Messages From Mom The happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more

Start Saving Yesterday! That's right, get in a time machine...and start saving, YESTERDAY!

BE happy!
Make a TO BE list, not just a To Do list

So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too.

Kids are often asked: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ The world expects grandiose aspirations: ‘I want to be a writer, a doctor, the prime minister.’ They’re told: go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, and then you’ll be happy. But that’s all about doing, not being – and while doing will bring you moments of joy, it won’t necessarily reward you with lasting happiness.

Stop and breathe. Be healthy. Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute.

If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow. I speak from experience. We’ve built a business empire, joined conversations about the future of our planet, attended many memorable parties and met many unforgettable people. And while these things have brought me great joy, it’s the moments that I stopped just to be, rather than do, that have given me true happiness. Why? Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective. Try it. Be still. Be present.

For me, it’s watching the flamingos fly across Necker Island at dusk. It’s holding my new grandchild's tiny hands. It’s looking up at the stars and dreaming of seeing them up close one day. It’s listening to my family’s dinner-time debates. It’s the smile on a stranger’s face, the smell of rain, the ripple of a wave, the wind across the sand. It’s the first snow fall of winter, and the last storm of summer. It’s sunrise and sunset.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. As human beings we have the ability to think, move and communicate in a heightened way. We can cooperate, understand, reconcile and love, that’s what sets us apart from most other species.

Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.

But don’t just seek happiness when you’re down. Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Be loving, be grateful, be helpful, and be a spectator to your own thoughts.

Allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment. Take the focus off everything you think you need to do, and start being – I promise you, happiness will follow.

Happy regards, Richard Branson

How to Have A Good Conversation
How to Have a Good Conversation

Number one: Don't multitask. And I don't mean just set down your cell phone or your tablet or your car keys or whatever is in your hand. I mean, be present. Be in that moment. Don't think about your argument you had with your boss. Don't think about what you're going to have for dinner. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation, but don't be half in it and half out of it.

Number two: Don't pontificate. If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog.

Pundits are really boring. If they're conservative, they're going to hate Obama and food stamps and abortion. If they're liberal, they're going to hate big banks and oil corporations and Dick Cheney. Totally predictable. And you don't want to be like that. You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires a setting aside of oneself. And sometimes that means setting aside your personal opinion. He said that sensing this acceptance, the speaker will become less and less vulnerable and more and more likely to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. Again, assume that you have something to learn.

Bill Nye: "Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't." Everybody is an expert in something.

Number three: Use open-ended questions. In this case, take a cue from journalists. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how. If you put in a complicated question, you're going to get a simple answer out. If I ask you, "Were you terrified?" you're going to respond to the most powerful word in that sentence, which is "terrified," and the answer is "Yes, I was" or "No, I wasn't." "Were you angry?" "Yes, I was very angry." Let them describe it. They're the ones that know. Try asking them things like, "What was that like?" "How did that feel?" Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you're going to get a much more interesting response.

Number four: Go with the flow. That means thoughts will come into your mind and you need to let them go out of your mind. We've heard interviews often in which a guest is talking for several minutes and then the host comes back in and asks a question which seems like it comes out of nowhere, or it's already been answered. That means the host probably stopped listening two minutes ago because he thought of this really clever question, and he was just bound and determined to say that. And we do the exact same thing. We're sitting there having a conversation with someone, and then we remember that time that we met Hugh Jackman in a coffee shop.

And we stop listening. Stories and ideas are going to come to you. You need to let them come and let them go.

Number five: If you don't know, say that you don't know. Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.

Number six: Don't equate your experience with theirs. If they're talking about having lost a family member, don't start talking about the time you lost a family member. If they're talking about the trouble they're having at work, don't tell them about how much you hate your job. It's not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it is not about you. You don't need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you've suffered. Somebody asked Stephen Hawking once what his IQ was, and he said,"I have no idea. People who brag about their IQs are losers."

Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

Number seven: Try not to repeat yourself. It's condescending, and it's really boring, and we tend to do it a lot. Especially in work conversations or in conversations with our kids, we have a point to make, so we just keep rephrasing it over and over. Don't do that.

Number eight: Stay out of the weeds. Frankly, people don't care about the years, the names, the dates, all those details that you're struggling to come up with in your mind. They don't care. What they care about is you. They care about what you're like, what you have in common. So forget the details. Leave them out.

Number nine: This is not the last one, but it is the most important one. Listen. I cannot tell you how many really important people have said that listening is perhaps the most, the number one most important skill that you could develop. Buddha said, and I'm paraphrasing, "If your mouth is open, you're not learning." And Calvin Coolidge said, "No man ever listened his way out of a job."

Why do we not listen to each other? Number one, we'd rather talk. When I'm talking, I'm in control. I don't have to hear anything I'm not interested in. I'm the center of attention. I can bolster my own identity. But there's another reason: We get distracted. The average person talks at about 225 words per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words. And look, I know, it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can't do that, you're not in a conversation. You're just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place.

You have to listen to one another. Stephen Covey said it very beautifully. He said, "Most of us don't listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply."

One more rule, number 10, and it's this one: Be brief.

[A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject. – Winston Churchill]

All of this boils down to the same basic concept, and it is this one: Be interested in other people.

You grew up with very well known and loved grandparents, and there was kind of a ritual in your home. People would come over to talk, and after they would leave, someone would say, "Do you know who that was? She was the runner-up to Miss America. He was the mayor of Sacramento. She won a Pulitzer Prize. He's a Russian ballet dancer." You were lucky to grow up assuming everyone has some hidden, amazing thing about them. So try to speak less and listen more, keep your mind, heart and eyes open, and always be prepared to be amazed. You’ll never disappointed.

