Category Archives: Love

Astonishing People

Life throws Sh*t sometimes – right?

Maybe our marriage ends, or we find out our child has some disabilities, or we loose lots of money, or depression rolls back in, or we get sick, or our neighbor sues us over something petty, or we loose a job or can’t find one.

As my wonderful friend Julia Kittross says, “Everybody’s got something” to deal with.

Mostly, if we’re honest, I think we’d admit to going about life trying to prevent  bad stuff from happening. Sometimes that works and, like the child with his thumb in the dyke, help arrives,  the hole is repaired and the flood waters are contained.  Sometimes, no matter how much we work at our marriage, get the best medical attention, research investments, say our affirmations and focus on the positive, work to be a good neighbor, and brush up our job skills – bad stuff still goes down.

How many times does this have to happen before we get the point?  The point being, life’s not about preventing the bad stuff. It’s about growing into and through the bad stuff. Those challenges, large and small, that tumble us through our days and nights and months and years of this astounding human experience.

I heard a story today that will forever change me – just as the story I heard on the BBC more than 30 years ago led to me become a mental health counselor, this story will change me. I am not sure how.  I sit in awe of this woman. This story. The simple, human kindness offered in the face of near certain death.

If you have yet to hear the story of Antoinette Tuff, it is my privilege to introduce you to her now.

Screen shot 2013-08-23 at 3.26.20 PM

Click on the image to connect to a video of Antoinette being interviewed about how just yesterday, she stopped a gunman who entered the elementary school where she works. And how did she stop him? Not with another gun, that’s for sure!  Just by talking to him. By caring. By discovering her empathy for him; empathy wrought not because Antoinette has managed to dodge life’s tough stuff. Quite the opposite.

Gives me the excuse to quote from another hero of mine – Winston Churchill:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going!”















POST ~ My Gifts

Practice One Small Thing (POST)

Loving Myself #1 ~ My Gifts

Too many words .

My “only 500 word blog posts, I promise” have crept up.

My excuse? Some of these topics have demanded some serious space.

  • Narcissism
  • Suicide
  • Communication
  • Talking to kids

These have deserved some depth. So, what to do to provide readers with ~

  • shorter posts
  • practical content
  • actionable tips
  • in areas of potential interest, i.e., relationship focused

. . . whilst I’m on the road?

Ah – I have to mention the “on the road” bit.  My husband Mark, our daughter Mona and I will be leaving New Zealand on April 19th to spend a month back in the United States to celebrate our son’s graduation from the University of Willamette . Hooray for him!  So, I’ll be posting less regularly.

I’ll also be swept up into a deliciously hectic series of events and even though I’m expecting to be very happy, I know myself well enough to remember it will help me to have some sort of grounding practice: writing, planning, thinking, – a focus for my thoughts.  A possible win-win is this idea.  A series short, tight POSTSPracticing One Small Thing – to forward my overall theme of “Cultivating great relationships with family, friends and self” which I’ll create for my own focus, and then share with you here.

I’ll post 3 times a week, with one idea each time so that, if it seems to serve, you might try one of them as well to deepen your relationship with ~

  • Yourself  –  see the topic Loving Myself
  • Your family — see the topic Loving My Family
  • Your friends  –  see the topic Loving My Friends

OK – for the first sample lets start with loving ourselves:

Today’s POST ~ Enjoying My Gifts

We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.

Mary Dunbar

Right now, just to yourself, name 3 things you know you are good at that you also love to do. If you’re a good hydrogeologist but it’s not what really floats your boat, then don’t claim that. If you’re a good singer/songwriter (even if you’re not Roger McGuinn) and you love it – then go ahead and claim singer/songwriter as a Gift. (Yes Mark – I’m looking at you!)

Go on – risk it.

For me – really quickly, no thinking, no editing?

  1. Generating ideas
  2. Connecting with people
  3. Writing

And for you?

  1. Baking?
  2. Fixing things?
  3. Creating order?
  4. Listening?
  5. Creating Community?
  6. Making connections?
  7. Design?
  8. Playing guitar?
  9. Drawing?
  10. Juggling?

OK – got your 3 things?


