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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dreams On Wheels Part III: Olympic Dreams

Dreams On Wheels 2012 Tour Route

Thought for the Day: As I prepare to start my Dreams on Wheels 2012 tour tomorrow, the Olympics are in full swing. When I began planning the tour, I did not realize that the Olympics would coincide with my trip. I regret that my TV viewing time, as well as my time for writing blog posts about the stories of the athletes, is limited, since I love the Olympics. In particular, I find the stories of the athletes' overcoming adversity inspiring. Olympic athletes are true 'wake up dreamers.' They can inspire us all to push ourselves & reach our own personal best.
Jordyn Wieber Tears

Often their dreams to attend the Olympics start when they are children. Their parents enroll them in a sport and they discover their passion. Many children dream of becoming a world class athletes, but to make it to the Olympics they must train diligently for many years before they are old enough to qualify. Years of early morning practices,  countless competitions, wins and losses, triumphs and failures, as well as tears of joy & tears of disappointment, mark the journey towards their dreams. It takes talent,  perseverance, and passion to make it to their Olympic dreams. There are many obstacles that get in the way. The newscasts are filled with tales of bouts with injuries, cancer, loss of loved ones, financial hardships that could easily stop many people from continuing on the path to their dreams. When they overcome adversity and reach the Olympics the achievement is even sweeter. Winning is glorious, but just being among the world's greatest athletes should be enough to make every Olympian proud.

Athletics lend themselves to quantifiable tasks which can be measured by numbers of repetitions and the results can also be easily measured. In life not all dreams are as easy to map out and measure. However, when you chart out your dreams, you can find ways to measure and assess your progress.  'Wake up dreams' using the Dream Positioning System, can help you map your way to your dreams. Listen carefully to the stories of the athletes. Let them inspire you to start moving towards your dreams.

No 'wake up dream' is too small or too lofty to aspire to reach. Tomorrow I will be starting the Dreams On Wheels 2012 book tour, celebrating dreams & dreamers, the release of my new e-book versions on, The Wake Up and Dream Challenge, benefiting 21 dream nonprofit organizations helping people overcome adversity and reach their dreams. I will be visiting with three of the charities benefiting from my book, Boaz & Ruth, Elimination of Prejudice & Menorah Park. I will tell you more about them in subsequent posts.

Dreams On Wheels is also a traveling positive psychology research project complete with a Dream Team of interns conducting & filming interviews with people along the route, in NYC, Philadelphia, Washington DC & more. I was into positive psychology long before it had an official name & hope to discover how Americans' dreams are faring in these tough financial times. The tour & clips from the interviews can be followed live & on multiple social media sites.

I hope you will make some time while you are watching the Olympics to visit my blog & facebook page to hear how people along the way are meeting the challenges of today's world as they move towards their dreams.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bullying Part VI: Can Stricter Gun Control Laws Prevent Tragedies Like Aurora?

AP Hearbreak in Aurora
Thought for the Day: I am saddened by the madness & escalation of violence in our country. My initial thought that the violence might be in the hands of another victim of bullying, may be wrong, but The Aurora Massacre raises serious questions for our society. There are no simple solutions, but the use of common sense in developing better gun control laws & ways to detect signs that someone may be planning a violent act need to be explored.

When my eldest daughter was about six years old, I was living in Israel. There was a terrorist attack at the Lod Airport not far from my home. When my daughter heard about the attack her reaction was, "If they get guns and attack me & my family, I'll just get a gun & kill their families." As a pacifist & parent living in a war torn nation, I was horrified to hear my innocent child's response to the terrorism. I told her that the army was there & had responded to defend it's citizens, but that we do not go out & commit terrorist attacks against defenseless women, children, and tourists as retribution. Fortunately, my daughter grew up to be a sensible law abiding citizen & parent with views closer to my own. The terror in Aurora brought back memories of that day.

