imperfections of others are too beautiful to try and change.
BONUS! when you tell her what she’s doing right, she’ll tell you what you’re doing right. And she’ll also tell her friends. And her family. And the dentist. And even strangers on the street.
4. Don’t stop cooking for your spouse.
I knew how to woo a girl, for sure. And the ticket was usually a night in, cooking a nice meal and having a romantic evening. So why is it then, that I didn’t do that for her after we got married? Sure, I’d throw some canned soup in the microwave or fry up some chimichangas once in a while, but I rarely if ever went out of my way to sweep her off her feet after we were married by steaming crab legs, or making fancy pasta, or setting up a candlelit table.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d make it a priority to cook for her, and only her, something awesome at least every month. And I’d remember that meat in a can is never awesome.
BONUS! candlelit dinners often lead to candlelit bow chica bow-wow.
5. Don’t yell at your spouse.
I’m not talking about the angry kind of yelling. I’m talking about the lazy kind of yelling. The kind of yelling you do when you don’t want to get up from your television show or you don’t want to go ALL THE WAY UPSTAIRS to ask her if she’s seen your keys. It really doesn’t take that much effort to go find her, and yelling (by nature) sounds demanding and authoritative.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: I’d try to go find her anytime I needed something or wanted to know something, and I’d have both gratitude and manners when I did. I always hated when she would yell to me, so why did I always feel it was okay to yell to her?
BONUS! sometimes you catch her doing something cute that you would have missed otherwise.
6. Don’t call names.
I always felt I was the king of not calling names, but I wasn’t. I may not have called her stupid, or idiot, or any of the other names she’d sometimes call me, but I would tell her she was stubborn, or that she was impossible, or that she was so hard to deal with. Names are names, and calling them will drive bigger wedges in communication than just about anything else.
IF I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER: Any time it got to the point that I wanted to call names, I’d call a time-out and come back to it later. Or better yet, I’d call her names, but they’d be names like “super sexy” or “hotness.” Even in the heat of the moment.
BONUS! she’ll call you names in better places. Like the bedroom.     MORE TO COME
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Those of you who have heard me preach at funerals know I often assure the family and friends that their loved one will find ways to let them know that he or she is all right

Father Jim Sullivan my cousin, Paula

Dear Friends and Family,


Okay, no.  This is NOT the How-I-am-Doing-in-Brentwood e-mail.  Nor is it the How-I-Spent-My-Summer-Vacation-(In-Medjugorje-and-Olympic-London) e-mail.  They are coming.  But this one trumps both.


Those of you who have heard me preach at funerals know I often assure the family and friends that their loved one will find ways to let them know that he or she is all right.  You will hear a song, recognize a fragrance, have a vivid dream, suddenly have a sense of the departed loved one’s presence that is so strong you could swear he or she was with you.  At funeral Masses I urge the mourners to trust these special moments, these moments when everything comes rushing back, when suddenly the lost loved one is not lost at all, but is so real to you that you could reach out and…And then it is gone.


Trust, I say, at funeral Masses.  Believe.  They ARE with us.  We call it the communion of saints and we profess our belief in it every Sunday in the Nicene Creed.


Well.  I must have been preaching to myself all these years, because this past Friday, on the Santa Monica Pier, of all places, I had just such an experience.  It was not of Mom.  It was not of Mateo.  It was of my brother John.  John was the second of the three boys in our family, and the fifth (of eight children) overall.  He was, while he was still here on earth, my best friend.  He was funny, creative, intelligent, questioning, passionate, and hugely talented, musically.  His favorite band, when he was a teen, in the seventies, was Pink Floyd.  I have to tell you the truth: I thought at the time that Pink Floyd was as weird as its name.  Could not understand John’s fascination with that group.  Later, I came to a real appreciation of the band’s intelligence and artistry, but when I myself was in my teens, No Way.  Give me the Rolling Stones, thank you very much.


Early on John decided to follow his passion for music where ever it led.  It led to Los Angeles.  He moved there in the autumn of 1982, at the age of 23.  For the next dozen years, LA was my get-away destination of choice; I went down six, seven, times a year, sometimes for as little as a weekend, other times for several days, usually timing my visits to be in attendance when John had a gig, that is, when his band was performing at some LA club.


One of the places John and I would go when I was in LA was the Palisades in Santa Monica, that spectacular park on the bluffs above the beach.  We’d spend lazy afternoons, bright with sunlight any time of year, walking under the palms and eucalyptus trees, talking about his plans and dreams, as a young musician, and mine, as a young writer.  We’d trade stories and laughs about agents and managers.  We’d talk about girlfriends and also, maybe more importantly, about friends who happened to be girls: his high school debate partner Cat had become one of my best friends up in the Bay Area; my great galpal from Cal Ruthanne had become one of his best friends, now that they were both in LA.  We’d talk about our day jobs, the work we did to support our artistic ambitions: I worked at Cal and he worked at UCLA.  We’d talk about the family — the NorCal contingent and the LA contingent.  We’d talk politics and world affairs.  We’d talk religion and philosophy.  We laughed a lot.


On several such afternoons, John and I went to the Santa Monica Pier, enjoying the sea breezes, the free music and the bright crowds.  I remember standing at the wood railing of the pier, one bright October afternoon, looking back at the beach and the palms, and listening to John while he pontificated (as he was often wont to do) on the merits (lack thereof, actually) of the latest Talking Heads release.  No fan of the Talking Heads, I took his opinions (his condemnations) in stride.  I reminded him that the Police and the Pretenders were still doing very good work, and recommended that he maintain an attitude of hope for his own band’s prospects.  I remember what he said to me that afternoon: “Jim, you have this amazing ability to renew hope.”  This was WAAAAY before I was even thinking about seminary!


My brother died in 1996, an emotional earthquake which continues to resonate in “aftershocks” for me, sixteen years later.  I still occasionally dream about him.  And I still, sixteen years after the fact, sometimes wake up from the dream having to ask myself, “My God, is he really gone?”


Well, late last week, I was in LA, visiting family there.  I happened to find myself free, Friday afternoon.  I thought about driving down the coast to Mission San Juan Capistrano.  I thought about driving inland (I was at my aunt’s in Westwood) to see the LA cathedral or maybe Mission San Gabriel.  I thought about just hanging loose in Westwood, which has attractions enough of its own.  I wound up driving to Santa Monica, and walking along the Palisades above the beach.


It was one gorgeous LA summer afternoon.  The palms rustled and sparkled in the sun and the bougainvillea was a riot of red.  I realized that I had not been on the bluffs since, very likely, sometime before John died.  The memories began to roll over me like gentle waves off the Pacific; memories of my brother, memories of our mutual dreams, memories of friends and family we hung out with in the eighties and nineties, memories of youth.  I realized (and okay, okay, NOT for the first time!!!) “Dude, you are NOT young anymore.”


The realization was satisfactory.  Youth?  Who needs it?  Poverty.  Intense focus and passionate commitment for…no return.  A life, for the artistically-inclined young, at any rate, of constantly raised hopes and oh-so-frequently dashed expectations.  Above all, a certain self-centeredness that is really best gently but steadily moved away from.  Youth?  Believe me, I was NOT missing my youth, Friday afternoon above the wide wide beach at Santa Monica.


But I was missing my brother.  I was missing him so intensely that I could have cried.


I walked out to the pier.  Its wooden planks echoed beneath my boots.  There were musicians on the pier.  There were political orators.  There were loonies.  Just like in the eighties.  There were also families, there were young couples, there were older couples, and tourists from the Midwest and there were places to stop, and get a spectacular photo, looking back over the dark water toward the beach.  I stopped at several points and took pictures.  There was a young guitarist across the pier; he had a nice voice and he was singing…Pink Floyd.  I smiled.  “Pink Floyd,” I thought.  “In 2012!  What a retro trip!”  I took some pictures of the water and the beach, and then crossed the pier to the side where the young musician was playing.  I took some more shots, because they were very good from that angle.


Then it hit me: Pink Floyd.  John’s favorite band.  Pink Floyd.


