Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jenny Craig and weight loss...

Its almost January so of course we're about to be deluged with ads for dieting companies like Jenny Craig, LA Weight Loss as well as all sorts of 'miracle' supplements that will magically melt away all the holidays pounds (and all the other pounds accumulated throughout the year too!).

Last night I watched the new Jenny Craig ad with Kirstie Alley-their spokesperson who we've all been watching lose weight using their system. Two things jumped out at me as I watched:

1. Its important for everyone to remember that losing weight isn't the hard part of dieting--keeping it off is. While Kirstie Alley is still in the weight loss side of things--what will be most important is if she's able to maintain this for the rest of her life.

2. Throughout the ad, Kirstie is talking to a friend, telling her that she's eating french toast and brownies and all sorts of 'yummy' foods that we aren't supposed to be eating while we're dieting because those foods are fattening. But of course, by buying Jenny Craig's foods you can have all these foods AND lose weight. Thus, using Jenny Craig's plan requires little or no change from 'regular' eating.

What bothered me about the 'foods' they're providing is that by and large this is 'junk food'--somehow they've taken high calorie, low nutrition foods and turned them into low calorie, low nutrition foods that are highly processed, low in fiber and in general mimics the national diet that has led to a population that is 30% obese!

I watched this and thought--this is genius! This guarantees Jenny Craig a perpetual population of people on the dieting roller coaster! First, you decide to 'diet' with Jenny Craig--eating the very same foods that got you into the weight problems in the first place--only these foods are slightly smaller in portion and lower in calorie content. So, you lose your 20 lbs. over the course of 6 months--and then you go off your diet. Now you return to eating 'regular' foods--over-processed, high calorie, low fiber--and little by little the weight returns...until you go back to Jenny Craig and buy their food and lose the weight again. It's a revolving door and funding the $35 billion weight loss industry!

What is missing in all this is the reality that eating a high calorie, over-processed food diet inevitably produces weight and health problems. If we want our health back and our weight to be within a healthy range for life--there is no substitute for eating a high fiber, nutrition dense diet that is packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and small portions of meat and dairy products. That's the only way off the dieting rollercoaster and the only way into empowering your Life Puzzle with good nutrition!

Sadly, millions will be signing up for one of the Rollercoaster dieting programs. Many will lose weight and 90% will put it right back on!

I can't support it, but it is why I created the BodyMine! Life Puzzle program for life-long weight management. To give people another option--end the dieting rollercoaster forever and switch instead to building a whole Life Puzzle that builds a healthy, lifestyle diet that will support you for a lifetime! (learn more at

And we're surprised...why?

Today's headlines discuss the recent study showing 'digestive aid products' like Prilosec, PepcidAC, and other acid blockers (Tums, Maalox etc.), have been shown to be connected to an increase in hip fractures in those over 50 years of age. The reason? As a result of neutralizing acid in our stomachs due to heartburn, gas and other digestive discomforts, the secondary result is that calcium's absorption is decreased--making for weaker bones. The recommendation, according to the study, is that doctors become much more judicious in prescribing these medications and individuals reduce their over the counter purchase of these as well.

You may not be aware of this...but 'digestive aids' are the number two non-prescription drug purchased in this country! After the aspirin/pain killer category, we're popping digestive aids like candy! Watch television for more than one hour and you are almost guaranteed to see some commercial suggesting that you can eat anything you want, no matter how discomforting and then pop a pill for immediate relief. And so, we do! Like lambs to the slaughter, we just go
nonchalantly along, taking these products--all the while assuming all is fine!

But its not fine! This cycle of eating junk food in massive quantities not only has led to a huge obesity epidemic in this country (and let's be real...when 30% of the population is obese--this is an epidemic! If 30% of the population had pneumonia--we'd call that an epidemic, right? Well, then obesity is one too--even if it is one that we create ourselves!), but also a huge increase in diabetes, and a host of other health issues. Parallel this with the rise in health insurance costs (someone has to pay for this!!!!) and you'll see that we have set ourselves up as fools! We've relinquished our bodies as we've allowed ourselves to be conned into lethargy through our diets!

All of you who read this blog and know about Life Puzzle making, know how passionate I am about nutrition and healthy eating! Good nutrition is the cornerstone for the energy you'll need to create a whole and dynamic life! For years I've taught a session called, "In one end and out the other"--a class on what happens after you swallow food and it travels through your digestive track. In that session, I show you how detrimental those 'acid blockers' are to your digestive system and your body. Today's report by these researchers completely validates what I've said for years--that if you disrupt the digestive system by neutralizing acid in the stomach, you'll end up disturbing the whole system--because nutrients that are not broken down in the stomach can't be absorbed later through the small intestine! At the same time, this undigested food ends up in the large intestine and now must be eliminated through bowel movements. But because of what we did up at the top by neutralizing acid--things don't work right at the bottom--so we pop another pill for laxatives!

These drug companies are laughing all the way to the bank on your poor health! They supposedly 'solve' one problem for you at the top of the digestive system but then create another one at the bottom--talk about a fabulous marketing program! Get them coming and going!

Bottom line is, if you're going to have good health you're going to have to stop popping those pills and begin eating a healthy, nutritious diet. I know this is true--I was once a junk food junkie myself--with all the inherent digestive problems that go with that. And I can tell you, no amount of pills can equal the joy of living when you're eating a healthy diet! So, if you're popping these acid blockers...pick up the bottle, throw it away forever and vow instead to make 2007 a year of healthy eating!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Doing good …Finding meaning

In the previous writing I mentioned Deirdre Sullivan’s writing in the book, “This I Believe” from the NPR sponsored program of the same name. As a child she was taught to ‘always go to the funeral’…which translated into doing what she really didn’t want to do—but she did it anyway. A line her father always said to her, “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.”

I think going to funerals though is more than just doing the right thing—it is honoring the finding meaning area of your life—because you are honoring the place that ‘death’ has in your life—in all of our lives. Going to a funeral is acknowledging someone was here—and one day someone will come to your funeral and honor that you were here too.

Do you ever read the obituary column? I do most every day! It is a joy to read about people’s lives—total strangers on one level—but really so similar to me and everyone else on this planet at the same time. They all have families who love and care for them. They did good deeds, created art, left a variety of legacies, etc. Even when I read the obit of a very young baby—who maybe only lived 3 weeks or so—I’m privileged to see the love this child brought to his parents/family. As they describe their love in this short column, I say a silent prayer of thanks for allowing me to be reminded how much love circulates around us on this planet.

Finding meaning—no one here gets out alive! Whether you work your butt off or sit on your butt and watch life go by—you will die. Thus, living consciously with this awareness is a powerful way to approach building your Life Puzzle. You only have a short time on this planet—make the most of it as you put together the 16 core areas, 5 edges that create the SELF—and a joyous, vibrant life.

Doing good vs.doing evil…OR, Doing good vs.doing nothing…

I was listening to the CD that accompanies the book, “This I believe”
The book is based on the NPR segments, This I Believe—a renewal of the program from the 1950’s hosted by Edward R. Murrow. Put together by independent producers Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, in 2005 they revived the series hoping to encourage people to hear and discover respect for beliefs different than one’s own. Reading the book and/or listening to the CD is a fascinating experience that really forces you to think about the many different ways that people come to their beliefs, perceptions and ultimately how they live their lives.

One that stood out particularly for me was by Deirdre Sullivan, titled, “Always go to the funeral”. In it she shares how her father taught her to always attend funerals. As she explains, it’s not really about going to funerals—what it really means is “I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it…….In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.”

As she said that, it made me reflect on this relative to Life Puzzle making and I found myself shaking my head in agreement. Because in Life Puzzle making, we talk often about the 0-5 reactive, unconscious side of the Choosing Continuum vs. the 6-10 proactive, conscious side. The status quo—the 0-5 humdrum life—it isn’t a battle between good and evil—its the battle of doing good versus doing nothing. And to me, it’s the daily battle of being proactive—making that effort to create a dynamic life vs. sliding by—or as Deirdre says, missing the funeral—and all the others hundreds of little actions that are the difference between doing good vs. doing nothing. It’s the difference between a Life Puzzle maker and a Life Puzzle jammer.

It is so easy to get swept up in the “doing nothing”, but as a Life Puzzle-maker, really checking in with this concept is a great way to explore your 16 core areas. It’s worth stopping your SELF and asking …. “In which of the 16 core areas am I truly “doing nothing”? It could be your nutrition piece—where you eat on the run, eat too much processed foods while skipping the veggies—knowing full well you want to make changes but you “do nothing”. It could be your financial responsibility area—where you overspend, run up credit card debt—knowing full well you have to get a handle on your budget but you “do nothing”. It could be your spiritual area—where you long to have a clarity of your beliefs but you “do nothing” to create this.

I think all of us at some point during the journey of our lives find ourselves right in the middle of this “doing good” vs. “doing nothing”. For Life Puzzle makers, it is the jump over the 5 on the Choosing Continuum and your move to the 6 and beyond—taking full responsibility for consciously creating a whole life—where each day you do good vs. doing nothing! I hope as you read this today, you’ll pat your SELF on the back and continue “doing good” and discovering a wonderful vibrant life as a result.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

50 Million Farmers....

Life Puzzle making is all about being proactive, self-responsible and finding solutions in the midst of a world that is swimming in the reactive, victim, status quo! The following article is such an inspiration because it is confronting issues that our current systems are refusing to deal with until they hit complete crisis levels. Issues like oil crisis, water crisis, social crisis, food/famine etc.

