Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Our Christmas getaway now seems much like dreams of a childhood Santa Claus. How did we become overnight guests at the splendid Ritz Carlton Hotel on the shores of a blustery Pacific Ocean at the tiny town of Half Moon Bay? It started with Scott Angeletti, a creative tour director for Sports Leisure Travel. He had hosted trips to the Ritz Hotel at Lake Tahoe as well as tours along the coast to Monterey and Carmel. He wondered if it would be possible to create a two night-three day trip to the Bay Area and negotiate an affordable stay at the Ritz on one of those nights. He succeeded.
We signed up for the trip in May so we had half a year to look forward to it. It far exceeded our expectations. On Saturday Scott served box lunches on the bus. Our first stop was at Filoli Gardens mansion. For nine days in December nearly two thousand volunteers turn the ground floor of the mansion into an upscale Christmas store to raise money to keep the gardens open to the public.
After two hours of shopping we headed to the San Jose Fairmont Hotel located next to the Ceasar Chavez Park which had been turned into a delightful Christmas park with a couple of hundred decorated Christmas trees, rides for the children, scenes of elves and Santa Claus preparing for Christmas, an outdoor ice skating rink, carnival rides, food stations and vendors. Many families enjoyed the excitement and splendor. Lost in this two block wonderland was one nativity scene. I wondered how many of those children know why we celebrate Christmas.
Two blocks north of the Fairmont Hotel the grand Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph hosted the debut Gaude choral group concert at 8 o'clock that night. Four men and four women made up the group. They sang old German songs written as far back as the fifteenth century. The excellent acoustics in the magnificent cathedral accented the perfect harmony of the singers. A great experience!
The following day we ate an amazing brunch at the Hayes Mansion, another place with a fascinating Bay area family story. Waiting for us that evening on the grand plaza by the sea was the lighting of the Christmas tree. Seats were set up in rows and the large fire pits were lit early. A local high school boys choir entertained with Christmas songs, no traditional carols. The MC announced the winners
of the gingerbread houses lining the hotel halls. Santa Claus rode down the hill by the ocean in a golf cart. With a couple of children from the audience he lit the Christmas tree. Christmas messages and pictures were projected onto the large hotel wall.
We arrived home Monday evening full of Christmas, but looking for a missing "Merry Christmas" after being saturated with "Happy Holidays" for three days. I wish my readers a Merry Christmas and of course Happy Holidays as well.
Friday, November 6, 2015
As we headed to the Northern California coast after our longest absence, I could feel any tension or anxious thoughts disappear into the misty cloudy fog that had our windshield wipers active after a long summer rest. "So which route shall we take?" I asked my husband. "You're driving. You decide."
I decided to drive west through the middle of the old town of Petaluma divided by Hiwy 101. It was a cloudy moody day. The usually lush green farmland was so dry the cattle and sheep no longer looked like the pampered animals in television ads.
We met dozens of campers and cars pulling trailers leaving the coast. Not much traffic going west. A fork in the road pointing south to picturesque Pt. Reyes always tempts me to go that way. Sometimes I do, but on this day I hung tight to the steering wheel and turned north on Hiwy l through Tamales, best known as the place to turn toward popular Dillon Beach.
Ten miles north on Hiwy l we came to Bodega Bay where we had lunch at the Tides which has windows facing the Bay. A curtain of fog rose from the water blocking the view. The Tides is expensive so we had breakfast for the second time.
As we drove the familiar curves of this famous ocean highway I couldn't resist rolling down my window to let in the sounds, the smell, and the feel of the wonderful Pacific Ocean. On through Jenner, over the cliffs toward Ft. Ross, Salt Point, past Sea Ranch to Gualala and the Sea Cliff Motel where we would spend two wonderful nights bathed in the wonder of this magical place.
California got its first really soaking rain after a long dry spell. The next morning the fog was gone. The sun turned the sky into a beautiful blue with white fluffy clouds. The ocean matched it with its own blue with white capped waves. We took a long walk beside this noisy beauty intoxicated by the stimulation of all of our senses. I love the ocean. For me it is the perfect getaway every time..
