Saturday, May 30, 2009

On My Way Home - Healing Home

What exactly is home? Billy Joel says home is just another word for you. The Beatles can't find their way back home, or are on their way home. It got me thinking about home. Where exactly is home? And why do we want to be there? Why does it elude us?
Home can be a place or a metaphor. Home is a place where people want to be, or they want to leave home. Home can be a place that restricts growth or a place of nuturing and restoration.

What do I want home to be? Home can be wherever I am. If we think of home from a mindfulness place, home IS where I am. First we have to acknowledge the I am, that I can be, I have a right to be. Then notice how you feel when you start thinking about home. Is it a good feeling? Grow that feeling. Is it a negative feeling? Replace it with a good feeling. We have a right to be home in a good place.

Home is the place we each create for ourselves. We can create home in whatever way we want.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Detachment and Loneliness

I have been doing a lot of detaching this week, which has been an adjustment for me. I have worked with a number of people for several years now, and while staying with the same organization, am going to be working on new projects and am letting go of most of my other responsibilities. While it is freeing from a creativity and work flow perspective, I hadn't stopped to think about the human element until we actually made the shift. I now work with one other person, instead of 16. It is strange for me.

I did field work for a long time, which was a lonely gig, but I got used to the solitude. Now I am not alone, but feel like I have sent my children off, out of the nest, except that they are still all in the nest and I have left. It is a strange place to be.

I guess I am outside of my comfort zone. I'm taking some time to just be with it and settle in. It is not a bad place, just a place I haven't been to in a while.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


What is it about Abercrombie? My friend Valerie, while visiting from Paris, had a long list of places to visit, featuring Abercrombie on 5th. What a scene. It is like a giant frat party where you can wear what the other attendees are wearing for a not so small price. Apparently, the prices are more reasonable than the Abercrombie stores in Europe - the outside of the store was lined with Europeans, sitting on the ledge, showing each other their purchases. Valerie and her friends bought a number of items each.

We walked inside the entranceway to a large, dark adonis wearing jeans and no shirt. Yes, he was amazing, but I am so jaded that I just thought of him in terms of the draw, the notoriety, the thought of using the human body to sell clothes in this way. Walk inside and the music is pounding. Humans were further employed to greet shoppers/visitors at the landing of every floor (there are 4) with "Hey, how ya doing" or "what's going on" while dancing to the music, as if you had just arrived at the party and they are interested in you. (The only missing is the Solo Cup.) To top it all off, there is a huge mural on one wall of the staircase, a painting of hardly dressed young men climbing ropes.

Go figure - something for everyone.

I could only handle so much frat party, so I soon joined the other Europeans on the outside ledge. I watched one guy pull a pair of lime green suede shoes out of a bag, shuck off his shoes and try on the new ones. I just couldn't believe he got them at Abercrombie.

It is interesting that Abercrombie sells clothes using semi clad people. Maybe the idea is if you buy these clothes you won't have to keep them on for long.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Photos from visit with my friend Valerie

Crys, Crystal, Valerie and me on the SI Ferry with NYC in background

With my daughter Jess in Times Square

Our friend Valerie (see above, eating pizza) visited from Paris with her two best buddies this past week. We had a great time. We made it to ground zero, Wall Street, Adrienne's pizza on Stone Street (believe me, it is worth finding it on those winding streets down there), Century 21 Department Store - excellent, Abercrombie (what a scene), Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, Gospel Mass at All Saints Catholic Church in Harlem on Sunday at 10 (go there), Central Park and pastrami sandwiches during a horse and Buggy ride (handsome cab ride), 230 Fifth Rooftop Garden club, Mesa Grill in Flatiron (yum), Washington Square Park, Battery Park, lox and bagels on the Staten Island Ferry and a beautiful view of the Statue of Liberty, Times Sq a million times (especially favoring Skechers for sneakers), Dallas BBQ, dinner at our house in NJ with our 3 dogs, Film Center Cafe in Hell's Kitchen with Jess and Chris, many rides on the subway, Chinatown, Little Italy for capuccino and dessert, a failed attempt at cut rate b'way tix (oh well, it was still an experience waiting on line for an hour), haggling for Converse Sneakers. They went many more places without me. It was great seeing NYC through the eyes of tourists. They wanted to see everything. There is so much to see that we just scratched the surface.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Door 10 Terminal B at Newark Airport