Today – commit to being consciously engaged in one of your gifts. Maybe you use your Gift all the time like my friend Richard who’s gifted with a design-eye and works as an architect. OK, so today, swim around a bit in the ease and joy design can bring.  Maybe it’s been hard for you to get time for expressing your gifts today – let yourself  have a few minutes for YOU.

As you do so, notice how good you feel.

Just play in the garden of your own delight.

It is enough!

(It’s no coincidence I write a blog now is it – I LOVE writing!)

A Happier World

What if we could all emulate Bhutan, where they measure Gross National Happiness? Apparently the United Nations agrees and in support of this “emerging shift in priorities, the very first United Nations International Day of Happiness is being held on 20th March this year.”

You can read a fuller article by Dr. Mark Williamson in The Daily In continued celebration of my March 20th Birthday (since it’s now March 20th all the other time zones!), I’m reprinting Mark’s Manifesto for a Happier World. Enjoy!

PS: Fun to note he advocates prioritizing relationships and happy homes.

For our political leaders:

Ensure a Stable Economy. A healthy economy is the foundation for happiness and wellbeing. We need an equitable economic system which puts long-term stability and high levels of employment ahead of “growth at all costs”.

Focus on Wellbeing. What we measure is what we get. In addition to conventional financial indicators, we need our governments to measure people’s wellbeing and consider the impact on wellbeing – for both current and future generations – in all policy decisions.

Support the Disadvantaged. Priority should be given to improving the wellbeing of those who are most in need, not just through financial support but also by empowering people and helping them to help themselves.

Prioritise Human Relationships. Relationships are central to our wellbeing. We need to prioritise healthy relationships in all policy areas, especially through support for troubled families and children in their early years.

For our institutions:

Healthcare for Mind And Body. Mental health is just as vital as physical health. We need a healthcare system that prioritises both mental and physical health and provides high quality support for all those struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental illness.

Education For Life. Education is about learning for life, not just gaining academic qualifications. We need schools that help children develop character and learn essential life skills, like emotional intelligence, mindfulness and resilience.

Responsible Business. Truly successful businesses have happy employees and a purpose beyond profit. We need workplaces where people feel valued and trusted and where sustainable and ethical behaviour is at the heart of all decision-making.

Balanced Media. The way we perceive the world affects what we do and how we treat each other. We need a media that portrays a balanced view of what’s good as well as bad in our world, not a constant diet of cynicism and negativity.

For each of us as individuals:

Family Values. Happy homes are the bedrock of a happy society and, above all, we need to cultivate warm and loving family relationships. For our children, our priority should be their emotional health and helping them to develop positive values and attitudes.

Contributing In The Community. When we connect with and help others around us, everyone benefits. We need to get involved in our local communities, be good neighbours and support those in need. Our actions can help to build trust and reduce isolation.

Making A Difference. Our working lives should be about more than just earning a living. Whatever job we do, we should aim to make a meaningful contribution – and help create a workplace culture which is trusting, friendly and responsible.

Taking Care of Ourselves. We can’t contribute to a happier society unless we take care of our own well-being too. We all need to look after our health, both physical and mental, and develop within us the life skills and attitudes needed for a happy and fulfilling life.

Together our actions make a profound difference. We can call for change from our leaders but we can also “be the change” in the way we approach our lives and the way we treat others. So if you share this vision for a happier and more caring world, please take the pledge to create more happiness and do whatever you can to support the Day of Happiness on 20 March.


Best FREE Birthday Gifts

Since today is my birthday, I’m offering you 3 things:

  • The best ever birthday gift idea for your child
  • The best ever birthday gift idea for adults with milestone birthdays
  • A self-indulgent birthday reflection from me that puts this blog well over my attempt to stay under 500 words ~ with no apology!

First,  in no particular order, here are 20 Gratitudes for the year just past.

