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Lose those last five: Weighty writing words from Mari

7 Nov

Writing about losing those last five pounds is my greatest work of fiction – and you know I’m much more into the ‘serious’ non-fiction stuff.

To begin with, that five has doubled this last year – I only wish my portfolio was as ambitious.  I’d like to pull the ‘that’s middle-aged’ thing as a reason.  Maybe it is.  Of course it could also be tied to the usual suspects:  eating too much chocolate while sitting at this very same computer.

My reality is projected in a pair of pants.  Beautiful black wool work pants, circa 1992.  I’ve dubbed them my ‘conscience’ pants.  On bright days, they accentuate my waist.  On not good days, these same pants ask:  Is that a giant muffin around your waist, or have you just been too happy to see chocolate?  It’s why when I’ve seen ‘backfat’ grafittied around my Brooklyn neighborhood, I look guilty.

The good news: I have no need to wear these pants these days.  The bad news: I have no need to wear these pants.  I have way too much time to whittle away at that ‘good for me’ organic chocolate.  And my “conscience pants”?  Out of sight, out of fit.

Idling through my closet is a bit like antiquing – so many beautiful things carrying their own bit of history and memories.  A few months ago, my “conscience pants” whispered:  ‘choose me’.    Filled with anger and dejection (obviously), they tried to choke my waist.

It was a battle, but I wrestled them off and back into the closet.  Write on, right?

Just when I needed it, along came Mari’McCarthy’s  28 day  weight loss journaling challenge.

With all that diet advice out there,  why do some of us continue to carry that inner tube around our middles?  Is it for safety in case we get lost at sea?  Metaphors aside…

Pen, paper, and  Mari’s guidance, I set out to discover why that weight has merged with a part of me, and, how to let it go.  While Mari’s journal is filled with lots of things we’ve all heard before, what’s great is how she pulls it together, with time for reflection.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Focus on internal “weights”, how I want to feel, and more importantly WHY.  As I make steps to change my life I need to be my best me.  I want to be fit and strong, bounding up stairs and lightening my conscience  by sitting comfortably in those lonely, yet lovely black wool pants.
  • Then there’s the chance to think about negative body – image self-talk, and identify the voice behind those critical words.   Thanks Mom!    I realize it’s really time to turn off the volume.
  • Mari has me journaling about what I eat, and more importantly, how I am feeling at the time.  I eat healthy most of the time.  So when does most become not so much?  Recording my eating patterns has given me some food for thought:  My irregular life leads to irregular eating habits (ok, knew this).  Glaringly apparent was how light I ate when the sun was up, but by the time I get home late(r) and famished, I ate accordingly.  I now eat heavily before I leave home, carry apples and nuts to keep me sated.  My healthy diet was filled with veggies, but lacking protein.  Adding beans, tofu or ground turkey which I rarely ate is filling me up: the good way.
  • Every emotion whets my appetite (no surprise there!).  While I reach for chocolate when I’m feeling (fill in the blank), I now recognize it’s a habit.  It’s not what my body wants because I keep eating (and writing), but without feeling satisfied.  I’ve started filling my sugar tooth with spoonfuls of vegetable bean and tofu stew (much yummier than it sounds), or toast and peanut butter.  Journaling reminds me to go to sleep not eat when I come home tired, angry or lonely.

How am I doing on Day 14 of 28?  My “conscience pants” tell me they’re almost ready to leave the house muffin-free and my feet aren’t dragging up the subway stairs.  I’m reframing more than my body self-talk – I’m reframing what I eat and when, going for a sandwich rather than a “snack”, feeding my hunger for real stuff.

Because it’s real stuff that will get me where I want to go, wherever my next journey takes me.  

Keep your Dance Partner and Avoid the Conflict Dance with these 5 steps

17 Jun

Toe-tapping and ready to groove to the music?  

Intrigued by a dance invitation?

Well, there’s the 2-step, the waltz, and then there’s the conflict dance.

I always say that every conflict starts with an invitation.  An invitation to get all hot under the collar.  The only dance that’s never cool.

better invite dance

It’s a decision.  It takes two to tango and two to argue.

Your partner has an itch – and ‘dancing’ with you will scratch it.

‘K’ told me how ‘B’ filled her dance card:  they were on a nice romantic cruise after a week of travel and conferencing.

