Answering your phone is so 1990.

Seriously, I just got a new Ford Fusion. Even better, it was a certified used 2017 model fully loaded with tons of special features that I don’t even have any idea of how to use. And because it was “certified used” the warranty is actually better and longer and it almost was half what the sticker of a new one would be. So finally, finally, I can back up safely.  I might even be able to back up into the parking lines now, wow. So I hopefully won’t keep losing side mirrors on our one car garage side walls, super cool!  Right?  But what about when those large SUVs and trucks are parked next to me?  When is the extending periscope going to get added?

I totally love that my car can send and receive text messages while I’m driving. That’s just the coolest. It will totally help my communication with my children who never ever answer their phones, right?  I mean answering your phone is so over!  Why do people even work as telemarketers anymore?  Who actually answers their phone nowadays?

So the trunk.  I mean, come on. Who designed this thing?  I see those ads where the lady pushes a button on the bottom of the trunk while she’s on the phone explaining that wifi isn’t a question, it’s a thing,  and her husband is standing there with his hands full of groceries.  So I just don’t understand, if I can just walk up to my car and it senses my key in my purse and I don’t even need a key in an ignition to drive my car, why can’t it just sense I’m standing in front of my trunk and open. Or why isn’t Siri just responding to “open my trunk” when I say so.  It seems like how did they forget this when they’re designing all this other cool stuff. Right?  So now, I’m totally feeling annoyed about finding my key fob when I need to open the trunk. They’ve now created a new problem for me.

(I asked my 87 year old mom who’s been driving one of these types of cars for over a year if she has any idea how to start the car if the battery in the key fob dies- she has no idea. At least I watched the video – she said jealously “they gave you a video?” and I told her, no I didn’t get a video with my car, I googled it and watched it on YouTube of course)

I do know I’m first on the list for Amazon when they start experimenting with the brain implant device that will recognize the difference for when you’re thinking about ordering something and just fantasizing, so the stuff you want will be at your door just by thinking I want that.  So I’m first on the list because I put it down here right?  You saw it.  It’s my idea and I want it.  And because it’s my idea and I want it, I get all the mis-orders of chocolate sundaes and brownies for free if it’s their error?  Right?  See why I’m first on the list?  Did you want to be second?

Answering your phone is so 1990.

Stop! I want me time!

OMG have your weekends and “me” time turned into mine?  My hubby said to me “enjoy your day off! ” and I thought, what day off?  I have to go to yoga, and zumba, and walk the dog and take the dog to the vet, and do laundry and order my craft supplies and there’s a million other things I need to do.  And as I was realizing this day was about to slip into another one of those busy days that feels like it’s anything but about me having a day off  – as I look at my Daylio self monitoring Ap and realize I never check “relaxing” and WTF!  What am I doing to myself?  And how did this happen?

And it happens. We all do it. We get into a mindless routine of what we have to do, but do we really?  If you really have enough underwear to go through 14 days, why do you have to do the laundry just because the basket is full?  Can’t you just push it down?  Or get a bigger basket?  Or buy a new pair of panties?

Well, I guess we don’t all do it.  I do know people who don’t do anything much but that’s the point.  No matter what it is it starts to become “things I have to do” and then the fun is gone! Gone!

What I really want to do on my day off?  I really want to stay in bed and watch Netflix to my hearts delight. And play online spades with online friends I won’t ever meet and blacklist a bunch of dummies who get us set.   Did I?  No.   But I didn’t go to yoga or zumba today so there!  I played some with my arts and crafts and that was satisfying but I was making one project hoping that it would turn out good enough to donate to a charity event I’m involved in.  And again, I took the fun out of it.  All the while thinking this is Monday, and Monday is my allocated day for working on my book and I haven’t written anything much in months now because I gave myself the summer off, and btw, someone please tell me what happened to this summer because I seem to have lost it entirely.  Sheet! Why does everything feel like should, good enough, blah blah blah. Somebody please change this record!    I guess I should have gone to yoga after all.

But do me a favor.  Figure out today what is a should that doesn’t have to be.  And just let it go and while you do that wonderful indulgent thing, think of poor pitiful me, will ya?

And I’m going to keep on searching today for a giggle.   I am going to promise to keep my eyes open and try to find one. I deserve it.  You do too.

Stop! I want me time!

Returning the Gift –by Robin Wall Kimmerer, syndicated from, Sep 02, 2017

Returning the Gift

–by Robin Wall Kimmerer, syndicated from, Sep 02, 2017

In the teachings of my Potawatomi ancestors, responsibilities and gifts are understood as two sides of the same coin. The possession of a gift is coupled with a duty to use it for the benefit of all. A thrush is given the gift of song—and so has a responsibility to greet the day with music. Salmon have the gift of travel, so they accept the duty of carrying food upriver. So when we ask ourselves, what is our responsibility to the Earth, we are also asking, “What is our gift?”

