8 Aug 2017 Finding a way to kinship with all and Pentagon commissioned report on PTSD in US military

Good morning to you.  It’s 9:16 am as I begin to write to you on this cooler, pleasant day.  I perused the news headlines and this made me think of the snippet of the dream I remember before waking up.  It was the oddest thing to dream about too!  I was standing with Brian Williams of MSNBC and he had a bunch of awards around his neck.  He seemed so happy to see me and like he knew me.  As we were talking, I saw actor Chris Pratt and some other man walking through a door and they seemed to be avoiding me lol.  I don’t know why they popped into my dreams but I hope they are doing well!


My thoughts about what I’ve been seeing in the headlines brought me to one of my favorite web pages.  With the second spin of their prayer wheel, this message came up.  I feel this message in my heart…..the age old questions we just need to ask ourselves to bring people and nations together instead of pushing ourselves further apart.  How are we the same?  What are all the things we have in common?  What good things do we share and how do we make the world full of more of those good things?  My dream for this world is that all of us might find a way to focus on how we are the same and less on how we are different.  Build more bridges so that we can meet one another.  Break down (and never waste the money to build) the tangible and intangible walls that keep us apart.


In striving to recognize the primacy of Fire and Light,
I feel kinship with my Zoroastrian brothers and sisters.
In striving to obey the Ten Commandments,
I feel kinship with my Jewish brothers and sisters.
In striving to be kind to neighbor and the needy,
I feel kinship with my Christian brothers and sisters.
In striving to be compassionate to creatures great and small,
I feel kinship with my Buddhist-Jaina brothers and sisters.
In striving to surrender myself completely to God Almighty,
I feel kinship with my Muslim brothers and sisters.
In the recognition that wisdom flows from enlightened masters,
I feel kinship with my Sikh brothers and sisters.
In remembering that serving people should be the goal of religion,
I feel kinship with my Baha’i brothers and sisters.
In my respect and reverence for Nature that sustains us,
I feel kinship with my Native American brothers and sisters.
In feeling that these and more are all paths to the same Divinity,
I feel kinship with my Hindu brothers and sisters.
In my love and laughter, joy and pain,
I feel kinship with all my fellow humans.
In my need for nourishment and instinct to live on,
I feel kinship with all beings on the planet.
In my spiritual ecstasy with this wondrous world,
I feel kinship with the Cosmic Whole.

universal reflection – v. v. raman – cape of good hope – 1999
The report about the Pentagon commissioned study regarding PTSD in the United States military of course caught my eye yesterday.  The aversion to the taking and or loss of another living being’s life  is something most of us have in common.  Suicide is personal for me and as a medically retired veteran who falls into the category of the study, it’s even more personal!  It’s important to note the study found that the use of firearms is the most common way veterans are committing suicide.   It’s also interesting to note how old this study is 2014!  Why isn’t it a 2017 report?!  Doesn’t seem like they are really staying current on this issue to me. 

Troops at risk for suicide not getting needed care, report finds

Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY , TEGNA 4:23 PM. EDT August 07, 2017

WASHINGTON – Pentagon health care providers failed to perform critical follow-up for many troops diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome who also were at high risk for suicide, according to a new study released Monday by the RAND Corp.

Just 30% of troops with depression and 54% with PTSD received appropriate care after they were deemed at risk of harming themselves. The report, commissioned by the Pentagon, looked at the cases of 39,000 troops who had been diagnosed in 2013 with depression, PTSD or both conditions. USA TODAY received an advance copy of the report.

“We want to ensure that they get connected with behavioral health care,” said Kimberly Hepner, the report’s lead author and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization. “The most immediate action — removal of firearms — can help to reduce risk of suicide attempts.”

The report, titled Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System, also found that one third of troops with PTSD were prescribed with a medication harmful to their condition.

From 2001 to 2014, about 2.6 million troops have deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. Estimates on how many have been affected by post-traumatic stress vary widely — from 4% to 20%, according to the report. Meanwhile, suicide among troops spiked crisis proportions. The rate of suicide doubled between 2005 and 2012, according to the Pentagon. It has stabilized but has not diminished; the rate remains about the same for the part of the American public that it compares with, about 20 per 100,000 people.

The key intervention to prevent suicide involves talking to the service member about their access to firearms, Hepner said. It’s also one of the most sensitive, given the nature of their work and that many troops own their own guns.

“This is important for service members because suicide death by firearms is the most common method,” Hepner said. “So the provider needs to have that discussion about access to firearms. Not only their service weapon but their access to personal weapons.”

Guns accounted for 68% of suicides by active-duty troops in 2014, according to the Pentagon.

Commanders can be enlisted to put weapons out of troops’ reach, and family members may be asked to do so at home, she said. One reason that doesn’t happen more often, she said, is the stigma attached to mental health issues, and the effect notifying superiors may have on careers.

“These can be quite difficult conversations to have with service members,” Hepner sid. “Certainly limiting access to their service weapon would involve notifying their command.”

Researchers also found that one-third of troops with depression had received a prescription for benzodiazepine, an anti-anxiety medication.

“It is explicitly mentioned in guidelines for treatment of PTSD that benzodiazepines are contraindicated,” Hepner said. “We continue to see a relatively high rate of prescription for a medication we would hope would not be prescribed.”

Link to blog I wrote about subject:  https://saymber.com/2017/03/17/17-march-2017-more-distractions-from-the-affordable-care-act-fiasco-the-us-governments-latest-solution-for-paying-for-the-true-cost-of-war-and-bernie-sanders-repeated-warnings-going-unheard/

Back in March of this year, the House voted to approve a bill that would allow these same veterans easier access to firearms!  Very sad.   What their doing that said to me was they’d rather make it easier for veterans to die than to do the hard part, the funding, taking responsibility for restoring them to meaningful and productive lives!  It’s easy to pluck a 18 year old from a small town, dress them up in a uniform, put a gun in their hands and send them off to war than it is to put together that same person who is now half or less the person physically and or psychologically they were after they come back from the war zone. 

