Archive for April, 2010

30 apr

Is Your Relationship Normal?


Here’s an inspiring story you won’t want to miss!

I was at the 2008 Women’s Conference in Long Beach listening to Ariane de Bonvoisin talk about her book, The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier, which focuses on change and taking risks. She talked about what keeps people from making changes in their lives. I had the biggest “AH HA” moment while listening to her. I related to everything she was saying! Ariane said, “Do you wake up and look at the man or woman next to you and think is this really who I am to spend the rest of my life with? Do you think I’m not happy in my relationship and this is not how I pictured it? Month after month, year after year, you stay just stay content without changing your life or marriage to a healthier/happier place. Do you have a dream that you think about and never do anything about?” There were thousands of people in the room and I felt like it was just me and her.

After listening to Ariane and buying her book, I made changes in my life. The most difficult and biggest changes imaginable- I told my husband and kids I was not happy in our relationship. I explained I wasn’t happy for quite some time and I couldn’t let it go on another day. The normal we created was not want I wanted for me, us, or the kids. I told my family that either my husband or myself needed to move out and we needed counseling. It got real ugly and it didn’t go well at first. It wasn’t like we had the money to afford two places to live, but I didn’t care, I knew it was what I had to do. I stayed strong listening to Ariane’s voice in my head and stuck to what I believed was best for me and my family. I moved out and we split the time between the kids. I opened up with all the issues I had and my unhappiness in the relationship. Turns out my husband wasn’t happy either! After over a year of living a part, I would reread The First 30 Days and rerun Ariane’s talk in my head, then turned a very difficult change into a VERY positive one.

I figured other women and men around the world stay in relationships questioning what is normal and maybe what they have is normal or as good as it gets, therefore they stick it out. But, what if it could be better with the person you are with or with somebody else? I wanted to cross compare singles and couples around the world to see how we all compare in relationships by demographics, ethnics, ages, religions, values, and so on. Where are we the same? Where are we different? What is normal in today’s society and more importantly how to we all get to a healthier normal? How does the media effect what our perception of normal is? Do my single friends miss out on a relationships because what they think is normal doesn’t even exist?

Then it clicked for me. Change is not only good but it’s a natural part of life. The normal that my husband and I were living was not good enough any longer. With this in mind I told my husband our normal was changing for both of us and we needed to renegotiate our normal. Thankfully he listened and wanted to give this change a try. I created a life changing exercise that brought us back together. This exercise made us stronger and we are more in love than ever! More importantly, we are both extremely happy, which means for happier kids too!

I decided to take this concept global — a dream of mine. As Ariane talks about, life has no barriers! I pitched one of Oprah’s relationship experts via email, Dr. Pepper Schwartz. Dr. Schwartz quickly signed onto my concept and joined me in my journey to gather data. People love to compare their relationship against their peers, why not give it to them! I’m setting out to raise the bar and in a fun way change the world to a healthier normal.

Dr. Schwartz and I partnered with two Universities to assist in the data gathering and Reader’s Digest. My interactive survey is on the Reader’s Digest home page and in the May issue of Reader’s Digest (80 million readers globally). is also sponsoring my efforts!

Not only did Ariane’s book and talk at the 2008 Women’s Conference get me to take one of the biggest risks of my life. She saved my marriage, my family, and inspired me to put myself out there and make a difference to other people around the world! Thank you Ariane de Bonvoisin!

Please check out (the Normal Meter) or It’s a fun and entertaining short interactive survey. You will instantly find out how you compare to people around the world. For singles and people in relationships!

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Chrisanna Northrup on April 30th, 2010 in Family, Personal Stories, Relationships | 1 comment Read related posts in

30 apr

Poverty: Just a State of Mind?

JoAnnaBoccardThe lady tossed her keys on the counter, the emblem shining brightly taunting me with the realization that she drove a luxury car. The quick movement startled me, the clanking noise abruptly changed my thoughts. I couldn’t take my eyes off her keys. I knew this happened for a purpose and the purpose struck me as one in which I should take notice. She obviously was proud of her ability to own a car of such stature.

The set of keys still lay on the counter in front of us as I asked her to wait a moment while I checked the price on an item she was purchasing as I thought it might be on sale. She told me, “No. Don’t bother checking. I prefer to pay full price.”

In the light of everyone I knew, and everyone whoever walked in or shopped in the store this was very unusual. They all wanted a deal, they all wanted to pay less than the discounted price, and they weren’t ashamed to say so.


Not only was this lady boldly exhibiting the fact that she had money and could prove it with the car she owned, but also that she did what most everyone does not and that is to establish the fact that she owned the mind-set of being wealthy. Not one ounce of her exuded a near-poverty belief. She was the epitome of a wealthy mind-set and I had the opportunity to witness it up-front and close.


I grew up in a family that had money and they spent it on what they needed and wanted. My Father had a good job that paid well, my mother did not work outside the home and she had the innate ability to manage their money.

