10 Reasons Why You Should be an Overeater this Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2009:  Leslie Landis thought you might enjoy the 10 Reasons Why You Should be an Overeater this Thanksgiving:

1. Instant gratification saves time.
2. Aren’t we supposed to end world hunger?
3. Why cut pork when the government won’t?
4. Grow the economy and yourself.
5. The U.S.A. can still be No. 1 in something!
6. Excess is a normal American trait.
7. It is good exercise for your jaw.
8. You won’t have to fight temptation.
9. Overeaters get a lot of attention.
10. It sure does taste good.

Enjoy the bounty this holiday brings.

The Good News about Being a Woman Speaker: How So-Called "Feminine Traits" Translate into Speaker Strengths

Guest blog by Lois Philips, Ph.D.
Author of Women Seen and Heard: Lessons Learned from Successful Speakers

“Listen up. My presentation will change your life.” 

No doubt about it: in order to be successful at work, or in a community leadership role, women must master presentation skills. This is not an easy thing to do because public speaking is a function of the male role, and what we expect men to do. Society encourages boys to become leaders, but being assertive in terms of telling people what to do, how to spend their money, and whom they should vote for (or not) is still a relatively new posture for girls and women. As they move into occupational and professional roles formerly occupied by men only, and see the potential for leadership roles in all facets of life, girls and women don’t have a choice. Women need to be more assertive in finding a “public voice.” The good news is that women speakers don’t need to mimic men but, rather, can capitalize on the very “feminine” traits that society has devalued for centuries. Many of those same traits are speaker strengths. 

“Feminine” behaviors such as “batting your eyelashes,” subordinating one’s interests to others, focusing on conventional standards of beauty, being coy and evasive are media inventions and aren’t what we’re addressing here. Those behaviors don’t help women to succeed in life as people with intelligence and leadership capabilities. Let’s focus, instead, on a cluster of feminine traits that sociologists indicate is a preference for “sociability.” 

In personal conversations, women relate; they don’t dominate. Effective public speaking requires that the speaker is also relating to listeners: empathizing, making connections, solving problems, sharing experiences, and finding common ground. Ask yourself: Do you capitalize on a range of “feminine traits” that can help you to be effective at the podium? Take this self-assessment quiz to find out. 

Reflect on your presentation style. Which of these statements describes you? 

q 1.I enjoy talking with people.

q 2. I am willing to share personal anecdotes and disclose personal information if it will help me to make a point.

q 3.I do worry about what other people think.

q 4.I do like to find out what I have in common with people with or to whom I’m speaking.

q 5.I think about consequences of decisions, and how they might impact other people.

q 6. I appreciate the practical details of everyday life and how things happen.

q 7. I prefer to empower other people rather than taking credit for knowing it all.

q 8. I make things happen through my relationships with people, not (necessarily) through status, position, or power.

SCORING: Give yourself one point for each statement to assess whether you are able to integrate what have been described as “feminine” attributes into your presentations.

q 0-2 Seek opportunities to be whom you are when speaking to groups and audiences. Start by volunteering to be on a panel, speaking to a group of people with whom you are familiar so you can experiment with a “relational” approach.

q 3-5 When you tackle a problem or propose a solution, you’re confident at the podium, expressing feelings, disclosing relevant information, and relating to people in a personal way that makes you able to connect.

q 6-8 Congratulations! Your presentation style effectively incorporates feminine traits; your presentations are thoughtful, you relate to people, and you can personalize dry material. You have the potential to be a leader who can influence others to think differently and take action regarding the extraordinary range of issues facing us as a society. Time to meet the media!

Are my conversational skills an advantage at the podium?

As a result of the female socialization process, a conversational style of speaking will be familiar. Good speakers adopt that off-the-cuff “I’m interested in you, this-isn’t-just-about-me” tone to create a sense of intimacy that people appreciate. In conversation and delivering presentations, curiosity is an advantage. Women know how to keep a conversation going, using segues that bridge from one topic to another with a “That reminds me of ….” and “Has this ever happened to you?” The same skill set is a plus when you address a group conveying an “off the top of my head” approach. People leave thinking, “Now that’s someone I’d like to get to know better.”

Women appreciate the give-and-take of informal conversation. The speakers I’ve interviewed said that they prefer to deliver an impromptu speech, rather than read from a prepared manuscript. Perhaps this preference for interaction is why women do so well during the Q and A phase, after delivering their prepared remarks. Because women approach “speechmaking” as if it were an extension of having a conversation, they tend to scratch out their remarks on the backs of envelopes or scratchpads, rather than writing out their remarks word-for-word. This casual attitude can backfire as those envelopes are rarely saved, explaining why it is difficult to find a collection of women’s speeches, except perhaps for the most formal Commencement or Memorial addresses or those in the Congressional Record. Are you saving your presentations? You never know when they will come in handy, perhaps published as transcribed or rewritten as an article for your organizational newsletter.

Even in formal communication settings such as a public hearing or a conference, “feminine” qualities can be demonstrated when an outline of key points is used only as a guide so that the speaker can look listeners in the eye, rather than reading from a prepared manuscript Even more than the desire to convey information, the more feminine speaker will want to build a trusting relationship with her audience. She knows that those relationships will serve her well in implementing any proposal she has presented. To make contact with people, and using her notes as a reference point, she will look at individuals in the audience, one key point at a time. And listeners remember what is said when the speaker is looking directly at them as she makes her point.

President Ronald Reagan was lauded for his delivery skills, making each person in the audience feel as if he were talking directly to him or her in a conversational tone. Interestingly, we later learned that a woman, Peggy Noonan, wrote many of Reagan's most outstanding speeches. Her words empowered Reagan with a feminine style of empathy and caring that made an impact, across party lines.

Am I being strategic – or self-indulgent- when sharing personal anecdotes?

Women disclose what they know. Hoarding information? No way? That’s a man’s game. Whether you just discovered a new outlet for designer shoes, the best interest rate for first-time homebuyers, or the cure for cancer, you like to share what you know. It’s what women do. Of course, going on and on and on is never a good idea when listeners are busy people wanting you to get to the point. 

Women have grab bag of personal stories they can use to make an otherwise dry subject come alive for an audience. They remember these stories because they were instructive, occurring at choice points in their lives; as a result they can recall them instantly, and the stories become tighter and more pointed with each telling of the tale. Stories can form the basis for sustaining friendships and family life and are a way of revealing values and character. What better way to get to know a leader than through the personal examples she provides? 

Former Governor Ann Richards has admitted that the years after her divorce were a time when, "I smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish." Through self-deprecating humor, she makes it clear that this destructive time in her life is behind her; she went public with this situation before the press used it to destroy her credibility. Women are comfortable using their life experiences as a strategy for making a point, which works well at the podium. Being candid about one’s imperfections makes the audience trust the speaker as someone who is “just like us.”

Statistics are abstract and often misleading; they don’t do justice to the complexity of problematic situations. Stories help statistics come alive. Describe the economic and social consequences of being a teenage mother when you describe “Mary”. Explain the idiosyncrasies of a family business by describing three generations running “The Chang Restaurant Business.” What does the war in Iraq mean unless you tell us describe the life of a young soldier from our neighborhood. Pie charts don’t help your audience to care about the impact of a particular policy on real people. Personal examples soften up the listeners’ apathy or resistance to changing their point of view.

For example, Susan Lowell Butler was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and initially given a poor prognosis. Using a dynamic presentation style, she speaks to conference audiences, sharing the challenges she faced in moving from diagnosis to treatment. The importance of funding cancer research takes on new meaning when she asserts, “I wasn’t going to be a statistic.” Butler is now an advocate for increased funding for cancer research, and listeners are more likely to join her. Women are more likely to respond to a human face than to the most shocking statistic presented as an abstraction. Do you have a personal story that will support your key points?

Can my relationship skills help me get my message across? 

Political speakers pay media coaches big bucks to learn how to “stay on message,” but this is less important to women who want their message to make sense to their listeners. After all, your listeners are going to be most affected by a proposed change in a way of understanding a problem or taking action. You propose “Elect me!” or “Invest in my product (service)!” In order to achieve your goals, you need your listeners’ buy-in. Staying on message is less important than whether the listeners can relate to you. Will they care? Can they relate to you? Women worry about what other people think, and doing so is probably a good strategy for any speaker.

For example, you may want to speak about controversial issues but cultural obstacles can get in the way of being seen and heard. Television producer Christina Saralegui speaks about breast cancer and gay issues in ways that get people involved because she relates to and respects the Hispanic culture of modesty. As a Hispanic woman, Saralegui wants to build bridges when she explains, “We’re all parents and we have the same problems. I try to appeal to the common denominator…. everyone is in this together.”

Should I worry about what other people think?

Maybe it's true that women tend to worry more than men do about what others think, and conventional wisdom indicates this anxiety impedes women’s ability to be decisive leaders and make those tough decisions. Interestingly, twenty years ago the groundbreaking book called “In Search of Excellence” pointed out that the best managers walk around the office and find out what people are thinking and feeling. No big news to women; we’ve always operated that way. As a result of caring about what others think, women speakers are more likely to have learned about the audience beforehand to know what they’re getting into. Knowing what people are worrying about allows the speaker to be better prepared for what might be asked during the Q and A. No need to operate in a vacuum before making a decision. Good leaders have always known this and, as a result, their presentations have been more effective in persuading people to join with them.

Before discussing something as complex as, for example, the new Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 which provide guidelines for oversight of Corporate Boards, a speaker will want to know about her audience’s level of sophistication. Did anyone in the audience lose their pension as a result of recent scandals? Are they worried, confident, or in denial? Women speakers know how important it is to meet with members of your audience before a presentation to scope out their interests, needs, perspective and sophistication. Schmoozing with people during a break in the meeting or conference can help the speaker gather anecdotal material and test her position. Will it fly? Can she explain complex terminology in everyday terms? 

What do I have in common with my listeners? 

A conversation in which people relate to one another’s concerns about what really matters is how women learn, strategize, and plan and share resources. Jargon, acronyms, and spreadsheets are guaranteed to put people off. We’ve all been a member of a family, we’ve all worked, been to school, paid taxes, earned licenses or credentials. Find that common ground and hold firm but keep the connection as simple as possible. As former Governor Ann Richards said, “Explain the issues in language your mama can understand,” and people will pay attention. Consider levels of education, work sophistication, parenting, age, socioeconomic factors. Are you managers or support staff? Prefer people to products? Find that common ground, or you won’t have a leg to stand on when your listeners competing interests, the upcoming coffee break, or the fascinating person seated next to them draws their attention away from you- the presenter.

The “relational” approach to public speaking is more engaging than the “talk at” approach to which we’ve grown accustomed. The latter is not how women typically communicate. Talking “with” is more like it. “What’s on your mind?” we ask, and then we can take it from there in linking our topic to those concerns.

Why brag about myself when I can brag about other people?

Women tend to be unassuming and self-disclosing, perhaps to a fault. Modesty, by definition, means freedom from conceit or vanity. Considered a feminine virtue, modesty can be appealing to audiences when they realize that a speaker is admitting that she's new at the leadership game, particularly when she says, "I'm human, I can make mistakes, and I don't know everything, so let's figure this tough problem out together." That's quite different from the speaker who masquerades as open-minded when listeners know a proposal is “a done deal.” Arrogant speakers think they have an edge on knowing more than anyone in their audience. That approach may have worked in the old days, but audiences today deserve more credit. Everyone sitting in front of you is an expert in something. Modesty assumes a position of mutual respect: people appreciate being respected by the “expert” at the front of the room.

Some speakers forge ahead with a canned speech, no matter what the audience's unique perspective or demographic composition might be. In a post-Enron era of scandals at the top, audiences want to hear from new leaders who are outside the system, and women leaders will certainly have a fresh take on a range of social and economic problems. 

More often than not, women brag about their staff or other volunteers instead of their own accomplishments. What’s wrong with sharing recognition? A more modest approach can be appealing to listeners, particularly if they are among those being applauded. Taken to extremes, modesty can backfire, but still, let’s take the middle ground, and leave grandiosity and posturing to men.

Are the practical details of everyday life important to my listeners?

