"Write what you need to read." ~Brene Brown

Friday, September 25, 2020

Eight Universal Cultural Principles

The deep woods awaken that which is deeply spiritual in all of us

Angeles Arrien was a cultural anthropologist, award-winning author, educator, and consultant. She lectured and conducted workshops worldwide, bridging cultural anthropology, psychology, and comparative religions. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages. 

She cited eight principles which are present in over 85% of the world’s cultures. It has been said that the first step in creating agreement is finding common ground. Recently, I discovered my notes from hearing her speak in Portland in March, 1998. I offer these principles as food for thought for us as we strive for peace, and away from devolving into bigoted, violent and dehumanizing culture wars. It's good to know that there is a lot that most of us have in common when it comes to what we value, what heals us, and our sources of inspiration. 

In her introduction to her lecture, she cited three things we could do every day for our spiritual well being (in whatever spiritual form makes sense to your understanding of spirit)
  • Pray. (Set a sacred intention - something you hold as a sincere vow)
  • Give sincere gratitude every day. It is one of the arms of love.
  • Take a life-affirming action every day. (life calling, heartfelt, fostering integrity, an anonymous act of kindness).
And now on to the eight universal principles which the vast majority of humanoid cultures hold in common:

1.      Diet – A healthy diet sustains our good health and well being.  In order for us to feel healthy and to enjoy a sense of well being, we must take care of putting ourselves in order. A healthy diet is four fold in nature and we must not starve ourselves in any one of the four:

Physical – exercise, grooming, bathing

Mental – What are we creating in our minds with our thoughts, with our daydreams? Where do we choose to put our awareness? Daydreams set up the matrix for self-fulfilling prophecies. What we think about we bring about. 

Emotional – How do we tend to our emotional health? Playing or listening to music which can induce a mood, bubble baths, gardening, painting, creating, getting lost in time.

Spiritual – How do I feed my soul? Through meditation, prayer, cultivating practices that focus on the breath and connecting to that which is greater than ourselves (Nature, God, Earth, Energy).


2.     Music – Music that we love provides us with a kinesthetic – visceral experience. Some people experience synesthesia.
We all have power songs that can help us to feel better. Playing instruments or listening to music.
Music ignites memories – connections to people, places, special events.
If you sing, you can tell the truth. When we sing together, we feel a sense of unity. The sound of our own voices singing or chanting can have a positive effect on our immune systems. Rhythmic drumming can also strengthen our immune systems.
- In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions:
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul. Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.



3.     Play, laughter, humor, fun  - Norman Cousins wrote a book about his experience using laughter as therapy  for his illness.
“Beware of the man who laughs and his belly does not jiggle. 
That is a dangerous person.” ~ Confucious.
Patch Adams, as a doctor, has taught physicians the importance of connection, humor, and play with patients. 


4.     Love, touch, support systems – The healing power of love is underestimated. We need people in our lives who will acknowledge us and value us as we value them. These are support systems which can be personal and professional. In order to maintain a sense of emotional well being, we need a circle of healing agents in our lives. 
As humans, we are driven to connect. Connection, it has been said, is the opposite of addiction. Infants fail to thrive when they do not establish healthy connections with caregivers who provide us with love, acknowledgment, soothing, a sense of safety and well being.
In western culture we have more pets and stuffed animals providing us with love, touch, support.


5.     Creativity- Feeling needed and valued for creative contribution: Gardening, sewing, painting, sculpting, woodwork. Getting into transcendent time is a sweet comfort.


6.    A belief in the supernatural – Outside or within one’s nature there remains a mystery, a faith.
- Four places in nature where we can go to remember the mystery: 
            Mountain, Desert, Deep woods, Ocean.


 I have a feeling that my boat

                  has struck, down there in the depths,
                  against a great thing
               And nothing happens! 
                    --Nothing happens? 
                  Or has everything happened,
                  and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life? ~
Juan Ramón Jiménez



7.     Environment – Three environments:
Nature  - Being in nature supports our health and well-being. We need at least one hour outdoors every day.
Created environments (feng shui) Equal proportions of straight and curved lines, color, textures, smells, sounds
Inner World – Our own senses of ourselves. Self 


8.    Exercise – It is mood lifting, necessary, and a vital component of cultivating a healthy and well functioning immune system. 

