Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fighting a Cold with Chicken Soup, Humor and Optimism

I have a cold. Optimist or not, having a cold sucks. Actually “blows” (in a bad way) would be a more appropriate description. I generally have a good immune system, but it’s been a little stressful at my house lately. Stress lowers one’s resistance to illness. One of the advantages of being an optimist is the “half-full glass” bunch suffers from fewer colds.

But, alas, optimism can only take you so far. When I wasn’t looking, some cold germs flew up my nose and took up residence there. Since Thanksgiving was coming, the cold germs invited all their friends and family to live in my nasal membranes. Some have migrated to other areas and I’m trying to cough them out of my sore throat. My itchy eyes are trying to drown them in tears. They laugh and multiple in spite of doses of Echinacea, juice and ibprofen.

Through the years I have tried different home remedies to relieve cold symptoms. I think it’s ironic that after all the advances we have made in science, that we can’t find a cure for the common cold. The best we can hope for is relief from cold symptoms.

If my mom or dad were alive I would be slurping chicken soup.

For years scientists and doctors didn’t believe chicken soup had any medicinal components at all.

But, the Jewish mothers of those doctors finally won out and now there is evidence that there is some benefit to the chicken-soup-as-medicine theory. Either that or they realized it was fruitless to argue with your yiddisha mama or Bubbe.

A friend of mine suggested a hot bath with vinegar in the water. I tried this but it made me want to roll in a patch of salad greens and brush my skin with olive oil. Somehow I can see a chicken soup dinner with a salad made with vinegar and oil dressing in my future. Too bad I won’t be able to taste it.

As unfair as it may seem that we are all vulnerable to colds, it is a sad fact of life. No matter how good, kind, careful or honest we may be no one is immune from the four sufferings: birth, sickness, aging and death. By the way, the IRS says taxes are another of the mandatory sufferings too, but Buddhist scripture doesn’t address that topic. I try not to talk about the IRS either. I don’t want to piss them off. I may be an optimist, but I’m not stupid. I tell people if they have a good lawyer they may be able to get away with murder (minus the karmic retribution that is governed by a higher set of laws) but no one gets away with cheating on their taxes. Ask Al Capone.

Some pain is inevitable. However, we can reduce our negativity about the problem and reduce our suffering. That is why my co-author, Jackie, and I wrote this oft quoted phrase from the introduction of our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

It is impossible to go through life without encountering difficulties. From a baby’s first cry to the last dying breath, the human experience involves a series of struggles. While encountering challenges is an inherent part of life, it is not so much the problems, but the attitude you take while facing these difficulties that shapes how you view the world.

So yes, I am suffering from a cold. I don’t like it, but I have to move on. I’m resting, drinking more fluids and experimenting with over-the-counter remedies. My friend, Michele, suggested Zicam, so I’ll blog in the future as to how that worked out.

The one bright spot in this saga is I have the opportunity to tell three of my favorite jokes and puns. Here they are:

You think it’s a booger, but it’s snot.

What’s the difference between a booger and a mushroom? A kid won’t eat a mushroom.

Last, but not least.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Ach who?
Bless you.

And bless all of YOU this holiday season. If you do get sick, be sure to rent a few funny movies, tell a few jokes and, of course, buy multiple copies of our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. It won’t cure your cold, but you can always use it as a large coaster for a bowl of chicken soup.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey About Negativity

Next week is Thanksgiving. Many of us will have the opportunity to dine with family and friends for a special once-a-year meal. Many look forward to this event with anticipation – some with dread. And I confess, in my life I have approached this holiday with both mindsets.

I have seen the confidence of the strongest, most confident men and women become mushier than a bowl of mashed potatoes at the thought of facing the snide comments, comparisons and cruelty that some of our relatives bring to the holiday table.
How ironic that a feast that is supposed to be a celebration of gratitude and harmony can churn out more negativity and drama that a soap opera marathon.

But there is hope. We cannot change other people, but we can work on our own reaction to them. I just posted a short video on you tube on three simple steps on how to erase negativity. It’s not a cure all, but it can help us reduce our own negativity, which in turn can have a ripple effect on others.