Monday, October 12, 2015
|Little church in Genoa|
Sunshine in October warmed our bodies and spirits as we relaxed at Tahoe Ridge last week. Travelers winding their way up Kingsbury Grade believe the Tower building at the Ridge is a fairy castle guarding the lush green Carson Valley seven thousand feet below. Relaxing in our seventh floor apartment makes it easy to let go of the pressure of appointments, deadlines, meetings, and assorted obligations of every day life.
We brought books and writing material. Everett read Matthew and Mark in the New Testament, something he had been wanting to do again. I read my mother's diaries from 1943 and 1944. I realized I had some revising to do on the memoir I am writing.
Glorious sunrises and sunsets entertained us. We had spectacular views from our bedroom, living room, and balcony. At night, lights turn the valley into a fairy land impossible to capture with our little camera. Car headlights turn into eyes of wild animals creeping up the seven mile grade. They disappear around the curves.
The highlight of the week came when our daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters joined us for the weekend. On Sunday morning we all went to a tiny church in Genoa at the base of the mountain range. We got the last row of empty seats. The pastor invited Emily and Kendra to ring the bell. The girls were enchanted. "It's just like the little house on the prairie," they said. We felt the warmth and love of the strangers who amazingly are our brothers and sisters.
Get-aways are good for relationship!
Monday, September 21, 2015
Monday, September 14, 2015
Joyful Parenting Coaching
TIP 3: Using "yes, and" to Move the Conversation Along Positively
In the world of Improvisational Acting, one of the rules is to keep the action moving forward, so not blocking a person's story is key to success. Improv actors do this by saying in response to whatever their partner says. "Yes, (that's true! you're right!) and ....."
Listen to how a couple might use this technique to build a warm connection between them:
Bob: I want to go to Hawaii so we can hang out under an umbrella.
Barbara: Yes, and we can drink pina coladas with little umbrellas in them. Those are so festive!
Bob: Yes, and I read a review of a restaurant right by the water that has festive colored lights.
Barbara: Yes, and I could try the Mahi Mahi fish and we could walk on the beach after dinner.
Bob: That sounds nice. I love the sound of the waves.
Suppose that Barbara doesn't really want to go to Hawaii. She knows how expensive it is and is worried that such a trip will badly eat into their savings. Going to Hawaii just to make Bob happy does not serve the family in the long run. Barbara is likely to get tense and tight lipped about every expense on the trip thereby ruining Bob's pleasure. The family might need that money later. This is where the variation of "yes and" comes unto play.
By using "Yes and" Barbara has allowed herself to imagine what she might enjoy about Hawaii and has built up a lot of warm feeling between her and Bob. Now it is time to introduce her concerns. Let's see how this goes:
Barbara: I love the waves, too, and AT THE SAME TIME I am worried that Hawaii will be too expensive.
Bob: Yes, that's true, and AT THE SAME TIME, we saved by not going away at Christmas.
Babara: I'm glad we put some money away, and AT THE SAME TIME I would like to avoid the cost of a long plane flight.
Bob: Yeah, I checked prices and it will be peak season, and AT THE SAME TIME I get so much benefit from being near the water. It is worth it to me.
Bob and Barbara are getting close to moving into the brainstorming phase to find a win-win solution. Notice that now when Barbara brings up the issue of cost, Bob slips in that he has considered cost. He already checked the price of tickets, so it is not that he is insensitive to their budget. His last statement also reveals how it is being near the water that provides so much benefit to him. This would be a great place for them to begin to generate alternate ideas that meet Bob's need to relax near the water and Barbara's need to not go over budget. Tahoe? Santa Cruz? Lake Shasta? It is easy to imagine that this warm, lively conversation will continue to move along toward a solution that works for them both. They will end up with a good plan, but more importantly, the process of coming up with that plan will leave them feeling more loving and connected. Talk about WIN! WIN!
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Guest blogger Elisabeth Stitt
Joyful Parenting Coaching
Expressing Emotions with I-Statements--Tip 2
Often times we make negative assumptions about what our partner is thinking or feeling without doing a reality check. Here's an example: Barbara is washing the dishes while Bob sits on the couch reading. As she furiously scrubs, she mght be seething thinking, "It's not fair that I'm working and he's just sitting there relaxing." She might go on to tell herself, "he's okay letting me wash the dishes because I'm home all day and he thinks I don't do anthing all day." In reality, Bob might not be aware of her at all. He might just be enjoying his good book. Or he might have his own internal dialogue going. He might be thinking, "I am so stressed from work. I just need 30 minutes to veg out. I wish she'd stop doing the dishes and relax for a bit!" Fear of an argument can make it hard to reasonably ask our partner's motivations.