Source Internet: Quote from a past Governor of my home State SD, George McGovern,


House OKs Bill Making It Tougher To Keep ‘Mentally Incompetent’ Vets From Buying Guns

Enlarge this image

A House-approved bill would require a court hearing before a U.S. veteran is deemed mentally unfit to own a gun. Here, rifles are seen at a gun shop in Merrimack, N.H., last year. Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption

Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

A House-approved bill would require a court hearing before a U.S. veteran is deemed mentally unfit to own a gun. Here, rifles are seen at a gun shop in Merrimack, N.H., last year.

Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET

The House has approved legislation that would make it harder to keep veterans who are “mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent” or prone to blackouts from buying guns. Critics of the bill say it could raise the suicide rate among veterans — a rate that has risen in the past decade.

At least a dozen Democrats joined Republicans to support the bill, which was approved by a 240-175 vote.

The legislation would add a new hurdle to the process of blocking a veteran whose mental competence is in question from owning a gun. While the Department of Veterans Affairs currently adds the names of veterans it deems unfit to own a deadly weapon to a federal background check system, the bill would require a court hearing before that determination is made.

“About 170,000 disabled veterans are deemed mentally incompetent by the VA,” NPR’s Quil Lawrence reports. “A VA-approved guardian makes some medical and financial decisions for them. Their names go on an FBI list so they can’t purchase guns — House Republicans sponsored the Veterans’ Second Amendment Protection Act to change that.”

Backers of the bill, such as Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., the chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, say it would help veterans avoid being caught up in a bureaucracy that can make it tough to remove a negative label. Roe also cited the importance of “removing the stigma of mentally ill people — that because someone is mentally ill, they’re a danger to themselves or others.”

On the other side of the issue, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., said, “When a determination is made that a veteran is mentally incompetent or incapacitated — for whatever reason — that determination is made to protect them, not to punish or deprive them.”

Critics of the bill include retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Speaking to Quil about why he opposed the bill, Chiarelli said, “Every single study you can read on this shows you that people in crisis — because suicide is such a spontaneous event — when they separate themselves from personal weapons the incidence of suicide goes down tremendously.”

The House legislation will now go to the Senate. It would change U.S. law by adding this section to sections governing veterans’ benefits:

Conditions for treatment of certain persons as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes

“In any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.”.

15 May 2017 Drawings and From Addiction to Academy Founder: Dr Teri DeLane Teaches Kids to Trust (Daily Good feature)

Good morning to you – how are you today?  Kyle and I had a great start to our day, got breakfast at the Waffle House and groceries.  I love the “easy days” like this that we have together.  We joked that before we know it, October will be here and he’ll be working again! Never take the easy times for granted as they are fleeting!

Did some drawings yesterday but mostly resting and enjoyed the beautiful day.  We moved our swinging bench under the pecan tree when we did the pergola demolition and I like it there.  The view through the leaves to the sky is like a kaleidoscope.   Since we removed the pergola, we’ve had many more birds visiting and now have a very angry squirrel!  He likes to taunt Spot and was used to climbing down the roof and hopping on the pergola to get to the pecan tree.  Well Saturday he attempted to do this but didn’t realize the pergola was gone and I heard a loud screech and suddenly there was  a panicked squirrel in front of me!  I was mortified because I know how much Spot has been wanting to kill this little antagonist!  He was scrambling all over the screen and finally found his way back up to the huge cottonwood next door.  Once he was at a higher elevation,W he let the squirrel expletives fly!!!  OH he was pissed!!

We got to talk to our Mom’s and that was a blessing.   My Mom was up at her garden planting!  She has such a green thumb. If she lived closer I know our mess for garden plots would be doing more than growing rogue potato plants!  Kyle’s Mom finally got a tour of where Kyle, his brother and Dad work as part of their day.  It’s the little things, just spending time doing things we enjoy with those we love and that is not just for Hallmark holidays, whenever we can, preferably each day!

The feature story from the Daily Good is a good one to share – sharing our experience, strength, hope and paying it forward!  That’s what recovery is all about.


It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. –Frederick Douglas

From Addiction to Academy Founder: Dr Teri DeLane Teaches Kids to Trust

–by MJ Vieweg, May 15, 2017

The following article is based on an Awakin Call interview with Teri Delane.You can listen to the recording of the interview or read the full-length transcript here. Founder and principal of San Francisco’s Life Learning Academy, Dr. Teri Delane says that the success of the school that serves the city’s highest-risk, highest-need students can be replicated. The school tracks a 99% graduation rate with 85% of the students going on to college. The kids that do so well here are the kids with histories of school failure, truancy, arrest and substance abuse. The ones that traditional school settings can’t provide for.

Having the right people in place is key to recreating the success and structure of the Life Learning Academy. “It is a process that anyone can replicate if you get the right group of people that are dedicated to wanting to do it,” said Delane.

The process Delane describes has it roots in the Delancey Street Foundation, a well-known San Francisco-based self-help program for drug addicts and ex-offenders. Delane, who earned two Master’s degrees before going on to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology, has first hand experience of the Delancey Street program – entering the program as an addict herself.

She started using heroin when she was just 14. She stopped going to school after ninth grade. By the time she was 20, she had overdosed three times, in addition to getting arrested for ‘all kinds of things’.

Delane learned more than how to stop using drugs at Delancey Street. She learned about being part of community and how to trust. “The Delancey Street Foundation saved my life by surrounding me with people who would not allow me to fail,” she said. “The process is taking a person and giving them the tools necessary to live by, thrive by, to grow, to push you to your best potential, to pull out your strengths instead of always concentrating on your weaknesses,” she said.

