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Retreat Reviews: "I thought my dreaming days were over, but since leaving my teaching job, I have started a new career and my husband and I are exploring China for two years!! Dream Positioning works for both of us as we move forward together..." -Shulah S. Retreat Participant "My wife and I attended a retreat run by Dr. Lavi years ago. Things we learned still help us keep things exciting!" -Bill and JoAnn H., previous participant

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday to

Thank You for a Great 1st Year
Thought for the Day: It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year, since I started this blog! As I post my last blog for 2012, it makes sense to look back over the year that was. There have been triumphs & heartaches. I have been honored to share my thoughts & feelings with you. It is hard to believe that on January 4th it will be the anniversary of the inauguration of this blog. My first post: Don't Wait for Opportunity to Knock, Just Open the Door & Find Her, had just 42 page views. The blog has come a long way since then. There have been almost 20,000 page views! It seems fitting to review the top ten posts of 2012.
Here they are in order of my fan's preferences:

# 1 The Hunger Games Parenting Nightmare or Opportunity 

# 10 What Do You Get When You Combine Corporate Sponsors, NPOs, Academics & Entrepreneurs? 

The # 1 Post: The Hunger Games Parenting Nightmare or Opportunity has had close to 2000 page views! I almost skipped the movie due to all the hype about it & then realized that it was an important film for parents & teens to see.

I have enjoyed writing this blog more than I could have imagined. It has given me a place to share my dreams, encourage you & support multiple causes from anti-bullying campaigns to registering a cell phone to help save lives. I hope I have inspired you not only to dream, but also to act upon your dreams & start moving towards them.

Here are a few of the photos that I also enjoyed learning to make for the blog:

From the Dream On Wheels Tour Series
From The Next Big Thing Blog Hop
From The DreamBusters Series
Thanksgiving Tips

Learn to Fall to Learn to Stand Tall
Spotlight on Fears
Thank you all for reading & sharing your comments. I look forward to hearing from you & sharing with you in 2013 & beyond!

Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

5 Ways to Give New Meaning to a Blue Christmas

Thought for the Day: This holiday season is challenging for everyone. This week, like many psychologists nationwide,  I have been doing critical incident work with people in Connecticut impacted by the tragedy in Newtown CT. Whether people knew someone who lost a friend or family member or not, people are struggling with how to speak with their children, cope with & accept that they are grieving. Many people are not feeling like celebrating the holidays this year, which led to this post. Although I called these ways to give new meaning to a "Blue Christmas" they apply to whatever holiday you celebrate. Here are a few ways to find new meaning during this blue holiday season.

One of many memorials in Newtown CT
  1) Accept your feelings as part of the normal human reaction to a tragic event.
     Yesterday, I counseled a woman in Danbury CT who had decided not to celebrate Christmas this year. She did not know anyone who was directly impacted by the tragedy but was visibly shaken fighting back tears since she was at work. Like many of the people I have met with this week, she felt a form of "survivor's guilt." In light of the anguish that we can only imagine that the families who lost a loved one are experiencing, people feel that they should not be feeling the grief they are experiencing. What I have been telling people is that their feelings, tears, anger, numbness, sorrow are normal reactions to the trauma. Feelings are not right or wrong, they just are. They act like the safety valve on a pressure cooker to let off steam & keep the pressure cooker from exploding. Your emotions are a sign that you are a caring human being struggling with an inhumane event.

