Add to Flipboard Magazine.
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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sunday's Comic Strips: How many Psychologists Does It Take To Change a Light Bulb?


Thought for the Day: I hope this helps lighten up your day, it certainly did mine when my Facebook colleague & "friend" Neal Houston, PhD posted this on Facebook. May this spring bring all the changes that you wish to make in your life. Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate Easter & Happy Passover to those who are still eating Matza Brai! See you next week with Motivational Mondays & Tuesday's Psychological Trivia!

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Discovering & Supporting Young Unsigned Musicians





Thought for the Day: My plan for today was to bring some inspirational music in honor of all those who are celebrating Passover & Easter this week. I also wanted to tell people about a wonderful website that helps unsigned independent artists get heard online. I started listening to music that seemed appropriate & ended up in the world of classical music. Then, I stumbled upon a child prodigy violinist Akim Camara who was all of 3 years old when he performed for the first time with Andre Rieu. I decided to post several of this young violinist's performances from 2005 till 2012, so that you could see his amazing progress. 

Somehow the progress of a young artist fit with reporting about Sunset Island Music, which produces the #1 Music Show on the net for unsigned bands & indie artists. It has over 2,000,000 listeners & encourages all unsigned bands & indie artists to sign-up on their website to be eligible for play on their Radio Shows. They feature multiple genres of music. You can also learn more about them & friend them at www.facebook.com/sunsetislandmusic. 

I hope you enjoy both the classical music & that the musicians among you check out Sunset Island Music. Come back tomorrow for Sunday's Comic Strips & on Monday for Motivational Mondays. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Andre Rieu & 3 year old violinist, Akim Camara 2005


Andre Rieu & Akim Camara (aged 5) in New York 2007

 Akim Camara: Pablo de Sarasate - Caprice Basque July 2012


Friday, March 29, 2013

#FF Friday's Fabulous Finds: Action, Heroes, Creativity, Dreams & Your Health

Thought for the Day: TGIF and it's time for Friday's Fabulous Finds. This week, I have 4 great finds. The first is a set of simple tasks you can do every day this week to help push congress to make sensible changes in gun laws & honor the memory of Ana Márquez-Greene, Sandy Hook Elementary Victim Who Would Have Turned 7 Years Old on April 4. The second is honoring Daryl & Phyliss Sudman founders of Simon's Fund, one of the NPO's featured in & benefiting from my book, The Wake Up and Dream Challenge. The Sudman's were chosen by People Magazine as Heroes Among Us. The next find is a delightful 2 minute video clip on how creativity works. The fourth find is an article about what your dreams can tell you about your physical health.

Hope you enjoy these finds & come back over the weekend for Saturday's Songs for the Soul & Sunday's Comic Strips.

1) Moms Demand Action Week 


MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA TO SPONSOR “MOMS
DEMAND ACTION WEEK” TO PRESSURE CONGRESS TO PASS STRONGER
GUN LAWS
Week Dedicated to Ana Márquez-Greene, Sandy Hook Elementary Victim Who Would
Have Turned 7 Years Old on April 4; American Moms to Reach Out to Congress Every Day Week of April 1. Easy tasks any busy mom can do every day this week to help put pressure on Congress.


The Sudman Family 2004
2) People Magazine chose Darren and Phyllis Sudman & Simon's Fund as Heroes Among Us Darren and Phyllis Sudman Save Children's Lives with Heart Screenings By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall Click here to learn about how the Sudman family turned their loss into a way to save children's lives.








 


This article shows ways that your dreams may help you discover things about your physical health.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: Sex, Lies, Love & Psychology


Last night I saw +EmmyLou Harris and +Rodney Crowell at +Lincoln Center Concert Halls Out Of Doors. It was one of the best concerts I have seen all year! If you live near NYC make some time this weekend for their Americana festival events including performances by #Cassandra Wilson on Friday, +Rosanne Cash & +Buddy Miller on Saturday and another great line up on Sunday. If you live farther away the shows are being streamed live online, so go to #LCOutOfDoors to check out how to see the concerts. Have a great weekend!

Here's the trivia question:
Thought for the Day: Today I am sharing a Trivia question from a post I wrote a year ago: Sex, Lies, Love and Psychology. I have made some changes, by adding some thought provoking questions about love and hope this will raise some discussion about not just sex education, but love education. Here's the question:
       Psychologists believe that love is:
               a) a biological phenomenon
               b) a learned behavior
               c) a motivational drive
               d) a social phenomenon
               e) a basic emotion
               f) a) & d)
               g) b) & d)
What do you think? Is this just trivia or could the answer be important for the mental health of our society?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: Psychologist Carl G. Jung


 -->“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, & the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” C. J. Jung

Thought for the Day: In addition to What if? Wednesdays with short video posts, I will be adding a new series. On some blogs Wednesdayas are called Wordless Wednesdays. As a psychologist, it's hard for me to go "wordless." Therefore, I've decided to do a psychologist's version of Wordless Wednesday with Wednesday's Words of Wisdom & will post interesting quotes from other psychologists. Today's quote is from Carl G. Jung a contemporary of Freud. Given that he lived from July 26, 1875 till June 6, 1961, his take on happiness & sadness is quite interesting. What are your thoughts on this quote? 