What type of exercise calls for you to do it?

Exercise provides us with a sense of well being. It releases endorphins.

Movement is life! ~ Moshe Feldenkrais 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Do What We Can Do to Be Greener Series #1: You Can Stop Using Plastic Utensils

Eight days ago, on a day when I was feeling particularly doomed by the negativity of the political atmosphere, and when I was beginning to feel like shutting down, I decided that maybe I needed to figure out what I needed to do in order to create change. Waiting for our politicians to work it out is a recipe for misery.
Here's my change for today:  No more accepting plastic disposable utensils when eating out. I already take my fancy-schmancy drink thermos with me - why not take my own fork?
If this would catch on, we could work wonders. I did some rudimentary math using my shitty Social Worker math skills and here's what I came up with:  There are 300 million of us in this country. If half of us started to say no to plastic utensils and straws because we keep our own with us, and let's say we did that once a week for a year, that's 7.8 billion fewer sets of utensils in our environment. 
Inspired by a high school classmate who told me she carries a set of utensils in her bag, I decided to make a cloth bag for my mother and myself to take with us when we are out and about. She has been keeping chopsticks in her purse and is totally on board after getting an 'atta girl yesterday, for walking a drink carrier back to the counter.
This cloth kit has room for knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, straw, straw cleaner, and toothbrush. There's a pocket on the end. Cloth napkin? Floss? toothpaste?  Wine bottle opener?  Hey, I like that last one. (Note to self).

Here's how I made it:

1.  Get 1/2 yard of 44/45" material.

2.  Cut a strip of the material that's 1 1/4" wide
3.  Fold the strip in half lengthwise and sew a 1/4" seam around the edges, leaving an opening so you can turn it inside-out.

4. Turn the strip inside-out to make a tie for your bag.

5. Sew the opening shut
6. With right sides together, sew edges together, leaving an opening to turn it inside-out
7, Turn it inside-out
8. Press seams flat
9. Sew opening shut

10. fold cloth over 1/4 to 1/3 from bottom and pin where you want to sew channels

11. Sew channels, fold middle of tie and tuck it into the seam on the far right outside edge.

12. Fold top edge down, place your utensils in the channels, and roll it up.

13. Tie a bow and you are done.
Congratulations on your completed portable reusable utensil kit. Now, let's get out there and reduce our disposable usage, one spork at a time!!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Mmmm! Peach Orange Blueberry Cobbler, or is it a Crumble?

Is it a political statement or a dessert?  
Cobbler or Crumble?

...Celebration, or Consolation?  

Who knows. All I know is that with all the talk on the news these past two years, I find myself wanting some tasty hot fruit dessert with peaches in it.  Gosh, I miss Emily Litella, don't you?  If you don't know who that is, look her up on the youtube. You can laugh with Gilda Radner while your delicious fruit dessert is baking.  

Alternatively,  you can watch Bullet with Steve McQueen, and see if you can do so without having that Sheryl Crow song going through your head. My poor mother can't take it any more because sadly, I'm unable to even carry a tune in a bucket.

Originally, I thought about making a crumble. The thing is that a good crumble requires the use of an obscene amount of butter and brown sugar. So I decided to go Full British Bake-off and tinker with a "heart healthy" blueberry cobbler recipe. While I probably wouldn't have been star baker, hey. You can't go wrong with cobbler. Especially when you add Grand Marnier.

But I digress.

Here's what I did:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I made two. a small one in a 1 quart dish, and a smaller one in one of those little rectangular pyrex baking dishes. Grease them up.