      2) Create a memorial ceremony as you begin your family's event
      There are multiple ways to take some time before celebrations begin to acknowledge those lost in this tragedy. A moment of silence, a candle lighting, a prayer, a walk by the beach, or writing & sending condolence cards together with your family and friends can help you acknowledge that this holiday is different from the past. There is a digital card that is being sent which has over 2 million signatures worldwide. If you wish to send an original paper condolence card or drawing prepared with your family, here is the address:  
                Messages of Condolence for Newtown
                P.O. Box 3700
                Newtown, CT 06470
       3) Start working to prevent future tragedies
       Although we cannot promise our children that there will never be other tragedies, there are natural tragedies & bad things do happen in life. What we can do is get involved in projects that will address the loopholes that compromise our safety. There are a multitude of ways to get involved in finding the solutions to a number of challenges facing our nation. You can write to your senators & congressmen about these & other issues: 1) reforming gun control laws; 2) advocate for increased mental health resources for children & adults with serious mental illness; 3) investigate ways to reduce violence on TV, movies & video games, especially those aimed at children; and 4) advocate for comprehensive year round educational programs that work towards tolerance & a reduction of bullying in our schools & society. In addition to writing campaigns, get involved in your community's efforts to develop programs that will increase safety in our schools & neighborhoods. Depending on the ages of your children, get them involved in the discussion & activities as well.
        4) Volunteer with people less fortunate than you
         Start a new family tradition and consider volunteering. You could sign up to serve food at a homeless shelter or visit an old folks home or hospital. Bring gifts to brighten the holiday for someone who is struggling. In addition to giving gifts to your family,  have all the members of your family bring something to donate to a charity. With your children go through their toys & clothes to find things that they no longer use that is in good condition & take it to a donation center before the holiday. (Take a look at some of the nonprofits benefiting from my book for ideas of organizations that could use your help.)
         5) As hard as it is to rejoice, carrying on is reaffirming life & not allowing terror or madness to destroy what is good in the world
         It is important to bring routines and structure back into our lives, especially for children to regain a sense of safety & trust in human beings. In the Diary of Anne Frank we learned of how a family in hiding from the Nazi terrorist regime tried to keep a semblance of normalcy, including celebrations of holidays. Although her life was cut short, she lives on in the hearts of millions who have read her diary or seen the play based on her diary.  Her message has been heard around the world. Her words have bearing today as we struggle with finding the strength to rejoice following such an unthinkable tragedy. We must help our children regain trust in mankind as Anne Frank did:
Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
Anne Frank
          I hope these ideas will help you have a positive holiday experience with renewed resolve to make the world a better, safer, more peaceful place for all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Versus Mental Health Educational Cliff

Thought for the day: As the country struggles with the tragedy in Newtown CT the debate about the fiscal cliff has been pushed to the background. One can only hope that the events will keep the physical & emotional health & well-being of our children in the foreground. Hopefully we will all take a long hard look at how well we are doing in caring for the mentally ill in our society. Are we teaching our children to treat one another with respect & without prejudice? Are we jeopardizing the safety of our children while protecting adults' rights to bear arms? Were our forefathers expecting people to carry semi-automatic guns?

We cannot bring back the innocent lives lost, but we can take action to try to prevent similar attacks from occurring. On Sunday I saw a play called Falling in NYC. It is a powerful depiction of the complex issues a family is forced to deal with while raising an 18 year old son who is on the spectrum of autism. Although each child suffering from severe autism to mild asperger's syndrom is different, they raise serious questions which were even more striking in light of the Newtown tragedy. What happens to children when they "age out" of the system & families cannot find appropriate supervised living situations? The facts surrounding the shooter's history & his diagnosis are not clear yet, however, this is not the first time that someone who was potentially dangerous slipped through the cracks & caused senseless loss of life. Today, a Huffington Post article raised the question: Did Fear Of Being Committed Lead To Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting?  If you are near NYC, I urge you to see the play, Falling, before it closes at the end of this month to understand the struggles of raising a disturbed adult in a society that does not have enough adequate resources to help them.

Schools across the country are also struggling with budgetary cuts & focusing on academic achievement while neglecting social & emotional health issues. Our children are dealing with bullying & prejudice (I have written extensively in previous posts about bullying in our schools.) which can lead to disgruntled angry responses among children who become loners & outcasts among their peers. All too often school systems ignore or deny the existence of bullying or they have one time programs to remedy the problems. Short term interventions following the suicide of a bullied student or death of a student due to drunken driving, is not enough to combat the problems facing our children. Parents need to advocate for ongoing comprehensive programs that work with both the bullies and the children who have been the targets of bullies. 

