Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This didn't just start....

I'm working with an online group each week and we start our sessions with a poetry reading. One of the goals of the group is how we bring back nature/the environment into our daily lives and from a counseling standpoint--how we use it as a therapeutic tool. One of the questions this group has asked is whether or not the current disconnect that so many people have with nature and the environment in part leads to many mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

I stumbled upon the following poem, "As it was written" by Anne Sexton. What struck me when I read the first stanza......and she talks about the Earth becoming a latrine--was the fact that this poem was written prior to 1974. I didn't have the exact date of this poem, but since she died in 1974--obviously it was written before this.

So for all our angst about global warming--this made me aware that this problem did not just creep up out of nowhere in the last 10 years--it was obvious to Anne Sexton more than 30 years ago!

The other line that made me stand up (guiltily) was

All in all I’d say,

the world is strangling

And I, in my bed each night,

listen to my twenty shoes

converse about it.

The visual of my closet and all my shoes and all my stuff talking amongst themselves--while never recognizing that it is the constant consumption while ignoring the environmental impact that has set up the situation where we're turning Earth into a latrine. I am as guilty as anyone and yet, ready to clean up the mess.

See the Poem below (reprinted without official permission).

As it was written,

Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

Earth, Earth
riding your merry-go-round
toward extinction.
right to the roots,
thickening the oceans like gravy
festering in your caves
you are becoming a latrine.

Your trees are twisted chairs.
Your flowers moan at their mirrors
and cry for a sun that doesn’t wear a mask
Your clouds wear white,
trying to become nuns
and say novenas to the sky.
The sky is yellow with it’s jaundice
And its veins spill into the rivers
where the fish kneel down
to swallow hair and goat’s eyes.

All in all I’d say,
the world is strangling
And I, in my bed each night,
listen to my twenty shoes
converse about it.
And the moon,
under it’s dark hood
falls out of the sky each night
with it’s hungry red mouth
to suck at my scars.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Raising "Mini-me's.?

I was reading an article from my Smartmarriages email notes and came across one discussing how father's are portrayed on television. It's not pretty--right down to the dad on the's aren't getting much respect--they come across as buffoons or worse, completely dispensable items in a family. To be sure, not all of them--but the majority.

One sentence though jumped out at me
". . . And that's a problem, according to a new book by Washington Post columnist Diana West. In her work, titled "The Death of the Grown-Up," she writes that American fathers don't have sons anymore. They have "mini-me's." Dads and sons dress alike, play alike, eat alike -- even Cartoon Network viewing habits."

It made me really stop and think about it. Because it comes on the heels of a discussion I had last week with folks who work in the social services--folks from mental health counseling, adult probation, juvenile detention etc. They were complaining that one of the biggest problems they have is the 'lack of boundaries' of most of the adults that they work with--and that this trickles down onto their children (many of which these service providers end up working with).

So, when I merge the comment of "American fathers don't have sons any more. They have "mini-me's" with those in the helping professions acknowledging a lack of boundaries in most adults--I can see how/why we are raising "Mini-me's". Yikes...that's lots of folks stuck in the 0-5 reactive, unconscious story.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The download option? What do you think?

The newspaper announced that the band Radiohead has decided to circumvent the traditional music sales of CD's for a direct download of their latest artistic creation--and with the option of the buyer deciding how much they want to pay for it. Its sent shivers through the music industry which has until recently been the "driver" of the music business and been able to manage profits by controlling both the artist and the consumer's options. But that system began to break apart with the arrival of Napster and others that enabled free downloading of music. While free downloading has been frown upon, Radiohead's decision is bold for sure because the artists maintain ownership of their creativity instead of selling it to the music industry. Some say this is only possible because Radiohead is already a hugely popular and well known band. If they were an unknown, no one would care.

But I'm not sure that's true. For an unknown band to offer their music on the Web, through a direct download vs. the CD which requires production, distribution and other costs, it would seem to me that it would enable many of these bands to get heard, be purchased--even if its for as little as say two dollars--still make money while enabling the consumer to purchase their creativity at reasonable prices. The difference between a two dollar download and a $16.00 CD is significant. But best of all--it allows the artist to continue to own his/her creation and deal directly with their customers.

And it got me to thinking about books--which are very similar to the music business. Most people don't realize that the average book--despite high costs to the consumer--provide very little money to the writer. The way most book deals are structured (unless you're a huge name like Colin Powell or Paris Hilton) results in most authors receiving about one dollar for every book sold. Yes, that's dollar. The rest goes to the publisher/printer and the writer is powerless to do anything about this if they want their book printed. Even when self-published, the production costs for a book and then the subsequent distribution means that most of the money ends up in the hands of others.

