This is unstructured play...
(note the scissors).
She's smashed up the chalk and seems to be enjoying her space. I love it.


Catching One's Self

Mammogram Mindfulness
by Diana Shimkus

     Today, while preparing for a mammogram, I noticed an unusual contraction in my solar plexus, signaling some distress. I entered into inquiry of this body sensation, and was curious about its root source. Before long, I was quickly led to the imaging room by a lovely technician who kindly asked how I was doing. I told her that I was noticing some very slight physical tightness in the abdomen and was guessing that this might suggest some unanticipated anxiety. She promptly offered, "You shouldn't feel that way", and gave me several factual reasons my dis-ease was unfounded.
     I was prepared to "be polite" and to tell her things were fine, but recollected my commitment to wise speech and decided to risk the truth. After a few breaths, I went on to tell her that it was obvious to me that she intended her statement to relieve my distress and that I could see her good heart in wanting my well being. 
     I also told her, that when she said, "you shouldn't feel that way", I had a reaction of more intense body contraction along with a feeling of inadequacy, that was not her fault but rather an old reaction to the old limiting believed thought that I was "getting it wrong".  
     As I relayed my experience, the technician became tearful, which quickly prompted my own welling up in the shared truth of our human vulnerability. After a moment, she shared, "I know I said that to you. When you just shared that with me, I actually heard the words I say to myself everyday. Your distress made me nervous and I didn't want that."  
     This is an example of compassion and mindfulness spontaneously arising from the shared truth of the moment. I am grateful to the technician for her profound willingness to share her real self with me.  May we all be fearless in our pursuit of the reality of our own experience and that of the moment. May we never be separated from this truth, ourselves and each other. May we all be well.
Contact Diana Shimkus @ 760-310-2920


Your Brain and Your Gut - Daniel Siegel

Your Brain and Gut Decisions

What parts of the brain are activated when we make a gut decision?
Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, explained the complex process of how our minds and bodies formulate and respond to a hunch for my video series Leadership: A Master Class.
"There are networks of neurons that serve as information processors. They're like little computers arranged in a spider web-like network called a parallel distributed processor. Unlike the linear computers we have, these parallel processors can actually learn and think.
We have this spider web-like set of connections in our skull, which we usually refer to as the brain. But we also have neural net processors around the heart and intestines that process information in very complex ways.
These information processors of the internal organs of the body, called viscera, are not rational or logical. But it is processing information and sending signals up from the body itself, to the spinal cord in a layer called Lamina I.
Lamina I carries the information from the intestines, heart, muscles and bones upward from the spinal cord. As it comes up, part of it goes to the deepest part of the brain called the brainstem, which influences our heart rate and respiration.
Also a twig of it will go over to an area called the hypothalamus, where it will govern what to do with our endocrine system, and influence your hormonal environment.
Another branch goes to an area called the prefrontal cortex. There are two aspects of the prefrontal cortex that Lamina I data from the body receives. One twig is called the insula. It's a part of what some people called the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.
The other part goes over to the anterior cingulate. It's like a loop that goes frontward and backward. The anterior is the front part of that loop. What's fascinating is people who are aware of their interior, called interoception, or perception of the interior, are people who are more empathic.
People who have more interoceptive ability have greater activity of the right insula, which makes them more self-aware, at least of emotions. One view of emotions is that they're generated from what are called subcortical areas. The cortex is the higher part of the brain. Beneath the cortex are the limbic area, the brainstem, and the body proper.
The subcortical area mixes together and forms states of affective tone, which you could call emotion. They are driven upward through the insula to the cortex where we become aware of it.
When you're self-aware, you get a gut feeling. You have a heartfelt sense. Sometimes those feelings are really important. There's wisdom in the body. Yet sometimes, if we have been traumatized, for example, the gut feeling we get can lead us astray.
If you've been bitten by a dog or hurt by someone who had red hair, when you see a dog or a person with red hair, your gut may say "bad, bad, bad", and may create a tone of negativity that is based on past traumatic experience. So bodily input doesn't always mean you should respond to it directly. You should analyze it."