Merchants, film makers & television producers must also strive to use restraint & self-censorship when it comes to the marketing of violent video games, movies & TV shows. Do our children need to be encouraged to shoot realistic targets with high powered video rifles? Psychological research documents the negative effects of such games & movies on normal children.  Aimee Tompkins summarized The Psychological Effects of Violent  Media on Children  ironically, on December 14, 2003 & found that: "The American Psychological Association says there are three major effects of watching violence in the media (i.e.: video games/television) children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, children may be more fearful of the world around them, and children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or hurtful ways toward others." The impact on the mentally ill child or adult is simply multiplied. As parents & responsible citizens, let the game manufacturers & media know that you want them to curtail & discontinue such games & reduce the amount of explicit violence in the media.

The Huffington Post report this morning that Walmart Guns Out Of Stock Following Newtown Massacre is extremely disturbing. How many more homes will now have weapons within reach of children & potentially violent disturbed individuals? We must make sure that our representatives in Washington take this alarming trend to stockpile weapons in their deliberations. Yesterday, a client told me that at gun ranges there are lockers to store arms. Perhaps that is a way to keep them away from the hands of those who could use them to do harm. 

It seems like years ago, but on November 2nd I wrote a Post called: Whether the Glass is 1/2 Empty or Half Full, Make the Most With What You Have Left. Today, I am writing about what to do when the glass is shattered. The glass was shattered last Friday & we are all struggling to glue the pieces back together & find our way back to sanity to regain trust in our society's ability to protect our rights for life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness.  

These are not easy problems to resolve. They are complex & the solutions will not be quick or easy; however we must make sure they are addressed & that the discussions continue when the media stops reporting about the tragedy. Although our hearts are heavy this holiday season, I encourage you to continue to dream of & work for "Peace on earth, good will toward men." Regardless of your religious affiliation, we all need & can be inspired by the words & music which have additional significance this year. I will never think of the song Rock of Ages in the same way as when I heard the words this year that say: "And your strength broke their swords, when our own strength failed us." Although we may feel that alone our strength may fail us, together, we must find strength to believe in miracles & take action to make them happen. By voicing our concerns & searching for creative solutions to the challenges we face, out of this tragedy, may we find the strength to build a better safer world.

Please share your comments, thoughts & ideas of ways to work together to solve these challenges.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown: What Can Parents Do When They Are At A Loss For Words??

Thought for the Day: As the cold hard facts of the tragedy in Newtown CT are revealed on the news, the pictures are heartbreaking.  We all struggle to make sense of a senseless crime against defenseless children & teachers. There are more questions than answers swirling in everyone's heads. Some of the questions may never be answered. In this day & age with television's instantaneous reports, when trauma strikes we are all traumatized. Parents watch horrified & do not know what to say to their children. Today I will share some thoughts & coping skills, but I will also raise tough questions & would like to hear your thoughts as well. (It is a longer post, but bear with me & make sure you read the questions at the end.)

I became a reluctant expert on helping children & families deal with trauma when I was a young psychology student working on my Master's thesis in Israel when the Yom Kippur War broke out. I was also a young parent of two whose husband was in the reserves for close to a year. Hundreds of school children lost their fathers in reserve units like my husband's in the Sinai. My professor, Dr. Esther Halpern, was also my adviser on my Master's Thesis. She encouraged me to focus my thesis on ways to help children cope with war, father absence & the death of a parent during war.

I remember my concern about doing research on the subject. How could I ask children who had recently lost their fathers about how they felt about their father's death & then disappear from their lives?  She told me that as a psychologist & I would need to talk to children & adults about all kinds of difficult issues in their lives & that if a child needed additional help we would let the teachers know. She also asked if I had ever spoken to a teacher or even a stranger who had touched my life & helped me even though we only spoke once. I will never forget how grateful & surprised those children were that I asked them about their fathers. They told me that most people avoided talking to them about their fathers at all. I believe the interviews helped those children cope with their loss.

