Tuesday, December 25, 2012

   HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL AND
BEST WISHES FOR A WONDERFUL 2013!


           SEE YOU AFTER THE FIRST!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

SERIOUSLY SPEAKING

It is believed that the celebration of the New Year started 4000 years ago as a pagan tradition, probably in Babylonia.  It is considered the oldest holiday in recorded history although the date – December 31–January 1 – is relatively new.

Almost all cultures have rituals for ushering out the old year and bringing in the new.  These traditions usually include recipes to release negative events and feelings and rituals to ensure good fortune for the new year.


DANCE WITH IT!   EXPERIENTIAL APPS
An opportunity to experiment with some fun ideas...


A traditon in Mexico is to make a list of the bad events from the previous year and burn it before midnight.  A Spanish tradition is to eat 12 grapes - one with each stroke of the clock as it counts down to midnight.  Some Chinese bang pots and pans outside their homes to ward off the lurking demons. 

All of these rituals highlight our desire to start the new year with a clean slate.

Here’s a formula to create some of your own New Year's magic:

Step 1:  Think about what made you unhappy this past year.  Make a list including people and events.  Write it on a piece of paper – maybe add some doodles, drawings, stickers, whatever helps you focus on these things.  Once you are sure that your list is complete:

Step 2:  Burn it, scribble on it, tear it up, turn it into confetti, throw it out the window, stomp on it!  Enjoy the power of destroying your unhappy moments!  This works best if you really let yourself get into it.


Now for the second part of this formula:

Step 1:  Think about the moments – the people and things – that made you happy this past year.  What made you laugh?  Once again make a written list including all of these good moments that you can remember.  Decorate your list – you could perhaps add gold stars?  A lipstick kiss?  Happy faces?  Be creative. 

Step 2:  When your list of the past year’s good moments feels complete, think about what you might want to add to it for this coming year.  Now, find a special place in your home to post it.  On a mirror?  On your computer desktop?  

This is your wish list for the coming year and a reminder of what makes you glow.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

NEW YEAR’S EVE…AARGH!



Is this the most loaded night of the year. or what?

Rules for this night:
1)  Be with that most special someone
2)  Have the most magical time especially at the gong of midnight
3)  Look perfect
4)  Sparkle
5)  If you do not follow these rules – you are a LOSER!

At what age did this torture begin?  Middle school?  Earlier? 
And please tell me at what age does it finally end?
I’m still waiting!
What about you?

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SERIOUSLY SPEAKING
As I am sure you are aware – families – especially this time of year – often struggle with love and acceptance.  We are expected to be close, loving, a warm connected unit.
The reality is that during this season the pressure we put on ourselves to feel all these things can be overwhelming.
In case you are wondering, this is the ‘high season’ for depression and emergency calls to psychotherapists!                  



DANCE WITH IT!   EXPERIENTIAL APPS
 An opportunity to experiment with some fun ideas...


Eight Holiday Survival Tips    
1)   Although tempting, remember that alcohol dulls your ability to respond!  Save it for when you’re with the good guys!
2)  Remember you don’t have to answer!  An ‘early human grin' (think chimpanzee) goes a long way towards diminishing those invasive questions…
3)  Remind yourself that there is no magic wand.  These are still the same people they always have been.  See them for who they are!
4)  Think through situations before you walk in the door.  Plan your strategy.  A good way to cover all bases is to think: best case, worst case, most realistic case.
5)  Practice dialogs beforehand.  If you let yourself have fun with this, when the real situation comes along you’ll be able to smile at your own cleverness.

6) Even if you don't pull it off 'perfectly' take some time to appreciate yourself!

7) Remember you only control 50% of whatever happens - give it your best shot and then let it go.
8)  Look for the fun parts – they might be in unexpected places.


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

WE WISH YOU A…

“Help!” Linda begged, “I need some major strategies on how to handle this big family holiday party.  What do I do when my Aunt Betty asks me … (fill in the blanks with the most humiliating questions you can come up with…)

And then there was little Petey who stayed up most of the night crying because he got the wrong presents…

But wait, aren’t we dealing with Peace, Goodwill, Holiday Cheer and all of that?
The sad news is that these wonderful ideals often get overridden by the high level of expectations, the media hype and perhaps unrealistic hope that this time it will all be perfect…
 
How do you deal?  Please share your best “getting through the holidays” strategies with us!

