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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Getaway - Christmas in Victoria

Going to Victoria 
After my grandfather retired he and my grandmother took a trip to Canada. They enchanted me with stories about Victoria. At age 12, I was hooked. I started my "bucket list". Many decades later my husband and I jumped at the chance to join a December Sports Leisure trip to Victoria for four wonderful days

We joined a congenial group of 32 travelers plus the tour guide, Chris Galloway, a young man who travels extensively and takes excellent care of people who travel with him. Getting us through customs twice both ways made his job a little more challenging.

Chris had planned our trip well. We boarded a bus for Sidney where we had an excellent lunch. People who had the halibut fish and chips agreed it was the best fish and chips they had ever eaten. After lunch we had free time to explore Sidney, known as "Booktown" because of its many used book stores.

As we drove into Victoria, the blend of the old with the new fascinated me. The Bed and Bath, Wall Mart, Subway, Mac Donalds, Wendy's, and dozens of other ubiquitous businesses seemed out of place beside the grand old English looking buildings that dominated the center of the city. Our hotel, the Chateau Victoria stood 18 stories tall. The 18th floor housed a bar and restaurant with wonderful panoramic views of the city. On the day we arrived, a reception for our group at 4:45 was followed by a wonderful dinner an hour later. We got there early and had a chance to view the city through the floor to ceiling glass windows that encircled this spectacular restaurant. From our seats next to the windows we watched lights transform the city into a sparkling jewel framed by the sunset over the distant ocean.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel highlighted a trip full of wonderful experiences. Among them a self-guided visit to Craigdarroch Castle, Butchart Gardens lit up for Christmas, the Victoria Butterfly Garden, the Touch of Saltspring Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair, a two hour city tour narrated by our bus driver, David, who lives in Victoria. We had ample free time to explore on our own as well.
We got home with little time for Christmas card writing, tree and house decorating, and any other usual early December activities. Tradition is nice, but flexibility can bring great experiences such as Christmas in Victoria.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cambria -Getaway by the Sea

 Sea Otter Inn
Excitement replaced the sadness of leaving Morrow Bay as we drove north on highway 1 toward the small seaside town of Cambria. I knew the Cambria Pines Lodge was headquarters for the Sandstone Properties. The Village Green Gardens in northern Oregon is one of their resorts. I featured it in my first Getaways booklet. I knew nothing about Cambria, a little town somewhat hidden on both sides of the highway along the coast.
 Cambria Pines Lodge

One of many scarecrows
We took the first exit and found ourselves winding around mountain curves with no town in sight. After some stops to ask for directions and u-turns to get back on track we arrived at Cambria Pines Lodge. To our surprise the lodge was surrounded by wonderful gardens much like the Village Green Gardens in Oregon. We met a delightful couple while exploring the gardens.

Scarecrows of all kinds guarded streets, houses, and businesses in the annual Cambria Scarecrow Festival. Obviously many creative people live in this interesting little town. Cambria also hosts two Sandstone Properties resorts. The lodge is nestled among pine trees on the east side of the highway. The other property, the Sea Otter Inn is north and west of the highway on the ocean. It is one of many interesting looking inns along Moonstone Beach Drive.

Across the street a wooden plank walking path attracts the guests and provides steps to the beaches, look-out points, and benches. I met interesting friendly people on the path. I watched an over-sized seal slowly climb a slippery wet rock and almost get washed off by big breaking waves.

The sun turned the sky blue and the ocean reflected the color of the sky. I wished I could take one of Cindy Sample's fun books and sit on a bench by the sea listening to the waves and inhaling the clean ocean air, but we could only spend one night at the Sea Otter Inn. I hoped we would return to Cambria some day when we could stay a week.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Masterpiece Hotel -- Morrow Bay Getaway

A Hotel with "IN-Room" Art

We needed an ocean "fix". We decided to go south this time. Ten years ago we participated in a city sponsored book sale in San Luis Obispo. We decided to return to Morrow Bay, a beautiful coastal town near San Luis Obispo where we stayed at a unique hotel called Masterpiece Hotel. Every room has at least five beautifully framed prints by famous artists. Our room displayed "Roseate Spoonbill" by John James Audubon; "Colors" by Kyosi; "Pinkie" by Sir Thomas Lawrence; "Poplars on a Hill" by Vincent Van Gogh and "Trees" painter unknown.

The first couple we met when checking in told us they were from Colorado. They said they come to the Masterpiece Hotel over and over because they like it so much. If we lived closer, we would probably do the same. Breakfast was served from 7:30 to 10:30 every morning. Wine, cheese and crackers from 5:00 to 7:00 in the evening. Guests can also use a spa and fitness center. Our room cost a reasonable $201.40 (including tax) for two nights.