I turned and looked at the young musician, standing there in the afternoon sun, strumming his guitar and flooding my heart with sudden and deep memories.  Pink Floyd.  John the teen in Marysville; John the student at Cal; John the young musician himself, in LA.


Then I noticed which Pink Floyd hit the young guitarist was playing: “Wish You Were Here.”


Do I need to say more?


Well yes, actually.  I need to say this.  Had I crossed onto the pier three or four minutes later, I’d have missed the moment.  To quote another late seventies rock anthem (this one from Blondie) “Accidents Never Happen.”


John and I were always in favor of sitting down, after a long walk along the Palisades, and having a beer.  There was a restaurant there at the end of the pier, where the young musician was singing “Wish You Were Here,” a place called MariaSol.  I thought at once of the Blessed Mother, the sun, and my Goddaughter niece, Marisol.  I found an outdoor table, sat down and ordered a Heineken.  I looked back across the water toward the Santa Monica shore.  I smiled.  I thanked John for meeting me there, on the pier, after so many years.


They have not forgotten us.


That’s it for this one.  Take cover, because “incoming” lies directly ahead.  I will shortly regale you with tales from Medjugorje and London, and a report on how I am settling in at Brentwood, whether you like it or not.


Here’s to the Santa Monica Pier!




Fr. Jim

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good words by Richard Luck

Thinking positively instead of
negatively can make the difference
between success and failure in any
part of our lives.

The mind finds what it is looking

If we have a positive outlook we
expect good things to happen to  us…we  anticipate happiness, joy,
good health,and a positive outcome
to every situation.

A lot of people think that
searching for a positive
attitude is a lot of bunk but the
idea is gaining more popularity as
more and more books are written,
lectures are given and courses are
offered that support the positive
attitude theory.

Youve said to others and  been
told yourself to “Think positive”,
havent you? Most people dont take
the works seriously because they
dont understand what it really
means and dont consider it to be
useful of practical advice about a
given situation….it is. A positive
attitude brings brightness to your
eyes, gives you more energy and
makes happiness shine from your
whole being. It broadcasts good
will, happiness and success.

Even health is affected in a
beneficial way. A positive
attitude makes you walk tall and
your voice is more powerful. Your
body language shows the way you
feel inside.

So, how does one acquire this
positive attitude?  Do you just
have to be born with it? No, one
doesnt have to be born with it. Its
possible to learn how to have a
positive attitude and to gain all
the benefits that a positive
attitude will provide.

You just need to be willing to
work at it if you didnt inherit
the gene.

Lose that negative attitude that
keeps whispering…”it wont work”.
It WILL work.

New You Life Coaching

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Lifestyle Advice for Busy Mothers

By Theo Pauline Nestor
Lifestyle Advice for Busy MothersLifestyle Advice for Busy Mothers While our greatest hope is for our children to turn into happy adults, most of us moms grit our teeth a fair amount on the road there. After we hustle our kids off to soccer practice, shop for dinner and hunt down the perfect kindergarten, we are left with little inspiration to model the one thing we most wish for our children: happiness. It’s not that we don’t want to be happy. It’s more a question of how to fit it into our schedule. Read on for some practical tips from parenting experts on how to move “be happy” to the top of your to-do list.

1. Be Yourself Much of our stress and irritation as parents comes from trying to live up to impossible standards. “Mothers universally feel that they ‘are never good enough,'” says Meg Meeker, MD, author of The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose and Sanity. A lot of these feelings of inadequacy come from comparing ourselves with other moms and competing in ways both small (bringing an elaborate dish to the potluck) and large (pushing our kids to achieve on the playing field). “It’s tempting to look around us to see if we measure up with other moms,” says Meagan Francis, author of The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets to Enjoying Motherhood, “but when we’re comparing our private lives to somebody else’s public game face, we’re not getting a very accurate picture.” Francis adds that the best way to be a happy mom-and a good mom-is to be yourself. “Don’t try to be anyone else’s version of what a good mother should be,” Francis says. “Be the best version of who you are, and your children will recognize that and learn from it.” Think about your own strengths and work them into your everyday life as a mom. Maybe sewing costumes isn’t your thing, but you love to bake. This Halloween, buy costumes even though all the other moms are making theirs, and instead bake a batch of cookies to munch on while you all get ready to go trick-or-treating. When you play up your strengths as a parent, you are bound to have more fun and be happier. Related: Reinvent your style with 10 quick tips.

2. Pencil in Solitude   Routinely setting aside time to go for a walk, write in a journal or read a book is one simple way you can raise your daily happiness quotient. “Mothers contend with so much stimulation during the day that life becomes overwhelming. From kids crying and older children needing homework help to answering cell phones and replying to emails, mothers can feel as though their nervous system is becoming fried,” says Dr. Meeker. Solitude is a necessity for our mental health. “Solitude achieves two very important purposes,” Dr. Meeker explains. “First, it allows mothers to quiet the ‘noise’ in their lives so that they can refresh themselves and hear themselves think. It allows our nervous system to slow down and become quieter so that we can recharge mentally, physically and emotionally. Second, solitude gives us a reprieve from giving. No woman can sustain constant giving to other humans (even if they are children) without a break.” If you don’t have even a half-hour to yourself each day, it may be time to reassess your to-do list. For example, do the brownies for this year’s bake sale really need to be made from scratch? Probably not-and by opting for the easier method, you can carve out a little bit of time for yourself.

3. Practice “Slow Family Time” Slowing down the rush of family life has been one of the keys to happiness for Tsh Oxenreider, creator of SimpleMom.net and author of Organized Simplicity. “For our family,” Oxenreider says, “we’ve defined slowing down as ‘moving together at a deliberate and unhurried pace.’ When we slow down, we’re able to choose how to spend the 24 hours in each day, and therefore find more meaning in our activities.” Oxenreider achieves this by planning activities around family life, not the other way around: “Each Sunday, my husband and I meet to talk about our upcoming week. It only takes 30 minutes, but that brief connection gives us a chance to look at our calendars and decide how many evenings we’ll schedule out of the house, how we can help each other with upcoming tasks and how to dictate our commitments, instead of letting our commitments dictate us.” For other families, “slow family time” might mean leaving unstructured time in your schedule or simply hanging out with your kids at home with no particular plans or goal in mind.

4. Put Your Girlfriends Back on the Schedule   One of the quickest routes to getting your smile back is picking up the phone and calling a friend. Remember how good it feels to catch up? So often we put our friends on the back burner when we become mothers, forgetting that friendships are an essential source of joy. “Friends act as a tremendous support, but they also contribute to a mother’s happiness by acting as a release valve,” Dr. Meeker says. “When frustration or other emotions run high in a mom, a woman friend can provide a safe place for her to vent. And a key to a mother’s sanity and happiness is having an outlet for intense emotions.” Feel like you don’t have time for friends? Try the multitasking approach: Exercise with a friend, invite another mother over while your kids play in the backyard, offer to drive a mom to the baby-and-me class or invite a single girlfriend over for Sunday dinner.  Related: See bad habits that are actually good.

5. Create a Weekly No-Work Day Once upon a time, Sunday was strictly a day off. No one went to work and most stores were closed. It was a day to recharge and spend time with family. But with the advent of email and flexible schedules, any day can now be a work day-and any time can be work time. By integrating a regular “No Work Day” into your family’s weekly routine, moms can create more time for family fun while decreasing household stress levels. To pull off a day without work, family members will need to join forces in preparation for the day, including agreeing upon guidelines such as no checking email or work phone calls. To ensure that it’s a day off for stay-at-home parents as well, plan to work together the day before to clean up the house and prepare heat-and-eat meals such as lasagna or chili. If a full day dedicated to not working seems like too much of a leap from your current hectic schedule, start off with just one evening: one night a week, have the family gather to relax and play games or watch a movie with cell phones and computers off. The kids might balk at first, but soon they too will see the benefit of a time designated exclusively to leisure.

