Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Power of You

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are, but the people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstance they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them.” George Bernhard Shaw

Make the circumstances we want, rather than blame the circumstances we have ….. hmmmm, easier said than done…… this means we have a choice! What choice? you may well ask, (especially in days that seem to become more dire by the hour!) Well, we have a choice about how we respond to everything that occurs and also about what we choose to do with what we have. Discouraging? For some maybe, because a choice implies a decision, and a decision excludes other possibilities …. and in these precarious times, who would want to exclude all options!

What we often forget is that indecision is a decision in itself, and often leads to choices being made for us, by others and by circumstances! Although it may be easier to blame circumstances than to face the responsibility of making a choice, - what if it’s the ‘wrong’ choice?! – the result is usually hindsight; ‘Of course, what I should have done,’ ‘what I could have done’, and ‘I wish I had done,’ or 'if only we had done ....' We all know the power of hindsight!
On the other hand, in the ‘now’, each moment that we make a choice or a decision based on our own ‘inner knowing’ (or intuition), each time we dare to step up to and act on what we believe in our heart is right, in that very moment we are so much more powerful than we have been conditioned to believe!

As we move into 2012, let’s discard the old conditioning that has us believing we are victims of circumstance, the conditioning that makes us indecisive and anxious, and even afraid. Let’s instead claim the actual immense power that resides within each one of us – the power to take charge of our choices, trust our own insights, and create the ‘circumstances’ we want, moment by moment.......... And if by chance you don’t see evidence of your power in your life, remember that the atom still exists even though you have never seen one.

Roll on 2012!

Monday, December 19, 2011

HAPPY Christmas!

Did you know that kindness is good for your health …. and for your brain?  Findings have shown that the neurotransmitters associated with happiness, reward and laughter are increased when we choose to be kind rather than self-serving. A fitting piece of science for the holidays, don’t you think? This gets right to the heart of what Christmas is about! And what wonderful news it is that not only do our brains function better when we are kind and caring, all the feelings that are activated boost our IgA levels – the first line of defence in our immune systems. 
So when you're offering to help someone, giving to charity, making a cup of coffee for a friend, or serving up a meal you've prepared, remember you're doing yourself a big favour!
Wishing you a truly HAPPY Christmas, from all of us here at

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fun is Free!

When I was eight, we spent the winter with my grandma, in her cottage in a small village in the east of England. It was a thatched cottage, with low ceilings and wobbly floors. My father had to stoop to walk through the door-ways. Leading upstairs were two steep and narrow staircases, both with ropes draped on the walls that served as banisters. I used to love climbing up those stairs on my way to bed, hanging onto the ropes and pretending I was a mountain climber.

And that winter there was much more for the imagination to play with: we got snowed in! It snowed and snowed for days on end until there was so much snow, we couldn’t open the front door, nor the ground floor windows. And the snow stayed for so long that we ran out of food! Eventually a helicopter arrived and dropped food in large nets onto the snow-laden roof. My father and grandfather climbed out of an upstairs window to retrieve it. Imagine the excitement for an eight-year old! But neither my parents or my grandfather seemed to appreciate my excitement, hardly responding to my shrieks of delight at all. They were all too (understandably) worried, fretting about the food supplies, the buried cars, the freezing cold, the lack of electricity, the frozen pipes,....... and all that snow!

My grandmother, however, was different. She turned the whole experience into an adventure! She made soup in a big pot over the fire in the fireplace while wearing a black witches hat and teaching me to recite ‘hubble bubble, toil and trouble’ as she stirred. We drew funny faces on the cold wet window panes, while stuffing towels around the windows to modify the draught. We kept warm with layer upon layer of clothing until we looked like aliens and waddled about making up alien dances. She made everyone gather round to roast sausages in the fireplace, and sing songs as loud as we could. It was wonderful! To this day, my memories of her - and especially that snow-bound experience - serve to remind me that fun, play, and delight can be had in pretty much most situations ……regardless of how bad the times are! It’s all in the attitude - Such a good reminder this year :-)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Care Over Cash - A Female Thing?

