Is your relationship in trouble?

CoupleJohn Gottman has studied couples for 30 years. By observing couples discussing an issue in his “Love Lab” at the U of Washington, he can tell whether or not the relationships will crumble. Read this article and see if you recognize any trouble signs in your relationship:



“I don’t know what else to do. What’s better than time-outs?”

Time.OutTime-outs leave your child stranded, angry, frustrated, flooded with emotions and stress. Time-outs leave YOU stranded, angry, frustrated, flooded with emotions and stress. Time-outs leave your partner stranded, angry, frustrated, flooded with emotions and stress. Nothing is resolved. Nothing is learned, by anyone. Instead, Dr. Dan Siegel teaches a mindful approach. The building blocks are Presence, Attunement, Resonance, and Trust. I encourage you to learn more about this. It’s not only for parents, teachers, and children, but is so helpful for couples who need to break out of destructive, dead end communication patterns.

Here’s the link to Dr. Dan’s article and book:


Are You Wasting Enough Time?

Royal.ArchThis morning I ran across an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review by game designer and MacArthur winner, Jane McGonigal. I feel I should be “doing something” productive all the time. But I look out my office windows into Boulder Canyon. Sometimes snow is falling, or the squirrel is jumping branch to branch from the nest, or a raven calls from the lodge pole pines. My mind drifts. I’m not wasting anything.

Here’s the link:


Andromeda, Parasitic Pinedrops, Family Systems and Multigenerational Transmission

AndromedaHow are Pinedrops, parasitic plants, pine trees, Andromeda, and multigenerational transmission of abuse, trauma, and family dysfunction related? This question began to form as I hiked with a Native Plant Society group.

Andromeda, according to Greek myth, was the daughter of Cassiopeia who boasted that Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids. Hades was enraged. As punishment (for her mother’s boasting), Andromeda was stripped and chained naked to a rock, destined to be a sacrifice.  Hades ordered Poseidon to send a sea monster to destroy her. However, Andromeda was saved by the hero, Perseus.

A parasite is an organism that depends on a different organism for basically everything, while contributing nothing to the survival of its host. Pinedrops are parasitic, but not directly parasitic on pine trees. Pinedrops are directly parasitic on mycorrhizal fungi which, in turn, are directly parasitic on conifer roots. Without this indirect association with the roots, Pinedrops wouldn’t grow, access nourishment, and have shelter. However, Pinedrops have very little chlorophyll, are therefore not green, and do not photosynthesize.

Pterospora Andromedea

According to Family Systems counseling theory, unresolved family problems are passed down through the generations. There are emotional forces that operate over the years in interconnected patterns. The energies in the system work to preserve the status quo. Anyone who questions what’s going on, anyone who names the elephant in the room, anyone who tries to/does disengage, anyone who becomes aware and conscious and differentiated, anyone who heals, threatens the system and becomes the family target. Consciousness, truth, and strong healthy choices are enemies of projection, generations of abuse, shame, secrets, emotional triangles, and lies .

So, Pinedrops are directly parasitic to fungi and indirectly parasitic to conifers. Was Andromeda like the conifers, caught in the destructive forces of the Greek pantheon family system? Was innocent Andromeda in a parasitic family system, forced to almost pay with her life for her mother’s hubris, the Nereids’ jealousy, and her father’s rage, indirectly exercised through another family member, Poseidon? Who was and is “Perseus”?


Raspberry Corner

RaspberryOn the way to bring my grandchildren home, I always pass the corner lot where an old man lives and tends his raspberry canes. “They’re looking good,” I say to the kids. “Yeah, they TASTE good,” my grandson says. “I don’t usually like raspberries, but he always lets us have some when I walk the dogs (Gussie, Shaggy, and Merlin (Labradors)), and they’re really sweet.”

“Why do you think he’s out there every afternoon?” I ask. I wonder if he’s a widower, as I never see anyone else around. He is so gentle with the canes. I almost hear him whispering to them.

“Because he likes raspberries,” the other young one in the back seat says. Why do I feel the sting of tears? Life can be so simple.

Last weekend, I was out cycling with women friends. The sky was blue, clouds piling up over the near mountain range. In the paceline, I turned my head. A midnight raven drafted the echelon. “Oh, Trickster,” I thought. “I’ve seen you before. You and your sister guarded the sacred cove on the remote northern British Columbia island when I surfed the waves up onto the midden beach in my kayak. I was wet, tired, and hungry. You didn’t fly away. I called the wolves from where I drank at the mossy stream in the shadow of the shaggy cedar totem poles. Suddenly, I was afraid as the pack streaked from the point towards me. I remember crashing through the brush, running wildly to the beach, jumping in my kayak, paddling offshore, my heart pounding. The wolves never came.

You tricksters laughed. I couldn’t paddle any further that day. I was cold, shakey-hungry, miles to go next day with the tides. I wondered, were you there, later, when the pack circled my tent in the moonlight, panting and sniffing. Did you shape-shift like coyote, watching?”

I watch an old man tend raspberries, a boy walk his dog, and the wheel of the rider in front of me.

Are you a Classic, or do you skate through?

Eight women brave 30 mph wind gusts and huddle in a tight circle around Siga, our coach. She is demonstrating 100% weight shift, left-right, left-right, and the compression of the fishscales under our kick zone. “Think of this as stepping on lily pads across a big lake. Too big steps, too fast, and you’ll fall in the water.” OK, I wonder, is this what Monet meant? 

            “Now, is it more likely that I’ll fall down if I’m standing fully upright, knees locked, weight back, or is it more likely that I’ll fall down if my knees are bent, elbows loose, pelvis tucked, weight forward?” Siga asks. In the swirling snow, I see what she means. Still, when we practice in the tracks at the area called the “Stadium”, it isn’t so easy to progress in a forward direction with one ski on, then the other, finally both. No poles. She watches each of us intently, and I sort of dread the thought that she’s watching me. “Slow down, shift your weight, commit!” she shouts. “Now, what did you learn from that?” she asks each of us. This is not easy.

            Where else have I ever aspired to do what Siga demos—a side-to-side waddle while moving forward? Then we jog, both skis in the tracks, “1, 2, 3, 4…glide,” she calls from across the clearing. Gliding, trusting the skis and myself on them, feels risky until I do it, a lot. As we plow our way down “Petersen’s Way”, Siga commands: “Remember what you have under you!” Yes, I’m remembering, since I just met what was under me in a headfirst dive into a snowbank, but that’s not exactly what she meant.

            I’ve never, since I was two years old–skating, running, biking, hiking, swimming, or skiing–been so focused and so toasted after practicing for a pitiful 3 miles and two hours before lunch. And then there’s the two hours after lunch. I’m going to be a classic skier, I tell myself, not a skater.

            What does this have to do with the therapy I offer? Here, in bullet points, are my thoughts:

·      Gather with others. Share the wind.

·      Assess your situation.

·      Stay within your boundaries.

·      Commit.

·      Shift your weight; share the load.

·      Balance.

·      Choose what is meaningful. 

·      Be flexible; stay loose. Watch out for rigidity.

·      Slow down and take small steps.

·      Look ahead.

·      Be present.

·      Be mindful of your mind, body, and spirit.

·      Take in the feedback that matters.

·      Remember your foundation.

·      Find your grip.

·      Treat yourself.