Color Yourself Calm – Yep, With Crayons!

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Welcome to my blog!

If you haven’t colored anything other than your hair or the scratches on your wood furniture recently, it’s time to get with the times. Relaxation by coloring – the newest stress reliever for adults – is sweeping the country. No need to pay a therapist to listen to what’s on your mind. Less trouble than golf. Less exhausting than tennis. Less strenuous than weights, presses and punching bags at the gym. Less mobility than walking. Less solitary than meditation. All you need is a coloring book of your choice and a stash of crayons. Colored pencils, markers, watercolor paints are optional. Yes, I’m serious. Read on.

According to the article by Avery Mack, “Color Me Calm,” in the March, 2016 issue of Natural Awakenings, March was color therapy month. Sorry, you missed the celebration because of me. I was busy writing about saving our kids and our planet from our polluted environment, and totally dropped the ball on this topic. But, it’s not too late. This is a lifetime activity you can start at any time despite the weather or a lack of appropriated funds. Keep reading for a summary of research, findings, and helpful websites from the Natural Awakenings article.

According to Nikki Martinez, PhD in Chicago, “30 minutes of coloring can constitute a focused meditation that relieves stress. It uses both sides of the brain and improves organizational and fine motor skills.”

Avery Mack tells us, “Publishers Weekly reported combined 2015 sales at 1.75 million copies of the 10 best-selling adult coloring books through November of that year.”

“Barnes and Noble, craft stores, community centers and home parties all encourage the coloring activity.”

‘Dieter Marlovics tells us, “… at the request of my daughter who wanted to color her life rather than generic drawings, I established which converts photos into coloring book pages to make individually tailored pages.’ ”

More eco-friendly tips from Avery Mack: “… sprout pencils, made of sustainable wood and fruit-and-vegetable dyed clay instead of lead, are topped by non-GMO seeds that can be planted when the pencil becomes short. Inktense’s water-soluble brightly colored pencils mimic pen and ink. Add water for translucency. Also, select recyclable paper books, soy crayons, watercolor paints and non-toxic markers.”

Maybe you’ll consider sitting down with the kids, or just doing this by yourself. Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post –  Kids: Let The Pros Sweat The Small Stuff

© 2016 All rights reserved

Teaching Kids To Save Our Planet And Ourselves

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The sins of the parent are visited upon the child. This is a sobering thought. Not only does this adage reach across psychological, emotional, mental and  social boundaries, but it extends to the world situation in which our children and grandchildren will find themselves. A world filled with strife, war and famine. Often, the absence of a peaceful, supportive family life. A world depleted of natural resources. Food shortages. Clean water shortages. As individuals, we do not have the power to save the world, but we each can take a positive step and instill good habits in our children, so we may all work together for a more powerful impact on the world in which we live. Each generation must continue good practices, since no action has everlasting results.

Saving the planet goes beyond reuse, recycle and reduce. It also involves how we treat each other. It’s one thing to be kind and generous to people who enter our lives on a daily basis, but more powerful if we seek out situations where our help is needed and create a game plan for positive results.

I came across an interesting article in the December, 2015 issue of the Long Island edition of Awakenings by Jennifer Jacobsen, “Generous Pint-Sized Givers.” What’s interesting and unique here, is the concept of giving that involves not only donations of money and useful things, but how our thoughts, words and actions impact those around us.

Jennifer  Jacobson offers the following suggestions:

 *Ask Kids How They’d Like To Help– make a list of things in which there is interest
*Make A Game Plan– map out activities like visiting, donating or fundraising
*Quick Tasks Can Make A Big Difference– periodically, fill a “donate box” with items from closets, toy chests, drawers and the garage

*Find Ways to Raise Money For Donations– yard and bake sales

*Associate Getting With Giving– encourage birthday and holiday gifts to include a monetary amount allocated for donations

*Volunteer To Do Community Service– public gardens, historic buildings, food banks all need volunteers                                                                                                                                 *Grow The Mindset– teach kids to ask,”How would you want people to help you in this situation?”

The important thing to remember is giving is not something we should do upon occasion, it should be a way of life. One person, one experience at a time can change the world.

Next week’s blog post: Color Yourself Calm – Yep, With Crayons!