Women haven’t had access to great wealth so they tend to be more practical and can paint various scenarios for their audiences. Since women speakers of diverse backgrounds share a perspective that lies outside of “ the establishment” (historically populated by white males), they can draw attention to situations that are often ignored. Women tend to become advocates for change in areas that directly affect their everyday lives. It’s not just health care; it’s a question of “How can my mother—and yours—pay for her prescription drugs on a fixed income?” It’s not just employment in general; it’s a question of “How can I fund my small business?” It’s not education in general, it’s “How can I get my school Board to fund after-school programs?” It’s not just the issue of affordable housing, it’s “How can I qualify for my first homeowner’s loan?” It’s not just safety, it’s “What will it take to install more lighting in our parking lots?” It’s not just the issue of child-care, it’s “How can we as parents organize high-quality, affordable childcare for employees in our corporation?” If women don’t address the more practical details and implementation of broad policy issues as they affect us in our daily lives, who will? 

Think it's impossible to make dull, dry, technical and financial talks more relevant to the lives of families and women? Women speakers are more likely to give hard, cold statistics a human face because they see numbers in terms of human equations: A equals B. 

Architects who design complex buildings are the first to admit that “God is in the details.” Present a visionary plan and people immediately become anxious about the future. They wonder: How do we implement this new product or service? What are the steps? Who will be affected? How long will it take? What compromises will we have to make? As you present the blueprints for change, know that listeners are more willing to help you if they know what they’re getting into and presenting the practical side –including attention to details - mean fewer surprises later.

Can my relationship skills help me to gain credibility as a leader- i.e., as “the voice of authority?”

Good speakers—and this is true of both men and women—aren't aloof. They know how to build relationships with the audience before and during the presentation. At the podium, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Dole share anecdotes about people they’ve met that illuminate how policy and legislative decisions play out in everyday life. Hillary talks about her mother’s experience growing up unloved and poor, and how she, in turn, became committed to improving the foster care system. Liz Dole walks the room “Oprah style” and gets up close and personal. Each professional speaker has staff members help him or her learn about their audiences. 

You can do the same thing by making some phone calls beforehand and after your presentation to build and maintain relationships. People create momentum around the change efforts you are proposing but people don’t go out of their way for people they can’t relate to. Whether attitude or behavior, change doesn’t happen overnight. A dynamic presenter builds new relationships with like-minded people who come up afterwards and ask, “I liked the way you presented your case. Where do I sign up? I want to work with you on this.”

Women today don’t just want a level playing field or a seat at the table: they want to be at the head of the table or at the microphone. Feminine attributes and qualities such as relating, disclosing, and caring—coupled with an outsider’s point of view—ensure that dynamic women speakers are seen, heard, and remembered.

[1] Excerpted and adapted with permission.

Instincts - The Answers to a Better Life

Guest blog by Lillian Monterrey
Author of Follow Your Instincts

Have you ever thought one thing, felt something else, and ended up saying something completely different?

Everyone at one time or another has faced this dilemma! The reason for thinking, feeling and expressing yourself differently, is because as you were growing up family members and society started giving you messages different from what you felt inside.

Your instinct connection was perfect when you were born. What happened to some of us was that as children the adults in our lives ("the Big people" -- as I call them) began to influence our thinking by creating programs that were in conflict with our instincts, thus programming us to follow our head instead of your heart.

When you were hurt as a child and went to an adult (perhaps your mother or father) to express your hurt feelings, they might have said something like: "That was not so bad…You are not supposed to feel that way." This created confusion between your God-given instincts and what "the big people" in your life were telling you. Therefore, you learned at a very young age not to express or honor your feelings. You created the scenario of feeling one thing while thinking something else, and yet expressing something totally different. What you needed then was assistance in directing you to the instinct blueprint.

Instincts are part of your subconscious mind placed there by the Creator, and intellect is part of the conscious mind. The conflict appears when the conscious mind has different information than the subconscious. 

The instinct program God placed inside us is geared toward helping us cope in every area of our lives. This can be clearly observed in all of the animal kingdom. Understanding our instincts is very important because through connection with them, we get to know ourselves. As an additional benefit, we will get to know our fellow man. All humans have the same instincts.

God gave the animal kingdom (of which humans are a part) instincts to help them function on earth. The difference between animals and humans is the degree of intellect. If you really want to get in touch with your instincts, it is necessary to understand the separation between intellect and instinct.

Animals tend to depend more on instinct, whereas humans have, over the ages, reversed this and rely mostly on intellect. This is most unfortunate because instincts can be of great assistance to us in our lives.

By re-connecting yourself with your instincts you will be able to think, feel and communicate the same message. You will also be able to discover the real you. 

Self-understanding is knowledge about yourself. It allows you to discover the kind of person you are and the person you would like to become. It allows you to be free to become the best person God intended you to be.

The Creator gave you instincts, as a gift for you to live in a successful, abundant, and happy manner all you have to do is to understand, connect with it and follow your instincts to CREATE THE LIFE YOU REALLY WANT.

Lessons For Living

Guest blog by Dr. Lillie M. Coley
Author of:   My Story: Tragedy Turned To Opportunity

Power of Forgiveness - We all need wisdom and discernment in handling any type of problems. If we reacted to the shock our parent's death by being unforgiving and with other types of negative reactions, we would not have made it here today. Life would have eaten us up. Holding grudges will destroy us. 

It takes power to forgive when the pain of hurt aches every part of our body. But through life experiences we must learn forgiveness and the importance of it. As we love and forgive, our divine intervention can help and deliver us, which sets us free to help others who are bound by circumstances and the inability to forgive. It's hard to help others until you have first helped yourself, although it is not impossible for hurting people to help hurting people. We must be very careful and use wisdom, because usually we will find hurting people hurt people. Whole people help heal people and make them become stronger.

Forgiveness, however, frees you to live, grow, and move on. Learning to forgive at an early age prepares us for the hurts that will come later in life. We had to "put something in our hearts called love" in order to receive the reward of being free in our spirits. Remember NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN; what you put out is what you get back.

Forgive as soon as possible because the longer you wait the more damage it does on your body. Unforgiveness is a form of stress that wears and tears on the body.

Power of Healing - It is always best to expose the enemy or our bad habits in our own lives before someone else does. Often, when people find out something negative about you, they cannot wait to tell someone else. This is why we are telling our story, because nobody can tell it like we can tell it. When we tell, we are healed from it faster. Of course, we always must use wisdom and common sense. Use wisdom before you speak to provide clarity of thought and articulation of speech about what to say and not to say. But the healing process requires that we release that which hurts us in some constructive way. Communication is the best way, because it is so therapeutic. As we release the negative in a healthy way, then we have room to fill ourselves up with positive things. During our mending process, our broken hearts will be placed back together one day at a time and one piece at a time. But first, we must admit the problem has literally crushed our soul. Then we must seek to get the ultimate healing. No food, job, sexual experience, money or person can fix a problem like divine healing can. 

Memories are reflected encounters of life that have taught us and brought us to where we are. In other words, we are the sum of our past that has been designed to help us grow into our future. As we reflect and understand where we have been, it is then and only then that we can go to the next level in life. People have a tendency not to want to think about the past because it brings up so much hurt. But, often we must face our accuser, and it is through these encounters that healing can take place. We can be healed in the very place of our pain. Ask me. I know! 

Look at healing as living water. It never touches one person or one place, but, just like water, when it spills, it touches all that is around it. Now, living water will ignite what it touches, to bring life to anything that needs life. It is imperative that we get these lessons, because, otherwise, we may find ourselves falling into the same behavior patterns. Lessons in life teach us about ourselves and lead us on a road to recovery. The roads where it lead us often help us to apply what we have learned during our pain and healing to help others who are going through similar situations. This is what true destiny and purpose in life is all about: helping those to help themselves. The same comfort of healing we received from our parents, we are now able to use to comfort others.

Power of Loving Yourself and Being Whole - We must seek help for all the hurts and pains in our lives. We should take care of them like we would take care of other areas of our lives. Unresolved issues do nothing more than get worse over time. We are not in our problems alone. There is somebody somewhere who is going through something similar. Seek help because it is the right thing to do, and do not worry about what people think. Mentally and physically free yourself from people and their negative opinions. We must seek to be around people that will not poison or vex our spirit but build us up. We need people for encouragement and correction in love. Being free in our minds from carrying unnecessary weight is really the life we want to live. Otherwise, we will be enslaved to ourselves, and our problems will mentally weigh us down. Destruction usually follows along with a life of unfulfillment. Please seek help until it is found, and continue to knock until a door is opened. After every 'No' there is a 'Yes' somewhere.

We must be honest with ourselves first, and then take it to someone who gives us morally and sound counsel. This person should be a good listener. Remember that love is the only thing that changes people. We cannot change anybody but ourselves. As we love people where they are, we love unconditionally, and this helps them move into wholeness. This direction of growth must be our own self-will.

Life's not designed for us to make it by ourselves. Everybody needs help. Seek to find the strength to overcome, and become a VICTOR instead of a victim. After divine revelations, we finally felt completion or closure to our parents' tragedy. Our mind was at rest, and we had peace with the situation. In addition, our mended broken heart was now in sync with our renewed minds. They were of one accord. From this encounter, we became completely "whole" in this area of our lives. We now felt free and had more strength to share our story with others. From these encounters came our mission in life and Community Empowerment Outreach was born. An organization to help those who have similar stories as ours and those who need to be empowered. As we understand our self-worth and have self-identity we can become whole and complete with strength to move on and help others along the way.

Darwin in the Genome

Guest blog by Lynn Helena Caporale
Author of Darwin In the Genome: Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

We are fortunate to be living at this very moment in human history, when we have the power to uncover the information passed from generation to generation, encoded in our genomes and those of all that is alive.  As chemists, biochemists, engineers and computer scientists and mathematicians develop even faster, automated methods for analyzing DNA, it all may seem so technical and aloof from the concerns of most people, and yet this work not only will transform medical research, but also will has profound implications for human society.  

As we look within our own genomes, what we find resonates with the teachings of many great religions, that we are all profoundly connected to each other, and to all life on earth.  The information carried within the genome of any one of us, the order in which the 4 different chemical letters that make up our DNA are arranged as beads on an approximately 3 billion letters string, is 99.97% the same as that of a perfect stranger.  While we may have been raised in very different environments, from a multi-million population urban center to a rural setting in an unindustrialized nation, raised to follow one religion or another, we all are, profoundly, at our core, so similar to each other.  

Each of us has inherited our very similar DNA from 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents. If we go back several hundred years, we will find that we, and others we never met, perhaps you and I, share many ancestors in common.  Our close relationship with all people extends into the future, as descendants of ourselves and members of our families meet and marry descendants of others alive today and share in the creation of new generations of children, and should extend to our hopes to build together the kind of future in which our shared children can thrive.  

Some of the strands in the very DNA molecules within our bodies have come to us across countless generations, as the two strands of the DNA double helix separate and are copied, to be passed on as two half-new double helices every time a cell divides. If we could step back in time to retrace our DNA¹s path, we will come to some very unexpected ancestors. We and chimps share a common ancestors, as do, towards the end of the large dinosaur era, we, chimps and mice.  Even further back, we all share ancestors with plants, and much much further back in time with bread yeast and even bacteria.  All life on earth [except some viruses] uses DNA as its genetic material, and must copy this same DNA using highly similar molecular machinery.  All life runs its metabolism with similar chemistry.  There are so many molecular similarities within all life on earth because we are all descended from the same life forms that evolved these capabilities and passed the information on to its progeny encoded in DNA.  As different families of living things emerged, they built upon a common framework.  Whether a fertilized egg is from a hummingbird egg or a frog or a human, it must carry information to make two eyes connected to a brain, four limbs, to digest food, dispose of waste, and to have a heart beating inside.

