"But, that's just the way it is. Right?"

"But, that's just the way it is. I can't do anything about it." Uh, no. Not true. "I have no choice" Uh, no, also not true! The one thing you always have is choice. How you act, how you respond, whether to participate at all - you always make the choice. You may lack immediate control over the immediate situation or the other party, be it an individual or a system, but your choice of behavior always affects future actions and responses.Your participation in the system helps create the system.  It supports the continuation and the manner in which the system operates. When you change your behavior, or refuse to participate, in the way the system is requesting (and seemingly dictating,) the system changes. It must. Whether you are dealing with a single individual and the system is a one to one dynamic, or an entire industry, it's all a dance. And it takes two (at least) to tango, and it requires complicity from the dancers to remain in sync. When you change, you disrupt the system, and the system automatically changes in response. It has not choice.

I recently heard a story of a parent who had their children spending 4 hours a day, for 10 weeks straight, studying for a standardized entrance exam. The family was eager to get the children into the "best" high school possible. Great, right? Goal, plan, execution, success -no problem. The problem is, they were continuously bemoaning their situation and completely blaming the system for forcing them into this desperate and unpleasant situation. feeling powerless in the face of it. Here's where they are misled, their behavior is what fuels the continuation of the system. They (and the rest of us) are the system. They are in relationship with the people in the system and a system is only an aggregate of its members. A system is relationships and nothing more. give and take, action/reaction, mirror and refection.

Check your values, check your sense of personal power meter. Check your complicity levels. Compare the consistency of your values with the actions it takes to participate in the system and achieve your goals.. The ends never justify the means because they are inseperable. 

Be on alert when you buy into a situation and "its" demands, and hear yourself saying you have no choice because that's just the way it is. You don't have to play along, it's your choice, and your choices have consequences, so choose consciously.You can refuse to participate entirely, or you can participate in a manner in line with your values and desires and change the system.


You'd Be Crazy Not to...

No, you'd have to be very, very brave! Because the message that is being fired on all cylinders when people tell you everyone would... translates as - "Anyone with a modicum of sense, who isn't daft, stupid or crazy would. Anyone normal would,  or at least they'd want to. Are you insane in the membrane? What's wrong with you. Are you sure?" And it's tough to hold your ground when you are being bombarded with how wrong you certainly must be. 

The brave, trust what they want and don't want, even if it's inconceivable to everyone else in the world. And sometimes "everyone" includes you. It doesn't have to make sense. You don't have to know why or why not. Let's deconstruct this "everyone" for a moment....News flash - there is no everyone, or anyone. We are all, every last one of us, individuals. 

The good news is we all have our tribe out there of like-ish minded people, even if we haven't found them yet. And the best tribe, respects, understands, honors and supports our choices even when they'd choose differently and think we are basically bonkers.

You simply have to trust. And the word simply is a misnomer, because trusting in the face of all that opposing opinion and logical reasoning is anything but simple. It takes chutzpah, cahones, guts and valor. It's tough. But trust me, it will all work out so mjuch better if you can get to a place where you trust what you want even when your motivation is inexplicable. You might even end up changing your mind down the road. But for now, flex those 1970s assertiveness training muscles - I'm o.k. You're o.k., I'm ...and I am lovable and just sane enough in wanting what I "alone" want. 

So take a big step down the road to fully embracing your authentic self. Imagine you are stuck in traffic, and there are lots of routes to get where you are trying to go. Rationally the best way would be to take the east side thourough fare (Everyone thinks so.) and... But you don't want to, you have a feeling to go the other way. Imagine there is a wise old sage standing on the top of a hill just to the north of the overpass who can see everything going on down there. S/he can see the construction, the roadblocks the open road, the traffic that isn't visible from your vantage point, and know that what is right for you (for whatever reason, or no reason at all) is the right way to go!

TGMT Episode 4 - Ask Moxie's Magda Pecsenye

Great Show today on "That Got Me Thinking!" Magda Pecsenye is the scribe of top 10 Blog, "Ask Moxie." She is the author of two books. Her words and thoughts have appeared in the New York Times, Globe and Mail, Parenting and Parents magazines, and Redbook, to name a few. She's been a guest on Good Morning America and HLN Prime News. She is insightful, charming, brilliant and best of all, very, very effective at solving our most complex problems! Listen at: http://www.itsrelationship.com/recent-shows/

"Smile and wave boys, smile and wave."