(Photo Source=Commons File:Jung 1910-rotated.jpg |Author=Prints & Photographs Division Library of Congress |Date=1910 |Permission= |other_versions=File:Jung 191) 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday's Psychological Trivia: Sex, Lies, Love & Psychology

Thought for the Day: Today's trivia question relates to the psychology of love. Since last Saturday's Songs for the Soul were related to spring & included songs about love, joy, change & hope, I decided to follow part of the spring topics today with a question about love. Here goes. What do you think the answer  is?
           Psychologists believe that love is:
               a) a biological phenomenon
               b) a learned behavior
               c) a motivational drive
               d) a social phenomenon
               e) a basic emotion
               f) a) & d)
               g) b) & d)
Come back on Thursday for the answer. Have a great week, hope the weather is springlike where you are!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Motivational Mondays: Caution: Success May Be A Four Letter Word

Warning: Success May Not Be What You Expect

Thought for the Day: Success is a word I intentionally avoided in my book. Although many motivational books encourage readers to strive for success, and it may attract readers & sell books, I believe it is a mistake to do so.  Psychologically, it may predispose successful people (& those dear to them) to feel like failures. Read on to see how what most people see as a key to happiness may actually be a four letter word, "Succ," which may lead to negative feelings & disappointment. What does success mean to you? Has it helped or hindered you? I hope this post makes you reassess your opinions about what you strive for & how you evaluate your"success."
 
Dictionary.com defines the noun "success" as: 1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; & 2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like. It can also be used as an adjective such as: "a successful  performance or achievement: The play was an instant success; Or it can be used to describe a person or a thing that is successful: She was a great success on the talk show. " 

By definition, success has the potential to make people feel unsuccessful. We are all so conditioned to see success as a goal to strive for that you may have missed three potential pitfalls in the definition of success. The first word in the above definition that sets one up to feel like a failure is "termination." Success is defined by an ending point. Once you have achieved success, where do you go? When you achieve "success" will you feel it is enough or will you constantly keep trying to prove to yourself & others that you have arrived & are successful. 

The second danger sign in the above definition is the word, "instant," which often leads to a let down. All too often, disappointment follows when quickly achieved success does not repeat itself in subsequent endeavors. In addition, unrealistic expectations for instant success can discourage people from continuing to work at accomplishing their goals.

A third hidden hazard in the above definition is the use of the word successful to define a person. What does it mean to define yourself or be seen by others in terms of wealth, position & honors? Possessions do not define our worth as human beings. On the one hand, there are "successful" people who use their wealth & position to take advantage of others or for selfish endeavors, while on the other hand there are those with no outward signs of success who give generously of their time and care for those in need. Many of those who have achieved "success" have suffered from feeling unfulfilled, doubting their abilities. 

Sadly, many famous successful people have suffered from drug & alcohol abuse & depression. The suicides of Marilyn Monroe, Curt Kobain & drug overdoses of Janis Joplin, John Belushi, Jimi Hendrix, & Jim Morrison are sad testimonies to the fact that what most people see as success does not always bring happiness. The tragic suicides of the children of successful people like Art Linkletter, Gregory Peck, Mary Tyler Moore, Paul Newman, & Judy Collins raise questions about parenting & success. Being financially successful & raising children to become productive responsible adults is a challenge. 

If success is a four letter word, what should we be striving for in life? Have you felt frustrated in your quest for success? What has helped you? I'd like to hear from you & will give you some of my alternatives to the race for success that i believe will make a difference in next week's Motivational Monday's post.












Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday's Comc Strips: Psychotherapy & Seeing the Obvious

Thought for the Day: This cartoon from That's Life by Mike Twohy is making fun of psychotherapists who sometimes may seem to over-analyze things or miss the obvious. It reminds me of how much the world has changed since cell phones. In the past when someone was walking down the streets by themselves & talking out loud, we would assume that they were hallucinating & speaking to imaginary friends. Today, no one looks twice since so many people are conversing on cell phones in public or singing along to their ipod. You don't have to see a therapist for that! Can you think of other things that have changed drastically in the last 10 years? If you woke up like Rip Van Winkle what things would surprise you? Have a great end of the weekend. Come back tomorrow for Motivational Mondays next post.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Throwback Sat & Sun's Songs 4 the Soul: Love, Joy, Change & Hope