Best of all, a short walk took us to the wharf where we ate a delicious lunch of sole piccata and of course, clam chowder at the Dockside restaurant. A road goes out to the town's famous Morrow Rock, home to peregrine falcons. We watched them near their nests on the side of the huge rock. A volunteer from a nearby college invited us to view them through his telescope. A couple of fishing boats struggled to get into the Bay through the wind blown waves of the ocean. A surfer used a kite to guide himself back and forth through big waves. Dogs and children played on the beach.

I highly recommend a Morrow Bay getaway. It helps to order sunshine so you can walk along the beach. Other choices include boat tours, wine tasting, quilting stores, art galleries, bird watching, missions, golf, hiking, bicycling, fishing or simply sitting on a bench watching the waves crash against the shore. Something for everybody!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Secrets of Long Term Love

Keith and Shirley Abbey-married 61 years
                                  by guest blogger Todd Creager

Long term love and I mean deep love, the kind of love where you feel that you would marry your spouse all over again after 10, 20, 30, 40 years of marriage does happen. There are couples that DO experience that kind of relationship. What are their secrets? I have learned from these couples, some people are clients, people I know in my personal life and even people I have read about in articles or seen on TV.

Look for the best in your partner. I have heard many of these couples talk about the necessity to overlook each other's flaws; not to ignore them but at the same time not to focus on them. Definitely each partner kept in mind the good stuff, the positive attributes, and the things they enjoyed about their partner.

Let them know how good they are. Not only did they look for and think about the best in their partner, they expressed it. They complimented their partners far more than they criticized them. It was easier to hear the negative feedback because they got plenty of positive feedback as well.

Be affectionate. They touched a lot and were affectionate with each other. As they got older, even if their sexual relationship changed somewhat, they never stopped touching. They adjusted to the aging process but kept the physical connection any way they could. They were not rigid when it came to approaches to touch and sexuality. They were able to talk openly about sex.

Place a high value on the importance of the intimate relationship. They made relationship a high priority. They made time to be alone and intimate and enjoyed each other's company. They planned trips together and went on frequent dates. They often were different (as most couples are) but they found enough similarities of activities to do these things together.

Tune in and be attentive and let your partner know you are there for him or her when needed. They were strong emotional supports in trying times. They would take turns being strong for each other during the occasional life tragedies and losses. They each felt a sense of deep caring for each other and trusted each other. Some of these couples had earlier times when the trust was disrupted but they learned how to heal and create trusting relationships. There was a sense that, "You are there for me."

These wise couples have reaped the benefits of these secrets to long term love. Now it is your turn.

Todd Creager at "Making the World Safe for Love"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Couples Married 50 Years or Longer Give Advice

Married 68 years

Secrets to a Long Marriage

Going directly to the experts, long time married couples, makes sense to researchers like sociology professor, Todd Migliaccio, California State University, Sacramento. He has interviewed and taped dozens of couples in long marriages including my husband and me. More than 100 couples contributed to "Married for Life", Honor Books by Bill Morelan, one of the sources I used. I have been sharing some of these experts' advice in my most recent blogs.

Interestingly, "spending time together" in one form or another was recommended more often than any other advice. A close second was commitment to the marriage. One person put it uniquely, "Never consider getting unmarried as an option."

Many other responses were repeated in different ways. These experts on love advised couples to  realize neither of you are perfect; practice cooperation, follow the Golden Rule, try to see each other's point of view, but agree to disagree sometimes. I tell my clients, "Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If you focus on the strengths you will have twice as many together, If you focus on the weaknesses, you will have twice as many weaknesses. Which you focus on will determine how strong a marriage you can create."

Becoming lifetime soul mates is a unique rewarding adventure. If you remember the story , "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams, you will remember the discussion between Rabbit and Skin Horse  about what is real. Rabbit asks if it happens all at once or bit by bit. Skin Horse tells Rabbit it doesn't happen all at once. It happens when you have been loved over a period of time, but "it doesn't happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept." In other words, you must learn how to let go of defenses.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Couples Married 50 Years or Longer Give Advice

Walter and Mary Bieri

More Advice From Long Married Couples     The advice given in this series of blogs comes from a study of couples married 50 years or longer......

You have to really like each other. That means being able to listen to each other no matter what the subject.

Always be willing to walk away when a subject becomes too heated, but always be willing to come back to it when you are both calm.

Never call each other names when you are angry. Just say, I am angry right now.

Love must be nurtured. Kindness and respect are a part of the nurturing.

Share common goals and find common interests.

Give each other plenty of space to grow and accept each other just the way they are.

Share responsibility and care of the house, children, and the relationship.

Everyone has problems. Stay together and work them out.

Agree that it's okay to disagree.

Talk things out and never give up.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Couples Married 50 Years or More Give Advice

Dave and Jacque Leek 

Secrets of a Long Marriage from Couples Married 50 Years or More

I love my husband and he loves me. We work together. We talk things out, even though sometimes it may not be a quiet discussion.

You only get out of a marriage what you put into it.