(I know, I have a LOT TO LEARN...and I'm working on it!) X


Good Night Cow Jumping Over The Moon...

Some are transparent as sandwich wrap, others glow in the dark. Some recline upside down on the ocean floor, harvesting whatever moves through their pulsating tentacles. Jellyfish existed five hundred million years ago in the same gelatinous, blind, brainless forms found today. Before organisms with bones or teeth evolved, jellyfish ruled a simpler ocean ecosystem, and have survived all five mass extinctions.

Jellyfish go wherever currents pull them, up and down the water column, propelled by tides into commercial ports and recreational beaches—frequently, into the water intakes of fish farms and the cooling systems of nuclear reactors and desalination plants. Jellyfish can eat anything, and when parts of a complex food chain are wiped out by factory fishing ships, agricultural runoff, and industrial effluvia, various jellyfish species move into the resulting “dead zones” and consume everything that remains. Such oxygen depleted waters are really only habitable by jellyfish and certain sea worms. They have at least a dozen ways of reproducing themselves, including autofertilization. In ideal conditions, billions of jellyfish blossom from tiny dormant spawn, sometimes feasting themselves to the size of pickup trucks. They can also shrink back into the polyp stage when food becomes scarce. This makes certain species theoretically immortal.

Think Before You Buy...

be kind, to you
Ask yourself, what is my greatest emotional wound? Then organize yourself today to go serve it. If this doesn’t immediately spring to mind, spend some time journaling about it. What is the thing that stands most between you and a sense of connection to others? Is it the neglect you suffered as a child? Is it stress from an unhealthy intimate relationship? Go and volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters, the women’s shelter, etc. Use the thing that severed your connection to trusting life and people to re-establish one.
Teach yourself about the world of finance....


If someone were to offer you the choice between $1 million cash now, or a penny on day 1, with that figure doubled and compounded each day for 31 days, which should you take? The correct answer is, you should take the latter because it will amount to $10,737,418.24. Sounds impossible, but the math works out:

Day 1: $0.01

Day 2: $0.01 x 2 = $0.02

Day 3: $0.02 x 2 = $0.04

Day 4: $0.04 x 2 = $0.08

Day 11: $10.24

Day 22: $20,971.52

Day 31: $10,737,418.24

Now it should be easy to understand why Albert Einstein supposedly said, "Compound interest is the greatest force in the universe." Compounding interest is, after all, how the rich get richer.

The Great American Eclipse couldn’t come at a more perfect time.

It doesn’t seem to me that it’s a coincidence that this is the Great AMERICAN Eclipse of the Sun. I look to that black hole to be a reset button for our country.

When our moon crosses the path of the sun, in perfect alignment with our planets, it will create a black hole in the sky surrounded by an unearthly rim of intense pink light. Or so I’ve been told.

Knowing that we will all be united in the spectacular experience. . . people coming out of their homes and those with no homes, parents and their kids, those with strong bodies and others who are physically challenged, tall, short, black, white, brown and every color in between, those of us who are here with and those without passports, every one of us sharing space in America will be looking up at the same time in awe. . . is a celestial gift!

Scientist say that animals change their behavior during total eclipses. Bats come out during the daytime and spiders inexplicably take down their webs. Maybe we’ll get lucky and people in our country will begin to make changes too. Perhaps we will become more thoughtful in the way we speak to each other and learn from our differences without eclipsing one another. In any case, knowing that after total darkness, the sun always returns, brings me hope.

Still waiting for that apology?

If it were easy to forget someone you once held a high degree of emotional attachment toward, you would have done it already. We all know that anger, resentment and even love get in the way. We can’t erase memories; we can’t mentally delete every photo; we can’t just forget the things we once said when times were good.

You will know rotten people in your lifetime. And the rottenest part about this is that those people don’t need to be serial killers or rapists or Trump supporters (JK, sort of). They may be people you see every day, the people you want to include in your life because you see something in them that they don’t, the ones who, once they are in your life, are the hardest to wash away.

There will be people who will take advantage of you, try to crush your spirits, lie to you and others and get into your head while trying to justify that they were right. They may even try to put the blame on you when they were the one who broke your heart An apology may be what you think will help, but often, it will never come. What you really need is to reclaim your own sense of right, and wrong. To hell with their apology. And if that person can feel OK with themselves knowing they’ve left you squashed there in the road feeling crushed, they were never worth your heart or friendship in the first place and they certainly are long past their stale date.

The following opinion column should be interesting, and a warning, to each of you:

Can I Keep a Baby My Boyfriend Doesn't Want?

"I am 38 and accidentally pregnant. It turns out my boyfriend does not ever want children, never mind after just a few months of dating; he wants me to have an abortion. I am pro-choice and not attached to what has begun to grow inside me. I had hoped to fall in love with a man and have a child with him, but I am well aware that I’m running out of time. While I’m apparently quite fertile, as time goes on the odds of getting pregnant get tougher, and there are enormous costs in egg freezing and/or I.V.F. For these reasons, I’m leaning heavily toward having the baby. My boyfriend is disturbed, angry and upset that I would have his baby ‘‘against his will,’’ as he put it. The point being, I think, that I can find another guy or get inseminated, so it’s not fair to have his baby because of my biological-clock concerns. I’ve read a lot about the ethics of expecting him to be involved or pay for support if he doesn’t want the child but not about whether it’s O.K. to choose to have the child at all.