 “If only women were in charge …. “ sighed a man to his companion next to me on the train, as he closed his newspaper. Not the first time I’ve heard that remark, or said it myself! What do we mean by this? I know what I mean – that the qualities we associate with the ‘female brain’ – nurturing, gathering, relationship skills, flexibility and openness, care and compassion – seem to be in short supply in many corners of the world these days, and if they were more present there would be less suffering and greed.
Imagine for a moment, the proverbial corridors of power, political or corporate, but where everyone has more flexibility, openness, and compassion – it might look something like this: everyone approaches cultural diversity as a strength as opposed to as an obstacle. Imagine everyone prioritising their relationship skills - this could mean more effective teams, globally as well as locally, all being managed with emotional intelligence, dialog flowing and compromises and decisions reached. Last but not least, imagine compassion being a quality valued and required by all people in power – surely we would see more inclusiveness and more ethical decisions on every level; we would see the prioritization of care over cash; and social responsibility would be something people, leaders, have rather than a buzz-word they use.
Traditionally’ the qualities in these imaginings are considered ‘female’, (which I presume is what the sighing man on the train was referring to). However, I believe we all know that everyone, regardless of gender, has the capacity for these qualities. Even though our brains are wired differently – this is as much the result of ‘training’ as it is biology. Contrary to conventional belief, men are not slaves to testosterone, and compassion & relating is not the sole territory of women. According to Dr Louanne Brizendine, author of 'The Male Brain', there is plentiful research showing that the adult male brain has great capacity for both devotion and nurturing.
SO, on that note I’m going to adjust my thinking about this ‘leadership’ subject and instead of ‘If only women were in charge’, I’ll be thinking about and imagining everybody in leadership positions accessing their innate abilities for compassion, openness, and relating. The imagination is a powerful thing ….maybe it will make a difference, however small! Won’t you join me? :-)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Who's The Boss?

Piercing scream from aisle eleven,
Tantrum in progress
Escalating fast.
‘Gimme gimme!”  yells the screamer,
Louder and louder,
How long will it last?

Earplugs are on aisle eleven,
Can’t get to them
The dad’s in the way
Bending down to try to reason
With the screamer,
What on earth will he say?

‘Sweety please, do stop your screaming,
Please be good,
Be quiet now.”
“I don’t wanna!” yells the offspring.
Dad looks flustered,
Sweat beads on his brow.

Trying to ignore the racket,
With fellow shoppers
I vacate the aisle.
Still I hear the constant crying,
Dad’s enduring,
I manage a smile.

 “I will get you coke and burger
If you’re good
And stop this din.”
Dad beseeches. Youngster screeches
“I want Gameboy!”
I wonder who’ll win?

Bawling keeps on escalating
Soon creating
Hearing loss!!
Then suddenly the holler ceases.
Dad showed who’s boss!

Leaving supermarket later,
A familiar
High-pitched scream.
There, again, the kid 'in tantrum',
Gameboy in hand
Yelling “Now! Ice-cream!”

Monday, October 24, 2011

Beautifully Risk-Taking Teenage Brains!

Whether we’ve raised teenagers or not, we’ve all been one, and we all know what a contradictory, risky, sometimes reckless and often confusing time it can be! We may also have plenty of explanations for why the teenage years are so emotional, unruly and rebellious, - in fact throughout history opinions have abounded about the ‘coming of age’ period when we. literally and figuratively, stretch ourselves into adulthood. Having been a very moody and defiant teenager myself – well into my twenties -I’ve always had an interest in every single rationale I’ve come across, yet there’s one thing that’s bothered me about most of the current attitudes to the teenage years; the negativity and disapproval so often ingrained in the very expectations of youth. Now I’m happy to note, there’s brain research that gives us not only logical reasons why teens think and behave they way they tend to do, but it highlights the positive significance and even necessity of their often reckless risk taking, pointing to the creativity, innovation, ‘thinking-outside-the-box’ and other qualities that comes with being a teen – and what it has meant for the survival of our species. If you haven’t read about it yet, you can in this National Geographic article at
It’s worth the read!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Child-Driven Learning Does it Again!