An I-Statement is a technique for introducing a difficult topic in a gentle way. Here is an I-Statement Barbara migt have used to express her negative emotions. Addressing Bob, she would say, "When you sit on the couch reading while I am doing dishes, I feel resentful because I am working and you have leisure time."
Let's look at each part. The I-Statement starts by identifying one concrete situation. It goes on to express a feeling (in this case resentment) and the underlying cause of the emotion (Barbara would like to be resting, too. but feels she cannot until the dishes are done). Notice what the I-Statement does not say. It is not used for broad general character defamations (like You're so inconsiderate!) and it does not go over past history (as in "You always let me do dishes and never help).
What should Bob's response be? this would be an excellent time for Active Listening.He might say something like "You are frustrated that you are doing dishes alone. It doesn't feel fair." By not defending himself Bob gives Barbara a chance to off load her emotions and tell her whole story. At the end of the Active Listening he might ask Barbara, "What would you like me to do?" On the other hand, let's say Bob gets defensive in response to Barbara's I-Statement and says something like, "You're always criticizung me."
Now it's Barbara's turn to do some Active Listening. Yes, this might seem counterintuitive: She has introduced her feelings gently with the intent of introducing a constructive conversation. Why is she the one then to open her heart to Bob's feelings and motivations? Because eventually it works. That is why. Do enough Active Listening and eventually Bob will be ready to hear Babara's concerns and even honor her requests.When enough good will has been built up --and Bob feels seen and heard and respected--then when Barbara says, "It would make a difference to me if you would help with the dishes," Bob is likely to jump up and grab a dishtowel.
Posted by Elva Anson at 3:52 PM
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Guest bolgger Elisabeth Stitt
Joyful Parenting Coaching
ACTIVE LISTENING--Tip One
Active listening, a difficult skill to learn, gives the talker an opportunity to be heard without judgment. The listener gets not just the facts, but also the speaker's feelings.
Here's how to do it
* Listen: Don't comment, disagree or evaluate
* Use your body: Eye contact, head nods, brief comments like "yes" or "uh-huh"
* Prompt information: "Tell me more." "What else?"
* Repeat back: Recap the gist said and guess at emotions
Practice first with topics that are not controversial. For example, you might ask your partner about a happy childhood memory or a person he admires. Your main purpose is to open up space in the relationship. By listening to your partner's feelings and motivation first you activate your own empathy and secondly you gather a lot of information about what is important to your partner. This provides useful data when you are looking for solutions that will work for both of you. It feels good to be heard. Chances are, you felt listened to early in your relationship.
Once you have mastered active listening with noncontroversial topics, try a more touchy topic like "What is a lesson you would really like our kids to learn?" This can be scary. Your parner might say something that really throws you for a loop like "I'd really like the kids to learn to hang glide." Your comfort levels might go into high alert. What?! What kind of a parent lets his kids go up into the sky attached to a giant kite?! If you can take a deep breath and settle down into some active listening, you may learn something really interesting. Perhaps your partner did it as a young man. It was the most alive he has ever felt and he wants the kids to experience that intense feeling of being alive. Perhaps he felt closer to God. Perhaps he was terrified and he wants his kids to face their fears. Listening to your partner share such a meaningful experience would change how you feel about what he wants for the children. You would be in a better position to negotiate something you can both live with.
For more on relationship skills ; talking and listening scan back to March12, 2014 (Own Your Feelings) ; Nov. 19, 2013 (Good Listeners are Hard to Find) ; Nov. ll,2013 (Listening is Active Not Passive)
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Learn How to Co-Parent
Guest blogger Elisabeth Stitt
Do you love your spouse but find it hard to parent together? You are not alone. Because we care about parenting it is hard to be reasonable when it comes to our kids. When our parenting partner has a different idea about what is appropriate, yes, it is hard. Very few people are good listeners. Learning skills to resolve this problem can lead to better relationship between parents and children.