My life as a child in my family meant that my father bought a new car every two to three years. My mother bought her clothes at an expensive department store in Denver equivalent to Nordstrom’s. We had the best food and the best meals. My mother, for our Sunday dinner would prepare a five-course meal beginning with a shrimp or oyster cocktail. When we had our farm, my father insisted that our cattle be grass fed with the most healthy grains added. With all this, my mother still managed to save money and we lived well.

The only time that I remember rejection was when I had asked my parents to buy me a sweater like that of one of my friend’s, and I was told it was too expensive. That having been the only refusal to my requests seems innocuous in my thoughts now.

My life in my family seemed quite easy financially, and this was a pattern that would have been my way of life going forward. But because of choices I made, because of a crucial turning point that I am responsible for my life started in a different direction. This was a direction in which I could never have imagined the results.


For me, though, I was sidetracked from my dream of being a costume designer by my parents, and had to quickly make other choices. I did not research and plan for my future. I settled for getting a job and did not know what to expect. This lack of planning ultimately turned out to be very foolish. I didn’t know if I would like working at a job for the rest of my life, but I made the choice and knew I would have to live with it.

Maybe I was following in my father’s footsteps since as children we learn from what we see before us. Whatever the reasons this began my foundation as an adult. Since I did not have a dream job to plan my life around, I set myself up for failure without my realizing it.


I learned how to struggle financially since this is what I saw around me. After I married, I learned even more since all of our neighbors and friends were struggling. This is where I learned poverty thoughts, where determination turned into failure.

Watching all that was going on around me I soon learned that men went to work, disliked their jobs and never earned enough money, while women stayed home, raised children and became the ultimate homemaker.

I learned from my best friend and neighbor how to can peaches, pickles, jam, and beets. I learned how to make clothes for my children so I would not spend so much money at the store. I love doing creative and artistic things so cooking and sewing are even now quite enjoyable, but that was not all that I was learning. I was learning near-poverty thinking because all of this was not the act itself, but the reason for doing it. To save money, not to spend so much money or to believe that there was not enough money to do and have all that I wanted.

I learned to struggle. Struggle, became the name of the game, but we never called it that. It actually was entrapment in a way of life that we could not get out of. We all believed the same. We did not believe in wealth or living in a way that would induce wealth, we believed we would struggle in near-poverty for the rest of our lives.


Except for my friend who canned peaches and sewed with me. One day she came to the realization that no one was going to take care of her. That she would be responsible for taking care of herself and she made a choice to change her life by changing the way she made money and the amount of money she made.


Words and actions that create a lack-of, continuous worry and struggles need to be changed to those that create prosperity, confidence and freedom. You are changing thoughts that are natural to your way of thinking and that fit the pattern that you are familiar with, to thoughts that are conducive to the way a wealthy person would think. It only takes seconds to change the thoughts running through your mind.

A wealthy person would not need or even think of using coupons when shopping or eating in a restaurant, after all, that would not contribute to being wealthy. Remember that with wealth there is freedom and you are not free if you are confined to the worry of not enough money and to using coupons. Instead you are continually worrying about having enough money for the food you are buying, therefore your mind-set is of poverty.


I had a friend who has since passed on, say to me one day. “I have so much money that I could never spend it all.” This coming from a man who I remember some 30 years’ prior was struggling to make his company successful and make enough money to survive. These were words that astonished me when he said them, but I also wondered how it would feel if I were in his shoes.

I now choose my thoughts, choose what I want to think in the very moment. There is an instantaneous change in the way my body feels when I change my thoughts. If I am concerned or think about how much an item costs, I quickly change this thought. I can go from worry to wealth consciousness in a fraction of a second and it is breathtaking. I know this way of thinking is changing my life right now, as I write this.

I keep what he said in my thoughts, often. These words are even more powerful because this is someone I knew, and he said this to me not because he was boasting, but because it was a fact.


Are you thinking thoughts of near-poverty?

List messages of struggle and lack of that are now a part of the way you think and live.

Ask yourself if these messages are still valid.

If not, then let them go.

Incorporate new wealth-based messages into your thoughts.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by JoAnna Boccard on April 30th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments

30 apr

Listen Up Well

Roots by Patti Agapi

Roots, by Patti Agapi


The female human being is being born anew. She is coming into existence and we are midwifing her birth. Our ways of wisdom and powers of mystery were hidden well. They’ve been buried treasure for centuries. Now, it is time to listen, to remember, to recognize, to join together the vast humanity of woman. It is time to listen to the sacred sound that is uttered when we remember as the One that we are.

Rilke spoke of this new female human being. He spoke of the humanity of woman in letter seven of Letters To A Young Poet.

“This humanity of woman, carried in her womb through all her suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she has stripped off the conventions of mere femaleness in the transformations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching will be astonished by it.”