Now you may be reading this thinking....geez, not exactly what I wanted to read right now but I encourage you to stop everything you're doing and read it anyway! The beginning of this article is quite bleak, I'll agree, but by the time you get to the bottom, you'll see a hopeful future that could benefit us all.

I've posted the link....and I've pasted just the first portion of his presentation here on my blog--it will get you going but then take a moment, go to the link and finish it there. It will be worth your time and be one more encouragement to be a Life Puzzle maker!

Published on 17 Nov 2006 by Energy Bulletin. Archived on 17 Nov 2006.
Fifty Million Farmers
by Richard Heinberg (Note: This is the abbreviated text of a lecture by Richard Heinberg delivered to the E. F. Schumacher Society in Stockbridge, Massachusetts on October 28, 2006)

There was a time not so long ago when famine was an expected, if not accepted, part of life. Until the 19th century—whether in China, France, India or Britain—food came almost entirely from local sources and harvests were variable. In good years, there was plenty—enough for seasonal feasts and for storage in anticipation of winter and hard times to come; in bad years, starvation cut down the poorest and the weakest—the very young, the old, and the sickly. Sometimes bad years followed one upon another, reducing the size of the population by several percent. This was the normal condition of life in pre-industrial societies, and it persisted for thousands of years.

Today, in America, such a state of affairs is hard to imagine. Food is so cheap and plentiful that obesity is a far more widespread concern than hunger. The average mega-supermarket stocks an impressive array of exotic foods from across the globe, and even staples are typically trucked from hundreds of miles away. Many people in America did go hungry during the Great Depression, but those were times that only the elderly can recall. In the current regime, the desperately poor may experience chronic malnutrition and may miss meals, but for most the dilemma is finding time in the day’s hectic schedule to go to the grocery store or to cook. As a result, fast-food restaurants proliferate: the fare may not be particularly nutritious, but even an hour’s earnings at minimum wage will buy a meal or two.

The average American family spent 20 percent of its income on food in 1950; today the figure is 10 percent. This is an extraordinary situation; but because it is the only one that most Americans alive today have ever experienced, we tend to assume that it will continue indefinitely.

However there are reasons to think that our current anomalous abundance of inexpensive food may be only temporary; if so, present and future generations may become acquainted with that old, formerly familiar but unwelcome houseguest—famine. The following are four principal bases (there are others) for this gloomy forecast. The first has to with looming fuel shortages. This is a subject I have written about extensively elsewhere, so I shall not repeat myself in any detail. Suffice it to say that the era of cheap oil and natural gas is coming to a crashing end, with global oil production projected to peak in 2010 and North American natural gas extraction rates already in decline. These events will have enormous implications for America’s petroleum-dependent food system. Modern industrial agriculture has been described as a method of using soil to turn petroleum and gas into food. We use natural gas to make fertilizer, and oil to fuel farm machinery and power irrigation pumps, as a feedstock for pesticides and herbicides, in the maintenance of animal operations, in crop storage and drying, and for transportation of farm inputs and outputs.

Agriculture accounts for about 17 percent of the U.S. annual energy budget; this makes it the single largest consumer of petroleum products as compared to other industries. By comparison, the U.S. military, in all of its operations, uses only about half that amount. About 350 gallons (1,500 liters) of oil equivalents are required to feed each American each year, and every calorie of food produced requires, on average, ten calories of fossil-fuel inputs. This is a food system profoundly vulnerable, at every level, to fuel shortages and skyrocketing prices. And both are inevitable. An attempt to make up for fuel shortfalls by producing more biofuels—ethanol, butanol, and biodiesel—will put even more pressure on the food system, and will likely result in a competition between food and fuel uses of land and other resources needed for agricultural production. Already 14 percent of the U.S. corn crop is devoted to making ethanol, and that proportion is expected to rise to one quarter, based solely on existing projects-in-development and government mandates.

The second factor potentially leading to famine is a shortage of farmers. Much of the success of industrial agriculture lies in its labor efficiency: far less human work is required to produce a given amount of food today than was the case decades ago (the actual fraction, comparing the year 2000 with 1900, is about one seventh). But that very success implies a growing vulnerability. We don’t need as many farmers, as a percentage of the population, as we used to; so, throughout the past century, most farming families—including hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions that would have preferred to maintain their rural, self-sufficient way of life—were economically forced to move to cities and find jobs. Today so few people farm that vital knowledge of how to farm is disappearing. The average age of American farmers is over 55 and approaching 60. The proportion of principal farm operators younger than 35 has dropped from 15.9 percent in 1982 to 5.8 percent in 2002. Of all the dismal statistics I know, these are surely among the most frightening. Who will be growing our food twenty years from now? With less oil and gas available, we will need far more knowledge and muscle power devoted to food production, and thus far more people on the farm, than we have currently.

The third worrisome trend is an increasing scarcity of fresh water. Sixty percent of water used nationally goes toward agriculture. California’s Central Valley, which produces the substantial bulk of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables, receives virtually no rainfall during summer months and relies overwhelmingly on irrigation. But the snowpack on the Sierras, which provides much of that irrigation water, is declining, and the aquifer that supplies much of the rest is being drawn down at many times its recharge rate. If these trends continue, the Central Valley may be incapable of producing food in any substantial quantities within two or three decades. Other parts of the country are similarly overspending their water budgets, and very little is being done to deal with this looming catastrophe.

Fourth and finally, there is the problem of global climate change. Often the phrase used for this is “global warming,” which implies only the fact that the world’s average temperature will be increasing by a couple of degrees or more over the next few decades. The much greater problem for farmers is destabilization of weather patterns. We face not just a warmer climate, but climate chaos: droughts, floods, and stronger storms in general (hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, hail storms)—in short, unpredictable weather of all kinds. Farmers depend on relatively consistent seasonal patterns of rain and sun, cold and heat; a climate shift can spell the end of farmers’ ability to grow a crop in a given region, and even a single freak storm can destroy an entire year’s production. Given the fact that modern American agriculture has become highly centralized due to cheap transport and economies of scale (almost the entire national spinach crop, for example, comes from a single valley in California), the damage from that freak storm is today potentially continental or even global in scale. We have embarked on a century in which, increasingly, freakish weather is normal.

I am not pointing out these problems, and their likely consequences, in order to cause panic. As I propose below, there is a solution to at least two of these dilemmas, one that may also help us address the remaining ones. It is not a simple or easy strategy and it will require a coordinated and sustained national effort. But in addition to averting famine, this strategy may permit us to solve a host of other, seemingly unrelated social and environmental problems.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The global if it is an actual entity...

The other day, listening to an economic report, the reporter was talking about the 'global economy' in such a way that one would think it was an actual entity--like a Fred or a porcupine. The more I thought about this--the more I realized how trapped we all are in this delusion that the 'global economy' is actually a real thing. As a result, we 'serve' it as if it is our master. Really stop and think about this for a moment, 'global economy' is only a concept not an actual entity that any one person or institution is in charge of or in control of at all. But when we hear someone talk about the global economy we attach to it a significance or a reality that is unjustified.

Then today (Oct 30), all the news channels were reporting a story that the impact of global warming could devastate the 'global economy'. With oceans rising, flooding increasing, droughts in previously fertile areas, etc., these reports were tying global warming to the global economy. The reports stated that global warming could have the same economic devastation as the impact of two world wars and the 1929 depression rolled into one on the global economy. And everyone shutters and panics! Oh no, where will the money be!!!!

The reason everyone shutters is because we're currently operating under the modern economic paradigm that says money represents value. According to this paradigm, the more money one has, the more things of value one can buy, leading to greater well-being. So, today's report of a devastated global economy is about the 'money'/value crashing. As 'money/value' stops flowing, everything is going to be awful. Without money we can't 'buy' things of value and our well-being isn't possible.

And if the modern economic paradigm was the only option--they would be right, it will be awful! But the good news is that the modern economic paradigm is not the only option. The parallel for Life Puzzle makers is the realization that while 90% of the world operates on the 0-5 reactive/unconscious/victim side of the Choosing Continuum--Life Puzzle-makers know there's the 6-10 choice--proactive/conscious/empowered side of the Choosing Continuum. Once you shift into 6-10, you realize it was there all along!

The same is true for us as we look at a world attached to the current modern economic paradigm. This is the 0-5 choice--and while it is all around us, it isn't the only choice. There is a 6-10 choice available for all of us-- it is the post-modern economic paradigm.

A post-modern economic paradigm is not based on the paradigm of money represents value. The post-modern economic paradigm values our physical well-being, mental and emotional health, social relationships, ability to meet our basic needs and needs of those we care about, our connection to the natural environment around us and our need for spiritual meaning. In other words, the post-modern economic paradigm values LIFE, not money.

While global warming will have tremendous impact on the "money" world, it doesn't mean that LIFE won't go on. We will need to determine though whether or not we keep our selves stuck to the old paradigm of money = value, thus, lack of money means lack of value. OR, will be wake up to see that we could create a whole new paradigm that values LIFE--returning to our communities, taking care of our lives, our families, our local earth and building an economy that supports LIFE.