  • 4 peaches
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • a little knob of ginger, peeled
  • an orange
  • 2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 2 tbsp corn starch.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk (it's between you and your conscience or preference from nonfat to whole..)
  • graham cracker crumbs from one rectangle.. the kind that breaks into 4

Remove the pits from 4 peaches, slice them 1/4" thick, then in half. Arrange them artfully in the baking dish. Then put some blueberries, artfully on top of them.

Use about 1/2 cup juice from the orange, the grand mariner, and the knuckle of ginger. Peel & grate the ginger, and mix it in with about 1 tbsp sugar.  Or just put everything in a blender and whip it until the ginger gets whacked all up, then strain and Pour it over the fruit, evenly.

Mix together the ingredients for the cobbler/crumble and pour over the fruit. Then sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the top. That way the dessert won't know if it is a cobbler or a crumble. 

By now the oven should be warm enough. Put them in there and set the timer for 40 minutes. Bake them until they are golden and bubbling with hot delicious burst blueberry deliciousness. If it's not golden after 40 minutes, keep it in there, checking every 5 minutes.  If you leave it in there long enough, it will taste of carbon... 

If you're an anglophile, you can serve it with hot custard.  You could just serve it out of the baking dish plain, or you could use whipped cream or ice cream. I leave that ENTIRELY up to you.  My mom ate some with ice cream. She likes the mixture of hot cobbler and cold ice cream. 

Irrespective of your perspective on current events, a nice sweet dessert makes a nice break from all the news, does it not? And isn't it nice that there are still some things we can all appreciate?

Have a lovely weekend everyone - my blog is done, and I am on track with my blog a week goal. Plus, I made a yummy. 

I'll leave you with some profound wisdom and an ear worm courtesy of Sheryl Crow:

"We got rock stars in the White House
All our pop stars look like porn
All my heroes hit the highway
They don't hang out here no more

You can try me on my cell phone
You can page me all night long
But you won't catch this free bird
I'll already be long gone

Like Steve McQueen
All we need's a fast machine
And we're gonna make it all right
Like Steve McQueen
Underneath your radar screen
You'll never catch us tonight!"

Friday, February 22, 2019


I picked up a new word for my vocabulary last week. 
Any technological innovation carries the seeds for good and not-sah-good.
New to me. I heard this word for the first time at a gathering of Social Workers celebrating the 20thanniversary of a distance learning program made possible through innovations in technology.  Apparently it has been around for a while.It is the brainchild of a man named BJ Fogg who created the word in 1996. He used the acronym CAPT (Computers As Persuasive Technology) to create a field of study which he conducts at the Stanford Design Lab. Since 1993, he has been studying how computers can be used to persuade people to change their attitudes and behaviors. 
"Why should we care?" you say.
Most of us carry a little computer  around with us wherever we go. They track us, they inform us, they help us. They also hold the potential to lead us down some dark collective rabbit holes, even though we may be all by ourselves in the process, and we may feel utterly safe and completely confident.  
This is an important word to learn and understand because there is a wealth of behavioral psychology driving it. As it turns out, BJ Fogg is well versed in behavioral psychology. As he has been studying how computers can be used to persuade people to change their attitudes and behaviors, he has discovered the potentials as well as the pitfalls. He and his students have applied what they have learned about human behavior to apply it to how your behavior and your mindset can be manipulated as you use social media.  Understanding these concepts is what one of my teachers used to describe as “consumer protection for your mind.”

The more technology advances, the more we can advance. Unfortunately, the same technology that leads us toward positive gains can be used for more nefarious purposes.  Here's an example I read recently as I was driving along:
Car accidents are one thing.  We can do other dark deeds as we click, share, text, and snap. We may feel virtuous, but we as humanoids have blind spots.  We all want to be good people, but sometimes our best intentions can be deadly. Nobel prize winning author of the Gulag Archipelago and survivor of said Soviet Socialist gulags Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, 
 “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Another metaphor for this concept comes from the Cherokee story of the old man who told his grandson that two wolves live inside each of us: one that is evil. It is filled with anger, jealousy, revenge, hatefulness, prejudice, false pride, guilt, arrogance, and malice. The other is good. It is filled with love, joy, kindness, compassion, serenity, and generosity. The old man told his grandson that these two wolves battle with one another. The grandson thought about it and asked, “which wolf wins?” The old man replied, “the one we feed.”

