Sunday, March 6, 2016

Peace on Earth

With all of the discord and danger we find, especially in the past two decades of war, terror, oppression and prejudice, I find myself attracted to expressions of peace, more and more every day.

In my present position as the president of a small college, discord inevitably arises as every sentient being conceives their own unique worldview, well, uniquely.  Students want to be heard, faculty want to express themselves in the classroom in their own voice, employees want to self-actualize.  Everyone wants to be able to live their life, to be honored for their contribution in whatever way is most important to them, and to have a life.

I have found, sitting in my chair, that you cannot make everyone happy all the time.  Mostly it is an unpopular position, but one that I took on willingly.  I help to hold the space to create healing, peace and opportunity for each individual to grow and become fulfilled.  Alone? way.  As a community, our employees and students manifest as a family, aimed toward support, mutual respect and equity.

Years ago, when my sister’s son first came to them (he was eight, they adopted him), we took a trip up to Pacem In Terris, peacemaker, author and artist Frederick Franck’s non-sectarian healing space in Warwick, New York.  We watched the 8 year old who was still learning English (he is from Russia) skipping gleefully up and down the stone steps of the space while his Mom and Dad and I just acclimated ourselves from our outer worlds to this inner space.  Pacem is open from May to September every year.  Though Franck died in 2006, and his wife Claske Franck passed in 2013, friends and benefactors continue to maintain Pacem.   I am not sure how much longer this special place will remain, but I do know that when I stepped into the beautiful cathedral, a deep peace settled over me. 

I crave this feeling of ease and placidity. More than ever, we need peace on earth.  The space in Warwick, New York is one place where all are welcome, where peace reigns.

I hope that those of us who walk the earth will create our slice of peace wherever we live, work, travel and create.  I believe that in this way, we will overcome the culture of fear, anger and terror that causes many to shelter in place, the common term for an emergency preparedness technique for keeping students inside during a terror threat.  Many people are beginning to shelter in place in their everyday lives, living in fear and isolation, afraid to trust.  This is so sad, but some feel it is the only way they can live.

Let’s create world where shelter in place becomes unnecessary.  It truly is up to us, every day.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year! May the way be open to you.

On New Year’s Day many of us stop and reflect on how we want the coming year to be, what we want to accomplish, how we want to live, and what we want to do for others.  We want the way to be open for ourselves.  With that in mind, I’ve put together a popular phrase list for myself, that I want to share here.

It’s all small stuff.  I always loved the phrase from Richard Carlson, PhD;  “don’t sweat the small stuff --- it is all small stuff”.  Though Dr. Carlson passed in 2006, this teaching of his continues to permeate philosophical and therapeutic discussions.  While this is a good edict, I also know that there are sometimes situations that come up that seem insurmountable.

That is why I also love another suggestion; “Expect Miracles!” 

Expect miracles.  The whole concept of a miracle is appealing to me.  When something good happens against all odds, a miracle is born.  Miracles don’t require any special belief system.  They do not require that you ask for a miracle, but I also believe that positive thought and positive intentions can help.   While I am not sure if Joe Vitale wrote this phrase, he popularized it through his books, workshops and coaching sessions.

Think positive thoughts.  Positive thoughts help ease our minds.  As an hypnotherapist and psychotherapist, I have watched lives transformed by changing our thought patterns.  We can change the way we think.

Be open to learning about yourself.  Being critical of others may give us insight into our feelings about ourselves.  It is so easy to be critical of others.  I remember attending a weekend workshop many years ago, and have read many things since about what is really happening when we are critical of others.  It is often the things we feel that we lack ourselves that cause us to be critical of others who stir up that recognition in ourselves.  This brings me to my next phrase…

Be gentle with yourself.  I always have to remind myself as I remind my clients to put yourself on that list of people you love, people you take care of.  My sister Nancy gave me a little frame that holds the phrase “I love myself unconditionally at this moment in time” which derives from the key phrase of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), more popularly known as Tapping;  "Even though I have this ___________, (whatever the condition or difficulty) I deeply and completely accept myself."

How good is that? – or How bad can that be? My sisters and I quote the fabulous Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, ALL THE TIME!  It always puts a smile on my face.

I find that using these and other positive little phrases help short circuit negative thought patterns.

Fake it till you make it.  And one of my very favorite people to quote is Dr. Bernie Siegel, champion of those with catastrophic illness, and founder of ECaP (Exceptional Cancer Patients). Dr Siegel encourages people to fake it till they make it.  He says, “at first, it won’t seem real that you can heal, but after a while you start to accept your ability to live and heal from your illness.”