The post modern economic paradigm, like the 6-10 in Life Puzzle making has always been available for us and the world to choose. We just couldn't see it in the blindness of the traditional path. But as many Life Puzzle makers have said to me when they learn to see the 16 core areas, 5 edges that create the SELF in the Life Puzzle--wow, there it was right in front of me and I couldn't see it! Now that I do, what could be more obvious.

I believe we are on the threshold of doing the same thing with the global economy. Yes, the reports of economic devastation (old model) are possible--but as we begin to explore and realize the possibility in the 6-10 post modern economic paradigm (new model), we'll realize that 'wow, it was right in front of us and we couldn't see it...but now that we do, what could be more obvious!

So, take heart, stay positive, keep building your Life Puzzle and reach out to the community and show others! As you move into the 6-10, proactive/conscious design of building a whole and dynamic life--know that if we were all 6-10 Life Puzzle makers, we would transform the current economic system in a post modern, whole system economy too! And then the dread the world has on hearing that the 'global economy' is going to be devastated will no longer be necessary!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Reframe it...

Language is such a powerful tool in how we design our lives. The words we choose 'frame' the way we see our world and those words impact the way we take responsibility for creating our Life Puzzle.

Yet few people recognize this. We talk to our SELF or to others will little recognition of how the words we use influence the choices we make and the vision we see of our lives. A simple example would be to look at two words which essentially define the same supposed outcome and yet, in the difference of the words used, the frame or vision produces quite a different view. Think for a moment about these two words:
Anti-war or Pro-Peace

The other night while working with a live-online BodyMine!Life Puzzle group, one of the participants was talking about an activity/commitment that she was doing. When she first started thinking about it, the words she initially framed it with were "I won't do X". But almost as soon as they were out of her mouth--she said "No, no...that's not it, that's not how I want to approach this--that's old frame, 0-5. I want to reframe this from the 6-10 and say it from the angle of what I will do. So instead of 'not eating food brought to the office breakroom (donuts!) was instead a "I will eat foods that feed my brain". For her at that point, it wasn't choosing to not eat a donut, it was choosing to eat healthy brain food (and donuts do not qualify!). The difference for her are much like anti-war vs. pro-peace. Same outcomes but different ways of getting there.

Here's what so exciting when you stop to become conscious of the words you choose to frame your life.
1. Words are free--you can use any of the millions of words available and they are all yours for the taking at absolutely no charge! Thus, anti-war or pro-peace are equally yours!
2. No one can tell you what words you must choose--oh, they might try but since you and only can speak the words--to your SELF or to others, it means every day you can choose proactive words that enable a 6-10 proactive life.
3. The more you choose to frame your life towards what you do want, the more likely you are to create it. Imagine a world of people framing a world based on pro-peace, pro-proactive, pro-whole life vs. anti-war, reactive, fixing problems.

So, just stop for a moment and ask your SELF: how do I frame my day? Do I wake up each morning framing my day with language that focuses on the 'whole', peaceful, joyous way of living or do I wake up each morning to see 'war, problems, chaos, angst and hope I get through it.

All it takes is a moment to choose the 'frame' you build your life on!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Such low expectations....

I participated in a health insurance forum yesterday. Former Oregon Governor Kitzhaber is leading a project called the Archimedes Movement. It's focus is to confront the reality that the current health insurance system is failing us and must be redesigned to meet the needs of the 21st century.

At one point in the process, we broke up into small groups with the 'assignment' to design a health insurance system for Oregon. What would we want?--universal access?, means testing? prevention, public health education?--. In the 20 minutes allotted, we brainstormed lots of different ideas. In the course of the conversation, I threw out that with universal access there should also be some level of responsibility/commitment by members to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I said this based on the fact that, 80% of the illnesses that we'll be dealing with are "lifestyle" illnesses. The top four areas where we spend health care funds--heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and obesity--all have a major component in how we live our lives--so prevention was as necessary as any medical intervention.

Instantly, all the doctors in the group jumped on this and said "We shouldn't penalize patients for not meeting a health criteria--many patients simply can not due to poverty, mental health issues and 'diseases' like obesity (?), be held responsible for what is outside their control."

And you know, I know these doctors think they're well-meaning, but in truth, they've just trapped their patients in the 0-5 level of health care that has resulted in our terribly dysfunctional, fix it after its broke, reactive health care system--the very one we need to change.

One doctor expressed that many of her patients have drug problems, dual diagnosed mental illnesses and multiple generational/family health issues--along with poverty. She was essentially saying...This population can't function on a 6-10 level--they simply can not learn to be proactive, know themselves as whole human beings, take responsibility--they are victims and that's all they'll ever be.

We didn't have time to discuss this further....but I would argue to her that I've worked with this population--women coming out of prison with everything she said--drugs, mental illness, dysfunctional family.....and when I introduced the Life Puzzle model to them--their response was, "Wow, how come I've never seen this before?" They proved once again that most of us live on the 0-5 side of the Choosing Continuum-simply because that is what we see all around us and we rarely see the 6-10 side. My experience showed that when you share the 6-10 side of the Choosing Continuum, people will gravitate towards it.

Unfortunately, as these doctors made clear in this meeting, we have accepted such low expectations--0-5, reactive, unconscious, victim to the world around us. The medical/health system is perpetuating the 0-5 and the outcome results in very poor health. Despite throwing more money in our health care systems than anyone else in the world, we rank only #37 in world wide health quality. I don't know why we're surprised--a 0-5 health system could never lead to great health!

What does that mean to you? Choosing to build your own Life Puzzle is the option you'll have--but you'll have to choose it. Our medical system isn't ready for it yet!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Zaadz anyone?

Life Puzzle is all about creating whole and dynamic lives in a world that is otherwise focused on the linear: grow up, get a job, house, cars, kids, stuff, die (consumerism). Life Puzzle challenges this old mindset and says, as we build in all 16 core areas, 5 edges that create the SELF, we have the opportunity to consciously create our lives. It is a great way to live, yet only about 10% of the population even has a clue that this is possible.

One of the complaints from new Life Puzzle makers is that they feel relatively alone out there--and often don't have anyone to share their ideas and thoughts with. To that end, I wanted to share a website that you might find useful. It is and its focus is to connect people and businesses who are on the leading edge of new ideas.

Zaadz gives you the ability to post 'pods' around topics you'd like to discuss and as others see it, they click on and 'join' the discussion. It is quite a fun experience. Right now I'm in a pod called Beyond Ishmael (discussing Daniel Quinn's book, Ishmael) and Peace through Commerce (focusing on improving global peace by encouraging economic development in third world countries). Actually I challenged the originator of the Peace through Commerce pod--and we've now been going back and forth trying to find common ground.

In the course of this dialogue, he shared a lecture by Peter Barnes of the Schumacher Institute (Small is Beautiful). Capitalism, the Commons and Divine Right which I think is well done and think you'll find quite interesting. As a Life Puzzle-maker, it will provide insight relative to several pieces of your life--financial responsibility, community & environment, parenting/family building and work!

One of the main themes Barnes talks about is how we currently 'revere' money above all. We revere it so much that we have given it 'divine' status. "Capitalism (moneyism) is the thing" and we are all so thoroughly trained in this divine status that we can't even see that we're at the expense of life. He is encouraging people to challenge the divinity of money--and essentially saying it is time to shift and put our energy on 'revering' the Commons (or I would call it the Community of Life--which includes air, water, land, animal, plant etc.).

As he says, “If we were to revere the commons (community of life) as fervently as we currently revere capital, our divine right would shift'. In other words…we would have LIFE driven economy and the 'market' would serve LIFE in creative, entrepreneurial ways to to improve, support and grow LIFE. What a fabulous way to spend our energies–with LIFE as the outcome, everything we do would enhance life. Yes, there will be a 'market' and money will be made, but what we do, and where we choose to put our energy would be different than it is right now where MONEY is the primary outcome. With LIFE as the outcome, we design cars that ensure that life is not destroyed. Our current cars don't enhance life--they spew massive amounts of CO2 which is leading to global warming and the total destruction of life. But our new cars are lightweight, use solar energy to power them and are then totally recyclable when its time to do that. We'll make money yes, but mostly we'll build the Community of Life.

As it is right now, we revere capital. Thus, we have a Money driven economy and the 'market' serves it in its creative entrepreneurial ways to improve, support and blatantly to grow MONEY. If LIFE is lost in the process--it is considered acceptable! While a small portion of folks are having a great time doing this (the upper 2% which control 98% of all money), massive amounts of humans are enslaved to this limited vision and we stay stuck.

I think it is bringing forward and exposing this skewed 'reverence'–because we are so blinded by the golden glint of 'divine right of capital' we can't even see that it is problematic, that is of utmost importance. It seems to me anyway, that when people examine this–just like when they first learn about the 'whole” Life Puzzle–its a 'duh, wow, now that I see it, its so obvious' that sets the foundation for actually being able to shift out of the old and into a new world that values natural, social and economic systems in a balanced whole.

At any rate, these are some of the ideas being discussed at Take a moment to look around and see if this is a good place to put some of your time in the process of building your Life Puzzle...a piece at a time with the whole you in mind!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In the footsteps of....

While dusting on a Saturday, I turned on CNN hoping to find something interesting to watch. Lo and behold, Christiane Amanpour's piece "In the Footsteps of Bin Laden". I found it so interesting that I put down the dust rag and watched.