In his first inaugural address, President Lincoln spoke to the impending civil war. His final words were, “I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Steven Pinker chose that beautiful last phrase as the title for a whole book on the subject. In his book, he spoke to our human drive to violence, and that we must be mindul of our innate capacity for violence.  In his book, he described five inner demons that Motivate us toward violence. They are as follows:
  1. Predation:  Our genetically inherited urge to compete for survival. The innate drive to “kill or be killed.
  2. Dominance:  An internal drive to gain power or position.  We compete for access to resources, and have a drive to Again, this is an innate drive to attain resources: food, water, shelter, desirable mates for reproduction.
  3. Revenge:We have within us a pleasure response to meting out revenge upon those whom we have come to dislike.. 
  4. Sadism:Sadly, human beings derive pleasure in causing pain for others. It explains why many of us love to watch horror movies as a form of entertainment.  Here's a word you may have seen recently. Schadenfreude.  (It's German).
  5. Ideology:  We formulate ingroups who hold a commonly held collection of ideas of right and wrong. We are right. They are wrong. We hold the moral high ground and they have been corrupted by evil.  We justify the slaughter of those who stand in the way of our ideological beliefs as a necessary sacrifice in the name of all that we see as holy.  THEY are being duped by ‘Fake News.’
Since I mentioned all that is holy, let us turn then, to the Countering the four Better Angels of our nature that move us away from violence. They are:

  1. Empathy:  A concern for the well-being of others which stops us from harming people and perhaps offer support and understanding. We identify with the plight of the other. 
  2. Self-Control:  Our capacity to refrain from acting impulsively. This capacity is one that shows up in greater and lesser amounts, and is a capacity that we strengthen with practice. I am reminded of an Aikido practitioner commenting that the world would be a safer place if everyone practiced Aikido, which involves self-control and the ability to protect oneself without harming another.
  3. Moral Sense:  the difference between what’s generally accepted as “right” and “wrong” can provide us with a compass that can help us navigate our way out of violence. Some people derive this from their spiritual beliefs. Some derive it from ideology or philosophy. 
  4. Reason:Fortunately, with the innovation of our cerebral cortexes, we developed the power of reason. Some of us were taught the art of critical thinking in school. Critical thinking calls upon us to analyze objective facts to form judgments. 

At this point, you may be thinking, “But wait a minute Liz, aren’t some of those better angels seeming very similar to that fifth demon? That's what makes this whole thing so complicated, and it's why I would redirect you once again to that quote from Solzhenitsyn.

This is where life gets messy, and why our current newsfeeds are awash with items that trigger our emotions, and which beg us to click “Like” “Love” or “share.”  

It's what gets the tables flipped at Thanksgiving dinners, and what caused all sorts of people to cull their friends lists on the morning of November 9, 2016.  Or thereabout.

People have joked that there is no HATE option. That’s part of the psychology. You feel virtuous in your small click of the mouse because it’s a positive action. It’s funny. You love it. It makes you think, “Wow.” Or you want to share that the whole darn subject has you steaming between your ear bones, and rightly so. 

Confirmation Bias:  We tend to favor posts, articles, and blogs that align with our pre-existing beliefs. We hold certain biases and naturally we are attracted to items that confirm our beliefs, and we shy away from posts, articles, or people who would disconfirm our beliefs. 

We don't wish to have our mind palaces disrupted. 

How many times do we share something impulsively because it fills us with revulsion? We become outraged and want everyone to know that such and such a thing has happened. We add lines to emphasize how despicable it is, or what we wouldn’t want to do to that person if we could catch up with them. 

And then a few days or weeks later, we come to the realization that there was more to the story. We may be quite loathe to acknowledge it because of our confirmation bias, but there it is.  It all happened with a tiny, innocent click of the mouse, or tap on your phone.