Be individuals. Give each other space.

Have fun together and never get too old to hold hands.

Never give advice unless it's asked for and then be careful not to tell him/her what to do.

Take responsibility for your own feelings, needs, and happiness.

Friends will always let you down. Don't be fragile. Toughen up.

Never stop learning listening skills. Be aware of subjects you react to.

Do everything you can to express your love. Never let a day go without telling each other, "I love you."

Always make marriage and family a top priority.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Secrets to a Long Marriage

Gene and Georgia Schroeder

Couples Married 50 Years Or Longer

"We're seeing more and more couples that have lasted where friendship is one of the big factors. If they're from a close family, that provides a huge social network that contributes to marital longevity. Couples have more to draw on and more commitment to the greater good of the family."

That comment comes from Todd Migliaccio, California State University, Sacramento sociology professor. My husband, Everett, and I were one of the dozens of couples married more than 50 years interviewed by Professor Migliaccio. Interestingly, he was not married at the time.

My own mother died four years before she and my dad reached their 50th anniversary, but many older couples reach that milestone. Presently, more than half of American marriages have lasted more than 15 years according to census figures. About 30 percent of married couples celebrate 25 years together. Experts theorize about what makes it possible to make a marriage last. The true answers come from those who year in and year out through good times and bad, find ways to make their marriages work.

Look forward to future blog posts giving answers by those who have made marriage work. I welcome pictures of people who have been married 50 years or longer with their names and wedding dates.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bed and Breakfast Getaway

Reedley Country Inn

Going to Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Parks? Consider spending the first night in the quiet exquisite Reedley Country Inn. Owner, Linda Penner, once lived in the pink house surrounded by beautiful gardens bordered by peach orchards. She has spent her life searching for unusual art objects which she skillfuly incorporates into each of five rooms. She combines comfort and beauty.

We traveled to Reedley Saturday to attend my high school reunion. We looked forward to our fourth stay at this unusual Bed and Breakfast Inn. The colorful arbors and rose gardens make it a favorite wedding location as well as a newly wed destination.

If you are looking for a peaceful quiet affordable place to get away and relax, you won't find any place better. Remember to take your camera, walking shoes, and books to read. You will find places in the shade to sit and talk surrounded by flowers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Celebrating an "Elevator Speech" Win

Contests--Worthwhile or Waste of Time

Maybe I needed to boost my self esteem and confidence, but I had an insatiable attraction to competition as a high school student. As freshmen, my friend and I won the traditional freshman/sophomore debate, the first time it had been won by freshmen. I won the local Lion's Club speech contest and went on to the county event where I came in second. The winner went on to compete at the state level. A winning essay sent me to Sacramento as my high school's female representative to the YMCA Model Legislature where I met California Governor Earl Warren. Another winning essay resulted in a visit to the Freedom Train which was traveling around the country at that time.

College dampened my interest in competition, but every now and then as an adult I have entered writing contests. Rarely have I gotten even an honorable mention. I dismissed my lack of success to unfair judging. LOL.

This week it happened. My NCPA colleagues voted my "elevator speech" first place in a contest they sponsored. Here it is. What do you think?

"Give your relationship skills a rating. Do you kiss frogs and hope for a miracle? Go on a lifetime search for a "soul mate"? Become a therapist? Open my book, Becoming Soul Mates at any two pages and find something to talk about with your special person. Your relationship skills will soar."

That is an elevator speech!


Monday, August 25, 2014

How Would Your Mate Rate You as a Lover?

celebrating our 58th anniversary in 2013

Does Your Lover Feel Loved?

A Good Lover:
         has  the ability: to laugh, play, comment

         skills: of listening, hearing, understanding

         likes: touching, hugging, kissing

         notices, compliments, admires

How often do you tell your special person, "I love you"? If that is something you feel but never think to say, make it a prioity to remember to say it every day. Eventually, it becmes natural to say it when you get up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. You cannot say it too often. Touching, hugging, kissing come naturally when you love and feel loved.

Talking and listening skills are a part of noticeing and caring. Very few people have good listening skills so many people feel misunderstood and not heard. When your lover believes you understand him/her, she/he feel loved.

Noticeing, complimenting, and admiring are like the icing on the cake. When a woman proudly shares with her friends something special her mate has done, he feels ten feet tall. When he shows his admiration of her in front of friends, she feels adored.

The best place to start is to say, "I love you," not once but many times. If you don't feel loved, let your mate know how good it feels when he/she tells you. Touch him and smile when you respond, "I love you, too."

Friday, August 8, 2014

Get-Aways That Draw Us Back

So many places to see. So much beauty to enjoy. So little time to see it all. Yet we find ourselves drawn back to a few places over and over. We have recently returned from our third visit to the Marriott Star Pass Resort. This majestic desert retreat guards the Tucson Mountain Park with its towering saguaro and 20,000 acres full of desert wildlife.