Many people, and a few penguins, will do anything imaginable to avoid confrontation when faced with blame or shame as a predictable response. So, what's a productive response when we feel let down by someone or feel their actions were inappropriate? We can choose to hold them and ourselves accountable.

Holding people accountable does not translate into the green light for blaming and shaming when your expectations have not been met. Accountability means you have clearly set mutual understandings of what's expected, and you follow through with maintaining those boundaries as you respond to a failure to hold up one's end of the bargain. You find out why someone failed to perform as expected, and then you maintain your original objective for the desired outcome. You  renegotiate or move on to a new plan for getting what you want. You hold each participant accountable by acknowledging the situation, the set back and consciously choosing your next move. 

Move the Furniture!

It's time to move the furniture. I mean this both literally and figuratively. A few weeks ago, our family rearranged our living room furniture. We'd had the same set up for the last ten years. And, i'd been bemoaning the lack of cozy spaces in our home for the last 5. Our dog did us the favor of forcing our hand. He chewed a huge hole in our couch. We lived with that massive hole for a good year, but then we finally cried, "Uncle." We moved the couch out to the garage and rearranged our remaining couch, chairs and coffee table. We brought a chair up from the downstairs; and without specific intention, we freed up the space in our living room and the den.

Turns out we didn't need to remodel to get the environment we were looking for. We didn't need to trade what we had for something new. We didn't need additional furniture. We just needed to rearrange what was there. We needed to open up the space to create what we wanted. We needed to shift stuff around, to free up the area to allow the changes we wanted to take place. And this goes just as well for all of our personal relationships.

We had created a formal set up in our house. It looked nice, but It was restrictive and limiting. It dictated our behavior. the layout set the emotional tone and the physical functional environment for the use of the room. We never sat in there, and when we did it wasn't relaxed or comfortable. We didn't enjoy living with these limitations, but we failed to see that's we'd created them. Since we opened up the space and shifted things around, we are living in our living room; all of us. We are together every evening. We are playing games and talking to each other. We are together in our individual activities and participating as a group on a daily basis. We are having fun and enjoying the new level of intimacy.

The structure of the our living room, the system we established and operated in, dictated the manner in which we interacted and related Our relationships get stuck in the very same ways. We establish restrictive patterns through repetitive actions and reactions. Habits of behaving and responding develop. Restrictions and limitations are set from the way we have and continue to  act and participate with one another. We unintentionally set tight rules for behavior, modes of interacting. And through history they become fixed without us even noticing.

So, walk through your living space, and notice the constructs, Then, walk through the living areas you've created in your most important relationships and notice those constructs. Where are the walls and furniture? Are those boundaries supporting the relationship's ability to thrive or hindering it? What do the rooms look and feel like? Are they producing the experiences you want to have?

Now, move the furniture! Move things around and open up the space. Try something new in action or response. Do something different and see what happens. Let the walls come down and go outside (this time, metaphorically.) Create small shifts - have a different conversation, play a game, tell a joke, reach out in a new way. Every small shift creates an expansive opening and freedom for everyone involved to try something new, different and better - more fun, more connection, more stability or more excitement. More of whatever it is you crave and desire. Shift the "stuff" and break the chains of predetermination; break the chain reaction of constancy. You once created this predictable "living room" your relationship is now residing in. And, you can quite easily free things up, redesign and enjoy your new home.

Can Guilt Be Substituted for Shame?

Can guilt be substituted for shame?I got asked this question in a comment to my blog yesterday, "Shedding Shame." Well, they are definitely cousins! 

Guilt is meant to be a pin prick. It is built into evolution to help us in surviving, and hopefully thriving. Guilt should be a tap on the shoulder to tell us, "Hey, pay attention! Don't do that again." That's it. It's value is in putting us on notice that our actions were not a good idea and not to repeat them. Boom! Communication-received-LET IT GO!!! 