She was interviewing a whole host of people who knew Osama Bin Laden, grew up with him, worked with him or perhaps were related to him. In the process she peeled away the layers of a terrorist and showed the human that had grown up in Saudi Arabia as a child of one of the wealthiest families in the world. She helps us travel through his childhood, on to college and eventually, by 21 into the desert to live the life of a religious ascetic who, influenced by extreme fundamentalists eventually became one of them and then, the leader of them.

Because of my background in early childhood development and counseling, I'm always interested in how early childhood influences manifest themselves in our adulthood. I know childhood plays a huge roll in the choices that one makes as an adult--yet most adults are not aware of and rarely connect how a specific childhood experience results in a future adult choice. Much of the design of the Life Puzzle has been to help clients see this connection so they can reassess choices from a 'whole adult' instead of 'yet formed child'. (And please let me be clear--we are not 'victims' to our childhoods--we can not use our childhoods to excuse our adult behaviors--only to explain them.)

As I watched Osama Bin Laden's childhood journey, it became obvious that his 'edges' and thus SELF development were highly influenced by many outside sources. He, like many of us in childhood, was deeply unsure of his SELF. In the quest to remove this anxiety, he allowed outside 'systems' to fill his SELF. He's not unusual in this--but unfortunately, the outside systems that poured through his still to be formed edges/SELF were overpowering and essentially usurped a healthy loving SELF. Today, his SELF promotes death and destruction as he serves an outside system (fundamentalism/terrorism) to which his SELF is now beholden.

At one point, his family approaches him and requests that he return home and abandon the fundamentalist/terrorist path. But it was too late, he'd handed his SELF over to the religion. Like the child who had joined a cult, he could no longer hear his family's love and support. He rejected them outright--because to walk away from fundamentalism/terrorism would feel like walking away from his "true self"--though in truth, he'd abandoned his full SELF formation long ago.

When we hand over our SELF to any institution--religion, marriage, work/money--on the assumption that in doing so our SELF will be fulfilled, we instead end up with the exact opposite. It provides a quick fix, but prevents us from truly tapping into our inner SELF which takes much longer to achieve--fully into our 30's and 40's. . Sadly, Bin Laden had handed his life over by 21--and has remained stuck ever since.

I thought, while Osama Bin Laden's case might be the extreme, the reality is, this happens to many of us in our late teens/early twenties. I recall talking with a gentleman who shared what a close call he'd had that might've ended with him joining the Chicago Mob! He was 18 and as we all do at that age, he needed money. He had a friend whose father was in the Mob--and his friend was willing to introduce him/help him get a job. While that entry level job would have paid well and been rather benign, in truth, it would have set him on a path that would take him deeper and deeper into the Mob. It would've been a no way out path in a very short amount of time. As he said, "I was insecure, under a lot of pressure and I'm looking at guys driving fancy cars, wearing great clothes and flashing big bankrolls of c-notes!" "Falling into step with these guys looked like a successful route--only then my friend pulled out a gun and it jolted me back to a reality that the solution for my insecurity offered not only cars, clothes and money--but also death." I thanked my friend and walked away--but what if I hadn't?"

I think today of Osama Bin Laden--what if he had returned to his family? What if he had been able to see that he was using religion to fill his insecurity of SELF. What if he'd been able to see the massive levels of destruction these choices would make?

Most amazing to me is how often people with poorly formed edges/SELF end up in positions of power. Their false SELF acts as if it is powerful, yet if you look under the false SELF, what you find is insecurity and fear of true self. By this I mean, when you have a whole SELF, you respect your body and other people's bodies (thus murder/death is only in self-defense), you are aware of and in charge of your emotions, you make conscious choice and accept the consequences--while respecting that others can make choices that you do not agree yet you do not insist they choose as you do, and you honor that you are greater than no one--but no one is greater than you--and you are focused in seeing love in all. Clearly, Osama Bin Laden's edges are missing--but Christiane Amanpour's documentary gives us a glimpse as to how this happened. Again, this documentary is not an 'excuse' for his behavior, just an explanation.

I wish all teens had the opportunity to see the Life Puzzle as a framework for a healthy SELF. It might prevent situations whereby insecure teens turn into rigidly controlled/fear based adults who harm the world.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mary J. Blige, "The Breakthrough"

Last night while I was finally reading the newspaper--there was a story on Mary J. Blige's album The Breakthrough".....and she was talking about her self...and how, despite being extremely successful, in truth, she barely knew her SELF. As I read the article I thought, in Life Puzzle language--none of her edges were complete!

Reading this article made me think of several of my clients and prompted me to write several of them a note. Because I spend a lot of time helping folks build strong edges and discover a SELF that they truly love. Many people think this is a selfish thing--but in truth, it is a loving thing. Every human should know who they are and love themselves when they look in the mirror.

I ask them to do the 'mirror exercise' whereby each day, at least once, they take a moment to look in the mirror and truly look at themselves and say, "I like me, I love me, I care for me". This might seem like a simple thing--but it is actually hard for many people! This article on Mary J Blige prompted me to send a portion of what she said....hoping that by seeing her struggle to do this, they too would realize the value in this and also know--everyone on this planet is a Life Puzzle under construction and despite success--has to figure out how to put a healthy, whole SELF together! We aren't born knowing how to do this.

The article said that essentially up until about age 30 (!)...Mary J. Blige acknowledged she didn't have a real SELF, but was a missing self that let everyone and anyone shape her Life (puzzle). Now, when she looks back on who she was, she says, ""Once you get a reality check of 'Oh, my God, who am I? I have a arm over here and my leg over here--I'm all spread out. I can't even collect myself at the end of the day and say...."I love myself and I like myself.' ......"'That's when you know you've been living for the world for a long time. You've got to really be ready to see it, because when you see it, it's not nice...."
The article went on.... Blige 'saw it' about 6 years ago. She then made a series of life changes. First, she learned to like the person she saw in the mirror every day'.... She says, "I wouldn't call it religion, I would call it a spiritual breakthrough because the spirit (love) is in me. I just got tired of feeling the way I did about myself: Looking in the mirror and the only time I'm happy with myself is when my hair and make up is done. What about when my hair and make up is not done? I need that kind of confidence--I wanted to like myself even when men are not saying I look good. I want to feel good about it. I don't want to cater to people's opinions..."

Learning to love and like the person you see in the mirror every day.....a task for all of us! This is why I stress that clients continue doing that mirror exercise---that self-loving person, ..the one that is confident/loving no matter what others are doing is waiting to 'breakthrough' :)

And as I ended the notes to my clients I said, "Heck, I know you think its corny, but if a woman who has won 3 Grammys, released seven albums and sold millions has to do this...I think you'll see it might be worth it!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Children--collateral damage for making money?

The following is a letter to the editor I wrote:

As I opened the September issue of Oprah, the tri-fold ad by Ralph Lauren/ brought a shock! It caught my eye because one of the children looks like my friend's 3 year old daughter. All I could think was how these young girls--maybe aged 3-8 have been dressed up to look like women. The message appears to imply that young girls/women are interchangeable--I thought of my friend's innocent young daughter and feared how men/boys are being taught to view young girls as "women" and thus, sexual objects. (and checking the site--these clothes were not for sale on the children's pages)

Later in the magazine, I came across Liz Claiborne's tri-fold ads. In comparison, these were quite tasteful for a woman's magazine--vibrant women dressed professionally. As you compare the two ads, you can see how the ad is trying to achieve a similar 'adult look' that the Liz Claiborne ad achieved using actual women!

At a time when our children are constantly being threatened, isn't it time that we adults took responsibility and stop using our children as objects to be manipulated and exploited? While making money and selling products is an ever-pressured reality, are we will to accept selling our children as collateral damage to this pressure?

Oprah works hard on her show to address these issues--thus to have her magazine lend a blind eye to the ads that add to the problem of our children being exploited seems counter-intuitive. As the Liz Claiborne ads clearly show, you can produce beautiful ads that market a product effectively and not exploit our children at all. I would encourage the adults at Ralph Lauren and their advertising agency to sit and ask themselves 1) if they would want their 3 year old daughter exploited as a sex object 2) if they can be incredibly creative without exploiting children and 3)take responsibility for their actions and choose to make changes in the future ads they create.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

30 hours making a living, 30 hours making a difference

The local paper did a profile of a man who lives in Portland, OR. He's an activist working on transporation issues. In the article, he was quoted as saying "I work 30 hours making a living and 30 hours making a difference."

I just loved that line and wondered what would happen if everyone ran their life from that mantra. I especially thought of this for our children. What would it be like if we grow up constantly hearing "30 hours making a living and 30 hours making a difference?"

It would plant such a different seed of what our culture values from where it currently stands. Today we are so focused on making money, working 60 hours a week so we can buy more stuff. And most of that is because of what we saw/learned as children coming up through the 70's, 80's and 90's--obsessed with making money and buying stuff.

So, roll that one around in your brain today--what would your life be like on a daily basis if you were "Working 30 hours making a living and 30 hours making a difference"?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Addictions: focus not on 'giving up' but on adding!

With the reality of high oil prices (and today's announcement that a portion of the Alaska pipeline oil flow is going to be disrupted is likely to increase them ever more), life as we know it is going to change. We are, as President Bush said, "addicted to oil" and it shows up in so many levels of life. Oil is everywhere and in everything!