Mild weather draws many guests to Tucson, Arizona in the winter. We have been there twice in August, the monsoon season. We save our money and our Marriott credit card points to make it happen. We love the continental breakfast with its steel cut oatmeal, choice of fruits, smoked salmon, cheese, nuts of all kinds and a variety of tasty fresh baked pastry. Coffee and juice are included. Our waiter remembered our names and even what we had ordered the day before. She surprised us by asking, "Do you want your apples peeled and cut again this morning?"

Our room had a fantastic view of the desert and the city of Tucson in the distance. At night we sat on the Salud Terrace to watch the sun go down and the Tucson lights magically turn the distant horizon into a fairyland of sparkling color. Another night as we returned to the hotel along the dark winding road, we rounded the corner and two young coyote cubs frolicked in our headlights.

The serenity of Star Pass and its desert wildlife has drawn us back ever since we discovered it when we stayed at the Star Pass timeshare many years ago. We hope to return again when we have saved more money and Marriott credit card points.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Blaming--Defending Prevent Conflict Resolution

Blame and defending will never lead to resolution of conflicts. People on the defensive take in very little information. We grow up learning to deny and defend. Common parental messages begin with the words, "you need to" ; "you didn't" ; "you should have". We grow up learning to deny and defend.

I have one brother and while we were growing up he constantly got in trouble. As a result he got blamed for things he didn't do. Denial became his first response whether guilty or not. I was the good girl and never lied.

I had a book, "The Little Red Hen" which I loved. One day I had a safety pin in my hand while reading the book. I scratched the letters of the title on the cover. A few days later my mother, who taught us to always take good care of our things, noticed the artistic enhancement on my book.

"Who scratched this book?" she asked in a tone that scared me. "Did you, Elva?" "No," I answered immediately, instantly terrified that I would go to Hell for lying. My mother turned toward my brother. He answered with an emphatic, "no!" She continued, "Don't lie, Edward." "I didn't do it," he repeated. To my horror he got spanked for lying. I was doomed to six months of terrible guilt and fear. When I could stand it no longer, I tearfully confessed.

You can understand why my brother grew up skilled at being defensive. One of the first skills learned in communication is "do not blame, do not defend". Thus, the rule, use  "I" instead of "you". When you own the problem it becomes much easier for your partner to listen and not defend. He/she may not completely trust you, but inch by inch you learn it is worth taking a chance.

It may be unrealistic to use this incident as an example, but let's go there. My Mom might have said, "I have a problem with books being damaged and I am wondering how this book got scratched." I think I could have had the courage to tell my mother I didn't mean to damage the book. I just wasn't thinking." She never would have spanked me, and I would have prevented weeks of sleepless nights and nightmares about going to Hell. The lesson here is you will be far more likely to solve a conflict if you start with "I have a problem with......."

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Lessons from a Dream

One night I had a dream. Everett and I fell off a cliff on to a remote snow covered peak with precarious footing. We were terrified we were going to die. Sure enough, the snow broke off again hurtling us through the air. We yelled goodby to each other. This is it!

We landed softly in snow, surprised to be alive. We carefully worked our way down the mountain. As we came around a bend we met three people climbing in the other direction. One wore a forest ranger uniform. They listened nonchalantly to our story. Clearly, they didn't believe us, but we figured if they could get up this far, we could get down the rest of the way.

Lesson from the dream: We can learn from other people even if they refuse to learn from us.

If you want to become soul mates, stay open to learning!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

1862 David Wally's Resort Carson Valley Nevada

Peace in the Valley

When I was a little girl, I heard a barber shop quartet sing an old hymn called, "Peace in the Valley." I remember the bass singer singing the last line of the song, "There will be peace in the valley some day." Coming to our timeshare at 1862 David Wally's Resort reminds me of that song. Sitting on the deck of the Aurora Building at Wally's Hot Springs, I marvel at the variety of birds at home here. All sizes and colors, they sing hidden in tree foliage. They hop merrily across the grass or soar in the sky. One year a robin made its nest near the second floor balcony. The verdant Carson Valley show-cases the life cycles of many varieties of nature. It is a nature lover's paradise.   

This week gave us a great gift of the kind of weather natives described as perfect weather. Lounging on pool side chairs after sitting in hot mineral pools with interesting people from faraway places brought sheer pleasure. I feel fortunate to get away from the pressures of the city and find peace in the valley with my lover.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

The Four-Eyed Frog Thrives in Gualala

The Four-Eyed Frog in Gualala rescued Joel Crockett, a workaholic who loves to play, from having to choose to do one or the other. As a teenager, Joel worked as manager of an amusement park in Venice, California. He went to work at 6 a.m., worked four hours, took four hours off for lunch to go surfing and then back to work for four more hours.

Joel never lost his love of the ocean. Eventually, he figured out a way to combine that love with his love of books, acting and community involvement by starting a book store in Gualala. Joel and his brother, Jeremy, beat all odds and have kept the Four-Eyed Frog going since 2003.