Thought for the Day: Yesterday was another busy day for me & I did not have time to prepare a new post. In addition to continuing on the building project, I went into NYC to see my nephew in concert for the last time for a while. It was also to wish him well as he embarks on a new chapter in his life as a musician in Los Angeles. The performance by Myra Flynn (who will be moving to Australia) & Gregory Douglass was a CD release party at Rockwood Music Hall for Myra Flynn's self titled new CD. The CD was produced by my nephew, Matt Bogdanow. It was a wonderful concert by talented young singer songwriters. (You can check them out on their websites.)
I am, however, a bit tired, since we got back home in the early morning hours, so I decided to look back at earlier posts.  I chose one I wrote in March as spring began. I decided to repost it now as we move into fall. Fall is a reflective time as children return to school & we begin a new year. Here's the earlier post: 

Thought for the Day: This week marks the first day of spring & another significant anniversary for me. As a psychologist, I know that anniversaries related to loved ones no longer with us, sometimes catch us off guard. March 25th would have been my oldest brother Bill's birthday. Bill died many years ago at the age of 31 in the spring of his life just before finishing his doctorate in sociology. Bill was an activist during the 60's & believed in standing up for his ideals. Hopefully, the snow at the beginning of last week was the last of this winter's storms. Spring brings with it rebirth & change. In Bill's honor of Bill's memory, I chose four songs that help us to recover from the storms of life. 

My first pick is one of the most eloquent love songs I know. The words are simple, yet profound. It shows how love can be shown without words. I never tire of listening to "When You Say Nothing At All." It was written by a great singer songwriter, Keith Whitley, who sadly died in the spring of his life at the age of 34 from alcohol poisoning. I've posted two versions of the song, one by Keith Whitley & the other produced posthumously with Whitley in a duet with Alison Kraus. Both versions are a chillingly beautiful testament to the power of love.


The second song, "I Hope You Dance" (written by Tia Sillers & Mark D. Sanders), epitomizes the joy of life encouraging us to choose to live life to the fullest. I had the honor to take part in an informal songwriting workshop in a hotel room at the Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival in Florida with one of the co-writers of this song Mark D. Sanders several years ago. Mark has had 14 number one hits. In my search for a clip of this song, I found an interview with Tia Sillers on how she was inspired to write the song & how luck brought her to collaborate with Sanders. I met her once in Nashville around when the song came out. It is performed by Lee Ann Womack. The sweet photos are of Allie B. (on YouTube) 's sisters.


The third song, "Turn, Turn Turn." was adapted almost word for word from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible (with the exception of the last line) by Pete Seeger. The song's wisdom & inspiration has stood the test of time. I found a video of Seeger talking about the song & about the hit version by The Byrds. Pete added his hope that the time for peace will come & that it is "not too late." This spring I hope he is right as the seasons turn.
 


Finally I chose a song of hope that I have loved since I was a child, "You'll Never Walk Alone" is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. I somehow forgot that the song came from a musical, since it seems like an old gospel song. It is befitting song to help us come out of the storm of violence our nation experienced this winter. We must find ways to come together, find ways to overcome our fears & search for creative solutions to the problems that we face. The very powerful version I chose is from American Idol on Fox with Kelly (Clarkson), Ruben & Fantasia. It has been covered by Gerry & The Pacemakers, Elvis, Tom Jones, Barbara Streisand, Patti Labelle, Alicia Keys & countless others.
I hope you enjoyed these selections & the rest of the weekend. Please come back tomorrow for Sunday's Comic Strips.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Special Edition IV: If Our Nation Is Suffering from PTSD, Are Courage & Vulnerability Necessary to Heal?


Thought for the Day: It is taking all my energy to stay focused on relaying my impressions from my trip to Washington DC last week with Moms Demand Action. I am finding myself working double time to keep up with my responsibilities as a psychologist, tweet, post & respond to comments on my facebook page from some people who genuinely believe that more guns are the solution to the problem. However, I think that my experiences may help people understand why it is important to keep the lines of communication open to all sides of this important dilemma. I wanted to go to DC to express my concern that our nation is struggling with post traumatic stress & fears related to multiple traumas since 9/11 which include attacks like Sandy Hook. My observations from Washington combined with my training as a psychologist & specialist dealing with trauma are intertwining in this post as I grapple with ways to help mend the society from PTSD. Bear with me as I share the details from my trip & reach some conclusions that may shed some light on both the problem & some solutions. Winston Churchill a leader who helped the world through traumatic times as well may help with his thoughts on courage.

Last Wednesday morning, bright & early at 6:45 AM,  I joined the other participants of Moms Take the Hill. I checked out of the hotel, but left my belongings there for the day. We were instructed to travel light, since we would be going through security checks multiple times during the day. Food was not allowed through some of the checkpoints, so I had coffee & a light breakfast in the lobby before getting on the bus. I sat next to a 14 year old girl who had come with her mother & sister from Dallas TX. We talked about her fears when she heard about the tragedy in Newtown. I encouraged her to tell her elected officials how she felt & what she wanted to feel safe. I also commended her for spending part of her spring vacation to join this event. We all applauded when the Team of 26 organizer Monte Frank, Newtown resident & his teenage daughter joined us on the bus. They had arrived in DC the day before after biking from Newtown to DC in conjunction with today's event.