I’m deeply grateful that I ~

  1. Started a private Relationship Therapy Practice in Auckland ( a whole new hemisphere, continent, country and city);
  2. Hiked the Tongariro Crossing with Mark
  3. Visited Hobbiton, Rivendel, Mount Doom & The Shire
  4. Became a vegetarian (too many cute lambs in NZ – am confining myself to plants and fish)
  5. Celebrated 30 years of a darned good marriage to Mark by renting a “Wicked Camper” and exploring New Zealand’s South Island for 10 days
  6. Grew even closer to Mark, Charlie and Mona
  7. Stayed in touch as best I could with dear friends and family far away
  8. Started to learn to sail
  9. Celebrated some fun July/August and December/January family adventures in NZ
  10. Tried fishing (NZ’s national sport, up there with Rugby). Didn’t catch a thing, felt  sea-sick, and now I can “retire” from this sport
  11. Made some dear new friends in New Zealand
  12. Became a regular guest on a weekly, national Live Radio Show
  13. Created a native bush front garden in our Beachlands home
  14. Started some regular clinical conversations with Dan Wile
  15. Swam many times in a turquoise ocean with my dogs at Shelly Bay Beach
  16. Started SUPing (Stand Up Paddle Boarding)
  17. Created a 4x1x1/2 meter raised bed filled entirely of grass clippings and horse poop which has yielded fabulous toms, spinach, courgettes and several unrecognizable brassicas  (I bought a bunch of starts)
  18. Hand fed the Lemurs at Auckland zoo
  19. Started this blog (thanks to the Radio Show’s nudge)
  20. Made some blogging friends (Hi Guys!) . So wonderful to make friends with no geographic limitations.

OK – now my TWO BEST GIFTS EVER ( I am not prone to hyperbole). One for children and one for adults. They are free, meaningful, build community, are easily stored, will be enjoyed into future generations,  and guaranteed to leave everyone involved feeling terrific.

KIDS ~ The “Bound” Birthday Letter

When Charlie turned 14 I realized he’d grown so much and while I kept family scrapbooks, I was worried I might forget who he was on the inside.  So Mark and I wrote an extended letter to Charlie. I started simply with ~

My Darling Charlie, Today you are fourteen. Somehow this seems so much older than thirteen.

And off I went. I spoke about what I had seen him struggle with, and overcome. I remembered funny quotes he’d come up with,  observations he’d had about life, school, our family, his future. I noted his interests – books, movies, games.  Mark spoke about things they shared – becoming a man, music, skiing and snowboarding and the values Mark holds as important for life: expressing feelings, being thoughtful, becoming a good listener.

I wanted to make the gift a bit more interesting than “just” a letter, so I printed it on card stock, and found some photos of Charlie through the year.

Around lunch time I took the pages and photos over to Kinkos. I asked to have the pages laminated in a particular order and then spiral bound.

“And you need this when?”

“By 6:00pm tonight” I pipe up – “It’s Charlie’s birthday dinner and this is our gift.”

The 30 something employee looked at his watch, looked at the backlog of work, looked at this funny collection of pages and photos and sighed.

“I dunno lady. Call before you come. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Oh thank you – it will make the whole event!” I beamed.  And set off to make the lemon poppy-seed cake Charlie loves.

I came back at 6:00pm I didn’t call first.

As I walked in I saw my helper beckon to me, so I sidestepped a long line.

“Hey” he said, thrusting the brown bag over to me with no obvious  invoice. I looked up – there were tears in his eyes,

‘Tell Charlie Happy birthday from me. He’s one lucky kid.”

He turned away before I could pay.

Before dinner,  as we sipped sparking apple juice from champagne flutes, I told Charlie the story of his gift before Mark and I read it aloud to him. This was the first of what has become a treasured tradition for both Charlie and our daughter Mona.  We Charlie's Booksall wiped tears from our eyes at the kindness of this Kinkos worker who – granted he had read the letter (wouldn’t you?)  –  understood the simple value of a loving letter, and added his gift into the mix.

The first Kinkos bound book is there on the upper center. His books for ages 15, 16 & 17 are there too.

Mona's BooksSince Mona is 4 years younger, we started her Bound Letters with her 10th birthday. Here’s her current stash to the left.

In early preparation for his 18th, we asked Charlie what he wanted. Mark proposed a new guitar. Charlie said no – he couldn’t think of anything he needed or wanted beyond a “Dad’s famous meatloaf dinner” with family and a few friends. Maybe an art book.