"I learned to read when I was four years old," says Joel. "I was painfully shy and I escaped into books. To own and run a book store blended my wife, Linda's dreams with mine. We leased property in Cypress Village while the center was still in the planning stage. We began brainstorming names for our new store. Many independent book stores have critter names. Linda and I had a running joke about frogs. We realized that a frog cannot read without glasses so we decided to give him glasses and call him "The Four-Eyed Frog."

The Four-Eyed Frog opened its doors in November 2003. It quickly became a hub of community activity. Joel, who had never acted before has had parts in a number of plays put on at the Gualala Arts Center. He has given sermons at his local church when his pastor has been on vacation. He has a weekly radio show. Not bad for someone who describes himself as painfully shy at age four.

Sadly, Linda died in an automobile accident early last year. Joel and Jeremy work hard to keep the Four-Eyed Frog alive and well. Stop by when you visit the California north coast. You can buy our books as well as many others at this unique book store.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Gualala--Where the River Meets the Sea

 Sea Cliff Motel
Spring Colors Great Getaways

Spring makes California travelers question horror stories about drought. It paints mountains and valleys multiple shades of green. Trees, flush with new green folliage and maternity homes of birds and squirrels, accent the landscape. Everywhere life bursts into view sending a cascade of color into the scene.
Last week we took a middle of the week break to drive through soul feeding beauty to our favorite motel in Gualala, the Sea Cliff by the Sea. Sea Clff sits on the bluff's edge overlooking the Pacific Ocean where the Gualala River meets the sea. Two confortable chairs sit in front of floor to ceiling windows where we have sat for many hours watching pelicans, sea gulls, whales, river otters, fishing boats, sunrises, and full moons.A fireplace keeps the room warm and cozy in the winter. We always manage to spend some time in the two person whirlpool spa. A small refrigerater keeps food fresh.
Gualala has two grocery stores, half a dozen churches, two sevice stations and a wonderful book store named The Four-Eyed Frog. We sell our books there. Other businesses also serve tourists and residents.
On our way home Thursday we decided to drive north to Mendocino to visit the Gallery Book shop and Book Wrinkle's. We found them busy with customers looking at the abundance of books offered. We left copies of our books for the manager to examine when she returned.
The trip home winds through awesome forests of redwoods and emerges on Highway 101 at Cloverdale. We drove only a few miles before turning east on Highway 128 which goes through the heart of the Anderson Valley and Napa Valley wine country. Photogenic vineyards offered a great climax to our immersion into spring ecstasy. Two nights and three days of beauty and bliss. I highly recommend it.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A 25th Anniversary Tribute

Jason Bassett to Heather Bassett

Twenty five years ago today I was honored to say "I do" to my most awesome wife. She has been my partner when the days were lean and when they were plentiful. She has been my treasured companion in three states and many apartments, usually pulling the heavier share of the load with two or three kids in tow. She has been my confidant when I need reassurance and my biggest cheerleader on the days when I didn't feel very cheery and on the days I felt triumphant. She has put up with the many ups and downs of advancement or promotional cycles, odd hours, working weekends, and changing schedules on short notice. She has put up with my meandering short attention span, the sore and not so great days of learning to ride horses or motorcycles and was always there when I returned from some expedition. She has been right beside me in the hardest times of my life and can bring a smile to my face when I need it most. And that as you all know is a tough thing to do. I have been the lucky one! I look forward to the next 25 years. I love you, Heather Bassett. Happy Anniversary.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ten Reasons Nancy's Birthday Should Be a National Holiday

Birthday Tribute from Ted to His Wife

10.  She has the gift of hospitality. Our house is home to others including animals.
       She makes a lot of soup.

 9.   She rescued green, black, brown, and grey as New York fashion colors.
       Who else can make people blush red with grey skirt?

 8.   She's the only grey-skirted woman alive whose  personal spokesman is a pathetic wobbly
       deaf old dog. Every day Nancy translates Rose's elusive thoughts.

 7.   For 25 years she has demonstrated that the best teachers in the world truly love every
       single kindergartner on the 32-student roster. She comes home with a burden for
       every soul.

 6.   She gives equal status to guinea pigs, chickens, dogs, and squirrels. She objected to
       my shooting the two squirrels temporarily squatting rent-free in our attic.

 5.   Because of her concern for saving the earth, she fills a small bowl with water to wash 
       her face in the morning. You'd think I was draining Niagra Falls by rinsing my razor
       under the faucet. Now I only shave twice a week.

 4.   She's low maintenance. I have to beg her to buy clothes at Target instead of Eco-Thrift,
       a second-hand store. Those designer-brand fashions she finds only cost $3. I'm all for

 3.   She has many ideas for things to make, fix, or buy and only one husband. Gotta keep
       her working or she will overwhelm the male population of Folsom with honey-do lists.