Let's get back to professor Fogg again for a moment.  He has a formula to explain human behavior. It may be grossly simple, but it's worth taking a look.  Here is the formula. 

Here is how to understand the formula:

Your Behavior can be a result of your motivation, your ability, and a trigger.  
Trigger warning: A trigger is something that stimulates us to consider an action. Here's how it works. If you are triggered to do 20 pushups because you read it's good for your health, you may have high motivation. If, however, you are overweight and out of shape as I am currently, your ability is low. Even if your motivation is high, your low ability will keep you from the behavior that would lead to being able to do 20 pushups. You WILL fail. If, however,  You need to find an intermediary activity you can do that would lead you, with improvement over time, to those pushups, you will carry out the behavior and you will, in time, succeed. Yay, you.

How does this apply to social media?  It's so easy to click a button or tap your phone screen. If you're highly inflamed, inspired, etc., they got you. Click bait. That's how posts go viral. The more you can't wait to share it, the more you'll give in to the impulse. 

The reason why it's good to come out of your bubble and have a look around is that if you don't, you run the risk of developing a blind spot. Your group may suffer from Groupthink.  You might share something that is hurtful, wrong, or that might incite violence. I just watched a video today where person A punched person B over an idea. Suddenly a nice person has become hateful. While I describe a physical manifestation, raise your hand if you've ever gotten into a heated exchange over the inter webs?  It can be addicting, and it can bring out things in us that we'd best leave as just inside-our-own-mind ideas. 

What happens when people begin to fear that if they have a thought which does not align with the narrative of the group, they may be shunned or punched?  They fall silent.  Or they attack the group to find another one. 

Ultimately there is a reason why we have thrived through the healthy debates between people with differing ideas. Our ideas can only be strong if they can hold up to opposing arguments. When we talk to someone who questions us, our ideas get smarter. If we aren't willing to do this, we may develop some bad ideas and not know it because if nobody is going to disagree with you, you may think you're brilliant.  Imagine what a nice world it would be if we could discuss something, admit disagreements, find agreements, and share a nice sandwich and a lemonade?

We are smarter Together.  Jack Johnson sang about Better Together. 
Both are nice.

Here's what John Stuart Mill wrote, and is something to consider embracing (please insert whatever pronouns work for thou. He was a cisgender white male of privilege who lived before such ideas were constructificated):

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”  

                                                                                          ~John Stuart Mill

How do we decide what to share or not to share? I’ll leave you with a beautiful and succinct, easily memorizable quote:

“Is it true; is it kind, or is it necessary?” 
                                             ~The So Crates Dude.

(And how many of you will remember it because I said, "The So Crates Dude instead of just Socrates?)

Okay, well that about wraps 'er up.  Be kind, check for truthfulness, and know that you can't even always count on Snopes because confirmation bias abounds everywhere. Stick to cute puppies and kitties, rainbows and unicorns, and memes that uplift. 

Think before you interact on social media, and practice Schadenfreude avoidance. People will think you're smart.  

Also, please like or share if you found this to be interesting or of use, and then feel free to laugh uproariously at the irony of it all…   And if you're not motivated by these ideas, here's a cute puppy.
The better angels in me see the better angels in you. Thank you for reading. 
AWW. A cute puppy with a heart on her forehead. What's not to like?

Friday, February 15, 2019

How We Respond to Others (and versa vicey)

Is a reflection of how we are in our own hearts.

I've been haunted lately by a story I heard once as we sat around the fire telling stories. It's one of those stories that have been told around campfires for hundreds and thousands of years. So what that tells me is that the subject is not unique to our modern times and our modern problems.  It's a story for EVERY one of us. 
Once, long ago (but really it could have been last week), two monks walked a long and dusty road to the next village on their pilgrimage. They passed the time trading stories and reflecting on the message and merit of each of the stories they told.  One was young and full of ideas and energy. The other was older, and was full of odd stories and mostly questions.