© 2016 All rights reserved


Emotional Intelligence For Kids – A Coping Mechanism

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In last week’s blog post, we discussed stressed out kids who lack the coping mechanisms most of us learn by the time we’re adults. We can help our children stay balanced in today’s world by helping them to learn emotional intelligence. What is it? Psychology Today defines EQ or emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage our own emotions as well as those of others. It includes three skills: the ability to identify, harness and manage emotions and apply this skill to problem solving, thinking, and cheering up or calming down another person.”  Think about it. Who has the most pleasant life – the smartest, the wealthiest or the one who is balanced and gets along easily with almost everyone?

According to an article “What’s Your Child’s EQ?” by Teal Swan which appeared in the November, 2015 Long Island edition of Natural Awakenings, “emotional health is more important in determining future happiness  than academic success or wealth.”

The author tells us we can ensure a child’s healthy emotional upbringing by avoiding these mistakes:

The Don’ts

1.  Disapprove of a child’s emotions -don’t reprimand or punish for expressing negative emotions                                                                                                                                                     2. Dismiss a child’s emotions – don’t ignore or trivialize emotions                                                                                                           3. Ignore a chance to offer guidance- don’t neglect to set limits on behavior and help the child understand and cope

The Do’s  

We should all value and respect each other’s feelings. Remember, emotions matter.
* Become aware of the other person’s emotions.
* Care about the other person  by seeing their emotions as valid and important
* Allow others to be vulnerable without fear of judgment. Understand rather than agree or redirect.                                                                                                                                                      * Acknowledge  and validate another person’s feelings by saying, ” I can see how you might feel that way.”                                                                                                                                                   * Only after the other person’s feelings have been validated, we can assert new ways of looking at a situation that may improve the way another person is feeling

By helping our children to understand themselves as well as others, they gain another tool to use in times of stress, be it their own, or when they’re witnessing an emotional reaction. Putting a lid on it isn’t always good. Yes, we must be appropriate, but that’s where the strong parenting comes in, whereby we teach our children to express emotions within certain behaviors. Children should learn to use their words, not their fists. Emotions in themselves are not bad. It’s the physical manifestation of feelings that will get us into trouble. Slamming doors, punching a hole in the wall, smacking someone across the face are not acceptable. Instead, children should be taught to state their feelings and know their point will be well made.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Selfie: Millennials As Parents

© 2016 All Rights Reserved


Kids Off The Hook? Maybe It’s Stress.

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Are your kids acting out more than usual? Screaming, crying, not cooperating? Refusing to go to school or to an after school activity? Rebelliousness? Or, maybe they’re just stressed out. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stress among kids is at an all time high with high school and college students often reporting higher stress levels than adults. What do kids have to be stressed out about? Read on.

According to Gina Shaw’s article pp. 61-63 in the September, 2015 issue of WebMD, there’s a whole list of things resulting from life in the modern world. Let’s take a look.

* Kids are asked to make choices leading to careers at a young age.                                             * Facebook and Instagram depict pictures of all their friends at social gatherings to which they were not invited and from which they are conspicuously absent                                                                                                                    * Kindergarten is the new first grade. What happened to blocks, finger painting, music, climbing and jumping?                                                                                                                              

* High stakes testing puts too much emphasis on performance on a few specific days rather than on how they function in the classroom over time
* Overscheduling sports, art and music. These are supposed to relieve stress, not add to it.                                                                                                                                     * Reduction of art, music, physical education in the school program eliminates outlets                                                                                                                            * Exposure to adult media content such as shootings, bombings, explosions, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, effects of global warming, prophesies of the end of the world, falling comets, black holes, drone attacks, terrorist atrocities, etc., causes anxiety and fear                                                                                   * Bullying and Teasing are no longer private matters since kids may be victims on Facebook, Instagram and through text messaging for everyone to witness                                  

* Too little sleep affects memory, judgment and mood
* Chronic illness has more than doubled in kids between 1994 and 2000 with obesity, asthma, type 2 diabetes, behavior and learning problems, and ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the top of the list
* Family disruption due to illness, death, deployment, divorce or separation, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, addictive behaviors with alcohol, drugs, gambling                                                                                                                                * Stressed out parents lead to stressed out kids 

What can you do to counteract these stressors? “Talk with your kids every day. Don’t over schedule so there’s time for free play on a daily basis. Talk about stress and suggest ways to control it, deep breathing, for example. Speak with a doctor about counseling referrals, if needed. Manage your own stress and watch the calm trickle down.”

