Saturday, January 31, 2009

Military Use of Emotional Intelligence

"Daniel Goleman also points out that the limbic system takes much longer to be reprogrammed (i.e., learn new behaviors) than does the neocortex. Only after months of repetition and practice can one create “new neural pathways [that] become the . . . default option” for the emotional brain." -- Lt Col Sharon M Latour, USAF, Lt Gen Bradley C. Hosmer, USAF, Retired, "Emotional Intelligence Implications for All United States Air Force Leaders"

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Medal of Honor Recipients Give Inspiration

Inspiration from Congressional Medal winners ...

"Just go straight in shooting..."
"And so you pray..."
"You gotta fight your way out. You're on your own."
"We don't wear it for ourselves, we wear it for all those who can't..."
"The real honor is that a handful of young men who were with you at the time thought you was worthy of it..."

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Top 10 Tips for Online Dating ... and the Important No. 11

When you're establishing a relationship, you want to build trust. Whatever you SAY, back it up. No one is MAKING you say "I will call you tomorrow," so if you say it, mean it and do it.

Top 10 Internet Dating Tips

1. People are dating on the Internet because we all have serious limitations - geographical and timewise.

Example: Martin in looking online. Martin is 85 and lives in Lantana, Texas. Where the heck is Lantana Texas (and I live in Texas)??

2. Watch the spelling! It matters. It stops the flow, and makes a poor impression.

Someone sent me an email they got today with the subject line "Hi Cuttie Pie!"

By the time she got around that one, her initial enthusiasm had died.

3. Men, pursue, gently. Don't give ultimatums or orders. This is courtship, not business.

Let's say you haven't heard from her in a week.

Yes: I'm still hoping to hear from you. I think we have a lot in common.
No: Okay, this is it. I hotlisted you and I emailed you twice. Either write me back or just tell me no.

NO ONE responds well to an ultimatum.

4. Men, keep a lid on your "visual" and your innuendos.

No: I've seen you peeking. Come on and email me.
No: While on the phone, looking at her profile photo, "What is it you have on? What's that a top or a sweater or what?

These things are creepy for women.

5. Keep at it. This is not a quick-fix thing.

Marty has been busy with work. She finally got to her emails and there were 2 that interested her, from about a month ago. When she went to look, it said their profiles had been removed. We know this means either (1) the profile has been removed; or (2) it is no longer accessible to YOU, you've been blocked.

Either way - not good. It usually takes months of being on the site. I've had male clients who said "this doesn't work" after just one month. Don't be so fast on the trigger.

6. It's a War of Nerves for men and women both. People need to take breaks, especially when it's someone they're really interested in. This applies more to women. If she doesn't reply right away, or breaks the momentum, wait. Don't badger. The proceed again.

Nancy had a really promising phone conversation with a man, after emailing. He ended the call saying he wanted to see her. She writes me that it's been two days and he hasn't called her. My advice: Don't worry. That's usually the way it goes. If he 's going to see you, this is how men work -- they WORK. Remember, I coach lots of male clients. They disappear to go do the work. From what I hear, he is making lists, i.e., to have a relationship with this woman I have to get the bathroom retiled, rearrange my investment portfolio and check airfares for the best price.

Yes, it's true! That's what they do.

Gentlmen, now that I've told you this is hard on the woman, consider checking-in phone calls or emails. Just to let her know you're still there and still interested.

7. Gentle pressure.

Be a breeze going through the forest, not a hurricane destroying everything in its path. This may seem like the person who could be the Love of Your Life, but

8. Remember you always can control the pace.

Anna just put a new photo on her profile. She was deluged with emails and said "This is too much. I just don't like it."

Two points here:
(1) The photo really matters. To both sexes.
(2) Don't try and eat the elephant in one bite. Responses tend to come in batches. There WILL be a change in the pace, so while it's good, just enjoy. Answer them one-by-one.

9. A gentle beginning usually brings on a long-lasting relationship.

IM is especially bad for this. You meet someone and then IM constantly, and for days. This doesn't work. You get TMI too fast. And ladies, it's generally up to YOU to control the pace.

10. Men, ask the woman about herself, but not like it's a deposition. Ask open-ended questions.

Yes: So how do you like living in San Diego? I've never been there. What's it like?
No: How long have you lived in San Diego? (next) How long have you been single? (next) Usually people who do this then ask the impossible question, like "How come you never remarried.

If you need coaching on how to have these intial conversations, call me. Set up a time by emailing .

And here's the important

No. 11 It really does work. I talk to people all the time who have met people on the Internet that they established long-term relationships or marriage with. YES IT WORKS, if you work it.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Alma Salsera - Inspirational

Never say "never."

From youtube: You define your own limits - Tu te pones tus propios limites.

This is a couple of FRIENDS: Reynaldo Ojeda and Claudia Lopez from Bogotá, Colombia - South America. Reynaldo sometimes dances with Claudia and his wife (also named Claudia), at the same time. I will upload a new video soon. Suscribe to my videos by clicking the "suscribe" orange button, or visit once in a while my webpage(in spanish):

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Famous INFJs - Geoffrey Chaucer, Hadley Ajana and Carl Jung

Are you a Myers-Briggs fan (aka Keirsey)? On this site you can purchase a tshirt saying what your type is, and listing the famous people who share this type.

For instance, here's the INFJ. We weren't surprised to see California attorney Hadley Ajana right there between Tom Selleck and Geoffrey Chaucer, followed by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Are YOU an INFJ (Counselor) or an ESTJ (Supervisor), or an ESFJ (Provider) or an ENTJ (Fieldmarshal)? I ask my coaching clients to take this profile because one of the most important things to know right away is whether you are an I (introvert) or an E (extravert or extrovert).

This assessment is based on Dr. Carl Jung 's types, and he, himself, a famous psychologist, was an INFJ (Counselor). See how accurate it is! :-)

You can take the test here, online. Here you can read about the 4 basic groups, called temperaments. If you'd like coaching about your type and how best to use your energy and talents, let me know -

Here are the famous people who are INFJs. There's a t-shirt for each type, so have fun!

Adam Sandler, Anthony Kiedis, Aristophanes, Billy Crystal, Carrie Fisher, Fanny Crosby, Fred McMurray, Garry Trudeau, Gillian Anderson, James Reston, Jamie Foxx, Martin Van Buren, Mel Gibson, Michael Landon, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Nelson Mandela, Nicole Kidman, Paul Stookey, Piers Anthony, Robert, Shirley Temple Black, Sudi-Kate, Tom Selleck, Hadley Ajana, Geoffrey Chaucer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mohandas Gandhi, Johann Von Goethe, Carl Jung, Eleanor Roosevelt, Calista Flockhart, Jessica Tovey, Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Darwin, on who survives

I don't know anyone who hasn't been affected by the events of the past year. I find this quote pertinent, especially because Darwin has so often been MISquoted.