It is hard to conceive of how the journey of evolution could have taken place.  Of course, it also is hard to imagine how a single fertilized egg can, within nine months, develop into a baby with two eyes, four limbs, eyelashes, and curiosity about the world. We may find it hard to conceive of evolution, but then we realize that it is hard to conceive of such long periods of time.  In my book Darwin in the Genome, I propose that just as we learn about the world by living in it, life learns about adapting to new environments by surviving.  Life becomes better at evolution by survival from generation to generation.  While discussions about Darwin often emphasize ³survival of the fittest,² calling up images of fierce competitive fighters, in Darwin in the Genome I emphasize the importance of diversity and cooperation for survival.  Even bacteria cooperate, using a framework that enables them to share information about antibiotic resistance.   Diversity also is an essential part of fitness.  If we were not diverse, we might all have been wiped out as new pathogens spread rapidly through ancient communities.  As night owls guard the campfire at night, early risers came to relieve them in the pre-dawn hours.  As we look within our genomes, and those of other living creatures, I expect that we will come to treasure the diversity of the human species, and indeed, come to treasure the diversity of all life on earth.

Defining Our Own Destinies

Guest blog by Leslie Carroll
Author of Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp Through the Extramarital Adventures That Rocked the British Monarchy
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

One thing that struck me as I researched the lives of the royal mistresses who are profiled in ROYAL AFFAIRS was that for the most part, these women were not "victims" who were thrust into compromising relationships with men they didn't love. On the contrary, they were clever women who, given the legal and social constraints on females during their day, had the rare opportunity to shape their own destiny-and grabbed it with both hands.

That's not to say that many of the mistresses I "met" during my research were "nice girls." Many of them were greedy and grasping, with their hands in the treasury, the privy purse, and the pockets of those who sought to gain patronage from their royal lovers. King George I had two German mistresses who exemplify this type. Lady Castlemaine, one of Charles II's favorite mistresses and the mother of several of his children was renowned for her relentless greed. But that's not to say that these women didn't passionately-and occasionally too passionately-adore their men. And, no matter whether you'd want to have lunch with them, these women-all of them-were significantly more empowered in their day than just about any other women of their era, including the queen-consorts, their "rivals" for the monarch's affection. In general, a queen-consort was little more than a well-dressed womb whose job was to produce the requisite "heir and a spare" and remain otherwise chaste, maintaining a stainless reputation in order to avoid all suspicion that her children might not have been spawned by her husband, the sovereign. 

Some of the women profiled in ROYAL AFFAIRS had careers of their own before they met their royal lovers. Nell Gwyn, Mary Robinson, and Dorothy Jordan were the most celebrated actresses of their day. However, they lived during a time when being an "actress" (even if you performed the works of Shakespeare and other "serious" dramatists) was tantamount to being a prostitute. Actresses displayed their bodies on the public stage-for money! They were notoriously considered loose-moraled, supplementing their salaries on the gifts (monetary and otherwise) that came from their various "admirers." But my research into royal affairs led me to a great hypocrisy, which should not have surprised me, I suppose, yet as an actress myself, it made me shiver with anger. 

The double-standard I discovered was that acting was considered a disgraceful profession for the reasons I cited above, yet the royals thought nothing of (even if they were married-or if the actress was married), consummating a passionate and frequently adulterous affair with them. However, if they wished to become the prince's or king's mistress-before such extra-connubial canoodling could take place, the actresses were requested by their royal lovers to put aside their "disgraceful" and "shameful" profession-the career that had gained these women recognition and renown (as well as an independent income-a rare thing for a woman before the 20th century) 

My Forward to ROYAL AFFAIRS includes a paragraph about royal mistresses and how many of them they were able to parlay their unusual opportunity into a life-changing event:
And what of the mistresses? During the earlier, and more brutal, eras of British history, a woman didn't have much (if any) choice if the king exercised his droit de seigneur and decided to take her to bed. Often, girls were little more than adolescents when their ambitious parents shoved them under the monarch's nose. However, most of the mistresses in Royal Affairs were not innocent victims of a parent's political agenda or a monarch's rampaging lust. They were clever, accomplished, often ambitious women, not always in the first bloom of youth and not always baseborn, who cannily parlayed the only thing they had-their bodies-into extravagant wealth and notoriety, if not outright fame. In many cases, their royal bastards were ennobled by the king, making excellent marriages and living far better than their mothers could have otherwise provided. Eventually taking their place in the House of Lords, the mistresses' illegitimate sons went on to become the decision makers who shaped an empire and spawned the richest and most powerful families in Britain.

Having talked about other women's stories, I'd like to share my own with you. I spent many years in "pink collar" jobs making other people money before becoming a full-time writer and my own boss. I worked in several fields, including journalism, marketing, and law. When I toiled for lawyers, I was usually employed by solo practitioners. More often than not I was their legal secretary, legal assistant, receptionist, bookkeeper, and office manager. I ate lunch over my keyboard. I took home barely enough money to make ends meet. Scratch that-I dipped deep into my savings to support myself, even as a single woman in NYC living in a rent-stabilized apartment. I got my assignments done as quickly, thoroughly, and efficiently as possible, so I could leave myself time in the workday to write. Thank God for Windows programs where one can quickly switch screens! My employers never had cause to complain about my work ethic or my output-though of course when I left the jobs they would cite my writing during business hours as an issue! Naturally, I challenged them on this point: if they knew what I was doing and had a problem with it, why, during the entire course of my employment, had they never raised the subject?

In June, 2003, I was downsized from a secretarial position I'd held for half a year, By that date I had had two novels published and another one in the editorial pipeline. In fact book #3, TEMPORARY INSANITY, was about my experiences in day-job hell. But rather than jump back into the survival-job pool and seek a new position working for yet another boss who undervalued my skills or company that had made me feel miserable, and had systematically sapped my soul, I chose to become the mistress of my own destiny. I decided that come hell or high water, from then on I would make my living as a writer. I would enrich myself, literally and spiritually for the first time in my life. Serendipity had offered me the chance to choose to follow my bliss.

And I did. This year, 2008, my 10th and 11th novels were published. I have written 7 works of contemporary women's fiction under my own name, and 4 works of historical fiction under the pen name Amanda Elyot-all of which have been published since 2002. ROYAL AFFAIRS marks my nonfiction debut and I have just entered an agreement with my publisher for another nonfiction book, currently titled NOTORIOUS ROYAL MARRIAGES. This volume will spotlight many of Europe's most famous royal couples (including Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, Ferdinand and Isabella, and Napoleon and Josephine-up through the centuries all the way to the marriage of Charles and Camilla-seen through the prism of the wife's point of view).

I'm my own boss now. I make my own hours, and you have no idea how fabulous it feels to be finally enjoying a fulfilling career (instead of a frustrating job). And sometimes I like to joke that instead of all my hard work making some jerky boss rich, now I'm the "jerk" who gets to enjoy the fruits of my labors.

I can't emphasize enough that any woman at any stage in her life can take charge of her destiny and pursue her passion, no matter how long she has neglected it, or her own needs. Impractical? Imprudent? Unrealistic? Unattainable? Somehow, once a woman sets her mind and focuses her energies on empowering and enriching herself, the economics seem to take care of themselves.  

Reclaiming Genital Dryness: Because Men Have Options, and Women Deserve Them, Too

Guest blog by Lauren Streicher, MD
Author of Love Sex Again: A Gynecologist Finally Fixes the Issues That Are Sabotaging Your Sex Life

You’ve, no doubt, heard the term “erectile dysfunction” or “ED.” But what you may not realize is that this term was popularized as part of a marketing campaign—not by doctors. 

Prior to 1998, men who were unable to maintain an erection suffered from “impotency,” a diagnosis that implies weakness and powerlessness. A guy who was impotent didn’t just have a medical problem; he was also a personal failure. And no way was he going to make an appointment to discuss his impotency with his medical doctor. Suddenly, in 1998, the impotent man disappeared, and the man with ED emerged. This man was handsome, successful and sexy. 

So who spread this new, mighty term? It was the people who had the most to gain from men admitting they had a problem: the inventors of Viagra. Pfizer launched Viagra and at the same time launched a genius marketing campaign that redefined impotency as erectile dysfunction. The condition was not only normalized, but it gave men the language to talk to their doctors about it so they could comfortably ask for a prescription.

And for every man who suffers from erectile dysfunction, there is a woman who suffers from vaginal atrophy. Women with vaginal atrophy as a result of hormonal changes that occur during the transition to menopause have vaginal walls that are so thin and dry that intercourse is either excruciating painful, or impossible. The condition is just as common as erectile dysfunction. But no one is talking about it, and most women are not getting treated for it even though there are many excellent options to alleviate the problem.

But, like men who are impotent, no women (even if they are familiar with the term) wants to have vaginal atrophy! But for the 50 million women who have vaginal atrophy and have lost the ability to have pleasurable, slippery sex, I have a solution. My version of ED for the women.

Introducing ‘GD’

Instead of having the use the term “vaginal atrophy” (which no one knows, can remember, or wants to say). I would like to introduce a new term to describe the changes that occur not only around the time of menopause, but from a number of medical conditions as well.

GD stands for “genital dryness.” Your doctor will not know the term GD, (not yet, anyway), but they will understand what you mean when you say you have “genital dryness” and you need a solution.

Thin dry vaginal and vulvar tissues affects 40% of postmenopausal women. But it’s not just midlife or older women that suffer from this problem. There are a number of other circumstances that can reduce natural lubrication in any age woman such as post partum and nursing mothers, hormonal contraception, women being treated for cancer with chemotherapy or radiation and medications such as anti-histamines, decongestants or tamoxifene.

The guys have it a little easier since most ED can be solved with a pill. GD isn’t always so straightforward, but you do have options: 

1. Lubrication is key. The right vaginal lubricant is an essential ingredient for turning “sandpaper sex” into slippery sex. Most drug stores have a dizzying selection of lubricants, but almost all are water based. While readily available and inexpensive, most water-based lubricants are gloppy, sticky and contain a propylene glycol preservative, which can be irritating. Silicone lubricants, on the other hand, are more slippery, last much longer and are non-irritating. 

2. Moisturizers are not just for your face. A lubricant is to be used at the time of intercourse to reduce friction. Lubricants do not alter vaginal tissues; they just make them more slippery. A long acting moisturizer, on the other hand, is intended to change the water content of the tissue (hence “moisturizer”) resulting in tissues that are more elastic, thicker, and with enhanced ability to produce fluid, that will in turn reduce friction. 

3. Estrogen is not the enemy. It would be nice if lubricants or moisturizers always solved the problem, but sometimes the ravages of menopause make the vaginal walls so thin and dry, that the only way to reverse the vaginal clock and make intercourse comfortable is estrogen. I know…estrogen. Everyone thinks breast cancer, blood clots, bad stuff. Keep in mind that the FDA required warnings and complications listed on the package insert have never been shown to occur as a result of using a local vaginal estrogen product. All vaginal estrogen products improve the thickness, elasticity and lubrication of your tissue. Personal preference, ease of use and convenience (not to mention what your insurance covers) dictate which product you choose. Currently, there are three types of prescription vaginal estrogen products: creams, a vaginal tablet, and a vaginal ring.

Every woman should come up with an individual plan with the help of her doctor. But, most important is that women take a page from the man with ED’s playbook and stop being ashamed. 

Notes on Fairytales: The Frosting, Not the Cake

Fairytales play an important part in child development by giving imaginary solutions to deep fears. For example, Jack and the Bean Stalk is about a little boy conquering a big person. Jack gains power over the "giants" (adults) who control his life. He deals with his smallness and anger through a magical fantasy in which he triumphs.

But solutions that work in early childhood often fall short when we mature. In fact, fairytale thinking, if not replaced by more realistic problem-solving, can remain with us as adults, giving us unrealistic expectations that leave us ill-equipped to deal with life's problems. 

There are too many examples like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, where the heroine lives "happily ever after" only after being saved by a man. What a setup, considering the duration and difficulty of marriage in our times.

Fairytales are like the frosting on a cake - sugary solutions that cover the unconscious impulses children try to control but have not yet dealt with. The cake underneath is the true basis for realistic problem-solving. By helping children learn to develop realistic solutions to replace the myths and fantasies, parents help children "mix" the cake, which is then "baked" in the heat of real-life problems and experiences. 

Mixing the cake

By the time children are 4 or 5, parents need to help them move from the emotional, magical problem-solving of fairytale thinking toward thinking about what they feel in actual situations. 
For example, a parent might ask, "How do you think you should handle the problem?" and help the child develop a solution. As a write this, I hear a neighbor calmly explaining to her child that "running by the pool can hurt you." She sounds patient and wise on this sunny afternoon.

