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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Overcome DreamBusters Part III: John Quinones What Would You Do To Stomp Out Bullying of the Blind?

Thought for the Day:  Sometimes you have to learn to fall to learn to stand tall. Have you ever wondered why toddlers love to play the game of "Ring Around the Rosie," over & over again? Why do they love falling down & getting back up? As a psychologist, I believe it is more than just a game. They are learning an important life lesson. Toddlers are new to walking. You can't learn to walk without falling. By playing the game, they are mastering the art of falling down without getting hurt & building resilience & self confidence. 

In this longer post which is taken from a longer article posed today on PRWeb. The article  announces a joint campaign I am launching with The Blind Judo Foundation supporting the fact that October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. In this post, I take the importance of of learning to fall to another level. I hope you will comment & share this with your friends & family. If you have any friends at ABC, feel free to share it there as well!

In the popular ABC TV show, "What Would YouDo?," with John Quinones events are staged by actors to see what people do when confronted with hurtful actions by people in public places. Here's some “What would you do?” parenting dilemmas to consider:
Imagine that your child is blind. Constantly, you warn them about falling down. They want to learn to ride a bicycle, but keep falling and hurting themselves. You fear for their safety, but want them to have a normal life. What would you do? 
Neighborhood kids take your child to the playground. Hours later, a stranger calls. Your child was left stranded in the park not knowing how to get home. What would you do?
In high school, teenagers taunt the students who guide your child through from class to class. Calling them gay or stupid. What would you do? 
Would you try to shelter your child? Would you take the bicycle and tell them it is too dangerous? Would you seclude your child in schools for the blind and avoid neighborhood kids who fail to understand that bullying the blind is cruel and unacceptable?
All parents struggle to keep children safe while encouraging them to dream, but it is more challenging for parents of blind children since the statistics (75% ofblind adults are unable to support themselves financially) are stacked against dreams of independent living. I spoke with Ron Peck, co-founder of the Blind Judo Foundation, Lori Pierce and her parents to understand what helps 30% of blind adults become self-sufficient following their dreams.
Lori Pierce's parents grappled with safety issues daily as they raised their adopted daughter, Lori who is blind. Miraculously, they gave her the confidence to not only ride a bike, but also to run track and play modified soccer. They practiced what I calls "dream parenting," encouraging their children to follow their dreams even when they are attempting to do something they may be concerned about.
Despite their fears, the Pierce’s trusted Lori’s judgment while keeping a watchful eye. Lori’s seven siblings treated her as “normal” and also encouraged her to try things. With “dream” parents and siblings, Lori learned to “dream” of possibilities. She met and exceeded the “challenges” along the way.
Lori training in Judo
When the Pierce's learned about the Blind Judo Foundation's program, they dared to introduce her to a sport many parents would have feared. Their experiences make them strong supporters of a new campaign to raise money for the Blind Judo Foundation which they believe was life changing and crucial in empowering Lori.  
Lori with Lola getting her Degree at the U of TX
Judo taught Lori how to fall down, get up and persevere. It empowered her to stand tall and triumphant as the 1st Silver Medal winner of the 2004 US Paralympic Judo Team in Athens.  She gained the self-confidence to pursue and complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Texas, far from her family in Colorado. Judo also helped her believe in her ability to coach blind children in Judo, work on her Teaching Certificate and live independently at age 28.  It all started by "waking up and dreaming" of things many blind people do not dare to dream.I believe that Blind Judo and how Lori's parents responded to the unique challenges of raising a blind child played a significant part in why Lori and her dreams thrived. Since I believe that if one person can accomplish a dream, anyone can, she launched a joint fundraising campaign to help the Blind JudoFoundation teach blind and visually impaired children and wounded warriors to fall down so that they too can learn to dream it forward like Lori.  Half of the profits from sales of The Wake Up and Dream Challenge to teach more children to dream using Judo enhance self esteem, empower self confidence and stomp out bullying of the blind.  When ordering the book please write “Blind Judo Foundation” in the "comments"  section. Please consider changing lives with the purchase of the book and donations to the work and mission of the Blind Judo Foundation at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Overcoming DreamBusters Part II: Six Ways To Free Your Dreams From Fear

Thought for the Day: Sometimes we let fear stop us from reaching for our dreams. When we do, our dreams become prisoners of our fears.  What dreams are you allowing your fears to hold hostage? If you tend to let your fear hold you back, here are some ways to conquer your fears & set your dreams free.