Do the dishes to do the dishes.  Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese philosopher, author, peace activist and founder of Plum Village (in France), dedicated to unity and peace throughout the world.  In his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Master Thich says “do the dishes to do the dishes”.  A loose mindfulness interpretation asks us to be present in what we are doing, all the time, rather than losing ourselves.  To be present, mindful, is to be awake to ourselves and to experience life.

Be here now.  Mindfulness Master Ram Dass, who has since passed away, kept it simple.  He was a man before his time.  He suggests, as does Thich Nhat Hanh, that we be present in our own lives.

The moment is in our right brain.  Jill Bolte Taylor’s Ted Talk, My stroke of insight, ( )  shares the mechanics of our brain and how we tend to reside in the left or work part of the brain, when we should try to enjoy being in the pleasurable right brain, which is of the moment.  During Dr. Taylor’s stroke she observed the joy that is available through being in the moment.  As a brain scientist, Dr. Taylor is uniquely suited to explaining how the brain works, and was able to observe the effects of stroke in her own brain, mind, body and emotions.  Dr. Taylor suggests that we need time to rest in the moment, and enjoy life.  She contends that the neural pathways can be rerouted to happiness, peace and joy.

Love one another.  Though this teaching is attributed to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, it is a philosophy embraced by people of every walk of life, of every faith, and by those who do not believe in God.  By loving each other, treating others with love, we love and respect ourselves and make the world a better place.

May the way be open to you!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Peace in this Season of Light

A quote:

There are two ways of spreading light:
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Edith Wharton

In this beautiful season of light, may you always be the candle or the mirror that shines for yourself and others, and may you be surrounded by the light of others.  We have a choice, every day, to be that light, and to spread peace.  My wish for you is that you are illuminated.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Winter Solstice, a healthy and happy winter season, a joyous and abundant New Year!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Prayers for the World

Our hearts and prayers go to our friends and family in Paris, as well as those who recently suffered terrorist attacks in Beirut, Kenya and Baghdad.  A friend of mine reposted a comment on Facebook that began; “It is not just Paris we should pray for.  It is the world.”  As we open our hearts to all of the good people in the world, I give thanks for the freedom that we have, and the ease, overall, with which we live.  I also pray that those whose actions turn to violence will be turned once again to peace.  I believe that Good will overcome evil.

I know these are heavy thoughts, but I cannot help but share them with you.  If you are reading this, thank you for your good thoughts and prayers. 

As we go into the most wonderful season of the year, I want to remind you that I am grateful and thankful for each of my family members, friends, coworkers, clients, students and alumni.  May we all be at home enjoying our loved ones this holiday season and beyond, and may peace prevail.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Crosspost from my friend, Healer and Medium Karen Noe'

Karen Noe is a dear, kind and compassionate person.  People flock to her for guidance and understanding, and, frankly, to connect with deceased loved ones.  She brings peace, connection and healing to many.  Karen is also author of three books and international lecturer.  Working closely with her when we were both just starting out, I was inspired by her determination and belief in her life's mission.  I am still inspired by her today.  I asked her if she would mind if I reprint a recent blog she published and she was happy to oblige.  It is reprinted here in its entirety.

Quoting Karen Noe:  
Every month I share a few of the articles and blogs I have written during the month. For this month, I'd like to share an article I wrote about how to create a more spiritual life.
5 Steps to a More Spiritual Life

In our day-to-day lives, we tend to forget that the real reason we are here has more to do with our hearts and souls than anything else. Remember, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way around. That's why it's so important for us to focus as much on our spirituality as on our physical and emotional health.

Don't worry if you think you're too busy, stressed, or tired to lead a more spiritual life. All it takes is a few small steps. With a little practice, you'll soon find yourself feeling more connected, positive, and loving than you might have ever expected!

Step 1: Learn All You Can About Spiritual Principles

Focus on what aspect of spirituality fascinates you, and learn all you can about it!
Sign up for a class that interests you, or go to the bookstore and pick up a book that speaks to you.

Step 2: Let the Past Be the Past

It's true what they say: "All we have is right now." Don't let any negativity from your past prevent you from being present in the moment. You can't control the actions of your past or future self; so focus on letting go of what is out of your hands and try to remain in the moment.