My friend Valerie is visiting from her native Paris. Valerie was our first au pair when my girls were very little. She is now 40. I have known her a long time. Last summer my girls and I visited Paris for the first time and Valerie showed us around. I told Valerie that I would be happy to host her when she was ready to visit the States.

I picked up Valerie and her two friends Crys and Crystal (easy to remember) at Newark airport on Wednesday afternoon. Newark is quite a scene by door 10 at the B terminal. There are so many arrivals from every airline and country you can imagine. Their plane was due to arrive at 3:40pm. It was on time, but it took about an hour for the girls to get through customs, which gave me tons of time to people watch. People, such as me, who are waiting are kept behind the roped off area that the visitors arrive into. I spent time guessing which flight people had come from; Edinburgh, Frankfort, Warsaw, DeGalle, Orly, Madrid, Barcelona, Heathrow.

There are many facial variations, expressions and habits. Some people come down that ramp to be met by friends and relatives, joy apparent. Others practically skip. Others are fearful and suspicious of the rest of us, quickly making eye contact then averting their eyes. Others walk back and forth, behind the roped off area, unsure where they should go from there. Still others find their driver, nod and keep walking, driver in tow.

One American couple was immediately annoyed (heavy gold laden thick lipped man, well carved woman) as their driver did not present himself to them. The man stood right in front of me on the other side of the rope speaking loudly "is Preston there? Find him.......Preston, you aren't here. Get your ass here right now. I'm here and I don't see you (raised voice)." "Where am I? Here, where I always come in. No, you are not here. I see the cars parked right outside, where the drivers always park and you are not there."

I loved it. I don't know what I loved more; that the driver's name might actually be Preston (I wasn't buying it, by the way), or that the couple was so stereotypical, as if, of course this couple was flying into New Jersey, this is where they belong.

To finish the story, of course Valerie did arrive safely. More later.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Over the years I have done a lot of work on forgiveness; forgiving myself, forgiving others, learning how to forgive, praying for forgiveness, understanding the difference between forgiveness, acceptance and judgement.

Forgiveness is a concept that many folks I have worked with have struggled with, as I have. It is difficult to let go of a transgression by another by forgiving them. To me, the ultimate concept of forgiveness is letting go of someone else's action (or our own) by not carrying it around anymore. Forgiveness does not mean accepting the actions of another (or ourselves). Acceptance is another blog for another day.

People resist forgiveness like New Yorkers resist Swine Flu on the subway. I will often hear, "How can I forgive this?" -or- "If i forgive them, it will seem like what they did was okay." Let's be clear - it is NOT okay.

First of all, forgiveness is not usually about walking up to the other person and saying; "you hit me, I forgive you" or "its okay" and then expect that they have carte blanche to hit you again. No, forgiveness means that you let go of carrying around the hurt, the pain, the yoke of responsibility for the action of another (or for our own action against ourselves). It is freeing and lets you move on, unencumbered, lighter and in the present moment, not stuck in the torture of a past happening. Remove the lead vest, let go and fly.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here....

Complete this sentence: "If I was a six foot tall white male in a suit...people would believe me when I talk...or...I would be trusted to know what I actually know." The way of corporate America, still today in 2009! I recently hired my social media expert daughter, who happens to be 4'11" and is 23 but looks 14, to work on our social media strategic plan with us. She knows far more than the rest of us 40 and 50-somethings about google adwords, organic positioning, blogging, and social networking. She has been blogging consistently since she was about 15, and ghostwrites blogs for other professionals, as well as advising on social media, inquiries and web hits. She is also very well spoken. You get the picture.