After going through two security checks, we were directed to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House for a White House Policy Press briefing. We were greeted by Evan Ryan, Assistant to the Vice President fro Public Engagement, Sarah Bianchi, Director of Economic & Domestic Policy Office of the Vice President & Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to the President among others. They let us know how important our support is even to those who support sensible changes to the gun laws in this country. They told us they had not seen a movement like this before & were hopeful that our support was going to get action quickly. However, they also let us know that the opponents are assuming that the "Newtown effect" will disappear. We learned that the gun lobby is very actively pressuring Congress. The senators & congressmen who are standing up for change are being inundated with threats & intimidation. Although over 90% of Americans want changes to our gun laws, the gun lobby, (despite the fact that many of their members do not support them on this issue) a very vocal well organized minority group, with huge financial resources is fighting relentlessly to block any changes in gun laws. Their efforts & intimidation are making it hard for our officials to vote where their common sense & conscience would lead them. The staffers proudly announced that the Violence Against Women Act passed last week after a year of efforts in congress. Lots of pictures were taken with strings of paper dolls with each string of 8 dolls representing the 8 children who are shot & killed every day in America.

After the briefing, we took shuttle buses to Capitol Hill & went through additional security checks before meeting with our senators & congressmen. There were 6 people in my group, 5 were from CT. Our leader who would be helping us to get from meeting to meeting in a timely fashion was from Virginia. We were scheduled to meet with both of our state senators & three congressmen. A last minute change made it possible to meet with both Senators Blumenthal & Courtney together (see photo on right). Since they & the congressmen from CT are supportive of gun sense, our job was to thank them for their efforts & find out what they need from us. In addition, we would be sharing our stories with them. We would get a chance to voice our concerns about the rise in gun violence & our suggestions. Our senators & congressmen were thoughtful, supportive & listened intently to what we had to say. They appreciated our being there & encouraged us to speak with friends & family across the country about these issues. They asked us to ask everyone we know, gun owners & non-gun owners, to speak up & let their senators & congressmen know that they want stricter gun controls.

Our meeting with Representative Jim Hines had an interesting twist. He shared the fact that he is a sportsman who enjoys hunting but he is also a father who knows the time has come for greater restrictions. He said he always tries to see the issue from both sides. Although he disagrees with the gun advocates, he believes that they are fearful & fighting for safety. By recognizing that they are coming from a place of fear he hopes to keep the dialogue open. He said he thought that gun trafficking laws, mandatory background checks & increased school safety would pass. However, he feared that the ban on semi-automatic weapons & high capacity munitions would not. After we left the meeting, we wondered if we should have been more adamant that the ban on semi-automatic weapons being crucial to any significant change to deter gun violence in America. In light of Harry Reid's announcement this week that he will not include the ban of semi-automatic weapons in the bill, it appears that Representative Hines was trying to warn us.

We were in for a treat on our way to the press conference. Our group was accompanied by a senate staffer through a second level of security & boarded the underground transit reserved for elected officials. It took us directly to the US Capitol Visitor Center. The highlight of the day. for me was standing behind the speakers for the hour long press conference. During Nancy Pelosi's speach, she turned around & read a button I was wearing which said: "Protect Children, Not Guns." After the press conference I was able to go up to her & shake her hand. I thanked her for all she was doing to help keep our children safe. The energy & dedication of these courageous women who spoke was inspiring. To stand directly behind Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Carolyn McCarthy, Elizabeth Esty & Shannon Watts was amazing. They made it clear that they will not falter & will continue the battle for sensible changes no matter how long it takes.

Our female congresswomen's courage to "mend & befriend" as opposed to "fight or flight" (see my Thursday's Psychological Trivia Answer) in the face of danger & confront our vulnerability (See today's FF Friday's Fabulous Finds #3) make it imperative that we have women, and men (Like Winston Churchill accept these parts of themselves), in Washington. These traits will help them stand up to the intense heat of the gun lobby.  Gun advocates response to feeling vulnerable is try to numb their feelings of vulnerability, to fight, assume that they have "the only answer" & close their minds to an array of possible solutions which may not be foolproof, but will help make things better.  Being able to accept vulnerability & imperfection are important steps towards creating a safer environment. To do their job & keep focusing on solutions to the problems, our leaders must see all the shades of grey. As I post here & on facebook, I have felt the angry relentless venom that fear & misinformation can ignite. I will continue to try to keep the dialogue open & hope that you will join me & those who want to make sensible changes to help bridge the gap. The barriers & multiple security checks at the White House & on Capitol Hill reflect the actions that our nation is forced to take in light of the rise in violence & fear since 9/11.  Dr. Brene Brown describes this as symptomatic of PTSD on a national level & suggests that we have a "scarcity culture" of fear & feelings of scarcity since 9/11. We must all work to mend from the impact traumatic violence is taking on our society. I believe women will lead the way in the healing process.