I saw a possibility for  “More letters”! I wrote to  extended family and friends who’d been special to Charlie over the years. Charlie's 18 I let them know he was turning 18. I sent them a one page summary of who he was now – and a photo (some folks had not seen him since he was tiny). I asked if they could please use the addressed enclosed envelope to send something for Charlie’s 18 – a poem, some advice, a comic, a funny anecdote. Maybe a photo.

Over 30 letters, cards, notes and a few gifts turned up. It took almost the whole day to go through them all. Some made us laugh. Some cry. Charlie 18 Album

Charlies 18 album babyI turned them into a larger album which had one page dedicated to each year of his life, with the letters stored in the back. To the immediate right is the Birth to One page, and to the right of that, Charlie s last year of high school complete with Prom photo.

Mona turns 18 this June 2nd. Her only request so far? “Mum, can I have the letters?”

ADULTS ~ The Birthday Retreat

Why wait for the wake?

For my 50th I took the liberty of letting my friends and family know – as I sent out our  Annual Christmas letter – that I’d be turning 50 on March 20th. My plan was to spend 4 glorious days in solitude (well – with the 2 dogs) at Rocky Ridge Yurt and I’d love to bring in any letters anyone felt inspired to write in return for a long, hand written response.  I said I’d love anything along the lines of “Now you are turning 50 here’s what I want you to know…”  or whatever anyone felt moved to send. In all honesty, I figured I’d have 12 things to bring in (I counted on the loyal aunts, immediate family and a few close girl friends). This would have been bliss enough. I adore snow, silence, chopping wood, and the company of wild things.  No letters would have been fine too actually!Into the Yurt

In the end, I hauled 55 letters and packages into the Yurt. I skied in, pulling an unwieldy sledge – here I am staging things in our front garden.

And all unpacked at the Yurt (below) . I apportioned the letters out over the 4 days I was there – reading and responding to each, one at a time. I had 55 mini tea-parties and birthday conversations, all alone up there with people I love.  Bliss! This too has become a simple album – with all the letters in plastic pages.

50 Largesse50th Album

Too much more to write.

I could dedicate a small book to how these letters have impacted our years and lives. I’d love to think the idea might catch on.

I would adore to hear of other non-material, meaningful gifts you’ve thought of for yourself or others.

Happy (un) Birthday to you all.


Do they make a difference?

Thinking of Pope Francis I as he anticipates becoming leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics  I find myself wondering what sort of vow he makes in relationship to those he serves. And if he does make a vow, does it help guide his behavior in any way?

Since 1688 in Great Britain, for example, Parliament changed the Oath an incoming monarch would say to identify that ultimately (unlikely as this might seem) power lay with the people through Parliament and the monarch had to swear they would act  “according to their respective laws and customs.” There is of course also a whole bunch of obedience to the Protestant Church who originally held great power – but that’s for another blog post! However, if a King or Queen gets too uppity, in theory, we can get them out. There is a public pledge of understanding about the expected rules of reciprocity: “You be King but don’t get too out of hand, we’ll all enjoy the pomp and circumstance.”

Which has me wondering about marriage vows. Working with so many couples — some married formally with the big white wedding; some married simply in a back yard but none-the-less legally bound; some cohabiting, maybe with a housewarming bash to mark the event; some who drifted together with no “promises” in place; and of course, gay and lesbian couples who’d love more legal status yet who get creative in terms of formalizing their unions — I see a huge variety in the degree of Vows, or “expected rules of reciprocity.”

I’ve yet to conduct a survey exploring the correlation between these agreed-upon “rules of reciprocity” and marital satisfaction – but it might prove interesting.

Here are the vows Mark and I said to one another on November 20th 1982. We adopted these from dear friends Julia and Stuart. Feel free continue adopting and adapting if they fit for you!

I take you to be no other than yourself

To love and comfort you

Honor and keep you

In sickness and in health

In sorrow and in joy.

Loving what I know of you

Trusting what I don’t yet know

With respect for your integrity

And faith in your abiding love for me

Through all our years

And in all that life may bring us

I greet you as my husband/wife.