The letting it go part is where we get stuck. The problem with guilt, and where it cozies up to shame, is when we fail to let it go. When we hold onto guilt it can ride side car with shame, and after a long time riding together they become so intertwined it's more like identical twins than cousins. At first, guilt just nudges shame to show up front and center; but later on, the feelings of guilt are inseparable from the feelings of shame. This hurts us individually and our relationships. 

When we've done something to/with someone that we feel guilty about, and we hold on to it, every time we interact with that person those feelings are ignited. Soon, we become resentful at the mere presence of them, and we start to avoid them to avoid the unpleasant and unreconciled emotions.

Brene Brown distinguishes guilt from shame in this way: Guilt is a feeling we have when we think we've done something bad and shame is a feeling we have when we think we ARE bad. She feels guilt is a helpful emotion. I'd agree as long as it's just here for a short visit and doesn't unpack its bags!

Shedding Shame

2016 is my year to shed shame! It's one of my top goals for the year because it's in my way. Shame is in my way to achieve all the things I want to achieve - personally and professionally. Shame is in the way of every relationship I own. 

Shame has been my constant companion for as far back as I can remember, but not my friend. I think shame thinks of itself as my friend. Shame thinks it's helping me, doing an important and thoughtful job by keeping me small and "safe." But shame is no kind of friend to have. Shame gets between me and everything, and everyone. Shame messes with my relationships. It messes with my self confidence and joy, and it messes with my personal interactions by making me feel resentful, jealous, and defensive. It gets in the way of my desires by making me feel unworthy, afraid and unsure. It's time for shame to go. 

So, what do we do? How do we shed shame? We do what we do in any relationship. We greet shame. We are honest with shame and recognize it with open eyes and an open heart, and then we talk to it and tell it this relationship has run its course; it's over. This relationship is no longer serving us so we'd like shame to leave. It's been a long and deep relationship, so shame is not likely to go that easily. It will call, stop by, surprise us when we least expect it and try with all it's might to hold on. Shame is determined. It has false purpose and resolve.

But we'll set boundaries and be more determined, unequivocal and kind, and shame will slowly release it's hold and drift away. When shame rears its ugly head, feel it for a moment, acknowledge it, thank it for it's time and say a no nonsense, clear and concise "good bye." 

it's a process. Shedding shame will take time and practice, but it's worth the effort. In the early morning hours, cold and dark, a bus driver flashed her lights at me. - a universal signal to turn on my lights. With shame as my co-pilot I'd have been miffed. I'd have said to myself, "Who are you to tell me what to do? I'll turn on my lights if I darn well please, when I'm darn well ready and maybe not at all. I'll decide if I need lights!" If I were coming from a place of shame I'd have been embarrassed, shut down and defensive. But I wasn't. I had shed shame for the moment. My daughter was my co-pilot, not shame. So, I smiled, waved and flicked on my lights.

A Prime Example

I recently saw an article on Houzz, entitled "Should You Make Your Bed? We Talked to the Experts." And, if you read my blog post "Fact or Fiction" you know seeing this article got me a little revved up! First off, the only expert to ask if you "should" make your bed is you. Second, the only question to ask this expert (yourself) is if making your bed gives you a spark of joy? 

Personally, I know I like my bed to be made. I don't need to ask the experts. I make my bed 5 minutes before I go to sleep if for some strange reason I haven't made it earlier. i like to get into a made bed. Sometimes I check in, I don't make it and then see how I feel during the day looking at in and then I get in the un-made bed and see if it's still true that I like to make my bed. So far, it's a rock solid, Yes! I like my bed to be made, even though I don't always like making it - but that's a different blog post.

So, thanks to Houzz, this is is a prime example and a perfect place to practice "This or that, fact or ficiton? Test it out. Strengthen your authentic self muscles. Yes or no? Like or don't like? Want or don't want? It or not it?

Change is a process

Change is a process. It takes time. It takes focus and effort. Especially when we are talking about changing an established behavior. On the rare blessed occasion that we just realize an action is no longer serving us, that it is no longer satisfying, and that we desire something new, then successfully make a shift - hallelujah. glory be to God. That's magical and magnificent, but it's not typical. Typically, we are struggling, working hard to make changes, often frustrated and unsure. In the most ingrained areas we have become experts. We have gotten exceptionally good at doing things the way we've done them. We have all sorts of layers and mechanisms holding our old behaviors firmly in place. And, let's give credit where credit is due; no matter how messed up the way we are doing something is, we excel at it! We've perfected our behavior, and we are at the very least consistent. Remember, we initially adopted this approach for good reason, and it's going to take time and practice to free us from the well intentioned chains.