It is not the strongest of the species that survive,
nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change.
~ Charles Darwin

Emotional Intelligence includes the capacity to be resilient, flexible and creative. When you have these tools, you can react positively to change -- and change is always stressful.

If things in your life have changed drastically, you may find yourself feeling like a dinosaur in the age of mammals. It's time to "adapt." Positive action and changing to meet the changing time are part of being "responsive to change."

Any major life event ushers in a "transition" - retirement, career or job loss, change in marital status, kids leaving home, loss of retirement fund and having to go back to work ...

Let me know if I can help you with coaching.

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What are Reptiles on Caffeine Like?

I'm reading Brooke S. Musterman's "Reptiles on Caffeine," and enjoying it so much. I'm quoted in it quite a few times. "People are strange," it begins ... and Brooke tells about the strange behaviors encountered at a Cafe, much of them stress-related. We learn a lot about the reptilian brain.

What's the reptilian brain? It's the oldest of our three ("Triune") brains, and its influence is automatic, programmed, and quite often outside our conscious awareness. It's the brain we share with reptiles (who do not have a limbic brain, which we share with mammals, nor a neocortex, which humans alone have.) Because it is the oldest, and concerned with survival, it is the most powerful. It pays to get to know it ... here's why.

As Dr, Suzanne LaCombe writes in her article, "What's with the Reptile?":

...almost everyone underestimates the influence of the reptilian brain.

The reptilian brain (comprising the brainstem and spinal cord) in combination with our limbic system is in effect where the personality resides: our idiosyncracies, our way of being with others, who you are emotionally and behaviourally.

[The reptilian brain and limbic system] form the biological infrastructure of the right brain.

From Reptiles on Caffeine:
The reptilian brainstem is like a bodyguard who is constantly watching your back, constantly scanning the environment for threats.
You can see that getting this on a chain would be important.

Because it involves the right brain, if you want to make changes in your self, your beliefs, your thinking, your reactions, your "personality," and therefor your LIFE, you need to engage the right brain. ("Change your self, and your world changes.") See my ebook "Changing Beliefs". The title, BTW, in fact the topic, was suggested to me by a client. Someone who was obviously ready to learn and grow and change.

The right brain holds the old neuropathways carved in infancy, when you first started relating to others and learning about your world. Our brains are called "plastic," because you can continue to form new pathways probably your entire life. You can learn to modify these, change them, and even form new ones. Then you can change things that are not working in your life.

Want to learn more? Take THE EQ COURSE(tm). The material is even presented in a right-brained way to help get you started. What's a "right-brained way"? Well, you'll see in the Internet course, which includes workbook lessons that you email for feedback. It's adult learning, self-paced, affordable and effective.

It's doubly effective combined with personal coaching.

Susan Dunn, M.A., Clinical Psychology
Email me at

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It is assumed that our presidents will know how to dance

Time to Say Goodbye

Time photographers talk about their years photographing George W. Bush, including visit to hospital with wounded soldiers. An intense experience, the photographer asked Bush why (or how) he did it.
He replied: "I have to. I sent them there."

Time for perspective. Take a look at past inaugural balls. Did you know?

Jimmy Carter attempted to strip the galas of their glitz and glamour. He asked that they be called "parties" and insisted that guests be charged no more than $25 each.

I wonder ...

I wonder if any of the presidents or their wives had to take quick dancing lessons in preparation for this event. It's assumed the president knows how to dance.

Are you giving your children ballroom dancing lessons?? Are you giving them Etiquette Lessons.

One of my specialities is Etiquette, since it's a major part of emotional intelligence. Email me for coaching.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Inauguration, Nonverbals

Obama's nonverbals - gestures, expressions, postures - are definitely unique and definitely a a part of his appeal.

There is nothing threatening about his gestures - no fist banging, no hard finger pointing. They are carefully orchestrated. They are almost delicate. And very restrained. Like his "friendly face" as my international friends describe it, this is man who is centered, and invites you to join him.

This video talks about something called "finger healing" - maybe yes, maybe no, but it's a great look at the gestures and expressions of Obama.

To learn moe

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Can Obama Do It?

Now you know when an article from the UK leads off with Churchill, you'd better pay attention! Kennedy is mentioned. I throw in Abraham Lincoln. Let's do it. We need some inspiration right now!

From Can Barack Obama fix it? Yes, he can, London Times, Andrew Sullivan, is all about emotional intelligence. For instance:

At several points in the gut-wrenching emotional rollercoaster of last year [Obama] simply disappeared alone into a hotel room for a few minutes to gather his thoughts and restrain his feelings.

This is pure and simple EQ. In fact Abraham Lincoln said ...

"A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall ... If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend ... On the contrary, assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his actions, or to mark him as one to be shunned or despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart.... "

And there is some quote by Lincoln I can't find - though many have said it it many different ways about stopping to think before you speak. It's part of emotional intelligence.

Leading paragraphs from the article:
Magnanimity in victory: that was Churchill’s advice. And since his precocious victory last November, Barack Obama has walked that Churchillian walk. It is not common in politics, especially after a meteoric rise past every prejudice, every smear and every Clinton, but Obama has an old soul’s perspective and an intellectually secure man’s confidence. Perhaps he has too much confidence — except that every time his friends feared that in the campaign, he proved them wrong.

From the shallow brittleness of George W Bush to the supple strength of Obama is a revolution in temperament and style not seen since Jimmy Carter gave way to Ronald Reagan 28 years ago. It signals the kind of administration that now looms before us: a conciliatory, inclusive, pragmatic form of liberalism. It’s a liberalism eager to learn from the insights of conservatives, and it is pioneered by a president-elect shrewd enough to know that generosity of spirit means more leverage and influence, not less.

I was talking to a client the other day who lives in the UK and he said, with that British politeness and restraint that I love -- you know, without mentioning any names -- that America "needed a friendlier face." Look at the photo included with the above article (which has Barack Obama's name spelled wrong, but we'll be seeing that a lot).

In this article, Sullivan reviews Obama's domestic and foreign policies and their chances for success. We all wish the best for Obama and hope and pray that he can, as we await the Inaugural speech tomorrow, and the coming 4 years.