In a meeting the other day, Jess was indirectly dissed by one of "us". When I asked her to explain her expertise, I was reminded of that scene in Annie Hall, when Woody Allen's and Diane Keaton's characters are standing behind a local Columbia University Professor who is pontificating about Marshall McLuhan. When Woody's character can't stand it anymore, he brings Marshall McLuhan from behind a column in the movie theater line. McLuhan then lambastes the prof for his lack of knowledge and puts him in his place, speechless - one of my favorite scenes of all time. This was the emotion I felt when Jessica gave her very brief, demure yet powerful explanation of her expertise.

Ah, proud mama!

Here's hoping for more of those Marshall McLuhan moments for all of us.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Knowing Where You Stand

It is such as relief to know where you stand.

Have you ever wondered about a person, trying not to project your expectations or judgements, but, all the same, waiting to see what it is about them that hasn't happened yet? In other words, you get a vibe about someone, can't put your finger on it, then a situation occurs that makes their intentions crystal clear to you. What a relief. The other shoe has dropped. Then you say, "I just knew it!"

Though the crystal clear vision is not always what you want in the situation, because the cloudiness protects us from the truth we don't want to hear, at least you know where you stand.

Esther and Jerry Hicks' Abraham would probably say, in your first moment of intuition, make the situation be what you are most wanting it to be. Do not put any energy into the negative thoughts or beliefs. Project your heart's desire and practice the law of deliberate creation.

Maybe I was projecting the desire to have this situation become crystal clear for me. Well, it worked. I created it deliberately, and am grateful to know where I stand. My vision is crystal clear, and move forward accordingly.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sugar Blues

When people visit my hypnotherapy practice because they want to lose weight, one of the first things I ask them is, how much sugar do you eat? We talk a bit about our relationships with food, especially sugar. I suggest they read the book Sugar Blues, which was written by author William Dufty in the mid 1970's and is still in print.

Sugar, specifically table sugar or sucrose, is found in so very many items. Also, corn syrup, another sugar, is found in so very many things. (Check out Jess Del Balzo's blog; for more info.) Fruit sugar, fructose, is another sugar that pops up very often.

Dufty talks about our relationship with sugar, the sugar industry, how sugar affects our bodies, and how we can change our relationship with sugar for benefits. He discusses the difference between refined and natural sugars. (Kind of the difference between Pop-Rocks and an apple.)

We will always find sugar in the things we ingest, but mindfulness helps us be aware of when and how we choose to ingest it.

Sugar Blues refers to the downward physical spiral that occurs after we ingest sugar. The body uses its energy to digest and process the sugar, leaving less energy for other activities like exercises, work, focus. It also refers to the emotional down that sugar can create.

I am not a nutritionist nor a doctor. I am not suggesting that you "give up" sugar. Just become aware of what you eat. This suggestion is not for everyone, just for people who cannot quite figure out why they drag after they eat Funny Bones, or puzzle as to why their coffee with a couple of teaspoons of sugar doesn't give them the boost they were hoping for, or for folks who crave sugar. Dufty's book is in paperback at

Check it out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Peanut Butter

I love peanut butter. Jim and I discuss the merits of chunky versus creamy. That's true. I feel it is truly worth my time. I love the peanut butter that you grind yourself at the natural market, skippy super chunk or creamy, those off-brands that taste a little different are all still worthy of my attention.

Our friend Roger says that peanuts are a known carcinogen and he stays away from it. On the other hand, he revealed recently that he has a Coke and Entenmann's chocolate cake for breakfast every morning. Go figure.

My feeling is, pick your poison and enjoy it.
Peanuts have protein. You can eat peanut butter that is not loaded with sugar, eat it on something healthier than white bread or crackers, like a veggie or fruit, and not eat a vat of it at a time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who's That Tapping on My Heart

Even though I (insert shortcoming, physical ailment or difficulty here), I completely accept and unconditionally love myself at this moment in time.

