Road Rage, and the third option

Category : Changing perspective, Healing your body, Inspiration, New rules, Transforming your relationships

One of the most clear examples of anger out of control is in the case of road rage.

Picture the scenario: a person cuts you off as you are driving on the highway. You look over at them and they shoot you a nasty look. Then escalates to them flipping you the bird. You are thinking, what is going on here? He speeds off and you are left shaking your head and stewing over the fate of humanity, or worse.

Then a few miles later you pull over at the rest stop and go in. As you are walking toward the bathroom you see the person waiting in the Starbucks line.

Now, what are your options? Our society has evolved to really steer us to one of two options. The first and probably most common is to just ignore the person. Fear of them having a gun or being violent takes over and we swallow any emotion we have and we move on.

The second option is to approach them and say something that gets stuff off our chest. “Hey, how about toning it down out there, you are going to kill someone being reckless like that!”

What about a third option? The one where we walk up to the person, look them in the eye and calmly say, “I saw that you were upset out on the highway, I know it gets kind of hectic out there, I wanted to see if you were OK?” If the third option is used with sincerity, eye contact, and a composed demeanor, can we see how it could diffuse tense situations and make the world a better place?

Would love to hear your comments and idea’s around this.

Valentines Day reminder- Presents vs. Presence

Category : Changing perspective, Inspiration, Transforming your relationships

As Valentines day quickly approaches, there can be an increase in anxiety. I have heard many talk about the pressure that they feel to “do Valentines Day right”. One woman I knew said that the MINIMUM effort she expected was dinner, flowers, chocolate and a gift. That was break even! That’s rough!

Is rough because the expectation has taken one of the main ingredients out of the process and that is the THOUGHT. It’s the thought that counts has become a cliche because…..its true! It is the thought that counts.

I would even go one further. That the single most important thing on Valentines Day has nothing to do at all with presents. I has everything to do with Presence. Presence in an extra long hug. Presence in long, relaxed, loving eye contact. Presence in really mindful gestures of service like making a ceremony out of presenting your partners morning tea or coffee to them. Presence in listening without distraction.

The experience of exchanging Presence with your loved one might be so enjoyable and satisfying that you’ll decide to make it an everyday practice.

How to Be a Hero

Category : Changing perspective, Inspiration

Last night we watched a fantastic movie called Finding Joe.  It is inspired by the lifetime work of Joseph Cambell.  Campbell was a Mythologist and prolific author and teacher who was known for the message “Follow your bliss. ”

Yesterday was also Father’s Day.  One of the most common phrases heard on Fathers Day is “Today is all about you”.  I love this because it means meals delivered to me, no dishes to wash, etc.  But the more I thought about it the more it dawned on me that being a Father is so NOT about me.  By its very nature it’s about who you are a father to — it’s about service to the person who calls you Daddy.

And this got me thinking about how we approach things in our lives.  When we evaluate whether we are going to go to an event or social gathering, the tendency is to start having an internal dialogue like this:

“Will I like it?”

“Will I be comfortable there?”

“What will I get out of it?, will it be worth it”

And this brings me back to Finding Joe.  These two Campbell quotes jumped out at me:

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

“When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness. “

When the words hero or heroic are used, we tend to think really big.  Like saving your village from marauders or saving a baby from a burning house.  But hopefully, those opportunities won’t come around often.

The smaller, micro-hero opportunities do come around often.  Several times a day.  And how much would this shift of consciousness change our internal dialogue next time we prepared for an event or social gathering?

Maybe it changes to:

“How will my energy add to the mix?”

“Whose day can I uplift in some way?”

“How can I best serve the whole and not just me?”

Changes the nature of the experience, doesn’t it?

And look at this final Campbell quote and play around with the two meanings of the word “our”:

“One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.”

The Heart of the Matter in The Belly of the Beast

Category : Changing perspective, Inspiration

Had two amazing experiences the last two weekends that I have to share.

The first weekend was a Men’s Initiation in Northern California.  Twenty five men came from all over the country to a training at a beautiful location up on a mountain.  The views were stunning.  The training tested us.  We lifted logs, bruised our bare feet running through the mountains, and went long hours without sleep. We learned wisdom from some extraordinary men, opening our hearts and becoming a closely knit group by the Sunday closing ceremony.  There was a circle that followed that ceremony where the facilitators were taking feedback from the elders and participants.  We discussed different aspects of the training and I’ll just say that the men had differing opinions on how the training should have been run.  Overall a great experience.