When I asked people on facebook, twitter, google+ & tumbler what their biggest DreamBusters were, fear was one of the recurring themes. (My 1st blog in this series looked how money impacts on our dreams & taught ways to dream on a dime.) Fears can be camouflaged in many ways. At times, fears take control & have a paralyzing effect on our lives. When that happens, phobias & panic attacks are so overwhelming that clients come to me for help. However, the impact of fears is often more subtle. Many people do not even notice that they are procrastinating or stuck in the pursuit of their dreams due to unspoken fears. When fears make them lose sight of their dreams, they may feel dissatisfied  with their lives, but may ignore the feelings & assume that their dreams are simply unattainable. Here are some practical tools to help you break free from the tyranny of fear to move towards your dreams:

1) Don't let fear control your knowledge.
Psychological studies have proven that when people are afraid, their perception is distorted. wrote a blog entitled: FEAR - False Evidence Appearing Real. In it she wrote, "Somebody left these four words as a comment on Alanis Morissette's Facebook page in response to an interview she had posted with the singer." The author "looked at the words for a minute then spelled out the acronym: F.E.A.R. Oh, yes. Yes yes yes. Fear is certainly False Evidence Appearing Real." (Article Source:
Psychologists have studied the impact of fear on our perception for many years. We know that when we are anxious or afraid we tend to distort reality. Eye witness testimonies from bank robberies & other crimes are often inaccurate.  In the book, Eyewitness Testimony, Elizabeth Loftus puts the psychological evidence against eye witness testimony on trial.  She examines "factors, such as expectations, biases, & personal stereotypes." Witnesses, who by nature of the experience are stressed & afraid, describe the same robber as tall, short, with red, brown or blond hair. Even the clothes the robber was wearing will be remembered as different to witnesses of the same crime. (For an in depth look at the case against eye witness testimony take a look at the CBS 60 Minutes video  with Leslie Stahl on the fragility of memory & eyewitness testimony, which is beyond the scope of this article.)
     If you are afraid that you are not capable of accomplishing your dreams, your perception of yourself & your abilities may be distorted.  If knowledge is power, distorted knowledge is debilitating. Before you rule out a dream, run it by a few people who's opinion you trust. See if they think you have the skills to accomplish your dream or if they can suggest ways to build the skill sets that you may need.

2) Put your fear under a spotlight. If you don't know what it is you are afraid of, you may be afraid for no reason. Many children are afraid of the dark. For generations parents have helped their children overcome their fears with night lights or by showing children that the world remains the same even when the lights go out.
     Many fears lose their hold when you shine a spotlight on them. You can do this by asking yourself, "What is my worst fear? What is the worst thing that I can imagine might happen if I pursued my dream?" Often you will find that your worst fear might not be so bad & it will free you to go ahead & try.

3) Fear is temporary. Regret is forever.  One way to overcome the fear of trying to move towards your dream is to remind yourself that if you don't try you may regret it forever. If you try & then realize that it is not what you want, you will not be carrying the regrets for life. Another way of saying this tip was best said by Babe Ruth, "Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back."

4) Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.  Have you ever seen a touching exhibit in the reptile section of a zoo. They have mastered the art of replacing fear of the unknown with curiosity. Many children have not learned to be afraid & are naturally curious & fearlessly touch the snakes or lizards. Adults, on the other hand, may let their fears get the better of them. If you are afraid to try to accomplish a dream, try researching it with curiosity. Once you know more about what it may take to accomplish your dream, it may not seem as difficult or scary.

5) Beware of fear of success it can be as paralyzing as fear of failure. The Peanut's cartoon says this DreamBuster really well. Most people are cognizant of their fear of failure, but many do not realize that they may be avoiding their dreams due to fear of success. Many people let what psychologists call "magical thinking" like Charlie Brown's fear of happiness stop them from reaching for their dreams. Bad things happen, but they do not happen because we are happy. Alanis Morisette appears to be fully aware of this kind of fear & expresses it well in the song, "Fear of Bliss." With close to 2 million fans on facebook, most people would assume that Alanis Morisette would be blissful, but even success can be frightening. Here are some of the lyrics from the song:
Fear of Bliss
      Alanis Morissette
Fear of bliss and fear of joyitude  
Fear of bigness and ensuing solitude  
I've tried to be small, 
I've tried to be stunted   
I've tried roadblocks 
and all my happy endings are prevented  
Sometimes I feel this is too good to be true   
I sabotage myself 
for fear of what my joy could do      
       If you are successful at many things, in addition to fearing that your success could magically jinx things for you, you may also be afraid that you will let people down if you are not on the top of your game in everything you attempt. You may fear that you will disappoint your family, friends or yourself. To overcome this type of perfectionism, remind yourself that no one is perfect or even outstanding in everything & that no one expects you to be. In addition, every expert was a beginner. (See earlier post on this topic.)  Give yourself permission to be a beginner when you start to pursue your dream & to make mistakes or be average at many things. The old adage, "Practice makes perfect," is misleading. Practice makes as close to perfect as human beings can be, don't strive for perfection, strive to do your best as you move towards your dreams.

