Upcoming Cultivate Joy Within Workshops

Coming this fall, I will be facilitating a series of three Cultivate Joy Within Workshops on

  • Sat. 9/22 & 9/29 from 10:00am-12:30 each day
  • Sat. 10/13 & 10/20 from 10:00am-12:30pm each day
  • Sat. 11/10 & 11/17 from 10:00am-12:30pm each day.

LOCATION: Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main Street, 14214, Room 414

The Cultivate Joy Within Workshops inspire and empower people to live more joyful lives.

Designed to assist you in focusing on life as a journey to be experienced fully, creating the mind-set that being joyful can be independent of outside circumstances, the workshops provide you with tools to:

  • Reduce and/or remove internal and external blocks to a more joyous life
  • Create an individualized plan to maintain a more joyous life, encompassing the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of life.

I will guide you through a series of short lectures, individualized and interactive exercises, and discussion to teach you to practice presence, practice self-acceptance, discover internal blocks to creating a more joyful life, let go of self-defeating beliefs and negative judgments, and create an environment for yourself that welcomes joyful expression.

Workshops are two sessions of 2 1/2 hours each, a week apart so you have time to use the tools you have learned, discover what what works for you, bring your experience back to the workshop, then fine tune your plan as you participate in further exercises and discussions.

Limit of eight participants. $85 for the two day workshop.

Please sign up on the Cultivate Joy Within Facebook event pages, or by calling or emailing me:

Condolences – What to Say and What Not to Say to the Bereaved

Have you ever found your tongue tied in knots when you meet a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who recently experienced the death of a loved one? You may think –  Maybe they don’t want to be reminded of it, so should I not say anything? What should I say? What if I say something and it’s the wrong thing? Aaaargh! Most of us have had this experience. But, fret not. There are simple things to say and do and others not to say and do that can be learned very quickly.

First, you can take concern about reminding bereaved people of their loss right off the table because their loss is always very much with them. They would be more likely wonder why you didn’t offer condolences, than be upset that you did.

As to what to say, here are some guidelines:
  • Give a simple expression of sorrow to a co-worker or acquaintance if you did not know the name of the person who died, as in “I’m sorry for your loss”, or “I’m sorry to hear that your father has died”.
  • If you do know the name of the deceased, say the name, as in “I’m very sorry to hear that your cousin Agnes has died”. Using the name of the person who died can be comforting to the bereaved.
  • If you know the person who died, you can say, “I’m very sorry that Phil has died. He was a wonderful man”. If he was as mean as a snake and everyone knew it, you might leave off that last part, as the bereaved will know you’re lying through your teeth.
  • If you are in a situation where further conversation is possible and appears welcome, share a memory you have of the deceased and then listen to the bereaved.

That last is an important element. Lend a sympathetic ear if the occasion calls for it. Listening is more important than talking when speaking with a bereaved person, and in many other situations. But that is for another blog post. Take your cue from the bereaved as to whether to continue the conversation.

Keep in mind that your condolences are welcome even if you are tongue-tied. However, there are some very specific things to not say. While they may seem outrageous, be assured that they have been said many times to bereaved people. This is to help you make sure you aren’t one of them, or to never be one of them again:
  • “I know just how you feel”. No, you do not. No two people grieve in the same way.
  • “It was God’s will”. Not everyone shares your beliefs or wants to be reminded of them.
  • “It’s probably for the best”. Not for you to say no matter how much a person suffered before death.
  • “You’ll get over it and move on”. People do not “get over” the loss of a loved one. They learn to live with their loss in whatever way works for them.
  • “You’re young enough to get married again”. Yikes! People are not replaceable, folks.
  • “At least you have other children (or siblings)” Yikes! Again, and ditto re replaceability.

Whew! Those are some of the most egregious ones. Perhaps you can think of others. Please send them along if you do.

So, keep it simple. Listen. Take your cue from the bereaved. And be compassionate.

Express Yourself


Remember hearing that when you were a kid playing Hide ‘n Seek and the one that was “It” gave up because she couldn’t find you?

COMING OUT is a great concept and while it is now generally attributed mostly to gays and debutantes (yes, there are still debutantes – I googled it to be sure), it can also be used in other ways. For instance –

COMING OUT can mean the real you, the one you keep hidden away, that luminous and knowing you, that creative and irreverent you. That “you” can come out into the world and play.

Many people keep their true self hidden. You know, the one that knows things but doesn’t say them because you don’t want people to think you’re a know-it-all. Or the one that really wants to try something new like writing, or dancing, or skiing, or race-car driving, or going back to school, or starting a new career, or…, but you’re afraid you’re too old or too young, or not athletic enough, or not smart enough, or… And then you’ll fail and feel like a fool.

One of the things I have learned that has made a significant difference in the joy factor in my life is the willingness to make a fool of myself. That may sound, well, foolish, but it has been one of the most freeing things I have ever done. I became an actor for some years, and much later a theater reviewer, and have created Cultivate Joy Within. None of those things would have occurred if I shied away from the possibility of making a fool of myself. And, particularly with acting, I made a fool of myself more than once. Learning to laugh at the peccadillos in life has freed me up to enjoy life more and develop more of my creativity because I spend less time judging myself and worrying about what others might think. And, as a bonus, I have a funny story to tell my friends.

So, if you’re one of those people who keep yourself hidden, I encourage you to …


Conflict Resolution

Conflict is a disagreement between persons. A collision, if you will. One person has one opinion, another a different one, and there is tension between them – anger, fear, and resentment are the usual suspects in that tension.

Sometimes when we’re conflicted, we get into verbal brawls with each other without realizing it until it is too late, and we hurt each other. Or we avoid dealing with the conflict directly and create an underlying tension that builds up over time and causes even more conflict and pain.

Conflict resolution is one of those things that isn’t taught in school, and often not at home, either. So, what to do? We really don’t want to spend our lives with loved ones either hammering at each other or living with negative buried feelings.

I was told many years ago of a Native American tradition of conflict resolution that has four parts. Here it is as I remember it, with additional suggestions embedded in each part.

  1. Show Up – Gather your courage by taking deep breaths and set aside time to talk without interruption. If you are too upset to do the following three steps, say you need time to calm down, perhaps ten or twenty minutes. Take a walk or another activity that helps to calm you (meditation?), and when you are both ready, sit down facing each other, and…
  2. Pay Attention – Listen to what the other person is saying with an open mind as if you haven’t heard it before and have no opinion of your own. Look at body language, listen for tone of voice. How do you feel as they speak? Do your best to keep your heart open. After all, this is someone you care about. Then…
  3. Tell the Truth – Be honest about what you think and particularly how you feel. Use this opportunity to let the other person know you a little more. Speak kindly, even when you’re passionate about what you’re saying. Name-calling and blaming are counter-productive and only cause more hurt. Practice kindness when you speak. It’s ok to be angry and still be kind. That is a strength, not a weakness.
  4. Don’t be attached to outcome – This is the kicker. How do you do that when you have a strong opinion? If you have done the first three honestly, then this one will be much easier. Negotiate rather than demand. Be willing to do things differently than you have in the past.

For this to be successful, both parties need to agree to the process. Talk about it when you are both calm and not in conflict. Agree to do it the next time a conflict arises. Have copies for each of you and keep them handy when you begin your discussion.

There are other conflict resolution processes that you can try if this doesn’t work for you. Google is very useful here. Then, if you can’t seem to find a way that works for you, seek counseling. Don’t let your relationship die a slow and painful death. Learning how to resolve conflicts without causing damage brings more joy into your life. Less pain, more joy.