Reading these again now (and as we do around each anniversary) I have to say, without wanting to be trite or corny, I think they’ve played their part on our successful journey toward one another over the past 30+ years. I’ll start my survey tonight by asking Mark what he thinks!






Can I Trust Again?

Would you let an elephant stand over you?

If you’ve never met Tara and Bella their love and trust are inspiring. Tara & Bella

For someone whose spouse has been unfaithful, it can seem easier to imagine a huge elephant foot hovering over their ribcage than it can be to imagine offering their heart to this person again.

What IS trust?

How do we earn it in the first place, and is it possible to restore trust once it’s broken?

Trust is earned as we run 3 criteria* through our emotional and logical filters.

  • INTENTION – an emotional evaluation ~ does this person mean to do me good?
  • CAPABILITY – a logical assessment ~ is this person capable of doing what they say?
  • HISTORY – a logical proof ~ in the past, has this person been predictable and reliable?

We probably all know folks who seem to trust way too easily, becoming vulnerable with no logical input. Conversely, too much logic and we’ll never allow ourselves to be vulnerable . That’s the “magic” if you will, of trust.  It’s that Goldilocks place where we are “advisedly vulnerable.”

So – how did Bella come to trust Tara, and visa versa? How can we begin to rebuild trust with someone who has hurt us badly?

For Tara and Bella – they sensed their mutual “Lets-be-friends” intentions; they were both capable of bringing joy through play and loyalty; and historically, day by day, they built up evidence to support these truths. Bingo – massive trust such that Bella can lie on her back and know the vast foot rubbing her tummy will be comforting, not crushing.

I have found that even when two partners both want their relationship to heal after a breach of trust, the process is confounded by ~

  • Lack of a clear goal (how will we know when trust is regained?)
  • Paralysis over the first step  (is it forgiving, forgetting, penance, transparency – what?)
  • Aftershocks (waves of loss, betrayal and hopelessness undermine honest effort)
  • Foggy Progress (no clear feedback loop for either partner).

Try this.

Both partners focus on the unfaithful partner’s 3 compromised Trust Tanks ~


Considering these three tanks, the hurt partner gets to answer the question:

“When you hear your partner tell you they want to do whatever it takes to win your love and trust back, how full is each of their tanks?”

Trust Tanks

This is a more-or-less typical response.

INTENTION is at 97%  ~ The hurt partner believes their unfaithful partner genuinely wants to repair the damage. This tank will notch up to 100% as the unfaithful partner keeps reassuring the hurt partner that this is exactly what they want – their intention is to keep doing everything they possibly can to win back the trust.

CAPABILITY is at 65% ~ The hurt partner is somewhat encouraged. He/she has noticed that in the effort to re-build trust, their partner has done everything asked of them: made their phones and computer fully transparent; switched departments at work; put a block on the affair partner’s number; worked extra hard to be there for the kids, etc. This tank will slowly fill as the couple discusses the twists and turns of what the hurt partner needs that the unfaithful partner is capable of delivering. E.g., “I realize I need us to have a plan for what happens if we bump into your affair partner one day together.”

HISTORY is at 2% ~ It sounds like bad news to be at only 2%. However, the good news is that this tank can fill one faithful day at a time as history is re-written. The couple can decide if one year is enough to have this tank refilled, or if it will never go above say, 90% in recognition of this event.

Now you have ~

  • A clear goal ~ filling each of the tanks
  • A step by step path ~ as the partners identify what is both needed and possible to fill the tanks
  • Infrastructure ~ to counter the aftershocks, now understandable in the face of low History levels
  • A feedback mechanism ~ by using these percentage estimates to talk about how each tank is filling.

May your journey toward “advised vulnerability” bring you to a place of safety so, like Bella and Tara, you can walk in the woods and wag your tails together.

* I heard these distinctions of trust at a Family Therapy conference ages ago. Long since lost my notes and can’t remember whom to credit. If you know – do write me. I’d love to be able to give credit and read more by who-ever-wrote about this first.


“Talk to me baby!”

Here’s the question ~

Is it possible to have real, juicy, effective and intimacy-building conversations without sounding like you’ve morphed into some self-help sap, or are reading aloud from a psychologist’s best-practices manual?