‘B’ brought up the money issue with a huffy ‘I spent SO much money on this romantic cruise.’  He talked numbers. ‘K’s toe started tapping itching to rumba through his rumbles.

pointing finger man at woman

After all, ‘No one puts Baby in the corner!‘ How dare he bring up money?

They  talked about the trip’s finances before they left.  She talked numbers.

I broke it to her as gently as I could:  ‘Sometimes arguments about money aren’t about money.  (Of course, sometimes they are…)  

Money is the number one fight between couples and is a leading cause of divorce!

And then I shared my  3 steps to avoid the conflict dance (and appreciate the perks of being a wallflower:

Step 1:  Avoid the seduction and heat of the moment: Recognize the ‘invitation for what it is.  An invitation to fight/argue.

‘B’ knew exactly which of ‘K’s buttons to push to ‘pump up the volume’ so to speak.  In responding, she did exactly what he wanted her to do:  dance back.

Here’s where you decide:  Do you wanna dance?  Especially realizing you’re not going to be arguing about the ‘real’ issue.

(Note:  if you do want to fight just to fight be aware of your motives. We’ve all known couples (in particular) who get into screaming matches that last for days with no end in sight and so hope of resolving the issue.)

woman aghast

Step 2:  Say:  NOTHING!  Especially if you’re also angry, since before you know it you’ll be in a dancing furry. ‘K’ responded in the way most of us would by telling ‘B’ what she had paid for including air fare and hotel.  While this is true, it was just enough to escalate the situation so they were stomping on each other’s toes.

two dancers dise by side

Better is to stop and just think a minute about what you want:  if you want to preserve the relationship:

Step 3:  Listen.  FYI:  Listening will turn the fastest twirl into a seductive slow dance – and here I mean the good kind. Your partner may not have brought up the main issue, but address it respectfully.  Giving someone what they want will ease the path to communication and connection.

Step 4:  Give your listened response – not your high kick (initial) one. Rather than sharing a detailed expense report, ‘

K’s better response would have been: “I really do appreciate this cruise”, or “I really appreciate us being here”, or “Thank you for this great cruise” or something like that.  Chances are this is what she would have said at a later time. This thank you and acknowledgement would have turned off the music to ‘B’s conflict prance. If your partner drops it, let it go temporarily.

relaxed time

If s/he doesn’t, or definitely at a later time:

Step 5:  Bring the issue a little closer and ask for more (info) The issue will come up again (as we all know), so stand on tippy-toes, and in ‘K’s situation ask: ‘You know the other day when you brought up _?  I wonder if we could spend a few minutes talking about money?”

choose how we dance saying

Repeat:  ” I appreciated the cruise (or what you appreciated!) and would like to know more about how you feel paying for it:

Or

“What would make you feel better considering both of our financial situations?’

Or

‘What could we do differently next time that would make you feel better?’

Often, if you are both relaxed at this point, your partner will talk about what the real issue is/was.

In ‘K’s situation, she was talking to me, not ‘B’.  Though she did realize he was probably feeling put off because she had (professionally) spent so much time with  other men during the conference and their travels. As in all conflicts, this one goes deeper…  Next, I’ll share ‘K’ and ‘B’s communication style differences.  I also recommended they go through their values.  It’s all a start – a good start!  And I know they deserve the best.

What causes you to do the conflict dance?

5 Strategies for Secure Identity: Only YOU can prevent GENOCIDE (Step 1)

18 May

Talking about 6 steps to prevent genocide…

While walking through Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery  with my friend Julie, she pointed out nobody cares about genocides.  Not really.  After all it will never  happen to them.

This is to prevent forest firest....genocideourcarelessness.jpg

This is to prevent forest firest….genocideourcarelessness.jpg

People care about bullying.

Bullying happens.  A lot.  School yard bullies graduate to board rooms.

Have you ever  teased a little too far or not acted with kindness when you were feeling unhappy or insecure?  Bullies act because they’re insecure.

Bullying and genocide share DNA.  Genocides, the Holocaust, hate crimes – are merely bullying on steroids.