6. Share Your Passion with Your Kids   Somewhere between the afterschool shuffle and the rush to make dinner, many of us have lost track of our own passions. We are so in the habit of standing on the sidelines of our children’s activities that we’ve forgotten to share our own hobbies and passions with them. However, when you share the activities you like and enjoy with your kids, you will most likely be laughing, smiling and showing what happiness looks like to the people you care about the most. Think about simple ways you can enjoy your passions with your kids. Are you a music lover? Break out your CDs or old LPs and play DJ. Love to paint? Sit down with your kids and make art with them. By doing what we enjoy, we model happiness and show our children who we are.

7. Conquer Clutter “Clutter is one of my biggest cranky-mom triggers,” Francis says. And most moms would agree that a messy house is one of their primary obstacles in the pursuit of happiness. “Adopt a no-prisoners approach to clutter control,” she suggests. “Toss unneeded papers in the recycling bin daily, come up with a simple system for keeping track of pending bills and paperwork, and, most important, become ruthless about which papers you’re willing to keep in the first place.” Having a routine can also help contain clutter. Have every member of the house do the same thing when they come home for the day: Hang up their coats (be sure to have a row of child-height hooks near the foyer), put shoes in the closet and place backpacks, purses, briefcases, keys and lunchboxes in their designated spots.

8. Outsource It “We can’t do it all,” Francis reminds us, “and just because something needs to be done doesn’t mean that you need to do it.” Acknowledging that we can’t all hire household help, Francis suggests using a more flexible definition of ‘outsourcing’ for getting the help we need. “When we all focus on what skills and talents we bring to the table-without any shame for the stuff we aren’t so great at-we can meet our kids’ needs without having to try to do everything ourselves,” Francis says. Assess each family member’s skill set and delegate duties based on ability. Have a teenager who’s good at math? Assign her to help your middle school-age son with his algebra homework. Is one of your kids great at organizing? Assign him to create order out of a pile of mismatched plastic food containers. “We’re all good at different things,” Francis explains. “And it makes a lot of sense to divvy up household and parenting tasks by interest, skill and available time.” Apply the same concept of teamwork to cleaning the house, too. Hold 10-minute tidy-up sessions: Gather your family, cue up the dance tunes and set the timer for 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done working together-and how much fun you’ll have doing it! Related: Turn your clutter into cash.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.

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Perspectives on life!


Perspectives on life and taking charge of your depression

Can an individual take charge of their own life when depression is threatening your success in life?  When your thinking is negative and your physical and emotional energy are low what do you do to change your life?  It can be difficult but it is possible to change negative thinking and work on increasing your physical and emotional energy.

Developing an upward moving attitude is important.    If we assume that having a positive attitude about your life is in an upward direction then a negative attitude about your life would be in a downward direction.

What is attitude?  Attitude is how we think and make a decision to feel about something.  We can have a positive attitude, a negative attitude, a hopeful attitude or a pessimistic attitude.  Each of us can control our own attitude.  We can view the world as a glass half empty or a glass half full.  These two perspectives are diametrically opposed to each other.  Attitude alone won’t eliminate depression but an upward moving attitude, having hope will start the movement away from depressive thinking.

Steps to developing an optimistic attitude:

-check out your health habits, eating, sleeping and exercising, improve them;

-begin your day with positive thoughts; have a book or website available with positive attitude quotes to bolster your thoughts for the day;

-make yourself smile as many times as possible in a day;

-when you feel yourself slipping take a break;  take a short walk, eat a small piece of dark chocolate, boost the endorphins in your brain;

-choose to interact with people with positive attitudes about life;

-stay away from Debbie Downer type of people;

-set a daily goal and achieve it, it can be a small goal;

-set longer time goals, write them down and write the steps you will need to take to achieve the goal, review them often;

-note how you feel when you take these steps;

do things for others;   join a cause such as a cancer walk, a food drive or volunteer at a homeless shelter;  helping others makes us feel better about ourselves.

-go to church or if you don’t belong to one find a church;


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School Homework Offers Little Benefit, Australian Study Finds

School Homework Offers Little Benefit, Australian Study  Finds

Updated: Tuesday, 27 Mar 2012, 8:02 PM EDT Published :  Tuesday, 27 Mar 2012, 7:26 PM EDT

By: The Daily Telegraph

SYDNEY – Children are being lumbered with hours of school homework every week  — but the extra slog does not do them any good, according to an Australian  study.

Research reveals elementary school homework offers no real benefit — and  only limited results in junior high school.

Only senior students in grades 11 and 12 benefit from after-school work, said  associate professor Richard Walker, from Sydney University’s Education  Faculty.

“What the research shows is that, in countries where they spend more time on  homework, the achievement results are lower,” Walker said.

“The amount of homework is a really critical issue for kids. If they are  overloaded they are not going to be happy and not going to enjoy it.

“There are other things kids want to do that are very valuable things for  them to be doing.

“I don’t think anyone except senior high school students should be doing a  couple of hours of homework.

“At the moment homework [is often] an add-on because parents want  it.”

Read more: http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/school-homework-offers-little-benefit-australian-study-finds-ncxdc-032712#ixzz1qQXfIRQY

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How much sleep did you get last night?

Dear   Paula,Take the Sleep ChallengeQuick: How much sleep did you get last night?

If you’re like most Americans, you didn’t get enough. And if you’re a   student, you’re probably among the 92% of teens who don’t get the recommended   9 hours of sleep each night.

This month, in anticipation of National Sleep Awareness Week, March   5-11, we’re urging parents, students and school leaders to launch—and learn   from—innovative practices that will restore balance to student schedules and   encourage healthy sleep.

Join us by taking the Sleep   Challenge. Visit our website for ideas on how you can make sleep a priority.

Why should getting a good night’s sleep be a priority?

Studies show that losing just one hour of sleep per night can set students   back two grade levels. Sleep deprivation is also linked to:

  • Teen car accidents
  • Lower grades
  • Decreased attention        and memory skills
  • Depression and anxiety

Take the Sleep Challenge and experiment with making sleep a   priority:



Vicki Abeles & the End the Race Campaign Team

P.S. With a continued focus on inspiring dialogue and igniting change in   local communities nationwide, we’re also  announcing release of the “Race   to Nowhere” Educational Tool Kit and DVD in our new online store!   This product is available to schools and institutions who wish to either   acquire the DVD for use in institutional and library collections or host one   or more “Race to Nowhere” screenings in their communities!


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“Partnering in Marriage”

“Partnering in Marriage”


Paula B. Randant

Couples often tell me they want their relationship to be a partnership.  Defining a partnership is often a challenge.  There are responsibilities to share:

 -day to day tasks such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping and yard work;

 -working either outside the home or inside the home;


-budgeting, paying bills, and making spending and saving decisions.

There are common beliefs and values to share that may lead to decisions about religion, politics, morals, money or organizations one might join.  There are the independent interests of each person.  This might include hobbies, volunteer activities, political parties, friendship or church activities.  There are extended family relationships and responsibilities to consider.  This may connect to shared values.   Communication between partners requires skill, respect and love.  Decision making often produces conflict between couples or parents and children.  How decisions are made in a partnership requires respectful consideration.

 It is possible to meet most family member needs without someone feeling that they have lost or been controlled by another.   There are a number of jointly agreed upon  factors to be considered  in evaluating each conflictual situation.  Conflict may simply mean two things/events at the same time.  If there is no conflict or difference of opinion move on.

 Common factors to be considered may include a priority of basic needs:

            -where one lives,

            -availability of food,


            -appropriate clothing,

            -water, heat,  shelter,

            -age of individual.

After the basic needs are evaluated then it is important to look to shared values, individual goals, family goals, developmental tasks(children), and the relative importance of the activity to the individual.  The relative importance of an activity to a family member will/should often trump a time or multiple competing interests conflict.  Evaluate the competing interests by level of significance for a person relative to others in the family.   This could be an issue if everyone is required to participate, money is scarce, resources are limited(car),  or parent involvement is required for more than one event/activity.  Fairness is often an issue for children and should be considered but may be out weighed by other considerations.

 Family and couple are interchangeable terms in this context as children or other family members expand the matrix of consideration.

 Some additional caveats.

Parents always are responsible for final decisions of minor children-anyone under 18 years of age.