To change, we'll need practice and lots of it. We will need to be determined, patient and forgiving. During this time of transition, it is important to commend ourselves on a job well done for every teeny tiny step we make in the right direction and reserve judgment and criticism for our excruciating snail's pace and far too frequent regressions.  Any forward movement is commendable, and we need to refrain from berating ourselves for the tiny slips, or huge lunges, backward. Transgression is a predictable part of the process. We are breaking old habits here. We are dismantling well established patterns. We are braving change, and that means daring greatly -challenging ourselves and exposing our vulnerabilities. And, that ain't easy. It's scary, so be determined. 

Change can be hard. hard to initiate, hard to accept and hard to sustain.There are reasons we do what we do, the way we do. Darn good reasons. They may no longer be serving us, and it's time for them to go, but that doesn't mean they will go quietly or won't put up a fight! Determination, appreciation and practice must be our new allies. Practicing our new behaviors with kindness to all parts of ourselves, including the stubborn parts that want to hold on to the known and dependable at any cost, and the daring parts that are ready for new frontiers - adventure, improvement and change. 

Bring on 2016, and go BIG!

pesky physics

Action - Reaction. Same action - same reaction. Same action -HOPE- same reaction. Same action- PRAYER - same reaction. NEW INTENTION - same action - same reaction. New intention - new action - new reaction - CHANGE - DESIRED RESULT

Fact or Fiction

Fact or fiction; truth or tale? Are you focused on the facts or the story? Are you looking for what's true, or are you weaving a yarn for a good tale? Sometimes, strangely, it's hard to tell. Especially if we've been telling ourselves, or others, some solid stories for a good long time. Often we have become so adept at avoiding what we deem to be an unpleasant truth that we can't even see the reality once we earnestly begin to look for it.

On our search for what's true, we can be playing around the edges, focusing on the consequences or effects and miss the heart of the matter entirely. Recently, I found myself in such a state. I knew something was off. I was willing to acknowledge that much. And, I was sincerely looking for the cause. I changed my diet, I tried to meditate and exercise each day. I wrote consistently - all good things for me, but I was missing the point. I was missing the core. I was missing the truth. Turns out, I don't really like my job. It's not what I want to be doing. The thing I actually want to be doing scares the hell out of me, and I feel a bit ashamed. The fear and the shame have kept me from acknowledging what's true. Instead, I settled myself on a good ol' lie.  

A big fat lie works wonders. It begins as a mere inconvenient truth and in turn becomes a humungous, convenient lie.  And we don't even notice. We don't "like" what's true. It's unpleasant. The reasons can be endless. Maybe we think It will mess up our other plans. It isn't in alignment with who we think we are or want to be. We don't think other people will like it or like us, . It's scary. We aren't sure how to deal with it. We feel ashamed. So, we choose to ignore it, turn the other way, and fill in the details with a simple or complex web of fabrication.

The great part, and yes, there's a great part, is that all we need to do is to acknowledge the truth- that alone changes everything. We don't have do to anything else. So, how do we do it? How do we recognize the truth when it's trying to bite us in the butt, and we've become masters at looking the other way?

Start by getting grounded and play a little game - The game is called, "This or That, Fact or Fiction?" Start off simple - this game is about getting back in touch with that little voice inside your body that knows for certain what's true. Spend a day noticing what you like. As you go through your day, ask yourself  - This or that? Do I like the wheat or rye, the yellow flower or the red one, cream or nonfat? Not in theory, but in practice. Not what you think you should like or what's good for you, but what's true in the moment. This or that? Once you start to develop a clear sense and begin to feel confident in your skills ...start asking yourself - Fact or fiction? True or false? But keep your mind out of it and go with the sense that you've been developing, allowing the truth to emerge. Be polite. Look honesty in the eye and say "hello." 

Are you being true to your authentic self?

