The Neuroscience of Gratitude

I wanted to share a quick read with you about the brain science behind gratitude. I have been working on being consciously grateful for some time now. Gratitude pulls me out of the doldrums faster than most anything else I have practiced.

More to come on gratitude……/neuroscience-4-rituals-happy

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Bridge the Hyper-partisan Divide


So what is next? In a few days, we will have a group of Americans who feel that they have lost and a group of Americans who feel that they have won. And I ask of you, now what do we do?

This is a great TedTALK from 2012 with Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership at NYU. I encourage all of you to watch it.

This talk highlights how the left and right see different “asteroids” that are about to hit our country in the next 50 years and how even though both sides are hyper-focused on different issues, all of these issues (there are 4 of them: climate change, climbing national debt, income inequality, and the rise of non-marital births) can be addressed by coming together to address them as “common threats”.

In reference to economic inequality, he states that we are NOT all in the same boat and that creates a scenario where people are NOT willing to sacrifice for the common good.

He suggests that it is time to take off the political blinders of hyper-partisanship and force Congress to get back to working together against these common threats. How?

1. Elect fewer hyper-partisans by having more open primaries

2. Weaken pressure to act hyper-partisan by counteracting “Citizens United”
3. Rebuild cross-party relationships by changing the legislative calendar to 3 weeks on/1 week off

He recommends the following sites:

And the book that I am going to read this weekend:

 The Parties vs The People, How to turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans, by Mickey Edwards

So, what am I going to do? Turn off the rhetoric, I have already voted and have no need to be swayed nor have a desire to be bombarded with ads. And I am going to read this book over the weekend, and figure out how I can be the best American that I can be in the coming months. Partisanship be damned.


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Listen. Think. Love. Our only Choices.

My heart hurts this morning and tears keep leaking out at unexpected times. I have such a depth of sorrow about the events over the past week. I remember remarking to my mister last summer during the Ferguson riots that “this is the tipping point, it will get better from here”. And yet it hasn’t. But then again, it has.
People are seeing what was once kept in the dark and having to figure out how to deal with things that were never discussed. Underlying racism, contempt, and bigotry are being exposed and when brought to light, the darkness fights back desperately, but we need realize that it will wither away in the end. For darkness doesn’t really exist, only light.
Why do I believe this? Because good always wins. Right will always triumph over wrong, even when it looks as if the battle is lost.
What is the secret? Never stop believing in and doing good. Do not listen to folks who cry that hate is winning and love is lost. I call bullshit! Our world is wondrous and filled with beauty, grace, dignity, and love. We need to stand for these, always.
Always do the small right thing. Always be kind. Always give the benefit of the doubt. Never stop believing that we are all here by divine appointment. Know your truth and accept that others have theirs. Listen with an open heart and open mind. Manage your own small slice of the Universe and let others manage theirs.
Don’t let the bad guys win.
Listen. Think. Love.
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Day #5 Let’s Talk TED & Unschooling

I have great admiration for the life that this family leads with their children.  The concept of “unschooling”is difficult for me,  being the daughter and sister of educators. Yet, as I watch the Heilmans mature – I question what we are truly putting this generation through in the public school system.

Source: Day #5 Let’s Talk TED & Unschooling

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It is just a ride…right?

I am tired…aren’t you? I am tired of the lack of compassion, the preponderance of fear, and inability of roller coastermany people to actually consider a differing point of view as valid. On Facebook, people are color-filtering their profile pictures in allegiance to France, others are complaining that not all tragedies are given an equal voice and others are unfriending people because they don’t agree with each other. Criminy sakes, children are drowning and we are focused on the filter colors of our profile pictures!

Still, I am having a hard time formulating an opinion on any one of the thousand and one crises that seem to be prevalent in the media.  My heart beats with compassion and outreach, yet my head is flying the red flag of caution and safety first.

Yes, I know that countries that place security above liberty deserve neither. And even though this is a poor interpretation of a Ben Franklin quote, I believe that there is truth in the statement. And yet, I cannot help but feel that there has to be a place between security and compassion that we, as a nation, can operate from. Unfortunately, with all of the media noise, it is difficult to get a moment of silence to think about what my answer truly may be. Or even to decide where my beliefs reside.

I am moved to tears by pictures of drowned babies AND my stomach churns with uncertainty when I consider what my stance is regarding whether or not to let the refugees onto our shores. I want to provide safe harbor for displaced families AND I am concerned about the safety of our citizens as they prepare for the biggest travel days of the year.

I do not know how to be RIGHT with all of my internal conflict much less all that is going on around me.  The Dalai Lama reminds us that God is not going to fix this. Prayer alone won’t fix this. WE created this mess and WE must fix it. Human action, in the form of government leadership, decisiveness, and collaboration can help us move in the right direction. But our leaders, coming together to perform collaboratively, move as fast a glacier, if at all. And while we wait for them to come to whatever decision they come to, there are still children dying. There are parents mourning their deaths. People are fleeing for their lives. AND there are men plotting the next explosion.