The article is sprinkled with those qualities which can make a leader effective, and qualities that we associate with emotional intelligence:
  • He shows every sign of meaning what he said (Intentionality)
  • leaving divisive, destructive froth behind
  • (During the past 16 years) the press learnt that cynicism was the only reliable guide to understanding politics and that world-weariness was the same as wisdom
  • (getting out of) an emotionally familiar and comfortable rut
  • Gave his chief rival and fierce competitor "the biggest job in his government"
  • Has asked some Bush appointees to stay on
  • Obama acts like a kind of antacid to the American stomach
  • He has walked through the churn of racial and cultural and religious polarisation and somehow calmed everyone down
  • Obama's speech re: Jeremiah Wright: "That Obama wrote and delivered it as he heard in his ears every racial stereotype that had pummelled his psyche for his entire life bespoke an emotional maturity that still shocks."
  • He even managed ... to suck the drama out of the Clintons
  • He never took the Sarah Palin bait (As I say over and over in my Handling Difficult People ebook -- don't take the bait!)
  • Doesn't charm like Clinton did or Bush tried to ... he appears to have no need to be loved by everyone in the room
  • Often finds it hard to disguise how tired he feels (emotional expression ... )
  • At several points in the gut-wrenching emotional rollercoaster of last year he simply disappeared alone into a hotel room for a few minutes to gather his thoughts and restrain his feelings.
  • More of a strategist than a technician
  • Blend of pragmatism and realism
  • Has the unerring instincts of a conciliator
  • Has the rhetorical skills of a Kennedy or a Churchill
  • Willingness to give others credit
  • to approach issues with dispassionate pragmatism
  • shift by symbols and speeches the mood and tenor of an entire country
Well that's just a taste. Read the article in its entirety; it's a good one. It ends with

Even now, as the outlook seems so dark, and as the inheritance seems so
insuperable, three words linger in the mind.

Yes he can.

And two words echo back at me.

Can we?

Which leads me, your blogger to sigh and pray:

Let's hope so.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Need More Money?

"MONEY LIKES SPEED" says Dr. Joe Vitale.

Dr. Joe Vitale, who appeared in the movie The Secret, has been studying the law of attraction re: money for many years.

Here are his 7 Ways to Attract More Money. For the full article and how to access his materials, go HERE. You can learn more about his Law of Attraction program through Nightingale-Conant called The Missing Secret.

1. Give money away.
And give it to people or places that are nourishing your spirit.

2. Get clear.
Make sure your conscious intentions get manifested, not your unconscious counterintentions.

3. Take action. Remember - "Money likes speed."

4. Support a cause.
Vitale says, "In short, you should want money for a larger reason than your own ego." Well, with this economy it may not be ego as much as survival, but the principal remains the same.

5. Get support.
People, books, tapes, a coach.

6. Be grateful.

7. Do what you love.
Work in it somehow, until you can do it fulltime. Vitale wrote his first book during his lunch hours when he worked for oil companies.
Getting in touch with your unconscious counterintentions is part of what learning emotional intelligence is all about. Contrary to what you might think, emotions exist to give us information. Coaching is the best way to learn emotional intelligence and clear intentionality. If you not mindful, you are truly sleeping with the enemy.
I've heard more than a few clients tell me things that were clearly counter to their stated goals that they weren't mindful of at all. It just slips out - to the right listening ear.

For coaching, email me at or call me at 817-734-1471.
Susan Dunn has an M. A. in Clinical Psychology and offer personal and business coaching, consulting, and is the founder and head of the EQ Alive(tm) Coach Certification Program.
BTW, Nightingale-Conant has long offered a Mission Statement Builder which I personally recommend. You can build your own Mission Statement here.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Does Obama Have the Emotional Intelligence to Do the Job

From Wasington Post, On Leadership article by John R. Ryan, entitled "Raw Ability."

I'm very optimistic about Barack Obama's presidency. He has the raw ability - the first-rate intellect, strong emotional intelligence, confidence and good judgment - to be a truly great president, one who comes into office with serious potential and lives up to it by continuing to grow.

It remains to be seen.

I'm reminded of Daniel Goleman's comment in "Emotional Intelligence," that the hardest challenge in childhood, the biggest test of the child's emotional intelligence, is "breaking into a new, already-formed playgroup."

As we speak, Obama is busily reshaping his new play group. Kicking some out he doesn't like, bringing in some he does. In this and other decisions, he will begin to disappoint, renege on promises, and shift his position on certain issues, because in order to get something accomplished, he needs to build a bigger support base.

Now lets consider his judgment in choosing schooling for the girls, played up by the media (as Ryan says) as a major transitional challenge. Would it be Sidwell Friends or Georgetown Day?

or public school?

A sop is thrown to us in The Huffington Post: "Michelle Obama went to public schools on Chicago's South Side, and understands the importance of strong public schools, Lelyveld said, and the administration plans to work hard on that."

Somehow I'm not impressed.

Well the Obama dilemma is somewhat different from the family I know where they, too, have an important "transitional decision" to make. The father was recently diagnosed with cancer, and they must decide whether the father gets the mri for his tumor once every 3 mos. as recommended, or once every 6 mos., which would enable them to keep their children out of the wretched local public school system and in ttheir private school. Since of course, as we all know, insurance doesn't cover "diagnostic tests." ("and the administration plans to work hard on that"?)
An example of the wretched public education in this family's town, which I recently visited? I stood at the checkout line at the WalGreens, which was right in front of the entrance doors on a night when it was 20 degrees, shivered as it opened and closed, and said to the adolescent checkout clerk, "You must be freezing."

Her reply: "No. It depends on the day. Like tomorrow it might be hot."
Another example of the current state of our public education.

Went to an information site to look up the meaning of the word "Hallelujah." We went quickly from the obligatory Greek/Latin thing, and a quick look at Catholicism where, it said, Alleluia was the preferred spelling, to a discussion of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Then Bon Jovi's. Then Lang's. I kept reading, becoming more and more curious as to when they would say it. IT. Curiosity turned to incredulity.

They never did.

A comment from a site visitor said, with great restraint, "And while you're at it, you might mention The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. If you know what that is."
Well, Mr. Obama is now ousting the old playground crowd and forming his own, new play group. We observe with interest.

And like Mr. Ryan I sure hope the Sidwell Friends and the rest of life at the White House don't move him too much out of reality. Emails circulate as to whether he's "really" Black, and other nonsense. On the streets, the questions are more practical, and more pertinent:

  • where to find affordable housing;
  • how to get a job
  • how to get a second job
  • how to cut back when you're already at the line;
  • how to pay for gas to get to a job if you're lucky enough to have one;
  • which to sacrifice, medical care or heat;
  • whether to pay for jackets or meat;
  • what to do when you're 70 and you just lost 3/4s of your IRA; and,
  • where to put your mother-in-law who isn't moving in because it would be helpful and also kitchy to be on the D. C. scene, and have an entire suite to herself avec staff, but is moving in because she is destitute, and you need her social security money, so you'll make room for one more person in your highly-mortgaged 2 BR 2 bath house (maybe on of the teenagers can use the LR for a bedroom?), and pray they don't cut her social security payments.
Did Obama use good judgment in placing the girls in private school?