Delane got involved with running and developing programs for incarcerated men and women that were offshoots of the Delancey Street program while earning her PhD. A chance to work on a juvenile justice reform project as an advisor was pivotal. “My heart and soul has always been youth because I was someone that got it and I desperately wanted to have an impact on changing kids. Because I know that if you get in early and really work on them and help them learn to trust, they can change,” she said.

Research for the juvenile justice reform project revealed that the educational needs kids at risk for dropping out, substance abuse or criminal activity where not being met.

“We did research for over a year on the needs of at-risk kids in San Francisco. In certain neighborhoods, we started programs like Community Assessment and Referral Center, an agency that takes kids when they get arrested and finds ways of diverting them rather than locking them up,” she said. “The idea about developing this school came up when Mayor Willie Brown contacted Delancey Street because the juvenile justice system in San Francisco was falling apart.”

The Life Learning Academy has its roots in the Delancey Street model. Delane incorporated practices of the program that would could be integrated into a school environment: creating community, engagement, leadership, dress code and working toward rewards.

And she trains her teachers and staff. “It takes training to help people understand the complexity of teenagers. The way to engage them is a push and pull process. You give them a little and you take a little. I train the staff to teach the kids how to think about their thinking so they can tune in and help them understand that have control of themselves, but it takes a long time to change that. The kids are so engrossed in negative thinking and believing that they are failures. What you need to know about teenagers is that they push against structure and crave it at the same time.””

Delane knows the background of each student and shares that with the staff. Taking into account a student’s home environment, or even lack thereof, is key to understanding the behavioral issues that some of the student’s may have. Even so, the Life Learning Academy does not rely on counseling and has no counselors on staff. “We don’t need them,” she says, and recalls her own experience as an at-risk student in a traditional school system. “I was sent to counseling because I was acting out in school. No one said, “Wow, I get it. Her environment and her family are complete disasters. Now wonder she is angry, no wonder she is fighting.” It wasn’t me that had the disorder really; it was the family system.”

“The way I changed wasn’t through traditional therapy. It was by coming into an organization with people that helped me find my strengths, who yelled at me about the things that were going to get me in trouble and who kept me moving forward,” she said. “Because the kids keep having to go back into their family environments I want to teach them tools to make them stronger and not take them back through their history. Not to open them up but to empower them. They may go home to a horrible environment, but they spend a lot of their waking hours in a positive, fun, exciting place. Kids know that they can come in in the morning, be in a bad mood and people aren’t going to be on them and we will notice they are in a bad mood.”

Life Learning Academy has grades 9 through 12. There is a 6:1 teacher-student ratio. Class periods are longer than a typical high school class – typically an hour to two hours

which allows the teacher to engage with each student and to lead interactive activities.

A daily community lunch is prepared and served by students in culinary arts working alongside the school chef. A weekly rotation of assigned tables allows the kids to eat with three or four different classmates and staff members.

In addition to Culinary Arts, the curriculum includes Engineering, Organic Arts and Digital Media. Students are expected to take part in community service projects, internships and even to pursue part-time jobs.

And woven through it all is Delane’s philosophy of ‘each one, teach one’. “What we do at the school is a circle around the kids with a number of things that have to be included in their lives in order for them to have a full life: education, a job, having money and a portion of the circle has to be learning how to give back,” she said. “I teach that the way you get is by giving. Not by

sitting around talking about your problems. We don’t stay stuck in our past. What we do is work through it, let it go and move on.”

All the students know Delane’s background, see what she has accomplished and witness her giving back every day. And they know that the way she moved on from a troubled life is what they are learning at LLA. That realization allows trust to gain its foothold.

“I think I am really lucky because I have never forgotten where I come from,” Delane said. “And as a result, I have gratitude to the ends of the earth because there is no better feeling in the world than watching kids become part of this community and start thriving and growing.”

Based on an Awakin Calls interview. Awakin Calls are weekly conference calls that anyone from around the world can dial into at no charge. Each call features a unique theme and an inspiring guest speaker. MJ Vieweg is an Awakin Calls editor with a background in community journalism and social media, she is drawn to crafting stories that both inform and inspire readers.

Resonate quotes:
It’s better to go slow in the right direction than to go fast in the wrong direction.
Simon Sinek

Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.
Arthur Koestler

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. — LOVE this one!!!
T.S. Eliot

Source Internet: Alexander Grayson and Iona dancing NBC Dracula


Oh, children, don’t you weep,
If the road is long.
All of us are prayers of action,
On our way to God,
On our way to God.

Some of us are long and rambling,
Sometimes lost for years,
Some of us are small and holy,
Beautiful and clear.

Oh, children, don’t you weep,
If the road is long.
All of us are prayers of action,
On our way to God,
On our way to God.

prayers of action – tom rapp – 1973

27 March 2017 What Would You Give (Poem) – taking time to appreciate the gifts of Nature

Hello to  you – I hope this finds you well.  Keeping it really simple today as I’m tired and adjusting to a morning without the sounds of my sweet Kyle’s voice and presence!  Today is his first day at work.  Much love and hugs to you reader(s) and I hope you will find a way, your special way, to make this World a better place.  Even if you can just manage a smile  and a heartfelt “hello” to a stranger – that’s a start!

26 March 2017 – the feeling outside was kind of “off” with the storms building and lurking about so I didn’t spend much time outside yesterday. We decided this looked like Mars lol.

Quotes that resonated from the Daily good today:

The heart is the chief feature of a functioning mind.
Frank Lloyd Wright

Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise.
William Shakespeare

Loneliness and the feeling of being uncared for and unwanted are the greatest poverty.
Mother Teresa

One measure of leadership is the caliber of people who choose to follow you.
Dennis A. Peer

Today’s poem from my Grandma. To me, this Earth is more precious than money.