As children mature, particularly after the age of 12 years, they should be involved in the decision making process when the situation requires their cooperation.

Everyone deserves respect.  Each person should treat others with respect and be treated with respect.

Parents are the primary teachers of their children.

All family members but particularly adults should make all decisions asking themselves “Is this a loving act”.


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“sometimes,life doesn’t always go to plan,”

life doesn’t always go to plan,”

There is one thing I have learned in my 13 years at
Company : sometimes, life doesn’t always go to plan, no matter how many goals
you make.   I think that might be the hardest thing for us to grasp at
Company – basically learning from an unexpected event.   Believe it
or not, those unexpected events, became some of my best coaching moments.

I am sure you all have heard of the  7 stages of
grief?   Well sometimes I believe that there are stages of learning
from an unexpected event.   One has to learn from an unexpected even
in order to a) grow and b) move to your new goals.  This can happen in
your personal and /or your professional life. Also note, the 7 stages of grief
do not go in order! Sometimes we get so goal orientated we want each step to
move in order – but unfortunately – grief – and learning from an unexpected
event – likes to take it’s time.

So here are just  four of my personal coaching
“mantras” with dealing with unexpected events or next chapters if you will:

1.      Keep your commitments – Life has to move on. Two months
before I married, my Dad died unexpectedly.  I was going to postpone the
wedding(basically stop everything and lie in a fetal position)  but my
very wise sister said – “You know? You have to keep to your commitments.
Life has to move on. Anyways, Dad will be there!”

So I went about keeping my commitments. Getting the wedding in gear
even though I felt like I rather just not.  I was married in February and
it started to snow on my wedding day. I thought, oh great.  For a Bride,
this could be a tragedy. But I said – you know what? I had two months of
keeping to wedding commitments, a little “snow” was not going to deter
me!  During the wedding, when our vows were being exchanged the sunlight
suddenly burst through the windows of the church.  To this day I believe
that sunshine was my Dad rewarding me. Maybe it is a coping mechanism – but you
know?  That sun melted all the snow and we had a lovely day.  I
learned that keeping commitments even though you’d  rather not, will be rewarding, even if you
don’t see it at that time.

2.      First day of change is the hardest. Every day after that, it does get
a little  bit better.
Flash forward to 2004/2005. I swear this was a
horrid year for me. I had the trifecta of bad stuff happen to me(hubby passed
away/I survived a nasty condition/loss of beloved pet).  Yes. That year
was hell.  Believe me, I didn’t want to make my commitments. The change
was so fast and furious, I did want to roll up in a ball.  But I recalled
my sisters consul: keep your commitments, life has to move on.
Everything you lost will be there, but you have to go forward
. I learned
something new after struggling to make my first commitment post my husband’s
death: The first day of the bad news is the hardest day. HOWEVER every day
after that gets a little bit better.   And it did. Believe it or not.

3.      Cake or Death.  I am sure you all know who Eddie Izzard is?  I know he is not the
most politically correct  comedian and my reference to this skit may not
be what he meant, but this is what I gleaned from it:  YOU do have choices
even in the face of an unexpected event. Sometimes we think that there is only
one answer, really there are many. Knowing that you have a choice, is sometimes
a comfort.

4.      Making Lemons into Lemonade.  Okay, so maybe the choices are
not the most ideal. You could go straight to the fetal position but you have to
move through it. This is where strategy comes in. How do you make the
lemons into something you can live with?  This is where I brainstorm on a
piece of paper and put it down for a bit and then revisit it. Sometimes you may
not know how to make the lemons into lemonade so you have to let it sit.
At this time, I also reach out to mentors and people wiser than me to ask
for their opinion and feedback.

5.     Ferris Bueller was right.: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop
and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
is so true. Life is way to short. You have to make your life fulfilled. That
means you have to force yourself to have a work life balance.  I do this
by scheduling in time for my hobbies and family and focusing on them 100%. It
is like my brain has gone on a mini vacation.  I am more refreshed when I
get back to work and focused on Monday.  Heck. I never knew my hobby could
get me into CNN, BBC and USA Today. If I didn’t force myself to have that work
life balance? I wouldn’t have had the year that I have had.

Life changes on a daily basis. So learning
how to work through the “unexpected” or next chapters of our lives both personally
and professionally will  become second
nature to you all.  Please know this is not a “look at me!” type of
coaching moment, I just want to relate some advice that was provided to me to
help you all work through any changes or unexpected events that comes your way.

Nancy Beyer





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I have an idea. Howabout we Catholics
and Protestants reclaim the religious heritage of our nation’s sacred days for
ourselves and boycott what encroaches upon them? Why not, for example, make All
Saints Day bigger and more noticeable than it is now? Howabout placing saint
lanterns on our doorsteps on All Hallow’s Eve, while boycotting the
particularly gruesome Spirit Halloween stores, which litter the landscape every
October? (I’m recalling standing in line with my seven-year-old, trying to
distract him from the life-size phantom next to us, holding a bloody axe and
chanting with a sinister voice, “I’m going to cut your neck to the
bone!”) Howabout making or buying products that tell the real story of
Easter, as we share the true tale at home through our prayer, words, and home decorations?
Easter in America has been subsumed under a big bunny and hard boiled eggs. I
didn’t even know, until I was sixteen years old, that Easter Sunday had any
relation with religion, much less Jesus.

Our purchasing power can help evangelize the culture. The only thing that will
sway corporations is money, not morals, so why not speak to them in the only
way they know how to listen? If we don’t buy it. They won’t make it. If we buy
it, they will make more of it. This Christmas you can boycott Santa and his elves,
and anything else you wish. Instead, you can support Christ’s work on earth by
purchasing religious items, which celebrate the Real Christmas Story, and by
giving Fair Trade gifts.

Fair trade helps the poor help themselves. Small-scale artisans and farmers
receive all the benefits of eco-friendly fair trade items–a fair price,
long-term trading relationships, safe and healthy work places, and a social
premium to be invested in their community project. Through Catholic Relief
Services, in particular, Fair Trade funds are also recycled into grants to
assist more small-scale producers overseas and grow the marketplace in the
United States. Click here for an online catalogue of products, and click here
to purchase chocolate or coffee.

You may also wish to join a national boycott of companies that donate to
Planned Parenthood, the leading abortion provider in the United States. I was
shocked to find out that my bank, my credit card, my favorite airline, even my
jeans were implicated in this. Click on these sites to read past lists of
donors, and boycott away! (Newsinfaith.com,Lifenews.com
and an
older and
informative list
from an opposing viewpoint.) It curls the stomach to think
that companies such as Johnson & Johnson made the list. Everything from
Wheaties to Windex seems to be there. Do you like Coca Cola, but are willing to
switch to Pepsi? Nice try! Both were on the list.

An official current list of Planned Parenthood donors, which changes each year,
can be purchased through Life Decisions International. (Click here to order, and click here to read about LDI.) By ordering this list, you support
their ongoing research and efforts of exposing which companies support the
abortion industry. LDI estimates that the boycott has cost Planned Parenthood
more than $40 million since the Corporate Funding Project began nearly 18 years
ago. Since then over 256 corporations have stopped funding Planned parenthood.
Boycotting can make a difference for God!



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Scientists Probe Role of Brain in ADHD Cases

Scientists Probe Role of Brain in ADHD Cases

11/14/11  From Fox
News online

A brain area that helps orchestrate mental
activity works overtime in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
reflecting the internal struggle to hold more than one thing in mind at a time,
neuroscientists reported Sunday.

The scientists used a
functional magnetic imaging scanner to track signs of neural activity among 19
affected children and 23 other children who were asked to remember a simple
sequence of letters. The scientists discovered that a critical mental control
area, called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, worked much harder and,
perhaps, less efficiently among children with attention problems.

This fundamental
difference in brain function might be
an underlying cause of the inattentiveness, impulsivity and focus problems that
make it hard for ADHD children to concentrate in the classroom, the scientists
said during an annual gathering of 31,000 brain researchers in Washington, D.C.

“Our findings suggest that the function as well as the structure of this
brain area is different in children with ADHD,” said Wayne State
University biologist Tudor Puiu, who reported the team’s findings Sunday at a
conference held by the Society for Neuroscience.