How can anyone advocate for allowing people like Holmes the freedom to accumulate an arsenal of weapons without raising any red flags? When our forefathers advocated for weapons for self defense, they also gave us all inalienable rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Someone must fight for the rights of the victims who went to a movie & were denied their right to live. I am not a politician, just a psychologist  believing that tragedies like the Aurora massacre, Columbine & other similar attacks could be prevented with restrictions of automatic weapons & supplies that are used to develop explosive devices.

Sarah Palin, former Alaska Governor & vice presidential candidate's sounded more like my six year old daughter with an over simplistic approach when she said, “The bad guys, the criminals, don’t follow laws and restricting more of America’s freedoms when it comes to self-defense isn’t the answer. Not when you consider what the reality is. Bad guys don’t follow laws.” She described the shootings as "a manifestation of evil. It appears that Holmes, the alleged shooter, was not only evil but also mentally ill. He is not the first person with serious mental illness to go on a rampage with automatic weapons. I am not expecting a gun dealer or the internet gun suppliers to be psychologists, but the laws & automatic internet devices could raise red flags when anyone tries to purchase automatic weapons or large supplies of ammunition designed for combat, not simple self defense. Does the fact that criminals don't follow laws mean we should make it easy for them to obtain weapons?

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson's statement was also overly simplistic when he said that, "'s certainly one of the rationales behind conceal and carry, where criminals actually have to be a little concerned before they commit a criminal act that maybe somebody could stop them. And I think that is the truth. That somebody, a responsible individual had been carrying a weapon, maybe -- maybe -- they could have prevented the death and injuries." A concealed pistol in the hands of a novice shooter could not have stopped the onslaught of automatic weapons. Criminals know there may be someone with a gun & therefore they have escalated their choice of weapons to more powerful automatic & semi-automatic weapons that most people do not take with them to a movie theater.

We should not ignore the problem like Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper who weighed in against stricter gun control, telling ABC that Holmes would have been able to create terror even without access to firearms.  James Holmes had over 30 grenades in his apartment. How can anyone in the United States buy grenades without someone wondering why they would need them?

I agree with New York mayor Michael Bloomberg who questions both Obama & Romney's failure to advocate for stricter gun control, “This really is an enormous problem for the country, and it's up to these two presidential candidates. They want to lead this country, and they've said things before that they're in favor of banning things like assault weapons. Where are they now and why don't they stand up? And if they want our votes, they better."

After I posted this, I saw that President Obama did speak out for changes. Although he supports the right to carry guns for hunting & self defense, he "also believe(s) that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons, and we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller."

In addition, he called for new restrictions that would bar mentally unstable people from purchasing weapons. He stated that, "These steps shouldn't be controversial, they should be common sense." These changes should be supported across party lines.

We all need to take a stand & confront the these complex questions. Where do you stand on this issue? I would like to know your thoughts.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Part II: Dreams On Wheels Six Days and Counting

Thought for the Day: "The world needs dreamers & the world needs doers, but above all the world needs dreamers who do." Sarah Breathnach
In case you missed any of the countdown photos, I've included some alongside this post. I have had a lot of fun preparing these photos. I hope you like them!

It is hard to believe that Dreams On Wheels 2012 tour is just six days away! I am definitely a dreamer that does whatever I can, but as the tour approaches, I have my hands full. There is so much left to do in preparation, that I have little time to write my blog. As a psychologist, I see this journey as a traveling research project. We will be finding out how people's dreams are faring in these tough economic times. The journey is positioned to inspire people and celebrate the American Dream. I am hoping to meet as many people as possible along the way & learn from them about their hopes and dreams. What is helping them? What is holding them back in their search for their dreams? If they are stuck, I hope to be a catalyst to enable them to start moving. If they have found creative ways to progress towards their dreams, I want to share their stories to inspire others. My interns will be helping to videotape conversations with people along the route.