This last weekend was a Alternatives to Violence Project training in upstate New York.  Twenty five men voluntarily took part in a training at a beautiful location up on a mountain.  The views were stunning.  The training consisted of experiential exercises and fun activities that really allowed all the men to see into one another’s hearts and experience our vulnerability together.  There was a great deal of processing (letting the men speak from the heart about their true feelings) after the segments, ALL the men leaning into the truth and deepening that was occurring. The men had a seriousness about living life to the fullest that was combined with expansive humor.  Above all there was a positivity that you could feel in the room. At the closing ceremony, I was so moved by the high quality of the men and inspired by their full authentic engagement in the process that I cracked with emotion as I addressed them. It was one of the most profound moments of my life.

The first weekend was at the Institute of Noetic Sciences campus in Petaluma Califonia.

Last weekends training was inside the twenty foot high razor wire fences of the Otisville State Prison.


Life Leaders Forum Panel – “Practice”

Category : Changing perspective, Inspiration

Great discussion in Nyack last night on the “Art of Practice”.  Had such a diverse panel, and so many passionate voices that it made for yet another truly magical eventing in this series.  There were a variety of practices represented on the panel, from Martial Arts to Tango to Meditation to Acupuncture to Yoga.  And each of the panelist also had a deeper practice that extended from their primary one.  Things like receptivity, breathing, kindness, clearing the bodily field, and perhaps the most agreed upon practice of the night “the practice of showing up”.

While we delved into them, many other practices found their way into the conversation. Truth telling practice, mindfulness practice, even the practice of being courteous unleashed strong passions and perspectives.

On of the hallmark of these evenings is where the energy in the room travels.  It seems like although each topic draws its own unique collection of kindred souls, the very intention of getting together for spirited and COMPASSIONATE sharing of perspectives creates a similar energy wave.  The energy gently rolls over the two hours.  At the start, the panelists and audience/circle find their space in the beautiful setting at 42 Main, a kind of curious buzzing about as the set up takes place.  Then we all sit in a circle and I can feel all of us utter a quiet “what is this, what exactly is going to happen here?”  When the panelists begin telling their stories of who they are and how they came to be in this place at this time, it starts.  Hearts open, connections strengthen. Invisible strings extend until everyone in the room has said or heard something that bonds them with everyone else.  It is amazing.  After last nights gathering, most everyone continued the exchange around a bowl of delicious kale chips (thank you, Raw Julia), still enjoying collective energy.

Thanks to everyone who came out and especially to the Panelists:
Andrea Maxine Frade: yoga teacher, storyteller, writer

Victor Gagliardi: owner, Gagliardi studio and gallery

Raw Julia: raw food expert and meditator, Lift Wellness

Lao Shir-Cindy Ming: senior student/head instructor of Cynthia Ming’s Tai Chi Fitness

Dr. Naomi Pelzig, M.D.: Nyack Integrated Health

Lean into the tension/ turn into the skid


Category : Changing perspective

In our Men’s groups we have often reminded each other to “lean into the tension”.  This means that when we are in a safe environment, with trusted men, we have an opportunity to go into the trouble spots in our lives and work with them.  Talk them out.  Bring them to the surface.

It is clearly not fun.  Uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassing, and shameful are more likely at first.  This is because our experience of showing our vulnerability in the past has usually been met with judgment and even ridicule.  But within the safe container of a circle of trusted and compassionate people for support, amazing healing happens.

In time, the trusted environment of a circle has many participants looking forward to leaning into the tension.  Looking forward to the uncomfortable work because they know that they will feel more relaxed and peaceful on the other side of the work.  This seems counter-intuitive that anyone would willingly drag themselves through the proverbial mud like this.  But it’s like the old axiom about turning into the skid in the snow.  It goes against everything that seems right or logical, but it is what you have to do to get on the right path and not crash.

We all experience this in a small way every time we avoid a prickly issue.  We avoid it and it grows into a bigger issue.  If we had turned to face it; walked toward it and addressed it right then and there, it probably would have resolved more easily.  This goes for everything from watering the plants to Watergate.

Happy Leaning!


How to say No in Giraffe

Category : Changing perspective, Inspiration, Transforming your relationships

Photography By Myles Aronowitz/Lush Photography

Photography By Myles Aronowitz/Lush Photography

Last week we were wrapping up an amazing panel discussion called Evoking the Goddess. I was the moderator and after a steady start the panel really came alive, with heart felt testimony and inspiring stories. The audience was leaning forward with good questions and insights, really adding to the inspired energy in the room.