#FF Friday's Fabulous Finds: Heart Lifting Stories of Love, Courage & Vulnerability


Thought for the Day: It is Friday & time for my fabulous finds. It has been a long week & the topics I have been writing about have weighed heavy on my heart. I chose stories this week that will lift your heart: A Veteran's gift to the girlfriend of a soldier, how a baby saved her mother's life, Jon Bonjovi speaking about his worst night as a father & the reunion after 2 years of a dog & it's owners. But, my favorite find, Dr. Brene Brown's short clip with Oprah & Brown's TEDx Talk, may also help strengthen your understanding of the divide that is hurting this country. Her research gives hope that we can find ways to mend & repair the chasm & bring people together as we face our vulnerability. I will be adding another special edition (last one was Part III) later today about my visit to DC. Some of these finds & even my trivia posts may be mentioned. Tomorrow I will share Saturday's Songs for the Soul & Sunday will bring another in my Sunday's Comic Strips. Have a wonderful weekend.


1) Veteran Leaves Heartwarming Note For Girlfriend Of Soldier (PHOTO, VIDEO) 

2) How a Baby Saved her Mother's Life

 

 

 3Dr. Brene Brown, TEDx Speaker, Talks To Oprah AboutVulnerability, 9/11 And Today's 'Scarcity Culture' (VIDEO) short

& Brene Brown The Power of Vulnerability (TEDx video) (20 minutes)

4) Jon Bon Jovi On Daughter's Heroin Overdose: 'WorstPhone Call Ever'

-->  

5)Alma Dominguez's Lost Dog, Leia, Found After 2Years And 700 Miles; Owner And Pet Reunited

-->

--> -->

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thurs. Psychological Trivia Answer: T or F Fight or Flight Is the Natural Instinctive Response to Stress?

Thought for the Day: It is Thursday & time for the answer to Tuesday's Psychological Trivia Question. The question was:
          True or False: The natural instinctive response to stress is either fight or flight.
The answer is actually true & false. This psychological trivia may have significant bearing on the importance of having women as well as men with strong tend or befriend tendencies in politics to weigh in on difficult issues like gun control & drunk driving. Read on to see why.

        Until about 13 years ago, psychologists believed that fight or flight were the only instinctive natural responses to stress & serious danger. In the Psychology Review in 2000, Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, & her colleagues discovered that the fight or flight response under stress was true for men, but not necessarily for women. The research until then was based on putting males under extreme stress in dangerous situations. Until that time, no one bothered to look at how females respond to stress.
           Dr. Taylor began studying women & found that there were other options, namely, tend & befriend. Starting with the strong maternal urge to protect their children, women will tend to or protect their offspring even when it may lead to risking their own lives. They also may try to deescalate situations by befriending others to try to reduce the conflict. Since then, studies have found the fight or flight versus tend or befriend response may be due to physiological differences between men & women. 
         Dr Joohyung Lee, from the Prince Henry's Institute in Melbourne found that, "the aggressive fight-or-flight reaction is more dominant in men, while women predominantly adopt a less aggressive tend-and-befriend response." Dr. Lee & his colleagues attribute this to a genetic underpinning of the male Y-chromosome gene, called SRY. Lee & his colleague Professor Harley found that, "SRY may prime organs in the male body to respond to stress through increased release of catecholamine and blood flow to organs, as well as promoting aggression and increased movement which drive fight-or-flight in males. In females oestrogen and the activation of internal opiates, which the body uses to control pain, may prevent aggressive responses."
           I tend to question if this is all nature or may be related to nurturing as well, since men also will performs acts of heroism to save their children or friends when they are threatened even when they are endangering their lives. What do you think? How do you react under extreme stress, fight, flight, tend or befriend?
           This psychological trivia may have bearing on the importance women as well as men with strong tend or befriend tendencies taking an active role in politics. Since women are more likely to tend, mend & befriend they may be more equipped to find & negotiate ways to resolve stressful issues like gun control. Later today I will be sharing more of my experiences from DC with Moms Demand Change so check back to hear more about how women are making a difference following Newtown.

Tend & Befriend Women tend to nurture and men to withdraw when life gets hard, by Nancy K. Dess, published on September 01, 2000 - last reviewed on August 12, 2009 from Psychology Today,  Men Respond To Stress With ‘Fight Or Flight' While Women ‘Tend And Befriend,' Say Scientists first posted on the Huffington Post on 3/14/2012, updated 3/14/2012 by , Men Respond More Aggressively Than Women to Stress and It's All Down to a Single Gene from Science Daily, March 7, 2012.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Special Edition Part III: Are WE Letting a Bully Hijack Our Democracy?