We start out in Connecticut & will be making stops in NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Pittsburg, & Cleveland. Even if you are not on the route & cannot meet me & my team personally, you can follow our journey online & I would love to hear from you. I'd like to know what your dreams are & how you are doing as you work towards them. Have your dreams been postponed or fallen by the wayside due to the economy or personal challenges? Do you have an inspiring story to share? I will be reporting the stories I hear as well as ideas I suggest or discover from the people I meet.

If you know someone who might be interested in this journey, please share this post with them as well.

 'Wake Up Dreams' are the dreams and aspirations that wake us up, inspire us to take action & make what may seem impossible happen. So follow us & see how you can become a 'Wake Up Dreamer!'

There will be daily updates on Facebook, twitter, Google +. Please join the conversation, share your stories and dreams.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bullying Part V: Tragedy at Movie Screening "The Dark Knight Rises"

Ironically, I started this post a couple of days ago. In light of the horrendous tragedy in Aurora Colorado, the questions I posed raise even more serious questions about the rise in violence & bullying in our society. My heart goes out to all the victims of this senseless crime. The details of the crime & information about the gunman will soon be evident. As I prepare for a journey from CT to Virginia to Ohio, I welcome your thoughts comments & ideas on how to help stop the bullying & violence. Here's what I wrote a few days ago:

Thought for the Day: I saw the new Spiderman movie last week & loved it. I had forgotten the story line, since Spiderman was not my favorite comic strip growing up. Since I am focusing on the topic of bullying at one of the stops on my Dreams On Wheels, 2012 Tour, I paid attention to the victim turned superhero & defender of targets aspect of the film. Do victims who fight back & defend themselves become heros, popular even with the bully who tormented them, or bullies? Often parents encourage their bullied children to fight back. Does this work or does it lead to more bullying? I'd love to hear your experiences with bullying.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Part I: Impossible Equals "!'m Possible." Audrey Hepburn, Michael J. Fox & Me

Thought for the Day: I came across the above quote by Audrey Hepburn this morning: "Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, I'm possible." It's a quote that inspires a Florida teen, Conor Boss, who is the 1st legally blind Miss Florida USA contestant. The teenager's story is certainly inspiring, but the quote made me curious about Audrey Hepburn's life.  Then I saw a picture from Back to the Future on Facebook showing today as the "future" date Michael J Fox's character, Marty McFly, wanted to visit. It made me think about his challenges. He has dealt gracefully in his battle with Parkinson's Disease & used his notoriety to found the Michael J. Fox Foundation to raise awareness & funds for research. My own challenges seem miniscule compared to Parkinson's, but Audrey Hepburn's quote resonates with me & will be one that will always inspire me. When things seem impossible to you, what helps you keep going?

      When I researched Audrey Hepburn's life, I realized how little I know about her. I loved her in Gigi & Breakfast at Tifany's. I vaguely knew that she had been from an aristocratic family. Her image on stage & film lead me to believe that her life must have been charmed. I learned that her mother was a divorced Duchess with two children before she married Audrey's father, a British banker. Despite their wealth, her parents fought a great deal over money. Audrey spent much of her time with nannies & her 2 step brothers. At the tender age of 5, Audrey was sent to boarding school. During the Nazi occupation of Holland, sixteen year old Audrey worked as a volunteer in a hospital & helped the underground. During the war to fight hunger pains, Audrey ate tulip bulbs & tried to make bread from grass. Throughout her career, she was a philanthropist who worked tirelessly for UNICEF & other humanitarian causes. Although she only appeared in 27 films, she is one of the most well-know actresses of all times. Her outstanding stage presence & awards as an actress portrayed an outgoing confident image, but Audrey was introverted & did not feel qualified as an actress, dancer or singer.  She worked hard to succeed at her dreams.