Unfortunately, many children do not get enough direction, and emotions remain disconnected from thinking. This leads to angry outbursts or feelings of helplessness that continue into adulthood. It is helpful to teach children real-life, concrete examples of solving problems. With my son, I shared times when I felt left out and helpless, then chose to take action by forming my own groups. Children need lots of examples of managing emotions and impulses in healthy ways. 

Leaving " perfect" behind

In fairytales, there are very clear "good guys" and "bad guys." This allows a child to do what is known as "splitting," for example, seeing one parent as "all good" and the other as "all bad." The problem develops when splitting continues into adulthood. Thus, the handsome prince (husband) who is "all good" becomes the ogre who is "all bad." We see this often in our practice with all kinds of relationships.

As we discuss in our book, The New Marriage, children think in magical terms, in all-or-nothing solutions, and believe that they are the center of the universe. They are naturally narcissistic and feel as though they have to fight great forces for their place in the world.

As a marriage and family therapist, I have seen disaster after disaster based upon the power of this early learning. Children who learn that this is the normal way to be grow to believe as adults that there is something wrong with them because they are not living happily ever after. 

Hopefully, as adults we become more humble and realistic about our place in the world and learn to make a difference by loving as much as we can from wherever we are. Translated in psychological terms, we are no longer looking for our perfect prince or princess, but are willing to settle for a real-life human being with flaws. We are also capable of feeling valuable even if we are not the most beautiful princess who ever lived.

In The New Marriage, we try to offer more sophisticated answers to these transformations. We suggest that people learn that we are all inner-connected and that they learn respect and compassion. This does not mean that they allow themselves to be victimized or abused. The mature person is able to face the difficult forces around them with creativity, flexibility, compassion and humor. 

The frosting of magical wishes is important for a child's development. However, true transformation requires a substantial cake that can be baked in the oven by real-life experience in order to live our dreams. 

It's Not What We Say, But What We Do

Guest blog by Marianne J. Legato, MD, FACP and Laura Tucker
Author of Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget

Despite the vast numbers of sonnets and songs penned in an effort to attract the attention of a beloved, scientists believe that courtship between humans happens predominantly on a nonverbal level. 

Hey, Good-Lookin' 

Physical appearance is, of course, one of the very first things we notice about one another. A male bird's beautiful, brightly colored plumage intrigues prospective mates. The same is true of humans. I recently tried to persuade a good friend that charm and charisma were the things that men eventually and ultimately responded to in a woman. "The first thing we notice," he replied, without missing a beat, "is how she looks. If we don't think she's attractive, we never even get to the charm and charisma." 

A study done in 1990 showed that women favored men with large eyes, prominent cheekbones, a large chin, and a big smile. The researchers who did the study said that these features indicated "sexual maturity and dominance." These characteristics are indicative of high levels of testosterone, which shapes the larger size and sharper contours of the male face. (Estrogen, on the other hand, is responsible for the round softness of women's faces and the extra fat in their cheeks and lips.) On some primal level, women found these very "masculine" facial characteristics attractive. Women were most attracted to men who seemed sociable, approachable, and of high social status. They also gave high marks to expensive or elegant clothing; apparently, it's not just birds who like beautiful plumage. 

Men, on the other hand, look for features that signify good health: regular features, a good complexion, and a good body. (It will perhaps interest you to learn that -- as you dreaded in junior high school -- while large breast size does influence sexual attractiveness, it does not carry a lot of weight in mate selection.) 

Another interesting observation: People choose mates with physical characteristics similar to their own (hence couples really do took alike, as dogs resemble their owners). 

Are we all just fundamental narcissists? I think it's more likely that after a lifetime of looking at ourselves in the mirror, our features and coloring seem "right" to us somehow. Maybe we choose the genetic material closest to our own, in an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" paradigm. 

Don't Limit Your Options! 

A few months ago, I ran into a friend of mine, out for a walk with a male companion. The first thing that struck me about my friend's date was that he wasn't very handsome or well dressed. But the next things I noticed about him were his lively and intelligent eyes and the laugh lines around them. In the brief chat the three of us had on that street corner, he impressed me with how charming he was and how attentive he was to my friend. I walked away very pleased that she had found someone so appropriate. 

My friend is not a shallow person, but she clearly felt uncomfortable with the social pressure of dating someone who didn't look the way she thought her escort should. She undoubtedly knew, without my saying a word, what I had thought when I first laid eyes on him, and I wish that we were close enough for me to tell her what I thought next. I felt very sad for her when I heard they had broken up, and even sadder when she showed up at a dinner party we were both attending with a stunningly handsome man who treated her as if she were a not-very-intelligent child of 5. 

I'm no soothsayer, but I feel sure that my friend had a much better chance of happiness and laughter with the man she was with when I ran into her that day, even if she had to stoop a little to kiss him. And yet, women like her throw away great relationships all the time (or nip them in the bud before they even begin) because the man is "inappropriate" in some way -- too short, not handsome enough, not well dressed enough, not intellectual or wealthy enough, the wrong race or religion, too young or too old. 

The social pressure isn't limited to women; in fact, it may be worse for men. (There is a play right now on Broadway by Neil LaBute, painfully titled Fat Pig, about a man who, because of social pressure, is incapable of dating an overweight woman with whom he has a terrific connection. Needless to say, it ends badly, as all the classic tragedies do.) 

If there's one thing I know as a doctor, it's that you can't control other people's behavior. But if you take one piece of advice from this book, I hope it's this: Throw away all your old preconceived notions about what Prince Charming is going to look like, how old he will be, what he will wear, or what he's going to talk about at parties; it will make you much more likely to find him.

A Token of My Affection

Psychologist Linda Mealey, PhD, of the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota demonstrates how many of the mating behaviors of animals echo our own behavior, particularly in the use of carefully chosen objects to entice the female. 

For example, the bowerbirds of Australia collect brightly colored objects that they display for the female's consideration in a cleared area called a court. Some select only blue decorations; others collect the plumage of a rare bird of paradise. These gifts offer a female the chance to assess how good the male is at accruing resources and how well he will provide. 

In many cases, the quality of these gifts -- which are not really so different from the diamond solitaire that traditionally accompanies a marriage proposal -- can weigh heavily in a female bowerbird's decision about whether or not to mate with a given mate. We don't have to look too far to find parallels in human society as well. Indeed, many women are likely to favor the man with the resources to buy her that house in the country or the status car and jewelry she's always longed for. 

Ask any woman what's most important in a prospective mate and 9 times out of 10 she'll say "a sense of humor." It's my theory that this is another, more modern way of sniffing out his ability to accrue resources. A sense of humor takes intelligence and indicates charm: Surely these are far more useful skills in earning a good living in today's world than big pectoral muscles or a square jaw! 

Copyright © 2005 Marianne J. Legato, MD, FACP and Laura Tucker

FENG SHUI FOR LOVE: 9 Decorating Mistakes That Could Be Preventing Cupid From Coming To Your Home

Guest blog by Laura Forbes Carlin and Alison Forbes Sow

Wondering when Cupid is going to find his way to you?  Assess your situation and figure out what is detouring Cupid from visiting your home. Maybe your home is too cluttered with mementos of past loves and he can’t get in. Or perhaps you're sending him the wrong message by decorating for one! But by simply pulling out your iPhone and making some quick adjustments, you can have an enormous impact on whether or not Cupid strikes on that special date.

Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese approach to arranging our surroundings, shows us how our homes influence and shape all aspects of our life. In Feng Shui, there are nine areas of your life, including your love life, that are represented energetically in your home. Depending on what furniture and accessories you have in each spot, you could be helping or hurting the corresponding part of your life. So if your love area is where the bathroom is, it’s no wonder your relationships keep going down the drain! 

Ex-Files: Avoid filling your home with pictures, letters, and belongings from an ex. Letting go of photographs, letters, and mementos from past relationships can present a challenge. Sometimes spending time with intimate memories from your past can be a healing and empowering experience. However, if looking at these photographs and letters is not helping, or if they are keeping you tied to someone who is no longer in your life, then it’s time to let them go. Instead, surround yourself with things that reinforce who you are now and where you're headed.

Home For One: Many singles often have a bedroom set up for one person (i.e., one bedside table, one reading lamp, one pillow) or the long side of the bed is pushed up against a wall so only one person can enter the bed comfortably. While it is important to accept and embrace where you are now, it is also necessary to make some space for a partner. Create a room for two people — both symbolically and physically make space for your future partner. Set up your bedroom for two by adding the extra bedside table and lamp. Check the other rooms in your home as well. Is there a comfortable place for two to hang out? 

Immature Decorating: Rooms that look they are designed for girls and boys rather than men and women are a real turn-off. If you are a man, avoid the “college frat room look” or the “bachelor pad” (i.e. mattress on the floor, futons, shot glass collections, high school trophies, dirty dishes in the sink, clutter everywhere, etc.) If you are a woman, avoid a room or apartment that resembles your childhood room (i.e. doll collections, stuffed animals on the bed, too much lace or pink, sorority signs, baskets of dried flowers, furniture that looks like it is meant for teenagers not adults).

Solitary Items or Groupings of Three: Create a home that re-enforces the idea of togetherness and a couple by pairing objects in your home together. Lots of lone objects can represent loneliness and groups of three may represent one too many people involved in your relationship.

Excessive Pictures: An abundance of photos showing friends, family, and other people’s children, as well as too many pictures from one particular time in the past (such as college), can divert focus away from your own life and the present moment. Create space for new people in your life and a new “best time of your life” by creating room for new photos.

Unfinished or Temporary-looking Homes: Many people hold off on decorating or buying a home until they're married or living with someone. They don’t buy expensive or nice things because they want to wait until they have a “real” home (which, of course, is frequently associated with getting married, registering for gifts, and buying a house). By surrounding yourself with things you don’t love, are not in good condition, or that you feel are second-rate, you’re subconsciously telling yourself that you don’t deserve better. It’s important to invest in yourself now and embrace the present moment. By doing so you are sending a message to the universe, as well as yourself, that you are worthy. You are also accepting where you are now, which often leads to change.

A Television in the Bedroom: Ideally, the bedroom should serve only two purposes: rest and romance. Yet, because of laptops, televisions, and phones, bedrooms are often more like media rooms than sensual and peaceful retreats. Don’t let a television replace a partner in your life.

By implementing Feng Shui and enhancing these areas in your home, the corresponding area in your life will be enhanced as well. “A lot of people don’t believe it until they try it for themselves,” said Alison Forbes, one of the co-authors of the app. “Once you see your home through the eyes of Feng Shui, it changes everything, and it works! A few of our clients have even toasted Feng Shui at their weddings!” 

While Feng Shui in the past has meant hiring a consultant or doing a lot of in-depth reading, using Feng Shui For Love is as simple as moving your iPhone around a space — it shows you, live, which areas of the room are which – and the rest of the app gives you the perfect enhancements to make Cupid want to take up permanent residence in your home.

More information on the app is available at: http://www.inspiredeverydayliving.com/inspired-living-apps/!

Dreams and Relationships

Guest blog by Linda Miles Ph.D
Author of The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

In order to use dreams for the benefit of an intimate relationship, the dreams must be recorded; otherwise, most will be forgotten or distorted over time.

There are many formats for recording dreams; the one we use, which you may modify to suit yourself, is based upon the stages of analysis. We divide the page into three columns. In the first , we write down what happened in the dream, without judgment or any attempt at interpretation. At this stage, attempting to "understand" the dream may interfere with its proper recollection. In the second column, we write down any association with the dream's contents (people in the dream, things that happen, where the dream occurs, objects that appear, etc.). We also note any key-word symbols, and follow the associations freely. In the third column, we place ourselves back in the dream and write down the feelings/emotions we experienced at each stage.

Here is an example of a recorded dream:

Dream Date: ______________________

Dream Title (written later) _____________________________________________________

Dream Associations Feelings:
I was chasing Rick Baseball bat-weapon, Anger, rage, strength
with a baseball bat strong

Rick (Tony's best friend) abrasive, loud, insensitive

I hit Rick several times until he TV-source of contention Satisfaction yelled: "Stop! I'll turn the TV off!" between Tony and me

Dating the dream is important: it provides a context for reference. You may find that dreams remain with you for many years.

