Monday, March 30, 2009

Holy anomaly, Batman! Someone left me a message

Since I've been under the weather for the last few days, I have my laptop set up on a bed tray, and have been reading and googling and writing from bed. It's great -- I recommend it highly.

Last night, when I went to sleep, I put the bed tray down on the floor with the laptop on it, still on, still open, and with Photoshop in operation, as I'd begun to work on a photo of ocotillo I took in the desert a couple of weeks ago, absracting the ocotillo from the background to use in my art. The tool I was using was the magic wand tool, which selects areas based on (I think) color intensity.

When I woke up this morning, Photoshop had been switched to the type tool, the areas I'd selected were no longer selected and this was written across the center of the photo:


Caps lock was NOT on! My husband swears he never touched my computer, and I believe him, because we never touch each other's computers without prior permission. My step son never comes in the bedroom when we're asleep, so it wasn't him. I can't imagine that my cat could have done only this exact sort of typing -- occasionally a cat will step on the computer, but cats kind of make a mess, long strings of one letter, that sort of thing. I don't sleepwalk or anything; I know it wasn't me.

So who was it?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Real 'Being Erica'

'Being Erica' is a Canadian soap opera which airs in the US on the cable TV channel, SoapNet. Erica describes herself as a cute 32 year old, with a good education, a dead-end job and no real love life to speak of. In the pilot, she wanders into a therapist's office, and the therapist sends her back in time for a 'do over' of an incident that affected her ability to, say, stand up for herself, which set up her current situation.

It's done really well, with great spinning special effects which move her from today to 'then', in the body she had at the time. That lets her take today's wisdom back to that time, and do it over, in a way that will have a more positive outcome.

The thing is -- you really can do that! Just without the special effects. I've been guiding clients through 'do overs' for over 15 years now, with some astounding results. Things seem to change effortlessly for my clients after that -- all of a sudden, she is, say, standing up for herself, or choosing better guys to date, or he's dealing with his father more effectively. And it usually takes under an hour.

So if you have a problem of long standing, something that you just can't seem to shift, call me at 888-4-hollis (888-446-5547), and we'll do a 'do over'!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Simple Way to Cultivate Non-attachment

I hadn't heard from Sally, a long-time friend, in quite a while, either by phone or email. I got a little worried, as this really isn't like her. I called a few weeks ago, left messages on both her home and cell phones, and she didn't return the call. So I called again yesterday, and she picked up the phone! Hooray!

Now, Sally is unbelievably capable. At one point, she was raising a son as a single mom, running an apartment complex -- and finishing her undergraduate degree at Harvard. She has always managed to provide for herself and her (now grown) son -- often quite well. But she bought too much investment real estate too late in the bubble, and is now underwater on all of it -- not to mention its negative cash flow. Luckily she's still employed, still likes her job. And she's writing a book to help others cope with the chronic illness her son has.

She said she's been hiding out. That she really doesn't want to see me, or anyone for that matter. That sometimes, during the week, she'll make plans with someone for Saturday or Sunday, and then not be up to following through when it gets around to the weekend. She said something that struck me, though -- that she's had to let go of her identity as a successful business woman.

I'm not sure I agree with her. She still had all the successes she had -- she just made a bad judgment or three.

In any case, as people lose jobs, or homes, or investments, they are letting go of their identities as successful workers, or homeowners or prosperous investors. Perhaps letting go of the identity is more painful than the actual loss -- after all, as Sally says, you wouldn't know anything was different by how I live -- nothing's really changed.

I ruminated on her comments all day yesterday, and woke up in the middle of the night with this exercise:

1) Get a lined 8.5x11" pad.
2) In a column down the left side, write a series of "I am" statements, filling the page. Here are a few examples:
  • I am a human being.
  • I am a woman.
  • I am a homeowner.
  • I am a teacher.
  • I am afraid.

3) Next to each one, write a '/' an then the corresponding "I am not" statements, like this:

  • I am a human being./ I am not a human being
  • I am a woman./ I am not a woman.
  • I am a homeowner./ I am not a homeowner.
  • I am a teacher./ I am not a teacher./
  • I am afraid./ I am not afraid.
4) Ask yourself how both of those things can be true. So,

  • I am a human being -- but I am a spirit in a human body.
  • I am a woman, but as a spirit, I may or may not be female.
  • I am a homeowner -- but does my home more own me?
  • I am a teacher, but I do other things, as well.
  • I am afraid -- some of the time, but much of the time I am not afraid.

The effect should be a real neutrality, or non-attachment.

Friday, March 27, 2009

All for one and one for all | The Intention Experiment

Maybe 'dumb animals' are smarter than we are!

All for one and one for all | The Intention Experiment

Think for Yourself!