The Holocaust started as aggressive bullying way before Kristallnacht (1938) and Germany’s invasion of Poland  (1939).  It started in 1933 with Hitler Youth learning to spot Jews, and beat up weaker ‘youth’.  Hitler youth turned in parents who didn’t support Hitler.  They learned new songs…

“Yes, when the Jewish blood splashes from the knives, things will go twice as well.”

Scary…

Hitler youth were primed and ready for genocide.  Why did they get so wrapped up in this identity?  What was wrong with their authentic selves?

I wonder how this relates to  branding on Facebook and Twitter in the wild world of social media.

It’s a similar question to why kids  join gangs:  the need to belong.   To be liked.

After the recent Boston bombings, the ‘experts’ chimed in about what makes a terrorist:

“Terrorists are people who are alienated.  They have a confused identity… not ‘x’, not ‘y’… not connected to family or to parents… they find a new identity on the internet…” (summarized and pulled from various sources)

Red flag: people are turning to the internet to build community, AND to discover who they are, or who they want to be. HUH???

“Those who don’t love themselves as they are rarely love life either.”  Rachel Naomi Remen

For self-love, here’s my 5 strategies for secure identities:

disc improves....

Step 1:  KNOW your strengths, weaknesses, challenges.    Learning about yourself can’t be googled.  It’s complex and includes race, religion, gender, nationality, looks, socio-economics, and, our innate personality or what I call ‘naked identity’:  who you are without your ‘stuff’.

The best way to undress your naked identity is through the DiSC assessment tool.  The DiSC uncovers how you behavior, act, react, deal with conflict, work and your natural abilities as well as challenges.

I had an education student who was told to be an engineer – inside he was an English major.  Look around your office/classroom – are people their inside ‘selves’, or doing/being what others expect from them?

I’d put money on the mean, grumbling person not being their DiSC style.  Don’t judge others for not being like you.  Accepting someone else helps them accept you.  Focus on you.

Step 2:  Let your values guide your action

Identify your values (click here to identify yours).   Live them.  Believe me it’s hard.  And realize:  you and I may value ‘relationships’ but define it very differently. Understanding these differences in defining them is what’s key to security.

Step 3: Listen to yourself 

Everyone has an opinion about who you should be and what you should do.   Chances are those ‘everyone’s’ are telling you what they want.   I bet they have a different DiSC style and values than you.    Moments of Awareness  is the best and easiest way to listen carefully.

Your ‘friend’s’ not quite complimentary comment that leaves you wondering how you feel – about the comment, him/her, and yourself?  Listen:  it’s more about the commenter than you.  Listen to yourself.

Step 4:  Care more about yourself 

This may sound selfish – but just the opposite.  You can’t take care of anyone else unless you’re secure in yourself.  Taking care of yourself makes it easier to listen to others.

Step 5:  Don’t be a victim of Identity Theft:  Believe in yourself 

Knowing your DiSC, values, and regularly using Moments of Awareness to assess your feelings, will secure your identity.   If someone makes you doubt yourself, try

confidence-thechangeblog-com

confidence-thechangeblog-com

to understand which of their values aren’t met.  Learn and ‘listen’ if it is in line with YOUR identity.

Step 6:  Share your identity

D., a young American-Korean woman I met in Berlin said it best:  A secure identity means you can explain who you are to others.  Practice till you can.

What is your identity?  

How does knowing your identity keep you from lashing out to others?

What do you think we need to teach others to prevent bullying – and genocides?

3 Questions everyone should know: MOMA (per Peter Senge)

18 May

So how do you stay focused and calm in (almost) any situations, from conflict, to over-shopping?

That’s easy:  simply use Moments of Awareness (MOMA), which I first learned about in Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline Fieldbook.

Think of it as the ‘ginzu knife’ of life – it works in EVERY situation.

Plus, it’s easy to transport everywhere, including through airport security.   This is one of the most brilliant tools around and I”ve used in all my communication, conflict management, leadership, financial ‘therapy’, and everything in between, coachings and trainings.

Usually these are used when something is ‘wrong’.  But they can just as valuable when things are ‘right’ and you want to learn from and repeat something.

3 Simple steps:  Learn this.  Practice this.  Use this.  With yourself.  With your colleagues.  With your kids.  Ask yourself and/or ask others.

MOMA:  Moments of Awareness questions:

1.  What are you feeling?

Focus on the body:  the body doesn’t lie.  Think about if your body feels tight?  relaxed?  Are your hands clenched?  Is that smile natural or forced?  Do you all of a sudden feel sick to your stomach?  Feel your teeth clenched?

