Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best of Intentions.

I started this blog with the best on intentions: I would finally pursue writing on a regular basis (something I have long dreamed of doing), I would inform, enrich, and entertain readers (hopefully), and I would learn a lot about myself in the process. This effort of writing would force a reflective process. I feel I have managed perhaps one out of three so far.

What I have noticed has been fascinating; despite my best efforts I have not been able to sit down and write in the manner I had planned. Given the busyness of running a practice, raising a family, maintaining relationships, studying my craft, eating, sleeping, and doing chores I have discovered that there is not much time for anything else. Then I discovered that worrying about not getting my blog written was creeping into my life and causing stress.

Not long ago I had watched a video on the internet of a speech Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the popular novel "Eat, Pray, Love" gave within the last year in which she explains that a writer,s job is to show up for the act of writing. The inspiration, the creativity, will show up and make itself know when it is good and ready and it is not the writer's job to worry about that. The writer is to show up to write. Boy, that takes a lot of pressure off, which is exactly what Ms. Gilbert wants given that she has to follow on the outrageous success of "Eat, Pray, Love." ( You can view the video here. )

Now, I get that creativity arises within the artist of it's own accord, but how does that work when I cannot even find the time to write? Well, that leads me to an axiom I often respect and encourage clients to be mindfull of, especially in relationships; "Is it given?"

Stopping and thinking whether time for writing has been given in my life has allowed a pause, a reflection. At this point it does not seem to be given, at least not yet. But it is useful to look at what IS given: meaningful work, family, friends, relationships. And in stopping to notice and accept what is given comes a sense of peace, of contentment.

I have often felt that courageously turning to acknowledge what is given in our lives is the spark that can ignite the creative spirit within us. And in doing so we can come to live our lives more creatively; to make our lives the canvas and to paint on it liberally.

Thank you for sticking with me during my dry spells. It seems it is part of the process for me to come to a life lived creatively.

As always I appreciate your comments. Also please feel free to visit my website at

My best during this holiday season,


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Motivation and Alternatives

There is a conundrum I have slowly been realizing that I'm facing; I am forever interested in new things, ideas, learning opprtunities, growth opportunities, books, movies, friends, etc. I suppose I am not that different from many people, including those of you that read this blog. We all are interested in a variety of subjects and experiences and make time in our day to seek them out. The challenge is that the days do not expand to meet the time requirements involved in maintaining these interests.

This blog is a good example. I started it with high motivation and excitement (funny how those two often pair up together) and now I'm faced with the reality of actually having to do the work without the expanded hours in a day or week to get it done. A conundrum.

This leads me to realizing (again) an existential truth and having to accept it: alternatives exclude. This is a phrase I first read when reading the work of Psychiatrist Irvin Yalom some years ago. It has stuck with me ever since. This phrase tells me that choices are exclusionary, and in order to make a choice we have to be willing to give up the other possibility (that which we don't choose.) We have to be willing to give up what making a choice automatically excludes.

Sometimes it's not difficult to do, like choosing to go uptown or downtown. Or choosing to have Thai food or Chinese food for lunch. Choosing to go uptown naturally excludes going downtown at this time. Likewise, choosing to have Thai food for lunch naturally excludes having Chinese for lunch. Other times having to make a choice can be paralyzing, like having to choose which pet to give up because the landlord only allows one per apartment or choosing which person to date. Such difficult choices can squash motivation, the very energy that helps us move forward in life.

So it can be important to notice and be aware not just what we are choosing, but also what we are giving up as well. We have to be alright with both; we have to be willing to accept both lest we be stymied into inaction which, in itself, is also a choice.

As always, I appreciate your comments. Please check out my website at

My best,

Friday, September 25, 2009


I am currently testing a blog app on my iPhone that I hope will allow me to post a bit more frequently than I currently do. I, like many, find myself full of ideas but challenged with limited time in which to write, so maybe this will help.

If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch and are interested in this app, just go to the app store and search for "BlogWriter." I an currently testing the Lite version as it is free.