I told him he can, guilt-free, have no involvement, but that’s not the issue for him. Are there ethical implications to consider here, especially because it is technically half his — he’s not a sperm donor who chose to let someone have his baby and not be involved — and I’m not against abortion (and have seriously considered it)? If it matters, he thought I was on birth control (but never asked, and I had requested that he use a condom once before), so he didn’t think he was having unprotected sex."---Name Withheld

Let’s start with your startling last sentence. It is, to put it mildly, unwise for a fertile heterosexual couple to have intercourse without discussing whether either is using contraceptives. (For that matter, it’s unwise to have unprotected sex under any circumstances, unless you are both sure of the health status of the other party and you are in a monogamous relationship.) That you never had this conversation is not your fault alone. Men have often left the management of birth control to women, but this habit is neither fair nor prudent. Although your boyfriend doesn’t want you to have this baby, he had it in his power to try to make sure the pregnancy didn’t happen. Part of his anger may derive from the notion that you deliberately misled him, in order to try to entrap him with the child. It is an uncharitable thought, yet not an unfamiliar one. And it matters that he shares responsibility for the current impasse.

There are practical and legal consequences to consider. I’m not a lawyer, but as a general rule, a father must help support a child even if he didn’t want it. Otherwise every deadbeat dad could claim to be an unwilling one. And of course, he cannot force you to have an abortion. (I am not going to consider the question of whether abortion is morally permissible: You think it is, and I respect that view.) It’s worth noting, however, that your boyfriend’s reasons for not wanting a child are probably more than financial. Therefore, promising not to ask for child support won’t really meet his objections. He may well recognize that once he has a biological child, he will be partly responsible for it, even if he agreed to neither the pregnancy nor the birth. And because you have no idea what your future life course will be, you can’t be certain you will never require his help: Suppose, for example, your child one day needs a bone-marrow transplant and your boyfriend is likely to be the best donor. Then, too, an ongoing relationship with you would involve a relationship with your child. In a variety of ways, having the baby entails conditions and obligations that he doesn’t want.

I don’t have much sympathy, though, with the idea that he has property rights in his sperm or half-rights in the baby. Children aren’t property, and we should think about their futures in terms of their interests, our relationships with them and the responsibilities those connections entail. So both his feelings and the prospective interests of the child may provide some grounds for ending the pregnancy. (It may seem odd to say that consideration of someone’s interests may count against continuing his or her existence, yet that’s sometimes the case.) Ideally, in weighing all these considerations, you would be discussing them calmly with him — sharing your concerns and hearing the full range of his considerations — although, in the current state of your relationship, that may be difficult. You might consider going together to crisis counseling of some sort.

You’re within your rights, of course, to drop the boyfriend and keep the child. You want this child, and you are willing to take care of it on your own. The fact that women bear the greater risks of bringing children into the world makes it natural to grant their wishes greater weight than those of the men who are still (if only for the moment) also necessary. But the fact that your wishes ultimately have greater weight doesn’t mean that his wishes have none.





JULY 4, 2017


unlock your mind


Blow bubbles.

Make a Pillow Fort!

Wear sparkles on your face all day.

Lay on the grass and watch for a shooting star.

Put a slip and slide in your yard and invite the neighbors over.

Eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner.

Make tie dyed pancakes.

Write your favorite quotes inside your closet where you'll see them every day.

Tie die your old t shirts and wear them all over again.

Stay in bed all day and watch old movies.

Make whoopsies and eat all of them!

Sleep in a hammock.

Send an "thanks for the good times" to yourself when you're on a vacation.

Celebrate your half birthday or someone's unbirthday.

Play putt putt golf.

Eat spaghetti with your hands.

Take water guns to the beach or pool

Pillow fight.

Ride your bike with no destination in mind.

Spend an hour at a flower market.

Go to a nursing home and play cards with someone else's grandparent.

Borrow a puppy for a day.

Throw a frisbee in the park.

Swing in a tire swing.

Call your favorite camp counselor and thank them.

Sing karaoke of your camp songs.

Make a play dough model of your house.

Picnic on the beach...with seedless watermelon for dessert!

Go to a comedy club with friends and laugh till your sides hurt.

Grow your own fruits or vegetables.

Take photos of unique things you find beautiful, print them and give them to unique friends whose souls you find beautiful.

Hike in the woods.

Finger paint on a body.

Go to a museum and sketch what you love most in your journal.

What a poem.

Host a classic movie marathon with your favorite movies you loved growing up.

Make homemade lemonade ... now add some vodka. :)

Play is essential to our being. It makes us feel alive! It makes us laugh out loud. We express unselfconsciously. Play connects us to our natural creativity. If you want to understand this better watch a child at play. They do not question their creativity – they are living it. A stick becomes a magic wand, the backyard is transformed into a planet in space, they become a sorcerer or an astronaut. Not only is it just plain fun to play, but research shows that play and laughter produce a chemical reaction that instantly elevates your mood, reduces pain and stress, and boosts immunity.

Making the time for play is a great way to connect with others, express our joy and be in the present moment. Play will also boost your energy and vitality, keeping you feeling young and energetic. Make play, laughter, and fun a priority in your life.

• __________________________________________________________________

A Mother's Love

Thomas Edison: "One day I overheard the teacher tell the inspector that I was “addled” and it would not be worthwhile keeping me in school any longer. I was so hurt by this last straw that I burst out crying and went home and told my mother about it. Then I found out what a good thing a good mother is. She came out as my strong defender. Mother love was aroused, mother pride wounded to the quick. She brought me back to the school and angrily told the teacher that he didn’t know what he was talking about, that I had more brains than he himself, and a lot more talk like that. In fact, she was the most enthusiastic champion a boy ever had, and I determined right then that I would be worthy of her and show her that her confidence was not misplaced."