6. Don't let fear of change stop you from exploring new territories.  In every beginning, there is an ending. In every ending there is a beginning. To find happiness, pay attention to both the beginnings and endings.  In the photo to the left, I tried to illustrate a basic fact of life that leads to many people fearing trying something new, even if it is their dream. Change is a continuous part of life that we often pretend does not exist. Even when we are dissatisfied with parts of our lives, we are often afraid to change what we are doing. We are afraid to venture out and leave the familiar.  Whether we take control of the changes or not, we are changing. It is important to cherish the things from the past but to move on & embrace the new challenges & dreams in your future.

Many of these short tips may lead to longer more in depth articles in the future. I'd love to hear how they have helped you to overcome some of your fears. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. If you have additional suggestions of ways to overcome fears that have helped you, please share them. Or if there are other types of fears that may be bothering you, let me know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How To Conquer DreamBusters Part I: Five Ways To Start Dreaming On A Dime

Photo from ramaty on photobucket
Thought for the Day: Who hasn't heard the saying:
You can't live on dreams alone. Author unknown?
However, I believe that without dreams you may not feel like you are living, so find a way to work towards your dreams even when money is tight. So here are five ways to start dreaming on a dime.

Have you let a DreamBuster stop you from working towards your dreams? Feel free to e-mail me or post a comment about what is holding you back & I will try to help you find a creative way to conquer your DreamBuster.

When bills are piling up, even cats can get discouraged!

I decided to start a new series of articles by posting the photo (on the right) on facebook, twitter, tumblr & google+. I copied the original photo from photobucket & hope that the film Ghostbusters will forgive me for changing the image. Here's what I posted:

Please SHARE & comment, I need your help. I'd doing research for a series of blog posts. (you can remain anonymous in posts if you want, just let me know or send a personal message) What's your biggest dream buster? Fill in the blank: The biggest thing that stops me from moving towards my dreams is_________________.

From the feedback I received, one of the top DreamBusters for many people is feeling that their dreams are impractical since they do not have enough money to even consider dreaming.

These are very difficult financial times. People are out of work, searching for jobs, struggling to make ends meet. Gas prices are soaring. No one can deny that it is hard to dream when faced with concerns about putting food on the table or paying the mortgage. As a psychologist, working with people who have overcome adversity, I know that dreams can play a part in not only surviving, but thriving. In earlier posts I have told some stories about people who have overcome financial hardship & reached their dreams (How a Motorcycle Accident and A Fire Rekindled a Dream, Teenager Doesn't Let Anything Stop Her Dreams, When Life Gives You Lemons, Open A Lemonade Stand)
, , but today i want to give you 5 tips on ways to move towards your dreams on a dime.

1) Research your dream.
        Use your computer (or a computer at a library) to do research about your dream. It costs just your time & energy. The more you know about the dream & ways others have accomplished it, the more you can find creative ways to make it happen. there may be apprenticeships, internships or certificate programs that you are not aware of which may make the dream more attainable than you think. Find out about scholarship or incentive programs
        Cost to you: Time & access to a computer

2) Volunteer close to home.
         Whether you are out of work or working on a tight budget & unhappy with what you are doing, consider volunteering part time at something you have always dreamed about but never tried. If you love animals & wish you had become a veterinarian, volunteer at a zoo or animal hospital. If you have no training in teaching, but would like to see if it suits you, volunteer in an after school program or on weekends. Offer a few hours a day, an evening or a day or two a week & it will help you in three ways. First, you will feel better by doing something you enjoy. Second, you will gain experience to add to your resume which could help you land a job in the field you have dreamed about for years. In addition, it will help you decide whether you are really interested in this new vocation.
        Cost to you: Time & transportation to the site

3) Take a gap year or a volunteering vacation.
         If you are more adventurous, consider applying for the Peace Corps or AmeriCares. Although you are a volunteer, room & board & medical insurance are included. It is a way to travel & try out new career paths.
         If you are working & afraid to leave your job, you could also consider volunteering abroad for a week to a few months during a vacation or leave of absence. It requires saving for airfare & fees for the stay, however, it could give you an amazing experience & possible new direction for future employment. I googled one program, International Volunteer HQ, to give you an idea of what the costs could be (1 wk $270 to 2 months $770 - $1030 depending on the country + airfare). There are many other sites with volunteer opportunities online.
         You can consider a gap year at any age, don't assume that you are too old for a program, ask!
         Cost to you: Peace Corps or AmeriCares: Time
         Volunteering abroad:Time & $500- $2000 (so for this you may need  to save for a while depending on the program you choose).