Oh come on. You knew he would. Wouldn't you if you had the choice?

The important thing to keep in mind is 99% of the people in the U. S. do not have that choice.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coaching for Effective Fathering

Helping Men Succeed, Mark Brandenburg

In the emailbag today, from our favorite coach for Dads, Mark Brandenburg, who coaches emotional intelligence as well:

Do you have a child that’s misbehaving? This isn’t a child that wants to misbehave; It’s a child that is discouraged. Give him or her encouragement, and allow them a chance to contribute in meaningful ways to the family.

Let them know when they’ve behaved the way you’d like them to. And, spell out clearly what you expect from their behavior.

Kids don’t want to misbehave just to bother you. They do it for a reason - to feel more important, or to get more attention for themselves.

Do you want more misbehavior? Then punish him or her, and see what you get.

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
Phone (+1)
651-766-9976 "Helping Men Succeed"

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Leonard Cohen sings his own Hallelujah

Hallelujah, written and sung by Leonard Cohen. Two covers are currently BOTH in the top 50 UK chart -- by Alexandra Burke and Jeff Buckley.
From wiki:
On the 21st of December 2008, "Hallelujah" became the first song in 51 years to occupy the first and second positions on the UK Singles Chart; ... Alexandra Burke's and ... Jeff Buckley's covers were the two highest-selling songs in the week beginning 15 December 2008.

Youtubers call this a "version," and the battle rages. Rufus Wainright? K. D. Lang? Allison Crowe? Amanda Jenssen? Bon Jovi? Damien Leith? Sheryl Crow? Tina Dickow?
There have been more covers than you can imagine ....
Watch the different versions and you will see different levels of emotional expression.
To me, this IS the song. The man wrote it - words and music both - and he sings it. He is a poet.

Says The Independent in the UK:

"Hallelujah” has too much wit and deviant sex in it to be sung by anyone the dumb side of 45, least of all the belt-it-out-while-holding-back-the-tears sort of diva the sight of whom is a profound religious experience to the judges of The X Factor."

The lyrics ... there are many. Supposedly Leonard keeps adding and subtracting. He has also said that everyone adds their own when they sing it. (see K. D. Lang's below) It almost begs the adding of you own personal verse. Haven't you thought of your own already? At least if you're over 45 y.o.

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth,
I didn't come to fool you
And even though

It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

K. D. Lang's includes:
Maybe there's a god above
All I never learned from love was How to shoot someone
Who outdrew you
It's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not someone that's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

I think somewhere in there should be
Life is like licking honey off a thorn.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

What You Need is a Gap Year

Now there's a word for it: Gap Year

From the New York Times:

“I was pretty burned out after practicing medicine for 26 years,” said Dr. Sinar, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. “I needed a recharge.”

So he took a “gap year,” from July 2007 to June 2008, to explore things like stone masonry, antique restoration, archaeology and traditional Eastern medicine, in locations spanning from Alaska to Nepal to Romania. “I think everyone in his heart of hearts has some things they have always wanted to do but for one reason or other never does,” Dr. Sinar said.

The vast majority of my coaching is about this - the need for it, and the remedy for it. Not all of us take take a full year off to recharge. There are other ways to do it.

What a loss to live your entire life never having done "what you always wanted to do." In fact that's not living .. is it??

Are you burnt out (suffering from burn out)? Email me for coaching about the gap year, sdunn@susandunncc .

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Who is good at reading nonverbal cues and who is not. And how to get better at it.

The biggest mistake you can make is to assume communication has taken place.

A classic:

I have just revised my ebook, NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION and invite you to learn more. Including new research information.
Why learn nonverbal communication aka body language? As Sun-Tzu says, if something can be used against you, it's good to know as much about it as you can.
From the ebook:
Who's Good at Reading Nonverbal Cues and Who Isn't? (according to research):

  • Autistic people usually are poor at it, or cannot
  • Abused children are more sensitive to anger cues than unabused children
  • Heroin addicts and phencyclidine abusers have a decreased ability
  • Cocaine addicts have an increased ability
  • Men with major depression have significantly decreased ability to read nonverbal cues
  • Obese women have diminished ability to read nonverbal cues
  • Women with PMS have a diminished ability
  • Serial rapists of adult women are very good at it
  • Women who have been raped on at least two occasions by different perpetrators are very poor at it (see data below)

A Disturbing, Yet Cautionary Tale:

In research done by AJ Giannini, WA Price, JL Kniepple in International Journal
of Psychiatry in Medicine, it was found that males who were serial rapists of adult women had very high "nonverbal receptive abilities," while women who had been raped on at least two occasions by different perpetrators had "a significant impairment in their abilities to read these cues in either male or female senders." Adds wikipedia, " These results were troubling, indicating a predator-prey model. The authors did note that whatever the nature of these preliminary findings the responsibility of the rapist was in no manner or level, diminished.

Lastly -

Medical students going into family practice, psychiatry, pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology were significantly better at reading nonverbal cues than medical students going into surgery, radiology and pathology. Internal medicine and plastic surgery candidates scored near the mean.

Common sense (EQ) would add:

  • Successful trial lawyers are good at it
  • Clinical psychologists are good atl research psychologists aren't
  • Psychics are excellent at it
  • Identical Twins are very good at it (see my white paper on this)
  • Successful gameplayers are good it ("don juans," Ponzi-schemers and poker player)
  • Accountants, engineers and IT personnel are not good at it

I work with doctors and lawyers to improve their ability to read nonverbal communication.


Let me help you. Order the ebook, sign up for personal coaching. Email me at .

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The photo that is the essence of Christmas

I love this photo. To me it is the Essence of Christmas.

This is a happy Christmas morning scene. Morgan is holding Ivy. Ivy is the first of the next generation, the baby of Morgan's sister. It is a happy and cozy Christmas scene. It is the home of Anne and Chris, where all their children gathered for Christmas as they always do. Anne has 3 children of her own, and she and Chris adopted 2 more.

Now ... did you notice the snowman at the window? He could be the essence of Christmas, shining on the happy Christmas scene.

He could also be someone who wants to come in and join. And I'm sure they would open the door and welcome him in.

He is also about what is one of the major feelings at Christmas. It's one of the things that makes Christmas such a challenge of emotional intelligence: We can't be with all those that we love. Some have crossed over, some we may be estranged from, some may live too far away, others may have other familial obligations. And yet we are with all Christmasses, the present on and past one, in our Spirit ... and they, in ours. Like the Snowman at the window.

'no man, Chettie. I missed you this Christmas, as I have for the past 10. But I know you were there. And thanks Nancy for the 'noman card, in his remembrance.