I have just had what you might call a mind-altering experience – a view I thought would stay the same has shifted. Let me explain. As you may know if you’ve read my earlier posts, I have been somewhat concerned about the time children today spend interacting with computers (rather than live people). I have been most concerned about the effect this appears to have on their development, in particular relationship skills and social intelligence. Amazingly, although not exactly allaying my concern, research I recently came across certainly gives me a wider perspective! The research in question has been done by education scientist Sugata Mitra, who found (after years of studies) that when children independently use computers and most specifically the internet, in groups – that is, without adult supervision and in combination with inter-personal interaction with their peers – not only does their learning capacity significantly increase but education itself is taken to a whole new level! Additional benefits that have emerged from Mitra’s studies - for communities and indeed for our ‘global wellness’ – are intriguing.  I am fascinated. If you haven’t come across it, check it out. It's a TED talk, so not too long and most entertaining.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can We Change How We Do Change....

Change is in the air - both because the air is distinctly autumnal, and of course because of the state of the world! But are we going about change in the way we could? The turning of the leaves and the very slight chill in the air got me thinking, then writing........ and writing more. Somewhat inspired, I ended up writing too much for a mere Blog  Happy  - more like a small article - so I posted it on my Hub-Pages.........Click on this link and (if you're so inclined), I hope you enjoy! I welcome your response comments......

Monday, September 12, 2011

At The Risk of Repeating Myself......

If anyone you know is still skeptical about the value of emotional intelligence and stress management, they are not alone. Despite all the findings to the contrary, most business leaders are still concerned that feelings like compassion and empathy might conflict with company ideals(!) In a study of 250 corporate executives, researchers found that the majority of them, even now, believe that businesslike decisions would be made more difficult if feelings were given too much consideration………..
Well, although I find myself initially sighing with a great degree of exasperation, I muster my own emotional intelligence :-) and recognize that this finding means we just need to keep writing and talking! .... talking about all the research and knowledge we now have on the human brain and how the human being REALLY works, until we reach the tipping point and all the people in charge of the rest of us get it; that feelings and emotions power our thoughts and behaviours and therefore underlie just about everything; until they get that only way to actually make so-called businesslike decisions, - or indeed do anything that requires clear, objective thinking - is to manage one’s stress and emotions (notice I say 'manage' not 'control' - please see below for further reading if you’d like to read more on this.)
It’s not as if this is an impossible task or even a big challenge! Managing stress and emotions can be learned - and because emotional intelligence teaches us the ways to make our brains and our lives work better, we feel almost instant benefits. A simple concept – but apparently very hard for some to adopt!  If you've had your own experiences and you do ‘get it’ (and if you're reading this, I imagine you do) please, share your insights ………….  someone who is in charge of others may hear you and then you’d be doing us all a great, great service!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Have A Simple Dream

I would like to see all our politicians stop having knee-jerk reactions and start taking more responsibility for their emotions – their fear, insecurities, greed, anxiety, pride – emotions  they are most likely not even aware of but that drive so much of what they say. Can you imagine them STOPPING their reactions, quietly DROPPING their attention into their bodies, (breathing, focusing in the heart etc.) and self-regulating BEFORE they open their mouths…..? A bit far fetched maybe :-) If they did though, the chances are that their brains would work with more clarity and vision - and they’d be more likely to ‘respond’ to issues rather than react. And wouldn’t that be helpful for all of us .….. I dream on………. Ahhh, but don’t we all need to get out of our heads and drop our awareness into our bodies more, into the wisdom that comes from being centered?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Ode To The Peapod

Today I shelled peas.
No big deal you might say
But it isn’t the norm to shell peas, these days.