Thought for the Day: As I told you yesterday, I will be changing the format this week & special reports on my visit to Washington DC. Two things impacted on me & I will therefore combine them in this post. I won't be sharing pictures of my visit as I first intended. Events are happening so rapidly that my photos seem unimportant. The first thing that happened was a response to a post I made yesterday on facebook with a link to yesterday's special edition). I had an unsettling string of comments that I'd like to share. The comments  came from a young man, L.C., from Montana, who opened a discussion with me by saying: 
        "I'm pretty sure you ignorant if you think that you can't protect 2nd amendment rights and children at the same time."
         I ignored his questioning my intelligence & welcomed the opportunity to engage him in a discussion by responding that: " I have no problem with the 2nd amendment, just want to add sensible controls like universal background checks & a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons which are necessary for war, not for sport or on our streets. We register our cars so that we know who owns the car if it is involved in a fatal accident. Carrying a weapon requires responsibility & accountability by all owners." 
         L.C. wrote back:  "Look at my picture that we took for prom all of us holding weapons several semi auto almost non of them registered. Why? because its a way of life in Montana and in our nation. We are not criminals but God help anyone who comes after us." Then he added: "And I agree on the responsibility and accountability aspect."
          I responded that: "I am saddened to think that you feel the need to go to a prom holding a weapon. Accidents can happen, feelings can get hot & having a gun handy is not the best way to resolve problems at a dance. On Sat. a father shot his 10 month old son while handling a semi-automatic gun in a hotel room with his wife & 2 other children. It was an accident, that did not have to happen. I don't think that owning a gun makes someone a criminal, but there are people who should not be allowed to own a firearm & the increase in violence against innocent children & adults must be curtailed. What harm would it cause to have guns registered like cars or to have insurance like on cars to hold people accountable?"
          L.C. has not responded back to me yet, however, the discussion raises serious questions about what children & young adults are being taught about guns. Do we want our teenagers taking guns of any kind, registered or not, to a prom? Is it not bad enough that teens are drinking & driving after proms & ending up dying in car accidents? Mothers Against Drunk Driving has made a huge difference in the laws surrounding drinking & driving, but we must do the same with gun violence in our country.
            This interchange brings me back to my meetings & experiences in Washington DC. The young man who commented on my facebook page is just one example of a victim of misinformation being transmitted by our nation's worst bully. Ironically, I went to Washington as a psychologist seeing a direct connection between our schools' inability to contend with the rise in bullying among our children & the rise in violent attacks by students who have often been targets of bullying. As I listened to the advocates of gun sense, I began to see the parallel process that is occurring in Congress.
           The gun lobby which represents a small minority (3-4 million members which may be inflated by the organizers) (& over 70% of it's members support more gun control) (U.S. adult population is 237,744,633) is a bully using all it's financial resources to intimidate our elected officials to support the gun industry's vested financial interests. They use scare tactics & hide behind the 2nd amendment to make sure they can continue to produce & profit from the manufacture of weapons of war. They want to sell guns to whomever they can & do not care whose hands the guns end up in, which is why they do not want paper records of transactions. They have procured a ban on research that looks at the impact of gun violence on our society. They do not want anyone to know the psychological impact that gun violence has on our society's mental health. It would be bad for sales. 
          Our elected officials are afraid to vote according to their conscience because they are intimidated by these bullies. Polls show that over 90% of Americans support stricter gun control laws. As a psychologist, concerned about the impact of bullying & the difficulty children have to be more than a passive onlooker, I am concerned that we are guilty of supporting the bullies by not taking action & speaking up. Our senators & congressmen are being bullied (& fear they will lose financial contributions from the lobby) & we, by not speaking up, are making it harder for them to stand up to the powerful well oiled machine of the gun lobby. 
            Yesterday, I also learned that Senate Minority leader, Harry Reid, is refusing to bring the ban on semi-automatic weapons & ammo to a vote on the Senate floor with the other pieces of legislation that would help curb gun violence. In my mind, if we want to protect our children from the kind of weapons that turned an elementary school into an instantaneous killing field, limits on semi-automatic weapons & high powered multiple round munitions is key. Is the senate being bullied into cutting this out of the legislation? In Newtown, the 11 seconds that it took to reload the weapon saved 11 children's lives. The photo of the children killed in Newtown above reminds us that: "Remembering is Good. Taking Action is Better!" If you want changes & feel this is important, now is the time to stand up to the bullies in Washington & let your elected officials know that enough is enough.
            Don't let the bullies win. Here's a copy of an e-mail from the founder of Moms Demand Action with easy ways to let your elected officials know how you feel:

Hello Moms Demand Action members,

The Assault Weapons Ban is supported by more than a dozen Senate Democrats, the White House, and organizations for safer gun laws. So why is Sen. Reid waffling on whether to bring it to the floor as a bill?
Call Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid NOW at 202-224-3542 or Tweet him - @senatorreid

Go to our Fast-Tweet page so you can tweet your lawmakers from the website in less than a minute.

It will just take a minute and is a great way to let your representatives know this issue isn’t going away! Share this email with a friend and ask for their support!