Step 3: Pray and Meditate Daily

Take the time to pray and meditate each day. Prayer is talking to God and those in the celestial realm, whereas meditation is listening to them. As in any relationship, it's important to listen as well as to speak.
You may wish to create a sacred space to make this practice even more meaningful. For example, you may choose to light a candle, turn on some soothing music, go to a tranquil spot in nature, or anything else that makes this daily practice feel good to you.

Step 4: Decide to Make a Positive Difference In the World

There's no quicker way to feel your connection with God than to help make the world a better place. If you're not sure where to start, simply ask God and the angels to guide you.

Step 5: See Yourself and Others Through God's Eyes

Try to see yourself and others (this includes animals!) through God's eyes, as the loving beings that you and they are. Also, make sure to forgive those who have harmed you. Always remember, when you hold unforgiving thoughts, you are only hurting yourself. The following statement says it perfectly: "It's not the snakebite that kills us; it's the venom that's left behind."

So let go of any negativity from the past; learn all you can about spiritual ideals and principles; choose to make a positive difference in this world; direct your attention on God's energy within and around you; and love everyone, including yourself (and animals!) unconditionally. You will see - when you focus on the spiritual aspect of yourself and others, you will become a more peaceful and loving person. You will be creating a better world, not only for yourself, but for all those in your path as well!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Amazing message from my mom, Jeanne

My beautiful mother, Jeanne, passed away in 1999. My girls, Jess and Julia, were young teens and Mom was the center of the family universe. Some people say that their loved ones visit in dreams or through signs once they pass, and my mom has sent coins, tails up, since a few days before she died.  She had a very subtle sense of humor, great compassion for others and was very shy. He was also very beautiful and had an incredible sense of style. We all have some of her gifts and qualities, but Jeanne was the whole deal.

This morning my husband Jim and I were snipping at each other, as we partners sometimes do. I needed to take some items out of the trunk of his car, (board games that needed to be put away) and that started it. 

Anyway, we carried the games down to the basement and I opened the small closet door to tuck them away. There was one thing that needed to move from the small closet to the bigger closet in order to fit everything, so I opened the bigger closet door.  

After I put away the small thing, I began looking to see if there was anything I needed from that closet. 

My eyes landed on a small pile of things to the right at eye level.  In the pile were the following things that I noticed:  a box of thank you notes that we sent to friends and loved ones along with a bunch of prayer cards that went in the envelope, all with her name on it "the family of Jeanne, etc". There was a blank writing journal that must have belonged to my daughter, Jess, little baby booklets for each of my girls that the pediatrician filled out during each of their first year, a little safe child booklet with one of my daughter's photos (Julia) when she was about 10, and a Valentine's Day card from Mom and Dad, signed by Mom, to me and my husband.   Oh yes, the last thing was an empty little angel stand that had several wire holders for photos. (Jess, Julia and I just had pictures taken yesterday). 
After crying a bit, because I still miss my mom a lot, I realized that she was sending us a very specific message of love and encouragement, to each and every one of us individually. 

Julia's message was for safety and love, reminding her that she is so beautiful and precious, encouragement to Jessica with the journal, reminding her that she still has so much life to write about, and to keep on going, and to remind me and my husband that she misses and loves us too and that my father loves us too. The valentines card was especially loving, and the thank you cards a prayer from Jeanne to all of us. 

It was such a clear message that I think it is for all of us that love her; friends, family and loved ones, as she is sending that love and thanks to each of you, and a specific message to me, Jim, Jess and Julia today. 

So, all I can say today is thank you so much, Mom!!  I will always love you so much.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Can you believe this snow?  I live in Bergen County, New Jersey and work in both Bergen County and Westchester County NY.  The snow this winter has been especially interesting.  It comes in time for us to close schools in the morning, in order for students, faculty and staff to be safe.  The snow has certainly been plentiful this season.  And, even though it is beautiful, I am ready for Spring. 

When weather slows down our pace, I have to wonder if, in fact, this is a deliberate way to get the human race to take a breath, stop and reflect.  We all talk about Springtime being the time for rebirth and fresh starts.  I look at Winter as the time we can be introspective, spend time in meditation and quiet growth and planning, in order to be ready for the explosion of color, growth and freedom in Spring.

Instead of lamenting the cold weather and snow, think about taking time to enjoy your family, your pets, the quiet that the blanket of snow gives us.  It is here for us, a reminder that we deserve peace, rest and reflection.

White Plains Metro North Train Station original at