Thursday, October 29, 2009

Food Inc., meets Health Care reform

The movie, Food Inc., offers a big view of the American food system. Like our banking/financial system, over the last 30 years, the American food system has resulted in a few big players controlling the grand majority of the food system.

Most of us take the food system for granted. We have year-round access to every type of food imaginable at amazingly low prices. What an incredible system we are blessed with so what could be wrong with this?

What we don't see is how this food system is possible. Few of us are aware of how our food is produced. There's a wall a mile high around our food production systems and as Food Inc. shows, the bBig AG systems don't want you to know or see what's happening. Because they know if you did--you would be shocked at how this system abuses the farmers, the animals, the land and YOU. For while you might think that year-round access to all types of food at incredibly low prices benefits you, what you discover by watching Food Inc., is that you are paying a very big cost for this apparently thriving system.

In order for our food system to function as it does, you have to accept a food system that increasingly risks your safety and increasingly reduces a fresh food system to a highly processed food system that centers around just a few food items--corn, soybeans, and wheat being the big three. Big AG takes these 3 products, processes them in many different forms and voila, you have a cheap food system.

But you'll notice something else--on the way to this super efficient, high processed and super cheap food system--America has gotten incredibly fat and unhealthy. In direct correlation, you can see how, as we became ever more processed in our food system, we became ever more unhealthy. Take just one issue: Type II Diabetes. This used to be called "Adult-onset" diabetes because most people did not get this type of diabetes until late in their 40's or 50's. But now, our children are increasingly exhibiting this illness and it is reaching epidemic proportions! One in three of our children will become Type II diabetic in their lifetime.

So how cheap is our food system? Not very if you were to do a true cost accounting. Because that highly processed food system results in obesity and diabetes which costs a fortune to care for through the health care system. Have you noticed your insurance premiums going up lately? Well, this scenario guarantees that it will continue to rise for the next 30 years as more and more of our children are diagnosed with diabetes! Now, factor that cost into a cheap food system and you can see the 'beneficial' aspect of year-round access to amazingly inexpensive food disappears. Add to this the human loss of all these people having to care for Type II diabetes, how this limits their lives, impacts their families and will implode our health care system carrying these costs and a belief that we have a cheap food system requires you to live in total denial.

Last year, when the financial system collapsed--we discovered that some banks were "too big to fail" We also learned that if they're too big to fail...they're just too big. I ask you to consider this same scenario related to our food systems. Big AG controls 80-90% of the food system which makes them "too big to fail "too. Isn't it time we realized as well, that if Big AG is too big to is simply too big? You may have watched your life savings disappear when the financial system collapsed...what happens though when the Big AG system collapses? Don't wait to find out.

Anyone who reads this Life Puzzle blog knows how important a factor good nutrition is in building a whole and dynamic life. Against the challenges that this Big AG food system presents, there's still plenty you can do. Grow your own food, buy at local farmers' markets, join a CSA farm (there are now 3000 of them in the US), ask restaurants in your area to buy from local farmers and post it on their menus, join a community garden or put a garden in your own front yard! Take a step today to get yourself out of the 0-5/status quo Big AG food system. Go 6-10, take responsibilitiy and proactively take charge of your life!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Age of the Unthinkable....

Last week I did a presentation to Community College women (staff) who were at their summer conference. The focus was on wellness and managing stress in these chaotic times. I was sharing the Life Puzzle model as an example of living in the present moment while accepting that things are constantly changing. I shared that the Life Puzzle is a framework that enables you to be 'resilient'. As you become accustomed to recognizing that 'adding more pieces' over the course of your lifetime is normal and joyous it gives you the capacity to deal with what comes. This runs contrary to how many of think we're supposed to live--getting our lives fixed, safe and secure--and unchanging.

Coincidentally I was reading a book by Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable. This book discusses the reality that our world is changing so much that what we once thought 'unthinkable'--suicide bombers, the Internet, another great Depression and 7 billion people to name a few--now is all around us. It is a an 'insecure' world and try as we might to apply old ways of addressing these fast changes--what he's discovered is that if we're going to create 'deep-security', we must change the way we see the world. We must give ourselves permission to try new ways of responding. At about page 100 I thought--he's talking about being a Life Puzzle maker!

As I continued reading--I could see that he is confronting the 0-5 side of the Choosing Continuum--the reactive, passive, maintain status-quo world where, frankly, most people live and most of our systems--medical, business, education, law and even our families support and reinforce. And he's saying--that's not going to cut it for our future---it is time to switch directions and become proactive, empowered and self-responsible. In Life Puzzle terms--that means going to the 6-10 side of the Choosing Continuum and building a life that that you create and take responsiblity for--day by day and piece by piece.

Now, of course, this book was addressing the big picture, big systems---like governments solving problems or financial systems redesigning. But remember, those big systems are made up of lots of individual people. If we're going to build what Ramo calls a 'deep-secure' world--it starts with each and everyone of us, individually taking the step into Life Puzzle making.