It is far more pleasant to work with people on reaching for their dreams, however, there is a time & a place for everything. Although I am a pacifist, the lessons I learned about disasters & war, have been used each time tragedy rears it's head. When it occurs,  I know I can help people through the worst of times. I am a strong believer in finding words & other ways to help people cope with loss & tragedy. I may be the only psychologist in the USA who asks every new client how they were impacted by 9/11 & the wars that have followed, but I know that the impact of trauma can be felt many years later.
Elementary School & Gunman are words we don't expect to see in the same sentence
No matter how many times I have helped people in the midst of a tragedy, I too am at first blindsided by feelings of terror, anger, sorrow, shock & disbelief. Although words fail us as adults, we must find the strength to help one another & our children through the tragedy.  When words fail us, being there, holding one another, saying that we do not know what to say is important, both for the mourners & for their supporters. We must find ways to express our feelings, since we cannot cope with our feelings if we do not know what they are.

On Friday, I was called by Cigna EAP & asked to help  employees working at a corporation in Stamford who live in Newtown. I rescheduled my clients & will be there Monday & Tuesday. Late last night a journalist, LA Bachelor , who lives in North Carolina, but was raised in Connecticut, called & asked me to come on his radio show to address what parents can do to help their children following this tragedy. We spoke at length & I look forward to helping his listeners on Monday 6-8 PM. Just two weeks ago I was speaking on another radio show helping parents struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Given my experience, stepping up to the plate & speaking or volunteering to help using my expertise, is one of my coping mechanisms. You too can find ways to help that will help the survivors & help you at the same time. (I will post the information about the radio show, where you can call in questions as well.) (Post a comment & your e-mail if you would like to be informed about the show.)

Those of you who have been reading my posts know that volunteerism & activism is something that I encourage & support. It is too soon for solutions, but it is important to ask the tough questions & that we all advocate to make changes that will help prevent tragedies like Newtown from happening. Let your children know that you will be searching for answers, asking the questions of your leaders, & fighting for programs that will help.

I saw the movie Lincoln last night & was struck by the parallels between President Lincoln's challenges facing the tragedy of the Civil War & President Obama fighting tears as he consoled our nation following the tragedy in Newtown. We as citizens, parents & grandparents need to advocate for our leaders to help lead our country to find ways to prevent the senseless attacks on innocent people in schools, churches, & movie theaters.

We are all hearing about the fiscal crisis. Are we ignoring the mental health & emotional crisis that is plaguing our society? Are we placing too much emphasis on grades & academic achievement & ignoring the emotional well being of our children? Are we expecting knee jerk responses & band-aid solutions to work following tragedies when long term ongoing comprehensive programs are what's needed? The shooter in Newtown was around 10 years old when 9/11 occurred. In the news they are now saying that he had Asperger's syndrome or a personality disorder. How do trauma like 9/11 & the constant barrage of movies, video games & news coverage of violence impact on all children but in particular on those with emotional issues? As parents, you can demand more comprehensive crisis prevention programs to address all kinds of issues from bullying to learning differences, to prejudice & intolerance of differences. You can encourage the gun control debate about your children's rights for life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness versus the right of citizens' to bear arms including semi-automatic weapons.

Please feel free to comment & share your thoughts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Take The New Year's Resolution Challenge

                                              This Year Take The New Year's Resolution Challenge Instead!                                                                                       Photo From
Thought for the Day: As 2012 draws toward a close, how many of you made New Year's resolutions last year like the list on the photo above? How many of those resolutions have you kept true to & actually accomplished? How many have fallen by the wayside or been forgotten completely? Are you looking for New Year's resolutions that will really work & help you improve your life significantly? I decided to challenge you to try an alternative to New Year's resolutions. I am so confident that it will work that I will give a free 1/2 hour phone consult to anyone who buys the book between now & January 31, 2013. Read on to see how & why it will work & why I am suggesting that you try it this year.