This is the premise behind Emotional Freedom Technique. It eases the pain of our imperfection, in the middle of anything that might be going on in our lives. It does not mean that we don't have to take responsibility for ourselves and our own actions or choices, but that we can forgive ourselves in the moment.

What a relief! We don't have to be perfect, but it frees us up to move toward being our best us.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cold Pizza for Breakfast

Cold pizza for breakfast is one of life's simple pleasures, to me. Especially in the quiet, early morning, before anyone else is awake, opening the refrigerator door to snag a cold slice. Growing up on Kinchley's pizza in NJ, I'm used to thin crust pie, or Matzoh-pizza, the moniker I'm most fond of, next to the pizza itself. It may not be kosher, but it is a treat I allow myself once in a while.

My daughter Julia is leaving for a summer semester in England on Monday. Last night, Saturday night, we watched the Real Housewives of every state that has been produced for television, and ordered a pizza. It was a really nice night, just hanging out and relaxing.
When Julia is the land of Bangers and Mashed and Bass Ale, she can fondly remember Pizza and Chardonnay with mom. I am going to miss her so much!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Best Mood Altering Drug

My daughter Jess gave me a mix cd for Mother’s day. She included some of our favorite songs and artists. I love music. To me it is one of the greatest gifts we are given. For me, it would follow then that some of our musical artists throughout history are some of our greatest gifters.

One of my ealiest memories is sitting at the piano at my grandmother's house. Since I was a child I continue to be a huge fan of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. As a young teen, Carlos Santana, Mick Jagger and Keith Richard dazzled me, Thad Jones and Mel Louis, CSN and the Beatles. Maturing, The Greatful Dead, Louis Armstrong, Leo Kottke, The Byrds, David Bromberg. As an adult, Sondre Lerche, Elton John, Stravinsky, Steve Goodman, Sarah Maclachlan. There are many, many others as well.

The gift for me can be in the words or the music itself. They both speak. A melody or dissonance can bring me to tears as quickly as an amazing lyric. Dynamics in music are like a powerful wave sweeping upward or down, and even further upward again. A lyric that explains exactly how I am feeling gives me the feeling of being understood, because someone else has uttered it.

Music can be an amazing mood altering drug. Try it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


There is a philosophy that any conflict that presents itself to me might be a manifestation of what I have been projecting out there, or because I have been thinking about conflict.

Let's get to the blame game. I will not take responsibility for someone else's actions. The only thing I can do is be in the present moment. The only thing I can change is how I, myself, react to conflict around me.

There is a philosophy that if difficulty comes into my life, it is because there is a lesson in it for me and I must learn the lesson or be doomed to repeat it.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. What if I have no water or sugar? Maybe the lesson is that there is more than one option. Maybe I am supposed to use the lemon seeds to grow a tree (which ultimately brings more lemons), or use the zest in a Barefoot Contessa recipe (Ina Garten loves zest). Now we are getting to it - maybe we are supposed to have zest in our lives.

How will you deal with the zest today?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Birth of Peace and Creativity

I just got off the phone with a colleague of mine, Anton Bluman, a NeuroBiofedback Therapist. Just trying to set a time to meet, to join him and our two colleagues Rory Pinto, specializing in spiritual Recovery, healing, meditation and guidance, and my dear friend Paul Lamb, reiki master, chi gong therapist, for a return to their fantastic program, New Perspectives, on, was a daunting task. (Check out my last visit to the program at )

I have concluded that life is just too busy! How does this happen? I am mindful in my daily practice, but also usually multitasking. While my weekdays are very full, I promise myself that this weekend I will allow myself at least one hour each day for reflection, meditation and peace.

I already know that I am at my most creative when I give myself the time and space for new ideas and feelings to emerge. If I give myself some time, but not enough time, the ideas remain ungestated in my mind or heart, but nag away at me until I give them the nurturance to bring them to full term, when they joyfully spring forth.