When Edison was seven his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan. Edison lived here until he struck out on his own at the age of sixteen. Edison had very little formal education as a child, attending school only for a few months. He was taught reading, writing, and arithmetic by his mother, but was always a very curious child and taught himself much by reading on his own. This belief in self-improvement remained throughout his life.

Edison was a poor student. When a schoolmaster called Edison “addled,” his furious mother took him out of the school and proceeded to teach him at home. Edison said many years later, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” At an early age, he showed a fascination for mechanical things and for chemical experiments.

A positive word of encouragement can help change anyone’s destiny.

Don't let your past determine who your are but let it be a part of who you will become.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain".

What do you make of birth-order archetypes—do you find truth in them and/or do you see them as limiting?


Archetypes always have stories to tell. In regards to birth order, there are so many variables at play that their relevance is diffused by other more pertinent factors. There is the myth of the first-born child, which revolves around high expectations and special attention from parents. This child may be more dominant, responsible, and slated for success, but this is certainly not always the case. Birth order has little to do with a child’s true nature—the essence of his/her character is determined by the soul that lies within, but how the child is parented contributes significantly to his/her sense of self. Every family is different, so generalizations and stereotypes don’t apply across the board. If a child endures the trauma of a divorce, has a single parent, has a narcissistic parent, and so on, regardless of their birth order, these factors will undoubtedly impact and shape their perceptions.

So whether you are a first, middle, or last born, it is much more important to consider the family dynamics that exist/existed in your household. Never discount the vitality of an archetypal pattern, but it is your job to investigate whether it applies to you. Remember that your soul is not bound by the parameters of any one story or myth. Your story is your own and has the ability to shift at any time. Live it fully and without remorse.


I dreamed I stood in a studio and watched two sculptors there. The clay they used was a young child's mind and they fashioned it with care.

One was a teacher--the tools she used were book, music and art. The other, a parent, worked with a guiding hand and a gentle, loving heart.

Day after day, the teacher toiled with touch that was careful, deft and sure. While the parent labored by his side and polished and smoother it o'er.

And when at last their work was done they were proud of what they had wrought. For the thing they had molded into the child could neither be sold nor bought.

And each agreed they would have failed if each had worked alone. For behind the parent stood the school and behind the teacher, the home. -- Author Unknown

"The greater danger is not that we aim too high and don't reach it, but that we aim too low and reach it."


Who looks outside, dreams ....Who looks inside, AWAKENS!

the greatest journey we will ever take is to travel the distance from our hearts to our heads

On this first night of Passover

When so many people in the world are running from oppression and desperately seeking a place to call home, I send you,
love and gratitude because we are a family and everywhere we go. . . we are HOME.
When our chakras are balanced, we become vessels through which the energy of the universe can flow freely.

How Color Therapy Works

This ancient practice uses color to balance the body's chakras. In color therapy, each specific chakra has a corresponding color: red connects with the root chakra, orange with the sacral chakra, yellow with the solar plexus chakra, green with the heart chakra, blue with the throat chakra, indigo with the third eye, and violet with the crown chakra.

One of the best ways to balance the energy within yourself is to change the energy within your home. By applying the principles of color therapy to home decorating, you can banish any last dregs of stale energy and open your home and your life to the fresh, vibrant currents of spring.

What colors do what?


As the color related to the crown chakra, this calming shade heightens our awareness while fostering a sense of calm and enhancing our purpose. A violet candle on your bedside table will help you wind down at the end of a long day. Or consider using a violet-colored floor pillow during meditation to deepen your practice.


This color stimulates to the third eye and helps you open up to your intuition. Add this shade of higher knowledge and divine understanding to your study or office with a wall hanging to stimulate those creative thoughts.


The color of the throat chakra, blue balances our communication center. Use this color in any area of your home where you want to create a more open, flowing dialogue. The bedroom, perhaps?


As the color for the heart chakra, green works to spur balance and harmony in our lives. Decorating with houseplants is a great way to bring in living, breathing touches of tolerance and acceptance into your home.


This invigorating solar plexus color helps us stay confident and in control of our lives. A coat of yellow paint can add vitality to any home gym or workout space. Just be sure to minimize the amount of yellow you use in restful areas of your home, like your bedroom, since the color can be very stimulating.


This warm tone relates to the sacral chakra, which is home to your creative center and sense of adventure. The sacral chakra is also the center of passion and sexuality. Add a burst of orange flowers in your bedroom to balance your sacral chakra and invite more passion and adventure into your sex life.


The root chakra is the foundation chakra. It is responsible for our most basic and primal needs: feelings of safety, security, and identity. When our root chakra is balanced, we feel grounded and secure. Red cookware in your kitchen and a red rug in your living area can create a sense of stability and ease in your home.

To the world you may be just one person, but, to one person you may be the world

It's Your Birthday, Morgan! Happy 30th, a whole new decade full of promise...

MARCH 5, 2017

How to Have Hard Conversations—Without Conflict

Disagreements are an inevitable part of life—common among lovers, friends, strangers, coworkers, Twitter followers—and not inherently bad. But sometimes the divide between individuals’ beliefs/thoughts/actions can feel oppressively large, a gap too wide to bridge—or ignore. For seemingly-impossible-to-navigate conflicts of every kind, we’ve long turned toward co-founders of the remarkable integrative health center Be Hive of Healing, Dr. Habib Sadeghi and Dr. Sherri Sami—who never fail to produce unparalleled, level-headed guidance, regardless of the quagmires we throw at them.