After completing each column, we review it, ask what insights have been gained from it, and write them down. We also trace our behavior and actions in the dream; for example, are we standing still or are we moving in a particular direction? Are we behaving passively, aggressively, assertively? We give ourselves permission to feel any emotion that might have emerged from the dream. At the same time, we ask ourselves, "Am I confronting what needs to be confronted here? Does the dream show action or inaction creating a better or worse situation for ourselves and others?" Finally, when we feel we understand what the dream has to tell us, we ask, "How would we rather have interacted?" The answer can be used to rewrite the dream, creating a new one in which we interact with the dream images and symbols in a better, more satisfying way. The process helps to create new patterns of interacting in our daily lives.
Except in the presence of a trusted therapist, it is probably best not to reveal your dreams if your partner is not willing to listen to them nonjudgmentally or carries a grudge about your relationship, i.e., if he or she does not have "soft eyes." Revealing your dreams to someone else requires trust, and should only be done with someone who holds you and your dreams as "a sacred trust and a wonderful adventure."

Here are some guidelines for sharing dreams with your partner:

·*Write down your dreams and explore them in the manner outlined before sharing them.
·*Don't share your dreams without permission. If your partner seems resistant, explore the reasons. If resistance is still there, honor it.

Tell your partner what you want from her or him as a listener. For example: "I want you to listen and then ask questions that will help me explore the dream message further." These may be questions like: "How did you feel when you fell down?"; "Have you ever felt like that in normal life?"; "Does the person who pushed you remind you of someone?"; "How would you change the dream if you could?"; "How would you change your way of interacting in it?" Questions like these are usually more helpful than for your partner to attempt to interpret your dream.

When you share your dream, make sure you have your partner's undivided attention. Ask for what you need. If time is not available immediately, see if you can set up another time during the day.

If sharing your dream with your partner seems unhelpful at any point, explore what the reasons might be. Honesty is paramount, but you will have to be understanding of your partner's lack of expertise. You must also appreciate that issues raised by the dream may be sensitive for both of you. It will be a chance to be caring and compassionate in return.

If your attempt to share your dream fails, there will probably be other people in your life who will be interested in sharing dreams with you.

Dreams are catalytic, stirring personal responses in listeners as well as dreamers. It is only normal that a partner will occasionally want to interpret a dream. When this happens, ask yourself honestly if you want to hear someone else's interpretation. The chances are that it will be different from your own but it is unrealistic to expect anything else. You might find it helpful to ask your partner what they would be exploring if the dream was theirs.

Ultimately, dreams are a mystery. Since they are featured in the earliest known writings, we know that people were speculating about the origins and meanings of dreams as far back as 2000 BC. But the key to understanding dreams has not yet been found. We do know, however, that dreams are sometimes prophetic. They can tell us about daily events that happen to people we know, as well as earthshaking events that affect everyone. At other times, they communicate, on a literal or symbolic level, messages that help us understand our thoughts, feelings, and interactions more clearly. Sometimes they provide us with affirmations that stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Dreams have been regarded as sacred in almost every religious tradition. As you begin to share your dreams with your partner, you are embarking on a venture into a "sacred realm," a miraculous realm. Think of your dreams in this manner and they will gain in richness and depth. You will feel united with your partner, other people, and all of creation. You will dwell within the mystical way.

An excerpt from The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth ©2000 by Drs. Linda and Robert Miles (Publisher: Cypress House). 

Jung, C. G., Dreams. Trans. by R. F. C. Hull (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1974).
Jung, C. G., Man and His Symbols (Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1964).
Jung, C. G., Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Aniela Jaffe, ed. (London: Collins Fontana Library, 1967).
Jung, C. G., Portable Jung, Joseph Campbell, ed. (New York: Viking Press, 1971).

Consciousness In A Relationship

Guest blog by Linda Miles, Ph.D.
Author of The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

"...together our minds fuse into something whose power is far beyond the power of its separate parts." 
- From A Course In Miracles

For intimate couples, it is important to be aware of the energy that is created between partners during the romantic phase of their relationship. This energy is greater than the sum of the parts. It shines brightly and life is viewed as a beautiful kaleidoscope - catapulting them to a higher consciousness. Jungian analyst, Robert Johnson, observed that falling in love is meant to be an initiation into a world much greater than the individual-an introduction to the ideals of love, truth, and beauty that transcend ordinary life. Unfortunately, we are not usually mindful of this energy or how to manage it.

During the romantic phase, partners view each other in an idealized manner. They perceive only beauty, goodness, and love in each other and the world. They do not perceive any differences between themselves and their partner.

In time, when couples become aware of differences and faults in one another, they fail to realize their partner is a symbol and a catalyst for the poetry of life. Months or years later when they are entrenched in a power struggle, their partner becomes a cardboard cut-out on which they now project threatening characters from their own past. Such perceptions launch soulless, automatic, rigid, right-wrong games that separate partners from one another and from the positive transcendent potential of their combined consciousness. 

At this stage of the relationship, the destructive tendency of the partners is to focus on the individual differences instead of the creative potential of their combined consciousness. Most of us can recall times when we have walked into a room and felt the negative energy lingering after a couple had a fight.

Couples come into my practice wishing for me to be a judge of their individual differences instead of being a guide to help them learn to manage the potentially creative, and at the same time destructive, power that often unconsciously exists between them.
I suggest the following for couples in such distress: 

     1. Focus on the process between yourselves instead of individual differences. 
     2. Work on accepting the imperfections of yourself and your partner while looking for deeper meaning in repetitive arguments. 
     3. Get curious about patterns you have learned in your early years that you now project onto your partner. 
     4. Learn to use the relationship's combined energy for creative life enhancement instead of destructive maneuvers. 
     5. Work to make each other's lives larger instead of smaller. 

It can also be very productive for couples to co-create a picture of what their ideal relationship could be like and to visualize that image daily. It also works for them to make a commitment to not participate in destructive interactions that damage and may ultimately destroy their shared consciousness.

In Embracing The Beloved, psychotherapists Stephen and Ondrea Levine write about how in a spiritual here and now process, they view one another as "beingness" constantly unfolding. And they refer to their combined consciousness as a "beloved energy."

It can be a difficult process to transform our power struggles into creative energy. As Thomas Merton wrote, "...true love and prayer are learned in the moment when prayer has become impossible and the heart has turned to stone."

Jungian analyst, Marion Woodman, describes the first time she saw her husband free of her own projections after years of marriage. She heard him rattling around in the kitchen attempting to poach an egg. At first she began to think in terms of her "shoulds" and became judgmental of his inadequacy in the kitchen. She then let go of all judgment and for the first time was able to see him as himself, standing on spindly legs in Bermuda shorts, holding an imperfect poached egg. As she watched him, she felt profound love.

The Levines refer to this type of watching as "soft eyes" because you watch without any judgment- with compassion and loving kindness.

8 Keys to Lasting Love

Guest blog by  Linda Miles, Ph.D. and Robert Miles, M.D.
Author of The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

Our granddaughter, Merritt Miles, was the inspiration for, 8 Keys to Lasting Love. When Merritt was five years old I read a fairy tale to her and was very disturbed by the ending, "And they lived happily ever after." As she could not read yet, I took the liberty of changing the ending to "They began the work of creating a very good marriage." I didn't want Merritt to think that marriage was so simple or that it just happened that you lived happily every after, as so many of our clients believed. As a marriage and family therapist for thirty years, I have seen the pain people experience on their honeymoon when they wake up and realize they have married a mere mortal. In creating this, it is my hope that my granddaughter Merritt, as she enters adulthood, as well as many other people, will avoid the pitfalls and pain of those who succumb to this "happily ever after" myth.

§ Stop blaming and start living. It is your responsibility, and not your partner's, to feel better and to heal. Your partner will be responsible to you, but not for you. So it's useful to ask yourself, "Why did I draw this person into my life and what is it that I need to learn from this instead of blaming?" A good marriage grows you up. 

§ Avoid the fixer-upper syndrome. We think we can fix up our partner and shape them up to perfection, our perfection. So many people marry for potential. Never marry just for potential. 

§ Made a promise to keep integrity. Do not hold onto victim hood like a prize. This doesn't allow one to grow. Work on behaviors that make your partner want to change by being kind and loving. Vent what you are feeling without being out of control. 

§ Eliminate attack thoughts. These thoughts are incredibly destructive over time. If you attack other people and attack yourself and your thoughts, it really interferes with your happiness and with your peace of mind. Learn to find joy even in difficult times. As Mother Theresa once said, "Our best protection is a joyful heart." 

§ Do not hold onto anger. Holding onto anger is like drinking Drano. Turn attack thoughts into something constructive. Think thoughts that are appreciative of your partner and express them often. Build up an emotional bank account so you have positive emotion currency when angry times come. 

§ Wake up without makeup. On soap operas I see women wake up first thing in the morning with all their makeup and false eyelashes, and that's not real. What we need to do in a marriage is to learn to be more and more real, and more and more safe to be who we truly are.

§ Wake up and make up. It is very important for couples to learn to repair after a fight. Keep trying to find solutions. Do not get stuck rehashing the past. Live in the present, and find ways to keep your marriage buoyant and alive.

§ If you want to change your relationship, change yourself. Reinvent yourself, because you're not going to be able to change your partner. Learn to love in a mature way without trying to control or manipulate. C.S. Lewis once said, "To love without control or manipulation is to be surprised by joy." You will be truly surprised by joy when you can live in the moment with that other person.
 

Sustaining Your Real Estate Over Time

Guest blog by Lisa Vander
Author of The Real Guide to Making Millions Through Real Estate: Start Your Portfolio With as Little as $3000

The number one problem I see with investors today is their unrealistic expectations of how real estate really functions. They are unfamiliar with the real estate market especially when it decreases in value and does not appreciate at the tremendous rates that have been seen recently in some parts of the country. 

People react to what they have most recently experienced. For the past several years, Southern California has experienced incredible market increases, sometimes 25% gains in property values in one year. It can not be emphasized enough how this is not standard and is not how long-term investors should be calculating their numbers. 

Long-term investors need to be realistic and conservative in how they approach maintaining and sustaining their investment portfolios in the good times, as well as the bad times. Real estate gains will be experienced for a period of time and then immediately followed by times of losses up to 20-30%. These gains have historically outperformed the losses, but investors who keep and sustain their properties during these cycles are those who win in the long run. When you are a long time investor, you will experience some of the wins in the market and some of the losses. 

Smart investors want to be able to learn to sustain the property in both markets. Here a few tips to help investors stay in the real estate during the changing markets:

1. Rental Rates will drop: Be prepared to sustain your properties with a rental rate decrease of about 10-15%. They will typically not decrease by anymore than that amount. Ask a local property management company that has been working in the area for at least ten years about what the historical trends have been when the market is depressed.

2. Prices and Value will drop: Most of the time real estate values for single family residences and condos will decrease no more than 20% to 30% in any market adjustment. Multiple unit properties and land have historically experienced greater drops in value, sometimes up to 40% to 50% decreases. Remember, however, that rents don’t decrease much, so you should only worry if you plan to sell your investment during this downturn of the market.

3. Increased Vacancy Rates: When real estate decreases in value, usually the whole economy is going through a rough time. This means that unemployment rates have increased and people are looking for work. When people are looking for work, they do not usually move around. They are more likely to stay where they are at or move in with family or relatives (i.e. leaving an existing home vacant). It is more common for children to stay in their parents’ homes for longer periods of time than they want due to financial constraints. Young families also feel the financial pinch and tend to stay in smaller housing units than is comfortable because money is tight. 

This is why vacancy rates increase during market recessions. The number of people who stay in each rental units increases during these downturns in the real estate market. Vacancy rates do not increase over 10% to 15%, even in bad markets.

4. Increase in Mortgage Interest Rates: Be prepared for interest rates increasing. Look at the terms of the note that you signed with the bank when you originated the loan. In the terms are some parameters that will tell you the maximum the loan can adjust to and the amount per year it can increase in your mortgage payment. These numbers are essential for you to know so you can plan for the worst case scenarios when markets really adjust.