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

SUNDAY SMILES

 YUM…
The restaurants of Gotham offer an amazing treasure chest of delights.  So, on one of his frequent visits, my then 11 year old nephew Raffi and I hit an exotic looking Teahouse in Chinatown.  This place was famous for its unusual desserts, and the dish they brought to the table was indeed delicious – and unusual.
“Look Aunt Carol,” Raffi pointed out with great interest, “the pudding is moving and plopping.”
“What a great imagination this kid has,” I smiled to myself, with that somewhat superior attitude adults often take.  I looked down at the pudding ready to point out that perhaps ‘plop’ wasn’t exactly the correct word to use for a pudding.
“Plop – plop, plop, PLOP!”  “Yikes!” I shrieked, jumping to my feet and frantically brushing at my hair and clothes. 
Roaches were falling from the ceiling and PLOPPING onto the table.  My whole body felt like it was crawling.  As all eyes in the small room focused on us, Raffi helpfully pointed to the ceiling teeming with bugs.
The owner rushed over and apologetically tried to brush off the now rapidly filling table top. 
I dragged my disappointed nephew toward the exit, still trying to shake off creeping things from my totally grossed out person.
“Aw, Aunt Carol” Raf complained.  “Can’t we stay?  That was a totally awesome dessert!   We don’t have dessert like that back home…”
What can I tell you, Raf just got back from the rain forests of Costa Rica with at least 100 pictures of … you guessed it, bugs!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

SERIOUSLY SPEAKING

How does memory actually work? 
Why do we remember some things so easily and others not at all? 
A very complex subject that has had brain researchers intrigued for decades, the simplest way for us to think about it is in terms of:

1) Creating memories or encoding
2)  Storing memories
3)  Recalling or retrieval    read more


DANCE WITH IT!   EXPERIENTIAL APPS
An opportunity to experiment with some fun ideas...

Ready to remember names? 

Step 1
Think about why you want to remember – intention is a big part in acquiring new skills.  Do you really care?
If you answered ‘yes’ then here are some fun ways to upgrade – remember like any skill, practice makes perfect (Yes, I know, trite – but true!)

Step 2
Put a new belief into your mental data bank.  For example if you always say, “I never remember names,” you are already encoding your ‘computer’ with a negative message!  Find a new phrase.  You might try:  “I remember names when I want to,” or “I remember names of people I like”.  Experiment with a phrase that you can buy into.

Step 3 
Memory Creation or input.  Are you actually present in the moment or thinking about something else?  Input takes focus.  Pay attention to your 5 senses – can you connect the name to a color, a smell, a sound?  Someone recently mentioned how easy it was to remember a name when that person introduced themselves with a sound cue – “My name is Ted it rhymes with bed”… Another trick is to say the name a bunch of times immediately after you hear it.

Memory Storage.  If you were a computer where would you be locating this file?  On the tip of your tongue for immediate use?  In a file you will open one week from today when you see this person again?  Are you linking it to a location?  To another person?  This stuff is intriguing!  And as with everything else brain related, upgrading these skills brings many side benefits – apart from having fun, you are making yourself smarter!

Memory Retrieval or downloading.  Ok, now is the exciting part.  Go to the file where you stored this name and click your metaphorical mouse and there it is!  Two useful tools for this retrieval:  use the alphabet – start with ‘A’ and keep going until the name pops up.  Another fun retrieval tool is to imagine that the name is in a balloon floating above your head.  Grab hold of the string attached to the balloon and gently pull it down until you can see the name.

The holidays are a great time to experiment with names since we tend to be running into a lot of new ones.  Let us know what happens!


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Thursday, December 13, 2012

GOOD OLD WHAT’S HIS NAME

It used to bother me, but of course now I can blame it on age…
What am I talking about?  Forgetting someone’s name about 3 minutes after we are introduced…
“Hi Carol, I’d like you to meet… so and so…”  And unfortunately that’s exactly how I remember him – “good old so and so.”

Sound familiar?  How many so and so’s have you stacked up over the years?

What do ya say?  Share some of your favorite ‘what’s his name’ stories with us.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SERIOUSLY SPEAKING

It was long believed that an intense release of emotion led to catharsis – the Greek word for cleansing and purification.
Recent research, however, argues that this type of aggressive behavior, especially without cognitive processing, actually increases arousal levels – that is – it seems to make things worse!


DANCE WITH IT!   EXPERIENTIAL APPS
An opportunity to experiment with some fun ideas...

What are we looking for when we “vent” and how can we get it without creating 'space pollution'?
We are really looking for affirmation – someone to say:
“You’re right!  What happened to you is terrible!  What a horrible person/event!  Poor you!  Of course none of that was your fault!  A gem like you never deserves anything like that!”