This app is also an RSS reader so if you subscribe to any blogs you can enter them in the app and read them all in one convenient place. If interested, I would love it if you subscribed to this blog, either by RSS feed or through

As always I appreciate any feedback and invite you to visit my website at

My best,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Choice of Love

I recently watched a movie entitled "Paris, Je T'aime" (Paris, I love
you) in which 20 different directors directed 20 short films based in Paris and all dealing with the central theme of love, in all of its guises. I found it an interesting movie cinematographically and began to have fun as the movie progressed trying to discover what aspect of love each director was attempting to depict.

I was often moved by what turned out to be very intimate snapshots of people's lives that left me feeling what the directors were attempting to convey. During one particular story I was struck by an aspect of love that often does not get mentioned in popular media or entertainment; that of love as a choice. In the short film a man who has decided to end his marriage to his wife in favor of another discovers that his wife is terminally ill. On the spot he changes his mind, breaks up with the mistress, and dedicates himself to caring for, and loving his wife. In doing so he transforms himself from a man pretending to be in love to a man in love and it alters him forever.

This story depicted well for me that aspect of love that is a choice; that aspect that concerns open-eyed acceptance of our partner, not the blind infatuation that popular culture would have us believe is love. This aspect of love derives itself from something much deeper and more powerful than romantic love, but it appears to lack the bells and whistles of its counterpart.

This aspect of love also brings to mind the power of acting “as if.” In acting “as if” he were in love, he managed to fall in love. It’s a strong statement. If we wake up in the morning and treat others in our lives “as if” we care about them, we can transform ourselves into actually caring. There is something in pretending that touches the actual emotions inside each of us and helps its expression.

We are each challenged in our personal relationships to maintain good feelings toward others. Some people are easy to have these feelings toward; others may not be, but the relationships may be important just the same. Perhaps sometimes we can attempt to behave “as if” for a time and see if something changes.

As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback and hope you have found this blog post helpful and meaningful. Please also visit my website at

My best,

Saturday, August 1, 2009


While attending graduate school a friend recommended a book by noted Existential Psychologist Victor Frankl. I was struck by the poignancy of “Man’s Search for Meaning” and the central tenet of both Frankl’s thesis and his therapeutic approach: human beings must find meaning and purpose in order to live a contented life. Lack of meaning and purpose in life allows for the expression of neurotic symptoms ranging from depression, anxiety, and frustration to addiction and other self-injurious behaviors. The challenge, I believe, is in discovering one’s life’s meaning and developing purpose from it.

Several years ago I attended a workshop during which the leader challenged the participants to discover their purpose. The key was that the purpose had to be greater than ourselves, it had to be a gift to the world, and the outcome had to be improbable. Essentially, we needed to find something really hard to achieve for the world, and then strive to achieve it. She called it our “improbable promise.” The outcome of that workshop, and of that exercise, has been following me around for years and is the ground of just about everything I do these days. It has given meaning and purpose and direction to my life. Such a promise can do the same for yours.
What improbable promise can you make to the world?

Some examples that I have come across have been "to reveal the presence of Grace"; "to see peace in the world through right relationship"; “to provide succor to the dying”; “to defend the rights of animals.”

As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback and hope you have found this blog post helpful and meaningful. Please also visit my website at

My best,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Courage (and risk)

It only takes guts to get started. Once something has begun, we then throw ourselves into the work and into taking care of the details and occasionally step back to take a look at the broader vision. But it is the first step that takes the most courage.

A friend of mine and I recently had a discussion about what separates a decent bicycle racer and a mediocre bicycle racer in the amateur ranks. We both agreed that one of the key elements was a willingness to throw oneself headlong into the unknown. When a bike racer races away from the main group of racers, he or she willingly throws themselves into uncertain territory in the effort to win the race. Most, even if they become professional racers, don’t know if they will succeed and they risk a certain degree of humiliation if they are caught by the following racers later in the day. The beauty of such courageous efforts is that if the effort succeeds, then the next time the racer races he or she will know that there exists a possibility if they are willing to take some risk.

This is an apt metaphor for any project, life direction, ambition, or creative outlet; we must throw ourselves headlong into the unknown. We can be calculated about it, we can train our abilities well, but we must eventually take the risk. We must eventually face the unknown. It is true for any endeavor, be it art, athletics, relationships, writing, business, parenting, education, etc.

Where in your life have you stalled due to reservations about taking the risk? Can you motivate yourself to give it a go. To say, “well, let’s give it a try then.” There is no shame that I can think of in trying.