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Reflections after Christmas about Health and Prosperity in the New Year

Send me your Life Lessons Learned in 2008,

Reflections After Christmas About Health & Prosperity in the New Year
by Susan Dunn, MA, Coach, Coach Certification Program

Another Christmas come and gone. What a workout for the emotions!

I'm the EQ Coach, it's true, but that doesn't mean I know all there is to know about emotional
management - it's a lifelong proposition; and it doesn't mean my emotions don't give me a ride for their money - remember, 2 of our 3 brains don't take orders.

I study emotional intelligence all the time, both intellectually and in interaction with my clients who are working on theirs, and through the wonderful people who take my seminars and workshops. We learn together, and I'm oh so glad for what I've learned about emotional awareness and management. I reminded myself many times of the tenets of emotional intelligence during Christmas, and it was very helpful.


This Christmas was especially joyful for me, and also very heart−rending. I'm preparing my house to sell. No big deal, you say? As we say in the field, it isn't what's happening, it's what it means to you. This is the home I raised my children in as a busy single parent. It's also the lifelong home of my son who died, at 21, just a few years ago. For months I couldn't touch his room, as happens to many parents who lose their children. My coach, bless her, told me to move up to Dallas to be near my surviving son. How could I? His smell was still in his room. New painting and carpeting have removed this last earthly reminder of him, though I suppose it was long gone, and I packed up the things of his I've kept, preparing for the move. There are lots of memories in this house. But life goes on ... and change is good.


At the same time, my older son and his family are coming from Dallas to spend this Christmas me -our last in this house. I asked myself many times what my intentions were, to remind myself. I had a choice. I could either give into the sorrow completely, or I could stuff it down and slap on a happy face. What would an emotionally intelligent person do? She would experience all the emotions as they come and go, feeling the pain, feeling the joy, and celebrating Christmas.
My intention was to enjoy the last Christmas in this home, with happiness in the way Dr. Seligman, the guru of Optimism, means it. There is happiness from pleasure, goodness and meaning, he says, and only one of these necessarily involves what we call "positive emotions." The Life of Pleasure, we're all familiar with - from sugar cookies, to orgasms, to new toys. The Good Life, he says, is getting in touch with your strengths, knowing them and crafting your work, love, friendship, leisure and parenting to use these for flow in your life. The Meaningful Life, on the other hand, involves using these strengths in the service of something you believe is larger than you are.

I also intended to establish a budget and stay within it. This is a very emotionally intelligent thing to do if you want to enjoy the months after Christmas. If you do, there are no reparations to make!

Meaningful Life

Intentionality also means focusing on the task at hand and not being distracted. And Learned Optimism means avoiding the downward spiral. The happy, smiley, ebullient cheerful affect, which psychologist's call "positive affectivity" is inherited he says, and has a normal distribution. This means about half of us have it, and the rest of us don't. It is not, therefore, associated with anything but what you've been born with. Interesting.

Further, he adds, the amount of pleasure in life you have does not add to life satisfaction.
My intention, then, was to experience this last Christmas in this house to the fullest. This meant I was able to take my granddaughter to the church Christmas pageant. My son who died used to sing with the San Antonio Boys Choir. He had the voice of an angel. One special memory is the year the Choir accompanied the SA Symphony and Houston Ballet, singing the chorus of the Snowflakes at the end of Act I. I drove a carload of the boys down for rehearsals, and amidst the usual young−boy activities, one of the other of them would start humming the haunting melody. It's meant for young boy voices. (Don't attend a "Nutcracker" that uses a recording of adult voices!!) My granddaughter sang it to me in the car on the way to church. Life is bittersweet; emotions are bittersweet. Later during the church service, her shenanigans kept me distracted and in touch with the moment. I was also able to delight in the children who sang, the children who were alive, so very alive.

Life goes on and we go with it. And so do our emotions.


I lecture on emotional intelligence on cruises, and I scheduled one for the first two weeks in December. Cruises are relaxing and rejuvenating to me. It was a good idea. Give this to myself, I said before scheduling it, and I did, and I was glad. I approached Christmas tan and rested. One thing I would do if I had my life to do over, is take a vacation like that every year.
Reserves apply to all areas of life - health, rest, money, friendships.

I wrote articles before Christmas about expecting chaos and being surprised if things went right. In past year's, I've written to expect something crucial to malfunction - your dishwasher, the garbage disposal, the washing machine, the oven! For some reason I forgot that this year. After all, the year my son arrived home with a trunk full of dirty laundry, the dryer had broken. I knew to count on this sort of thing. So, when I woke up the morning before my houseguests arrived and found no heat, I reminded myself this was to be expected and nothing to get upset over. It didn't quite bust my December budget. Always have reserves!


Perfectionism is the enemy of everything good. It puts us in a no−win situation, where others can't please us, and we can't please ourselves. I coach this, and I coach myself on it. As I cruised the grocery aisles choosing items for the Christmas dinner - food, drinks and decorations - I reminded myself that my Christmas meals didn't have to be perfect, they could be "good enough." When this item or that was missing, I reminded myself to be flexible and creative. If not that, then something else.

Relentlessly & Adamantly Self−forgiving

One thing that's hard for perfectionists, and probably for everyone is that sense of personal failure. Of course I could say to myself that if I'd shopped sooner, the shelves wouldn't be bare of the desired white sprinkles, Christmas plates, and smaller turkeys, but what would your emotional intelligence coach tell you? To be self−forgiving.

Flexibility & Creativity

I had to have a red tablecloth ... had to, to make it all work ... the centerpiece, the decorations, the plates. Well, there was no red tablecloth to be had. I could either shop in other stores, when there wasn't time, according to my plan and intentionality. Time to be flexible and creative, I reminded myself. Hadn't I just gone through this with a coaching client. There were other things available in the store, and other things I could use at home. I took it as a challenge to my creativity and put it all together in my head and moved on. Of course it turned out "good enough."

Social Network

It's a good time of year to have a strong social network! People who know you, the real you. My friend who also lost a child, who knows what it likes. Other people who don't, which is nice, too. And it's nice when you're a coach. My work is meaningful to me, and my clients have wonderful EQs and are just wonderful people. I received many emails, card and phone calls expressing their appreciation. On client in particular with whom I've worked for a year. He was unemployed for 11 months. He finally got a job a week ago, being invited back to a former job where he'd been treating poorly, and it seemed to be exceptionally great for him to receive this affirmation. "They're calling it as Christmas miracle," he said. The staff has welcomed him back with open arms. He called to tell me that 3 things had gotten him through this year - one of them being me, his coach. This gives me great satisfaction.

I also need the strong social network because I work in coaching. It's an emotional and turbulent time of year for people, my clients not excluded. It the wonderful circle of life, they on me, and I lean on others. We all support, learn and grow.

