Friday, May 27, 2011

Geeks (& former geeks) unite! It really does get better.

Yes, you were born this way, whatever 'this way' was. Maybe it's about sexual orientation, but maybe it's about being interested in science when that isn't cool. Or being really tall or short of fat or skinny. Being who you are in high school sucks -- but it's a really good thing later on:

Why geeks make better adults than the in-crowd - Yahoo! News

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Podcast of 5/25 "Your LIfe, Your Relationships" is up!

The show included a long discussion on soul mates -- what they are and are not, how to find yours.

To listen online, click here.

To download by RSS feed, go to

and scroll to the bottom of the page for 'Your Life, Your Relationships". You can get iTunes there as well.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Are You Asking the Right Question? How to Know & What to Do Instead

Sometimes, when you're confused about something, when you can't get clear direction, it's because you're asking the wrong question. Here's what I mean:

Yesterday, I was doing a reading for a long-time client I'll call Zoe. I've seen Zoe through job changes, and a couple of marital separations and reconciliations, but she's in a pickle now that beats all.

Obviously, since she's had a couple of marital separations, it's never been the best of marriages. Though Zoe moved out a couple of times, she always went back to Neil to take care of her 3 daughters, the last of whom recently left the nest. (And we all know how many marriages break up when the last child flies the coop, don't we?) To make matters worse, Neil contracted a virus a few years ago, that led to huge heart problems, and is now waiting for a new heart. To complicate matters even more, Zoe's fallen in love with a single coworker -- and the feelings are reciprocated. Both of them are simultaneously deliriously in love and horrified because of the situation. Oh, and did I mention that Zoe's a devout Catholic, so divorce is out of the question?

Zoe's been calling to talk, to explore what is the right thing to do. Obviously, the 'right' thing is to take care of her ailing husband (who has about a 50% chance of surviving), but she is so miserable at home that she can't shut down the budding relationship. And divorce is even beginning to look like a viable option.

When I read for clients, I pretty much get answers to the questions they're asking. That is the way they are focusing my attention, and so that is the information that comes through. So if my client asks me, should I leave my husband?, I ask her to clarify what she hopes to get by doing that. Then I give her the probability of getting the result she desires by taking the action she proposes. She decides whether to take the proposed action. (I never tell anyone what to do.) Sometimes it's obvious -- what you propose is highly unlikely to get what you want -- and sometimes it's unclear, a 50/50ish result.

This was the sort of thing we were doing yesterday -- and it's the sort of thing we've done before. She seemed to be going around and around the same subject, with the same emotional and thought patterns. But somehow, yesterday, Zoe cried out in anguish, "How the hell did I get here?"

And all of a sudden I 'got' that the problem had started very early in the marriage, when Neil, wanting to make Zoe happy, had agreed to move closer to her family. To me, Zoe protested that this made no sense to her as the main problem in her marriage. But it turned out that the move meant taking a lower paying job, which he didn't like as much as his old one, as well as moving away from his own birth family, to whom he was very close. Though on the surface, everything seemed the same, Neil had never forgiven her for this, nor had he forgiven himself for agreeing to it. He had mentioned his regret (but not his slowly simmering anger) occasionally over the next 25 years, but Zoe had just sort of let that go.

Now that Zoe knew the root cause of their problems, she had something she could do to change things. She could bring it up. She could tell him she appreciated his sacrifice. She could understand and forgive the many small ways he'd been mean to her. She could apologize. She could ask him to forgive her. She could ask him to forgive himself. He may or may not forgive her or himself, but at least she can have more compassion for both of them.

The lesson here is that if you're not getting a clear solution to a problem, then you're asking the wrong question. This is especially true of a dilemma, which is a problem with only 2 options for answers. Here are a few questions to ask to get unstuck:
  • What is the deeper nature of this problem?
  • What do I really want?' (rather than 'what do I think I can have?')
  • How did I get here?
  • Does this issue remind me of any other issue I've faced? How is it similar? How is it different? 
  • What am I trying to learn from this situation? What is my higher self (or God or the Universe or whatever nominalization you want) trying to teach me? (And there may be more than one lesson.) 
  • What other options are out there?
  • Is this even my lesson -- or am I just helping someone else learn?
I'm sure you have questions that can be added to this list. Post them here, or send them to me privately -- I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Links from today's show (5/18/11)

Here are the two books I recommend on lucid dreaming. The first is a useful background book, and the second is more of a 'how-to'. You might find the first at your local library; you'll probably have to buy the second.

