July 2014

Addicted to Teaching

teach listen group 400“You should teach what you’re learning with your sabbatical to others,” my friend told me.

My friend is a respected leader. She teaches all the time. It’s a habit for her. I replied: 

  • I might end up doing that, but for now, I’m doing this for me. I am very careful about keeping the process pure. If I make it what I’m doing for others, it could taint the discovery process for me. I need to see my own world through my own eyes and drop my habit of turning everything into a teaching point.

It’s tough for me to explain how transformational backing away from the teacherly role has been. And how seductive the desire to teach can be.

It’s tough for me to not get caught in wanting to teach my friend what a difference it makes to break the habit of always being the teacher. 

I shared my observations and sat back and let her teach me. I’m learning a lot these days.



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Silence Can Say More Than a Thousand

A reader sent me this graphic:



I love it.

I have a new friend like that. When we hike, sometimes we speak and sometimes we are silent. But we are always communicating. 

These friends are a blessing.

People who require explanations are a blessing, too. They force us to get clear. They force us to be specific. There are times when I think my copy editor might understand me too well, because she knows what I mean without a lot of explanation. I can jump from A to D and she’s right there with me. At times, that keeps us from recognizing that some of my readers need me to take them from A to B to C to D. It can be frustrating when I think my point is crystal clear and my reader doesn’t get it – but it is clarifying, too. 

My husband is a linear thinker and asks to be walked through many of my Quantum Leaps. That’s changing, though. He’s making leaps of his own. I’m loving that, but will need to keep plenty of linear thinkers in my orbit for… not a reality check… but a linear reality check. 

The last Chapter in my PowerPhrases book says, “The purpose of words is to create silence.”

The easy silence of everything that needed to be said having been said. The easy silence of communication without words. 


I just glanced at my answering machine and saw my new friend left a message. She just called to say, “Thank you for sharing your big heart.” No other purpose. She was specific about what I had done that touched her. Her specifics augment her appreciation. Her few words augment our sweet silence. She and the reader who sent the graphic altered the trajectory of my day. 


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I Have No Idea What I Mean – Do You?

Recorder Digital NB“Email Kris about accounting.”

What the heck does that mean? 

I’m referring to a memo from me to me on my digital recorder. Kris is my sister, and we have no accounting questions. 

Oh, wait. I have another Kris in my life. She does a thing called Stretch Therapy and I had asked her to send me an accounting of how many sessions we have had and how many remain. That was a week ago, and she hasn’t sent it, so I want to remind her. THAT’S what my memo is talking about. 


Okay, if I have to struggle to figure out my OWN messages, what is it like for others to get a clue what the heck I’m referring to? 

It’s good practice for me to leave memos to myself that I don’t have to decipher. It’s a start, anyway. Obviously, it’s a bigger challenge for someone else who never knew what I intended when I left the memo. 


As an aside, soften your focus and look at the image on the left. Doesn’t it look like a face – kind of a perplexed emoticon? The message at the top is the brain, the buttons below are eyes, the circle is a nose and the bottom buttons make a mouth. 

Did I explain that image clearly? Do you see it?


Now I’d better email Kris about accounting – or re-record my memo to self with more details. 



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The Power of Pull Beats the Pressure of Push

Inbox Update

Pull beats push any time. Attraction beats coercion. I’m experiencing that at continuously deeper levels as my Lean2Life Reorganizational Journey continues.

One of the best Lean moves I have made was setting Outlook to send emails to spam until I whitelist them. I check spam regularly, and set up rules for my subscriptions and newsletters to go to my “subscriptions” folder. I clear the rest of my non-spam to go to my Inbox.

How’s that working for me? GREAT!!! Better than I imagined! Why did I wait so long to do this?! It is so much easier to move a few non-spams from my junk folder than to delete all the spam I was getting from my inbox. 

The Lean reason this works so well is that my inbox now only has what I have pulled into it. The emails that have been pushed on to me are in a separate folder for my review when I choose to look.  

I started this process with an empty inbox and only invite what I want in there. I am the master of my inbox now, not the other way around. 

Starting with Empty

My friend Wendy emptied out her bedroom for painting. She had a great time resetting her room from scratch – starting with an empty room. 

The Liberty of Having the House to Myself

So this weekend, I had the liberty of having the house to myself. That meant I could be as loud, messy, goofy – you name it – as I wanted. I stayed home and dedicated the weekend to sorting myself and a main closet.

I started the closet sorting item by item. I got a little traction, but quickly realized I needed to take everything out. When I made the decision to sort that way, I felt my energy and enthusiasm increase, despite the fact that it was a very big job.

Within an hour, half the house looked like a bomb had exploded – but the target closet was bare.

I did make one trip to the store to buy modular storage drawers. Enroute, I wondered if what I really needed was another closet rod for a new level of hanging items. Bob had often suggested that I could have one installed if I wanted, but I was concerned about investing in something I might not like.

An Experiment

As I drove to the store, I noticed the clothes bar in the back of the car and wondered if I could experiment with that. I hung it from the upper rod with twine. I hung a few things on it. Then I hung a few more. I liked it. A lot. As I got deeper into the process, I expanded the clothes bar. Later, I expanded it a little more. I found what seems to be the perfect width. 

The modular storage containers went back to the store, but the trip wasn’t a waste. I found what I needed in my own backseat. 

Would I have added the bar if I hadn’t made the trip? I don’t know.

I do know that the power of pull beats the pressure of push any day. 

Bob and I both know that the more free we feel from external push, the more pull we find – and the less patience we have with push in our lives. It’s a liberating thing – and it works. 