Focusing on your body will tell about real feelings that may not be expressed in words.

2. What do you want?

Here’s one way to think about your body’s message to your mind:  whatever is going on just isn’t working (for you).  This question will tell you specifically why it’s not working.  Bottom line:  you have a value that isn’t met.  Identify your values NOW.  Then when you are in a situation and your body is screaming it’s time to take ‘flight or fight (or shop, or…)’ you’ll know specifically why.  to find your values just go to the page Values Activity.

Your body may tighten for example when you are with a particular person.  You may think it is because s/he is a jerk.  This may be true.  But the reason you think they are a jerk is because what they say and do doesn’t meet your values.  Now you have a reason to tell them why you have to walk away.  Now do it.  WAlk away!

Remember:  your body will tell you when your values aren’t being met.  Listen.  And find out specifically which value is not being met!

3.  What am I doing to prevent myself from getting what I want?

Now you get to look at your actions.  Wait. Go deeper:  look at your words.  But not the words you say to others.

LISTEN TO THE WORDS YOU ARE SAYING TO YOURSELF.

When it comes to preventing yourself from getting what you want, it is that self-talk that separates out one action from anther.

Listen:  If your self-talk is negative, regardless of that bright shiny smile or firm handshake or perfect ensemble you present to the world – those words rolling inside your head is what the world will hear because that is what you are sharing.  REally.

You are sharing what you are saying to yourself through your non-verbals – the way you hold your body, etc.

Write down those negative terms of endearment (yes, that is sarcasm) you say to yourself so you are aware of what you are saying.  Of what you are doing to yourself.  Now write down – then SAY – to yourself what you would tell someone else in the same situation.

Look in the mirror, then say it with conviction.

Simple.  Try it with yourself.  Try it with a friend till you become an expert.  

Only YOU can prevent a Genocide: An Introduction to 6 actions you can take

2 May

Never Again.  Never again another Holocaust.

Or, Never Again – until, what?  Our human nature overwhelms our humanity?

This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and marks the official day of Yom HaShoah  or Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Shoah (think Steven Spielberg’s movie) means ‘calamity’ and represents the mass murder of 6 million European Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

Unfortunately. the US Holocaust Museum reminds us, ‘calamities’ aren’t just about the past.  Unexplainable calamities and hate crimes of all types  happen in the present.  Too often, as we’re reminded by the recent act of terror in the Boston bombing.

 And think Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Newton…  Think of all the little kids being teased on the playground – or in board rooms

Never again until it happens again... www.westminster.edu
Never again until it happens again… www.westminster.edu

I know many of  us ask ‘WWID:  What would I do?’  if we were in that position:  an almost impossible question to ask.

A better question: WWID (What will I do) to prevent the next hate crime, was posed at the US Holocaust Museum’s 20th Anniversary Conference.

The good news is there are things each of us can do.   And why I think there needs to be a movement.   And a slogan.

An ‘Only YOU can prevent Genocide, hate crimes, and bullying’.

If there is a slogan to prevent forest fires, why NOT genocide and hate crimes?

How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
How is this for a spokesperson for Only YOU can prevent Genocide, like Smokey did for forest fires.
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokey-if-not-you-hubpages-com.jpg
So appropriate! Smokey asks the perfect question why YOU should step up to prevent hate crimes and forest fires! smokeyifnotyou@hubpages-com
As a conflict management facilitator, and during my visit to Auschwitz,  I’ve often asked:  what causes people to hate so much they commit hate crimes: Holocausts and genocides?     (I will say though, it’s not the best conversation starter at parties….)  
But here’s the reason I think each of us are the answer:  Hate crimes start small: with one person’s hate.  The Holocaust is thought of as one murder happening six million times.  That’s a lot of individual acts of hate.  If we look at this as a personal, and individual problem, we can do something about it.  
Yes, I’m optimistic and naive.

So I’m proposing these 6 steps we can all take:

  1. We all need to be secure in our own identity
  2. Fill yourself with Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness
  3. Know and apply history – don’t just learn it
  4. Meet people outside your comfort zone
  5. Stay awake and involved in our global world
  6. Stand up and take action on your beliefs

I’ll be writing about these in the coming weeks.  Before I get started though,  I realized:  We need Constant Reminders

Somehow, we need to keep the danger of genocide front and center (so people will follow these steps).    And there are way too many things competing for our attention every second thanks to social media.