As human people, most recently evolved here, we lack the gifts of our companion species, of nitrogen fixation, pollination, and 3000-mile migrations under magnetic guidance. We can’t even photosynthesize. But we carry gifts of our own, which the Earth urgently needs. Among the most potent of these is gratitude.

Gratitude may seem like weak tea given the desperate challenges that lie before us, but it is powerful medicine, much more than a simple thank you. Giving thanks implies recognition not only of the gift, but of the giver. When I eat an apple, my gratitude is directed to that wide-armed tree whose tart offspring are now in my mouth, whose life has become my own. Gratitude is founded on the deep knowing that our very existence relies on the gifts of beings who can in fact photosynthesize. Gratitude propels the recognition of the personhood of all beings and challenges the fallacy of human exceptionalism—the idea that we are somehow better, more deserving of the wealth and services of the Earth than other species.

The evolutionary advantage for cultures of gratitude is compelling. This human emotion has adaptive value, because it engenders practical outcomes for sustainability. The practice of gratitude can, in a very real way, lead to the practice of self-restraint, of taking only what we need. Acknowledging the gifts that surround us creates a sense of satisfaction, a feeling of enough-ness which is an antidote to the societal messages that drill into our spirits telling us we must have more. Practicing contentment is a radical act in a consumption-driven society.

Indigenous story traditions are full of cautionary tales about the failure of gratitude. When people forget to honor the gift, the consequences are always material as well as spiritual. The spring dries up, the corn doesn’t grow, the animals do not return, and the legions of offended plants and animals and rivers rise up against the ones who neglected gratitude. The Western storytelling tradition is strangely silent on this matter, and so we find ourselves in an era when we are rightly afraid of the climate we have created.

We human people have protocols for gratitude; we apply them formally to one another. We say thank you. We understand that receiving a gift incurs a responsibility to give a gift in return. The next step in our cultural evolution, if we are to persist as a species on this beautiful planet, is to expand our protocols for gratitude to the living Earth. Gratitude is most powerful as a response to the Earth because it provides an opening to reciprocity, to the act of giving back.

This article is syndicated from is about deepening our self awareness, in a community of kindred spirits. By changing ourselves, we change the world. Awakin excerpted this article from Returning the Gift. Author Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, writer, and Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. Kimmerer is an enrolled member of the Citizen Band Potawatomi. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.

Returning the Gift –by Robin Wall Kimmerer, syndicated from, Sep 02, 2017

Something New

Do you ever get into the rut where you feel like one day is just like the other and you’re just going through the motions of living?  That can happen for alot of reasons, one of which is chronic depression or chronic stress.  But it doesn’t have to be that way or stay that way.  Sometimes, it’s just about how you approach living that affects how you feel. What you’re thinking about what is going on colors your response to it.

I can promise you that every person you think is so happy or carefree probably has problems deeper or worse than yours, or has conquered how to live with them.  It’s ok to get blue once in awhile, we all need a pity part to just regroup on occasion, believe me, you’re entitled to that.  Go for it big time when you need it.  Eat a quart of ice cream and cry your eyes out and watch Titanic and don’t answer the phone.  You deserve that for how hard you work every day.

But if those days just feel like every day and every day is “meh” then it might be a good time to try something new.   So here’s where the thought processes make a big difference.

Try on some of these today (or any New day)