If confrontation without conflict sounds like an oxymoron—Sami and Sadeghi explain that often the people who do the best job at pissing us off are the same people who present us with the best opportunities to learn something unexpected about ourselves. The answer to why someone irritates us to no end, it turns out, could be remarkably enlightening with a slight perspective shift, whereas trying to force someone to change, or just out-and-out hating them, is rarely (if ever) effective (never mind far from enlightening). While this doesn’t mean we should put up with someone else’s sh*t, Sadeghi and Sami’s advice changes the way we approach confrontation (or as we’ve come to fondly call it, carefrontation) in order to resolve many of the universal hang-ups surrounding perennially fraught relationships and difficult conversations.

Tough Conversations Don’t Have to Devolve Into Drama

“If you think you are enlightened, go home for Thanksgiving,” the spiritual leader Ram Dass once said. It’s refreshing to know that even wise teachers like him aren’t above being irritated by people who know how to push their buttons. But emotional and spiritual growth isn’t always about getting along with everyone all the time. There will always be a partner, co-worker, boss, parent, sibling, or in-law who rubs us the wrong way. The key to reducing the drama in these kinds of relationships isn’t to convince the other person that we’re right, or to change the person, but to better understand ourselves, and why we allow these situations to trigger certain emotions in us. When we do understand those dynamics better, we can consciously navigate challenging relationships more effectively, with far less drama: Even confrontation doesn’t have to involve conflict.

Poison from the Past

The people who irritate us have a lot in common with poison ivy (although we don’t actually get a rash when we’re around them—it just feels like it): When someone is exposed to poison ivy for the first time, they actually do not have any physical reaction. In fact, the vast majority of people have no idea they’ve even come into contact with the toxic plant. However, on the unseen level beneath the skin’s surface, something is happening: The body absorbs the antigen from the poison ivy, breaks it down and produces antibodies against it, which it stores in the vacuoles (tiny cavities within tissue) for later use. It’s only when a person comes into contact with poison ivy a second time (and thereafter), that the typical rash and blisters appear. In order for the painful effects of the secondary exposure to occur, there must have been a primary exposure at some point in time, even if it isn’t remembered.

“The people who irritate us have a lot in common with poison ivy.”

Our subconscious works in much the same way. When we are emotionally triggered by another person, it’s a similar process to the body’s physical reaction to a biological irritant to which it’s been previously exposed. Our anger, irritation, resentment, or jealousy is the emotional blistering or secondary conflict—that’s actually the reaction from an older, primary emotional conflict of which we’re entirely unaware, or that we’ve long forgotten.

Missing the Mark

In medicine, there’s an unfortunate and overwhelming tendency to focus on symptoms or effects, rather than the cause of illness. With the proliferation of thousands of different kinds of drugs today, it’s much easier (and maybe more profitable) to write someone a prescription to treat their symptoms, rather than taking the time to discover what’s actually causing the symptoms and eliminate disease at its primary level. In the same way, it’s very easy to mistake a person who irritates us, and the upset we feel, as our primary conflict, especially when we’re triggered in a powerful way. We think that if we can get them to come over to our way of thinking, or to do something we want them to do, then our pain will go away—that is, until we’re exposed to the next romantic partner, boss, or co-worker who irritates us in the same way. In both medicine and emotions, we tend to focus solely on the secondary conflict—fighting to get what we want in the moment versus discovering what we really need in the long run—so nothing actually gets solved or healed.

Owning Our Emotions

Another interesting fact about poison ivy is that after the primary exposure, not everyone gets a severe rash and blistering on repeated contact. Some people have no reaction at all. In a similar fashion, not everyone in the office is irritated to the same extent by that co-worker who you find to be a total jerk. Why is that? There’s an old saying that goes: You spot it; you got it. That means you don’t have a reaction to something unless there’s a corresponding element of it inside of you, too.

For example, think back to the last time you got a new car. In the months following, you may have suddenly started noticing your car all over the roads, driven by other people, at stoplights, in parking lots, and on the highway. You were noticing all the different colors and models whereas only a year ago, in your old car, fifty of those cars could drive by you completely unnoticed. What changed? Were there suddenly more of that kind of car on the road? No. You got one of those cars for yourself, it entered your consciousness, and you started noticing it everywhere. In the same way we acknowledge ourselves as the owners of our cars, we have to own all of our emotions, and not blame our reactions on other people if we intend to improve our most difficult relationships. At the end of the day, no one can make us feel anything. Present feelings arise from thoughts based on our past experiences.

"How you choose to relate to yourself, inside yourself, is far more important than what is occurring outside yourself!"

If you notice your mother-in-law’s tendency to be controlling, and it upsets you, then perhaps her behavior might be triggering a deeper issue within you from a previous relationship that has something to do with control, freedom, or independence. This isn’t to excuse anyone’s bad behavior, but to see your reaction to this secondary conflict as an opportunity to explore a little deeper. Your present upset is an invitation to resolve a primary conflict—so that you aren’t as triggered in your current relationship, and can deal with the person in a calm, conscious manner regardless of how they choose to behave. Eventually, as you cultivate deeper loving consciousness toward this person, they will likely either change the way they behave toward you or redirect their energy at someone else. You also cultivate emotional mastery over your life through holding a more accurate understanding: How you choose to relate to yourself, inside yourself, is far more important than what is occurring outside yourself!

Asking the Right Questions

Whenever you find yourself triggered, the most important and difficult thing to do is to refer inwardly instead of attacking outwardly. It’s to ask yourself:

Regardless of how awful this person is behaving, what does this situation have to say about me?

To the extent that this situation may be an opportunity for deeper learning, then what am I to learn from this?

How could I have drawn this person or situation into my life in service of learning and growing?

Go beyond what you want in the moment and identify the feelings the situation is bringing up for you: Why do I feel disrespected? When have I felt unloved before? How have I or someone else taken me for granted?

