What Gets Under Your Skin?

There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: Those who are afraid to try themselves, and those who are afraid that you will succeed.” ~ Roy Goforth

Rarely, at least with this blog, do I drift into the personal opinion sphere. It’s simply not the focus for this communication vehicle. Yet, as with many (most?) of us, every now and then something rocks us so significantly that we need to release… to engage ourselves and invite others to do so too.

Sometimes it helps to let things go because we cannot influence a desired outcome. Other times, the itch under our skin (and that may be putting it mildly) warrants more than just scratching. If a cause or opportunity is our number one priority, we’d easily invest more of our valuable time and energy into securing a meaningful solution.

But in some ‘lesser’ cases, calls to action are timely and desperately needed.

Yesterday’s post reminded and encouraged me that we can effect positive change. We can initiate or conjoin a ripple. A ripple of hope! So let us consider taking action, in whatever form you are capable and comfortable… to end the strife, the hate, loss of precious life, and the overt acts against humanity in the Middle East.

I believe most of us subscribe to and embrace the concepts of respect, compassion, and dignity. Do not think or believe that you, individually, cannot effect change. Even small change. It’s too easy to be passive or think negatively. Be a ripple!

One Small Touch

“Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

Some, perhaps many of us, have learned: We did not have to do something amazing to initiate growth. A small action can go a long way. It doesn’t take a boulder to create a ripple effect in the water. A finger is enough. As everything is interconnected in life, we only need be brave enough to take the first, maybe very small step. Before we know it, we may realize that we are a ripple effect.

A ripple effect is a situation where, like the ever-expanding ripples across the water when an object is dropped into it, an effect from the initial state can be followed outward incrementally. Applied to our lives, everything we do and think affects people in our lives and their reactions in turn affect others. The choices you make have far reaching consequences. Not surprisingly then, each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse.

Examples of ripple effect can be found in economics, social interactions, charitable activities, financial markets, political influence, compassionate action and so on. The concept helps to explain how individual and grassroots efforts can yield significant change.

Case in point: A Harvard University study was conducted on a large, real world social network. It used modern statistical methods to analyze data from the Framingham Heart Study. It found that if a friend of a person became happy, the person’s chance of becoming happy increased by about 15%. If a friend of a friend became happy it increased by about 10% and a friend of a friend of a friend by almost 6%. This event occurred even if the person had never met many of the people involved.

If we can synchronize our intentions and actions toward common goals, our independent waves will continue to add to each other as they travel out through energetic fields. The result will be much greater than we can manifest independently.

Here are three ways in which you can initiate ripple effect:

  1. I’m not promoting this; it’s simply an example: For just US$4 you can provide a child with clean water. Consider joining the Ripple Effect movement and invest US$4 every month to save and improve lives. You’ll contribute to a wave of positive change and watch as the waves get bigger and bigger, bringing clean water, better health, and new opportunities to countless in great need.
  2. Move forward so that you are in your best place possible including relationships, health, career, and spirituality. To effectively help others, you often have to have gone through difficult experiences in order to relate to others. But you also have to know how to grow from those experiences and to use them to benefit yourself and others. If you succeed and “walk your walk,” others can and will be more open to your insight and ways.
  3. Your influence and ability to effect change will grow as your ripples flow outward. Consider smiling at someone you don’t know, acting instead of just thinking, initiating a thoughtful gesture, or alleviating a stranger’s pain. Do good things. Small things. Humbly. For others.

Myths, Facts and Reminders


“Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.” ~ D. L. Moody

Retirement myths; they abound. As people plan for and approach life’s Third Act, many think they’ll be spending more time with family and friends. It’s true that you will likely have plenty of discretionary time. And though you may want to spend more time with family and friends, will they have the time to spend with you? Many of them many still be on a hectic treadmill. Consider whether your adult children and their family really want you to come over for dinner every Sunday night?