As adults, we are much better equipped to deal with the stresses of every day life. Our self-esteem is more highly developed. Our happiness is not so dependent on the approval of others. We found a support system that gets us through the day. Most of us are well- settled into the lives we’ve chosen for ourselves. We are in control of our destinies with  decisions and choices of our own making. If we’re not happy in a situation, we have the mobility and where-with-all to move ourselves up and out. Kids haven’t yet developed these coping mechanisms.

Let me leave you with these thoughts. Be the adult in the relationship. Calm yourself. Get your head on straight. Be a role model, and a source of comfort and support for your children, as well as the adults in your life. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Prioritize. Then, let go. Must your child excel in violin and football? Trust that your children can occupy themselves constructively within unstructured time. Let them be. This is how they develop themselves. Present the tools, then allow them to utilize them in their own time. Don’t live vicariously through your children. Their successes ( or weaknesses ) are theirs. If you want bragging rights, then do something constructive and amazing with your own time. That success will belong to you. Don’t hijack the accomplishments of others to try to make yourself look good.

As a former teacher, I have a great respect for education. However, it does not only come from a formal lesson in the classroom. Books; cable shows; YouTube videos; public, school and private libraries; zoos; museums; community and back yard gardens; a walk in the woods, around the block or outside your home; a visit to the beach, a river or a pond, can all offer learning experiences. How about behind the scene experiences at a play, concert, sports event? Think about what can be learned from watching a construction project. Look up at the sky in the day, then at night. What do you see? Answer those questions and fill in the gaps with books, Google searches, TV and Cable specials. Let your kids explore. Their natural curiosity will look for answers. You get the idea— we can learn from everything in the real world as well as what is focused on in the classroom.

Education is knowing things outside yourself. Authentic learning complements formal learning.

Allow them time to find their own path. With so many options available in today’s world, it’s unfair to force a young person to choose before they’ve had a chance to investigate and try it on for size. As we know, one size does not fit all.

Help your children develop a high self-esteem so they might feel confident in the path they’ve chosen for themselves. A strong self-image counteracts negativity from immature and/ or aggressive sources. Allow them to pursue what they’re good at and what gives them happiness. This is how they learn to accept and like themselves.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Emotional Intelligence For Kids – A Coping Mechanism

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

From Brooklyn to Hollywood: How Suzanne Corso Wrote Herself Into A Better Story

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Welcome to my blog!

I recently finished reading Suzanne Corso’s trilogy tracing her fictitious based- on- truth account of a young woman’s rise to fame and fortune from mobster- wannabe girlfriend to Hollywood screenwriter. In this type of book, the reader is often confused as to what is real and what is an example of the author gone wild with the power of words. What struck me the most about these books is how this series illustrates the points made in my last two blog posts -“Hard Work Vs. Wishful Thinking” and “How Our Thoughts Can Become Our Reality.” These truths are at work here.

Let’s take a look at Suzanne Corso and her books.

Suzanne was born and raised in the 1970s -1980s Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York at a time when it was predominantly an Italian and Italian-American neighborhood, and mobsters and mobster-wannabes ran the show. Her father was a deadbeat, absent Italian-American. Her mother, although Jewish, embraced the Catholic faith, and was besieged by drugs, alcohol and unsavory men. Suzanne’s Jewish maternal grandmother steadfastly encouraged her, as the only stable adult in her life. She gave Suzanne a gift of a Smith Corona typewriter and told her to write herself out of her story into a better story. That’s exactly what Suzanne did. Deeply religious, Suzanne lit candles and prayed daily to the Blessed Mother Mary, Michael the Archangel and Buddha. She received invaluable guidance from the Catholic priest at her church and encouragement from teachers that spurred her on to submit her writing for publication. Although money was always tight and the family was often on food stamps, Suzanne dreamed of the day she could cross the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan and live the life she could only dream. Dream she did, and combined with hard work, Suzanne reached her goals. As a matter of fact, she continues to realize even more success as she enters her mid-forties.