The norm’s in a bag
Either frozen or dried
Not fresh, plump pods with the peas inside.

I’m happy to say
T'was the real thing today
My thumb split the pod and it felt like play

One in my mouth
‘Tween my teeth it went pop
The sweet fresh taste made me smile and stop

Each bright green pea
Had my full attention
It felt like a pea-pod meditation

I must do this more often
Select the ‘slow’ way
It’s far more enjoyable, any day!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Angry In The Right Way?

Aristotle said “Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – this is not easy.” There’s plenty of proof in today’s world of this ancient wisdom! Certainly anger was one dominant emotion seething through the streets of London recently – both amongst rioters and victims. But there were other emotions too, emotions that we don’t understand quite as well as we understand the anger of the disenfranchised; emotions like recklessness, cold, callous indifference, and the out-and-out ‘f—you’ emotion, that was clearly driving so many of the rioters.  One can debate and analyze where these feelings come from and there are doubtless a few different opinions out there. Personally, I would love to see more discussions about the societal causes underlying the complete lack of empathy and compassion in such a large amount of young people, and what, if anything, we can do about it. However, I am prevented from even going there because I know that empathy is just one of a series of key ingredient in what we call emotional intelligence, which brings me to the one thing that WAS clear in these riots, and which needs no discussion or analysis, and that is the complete and utter lack of emotional intelligence in the rioters.
Emotional intelligence or EI has been the subject of much research in the last couple of decades, and we now know enough about its significance and consequences that we are integrating into our schools and parenting - or at least many are attempting to, (and if we aren’t we should be!)
Where we often go wrong with developing emotional intelligence is that we start from the wrong end; we want to develop social conscience and empathy before we do anything else, and much of the current political rhetoric about these riots may unfortunately increase this misdirection. But the human psyche doesn’t work that way, especially in our complicated society where we are so highly stimulated. We have to start at ground level –by first teaching our children (and ourselves!) to recognize emotions. No one can be expected to manage their emotions when they only become aware of them after being consumed by them! Only when we can identify emotions as they surface, can we begin to understand them, distinguish the emotions that serve us from those that don’t, and begin the (arduous for some), process of learning to regulate or manage them and express them more appropriately. In that process, if we stick with it, qualities like empathy and social conscience can really develop, and maybe eventually even the increasingly lacking ability for delay gratification!
There is no short-cut to developing these qualities – they won’t happen by blaming & shaming, or even by punishing (although I do recognize the importance of such measures). Empathy, care, compassion and social conscience will only develop when we pay attention to the emotions that drive all behaviour, not in a touchy-feely way, not by mollycoddling anyone, but by acknowledging the significance and power of human emotions and integrating the building of emotional skills and EI in our education and society in developmental and structured ways. In my humble opinion, we need to get onto it.
The good news? When someone experiences the benefits that come with increasing EI, - the heightened sense of self-confidence; the improved relationships; the increased creativity and accomplishment of goals; the frequent ‘feel-good-for-no-reason’ moments; etc. etc. (the list goes on) – the motivation to continue the process of mastering ones emotions becomes almost organic. Even channeling anger to express it in ways that are constructive and do not damage others, grows easier and easier - ever increasing the chances of ‘being angry in the right way’. 
But as I said, there’s no short cut.
(As you can tell by this Blog post, the concept of 'short' eludes me today!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Your Butterfly Effect?

  The concept that the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can impact wind and weather many miles away can be a great metaphor for us humans and our emotions! Personally, I know that a relatively small change in my internal state can make a difference to every other person I meet, am around, and even family in faraway places. It may be explained by the whole electromagnetic field theory, as our ‘field’ and its quality is regulated by our emotions, in other words what you are feeling at any given time will be sent out in electrical signals that one can’t necessarily see or hear but that can be felt, (you know, that walking-into-a-room-and-just-knowing-something-is-off thing!) Then of course there’s also the way we impact our surroundings with the way we act, our words, etc. Ahhh – the mind boggles, this metaphor could develop into a mutli-layered story!! (Can you 'feel' my overwhelm? )
So, what’s your butterfly effect? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Parents Were Right!