PS – You know the divider line I have at the bottom of my posts? That’s in my images. I have to open three folders to get to it. Just now, I put a copy of it in the folder my web content manager opens to. A quick improvement to save myself a few steps. That’s Lean!


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Being Alone: All One

Alone island treeHubby is travelling this weekend and I am alone.

The word alone actually means All One.

I am savoring my Aloneness, my Wholeness, my Oneness.


Hubby is with colleagues. His people. A community that catalyzes wholeness in each other. A community that he is at-one with.

At-one: AtOnement brings into unity, harmony and concord.

He is savoring his community, his comradeship, his connectedness.


I wish you the perfect weekend for renewing your body, mind, soul and spirit.

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Waldo Has a Plot Twist


“Plot twist. Waldo finds himself.”

Few people do.

Have you ever tried to “find” someone who hasn’t found themselves? It’s like playing “Where’s Waldo.”

My childhood best friend found herself. Five strokes and years in assisted-living did that for her. Her life required her to be still. The experience made her wise. Probably one of the wisest and most contented people I know.

My life required me to become still in a different way. Keeping my focus mainly on excellence in concrete, daily, normal living has been, and is, transformational. 

I’m told I’m pretty easy to “find” these days. Not a lot of searching, guessing, interpreting, wondering required to find me. Little need to track me through distractions, diversions, excessive complexity and incomprehensible tangents. I don’t hint when I need to be direct anymore. It’s all right there. I’m right there. Or it’s getting there, anyway. I’m still in the process.

That’s my plot twist. What’s yours?


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Two Paths to Peace: A Playful Exchange With a Reader

My reader passed this on with the following message:

Hi Meryl!

When I started reading this, I thought of you, but then things went south… Well, I’ll share it w/ you anyway, cuz it’s kind of funny! 😉

Diane Finish

My reply was: 

Two paths to Inner Peace:

1. Finish what you start.

 2. Use humor.

I don’t care for the booze, but I’m often up for getting “drunk” on humor.

Thanks to my reader/friend for this.



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PowerPhrase: When Did You Quit De Facto?

It was the employee’s final day. The manager saw it as her last chance to find out how such a good manager/(contract)employee relationship had gone so sour. She approached the young woman as she packed up her things and asked:

  • You gave notice two weeks ago. When did you quit de facto?

The employee froze. Her hands, holding pens she was packing, were suspended in mid-air. The manager wondered if her departing employee was searching her mind for some new defense or if she was searching her heart for the truth. The employee took a breath and replied, “I quit de facto the day you questioned my invoice.”

“Thank you for telling me,” the manager replied. She had suspected as much. The employee had acted like questioning her invoice was a criminal accusation. The manager had seen it as an opportunity to get clear about what was billable and what wasn’t. The employee became so defensive that the conversation never reached a satisfying resolution. The questions were over minor amounts so the manager let it go, but communication felt strained and weird after that day. 

The manager was sad to see someone who had shown such promise leave, but she was also relieved. If the employee hadn’t quit she would have let her go. It wasn’t the first time she had questioned someone’s accounting and it wouldn’t be the last. It could have been an easy conversation. But it wasn’t. And this manager knew she needed to work with people who were willing to address issues as they arose and move on. She found another person for the job who was willing to do that. 

She also found satisfaction in having her perceptions validated. 


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Stir the Ashes, Find the Embers

ashes embers 400Where’s the energy? Sometimes you need to stir the ashes to see where the embers are.

When I was at my lowest point, the only flicker of energy I felt was for something not so noble – shopping for clothes. Well – at least it was energy. I now have clothes that fit and I didn’t do too much damage.

My dance gives me energy. It didn’t energize Bob. Oh – wait – every now and then a song would inspire some movement in him. We created our own playlist of songs he used to dance to. That playlist stirred the ashes and we found embers. The energy hit a 10. 

One night I woke at 2 AM in an indiscriminate rage. The energy was at a 10. The enjoyment level was a different scale, but my mood had energy. I needed all the energy I could get. That didn’t mean that I should act on my impulse. It did mean I wasn’t completely without energy in that challenging time.

A friend recently visited her very dysfunctional family. She had a lot of energy in reaction to their convoluted behaviors. Probably about an 8. She also put a lot of energy into fighting her own judgment. That cancelled her energy out and she was probably left at about a 4.

Try separating energy from its quality and just observe the energy. You might be investing your energy in destructive ways like fighting your own judgment. But what if you could harness and apply that energy? That’s a later step – but today, I invite you to stir the ashes and see where the embers are for you. Where are your 10s?

Please comment here – it might stir some ashes and reveal some embers!


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Kitten Folly and Costly Aggression

Kittens 400After a parade of problematic renters, Beth finally found excellent renters for her furnished home. The neighbors are delighted. The yard is beautiful with lots of new landscaping. There are no (expletives deleted) coming from the windows. The new renters participate in the community.

Many neighbors found Beth difficult to relate to when she was living in her house, and kept their mouths shut when the new renters spoke of how much they like her.

But all that changed. The new renters got permission to get kittens. Their new kittens ended up needing a good bit of medical care, and that taxed their finances. So they asked Beth, “Can we pay $250 of the pet deposit now and the other $250 in two weeks?”

Beth’s tone turned to ice. Her wording became impersonal and legalistic. She replied, “I expect you to remit the entire deposit payment immediately in accordance with our agreement.”

Her words got the job done; the renters sent payment. The cost of Beth’s victory was goodwill. Suddenly Beth’s new renters began to question the generous way they tend a home that isn’t theirs.

There is so much more to Speaking Strong than getting others to do what you want. Beth might have gotten the same result in a more personal way. But what would she have lost by waiting two weeks for a deposit from people who had already rented from her for a year?

Beth won a victory at a very high price – and she doesn’t even know it. 


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