Warmly,
Shannon Watts, Founder
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday's Special Edition: Part II: Why Shrinks Need to Protect Children

Thought for the Day: As I began to organize my thoughts for a post about my trip to Washington DC to advocate for change in #gunsense policies, I realized that it would take a few posts to do justice to my trip. Since my return alone, I saw two relevant stories about gun violence in the news. On Saturday, a father tragically killed his 10 month old child accidentally while handling a semi-automatic pistol with his wife & his 3 & 2 year old children witnessing the tragedy in a Tennessee hotel room. This morning the report of how a Florida college student's plans to massacre fellow students was averted was the first story I saw when I opened my browser. My trip to DC & my observations are too important to delay writing about. Therefore, I will be adding special editions till I complete my posts this week.

Yesterday, I described the reasons I decided to travel to Washington to take part in the event. Today, I'd like to tell you about my first impressions of the 250 participants in Moms Take the Hill on March 13, 2013. I began to meet them on Tuesday March 12th at the Crown Plaza in Arlington VA. I had worked Tuesday morning & then drove from CT to Arlington, VA. I managed to miss most of the rush hour traffic & arrived a little after 6:30 PM. There was just enough time to find my room & have a quick dinner before a 7:30 PM meeting at the hotel. I was physically exhausted, but wanted to meet the people I would be spending time with on Capitol Hill.
 
At the meeting, I met some of the organizers & about 70 of the 250 participants from 30 states from around the United States who had made the trip to speak their minds on gun control. Most of the participants had never been politically active before. Like me, it was their 1st trip to DC, to take part in the process of "lobbying" for a cause that moved them to action. There were lots of questions & concerns.

There was a woman whose colleague & best friend had been killed in Virginia while teaching on a college campus a few years ago. There was a Skidmore College freshman who originally just planned to accompany her mother to learn about political activism. Her mother, who lives in Milford CT, got involved after Sandy Hook. Just a week before the trip to DC, after being in a lock down at Skidmore, her fears & concerns about her fellow students' reactions to the lock down gave the young accidental activist personal reasons to get involved.  There was a grandmother who came with her granddaughter from Michigan. There were gun owners from Texas & Colorado, who believe in the right to bear arms, but want stricter controls, mandatory background checks & stricter gun trafficking policies.  Since I was from CT & spent time with a participant from Newtown, I began to hear the gasps & see the emotional reactions everyone had when they heard someone was from Newtown. There were fathers & sons who wanted their voices to be heard. The participants were from varied socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, races & a variety of professions. From housewives, to retirees, to physicians, publicists, & nurses, they all had the common goal to make a difference & leave the world safer for their children & grandchildren.

My name tag
The organizers were well prepared & helped the participants by explaining what to expect. Not only did they bring orientation packets with agendas, name tags, maps & information, but they also had lists, which they continued to up date, of all the 90 meetings they had scheduled for the participants with their elected officials. Each small group would have a leader who knew their way around the capitol to help them get from building to building in a timely fashion. The most touching presenter was a mother whose daughter had been wounded in the Virginia Tech massacre. Her daughter survived, but she & her family's lives were changed forever. Since Virginia Tech she has been fighting the battle for gun control. She encouraged all the participants to simply tell their stories & why they want changes in gun control policies. The organizers reported that the recent events in DC are encouraging & that our presence is crucial to the outcome. They gave out stickers with the words: "Background Checks Save Lives" and buttons that said: "Protect Children Not Guns." My button would lead to my meeting Representative Nancy Pelosi, but that story will have to wait till tomorrow.
Stickers

There was agreement that comprehensive background checks, restrictions on semi-automatic weapons, limitations on high powered munitions, strict gun trafficking laws & increased safety measures in schools are needed. Although I believe that increased budgets for mental health & educational programs to teach tolerance, the leaders reported that the gun control bills being proposed are the first most important steps that leaders believe are attainable now. The others will come later. People asked questions about how to deal with leaders who are opposed to gun control laws or who are being influenced by the gun lobby. They encouraged us to be armed with our stories, our consciences, our resolve to protect children & to let them know that the "Sandy Hook effect" will not disappear as the gun lobby hopes it will.

At about 9 PM the official meeting ended, but many people continued to talk. Tired, but envigorated by the powerful group I had begun to get to know, I went to try to get some sleep so that I would be ready to board the buses to Capitol Hill by 6:45 AM on Wednesday. Come back tomorrow to hear about my meetings with senators & congressmen on the hill.

Tuesday's Psychological Trivia: The Psychology of Stress

Thought for the Day: In addition to giving out the question for Tuesday's Psychological Trivia, I will be posting a second blog entry to report on my impressions & experiences last week in Washington DC.

Here's the trivia question which will be answered on Thursday in this blog:

True or False: The natural instinctive response to stress is either fight or flight.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this question. When under extreme stress is the natural instinctive response either fight or flight? What do you do when you are stressed? Check back later today & tomorrow for my special editions (continued from Motivational Monday's post, Why Shrinks Must Help Shrink Gun Violence) & on Thursday for the answer to today's trivia question. Have a great day!