Of course!

Listen up.

Inspired by Dan Wile  – a wonderful California-based couples therapist whose work champions building intimacy one conversation at a time – I’m presenting my own take on how you can show up as the non-communications-major, bumbling, inarticulate, feisty and often forgetful self that you are and still have the real, juicy, effective and intimacy-building conversation you both crave.

  • Presume incompetence   Unless every conversation goes smoothly, and leaves you and your partner feeling more connected and in love, you’re probably a novice communicator like the rest of us.  So – since this is most likely the truth – embrace it.
  • Leap first   Reveal your hand. It’s a great way to start. See the previous post on  7 steps for speaking with your partner more effectively. It might get things started if you let your partner know some of the things brewing for you.
  • Flush out the Demons   Our minds are never tabula rasa in conversations. It helps if you can notice what you’re dragging around: a sugar headache, an assumption you’re fixing to confirm, a flaw you’re trying to catch-in-action, a point you’re trying to prove. If you can just fleetingly be aware of these – even if you can’t flush them out – maybe you can herd them to the corner so you can listen with fewer distractions.
  • Do the Hokey Pokey   Put your whole self in. Listening is highly physical (and cognitive – see next point). Don’t sit there like a stuffed panda: Nod some. Get closer. Lean forward. Furrow the old brow if you’re confused. Engage with what your partner is telling you with an impressive array of body parts.
  • Sweat some   It’s hard work listening. Engage that pre-frontal cortex (it uses about a bagel’s worth of energy a day). If you don’t turn on the brain and think about what you’re hearing, odds are good you’ll miss 25-50% of what’s coming at you. So, reassure your partner you’re “actively listening” as the good communications experts invite us to do. This will help you to…
  • Interrupt   Sure, it can lengthen the time it will take you and your partner to hash a topic through, but you’ve already presumed incompetence on both your parts. If you want to interrupt because you’ve genuinely lost the plot and want to understand – go for it. Get their attention, jump up, lean back in your chair with a “Woa there, I think I’m getting this but you lost me when you said … can you put it another way?” But, if you want to interrupt because you want to make your point and stop understanding your partner, then don’t. In other words, interrupt to clarify not to steal the floor.
  • Disagree   At some point your partner will wind down. Now, hold on tight to the idea that you do not need to agree with what they said – all you have to do is let them know that you know what they said.  Try saying “I’m not saying I agree with you – I may or may not, I’ve not thought about it yet – but I do want to be sure that I am getting things from your point of view. So, for you it’s about . . . “.  And off you go – summarizing your partners main points.
  • Common Enemy   The goal of all this week’s postings has been to help you get to know what’s going on inside of you with sufficient clarity that you can talk about it with your partner and unite together on the same side against the common enemy of disconnect-in-the-face-of-whatever-it-was-you-were-originally-fighting-about.

I would dearly love to know if any of these suggestions are helpful – or not! Thanks in advance. Gemma

“I Feel Like You Should..”

“I feel like you should…”  If this is how you’ve been talking about your feelings, it’s time to learn how to be more honest and effective.

It’s a bit like “I love you, but . . . ”

You’ve lost me at the “but”.

Sometimes, talking to people we love about things that matter is too hard to even get started. This is where emotions come in handy.

I’m blogging about emotions for two reasons.

  • Learning to notice and name what you feel helps you figure out what you need;
  • Learning to talk effectively about what you feel and need is key to great relationships.

Say you and your partner are both foodies. It’s what drew you together. You thought “We both adore cooking, it’s going to be fun!” But after a few months of Honeymoon best-behaviour (when neither of you spoke up for what you really wanted) you began to resent “cuisine compromise.” Neither one of you ever truly made a dish – it was all “What do you think – add the sherry or red wine vinegar?” You longed to have the kitchen to yourself to make a disaster or delicacy all on your own. You’re savvy enough to know you’re supposed to talk feelings and “I” statements so after one helpful tidbit too many you blurt out “I feel like you’re way controlling – I can make a potato salad for heaven’s sake.”