To say, "life as we know it is going to change" sends a shiver down our back because like any addict, living without the addictive behavior seems, initially at least, as something that's going to be awful. But it is possible, as many addicts discover, that after the addiction, life is actually better! And so, a post-oil addiction life could be wonderful as we discover new ways of living.

When I work with folks with addiction issues, my focus is never on 'giving up the old behavior' as much as it is to focus on 'adding new behaviors'. With our attention focused on what new things we're doing, we don't have as much time to be involved with the old behaviors.

I recall when I was giving up my junk food addiction. Initially, I truly had a panic as I could not imagine how I was going to eat without driving through the drive-thru twice a day! But I dove into learning about good nutrition, trying new foods (and yes, some of them were just awful! Brown rice, like yuck!) and committing to increasing fresh foods on a daily basis. I was so busy doing this that little by little, running through the fast food drive-thru wasn't necessary. No, I didn't go cold turkey, but within the course of a year, I'd added so many new foods, new menus and new learning that it no longer was an issue of giving up the fast food drive-thru, but simply my focus was on a way of life where I added the healthy, whole and vibrant foods my body really wanted.

Now, oil addiction and the massive consumption that's connected to it has led to a lifestyle that is fast-paced, filled with stuff, stuff and more stuff. Big cars, big houses, closets over-flowing and work schedules of 60+ hours a week to support all the stuff our addiction has convinced we need in order to live. Our lifestyles are high stress, we're creating lifestyle illnesses like diabetes, obesity, heart disease which are costing a fortune in healthcare and most important of all is that we've lost connection to our community because we have no time to know our neighbors, protect the environment and live in peace. Ah, the good life is killing us (as would my junk food diet have done if I'd kept eating that over the last 30 years!).

As we contemplate a post oil-addiction lifestyle what shall we add? Instead of driving, working and shopping as the major time consumer that we call 'life', let's add more exercise, more volunteering, more gardening, more community-building, more time with our children, more reading, more discussion groups, more learning how to play a music instrument (which you'll have time to practice!). more walking, more knowing our neighbors, more cooking at home and eating slowly, more eating locally, more time for daily yoga practice, more healthy bodies, more meditation, more singing,

This won't happen cold turkey (hopefully it won't come to that!), but little by little, as you spend time adding those behaviors noted above, you'll discover that the old monied/consumption lifestyle has transformed into something else that you like even more. Yes, when I started the transition from junk food--I thought brown rice was yuck! I couldn't imagine how I was going to get over that--but I found if I did a 50/50 split between the old white rice and the new brown rice, it helped me adjust. And sure enough, now I love brown rice as I've adjusted to the firmer chewing and deeper taste that white rice didn't provide.

As you start adding these new behaviors, you will find some things you don't enjoy initially--just stick with it. Give it the time to learn, try new activities and do them consistently over the next six months and I will bet you'll discover a new joy and love in how you live your life that you can't yet imagine. Life without massive consumption is not a boring life--in fact, many people decide it is much more exciting and joyful.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Getting out of 0-5 Environmentalism

The August National Geographic magazine has an article written by Bill McKibben called "A Deeper Shade of Green". Mr. McKibben is an environmental essayist, activist and the author of "The End of Nature".

In this article, he talks about the fundamental premise that drives just about all our actions:--Will this expands the economy?. If it will then anything--globalization, factory farming, suburban sprawl, is good. Period. As a result of this premise, the massive use of cheap fuels and its production of CO2 were accepted without condition. The resulting environmental destruction was also accepted--air, water, earth were by-products of economic expansion that were accepted as necessary because 'expanding the economy' was good. Environmentalism's focus was to ameliorate as much as possible the destruction and from a Life Puzzle model--it was a reactive, fix it after its broke, 0-5 response on the Choosing Continuum.

Environmentalism has done as good a job as possible--but a 0-5, reactive response will never be good enough. And now with China fully entrenched in the Western premise of 'Will it expand the economy?' fueled of course by cheap fuel, the massive increase in CO2 emissions makes environmentalism's 0-5 response hopeless. There is no way to 'clean up' the mess this will create.

He challenges in this article that it is time for a change--it is time to see ourselves differently. We need to stop asking "will this expand the economy?" and start asking "will this pour more carbon into the atmosphere?". With the new question, we make very different choices. We choose life over money.

I would rephrase it.....we need to stop asking "Will this make money" and start asking "Will this improve the community of life?" It's a shift from 0-5 on the Choosing Continuum--the grow up, get a job, house, cars, kids, stuff and maintain status quo to a 6-10 on the Choosing Continuum--recognize self as a physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual being and create a LIFE that honors the whole. This dramatically different view of our selves on an individual level enables us to choose to create a dramatically different view on a community and global level.

If we change our view of self, then our choices are predicated on "will this enhance life?--for me, yes...but since I am dependent on the earth for life--every choice I make must also ensure that the community of life--animals, plant, air, water etc., is maintained as well. " If everyone woke up this morning from this "will it enhance life premise", our daily life and global life would be fundamentally different. And don't laugh when you read that--because this morning you woke up under the premise of 'will this expand the economy?" and your daily life is shaped by that! You crawl out of bed to get to work, make more money, buy more stuff....

He talks about several areas of our lives where we could today begin to make this shift.
1. Food--eating local vs. shipping food (CO2 emissions!)
2. Housing--returning to simpler, smaller houses that take less energy to heat/cool
3. Concentrate housing in urban centers--reducing sprawl and the need to drive to everything.

In a nutshell, it is to live simpler. To spend more time building your life and less time buying stuff (and all the fuel that goes into its production, shipping, buying). The result? Less CO2 emission and more life. More time to take care of your body (walk more!), more time to connect to the community (friends, gardening, volunteering) and more happiness.

A previous blog on Happiness shows that we're not a happy country and I think it is due to the premise of "anything that expands the economy is good" because the cost for this has proved to be the thing that makes most of us truly happy: community--of people and animals, plant water, air--LIFE.

Spiritual edge...and Mel Gibson

The previous writing looked at the Lebanese/Israeli conflict in relation to their spiritual edge development on an individual and cultural level. As I wrote it I thought--I wouldn't want someone to think that I think it's just a Lebanese/Israeli or MidEast issue. It's everywhere!

Mel Gibson's tirade at his drunk driving arrest shows a man whose edges of his Life Puzzle have not formed well. Hiding behind his religion/spirituality, he's pretended to be a spiritual SELF, but if this were so, it would be totally impossible for him to do what he did (attacking Jews) His Spiritual edge has not formed--his SELF does not reflect love for all--especially for himself. His admission of life-long addiction issues makes it clear that his feeling/thinking edges have not formed either. This is a man whose SELF--a SELF that honors his body, manages his emotions, makes proactive choices with acceptance of consequences and living love for all is not yet complete.

It's important to realize that just because you're in a position of power or have celebrity--that has nothing to do with whether or not you've built a healthy, whole and dynamic Life Puzzle. Adolf Hitler at one time had lots of power, but he had no SELF. When I started my private practice many years ago, my clients were successful people. They had good jobs, houses, cars, kids and tons of stuff....what they didn't have was a SELF. They would come into me and say, "I've got the house, the cars, the kids, the stuff--I'm supposed to be happy and I'm not. What's wrong with me?" What was wrong was that 'happiness' is found within a SELF with strong edges--that they didn't have. The Life Puzzle model was developed to help people learn how to build the edges that lead to a strong SELF and a life that honors the physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual whole they are becoming. That's the great news--its something you learn, not something you buy.

I have great compassion for Mel Gibson--living inside a SELF when one's edges are poorly formed is difficult. Under the glare of celebrity, it is hard for a person to not get conned by the adoration and delusional power that comes with celebrity. It makes it difficult to acknowledge that something's wrong within one's SELF and seek help. My not so famous clients (well, honestly, none were famous! :) had it much easier when their inner voice said, "Something's missing here...I need some assistance."

Mel Gibson is a reflection of many adults walking around this planet. In fact, most adults have yet to form strong edges. Instead of doing this work, the world is bogged down killing each other and otherwise creating chaos. If instead we were all learning how to put together a whole and dynamic Life Puzzle (which anyone can easily learn!) what a fabulous world we'd have.

Well, I'll do what I can--you do what you can--maybe in another 2000 years we'll hit the tipping point and finally achieve peace--a piece at a time with the whole SELF in mind!

Spiritual edge...and WAR

I was listening to CNN the other day on the Lebanese/Israeli conflict. Representatives from both sides of the conflict were talking to Larry King or Anderson Cooper...can't even remember. I was busy cleaning up and was only listening to bits and pieces of each sides view as I moved around the kitchen and family room. What struck me though was how the conversation seemed to be nothing more than a tit for tat of "No, we didn't start this, you did! and then the other side would respond with "Not so, we didn't start this you did!" Each would then give a litany of history showing that they were right, they were best; the other side was the problem--and that's why this side was killing them.

I thought to I listening to 8 year olds? As the days of the war continue and all the media sources--newspaper, radio, television, internet, report--its all I see--two sides--adults fighting like children over their right to be right and better than the other. Amazing-- done under the umbrella of their 'spiritual/religious beliefs', they justify killing each other. This just shows an immaturity of spirituality of enormous levels--individually and culturally.