What Would You Give?

What would you give for a day in Spring,

With bright green grass and windy hills,

Sapphire skies and cotton clouds,

And the fairy gold of daffodils?

What would you give for a Summer day,

with your own rainbow overhead,

Butterflies and hummingbirds,

Hovering over each flower bed?

What would you give for an Autum day,

With leaves of orange and brown and gold,

The smell of wood smoke in the air,

And all of the love your heart could hold?

What would you give for a Winter day,

Whole landscapes glisten white with snow,

A blazing fire and af riend to share

Sweet memories of long ago?

Is there among us anyone,

With wealth enough to purchase all

This loveliness, no human hand

Can duplicate, however small?

What do you suppose the price

And value of such things would be?

No man who lives is rich enough,

….To buy what God gives us for free!


Creator of heaven and earth,
You are me,
I am you.

prayer of a navajo girl – early 20th century

Sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses….take a moment to appreciate the gifts of Nature going on all around us each and every day.

You have to stop and smell the roses sometimes!


The rose garden of Kayoichou Park, Japan – 4K garden rose extravaganza

15 Feb 2017 Free hand Circles (Drawing)

Good morning to you!  I hope this finds you well today and loved.  Yesterday evening I decided to continue my experiment with drawing shapes and started drawing circles.  As I did this, I wove them together like you might if you were making chainmail.  I’ve attempted (with some success as shown here) to make jewelry and other things in such a chainmail pattern before.  I will say it’s much easier to draw such patterns than it is to try and work with tiny metal rings lol.  I am thinking about exploring this drawing method to other shapes.  Lately I’ve been enjoying  the exploration of and drawing of shapes versus people or objects.


Spin of the Prayer Wheel today:


The grief you cry out from draws you toward union. Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup. Listen to the moan of a dog for its master. That whining is the connection. There are love dogs no one knows the names of. Give your life to be one of them.

love dogs – mevlana jelaluddin rumi – 13th century

Much Love and Light to you today!

13 Feb 2017 Birthday Gratitude – Cherish the Day (Sade)

Good morning family!  How are you today?!  I hope this finds you well wherever and whenever you are as you visit here today.

This morning I woke to a dream about being in the presence of very talented female singers to include Sade and I was able to tell them how grateful and humbled I was to be with such women.   One of them, with tears in her eyes  was about to give me something, it looked like a single pearl, and then I woke up.

As I lay in bed I felt such gratitude to wake up next to my furry “baby boy” Link, my birthday present already 2 years ago!  Normally I am grateful for Kyle first thing each morning, but he was already out of bed lol.  As I contemplated getting up, I could hear in my head many variations of “Happy Birthday” to include one from the beginning of my relationship with Kyle playing the MMORPG FFXI, “Happy Birthday Prinzessa (German word for Princess).”  He used to always call me “milady.”   It was like hearing and feeling all the voices and intentions of people living and dead who can’t be with me to celebrate today.  Kyle even made breakfast for us which I thought was so sweet!

As is tradition, I’m teary today.  I always get teary, in a good way, on my birthdays!  I get so full of gratitude and the love I feel for my family and friends that it spills out my eyes lol!  I am just so grateful to have arrived to celebrate my 49th bday!

Much love, hugs and light to you!



There is only one time
when it is essential to awaken.

That time is now.

jack kornfield

Buddha’s Little Instruction Book, New York: Bantam, 1994.

1 Feb 2017 Greater Good’s Top Books of 2016 and Automatons

Good morning family.  How are you this morning?  It’s Wednesday at 7:37 am as I write to you wherever and whenever you are as you visit me here.

I found this great list of recommended books on the daily good website I told about and I’ve included a link to Amazon, if you buy your books from there, should you want to see how much the book costs new, used etc.  I added many of these to my wish list!  In this time of confusion and alternative facts it’s time to read and learn!  For a long time in my life I was a parrot, gullible and easily influenced by others morals, values and opinions.   I still have to catch myself even now because outside pressure (peer pressure) is a very powerful trap for this sort of behavior!

What my Mom, family and friends have taught me along this journey was to find answers to questions for myself and form my own opinions, morals and values.  My Mom, from a very young age, encouraged me to read and to write.  She is the one who bought me my very first journal all the way back in Jr. High School and I have been writing ever since!  As I’ve mentioned, she and I agree to disagree a lot but one thing we both agree on is the importance of the written word and learning!

30 Aug 2016 - books that I ordered arrived today! Awesome!

Just examples of the types of books I read. Got these on 30 Aug 2016.

So I would encourage you to examine this list and others and visit your local libraries or sources of reading material.   Take control and own your personal power.  You are more than just an Automaton to be used by others and their agendas!

[ôˈtämədən, ôˈtäməˌtän]


  1. a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being.
    synonyms: robot · android · cyborg · droid · bot
    • a machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions, especially one capable of a range of programmed responses to different circumstances.
    • used in similes and comparisons to refer to a person who seems to act in a mechanical or unemotional way:
      “she went about her preparations like an automaton”


The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. –Dr. Seuss

Greater Good’s Top Books of 2016

–by Jill Suttie, Kira M. Newman, Diana Divecha, Laura Saponara , syndicated from Greater Good, Dec 23, 2016

In many ways, 2016 was a banner year for books related to our themes of compassion, kindness, empathy, happiness, and mindfulness. Judging from the number of books to arrive at our office, the science of a meaningful life is hitting its full stride, with more and more people recognizing how to apply new insights to our daily lives. Yet, while the number of books was encouraging, many of them seemed to repeat old themes and research, without offering much new in the way of insight.

That’s why many of our favorite books of 2016 do something a little bit extra: They take our science to a new level, looking at how schools, organizations, and society at large can apply the research to create a more compassionate world.

Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior, by Jonah Berger

We’re constantly making decisions about what to buy, wear, believe, and spend our time on. Most of us see these choices as determined by our inherent values and preferences—but according to Wharton professor Jonah Berger’s book Invisible Influence, that is partly an illusion.

In fact, we’re constantly, subconsciously affected by the thoughts and actions of others. Social influence can sometimes be harmful: Groups can easily slide into passive consensus, with whoever speaks first setting the tone of the entire discussion. The culture of certain organizations can make others feel excluded, the way “masculine” academic majors like computer science seem closed to women.

The key, Berger argues, is to use social influence for good. All it takes is one dissenting view to turn a misguided consensus into healthy disagreement. Creating a more diverse environment in your workplace or classroom can help more people feel like they belong, rather than feeling pressure to be the same as everyone else. In the end, recognizing the far-reaching power of social influence can not only make us more self-aware, Berger argues, but can also help us build a better society.


Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, by Robert Frank

our review of Success and Luck.” src=”http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Success_and_Luck_BB.jpeg”Read our review of Success and Luck.

Though we Americans tend to think that we are the masters of our own destiny and that hard work pays off, we are only partly right: Many of us succeed at work and in life because of luck, too, according to Robert Frank’s book, Success and Luck.

Research shows that the family we are born into (and even birth order), the opportunities available in our neighborhood, the schools we attend, and whether or not we have positive adult mentors—all of which are beyond our individual control—play an important role in whether or not we succeed in life.

Still, many of us buy into the myth of the “self-made man” (or woman) because we are unaware of the many psychological biases we hold that create the illusion of personal merit. The halo effect, hindsight bias, and attribution bias all play a role in making us feel that our success (or that of others) is largely due to character or smarts, rather than to the luck of our personal life circumstances.

Why is it important to recognize this? By clinging too much to the belief that we deserve our fortune, we are less likely to treat others with empathy or fairness. Frank hopes that understanding the role of luck in success will help people to embrace public policies that achieve more fairness for those who’ve been left behind economically through no fault of their own.



The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children, by Alison Gopnik

Are You a Gardener or a Carpenter for Your Child?”” src=”http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Gardener_and_the_Carpenter_BB.jpg”Read a Q&A with Alison Gopnik, “Are You a Gardener or a Carpenter for Your Child?

Today, many parents and educators work vigilantly to guide children along the “right” path, hoping it will lead to a bright future. Adults naturally believe they know just what that path should look like, often drawing on their own experience or colleagues’ advice. But this top-down approach often leaves parents feeling pressured, educators struggling, and youth stressed and lagging behind their international peers.

In The Gardener and the Carpenter, developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik argues against this approach, saying that parents don’t need to “mold” their children; they need to raise them in safe spaces filled with warmth, freedom to explore, and safety nets. Babies and toddlers are keen observers of their world, actively and accurately interpreting what people and objects do and why they do it—like little scientists. Nurturing their exploration is crucial for the human species to innovate, evolve, and adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

The Gardener and the Carpenter is a sophisticated read, not a prescriptive, how-to-parent book. But it does allow a peek under the hood of how children develop and what they really need from the caring adults around them. The book charts a strong, philosophical course, from which specific actions and decisions naturally follow.


Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Arlie Hochschild

Why We Need Empathy in the Age of Trump.”” src=”http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Strangers_in_Their_Own_Land_BB.jpg”Read a Q&A with Arlie Hochschild, “Why We Need Empathy in the Age of Trump.”

Sociologist Arlie Hochschild spent five years listening to devoted members of the Tea Party to write Strangers in Their Own Land. Her book helps explain why people who have struggled to survive the indignities of a declining economy and environment might support politicians who want to deregulate industry and cut taxes on the wealthy, giving us insight into the narrative frames and the “hopes, fears, pride, shame, resentment, and anxiety” of many working-class Americans.

Hochschild discovers an undeclared class war—but not the one liberals and progressives see, between the one percent and the 99 percent. This class war is between the middle class, the working class—and the poor. According to her interviewees, the federal government is on the wrong side of that war, providing help to the poorest while neglecting everyone else. This opens the door to the kind of resentment that fueled the rise of Donald Trump.

Strangers in Their Own Land doesn’t try to figure out how to solve the world’s problems or bring together a new coalition to address them. Hochschild’s mission is to open a window into the minds and hearts of people who seem alien and irrational to blue-state liberals. It’s up to us to take it from here.



The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, by Dacher Keltner

How to Find Your Power—and Avoid Abusing It.”” src=”http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Power_Paradox_BB.jpeg”Read our adaptation from Keltner’s book, “How to Find Your Power—and Avoid Abusing It.”

We tend to believe that attaining power requires force, deception, manipulation, and coercion. But, as seductive as these ideas are, they are dead wrong, according to GGSC co-founder and faculty director Dacher Keltner in his new book, The Power Paradox.

Keltner has spent years studying how people acquire and maintain power in groups and what happens to their behavior after power is granted. What he has discovered is that “empathy and social intelligence are vastly more important to acquiring and exercising power than are force, deception, or terror.” Meaningful influence, the kind that endures, comes from a focus on the needs of others and is not won, but given to us by other people because of our kindness and social intelligence.

Unfortunately, when one becomes powerful in a group, that feeling of power can impair the very skills of social intelligence that are vital to maintaining power and wielding it responsibly. Once people have been granted power, they tend to ignore those around them and become less empathic. This is the power paradox.

How we handle the power paradox guides our personal and work lives and determines, ultimately, how happy we and the people around us will be—and Keltner’s book aims to help us see the impact of power and how we can avoid its pitfalls.



The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success, by Emma Seppälä

In The Happiness Track, Emma Seppälä tries to untangle one of the knottiest problems of the modern age: our burned-out, overscheduled lifestyle. We are stuck in a jumble of feeling overwhelmed yet never accomplishing enough, trussed up by assumptions that we hold about productivity, such as Success requires stress. We have to compete with others. We can’t cut ourselves any slack.