We have so many simple, innate ways to combat stress and to function more happily and effectively - innate as in we already know how – we are designed - to do it. Unfortunately, when we don’t heed our own ‘knowing’ the opposite effect is often the result; i.e. more stress!
Take posture for example. We know that good posture makes us feel better and look better. But did you know that slouching makes you more sensitive to aches and discomfort?
Many of us growing up had parents who would tell us to stand up straight. For me this meant that, between my parents and regular ballet classes, I eventually realized that I actually felt better when I opened my chest and pulled up or stretched the spine. To this day, it seems to have the same effect as smiling does, releasing ‘feel-good’ hormones into the blood stream. I can almost always feel the difference, practically immediately!
Now, several scientific studies (from the universities of Toronto and Southern California) have shown that good posture not only feels good but also increases tolerance to pain! Conversely, slouching has the opposite effect, making us less pain tolerant. In other words, standing up straight actually toughens you up. Who knew?! I am forever amazed at the amount of natural resources we have, already contained within our own bodies!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Side to Positive Psychology?

A negative side to positive psychology? Could it be? Methinks so. Although a great believer in the power of positivity, (emotionally & mentally), I have always questioned positive psychology as a blanket approach – it doesn’t quite embrace the whole human experience and, I have found, can often cause both frustration and resentment. Imagine then my appreciation when I read not just one, but two recent studies showing a revised perspective!
One study (at the University of Washington) addressed one of my favourite topics: culture. Emotions have a different meaning for people from different cultures, as for example in Asian cultures where a balance of positive and negative emotions is aspired to, (rather than in our Western cultures where we desire a maximum of positive emotions). This particular study compared stress levels, symptoms of depression, and the emotional experiences of Asians, Asian-Americans and European Americans. The findings? That more positive emotions were linked to less symptoms of depression for the two American groups, but NOT for Asians.
The other study (at the University of Warwick, UK & published in the 'Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization') looked at how other people's happiness affects us. The data showed that in countries where the well-being was recorded as higher levels than average, the suicide rate was also higher. The researchers concluded that “Discontented people in happy places may feel harshly treated by life. Those dark contrasts may in turn increase the risk of suicide.”
Wow! There’s some food for thought and discussion!!! Winking smile

Thursday, June 9, 2011

One Thing I Now Know For Sure!

I am fortunate in that the men in my family are mostly quite pc in their attitude to women – with one exception; when it comes to drivers, I don’t know why, but jokes about female drivers still seem to amuse, especially when stuck in traffic. However, a new study is giving me the last laugh! It turns out that men are more inconsistent and dangerous on the roads than women! Why? Because men become seven times more stressed when caught in traffic than women (I repeat, 7 times!) In this most recent study which tested levels of stress hormones in saliva on volunteers stuck in traffic, the levels for women went up by just over 8% while the men’s levels shot up by an alarming 60%! Having got over the shock of this information, I realize however that it is quite understandable considering other studies that have shown us that the male brain responds to stress overwhelmingly with the ‘fight-or-flight-response’, whereas women have more varied stress-responses (including ‘tend-and-befriend’). In this particular study it was found that women handled traffic better by doing simple things like playing music on the radio or CD player, and singing along with it. Ahhhhh – I’ve always known that singing one’s lungs out in the car had a higher purpose! Now I know for sure!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More Resources!

According to research, people who have a daily practice of feeling appreciation and gratitude, sleep better than others, have lower blood pressure, are more likely to accomplish goals, and are more likely to practice self-care - including exercising - on a regular basis. Maybe you know all this because, like many of us, you have experienced it personally? However, did you know that the practice of feeling gratitude also improves longevity, by up to 9 years?! In other words, if you  ensure that you FEEL appreciation every single day, you are likely to live up to 9 years longer than you otherwise would!
Some facilitators are just brimming over with information like this, resources and articles that offer lots of delicious data we can add to our library of supportive and validating knowledge. One of these people is Linda Graham, whose articles you can peruse at
Lots of very interesting stuff, on everything from self-care to the neuroscience of resilience. Check it out!