I love to bring the brilliant work of many women together, in one place, to be savored, allowing the flavors to enhance each other, the poignancy to fill our hearts and wake us up.

I discovered the beautiful work of art above on Twitter. The artist is Patti Agapi. When I saw Patti’s drawing, I cried. I know this feeling, well, the feeling that Roots inspires. Head down on the warm Earth. So much a part of her that there is no distinction between where I end and where she begins. Held by her. Listening to her. Knowing there is no difference between the divinity in her and the divinity in me.

When I listen to her, I hear her anguish. And I feel her love. I feel myself as part of the Big Mother, and the home she offers up in every moment.


My last post, Life is Erotic, was met with so many lovely, rich comments. Your comments meant so much to me as that post came from such a tender place within me. One comment in particular, by Holly Friesen, spoke to this connection between the earth’s body and our bodies:

“The more deeply I feel the earth’s body, the more I realize my own body’s deep connection to her…we are one and the same being, both pulsing with a rhythmic life force that is flooded with eros. It is only when we strip away all this beautiful entangled life force that we are left with a trivial, vulgar view of eros. Eros in her full beauty is entwined throughout ALL of life; the flowers, the buds, the rivers, the rocks and our own bodies. It is only when the deep rift between sexuality and spirituality can be reunited that we will be fully whole. We feel this beautiful flow of life force most fully in the spring when the cyclical awakening and birthing is in full force!! Ah, what the spring does for the cherry trees is a joy and a miracle to behold!”

We are one and the same with the earth. The same divinity that looks out your eyes flows through her rivers. The same divinity that hears the birdsong in the early morning light flaps its wings to ride the waves of the wind. The same divinity that longs to remember its own wholeness opens its petals to receive sunshine, rain and the bee’s love.


The following, by Zsuzsanna Budapest, is from her book, The Holy book of Woman’s Mysteries.

This is God, children, listen up well.

The beautiful blue planet, our mother, our sister.

She moves with 200 miles per second, yet imperceptible; she moves with the quiet of the lakes and the
rushing of her rivers, the vast expanse of her oceans, the echoes of her mountains.

This is God, children… listen up well.

Lift your eyes to the heavens, and you behold her sisters, the stars, and her cousins the suns and nebulas, and fill your senses with her infinite beauty.

This is God, children… and she has made no other heaven but the heavens where you already reside, and she has made no hell except the one you insist to create for yourself.

Here is paradise. Here is destiny. Here is infinite grace. This is God.

When you seek her she is beneath your feet.

When you seek her, she is food in your mouth.

When you seek her she is love in your heart, pleasure in your body.

You share her heartbeat.


Earth Day is upon us in a few days. But rather than seeing earth as something we celebrate once a year, perhaps we might open to what she offers to us in each and every moment, meet her with reverence, listen to what she is saying.

Her wounds are our wounds. Her delights are our delights. Her ability to regenerate is our ability to regenerate. How we feel about our bodies and what we say to them, she ingests. How we treat her, we ingest.

I have spent a lifetime saying very mean things to this body, my body that provides me with life. I have spent a lifetime worrying about how I look, with occasional silent wishes to slice some flesh off here and there, hoping to achieve some ideal that I can’t achieve. I am no different than any other human being, I suppose…at least any other woman that grows up in this culture of female objectification. And I know men don’t escape the pain of this either.

Objectification of any sort just keeps us believing in the dream of separation, the dream that is at the heart of the pain we all experience. And what is waiting for us when we awaken out of the dream of separation?

Here is paradise. Here is destiny. Here is infinite grace. This is God.


You can see more of Patti Agapi’s work at here.

Julie Daley is a coach, creativity catalyst and consultant. She works with women who ache to come home to themselves, and want to live from the truth they discover when they do. Find out more at

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Julie Daley on April 30th, 2010 in Global/Social Change, Spirituality, Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

25 apr

What Is in Your Block of Stone?

JayForteMichelangelo Buonarroti is famous for the extraordinary sculptures of The David and Pietà. And despite the magnificence of these works, his best works, though less well known, are four statutes called The Slaves. Not only do they showcase his exceptional ability but they demonstrate what he believed the role of the sculptor to be. Michelangelo is reported to have said the sculptor does not create. Rather, the sculptor studies and learns about the stone to determine what is in it that needs to be released. The Slaves are male torsos struggling to be released from their block of marble – not created, released.

I believe the same about life. We are each a unique and very specific combination of talents, passions and strengths; they are already present in us. Our role in life is to learn about and know ourselves to build our best life and to share these with our world.

We have been divinely created to be something exceptional, though the full explanation of this is not readily apparent. But part of the plan requires that we spend time getting to know ourselves, our block of stone, to know what we have been given. The more we learn about our passions, talents and strengths, the more we can play to these, create a life that is happier and more authentic, and bring our best to share with the world.

Would you agree that the world is better because of the Michelangelo’s work? He in fact, looked into himself, understood his block of stone, and allowed what was inside to be released. And from this, we have the gifts of his sculpture and painting.