4) Start a business on the side.
        In this day & age, starting a business does not require a huge investment. If you have an idea that can be sold via the internet, you can do it with minimal finances. Use your evenings & weekends to test the waters. Pick something that you love so that you will enjoy the process of building the business until it begins to make money. If you have a friend who shares your interest consider partnering with them to share the responsibilities.
         Cost to you: Time & access to a computer, website (start with a free site)
5) Move, after training, to an area with under-serviced populations.
          Many people are unaware that there are scholarships available for professions offering services to populations in areas that are currently under-serviced. Many medical, counseling & teaching opportunities are available. The California Government's Health Professions Education Foundation site offers scholarships to under-serviced areas needing medical professionals in California. On the National Board of Certified Counselors site I found in a quick search provides information on helping prepare certified counselors for under-serviced populations. Programs like these are available in rural communities as well as urban ones. You may need to move once you have trained in the field, but you may be able to find a community near where you live & have a job lined up when you finish training.
        Cost to you: Time & moving expenses after training is completed 

      There are many more resources available to help you start moving towards your dreams. You can conquer your DreamBuster! Let me know if you get discouraged & I will help you find some alternative ways to overcome them. Stay tuned for additional tips on how to conquer other DreamBusters...

Monday, October 8, 2012

What Would You Do If Now Was Your Last Chance?

Photo by Fungole (Tumblr)

Thought for the Day: Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory... Author unknown

Why don't we realize the value of some moments until they become memories? What memories have you realized weeks, months or years later were precious?

What would you do if NOW was your last chance to do something that was important to you? What would it be? Would you tell someone how important they are to you? Would you say the words, "I love you," that you have been trying to say, but couldn't? Would you get up the courage to ask someone out or propose marriage? Would you give notice at an unsatisfying job? Would you start a business, write a book, learn to dance?

Whatever keeps us from speaking up or making the changes we have been considering may be the same thing that leads to our not realizing how precious some moments in our lives are until they become memories. In order to live our lives, we act as if we have limitless time. If we constantly reminded ourselves that we are not invincible, we would be anxious & worried about the end of our lives. Therefore, we often take people & things in our lives for granted. We become complacent about our dreams & put off saying & doing things as if we have all the time in the world. Instead, we plan for special moments in our lives, like weddings, child namings, & graduations. We hire photographers to keep a record of these events. However, it is often the unplanned, spontaneous moments that occur in the middle of our busy lives that we only appreciate after the fact, when we lose the opportunity to do it again. Perhaps the ease of taking photos on our phones & posting them on social media will help us pay attention to the precious moments of everyday life.

However, just taking pictures to document the memories will not solve the problem. Even though we may never totally appreciate every important moment, I have some ideas about how to pay attention to more of them. If we dream as if we will live forever, but plan as if there is no tomorrow, it will force us to pay attention to NOW. It will help us push ourselves to start moving towards our dreams & encourages us to use & appreciate our time NOW more wisely.

 As you start this week, take time for NOW! Pay attention to the moments & do the things you would do if it was your last chance to do them.

What would you do if NOW was your last chance? I'd love to hear what you would do.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Throwback Tuesday: Every Expert Was Once A Beginner

Photo from Verses & Inspiration on Facebook

In honor of Father's Day last Sunday, I am reposting this article. Fathers are often the ones who help their kids get up, dust their pants off & carry on when they fall.

Thought for the Day: As parents we have all watched, supported, & agonized over the struggles of our children as they learn new skills, but do we give ourselves the same kind of support when we need to change & develop new skill sets? 

The picture above & the accompanying statement cannot help but strike a chord with every mother (and father) who sees it. Who among us has not helped a child overcome the disappointment of striking out on the baseball field, missing a goal or losing a championship game? How often have we anxiously watched when one of our children has fallen on stage during a ballet recital or forgotten a line in a class play, knowing we will need to reassure them to get back on stage the next night?  As we wipe our teens' tears when they fail their 1st driving test or don't get into their 1st choice for college.