Please check out this video and share it with your friends and family. Heck, share it with your enemies too. They probably need it worst of all. You can view it at

As an added bonus, I have also made a 25% discount for an electronic copy of our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within available now through Dec. 16, 2012 for only $5.24. Please go to and enter the code VD99G

After Dec. 16 the book will return to its normal cost of $6.99. Paperback copies of the book are available for $14.99 through Amazon, as well as stores throughout the U.S. A partial list of bookstores and retail outlets is available at

For those of you who are not familiar with the message in the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is a practical guide on how to reduce negativity and embrace happiness. From meth addicts to multi-millionaires, the book offers powerful experiences of individuals who have faced dramatic challenges, but did not lose hope. Using these compelling biographies, as well as practical advice and simple exercises, the reader is guided on an internal journey toward adopting a more joyful way to live.

We pay a heavy price for our negativity and I want to combat that with a free tool that provides a more optimistic alternative. I’m really hoping folks will spread the word and use this window of time to read the book and suggest it to others who are interested in embracing a more hopeful message.

So there you have it. No more excuses. Discounted book, free video. Kick that grouch out now. But lest I come off too brash or too self serving, I do have one last bit of advice for this holiday season. Try to take a moment and find the love in your heart and send those laser beams of love out to those family members around you – especially those who annoy you. While we might not think so now, there will come a time when they are out of our lives and we will miss them. And more importantly, we do not want to miss the opportunity to summon up a little love and shine a little light in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Slumbering Wisdom

Sometimes I think I’m smarter when I’m unconscious. In various religions, particularly Buddhism, the sages talk about the benefits of an “awakened state.” However I think there is a lot of wisdom in our dream-state while snoozing.

Let me explain.

I believe dreams can be a way for your subconscious to slip you a secret message. That’s why parables work better in many cultures than preachy sermons. We may have something important to learn but our ego doesn’t want to hear the message too directly. No one likes to admit what they’re doing is wrong, even if our misguided efforts are obstructing our happiness.

I’m no psychologist but I enjoy interpreting my own dreams. When my kids were little I would analyze my daughter Brittany’s nocturnal messages. In my infinite wisdom I told her all her dreams had one of two messages; to clean her room or practice her violin. It didn’t matter what her dream was, that was my assessment. Her older sister, Alicia, saw through my ruse and kept her dreams to herself.

For years I have had a dream where I’m on vacation in Hawaii (or living there) and it’s time to move away.

Suddenly I realize I have never visited my favorite beach. To make matters worse, time was running out. Sometimes time HAD run out and the movers beckoned at the door.

After years of having this dream, I think I finally know what it means. I’m not living enough in the moment and enjoying the beauty in my own backyard. It doesn’t need to be physical beauty, it can be symbolic of other wondrous components of life. I believe some dreams remind us of our goals. Other dreams expose our fears. Other dreams expose other things. Who hasn’t a dream where we are in a public place and realize part of our clothing is missing?

One of my favorite lines in a movie is from Sleepless in Seattle when Meg Ryan refers to those dreams in which the dreamer finds herself walking naked in public places and Rosie ODonnell states, “I love that dream."

But back to my analogy about missed opportunities. I adore fall colors, but my hometown in Arizona doesn’t experience the typical seasonal changes. However, I’m working temporarily in Port Angeles, Washington where autumn is in its full glory. I can look out from my dining room table and see a variety of trees and bushes burst into hues of red, orange and golden leaves.

I also enjoy the cool, crisp air and the scent of fireplaces. However, rather than venturing out, I spend a lot of my day sitting on my butt typing on the computer. Sometimes it feels like I literally have to pry myself from my sedentary position to enjoy the cool outdoors that spreads out in front of me.

Once I challenge inertia, I enjoy walks through the neighborhood. The problem is sometimes it’s hard to get started. I surf the net more than I feel the sea that blows blocks from my home office. There is a great book about flow, that feeling where you are so absorbed in the moment that time ceases to exist. We’ve all experienced flow when we are immersed in activities we love. Musicians, artists, authors, athletes all experience that moment of peak performance when you feel “in the groove.” I have often had that feeling when I’m walking. I’ve yet to feel it when I’m checking facebook.

A great quote to illustrate this point is from one of my favorite comediennes, Lucille Ball who said. “I'd rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven't ."

I know we all have responsibilities and busy lives. I’m not advocating we toss it all aside and do everything our heart desires and throw complete caution to the wind. However, we could make a small promise to ourselves to do one fun or heart-felt action each day. One simple step would be to ask a simple question before turning in for the night.

“Was I a little better today than I was yesterday?”

The “better” in that equation can be erasing negativity, living a more purposeful life, improving relationships or simply taking the time to embrace the beauty of nature. With this nightly ritual to keep you on task, you will take positive steps to living your dreams – especially when you’re awake.