How To Be Prepared For Market Drops

There are several key action steps investors can make to help sustain their investment real estate during all real estate market adjustments and conditions. 

1. Take Out Equity Line on Primary Residence to help augment mortgage payments when the rental income decreases during declining markets. Set up an equity line when the market is healthy and you have a good paying job and good credit. Right now also happens to be a good time to establish low interest rates.

2. Alternatives For Profitability.  These alternatives are crucial when you have either lost your job or you are experiencing a loss of rental income by higher vacancies. Take some immediate actions to make the rental units more attractive to your tenants like new paint, carpet and landscaping. These improvements mean a lot to tenants and if they feel like they are treated fairly, they are less likely to move. It is also important to attend to repair items immediately. This decreases tenant complaints and increases their willingness to stay and encourage others to move into the property with them.

3. Decrease Rental Rates Slowly When Needed. If the local rental rates are dropping then you need to pay attention and drop your rental rates as well. But drop them slowly. You don’t need to drop your rates as aggressively if you keep your tenants happy. Work hard at pleasing your current tenants so that you will not have to drop the rates to attract new tenants. Smart investors sometimes offer incentives like grocery coupons to tenants if they have a friend or family member move into the complex. These gifts go far in saving you money in the long run.

Ten Tips For A Safe Hospital Stay

Guest blog by Laura Nathanson, MD, FAAP.
Author of What You Don't Know Can Kill You: A Physician’s Radical Guide to Conquering the Obstacles to Excellent Medical Care

We’re going through a sticky patch in hospital care. Patients and their loved ones often feel that there are too many doctors (and you rarely see the same one twice) and too few nurses (and it’s hard to get their attention). Worse: it’s hard to figure out just who is in charge -- or whether anyone is. Here’s why:

· Too many doctors: 
Many hospitals are Teaching Hospitals. That means that medical students, young MD’s not yet licensed to practice, (Residents), and practicing doctors who are earning a Subspecialty degree (Fellows) all contribute to patient care. And all of them work under the supervision of a fully qualified Specialist or Subspecialist. Many patients have complicated conditions and a resulting profusion of doctors in various stages of training. 

All these doctors may appear at your bedside, individually or en masse. They rotate in shifts that are shorter than they used to be; your daytime doctor is unlikely to be your nighttime doctor. And they change crews as often as week to week.

· Nobody in charge: 
If you have only two doctors, they need to communicate only with you and with each other. If you have three doctors, there are six crosspaths for communication. If you have six doctors, there are potentially 720 types of doctor-doctor communication. Nobody checks that every such communication takes place and is accurate. 

Medical specialists often vie with each other for decision-making power. Who decides if the lung abscess needs antibiotics, or surgical drainage? The lung doctors, the surgeons, or the infectious disease specialist?

Just to top it off, many hospitals now employ their own Hospitalists -- physicians who are charged with being the final decision maker at the patient’s overpopulated bedside, able to overrule a Specialist’s and or a Primary Care Doctor’s recommendations. 

· Too few nurses: 
We are coping as a nation with a severe nursing shortage. Even if lots more people were eager to become nurses, there are fewer and fewer expert Registered Nurses around willing and able to teach them. 

So nurses may not only be few and far between, but exhausted by longer shifts, higher patient loads, the paperwork demanded by Managed Care and the Joint Commission, (a private, non-profit watchdog for hospital standards,) and the rapid development of new skills for them to master. 

What can be done?

The fall out from these developments can be serious: errors and delay in diagnosis, dangerous glitches with medication and care techniques, and oversights in ordinary patient safety.

Here are my suggestions for staying safe in the hospital:

1. Ensure that a competent adult stays at the patient’s bedside, and goes along on trips requiring wheelchair or gurney, as close to 24/7 as possible.

2. That adult should serve as a Sentinel, alert to obvious deviations in care (food being given to a patient who is supposed to have nothing by mouth, for instance); ominous changes in the patient’s condition unnoticed by the staff (increased trouble breathing, poor color, incoherence); and situations that are dangerous, such as an unconscious patient who is vomiting and in danger of aspirating the vomitus.

3. The Sentinel should be prepared to perform tasks that free up the nurse for more sophisticated patient care. Offer to empty basins and bedpans, sponge-bathe the patient, tidy the bed, know where vomit basins, bedpans, towels etc. are located, and how to help the patient put on a hospital gown. The Sentinel also may have to call for, or even administer, emergency treatment, such as suctioning the vomiting patient.

4. Ask every caregiver not only their name, but their exact title. If you don’t know what the title means (“I’m a first year fellow in Invasive Radiology,” for instance) then ask (“What is a Fellow? What is Invasive Radiology?”).

5. Ask for the training credentials of the Hospitalist. “Hospitalism” is not a specialty in itself; there are no required credentials, no Board Certification in Hospitalism. Your Hospitalist should be a Board Certified Specialist in the kind of condition the patient has. If not, or if you’re not sure, call your own Primary Care Physician.

6. Every student, resident, and fellow works under the supervision of a senior, board-certified physician. Ask each one who their supervisor is and the nature of his or her credentials. If a surgeon-in-training appears at the bedside to perform a procedure, make sure that the senior surgeon knows about it and agrees to it beforehand (unless it is a truly urgent situation.)

7. The potentially most dangerous area of the hospital is the MRI suite. It contains an extremely powerful magnet that acts on every magnetizable object in the room. Metal devices or fragments inside the body can shift and damage tissue. Loose objects in the room, such as an oxygen tank, will “home in” on the magnet at great speed, regardless of what is in the way -- such as your head. Make sure your technician has checked on all possible dangers. There are no “national” guidelines for MRI safety.

8. Every study or lab test performed is ordered to answer a specific medical question. For instance, Is the bone broken? Is the pneumonia improving? Has the heart suffered damage? If you don’t know why a test has been ordered, clarify it and write it down. Once the test is performed, make sure that the physician who “read” the results actually answers the question.

9. Wear a shrill whistle on a chain around your neck, hidden under your top, to use ONLY in the case of a true desperate emergency.

10. As soon as possible after discharge, obtain and review the records of the stay with an eye towards accuracy, logic, and the credentials of the physicians. Make sure the reports of studies answer the medical question that was asked, and that the reports of students and doctors in training have been annotated and co-signed by the supervisor.

If this all sounds daunting, well, it is. But after thirty years as a physician, and sixty-seven days and nights with my husband in four different hospitals, I can’t honestly offer less intimidating guidance.

It is likely to be decades before we get medical care under better control, and in the meantime it is up to us, the Sentinels of our loved ones, to become the crucial missing member of the Health Care Team: that is, the person ultimately in charge.

Copyright © 2007 Laura Nathanson

Simple Solutions to Fire Up Your Metabolism

Guest blog by  "Nutrition Twins" tm
 Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CPT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CPT
Author of Fire Up Your Metabolism: 9 Proven Principles for Burning Fat and Losing Weight Forever

Let's face it, we live in a nation where at any given time, at least 70% are trying to lose weight. Although the majority of those people have desperately tried popular diets, most have not stuck to them, as strict diets require hard work and discipline. Most people really just want a quick fix. No one wants to hear that they have to exercise and eat right to achieve their weight loss goals. 

Sadly, when it comes to weight loss, there is no magic bullet. The good news is that we are about to help you to lose body fat with the next best thing to a quick fix-firing up your metabolism! 

What exactly is metabolism you may be asking? Well, simply, it is the way your body uses calories from the foods that you eat. The calories from food that are not burned up for fuel have a dreaded fate-they end up on your stomach, hips and butt as body fat, which is what happens when you have a slow metabolism. However, when you fire up your metabolism, you help your body to burn more calories so that they are not stored as fat. Follow these simple steps in order to fire up your metabolism. 

Simple Step #1: Include an "always" carbohydrate with every meal.
Eat carbohydrates and fire up your metabolism? That's right! Certain carbohydrates are very helpful when it comes to making your metabolism speedy and helping your body to burn up calories. We call these carbohydrates, "always" carbohydrates, and they include fruits, vegetables and whole grains (like oatmeal, whole wheat breads and whole wheat tortillas, brown rice, whole grain cereals, etc.). 

"Always" carbohydrates give your body the energy to be active and to burn calories-energy for even the littlest activities-they burn calories too. (Without carbohydrates, you would feel so tired that you would try to conserve energy every chance you get-the resulting inactivity leads to weight gain.) "Always" carbohydrates contain fiber (which helps to provide an extended energy boost) and nutrients that help you to convert your food into usable energy. Therefore, be sure to include small amounts (the size of your fist or smaller) of an "always" carbohydrate with every meal. 

This shouldn't be hard-you probably already include carbohydrates in your meals. Now, make sure that you are firing up your metabolism by choosing the right ones and making sure not to overeat them. Instead of having Special K, Golden Grahams or grits for breakfast try Cheerios, Grape Nut Flakes or oatmeal. Swap the roll on your turkey sandwich for whole wheat pita bread or any other whole grain bread. And order your Chinese food with brown rice instead of white. Ditch bagels and try whole wheat waffles, English muffins, whole grain toasts or tortillas and top with fruit slices instead of jelly.  As for vegetables, the more that you eat, the better. The exceptions are peas, potatoes and corn, which should be eaten in no more than fist sized portions like other "always" carbohydrates.

Simple Step #2: Eat protein. Just be sure to combine it with an "always" carbohydrate. 
Protein is the key to a speedy metabolism because it helps you to build lean muscle, which helps burn calories quickly. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. Although many people believe that eating protein gives them energy, it does NOT. However, it takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, so it slows the digestion of the "always" carbohydrates and makes the energy and the metabolic boost from the carbohydrates last longer. So, eating small amounts of protein with "always" carbohydrates prevents hunger and extends the energy boost of the carbs. 

Just remember, eating a large portion of protein at one sitting will make you feel sluggish, as blood rushes to your stomach, working to digest all that protein. Your brain and muscles are left short on blood supply and energy. (Think of how you feel after a big steak meal.) To make it easy, if you eat an "always" carbohydrate the size of your fist, also eat a protein portion that fits into the cup of your hand. 

This is easy-if you are eating Chinese food, like chicken and broccoli, you would eat a serving of brown rice no bigger than your fist, chicken that could fit into the cup of your hand, and unlimited broccoli. If you eat a plate of shrimp marinara, eat a fist sized portion of pasta (ideally whole wheat pasta) and eat enough shrimp to fill the cup of your hand. Mix steamed veggies in your marinara sauce and fill up on those. (Don't worry about feeling hungry--as you will notice in step #5, when you fire up your metabolism, you will be eating too often to be hungry).

NOTE: When it comes to protein, be sensible. Choose the best proteins to help prevent heart disease. Choose beans, skinless poultry breast, skinless fish, lean cuts of red meat like the tenderloin with all fat removed, and choose nonfat or low-fat dairy products.

Simple Step # 3: Fabulous Fats. That's right-you can choose these fats and get skinny!
You see, fat provides long-lasting energy. Although carbohydrates are the bodies preferred source of energy (especially for the brain and nerve cells) and they provide your body with the energy that is stored in the body as glycogen, the body cannot store enough glycogen to provide energy for very long. That is where fat comes in. Fat helps you to spare your glycogen (energy) by providing fuel. Remember, having energy for movement is critical, as all movement (even little ones) helps your body to burn calories. So, fat helps to speed up your metabolism by making carbohydrates available for a long period of time, providing more long-lasting energy.

Also, like protein, fat is digested more slowly than carbohydrates. So, fat helps keep you satiated so that you don't overeat. Combine a little fat (or some protein) with a carbohydrate and you will avoid eating excess food while firing up your metabolism. 

Be sure to choose "friendly" fats (also know as "unsaturated" fats) that help your metabolism without clogging your arteries. Fat "foes," (also known as saturated fats), are artery clogging fats that eventually lead to heart disease, bogging down your metabolism as they make your blood "thick and sticky." This makes all body processes, including your metabolism, less efficient. Steer clear of the fat "foes," which are animal fats like butter, sour cream, full fat dairy products, fatty meats, and hydrogenated fats like, margarine.

Don't worry-this isn't rocket science! For example, you already eat this way when you choose a peanut butter sandwich or oatmeal sprinkled with nuts. (Our book has hundreds of suggestions for you too.)

