Listening for lost narratives – “I did not know that!”

Dear all,

Let’s have some fun!

I am looking for your stories, 100-400 or so words telling something unique, fascinating, entertaining, whimsical, or just plain wow, a tale, a family legend from the lifetime of your parents, grandparents, or beyond for a new blog to be posted on  in the near future.

It is intended to inspire and encourage folks to dig into their family’s living legacies and heritage and share the amazing stories that can be found there.

The theme for the stories is, “I did not know that!”

One of my friends shares a discovery of hers that her mother had been a Playboy Bunny for six months! She certainly was surprised when she found out.

From my family there is the story of my grandmother Celia who, so the story goes, was a teenage radical in Czarist Latvia around 1905. Unbeknownst to my great grandfather, grandmother Celia had been distributing radical leaflets and aroused the interest of the local Russian police.They came to the home of my great grandfather and wanted to search the home for radical literature.Quickly they stuffed the offending literature beneath the parlor room seat and sat my grandmother on it. The police searched throughout the home but did not find any leaflets.

Shortly thereafter my great grandfather decided to ship my grandmother and her younger sister off to America.

What delicious stories, narratives, are in your family tree?

Please post them here on Tuesdays with Deborah for us all to enjoy and send them along to me at


Paul Zohav




Promises outweigh possibilities, hands-down

I will admit that I have spent considerable time imagining my life as I would like it to be, considering all the delicious possible alternatives to my NOW and safely enjoying my feats of imagination.

For instance, I could enjoy being thinner with a more vital and fit body in my mind – and live in the hope that my objective reality would follow, somehow, someday. It is kind of like living my life on television.

However, after some decades had passed in this manner I noticed I was living in a possibility dream-driven la-la land in which nothing really changed, or if a circumstance altered it did so very slowly or by sheer happenstance.

I noticed that I was going around in imaginative circles going nowhere without even a Ground Hog Day movie-like plot to permit me a “happily ever after” ending.

The key for me, and for us, is four-fold:

  1. MAKE a PROMISE: in place of imagining and enjoying illusory possibility. Our promises give us access to the NOW in away that purely cognitive-based processes cannot.
  2. GET into DIALOG: reach out and touch somebody who can listen to us outside of the power-sucking monolog we are in with ourselves.
  3. Hold a CONVERSATION for INTEGRITY: identify any “gaps” between who we are today and who we desire ourselves to be.
  4. Give people around us our WORD and then honor it in our and their eyes.

Rinse and repeat as necessary.

I understand that the above can be a little bit easier said than done, maybe even very challenging and confronting.

So this is my promise to you: if you wish to work on something important to you “out loud” with me please contact me at:


Complaints are for catching

A complaint is no more and no less than you or someone else someone saying, “I am not happy with the way things are and I am asking for your help.”

It might be because they are not happy with how they are feeling about themselves, their environment, the state of the world, or perhaps they are not happy about something that has to do with you.

It might sound as if they are unhappy with you. However, remember that even if it has something to do WITH you it is not ABOUT you.  It’s about them and how they are feeling at the moment.

Their complaint, however, offers you an opportunity to respond and make a difference for them and strengthen your relationship.

The way to respond to a complaint is to do play “Catch and release” I use the acronym CARE for Catch, Acknowledge, and Reflect. (C.A.R. for short)

When someone sends a complaint your way, you Catch it, Acknowledge it, and then Reflect it.

You catch it by hearing, listening, and then restating what it is they are concerned about it, saying something like “Oh, I got it. What I heard you say is that you are feeling upset about X.”

Then comes your opportunity to make a real difference for them and for your relationship with them.

You respond to their complaint with a response like, “How shall we deal with this?” or, “What do we need to think about to resolve this?” or, I am here right now, how can I help?”

Then between you, you can hash out the issue, the concern, or complaint and actually arrive at a resolution that empowers both of you.

Networking – The Best Promotion for Successful Business

Over the years I have found that a large percentage of business is found through networking!  Needless to say, effective networking is vital to your continued business success.  Rarely does business just “fall into our laps.”  Instead, successful business partnerships are created when we target potential customers, establish communication and cultivate long term relationships.

