Tag Archives: joy

What’s Your Reactivity IQ?

22 Sep


Yes, I’m that odd duck that takes a picture of a Southwest napkin but I loved this slogan. In a world full of no, we need yes!

I’m quick to say, “no,” to things in my life so when I see a napkin that urges me to say, “yes,” it’s a nice reminder.

Much of what we say, “yes,” and “no” to has to do with how we perceive life.

Reactivity can be positive and negative.

When we reactive positively, this enhances our greater good. For instance, if I’m a football player and the ball is thrown to me, catching it would be ideal. Running with the ball in my hands would be even better!

However, when we over-react, we get stressed. We bleed our energy by imagining all of the bad things that might occur. This symbolizes a colossal “no” and puts our bodies and minds on over-drive. Systems then constrict and shut down.

I’m classic at saying, “no”, particularly when good things are happening in my life. The more good that comes my way, the more I tell myself no. The voices in my head say that I’ll get too tired, too stressed, too busy, too overwhelmed. I fear something catastrophic will happen. I tell myself that I’ll choke. I’ll let someone down. I’ll turn my back on one thing as I go after another. I tell myself that I can’t have it all.

“In a world full of no, we’re a plane full of yes.” Thank you, SouthWest.

Our reactivity IQ dramatically influences our well being.

How do we say yes, and yes, and yes?!!!

Because yes = possibilities, joy, solutions, and expansion.

No simply means no.

What’s your reactivity IQ and what are you saying yes and no to?

Because Life is Too Damn Short

16 Aug


Something happens to women in their forties. I call it the “I’m done with bullshit,” phenomenon. By the time you get to be a certain age, you’re just done with nonsense in all facets of your life: work, relationships, social expectations, etc. You simply stop caring what other people think and do what you want because you realize LIFE IS TOO DAMN SHORT. It will be over in a blink of eye, so why waste time doing things you don’t enjoy? Why not surround yourself with a tribe of folks who accept and celebrate your authentic self instead? Granted, we of course have to be responsible and tolerant and show up for our day to day tasks. Likewise, we learn and grow when relating to those who are not sycophants and who challenge us towards growth and transformation. But truly, we have far more choices in life than we realize.

I remember years ago a supervisor saying, “Lise, you’re working harder than your students. Stop it. It’s not serving them and it’s not serving you.”

There are things that I put up with in my twenties and thirties that I simply no longer have patience for in my forties. They say by the time you’re in your sixties, you go from not giving a damn to not giving a (insert your word of choice). Do you develop a foul mouth as you age? No. Of course not. And I don’t mean to insult anyone with my language. I am trying to make a point. As you age, you start to carve out the precious time to do what means the most to you and what adds premier value to your life. You surround yourself with others who “get” you and who support you in being all that you possibly can be. And you in turn want to do the same for others. A life of meaning and value is one of service but of the best kind – the kind that comes from choice vs. a sense of obligation that has no real heart behind it.

Let’s all lead a heart filled life, embracing each moment and squeezing all that we can out of life. This doesn’t mean avoiding sadness or pain because these are part of life. The more we can feel our own emotions, the more compassionate we are towards ourselves and others. Yet there is such grace in the ethers, if we let go of the bs in our lives and focus on what’s of integrity, joy, passion, and commitment. Sometimes that starts with ourselves, as we carve out time to appreciate God’s grace and settle into our authenticity. Then we can show up for others and support them in theirs as well!

Best Birthday Gift Ever

19 May

I awoke this morning to Winter Wonderland. It is snowing in May in Colorado.


I wanted snow all year. I thought I was going to spend time on the East Coast during winter but it didn’t happen.


So what do you know. God answers our prayers in other ways. My birthday is later this week and look what the Big Man Upstairs delivered. Quite the delightful surprise! I realize God always gives us what we need when we need it most. It isn’t always on our time table.


He knows best. Not I.

Will You Play With Me?

9 Mar

The other day within an hour of being around a family friend’s child, the little boy approached me and with quiet earnestness asked, “Will you play with me?” As I nodded yes, he gently led me to the living room where his toys were scattered and we began to play. Although the toys were appealing what fascinated him most was the switch that could dim the lights. As he lowered the lights, making the room grow dark he pronounced, “Now it is night.” Taking my cue, I rolled over on my side and began to gently snore. Then the lights came back up. “Now it’s day.” I stretched out my arms and sighed, opened my eyes and said, “Good morning.” Looking at him I continued, “I’m hungry. Are you hungry? What shall we have for breakfast?” We settled on pancakes and bacon and then went through the procedure again. The lights dimmed, I snored, the lights came back up, I awakened and then we ate pancakes. We did this at least ten times proving yet again that Freud was not entirely clueless for repetition compulsion is most definitely an aspect of children’s play and a mechanism through which they can explore the events they observe on a daily basis.