In the first book, Brooklyn Story, teenage Samantha, as her character is called in the series, hooks up with a wannabe- mobster, gets knocked around and dreams of crossing the symbolic Brooklyn Bridge to a better life. (true)

The second book, The Suite Life, tells the story of her marriage to a Wall Street tycoon who rakes in about a hundred million dollars a year (true). This fairy tale life has a sad ending when the market goes south and hubby loses his fortune (true). A serious author emerges from the ashes (true), her fortune is amassed (true) while her husband dies (false).

The last book, Hello, Hollywood, introduces character Samantha to the world of big time Hollywood production when her first book, Brooklyn Story is optioned as a movie (true, I think). She is even richer than before  (true) and has her share of wacky men, but eventually meets Prince Charming and lives happily ever after (who knows?).

In real life, Suzanne’s husband is very much alive and between them, have regained that lost hundred million. Suzanne believes losing that money was the best thing that ever happened to her since it motivated her to mobilize and stay the course.

The important thing to know is these books are not particularly well-written. The characters are stereotypical, one-dimensional and predictable. The plot is often repetitious and the events are obviously contrived with enough coincidences to make your head spin. We’re not looking at literature here, yet Suzanne Corso is lauded as an author, pursued as a screenwriter and her book(s) made into movies.

This observation is not meant as a put down. It is meant to show that perfection is not necessary to gain fame and fortune. Someone with authority saw the potential in the body of work. Maybe it filled a gap by telling the story from a woman’s side, or found a niche with a limited audience. It’s not our place to question the why. This evaluation carried weight. Someone saw value where others did not.

How did she do it? She visualized, analyzed, investigated, planned and mobilized. She saw the path clearly, left no stone unturned, walked through every open door. By her own admission, her first book was rejected umpteenth times, but it only took the last one to say yes to change the course of her life. Suzanne never gave up. She saw this as her calling and did not stop until she succeeded. She did what she had to do. Showed up where she had to be. She never let where she came from interfere with where she wanted to go. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Suzanne Corso’s story has inspired me to set my sights higher. I will make an action plan and follow it after I investigate in which direction to go. Maybe you’ll do the same.

Good luck. Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Getting Rid of Stuff

© 2016 All Rights Reserved


How Our Thoughts Can Become Our Reality

Our thoughts become our reality. Our view of ourselves influences our choices, decisions, goals and actions. That

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is one of the reasons we should not allow negative, toxic people into our lives (see my December, 2015 blog post). Self-image can be fragile. Concentrate on enhancing the positive, while improving the weaker areas. Not one of us is perfect, but we may feel some are a lot closer to perfect than others. This is us applying our value system to others.

We have the power to raise our estimation of ourself in our own eyes.

Let’s follow some simple steps:

Visualize – Choose 3 things you’d like to change, see yourself at that place                                  1. _________________________________________________                            2._________________________________________________
3. _________________________________________________

Analyze – Find out what you need to make your vision become reality                        1._______________________________________________                            2_______________________________________________

Investigate – Name available resources that take you closer to your goal                               1.________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________


Plan – Decide what changes you must make

1. ________________________________________________

2. ________________________________________________
3. ________________________________________________

Mobilize – List what steps you will take immediately to begin your journey                     1._________________________________________________


Want some ideas about what to put on your list?

Job? Requirements, licensing, schools, financial aid, location of opportunities.

Dating? Improving Relationships?  Places to meet, dating websites, personal ads, introductions by friends, family and co-workers. Giving compliments. Increasing alone time with that special someone. Fun activities to learn or share.

New home? Costs of purchase or rent, taxes, utilities, job opportunities, quality of schools, public transportation, child care

Diet and Exercise?  Doctor’s test findings, food allergies and sensitivities, appropriate exercise activities for age and physical condition, location and costs associated with spas, gyms, library and community exercise classes, scheduling

This is a short list, but you get the idea. Each of us has a different goal and we might get to the same place on a different path. The idea is to get there. We must consider our family and important relationships, responsibilities and obligations. Weigh the costs. Choose the path that makes the most sense in leading in the direction we wish to go.