It has always mystified me when I hear people say they never received any business from the events they go to.  When closely questioned, they admit to just attending events hoping that they will “strike it rich”.  To win at networking you first have to master the basics of networking, the first step toward connecting you with other people.

There is no magic wand or group that will give you networking results only opportunities for those results.  Below are the top secrets for networking.  Feel free to adapt these basics to your own approach, and develop a networking style that feels most natural and honest to you.  You will be networking like a professional in no time!

The Top Secrets for Networking Success at Association Functions

Before the Meeting
“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” – 
Abraham Lincoln

  • Develop a memorable introduction for yourself. This is what we call your elevator speech.  In 5 to 45 seconds tell what you can do in terms of benefits for the other person.  Something that says to them that here is someone I need to listen to.  “Hello, my name is John Erdman and I help companies avoid becoming the “best kept secret in town!”
  • Put business cards only in one pocket of your jacket.Leave the other pocket free to put in the business cards from your new contacts.  This way, you will look prepared when you pull your card out easily from one pocket instead of fishing through a pile of cards.  As nothing is more unprofessional looking then someone digging in pockets and purses looking for a business card and then giving out a dog eared card as the only one you can find.
  • Check your appearance (also your breath). You only get about ten seconds to make a first impression.  You can only do your best when you feel your best.  This does not mean that you never network unless you’re looking and feeling great but if you have the choice …..Why take a chance?

During the Meeting
“If a man is brusque in his manner, others will not cooperate…If he asks for something without having first established a proper relationship, it will not be given to him” 
– I’Ching: Book of Changes

  • Smile! Be friendly and show enthusiasm. No one wants to chat with someone who looks like they have been sucking on a vinegar bottle.  Enthusiastic people inspire other people to do great things.  People are drawn to pleasant people.
  • Ask questions and above all, listen to answers. Most events are also a social function.  Give and get information.  Ask other participants how long they have been involved in their occupation, what other groups do they belong to, or if they have heard the guest speaker before.  Find out what interests them and keep on that subject.  The key is the listening part of this pointer.  When you listen your way in, you don’t have to talk your way out.
  • Do not sell…Do not sell…Do not sell! This point cannot be emphasized enough!  Networking is a means of giving and getting information; it is a mutually beneficial exchange.  It is not a one-way street for you to make sales.  It is not making one party feel intruded upon at an event that was intended to be fun.  This is a great opportunity to find out about a person’s interests in a relaxed atmosphere, and to let them know how you can help them in the future; but do not try and close the deal at an event.  There is a time for everything, and this is not the time to sell.
  • Treat the event as your opportunity to make friends, not clients. It can take little or no time or effort to make a friend, but can take years to make a client.  Friends are much more likely to use your services over your competition and are likely to be repeat customers.  You get the added bonus of creating lifelong relationships and having fun.
  • Hand out your business card wisely. If it is not suitable to the conversation, or if you have not even really had a conversation, keep your card in your pocket.  Use your business card as a means to follow up on a personal exchange and as a way for that person to remember you.  Make sure there is a reason to give them your card.  Add value to the card by ensuring that there is a reason for it.
  • Moderate your eating and drinking. Amazing as it may sound, the more you indulge, the less intelligent you seem.  If you plan on drinking more than a glass or so – do it at another location where you are not networking.  Good manners still matter a lot, especially when you are making a first impression.
  • Sit with someone new. People are drawn to sit with the people they know and are most comfortable with at events.  If your goal is to meet new clients or forge new relationships, sit with someone you don’t already know.  This will give you 30 minutes to one hour to network with a potential new client.
  • Slow Down.  Don’t try to break the world record for how many people you can talk to in one hour.  Holding a memorable conversation with five people will almost always benefit you more than simply saying hello and handing out your card to sixty people.
  • Make eye contact.  Looking off into the horizon or down at the floor will tell the other person that you are talking but you are not listening and don’t care.  Don’t look like you are trying to scope out the next sale.  Making eye contact will show you are listening and that you care about what they are saying.