So, if you ever wondered if it was time to jump out of the 0-5 status-quo and into the 6-10, create your own future---in the Age of the Unthinkable...that time is now! The Life Puzzle gives you a framework on which to do this---a piece at a time with the whole YOU in mind!

I ended my talk at the summer conference with this line--"The only security in life is insecurity--learn to love it". I could see the audience faces scrunching their eyebrows at a phrase that seems to be an oxymoron. I know what they're thinking because the first time I heard this--I rebeled against it and thought--no, that can't be right. But it is. When you really get this, then no matter what stress or change occurs--you realize you can accept and deal with it in the now.

That's what living in the Age of the Unthinkable is saying too. That as much as we might want to try to control the world--a better strategy is to accept that change is all around us and be part of creating the solutions when necessary. For too long we've sat passively by and thought someone else would take care of everything, fix it all and make it safe. But with systems crashing down around us despite billions of dollars invested to prevent any changes--we can now see that this is a false security. If you want to create what Ramo call deep-security--wake up, become resilient (Life Puzzle maker), empower yourself and be ready for whatever changes show up. Because they will be showing up!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The 10K rule results in a lot more happiness!

"So, step out of yourself and look down on this event from 10,000 feet", I said to my client, Gina*. She had called expressing hurt and anger about an experience she'd had with a co-worker and wanted to know what to do about it. *name changed

She responded---"I know you want me to be the 'bigger person here', but then she gets away with what she did to me and that just makes me more angry!"

"No, I answered, I want you to be an adult instead of the emotional child. Because right now, the 'little hurt child' is running this event over and over in your mind, isn't she? And I know you've told me before that when this type of thing occurs--it spirals out into overeating, withdrawing from the world and isolating your self."

Gina responded, "Well, yes, but shouldn't there be a right and wrong here? She was rude and that's not acceptable to me. Why does she get to do the immature behavior, but I don't?"

A moment of silence please while we all chuckle over that.

"Gina, I said, "you don't come to me for counseling so I can encourage you to stay stuck in old and useless patterns. You come to break this cycle--and that's why you need to begin practicing the 10K rule."

"When events like this happen--and you have a 'feeling' of 'hurt--I want you to feel that feeling---and then instead of the old pattern of nursing this hurt, wanting to withdraw--I want you to stop, deep breath and step outside of this event and look down on it from 10,000 ft. Look down on this event as a mature adult instead of the hurt child and as you make this shift--ask your mature adult SELF--how do I want to manage this hurt feeling instead of letting this hurt feeling manage me (ie, nursing it, running this event over and over in your mind, wanting to withdraw).

"What you'll get from this vantage point Gina is the ability to see that this 'event' is just an event. It is not something that has to ruin my day, have me figuring out ways to seek revenge etc., Instead, from the 10K view, I feel the temporary feeling of 'hurt', I realize I can let it go and then get focused on positive things I want to do with my day. "
Also, Gina, from this view, you can also see the other person and see that they're in their own 'melodrama' and you were just a 'blip on the screen' event that gotcaught up in it. When her melodrama crashed into you, then you created your own melodrama that wants to crash back into her. What you'll see is that everyone is letting the 'emotional child' respond vs. the rational adult. The world of angst that's created produces a lose-lose situation.

We need far more consciousness Gina--and responding to life's event as a mature adult frees up your life to be lived fully instead of chasing your tail over these on-going events. Because for sure Gina...there will be more and more events like this. I can guarantee it! But if you begin practicing the 10K rule--and separate out and begin managing your feelings, you'll avoid a lot of grief.

Managing our feelings doesn't mean blocking or numbing--what it means is we "feel the feeling' and then we step out to the 10K level and begin managing it. Yes, it means managing hurt--but it also means 'managing' rapt joy of watching a sunset--feel the feeling, let the warmth run through your body--but you don't stay stuck there forever and never move on--you recognize the joy, from the 10K view, you see it's part of a temporary event, honor it and move on. Same with hurt--you feel the feeling, let the angst 'bubble up', but you don't stay stuck there either. You move to the 10K view, see its part of a temporary event, honor it and move on!

Unfortunately, Gina--most of us do get stuck in our hurt/anger feelings. We take it personally, respond like the wounded child and then we waste so much of our life turning a temporary event into our lives, running it over and over again in our minds....but not moving on.

So, practice the 10K rule, feel the feeling, manage it and move on to live life!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Building on Assets.....that's what Life Puzzle is all about!

I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a training focused on teen development--but from a unique perspective--Asset building. Asset building means recognizing the positive things that research has shown results in teens building great lives---and then working to strengthen these assets because we can pretty much ensure positive outcomes for teens, families, schools and society when these are available in their lives.

This training was based on research from Search Institute. Over 50 years they have worked to provide the data necessary to show what works with teens. The outcome is the 40 Development Assets. These include External assets of Support, Empowerment, Boundaries and Expectations and Constructive Use of time. These 5 major areas are broken into 20 more specific assets such as "family boundaries" and "community values youth". Then there's Internal Assets of "Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competence and Positive Identity". These 4 areas are broken into 20 more specific assets such as "sense of purpose", or "integrity".