I promise to continue to give myself the space to give birth to myself!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hit and Run Therapy - the Magic Pill Theory

Sometimes people want it all, right now. We live in a land of immediate gratification. Fix me. Make it happen for me. I want it now. Let me swallow the magic pill and make everything better. Wouldn't it be great if this were the case? I was listening to Dr. Radio, which is on Sirius and XM. They have a lot of great programs. A program discussing mental health and this very concept was being discussed. Here's the example they gave:

If you break your ankle, it has to be set in a cast. The practitioner sets the bone and creates the cast. You wait for the cast to set, for the break to heal, keeping your weight off the ankle. After the break heals, the cast comes off and the physical therapy begins. This therapy takes time, and the patient has to be an active participant. It is usually hard work, and the work has to be consistent for the therapy to help the patient heal and regain full use of the ankle.

In mental health, it is the same way. The person needs to be an active, consistent participant. Let the therapist help set the break to heal. Take time to heal. Then, show up, do the work, participate in their work toward wholeness, wellness.

When we set up a practitioner to fix us, we set ourselves up for failure. Please give yourself the time to heal and participate in your wellness.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

4-Square Breathing for Mindfulness and Calm

I've learned several techniques for square breathing. Basically, it is an easy way to help yourself feel calm and bring your thoughts back to the present moment. Awareness is the first step to mindfulness. We can make changes in the present moment and breathing helps us be in the present.
Breathe in for four seconds
Hold breath for four seconds
Release breath for four seconds
Rest for four seconds
Repeat this four times.
That's it.
We often breathe in our throat only. This shallow breathing doen't allow enough oxygen into the lungs. Deeper breathing helps the oxygen circulate throughout our bloodstream, relaxing our muscles, soothing our mind and helping us get renegade thoughts in check, bringing us back to ourselves.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Increasing the Asset Column

My sister Nancy lent me the dvd set of "Rich Dad Poor Dad". One of the concepts I really like is increasing the asset column. One of the rules is pay yourself first. This can apply, of course, to finances, but also applies to taking care of yourself. How often do we take care of everyone else, then realize there is no energy, no time - literally, no enthusiasm left for ourselves?

Think about one way you can pay yourself first today. Even if you just start out with a ridiculously small amount of time, say - 1 minute - just luxuriate in that minute. Think about what you would do with that minute. Increase the time a few days later, but do it every day. Just sit, breathe a little deeper.

Over the next month, try to increase that time to about 15-30 minutes a day. After a while, increase it a bit more. It may seem almost impossible at first. Do it anyway. After a while it will become a habit, a good habit. They say it takes 21 days for a new habit to set in. Try it. All you can gain is time in your personal asset column.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Climb out!

Greetings. We all want to be the best we can be. We crave life changing, enlightening experiences. Occasionally (or not so occasionally), life gets in the way. I'm hoping this blog will help document some of the little things that we can all do to make those changes and live life to the fullest. So much joy and health is available to us.

This is not a blaming rant. Don't blame yourself if you feel stuck and unable to move from where you are right now. However, I do advocate that we take responsibility for ourselves, and try to refrain from blaming others. It doesn't mean that they are not to blame, but blaming just gets us stuck. On the other hand, we all get stuck every now and again. I usually ask myself, what can I do to get that wheel out of the mud, rather than saying, who didn't pave over that huge mudhole in this road, or look who dug that hole hoping that i would get stuck in it. Surprise them. Climb out. Having trouble climbing out? Ask for help.

I'm reading the John Elder Robison book, "Look Me In The Eye" - fantastic read. As a teen, he learns how to use a post digger, and starts digging holes in his yard. After digging a few deep ones, he "tests" the holes using his younger brother. His younger brother is a willing participant. The first hole isn't too deep and his brother climbs out. John sticks him in a bigger hole and brother gets stuck. John Elder has to help him get out. His brother is freed. Brother is just young enough to be happy he is out, and avoid the holes next time.