After the Meeting
“Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time”. 
Chinese proverb

  • Follow-up with contacts you have made. So many people meet and network with someone but then never get back to them.  Listen to what they want and need, then in the next few days show them how you can make it happen.  If you told them about a new product they would enjoy, send the information immediately with a hand written note.  Did you see a magazine article on that product the other person was talking about?  Mail it to them with a personalized message.  Such small courtesies are remembered for a long time.

Remember, the follow-up contact you make after the meeting is just as important as the initial encounter.  Treat the potential customer or client as you would like to be treated, and you will definitely be on the right track to increased sales.  In order to successfully network your business you need to always be aware of the old railroad crossing saying – Stop, Look and Listen then Proceed.  Practice networking skills and your business will boom.


Essential Learnings

I was looking through my computer files and found a list that was written years ago.  It was a list that I wrote down during a session with a client.  I don’t remember all the details of the session, how we got to this point, but there we were.  She was a Kindergarten teacher, and had been for a long time.  I had a sense that she was doing a pretty spectacular job, and not totally aware that she was.  What I asked her was:”What is it that you want your students to learn?”  This was her list:


That they are worthy of being seen and heard

That they feel respected

That they know they have gifts and the time and space to pursue and share

To learn to focus on what they can do

To have a feeling of self-improvement

The ability to set their own goals

The ability to self-evaluate (not rely on someone else)

To be able to speak up, in a way that will be hear, when something doesn’t feel right

To Know they all have something to contribute

To know that it wouldn’t be the same w/out them (as good)

To be curious about each other


I sat in awe for a couple of minutes, imagining what it must be like for a 5 or 6 year old to have their first experience in school with a teacher that was holding this list in her heart.  After all, this was the year that for most children set the tone for the rest of their education.    A child who learned all this in kindergarten would be starting their education with some powerful tools.

I asked her permission to share the list.  When I shared it with others that were teaching, in a variety of venues, they were all quite impressed.  All of us who teach want this list for our students, no matter what their age.    It is what I want for all my students, although until I asked my client the question, I hadn’t thought to make a list, to set that intention.

I learn some of my most valuable lessons talking with clients.  This was one of those moments.  This list has stayed with me, in my mind and my heart ever since that session.  It is what is most important to me in the creation of a learning environment.  I teach NLP to adults, and this list helps me keep clear on what is most important.

This list is also a roadmap for all of us.  Take a look at this list.  Have you learned all of these things for yourself?  Are you unsure about any of them?  If so, these are the places in your life that are worth paying some attention.  We are all capable of learning these things, and we all deserve to know them.  Now, take another look at the list.  Do you affirm this in your interactions with others?  Can you see and know this about anyone you interact with?  I wonder, what our lives, what the world would be like if we did.

Carla Camou, NLP Trainer and Personal Change work:

Stop Doing It or Start Charging For It

Wow! This empowering, liberating, affirming, respectful, and somewhat scary message dominated part of the March 27 TwD session. Karin Q was the good natured, curious, courageous, authentic, valuable expert whose knowledge base and practices were the subject of discussion. What a gift to the group that we could all hear, and hopefully learn, so much in the “laboratory” discussion around what is near and dear to her heart.

Later in the day, I felt a jolt! I have already established a market rate for the personal advocacy I have done with friends and family for twelve years! Some years ago, a young adult friend was hit by a car and sustained disabling injuries. She had no local family, and so our family simply said, “We are your family.” I was with her every day for a while, then intermittently for a long time. It was gift. It is simply “what we do in the world.”

But there came a time that she said, “You have always said it isn’t about money, but the reality is the responsible party has taken responsibility for this situation and I have received a check. You gave me the gift that you could give when I needed it, and I fear you will not allow me the same privilege.” I said, “My friend, of course I will accept a gift with gratitude. Just as you did. But this was never a marketplace transaction between us.” We did not discuss numbers, she simply wrote a check that represented value. And let’s just say that no one needed to fear getting in trouble with the I.R.S. over excess gift taxes, but….. the gift was sizable.