Typically, people who are stressed are advised to manage their time better: Prioritize, make to-do lists, and delegate unnecessary tasks. But this is bound to fail, says Seppälä. Instead, we need to manage our energy.

She outlines six qualities to cultivate that will contribute to both our productivity and our happiness without making big changes to our schedules:

Full presence: Staying in the moment;

Resilience: Bouncing back from setbacks more quickly;

Calm, rest, self-compassion: Treating ourselves like we would a good friend, with support and care rather than self-criticism;

Compassion: Giving to others in need.



Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within, by Chade-Meng Tan

our review of Joy on Demand.” src=”http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Joy_on_Demand_BB.jpeg”Read our review of Joy on Demand.

From the outside, meditation appears to be a thoroughly serious endeavor. You have to sit down, dutifully count your breaths, and practice this every day whether it’s fun or not.

But in Joy on Demand, Chade-Meng Tan teaches practices and principles for cultivating mindfulness that emphasize gentleness, ease, and even humor. Through practices like the Puppy Dog Meditation, Attending to Joy, and Wishing for Random People to Be Happy, Tan offers concrete steps for incorporating mindfulness into everyday life that take as little as one breath.

Though light on research, Joy on Demand benefits from Tan’s first-person perspective and personal experiences. They help bring to life the obstacles and benefits to cultivating mindfulness, making them seem particularly relevant and real. And in the light of Tan’s stories of suffering, his humor and good cheer become all the more meaningful—a testament to the power of meditation to make us happier, more connected, and more resilient.



Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why, by Paul Tough

Kids Need More Than Just Brains to Succeed.”” src=”http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Helping_Children_Succeed_BB.jpg”Read a Q&A with Paul Tough, “Kids Need More Than Just Brains to Succeed.”

In Helping Children Succeed, Paul Tough pulls together decades of social science research on the impacts of poverty and trauma on kids’ brains and behavior to make a cogent, convincing argument for why we need to stop blaming kids for their learning difficulties or simply push them to become more “gritty.”

Instead, he explains why kids who come from impoverished or abusive homes can have trouble in school and need more compassionate supports—at home and in the classroom—to help them achieve in school and in life.

Children, like adults, have a basic need for competence, autonomy, and connection, argues Tough. In his book, he points to many of the ways that teachers can encourage students to fulfill these needs in the context of learning, by providing opportunities for challenge and independence in classroom assignments, while still displaying a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all students.

Helping Children Succeed is full of the science of how kids learn, tips for educators and parents, and information about innovative programs that have shown promising results in turning around the lives of at-risk students.



Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success, by Jessica Tracy

our review of Take Pride.” src=”http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/uploads/Take_Pride_BB.jpg”Read our review of Take Pride.

Pride is often considered a negative force in human existence—the opposite of humility and a source of social friction. But in Take Pride, Jessica Tracy argues that pride, like other human emotions, is part of our evolutionary heritage, helping us to survive and thrive in cooperative societies by inspiring us to be the best humans we can be.

Tracy has studied the pride display—chest out, head back, and a slight smile—and found that it is recognizable in cultures around the world, connoting status, encouraging deference from others, and motivating us to work hard to gain approval from our communities. Pride displays communicate expertise and power, helping others to identify leaders in their midst. But pride has a dark side: hubris, or self-aggrandizement at the expense of others.

Tracy warns us to take heed of the difference: If you feel authentic pride and it inspires you to do good by your community’s standards, great. But if you start feeling the need to live up to others’ expectations, and lie or cheat to earn their admiration, chances are you are leaning toward hubris. And that could make the future darker for everyone.



America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks, by Ruth Whippman

Americans are obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, and it’s making us miserable, according to Ruth Whippman’s America the Anxious. That’s because we’re going about it the wrong way. Instead of focusing on being happy—which research suggests makes us unhappy—we should focus on living a life of meaning with strong interpersonal relationships, where happiness is a natural by-product.

Whippman’s book is an entertaining account of her explorations into the many ways Americans try to be happier. She attends meditation classes and EST-like programs, visits companies creating artificial workplace communities, and even spends time with a group of Mormons—purported to be the happiest Americans—all to illustrate how pursuing happiness can go horribly wrong.

Instead of seeking personal happiness through dubious means, she argues that we should focus on improving the social supports that science has shown actually contribute to happiness: things like universal healthcare, support for working parents in the form of paid parental leave and quality childcare, and job security for the employed. If we don’t learn to accept the necessity of these in our pursuit of happiness, we are bound to continue being one of the most anxious, unhappy populations in the developed world.


This article is printed here with permission. It originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). Based at UC Berkeley, the GGSC studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society.

Spin of the World Prayer Wheel today:


May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness;
May all be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow;
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless;
And may all live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion,
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.

traditional buddhist prayer

29 Jan 2017 Happy Birthday wish, “Quiet” (MILCK), God Help us to Remember to Remember (prayer) and my Drawing

Hello Family, how are you?  Is it just me or has someone hijacked our planet and it’s people?  That’s how I’m feeling this morning!

I want to wish my brother-in-law John a Happy Birthday today and I hope he knows how much we all love him today and every day!  We aren’t together in person today but just know you are with us in our hearts.

All the family together!