Emotional Intelligence

Seligman refers to hedonic motive, pursuing pleasure, enjoyment and comfort, and eudaimonic
motives, pursuing personal growth, development of potential, achieving personal excellence and
contributing to the lives of others. "Eudaimonic pursuits [are] significantly correlated with life
satisfactions," Seligman says, "whereas hedonic pursuits [are] not."

This week after Christmas, I'm busy putting the final touches on the new emotional intelligence
programs and ebooks for the New Year. I'm asking all my ezine subscribers to send in their "life
lessons from last year." It is my intent to make EQ available to even more people in the coming year, and continue the outreach to business to incorporate EQ programs.

It's time for resolutions ... and intentionality is what will make resolutions that work.

As the dust settles after Christmas, and our thoughts turn to the New Year, it's good to ponder what worked last year and what didn't, and to make resolutions to change, grow and learn. Studies show that resilient seniors are individuals who have combined study, work and leisure through all phases of their adults lives. Are you where you want to be?

As we coaches say, "If you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting." Emotional intelligence is about flexibility, creativity and resilience in the face of change. Make it one of your resolutions this year to develop your EQ. It covers every aspect of your life and contributes much more to your satisfaction and success than your IQ.

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, offers a variety of topnotch coaching opportunities, Internet courses, workshops and ebooks on emotional intelligence and personal development. Visit her on the web at and


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Thursday, January 08, 2009

What are you doing to get to the next level?

"It's going to be an interesting lunch," Bush told an interviewer recently. When asked what the five men would talk about, Bush said: "I don't know. I'm sure (Obama's) going to ask us all questions, I would guess. If not, we'll just share war stories."

The Huffington Post called it "extraordinary."

The photo of the historic meeting of the presidents made the front page of many papers. President Bush met with President-Elect Obama and former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Prior to their luncheon meeting they held a photo opportunity for the press in the Oval Office.

Obama said graciously:

"All the gentlemen here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office," Obama said. "For me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary."

How smart to get together with others who know the territory.

What a wonderful way to get started - healing divisions, getting advice, getting support, talking with others who have done the job and now what it entails. And doing something most people think was A Good Thing, well actually extraordinary.

Now what are YOU going to do to get your level? Let me coach you to success. Email me at .

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Gu Gu Attacks Again. Mammals Defend Their Territories. It's not exactly brain science.

Gu Gu, a 240 lb. panda at the Beijing Zoo recently attacked a visitor who jumped in to his pen.

Q: What do Gu Gu, An An and Yang Yang have in common - with each other, with us, and with all mammals?

A: A reptilian brain and a limbic brain. The limbic brain makes them "cuddly", at least to their own. Like all mammals, they take care of their young, etc. Their reptilian brain, which we also have (the first to evolve), makes them have an instinctive drive to defend their territory. Just like we do. (35% of Texans now own a firearm.) But Gu Gu, An An, and Yang Yang lack the crowning glory of the human being, the neocortex, which might tell them what is a serious breach of territory.

Today (I assume), according to, Gu Gu, a 240 lb. panda at the Beijing Zoo attacked a visitor who jumped in to his (her? we do not know) pen. Gu Gu has attacked two others who have done this. In this case, zookeepers had to use tools to pry open the panda's jaws.

This article on has at its side a "special feature" video, Pandas at Play, calling them cute and cuddly.

December 8, a giant panda named An An in a Hong Kong zoo attacked its keeper.

In November 2008, a college student who "just wanted a hug" was bitten by Yang Yang in a southern China (Beijing zoo, not sure). The student later said the panda was 'so cute and cuddly he never expected to be bitten'.

Pandas are mammals, like humans. When someone violates our space, threatens our territory, we react. It's instinctive to defend your territory. Two others have jumped in to Gu Gu's pen - one a teenager, another, a "drunk" - and Gu Gu attacked, or defended his territory - depending on your perspective.

IT'S NOT SMART, IT'S NOT EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, TO JUMP SOMEONE ELSE'S TERRITORY. In human beings this can be extended to mental and emotional space, as well as physical. It's no joke. It made it into the beginning of the Constitution, after all.

We hope the man, unnamed, recovers, and that zookeepers will do the smart thing - restructure the situation so that people can't just jump in. Right now there is only a 5' retainer.

To learn more about emotional intelligence, take The EQ Course(tm). Email for information - .

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Our Best City is our Worst City

America's Most, and Least Favorite Cities to Live in and Work In

Q: Where do people most want to live?
A: New York

Q: Where do people most want NOT to live?
A: New York


Freud was famous for saying, among other things, that all human relations are ambivalent, except for the love of a mother for her first-born son. Guess who was their mother's first-born son ... but let that pass.

Ambivalent we are, both within ourselves, and among ourselves.

This survey proves once again that ONE MAN'S MEAT IS ANOTHER MAN'S POISON.

The survey can be found on yahoo here:

Meanwhile a few points. We are not given a full list of attributes, but you glean them as you read. Things I noticed and I made some charts for you:

AMERICA'S MOST, AND LEAST FAVORITE CITIES (sorted for your enjoyment)


1. New York ranks #1 in BOTH categories. Talk about one man's meat is another man's poison.

There is a similar love/hate relationship with:
Las Vegas, #3 Best, #3 Worst
Los Angeles, #4 for Best, and #7 for Worst
Chicago, #9 Best, #5 Worst

2. The category "THE PEOPLE: Residents' backgrounds, talents and perspectives" appears only twice. It is the #3 reasons people DO want to live in San Francisco. It is the #1 reason why people do NOT want to live in Dallas. (I think that one of the amrphous reasons why I don't like it here!)

3. The category "Community - connectivity and sense of place" occurs only twice. It is the #2 reason why people want to live in Seattle. It is the #2 reason why people do NOT want to live in Chicago.

4. The category "Good place to raise a family" appears only once in the survey. It is the #1 reason why people want to live in Boston.

5. Considered "affordable" are Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago. It is never listed as the #1 reason TO live somewhere. It is the #1 reason NOT to live in New York, Los Angeles, and D. C.

6. Median home value in Detroit is $80,140. Poor Detroit. I ranks #1 on Yahoo's Misery Meaure, too.

7. One reason people consider Las Vegas more affordable is that housing values there have decreased 25.2%.

8. In ranking the Best, our "new society" apparently looks most for "entertainment opportunities."

9. The Worst of the Worst list seems to be about health and safety.

New York
San Diego
San Francisco
Las Vegas
Los Angeles

New York
Los Angeles
New Orleans
Washington, D. C.
Las Vegas

I live in Dallas. It is ranked #9 on the Worst list for these reasons:
The people - backgrounds, talents and perspectives

They say Dallas has "a reputation for traffic, crime and sprawl." While I live in an area of that urban sprawl called "the Metroplex" that is very low in crime (Southlake - the most affluent neighborhood in the U.S., the word that now comes to my mind when I think of "Dallas" is "traffic."