All told, about two
million US
children have been diagnosed with attention problems. No one yet understands
the basic neurobiology responsible for the mental ailment, which has grown more
common since 2003, according to a survey by the US Health Resources and
Services Administration.

The finding reported
Sunday adds to growing biomedical evidence that those diagnosed with the
attention disorder, arguably the most common childhood behavioral issue, have
unusual patterns of brain function that can persist well into adulthood.

Overall, the brain of an
ADHD child matures normally, but it may take up to three years longer to fully
develop, especially in areas at the front of the brain’s cortex, an outer layer
of tissue important in controlling attention, reasoning and planning.

Researchers have also
reported a range of specific anatomical differences among ADHD children that
may be linked to behavioral problems. Earlier this month, researchers at New
York University’s Langone School of Medicine
reported that ADHD children appeared to have a significantly thinner cortex and
less gray matter than other children in some areas involved in regulating
attention and emotion.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/11/14/scientists-probe-role-brain-in-adhd-cases/#ixzz1dhnUcral

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Learning to study !

Image Detail

Homework is introduced very early in U.S. schools. Kindergarteners even may have assignments. Learning to study and developing effective study habits is very important particularly considering most American children will be in school for a minimum of 12 years and possibly 16 or more. Study skills are not just about homework; however, study skills are for all academic endeavors. A plan of action is important for parents in helping to guide their children to good study habits/behavior. One of the first challenges is time awareness. Time Awareness involves all spheres of child’s life. It should include attention to the many time management challenges a family and child must face in today’s fast paced very busy world. There must be time for eating, sleeping and self care as well as sports, school, homework, leisure time/TV/game time, play time, religious education
time and other activities like music lessons, dance lessons and more. Daily
life can present many challenges to parents and children in being able to
develop a schedule for all the many activities of family members. Parents will
need to be aware of a child’s needs and activities and consider the age and grade
of a child, the school level such as primary (K-3), intermediate (4-6), Junior
High/Middle (7-8), and High School (9-12) and how homework will be graded. Some
teachers grade all homework and students gain points and are greatly assisted
by homework points when a subject is difficult and test scores average. Some
teachers don’t score homework and view it as practice and enrichment. It is
best to complete all homework but if life interferes it is important to know
what you and your child are dealing with regarding the impact missing homework
might have on his or her grades. One of the best tools is a schedule/time
with date, time and activity recorded for each day. It
is important for a child to be able to self check the schedule
to know what he or she should be doing at a particular time. Putting
schedules/calendars on bedroom doors or on the refrigerator where it can be easily seen optimal. Learning to take responsibility for his of her behavior is a major accomplishment for a child. Teaching a child to accept responsibility for his or her school work, and chores around the house and behavior should start young and will be a process that matures as the child matures.

Organization is a challenge for children and adults alike. Some of us are more able to organize than others. Organizational tools are important for all of us in today’s busy multitasking world.  Assignment notebooks, day timers, and calendars are a few of the ways we keep track of assignments at school, home and work. Teachers have many varying ways that they want their students to organize how they keep their work- future, present or past. It is important to use the method and understand the method that your
students/child’s teacher prefers
. There are both internal and external organization strategies. Internal is how we operate in our mind and nervous system and how we manage our emotions around these things.  External organization is important to task completion and can support and help internal organization as well. Disorganization can create or stimulate anxiety, hyperactivity, depression, frustration, anger, loss of property such as assignments and irritability just to suggest a few possibilities. Elementary
students often have an assignment sheet to fill our each day to take home.

These might be a loose sheet or in a booklet of some type. It records the
assignments for the day that will be due and the date they are due. At the high school level some teachers will have a syllabus that lists assignments for an entire term with dates assignments will be due.

Class homework assignments should be written down
by the student. Children learn to accept responsibility for the work they are
required to complete by getting in the habit of writing it down rather than
depending on memory.

Parents should REVIEW the assignments sheet/book
daily with the student to discuss what is required. If there is no written
assignment students should still be reading or rereading assignments or reading
for pleasure and practice. Study time should be decided by the age of the child. Check with your child’s school and teacher about suggested homework/study time each evening.

Children do need down/play time after a long day of sitting in
school. Physical activity after school is important
to develop a healthy strong body and for stress relief.

Children may come home from school hung and need a healthy snack to boost
energy for the evening activities. Video games and passive activity should be
limited. Game systems are very alluring but don’t give a child enough physical
activity. Games and phones and other electronics should be turned off and put
away by parents at bedtime. If children have access after you are asleep they
will sometimes get up and play or talk or text on a phone and not get adequate
sleep. Inadequate sleep can cause a range of physical and emotions issues.

Parents can be helpful to their child/student with assistance in proof
assignments and helping the student organize complicated assignments. Attitudes about homework and developing good study habits are important. Parents need toassist children in knowing what good study habits are and helping to set up the properhome atmosphere for study and support for the child.

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A Prayer to Be Free From Tizzies*by Joyce Rupp

A Prayer to Be Free From Tizzies*

Dear God,
you who did not invent tizzies,
be with me when I get
in the wild worrying of my mind,
and the needless scurrying
in my fearful heart.

Trip me up when I fret and stew
so I can see the trap of tizzies,
their schemes to keep me
bunched up in stress and strain.

Let me fall headfirst into the truth
of your never-ending
wrap your kind arms around me
and calm my doubts and fears.

Shout loudly in my spiritual ear
when my nerves get knotted,
my mind
feels cramped,
and my stomach screams.

It may be difficult,
but do try to get my full attention,
tizzies are not healthy,
and they definitely chase peace
out the front
door of my heart.

Dear God, you did not invent tizzies,
I did,
and only I can send them
on their way,
and I will,
if you strengthen me
to let go of my anxious
on what is nonessential.

—Joyce Rupp

*A tizzy is a “state of frenzied excitement or distraction,
especially over some trivial matter” (Webster’s New Unabridged Dictionary).

ck out Joyce Rupp at her website

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What Your Marriage Counselor Doesn’t Want You to Know!

If you knew
these things, you wouldn’t need a marriage counselor, would you? This insider
info comes from psychologist Karen Sherman and from psychotherapist Wendy Allen,
Ph.D., author of How to Survive the Crisis of an Affair.

  • Sixty-nine percent of all arguments between you and your partner will never
    be resolved. So don’t try so hard.
  • A couple that doesn’t fight is in trouble.
  • Having a “good enough” marriage is the
    most couples can expect and is actually quite an accomplishment.
  • Letting go is sometimes better than discussing everything to death.
  • Respect, not sex or money, is the most important factor in a happy marriage.
  • There are marital breaches worse than an affair.
  • A therapist cannot teach, train, or guide you to “be happy.” That is not a
    reasonable outcome to expect from therapy.
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Cambridge) – Did you know that people who get enough sleep (about 7-9 hours a night) are more likely to have higher productivity, feel more energetic throughout the day, and experience less stress? Sleep is crucial for concentration, memory formation, and repairing and rejuvenating the cells of the body. Both mentally and physically, a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and your energy.

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Written on the
occasion of   911     MEMORIAL

Irvana  K. Wilks, Mayor September 11, 2011

 Village of Mount Prospect

50 South Emerson Street

Mount Prospect, IL 60056

Ten Years

By Irvana K. Wilks


Ten years of mourning the dead.

Ten years remembering the living.

Ten years yearning to understand.

Ten years of scars upon our land.


Ten years sifting bones from ash.

Ten years of reading names at the towers.

At the Pentagon.  In a Pennsylvania field.

Ten years of scars upon our

Ten years defining our enemies.

Ten years of camouflage and desert

Ten years of sons and daughters

an amorphous, but necessary war.


Ten years returning heroes.

Ten years of caskets.

Ten years of winning.

Ten years of weeping.


Ten years of rabbis and ministers

Ten years of veterans who bring
the flag.

Ten years of airline attendants
and pilots

grieving the loss of their


Ten years of white-gloved firemen

ringing a bell for the brave who

Ten years of policemen standing

as a bagpiper gives us Grace.