All the family together!



please help all of us
to remember to remember:

to love one another
forever and NO MATTER WHAT,
to forgive one another,
to forgive ourselves,
to take care of one another.

god, please help us
to remember to remember:
that you are called by many names and you answer to all of them.
that you are GOOD.
that you would never forsake us, even when we have forsaken ourselves.
that you know us even when we don’t know ourselves.
that there’s no escaping you, and no reason to.
that there is no such thing as hell except forgetting that heaven is here, now.

we forget so easily. don’t we?
life on earth can be so painful.

in our lives that are just as short as they are long,
just as precious as they are strong,
please help us to remember.
that you love us all.

no culture no religion – anonymous – 1/10/2012
I did this drawing yesterday and what I was thinking when I drew it was of the sun that shines on us being both our Mother and our Father and right now crying tears the color of blood seeing what is going on down here right now.  We can do better than this, we ARE better than this. 
28 Jan 2017 - my drawing of a Mother and Father sun crying tears of blood looking down at what we are doing to each other right now.

28 Jan 2017 – my drawing of a Mother and Father sun crying tears of blood looking down at what we are doing to each other right now.

27 Jan 2017 Why are the Men in Washington on an Anti-abortion kick again? The True Cost of War (Bernie Sanders), Ann Frank and Prayer for the White Man

George Orwell's 1984 that came in the mail yesterday....you might want to get  your own copy and start reading.

George Orwell’s 1984 that came in the mail yesterday….you might want to get your own copy and start reading.

Good morning family. What I am want to talk to you about today isn’t a pleasant topic but it is the topic that I woke up having yelled in my brain at 3:53 am this morning. I just couldn’t go back to sleep! What came to me was why all the sudden is there this urgent gear shift regarding Women’s Reproductive Rights; specifically abortion.

For me the issue of abortion is between the woman and the God of her understanding. I don’t believe that if God is trying to get here through our human process of reproduction that anything or anyone will stop them. I think it’s insane that a bunch of men my age and older have any business legislating anything to do with a woman’s body but I understand why they’ve made it their literal “business” to do so and it doesn’t have anything to do with religion.

What came to me, and in looking at this topic across the internet briefly, I didn’t see anyone say this….they need our future children for the wars they are planning. They have started a new cycle of hate with various countries and groups of people and now they’ve started to beef up the military spending. It doesn’t take rocket science to see what they are doing and what their intentions are. They are going to need “freshies” to go and fight and can’t have Women’s Rights standing in the way. You need “ovens” to bake the babies and if women have the right to say “No” in all the various ways they currently can, this doesn’t give them new recruits to put in uniforms.

I’ve been to Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day and have seen the fresh graves of people younger than myself…..I about fell over in despair seeing this. What did all these people die for?!! They died to keep things like are happening right now from ever happening again. At least that’s what we’ve been “told.”

Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery

I told Kyle this morning on the walk, and I broke into tears saying it, “I don’t want there ever to be another Anne Frank.” With the way things are going right now, we are steps away from internment and concentration camps all over again.

The True Cost of War | Bernie Sanders

Spin of the World Prayer Wheel is perfect:

My drawing this afternoon -the message "We are sparks of the one flame "

My drawing this afternoon -the message “We are sparks of the one flame “


And now, Grandfather, I ask you to bless the white man.
He needs your wisdom, your guidance.
You see, for so long he has tried to destroy my people,
and only feels comfortable when given power.
Bless them, show them the peace we understand;
teach them humility.
For I fear they will someday destroy themselves and their children
as they have done so Mother Earth.
I plead, I cry, after all, they are my brothers …

prayer for the white man – native american indian


Links pertaining to what I’m talking about above if your interested:


Trump order sets military buildup in motion

By Jeremy Herb

|01/27/17 04:51 PM EST

Updated 01/27/17 07:26 PM EST

President Donald Trump on Friday took the first formal step to undertake a costly military buildup, signaling what could be a major turnaround from years of relying on a smaller, more agile force and within strict spending limits mandated by Congress.



Netherlands moves on abortion funding after Trump reinstates ‘gag rule’

By James Masters, CNN

Updated 2:49 AM ET, Thu January 26, 2017

(CNN)The Dutch government says it wants to help set up an international abortion fund to help families across the world after US President Donald Trump reinstated the so-called Mexico City policy.

On Monday, Trump signed an executive order, widely known as the “global gag rule,” which bars international nongovernmental organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding.


Anti-Abortion Rights, But Not Necessarily Pro-Trump At March For Life

January 28, 2017·6:00 AM ET

Danielle Kurtzleben – square 2015

Opponents of abortion rights are more likely to be Republican than Democratic. And Donald Trump was the anti-abortion rights presidential candidate in the 2016 election.

But that doesn’t mean the 2017 March For Life on Friday was exactly a Trump rally. The red Make America Great Again hats that speckled the crowd at Trump’s inauguration last week were few and far between, and marchers ranged from enthusiastic Trump supporters to people who fear what his presidency might mean — despite his opposition to abortion. Multiple attendees said the rally was not about politics. Rather, they said, it’s about one thing only.

Source Internet: A couple of identity photos taken in 1942 show the Jewish diarist Anne Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in May 1945 at age 15. (ANP/AFP)

Source Internet: A couple of identity photos taken in 1942 show the Jewish diarist Anne Frank, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in May 1945 at age 15. (ANP/AFP)


The draft executive orders from the Trump administration that call for drastic reform of U.S. immigration and refugee policies have provoked biting criticism from the Anne Frank Center For Mutual Respect, the U.S.-based partner of Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House.

Steven Goldstein, the center’s executive director, wrote a lengthy Facebook message to President Trump on Wednesday, warning him that he was “driving our nation off a moral cliff.” He also compared Trump’s orders to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. “Today the Statue of Liberty weeps over President Trump’s discrimination,” Goldstein wrote.




26 Jan 2017 Drawings, an America of Veruca Salts, President-Elect Trump: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) “This is not Normal” and We Interrupt This War (cappy hall rearick – 2001)

Hello family, how are you? It’s 12:20 pm here as I begin to write to you. I hope you and yours are well and if not, please do not lose hope that things can and will get better!  Hope is one of those things that still belongs to each of us that no one can take away unless we allow them to. 