Click the link to see the YouTube video, "No More Secrets", which is about how we are all connected. We really all can know everything that's going on, and has gone on, through our intuition, if we develop it properly. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lose the Illusion; Keep the Vision

When you become disillusioned with someone or something (like an institution), do you throw your metaphorical hands up in the air and just give up? Bad idea. Because when you give up, whether it's on a person or a relationship, or an institution, you're letting what you don't want carry the day.

What am I talking about? Here are a couple of examples, one on a personal level, one on a systemic one.

First the personal:

An acquaintance of mine, Alan, in his mid-50s and newly divorced after a long marriage, is out in the dating world again. He has in mind a tall, blond, 40-ish babe, someone whom he can show off at professional functions, someone who can keep up her end of the conversation, always has on the perfect outfit and makeup, but doesn't need him to do anything for her financially. He feels that he is somehow entitled to all this.

Alan is intelligent and articulate, and not bad looking (but no Pierce Brosnan). He also has a kind of wall of anger about him that I've seen skirt dangerously on verbal abuse. (In fact, he calls himself an @$$#0|-.) He's got a doctorate and a good job, but the divorce has devastated him financially. So he's not exactly a catch for a 40 year old babe.

Within about 8 weeks of joining, Alan met someone who is in many ways the woman of his dreams! Except that he won't acknowledge it. She's  smart, educated and articulate, working at a job she loves, and has a loving presence and seems to accept him for who he is, anger and all. They both like to hike and ski -- and frequent jazz clubs. They hold the same political views. She is his age, short, dark -- and attractive in a sporty sort of way.

But Alan can't see the gem he's found, because he's got this huge illusion of who he's supposed to be with obscuring his perception. If he'd give up his illusion, he'd have a chance at a great relationship.  (Actually, I think he's avoidant, and the illusion is his method of keeping a great mate away.)

Here's what giving up illusions can do for you on a systemic level:

A colleague of mine, Jenni, whom I absolutely respect on a professional level, used to have radically different political views from mine. Of course, like me, like most of us, she would like to see a world where everyone can thrive. She just had different views about what policies and plans could get us there.

Because the financial meltdown affected her personally, though, Jenni has become willing to examine her beliefs, like the belief that our government is here to support and protect the people (the government did not adequately supervise the financial industry, leading to all kinds of financial shenanigans and eventually the financial meltdown).

Her disillusionment with the government's regulatory system has led to a complete withdrawal from political engagement because 'government sucks'. Well, it sucks if we let it. If you keep your vision, and accept the reality of what is, you can help create that vision. Only when you let go of your illusions, and see what is really there, in fact, can you become an effective change agent.

Lose your illusions, but keep the vision. Your life and the lives of other may well be better for it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Podcast of 5/11 show is up!

The show included lots of your calls and emails about all sorts of relationships, including friends and  lovers.

To listen online, click here.

To download by RSS feed, go to

and scroll to the bottom of the page for 'Your Life, Your Relationships". You can get iTunes there as well.

If you subscribe, you'll get all this great information automatically delivered to you!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Links from today's show (5/11/11)

This is a great book -- why you should use positive reinforcement, as well as how to do it.

Are you too busy?

A while back, when I asked a friend of mine, a psychologist, how he was, he answered, "Working harder for less."

I'm sure that's true for a lot of us -- it's surely true for me. And when we're making less, we have to give up the support services we used to use -- the cleaning service, the gardener, take-out food, even prepared food at the grocery store. So now, besides working more hours at our jobs or businesses, we have a second shift at home. Okay, we always had a second shift at home, but now that takes longer, too.

Now, I believe that working hard and honestly is a virtue. I also know that reflection is often needed for learning, so that you don't make the same mistake twice. Reflection is needed for clarity, as well, to be clear about what you're choosing to create in your life (for work, a mate, etc.), what's stopping you from creating that, what actions you're going to take, even when those actions are simply changing your thoughts. [The Law of Attraction requires clear intention.]