At a certain point, as they deliberated on the nature of good and evil, and whether people could be divided into categories of good and evil, or whether each human being was a mixture of both, they heard the sound of hoofbeats approaching at a rapid pace. As the hoofbeats grew closer and closer, they could feel the ground begin to shake. Then they heard the sound of a whip cracking and a  man Yelling, “Hyaah!”

The horse and cart approached so quickly that the monks were very nearly knocked off their feet! 

As they dusted themselves, the young monk muttered to himself.and shook his fist at the rude person who was now not much more than a cloud of dust. The other monk raised his hand in the direction of the horse and cart now thundering off down the road. “Peace be with you, and may you know happiness and joy wherever you may be headed.”

“How can you say that?” cried the young monk, “He nearly trampled us to death!! He's evil, and should be brought to justice!!"

The older monk, still in a trance of loving best wishes, said, "If that man felt peace, and knew joy and love in his heart, he would not have treated us in such a manner."

The young monk walked along in silence for quite some time before he spoke again. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Self Care is Not Getting a Mani-Pedi.

Self care is about upgrading your self image. 

Self care is about believing in yourself and your purpose in life, even when you are 'surfing the suck.' When your work is piled up and everyone else has called in sick, and you are hours from sleep. Being connected with the nobility of your mission in life will keep you going. It will give you the resolve to ask for the help you need when you need it. People will hear you because nobody wants to stop someone who is on a serious mission. We want to support you. 

Always, always as you do this, take some nice slow, deep breaths. 

The first step is to connect with yourself and to love that person you're connecting with. This month, Ive been doing a daily practice of doing some mirror work.   Louise Hay wrote extensively about it. It’s a powerful exercise to be able to look yourself in the eyes and tell yourself, “I love you. I respect you. Please forgive me. Thank you.”  Try it for 5 minutes a day. I triple dog dare you. 

One thing I have come to know for certain is that into each life, some terrible things will inevitably happen. None of us are immune.  Some people get a lot more accumulation than others, but we are none of us immune. Some people can go through true hell and back and they're still very lovely people. Others can break a nail and they feel doomed. What seems to make a huge difference is attitude.

In his book on Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl wrote that "Everything can be taken away from you but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

When I was in college, I had a very dear friend. She was one of those people who could light up a room with a wry comment and a puff of her clove cigarette. She passed away about 15 years ago and I often wonder what she would be doing with her many talents if she were still walking amongst us.   What brought us to our friendship was that she had kind and mischievous eyes. She was a talented poet and writer. She had a keen sense of humor and a truly kind heart. She was a hard worker, and she was inspiring.  While we were in college, she and a group of friends put up poetry and pieces of writing about women all over campus. For years, those pieces of paper could be found on faculty bulletin boards. 

During our senior year, she attempted suicide after suffering an assault that led to memories of abuses she suffered as a child. Her world came crashing in on her from every direction and she lost hope. She lost a sense of her own brilliance. 

She sought help, and it arrived in the form of a therapist who encouraged her to journal about what had happened. She joined a group of survivors. It became her identity. She ate, slept, dreamed, wrote, and thought about every horrific thing that had happened to her and her siblings. Moshe Feldenkrais taught that we act in accordance with our self image. Her self image had shattered, and was replaced with the identity of hopeless victim.  There were suicide attempts, and there was addiction.

There was the painful day that she confessed having been caught trying to pass a forged script for opioids. She spent the night in jail with a prostitute on the bench next to her placing her head in her lap, sobbing.  She lost her medical transcriptionist job. 

The most current literature on addiction is teaching us that the opposite of addiction is connection. 

Fortunately, my dear friend managed to connect with that part of her that was strong. She got a better therapist. We talked at length about how what she really needed when all of those horrible memories came to haunt her. She needed to be connected to her strong, authentic self. She needed to be connected to her mission in life. She resolved to become that kind of therapist. We made a pact that we would bring hope to people who saw themselves as broken.

Sadly, her body was not strong enough to weather the storm and she passed away before she could enter graduate school. Her experience lit a fire in me, however, and she strengthened my resolve to be a therapist who would help people to shine a light on their gifts, heal the scars, and suck the marrow out of life. 