Like I say to my clients, you have to evaluate everything for yourself. And you can't even trust the experts -- at least not the well-known ones:

Op-Ed Columnist - Learning How to Think -

The problem is that most of our education doesn't teach us how to think. I suspect we are better off then, with discussion groups of well-informed peers than reading the 'experts'. But how do we create those groups?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Meaningful Work

In his book, "Outliers, The Story of Success", Malcolm Gladwell defines meaningful work as work that has

  • complexity
  • autonomy
  • a connection between effort and reward
I agree, and I think I'd take it further. More than just complexity, it needs a degree of difficulty that is a 'stretch' for the worker (if I remember correctly, this comes from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's "Flow"). This 'stretch' will, of course, be constantly changing, because what begins as a 'stretch' eventually, through practice, becomes quite easy. When you rode a bicycle for the first time, it was really hard! And pretty soon, it became so second nature that you almost didn't notice you were doing it. Of course, if the stretch is too great, you get frustrated, because there is no reward for all that effort.

Webster's New World Dictionary defines 'autonomy' as being self-governing or functioning independently of other parts. Obviously, the level of autonomy varies from the relatively low level of the assembly line worker to the relatively high ones of the solopreneur or research scientist. Those with the lowest level of autonomy, that is, the lowest amount of control over their work, tend to have adverse health outcomes because of it. I suspect that above some minimum level, however, different people prefer different levels of autonomy.

The connection between effort and reward is a bit murkier, however. What sorts of rewards? Monetary? Benefits? Appreciation? Status? And what happens when the relationship between effort and reward changes for the worse, i.e. more work, less reward? I know I've had several small business owners remark to me that "I'm working harder for less" in the last few months -- and it's true for me, as well.

So what do you do if that connection between effort and reward isn't what it used to be? Here are a few ideas about where to look for that improved connection between work and reward (in no particular order):

  • Realize that things have shifted -- permanently. You can call it the economy, but it's really larger than that. The industrial model (more or bigger is always better, regimentation) has broken down. The earth can't support it, for one thing. Factory farming (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) is poisoning the earth, from toxic fertilizers to seeds that are controlled by one company to poisonous vats of excrement. Fossil fuel, which is what allowed our industrial culture to flourish, is causing global warming -- and is running out. (That may be a good thing, in the long run, but it's destabilizing in the short run.) Treating people like numbers for health care doesn't work, either. We are moving to appreciating each person's unique make up.
  • Looking backwards isn't likely to help. The earth supported many fewer people before the industrial revolution than it does now. The speed of the internet, and the connections it makes, are genuinely new, and not likely to go away.
  • The speed of processing has outstripped human rational thinking. We all need to process faster -- and the fastest human processing is intuition. So begin working with yours so that you learn to trust it. (And call me if you'd like some help there -- either in private sessions or in classes.)
  • People do still have needs -- food, clothing, shelter, health, safety, connection/belonging, and self-actualization -- but you may want to consider how your talents, skills and resources can be useful lower down on Maslow's hierarchy. Anything that helps with health (human or the earth's) or efficiency, i.e. doing more with less, is probably a good idea.
  • At some level, you agreed to be here, on Earth, at this interesting/critical time. So part of you knows that, and knows what you came here to do -- and it may well not be what you think. Listen to your own heart -- it knows.
  • Count your blessings regularly. That will both point you in the right direction and keep your spirits up.
  • Group effort and sharing are key to this. There's an old problem, referred to as the commons problem. If a community has a finite amount of grazing area available to it, what's best for an individual herd owner is to have as many cows as possible. But if everyone does this, there are too many cows, they're all sickly, the land gets overgrazed and in the long run, won't support very many cows at all. What's best for the community is for them to agree on the number of cows that's best for the community and how they're going to apportion that number. (Apparently, they actually did this with the fish in the waters off Iceland -- mentioned incidentally in Michael Lewis' wonderful article about Iceland's financial meltdown.)
It's an incomplete list, and I'm working the murkiness like everyone else. Co-housing, anyone? Want to to add to the list?

Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Neurological Evidence of Money Illusion

Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Neurological Evidence of Money Illusion

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Like I said, the electronic mob has pitchforks & torches

Again. forget privacy -

Scorn Trails A.I.G. Executives, Even in Their Driveways -

Please note that I am not condoning anything anyone at AIG did, and I am just as outraged as everyone else at the bonuses that my tax dollars are paying. I just think that death threats and affecting the kids, who did nothing, are a little much.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


A couple of nights ago, I was at a friend's home, a loft in downtown SF, with a few others, chatting about our businesses. I forget how it came up, but I told my friends some of the amazing things that have happened as a result of the mantra I sing internally (for other examples, click here, here and here). So I volunteered to do it briefly for them.