In all these situations we remind our children that they are just beginners & that there will be more opportunities ahead. We tell them that, "practice makes perfect." We let them know that "failures make you stronger" & that "mistakes are part of the learning process." These are not just platitudes although we have all heard them or variations of them growing up. As parents, we mean the words & want to inspire our children to work hard at whatever they are learning. We repeat these words hoping that they will continue working at the skills until they achieve competency. Once they become competent, if they desire to keep striving, they will be able to reach expertise.

Irene Piatrowski
Irene Piatowski 2012
Unfortunately, many of us are not as patient with ourselves when we need to learn new skills as adults. Somehow we seem to assume that adults should be able to succeed right away. Today, I read a Huffington Post article by
about Irene Piotrowsky, Canadian champion on track & field & world record setter from 1963 to 1973. I remembered her last name since is similar to that of a noted psychologist (Piatrofsky) who developed a scoring system for the Rorschach Test, but I did not remember her life story. She had come to Canada as a homeless war refugee & overcame multiple challenges to reach the Olympics. After the Olympics she welcomed obstacles & said, "The good thing about obstacles is that when you bump onto them, they keep you from falling down." Even though at age 71 she has come upon hard times, facing cancer & eviction from her apartment in Los Angeles, Piotrowski remains inspirational & optimistic.  In the Huffington Post article, they report that  she believes "her current difficulties are temporary... "I'll never give up," she said. "Everything in the end will be okay.""  She is a true wake up dreamer who plans to found a humanitarian organization she calls the World Peace and Goodwill Campaign. She says, "You can't sit like a bump on a log & just dream,,,,Get up, dust yourself off, & start all over again. Take the skills you have & go & improve them, make them better."

When you become discouraged as you embark on a new job or experience in life, I hope that you will find a way to call upon your inner "dream parent," like Irene Piatrowski does, & give yourself the kind of encouragement you would give to your child or a friend when they struggle as a beginner in a new endeavor.  Adults can be beginners, too. Life throws multiple obstacles in our way. You cannot become an expert without falling down, making & learning from mistakes.

I'd love to hear from you about situations when you have been a beginner & felt discouraged. How have you encouraged yourself? Who else has helped you get up when you have fallen or tripped over an obstacle?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Are You the Writer of Your Life? Or Do You Let Circumstances take Charge?

Photo from Fungole on Google+

Thought for the Day: Are you the writer of your life? Or do you let circumstances take charge? We may not have control of all the circumstances that confront us in life, but we do have control over how we react to the circumstances.

Today I am doing some work for Cigna EAP, helping a corporation with a layoff. It is not an easy job, but I help out whenever I can at what are called 'critical incidents.' These incidents include things like helping employees after bank robberies, the death of an employee or like today, a lay off. I am here to help people who want to speak with a psychologist to process the gamut of emotions that arise when a layoff occurs.

Most people do not know about the consideration that can go into the process of a layoff. When a company takes the time & spends the necessary resources to do all they can to help their employees with the impact of a layoff, especially during these difficult financial times, it is impressive. I try to take these assignments, since I know that i can help large numbers of people in a short span of time & see this as preventative medicine. I am here for the managers helping to prepare them for the difficult but necessary task of letting colleagues go. Believe me, they do not do this with ease. Often they come in to talk about their discomfort. In addition to helping the people whose lives are about to be changed often suddenly & drastically, I am here to help with the fears & fall out associated with a layoff, for those who are remaining at the company. It is impossible to survive a layoff without wondering, "Will I be next in line?'

Yesterday, while thinking about the work I would be doing today, I was saw the photo by Fungole at the top of this post on Google+. The message struck a chord for me. "You are the writer of your life." When confronted with a layoff, most people do not feel like the writers of their lives. They feel more like characters in a movie scripted by the corporation. Although feelings of anger, shock, sadness & helplessness are all part of the normal reaction to the loss of a job, they are still the writers of their lives. How people deal with the challenges in life dictate the outcomes.

In other posts I have related stories of how people have overcome all kinds of adversity. Many of the organizations featured in my book were founded by people at challenging moments in their lives. They found creative ways to  help people overcome challenges. (How a Motorcycle Accident & a Fire Rekindled a Dream, Thriving on Stormy & Sunny Days, Is An Illness or Disability Stopping You From Dreaming?, When Life Gives You Lemons, Open a Lemonade Stand) If you are feeling down & question whether you are still the author of your life, take a moment & find ways to take back the pen & start writing the next chapter of your life. You may want to take a look at some of my past posts to see how others have turned negative situations into opportunities, often with very few financial resources.

If you are challenged & discouraged & would like some help finding ways to take charge of your life story, feel free to post your questions or comments. I will reply to all comments.