I’m trying my best in to find ways to work out the torment that is raging within me about what I’m watching happen to this country only 6 days after Donald Trump was sworn in to office!  I am trying so hard to work on mindfulness, focus on what I want and less on what I don’t…..it’s not as easy as it sounds!

Some of us decided (not Kyle or I) to give the keys to the family car to the most unreliable, unstable and dangerous person living in our house and there are no reasonable adults stepping up to take them back. Watch how he runs over the bushes, destroys the newly painted picket fences and smashes out all the street lights….”Oh that’s just Trump! Isn’t he funny?! I wonder what he’ll do next!” At our house we been going through the stages of grief with this whole thing. Right now we are in Stage 4, Depression, reflection and loneliness. We are calling it, “What the Fuck has he done now and why are they letting him do it?!” stage.


Stage 4 – “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS- Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

I’m watching many of my fellow citizens, politicians and corporate CEO’s acting like a mob of Veruca Salt’s let loose in Charlie’s Chocolate Factory that is our Earth all screaming “I WANT IT NOW!” The addiction to money and material possessions is so great in our country!  Sadly far too many generations of  Mr. and Mrs. Salt’s and too few of  Mr. Wonka.

Veruca Salt – I Want It Now (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

Something my Mom and I had to get on my own Dad about a few visits ago was his believing everything that is on the Internet is true. Someone had my Dad believing that President Obama never attended Veteran’s Day events and there is documented proof that he did. Apparently my Dad isn’t the only one who believes the Internet, so does Donald Trump and that is some scary shit right there.  John talks about this in the video below as he focuses on one of the main reasons he believes Trump won this election – social media and “alternative facts.”

President-Elect Trump: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) – it is terrifying to think Donald Trump might be the sort of person who believes everything the internet tells him!

Something the Doctor Who might say to Americans right now: “I need you to remember this one thing! No matter what they tell you or try to make you believe, what is happening to you and your country is not normal!”

Spin of the Prayer wheel today.  I felt it was appropriate because I feel we are at war with each other and we are wasting precious time and resources doing so:


We interrupt this war for doctors to heal,
teachers to teach, and students to learn.

We interrupt this war to marvel at sunsets,
listen to music, and to laugh.

We interrupt this war for poets to rhyme, sculptors to
chisel, and writers to paint pictures with words.

We interrupt this war to plant tomatoes, mow
the grass, and to smell the roses.

We interrupt this war to feed the hungry, build
new schools, and to stamp out ignorance.

We interrupt this war to clean up the air, save
the whales and to find a cure for cancer.

We interrupt this war to rebuild New Orleans,
tickle babies and for world peace.

We interrupt this war for PTA meetings, band
concerts, and high school graduations.

We interrupt this war for Girl Scout Cookies,
church bake sales, and the Special Olympics.

We interrupt this war for Disneyland, the
World Series, and the Super Bowl.

We interrupt this war for Halloween candy,
Thanksgiving Turkey, and 4th of July fireworks.

We interrupt this war for Hanukkah,
Christmas and Kwanza.

We interrupt this war to bring sons,
daughters, sisters and brothers home.

We interrupt this war to hear a message from

we interrupt this war – copy hall rearick – 2001

From the author’s book, Simply Said.

25 Jan 2017 Chalk drawing, “The world you see is just a movie in your mind” (letter to ex-wife – jack Kerouac) and losing yourself in moving colors

My chalk drawing yesterday.  Kyle complimented me on it and said I should share it!  The "circles" is an example of how I envision the God of my understanding sees me and the rest of the world....in pixils, particles of light.

My chalk drawing yesterday. Kyle complimented me on it and said I should share it! The “circles” is an example of how I envision the God of my understanding sees me and the rest of the world….in pixils, particles of light.

Hello family, just a short note today.  I am working on mindfulness and  staying within the light of positive consciousness despite what I’m seeing unraveling before me in the headlines.  I am grateful for getting good sleep last night and I think that due in part to finding out my neighbor and Buster are ok!  Anyhew, I found this on the World Prayers site in their meditations section and it resonated with me today so I’ll share it.  I hope this finds you  loved and loving today.  No matter what the world puts before you, choose kindness, choose to preserve a loving heart within you….the source of your personal power and lightness of being:

I drew this today with all those who think there is not hope left in mind.  We must never give up Hope.

I drew this today with all those who think there is not hope left in mind. We must never give up Hope.


14 OCt 2016 - this seems to be a mountain based energy system

14 Oct 2016 – this seems to be a mountain based energy system

I have lots of things to teach you now,
in case we ever meet,
concerning the message that was transmitted to me
under a pine tree in North Carolina
on a cold winter moonlit night.

It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry.
It’s all like a dream.
Everything is ecstasy, inside.
We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds.
But in our true blissful essence of mind is known
that everything is alright forever and forever and forever.
Close your eyes,
let your hands and nerve-ends drop,
stop breathing for 3 seconds,
listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world,
and you will remember the lesson you forgot,
which was taught in immense milky ways
of cloudy innumerable worlds
long ago and not even at all.
It is all one vast awakened thing.
I call it the golden eternity.
It is perfect.
We were never really born,
we will never really die.
It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea
of a personal self,
other selves,
many selves everywhere,
or one universal self.
Self is only an idea, a mortal idea.
That which passes through everything, is one thing.
It’s a dream already ended.

There’s nothing from staring at mountains months on end.
They never show any expression,
they are like empty space.
Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away.
Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space,
which is the one universal essence of mind,
the one vast awakenerhood,
empty and awake,
will never crumble away because it was never born.

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.

letter to ex-wife – jack kerouac


Psychedelic Sacred Geometry Mandala 3D Animation [Trippy Kaleidoscope] Healing Trance Meditation (4 min)


The Splendor of Color Kaleidoscope Video v1.1 1080p (2hrs)