It never fails to amaze me how much children yearn to play and need to play. It is not to be underestimated. The therapeutic benefits of play are profound which is why some of us psychotherapists use it as a central part of our work. But it isn’t just children who need to play. We all do. Animals. Children. Adults. All of us benefit from the intimate contact that comes through play as we enter the portals of our imaginations with another. So in a way, those five innocent words – “Will you play with me?” are like a secret password that if taken seriously initiate us into a very specific form of delight, exploration and experience of each other’s company.

The above words are a re-post from two years ago. They came to mind as I revisited the role of play in my own life. While all humans have the capacity for spontaneity and joy, life experiences can hinder the prominence and regularity of play in our lives. Trauma in fact, can abort it. I look back at my childhood and see patterns where play simply stopped. I think of the adults who would routinely say, “Not now, honey. We’ll play later,” and I remember when my mom started drinking to the point of black out. Focusing on my mom’s well-being became more important than slumber parties or dress up.

As adults, many things interfere with our abilities to play. We are told to grow up and get serious. There are bills to pay, chores to do, and things to look after. In my life, these attitudes were passed on to me in my DNA, costing me an acting career because to act for a living would be the height of frivolity, right? For many of us, play is something that comes at the end of the to do list and sometimes simply gets channeled into sex, the consummate form of adult recreation. We forget the deeper needs behind the simple words, “Will you play with me?” Instead of inviting others in, we tune them out or tell them they aren’t playing right. We tell them to get off the playground or that they’re not good enough for our team. Some of us break the rules and hurt others.

Play comes into our lives when we invite in the energy of the Divine; when we look at the ocean and see the way it dances.  Play comes when we can relinquish worry and reclaim deeper pieces of ourselves. It is in fact, a serious matter.

It is serious play and how we master life.

Life is a Gift: Use it Accordingly

26 Jan


All of us have played the White Elephant game at holiday parties. You know the one. Everybody brings a cheap, nonsense gift. Once all the presents are opened, participants decide whether to keep the gift they were given or to steal someone else’s gift. Rarely do we want what we get. Something always looks better.

What happens when we don’t get the life we want? Can we trade it for another one or do we work to be satisfied with what we have? What happens when we try as we might to be grateful, we remain unhappy? Is this a sign of supreme entitlement or a mood state that is hard to mitigate? Or, is it time to make a shift, if we are capable?

Life is a gift. A friend’s daughter recently had a baby. To celebrate this wonder, there were actually four baby showers. You can imagine the number of “likes” the baby photos drew on Facebook. The baby’s new life is a gift. Yet time can tear away at the gift. Just this morning I read an article about an African American man held at gunpoint by police officers as he came out of the Yale library. The man is an innocent student at Yale, yet the police assumed he was a wanted criminal because of the color of his skin. This is one of a jillion examples that can wear down our sense that life is an awesome present. Life can knock you down and point the barrel of a gun at you for simply going about your business.

Injustice and despair are real and they can erode the soul’s spirit. They urinate on the precious gift leaving us enraged or weeping or numb.

It isn’t just the dramatic tragedies that can threaten our sense of passion and purpose. Day-to-day concerns and struggles can eat away at our joie de vivre as well.

Remember the little wonders of childhood? Getting excited when a mother brought in cupcakes for someone’s birthday, or watching snowfall for the first time? When I think of life’s hardships, I also think of its magic, for it is the wonder of life that is the true gift. This is why we go ga-gah over babies and puppies. New creatures are in awe of their surroundings and remind us to be. I watch my neighbor’s one-year-old child. Every time she steps outside, she points at a bird, or a flower with a huge grin on her face. Then her little voices squeaks with delight.

Life is a gift. While we can’t have a lobotomy to erase despair, we can work to repair brokenness around us. I hear the birds sing as I write this and realize it is their voices that help make us whole.

That Perfect Ride

7 Sep


Life is filled with moments of misconnection and missed opportunities. We reach out, we effort and things often fall short or apart. But once in awhile, the stars line up in just the right constellation uniting one in profound synergy with another person, one’s work, or life itself.

I am not a heavy duty surfer chick. I only learned a few years ago and I surf on a long board at a very gentle break. But I surf for that one perfect ride that reminds me fusion with Source can indeed occur.

You have to be in the right place at the right time. You have to be out there and paddling. And you have to catch the right wave. But when you do, there is nothing like it.

For me, a perfect wave has enough momentum to quicken my pulse but not so much that I’m terrified or thrown off balance. The perfect pop up is when you land, strong and steady knowing nothing is going to shake your balance even if you drop into the wave, taking a little plunge into the heart of it. And then there is the glide. That beautiful gentle ride in all the way to shore as you sing out a yelp of exhilaration and joy.

This is God. This is connection. This is sensuality. This is flow.