IRC, Roots Day in San Diego - Volunteers Needed

Roots Community Farm - April 26

New_RootsThe IRC New Roots Community Farm provides growing space for 80 families in the City Heights area.  Many of the participants were farmers in their home countries and this is their first opportunity to grow crops in the United States. 
The New Roots Community Farm is a site for the upcoming I Love a Clean San Diego Creek to Bay Clean Up. 
Saturday, April 26, 2014
9am to noon

Groups are welcome as are teenagers (with accompanying adult supervision).
Space is limited.   RSVP to

What to bring:
Closed toe shoes
Weather appropriate clothing (i.e. pancho for rain, long sleeves if sunny, sunscreen, etc.)
Water bottle
Gardening Tools


Human Trafficking Workshop, March, 2014

Awareness, Restoration, Prevention, Action
Love Bridge Prison Ministry
Shadow Mountain Community Church Prison Ministry
8:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Shadow Mountain “Lower Campus Chapel”
Cost: $15
(Includes Catered lunch & Notebook)
Designed to educate, equip, and bring to action as many as possible to combat the spread of this inhuman treatment of our “at most risk” young people.


NAME: _____________________________________
# OF REGISTRATIONS: ____ HONE______________
EMAIL: ____________________________
CHURCH OR ORGANIZATION: ___________________________________________
Make checks payable to: SMCC Prison Ministry/Youth In Conflict Workshop
Send to: Shadow Mountain Community Church,
c/o Tom Heyer 2100 Greenfield Dr., El Cajon 92019


Ki's Founder Passes Away

The Founder of Ki's in Cardiff, Ki herself, has passed away at the age of 88.
She died Wednesday, in a retirement home, having struggled with Alzheimers for a couple of years and a recent broken hip. 
This woman was really a head of her time. Opening a small organic hand-juicing storefront decades ago, on Birmingham, and working it single handedly for years, with her long red hair piled up on her head. 
Customers would line up outside the small window stall to order, before the restaurant opened to become the large oceanfront site currently.
I spoke with her daughter yesterday. There's a celebration of life next Tuesday evening at Ki's open to the public at 6pm. All welcome.



"Good artists copy, great artists steal." 
Pablo Picasso



Steven King's 20 Rules for Writers

Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers

stephen king writing tips
In one of my favorite Stephen King interviews, for The Atlantic, he talks at length about the vital importance of a good opening line. “There are all sorts of theories,” he says, “it’s a tricky thing.” “But there’s one thing” he’s sure about: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” King’s discussion of opening lines is compelling because of his dual focus as an avid reader and a prodigious writer of fiction—he doesn’t lose sight of either perspective:
We’ve talked so much about the reader, but you can’t forget that the opening line is important to the writer, too. To the person who’s actually boots-on-the-ground. Because it’s not just the reader’s way in, it’s the writer’s way in also, and you’ve got to find a doorway that fits us both.
This is excellent advice. As you orient your reader, so you orient yourself, pointing your work in the direction it needs to go. Now King admits that he doesn’t think much about the opening line as he writes, in a first draft, at least. That perfectly crafted and inviting opening sentence is something that emerges in revision, which can be where the bulk of a writer’s work happens.
Revision in the second draft, “one of them, anyway,” may “necessitate some big changes” says King in his 2000 memoir slash writing guide On Writing. And yet, it is an essential process, and one that “hardly ever fails.” Below, we bring you King’s top twenty rules from On Writing. About half of these relate directly to revision. The other half cover the intangibles—attitude, discipline, work habits. A number of these suggestions reliably pop up in every writer’s guide. But quite a few of them were born of Stephen King’s many decades of trial and error and—writes the Barnes & Noble book blog—“over 350 million copies” sold, “like them or loathe them.”
1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”
4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”
5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”
6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”
10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
11. There are two secrets to success. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”
12. Write one word at a time. “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”
13. Eliminate distraction. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”
14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”
15. Dig. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”
16. Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”
17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”
18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”
19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”
20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”


Participate in this Marriage Survey

"Marriage is not a steady state. Each marriage naturally and inevitably progresses through seven distinct stages, during which the needs, priorities, and desires of the relationship change. By understanding what stage your relationship is in, you can take exactly the right steps to make your marriage as happy, close, and fulfilling as you wish."


An excerpt from The 7 Stages of Marriage, written by Rita DeMaria, Ph.D.