Ten years of Presidential

Ten years of two mayor’s meager

Ten years as writers and

record our progress of healing.


Ten years of rebuilding the

Ten years to sift through ashes of

We seek that fragment of courage,

forged in fire and left by God for
us to find.



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First Day in Paris, France

After 12 hours of travel, plane changes and snoozing we arrived at the Hotel Notre Dame across the street from Notre Dame . It was sunny and beautiful and the hotel is quaint and comfortable. We changed clothes and headed out to explore the area and enjoy the sun of the afternoon. We found shopping, a great cafe with coffee, wine and beer and the view of Notre Dame. A heavenly afternoon.

We had wonderful hosts in France.  The Sister City group of Sevres including the Mayor and many great individuals treated us royally.  Francoise and Jon provided us a lovely place to stay in their home.  It was an enchanting home built in the mid 1800’s.  The charm of the home and neighborhood was truly French and a totally life enhancing experience.  Francoise is a great gardener and retired teacher.

Jon showed us the local parks and sites and best views of Paris.  He was a charming chatter and interested in the world and politics though an avowed socialist.  He has a great sense of humor and was great fun.Francoise and Paula in Sevres June 2011Paula in Paris in Cafe near Notre Dame  5/28/11

Jon our host in Sevres   5/11

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Kate and Will, A Wedding of Dignity and Respect.

Kate and Will, A Wedding of Dignity and Respect.

April 29, 2011 was a great day for love, marriage and faith.  I attended a ‘Kate and Will’ wedding party on Friday.   It was great fun to watch the pageantry, vows and religious service surrounding the marriage ceremony with friends.   Clearly,  Will felt marriage not just living together was important.  Becoming  a family was important for him.  He followed family/royal tradition after becoming an educated and accomplished adult.  He showed his honor with his military service.  Kate became an educated woman.  Graduating from the University with Will.  She has been a model young adult working and living a respectful life.   The institution of marriage was shown with respect and honor and love.  This  is a time when individuals don’t take the commitment of marriage and family very seriously.    Family and marriage are often portrayed as unnecessary and parents often presented as buffoons.  These notions do not help individuals to mature, accept responsibility for their lives and become productive members of society.    The religious service and vows were amazing.  They showcased scripture, classic music, prayer, faith and tradition.   The bride and groom’s religious faith was an important part of the marriage ceremony.  Christianity and particularly the Anglican Church was on display and provided the occasion with solemnity and tradition and faith.  It was most impressive.  Love, faith and hope for the future ruled the day.  The world watched and I believe was inspired by their love and faith and respect for tradition.    Paula Randant, LCSW  4/30/11

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God’s Teacup. Happy Easter! Enjoy!


from christine4faith@christinewatkins.com

Here is the much awaited story of the teacup, which was missing in the newsletter sent out yesterday. My apologies! Enjoy this poignantly beautiful story, as we enter together into the three most sacred days of the year.

There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores. They both liked antiques and pottery and especially teacups. This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

One day in this shop they saw a beautiful cup. They said, “May we see that? We’ve never seen one quite so beautiful.”

As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the cup spoke: “You don’t understand,” it said. “I haven’t always been a teacup. There was a time when I was red and I was clay. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Leave me alone,’ but he only smiled and said, ‘Not yet.’

“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the cup said, “and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. Stop it! I’m getting dizzy! I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’

“Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat!” the teacup said. “I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as He shook his head, ‘Not yet.’

“Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. ‘There, that’s better,’ I said. And he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it, stop it!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’

“Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening, nodding his head, with a tear in His eye, saying, ‘Not yet.’

“Then I knew there wasn’t any hope. I would never make it. I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf.

One hour later he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Take a look at yourself.’ And I did. I said, ‘That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful.’

“‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ‘I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you’d have dried up.

I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.

I knew it hurt and was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked.

I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened; you would not have had any color in your life.

And if I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t survive for very long because the hardness would not have held.

Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.'”

~ Author Unknown



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Maria Kim 130 An adoption Journey.

see more of Maria’s Journey        Find more of Maria http://bit.ly/meQW3h     6/10/11

This one is going to be tough for me to write, but like most entries in search of an author, here I go: one word, one step, at a time.

This weekend, I began in earnest a journey that I hope to take – a journey to begin a family.  And as many of you know, there are multiple ways a family can enter our lives – by birth, but also by bond and by belief.  The path to mom or dad can be so many things – beautiful, frightful, whimsical, surprising, zen, everything, too many things, and all things in between. 

I have always had the strong belief that my life is replete with blessings – a niece and twin nephews I adore but who don’t share my every day since they live so far away, a mother who in her own unique way will singularly love me more than any human being on this planet, dear friends and loved ones who have freely opened their doors to me as dinner guest and sibling and auntie and friend.  An in-law in spirit to some even.  A loved one.  A family member.

And yet not in spite of this love but perhaps in response to it, I continue to feel a need to expand the fold to my own child. 

My irrevocable wish of “one day” just doesn’t have the same whimsy to it as it used to.  And so I have begun the journey of discovery to learn about the process of adoption.  And that journey began this past Saturday.

The place that I went to was unintimidating enough.  It was an old building erected almost a century ago, with beautiful pictures of children and their families showcased everywhere, letters avowing their infinite gratitude for this organization’s role in bringing the [insert last name here]s together.  Even the furniture felt more that of a home than of an ‘agency’.  And so I was lulled into comfort upon my first steps in. 

Where I got stuck, and almost turnaround-get-back-in-the-car stuck was when I got to the room where the info session was to begin.  Above the packets of information was a sign, inoccuous enough, which read:

“Pick one packet per family please.”

Six little words. With no intention of being anything other than order providers in what could otherwise be an orderless universe (there were perhaps 80 prospective adoptive parents and 50 ish packets).  They just wanted to make sure they had enough copies.  They surely didn’t anticipate that Maria Kim would read the hidden meaning of their prose. 

Six little words.

And as I dutifully took my one packet per family, I realized – not to my horror, but to my momentary fear, melancholy, sadness, and lack of confidence – that my family … was me.

Just me.

And that stark realization, though one that I was clearly very present to as I made this decision in the first place, was shocking to me.  Like a mirror’s image after you have not washed your face in days.  You are stunned, taken aback even, that that is you. 

And after I pulled myself up by my pity bootstraps, I entered into the room, took a seat in the first row, and listened to every word they had  to say – the two employees, and the one family who came to share their story.  I hovered on their every word.  In large part to learn, to make sure I began to demystify this process, to go as comfortably as I could from idea to intent.

And in some small part to have the infinite number of words that followed erase the six words that started my journey.

By the end of the meeting, I left less blue, more enamored by the one family who shared their moments of fear and delight, and more aware. 

I realized: I am not a family of one.  I am more a family of 100. 

Of infinite family, friends and loved ones who believe in the power of my mom-dom as I do in theirs.  Who will share in the fear and delight of my journey – whatever it becomes – with palpable attentiveness.  Who will celebrate every word and every step of my family to be. 

And so that day, I did indeed pick one packet per family.  I picked it for me and for them.  And for that which they give me, I love.  And for that which may enter my life one day through this process, I love even more.

Maria Kim

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10 Ways to Get Your Marriage Back on Track///womans day


By:  Kimberly Dawn Neumann

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes happily ever after. End of story, right? Not quite… While it’s true that couples relax a bit after they think they’ve nabbed the matrimonial Holy Grail, the reality is that they may also find themselves dumbfounded if their fairytale starts slipping away. “Many people think that marriage is about marrying the right person, so when things go wrong, they automatically go to the ‘Crap, I accidentally married the wrong person’ place,” says Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After. “Although you do want to marry someone you are basically compatible with, marriage has a lot less to do with marrying the right person than it has to do with doing the right things with the person you married.” In other words, relationships are a constant work in progress. To keep the happy connection that made you say “I do” in the first place—or maybe even create a newer-and-improved version—try out these 10 tips to rehab your romance.