As a student in college I studied in Florence, Italy. I remember the emotion on the faces, the tears and the awestruck silence as I watched person after person approach the statue of The David in the Galleria dell’Acccademia (museum). I spent time with cousins in Rome and found the same event as people stood for hours in front of the Pietà at St Peter’s Basilica. People were moved by his work. They saw a glimpse of the divine in his sculptures; his work expanded their worlds.

Our gifts are of equal significance. Our gifts, when released from our stone, can impact our world in a significant way.

What should be released from your stone? Consider these ways to better understand what is in your stone – your unique talents, passions and strengths:

  1. Select 5 people who know you well (from work or life). Ask each to identify 3 things you are good at. Keep a list and see which items repeat.
  2. When you feel capable and confident, what are you doing?
  3. If you could spend all day doing something (and never look at the time), what would it be?
  4. When you feel excited, fired up and energized, what are you doing?

Your gifts will generally be obvious in what you are good at and what you love to do. When you know these, you can start to release your best to the world.

Michelangelo is an inspiration for two reasons. His perspective teaches us that we must know ourselves to know our gifts (talents, passions and strengths) – what is in our stone. Once known, we must then release what we find in our stone to the world. This allows us to sculpt our masterpiece – ourselves. It is a masterpiece because we use our gifts to be our best, then bring this best to expand our world.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book, The End of Average; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on April 25th, 2010 in Career, General, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

25 apr

Piano Roll Blues

JoAnnaBoccardMy fingers touched the keys trying to feel some familiarity, but it wasn’t there. There was silence in the parlor of the old Victorian style home of my piano teacher. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as they waited with great expectation. I began playing. For a moment it felt that everything was okay, until I could hear whispers. I heard the music I was playing and I did not recognize it. My first thought was to run out of the room, but decided I had better finish.

I kept playing hoping that the disaster I was creating was just a dream, but I knew it wasn’t. I felt horrible and ashamed and I hoped I would never see these people again. I wasn’t sure that I could do anything right as my world came tumbling down. “I am so stupid.” I thought.

I had failed in front of my teacher, all the other students and their parents, and, what was worse I was the only one that made such a spectacle. I did not know what to expect from my parents, but I could only imagine their humiliation and shame. I was sure that my teacher was angry, but I would have to deal with her later.

I was eight and my parents wanted me to follow in my sister’s footsteps. My sister was good at playing the piano. Not only did she excel at her lessons, but she could also play by ear. I always knew when she had heard a new tune. She would run in the house, so she would not forget the tune, dash to the piano and play the song . But that was my sister.


When we arrived home after the recital, my parents told me that I had been on the wrong keys through the whole song. As my mother put it, ever so kindly, “That’s okay. All you need to do is sit and look pretty.” I know she wanted to console me. I did not have the talent to play the piano. I let my parents down, humiliated and disappointed them, especially my father. He had bought me several John Phillip Sousa music books thinking that I would actually play them.

It was as though there was nothing left for me to do. My goal may as well have been exactly what my mother said, to sit there and look pretty. I don’t think my parents, after the recital fiasco, believed I could do anything. They never seemed to understand that even if I couldn’t play the piano (after all not everyone can), I could do other things. To them it was the piano or nothing. The one good thing that came out of this was that I never had to play the piano again.


There was no doubt in my mind that my parents felt I was a loss cause. My self-esteem dropped to the lowest point. I knew I was not as good as my sister. My parents had given up hope for me.

At that point I felt rejection and I felt my parents loved my sister more. I would have to find something to prove that I was as good as my sister. But I couldn’t. My parents were not going to let me take dance classes or any other classes so I could show them something that I could do. Something that would make them proud of me.


I soon learned that it would be impossible to make up for the piano-recital disaster. My parents had stated how they felt about my ability to play the piano, and the fact that they had wasted a lot of money on the classes I took. I was really in trouble.

I had wanted to show them by taking dance classes that I could do well and that they could be proud of me, but they would not even discuss it.

Three patterns developed from this situation: I could not do what I wanted, the money for anything I wanted would not be available to me, and I did not follow through on anything I started.

I knew I could not change their minds about dance classes, but in junior high school I wanted to try out for cheerleading. My parents seemed to have a very good memory and they reminded me of the piano recital. They also explained that the uniforms, for cheerleading were too expensive.

I had built quite a reputation based on one failed piano recital. They didn’t trust me. They didn’t believe I was worth it–nor did they believe I would follow through.


As I am an adult, making my own choices and decisions I find that these beliefs still have a pivotal effect on my life.

A number of years ago I decided I would take the dance classes that my parents stopped me from taking. I found that I loved to dance and excelled. Then the beliefs must have hit me in the head and heart because I came up with excuses. I decided that I didn’t have the money for the classes and the costumes. That I didn’t have the time for classes and rehearsals. In other words, my beliefs stopped me from finding creative expression and something I was good at.