We had planned for an end time of 9:15pm, and because one of the panelists had to be elsewhere right after the event I was feeling a sense of urgency to end on time.

I probably allowed one or two more questions than the time allowed so when another person in the audience said “Can I ask one more question?” My answer of NO! didn’t contain a whole lot of kindness and compassion.

My office mate Mike Murphy (a long time student and teacher of Non Violent Communication) was sitting right near the person who asked the question. He heard someone justifiably comment to her that my response was not particularly gentle (paraphrasing).

The next day Mike and I were talking about the event. He relayed his experience on the exchange and then dropped this gem on me.

He said, “Do you want to know how to say No in giraffe?” I knew something good was coming.

We have four foot giraffe in our office because the giraffe is the symbol of Non Violent Communication. It has a 26 lb. heart, observes from above the fray, has no natural predators etc.

“You speak from your own needs, so the answer to the question in Giraffe would be about what you as the moderator needed”


Feel the difference between these two:

Q – Can I ask another question?
A – NO!


Q – Can I ask another question?
A – I need to wrap this up now because we have panelists that have time constraints, but there will be ample time for discussion after we finish.

With NO! it can have so much collateral damage. With stating my needs, that’s it. Everyone is whole.

For more info on how to speak in Giraffe go to

2012- Time for the Shift

Category : Changing perspective, Inspiration

I love the fact that 2012 is here. We can talk about this great opportunity for a shift in consciousness without people saying “2012 is just an arbitrary year on the calendar.” Because now we have the foolproof answer to that line of thinking. I have been responding with “OK, maybe, but its THIS Year!”

This is the time for the Shift.

I feel it all around. National politics is begging for a mass wake up call. Old ways of doing things are moving from simply ineffective to glaringly ridiculous. There is no believable media to tell us how we should think anymore.

And there is a guy in Denver who is “not supposed” to be an NFL quarterback, making even marginal football fans jump out of their seats with amazement.
Tebow is manifesting wins right before our eyes. He is helping shift our idea of what is possible. He has a grand stage, and some really powerful allies. But basically what we are seeing is his belief played out in action.

Is this the year of the Shift? We get to either believe it or not.

Absorbing your shadow

Category : Changing perspective

Was given the book by Robert Bly called A Little Book on the Human Shadow.  He talks about people who have done work with their shadow and absorbed it back into themselves having a certain kind of humor.  “Lincoln had it.  Someone asked Lincoln if he would find him a good government job, and Lincoln said, “I have very little influence in this administration.”  When a woman he met on a train told him he was one of the ugliest men she’d seen in her entire life, he didn’t become offended. What should I do about that?” he asked the woman. “Well,” she said, ” you could stay home.” Lincoln told that story on himself- he liked her answer

The Gift of Time

Category : Changing perspective, Transforming your relationships

One of the greatest gifts you can give in a relationship, is to give your partner guilt free time… by doing something for yourself.

Here is a scenario. Your in a relationship for a while, your lives are busy, so you try to carve out as much time with your partner as you can.  Many times this turns into a zero sum game where any free time spent away from them is time that you’ve “stolen” from your partner.  You pass up fun times with friends or more importantly, learning and growth activities for yourself, so as not to lose any “time equity” at home.   You can hear this in the dour tone of a friend when you ask him to come with you to a seminar that you know would be great for him,  “No, I can’t, been traveling a lot for work.  Have to be home that night.” As if you awarded points for home nights, regardless of the quality of the night.

Now if your partner is also doing this you may be well on your way to a stagnant standoff.  “She never gets to go to seminars so I can’t very well go myself.” you think.  It’s as if you both have come to an agreement to hold back and not do anything new without even checking with each other or consciously feeling into it.

What to do?

Someone needs to make the first move.  I was in this scenario years ago and my girlfriend broke the spell by signing up for a nutrition course that had her away pretty much one full weekend a month.  While this was great for her,  an incredible thing happened for me.  I felt like I was handed a full Saturday and Sunday each month to do or create anything I wanted.  The time felt like it had a different texture.  One Saturday I walked the length of Brooklyn by myself with no agenda.  Loved it.  Not exactly the type of thing you do if you are keeping a secret point total in your head for how good your home attendance is.  “Hey honey, I’m gonna go walking, I’ll be back in six hours”  Can you imagine?  It was possible because of the gift of time she gave me that weekend.  And we were both much better off for it.