1. Nurture yourself.
Marriage is about giving, but don’t make the mistake of giving too much. “To have a good marriage, you need to be a good you,” says Bowman. “Learn how to prioritize and put boundaries around activities that keep you healthy and whole—activities like rest, relaxation, fitness and time with friends.” In other words, remember that scheduling “me” time into your day is not selfish, it’s a necessity. It will strengthen your relationship because you’ll have a saner version of “you” to bring to the “us” equation.

2. Define your problems.
Spend some time looking at your relationship and figure out which parts work and which parts don’t. Bowman suggests that you take a moment to imagine a perfect day in your perfect relationship. What would this look like? How would you and your partner interact? Then create a plan of how you might get from point A (your current reality) to point B (that perfect day). Write it down if you need to, then start breaking the issues into bite-size pieces and tackling them one at a time. Before you know it, there will only be a few bite-size problems left.

3. Make a financial plan together.
Money is one of the biggest stressors in a marriage. Couples worry and argue about it constantly. If you find you and your spouse are starting to badger each other over the bottom line, it’s time to have a penny-pinching powwow. “We are all guilty of something economists call ‘passive decision-making,’ which just means defaulting to the easy option,” says Jenny Anderson, coauthor of Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes. “Couples need to make an active plan about how they will manage their money: Combine it? Separate it? Create a joint account and keep some separate? Whatever the decision, both people have to be part of the decision to do it and then figure out what needs to be done to keep the system humming.”

4. Use the three-sentence rule.
When you need to ask your partner for something that could be misconstrued as nagging, keep the request at three sentences—max. “The art of being assertive without coming off as aggressive lies in being succinct and using a warm tone of voice and body language,” says Bowman. “When you keep your requests to three sentences or fewer, it’s almost impossible to blame, use sarcasm or use put-downs.” It’s also a lot more likely that you’ll get your point across without losing your spouse’s attention. Make your request with a smile. Be sincere and encouraging. You might even rest your hand on his thigh as you say, “Honey, the house is a mess and I am exhausted. Could you help me clean this place up? I could really use your help.”

5. Take your fighting gloves off.
Don’t duke it out. Instead, consider taking a time-out. “There’s a concept called ‘loss aversion’ in economics, which simply means we really hate to lose. And when we think we are losing, we fight like there is no tomorrow to try to win,” says Anderson. “It happens when couples talk about hot-button issues like sex, housework, money or the kids. If either person thinks he or she is losing, he or she will ratchet up the stakes and escalate the issue.” The next time you see a spousal spat going to a not-so-happy place, take a break and revisit the subject when neither one of you feels overwhelmed by the topic.

6. Just do it.
Yes, by “do it” we mean have sex. Intimacy is an important part of a vital relationship, and one of the first areas to suffer if feelings are floundering. But sexual encounters can also be one of the quickest ways to reconnect and rekindle with your partner. “Of the many forms of couple intimacy—a smile across a room, a kiss, a touch—sex has the potential to be the most powerful positive physical experience most of us enjoy,” says Joel D. Block, PhD, coauthor of Sex Comes First: 15 Ways to Save Your Relationship…Without Leaving Your Bedroom. “This is especially true if sex results in emotional fulfillment, better communication, security and reassurance.”

Make your sex life a priority by following these five tips.

7. Burn your grudges.
It’s time to set some bad memories on fire. Literally. Sometimes hanging on to those “Do you remember the time you did such and such?” moments are the things that lead to relationship sabotage. Instead of carrying grudges around forever, torch them. “Write them all down on a piece of paper. Then set a timer for a certain amount of time. It might be 10 minutes. It might be 30. It might be the whole day. The point is: Give yourself as long as you need to really wallow in the misery of these grudges. Savor them. Get angry about them. Mutter about them. Do whatever you need to do to get sick and tired of them,” says Bowman. “Once you are done, say, ‘I will not think about these anymore. These grudges have lost their usefulness.’” Then take a match and burn them.

8. Don’t be overly confident.
Overconfidence can lead to complacency, which is not good for any relationship. According to Anderson, in a survey published in August 1993 in the journal Law and Human Behavior, couples who had recently applied for a marriage license were asked to estimate the average rate of divorce. Almost uniformly, they accurately predicted about 50 percent. Then they were asked to estimate the chances that they would get divorced. They answered zero percent. The problem with this statistic is that, if there is no perceived risk of failure, no “work” is put into maintaining the relationship—until it’s suddenly faltering. Don’t let yourself gloss over the little things. Don’t forget to make an effort to keep your romance alive. Don’t find yourself in a situation where you realize that you could have done more…when it’s already too late.

9. Write your spouse’s eulogy.
This one isn’t as macabre as it sounds. It’s more of an exercise in appreciation. Bowman suggests that you work on it a little at a time as a way to notice what your spouse does right (since these are the things you’d likely eulogize him with, not the negatives). “Think back over the years you’ve known this man. When did he make you laugh? When did he make you cry tears of joy? When did he surprise you? When did he feed the cat because the smell of cat food makes you want to hurl? Put it in the eulogy,” says Bowman. “The funeral fantasy will help you remember to appreciate your spouse.”

10. Remind yourself you have a choice to stay married.
Many people stay in troubled marriages because they believe they have no other choice. “They think that they are stuck, and they blame this sensation of being stuck on their spouse. But if you are stuck, it’s your fault and not your spouse’s,” says Bowman. That fact is, “you are not stuck; you have choices. Three of them: Do nothing and remain miserable; face your fears and try to save your marriage; ask for a divorce.” Choose to either be married or not. Make a choice. And wake up every morning and make that choice again. The surest path to happiness is knowing that you are not a helpless damsel in distress, but rather a woman who can make her own decisions. You have the choice to live happily ever after.

Original article appeared on WomansDay.com


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If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

Isaiah 58: 8-10

WE SO NEED THESE WORDS.peyton  2/6/11

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

   “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
   with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
   and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
   and your night will become like the noonday.

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By Paula Randant,  LCSW  1/25/2011

Often we spend our life in reaction mode.  We react to the words of others.  We react to situations.  We react to opportunities.  When we react we put the presenter in charge of our life and our plans.  The original stimulus/action/thought are not ours, we are REACTING.  Taking action to plan what we want to participate in or achieve in life gives us control over our life.  Being in control requires dreaming, thinking, self evaluation, planning and then goal setting.  Reacting is often easier.  It requires no advance work but it denies us achievement under our own terms.  It also often leaves us not going after personal dreams.  To ‘shoot for the moon’ you have to dream of some achievement first.  Often we set aside our dreams because they seem far off, too difficult or others don’t agree with them.  There are many excuses:  it takes too long, it won’t pay enough, other’s are smarter, it costs too much, I don’t have the time to study, going to school is hard, I’m too old, I’m too young.  I’m sure you can think of even more excuses. 

 Dreaming is critical.  What do I want to be, to do, to experience or how do I want to live opens up our imagination and the scope of possibility.  Dreams can be personal.  Should I marry?  Do I want to have children? Should I buy a house? Should I go to college?  Where should I go to school?  What type of life style do I aspire to?  I want to play football.  I want to play golf.  I want to write a book.  I want to dance or sing.  I want to garden. I want to join a church.  Be a politician.  Be a Senator.  Have a good job.  Have a career.  Be the best attorney.  Be the best mom.  Be President of the PTA.  Travel the world.  Make home made bread.  Be an astronaut or be a professional athlete.  Our dreams can change over time.  As we become more mature and have more life experience we may change our dreams and expectations of life and ourselves. 

 Thinking is next.  When we think we are in the evaluation and gathering information phase.  We learn about our dream in practical terms. 

 Next we need to self evaluate.  What are our gifts, talents and personal resources that we bring to the table?  Am I intelligent, how hard am I willing to work to achieve my dream?  What will hinder me?  Not enough money, illness, and responsibilities that already exist in my life may play a factor in my success.  Can I overcome the challenges that could get in my way?  This phase is very important and needs honest methodical consideration and possibly some outside consultation.

 On we go to planning and goal setting.  I want to become a baker and open my own business.  Goal stated now you need to plan and set interim goals.  What do I need?  A license, education, training, financial help to achieve my long term goal.  Steps that can be short term goals come next.  I need training, what is it, when would I start how much does it cost?  How much do I need to know to move forward to the next step? 