So we sat in a circle and meditated, with me thinking the sounds of the mantra. After a while, I just felt like it was enough, so I stopped. We all opened our eyes, and the homeowner said, "Do you hear that?" Everyone else said yes immediately. It took me a moment to pay attention to the sounds around me, which I hadn't been doing, because I'd been listening to the sounds in my mind. Wow! There were voices toning -- it was beautiful, kind of like harmonious chanting. It lasted for 5 - 10 seconds and faded out. But then the toning started again a few minutes later. This went on, alternating toning and silence, for probably 45 minutes!

The homeowner said there was no way it could be her neighbors, that in 8 years of living there, she'd never heard a sound from any of them, so that wasn't it. One woman went up and down the hallway, trying to find the source, but she couldn't find anything, either.

So now I know that whatever I'm bringing through can not only heal people physically, but also manifest sound. I wonder what's next?


Here in California, the vernal equinox happens tomorrow afternoon. At an equinox, the sun is directly over the equator, so its path bisects the earth, and day and night are balanced, that is, of equal length.

This got me to thinking about balance in general, and about ways to pay attention to balance, both in our bodies and in our lives. Here's a great exercise -- stand up and do it right now! It will only take a few seconds, does not involve heavy breathing, and no one will even notice you're doing it.

Stand on both feet. Notice where your weight is --
  • Is it equally on both feet?
  • It is balanced front to back?
  • Shift until you are balanced and notice how that feels.
  • Focus very intensely on something in front of you, and notice if your balance shifts. If it does, notice how and shift back.
  • Think of something you're doing later today, and notice if your balance shifts. If it does, notice how and shift back.
  • Think of something you did yesterday, and notice if your balance shifts. If it does, notice how and shift back.
  • Think of something that makes you happy, and notice if your balance shifts. If it does, notice how and shift back.
  • Think of something that makes you angry, and notice if your balance shifts. If it does, notice how and shift back.
This exercise of constantly shifting back to balance should eventually help you be more balanced in your body. It will also help you find balance in your life, because your body will show you when you're out of balance, and you'll become accustomed to noticing and shifting back to balance.

Here's another great way to find balance. Spend some time thinking about how you'd like to spend your time. How many hours a day would you like to spend working (or in different work activities)? exercising? with family and/or friends? eating, sleeping, relaxing, practicing your hobby? Call this your ideal time balance. It is unique to you, and may not fit anyone else's idea of balance.

Now get a tiny notebook, approximately 2.5"x4", small enough that you can put it in your pocket or your purse (they're in every drugstore and quite cheap). Every time you begin a new activity, write down the time and the activity. Do this every day for a week.

Now compare the two, how you'd like to spend your time, with how you are actually spending your time. Do they match? What can you change, either right away or over time, so that what you actually do matches more closely what you'd like to do?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Morning Ramble

(I understand that in the UK, hiking is called 'rambling', and so this is a (bad?) pun.)

I did my normal morning walk today, doing 2 of my favorite meditation techniques simultaneously -- looking at the spaces between the tree branches and the silent mantra. Something kind of amazing happened.

First, because of looking at the spaces, I began to notice the air as it's own thing -- it had its own presence. You know that joke about one fish saying to another, "What's this water I hear so much about?" We humans are like that about air. We walk in an unnoticed sea of air. Not me, at least not this morning.

Second, the mantra developed into a field I could feel swirling around me, kind of like a gentle tornado. I'm used to that. But what happened today is that I could feel the interaction of that swirl with the energy fields of the trees as I walked by them. So I noticed that the energy fields of the trees, and eventually the bushes, even the cars and light poles, were interpenetrating my energy field. (Cars and light poles, not being alive, seem to have much smaller, much denser fields than those of living beings.)

Is this the beginning of quantum perception in the physical world, of us all as a giant soup?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Mind over matter -- something YOU can do!

Psychokinesis (PK for short) is considered one of the more 'woo-woo" psychic phenomena. But I don't think it's woo-woo at all; it's just another one of those phenomena no one likest to talk about.

Engineers at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab did try to change that, doing experiments that proved, in the course of almost 30 years that PK, in the form of mind-machine interactions is, in fact, real. They had some really interesting apparatus, where the operator thought about something, like how high a column of water should be, or whether the balls in a sort of giant pachinko machine on a wall should distribute themselves to the left or right, rather than falling in the standard bell curve. Then they measured hundreds of thousands of trials to see what happened.