 2.   She once owned a boat, found shore. She was nicer than Columbus, but 
       Columbus was probably a better sailor.
                and the number one reason she should have her own holiday..........

 1.   She has flirted with miracles on her wait to sainthood: Miracle Whip, Miracle Grow,
       Miracle hair products and she has miraculously put up with me for 35 years.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

When You Burn the Toast

Being Supported Feels Good

Suppose you wake up in the morning and discover your alarm has not gone off. Your children are still in bed, and there is a lot to be done. You feel tense and hurried. While you are fixing breakfast, you see smoke curling out of the toaster. Your husband walks into the kitchen and says, "Now you have burned the toast! Can't you ever do anything right?" How would you react?

Image the same situation. This time when your husband walks into the kitchen he says, "If you set the timer on two instead of three, this wouldn't happen. Let me show you how you should have done it." How would you react?

Visualize the scene again. This time your husband comes in and says, "Oh, Honey, what a frustrating morning for you! First the alarm and now the toast. You must be wondering what next!" Being supported feels good.

from "How to Get Kids to Help at Home", page 22, 23

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Soul Mates Learn to Handle Change

Birth of a baby brings change

The Truth of Impermanence
The biggest cause of pain in our lives comes from not accepting the truth of impermanence. Feelings of loss flow out of our reaction to change. We may not choose change. Like it or not, change comes. Change comes in two parts, gain and loss. We have to grieve and let go of the loss before we can see or feel the gain.

Experiencing Loss
Immediately after a loss, feelings cloud our thinking. If we accept our feelings and work through them, the clouds lift and we can begin to feel the gain. Knowing what to expect helps the grieving process do its work of healing. Validation by ourselves and others accelerates the healing. Loss or change makes us aware of ourselves. When we grieve the loss, we grieve for ourselves. "What is going to happen to me?" We become aware of dependency needs. We examine our goals, values, and resources. We recognize the opportunity for introspection, evaluation and exploration of our inner resources and a challenge to risk something new.
Big Changes Bring Big Challenges
The birth of a baby, the biggest change in a couple relationship, can strengthen their bond or it can tear them apart. Many changes will challenge them as they go through life together. When their children become adults and leave, another big change occurs. People who go through the grieving process will accept the challenge of moving to an adult to adult relationship with their children and welcome the opportunity to become just a couple again. Single parents must embrace their freedom to explore new interests. Some may be afraid to let go and welcome the second half of their lives.

Mid-life Brings Changes
Mid-life brings changes. Flexible open people understand the challenge and put thier energy into recapturing the joy of long time love. The best is yet to come. Maturity makes relationship sweeter . Those who have lost a love through divorce or death may experience a soul mate relationship in the second half of their lives understanding that with loss comes a gain if you are willing to look for it.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014


Worry Free Getaway

Have you ever dreamed of traveling free of all the usual concerns? Reservations, traffic, when and where to eat, parking, handling luggage and all the planning would be handled by an expert. The daydream became a reality for Everett and me when we signed up for our first tour by Sports Leisure Vacations last weekend. Our three day getaway took us across the new San Francisco Bay Bridge down the coast through Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz to the beautiful Clement Monterey Intercontinental Hotel on Cannery Row on the Monterey Bay.

Bright yellow wildflowers decorated vast hillsides painted green by nature and spotlighted by brilliant sunshine. We drove through the amazing multimillion dollar tunnel just north of Half Moon Bay, the city internationally famous for surfing. The treacherous old Highway 1 has been turned into a bike and hiking trail. Hopefully, it won't get washed away like the old highway did.

On Monday Gail Gallacher, a long time Monterey Peninsula tour director, entertained us with Steinbeck stories as we drove on the 17 mile drive past Pebble Beach and multimillion dollar homes, We had a gourmet lunch at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley and spent the afternoon at the world famous Monterey Aquarium. We walked the half block back to our hotel after watching Aquarium staff feed the penquins. That night we had a halibut dinner at Fish Hoppers on the Bay.

Tuesday we spent the morning at a Wild Things farm that is becoming a zoo. They give a home to rescued animals who cannot return to the wild. Scott Angeletti, tour planner and director, made this fantasy trip more perfect than any daydream I could create. I didn't see anyone unhappy or sorry they had come. We can hardly wait to join him on another getaway.

(look for pictures soon)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Is Your Partner Always Late?

Acceptance Without Judgment

If your gal/guy is never ready on time or often arrives late and you live by the clock, patience becomes an illusive virtue. If you add children, nearly every time your family finally gets in the car, someone is yelling and others are crying.

The prompt person sincerely believes being late is inconsiderate and inexcusable. He/she may feel trapped and unable to follow his principles. The person who is always late has never accepted the notion that to succeed in life we must be governed by the clock. Spontaneity produces fun, excitement and the joy of living. What happens to acceptance without judgment? Differences between mates can become a challenge in the therapeutic process of becoming soul mates.