Spirituality on a personal level starts with love and the realization that "I am greater than no one, no one is greater than me--in EVERYONE shines love, as I can see love in me, I can see it in thee (and the caveat is...when I can't see love in me, I can't see love in thee, either") Achieving this level of spiritual edge development results in a SELF that lives daily with the awareness that every human they meet is just like them--a Life Puzzle under construction trying to find their pieces. When you're at this level, you look for the love in others as you share/reflect this love in you. Yes, you recognize that you deal with people who have not yet achieved this level of spirituality--but you don't kill them as a result! If you're truly spiritual--you attempt to build an environment where all can grow towards love--you don't wipe out those who are not like you!

Few have achieved this level of spiritual development--and clearly on a cultural level in the MidEast, it has not been achieved either. Individually when our spiritual edge is missing--we spend most of our lives 'comparing' ourselves to others, then attacking our SELF or others depending on who was 'better'. No one wins when we live from this perspective. On a Cultural level when the spiritual edge is missing--communities spend their time attacking others as a way to prove they're better. When you add mega-weapons....we all lose.

General Abizaid said yesterday about Iraq and their potential for civil war, that the conflicts in Iraq will only end when Shiite and Sunni Iraqis care more about their children then they care about hating each other . I'd say the same thing goes throughout the MidEast. Care about your children, teach them to grow their spiritual edge---strong, loving SELF and war will never arise again. Now, how do we get the current 'adults' to build their edges, develop a strong SELF and start living love for all so their children will have a world to live in?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Happiest country?

Sent by a friend of mine:

A new Happy Planet Index supports the cliché that money can't buy happiness. The New Economics Foundation, a British think tank, looked at 178 countries' consumption levels, life expectancy, and happiness, and concluded that people can live long, happy lives without sucking up large quantities of the planet's resources. In its ranking of happiest nations, the South Pacific island of Vanuatu earned the top slot.

Vanuatu, population 209,000, runs its economy mainly on small-scale agriculture and tourism; its GDP has been ranked 207th out of 233. Latin American countries dominate the top 10 happiest nations, with Colombia in second place. Many African and Eastern European nations are near the bottom, with Zimbabwe the official unhappiest nation. The U.S., with the world's second-largest ecological footprint (after oil-rich United Arab Emirates), ranked an unhappy 150th. Report co-author Nic Marks says the report reveals "patterns that show how we might better achieve long and happy lives for all while living within our environmental means."
straight to the source: BBC News, 12 Jul 2006
straight to the source: The Independent, Philip Thornton, 12 Jul 2006
straight to the index: Happy Planet Index

The source for this article can be found at

This is important for to consider as a Life Puzzle maker. On the 6-10 side of the Choosing Continuum--our goal is to practice a daily lifestyle to create health and whole life. Yet, to do this we need time to eat well, exercise consistently, parent well, build healthy relationships etc. For so many, work and the need for high quantities of money (to buy stuff!) inhibits their ability to create a healthy lifestyle practice! It is a cycle that is getting progressively crazy here in the United States. This Happiness Index challenges us to ask which is more important---money and stuff--or time to live more simply?

There are no easy answers and I say over and over again--Life Puzzle-making is not for wimps! It is not for people who say, "well, I'd love to but the 'systems' aren't set up to support Life Puzzle making". Life Puzzle makers don't wait for systems to change--they take responsibility for being the change they want to see!

If you want to be's a choice. Reducing the need for money/stuff is a proactive, conscious change--again, it isn't a quick fix choice--but it is something you can begin exploring how to bring these changes into you life--a piece at a time with the whole you in mind!

An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, shows that global warming is rapidly altering the world. As I watched this movie what stood out for me was the impact that rising temperatures have had on glaciers—these huge chunks of ice that seem so invincible are one of the most obvious casualties of global warming. Glaciers throughout the world are literally disappearing as they melt back due to high temperatures. Shortly Kilimanjaro will be no more. Glacier National Park will have to find a new name because glaciers will soon no longer be a sight one can see at this park! It is dramatic and indisputable—they’re going, going….um, almost gone.

The area of Oregon that I live in also has glacier mountains—Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. From my living room window I can see the majesty of Mt. Hood--still snow covered in July. I am struck with how different the community will be if those two mountains were no longer covered by a glacier. There goes the ski season and the water we depend on for irrigation of the pear and apple orchards as well as the small farms in the area. Without the glaciers, Hood River, the Columbia and White Salmon Rivers as well as several others would no longer provide the water necessary for the fun and recreation activities that currently take place on these rivers. We are the windsurfing capital of the world--but would that matter if we don't have a river to windsurf on?

Some days, the thought of global warming and environmental degradation becomes overwhelming to think about. To believe that we can have any impact through our actions seems like a quantum leap—but every small step (piece!) helps. At the end of the movie, he encouraged people to get active. Drive less, buy hybrids and walk more were just a few suggestions.

But one that I would like you think about is eating locally. Food is being shipped all over the world—it requires tremendous amounts of energy as trains, planes, trucks and cars move this vital requirement. Yet, in most areas our food needs could be grown locally through a network of small farms, backyard gardening and container gardening. I'm not suggesting that this could happen overnight, but here in the Gorge, a group of concerned citizens have been actively working since January to do this. We've initiated a Farmers' Market and begun building a network (check out to connect consumers and farmers. All of this happened as a result of just a few folks talking to each other and now it is building towards a regional impact.

We all have to eat--that's a given. But we don't have to eat food shipped halfway around the world! We can eat out of our backyards, balconies (see, and local farms.
Today, take a moment and think of one little thing you could do to eat more locally. Some ideas: You could look for a CSA to join, you could buy an Earthbox, you could look for small, local farmers in your area and talk with them about how you could buy directly from them. But do something!

Remember, Life Puzzle making--every piece impacts the whole. The benefits of this choice goes far beyond impacting global warming. Eating locally builds the community and environment piece of your Life Puzzle! Eating locally improves your nutrition piece because food value is greater the sooner you eat food and when food is shipped--it averages 8-10 days before you even get it home! Locally can be the same day. You support your local economy too. And when you look at your 'finding meaning" area of your Life Puzzle...the act of eating locally leaves the world in a better place after you're gone. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Summer garden diversions

Wow, just realized I haven't posted since early June...nor did I send out to the newsletter group in June at all. Well, there's a good excuse--I've been in the garden! It's only a little one--about 6 x 10 raised bed patch and 6 Earthboxes. Along with my CSA membership (Community Supported Agriculture), it meets 99% of my vegetable and fruit needs and only occasionally do I need to purchase vegetables from the grocery.

I love being in the garden--it reconnects me to life--something it seems to me we have become ever more disconnected from over the last 25 years. My mother, long ago and before her too early death had taught my father to be an organic gardener. It became a lifelong passion/hobby for him and while I didn't appreciate it much as a child (weed, I don't want to weed!), I am so happy today that he passed that knowledge/awareness on to me.

One of my favorite sayings was found on a needlepoint my mother had done as a child. It was framed and it was something I saw often as a child when visiting my grandmother in the mountains of Pennsylvania. It read: "Kiss of the sun for pardon, song of the bird for mirth, one is nearer God's heart in a garden than any place else on earth!"

Those early words have stayed with me for a lifetime and I think they are so true. Even a half hour tending my garden--picking weeds, snipping back an over-zealous zucchini (think Little Shop of Horrors and you'll know what I'm dealing with!) and hunting for a ready cucumber leaves me feeling peaceful. From April to October, it is a daily ritual. Some people like to go to church, or meditate--but for me, spirituality comes alive each morning and evening as I discover the 'life-force' erupting in my garden. As I water in the evenings, I'm amazed to see the changes--some subtle, some large--but always change. There's a steady peacefulness in it all.

So, forgive me...I missed June's newsletter connection, and am scurrying to bring it forth in July. But I'm hoping you didn't miss it because instead of being on your computer reading email, you too were outside dancing amongst life.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Medical guesswork--no evidence required?

The cover of BusinessWeek magazine's May 29th issue was a bit of a surprise to see: Medical Guesswork: From heart surgery to prostate care, the medical industry knows little about which treatments really work. The article, by John Carey, highlights a lot of work done by Dr. David Eddy--a medical doctor turned researcher/mathematician who has challenged the medical profession by proving that the practice of medicine is more guesswork than science. Doctors acknowledge that the "portion of medicine that has been proven effective is still outrageously low--in the range of 20 to 25%. We don't have the evidence [that treatments work] and we are not investing very much in getting the evidence." says Dr. Stephen C. Schoenbaum.

In other words, what they're saying is that medicine isn't 'evidence-based' is instead "based largely on rules and traditions, not scientific evidence." And the result? Poor health care, unnecessary treatments, and millions of dollars spent that may be totally unnecessary. The article highlights a change in diabetes care whereby Dr. Eddy proved that the conventional treatment did little to prevent heart attacks and strokes (complications of diabetes) but replacing the conventional protocol with aspirin and generic drugs for blood pressure and cholesterol reduced these complications dramatically. And in the process saved millions while improving life.

Common treatments like angioplasty, ear tubes and spinal surgery were not helpful yet they were the 'gold standard' that patients thought they must have! Last year over 400,000 heart by-pass surgeries and 1 million angioplasties were performed yet the data shows that except for the 3% of most extreme cases, these patients would have had just as good a result with drug treatment. Think of the implications of this....the money spent, the risk of dying during these surgeries as well as the recovery time and this is an alarming situation.