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy New Year

BTW, I won first prize in the Harry Potter contest!

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Coaches - Why Get EQ Certification?

Susan Dunn's EQ Alive! Coach Certification Program is THE best one.


  1. MADONNA said, performing in Boston after the announcement of her divorce from Guy Ritchie: "This song is for the emotionally retarded. You might know a few people who fall into that category. God knows I do."
  2. Think a minute of how it would look on your business card for the year 2009: Tim Watkins, Certified Financial Analyst, Certification in Emotional Intelligence or Morgan Garrett, LLD, certified EQ Coach, specializing in business law, mergers and acquisitions, CEO compensation packages ...
  3. How would you like to have a profession where you (1) get better with age; (2) have complete portability; (3) can't get fired; (4) have low overhead; and, (5) influence the lives of others in an exponentially spirally manner. The life you touch in coaching may touch thousands of others in their lifetime. THAT is MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
  4. Join a field that understands that the enriched and meaningful life combines the mental, the emotional, the mental and the physical.
  5. Impact people in the most important areas of their lives - wellness, and meaning and purpose.

I am a Master EQ (Emotional Intelligence) Coach who has worked with thousands of clients, and trained and certified coaches internationally.

There's one thing I've noticed that all the coaches I've trained and certified in EQ (Emotional Intelligence) have in common, whether they were in San Antonio, Texas, Mumbai, India, the Phillipines, Boston, Mass., the UK, Russia, or anywhere else: they have chosen to go in to the profession of coaching because it is almost a calling to them. They are driven to use their personal skills, experience, education and passion to make a difference in the world - one person at a time. They know and believe in the difference coaching can make, and the crucial life advantage people who are not "emotionally retarded" have.

The excellent coaches who have been certified through Susan Dunn's EQ Alive! Certification Program also:
  • Show a profound enthusiasm for what emotional intelligence has to offer both the coach and the client,
  • Are "whole-brained" thinkers, able to access both their mind and their heart, their intellect and their emotions, their left and their right brains, for success
  • Understand and use the emotional intelligence competencies themselves
  • Are excited about coaching others to increase their connection with others and with life, for enrichment, for understanding the mind/body interface, and the roles and proper use of emotions in our lives
  • Are hard-core realists and at the same time philosophers, interested in guiding clients to behaviors that work, while at the same time grappling with the bigger issues in life - its meaning and purpose to the individual
  • Can answer the EQ Checkin(TM), part of the EQ Alive! Certification Program: "How are you feeling emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically?"
  • Know that the bottom line in emotional intelligence, the most crucial thing of all, is not a bigger office, better leadership ability, charisma, stronger negotiation skills, promotions at work, a better marriage, or being a better "team player" -- is is WELLNESS.
  • It is also about meaning and purpose in life, and living your life to the fullest. We do lie awake at night when we are old thinking of the fleeting victories in the workplace, we dream of memories of connections with others. (I know, because a fair proportion of my clients are over the age of 50.) Walk around a cemetery and there the "business" world ends. We do not see on tombstones "good leadership skills," "IQ of 150," or "tennis pro." We see "loving mother," and "beloved son."
  • And the funeral orations? Yes my father was a great lawyer, and a profound thinker, a keen investor and a great teacher, but what do I remember of him? The time he taught me what a flying buttress was, his passion for Beethoven, the way his smile lit up the room, how safe I felt in his arms ...
  • Understand that our emotions effect our immune system and that our immune system is our health. Studies show that 5 minutes of anger can suppress the immune system for up to 6 hours. Grief? Did you know that there is an ER presentation that is actually called "Broken Heart Syndrome" because it mimics a heart attack? And depression? Studies show that happiness is "50% genetic" - and the rest is up to you. This is the kind of data you will get in Susan Dunn's EQ Alive! Coach Certification program.
  • Understand at the deepest level that happiness and success can be learned.
  • KNOW that the most important questions in life cannot be answered by the intellect alone.

If you are already certified as a coach, why would you want to add emotional intelligence certification or specialization to your mix?

Why would you not? While I am not into designer-fads, emotional intelligence is just about the hottest thing around, and there is a reason why: because the field was needed.

EQ Alive! explains motivation, human nature and behavior in ways that will finally make sense to you. This coach certification program is UNIQUE in that it is individualized. Like you, in regards to your clients, I am not interested in numbers, buzz words, and superficiality. You won't find a lot of "ABCD" and "450 turnpoint" talk in my course. It is basic English. As Einstein said, "If you can't explain it to your grandmother, you don't understand it." And I understand emotional intelligence.

Like the coaches I have certified, I am interested in quality, and what lasts. I would rather train 50 coaches well, and know that their lives and those of their clients are better, than to train 500 in a fast, sloppy and functionalized manner. Those 50 coaches I train in the most excellent manner out there, might one day influence the lives of 5000 people. It is worth doing it well.

Susan Dunn is a Master EQ Coach, who has worked in the field for many years. In addition she has an M. A. in Clinical Psychology from a prestigious university, and during her earlier career worked for many years in marketing and public relations. It's a dynamic combination no other certification program founder has ... because of the marketing. I know you don't want "a practice," you want a SUCCESSFUL practice.

Why would you want certification as an EQ (Emotional Intelligence) Coach through the EQ Alive! Program, and what would it offer your clients?

My EQ Alive! Certification Program is the most comprehensive and effective program available, and it is empirically-based. This means there is scientific data backing up every point.

If you want to:

  • Save time, money and frustation
  • Participate in in a self-paced program for mature adults
  • Leave your credentials at the door at get to the core of coaching
  • Avoid groups that slow you down and force repetition of concepts you 'got' 10 years ago
  • Eliminate costly plane fare and accommodations
  • Ride the wave of "emotional intelligence" as it becomes increasingly recognized in the work place
  • Learn from the founder of The EQ Alive! Coach Certification Program herself

This is the program for you. Weekend intensive training also available in the Dallas Metroplex area.

You can become certified through this program in Emotional Intelligence, EQ, most Life Coach and Business Fields, or "with specialty in."

If this peaks your interest - lets connect. Choose your preferred mode of communication:

Lets talk about why this program is the best one for you. About what your clients are really after, and how to deliver it. How to deal with the FACT that "motivation" is crucial to all coaching and mentoring, and IT IS A FEELING WORD. "Emotion" and "motivation" come from the same root word.

Allow some time. I know you love to talk about your field, and so do I! Take a look at my massive and informative website, for a taste!

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Friday, January 02, 2009

How much is your website worth?

My site ( is worth $6817.9.
How much is yours worth?