Thank you for your support. This survey is the second phase of research in support of my book, The 7 Stages of Marriage. The first phase, completed in 2010, included the results of 500 respondents. Your participation in this new, refined survey will help to finalize the seven stages of marriage and committed relationships. My goal is to receive 1000 responses. Please consider forwarding this survey to your family and friends who may be interested in participating.
Thank you.
Rita DeMaria, Ph.D.
The Relationship Center, Inc.
Blue Bell, PA


Politics of the Millennial

Millenials ((those aged 18-33 year old crowd) remain ideologically as older and past generations on the issues of abortion and gun rights. 
Divergence amongst generations occurs in regards to gay rights, pot legalization, and immigration reform. 
The millenial is not anchored to either political party, as the Pew survey concluded. 
They are also less trusting of others and the government, however they see their lives optimistic and hopeful. 
Millenials do not support social security cuts but they are doubtful that they will be afforded those benefits will be available to them at their social security age. 
They are twice as likely to be single parents but just as disapproving of single parents as their decades-older

Read the Pew report.




Parenting Strategies and Teaching Personal Responsibility, from Love and Logic

Reviewing Four Steps to Responsibility (CD), by Love and Logic, Institute.

Jim Fay, Love and Logic Co-founder, Parent  Educator and Lecturer, is light, confident, and expert in the minds of parents and their still life-learning children His approach and general attitude is empathetic and understanding, to both parents and kids. Love and Logic presents a full line of helpful parenting strategy curriculum in a contemporary real-world fashion.

Kids who mess up are the lucky ones. What? Really? Yip. Mistakes prepare and educate youngsters for adulthood. The gentle direction and sage guidance for families in Four Steps to Responsibility, a CD audio format, illustrates how we might begin transferring responsibility from our shoulders to the shoulders of our children. What parent cannot relate to running to school with a forgotten lunch box or due project sitting by the front door? (embarrassed to say, guilty here). 

This particular presentation is most poignantly appropriate for the junior high school parent. I’m unwilling to r-e-v-e-a-l the four steps here, taking a cue from Mr. Fay, because the parental lesson is in the process, the process of hearing and experiencing this speaker and his message. You may find humor in his self-poking, and even feel some shame about past or recent helicopter parenting. 

Don’t Steal from Your Kids was my favorite chapter on this audio. Simply put, allow your child the experience of making mistakes because the “unwritten curriculum” is more important that the 3 R’s. Messing up from time to time teaches personal responsibility and sharpens those decision making skills. “How are my decisions going to affect me?” versus “If I make this decision, who is going to be mad at me?” shifts individual thinking from the external  locus of control to truly internalizing why one choice is smarter than another.

Frankly, this would be a terrific lesson for teachers and school administrators, as well, and Mr. Fay speaks to that very point. There is strong teacher advocacy here, and Mr. Fay tips his hand, revealing his 17 years working as an elementary school principal in two opposing environments - one wealthy and one crime-riddled. It's philosophically interesting to ponder how the more affluent and resourced child might be more limited than the street-savvy independent child.

The Take Back Your School chapter holds my only small criticism. It seems an unreasonable approach to public school nowadays. “Take back your school” doesn’t seem like a concept that most two-working parents, struggling to get by and make ends meet, have the energy and momentum to navigate. Most parents do not demand that their local public school is “run like fantasy land.” But the larger point is not lost: School officials, please don’t kneel before the helicopter parents. I will not nag my child all the way out the door or rescue their overlooked permission slip, and in exchange, I will not ream you for letting my kid feel the results of his own actions. 

I often squirmed, reflecting back, just a month ago, on an episode involving my son’s weak study habits. As I felt fearful dread of his (my?) pending science midterm,  I can evidently see how I “owned” that exam…my son did not. This is not “our grade” and I am not in school!  Once I was able to detach my investment in his grade, the power struggle between us ended and, in fact, I had let go of the outcome. In the end, just in the nick of time my son, stepped in to earn his grade, and further, become motivated to make the great discovery of choice and consequence. 

An admonishment that I share with my clients, as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is nicely reiterated here as well: lots of words from mom and dad are not very effective. In fact, we might be able to prove a clear correlation between less words and more efficacy.   

Lecturing, shouting, old-world shame and blame, leaves a child feeling criticized and hopeless. Mr. Fay is casual and quick paced…I was never bored. He is a story-teller and the advice here feels practical.

Any of the parenting materials offered by Love and Logic will be your co-dependency antidote. The magic code to seamless and successful parenting cannot be delineated in four simple steps, however, consistent and wise reminders from those that have gone before us can make all the difference in the world. Maybe the result is one important decision that your kid makes, because he has built this skill-set over the course of a lifetime; often, those singular decisions, especially in the half-baked teen mind, can be life or death.   

Check out their website for upcoming trainings and workshops.