Perhaps you envision walking hand-in-hand along an exotic beach somewhere. While traveling to romantic destinations is on many people’s short list, be real. For most, those trips will likely be few and far between. Your focus will be better spent on what you’ll be doing on those days in between trips. Costs for those trips add up. Not surprisingly, an Allianz study found that 82 percent of respondents ages 44 to 49 with dependents, feared outliving their money more than death. That doesn’t sound like a crowd spending much time at all-inclusive resorts in Phuket, does it?

Fact: More and more people are working in retirement. Why? To stay mentally active. In a recent survey, money was reason #4 after “to stay physically active,” “social connections,” and “sense of identity/self-worth.” Presently, 80 percent of working retirees said they work because they “want to;” 20 percent said because they “have to.”

In work and research what I continue to find amazing and somewhat alarming, is that many boomers focus largely on the financial planning aspect of life’s Third Act and little else. Here’s where an apt adage applies: “Failure to plan is a plan for failure.” Maybe that’s a bit drastic but it seems fair to think that significant planning, well in advance, is probably going to better your odds of enjoyable retirement living.

Intentionally sidestepping financial planning (because it’s obvious), here are three things to keep in mind for life’s Third Act. You could probably come up with 30 more on the back of an envelope.

  1. Be mindful of how you think. Certain thinking styles can stress people out. Things like perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking, and negative thinking. As you plan for or help others plan for retirement, be mindful of how you think. Consider lowering your expectations and instead, think in “anticipation” terms. Learn to accept and become comfortable with the fact that reality may not always match your ‘vision.’ Frame problems or potential challenges as opportunities. This is about mindset shifts.
  2. Know what makes you happy (and what makes your partner happy!). Life gets so busy while we are building our careers that we often end up in a rut. We may not have the time or energy to do the things we love. Prior to and once you transition into retirement, choose activities that will make time fly for you!
  3. Get good teeth. You do not want to look into a mirror and see a gnarly smile, even if minor. Dental care can be very expensive, so it’s prudent to get your teeth fixed while you’re still under a dental health plan. The longer you wait, the worse the fate. Dentures are a last-ditch effort and many who have them, hate how they feel and are not happy about limiting their food options. On a related note, healthy gums versus periodontal disease can also help with cardiovascular health.

What Really Matters

“Do not care overly much for wealth or power or fame, or one day you will meet someone who cares for none of these things and you will realize how poor you have become.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

A friend shared the following with me a few months ago. It came without an author or attribution, however, someone clearly deserves credit for its composition.

“Ready or not some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.

All the things you collected whether treasures or baubles will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and loses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won’t matter where you came from or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won’t matter if you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought but what you built; not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many people will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories but the memories in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.”

There is a reason I chose identical subtitles for this blog and my radio show. It is my belief that we can be who we are and fulfill our incredibly unique purpose, if we choose to.

How can you really matter to others? There are countless ways. Here are three for your consideration:

  1. Tell the people in your life how you feel about them. If this doesn’t come natural to you, all the more reason to do it more often. It will become natural. “You matter” is what many want to hear. These work well too: “I’m happy to see you.” “You mean so much to me.” “Your contribution to the team is immeasurable.” “I so appreciate you.” The language of mattering is universal. Tell people and tell them often how much they matter.
  2. Sometimes following your calling means leaving the ones you love behind. This is a tough one. Sometimes it’s not our role in this life to be the best sibling, spouse or friend because we’re here to contribute in a different and unique way. Honor what’s true for you rather than falling in line with how society tells you to prioritize. You can only be and do you.
  3. Talk about others. Few like the person in the family, at work, or at the party who only talks about themselves, their interests, their accomplishments and their importance, right? You become far more interesting and important when you talk about the exciting things other people are doing, trying, creating, writing, and sharing. Doing so gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as someone who is learning and growing from others.

A Quick Update

To yesterday’s post, readers outside the U.S. have asked if there is a direct (other than the U.S. toll-free) number they can use to call with questions/comments during the show’s “live” broadcast. There is! It’s 903.787.5892

So those in Oslo, Dubai, Taiwan and Sydney who hesitate to set your alarm clocks, you now have a convenience factor to add to your listening consideration mix. :)

I Must Be Mad!