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Help with Your New Year's Resolutions

Happy Year!

Are you making your New Year's Resolutions?

You might be interested to know that is featuring a "Top 10 New Year's Resolutions" event, filled with hundreds of products and great savings. Check it out, and do watch for the expiration dates on the promotions. They are for a limited time only, so ACT NOW.
Here's one example:
Lose weight: The Grocery and Health and Personal Care categories of have a number of great deals on products that can help you meet those New Year’s Resolutions goals.
Promotions are good through Jan. 31: Save $10 off purchases of $49 or more of Clif/Luna bars, Save $15 off purchases of $49or more of Kellogg and Kashi, Save $10 off purchases of $29 or more of Taylor/Salter scales, Save $10 off purchases of $29 or more of South Beach Living, and Save 10% off Alli Weight Loss Aid.
There's Start A New Hobby, Upgrade Your Technology, Improve Improve Your EQ (j.k.) and many more.
To see’s list of Top 10 Resolutions and find out which ones are getting the most customer votes, go here.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Whole-Brained Grandparenting

Some play-doh. Now that' s a nice toy!

This article I wrote is currently appearing on Perfectionist Leibniz. It is called "Whole-Brained Grandparenting."

Expecting your first grandchild?

I remember when I received the phone call that my firstborn was expecting his first. My head and my heart were full. I remembered back when we had placed that phone call to our parents. I had expected hoots and hollers on the phone, and instead there was a long silence. Now I know what was going through their minds! We lived miles from family and existed on my paltry earnings while my husband was in med-school, and they were worried.

It has been said that procreation best belongs to the young and impulsive because after a certain age, you'd never have the nerve to have children.

"When you have children," my mother told me, "you become a hostage to fortune." She may have misquoted, in a way fitting to her caring personality. I've also heard, "When you have children, you give hostages to fortune." We who have parented long enough to have a child able to produce a child know all about this. As the sign in my local plant nursery so succinctly puts it: "There is no guarantee on the life of this plant, or of any other life on this planet."
Our hearts and minds are full because the job of parenting doesn't end when they leave home. It must become more subtle as we allow our adult children to make their own decisions, but our influence remains and there are information and wisdom to impart. Thus the call for whole-brained grandparenting.

For instance, your adult child may read the same financial advice article for new parents that I just came upon, which contained the following: "At a glance the question of whether one spouse should quit work [and stay home] is clear cut: If the spouse earns only enough to cover child care costs, staying at home probably makes sense." Looking further yielded only that "benefits" were often 35% of the salary package.

Like the mythological Cerberus, who guarded the gates to the Underworld (metaphorically, the things just below the level of cognition), I have three heads, and all 3 were wagging: (1) the heart that feels a baby benefits most when cared for by its parent; (2) the head that thinks the article-writer was irresponsible not to point out this wasn't a decision to make strictly on the basis of finances; and, (3) the whole-brained EQ coach who believes important decisions require EQ as well as IQ.

So what gifts will you give the new baby? As a grandparent, our parenting modeling continues. Our choice of gifts will say a lot.

Do you rush out and buy the $300 stuffed duckie or take care of half their Wish List at Toys R Us? Or do you symbolically get the show on the road for Responsible Parenting? The birth of the first child signals a huge transition - taking on the emotional and financial responsibility for a new life. You want to oversee, in a respectful and hands-off fashion, that all the bases get touched.

Financially, here are some topics you might bring up:

1. A parent must have a will, unless you want "the Court" deciding who raises your child (the Guardian), and who administers the finances (the Executor). They need not, and often should not, be the same person.

2. Insurance. Some "rules of thumb":
  • You insure the life of someone according to their ability to provide income. This doesn't include babies.
  • An adult in their 20s, 30s, and 40s is statistically far more likely to need disability insurance than life insurance.
  • Group insurance plans through jobs aren't portable. Individual policies are.

3. College education. 529s are great - you can use any state's plan and the beneficiary can attend school in any state - but college is "gravy." Like they say on the airplane -- apply your own oxygen mask first; then your child's. An 18 year old can, if necessary, provide her own college funding. The higher priority for the parents (and the future benefit of their children) is to provide for their own retirement.

4. Uniform Gifts to Minors. Do they (or you) want to establish a savings account in the child's name? As a grandparent, I doubt you do - it reverts to the child's sole discretion at age 18 or 21, and you know this is putting a weapon in the hands of a child, but your grown children may not. Best-case scenario, your 18 year old grandson argues with his parents about whether to spend the $200,000 on college or living for a year in Tahiti with his girl-friend. Worst-case scenario, he just does it; it's his money.

5. The $600 matching crib set. Can the baby exist without it? I imagine yours did!

Giving the gift of sitting down and going over the realities is not very glamorous, but then neither is changing diapers. Your daughter may have her head in the clouds, and her husband, his feet on the ground, or vice versa; or both may be in either position together. You, on the other hand, can see and share the big picture.

What if you gave them a giant stuffed duckie and tied around its neck some gift coupons -- a paid visit to your trusted lawyer; tuition to a parenting seminar; a year's supply of maid or lawn service; and a 3-night cruise during the first year with you babysitting back home? Scaled to your income, of course.

My grandmother was very loving, very practical, and also very wealthy. Her gift to me when my son was born consisted of some exquisite designer layette items; a year's diaper service; and a note with a little P.S. that she knew my husband was "looking after the will and that sort of thing." She could have given a lot more financially, but she exercised restraint, modeling what's really important. Most meaningful to me was the note inside. She was born in 1898, and the note began, "Welcome to the sacred sorority of motherhood." Somehow that needed to be said.

And over the years, she had given me much excellent advice, including "Don't listen to those pediatricians, listen to your heart." As an example, she told me that her pediatrician had told her to let the baby cry. "I didn't listen to him," she said. "Babies cry for a reason."

Don't proselytize about what you don't give, and don't apologize for what you can't give. My other grandmother, whose life was rich in love and Spartan in possessions, handed me a wedding gift of rags for cleaning, obtained the way rags used to be - from scraps of her worn out clothing and linens. I placed it next to the sterling silver service for 12 from the other grandmother on the gift table, and valued them both about the same.

Whatever you give materially or in-service, be there to help them sort through the fad-du-jour advice, get in touch with their own values and priorities, and touch all the bases. Directly, if asked. Subtly, if not asked.

But just do it!

And, by the way, congratulations!

©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, Susan is the author of "Midlife Dating Survival Manual for Women," available at She offers coaching, Internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and professional development. Retirement, midlife, and transitional coaching. Get certified as an EQ coach, the perfect retirement career. for information on the EQ Alive! program, certifying coaches in all fields, all over the world. To subscribe to free ezine, go here.


Nancy, me and Hale

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