Through a process known as projection, the subconscious gives us a valuable tool to answer many of these questions. It causes us to project our primary unresolved conflicts outward onto other people, just like a movie projector shines an image on a screen, where we can see it. The key lies in recognizing that our external or secondary conflict is really an illusion, a trick of the light, and that its primary source is inside of us.

For example, a wife who criticizes her husband because he never says she’s beautiful almost certainly doesn’t believe herself that she’s beautiful. So she projects this subconscious insecurity outward onto her husband for external validation. Perhaps her primary conflict was based in a memory of someone once saying she’d be beautiful, “…if she only lost some weight.” Now, even at a healthy weight, she still can’t see herself as beautiful. When this primary conflict is resolved, she won’t be affected whether her husband does or doesn’t comment on her beauty because she’ll see her own beauty and be in charge of her own emotions.

Emotional Growth Fuels Advancement

Engaging in this way of being isn’t just important for emotional and spiritual development. Our physical advancement in life is also largely dependent on identifying and resolving the primary emotional conflicts in our lives. Otherwise, our unconscious and uncontrolled reactions and the behaviors that arise from them will hold us back. How many times does someone have to be fired or divorced or declare bankruptcy before they ask, Maybe it’s not all about everyone else? Maybe it has something to do me?

To better understand how what does or doesn’t occur within ourselves affects everything in our physical world, think about physical life (seen) as moving along a horizontal X axis and our spiritual life (unseen) rising on a vertical Y axis. It’s the cultivation of things like love, courage, trust, authenticity, and self-awareness in the unseen realm that fuels our forward momentum into a better life in the seen realm, and helps us accomplish more of what we want, including the kind of relationships we’d like to have.

Conflicts and Health Consequences

Success in the physical realm includes good health; and over time, the stress and negative energy from unresolved conflicts (regardless of whether we’re conscious of them or not), will take their toll on our bodies. Whenever we’re upset on the seen realm, you can be sure there is a corresponding action happening inside our bodies, first chemically and then physically.

We recently saw a patient who was diagnosed with advanced tongue cancer. Her tumor was so large that all the other doctors she’d seen recommended having her entire tongue removed, which would have meant never speaking or swallowing again. We soon learned she had a terrible relationship with her ex-husband. He’d been verbally abusive in their marriage, during which she felt she had to hold her tongue most of the time. Near the end of the marriage, she’d gotten into the habit of literally biting the side of her tongue when dealing with the stress of the situation (a habit that stuck with her after their divorce). We believe that the energy from her anger and the belief that she didn’t have the right to speak up on her own behalf most likely was transferred to her nervous habit and played a role in her cancer. After working with her to discover the primary injury that caused her to silence herself, we were able to address that issue and help her deal with her ex-husband in a way that served her and improved her experience of the relationship. After several months of physical treatment and doing this emotional work, her body responded. Her tumor had shrunk to the point where surgeons were finally optimistic that they could remove it without taking the tongue. She’d still need physical therapy afterward, but she wouldn’t be debilitated.

A Common Journey

Our own unresolved primary conflicts can have disastrous effects on our relationships (and even set our children up for their own if we don’t learn how to parent from a conscious perspective). We see many people at our Transformational Intensive workshops (and in the couples’ version) who experience profound breakthroughs in resolving primary conflicts. The amazing thing is that even though a person may come to us to improve a particular relationship, once they understand this work, all their relationships improve—most of all, the one they have with themselves.

“All this means is that you can see them as another soul doing their best—given their consciousness at this time—to work out their own primary conflicts, most of which they’re not conscious of.”

When you have to interact with someone who pushes your emotional buttons or becomes defensive, it’s important to recognize their divine essence. All this means is that you can see them as another soul doing their best—given their consciousness at this time—to work out their own primary conflicts, most of which they’re not conscious of. Just that shift in perspective can be significant enough to cultivate some compassion and de-escalate the emotional reaction from your side. Keep in mind, they’re on the same journey of emotional maturity and spiritual development as you; they’re just taking a different route.

Perception-checking goes a long way toward calming the other person down if things get out of hand: Repeat back to the person what they said to you, so they can be reassured you know what’s important to them. Most often, all we want in the heat of the moment is to be understood. This is done by saying things like: Just so I understand, you… It sounds to me like you’re saying… Or, What I hear you say is… Follow this with a short paraphrase of what they’ve shared and leave them with an honest and heartfelt inquiry: Is this accurate?

“Most often, all we want in the heat of the moment is to be understood.”

If you find yourself heated: After the fact, go within and ask questions that can lead you to how or why you might be feeling the way that you do, and what primary conflicts might be involved in your reactions. Also consider practicing cathartic Purge Emotional Writing for twelve minutes.

Keep in mind, this kind of work does not mean you must allow yourself to be verbally abused or that you can’t speak your mind. It does, however, give you a path that nurtures higher psychospiritual faculties within yourself. It’s the essence of what we call transforming a confrontation into a carefrontation—because you can approach it with love for yourself, concern for the other person, and respect for the healing process.


Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,


O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!

Seek to Understand Before Trying to Be Understood

The Journey

By Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew what you had to do,

Though the voices around you kept shouting

their bad advice‚

though the whole house began to tremble

and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly recognized as your own,

that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do the only thing you could do--

determined to save the only life you could save.

Don't f***ing Drown!

When a someone jumps into the water to save a drowning person, they clearly have the most honorable intentions, but, if they're not careful, they'll both sink. So make sure you can swim in the worst of the storms before you try to carry another to the shore. The only life you can save is your own.

How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?