My first thought was Smokey the Bear:

A bookmark reminder!
A bookmark reminder!

But I realize that preventing forest fires is preventing an ACTION!  

Genocides are about THOUGHT, EMOTION, FEAR. 

Fires still start by people.

But we need a specific reminder.  Here’s one thought:

Only YOU can prevent genocide.  A bit inelegant, but a start.
Inelegant, perhaps, but I had to add again…

Images can be powerful, especially in our image filled world.  One ‘Smokey’ image eerily coincided with an anti-genocide message:

Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness - of words and action.  Prevent hate crimes
I think this is kind of creepy…. Just change the wording: Genocide is caused by carelessness – of words and action. Prevent hate crimes

Next prep:  Sharing stories

I’d like to say we need to learn history and be ‘educated’.  But it seems we’ve tried that.  Stories though, are powerful in learning about the effect of genocide and hate crimes and filling us with a sense of empathy and compassion.  And it’s this emotion we can build on.

The UN Symposium on Preventing Genocide with ‘A Meaningful World’ on April 4th, began with a film:

Starved and ragged men being marched down the streets, officers on horseback rounding them up, children alone and crying on the street, people with bundles of clothing on the street in front of their home.

This was uncomfortably familiar footage:  it looked exactly like what I’d seen from the Holocaust.

neveeragain1915suite101.com

But no, this was from the first genocide of the 20th century:  The Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915.

Did you know about it?  I didn’t.  How is that possible I had to ask myself.

One speaker shared this thought:  ‘When Hitler was asked about his place in history regarding the murder of Jews he said:

“Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?

Wow!!

And as Dr. Ani Kalayjian, A Meaningful World’s leader said, “When we help another…Both are made stronger.”

What are your reminders to act with kindness, empathy and compassion?

How do you gather stories from others?  What have you learned from them?

5 Leadership Characteristics: The Raoul Wallenberg Effect

16 Apr
London Memorial

London Memorial

The story of a hero and a leader.

The BBC’s report on Raoul Wallenberg achieving honorary Australian citizenship this morning told of a remarkable man’s accomplishment.  Or of a man making

Raoul Wallenberg uhnmm.org

Raoul Wallenberg
uhnmm.org

the best of all his knowledge and being and ‘stepping’ up in times of need?

Raising the question are leaders born or made?

This question gets raised when leaders are identified and scrutinized.   If it’s the latter, (and most of us believe it is) we can all adopt the ‘Wallenberg Effect’ and become the leaders we are meant to be in our everyday life.

A little background:  In 1944, Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat was sent to Budapest to ‘save’ this Jewish community.  You can imagine the challenge:  the Nazi’s were in a hurry to ensure Budapest’s 700,000 Jews followed in the footsteps of millions of other murdered Jews in Europe.  Wallenberg was only  33, and had no real diplomatic skills.  He was rich,  He had connections and his family name offered protection.  Mostly, he had chutzpah, conviction, and, courage.  Taking extraordinary and audacious actions, he managed to save close to 100,000 Hungarian Jews.  In one story he jumped on top of a cattle car to hand fake Swedish passports to people  on the way to camps.  He took people out of death march lines, ‘reminding’ them of their Swedish backgrounds.  On more than one occasion he convinced the Nazi’s NOT to shoot people after round-ups.  In sad irony,  when the Russians ‘liberated’ Budapest in January 1945, they placed Wallenberg in jail and he was never heard/seen again.

Budapest plaque

Budapest plaque

But his strength in action, lives on.  And after hearing the story this morning, I was reminded of the why and what of the  ‘Wallenberg Effect’.

The 5 characteristics attributed to Wallenberg are easily matched with basic leadership professional development we’ve all taken and/or taught.  And it’s always good to take a moment and remind ourselves (and others) of how to be our best:  http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/readings/wallenberg.htm

1.  Knowledge:  First and foremost, leadership is based on self-knowledge, or what Daniel Goleman called Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  Leaders know their strengths, their (communication) style and how they can effectively apply this style to motivate others. Wallenberg took 100% responsibility for ensuring (the Nazi’s) heard his message by meeting their ‘WIIFM’s’ (What’s In It For Me) or motivation which was to be strong and secure.