  1.  Today is not like yesterday or last week.  Because today is the first day that September 1st 2017 has ever happened.  This isn’t last friday. It’s the first day of a new month in a year that you haven’t lived in yet.  It’s new.
  2. Because it’s new, it hasn’t happened yet.  So lets have a little fun with this new day that we haven’t lived yet.  What is something you can do today that will be different. Can you come up with 5 new things you haven’t done before today?  In the next hour?
  3. Some suggestions:  It could be as easy as answering the phone differently today which would then pass on this whole new thing to everyone you talk to.  What about “Happy September !st, this is …..”.  Because you just answered the phone in a fresh new way all your conversations will now be different than usual. Just this one fresh new approach will change your entire day.  It will be fun all day to watch your responses.  Maybe you even want to try that in your workspace. Maybe on the bus, on the train.  Maybe you even have something more fresh and clever to say than “Happy September 1st”- having this one new thing today will change your whole freakin day! And others too!  Wake everyone up out of this living coma!
  4. You could wear something entirely weird for you just to amuse you! Wear two different shoes or socks on purpose. Wear intentionally clashing colors or prints- fun!  Get some of that pink or purple spray and spray a streak of color in your hair.   Now I intentionally painted my toenails recently two different alternating colors.  It was fun and I was amused.  In two weeks, only one person other than my pedicurist noticed- because everyone is in a coma!  Be weirder! Even so, people are afraid to say anything because they don’t want to be offensive!  So just enjoy it.  Personally I love love love my “Nasty Woman” button from Hillary’s campaign. (And I don’t think that’s at all weird, btw)   You know who always comments on it?  African American Women at work-everywhere. They are so happy to see a white toast older lady who agrees with them.  I get so much love and I feel so connected when people comment on it. It’s my absolutely favorite thing.  Buy a goofy pin and wear it proudly!  I love things that also support animals- I know I always smile at people’s animal support bumper stickers.
  5. If you’re really really stuck, change your perspective literally.  Put your head between your legs and let all the blood rush to your brain.  This is a great thing to do during a panic attack too btw.  All that blood rushing down and that rush changes how you feel.  Or if you can’t do that position, just lay your head off the edge of the bed and let the blood rush to your head that way for awhile.  It’s good for your brain and very refreshing.  (for 5-15 minutes)


So even if all you do today is notice that today is Sept 1st 2017 and just be open and aware and think multiple times today this is a brand new day- I can live it a whole new way and what can I do different today- a whole new set of possibilities opens up and you come out of that living coma.  You start paying attention more to right now just to see what you can do differently right now  and that changes EVERYTHING.


Something New

“Can the Science of Purpose Help Explain White Supremacy?

Can the Science of Purpose Help Explain White Supremacy?

A sense of purpose makes us physically and psychologically stronger. But what if your purpose is hateful and destructive?

A sense of purpose is a source of strength.

Frankl and his wife Tilly before the war. Frankl and his wife Tilly before the war.

It was for the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl when he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. During his worst moments, Frankl would envision the face of his wife, which led him to this realization: “that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which Man [sic] can aspire.”

Indeed, during his time at the camp, Frankl noticed that prisoners who were able to see beyond themselves and help others often stood the greatest chance of day-to-day survival. His wife died in Bergen-Belsen, but Frankl went on to turn this personal insight into a lifelong effort to understand the role of meaning and purpose in human life.

I thought about Frankl as I watched video from Charlottesville, Virginia, of men (and some women) marching with torches and Confederate flags, chanting, “White lives matter,” “Blood and soil,” and “Jews will not replace us.” The specific goal of their march? To protect a statue of Robert E. Lee, the general who led Confederate forces in defense of slavery. These were the American descendants of the Nazis who imprisoned Frankl and killed his wife—and there is no doubt that they too share a strong sense of purpose, one embodied in their chants.

As a marcher told a Vice documentary team: “Last night, at the torch walk, there were hundreds and hundreds of us. People realized that they are not atomized individuals, they are part of a larger whole.” This “larger whole” killed one woman and seriously injured dozens of counter-protesters.

As part of a general movement in psychology to turn from studying human weakness to discovering what helps us to flourish, for almost two decades researchers have explored the questions Frankl raised in his work. Research suggests a commitment to goals bigger than yourself can strengthen your physical health and psychological well-being.

But what if achieving your purpose must come at the expense of someone else? Today, what can the science of purpose teach us about the growing movement for white supremacy in America? And how might the answers help us to clarify our own sense of purpose?

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Purpose is intensely personal, say these studies, and yet it is shaped by the people who surround us. The nobility of our purpose often reflects the quality of the company we keep.

The psychology of purpose

“Purpose is absolutely a tricky concept, especially as it is possible to have a destructive purpose,” says Susan Mangan, a Ph.D. candidate at Claremont Graduate University who has studied purpose for years. “The definition of purpose does not require it to be altruistic.”

Indeed, a sense of purpose is defined by its inherent, profound subjectivity. According to Mangan and her advisor Kendall Bronk—one of the country’s leading researchers on purpose—purpose can be broken down into three components.

  • It’s an ultimate goal that shapes your short-term choices and behavior.
  • It is personally meaningful, coming from within. In other words, no one is standing over you forcing you to pursue your goal; you are self-motivated. The goal imbues your life with importance and value.
  • Finally, a purpose in life goes beyond the self, leading you to want to make a difference in the world.

A fairly large body of scientific studies suggest that a sense of purpose evolved to drive us humans to accomplish big things. That may be why it has been linked to a lower risk of heart attack and a longer life: Evolution rewards those with a sense of purpose. Indeed, studies suggest that Frankl’s concentration-camp observations of who survived and who didn’t were probably accurate.