None of us can escape having our hearts' being broken. At some point, relationships that we treasure will end. Some will go because we grow out of them. Some because the people we love will pass away. We will fall out of love with people and some will, beyond our comprehension, fall out of love with us. It's all a part of life. It's still hurts beyond most anything we know. Psychologists say that breaking up lights up the part of our brains that are the same points that trigger when we are scalded...that is intense pain!

So if it's unavoidable, what can we do? I have a few ideas but none will take the pain away. What I hope I can help with is to soften the sting and help all of us come away from the experience ready to love again...even better and with open hearts.

First, nothing works if we don't look inside ourselves and take responsibility for our part in things. You are half of the relationship. That doesn't mean you are 50% of the reason things didn't work out. That does mean that you are part of the reason you stayed there as long as you did if you feel you stuck around longer than was healthy for you. Take stock and grow from your own contributions to what worked and what didn't. Don't beat yourself up about any of it. Just be curious and ask yourself some questions about why you needed to be there in the relationship. What felt good and what didn't? Did you listen to your instincts? Why?

2. Is this the first time you've been here? Again, why? What is it about this man or woman that filled a need for you? Can you find another way to nurture that need? A healthier way?

3. Let go. . . stop stalking. It hurts you to stalk your ex on Facebook. Seeing them at parties and vacations without you is punishing yourself. Chances are you're posting stuff about yourself to make yourself look happier than you really feel, aren't you? If you left your ex you can be damn sure they are on a social media campaign, either consciously or not, to make themselves, their families and friends know they are moving on and doing great! That will make you nuts. Step away from the computer/iPhone!

3. Don't ask for more info about your ex. Give yourself a safe place, an ex-free zone for a few months. Take it from one who knows, this gives you room to heal. You need space, literally and figuratively to start a new life.

4. Create your own "this is my new life/that was my old life" ceremony! You will treasure this. I went to Acapulco on the day that our divorce was final and had an Independence Day ceremony. It happened to be our wedding anniversary day. I picked up a shell and wrote the date and Independence Day on it. It changed the meaning of the date from one that could have been a difficult reminder of something that felt lost to me, into something that felt reclaimed. My marriage to your Dad had been more than 20 years of wonderful memories shared with the 3 of you and I continue to look back over those years with gratitude. I treasure the photographs of those times and the memories they evoke. But it was important to me to change what that date would mean to me going forward. So to be clear, I don't suggest that you in any way deny what was meaningful and good about any relationship you've had.. Keep those gems wrapped up like a gift. And then repackage your future so that it now works for YOU. Because the one person who is along for the ride with you for the rest of your life, your best companion, is YOU!

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; It's about learning to dance in the rain."


Enjoy the Ride!

Pico Iyer is a global travel writer whose stories have taken him to the snowy mountains of Japan and a film festival in Pyongyang, North Korea. I met him over dinner and heard him speak at the Getty. I love his books, they take me to place both physically and in my mind that I've never been. He wrote these wise ideas about building a habit of productive stillness, even at the airport and while flying, that I thought I'd share with you.

Settle down early. Iyer says, “I try to keep distractions to a minimum and pitch myself swiftly into the great blue, bracing ocean of free time. So I tend to board as early as I can, and take up my favored position next to the right-hand window. I plunge into a project or book within 30 seconds of settling into my seat, and hope that it will carry me so far away that I barely notice the commotion of squawking kids, oversized luggage and sometimes startled chihuahuas proceeding down the aisle. For the rest of the flight, I barely stir. I try to rest as if in a capsule hotel in Osaka.”


A tray table pro-tip. While some people prefer an exit row seat for that little bit of extra space, Iyer counterintuitively suggests sticking with normal seats — because they have better tray tables. “I try to avoid bulkhead seats and exit rows where the table comes up from the seat itself and not down from the seat ahead of me.” There’s less risk of your seatmate jostling your work or your coffee into your lap.


Pack simply to use the hours wisely. Iyer requires only three thing to while away his plane time: “a book, a pen and a notebook.” He makes sure all three are packed in his carry-on.


Put email on hold. Says Iyer, “Even if, like me, you’re not a formal meditator, it’s often possible to clear your head and still your being, as meditators do. I use flights as a rare chance to give my mind a break, and allow it to run loose like a dog on a beach. I can’t (or at least don’t) do emails on planes, and no calls can reach me, so I enjoy what has become the greatest luxury in life for many of us: an open space in the calendar in which to do nothing at all and be freed from obligation.”


Wait until landing to talk to your seatmate (for both your sakes). “I tend to engage my neighbor in conversation only a few minutes before we land, so he or she doesn’t feel they are trapped for sixteen hours with the seatmate from hell. And if my seatmate is somehow disturbing me, I try to train my concentration elsewhere; it’s a safe bet that while I can’t change them, I can change myself.” That said, Iyer does see value in starting the conversation. “I often remember seatmates I used to meet when I was flying to school as a little boy of nine. It was as if I had the whole cast of Great Expectations around me in those seats. I remember one burly guy who assured me he was an actor, a pro football player and someone who had boxed against Muhammad Ali. At nine, I believed it all!”


Take a first-class perspective, wherever you are sitting. “Glamour is about what you do, not what you have. So for me, I embrace the chance to sit back, to have food brought to me in my seat and to do nothing at all. If someone kindly offers to fly me somewhere in business class, I’ll often ask if he or she would send me economy and give me the difference in money instead. I’d much rather use that extra money for nineteen more trips to London.”


Treat a delay like a snow day. Iyer keeps a positive outlook through inevitable delays. “Since there’s nothing I can do to make the plane arrive or leave faster, I take delays as an extra period of free time,” he says. “I try to think of them as I would have a snow day when I was in junior high school. I try to find some Awake tea. Then I take a book to a quiet spot in the light and I read or, sometimes, work.”