 Does achieving the goal of owning my own business as a baker mean that I am done?   Achieving my stated goal is just the beginning.  Now I live my dream and set knew short and long term goals.  Most of us have many goals not just one.   I’m now living my dream, my goal but now I have to work to get good at my dream. 

 The growth and excitement of life comes from setting goals, achieving goals and becoming better and better at what we do and at who we are as individuals.

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Talking With Children!


Parents often complain that their children don’t share with them.  They complain that conversation stops after the parent or adult starts asking questions.  What did you do at school today?   How was your day?  The answer will usually be nothing or fine.  Conversation is painful and doesn’t result in understanding a child’s day or how they think.  Children from age 6 to early teens have a lot to say but what, where, why and how questions block the flow of thought.  They cause the child to stop and focus on the w or h rather than their experience.   They will answer but when that type of question is asked they stop focusing on the content and process of their day and go to the w word. 

 To engage children in conversation particularly after a busy and exhausting school day it is more productive to start by meeting the child’s immediate needs.  This could be a snack, some relaxation such as a few minutes of TV or play time.    There are key opportunities to chat with a child.  During snack time, playing a game, and riding in a car are a few possibilities.  Getting a child’s relaxed attention is important.  It they are watching a TV program or playing a video game or reading you won’t have their attention and will distract them from there activity so are unlikely to get a conversation going. 

 Encouraging conversation is best done with open ended statements rather than questions.  Tell me about your day; tell me about recess; tell me about lunch time; tell me the best thing that happened to day; are a few possibilities to get things going.  Show me what you brought home today; is another possibility.  Do not do a barrage of statements do one and wait for a response.  Be patient not demanding and relax your tone.  Notice how a child looks.  If a child looks happy comment, “you look happy today”.   If a child looks sad note it.  “You’re looking kind of sad today”.    Then wait for a response.  Doing something together that allows talking while working or playing takes the focus off the discussion and will let things that a child might be thinking or worrying about come out.  When a child tells you something of concern say “tell me more” rather than a direct question.  It is important not to jump to conclusions about what you think a child is saying and let the child continue only clarifying with low key questions, like “who was with you”; “what happened next”;  “show me”;  “tell me more”.  Don’t lecture.  It cuts off the flow of process thinking. 

Talking and sharing with your child should be rewarding for both of you.  Make the situation pleasant and nurturing.  Empathy for hurtful or stressful situations is very important.  Hugs are helpful when a child is feeling hurt feelings or the pain of sharp criticism.    Remember you are teaching language when you talk to your child as well.  Define the meaning of a word if you think your child does not understand the word.  Often children have heard a word but don’t know what the true meaning of it is.  It is often a mistake to assume a child understands concepts and words so check it out and then teach.

 Parents are the primary teachers of their children.

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Maintaining A Loving Marriage!


Love and passion are the name of the game at the beginning of a marriage.  Keeping the love and the romance are important.  There are a few love concepts that I suggest.  Love wants the good of the other, first; self second.  Everyone has conflict.  If there is no conflict between two people they are probably not growing or taking risks in life that make life stimulating and worth living.  Conflict and fighting is not the same thing.   Conflict is disagreeing about something.  Resolving conflict takes problem solving strategies for resolution.  When people fight it is usually a power struggle not a conflict.  Conflict is a difference of opinion or belief.   Sometimes conflict is someone engaging in poor or illegal behavior. 

 When communicating with a spouse when your style has been to argue or disagree it’s time to ask ourselves a question.

 Before saying or doing anything we should ask ourselves—“Is this a loving act.”  If what you were about to say or do does not pass the “Is this a loving act.” test then you should stop and rethink what you are doing.  

 Romance is important always in a marriage.  In the early years this may come easily.  As children come and the stresses of jobs, finances and life in general, interfere with making an effort to keep the romance going, individuals may begin to have more conflict or lose some of the passion.  Couples need to work on romance.  Couple time is important.  Doing activities that are fun and engaging is important.  Affection and taking care of each other are important. 

 Sending flowers, having a candle light dinner, going out on a date with each other, back rubs, foot rubs, helping with difficult chores are just a few ideas.  Begin and end the day with hugs and kisses.  Remember your beloved’s favorite drinks or foods.  Have a favorite song.  Make couple friends.  Have family time but also have couple time.

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Sadness! Grief!


Sadness!  Grief! Loosing a parent, even an 82 year old parent who has lived a  good life is sad and painful.  How do you resolve the pain?  Maybe first, you let yourself feel the loss.  A loved one’s life and death deserve our touching the pain of loss.  “It makes your heart hurt.”  A quote from my daughter as a child when her kitty died.  How much more we feel when a beloved person leaves us.  Faith helps, prayer helps.  The rituals of visitation and funeral are important.  These rituals let us remember and respect the life of the lost beloved one.  Telling stories and sharing memories of the person lost help us remember and respect the life of another.

Loneliness comes sometimes after the rituals.  We can be  lonely for the one lost to death.  It is important to move out into the world and share your grief and seek new connections.  Filling one’s life with worthwhile activity and relationships help us go on though nothing takes the place of a lost one.

Seek God.  Activate your faith.  Open yourself to new experiences.

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Are you extremely worried about everything in your life from the Institute for Mental Health

Are you extremely worried about everything in your life, even if there is little or no reason to worry? Are you very anxious about just getting through the day? Are you afraid that everything will always go badly?

If so, you may have an anxiety disorder called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

What is GAD?

All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with GAD are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.

GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are worse during times of stress.

People with GAD may visit a doctor many times before they find out they have this disorder. They ask their doctors to help them with headaches or trouble falling asleep, which can be symptoms of GAD but they don’t always get the help they need right away. It may take doctors some time to be sure that a person has GAD instead of something else.

What are the signs and symptoms of GAD?

A person with GAD may:

  • Worry very much about everyday things
  • Have trouble controlling their constant worries
  • Know that they worry much more than they should
  • Not be able to relax
  • Have a hard time concentrating
  • Be easily startled
  • Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feel tired all the time
  • Have headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or unexplained pains
  • Have a hard time swallowing
  • Tremble or twitch
  • Be irritable, sweat a lot, and feel light-headed or out of breath
  • Have to go to the bathroom a lot.

What causes GAD?

GAD sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it, while others don’t. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. By learning more about fear and anxiety in the brain, scientists may be able to create better treatments. Researchers are also looking for ways in which stress and environmental factors may play a role.

How is GAD treated?

First, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor should do an exam to make sure that another physical problem isn’t causing the symptoms. The doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist.

GAD is generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.

Psychotherapy. A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy is especially useful for treating GAD. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious and worried.

Medication. Doctors also may prescribe medication to help treat GAD. Two types of medications are commonly used to treat GAD—anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants. Anti-anxiety medications are powerful and there are different types. Many types begin working right away, but they generally should not be taken for long periods.

Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they also are helpful for GAD. They may take several weeks to start working. These medications may cause side effects such as headache, nausea, or difficulty sleeping. These side effects are usually not a problem for most people, especially if the dose starts off low and is increased slowly over time. Talk to your doctor about any side effects you may have.

It’s important to know that although antidepressants can be safe and effective for many people, they may be risky for some, especially children, teens, and young adults. A “black box”—the most serious type of warning that a prescription drug can have—has been added to the labels of antidepressant medications. These labels warn people that antidepressants may cause some people to have suicidal thoughts or make suicide attempts. Anyone taking antidepressants should be monitored closely, especially when they first start treatment with medications.

Some people do better with cognitive behavior therapy, while others do better with medication. Still others do best with a combination of the two. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.

What is it like to have GAD?

“I was worried all the time about everything. It didn’t matter that there were no signs of problems, I just got upset. I was having trouble falling asleep at night, and I couldn’t keep my mind focused at work. I felt angry at my family all the time.

“I saw my doctor and explained my constant worries. My doctor sent me to someone who knows about GAD. Now I am taking medicine and working with a counselor to cope better with my worries. I had to work hard, but I feel better. I’m glad I made that first call to my doctor.”