We thrive when we are working for some greater good. Some people find purpose in making others laugh, caring for the sick and injured, or just taking care of their families. Others want to protect the environment. Many people find purpose in religion—spreading the word of God, as Christians say. There may well be as many kinds of purpose as there are members of the human family.

The Nazis had a purpose as well. We can hear an echo of that time in the words of today’s white supremacists.

“When I joined America’s first neo-Nazi skinhead group, suddenly I felt like I could conquer the world,” says Christian Picciolini, who eventually left the skinheads to co-found Life after Hate, which helps rehabilitate former hate-group members. In an Upworthy documentary, he explains: “I’d been kicked out of four high schools, one of them twice, and I met some individuals, and they promised me… that the bullies would go away, that my life would get better, that I’d have a family, and that I would have a sense of purpose.”

That purpose may well have brought good things to Picciolini’s individual life, at least for a little while. But what about the impact of his purpose on American society? Are all purposes created equal, or are some better than others?

The paradox of purpose

Here we must grapple with the paradox of purpose: It’s highly personal and subjective, and yet it always develops in a social context. People don’t get to vote on each other’s purpose, but we are socialized into meaning and purpose. Your purpose develops from the interaction of your psychology and our society, your individual experiences and our collective events, your opportunities and our limitations. When enough individuals share a common, meaningful goal, society can change. That gets back to what is probably the deep evolutionary purpose of purpose: It facilitates cooperation and helps us to achieve our greatest goals.

We shouldn’t be surprised if change entails conflict. In fact, we humans are often at cross-purposes. As our identities multiply, so do our groups—and we use our groups to apportion resources. When we don’t feel there’s enough to go around, we fight. On every continent around the world, it is considered noble to give up your life for your group—there is no higher purpose, by some lights. Indeed, that sacrifice is precisely what the statues of Confederate soldiers are intended to honor. To some, taking down reminders of the Confederacy seems to rob their sacrifice of meaning.

So, who is right? Let’s put aside that non-empirical, moral question, and instead focus on what psychological and social forces drive us to purpose.

The composite picture that emerges from decades of thinking and investigation, starting with Frankl and continuing to the present day with researchers like Bronk, suggests that a sense of purpose develops in tandem with our sense of identity. What kind of purpose children later develop in life is shaped by the values and behaviors of the adults around them. For example, researchers like Jeffrey Froh and Robert Emmons have found that kids who learn to practice gratitude will be better able to see beyond themselves, a critical component in the young-adult search for purpose.

Is it possible that gratitude—and other prosocial behaviors like forgiveness—were missing from the childhoods of men and women who grew up to find purpose in white supremacy? Or perhaps their parents and teachers did foster a sense of connection with other people, but restricted it to white people? We can’t know for sure, from a scientific perspective. “There isn’t a whole lot of empirical research on ignoble purposes,” says Kendall Bronk, which she defines as antisocial or destructive. “This is an unfortunate oversight, but—as you might imagine—it’s a little tougher to get reliable participants and large-enough study samples!”

Even so, Bronk wrote in an email to me, “I believe ignoble purposes likely are associated with some of the positive outcomes typically associated with prosocial purposes (e.g., sense of belonging, sense of direction, etc.), but unlike a more positive sense of purpose, they’re unlikely to be associated with other positive outcomes (e.g., humility and empathy).”

In fact, most white supremacists are perfectly capable of empathy and gratitude—but only for members of their own group. How do we know this? Because there is a huge amount of research that describes intergroup dynamics and the attitudes of in-group extremists like the marchers in Charlottesville. Children don’t just acquire a sense of purpose from adults. They also learn whose lives matter—and whose lives do not matter.

Studies of people who commit acts of terrorism and mass murder by researchers like Marc Sageman and Martha Crenshaw converge with wider research on intergroup conflict to reveal the roots of atrocities. It’s not individual-level dysfunction; there is no consistent psychological profile that predicts who will become a “terrorist.” Instead, researchers find the roots of group violence in the groups themselves. People with a strong sense of purpose kill for other people. They kill for their families, tribes, nations. They are part of groups that valorize aggression and deceit against outsiders.

Many of our political conflicts in the United States—as Charlottesville suggests—are really about who belongs in the group. Should we remember Robert E. Lee as American, or was he a traitor? Are African-Americans American, or does each one need to produce a birth certificate, as President Trump demanded of President Obama? Are those two concepts of “American” mutually exclusive? These kinds of conflict create feelings of social uncertainty, where many Americans are not at all sure of who they are or where they belong.