The details of that year have faded from my memory, but I knew our discussion yesterday applied to me in some way.  All afternoon I wondered, “what would be a market value for my expertise?” To my surprise, these events came back to me. I did the math in my head and called my friend saying, “I am so grateful for a gift you have given me that I never appreciated before right now. So I called you immediately. Remember the events of all those years ago? Well…. because of you, I can say to future clients, ‘my going rate is [a certain amount] per hour.’ ”

I came to TwD hoping to gain what I needed to simply write a blog that others might benefit. And that will happen. Soon. I have developed content and a blog name, acquired a domain name, and I depart today on what I regard on a WordPress learning retreat. I hope to have a blog to share with you next Tuesday.

I never imagined it might be the start of an income stream. It is not an income stream the family needs to keep the lights turned on, but value is value. The words “Stop Doing It or Start Charging” apply to me.

An emerging blog name – Takes 2 through 7

Takes 2 through 7: A clunky set of words is emerging, remember this is play dough, and it is all being formed by the comments of readers plus my on-going experience. Readers aptly point out that it is not only about “seniors.” Some long term care residents are people who are younger and disabled.
Revised March 15, 2011
2) Quality of Life Expectations and Reality for Seniors and Others
Becoming informed consumers to honor our elders and our future
3) Expectations and Reality for Seniors and Others
Becoming informed consumers to honor our elders and our future
4) Expectations vs. Reality
Becoming informed consumers to honor our elders and our future
5) Promises, Expectations, Fears, and Reality
Becoming informed consumers to honor our elders and our future
6) Authentic Quality of Life and Dignity
Becoming informed consumers to honor our elders and our future
7) Authentic Dignity and Quality of Life
Becoming informed consumers to honor our elders and our future

Take 7 seems to have “rhythm,” as mentioned by William. It uses the liberating word “authentic” lived and encouraged by Deborah, who asked me to try to discover what the blog wants to be called. The word wisdom is gone, but the word authentic is there. An early blog post, or “About” entry can incorporate the wisdom theme.

Thoughts are welcome, but I know everyone is pondering and writing other things, too. But if this play dough looks fun to you, know that it is for shared enjoyment. Thanks!

Take 1:
Senior Living Community Wisdom
Becoming informed consumers to honor our elders and our future


Think of this “draft” blog name as play-dough that I am inviting you to enjoy with me, if it seems like fun.

The term “Senior Living” is more “inclusive” than “long term care,” because “care” living is only one subset of senior living. The wisdom accessible through this blog will discuss more than the “care” subculture. I expect the term “senior living” will be SEO-friendly.

The term “wisdom” is more appropriate than “information,” because this is not an encyclopedia. There will definitely be “point of view,” voice, heart, and compassion.

The term “informed consumer” is key. None of us would be consumers of headphones, an automobile, or a credit card without becoming “informed consumers.” We use “independent” information. We do not rely only on information from the salesman. Likewise, it is time we become informed consumers in the senior living world. This benefits our beloved elders and our future. It is neither completely altruistic nor completely self-interested. Simply….. wise.

The term “community” is important. There will be links to articles, facts, and opinion. I will ask questions that invite comments.

Do you, friends of Deborah D, have a response of blogging wisdom? Perhaps a story about how you chose your blog name? Perhaps a sense, in retrospect, of how it might have been named differently/better? Do you have an immediate response, positive, negative, or neutral, to the draft blog name?

How do I discover a name for a new blog?

Grateful for the space here that Deborah Drake has provided for not-so-reticent bloggers, I have drafted enough posts to have the confidence to think about launching my new blog on “a subject that is near and dear to my heart.” Which has become “a subject that I know something about.” The general topic area is “what the long term care experience is supposed to be like, vs. what many people are experiencing and putting up with.”

I do not claim to be “an expert.”

I am not a medical professional.

I am not a legal professional.

I am a loving friend and family member, an informed and caring citizen and consumer.