What their work has shown over time is that the more assets a teen possesses, the less likely they are to be involved in negative, high-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to be positively engaged in school, home and the community.
If you'd like to see all 40 of the assets, please go to their site to learn more.

An interesting comment the speaker, Clay Roberts made during the 3 hour training continues to ring in my ears. He had the 40 Assets up on the screen and as he pointed to them he shared that at one of the trainings he'd done previously, a man had walked up to him on break and said "I can't believe you get paid this much to teach what is certainly just common sense!". There was chuckling in the current audience as people nodded their heads--but then Clay looked at the audience and said, "Well, yes, it is common sense--but obviously it is not common knowledge. Because as you look at these 40 Assets and examine your own professional encounters with teens and their families---you know as well as I do that far too many families, schools, social service agencies and others who work with our young people do not know this." And so, yes, I am paid to come and teach this--because it is necessary still.

And I would concur with him---and it is why I also continue to teach Life Puzzle. I get very similar comments after I teach people the basics of Life Puzzle making. They'll say something like "Wow--now that I see it, it is so obvious--but without seeing the whole framework of the Life Puzzle model--I was clueless. How come we don't teach this to everyone throughout their childhoods?" Why indeed....

Search Institute shows why the 40 Assets aren't consistently practiced by adults working with young children. Clay had asked this audience--"How often do you hear adults criticizing teens and focusing in on what they do wrong---instead of hearing adults reinforcing assets?" Again, lots of shaking heads that this is what happens--and he asked "Why"? And I raised my hand and said--"Because they don't know how to see their own assets--they are mainly focused on their own negatives---so that's what they see in others." And Clay said--"That's exactly right."

I said that because that's what I hear and see all the time when I'm working with clients or teaching a group about Life Puzzle. When I ask audiences--where are you on the Choosing Continuum--0-5 reactive, unconscious, passive in creating your life or 6-10, proactive, conscious and empowered--90% of audience members recognize they're operating on the 0-5 side. And we discuss why this is--its because that's what they see all around them and its what they were taught.

So that's the bad news--still too many adults unaware of how to build their own lives, unaware of the 40 assets in their own lives--or the children they influence. The good news is Life Puzzle is available--as are the 40 Assets. These two models compliment each other wonderfully. One of the participants in this training had just finished running a CART (creating a responsible thinker) program--the teen/parent program of Life Puzzle. She came up to me and said "Life Puzzle is asset building on the detail level and I'm so grateful to be able to share this with parents and teens!"

Me too *:*

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Why can't Oprah love herself?

I was so saddened to see Oprah announce to the world that she'd once again let her 'food addiction' fill the void in her SELF. Confronted with health problems and other issues--she went 'reactive' (0-5 on the Life Puzzle Choosing Continuum) and let her thyroid issues become her "I'm a victim/addictive voice" excuse. As a result, she gave her self permission to eat anything and reduce her exercising.

The result--she'd topped 200lbs and was totally embarrassed and ashamed to let her audience see that once again she's become a victim to the old pattern. On one level it is hard to imagine that the woman who sat for 10 weeks talking with Eckhart Tolle on how we 'create our own reality' could so easily relapse into the victim story that she'd learned early in her life (and which many of us also learn). She has the knowledge to hear that 'victim/addictive voice' and know it only has power over her if she chooses--and yet, she chose to give in to it.

One of my clients brought this up in session--saying that if the "wealthiest woman, with all the support staff and services at her fingertips" couldn't manage her 'addictive voice', how was she going to be able to do it? So, I turned the question around to my client and said, "Tell me, what do you believe is different for you?". This stumped her for a second--but then she said, "I'm fighting for my SELF and I know that if I keep my 'edges' or boundaries strong, then my SELF stays strong. And the second I feel like giving in to old patterns--I can literally 'see' my edges breaking open and watch my SELF give up. I don't want to give up my SELF any more.

So, then I asked my client--why do you think Oprah can't hold her SELF as so valuable/loving that she continues to do this rollercoaster of letting outside events, issues, health problems blow open her edges/boundaries and watch her self be taken over/play the victim? In other words, why isn't SELF love so comfortable/calming/a way of life for her--in spite of the fact that she has so many things and opportunities? My client couldn't figure it out....and I don't know if I can either--other than to say--that the experiences of Oprah's abusive childhood have left a wound/perception that Oprah still let's have power over her--and that wound is "You'll never be good enough". I see it in so many people who, in spite of lots of other successes, keep running that story inside their brains and apparently think it is impossible to let go.

But it isn't. We are all enough--we were born enough--The biggest lie of our culture--a culture that pits us against each other as a way of making everyone compete for the 'good enough spot' is teaching children early on that they're never 'good enough'. This is a no win game--and people play it for a lifetime. Stop playing it Oprah--you are enough--wake up every day and live in SELF love so comfortable/caring and a way of life that when ever that old voice rises again--you can say "Enough now, enough".