And for me, the environmental costs of book production and distribution have always been a difficult challenge. On the one hand, I like people reading my book, Life Puzzle...putting the pieces together. On the other hand, getting it to you means printing it, then packing it and shipping it around the country. Between the gas needed for trucks and planes to move it around, huge amounts of paper production and cover costs, as well as the packing materials of padded envelopes and/or boxes, its a huge drain the environment. And so for quite sometime I've thought of circumventing this altogether and making my book available through a eBook/pdf file download, dropping the price from $20.00 per copy to $5.00 per copy and then letting you decide if you want to print it yourself or just read it on your computer screen (or a combination of both--read some on the computer, print for instance the recipes so you could put them in a 'recipe' collection you keep in the kitchen).

So what do you think? Should I continue to print/sell it in the traditional format, or offer it through an eBook option at a modest price. Please let me know by adding a comment here at the blog!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It's not just you that doesn't understand the financial responsibility piece!

Last week I presented to a group of about 40 people on the ideas around Life Puzzle making. When I got to the Financial responsibility piece--I asked, "How many here, by the time you graduated high school or college understood how to manage money?" And the heads all shook no, and everyone started laughing--this happens just about every time I ever ask this question.

Yes, the financial responsibility piece is a gaping hole in most every one's Life Puzzle--yet there's absolutely no way to live on this planet without dealing with it. It's amazing isn't it?

On Friday, September 28th, I was watching Bill Moyer's Journal. He was interviewing John Bogle who created the Vanguard Group which is one of the most successful mutual fund management groups. Now 77, Bogle was sharing his views on the current state of the economy and specifically--the stockmarket/investor world. It's not a pretty picture and he's quite upset about it. Essentially, the 'value' of money has become a value unto itself. And those who work in the field have lost the fundamentals of not only money management but the value of what role money should play in our lives.

As I listened it occurred to me how the people he's describing--those who put money first over everything else, have something missing in their own Life Puzzles! Financial has become disconnected from "responsibility". As Bogle described what the Habana Health Corporation had done in Tampa (essentially putting the making of money as more primary than caring for their clients/doing the work of the corporation--thus reducing staff to dangerous levels, risking clients lives all for the sake of a better bottom-line), I thought--this is a result of the choices these people are making. How could a man or woman choose to run a corporation this way? And to me, the only answer is that on a personal Life Puzzle-making level--these people have poorly formed edges and thus a SELF that can make choices that are 0-5, reactive and unconscious. While these few will pocket millions, they do it at the expense of people who, in their last stages of life can not protest or protect themselves.

While I'm sad, as is Bogle, for this debacle--in many ways, I'm saddest for the human beings who could treat others with such disregard simply to line their pockets with money. Clearly they do not understand the role the money plays in one's Life Puzzle. As I've always said, if you don't understand how to manage money, money will manage you. And for these folks, this lack of understanding, matched with poorly formed edges/SELF, results in a lose/lose for all.

Where did the summer go?

Oh wait...the summer went in 18 Farmers' markets, long walks through the neighborhood, visits from friends and gardening on a daily basis. It flew along with lots of wonderful sessions with clients and a group designed around building one's Life Puzzle!

Yet, here I sit, the garden is giving up its last few tomatoes (as I keep my fingers crossed that a frost is a month away!), I've retired my sandals for socks and shoes (boo hoo) and contemplate switching my gym shorts to gym leggings! Yes, its fall again and as much as I love the summer, I have to admit that the intense pace of summer begs for a break and fall is just what I needed!

And so a friend's book suggestion "In Praise of Slowness" was the perfect transition of leaving the rush of summer and welcoming the downshift of fall. What I've liked about this book is that it truly is a treatise that supports everything I'm trying to do in Life Puzzle-making--for myself and for all my readers, clients and group members! Life Puzzle making is about honoring the whole SELF-. "In Praise of Slowness" discusses many of the different areas of one's Life Puzzle from the standpoint of first recognizing it (how many of us forget the 16 core areas while we're consumed with working, working, working!) and then, once recognized--discovering the fast to slow transition that he discusses.

For example, one key area of Life Puzzle-making is the nutrition area. First, it is an area most of us simply ignore--but I've tried in Life Puzzle-making to bring it front and center. Well, "In Praise of Slowness" takes it to another dimension through the discussion of slow food and the slow food movement that turns eating into a joyous, play-filled part of our lives. This is definitely a great addition to your Life Puzzle-making nutrition area. Check it out.

By the end of the book, I felt wonderfully re-centered on my own Life Puzzle-making and ready to enjoy fall at a slower pace than summer's fare!