I wish I had the answer, I wish I knew where I stood; I wish that I could be comforted with the belief that everything turns out right in the end. Because right now, I am tired. Just so very tired.

And that is MY problem, and really what is that? It is so small and insignificant in light of what other people are going through. So, when I think about it from that perspective, I settle back into myself. My life is great.  I remain safely housed, comfortably clothed and well-fed.  I am not fleeing a terrorist group, bent upon the destruction of my way of life. I am not mourning the death of my brother shot down at a rock concert.  I am not crammed into a cargo hold or sleeping on the streets.  I am simply tired and uncomfortable with the messiness of life.

So, that is just it. Life is messy. Not sometimes, but always. The ambiguity of life is the only constant. That is what I need to remember. One of my favorite movie scenes from Parenthood comes to mind, Mary Steenburgen’s character is chastising Steve Martin’s character for making fun of the grandmother – roller coaster or merry-go-round, anyone? I don’t really get a choice, I ride the roller coaster, because life is a roller coaster. The only choice I have is how I ride it, arms up or gripping the bar in front of me.

I still do not have my answers. But I got my perspective back and that is a good beginning.

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New Horizons and the Present of  Yes (a bit of introspection when I should be working)

believeIt is incredible. Life, that is. You think you know where you are headed and then, one day, you look up and you are in Reno.

Well, okay, I AM in Reno.

As I settle into my new digs and assess my new surroundings, I am thrilled that I have said “yes” to what life has presented me.  Yes, to dating a man who lived 250 miles away. Yes, to loving him. Yes, to putting my house on the market in San Jose. Yes, to a crazy high bid on my little rundown 1950’s tract home. Yes, to packing up and moving out of the only hometown I have ever known.

I cannot say that it has all been easy. I have been riddled with anxiety, broken down crying, and Mothra had permanent resident status in my belly for at least 3 months. My adult-boys were very angry and very afraid. My heart was sadden as I hugged my 4 year old grandson good-bye. I worry about my aging parents. I have two storage units in two different states, both only partially full. And the Nevada DMV knows me by my first name.

And yet…

It is working out. I was fortunate to be able to take a personal sabbatical and get acclimated to a high desert summer. I am very interested to see how I experience a true high desert winter.  I explored restaurants, libraries, bookstores, and thrift stores.  I became a member of the art museum and have put a down payment on season tickets for our fledging soccer league. Reno has a theater with wonderful acoustics and we have season tickets to the Broadway Musical lineup. I talk to my extended family more and I know who my true friends are.

What kept me sane? A deep-seated belief that all was going to work out. Some folks say that they place it all into God’s hands, and maybe that is it. Maybe that language doesn’t work for me, maybe it does. My spiritual life is one of trust and faith. I know that it isn’t me who makes fabulous Maui beach houses or open parking spaces appear.  It is something much bigger and something that has a much broader line of sight than me. That “something” keeps the lights on and I am grateful.

Is it enough to simply have faith that good things happen and to be grateful for all that I have? Or do I need more? I believe that I am in a good place and expressing gratitude is one of my guiding principles. I try and pay forward in both deed and dollars my good fortune.

What I have yet to discover in my new hometown is a spiritual home to call my own.  I have tried a couple of places; nothing yet has made my soul sing.  Until I do, I try and keep myself in tune with inspirational readings, hanging out with my spiritual community on Facebook, and breathing in nature. At the moment, it seems to be enough.

I am content.

My goal is to remain present and accept what comes to me, to move with it or through it. So, maybe my answer continues to be “yes”.  Yes to acknowledging something bigger than me, Yes to having faith that good things happen, and Yes to being grateful for all I have, IS enough.

How about you? Where is your heart right now? Are you present in your life? When was the last time that you looked up and truly realized where you were and expressed gratitude for what you have? How about trying that now?

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Life is too precious to live it half-assed.

Flipping through my blogging chronicles – this one felt right to reblog and try to see if I connected my FB page correctly.

Community House

 One of my dearest friends just lost her husband to pancreatic cancer today. Another will be heading down to visit her mother who just had another 4 stints placed in her heart.  My prayers are with them and their families.

And these are my thoughts…

 If you haven’t told the people whom you love that you love them, do it now. Even better, show them.

If you have hurt them, ask for forgiveness. If you have been hurt, forgive.  Be gracious in your forgiving.

If someone brings you happiness, do everything in your power to keep them in your life…regardless.

I do not believe you can ever tell those you love that you love them too much. 

Practice loving with great abandon.

Give joyfully to others.

Drop the drama. Live from your heart.

Life is too precious to live it half-assed.

Regretting it calls you to repair it. But don’t hold…

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