In that kind of ambiguous, insecure situation, many cultural and social factors could interact with each other to warp the identity and purpose of each individual. When Americans (in contrast to some other cultures) continue to search for purpose in adulthood, after most people have supposedly found one, we tend to become unhappy and desperate. For young and older adults who have failed to find their own purpose, like Christian Picciolini, white supremacy could be an appealing alternative. People also find meaning in work. If they feel cut off from meaningful work, they may be more likely to turn to in-group extremism as a way to make a difference in the world.

A white nationalist demonstrator walks into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. A white nationalist demonstrator walks into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. © Steve Helber/Associated Press

Leadership matters, too. One of the roles of a leader is to articulate, clarify, communicate, and nurture a sense of purpose in a group. President Trump came up with a brilliant sense of purpose in his campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Who could disagree with that?

The trouble, however, lies in how those words are defined by their context.

Start with “America.” The president kicked off his political career by promoting the “birther” conspiracy theory (that President Obama was not born a U.S. citizen), and has since campaigned and governed with anti-Latino rhetoric and anti-Muslim policies. Through these words and actions, the Trump administration has consistently tried to position some citizens as more American than others, fostering a sense of conflict among groups.

What about “great”? Is building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico a sign of greatness, or of fear? The next word, “again,” implies we need to get back to an earlier time—but what time is that? Does that refer to the period of Jim Crow and explicitly racist immigration laws? Or does it mean a return to the 1960s, when Americans extended civil rights to disenfranchised citizens and sent human beings to the moon? As goals go, “great again” suffers from a lack of specificity—and its realization splits Americans along fault lines of collective memory and identity.

It’s little wonder the people who marched with torches in Charlottesville wore “Make America Great Again” T-shirts and baseball caps—or that they felt free to march at all.

What is our common purpose?

Of course, we can’t really know for sure why white supremacy, after decades in the shadows, is suddenly making a comeback. But we do know where white supremacy leads, as Frankl’s life and work attests.

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He also reminds us that there is meaning—if not happiness—in opposing racism and violence. In this conflict, a sense of moral clarity is essential. We might choose to march, for a moment, in the shoes of people we oppose, and even try to elicit the good from them, without for a moment compromising our sense of right and wrong, or yielding an inch of public space to their purpose.

“Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn,” writes Frankl. “The boundaries between groups overlapped and we must not try to simplify matters by saying that these men were angels and those were devils.”

Out of context, Frankl may seem to be letting people like the Nazis off the hook, but that is far from the truth. He was an implacable intellectual foe of the forces that killed his wife and put him through years of hell. His purpose was wider than simply destroying one group so that another might live. Rather, he sought to help all of us find the “angels” in each other and in ourselves. That, to his mind, is how we become great.

Anti-racist rally in Boston Thousands of counter-protesters dwarf a pro-racism rally on August 19. Source: Boston Globe.

This is a confusing, demoralizing time for many Americans. But as Frankl argued, purpose can help us keep going, even in the bleakest of circumstances. So, what is your purpose? What is the company you keep, and how do the people you know shape and sustain your purpose? Are they a source of strength? Do you know what makes their lives meaningful? Do you know what purposes you might hold in common with them? Could your shared purpose make the world a better place?”


From Greater Good Science Center

“Can the Science of Purpose Help Explain White Supremacy?

Lessons from the Eclipse

We had an interesting celestial phenomenon this week.   Whether it touched you or didn’t, there’s alot to be learned by watching science.  There’s much we can apply to our daily lives.  Here’s a few thoughts on this subject and please add some of your own.

There is little perfect balance in nature.  Even something in perfect balance occurs only rarely, lasts only briefly, and is quickly gone.  The idea of permanence is an illusion. The idea of perfection is an illusion.  Try not to waste you time and energy on searching or striving for either.   No matter how hard you try, everything is always in the process of change.  If things are wonderful right now, enjoy this wonderful moment.  If things are bad right now, know that this will change.

We can never fully appreciate the light unless we’ve experienced some darkness. The light seems to shine more brightly after the darkness.   If we never experienced pain, we would never notice it’s absence.

Everything has at least two sides, we can be looking at the same thing but from different places so no wonder it looks different depending on where you’re viewing it from.  And our view is always changing because we are.

Dark is just dark. There’s nothing about the dark that makes it dangerous. Everything is the same in the dark as in the light.  Remember that all the things that make you feel safe and make life worth living are still there, even when you can’t see them.  The things you need to heal you are also there, even if you can’t see what they are right now.  If you keep feeling around, and don’t give up, trust that you will find them.


Lessons from the Eclipse