Monday, May 23, 2011

'I Need To Blog!'

If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will always be lonely.” This was one of those statements that, when Sociologist Sherry Turkle uttered it, I thought I could have said that! Turkle’s symposium talk offered more of the same …. glimpses of the obvious, but nevertheless insights and observations of great significance that most of us, unfortunately, seem to be ignoring or just not ‘getting’.
In this particular statement, Turkle was referring to a conclusion from her research on technology and relationships - research which has given her data showing our increased dependency on social media, and its adverse affect on our relationship skills. And she is not just talking about youngsters, but parents – all of us - too.
We parents and adults are examples to our children not only in our demonstration of how to use for instance texting, but in our relationship with our children when we text while they are talking to us, use the cell phone while we are eating together, text during a family movie, or while we’re assisting with homework, etc. etc. etc. Long story short, the phone and social media are losing their previously proportionate place in our lives, as we now increasingly have the need to ‘connect’ every few minutes. The technological advances that have given us so much freedom and other value are now also beginning to ‘take over’ in unhealthy ways. Turkle is not against technology or social media per se, she just advocates putting it in proper perspective. I second that, adding that this might mean just being more mindful about how we use it...............
How do we know when it’s NOT mindful, when it’s unhealthy? In the interest of ‘keeping it brief’ I again refer to Ms Turkle, who clarified by concluding that we – and our children – used to have thoughts such as, ‘I feel …..(fill in the space) so I want to make a call.” Now however, we are more likely to be driven by the (often unconscious) thought; “I want to feel ……, I need to text.” (Not quite as healthy, I think.)
On hearing her conclusion, I had the thought, “I feel she’s right – I need to Blog.” 
Trying to be mindful however, I got my priorities in order, completed my move to the UK(!), and now I'm blogging again :-)
Thanks for your patience!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

10 - yes 10 - Habits of REALLY Emotionally Intelligent People

I can't believe how much more it takes to whittle down to blog-size the many speakers' wonderful work - as promised - than I thought! (What with everything else going on….) So here, in the meantime and by popular demand (truly:-), is my list of 10 Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People (yes, I claim 10 – not 7!)

Emotionally intelligent people
1.    Label feelings rather than people, making a distinction between what they think and what they feel.
2.    Own (take responsibility for) their own feelings and emotional reality. (Check in your body; where & what are your feelings?) Do not stuff or negate their emotions.
3.    Acknowledge when their negative emotions aren’t serving them & others and self-regulate to problem-solve whatever is causing the emotion, (use tension release processes and your breathing).
4.    Look for learning and growth in their negative emotions.
5.    Self-regulate to change unhelpful emotions into energized states (i.e. anger can become passion or drive to take action).
6.    Are respectful towards and validate other people’s feelings, regardless of what they think of them AND regardless of their age.
7.    Place their own agenda aside in order to step into someone else’s shoes, applying the resulting empathy, by communicating it or otherwise supporting the other person.
8.    Do not play the blame game (or send someone on a guilt-trip!)
9.    Limit judgment and criticism (aim for eliminating both) of others, and honor everyone’s unique path and emotional reality.
10.    Do not try to control or change others. (It ain’t possible.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Visualization in Main-Stream!

What  a delight it was to be at a conference with 3,000 other counselors & coaches and to experience that all the terrific information that’s been available but considered ‘out there’ for twenty something years is now being explored and accepted by ‘main-stream’. Maybe it’s due to all the great neuro-science of recent years ‘proving’ things we intuitively knew about the human brain and mind; maybe it’s the many experiences of practitioners who’ve tried ‘new’ things reaching a tipping point; or maybe it’s just TIME! Regardless, I love it! Especially coming across talk of guided imagery in an array of settings, from events entitled ‘Dancing with the Brain’ to ‘Neuro-science and Self-Care’, and workshops where guided visualizations were being given in profusion! We always knew the conscious use of imagery works for everything from well-being to healing, to manifesting to taking charge of stress & emotions. But it seems, now we know it works! Nerd smile

Monday, March 28, 2011

Braving New Worlds - in DC!