As always I hope you have enjoyed this blog and I welcome your comments. Also please visit my website at

All my best,


Monday, July 13, 2009

Creativity and Life

“By being creative we really do fall in love with the world. And in that moment we transform the ordinary into the extraordinary”
-Dewitt Jones

For the past couple of years I have been bit by the proverbial photography bug. It seems I have found my creative outlet; an outlet I have been searching and yearning for most of my life. Have you ever had a deep knowing that there is something creative inside of you trying to be expressed but lacked a language? This is what I have felt for most of my life and until recently lacked a medium, a language. Thankfully, photography somehow discovered me. As a consequence I study many photographers’ work and while in graduate school was shown a CD movie of a motivational speech by National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones.

Dewitt Jones has developed the incredible capacity to apply lessons learned from photography to his life (or is it lessons learned in life applied to photography? It is not always that clear, is it?) and he has developed a relatively successful motivational speaking practice using his photography to illustrate key points in what he believes are steps toward creativity, meaning, and the celebration of life. I am repeatedly touched when I view his videos and I have transcribed his 5 steps toward living creatively onto index cards that I carry in my camera bag and taped to my PDA to remind me of my focus.

Dewitt has several video shorts in the “videos” section of his website ( that highlight his philosophy and approach as well as his infectiously motivating personality. I have enjoyed them very much and recommend them wholeheartedly.

His 5 point maxim for living creatively is as follows:
1. Focus your vision: celebrate what is right in the world
2. Train your technique
3. Place yourself in the place of most potential
4. Truly be open to the possibilities: what will I be given today and will I be open to receive it
5. Continuously find the next right answer

As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback and hope you have found this blog post helpful and meaningful. Please also visit my website at


Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I have to admit that I am taken by the sheer creativity the iPhone entails, expresses, and encourages. It is an impressive piece of technology that has allowed people to communicate in an infinite number of ways: through text, email, phone, photo, video and many more that I'm not even aware of. Recently a friend showed me an app entitled DoGood. The app works on a simple premise; each day the subscriber is given a directive to "do good" in a specific way during the course of their day. The challenge is to achieve each good deed, each day, for a year. There is even an ingenious tracking mechanism build in; a "done" button. And DoGood tracks the number of people who have accomplished the task each day.

On the day in question the good deed was to "thank a teacher who made a difference in your life." Well, that got me thinking. How much does it take for us to stop for a moment and do a good deed? How much does it take to stop for a moment and be grateful? And imagine what the world, or even our immediate community, or simply our own family, would be like if we made an effort to do one good thing within that community each day?

Often I encourage my clients to "spy" on the world for good behavior. I encourage them notice what is positive about the world and about people. It's a pithy little instruction perhaps, but it proves to be effective at lifting people gently out of depression, despair, grief, and hopelessness. The smiles that have been hidden for some time often return gently and resolutely with this simple shift in focus.

There is much talk about change being difficult, a struggle, challenging, even impossible. But I think that we often make too much of change. Change, all change, happens in an instant. To use the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu, change erupts! And eruptions are dependent on continuous, small, collective forces that develop into unstoppable change.

Perhaps it's as simple as observing, and perhaps doing, one. good. deed.

(Check out my website at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

To Inspire, Enrich, and Inform

It has taken me some time to write this first blog, and I hope this is not a preview of things to come. It is my intention to write a new entry every other week or so. Because this is a professional blog, my focus will be writing short articles that inspire, enrich, and inform the reader in the area of mental health and personal development. While some articles will address specific challenges that people face, I also intend to write articles highlighting simple things we can do in everyday life to increase our enjoyment of the life we lead. While I would love to believe that I know a lot about a lot of things, it is more truthful that I know some things about some things. As a result, I also intend to use this blog to direct you to other knowledgeable and creative people who use blogs, websites, video, art, literature, television, movies and any other media in which to enhance their, and others’ , lives.

I am excited to begin this process. I have often dreamed of writing something meaningful and hopefully this is a forum in which to do so. I do hope you are informed as a consequence of reading this blog but, more importantly, I hope you are inspired and enriched. Any feedback or comments to this, or other, blogs are welcomed and appreciated.

All my best,


(Check out my website at