The same thing happened when I went into Real Estate. I conjured up every bit of logic I could think of that would make me fail. I finally reasoned that I did not want to do it anyway, so why bother. What I should have done was to find another Real Estate Company to work for. One that would train me and had willing agents and mentors.

To prove to myself and others that I can follow through, I stay in demeaning low-paying jobs long after I know I should quit, as I am in the job I have now. It is miserable and the hours have been cut tremendously, but I keep trying to hold on.


It is extremely difficult and unproductive to continue living with the restrictions my parents placed on me. Therefore, to transform and change my doubts, and the unnecessary and debilitating beliefs, I must let go of the stigma surrounding the piano recital.

I now believe that I can do whatever I want. I follow through when doing what I love. I always have enough money to provide anything that I want. I am deserving. I am worthy. I am good enough.

Writing posts for this blog is the first creative thing I’ve ever done, enjoyed and followed through on. For me this is a very big accomplishment.


  • When you feel you are unduly criticized or a statement is made that lowers your self-esteem, do you believe yourself or them?
  • Do you lose hope? Do you feel like giving up?
  • Can you remember a time when failure consumed you?
  • Are you willing to accept constructive criticism?

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by JoAnna Boccard on April 25th, 2010 in New Directions, Personal Stories, Things We Love, Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in ,

22 apr

Life Is Erotic

Yoshino Cherry Tree Blossoms

I want to do to you what Spring does with cherry trees. ~ Neruda


I’ve been contemplating Neruda for days now. Discovering this one simple quote, above, led me to this poem of his. And I melted. Oh, my, what this poem exudes.


I posted a few lines:

Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.

A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.

on Facebook and Twitter, and what came back was rapturous delight from women. Gasps. Oohs. Aahs.

I didn’t receive pithy statements about the beauty of the lines, but rather short exclamations of feeling.

Feeling. Something wakes up in us when we experience these words.


Life is erotic. Life re-creates itself, over and over. Life is an impulse, a continual impulse to come into existence. Life is birthing itself in every moment.

“What does God do all day long? God gives birth. From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth.” Meister Eckhart


Most of the lessons we’ve internalized about ‘what Spring does to cherry trees’ isn’t about life or God or ooh and ahh. Think of a nice big fat cherry pie. What we’ve been taught to believe is like taking that cherry pie and cutting the tiniest sliver out of it, then serving it up as the whole pie. The slice is so small, it can’t even stand on its own. And it doesn’t even taste like cherry pie anymore.


Pleasure, Eros, Sensuality, Sexuality. These themes are woven into Neruda’s works, but he speaks of life, of earth, of people, of longing, of creation, of love.

And in these lines, he wraps the oh-so-humble elements of this human earthly existence in robes of divinity:

Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.

Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

We are sensual beings. We live in one big erotic field. Life is pulsing through our veins. Life throbs. Life longs.

In spring, we are in the outward, pulsating part of the cycle of life. Just as in the cherry tree, we feel this pulsing, this desire, this longing to create.

It’s actually really practical, too. When your creations and actions flow from this inner impulse, they come from the intelligence that is life. They are vibrantly alive and captivatingly juicy.

This impulse is a guide to truth and integrity. It is a guide to aliveness and to joy. It is a guide to feeling all of what life offers, even those feelings we’ve pushed away for so long. It is a guide to pleasure and the land of the unknown.

I could feel this in the women who responded with alive oohs and aahs. Our power lies in our bodies, in waking up to and living in the divinity that breathes fire into each and every female cell.

Do I dare live, love and create from this place? Do you? Do we?

Image by Cliff1066 under CC3.0

Julie Daley is a coach, creativity catalyst and consultant. She works with women who ache to come home to themselves, and want to live from the truth they discover when they do. Find out more at

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Julie Daley on April 22nd, 2010 in Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

21 apr

Transforming Your Marriage

BirnbachHymanBy Dr. Lawrence Birnbach and Dr. Beverly Hyman

You feel stuck and blue. Your relationship is so far away from the great expectations you once had. You wonder if your mate feels the same but you’re afraid if you ask you’ll make things worse. You wonder “Can I make it better, or will I live in a zombie marriage that keeps stumbling forward forever?”

You can take action to make it better. You need to start right now; it’s day one—the first of 30 days to transforming your relationship.

Days One to Ten: Open the Dialogue
In the first ten days you need to decide if this is a rough patch that the relationship is going through, or if things are seriously off track. There are nine areas couples must agree on. You’ll find this in our book: How to Know If It’s Time to Go: A 10 Step Reality Test for Your Marriage. They are:
• money,
• sex,
• religion,
• parenting,
• relationships with extended family,
• use of drugs and alcohol,
• gender roles and household responsibilities,
• career issues,
• how you spend free time.