They found out some very interesting things in those years (and I'm doing this from memory, so I may be a bit off):
  • PK exists at the margins, that is, the mental influence will not change the direction of a space ship by 180 degrees, or even 90, or even 45 -- but it can shift the direction by, say, 1 degree, which, over the long distances in space could result in missing a target by millions of miles
  • an individual can have either a positive or a negative signature (for example, an individual with a positive signature would desire the apparatus to move left, and it would move left while someone with a negative signature would have the exact opposite result)
  • although some individuals are more effective than others, on average, individual women are as effective as individual men
  • 2 women working together are about as effective as 1 woman; 2 men working together are about as effective as 1 man
  • a man and a woman working together are 4 times as effective as either a woman or a man alone
  • a man and a woman who are lovers are 7 times as effective as either a woman or a man alone
But that was at the PEAR lab. There wasn't anything you could do at home to practice, or at least I didn't know of anything -- till now!

On Sunday, a new friend of my husband's (I'll call him Dennis) came over and showed us the ridiculously simple device he's been practicing with, on and off, for the last 20 years. Here it is:

It's just a straightened out safety pin poked through a piece of plastic (a blister pack is really good for this) with the tiniest Post-It note (minus the sticky part), folded at 90 degrees and balanced on top.

You can try affecting it in a bunch of different ways. Dennis holds his right forefinger against his right thumb and his left forefinger against his left thumb, and imagines lines from those to the 'points' at each end of the paper, and uses those to either hold the paper in place, or to move it. I do it with the palms of my hands, just sending energy to the ends of the paper. My husband just thinks about the thing moving, and sometimes it does (but he's a natural at this). No, there was no wind, or other air movement. Besides, you can pretty quickly spot movement that comes from air movement, because it's chaotic, as opposed to the smooth PK movement.

Try it -- and let me know what happens!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Mom Was Right -- If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say About Someone, Don't Say Anything At All: The Boomerang Effect Of Gossip Is Discovered

Mom Was Right -- If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say About Someone, Don't Say Anything At All: The Boomerang Effect Of Gossip Is Discovered

WASHINGTON -- It appears to go against common sense -- not to mention classic psychological theory -- but researchers writing in the April edition of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology say they have identified a common, but apparently mindless, psychological phenomenon that plays a previously unrecognized role in the way people form impressions of other people. Specifically, they've found that when someone attributes positive or negative traits to someone else, the listener will often attribute those same traits to the speaker. "In other words," the authors write, "politicians who allege corruption by their opponents may themselves be perceived as dishonest, critics who praise artists may themselves be perceived as talented, and gossips who describe others' infidelities may themselves be viewed as immoral."

In a recent communication, the authors suggest that this phenomenon could play a role in the public's reaction reaction to participants in the recent White House scandal. "For example," they note, "when Kenneth Starr accuses Bill Clinton of perjury, Starr himself may be seen as more deceitful. Similarly, when Linda Tripp claims that Monica Lewinsky had sex with the President, Tripp herself may be seen as more promiscuous. The gist of our research is that when you gossip, you become associated with the characteristics you describe, ultimately leading those characteristics to be 'transferred' to you."

The researchers conducted a series of four studies on the phenomenon they call spontaneous trait transference. Three of the four studies involved participants looking at photographs accompanied by brief statements. In the first study, the statements were ostensibly about someone the person in the photograph knew. In the second, the statements were either about the person in the photograph or about someone else. In the third study, participants were clearly told that the photographs and the statements had nothing to do with each other; they had been paired at random. In the final study, participants watched videotapes of actors answering off-screen questions about themselves or about someone they knew.

Some of the statements accompanying the photographs (or made on the videotape) were designed to elicit a positive or negative trait. For example "cruel" was implied by the statement "He hates animals. Today he was walking to the store and he saw this puppy. So he kicked it out of his way." But consistently through the studies, participants attributed the elicited trait to the speakers, even though these speakers described someone other than themselves. This occurred even when participants were specifically told that there was no connection between the speakers and the statements, suggesting, the authors say, that this phenomenon is irrational and largely outside of conscious awareness.

* * *
Article: "Spontaneous Trait Transference: Communicators Take on the Qualities They Describe in Others" by John J. Skowronski, Ph.D., The Ohio State University at Newark; Donal E. Carlston, Ph.D., and Lynda Mae, M.A., Purdue University and Matthew T. Crawford, Indiana University Bloomington in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 74, No. 4.

(Hat tip, Carolyn)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Thank You, Paul Krugman

I love reading Paul Krugman -- I think he makes a lot of sense, I learn a lot, and he's funny, to boot. My adoration is completely aside from the fact that he's a Professor of Economics at Princeton (I took a lot of Econ courses), which definitely endears him to me, or 'that Swedish thingie".

No, what I admire about Krugman is the way he writes. Why? Because he is just being who he is, telling his truth, based on his education and experience.

What I realize from this is that the point of education (which comes from Latin, and literally means, 'to lead out of') is to make you more of yourself. Thank you, Prof. Krugman, for all your insights, and for leading me to one of mine.