     Michael J. Fox on the other hand is someone everyone watched grow & evolve as a person & performer. First as a teenage actor in the TV program, Family Ties, then in the Back to the Future films, he grew up before our eyes. His public announcement that he had Parkinson's Disease in 1991 at age 30, was felt by fans around the world. Seeing the photo on Facebook which showed today as the day his character, Marty McFly, in Back to the Future wanted to visit made me wonder if he really would have wanted to have known his future back then. (It turns out that the real date he wanted to travel to was in 2015, but the question remains appropriate.)

     If we knew that a physical challenge was in our future, would we want to know? Would we behave differently? I've never met Michael J. Fox, but I believe he is a what I call a 'Wake up' dreamer, someone who has been living his dreams every day of his life.  He would not have done anything differently, just kept on doing what others might have seen as impossible, like Audrey Hepburn. Even as he struggles daily with Parkinson's he is living proof that he "is possible." He continues to act, direct, travel & research happiness.

    As I stretch my reach as a psychologist by writing a book & reaching out to share my knowledge of positive psychology with a broader audience, there have been multiple hurdles in my way. As I climb over the hurdles, I must admit doubts arise, but something keeps me believing that where there's a dream there's a way. This summer,  I am on the verge of passing many of the hurdles. I will be announcing many new accomplishments in the next couple of weeks that will show how I have worked around all the challenges.  So stay tuned to see how impossible becomes possible!

Who has inspired you to believe that your dreams are possible? I'd love to hear how they have helped you to tell yourself "I'm possible," even when you feel challenged.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Part I: Dreams On Wheels 2012 Coming Soon

August 1 - 8, 2012

Thought for the day: When you start using the Dream Positioning System™ (DPS) it goes on automatic pilot. The end destination & dreams remain the same, but how you get there can shift & adjust as road conditions change & new circumstances arise. Dreams start falling into place & sometimes turn out even better than you originally planned. (Just in case you are wondering how many people read this blog, since January when I started writing it, there have been over 10,000 page views! Thank you for visiting & please share this site with your friends. Dreams are happening here!)

Lifelong Learning at Menorah Park
I knew that I would be going to Ohio this summer to be a Scholar in Residence at Menorah Park Senior Living Center. I was excited to have the opportunity to share my knowledge with a wonderful facility that helps senior citizens accomplish their dreams. I also planned to visit Richmond VA where I will be speaking about how Dream Positioning can help fight bullying to leaders of Elimination of Prejudice from colleges across the US & Canada at their national convention.

Originally my plan was to fly to Richmond & then to Cleveland, since the events are happening one right after the other. As the plans for the 2 events began to unfold, the idea of videotaping some of the conference participants about bullying & their dreams as part of my presentation arose. Initially, I had what I thought was a wild idea. Since I have a film student as one of my interns, I thought it might be helpful to have her come along.  If I drove instead of flying to Richmond, I could see if Allie, my intern, could accompany me to Richmond. I would have to help her with bus fare back home, but thought it would be worth it to have her extra help & knowledge of film making. When I brought this idea up in my Dream Team meeting, the other interns asked if they could come as well. They volunteered to help with gas & to pay for their own lodging & expenses. I was touched & impressed by their enthusiasm & initiative.

I decided to ask Menorah Park if they would consider paying for the rental of a van to bring me & my team to both Virginia & Ohio. Even though it cost a bit more than airfare, Menorah Park generously agreed. They liked the idea of helping the other nonprofits included in the book & of having a cross generational element to the presentations along with some videotaping at their site as well.

Firehouse 15 Restaurant
Since Boaz & Ruth, a program that helps restore the lives of ex-convicts is in Richmond, I arranged for another event & book signing at the Firehouse 15 Restaurant which Boaz & Ruth operates. They may also help with some of the plans for the Elimination of Prejudice's workshops. I will be seeing if any of the other Dream Nonprofits featured in my book would like to have our Dreams On Wheels Van stop by while we are en route!

The power of Dream Positioning never ceases to amaze me! More news will be forthcoming about this tour! If you live anywhere on the route, we would love to hear from you & would appreciate any ideas of places to have a book signing.