When you decide which ones are your trouble spots, pick the least controversial one, not the toughest, and ask your mate how he feels about it. If he will talk about it, that’s great. If he won’t, you can still take action. If you have a reluctant partner, you must take action on your own or there can be no transformation. Don’t accept victimhood. You’re too valuable for that.

For example, if you think your parenting is faltering and you get nowhere trying to talk about it, join a parenting group and get feedback from other parents. If you think your partner drinks too much, and you get nowhere talking to him, go to Alanon and talk with others whose partners drink too much. If you think your free time is a bore, make plans to do something you’d both like to do and invite your partner along. If he won’t go, invite a friend.

Days Eleven to Twenty: Take Positive Action
Too many marriages are only about responsibility and not about rights, privileges and fun. You and your mate are so busy paying bills, taking care of children, doing chores, and going to work, you forget you each have a right to affection. You forget you have a right to be treated with respect. Look at our Marriage Bill of Rights. Ask your partner which rights this marriage isn’t supplying for him. Listen, and let him know what you need also.

See if the two of you can take one small step. For example, tonight go to bed at the same. You each need companionship. Invite your mate on a date. Get a friend to babysit.

A marriage that’s off track needs both people to fix it. If your mate refuses to participate, you have a serious problem. Take The Marriage Test – a sample is available here and the full version is in our book. You’ll see where the problems are.

Ask yourself what changes your partner has been repeatedly asking you to make. Make one. Has he asked you to lose weight? Has she asked you to be less harsh with the children? Do it to get a positive reaction.

Days Twenty to Thirty: Evaluate the Direction
Take stock. Are you getting anywhere? If things are going well, you’ve done a lot already. You’ve started making a long needed change your mate wanted. You’ve had a night or two out together. You’ve identified where the sticking points are. You’ve each tried to express something you long for. You’ve got a conversation going. Keep up the good work. It’s going to take plenty more effort, but the first thirty days are crucial.

If you’re not getting anywhere, you can take other actions. Speak to a counselor or clergyman to get some guidance. Try to get your partner to go with you. If he won’t, you go alone. Let him know that you are going.

Do something for yourself. Take a class, or join a gym, or a book club, a bowling league, anything that will make you feel good when you are acting independently. Feel the self esteem and freedom when you are with people who accept you and respect you. Not all marriages can or should be saved. This plan will help you to see whether yours can be.

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Dr. Lawrence Birnbach is a psychoanalyst who specializes in working with individuals and couples in troubled relationships. He maintains private practices in New York City and Westport, Connecticut. Visit his website here. Dr. Beverly Hyman is an internationally known consultant specializing in conflict management. She is the chairman of the Dean’s Council at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

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Posted by First 30 Days on April 21st, 2010 in Family, House and Home, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in

20 apr

So Much Alike

Choosing not to appear to be better than anyone else, he had selected an office on the same level as all the other brokers. He sat quietly behind his desk when I entered the room, and pointed to the chair in front of him. I sat down. After a few seconds, he looked at me and said, “It’s difficult for a right brain person to make it in this left brain world.” I wasn’t sure where that thought had come from. We talked for a while, discussing what happens when we try to fight and struggle against the rules and control of those who refuse to understand us. And how much we abhor following orders and working in this environment. It was a topic he knew I would understand.

He was known in the company as the “maverick manager.” He wore dress pants, a casual shirt and no tie to work and occasionally brought his dog or his guitar into this very professional environment. There were times he felt the sales assistants were not given enough recognition and praise, so to show his appreciation, he would rent a limo for us, bring his guitar (we would all sing while he played) and take us out to dinner or to a baseball game. Yet, he ran a very successful office, which is probably why the higher-ups accepted his idiosyncracies. I didn’t know what he had done on the corporate level that led to such a title, but I liked it. I secretly wished that I could be more open with expressing my own indignation to rules and regulations.

I had my own maverick tendencies. I had been taking time off, with his permission, to do auditions for acting jobs. At least once a week I went after work directly to my acting coach for a class. I did a commercial for a local television station and a small part in an industrial film. Also, several years prior I adopted the practice of being holistic.

Some of my coworkers were curious about my behaviors and asked me questions. Like him, I was different and I didn’t hide this fact. Instead, I was and still am I am proud of who I am.


Our conversation that day helped me to understand why I had such a difficult time conforming to the work place. Why I was always searching for something else, but didn’t know exactly what. I just knew that I was bored, and never had the drive or inclination to be an overachiever.

He understood, though, and it was in that instant in his office that I knew I had a choice. It was the fact that the words he said were spoken out loud for both of us to hear. I think up to that point we were hiding in our misery. We were both trying to fit in a place that we did not want to fit in, but felt we had to. How else were we to earn an income working at a job if we didn’t do what they asked?

I quit a short time later, but I couldn’t think of anything that I could do other than getting another job. The time I spent in creative classes, the auditions, the two acting jobs were the beginning of knowing that I wanted to do something creative. Acting would not be it, though. I talked with one of my acting coaches explaining that I had a very difficult time saying the words that someone else wrote and make it sound believable. He said writing would make much more sense since it is my word and not someone else’s.