Unfortunately, the more you vent the less likely you are to get what you’re looking for. The truth is, people tune out in order to protect themselves from getting “slimed”. 
So, how do you release that whirling tornado of anger that’s dying to come out?

Easy!  Say those words you want to hear to yourself!
Give it a try:  “You’re right!  What happened to you is so annoying.  You do not deserve to be treated like that!  None of what happened was your fault!  They should all be crawling on their knees begging your forgiveness…”

Ok, maybe getting a little carried away here, but if it gets you to laugh or even smile you are releasing that pent up energy in a healthy way.

What do ya say?  Have any good ones to share?

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PEE YOO!

“Fasten your seat belt, you’re in for a rough ride!” my friend Ted warned as he walked in the door.

What was he talking about?  “Venting” - that uncensored dumping of raw anger that we've all experienced. 

Let’s face it – big in the 70’s – this is a concept whose time has come and gone.  So why do people still do it?

Forgive my language, but like passing gas, it feels good in the moment!  Unfortunately, just like that other bodily activity, this transfer of bad energy stinks up the room!

I know, I know, even the very best of us get carried away sometimes but really, think about the other guy!  Ugh!

Have any stinky stories to share?


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Sunday, December 9, 2012

SUNDAY SMILES

LAZY DAYS

Let’s face it, the Sabbath qualifies as a lazy day – and if God thought taking a day off was a good idea – who are we to fight it?

When did we start buying into this craziness of go go go?

That free day recharges all our little cells and puts a big smile on our faces.  And, what, actually does that word – “lazy” – really mean?
    What do ya think?


Can you get behind lazy days?


Last night was the first night of Chanuka, the festival of lights.  All our celebrations this time of year bring light and hope to the darkness of winter.  To all of you we wish the miracle of light!



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Friday, December 7, 2012

SERIOUSLY SPEAKING

Culture shock, a term first introduced in 1958, is generally used to describe the disorientation that a person feels when suddenly transported to a new geographic location. 
However, that loss of grounding and the resultant anxiety, also fits for the feelings that we can have even within our own culture when things change rapidly and we need to replace all our familiar signs and symbols with new ones.    read more


DANCE WITH IT!   EXPERIENTIAL APPS
An opportunity to experiment with some fun ideas...

People use maps to orient themselves in space.  They see the landmarks that help them find their place.  Here are 4 of the “compass points” that help keep us oriented:

1)    Our values and beliefs – these include family values, morals and ethics, religion and   spirituality.  

2)     Bridges and foundations – Seeing the connections between where we are and where we have been and building on them instead of looking for the disconnects and disparities.

3)      Fond memories – Recognizing how these thought images create our present reality, creating who we are today, rather than holding onto them rigidly as discrete events.

4)       And finally, taking pleasure in life’s constants, the gifts of nature: sky, sunsets, birds and flowers.

As an experiment, think about how you have used each of these “compass points” in times of stress or rapid change to help keep yourself grounded. 

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

FLEXIBILITY

And on the other hand - no one knows flexible like our generations.   Just think about what we have adjusted to within our lifetimes – from giant black and white tv’s and vinyl records to i-pads and MP3 players … check it outl   
                  
Cultural anthropologists in years to come will marvel at the ability of our minds to adjust – twist and turn with each new wave of social, cultural and technical change! 
Culture shock?  Not us – we are the masters of flexibility!  

And speaking of the magic of our times, we were privileged to hear the music of Dave Brubeck who died yesterday morning one day short of his 92 birthday. 

His music, his constant innovations, his stand against segregation, all made him a remarkable human and an icon of our times. 

During the 7 decades of his career, this ambassador of jazz, who kept performing into his 90th year, was truly a master of flexibility in our changing times!  

What do you say?  Talk to us and let us know what you think.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SERIOUSLY SPEAKING

Throughout our lives we need to expect and be ready for changes.
Transitions are very challenging for most of us humans and the shifts in our situations that occur as we age are particularly demanding.
Those of us who expect change and embrace it as a means to exercise our creativity can continue to thrive through the years.
Wanting things to remain the same is understandable.  Thinking they will is a recipe for disaster!


DANCE WITH IT!   EXPERIENTIAL APPS
An opportunity to experiment with some fun ideas...

Think back over times in your life when things changed and you needed to re-assess.  Where do you place yourself on our “Flex Chart”?

When life throws hardballs I :
1)       get knocked over and cry a lot
2)       hold my breath and hope they won’t hit me
3)       feel shocked and wonder how it happened
4)       tell everyone that it’s not fair
5)       look for excuses
6)       find someone to blame
7)       duck
8)       catch those balls even if it breaks my arm
9)       get angry and look for someone or something to throw them back at
10)   expect them, see them coming and wear an appropriately padded mitt

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one!
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

OPPS!