Tomorrow I will introduce you to a skill that will make you one of those few. It will help you learn more about your spouse and it will open communication with your children.
(from Elva--these posts were written by Elisabeth for my parenting blog. The skills work in communication between partners as well.)
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Have you reached your forties and fifties? You feel smug and safe because you are still married? Be careful. You are beginning to feel your age. You have become conscious of age categories when running a marathon or participating in a bicycle race. You have to watch what you eat. For the first time you discover you have gained weight. It happened to me when we had just returned from a week long backpack trip.
Your children are grown. Your bucket list may have too few things crossed off. You may be looking at new sports cars or a trip to Australia. Maybe you are thinking of going back to college. When you read about a big road project that will be completed in 2045, you calculate if you should get excited about that. You begin to wonder if you have passed the midpoint of your life. Do you have less time to live than the time you have already lived?
YOU ARE FREE
Be mindful. Renew priorities.
This is a good time to take a look at what you want for the rest of your life. Three things are important.
Number One. Prioritize your faith in God.What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish by the end of your life? What are your gifts and talents? What brings you joy?
Number Two. Prioritize your marriage. How connected are you to your mate? What do you enjoy about each other? Have you shared each other's stories? Is there more to discover? Do you share things on your bucket lists? Make time for each other. Renew the kind of love you showed each other when you were courting. You are alone again with each other. Flirt. Play. Enjoy. Support, Discover.
Number Three. Support your family. Stay in touch. Promote family reunions. Get together when you can. Encourage. Love. Embrace.
If you do these things, you will become soul mates and adore each other after 60 years of marriage.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
In listening to the other fourteen parenting experts on the Parenting Summit during the past three weeks, what struck me was the powerful advice given by the experts who are mothers themselves. All of them described the impact of the birth of that first child.
The surprising feeling of helplessness, loneliness, crushing responsibility, complete entrapment and the guilt for those feelings kept us looking ahead with some anxiety. Feeling such feelings just added to the hopelessness, because we tried to hide the fear and show only the joy.Every mother who shared on this program wanted children and loved the baby, but somehow the complexity and power of the conflicting feelings came as a shock. The birth of the baby changed our lives forever.
Women handle this huge change in different ways. The women in the Summit were women open to learning. Most of them had jobs teaching, counseling, writing or in some way significantly connected to parenting or with children. Some of the experts shared clinical information. I am sure that was helpful to some listeners. Some were young and some were old like me.
More and more the clinical information makes me smile because reading books like most of us did before becoming parents didn't prevent the panic. Help! How do I do this and what if I make a mistake! An awesome responsibility which can lead to putting the marriage and yourself on hold. That never works in relationship.
I plan to share some valuable follow-up in the next few weeks. You can still access the free summit for the next few days by going to http://www.elisabethstitt.com/purposeful-parenting-summit. Once you have registered you will get an email with Day l, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and so on. Click on the icon. My interview is on Day 4. Interviews are 30 minutes. The information is excellent and all it takes is a little of your time.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Purposeful Parenting: Expert Advice
Parenting Coach, Elisabeth Stitt, has put together a free online event called, "Purposeful Parenting: Expert Advice on Creating Your Own Family Plan". She has invited me to participate as an expert speaker along with 14 other professionals in fields like nutrition, financial literacy, emotional resiliency, talking to kids, how to stay grounded as a parent, and relationship skills. I am thrilled to be a part of it
To get your free access go to http://www.elisabethstitt.com/purposeful-parenting-summit. Once you register, starting July 6, 2015, there will be a new audio interview released every day. It's that easy! Audio recordings can be accessed by phone, computer, in your car, ipad, or even during your workout. Curious about who will be speaking along side me? Go to http://www.elisabethstitt.com/new-page-l/ and check it out.
Again, the only way to get access to all this free awesome advice (and my interview with Elisabeth) is sign up here: http://www.elisabethstitt.com/purposeful-parenting-summit/.