Everything I have learned in the intervening years points to the same urgent issue:  We need meaning in our lives.  We need to have a reason why we get out of bed every morning.  This notion is what helped Victor Frankl survive a Nazi concentration camp and live on to write several books including Man’s Search for Meaning. In that book he described falling to his knees with a racking cough and a soldier beating him with a rifle butt. He rose to his feet by imagining the reception of a standing ovation as he concluded a speech about his ideas about the importance of having a purpose in life and for taking responsibility for one's own life. 

There are four things we need to thrive:

1.   We need an individual sense of purpose We need to know our “why.” Why am I here? What am I willing to be a stand for? What matters to me so much that I’m willing to defend it? What's your raison d'être (reason for existing?).   Peace Pilgrim said it well when she said, “If only you could see the whole picture, if you knew the whole story, you would realize that no problem ever comes to you that does not have a purpose in your life, that cannot contribute to your inner growth. When you perceive this, you will recognize that problems are opportunities in disguise. If you did not face problems, you would just drift through life. It is through solving problems in accordance with the highest light we have that inner growth is attained.” Sometimes your purpose in life was the seed germinated in some problem you have faced in your life. Milton Erickson recognized it as the solution being inside the problem.
2.    We need an individual sense of capacityOnce we’ve unearthed our mission in life, we need to harness a belief in our ability to do it. I love Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call to belief when he said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”  I also like what Eleanor Roosevelt said: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
3.   We need to connect with a group with a shared common purpose. Once we’ve made a healthy connection with ourselves, or as we endeavor to do so, we also need to be a part of a group with a common cause.  The best groups are those who are working for something. They are working to create something, or lift people up, or teach.  Eckhart Tolle wisely advised that causes succeed when they are working toward something positive. Causes that are named to fight something or someone are doomed to failure.  If you choose a group, choose one that has a constructive common cause. Be discerning. If a cause has words like Anti, or Against, or wants to put an end to a thing, group or individual, beware. It means this group has failed to take the time to agree upon a common cause. When you have only identified what you are fighting against as a group, it is inevitable that the group will become splintered, fractured, and ineffectual.
4.   We need a sense of belonging to a group that has capacity. Your group needs to have a belief in what you are doing, as well as the belief that you can succeed. The group has a common, positive vision that is so  clear and compelling that everyone is working from the same blueprint. You're all paddling in the same direction. Even if it's in shit creek, you all have agreed upon the way through to better waters. Herein lies the importance of knowing what you are for.  When you have only identified what you are fighting against as a group, it is inevitable that the group will become splintered, fractured, and ineffectual. 

So what is your why? What is your raison d'être? The good news is that we all have one. The good news is that at the core of each of our beings is an indestructible source that knows our why. Our values. That thing we hold dearest.  Now is a good time to connect with it, know it, and nurture it. 

Can you define it?  Did you have a why when you were shorter than you are now? What lights you up?

Next question:  Who are your people?  Find the people who have the same hallucinations you have. You can rally each other when the going gets tough. Maybe you can get that mani/pedi together  and have a good long chat about what you hope to accomplish in this lifetime of yours. 

“Every action we take is a vote for the person we want to become.”  ~ James Clear 

There are no victims. Only Volunteers.
Sadly, we're living in an era where people are quick to criticize, call out, criticize, blame, shame, and vilify.  A friend admonished me recently that I needed to choose sides and that if I didn't choose sides, I was colluding with evil. We rally together around things or people we despise. What's the word? Schadenfreude.  It's German. Look it up.  While we may experience a moment of fleeting virtue, quite often we'll regret having jumped on a bandwagon when the rest of the story is revealed. 

Recently, I was told that a student graduating the Social Work program I attended had remarked that she had no idea how oppressed she was until she had attended the program. Contrastingly, I recently participated in an intenSati session where the leader, a woman of color, said, "I see you, fear!  And you know what?  I don't have time for you, Boo-boo, I have things to do!"

Who would you rather hang out with as you planned your future?

An Important Daily Practice