Differences in managing money, rates near the top for causing problems in marriages. Differences in how partners manage time may be just as troublesome. Clinging to the belief that your way is the right way will only increase the frustration and block your progress to maturity and connection. Avoid judgment. Focus on the problem. How can you live with these differences and still enjoy each other?

Everett and I both tend to be punctual. When our children were born, everything changed. Everett has many virtues, but patience isn't one of them. By the time we were in the car on our way to church on Sunday morning, the children and I were crying and Everett was frustrated and angry that we were late.

This problem needed fixing. At a time when we felt mellow we talked. We listed our needs and came up with ideas to try. The biggest thing we learned, focus on the behavior not on the person. Calm ourselves before addressing each other or the children. Resist the need to yell or use the words, "you always" or "you never." Everett worked on patience. He sat down with the newspaper instead of pacing and yelling. Believe it or not, we managed to be a little more prompt and we didn't have to wipe our tears when we arrived.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Primary Communication Skill

Own Your Feelings

I grew up with the message "you shouldn't feel that way." Don't be angry, sad, disappointed, moody, unhappy. Be nice or God and people won't like you. Smile, smile, smile. My father who was a kind loving man would never admit being angry. He raised his voice in what he called "righteous indignation" over politics, bad driving, and people being treated unfairly,

To avoid "not talking back" I would try to leave the room. My Dad would say, "Get that look off your face. Don't leave this room. I want to see a smile." Have you ever tried to smile when you were very angry? It feels like you will explode.

It has taken years for me to learn to identify, accept, and own my feelings, the first step to managing those feelings. Ask yourself what is going on for me? What am I feeling? Why am I so angry, sad, scared, annoyed, embarrassed? For good communication you must identify and own the feeling. Then you can tell your partner, "I am angry." Don't say, "You make me so angry!" Don't try to explain why you are angry until you can figure it out. Then go back to your partner and talk without blame.

Respect each other's feelings. Emotions are a part of each person's private self. No one has the power to manufacture emotions. When you ask someone to give up ownership of his personal internal experiences, he can only pretend or repress. No relationship can become a soul mate relationship if one of the partners cannot accept the other without needing him/her to change.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Listen to Yourself When You Speak

Like many women I am probably seen as strong, but the truth is I am more sensitive than I want to be. If someone I care about speaks to me in a sharp critical tone, I have to fight to keep tears in check. More concerning to me is sharpness in the tone of my voice when responding to someone I love or care about. I believe many of us use one tone to outsiders and another with family. I try to stay in touch with the tone of my voice.

One way I have learned to improve my response to finding lights left on again or cupboard doors and countless drawers left open again and, and, and, to say to myself, "How important is this?" Other questions I ask myself, "Does it help to react? Will it make a difference?" Of course, the answer to those questions is no. Then, smile, accept it even if you have to slam the drawers shut a little harder to feel better.

Above all, I try to avoid criticism. Criticism is never helpful. Sometimes criticism subtly comes out in the tone of your voice. Make a point of listening to yourself when you are irritated, impatient, or disgusted. Your family and friends will be more likely to listen to you when you stay calm and patient. Raising your voice to your children will come back to you as they grow older.

When I faced a classroom full of noisy high spirited first graders, I quickly learned that speaking softly quieted them quicker than trying to raise my voice above their noise. The same principle applies in the family. The Bible addresses this truth in the verse, "A soft answer turneth away wrath." Try it next time you feel impatient and frustrated.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Only You Can Change Your Distorted Perceptions

How often have you heard, "You can't change another person"? Most of us have expectations or perceptions we don't know we have. One of the most common is, if I love him/her enough, he/she will feel loveable and capable. It certainly helps to be loved, but the only person who can correct the distorted perceptions they developed as a child is the person who is that child grown up.

The most extreme example of adult distorted perceptions are people who grow up as survivors. They grow up truly victim and they learn to survive as victims. When they become adults they often don't realize how much personal power they have. They may continue to live as victims rather than as free powerful adults.

Most of us know about books like, "Women Who Love Too Much", "Co-dependent No More", and "Men Who Hate Women". We know we can't love someone enough to cure addiction or deep seated fear of the other sex. If you marry someone who has unresolved issues about capability or self-worth, it may take a long time for that person to realize his/her own self power. People quick to take blame for things or think they have made a fool of themselves may find it hard to believe that everyone makes mistakes.

Love your mate or friend for who he/she is. Acceptance heals and will accelerate your mate's ability to accept himself as loveable, as remarkable as it may seem. One of my readers responded to my last post, "How sad". It is sad, but the therapeutic process continues for both of us. Knowing we are loved  makes feeling loveable seem possible.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My Biggest Disappointment in Marriage

When I met Everett I was a 21 year old first grade teacher in San Diego. He was a sailor aboard a destroyer in the San Diego Harbor. Instantly, I loved his smile. By the time his ship left San Diego, I had agreed to answer his letters if he wrote to me.