How do you define your EQ?  How do you support and develop this knowledge in others?

featurepics.com

featurepics.com

2.  Objective:  Leaders have clear goals and vision and take action based on their values.  Wallenberg acted on what he thought was right (values) and “walked the talk” when it came to saving the Hungarian Jewish community.

What are your top 5 values?  What actions do you take on a daily basis that support your beliefs?

sathyasai.org

sathyasai.org

3.  Ingenuity:  Leaders are able to work through and around situations.  To be sure Wallenberg had great connections, but he also used his knowledge of the Nazi’s love for extravagant detail when he supervised the creation of fake Swedish passports.  I’m sure his ingenuity, along with his EQ came into play as he ‘created’ 30 safe houses to hide people.

How do you know when things aren’t working and what steps do you take to identify a new win-win solution?

the 9-dot puzzle:  think outside the lines!

the 9-dot puzzle: think outside the lines!

4.  Confidence:  Chutzpah anyone?  Leaders feel they can do anything if they are doing the right thing.  Wallenberg made full use of his ‘charisma’ to stand up and ‘direct’ the Nazi’s in a way no-one else had.  Certainly his conviction and confidence swayed the Nazi’s to let him pull people out of death march lines.

How do you act when you are 100% sure of your conviction (versus when you are not)?

saw a guy on the subway yesterday in a superman costume... didn't take a picture... this from thechangeblog.com

saw a guy on the subway yesterday in a superman costume… didn’t take a picture… this from thechangeblog.com

5.  Courage:  Leaders take action regardless of the repercussions.  On the BBC this morning, I heard Wallenberg acted with, ‘No fear of death’, focused on the end result.  He was shot at while he was on top of that car handing out fake passports, and certainly could have been killed by the Nazi’s at any point in time.

When do you stand up for yourself and others even when you know you ‘are going against the grain’?

An icon of courage! http://plpnetwork.com

An icon of courage!
http://plpnetwork.com

Surely being in remarkable circumstances brings out the extraordinary in all of us.

But why wait?  If not now, when?

I think there are important small, quiet and safe times when we can stand out and develop ourselves to be our best.  Hopefully, most of us will never be in the position Wallenberg was in.

We can all take small steps that lead to giant saves.

a Budapest monument

a Budapest monument

Tel Aviv Memorial

Tel Aviv Memorial

Sweden Memorial

Sweden Memorial

Spring Gardening’s 6 Steps to Weed out anger Tammy Faye style!

8 Apr

Got anger?

Willing to admit it?

I’ve been laying a bit fallow all winter, rejuvenating myself and hoping fall’s seeds have been planted where they root as the world ripens into sunnier days and warmer afternoon.  As I dip my toes into the shallow end of spring (buds on the trees here in NYC – finally!), I’m taking stock of my potential bounty.

There are lots of things that kill off new growth – literally and metaphorically.  Our bumbling economy challenges even the most gifted rainmaker to survive the job drought.  Not having the right pollinators doesn’t help either  I realize, viewing my ‘connections’.  Fertilization is an ongoing need.  Memo to self:  ‘work’ those LinkedIn connections and stay vigilant on Twitter.

Cyberspace is important, but it’s our real space internal garden where we need to fend off weeds and other invasive species that keep us from growing.

Recently, I’ve noticed an overgrowth of anger.  And once it roots it is tenacious!

Anger sucks up all the oxygen and  nutrients that should be better spent on a blossoming new project, including having fun.  But anger, like weeds and invasive species – appears to have no predators.  Anger takes over other emotions.  Memo to self:  it’s hard to differentiate the weeds from the flowers.

Anger is like a carnivorous plant:  hungry and dangerous.

Remember the movie:  "Little Shop of Horrors" and the carnivorous plant's 'feed me'?

Remember the movie: “Little Shop of Horrors” and the carnivorous plant’s ‘feed me’?