I share this information and challenge you to think about your own health care. Realize that this article shows you MUST become involved and informed vs. just depending on your doctor to pick out a solution for you. This is a key component of Life Puzzle-making--self-responsiblity. When working with medical professionals ask yourself..."Is this doctor just guessing? Does he/she have evidence that this would be the best?" When presented with an option, I recommend you thank him/her and then say, "I want to think about this and check it out a bit more, but I'll get back to you".....and then go do your own research. It may save you lots of time and money.

I had my own experience with this guesswork. I had a dark spot mole on the ball of my foot. It was flat and gave me no problems--it was discovered through a routine check-up. The doctor says, "You might want to have that removed" and sent me off to a surgeon. I met with him and he said, "We don't really know why, but its a belief amongst us that moles on the foot become problematic, so we generally take them off as a preventive measure." I told him I would think about it--because the surgery was expensive and I would need to be off my foot for at least 6 weeks which would make life quite difficult, I wasn't looking forward to this. When I thought about it at home, it made less and less sense to me....and then I called a doctor friend of mine and told her what was happening--and said, "I think this is overblown--and it just doesn't make sense to me to perform surgery on something that's not giving me any problems--what do you think"?

I'll never forget her answer! She said, "Ann, can you see your foot?" I said. yes, I could. She went on and said "Then I suggest you look at it once a month and see if anything changes with that mole--end of treatment for now!" We then started laughing! And even now it makes me chuckle (and the spot went away on its own!), but I also know that for many people--they would have had that surgery! Because the doctor said I should.....

Now more than ever it is important that you understand that so many of the systems that we trust and thereby we assume they know what they're doing....DON'T! That's hard to swallow isn't it? We believe our government is on top of it, but Katrina proved otherwise. We believe our doctors/medical system knows what its doing and why--but this article clearly shows that much of the medical treatment used in this country is not based on good, sound, scientific evidence. With that said, you have to stand tall in your doctor's office and be a partner in your health care and make rational choices amongst this guesswork!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

400 gallons for every American

The interdependency between oil and food is not one that the average American really understands. In reality, our food travels on average over 1500 miles from field to plate. This is a huge impact on the environment but that is only one of many ways that oil shows up in our food.

Recently, an article in the Oregonian newspaper highlighted how much oil goes into our food: To feed every American, 400 gallons are necessary in the following ways:
33% of the 400 gallons goes to fertlizers
20% of the 400 gallons goes to operate machinery like tractors
16% of the 400 gallons goes to transport food
13% of the 400 gallons goes to irrigation processes
8% of the 400 gallons goes to raise livestock
5% of the 400 gallons goes to pesticides
5% of the 400 gallons goes to miscellaneous needs.

With over 275 million people @ 400 gallons each, it is easy to see that local food production can have a serious impact on our oil dependency. Add to that changes in growing methods towards more organic vs. industrial farming using tons of pesticides and fertlizers and again our need for oil can also be reduced.

Its up to us--the choices we make in how our foods are grown and where our foods are grown can be proactive. Make an attempt to buy local, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, grow some of your own food in Earthboxes, buy organic whenever possible. Every choice you make can reduce your 400 gallons and if enough of us do this, it could have a serious impact while improving our communities and environments!

I know I need to but I don't want to

I was talking with a new client who had just finished her Life Puzzle assessment. As we looked at her scores, the nutrition and exercise areas were very low. At the same time, she was dealing with lots of anxiety and emotional issues. So I said to her, "In Life Puzzle--every piece impacts the whole--so by improving your nutrition choices and beginning an exercise program, a lot of your anxiety and emotional issues will also be improved."

She responded--"Yes, I know I need to start exercising, eat better and stop smoking but right now I don't want to". And she said it so matter of factually. Then she continued saying that for her at least--exercising, eating well and not smoking were all activities that were going to require attention, effort and hard work. From her current perspective, this 'need' was in conflict with her more immediate 'want' of having relief from her anxiety and emotional stress.

What she was essentially acknowledging was the 'reactive, quick fix', 0-5 side of the Choosing Continuum--where choices are made to 'fix problems' that are presently in front of me at the time. From this perspective, we usually look to find the easiest, instant gratification choices--even if they only provide symptom relief. And for her, this was the option to smoke, have a few cocktails and eat the easily available foods.

It made me reflect on the 'want vs. need' relative to the two sides of the Choosing Continuum.
When you operate your life primarily from the 0-5 style, 'wants' are immediate, quick fix, problem removers. 'Needs" on the other hand are the things you should do, but they require effort and sometimes hard work as you make the changes necessary.

But what happens when you operate your life primarily from the 6-10 side of the Choosing continuum? Now, 'wants' are such that making choices are focused on long-term outcomes, whole life making--such that the effort made is not seen as hard but as joyful because it leads to such better long term results. I want to eat a healthy balanced nutritious lifestyle not because I'm supposed to but because I want to--because I want a great, whole and dynamic life. Needs and wants now merge together! Yes, I know I also 'need' to exercise, but that takes a back seat to I want to exercise because I know the result is feeling great and without exercise, I rob myself.

As I've noted many times--90% of the population is operating their lives from 0-5 and has this want/need dilemma! Everyone opts first for 'feel good right now' vs. feel good for a lifetime. Shifting to the 6-10 is the discovery of building your Life Puzzle such that choices that look like a need for 0-5ers become wants instead.

For example, when someone asks me what I eat, I always say, "I eat whatever I want". People respond, "Oh, I could never do that--because from their 0-5 way of seeing things "eating anything I want means not eating the foods I need/should eat". But for me, my 'want' is great, healthy and whole food--because I know how good it feels to live when I eat like that. I don't feel like I give up anything I want because my 6-10 focus is such that I want to create a lifestyle vs. quick fix, immediate gratification of eating junk food."

It wasn't always like that for me--I was a junkfood junkie and I can remember a friend suggesting I make changes--and saying pretty much what my client said to me--"I want to eat these foods." My friend said, "That's fine...just add a few more of these other foods". In time, the foods I wanted shifted to the foods I needed. Then, need and want merged into Life Puzzle making.

That's what I hope will happen with my client and everyone who uses Life Puzzle model as a framework for building a great life. Where your 'wants' meet your needs and you can live vibrantly every day!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Marriage is a lot like yoga...10 years before you're really into the practice!

I was talking to a friend who is a yoga instructor. The topic however was marriage. I was saying that I thought we give up too early on our marriages--that it really isn't until about the 10th year of marriage that one is actually getting into the groove of a good marriage. Her comment kind of surprised me as she said "That's what they say about yoga practice too. It takes about 10 years before you're really into the groove of practicing yoga."

We then went on to discuss the parallels of what it means to work on a marriage relative to what it means to practice on the yoga mat. If you've ever practiced yoga--you know that it is in the repetition and consistency of returning to the mat that transforms you. I know when I started practicing yoga--the first video I used, I couldn't even complete! It wasn't that it was so very difficult--but it was more than I knew how to do. But, I just kept practicing that tape, over and over. Today, I can do that tape with ease, but it was only by returning to the mat over and over again that I could reach that level.

The same is true with marriage! In the first few years, learning how to live with another person, build good communication channels, setting goals, etc., is very challenging and difficult. Most of us, quite frankly, aren't very good at it! We make lots of mistakes, blame our partners for not being any better at it than we are and wake up a few years into the marriage wondering what the heck we're doing here! Much like the early years of being on the mat--it is tempting to just give it up altogether! What's the point--it's hard work, you don't often see immediate results and there's a lot of other places you could put your energy and have more fun!

And so we do give up on our marriages--way too soon. We walk out in the hard part, afraid to trust that, like yoga, if we try again, we can learn to be better communicators, we can know our selves better and thus be able to open ourselves to knowing our partners on a deeper level.

As a marriage counselor, I try hard to convince couples to give their marriages more time because I've seen time and time again those couples who, despite being in a very unsettled period of their marriage, stick it out and receive incredible benefits as a result. They take the angst they're in and dive into it--doing both individual work and couples work. Little by little they learn new communication techniques, they confront some of their own issues and move through them so that these issues no long stunt their marriage.

I won't kid you--its hard work--but you know, like yoga--with each return to the mat, you get just a little bit better at it and one day you look back and realize, 'wow, I can hold that pose for two minutes when just three months ago I couldn't hold it for two seconds! My clients who hang on through the angst times of their marriage also look back and realize that the partner they could barely stand to look at during the tough times they are now deeply in love with! This is the joy that is only possible by staying and working in a marriage.

If you look at any great marriage--or any yoga master, all will say that there were good times, hard times, times they all felt like quitting. But the yoga master stayed and can now look back on all those tough times and enjoy what those challenges produced. The same is true for long term marriages--you can only look back to see the joy of what those challenges produced if you keep the marriage together.

In its own way, building your marriage is just like building your Life Puzzle--it is a life-long learning experience. Like the yoga master, mastering your Life Puzzle and building a great marriage is a daily process--it isn't finished until the day you die. As you return to the mat, over and over again--return to your marriage each day as well. In both, the effort extended is the only way to produce the change and growth you desire!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Honey, we're killing the kids!

You know the Capital One credit card commercial that has the by-line "What's in your wallet?" for some reason I had this flash thought/visual of somebody's hand in your wallet. I know, I know...that's not what they want me to think when they say that line....but, I did.