     I'd like to invite you to read my book & start your Dreamer’s Education. When you follow the directions on how to enhance your DQ (Dream Quotient) & develop your personal DPS (Dream Positioning System) you will learn to to navigate your way to a dream filled life. If you are looking for New Year’s resolutions that can last a lifetime,  make a difference in your life & help the world, the Wake Up and dream Challenge will show you how.
    The book will teach you what former clients, like L.D. learned :
            “Life is tough. It presents challenges all of the time. My first scary challenge that knocked me down was when I got Multiple Sclerosis in 1993. After addressing the physiologic,al portion, many fears and irrational behavior developed. Because of Dr. Lavi, and my time as her patient, I was able to get back on track and enjoy my life despite knowing I would have MS the rest of my life and would need to work hard to manage and control it. What Dr. Lavi didn’t know until now, is that she helped me again, when I faced stage-3 cancer years later. Her guidance and effective dream-planning ideas stayed with me all these years and helped me again through an even more frightening time of horrific cancer treatments. I would l not be who I am today without her help and guidance." L.D.
photo from
         The challenge presented in the book is on multiple levels. Every reader who buys the book, is helping themselves meet & overcome their personal challenges & create a life filled with their passions & dreams. The book will give you a step by step guide to chart your way using the DPS or Dream Positioning System. Once programmed your DPS will go onto automatic pilot helping you move towards your dream destinations, like the GPS in your car until you reprogram it.
      If you take the challenge, you are also joining a larger challenge to help change the world. Dr. Lavi is donating 1/2 of the profits from every book sold to one of the amazing “dream nonprofits” featured in the book. They are helping people from all parts of the country reach their dreams despite all kinds of obstacles. 
     Here are stories & videos about five of the programs. One of the nonprofits, Higher Ground  helps couples  like Julio & Maria, whose story is included in the book. Julio is a recovering war hero, blinded during battle, who spent a week with Maria in an intensive recreational therapy program. The week was followed by a 3 year follow up to make sure their lives were changed:
     "Six months after joining the HG family, Julio called the staff. He was so excited that he could barely contain himself. “I just got back from seeing Maria and the kids. No one came to pick me up! I left the hospital, went to the train station, walked to the house, and surprised Maria at the door. I DID IT ALL BY MYSELF!” The HG staff was brought to tears when Julio said, “You have heard of the snowball effect? I believe that sometimes that snowball can defy gravity and gain momentum and mass as it rolls uphill. My snowball started on top of a mountain in Idaho, followed me home to Florida, through blind rehab, and will be with me when I stand next to my wife at the altar.”
      Elimination of Prejudice helps college students fight prejudice on colleges across the USA & Canada. It has helped fight prejudice since 1895. The Blind Judo Foundation  enhances blind athletes' self-confidence & helps them reach for their dreams (See clip about one of their participants above). Syd Mandlebaum founded Rock & Wrap It Up, an organization that wraps up unused food from sports venues, rock concerts & movie sets. They then distribute it to shelters, so that they can focus on rehabilitation programs for the homeless.  Boaz & Ruth rehabilitates ex-convicts & people who have lost the will to live. Take a look at a video about one of their graduates & the Sunny Days thrift Shop operated by graduates (See clip above). To read about the other 16 nonprofit organizations, go to
     The book is available on kindle on for $9.95. There is one version for each nonprofit, enter the name of the nonprofit & The Wake Up and Dream Challenge to purchase the right version & donate to the charity of your choice or in print ($26.00) on Kiwi Publishers (the print version is available for arrival prior to Christmas).
     To help you reach your dreams, I am offering a 1/2 hour free phone consult to anyone who purchases the book between now & January 31, 3013. If you are looking for a way to make your New Year's resolutions work once & for all take my New Years' Resolution Challenge. You can use your 1/2 hour free consult while you develop your DPS (Dream Positioning System) or at any time in the future.