Simple Step # 4: Never skip breakfast. 
Whether you choose an English muffin and a dab of peanut butter, scrambled eggs wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, or oatmeal with almonds sprinkled on top, eating breakfast will help you to fire up your metabolism and achieve your ultimate goal. 

Here's why: Overnight, your body starts to feel threatened because it realizes that it has not eaten for a while, and it fears it might not be fed again. Your body's metabolism slows as a protective mechanism to prevent starvation. Your metabolism remains at this depressed rate as it conserves energy (calories). It barely burns calories and fat until it is fed again and feels as though it won't starve to death . 

So, speed up your metabolism as soon as you wake up by eating something! And no excuses about not having enough time-there is always time to grab a piece of fruit on your way out the door.

There are so many good options. Be sure to make a smart choice. Here are some examples (and our book has hundreds too): 
· Sliced apple and a slice of whole wheat bread with a tablespoon of almond butter on each
· Whole-wheat waffle topped with non-fat yogurt and berries
· Whole-grain cereal, such as Raisin Bran in a small bowl with skim milk or soy milk and a hard boiled egg
· Cantaloupe and non-fat cottage cheese

Simple Step # 5: Don't wait more than 4-5 hours between meals/snacks.
Just as your body feels threatened overnight when it hasn't been fed for a while, the same thing happens when you don't provide your body with food every 4-5 hours. 

Don't be fooled, you aren't doing yourself any favors by skipping lunch in order to overindulge at dinner. If you do this, by the time you get to dinner, your body really will be conserving calories and moving in slow gear. Even if you ate a normal-sized dinner, your body would perceive it as an overwhelming amount and would end up storing calories that it should have burned off. Eat a larger than normal meal, and you'll store even more. 

Note: You shouldn't add extra meals into your day. Simply take the food that you are already eating and space it out throughout the day. For example, if you usually have a turkey sandwich, a yogurt and a piece of fruit at noon, eat 1/2 the sandwich at 11:00 am, the other half and the fruit at 1:30, and then eat the yogurt around 3:00. 

Simple Step # 6: Drink the right beverages at the right time.
Water, water, water. Every process in your body takes place in water. Water carries nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. If you are dehydrated, every process in your body will suffer including your energy level, and your metabolism. 

Want to feel full on less food? Water helps fibrous foods to expand in your stomach and make you feel full. It is a myth that you shouldn't drink water with your meals. Make sure to drink water throughout the day and aim for at least 8 cups a day.

Hate water? Try these tips to spice it up: · Add a squirt of lemon, lime or orange or · Toss in ice cubes of your favorite juice


Simple Step # 7: Don't skimp on sleep.
You are more likely to gain weight when you are sleep deprived. First, the hormone that regulates your appetite, cortisol, is affected when you are sleep deprived. This has devastating results-you feel hungry even after eating enough. Meanwhile, you burn fewer calories, as you are too tired to be as active as you would be if you were rested. Additionally, growth hormone is reduced, increasing your body proportions of fat versus muscle (the more muscle you have the more calories you burn). Also, sleep deprivation impairs your body's utilization of carbohydrates, your body's favorite source of energy. Lastly, when you are tired, you look for a quick pick-me-up, and most people usually turn to the thing that will give them energy the fastest… sugar. Sugary foods are calorie-loaded and they cause you to have a short-lived energy boost followed by an energy crash. 

So be sure to make sleep a priority and aim for a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night. Make an appointment time for bed, just as you would make a doctor's appointment. 

Simple Step # 8: Make exercise a habit.
The calorie-burning doesn't only last during the exercise, but is extended for hours afterwards. Choose your favorite exercises and aim for five sessions a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. Don't make excuses, even if it means walking 15 minutes out your front door in the morning and then walking 15 minutes back.

Simple Step # 9: Make strength training exercises part of your routine.
The more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn, even while you sleep. Aim to lift weights three days a week. If you're a woman who doesn't lift weights for fear of getting bulky, fear not-you don't have enough testosterone to build bulky muscles. Instead, you will get a lean, toned, sleek body. 

Pursuit of Happiness Lowest Happiness Level Since 1972

Guest blog by Laura Berman Fortgang

A new study by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center has just released information that 14 percent of Americans are “not too happy,” the highest percentage since 1972. Whether it’s marital problems, the down economy or the persistent blues, there are easy ways to increase your happiness level.  Happiness means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so it’s hard to figure out the cause of so much unhappiness. There are many external factors to point to in today’s landscape, however, a few time-honored steps you can take to improve your general mental and physical well-being, making it that much easier to achieve your happiness:

Let the light shine in

Since the lack of sunlight and Vitamin D can cause winter blues, the addition of light boxes and illumination bulbs in your home can help simulate spring and summer sunshine.

Stay Mobile, Get the Blood Pumping

Joining a gym during the winter can be very beneficial, as exercise will balance the brain chemistry and is especially important this time of year. However, if you don’t have the funding available, simple stretches and breathing exercises can be done right at home to get the blood pumping. If it’s not too bitterly cold outside, bundle up and take a brisk 30-minute walk as you marvel at the winter wonderland around you.

Keep Stress in Check

If you are facing unemployment or job instability, try not to take that stress out on your family. Have 'venting' time and supportive folks to include in your current challenges, but keep stress at a minimum by keeping it in check.

It's important to separate your work and home life in order to manage stress levels. Make sure you separate the two to avoid immediate and future negative results.

Find Meaning in the Small Things

Remember to appreciate all you do have. Focus on the good relationships in your life and the activities you enjoy. Do small kindnesses for others and watch your happiness factor rise.

Take a Mental Inventory at the End of the Day

Basically, give yourself a mini “pat on the back” at the end of the day. It will help you focus on all the positive things you did throughout the day, and to avoid dwelling on anything negative.
 

Money Is Never Just Money

Guest blog y Dr. Liz Perle
Author of Money, A Memoir: Women, Emotions, and Cash

Women relate to money much differently than men do. There are many reasons large and small why this is true. When I ask Stephen Goldbart, a prominent psychotherapist and co-director of the Money, Meaning, and Choices Institute, about these differences, he tells me that they are ancient and deeply embedded psychologically and biologically in both sexes. These differences are so old, so deep, and such a part of our basic wiring that they cannot be ignored. "There are strong gender differences when it comes to money -- differences of identity and of historical roles. For men, the interplay of money and love and power has not really changed in thousands of years; they have always been the providers, and their identities and power come from this old survival-based role." 

Goldbart has spent years observing how both men and women commingle money and power, which, he says, they need to do in order to survive. While men directly equate money and power, women, who have traditionally had no access to money, combine the two in a very particular way that has a lot to do with romantic love. 

"Historically, money was melded with being provided for and taken care of. Thus it's a challenge for women to separate out love and money," Goldbart points out. "The degree to which a man provided for a woman has been her sustenance and her life. Therefore, for a woman, a man's success and his sharing of that success financially is more than just what we see in her lifestyle. On an unconscious level, it has to do with knowing that she and her children will survive. When we talk about money, we're talking about providing for basic human needs; this is basic human wiring. And while these providing and dependent roles have changed in the last seventy-five years, to brain stem psychology, that is no time at all." 

The way we're raised also has much to do with the different approaches men and women have to money. Somehow I sincerely doubt my grandmother pulled either of my male cousins into her boudoir and handed them a secret sack with a $20 bill in it. They weren't told that their social and financial security would be determined by their marriages or that talking about money was "not done," immoral, selfish, tacky, or just plain bad manners -- quite the contrary. Joline Godfrey, the CEO of Independent Means and author of Raising Financially Fit Kids, reassures me that my family experience is far from unusual. Godfrey, a financial educator, feels that our culture remains stuck in the belief that we must take care of girls. She observes that we still expect too much from boys financially and too little from girls, and explains that for boys, the issue around money is shame because money is more directly tied to their manhood, whereas womanhood is still very much connected to a girl's beauty and to her ability to connect to others in relationships. Godfrey believes it is easier for women to disconnect from financial responsibilities because our identities aren't at stake if we do. But for boys and men? Money and providing determine their feelings of self-worth. 

My male cousins understood quite clearly that they'd be judged by their abilities to go out, club the money dragon over its head, and haul home that cash. Holiday dinner conversations centered on what happened in the stock market, other people's (lousy or lucrative) investments, football, and "Did-you-see-the-Shermans'-new-Vista-Cruiser?-Someone-must-be-doing-well" observations of others' good or ill fortunes. We all absorbed the import of these conversations, but as in most families, the emotional impact of these messages differed depending on whether you were the girl cousin or the boy cousin. All of us learned that money would determine our social standing and whether or not we were perceived to be "successful." Indeed, we all went on to have good jobs and good careers. But looking around the table, it was clear for the girl cousins that we had two paths to this achievement: We could get there by work or by marriage. 

For the most part, men know that society sizes them up rather two-dimensionally by how much they do or don't make. Most (if not all) men grow up with the lurking suspicion that the job description of "manly man" still includes the task of being the classic "provider." "How do men rank their self-esteem?" Goldbart asks. "By their productivity in the world and whether or not they are successful. Most men would still define success in terms of their work and their finances first and their families second." Goldbart feels that the way men view their purpose and judge their value remains unchanged by the fact that women now contribute to family income. "There was a women's -- not a men's -- revolution," he concludes. 

Although this bottom-line assessment of a desirably successful man is broadening in tiny increments to include the unquantifiable (and uncompensated) nurturing skills of fatherhood, men still understand that their very worth is measured by their financial prowess. They think -- and not unjustly -- that women evaluate them by how much wealth they can create and how much money they can provide. This is something women don't like to admit they do, but Pamela York Klainer, a financial consultant and the author of How Much Is Enough? has seen it for years in her clients. "Many men tend to want to exaggerate their differences through money. Someone has to be 'top dog,' 'alpha man.' It's clear that men use money as a differentiator. They will show their power by buying expensive gifts for those around them to show that they have 'made it.' It's a form of power. Whereas women will use money to form bonds and friendships." 

But it's different with women. We may keep a beady eye trained on the wardrobes and kitchen appliances of those around us, but part of keeping pace with our friends lies in the fact that we don't want money to separate us. Put six women together in a room with a range of incomes, and all will find a safe middle ground in order to minimize our differences. We intuitively know that nothing divides us faster than money. 

Where men use money as shorthand to determine who has the power in a relationship, women will let it be a surrogate for love and attention. This frequently shows up in divorce settlements, where, as Stephen Goldbart has seen, a woman will want a certain amount of money because, psychologically, that money represents all the love the husband didn't give her. In this way money compensates for emotional disappointments. 
Copyright © 2006 Liz Perle

Don't Just Dream; Execute By Setting Goals

Guest blog by Lynnette Khalfani
Author of The Money Coach's Guide to Your First Million: 7 Smart Habits to Building the Wealth of Your Dreams

Too many people dream of becoming a millionaire but have no real plan for how to achieve it. Well, you can't become a millionaire just by dreaming, wanting, or wishing for wealth. As you develop the framework for your millionaire's budget, think about planning for the future and reaching some of your bigger goals. So many times we get caught up in daily tasks and activities that we forget about setting substantive goals for the future. But in order to accrue substantial wealth, itís essential that you write out your short-, medium-, and long-range goals. Some of you may not have thought about your own goals much lately. Perhaps your life has been consumed by your children's world; their needs and wants always come first, and you constantly put your desires on the back burner. It's a mistake to do that. Financially speaking, you can get yourself so wrapped up in another person or whether that individual is your child, partner, or parent or that you neglect yourself and fail to engage in smart, practical financial planning. You don't want to look up 20 years from now and think that you should have managed your money better when you were younger. 

To immediately improve how you handle your finances and make a giant leap toward becoming a millionaire, one of the most important things you can do is to write out your personal goals. This one act alone will help you build a foundation for a lifetime of wealth. If you are married or in a committed relationship, I suggest you do this exercise with your partner. Write your individual goals first, and then share your goals with the other person. Ultimately, we are all individuals with our own unique dreams and ambitions. Yet, for those of us involved with significant others, it's crucial that you make a habit of setting and reaching your goals together. 

