Archives for the month of: February, 2016

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival . ~ C.S. Lewis

Despite what Simon & Garfunkel once sang, we are neither rocks, nor islands, as many of us (especially those drawn to live in the metropolis that is New York!) might want to be. The irony of course is that the very nature of being human means we are part of a greater whole and must interact with other human beings on many levels. Yet a sense of connection and belonging doesn’t always come from the family, tribe or culture we are born into so we must create that connection authentically, first within ourselves and then with others.

Relationships are one of the most difficult areas for us homo sapiens to navigate, and they are the biggest source of our pleasure as well as our pain.  The past three years or so we have had an advanced course in them; I for one can say as difficult as it’s been, have learned some new and deeper versions of lessons I know will serve me well in the future, all of which culminated in a super-summer intensive, with this harvest season reaping the wisdom culled from that journey.

Some of those nuggets include: finding the balance between losing ourselves/being co-dependent versus isolating and becoming a monk (or a psychopath); having boundaries and not taking on/feeling responsible for another’s emotional or other type of well-being; nurturing yourself, no one can know exactly what you need but you; seeing people and relationships as they really are, not how you’d like them to be. And regarding those close/intimate relationships that are more difficult or challenging, keep in mind that that person – whether parent, boss, spouse, sibling, lover, friend, child – is just the actor playing a role in a scenario you have created in order to heal and grow.

Lastly, the people you choose to allow into your life – friends/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/partner- should meet certain criteria. The word ‘friend’ especially has been so diluted and watered down with the use of Facebook and social media you need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and discern the Apples and Oranges.

The foundation of a relationship with anyone deserving of your time and energy must include understanding, appreciation and respect. You should be able to check off at least two of these to be considered a friend, and if you are fortunate to have someone in your life who truly understands, appreciates and respects you, then you are very, very lucky and should treasure and honor that relationship for the special gem that it is.

The bottom line is, You Gotta Have Friends, and making time for friendships and your most important relationships is not a luxury but a necessity. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to -day busyness of life, but we need to discipline ourselves to create space for connecting with the people who love and accept us, who know and understand us, with whom we share interests and history, and have grown together, not apart.

(Today’s PGG was originally posted on October 2, 2012)

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While walking down the street after a bizarre week of odd ‘coincidences’ and uncanny timings, I happened to look up and notice the announcement board of a synagogue with this quote by feminist/activist/author Robin Morgan, “Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.”

One definition of the word absurd is “inconsistent with reason or logic or common sense,” which means that any decisions or actions deemed as such perhaps come from a place that we can’t always understand, but know is from somewhere deep within us.

The presidents whose holiday we just celebrated had a bit of that going on: George Washington’s advisers seriously questioned his determination to cross the frozen Delaware, and he intuitively knew how to present himself as a leader for this new country; Abraham Lincoln’s life is full of examples of how he went against conventional wisdom and popular opinion.  Both men defied the odds by listening to their own conscience, inner voice and moral compass, and because of that became the great men we honor now..

Part of maturing is learning how to trust your own gut despite outside influences.  While advice can be helpful, when we are honest with ourselves, we are usually our own best counsel. Others might not know who we really are or may not have our best interests at heart. And I’m sure we can all remember times when we’ve dealt with the consequences of not heeding the wisdom of our gut…

My guess is that Adam Sandler trusts his intuition as to what is funny or not regardless of what the Hollywood suits might say, and from his start back in the SNL days, he expressed a unique kind of silly humor that had yet to be considered commercially viable.  Well, we all know how that turned out!

When I meet with clients, often I am simply validating and confirming what they already know but were too embarrassed, in denial, doubtful or repressed to pursue or even admit.  If when a complete stranger is able to tell you that the “crazy” idea you have, that thing you’ve always wanted to do, the life that you always dreamed of, is exactly the direction you should be going in – based on the dots I’ve connected in less than two hours and without you specifically divulging what it was –  then just go with it! It’s the green light you’ve been waiting for to produce that smash box-office hit starring none other than YOU!

(Today’s PGG was originally posted on February 22, 2011)

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today.

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We seek out emotional intensity vicariously, because when we are emotionally numb, we need a great deal of stimulation to feel something, anything. So emotional pornography provides the stimulation, but it’s only ersatz emotion-it doesn’t teach us anything about ourselves or the world. ~Miriam Greenspan

One of the most popular singers today, Adele seems to unite us all with her deeply felt ballads and powerful, rich delivery, as illustrated so well by this SNL video. It’s funny because it touches upon some profound truth, as she is one of the best selling recording artists of all time due to her universal appeal; young, old, rich, poor, black, white, purple, no matter your nationality, religious or political affiliation – no one can resist the temptation to be moved and sing along.

The Maori culture of New Zealand has a tradition called haka, an “ancestral war cry, dance or challenge performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.” You can check out the rugby team’s haka for their most famous player or perhaps you’ve seen this this wedding video that recently went viral around the globe. My guess is that 99.99% of viewers had no idea what was being said/sung, but what makes haka and other similar native traditions so powerful is the absolute lack of artifice and 200% commitment to the raw, exaggerated emotion expressed; you can’t help but feel something stirred within you and respond emotionally in kind.

Sporting events, especially football, with its expanding audience and the Super Bowl essentially having the status of a national holiday, is one of the only acceptable forums where we can shout and scream and express our emotions to the max – joy, excitement, disappointment, frustration, surprise. If you’re not a sports fan, stadium rock concerts can offer us a similar opportunity as we enjoy head-banging tunes, raging against the machine, and belting our hearts out with longing, hope, despair, anger, passion, and of course, love. Because it’s election season, this is also what we see stirred up at political rallies from all sides, igniting people with emotions, good, bad and ugly.