I like facts. I like objective information. I like informed opinions and well-developed arguments. But my heart is pretty loud, too, and will not be silenced and kept out of communication.

I am grateful for the ways my life has been enriched by being present with people whose lives have part of this landscape, either for a short while, or a long while.

I am a little outraged. I am a bit sad. I am hopeful. I believe that the energy and attention that has benefited rights in other arenas will benefit our beloved elders and disabled in long term care.

I wonder what would be an authentic and appropriate name for the blog that contains “that” voice? I will continue to ponder. Thoughts are welcome, even if those thoughts do not “sound like” a blog name.

Not every one of my posts in this space is on that topic. There were a couple other pieces of writing “I had to do,” and I published them here. When I am “blocked” by a little annoyance or outrage or sadness on any topic, … throwing it onto paper seems to get me unblocked. You may know the feeling. Thank you for reading.

Note: I return to this post to add that the March 6 session of Tuesdays with Deborah helps me toward an answer. I am grateful to all who were there.

The Language of Dignity

“We the People” have written for more than 200 years about the rights of all people. Many of us can “stick up for ourselves,” but we recognize that some people’s rights will be trampled without extra protection. “We the People” know that it is right to look out for the vulnerable – our beloved children, elders, disabled, veterans, and more. We look out for them through our actions and also through the laws and regulations we cause to be implemented. One long term care regulation says:

A facility must care for its residents in a manner and in an environment that promotes maintenance or enhancement of each resident’s quality of life…. and in an environment that maintains or enhances each resident’s dignity and respect in full recognition of his or her individuality.

Take note of the word “dignity.” What comes to your mind when you think of long term care residents and their dignity? (Write your response in a comment, if you wish.)

“Dignity” is a diamond with many facets. One facet is “the language of dignity.”

That language of dignity says, “Mary is a person who uses a wheelchair.”
The language of dignity says, “John is a person who seems to experience some cognitive changes.”

The language of dignity does not say, “Mary is wheelchair bound.”
The language of dignity does not say, “John is demented.”

The language of dignity puts the word “person” first.  Mary is a person. John is a person. Each of these people has many, many attributes. “Wheelchair bound” is not Mary’s identity; “person” is Mary’s identity. “Demented” is not John’s identity; “person” is John’s identity.

“We the people” are committed to the environment of dignity that long term care residents deserve, and we have codified our commitment into laws and regulations. We can also “walk the talk.” As individuals, we can adopt the language of dignity by putting the word “person” first when we talk about residents of long term care. And we can invite others into the process. When I hear anyone say “Mary is wheelchair bound,” I simply repeat, “Mary is a person who uses a wheelchair.”

The language of dignity can replace all labels. Do you ever hear that someone “is homeless….”, “is unemployed…..”, “is an unwed mother”? What do we hear about these people when we use labels? What do we hear differently when we put the word “person” first?

Preventing homelessness, one task at a time

Homelessness is easier to prevent than to solve.

This truism came to mind when an acquaintance asked me to take her to a mandatory appointment at a state unemployment office on Tuesday February 28.

Clearing an afternoon’s calendar, I said “yes” because I imagine the hardships at the heart of her request to a mere acquaintance for this type of ride.

This woman, I will call her Sophia, has no blood relatives. She is over 60 and was laid off some time ago from the job that kept her independent. She has scraped by with the assistance of food banks and a couple part time jobs, one of which she is now losing. During that job, she experienced a fall and injuries causing chronic pain. Her car is unreliable. She does not live within easy walking distance of a bus line. It is hard for her to get to the doctor or pharmacy for proper pain management, but she wouldn’t have money for pain meds anyway.

I cannot “solve” all of Sophia’s problems. But I CAN take her to an appointment that might qualify her for unemployment benefits in a system that she, and I, have paid into for years. And I CAN listen, without flinching or patronizing, to her seemingly interminable rants about her woes. This behavior pushes many people away. I will not be among them. I will take her to the appointment.

And I will miss being at “Tuesdays with Deborah” on Feb. 28th.