I spent the last 5 days in Washington DC - but all I got to see of it was from my taxi, to and from the airport. Pathetic, you might think. Well yes, I cannot disagree - but to my defense, I was busy attending a Psychotherapy conference with 3000 other professionals in the field, which would distract anybody from sightseeing, don't you think? Although many of us attendees were also coaches or 'just' counselors, it all falls under the heading of mental health - in the true sense of the word!
The theme of this years symposium was as relevant as it could possibly be –  Braving New Worlds! Translated to 'normal speak' this means addressing what it takes to try helping people within what some would call a ‘touchy-feely’ area of life, emotional health and well being, while trying to navigate the new emotionless world of technology, which contains seemingly endless tools and information to enhance our various practices and help our clients more, but which puzzles coaches and therapists more than any complex client possibly could!
In addition, the fascinating field of brain science was also heavily represented, making its way into many, many presentations. This field is making so many significant discoveries, finding ever new facts about what makes us tick, that anyone who has an interest in understanding human nature and how to make life and relationships better, coach or counselor aside, should be paying attention!
I’ll be blogging about specifics in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, check out these few websites of exceptional people doing exceptional work! - John Gottman and his wife Jane Gottman have performed the most extensive studies on relationships done anywhere. Their site has heaps of books and tools on both relationships and parenting! Louann Brizendine’s books on the female and male brain can be most illuminating(!), sometimes surprising, and frequently SO helpful! Sherry Turkel’s book is the result of her 15 year study into technology and it’s effects on us all.  Originally an optimistic advocate of all things techy, Turkel now  has deep concerns about our increasing use of digital gadgets and how it is affecting our relationships with each other. A must-read!
And while you're checking them out, enjoy this cherry blossom photo I managed to get on my phone!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Deep Breaths Not Always Enough!

Sometimes, the stress, worry and anxiety in life are such that a few deep breaths just aren’t enough to help! Occasionally, a few deep breaths may clear up the brain and relax us temporarily, but after getting back to our activity or work, we find ourselves right back in the anxiety-ridden thoughts! Whenever this happens, to me, I always find it helpful to immediately take 5 minutes and do a full body relaxation – it can save hours of time otherwise wasted with fretting and lack of productivity.
We just uploaded a new Full-Body Relaxation (go to The Zone from our Homepage). Check it out – you may find it helpful!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Child Advocate's Urge

As an advocate for children for my entire adult life (well, probably for my entire life!) I have always loved the poem, An Urgent Note To My Parents. Occasionally I feel an ‘urge-to-share’ coming on, -and I’m feeling it now- so just in case you haven’t read that poem, here it is! Enjoy.

An Urgent Note To My Parents

Don’t ask me to do what I can’t do
Only ask me to do what I can
Don’t ask me to be what I can’t be
Only ask me to be what I am
Don’t one minute say “Be a big girl!”
And the next “You’re too little for that!”
PLEASE don’t ask me to be where I can’t be
PLEASE be happy with right where I’m at.
                                                     Hiawyn Oram

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Less and More

Clearing out clutter over the weekend, I came across an old scrapbook with a wonderful list of Health Rules I had copied from a book of Japanese sayings (in English, of course!) It epitomizes the de-cluttering mode I was (and am) in – a prefect ‘pin-up’ for my fridge! Here we go:

Less meat - More vegetables
Less salt - More vinegar
Less sugar - More fruit
Less eating - More chewing
Less clothing- More bathing
Less talk - More deeds
Less greed - More giving
Less worry - More sleep
Less riding - More walking
Less anger - More smiles