Turning from a gardening metaphor, Tammy Faye (Baker) says it best:  from the movie “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, Tammy Faye sits and bats her mammoth false eye

Tammy Faye:  Read her quote and watch her movie and remember to never judge a book by the cover again!  http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/%3Fm%3D02%26d%3D20070509%26t%3D2%26i%3D771302%26w%3D460%26fh%3D%26fw%3D%26ll%3D%26pl%3D%26r%3D771302&imgrefurl=http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/05/09/us-tammyfaye-letter-idUSN0927384020070509&h=339&w=450&sz=26&tbnid=mW2Xk3YWO-lCAM:&tbnh=92&tbnw=122&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dpicture%2Bof%2Btammy%2Bfaye%2Bbakker%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=picture+of+tammy+faye+bakker&usg=__TglXvyNDLRYFl3MA_ZYke2aZAfA=&docid=_oX64oh0S6vGuM&sa=X&ei=19ZiUdCsC82L0QGZo4HIBQ&ved=0CDUQ9QEwAQ&dur=45

Tammy Faye: Read her quote and watch her movie and remember to never judge a book by the cover again! http://www.google.com/imgres?

lashes before sharing great wisdom:  “when you’re angry at someone it’s like you are carrying a decaying person around on your back”

A reminder that brilliance comes from unexpected sources.  (the movie is great!)

Decay is great for the literal garden.

For my internal garden, I’ve shrugged off anger in a weeding frenzy with:

Six Steps to Weeding your Anger

Step 1:  Spot that weed:  Feel that anger rising in you?  Sit and luxuriate in spring’s new blooms while jotting down the focus of your anger.  Note the name and issue that is sucking up the nutrients in your mind’s rich soil.

Step 2:  Assess:   how much of that anger is directed at yourself.  Yes, really.  A lot of times when we’re angry at someone else, we are really angry at ourselves for allowing that person to get under our skin, to make us feel a certain way or keep us from getting what we want.  In Tammy Faye’s words, you are carrying your weight on your back in addition to the source(s) of your anger.  (Note to self:  this is why you’ve got bad posture!)

Ask yourself:  Why do I hold onto these energy-suckers?  What does it/she/he provide me – or how does being angry ‘protect’ me from dealing with ‘new growth’?

Step 3:  Commit to weed and dig deep:  Focus on forgiving:  YOURSELF.  Forgive yourself for what you’re feeling, for your anger, for what you haven’t done, for what you have done, for allowing someone else to mess with your head.  This of course it harder than it sounds, after all weeds grow back, right?

weeding

Step 4:  PULL out that anger with your forgiveness and kill its roots by telling yourself you can’t control someone else, but you can control your own emotions.

Step 5:  Plant new seeds:  Create a ritual where you declare yourself anger-free and commit to preserving your energy and joy.  Ask yourself:  What can I do and SAY differently to myself to remind myself I deserve to have joy?  Leave out judgmental words that weigh you down including obligation and fault.  Identify a plant or flower that reminds you of your weed-free mind and keep a picture or an actual plant around you.

seedling

Step 6:  Nurture your new growth:  Look at your plant or flower regularly and remember you’ve forgiven yourself AND the person at the root of your anger.  Remember that person is no longer in your garden when you see them.

Stand up straight and feel the freedom in your back!  

What makes you angry?

How do you forgive others and/or yourself?

 

Add value to your goals

4 Mar

Spring is about to burst into bloom showing us a new season, full of new opportunities.  

Now is a perfect time to review  your 2013.

For me, that means looking to my values and how my actions are (or are not) meeting what I hold most important.  After all, for the last year, I’ve promoted values when talking about conflict, money, happiness, work, love – yes, everything.  So I saw this is a perfect opportunity to pull everything together.

Focusing values rather than goals is a subtle difference.  But you know what they say:  change one thing and everything else changes.

This refocus held power for me because I’m NOT motivated by crossing tasks off a to-do list.  (Perhaps you know and are frustrated by people like me!)   But meeting my values, my WIIFM’s (meaning ‘What’s In It For Me) are my benchmark for success.  Personalizing my process has changed the conversation I have with myself about what and how I am doing.  And the only way we can accomplish goals is making them personal.
1.  The process:

  1. I reviewed and rethought my top five (5) values, something I have been doing regularly over the last few years.  If you don’t know yours, identify them now through this activity!
  2. I then wrote out actions I need to take and make in order to meet them.
  3. I continue to take action steps after reviewing why I want to do it, what it will bring me, or how it will meet my WIIFM’s.  