I want you to think of your goals in the context of how long it will be before these goals can be realized. Short-term goals should be something that you can accomplish in a relatively brief period of time, say in one to two years, at most. Medium-term goals can be classified as those that require two to ten years to accomplish. Long-range goals are those that require ten years or more to fulfill. To jump start your thinking, I've included a laundry list of goals below. Some of these may be relevant to you; others may hold no significance. The idea, however, is to give yourself permission to focus on the things you want to accomplish in the future goals you may never have acknowledged to yourself, let alone written down or verbalized to someone else. Among the goals you might pursue are: 

¶ Eliminating credit card debt. 
¶ Buying a new home. 
¶ Saving for a college education.
¶ Investing for retirement.
¶ Starting a business.
¶ Establishing a cash cushion.
¶ Paying for a wedding.
¶ Saving for a new baby.
¶ Purchasing a vacation home.
¶ Traveling around the world.
¶ Buying a boat.
¶ Paying off student loans.
¶ Making a large contribution to church, synagogue, etc.
¶ Buying a new car or a second car.

One of the most important things you can do to reach your goal of becoming a millionaire is to write out your personal goals.

The Write Way

No matter what your goals, you should know that writing out your plans gives you a far better shot at making them happen. In fact, written goal-setting is a phenomenally powerful act as demonstrated by a number of high-profile cases. 

A compelling example of the power of written goal-setting is represented in a 1979 survey of Harvard University students which found that 84 percent of them did not set goals. Another 13 percent of them did set goals, but didnít bother to write them down. And only 3 percent of the graduating class had written goals and an action plan. Ten years later, researchers resurveyed the group. The 13 percent with unwritten goals were earning double the income of those with no goals. But hereís the whopper: the 3 percent of the student population with written goals earned 10 times as much as the other 97 percent! 

Clearly, written goals are important. But do you realize how it is that written goals are able to propel you to reach success? Here are a few reasons why goal-setting works:  

¶ PURPOSE: Goals give your daily and long-term actions meaning and purpose. This helps you stay motivated when you realize that youíre engaging in certain financial behaviors for a reason and not just randomly acting.

¶ ACCOUNTABILITY: Goals also make you accountable. If you find that you're regularly falling short of your goals, it could be that youíre not really committed to them.

¶ STRUCTURE: Goals provide a framework or structure from which you can operate and achieve your objectives. Many of us need this structure to plug away at reaching our goals, especially long range visions.

¶ DISCIPLINE: Goals spur you along to be consistent and disciplined in your actions since you know that a lack of discipline on your part will cause you to deviate from your plans, thereby jeopardizing your chances of hitting your goals.

¶ SPECIFICITY: Goal-setting forces you to not just think about what you want in general terms, but to write down your aims in concrete terms. Adding the element of specificity to your goals makes you far more effective in taking the practical steps required to reach your objectives.

Written goals give you purpose, make you accountable, make your financial plan concrete, supply you with a discipline to follow, and identify specific areas to focus on.

Setting Smart Goals

Your goals have to matter to you. They have to be achievable. You want to push yourself and stretch to achieve a goal without putting it so far out of reach that you become disillusioned and give up. Remember, failure is not an option for a Millionaire-in-Training. And I believe| 

that's what you are if you're reading this book and taking this advice seriously. I'm also a believer in setting the appropriate type of goals. SMART is an acronym that describes goals that are:

Specific
Measurable
Action-oriented
Realistic
Time-bound

Specific goals are the exact opposite of vague, hazy dreams. With the latter, someone might say, "I want to be rich," or, "I want to save money for my kid's college education." Those are just general wishes, and chances are they won't be fulfilled. But the person who sets a specific goal would define (in writing) exactly what "rich" means from his or her point of view, as in "I want to have a net worth of $5 million." A specific goal regarding college savings might be: "I want to save $80,000 for my sonís college tuition." 

¶When you make goals measurable, you quantify the objective you're seeking. In doing so, you ensure accountability and track your progress. For instance, to know where you're going, you have to know your starting point. So if one of your goals is to have no debt, you need to know how much debt you currently have. If you add up your credit card bills and they total $20,000, then you make your goal measurable by writing down something to the effect that, "Over the next two years, I want to eliminate my $20,000 in debt." In light of this goal, you know that after one year, if you're staying on task, you should be able to measure your progress and find that you've knocked out half of your debt, or $10,000.

¶ Action-oriented goals require you to do something, not just think about doing something. Not weigh your options. Not analyze a certain situation. Not research possibilities, and so forth. No, in |order for the goal to carry weight, you must act upon it. So letís say you initially thought that, "I want to start a business," was a goal. That's far too vague. You have to amend that statement and write something along the lines of: "By the end of the month, I want to create a business plan for my new interior design business." This way, you know you actually have to draw up the business plan. If you look up sample business plans on the Internet or investigate what lenders want in a business plan, that's fine as a prerequisite to what you have to do. But ultimately, itís the actual writing of your business plan that you need to accomplish. 

¶ Realistic goals are neither too ambitious nor too easy to accomplish. If you set the bar so high that itís impossible to reach your goal, you're only setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. By all means, make your goals challenging to reach, but be realistic in your expectations. Here's a case in point. Let's say one of your goals is to return to college and obtain an MBA. You already have a Bachelor of Arts degree, and you know that the MBA program you want to attend typically takes two years for the average full time student to complete. If you work 40 hours a week, will take courses only part time, and can study only on the weekends, don't expect to finish the MBA program in 18 months. Given the confines of your situation, a more realistic yet still challenging goal might be: "I want to earn my MBA in two and a half years." 

Any worthwhile goal is time-bound and includes a deadline by which the goal should be met. When you include a deadline, you make your goal time-bound. Therefore, itís not good enough to say: "I plan to buy a new home." Instead, when writing out your SMART goal, put down something like: "Two years from now, I plan to put down a 10 percent down payment toward the purchase a $450,000 Tudor home with four bedrooms and two bathrooms." This goal is clearly specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic for many people, and time-bound.

Almost 50% of Boomers Don't Have Enough Retirement Savings: So What Can They Do?

Guest blog by Lisa Orrell
Author of Boomers into Business: How Anyone Over 50 Can Turn What They Know into Dough Before and After Retirement

Did you know that Baby Boomers are currently retiring at the rate of 1 every 8 seconds (Judy Chartrand, Ph.D. and Bonnie Hagemann)? And this massive retirement trend has just started!
That’s a huge amount of Boomers, willingly or unwillingly, leaving their income- generating jobs daily. But due to the economic shifts in our country the past couple of years, many Boomers cannot afford to retire securely or as comfortably when, how, and as, they’d hoped…regardless of whether they’ve been an employee their entire career or self-employed.
Here are some startling stats to put this in perspective: According to The EBRI Retirement Readiness RatingTM in 2010: 

• 47.2% of older Boomers (56-62) are at risk of outliving their retirement savings.
• 43.7% of younger Boomers (46-55) are at risk of not having enough money for basic monthly expenses when they retire.

47.2%??? That’s almost half of the Boomers! Those statistics are frightening, especially the one about the younger Boomers (46-55). It means we have millions of people (close to 30 million) who cannot afford to stop working at 65 and who are currently seeking ways to make more income now and on an on-going basis past 65. 

But, on the other end of that spectrum, there are Boomers who simply don’t want to fully retire, even if they can, and are looking for something different to do. Regardless of which category you may fall into, what can you do? Boomers have options that can generate income, full-time or part-time, or on the side of a current job, that is flexible, interesting, fun, possible to start on a tight budget, and that can be done way into their golden years. 
So what is this career possibility that can potentially improve your current and future financial outlook? The premise is quite basic: Become a Topic Expert. Most everyone knows something, from their career background, life experiences or from a hobby that other people will pay money to learn about. 

Whether you’ve been an HR professional your whole career, or a construction worker, homemaker, dentist, Life Coach, housepainter, or a hobbyist at growing amazing roses, Boomers can monetize what they know to create a good income, in a wide variety of ways, as a Topic Expert. And, health permitting, it’s something a person can do for years…way past 65…and, as just mentioned, for many Boomers working past 65 years-old is going to be necessary.

More good news is that just about ANY Boomer is qualified to embark on this journey without much money! Seriously, you can launch a Topic Expert brand platform with little more than a basic website and a lot enthusiasm. There are many people who have done it for under $500 bucks and within a short time were making a significant income. 

But you may now be wondering where the money is in this? As a Topic Expert, it can lead to a variety of revenue-generating paths, such as: consulting others; conducting training seminars online and offline; developing many strategies for on-going passive income; creating simple “how to” products to sell; and much more.

To illustrate here’s a true story of what can happen if you think outside the box a little:

A typical “mow & blow” neighborhood gardener was struggling financially and the physical nature of his work was affecting him as he got older. But, during his career, he had developed a unique method to bring totally dead lawns back to green, lush lawns. And neighbors of his clients started to ask him for help with their brown lawns, and then he started charging other gardeners to learn his method. This then led to him being an in-demand speaker at local and national Home & Garden Expos and industry tradeshows, as well as conducting his own workshops for homeowners that he charged people to attend. 

Needless to say, by branding and marketing himself as a “guru of growing green lawns” he went from an income for years that was in the low 5-figures to one in the 6-figures, and he was able to leave his daily “mow & blow” gardener business behind. Plus, this all happened in his mid-60s and he was able to do it for many years afterwards…thus greatly improving his financial situation and his quality of life.

But what if you’re a homemaker in your late 50’s and 60’s (or even 70’s!), your kids are now adults, you have been a homemaker for the past 30+ years (focused on everyone else except you all those years), and you now want, or need, to generate more income? 

Needing to generate an income has become a serious reality for many Boomer homemakers due to divorce; retirement accounts taking a dive; house values declining; investments not yielding their anticipated projections; unexpected emergencies draining savings and/or assets; or due to becoming a widow.

So what can you do? Aside from going back to school or enrolling in a vocational program to learn a new skill set (which can take a lot of time and money), focus on the skills you’ve acquired as a full-time homemaker and as an intelligent woman. Perhaps you are an amazing cook; have a flair for home decorating; or are brilliant at running a house and raising three kids on a tight budget. Maybe you are known amongst friends and family as a terrific time management and scheduling pro; or have created the most amazing vegetable garden that everyone admires. Great! You can take that knowledge and develop a Topic Expert brand platform that can generate money for you.

Here’s another quick example to illustrate my point: If you’re a CPA, rather than just focus on doing tax planning and tax returns to generate money, you can increase your income, now and into the future, by also conducting presentations that you can charge for, or you can develop products that people will buy, or you can do things like create a 2-day “financial success” boot camp with other guest experts/speakers…and you can charge people a lot to attend them. 

By speaking, creating products, and/or writing articles and Press Releases that get published by the media, you can position yourself as a “tax & accounting” Topic Expert and go beyond “just being another CPA in your town”. This can increase your income in a variety of ways!
Now, I realize that many of you may not want to travel for speaking engagements or have no desire to speak publicly. Luckily, with modern technology, you can conduct webinars and teleseminars that are easy to set-up, that people will pay to attend online or via phone…and you don’t have to leave your house. Plus, any 1-on-1 or group consulting you may do can be done online or on the phone. 

Furthermore, there are Topic Experts who never do any speaking, consulting or product development. They do things like develop blogs or newsletters to share their expertise and sell ad space on them to generate income. 
See? There are TONS of ways to make money when you decide to position yourself as an expert in a specific area.

One final key fact that supports why becoming a Topic Expert is something you should consider is that we now live in a 24/7 media world. Therefore the media is always looking for experts to interview on a wide variety of interesting topics and on breaking news stories. It’s amazing how quickly someone can land media interviews when the media perceives them as “an expert”. Media coverage can quickly help build awareness for you and that can also lead to attracting more revenue-generating opportunities to you. 
The bottom-line: Whether you’re already self-employed, unemployed, or an employee, you can expand on what you do and offer outside of your actual “job”, and/or promote what you know, to increase your income and build your notoriety. And you, a Baby Boomer, may fall into the 50% category of Boomers who are at risk of struggling financially now and into your golden years. 

It’s time to seriously start considering your options for income opportunities that can improve your financial future. And branding and marketing yourself as a “Topic Expert” is certainly one viable option to think about!