Our relationship grew in the following year. Everett's ship sailed for the Pacific and I moved to Sanger where I continued to teach. By this time our relationship had become serious. We married when he got out of the navy in 1955.

Everett was the sixth child in a family of seven children. His family moved often. He didn't learn to read until he had a fourth grade teacher who realized he was bright but hadn't learned to read. She worked with him after school and taught him to read. Like most children who struggle in school early, he developed a distorted perception about his ability to learn. He did well in high school and became an electronics technician in the navy. When he got out of the navy, he went to college to become an electrical engineer.

No matter how successful Everett became, he continued to believe that he was flawed and somehow inferior to others. He has many friends and a family who adore him but no amount of love can shake this deep-seated belief that he is somehow unlovable. The most disappointing thing about my marriage is that no matter how much I love him, I can never love him enough to make him see himself as loveable. He just shakes his head and says, "I know you love me and I am glad, but I don't see why you do. I am a lucky man." I wish my love could help him understand how loveable he is and why so many people find him easy to love.

Sailor Everett 
Teacher Elva 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chasing Intimacy--How to Find It

Are you wistfully wishing for more intimacy with your special person? You cannot have intimacy without individuality. The closeness comes out of an open sharing of who you are. Known and being known with unconditional acceptance brings intimacy. If either of you pushes the other to be anything other than who you are, intimacy stays out of reach. Encouragement is helpful. Pushing for change or criticism is not.

The big struggle of identifying and knowing what makes us unique and different from each other may not feel like intimacy. Welcome conflict as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the other person. Recognize your tendencies toward a judgmental attitude rather than an opportunity to learn.

You are two very different people engaged in learning the skill of focusing on each other's strengths. You also begin to recognize each other's driving spirit. You share fears, fantasies, moods, memories, longings, passions, hopes, and let-downs. This knowledge brings you to a new level of knowing and understanding and supporting love and growth.

Intimacy creates a powerful nurturing source to fuel the joy of relationship and the ability to manage our lives well. Love can do what money can't do. Love God. Love life. Love yourself and love each other. Welcome each day as a chance to learn to love more. If you and your mate can stay focused on strengths, intimacy will follow. By the time you have been together as long as we have, you will adore each other.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages

People often ask my husband and me how long we have been married. The answer, 58 years, usually brings another question, "What is your secret?" Harvard-educated social researcher and best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn has spent the last three years interviewing and surveying 1000 couples to get an answer to that question.

What Feldhahn found was surprisingly simple. She shares the five top things a woman wants from her man and the five top things a man wants from his woman. No one can change another person but simple easily learned ways to make your mate feel loved can go a long way toward creating a successful marriage. Everett and I can relate to many of the common areas of conflict Ms. Feldhahn addresses in her book.

Small actions carry surprising power. Focusing on the positive changes everything. When you believe the best about someone you are more likely to get the best. Keep score in a positive way. "You have worked hard all day. I will clean up the kitchen." At this stage in our own marriage we are more likely to try to get the other one to do less so we can do more.

When it comes to anger, we have found it is important to own our anger and tell our partner, "I am angry." Don't try to resolve it while you are angry. Spend time asking yourself, "why am I making myself angry about this?" Avoid blame. Cool down and then report to your mate what is going on with you.

There is much more and if you truly want to know the answer to the question, "what is the secret to happy marriage", you will find some surprising answers in this book. Relationship truly is the therapeutic process leading to maturity and a satisfying happy life.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Make Your Business Trip a Get-Away

The beautiful Anaheim Marriott Hotel

Turn a Business Trip into a Romantic Adventure

By carefully planning you can turn a business trip into a romantic getaway. Our recent trip to the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference became an opportunity to enjoy the luxury of staying at Anaheim's beautiful Marriott Hotel. Everett, who is retired, visited the hotel's large fitness center every morning after seeing me off to a long morning of classes. The fitness center was complimentary for guests.

We enjoyed breakfast at Marriott's tasty breakfast buffet. The toppings for the steel ground oatmeal included brown sugar; three kinds of raisins; slivered almonds; and dried cranberries, bananas and coconut. What a delightful way to start the day.

Our cozy hotel room had a balcony overlooking the hotel swimming pool and the city beyond. Everett explored the area surrounding the massive Convention Center, the Hilton Hotel across the street from the Marriott and the huge area covered by Disneyland. He discovered Disneyland has an interesting little shopping center. During the mild sunny afternoons he spent time on the balcony reading and writing.

I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my lover. Toward the end of the week I skipped a couple of evening classes to have a leisurely dinner at a restaurant chosen by him. I wonder if many of the 8,000 therapists from all over the world who attended the conference brought mates to enjoy the romantic getaway which made learning much more fun.