Let me know if you get something out of my interview "Becoming Soul Mates and Great Parents, Too" It airs on Wed. July 8th. Soul Mate relationship faces many challenges after that first baby arrives. I would love to hear your stories.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Wesley Turnipseed on Facebook
Several years ago I wrote a blog about burned toast and relationship. When I saw Wesley Turnipseed's piece, I thought it was worth adding to my soul mate tips. Enjoy.
One night that stands out in my mind is when my mother had made dinner for us after a long hard day at work. She placed a plate of jam and extremely burned toast in front of my dad. Not slightly burnt but completely blackened toast.
I was waiting to see if anyone noticed the burnt toast and would say anything. Dad just ate the toast and asked me if I did my homework and how my day was. I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember hearing my mom apologizing to Dad for burning the toast. I will never forget what he said.
"Sweetie, I love burned toast."
Later that night I went to my dad to tell him good-night and ask if he really liked his toast burned. He put his arm on my shoulder and said,
Your momma put in a very long day at work today and she was very tired. And besides. A burnt toast never hurts anyone, but you know what does? Harsh words! He continued, "Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I'm not the best at hardly anything. I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like every other human. What I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other's faults and choosing to celebrate each other's differences is one of the most important keys for creating a healthy, growing and lasting relationship. Life is too short to wake up with regrets. Love the people who treat you right and have compassion for the ones who don't."
Enjoy life now!
Sunday, April 26, 2015
The idea of Elva and I both writing about our getaway to Kauai didn't appeal to me at first. We have been to Kauai before, but this was different. We had a suite overlooking the ocean near Wailua at the Kauai Coast Resort. We have always enjoyed the ocean. I often say the waves rolling in on the beach and going back out to the sea are like a mental massage that takes our cares away. We sit on our balcony, feel the cool ocean breeze and watch the waves relentlessly wash up on the shore.
It is a place like this where we talk to each other the most and share our inner feelings. On this trip I finished "The Story" which is a condensation of the entire Bible. I also read Elva's book, "Becoming Soul Mates" from cover to cover. I had read parts of it before. I am amazed at how close we've become over the last 60 years. I can hardly believe I was ever as young as I was when some of the things she wrote about happened. It has been good to refresh my memories. I am very glad Elva said yes to me when I proposed to her so long ago. Getaways are wonderful!!
|Ours is the closest balcony on the 3rd floor.|
By the time I was 45 years old I had visited 16 countries, but I had never been to Hawaii. One day the mail brought a brochure from the Psychiatric Congress advertising an interesting workshop to be held in the spring. This was a chance to go to Hawaii and pick up half of my 36 required CEU's at the same time. I signed up and talked my husband into joining me.
The day we arrived in Lihue I remember smelling the exotic fragrance of thousands of flowers. All the way from the airport to our hotel at Poipu Beach I was catching my breath in awe at the beauty surrounding us. By the time we reached the Tunnel of Trees, I had run out of words to adequately match my feelings of wonder. Paradise is an overworked word on the island of Kauai.
We have just returned from another week in Kauai. In spite of the devastation caused by a hurricane in 1992, the island looks much the same. The biggest change since we were here a few years ago is the increase in traffic. I don't know whether it is because of an increase in population, an increase in the number of tourists, or because more residents can afford cars; maybe all of those things.
This getaway has been as close to heaven as anything I can imagine. Our third floor ocean front unit at Kauai Coast Resort with its balcony just 50 to 60 feet from the ocean is truly a memory creating place. We have filled it with hugs and kisses, words of love, and expressoins of joy. Hawaii is truly a place where love comes easily.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
by Guest Blogger--Michele Penn Zumwalt
Yesterday morning while John Zumwalt was sleeping, I decided to look at our route for today. We had planned to drive up the California coast and I was secretly worried about the roads and CLIFFS we would be driving. As I scanned the blue line up Hwy 1, all along the coast, my heart started to pound and my hands got sweaty. I decided right then and there. I was NOT going on that road.
When John woke up, I had two routes to Carmel all laid out for him. My argument for the second route looked like this: The original route along the coast would take an HOUR longer than just heading back to the inland Hwy 101 and going straight up.
I said. "It will be much faster and then we can spend more time in Carmel."
After 21 years of marriage, I cannot hide much and persuasion is easy. He simply said, "Baby, I'll
go whichever way you want to go, but I thought you wanted to see this part of the coastline."