See jet lag as an opportunity. “Jet lag is a foreign state in which I spend maybe eight weeks of every year. Since that is almost a sixth of my life, I try to wander around it as appreciatively as I might wander around Bangkok or Havana. I’m good for nothing for an entire week after crossing either the Atlantic or Pacific — in either direction. So I try to work this foreign influence to my advantage. Walking the streets of Singapore all night while under jet lag’s spell lets me see a side of the city — and a side of myself — that I never see in the normal run of things.”


And keep a mental catalogue of the wonderful spaces you find in airports. Iyer says, “Tampa International Airport is unusually good for working, and the new Logan Airport in Boston is full of lovely spaces in which to write. Changi Airport in Singapore is like the city of one’s dreams, with its butterfly forests, swimming pools, free movies and quiet spaces. In Terminal One, they have little fish that, by biting your feet, administer a kind of mystical foot massage. At Kansai International Airport in Osaka, I love the Royce’ Chocolates shop. I also love the exhibitions along the corridors in San Francisco International Airport, and the showers in the amazing ANA Lounge at Narita International Airport in Japan. There are outlets of brilliant independent bookstores to be found in many a terminal — I especially love Books and Books at Miami International Airport and Tattered Cover at the Denver International Airport. No amenity, though, compares with reliability, courtesy and seamless efficiency.” Thank goodness, these are to be found all over.

Thanksgiving 2016

This being my favorite holiday of the year, I want to take a moment of gratitude and to remind you of a few of the things about YOU that I am THANKFUL for.

You three are extraordinary. Your motivating factor is always from a place of love. When you do things it's clear that you do them with good intentions and that makes you authentic and trustworthy. You've each proven yourselves to be generous and kind-hearted. I'm proud that you work hard and are quick to roll up your sleeves and get dirty if you need to in order to get a job done well. You support each other and me, and knowing we all have each other ALWAYS gives us all confidence to move through life knowing we have unconditional love from one another.

When I was younger I thought about what I hoped to accomplish and be. And then you came into the world and everything changed. The greatest joy in my life was the joy I found in you. I realized that nothing mattered more than doing what I could to make this a better place for you to grow up in and to help you find ways to smooth your paths in the world in ways that would bring you happiness.

I learned from Oz and Gramps to be strong and to fight for what mattered. More than anything, what mom and dad gave me was a sense that above everything else, family is our foundation, our home base. I hope that I've passed that on to you. I recognize in the three of you a fierce loyalty to each other. You know that you are there to build each other up and to have each other's back. It's one of my greatest source of pride to see how you are there for each other with unconditional love and acceptance.

In the larger world you have a different obligation, to leave it better than you found it. Not just because that's what you heard me and others say to you but because when you take care of others, you gain a perspective that the world is infinitely bigger than our small concerns. You improve your own life by helping others. And you are the guardian for the earth that your own children will inherit.

In the quiet of night I lay in bed and replay my favorite memories of our times together...eating seedless watermelon on the beach in East Hampton, snow cones and sushi in Hawaii, making up our private religious services on the balcony or the botanical gardens, driving around to look at Christmas lights at night, watching you skateboard...everywhere, breaking out the windows in my car after they were cracked, driving to Colorado in the snow, a girls trip to Los Angeles, Jazz Fest, art classes together, sitting on the floor at the Modern and drawing the winged Kiefer, jumping on the trampoline, Valentine's dinners, painting on flower pots, racing and cooking lobsters, breakfasts in bed, green footprints and kisses on St Patrick's Day, making homemade books, reading together under the blanket, soccer games, football games, baseball games, lacrosse games, wrestling tournaments, boxing tournaments, Colorado, Costa Rica, Cabo, Australia, Morocco, San Quirco d'Orcia, Chicago, New Orleans, Jackson ... The joy you've brought me is endless.

I am GRATEFUL to have our family, that loves and cares about each other in an authentic way. It's rare. And precious. And it requires care.

So remember to call each other when it's not a birthday. Take the time to go see each other. Treat each other with even more respect and patience than you would your colleagues and friends. They know all about your good stuff and your not so good stuff and STILL LOVE YOU! Send a note occasionally or a little surprise to each other and remember each others special dates.

My dream for you is that you will continue to grow to be compassionate and committed adults and that you will find the things in life that bring you tremendous joy. Be happy. Be healthy. Laugh loudly and long. Live a deliciously glorious life.

And know that you are loved, always.

The greatest journey we will ever take is to travel the distance from our hearts to our heads.

If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. -Raoul Dahl

Having money is a bit like owning a chicken. If you care for the chicken it will produce eggs that you can live off for years. If you get greedy and fry the chicken, then you'll feast for a night, and then starve.

my Green Bean Casserole

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

1 regular can Cambell's Cream of Mushroom Soup

3/4 Cup Half & Half Milk (if you want this to be less rich use regular milk)

2 cans FRENCH CUT green beans (if you can’t find these use the slender green beans) The frozen ones cause the casserole to be too watery)

salt and pepper to taste

fresh or dry garlic powder

1 1/3 to 1 1/2 C French’s fried onions

Seasoning Salt, Salt, Pepper, Paprika to taste

Mix together in large bowl everything except the onions. Add the seasonings to taste. You can experiment with other seasonings but don’t make it too strong. Add half the onions into the mix and add to a casserole dish.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until hot. Stir and top with the rest of the fried onions. Bake 5 minutes longer or union the onions are golden.

Enjoy! Love you, Mom

Created By
Kathy Suder


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