Happy day!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

One Great AHA Moment

The father of a friend recently had a heart attack and was told to stop smoking – immediately! ‘Cold turkey!’ That’s not easy. I know, because I did it myself once and though it’s more than twenty years ago, I remember it very well!
The hardest thing about no longer smoking was the ‘foggy brain’ I got; the clarity of mind I had felt when I smoked, seemed to elude me without. That is, until I happily discovered that when I took a deep breath in, followed by a lengthy exhale, it didn’t matter that there was no nicotine filling my lungs, the much needed clarity of mind followed swiftly thereafter! Turned out, it was as much the deep breathing that had made me feel calm and focused as anything! What an aha moment!
I often wonder how many smokers are aware of this, of the significance of the inhale and exhale, of just the breath? Over the years, as I’ve shared this information with clients, many have used the knowledge to quit smoking very successfully. Most recently, one told me; ‘Whenever I feel the need for a cigarette, I just take a deep breath in, exhale in the same way I would have with a cigarette, and keep doing it until the craving goes away. It usually only takes three breaths!” Deep breathing, it seems, is good for more than ‘merely’ managing stress and emotions (although some would say managing a craving, is just managing another emotion.)
(PS: I hear my friend's father is managing well. I wonder if he's used the breathing thing?)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Got Perseverance?

The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.’ ~ I’m not sure who said this, but it’s certainly something that cannot be recalled often enough – by me at least! Holding my ground, or ‘stick-to-it-iveness’, requires me to manage those emotions that want to pull me off track, distract me with other tasks undone including all that ‘must-do’ social media! I find the act of persevering sometimes needs some help, and a few deep, long breaths can be just the ticket – especially if they’re followed by a big smile. Really. This is not a Pollyanna suggestion, it really does help! Smiling activates some of those 'feel-good' endorphins that make our brains work better, more creatively, making sticking to something easier and more likely! Oh, there’s a great story about perseverance that also addresses self-acceptance called The Young Oak Tree. That story is on our Member Zone page. Check it out!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Don't Worry, 'Send' Happy!

 Do you ever have the experience that your child, or someone you love, is having difficulty with something and you are not in a position to help out? Rather than allowing yourself to worry, take a moment to be still and bring your focus into yourself, your own body and breathing. Slow it down.

Tune into the love you feel  - for your child or whomever the concern is about – FEEL IT …. And ‘send’ it to him or her. Imagine it beaming out from your heart to his/hers and back at you. Imagine how good it makes her/him feel and allow yourself to enjoy this :-))))))))) 

You don’t need to do this merely when your child (or whoever) is having a problem; you can do it on a regular basis, as a means to give support … and see if you can monitor the effect it has & whether it makes a difference to your relationship……
Personally, I always find it makes a difference. I would love to hear about your experiences …….

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Short Story

There’s a story from the Cherokee tradition about a grandfather who tells his grandchild that he has a fight going on inside himself; it’s between two wolves. “One wolf is angry, envious, greedy, mean, arrogant, resentful, self-pitying, deceitful, and has a huge ego,” the grandfather explains. “The other wolf is peaceful, loving, kind, compassionate, joyful, generous, trustworthy, honorable, and humble.”
The child looks at him and ponders a while, then finally asks; “Which wolf wins?”
The grandfather smiles and responds, “The one I feed.”

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year Tips

Days into another January, most of us have made our new year’s resolutions – that is if we are going to! And every article I read about it asks: 'How do we keep ‘em?'
The Heath brothers (authors of SWITCH), have come up with five great tips; my favourite one is ‘watch for the bright spots.’ 
I always find it helpful to ‘habituate what works.’ In other words, don’t focus on when you slip up, eat that cake or procrastinate again(!) – focus instead on the step you did take, the smaller slice of cake you ate or whatever you have done today that worked. Pat yourself on the back for that, then do more of it! Works for me! (Note to self: Remember this!!)
To read more of the Heath brothers’ tips go to this article 
Wishing you all a year filled with health, happiness, peace, prosperity, and FUN!