“Everyone has a ‘risk muscle.’ You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don’t, it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day.”

~ Roger Von Oech

Many of you know I host a weekly radio show. Awakening to Awareness broadcasts “live” every Tuesday from 8:00-9:00pm EDT (U.S. – New York).

An internet based program (which yields a global listening audience), I typically book weekly guests four to six weeks in advance. Unfortunately, my guest for this week’s show had to cancel yesterday. I could scramble to back fill the slot but I’ve decided to go a different route. One I’ve not traveled before. :)

With it being summer in the Northern Hemisphere, I thought I’d relax things a bit and make this an “open mic” show. What I could do but would prefer not to, is listen to myself talk about who knows what for the hour. And I may end up doing that if I have no takers to this invitation.

What I’d love is to have you, valued WordPress readers, call in to the show (it’s a toll-free number in the U.S.) with questions. I’m going to go out on a limb and say “about anything.” I’ll plan to start the show with a topic or two and see where the conversation goes, based on callers’ interest/curiosity. If enough of you are game and willing to engage, the hour will be much more interesting than Eric teetering on his soapbox. :)

The details:

  • Here’s a link to the show’s web page. Simply click it on Tuesday at 8:00pm EDT (or a couple of minutes beforehand). When the new page opens, click the yellow “Live on Air” play button. It’s that simple.
  • If you want to call-in (and I encourage you to), the studio number is 866.404.6519 My producer, Roy, screens calls and advises (via an online chat tool) who is waiting in queue. He’ll ask for your first name and from where you’re calling.

In advance, thanks for choosing to listen and ideally, calling in. This could rival Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride!

How Easy is Change?

“It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You kind of shake it up and we start all over again.” ~ Eric Fehrnstrom

Such a cool childhood toy. An unsung predecessor to the iPad. Reflecting on the Etch-A-Sketch, I found it an apt metaphor for transformation, for change, for rebirthing (in a non-psychotherapy context).

With an Etch-A-Sketch you simply created a drawing by turning the two knobs simultaneously. What you created on the screen could be emblematic of anything: your potential, your beliefs, your attitude or your best stick-figure persona. As you created, you evaluated your results. (Okay, maybe as a child you weren’t evaluating but you get the point). :) And if you didn’t like the results, you just turned the screen upside down, gave it a shake, and started anew.

Looking at our lives, we want:

  • To feel
  • To learn
  • To grow
  • To stretch
  • To shift
  • To move through
  • To overcome
  • To embrace and trust our ability to transform, your self, your family, your community, perhaps, the world.

And you can. Often, it’s as easy as reviewing what you have created in your life. If you aren’t jazzed with what you’re facing, turn it upside down, shake things up a little, and move forward. Clean and fresh.

So how can you effect change, easily? Here are three starters for your consideration:

  1. Be honest with yourself. Most people around you won’t be honest with you. Human nature steers us away from conflict and hurting others feelings so it’s important to be able to identify your abilities and limitations and understand how others perceive you. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you adapt.
  2. Focus on what you can do. People fail because they immediately attach their attention to the negative. They do (though some of you may find this surprising)! Change your thinking and work the part of your plan you can. Do everything you can.
  3. Share yourself. Too often, we miss the value of sharing our feelings. We don’t want to be vulnerable so we hold back. In doing so, we deprive others of our experience, our learning and our humanity. When you share from your own experiences, you increase your empathy, you’re more approachable and you increase your relatability to others.

The moon changes effortlessly. Any reason you can’t too?

New Media, New Possibilities

“I am interested in a phase we are entering. I call it “telelogical evolution,” evolution with purpose.” ~ Jonas Salk

What Dr. Salk was referring to was the idea of evolution by design, designing for the future, anticipating the future. My guest on this week’s Awakening to Awareness Radio Show is actively engaged in this transformational arena.

A 25-year on-air broadcast veteran in network news and public affairs reporting, Phyllis Haynes was one of the first women, and Black woman, to host a major market (New York City) show, as well as report on major issues for ABC Evening News and Good Morning America. Today, as an independent producer, she is devoted to helping unsung thought leaders, inventors, and creatives increase their exposure and understanding of how to use the New Media terrain to bring their work into the world.