2.  Review values

  • For example:  my #5 value is fun.  Now fun may seem superficial, but for me it’s a vital part of a life well lived.  Life is short and my philosophy is  Borges’:  ‘The shortest distance between two people is laughter.”

I think work should be fun (filled with new ideas, laughter and connection).

  • So when networking events felt like a chore, I knew my frustration was about more than not meeting clients.  These events had the air sucked out of them thanks to my desperation for work.

 

3.  Change awareness:

  • My new attitude about networking is it’s a venue for enjoyable conversations and new learning.  Lately when I go home ’empty handed’, I feel full by what I heard or the people I met.
  • Now I understand which value isn’t met and why, and identity what I need to do differently next time or how I need to reframe an action.

4.  Rewrite your values daily and the actions you are taking to meet them.  After all it’s way too easy to get caught up in action.

Write your values in a beautiful notebook!

Write your values in a beautiful notebook!

  • And this is a simple action, about 5 minutes every morning.  In a beautiful notebook, I write out what I am doing to meet my needs.   I admit I love the physical act of writing and I’ve trained myself to  check in with myself as I go throughout my day – assessing what makes me smile to my gut wrenches.   Equally important, I’ve learned to  forgive myself when I don’t. While I’ve always thought of myself as self-aware, I’m learning so much!

I’ve personalized this idea from Harry Che http://www.goalsontrack.com/blog/author/harry/ (thanks Harry!) who blogged about rewriting his goals.

Start living the life you were meant to live.  

Not sure where to start?   Start with yourself and identify what’s important to you!

Watch the Holstee Manifesto www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDmt_t6umoY to get rolling!

Let me know how I can help!

We all deserve to live life that holds personal meaning.  Have a conversation with loves ones around values.  Create action to support a life of meaning.  Support others to do the same.  

You deserve it.

The slide from disagreement to ‘I HATE YOU’

18 Jan

It happens.  A woman in a recent workshop asked about:

‘Having an argument and ending with saying: ‘I HATE YOU.’

The best thoughts on this slippery, painful, communication slide come from Melissa, a twenty-something middle school teacher outside of Portland, OR.   I’ve never met Melissa, just heard about her response from Laura, a mutual friend about a year ago.  I found this so brilliant it’s been in the back of mind since then.

Here’s the scenario:

Melissa was startled by all the conflict – and resulting tears – amongst her girls.  Best friends one day, declared ‘I hate you’ enemies the next.

So (and here’s the brilliant part):  she ASKED a student proclaiming her hate one day what the deal was.  (forgive the paraphrasing);

‘Do you really hate her?’

‘No’

‘Then what?’

‘I just don’t want to sit next to her at lunch every day.’

‘Then why don’t you just tell her that?’

Problem solved!  (Or for the moment!)  Melissa identified the key to help her student express her true needs, saving the relationship and more importantly teaching her students to say what they mean without being engulfed in the emotion.

joycelyn-ainee.blogspot.com

Wow!  It’s all so simple – yet not.  After hearing this I was reminded how many times I say things I don’t mean, but don’t have the time or where-with-all to stop and think through what I’m feeling, thinking, and what I want.

Of course, at this stage of my life, I usually say nothing.

And that’s no better.  In fact it is worse.

So what’s the key?  Or should I say Melissa’s key?  Good old-fashioned ‘I statements’:

Sharing the facts (using Melissa’s example):  When you sit with me at lunch everyday

I feel:  (ah, the emotions of a middle school girl):  uncomfortable?  unhappy?

And I realize most girls – most people don’t talk like this anymore.  Then again, maybe we need to both simplify and focus our talk for better communication.  

What I want:  To sit with other girls sometimes, and to sit with you sometimes.

Because:  I want to be friends with you and also be friends with other girls.

I didn’t get a chance to share this in the 45-minute workshop with the woman in need.  But over and over I realize how important it is to say what we mean and hope to be heard.  Or rather hope the receiver is open and listening.  And that’s a whole other issue!

I’m going to use this more.  I need to use this more.

What’s your greatest communication challenge?  

Email me at katz.communicat@gmail.com  and I’ll write the anonymous response here!

Here’s to 2013 being a year of saying what you mean when you need to to get what your values met!