He left the decision to me. Encouraging me to face my fears and promising to drive SLOW. we said prayers and began the most beautiful drive we've ever been on together. When we reached Carmel , I told Johnny Z. all of the things I would NEVER have done without him: scuba diving, karate, and much more. I told him how grateful I am for his gentle, encouraging way and his constant confidence in me.
This morning I woke up thanking God once again for opening my mind, for trying new things and for a husband who says, YOU CAN DO IT, and it will be FUN. You know what? It always is.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Yosemite! The word instantly brings back memories. A little girl looking forward to camping with her family. Watching the magic of falls made of fire after listening to "Let the Fire Fall" ring out through the valley. Wet hikes beside torrents of sparkling water. Mesmerized in a fairyland called "The Happy Isles" wondering what it would be like to jump into the water and let it take me along on all of the secret places it explores.
Other memories of waking up on a rainy night to hear and smell a bear in our tent. Hanging on to the tent pole to keep the tent from collapsing while our visitor noisily ate up all of our food and its containers. Cleaning cabins in the summer and on weekends at Camp Curry while I was a college student.
Nineteen-fifty-one was the year my friends and I visited the Ahwahnee and made the wish; some day I want to stay here overnight. That some day happened two weeks ago when my husband and I joined a Sports Leisure two day tour to the Ahwanhee Hotel in Yosemite.
It was just as magic as I hoped it would be. No snow, but enough rain to put on a great waterfalls and river show, new falls competing with the famous old ones. We could see Yosemite Falls from our hotel window.
We sat by a roaring fire in the giant lobby fireplace, ate in the magnificent dining room, admired Indian handiwork, took the hotel tour, this time as guests! All of this was arranged and managed for us by our tour director, Ramona Goodge who shared stories about the people, places, and history of this beautiful National Park.
To top it all off, when at dinner my husband, Everett, requested our song, "Indian Love Call", the pianist knew it. We had had to adopt a new song because musicians would tell us they had never heard of "Indian Love Call." Looking into each other's eyes, listening to "our song" we both agreed crossing off getaways on our bucket list excites us.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Nine out of ten men believe intimacy means sex. Interestingly, when women complain about lack of intimacy, men don't understand what they want. For intimacy to occur, there must be interest, respect, warmth, acceptance and trust. It involves understanding, talking, and listening. It requires an awareness of being loved and feeling loving.
The dictionary definition of intimacy: "intrinsic, innermost...marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity, marked by warm friendship, suggesting informal warmth or privacy, of a very personal private nature." Is it any wonder relationship is difficult for everyone? The huge differences in perceptions of what love is and how to show it, lead to hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and the often spoken comment, "If you really loved me, you would........" We can't even agree on what intimacy is.
The challenge to those looking for a soul mate relationship is to accept the fact you must learn from your partner. That means spending time together sharing your stories, beliefs, and perceptions. What are your dreams, passions and concerns? You can open my book, "Becoming Soul Mates" at almost any two pages and find something to talk about. Little by little you will create the intimacy that leads to becoming soul mates.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
How to Become Soul Mates
Even the most reclusive person cannot escape relationships. Start with you. Think back to the first, second, and third years of your life. Even if you don't have conscious memories of those years, you can probably reconstruct some of the things you do know into some kind of idea of what your first relationships must have been like.
Did you have both parents? Do you even know who both parents are? Where did you live? Farm? City? Country? What was your dwelling place? House? Apartment? Street? Were you wanted? Planned? Were you welcomed by one person or many people? What kind of caregivers were a part of your infancy? Do you have siblings? What position are you in your family? What happened to you during the first three years of your life has everything to do with this therapeutic process we call relationship.
Responding to care or lack of care not only affects early learning to talk, walk, and react. It also affects the development of perceptions about ourselves and others. Most of us form distorted perceptions of ourselves and others from the beginning. Identifying and sorting out early perceptions becomes a lifetime task in relationship.
Throw away generalizations and ideals, expectations, and comparisons. See your self as an individual, different from everyone else. In acceptance of that difference, we give the gift of intimacy. That is the foundation for learning to be soul mates.