Phyllis Haynes

Phyllis Haynes

On the show Phyllis spoke passionately about her love for the digital environment and why. She encouraged people to embrace New Media communication technologies because they’re free, easily accessible, their use contributes to mankind, and they enable all of us to strengthen our connections and benefit from a “collective dance.” She also talked about her current work in/with digital storytelling, her advocacy for Net Neutrality, and her interest in / independent project on vampires!

Phyllis’ bio and the show podcast are available here. Consider listening, peeking into tomorrow, and learning why New Media technologies can be valuable to you, too.

A Love Letter to my Adult Child

Eric Tonningsen:

I don’t often reblog, however, this letter spoke to me. It could easily have been penned by my mother. We still don’t see eye to eye on some things yet our love and respect for each other only grows stronger. Thanks, EQ, for a beautiful post.

Originally posted on theempathyqueen:

generations by gilad

You have chosen to live your life differently than I have chosen to live mine. I try to keep my door open to you whenever you want to walk through it. We have made, and continue to make, different choices. I did not want to choose sides. I thought that I could lean over and hold on to all of them…. I want to be a part of your life and hope that you will grow to love me and include me in yours. However much I think we are the same, there is still too much difference. I am grateful that you are happy, but your version of happiness does not look quite like mine.

Will we grow to understand each other more as you grow in years? Will you choose me willingly, or reluctantly, to be a part of your life?

With every fiber of my being, you…

View original 397 more words

It’s Not Always So

“At any given moment you have the power to say this is NOT how the story is going to end. ” ~ Author Unknown

Many of us have received or know someone who has received a serious medical diagnosis. Perhaps a terminal pronouncement. Even with access to second and possibly more professional opinions, despair and resignation often sets in.

This post is not intended as a substitute for medical advice and treatment. And I’m not advocating self-diagnosis. What I am trying to create awareness around is that you are not always your diagnosis. To significant extents, in some cases, one’s physical and mental wellness is more about perspective, choice, and mindset.

A diagnosis is inherently a label that denotes that sickness or pathology is present. Invariably, a diagnosis is then associated with negative emotional responses and assumptions, which stimulate stress responses to varying degrees.

In reality, a diagnosis reflects an imbalance in the body that is caused by a variety of factors – genetics and lifestyle behaviors being just two of them. When someone understands they are not their diagnosis, nor are they prisoners to it, they start the process of breaking free from limiting beliefs and labels. This opens the door to the possibility that a positive outcome is possible.

Illness and life problems can be reckoned with and other options for outcomes are possible. People have a choice about how they are going to go about handling their challenge(s).

Modern (Western) medicine offers success rates for recovery greater than ever before, even for serious illnesses. Some situations that would have been considered hopeless are now viewed as fairly commonplace, with patients routinely surviving and thriving. Even with medical advancements, though, there are still conditions where modern medicine holds no promise of recovery. For these patients, as well as those who simply prefer to explore treatment outside the medical mainstream, there is an ever-growing arena of alternative medicine approaches.

Given that “it’s not always so,” there are many things one can do if diagnosed with a serious ailment. Among them, these three:

  1. Do what makes you happy first. Sometimes one can feel like they’re going through days on autopilot. That can get tedious and depressing. Consider starting the day off on a positive note by engaging in an enjoyable activity. This can completely shift one’s outlook and lift the spirit.
  2. Help someone else. Take the focus away from you and do something nice for another person. It can take your mind off of more challenging things and you’ll likely feel better helping someone else.
  3. Take time to strengthen/rejuvenate your mind and body. The treatment road ahead could be grueling and you’ll want to be in good physical and emotional condition. Go on long hikes in the mountains, eat super healthy foods, and meditate. Picture yourself (if the patient is you) healthy and visualize good strong blood cells destroying whatever has invaded your body.

There is truth to the saying “mind over body.” Augmenting positive beliefs with positive lifestyle changes, can yield amazing outcomes. I know this.