Busyness can get in the way of that clarity. If you never have time to think or reflect, it's really hard to get out of your own way and create a different life for yourself. So how do you get un-busy?

  • Put reflection time in your calendar - It's important, so set it up as an appointment with yourself. And keep the appointment!
  • Multi-task (and I know this one sounds counter-intuitive) - For some of us, exercise is a time of reflection, especially if it's repetitive and not particularly intense. Walking, jogging, using an ellicptical machine, set so it's a bit of effort, and you aren't huffing and puffing, can actually stimulate reflection.
  • Let go of some things - Is anyone really going to notice the dust bunnies under the bed? (And what are they doing looking under the bed any way?) Can the beautiful scrapbook wait, in favor of a few notes on a sticky attached to a photo? Right now make a list of 3 things that are not bringing you a monetary or emotional return on your time -- and then quit doing them.
  • Let someone else drive - Maybe some people can use driving time for reflection. If that's not you, let someone else drive (and really let him or her drive, don't back-seat drive). Use that time for reflection or meditation. Carpooling can do more than save gas! 
  • Get organized - Searching for things takes up valuable time. If you are not a naturally organized person, trade her organizing for some skill you have.
  • Eat simply - Make a one-pot meal (think soup or stew in the winter and salad in the summer). Cook a couple of dishes in quantity, and eat them for a few days. Or freeze some in small portions, thereby making your own fast food.
Please add your ideas here -- I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Dealing with a Drunk

Do you have, or have you ever had, an alcoholic in your life? I'm pretty lucky -- I have never had a very close friend or family member have addiction problems. Until now.

Serena is a friend of several decades. We were roommates briefly, way back when, when I was changing cities, and a lease ended, and I couldn't move for a couple of weeks. She was kind enough to take me in. At the time, I noticed that if we opened a bottle of wine, she drank the majority of it. If we went to a party, she had one too many, but she was a funny, sweet drunk, so I mostly just enjoyed her company. We were young; everyone partied; I excused it.

Then I moved. Though we kept in touch through job changes and moves and marriages and kids and separations and divorces, we really didn't see each other much. When she got pregnant with her daughter, she told me she'd stopped drinking. I guess her husband insisted, and insisted she stay sober for her daughter's entire childhood, which she did. But her daughter went off to college last fall, and her drinking resumed. To make matters worse, her husband left her.

Serena's living in California now, has been for a few years, and so we're spending time together. I've noticed that she's drinking a lot. If I see her in the evening, I have to drive, because I don't trust her to. Sometimes she slurs her words. I've seen her pass out, very genteelly, of course, but pass out nonetheless.

I'm horrified. I'm sad. I'm scared for my friend. I don't really know what to do. I tried the Al-Anon website, which was not all that helpful, because I'm not family, or even close enough for Serena's drinking to affect me, except for friendly concern. Then I found this article, by a recovering alcoholic, who is also a family member of other alcoholics, which is quite helpful.

So here's what I'm going to do:
  • Take Serena out for coffee, early in the day on a weekend. (She only drinks in the evening, so she'll be sober. We'll be in a neutral location, in public, which is the safest place to have any difficult discussion, something I learned at Harvard Business School. Because it's the weekend, we'll have time to talk.)
  • Tell her specifically what I have noticed. (In NLP, I learned that people can't deal with generalities, so it's best to be specific.)
  • Tell her neutrally about my concern for her. (The article says that judging, labeling or shaming just make the problem worse. They give the alcoholic more reasons to drink. What the alcoholic needs is more resources, more ways to deal with the pain underneath the drinking.)
  • Bring information about the nearest AA meetings, both locations and times.
  • Listen neutrally and openly, using all the skills I've learned in NLP. (NLP has a whole model of linguistic rules which, when used by a listener,  help the speaker become more clear about what is going on.)
  • Be non-attached to the outcome. Perhaps Serena will take some positive step. Perhaps not. Perhaps, despite my best efforts, she'll make me wrong for even bringing this up. I am prepared to lose the friendship, if that is what happens. 
Wish me luck! (And I truly welcome any additional ideas you'd like to post as comments here.)