As we remain focused on achieving our goals, our attitude about ourself will change. People will react to us differently. We will feel happier. Purpose and focus give us credibility and earn respect.

Remember, what is in our head, becomes our life. Until we achieve what we want, live your intention, not your reality. 

Good luck. Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: From Brooklyn to Hollywood: How Suzanne Corso Wrote Herself Into A Better Story

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Hard Work Vs. Wishful Thinking

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Welcome to my blog!

Lately, I’ve noticed quite a few people waiting patiently for their “ships to come in.” The trouble is, they’re waiting as the bus stop! Not literally, of course, but they’re in an unproductive place, doing nothing except keeping the faith, believing they can manifest their intentions by remaining positive, or that God and the Angels will answer their prayers while they remain immobile. I believe in the power of prayer since positive energy brings positive results (Karma). But, “God helps those who help themselves” is an adage that is lost on them. Why is God not answering their prayers? We must meet God halfway: That’s how prayers get answered.

While I carried these thoughts in my head, I came across an article by Dr. Susan O’Malley, “You’re Never Too Old and It’s Never Too Late” in the November/ December 2015 issue of New Living. She hit the nail on the head, “You have to be willing to turn the ‘M’ of manifesting upside down into the ‘W’ of work. There it was! These words validated my beliefs. I felt the urge to harness her thought pattern. Let’s take a look.

Dr. O’Malley is an amazing woman. Her article was directed at mature people, but is relevant and timely across the board. She started medical school at 35 while six months pregnant and without a husband, became a physician at 39,  an entrepreneur at 50, a public speaker and writer at 62. At 50 she left the hospital emergency room to start her own medical spa which brought great financial success. “You can have a dream and you can be successful, but you can’t dream your way to success. You have to do the work.”

Yes!  If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m an advocate of creating and following a realistic plan of action which should lead to the road of success.

Dr. O’Malley states  “perseverance and personal responsibility were intrinsic to my success in combination with the following strategies”  

* Be willing to change course                                                                                                                 * Start With Small Risks                                                                                                                        * Ask For Help                                                                                                                                          * Let Your Goal Trump Your Humiliation                                                                                            * Admit When You Make a Mistake                                                                                                    * Stay Focused On Your Goal                                                                                                                   * Break Up The Task                                                                                                                                  * Work Hard

By the way, Louise Hay, the motivational speaker and publisher, started her empire in the much later years of her life. So maybe we will not accomplish what Louise Hay did, but we can accomplish what’s right for us. The point is, we all walk our own path and we judge success by our own set of standards. To be a success in our own eyes is an accomplishment. We must love and accept ourselves before we can love and accept others.

Wishing alone will not make it so. Take a look at your behaviors to recognize if you’re a dreamer or a doer. If your life is not going the way you would like, it’s not too late. Act now to make changes. Analyze. Investigate. Plan. Mobilize. 

Good luck.  Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: How Our Thoughts Can Become Our Reality


© 2016 All Rights Reserved


Stepping Into Your New Skin

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Welcome to my blog!

Many of us will reinvent ourselves at different times in our lives. We might start with a belief system from our families, then evolve as we open our minds and hearts to new experiences. Some adjustments will be welcomed and planned. Some will be forced upon us as a result of inevitable changes or tragedies.  Education, work, job loss, marriage or committed relationships, children, retirement, divorce, death, financial upheavals, and natural disasters will bring us to different places in our lives. People change. Things change. We change. But, how do we evolve into the person our new circumstances demand of us?

Life may be status quo for the longest time. Nothing much happens. Just getting through the day, the week, the month, the year. We may perceive this as boring. Suddenly, our world is shattered. Life is no longer boring, but at what price?

Change is not inherently bad. It’s how we mobilize ourselves and react to the changes that propels us into the future. Change can be a positive result of the natural progression of life or a reward for working hard and smart. Maybe your change is the result of negative forces or tragedy. In any event, we leave things, people and a way of life behind.

Friends, family and co-workers may resent or fear this new you. They might feel the loss of the relationship you had, or transfer fears of the unknown. Maybe they’re uncomfortable with your strength and resolve. Usually, the person who moves on has the easier time since a sense of adventure, hope and new beginning looms large. For the others, the only thing that may have changed for them is dealing with the  missing piece of the puzzle – you – and filling the void where you used to be.