On Grief…

10 Aug

“I’m tired of all this – so tired. My bed has been floating forty days and nights on the flood of my tears. My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears. The sockets of my eyes are black holes; nearly blind, I squint and grope” (Psalm 6:6-7- In the Message).

“A tear is an intellectual thing.” William Blake


When we’ve experienced profound loss what follows in its wake is a grief so profound it defies vocabulary as we try to talk about our loss in a psychotherapist’s office or hope that some pharmaceutical prescribed by a doctor will miraculously wipe away our pain. Instead we’re left with a well of emotions most of us have no knowledge of how to navigate, particularly in our ever fast-paced society that allows little room for the reflective, messy process that grief ultimately demands.

When I was a little girl I loved watching old movies and remember being enamored by the beautiful hoop dresses women would wear in period pieces. Even more striking was the fact that sometimes heroines would wear black dresses if they were in mourning. I didn’t understand this custom. It seemed odd to me that someone would be required to wear black for an entire year after the death of a family member. Years later however, after my mother passed away, there were many moments when I longed to wear black to signify that I was still grieving. While others not related to my mom quickly moved on with their lives after attending the memorial service, my feelings were as raw as an open wound. I was being indoctrinated into the grieving process and wanted relief from people yakking at me in the grocery store or asking me to work extra hours at the office. I simply didn’t have the bandwidth but without black to signify my mourning state to others, my grief went incognito.

When someone has a physical illness, we see its manifestation in the form of physical symptoms. When we break our leg, we wear a cast; if we cut our fingers, we see blood. But what of the human heart and spirit’s suffering when no one sees the pain? Often our grief is unrecognized making it all the more difficult to contend with. Given this, we need to learn how to mourn in a culture that often fails to see emotional pain and when it does, too often backs away in fear. Even when acknowledging our pain, we rarely know how to cope with it for there is no simple formula for transforming it. Instead grief presents as a vast ocean threatening to sweep us away in its current. Yet as a friend of mine once wrote, “I sometimes wonder how we all go on, when I think of all we go through and endure, but we do, and grief becomes, strangely its own cure, and we find ourselves laughing and in joy, which at first feels like a betrayal and becomes eventually an act of remembrance and celebration.”


Confessions of a Homebody

15 Jun

The fact that I’d rather be at home on a Friday or Saturday night reading a book is probably one of the many contributing factors to why I’m still single. Why battle the bar scene when one can be safely ensconced in the comforts of one’s own abode?


I have always been a homebody. Not much has changed since I was little. When I was a girl visiting my grandparents in Wisconsin my grandma would suggest I play with the neighborhood kids and I typically elected not to. I preferred to just hang out at the house instead. My grandma and I would bake cookies and she would help me on knitting and sewing projects. When she was busy, I’d play in the yard, explore in the basement and attic and spend hours reading.


Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-social or agoraphobic. But underneath the deceptive exterior, I am a true introvert.

By some miracle, for the most part I work from home (when I’m not teaching a class somewhere). I also have an office where I see clients but it feels like an extension of home. There are chairs and a sofa and a lovely view. And most important, it’s quiet.

Some people like suiting up each day where they can collaborate with others and sit around a table. Yet the days when I had to work a 9-5 pm job forty hours a week at a cubicle were torturous. I would fantasize about eating lunch at home and doing work from my own desk with a cat on my lap. I day-dreamt that one day I would hear the sound of birds chirping outside my window while my fingers tapped on my personal key board. And I would feel a gentle breeze coming in through my screen door during the middle of a week day.


When they give people career aptitude tests they should also ask questions about what kind of environment best suits a person because it is quite important. We spend a lot of hours working. Best to make the time magical.


Desiring Desire

26 May

In religious circles, desire often gets a bad rap. Thought to lure one into avarice or lust, desire is often represented as the devil incarnate or that wanton woman leading a man astray. In Buddhism, desire is thought to be the root of all suffering and thus craving is ideally eliminated.


I’m a fan of desire nonetheless. Related to the affect states interest-excitement and enjoyment-joy, desire represents a primal evolutionary force propelling our species not just towards procreation but towards learning, expansion, creativity and growth. And desire is not exclusive to sexuality although it is often relegated as such. Case in point. Little kids feel desire. Desire to get up in the morning and to start the day. Desire to play, learn and explore and to go to places like Disneyland.


Dogs too register desire. They wag their tails in anticipation of a walk, the beach and/or a bone.


Desire is an impulse within us motivating us hopefully towards positive things. In its best form it is a spiritual catalyst igniting our hearts to burn for God as we understand her.



Yet many of us adults lose touch with desire when we’re fatigued, worried, burnt out or depressed. When I’m on a complete overload the most I desire is quiet and my bed. But even that desire is good for it motivates me towards rest.



And it is in the resting that replenishing occurs and then the slow flame of desire begins to grow again…