And because of the explosion of diverse media outlets, the content being created – movies, TV series, reality shows, and even “news” programs – keep pushing the envelope to the extremes of sex, violence, revenge, horror, and apocalyptic scenarios to get any attention.  Social media is getting worse, always in a race to post the most salacious or silly videos, scandalous or outrageous memes and headlines, in order attract the most click bait.  And most folks can’t help falling for it and get sucked in more times than they realize or care to admit.

These are also all shared, or varying degrees of tribal experiences, activating a very human part of us that needs to connect and feel part of a bigger group.  As we come more and more siloed, and only virtually connected, these experiences become more rare and intensified as we advance in our technological age. And remember, emotions are contagious, so choose your tribes and tribal experiences wisely.  

Whether an Adele song, a demonstration of haka, major sporting event, viral video or political rally, they awaken emotions that we are slowing being desensitized to, cover up or are embarrassed to share as we text and type without direct human to human contact, with our gadgets as legitimized interlopers.  We are in danger of becoming robots ourselves.

Being able to feel is the most human trait we possess, and one that will ultimately separate us from artificial intelligence. The good news is that we are also inherently rebelling, our subconscious natural inclination to express our feelings so strong that it is evidenced by the creation and widespread use of emojis! We simply cannot contain that part of ourselves, as emotion is essential to the way humans communicate if we want to be fully understood.

As I say in my talks, most people walk around emotionally constipated.  We need to feel our feelings because the alternative is some unhealthy form of distraction or even addiction. Learn to process your emotions; recognize and honor your feelings as they occur and then express or release them in an appropriate manner. That could mean talking it out; other times its just journaling; sometimes it’s hysterically crying, belly-laughing, running for miles, dancing your butt off, singing, screaming or even moaning. Remember, emotion is “energy in motion” so you need to let it move through and out of you, which is why those big stadium experiences, scary movies and power ballads feel so good, but don’t have to be the only game in town if you manage your emotional health on a regular basis.

One of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies, French Kiss, is when Meg Ryan is frustrated with how French women have a way of interacting with men, masking or manipulating how they really feel rather than just being straight-forward. She laments, “If you’re happy, smile, if you’re sad, frown; use the corresponding face to the corresponding emotion!”  When we consistently feel our feelings and express them honestly to ourselves and others we will have a greater sense of inner peace. That means stop holding back or repressing our emotional selves, hiding behind our smartphones, or relying on “emotional porn” to give us the natural satisfaction and release that we require as conscious, sentient beings.

Not sure if you’re clogged up with a hodgepodge of emotions or only feel with the help of some outside stimulus?  Give me a buzz and I’ll be your personal Roto-Rooter (wo)Man to get things moving along so you can feel your own subtle or not-so- subtle emotions and go with your own flow, without always needing that bigger, bolder, in-your-face experience or living vicariously through another’s.

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today.

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We are cursed with the blessing of consciousness and choice, a two-edged sword that both divides us and can help us become whole… The divided life may be endemic, but wholeness is always a choice. ~ Parker Palmer

When interviewed on Super Soul Sunday, spiritual thought leader and author Marianne Williamson, who recently ran for Congress but lost in the primary, said the higher purpose of democracy is that all people are “guaranteed the opportunity to self-actualize.”

I was riveted by her comments right at the end of the interview, because she was able to articulate so succinctly my philosophy about and understanding of this country, which I embody in my talks like “Who Are You and What Are You Supposed to Be Doing with Your Life?” and “Use Your Freedom to Create the Life of Your Dreams”. It is why I have always believed in and loved being American, even if I haven’t always been proud of it.

Regardless of what stage of growth our nation is in its own personal growth, the US is still a special place that allows us to become the highest and best versions of ourselves, the ease of which is tempered by varying degrees of circumstance, luck and justice.  Not only can we elect our government representatives, but we can elect ourselves to run our own personal life race, and make an infinite number of choices that enable us to be who we are meant to be due to a more palpable, if not literal, freedom than most, if not any, other country on this planet.

But no matter where you are citizen, we have more of a say in our lives than the external world of politics, religion, and capitalism would have us (or want us) to believe.  If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize that your life at this very moment is a culmination and sum total of every choice you’ve ever made.  Depending on whether or not you like where you’re at, meaning if you don’t like it or want to make it even better, you can make different choices to result in a different direction.

If we summon the political will to use the power that really is in our hands, we can elect to react to any situation with love or fear, anger or compassion, understanding or hate. We can choose when and where to get involved outside of ourselves and make decisions that bring us either closer to or further from our authentic self and goals.  I know where my vote goes!

We cast our internal ballot to either stew in a sea of what ifs, and shoulda coulda wouldas, or instead deal with the reality of what’s in front of us as it stands, taking responsibility and the appropriate action in order to plow forward and create a more favorable outcome.  Try not to have any hanging chads here….

We can choose our thoughts, making sure they are positive and expansive; we can acknowledge our feelings and allow ourselves to feel everything – good bad or ugly – so we can govern them once we accept and learn from the awareness they are bringing to our attention. I’ve been campaigning for this for years!

In other words, we have the right to vote with our consciousness and use it accordingly no matter what the circumstance. Make sure you are exercising this fundamental liberty in every area of your life – your work, your relationships, your health, and your community.

Need a little help getting comfortable with your own personal polling place? Give me a buzz, and I’ll keep you honest in towing the party line of YOU, knowing that your victory will benefit a constituency that includes your family, friends, neighbors and perhaps even the world!

(Today’s PGG was originally posted on November 4, 2014)

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today.

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CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE Personal Growth Gab (PGG) Volume One FROM AMAZON

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