The Maverick Manager also quit a short time later–packed his guitar, took his dog and moved to a town in the mountains. He was doing what he wanted. He had found his freedom. Me? I got a new job, thinking maybe it would be better, hoping it would give me more freedom and more money. It didn’t.

I still had to figure out what I wanted. I was not as brave as he was, nor did I have a concrete talent to use as a way to make money. The only way I knew to make money was to work for someone else and because of that belief that is where I was stuck. I went right back into working for someone else.


Every day I go to work, or just thinking about going to work I live under the abusive threat of being yelled at or fired. The managers grating and angry voice sticks in my mind. Why would I want or be willing to work under these circumstances, if not for the fact that how else can I make money? Certainly not because I enjoy performing a degrading job, but that is what I’m doing. On the days I am not working I fear not having enough money. Where is the happy medium? By what means do I actualize loving my work and enjoying prosperity and freedom?

The reason I have not been successful in my endeavor to have freedom, and be self-reliant and wealthy is that I remember being scolded for believing in something so ridiculous. Scolded for being a dreamer.


Which is worse, not having money or not having peace and happiness?

I am working part time at a job, gradually phasing it out. Full time, though, I am writing. The pieces of the puzzle are not quite in the place they need to be, but time is on my side. A practice called determination and focus on my dreams will win out.


  • Did someone in your past make you feel your dreams were not worthwhile?
  • Do you ever feel like a caged animal?
  • What do you dream of? What work do you really want to do more than anything else?
  • Is there a way that you can save enough money to quit your job and work at your dream?

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Posted by JoAnna Boccard on April 20th, 2010 in New Directions, Personal Stories | No comments

19 apr

Where’s Your Focus? The Secret to Feeling in Control During Times of Change

RenitaKalhornDo you remember the movie Bruce Almighty from several years ago? Jim Carrey played Bruce, a television field reporter who, after a series of misfortunes, complains to God that He isn’t doing his job properly as supreme deity. God obligingly grants him all His powers which Bruce promptly uses for personal gain.

How many of us wouldn’t jump at the chance to have total control over the unpredictable ups and downs of our daily routine. Add a major life change to the mix—even a positive one like having a much-anticipated child or receiving a promotion—and the desire to control uncertainty grows even stronger.

On the other hand, would we really want to be in charge of making decisions about everything—the weather, traffic, what your colleagues, friends, neighbors and family wear, say, eat and do? Aren’t we already kind of busy as it is?!

So here’s the good news: Rather than actual control over our environment, what we really want is simply a sense of control, to feel like we’re on top of things.

Take rock climbers, for example. There are plenty of very real physical threats over which they have zero control—a sudden storm, avalanche or drop in temperature. And yet, they home in on what they can control: their mental toughness, physical preparation and skill, and finding the next secure hand hold. Although the final outcome remains uncertain and out of their actual control, they derive great satisfaction from knowing they are equipped to handle whatever comes up and thus influence the outcome.

The same is true for you. Amid the sudden swerves and unpredictable demands of life, there is one thing over which you, and only you, always have absolute and total control: where you focus your attention.

That’s right. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or powerless when your team has to relocate—for the third time this month, or you have to find a new lunch spot because your doctor put you on a low-fat diet, or your newborn develops a suspicious-looking rash—you can maintain a sense of control by deciding where you will (and won’t) direct your focus.

Easier said than done, of course, but here are three techniques which, with practice, can help:

  1. Let go sooner. As humans, our natural tendency is to want permanence. When there’s a deviation from the status quo, we’re often taken aback—“Not again!?”—and our first inclination is to resist and dig in our heels, even when the change is positive. Paradoxically, however, the sooner we can let go of attachment to our idea of the way things are supposed to go, the sooner we can feel a sense of control. As motivational speaker John Kanary says, “I was asking myself why I was having these obstacles In my life. Then I suddenly became aware that these obstacles were my life and I began to enjoy them.” Ask yourself, “is this something I can control?” If not, let it go.
  2. Set a clear intention. When your thoughts are skittering all over the place, setting an intention has the same effect as turning on a bright flashlight in a dark room. Making a simple declaration—even better if you say it aloud—such as “I will find the doctor’s phone number” or “I am going to fix this printer jam” will galvanize the full force of your focus and ensure quicker results.
  3. Calibrate challenge with ability. You know the feeling of being so immersed in an activity that you lose track of time and it all seems effortless? That’s the phenomenon of “flow,” or optimal experience, as documented by positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

A key element of flow is an optimum balance between our level of ability and the challenge presented: not too easy (we’ll get bored) or too difficult (we’ll give up). When the right balance is achieved, we experience a heightened sense of personal control—one reason we find being in the flow so satisfying.