So, let’s get back to you as the adventurer in a new life. I just read an interesting article in the November/ December 2015 issue of New Living, “Releasing Anger and Bitterness From Divorce” by Krista Jack, MS. I realized her advice can be applied across the board and is not limited to people experiencing the fall-out from divorce. Reinventing ourselves  happens for different reasons, but the advice holds true for all.

Ms. Jack tells us:

  • “Be honest with yourself – Once you admit what you’re feeling, you’ve taken the first step towards healing
  • Take responsibility for how you react – When you get overwhelmed by the negative, get out appropriately. Take a walk, meditate, journal, talk to a therapist. If you don’t release these feelings, they will build up and eventually come out, often at inappropriate times or with the wrong people.
  • Realize the people on the other side are experiencing the same feelings as you.
  • Redefine yourself clearly – Who you want to be, what you want, what you enjoy
  • Take care of yourself – What can you do for little money and in short bursts
  • Make An Activity Box With Post-Its – Put ideas for simple soul-filling diversions on post-its and store in a special box, open the box when needed”

Life can be an adventure or a rut. It’s up to us to analyze, investigate, plan, establish goals, take action, evaluate and re-evaluate, remain steadfast. We can allow life to beat us down, or we can face it head-on, take hold and turn things around. No one said it would be easy.

The point is, we don’t have to end up in the same place we began. We don’t have to be a perpetual victim of our circumstances.

Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Hard Work Vs. Wishful Thinking

© 2016 All Rights Reserved



Trustworthiness – The Most Precious Valentine’s Day Gift

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Welcome to my blog!

Trustworthiness is the greatest gift we can give to those we love and those who love and depend on us on Valentine’s Day and every day. Flowers, chocolates and jewelry only go so far. Shaking up another person’s world while leaving disappointment in our wake, is not the way to go. If we treat people in our lives with the same casual abandon as we may treat a stranger on the street, then something is wrong. It has to matter that this person is in our life. We must allow them to “interfere” in our lives. Our decisions and actions must take them into account.

Once we openly commit, we must consider the welfare of others. If commitment is implied, then we must step up. There are many different types of relationships: marriage, romantic attachment, parent-child, child-parent, friendship, work related team effort, neighbor, doctor – patient, teacher-student, first responder-public, clergy-parishioner to name a few.

Love is not only for romance. It’s the respect, consideration, effort, help and care we give to another. It’s the confidence we instill in others that lets them know they can count on us. It’s letting people know they can reveal themselves without facing judgment, rancor or scoldings. It’s not exploiting people for our own ends. When those who count on us are left wondering if we will show up on time, keep our word, physically, emotionally and spiritually hurt them, remember important events and responsibilities, tell the truth, act irresponsibly by putting lives, finances and relationships in danger, this negates the power and purpose of love. Then, this is a betrayal. Love does not hurt.

When we love, we don’t leave the other person feeling insecure. To love is to support, build confidence and share oneself.

Are you trustworthy?  Do you live by your word, or do those who depend on you roll their eyes and look elsewhere when things need to get done? Are you above suspicion or do you skulk around, squandering hard-earned money and seeking extra-marital affairs? Do you pull your weight at work, or wait for a team project on which to add your name while others do all the work? Are your children and elderly or needy relatives properly and lovingly clothed, fed and cared for? Do you reveal confidences and embarrassing secrets?

Commitment is not always easy. We must be present, willing and able.

If you live your life as a trustworthy person and people’s lives are enriched by knowing you, and by interacting with you, then feel proud and accept your positive impact on the world. Remember, one person, one experience at a time.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you always have love in your life.

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Stepping Into Your New Skin

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Creativity – Thinking Outside The Box

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

Many of us believe creativity is some elusive quality inherent in others, but missing in ourselves. It is defined as inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality and individuality. To be creative, we must think outside the box. If we worry about following preset rules, we will never venture beyond accepted boundaries. Being creative requires that we ignore “the rules.” If we follow what’s already been done, it is imitative, not creative.