Are you showing up in the world as the person you came here to be? That's the question to ask yourself in these last few days of the year. Whether the new year begins for you on the Winter Solstice, January 1st or the Chinese New Year, you've got a little time left to belly up to the bar of honesty.

2015 has been the year of no nonsense. It has been the year of not pretending. Some of us have stuck our heads deeper in the sand, digging in as deeply as possible because it seems just too scary to face and deal with the truth. But, as I frequently say, (because it's true) this is the annoying part about what's true, it's not going anywhere until you pull your head out and look it square in the face. The good part is, it's not the big ol' scary monster that it sometimes appears to be; it's 100% freeing and empowering. You don't even have to do anything in the face of it other than acknowledge it...BOOM!

So, fess up. Take stock. Be honest to yourself and those you are in relationship with. You can't get where you want to go until you are honest about where you are. Think about that literally. How are you going to know what to do to get where you want to go if you aren't being honest about where you are? You want to find your way to Timbuktu but you are telling yourself, and everyone else, you are starting in Kansas; when in fact you are standing in Beijing. Good luck with that! It takes so much energy to live a lie, and it makes it so much harder to be in relationship with anyone and anything. You can't work stuff out when you aren't dealing with what's true - it's just confusing, frustrating and unsatisfying. 

The truth shall set you free. So, get on it. Stop wasting time and resources. You'll be amazed by how much easier and fulfilling it is to deal with what's actually true.  So, truth be told....  Who? What? Where? When and why? Be true and Don't make me blog about you...


Einstein weighs in...

This quote showed up in my inbox this morning, and I couldn't resist sharing it. I see it as Einstein weighing in and leaving a "like" "comment" on my Wednesday's blog post: 

When I examine myself and my methods of thought,

I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy

has meant more to me than my talent

for absorbing positive knowledge.

                             ~ Albert Einstein

Tough Titty Said the Kitty, But the Milk's Still Good

"I don't want to be someone who..." Well, tough luck. You've got to own it before you can change it, and if it's nature vs. nurture, it will be a little tougher road. We've got to acknowledge and accept who we are; then we can go about making adjustments. If it's your nature, so be it. work with it, don't look the other way as it taps you on the shoulder, and pretend you don't notice. Turn around. Face it. Say "hello" and then settle in for some serious negotiations. 


Yesterday, one of my son's teachers shared some concerns with me. She told me he needed work on his math facts, that she was going to introduce him to some lessons on memorization. She noticed that he seemed to have trouble staying focused. She commented that Einstein had this same problem. Well, that got me thinking. Einstein - similar problem - problem? Then I went into full blown Miranda Sings mode, "Are you Kiiiiiiiding me?!"  My son is wicked smart; yeah I know, all parents think their kids are crazy smart, but I've got corroboration. Ask any strange,r or family acquaintance, who has ever engaged him in a conversation for more than 30 seconds. He's crazy smart. He may not know his math facts, but he can tell you any fact regarding, let's say, the Revolutionary war, Norse Gods, Star Wars (including the Clone Wars saga) Nerf and a myriad of other topics. As entertainment, my daughter's friends ask him questions and then roll their eyes at his immediate in-depth answers on obscure topics. He's got an incredible ability to memorize facts.

I also tend to think Einstein was pretty, crazy smart, too! And to be clear, I'm not comparing my son's intelligence to Einstein's, but I am comparing their "problem." This" problematic" ability to have lots of thoughts going on in their heads simultaneously, making it challenging to stay on topic in the eyes of their teachers  to not be able (or choose) to remain solely focused on a singular topic with a very limited, linear trajectory of analysis. Instead, they soar into an active exercise of comparison - contrasting, linking and creating new ideas and conceptual relationships.

And then that got me thinking about our country's educational system, and that got me thinking about Sir Ken Robinson, and then I calmed down and smiled.. Sir Ken Robinson has got it right. Sir Ken Robinson knows what's going on. Sir Ken Robinson says, "We are educating people out of their creativity." Listen to his TedTalk: https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity?language=en

It's not my son, or Einstein, who have a problem. it's our educational system that has the problem. And, Sir Ken Robinson has a plan to fix it. His mission is to "transform the culture of education and organizations with a richer conception of human creativity and intelligence." http://sirkenrobinson.com/  

Premiere Episode of THAT GOT ME THINKING

This week on THAT GOT ME THINKING I'll be talking with Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorne, the creators and co-hosts of the fantastic podcast - One Bad Mother! at Maximum Fun

I'd heard an episode of their show with Theresa talking about the experience and challenges of solo parenting while her husband was out of town. That got me thinking about motherhood, parenting, partners, modern day feminism and gender identities in this new day and age. I started thinking about Leaning In, Opting Out, and doing the hokey pokey and bobble heading all around. And it got me thinking about all of the intense pressure. 