Regardless of the enormity of change you face, you can calibrate the challenge to be a match to your ability. Like the rock climber surrounded by a myriad of elements out of his control, simply narrow your focus to the next hand hold: one phone call, one meeting, one three a.m. feeding at a time.

By learning consciously to reframe even the most chaotic situation, you’ll find that feeling “in control” is less about making life go according to plan, and more about your ability to focus on what you can control.

Renita Kalhorn is a Juilliard-trained concert pianist with a first-degree martial arts black belt and an MBA from INSEAD, Renita Kalhorn helps the “athletes” of business tap into the power of flow to reach the top of their game at work and beyond. Find out more at

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Posted by Renita Kalhorn on April 19th, 2010 in Health, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , ,

17 apr

The 30-Minute Recharge

JayForteMost of your day is not about you. You have work, kids, life, meetings…on and on. So what energizes you? What keeps you connected and happy?

A friend of mine tells his kids at bedtime that when they go to and stay in bed, it gives him some time to ensure he will be a great father the next day. Besides keeping the kids in bed, he has time to recharge. He is able to spend time doing what he loves. This is his way to stay happy and balanced.

We all need time. We need time to recharge by connecting to what we are good at and passionate about doing. Not only does this give us time to ourselves, but it is fun, happy and meaningful time doing what we love. All it requires is a commitment of thirty minutes.

In my last post, Who Are You, Really?, I asked you to consider getting to know yourself better by responding to the following statements:

*I am good at (and list 5 things that come to you naturally).
*I am happiest when I am doing (list 5 things).
*I wish time would never end when I am doing (list 5 things).
*I am most proud of myself when I (list 5 things).

There are many reasons for this but the most important is the better you know what you are good at and passionate about, the more you can build these things in your life to make it exciting, impactful and happy. So use your responses from these statements to determine how to use your 30-minute recharge time – by doing something you love.

For example, if you said you were happiest when you are gardening, then spend an extra 30 minutes in the garden today. If you wish time would never end when you are with your grandchildren, then find 30 minutes to spend with them today. If you are good at cooking, then spend 30 minutes today cooking something new or reading a new cookbook.

Select one of any of the items you listed and commit to doing it for 30 minutes today. Not only is this the way to help make it a habit, but it also ensures that at least 30 minutes in your day, you will be involved in something you love. Isn’t that worth 30 minutes a day?

I know, I know. You say it may be worth 30 minutes, but you can’t find an extra 30 minutes in your day – all the time is already committed. For many, it seems the only way to get 30 extra minutes is to either start the day earlier or end it later. For me, I have already pushed both limits, so to find the 30 minutes I need to do something I love, I have had to learn new ways to manage my time and activities. Here are some suggestions:

1. Get better at planning. Maybe I am too left-brained but I can’t think of starting my day without a plan – to prioritize and stay in control. Without some order or organization, the day pushes me around and I won’t get done what needs to get done. And I won’t find 30 minutes to do more of what I find meaningful. So consider this approach: Take a piece of paper; draw a line down the middle. On the left side add the title “Gotta Do” – these are the urgent, must complete things;” on the right side add the title “Nice-ta Do” – these are things you would like to do but are not urgent as what is listed on the left side of the page. Get the “Gotta Do’s” done first. Notice what you put on each side of the page. You will get better at identifying obligatory and discretionary items. This helps you manage the activities in your day and help you find those important 30 minutes.

2. Control time wasters. We waste so much time during our days through inefficiency, disorganization and procrastination. Here are ways to get back in control and find 30 minutes to use in a better way:

*Get organized. Organize your living space, closets, kitchen and office. Label things. Put things away right away; remember OHIO – only handle it once. Most people waste an hour or more a day looking for things because they are disorganized. By the way, where are your keys?
*Learn to say “no.” Our inability to say no to some requests uses up much of our personal time. Sometimes the best way to say “no” is “not now.” Learning to say “no” can help you better manage your schedule and allow you to be more in control of your activities and time.
*Eliminate interruptions – they make every job take longer. Turn off the e-mail notification when you are working on other projects on the computer. Check e-mail once an hour or at some other interval. When involved in a significant project around work or the house, turn off the cell phone. Check messages every hour.
*Handle several small tasks at once. Open your mail while waiting for the kids. Create your planning list while in line at the store. Write birthday cards, etc. on the bus or train if you take public transportation.

Time management is actually activity management. And if finding 30 minutes each day to do something meaningful and valuable for you is important, then you’ll learn how to manage your time better. To get a copy of my “Where Did My Day Go? The Time and Activities Management Workbook” (PDF), e-mail me ( and write “Time Management” in the subject line.

So, what will you do with 30 minutes each day? How will you use those minutes to do things that help you be happy, successful and great? And how will you rearrange your day to be sure your get your 30-minute recharge? Build more into your day of what you are good at and passionate about for a life you love.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book, The End of Average; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at

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Posted by Jay Forte on April 17th, 2010 in Career, Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,