Monday, March 18, 2013

Motivational Mondays: Why Shrinks Must Help Shrink Gun Violence

Thought for the Day: I have spent my entire adult life working as a clinical psychologist changing lives & helping make a difference in the world. A few years ago, I decided that I needed to help more people by writing a self help book that would teach techniques I developed to help people accomplish their dreams. Little did I know that this decision would lead to my involvement in nonpartisan political activism & travel to Washington DC to advocate for sensible changes in gun control laws. Here's a brief description of my transformation into what Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense called an accidental activist. It also helps explain why I believe that therapists should become "Shrinks 4 Shrinking Gun Violence." This post will be longer than most & will lead to some additional posts this week to cover all that I experienced & learned in DC, so please stay tuned.

Intentionally,  I always kept my personal opinions & political views to my self & out of the realm of therapy. My role has been to help clients discover their own solutions regardless of their beliefs or political persuasion. I teach people to resolve conflicts & deal with emotions, including anger, in healthy ways. As I have become involved in book promotion & supporting nonprofit organizations using social media, I have become more vocal online.

Those of you who have been following me on twitter (@WakeUpDreamNow), facebook (facebook.com/TheWakeUpAndDreamChallenge) & here on my blog, know that I have been speaking up about bullying in general & as symptomatic of our society & more recently about gun violence. This has occurred due to my expertise from working with trauma victims. The Sandy Hook tragedy led to several blog posts, radio appearances, writing a free downloadable e-book, When Bad Things Happen to Children with my daughter, & attending a march in Hartford on Valentine's Day 2013. Therefore, when I learned that Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense was organizing a day in DC, "Moms Take the Hill, March 13. 2013," & that they would make appointments for all participants with their senators & congressmen, I felt I had a responsibility to make the trip & let my voice be heard in DC.

The Friday before the event I listened to a live phone orientation.  In the orientation, they encouraged all participants to be prepared to tell their story: Why did you sign up to come to DC? What changes do you hope to see in gun control? They did not expect me to be an expert on the legislative process going on in DC, just to voice my thoughts on why change is needed & any ideas that I have about what will help.

Here's what I was prepared to tell my elected representatives: I am a mother, grandmother, psychologist, & author. I am here for my children, grandchildren & the tens to hundreds of thousands of clients & readers that I have helped & will continue to help deal with death, trauma, bullying & life challenges. I have dedicated my life to helping people find solutions to their problems & reach for their dreams & I fear that children's & adults lives & dreams are being destroyed with each additional violent tragedy.

I am here out of concern for the American society that is being traumatized by gun violence daily & at times becoming numb to the consequences. I am not only concerned for the children who witnessed the event or the families who lost a loved one from gun violence who will work throughout their lives to cope with these senseless tragedies, but I am also worried about the children who witnessed the traumatic events on TV across the country who feel helpless & are scared that harm will come to them, too.

I am here for the young adults who said to me cavalierly in the days following Sandy Hook, that they were "fine," since they, "have lived through Columbine & 9/11 & are used to tragedies." When I asked them about what it was like for them when they experienced those events as children, they began to cry. As they felt the pain they had buried for years, they admitted to themselves & me that they simply were trying not to let their feelings get to them. I am here for the adults in their 30's who said, "I am fine, I don't have any children, but my mother in California is a retired teacher has been crying all week. How can I help her?" I am here for the women who came to work in Stamford & across the nation after Sandy Hook, who could not stop crying even though they did not know anyone personally who was harmed by the tragedy. They did not understand why the events are still impacting them so heavily. I know how to help people work on these emotions, but I & all my colleagues across the nation do not have the resources to reach a nation traumatized by multiple traumatic events. Together, we must find ways to reduce the violence in our nation.

I am here because, although I am trained to help people deal with trauma & will continue to do so, I see the insidious rise in tragedies due to gun violence as something that is preventible. We cannot stop hurricanes from happening, but we can prepare people to take better precautions & protect themselves better. We may not be able to stop all gun violence, but we can try to reduce it by advocating for more sensible laws. As healers psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists & other people in the field of mental health, if we allow ourselves to become numb, feel helpless to stop the violence & fail to speak up, we are shirking our duty to advocate for the mental health of our society.

Before I left home, I made copies of my e-book, a few of my blog posts, including the comments that people posted on this blog & on facebook stating what they wanted the leaders in DC to know about their feelings about gun laws. I also spent time with my grandchildren in Boston making paper doll chains. The 8 dolls in each chain represent 8 children who are killed every day in the USA from gun violence. I knew that I would have 4 meetings with senators & congressmen in DC. I also knew that I would be attending a press conference in which Dianne Feinstein was one of the slated speakers. Over the week, I will add a additional posts to my Tuesday's Psychological Trivia & in place of What If? Wednesdays to tell you about what I learned in DC, my experiences there & some common sense solutions that I hope our nation will begin to implement. Please share your thoughts & feelings & come back to hear more of what you can do to help shrink the gun violence in our nation.


Dr. Lavi, with Moms Demand Action with Senators Blumenthal & Murphy

Here's a preview of one of my visits with Connecticut Senators Blumenthal &  Murphy with the paper dolls we gave to them to symbolize why we must take action.