Listen live on Monday's 11:00am Mountain time or listen at your convenience at www.itsrelationship.com under Recent Shows. Join us!

KDPI-fm 88.5


Final Episode of "It's Relationship" on KDPI-fm today!

Today is the final episode of my radio show, "It's Relationship."  I've been producing and hosting this show for the last few years on KDPI-fm. My new show, "That Got Me Thinking" will begin airing next week, with some exciting guests lined up: One Bad Mother, Promom, and Ted Talk speaker, Lauren Singer - Trash is for Tossers. You can tune in live or listen to pre-recorded shows at www.itsrelationship.com.

Over the years, I've interviewed artists, inventors, authors, actors, athletes, musicians and more. All of my shows have been focused around my guests' relationships with their craft, their passions, themselves and their communities - private and public. For my last show I've decided to replay one of my earliest shows, one I did with Gary Quinn and his unique relationship with angels. Thanks for joining us. 





The benefit of the doubt is free

There is no harm, no foul in giving people the benefit of the doubt - you called and they didn't return your call; maybe they are out of town or dropped their phone in the toilet. 

Sure, maybe someone has done something seemingly egregious, but maybe there was a misunderstanding, or maybe they had your best interests at heart but royally screwed up. 

Putting people on the defensive gives no benefit to you. Blame has no upside - other than not having to actually deal with what is truly going on. Guilt and a defensive response and stature are soon to follow blame. And any attempts at finding a constructive solution to your problem just got a heck of a lot harder. So, take a breath, take some time, and get to the bottom of what really happened before you jump to conclusions and rush to judgment. 

The Good News, and the Bad News...

I've got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, it's all you! The bad news is, it's all you! When learning to better navigate your relationships this can be a bitter pill to swallow. Accepting and embracing the fact that it's actually all about you and up to you can be a huge hurdle to get over. On the one hand, it's great. It means you have the power to change things. On the other hand, it sucks. It means you have to take responsibility for your situation and stop blaming and looking to everyone else to change for things to get better. Alas, whether you see it as a pro or con, within you is where the power lies to making significant and sustainable changes in your relationships.  

That doesn't mean everything is your fault; it has nothing to do with blame. It means you, on your own, can change whatever situation or circumstance you aren't happy with.. When you stop joining in a particular dance, acknowledge and understand what issues of yours are being zapped you get super powers. Each time you are irked by someone else's behavior, you can take control of the unpleasant dynamic. You can disengage, you can engage differently, you can deal with your actions and your internal and external responses and the other person has no choice but to change their steps.

Word Choice

We are responsible for our communications; however we aren't responsible for the effect our communication has on another individual.  It's certainly a good idea to notice what the effect has been, but it isn't your job to anticipate it and/or navigate around it.

My husband travels a lot for work. Our entire family works hard to find a satisfactory balance in our relationships in regard to this circumstance. Sometimes we are in the zone, and sometimes we are not. On a recent trip, my husband not due to return for a couple of days, said he might be able to pop home early. Nice message, innocuous word - pop. But somehow it irked me. It kept "popping" into my head all day (couldn't resist the pun- I'm my father's child.) And, each time I thought about that phrase, my body tensed and my inner negative dialog kicked into gear. So, I finally Stopped, Looked and Listened.  The repetitive pinging is an alarm. It is an emotional and physical alert system. It is a signal telling you that you need to pay attention and resolve an element of your relationship that is out of whack..."Danger Will Robinson." 

When this happens, pay attention! Stop. Look and Listen. Ask yourself "why?" Why is that little word ("pop" in my case.) making you  so crazy? It is your issue to resolve, not theirs. Sure it might involve them, but it is your alarm that was triggered. Own it and solve for it.