Creativity does not require a lengthy opus or an earth shattering event.  Sometimes, short and sweet will get us to the point. Some forms of creativity are privately practiced, while others are publicly acclaimed with far-reaching results. Let’s take a look at some different forms of creativity as demonstrated by a children’s author, artists, a car designer and the winners of hot dog eating contests.

I came across an interesting page in the September, 2015 issue of Long Island Pulse magazine, “Pulse Rate” on p.194. No author was listed so I’m assuming it was written by the editor of the magazine. It listed a number of examples which got me thinking.

According to the article, …”the famous children’s author, Dr. Seuss, wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” as a result of a bet made by the editor that the author could not write a book using fifty words or less. “

I read the book again to analyze how he did it. Dr. Seuss used the same fifty words to tell the nonsensical story which is written for kids, so nonsense works. He used repetition, inverted order, punctuation, rhyme, pattern and illustrations to write a best-seller which remains one of the most popular kids’ books ever. He ignored tradition, did it his way to prove a point, and the rest is history.

Let’s consider how Andy Warhol’s, “Campbell Soup Cans” made him world-famous. He didn’t design this product. He photographed and greatly enlarged the image to help him gain recognition as a creative artist. He was the first person to see the potential in a product that already existed. He was rewarded for conceiving the idea which had never been done before.

How about those monochromatic canvases in modern art museums? You know the ones. People keep putting their reading glasses on and taking them off, walking forwards and backwards, trying to see what the fuss is all about. Two examples,: “Onement VI” by Barnett Newman which sold at Sotheby’s in 2013 for 43.8 million dollars for his representation of cascading  electric blue and  “White On White” by Kazimer Malevich who became famous for his barely visible use of texture and variations of white on an off-center,  skewed box set in a rectangle.

Maybe we look at these things, and don’t see the genius. However, somebody who matters in the artistic field thinks differently. Their work is hanging in museums. How many of your works garner attention? They’re rewarded by other creative minds for taking the ordinary and representing it in a new way.

That brings us to the car engineer, John DeLorean, who in 1975 manufactured a stainless steel car with doors that opened from bottom to top, instead of the traditional right to left sideways movement we’ve come to expect. The car resembled a bird in flight when its doors were both opened. This already respected automotive leader gained work-wide fame for his concept and execution. If the doors opened in the traditional way, it may have been viewed as just another car.

In America, hot dog eating contests are popular in the summer months. You might wonder how many ways can there be to eat a hot dog? If you think only one way, then that’s your first mistake and you would never win any contests with this limited view.

Let’s take a look at what the winners did. The rules stated the contestants must eat the hot dog, the bun and may drink water. No rule existed as to the order or combination. Most contestants followed the tradition of eating the hot dog in the bun and sipping water after swallowing. However, this was proven to be a most inefficient method.

In 2012, Japanese Takeru Kobayashi won the contest at the New York State Fair in Syracuse by soaking the buns in warm water to constrict his stomach, and swallowing the hot dogs separately. This man, who weighed 128 pounds and stood 5 feet 6 inches tall, ate 110 hotdogs in ten minutes! No one had ever done it this way. He was within the guidelines, but realizing the inherent limitations of the traditional way, changed the methodology which led to success.

This brings us to American Joey Chestnut, who in 2015 won the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest by splitting the hot dog in half and soaking the buns in hot water. Weighing over 200 pounds and standing at 6 feet 3 inches, he ate 61 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes! Again, he was within the guidelines, but changed the methodology to emerge a winner.

Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? You can just imagine how many people asked this question after witnessing the success of others who thought outside the box. Creativity does not imply the impossible.

Often, it’s a matter of discarding old ideas and habits to see solutions and possibilities in a new way. I know that to be successful we must throw out all previously accepted knowledge and start at the beginning. If we blindly accept others’ conclusions, how do we know they haven’t made a mistake or omission in their conclusions? Do it yourself from the beginning to verify facts, then keep going. Approach from a different angle. Question the status quo. Where’s the inefficiency? The gap? The not-yet-tried option?

It doesn’t matter if it hasn’t been done before. That’s what being creative is all about. It only takes one person with the power to say yes to change the outcome of your life. Ignore the nay sayers and stay the course. Analyze. Think. Create. Publicize.

Good luck. Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Creating A Non-Toxic Home Environment

© 2016 All rights reserved









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