Great start – you’ve noticed a surge of anger and spoken up for something you want.  You’ve let your feeling of “angry” identify your need for “kitchen autonomy.” Odds are your partner won’t take it that well though. You may have lost ‘em at “You’re way controlling.”

Here are 7 steps for speaking with your partner more effectively.

  1. Presume do-overs. Cut yourselves some slack for botched first ( second and third) attempts. It’s rare for couples to talk effectively to one another on the first go-around.
  2. Figure out what you feel. Check your cheat sheet, Parrott Emotions Tree 2001and/or read “I Feel So Bad!
  3. Use your feelings to identify what you need.  See this posting.
  4. Break the ice with something. “Wow – who knew I had such strong feelings about potato salad?”;  “I was a toad in there – sorry! But I’ve figured out why I was all snappy. Are you open to hearing it?”
  5. Just talk through your process. Literally, lead them through what you’ve just done in steps 2 and 3. Tell them how you sleuthed out what you felt and maybe what you think you need.
  6. Get curious. What does your partner feel and need?
  7. Get creative When you both know what you each feel and need you can come together on the same team against the disconnection you both felt. Now you’ll feel more like collaborating together for some win-win solutions.

“Well, we want more independence, but to cook together some too. And new – so maybe a class or two? And guests – livens things up. What else do we want?”

And you’re off.

Watch for that shift from “I” and “You” statements to “We” statements.

This is key!

$86,400 ~ A Day

Part 3 of 5 “Emotions 101.” Today we explore  ~

You get $86,400 a day and you’re “Fine?” How about Astounded, Excited or Triumphant

My friend Byron in Boise, Idaho (USA) told me of a way I can access $86,400 a day, for life. He sent me this gift right as I was writing this post about how to inspire folks to live a little. To discover inner states beyond “OK” and “Fine.” To be motivated to wake up and notice (and maybe sniff) the roses. He told me how I can access this gift today, even in the face of another ordinary, cereal-and-toast, off-to-work, home-again-too-late, TV-and-dinner-and-bed sort of day.

What a gift!  So, I thought I’d share it with you.

It’s something to think about.

Imagine you have won the following prize in a contest:

Each morning your bank deposits $86,400.00 in your private account for your personal use. However, this prize has rules, just as any game has certain rules.

  • Rule #1  ~  Everything you didn’t spend during each day would be taken away. You may not simply transfer money into some other account. You may only spend it. Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.
  • Rule #2  ~  The bank can end the game without warning. At any time it can say, “Game over!” It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

How would you feel?



Or maybe astonished at your luck; relieved at no-more-money-worries; eager to get out and spend; excited about the possibilities; anxious that the game may end without you fully participating; elated at the wanton generosity; longing to make things better for someone else; deeply compassionate for the wider world which now, perhaps, you can help.

Not sure you can find enough good words to describe your inner bliss? Click here ~  Parrott Emotions Tree 2001 ~ for a fabulous list of emotions you can easily sort through.

Wow – what a high!

You can imagine feeling so alive, so vibrant, so present as you take care of yourself, your family and those around you. You’d spend every cent every day since you couldn’t save it. You’d be quivering with the challenge and responsibility for how to make your daily investments of dollars.

What if I told you this was not a game, but reality.

To access your prize, just substitute “Time” for “Dollars”.

Each morning you wake up to another 86,400 seconds as a gift of life.

At the end of the day any unspent seconds will not be credited back to you. You’ll have the memories for how you invested your seconds yesterday. You’ll have the excitement of a whole new 86,400 coming tomorrow – you hope. But the living of these seconds – that’s your own wild and juicy ride.

What to do?

Notice you’re alive! Notice what words you’d use to describe how you feel in these seconds of alive. Are they variations on themes of love, joy, gratitude and surprise? If so, great. Get specific about how great you feel, pay attention to what helps get you to those states, and tomorrow – when you have your next 86,400 second installment – do these things some more.

Start spending!

PS: If you feel bad in the face of your 86,400 seconds see “I Feel So Bad”.

Tomorrow:    “I feel like you should…”  If this is how you’ve been talking about your feelings, it’s time to learn how to be more honest and effective.