Right after that I had a visual of the Life Puzzle....and thought "What's in your Life Puzzle?"
And then I had the visual of a multitude of media messages, cultural messages just scrambling all the pieces of your Life!

All this erupted in my brain after watching a CNN clip about a new show on TLC called "Honey we're killing the kids'. The original was on the BBC--this is the new American version. The goal is to help these families with overweight and unhealthy kids learn new and healthier patterns in the course of the 13 weeks of shows.

The CNN clip showed a family of 5 where the mother and two boys are overweight (mother is also diabetic) while the father and one son are below weight. Their eating habits are fast food heaven as part of a "too much to do in a day, no time to cook" lifestyle. And as everyone knows, fast food is generally fat food. Add to this a video game, sedentary TV lifestyle and its a prescription for health disasters!

So, in theory, helping this family change it's eating habits/lifestyle is a good thing. But what greatly concerns me is having these young children exposed on national television--at a time when the 'edges of their Life Puzzle'..and thus their SELF development is in such a crucial formative stage. While these children are not stars like the kids on the Partridge Family or Little House on the Prairie or Full House, etc.--what we do know from 50 years of television is that many of the children who star in these shows have significantly impaired adulthoods. The ability for children, who are in the formative stages of SELF, to negotiate through the world of television stardom has lots of stories of kids who did not transition well into their adulthood.

In a media engrossed world, our Life Puzzles are continually bombarded by outside messages. Adults have a certain measure of ability to keep these messages from shaping their SELF. But children do not--they are in the formative stages and are just now figuring out who they are. As
I watched these children on Honey, we're killing the kids, and all I could think was that they are so young they have no idea how their vision of SELF is being shaped.

I can guarantee you that most of the adults creating this show--from the nutritionists, health professionals and even the cameraman have very little awareness of the 'edge development' of children! So while they have good intentions on a physical level with the goal of helping these children, are they harming these children on a much deeper level? So, it's not only "Honey, we're killing the kids" on a physical level--we're going to add another dimension--"Honey, we're screwing up their minds" on a mental-emotional level?! What show should we create next to fix this?

Children are dependent on adults providing them environments where they can develop healthy physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual edges which leads to a strong SELF able to walk into adulthood. Is this show a healthy environment for these children to develop their edges? My concern for these overweight children is that their edge formation is being heavily influenced while being exposed on national television. They will "see" themselves on these shows and those images will have a powerful impact on their view of SELF. Will their parents or other adults help them nurture strong edges as a result or will the "shaping" of their SELF through this experience be something they have to figure out by themselves? In a world where many adults do not understand child development and the stages of emotional/cognitive growth, I fear that many of these children will have to negotiate this by themselves and it will be difficult.

Hating our bodies--national epidemic

A friend sent me an email yesterday about a survey done in Great Britain. He saw it in the Times of London. It focused on women and their bodies--well, actually the hatred of their bodies. It was a bleak assessment--essentially more than half of all women hated their bodies! He asked me, "Do you think this is true on this side of the pond as well?"

My answer would be yes women in the United States hate their bodies. And here's why I think that is; because long before they have even a semblance of a whole SELF, media messages have so informed them of the picture of what their body should look like--a look that less than 1-2% of the population could ever achieve that it sets them up on a lifelong quest they can never satisfy. This media message plants a seed in girls as young as 5 and 6--at a time when they have no idea what's happening.

The media is a powerful influence. Starting around age 6, who/what will young girls be learning is the IT look? Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan etc. Remember the Edges of one's Life Puzzle? The physical edge is being formed--and this media message is coming through a child's edge and embedding itself in her SELF. Be thin, be thin, be be good. A child this young has not yet had time to develop emotional/thinking edges and thus her SELF has not developed enough for her to realize that these pictures represent a big lie. These pictures have been altered and all blemishes and normal issues--like cellulite etc. are removed through a computer!

Thus, the SELF is being shaped by outside influences that a child this young has no way of rejecting. The seeds of hating one's body have been planted but they won't grow until puberty hits and their body begins major changes.

By the time puberty hits most girls will begin the unattainable quest. Little by little, over and over again they'll attempt to achieve a body based on the media/cultural messages. Never realizing that the reason they never succeed isn't because they're bad, ugly, have no will power, etc. but because it simply isn't attainable at all. The dieting cycle--a multi-billion dollar business--gets started and will continue for another 30-40 years! The Times of London article clearly shows adult women acting out this scenario.

Getting 'thin enough' will not (does not!) help us love our bodies! Study after study shows that most people lose their weight--but then put it all back on. If being 'thin enough' was all we needed to stop hating our bodies--then millions of women would be loving their bodies--because 90% of dieters succeed at weight loss. But loving your body isn't a result of losing weight. Loving your body is a result of having healthy edges--physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual which results in a SELF that is consciously creating her life.

Going on another diet won't do the trick. Building your Life Puzzle...starting with the Edges of SELF will pull you out of hating your body and loving your Life! Then worrying or thinking about your body becomes a minor piece in the whole you are creating! A piece at a time with the whole YOU in mind!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Nutrition confusion! What's a person to do?

Nutrition is a very important piece of your Life Puzzle. Yet few of us really know and understand healthy nutrition that we can depend on for a lifetime. What we get is a never ending series of diets to try amid a regular stream of news stories telling us what's good, what isn't. Is it any wonder most of us have nutrition whiplash! One minute you're going forward, next minute going backward and the end point is a big pain in the neck!

With all the conflict in the media of what's good, what isn't, I hear over and over again from folks that they've given up! Just as soon as they try one thing the media undermines its value. Who or what can you trust?

I suggest the KISSSS diet...keep it simple, keep it small, keep it sane, keep it slow. Here's how to do it.
1. When choosing foods....keep it simple. The less processed, the more better :)
In a grocery story, stick to the outside aisles where the produce section, fish/poultry/meat departments are. Avoid the middle aisles as much as possible. Wonder if it's 'processed?' If it has white flour or white sugar in's processed. Keep this type of food to a minimum!
2. When eating....keep it small.
If you've ever seen the movie Supersize Me, you'll realize that in the last 40 years the 'normal' for portion size has quadrupled! We eat too much, period. So, keep it small. Make smaller meals at home, eat only half of any meal when you go out, take home the rest for a second meal--everytime!
3. When designing your lifestyle diet...keep it sane.
You don't 'go on a diet', you live it. Thus, design one that you can live with and enjoy. If you're employing #1 and#2, you're halfway home. A general guideline of fresh fruits and vegetables, a little fish, limited beef/pork, whole grains (instead of processed!), lots of water and a good multivitamin/mineral support can work for a lifetime!
4. When at the dining table...keep it slow.
Two things happen when you slow down. One, you get to enjoy the process of actually eating your food for a longer amount of time. Two, it gives your stomach time to tell your brain, we're full! Since this takes 20 minutes to happen, if you eat so fast (average meal time...6 minutes!), you can end up eating way more food than you need or want before your mind tells you to stop!

So, KISSSS...keep it simple, small, sane, slow and you'll live a diet lifestyle that will build a healthy, whole, dynamic Life Puzzle!

But you knew when you married me that I was like.....

Boy, if I had a nickel for everytime I've heard in a marriage counseling session "But you knew when you married me that I was like such and such", well, let's just say, I'd be reitred and sipping pina coladas on some island!

What is it about getting married that leads so many of us to act as if we've just signed up to be in prison forever with another person? And from that viewpoint, we begin to lock our SELF into a "but this is the way I am and you can't change me" game with our partners?

I was doing a recent session with a great couple, newly married when the but you knew when you married me line dropped like a bomb in the middle of the room. He was insisting that she couldn't change him, this was the way he was. Heels were digging in, both parties going to their corners!

However, in our before session small talk, he had shared with me how a major stressor at work that he'd been dealing with for 15 months had resulted in his changing dramatically the way he dealt with this group of people. In the initial phase he'd been a wreck, turning himself upside down and inside out. This was his typical pattern over the course of his life when confronted with big challenges. But because this issue had stretched on for so long, he'd had the opportunity to change the way he talked to himself about the issues (more proactive, calm) and also how he communicated with this group. At the end of 15 months, he was a very different business person in how he now approached work challenges--and he was much happier. They hadn't forced him to change--he had grown to the realization that if he continued to deal with stress and challenges in his traditional "this is the way I am", he would end up either killing himself or killing his business.

So I said to him, "If you can change your SELF in the work area of your Life Puzzle and see that it favorably impacts the life you're creating, then wouldn't it make sense that you could change you SELF in your relationship/partnership piece too and end up with a more favorable life?" He mulled this over a bit--heels trying to decide if they should relax or dig in harder. And then he started to laugh....

The real bottom line on all this is the reality that your SELF is ALWAYS changing! When you're 35 you don't see the world the way you did as a 10 year old. So why, when you marry, do you assume your SELF is a finished work and your partner either likes you the way you were when you got married or they can just get out (another nickel for every time I've heard it line)!

So, it's time to ask your SELF--is my marriage a changing work of art or a prison relationship of two non-changing people? I guarantee you, just as the man above discovered his business life was so much more enjoyable when he allowed himself to grow and change--you'll find your marriage a lot more fun if you accept growth and change as the normal flow too!