A friend was talking about her 87 year old Mom who still drives around in her old – and very large – Lincoln Continental. 

Way to go lady!    

Except that this sweet mama is about 4’ 10” and can barely see over the steering wheel of that humongous automobile…

Well, but it’s a tank of a car and doesn’t dent easily, right?

True, but most other things do – dent that is – including the garage walls, the neighbor’s car and a mail box or two along the way…

What do ya think?  Got any good, ‘letting go is hard to do’ stories?


PS  ALL OUR STORIES ARE TRUE...OK, MOSTLY.  NAMES HAVE BEEN OMITTED OR CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT...


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Sunday, December 2, 2012

SUNDAY SMILES

ONE STEP FORWARD AND…

So yesterday I decided to try out my new slant board.  Increased  oxygen to the head and all that…

The best I can say for my latest feeble attempt at self improvement is that nothing broke!  Imagine all that O2 oozing into your head and then trying to get up!  

It was bad.  Perhaps not as bad as the seriously sticky and stinky sheep placenta facial or the beer hair conditioner, but…

What is it about aging that brings out the lunacy in us?  Or were we always just as crazy but had an easier time standing up?

What do ya think?  PLEASE share some of your zaniest anti-aging remedies with us!


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Friday, November 30, 2012

SERIOUSLY SPEAKING

In our early human history we used physical weapons against the predators that surrounded us.  We still need to protect ourselves emotionally from the dangers to our personal boundaries. 

Sometimes these threats are intentional but more often they are caused by the unthinking blundering of other humans who don’t even realize that they are intruding.

It is our job to reinforce and strengthen our own boundaries.  As counterintuitive as it may seem, it is our ability to protect ourselves emotionally that allows us to be open and vulnerable when it is appropriate!


DANCE WITH IT!   EXPERIENTIAL APPS
An opportunity to experiment with some fun ideas...

Humans have always had “mantras” against the evil eye.  If we expand on this concept – the need for a physical expression of protection - we can understand that it empowers us – first it creates an awareness of danger and then an act to metaphorically shield us from the negativity. 

People wear all sorts of talismans ...

Have all sorts of sayings …

Make many different gestures…

Can you think of a few examples?

In modern society we tend to minimize the importance of these gestures and tokens.  However,  another way of thinking about them is that they allow us to be proactive by first reminding us to recognize things that are often harmful – criticism, bullying, scolding, comparisons, jealousy -  and then to remember that we can actually choose how we allow these things to impact us! 
Imagine what special symbols, mantras or gestures you can create for your own self-protection.
Have any to share?
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

COOTIES


Remember cooties and cootie catchers?  All you needed to do was fold a piece of paper – 4 times?  - to make a very effective cootie catcher. 

 What a wonderful creative metaphor!  check it out!

Let’s get those imaginary cootie catchers out of cold storage and keep them handy... 
When annoying negative words come your way – and let’s face it the air is full of them – just put those fast working, negative energy snatching tools to work – Whoa – can you see them flash!  Moving at the speed of age 12 – cleaning the air of nasty verbal debris – get a rhythm going – Zippaty Zap Zap…

What do you think?  Do we dance or what?!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SERIOUSLY SPEAKING

From the moment we come into the world we begin to perceive the ‘otherness’ that teaches us about boundaries.  As toddlers we learn the next steps:

This is mine
That’s yours
You can’t take mine
I can’t take yours

As we grow older we develop the ability to share which is predicated on having these boundaries.

While each culture defines the specifics of boundaries differently (even within cultures the rules change based on gender, status and relationship) this awareness of limits exists and is crucial to our physical and emotional survival.



DANCE WITH IT!   EXPERIENTIAL APPS
An opportunity to experiment with some fun ideas...

Try this visual ‘game’ to explore your own personal boundaries:

Imagine you are wearing a very special “space suit” like the CSI people wear – booties and all – only yours is invisible!  It contracts closer to your body and expands out like a balloon.  You control this distance with your mind.

As you go through the day your “space suit” expands and contracts based on how you feel in each interaction with the world. 

You can give your suit colors – like those ‘mood rings’ of the 70’s that change as you feel more or less connection, intimacy, or need for protection.  What does your protective coloration tell you about your boundaries?

Now, to really mix things up, imagine that those around you are wearing similar suits!  What do you experience?

We’d love to hear the results of this experiment!

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