How does an ant eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Big problems are composed of smaller, albeit interconnected, problems. Solving the smaller problems will have an implication on the larger problems.

27 January 2011

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you."
Kendall Hailey

20 January 2011

What it takes to love well and wisely

Came across this article the other day and absolutely loved it (I know, cheesy, right? I feel fine about posting it blog is more for me than other people, but happy if someone gets something out of it)! I think she's got some really great points and wonderful things to keep in mind, when it comes to relationships, in general.

"What's great is that we can relearn, recondition, and see other possibilities."

By Cathleen Medwick,
January 7, 2011 6:48 p.m. EST

On my way to interview Dr. Ethel Person, M.D., the celebrated psychoanalyst and Columbia University professor who teaches and writes about love, I took a little detour into my past. Around the corner from Person's home was the quaint old brownstone where, long ago, a handsome stranger arrived on my doorstep.
He wasn't looking for love; he was looking for an apartment. My latest bad-news boyfriend had just suggested I get silicone implants; suddenly, I was ready to supplant him. The apartment hunter and I talked, we had coffee, and a year later, we got married. Where did I go right?
Ethel Person can answer that. She is a dark-haired woman with warm eyes and an air of absolute confidence. If love is a battlefield, she's a five-star general. Her mission, these days, is to help people understand how love can turn their lives around -- though not necessarily in the ways they expect.
"I think romantic love is one of the great change agents," she says as we sit in her book-lined living room overlooking Central Park.
"We come to know ourselves in a different way when we fall in love, and whatever happens to that relationship, we are changed. We know something we didn't know before. We discover capacities that we didn't think we had. You did it," she tells me. "You had a relationship that didn't work, and you changed. You said, 'Enough!'"
"True," I answer, "but look at all the years I wasted." Ethel Person disagrees. "People should not judge failed love affairs as failed experiences but as part of the growth process. Something does not have to end well for it to have been one of the most valuable experiences of a lifetime."
Try telling Cinderella that. Most people I know still cling to the idea that love has to have a happy ending. When a relationship breaks up, they feel cheated of their future. And if they've never fallen in love, they become desperately afraid they never will.
"People can love more than once," Person assures me. "And love happens to people of all ages, because one's internal life changes, as well as one's opportunities. I don't see love as something that if you don't get it by the time you're 30, cross it off the list."
When you're a therapist, she says, people come to you in anguish about a love affair that's gone sour, a marriage that's gone wrong. And some people worry that they'll never be able to let go enough to love anybody: "The reason is usually buried in their childhood, in some fear of being found wanting, or in parental disapproval. Not that the parent doesn't love the child, but that the parent doesn't see the potential beauty or the soul in a child, can't really endorse her in some way.
"People may also find it hard to love if they've been abused by their parents or were so over monitored that they feel any relationship means being imprisoned. Or someone may have had parents who were miserably mismatched and says, 'I will never let myself be in the situation that my mother was in. To get married is to give away my autonomy, and I'm not going to do it.' So our capacity to love often depends on having a good enough childhood -- not a great one, just good enough."
Can we ever undo the effects of a really disastrous childhood? (I've been married for 27 years now, and I'm still working on that one.)
"Yes, through experience, sometimes through therapy," Person says. "Some people go away from home for college or a job and find out that not everybody is like the family they grew up in. What's great is that we can relearn, recondition, and see other possibilities."
Okay, but how do you preserve your hard-won sense of self and still experience the enraptured merging that most of us see as the essence of romance?
"In fact," says Person, "all love has this internal dynamic between togetherness and oneness, and independence and separateness. I think that for a love affair to flourish, there have to be independent interests that can be shared, as well as interests that are the same.
"One person described it well in talking about his parents. He said they were looking out in the same direction instead of always staring into each other's eyes. Intense physical passion waxes and wanes. Once you've had it, it can always come back. But what sustains you in between is having something that interests you both enough that you can share it, talk about it, do it together."
A confession: My husband and I have had some of our biggest arguments about which video to watch. Mention the Three Stooges if you want to see my hackles rise.
"Well, you have to pick your fights," Person says, confessing that she herself is perfectly capable of fighting to the death over the color to paint a bedroom.
"Look, in any good relationship there have to be bursts of anger and disagreement. And in those moments, if somebody asked, 'Are you in love?' you'd say, 'Are you kidding me?' But those become part and parcel of the journey. We have the capacity to repair relationships -- it's like having a scratch that heals. In other words, our psychological makeup has built-in healing mechanisms the same way our body does. You have to have enough conviction in the strength of the bond that you can risk some disagreement. You have to be able to take a hit."
A tall order if you're already one of the walking wounded. Having grown up with parents whose fights were soul shattering, I thought relationship was a code word for pain.
Giving up that preconception felt like a giant leap into the dark. It took years of dead-end love affairs (and a healthy dose of therapy) to push me over the edge. I not only had to find someone who could love me, I finally realized, I had to take the risk of loving him back.
That's the kind of risk Ethel Person fully approves of. "People are so different in their ability to let go. They need to know in the back of their minds that if it doesn't work, it's not the end of the world. If I sorrow for anyone, it's for someone who has never rolled the dice, rather than for someone who has rolled the dice and lost a hand or two."

13 January 2011

Hidden Rules Among Classes

I thought this clip of "hidden rules among classes," posted by the Deseret News was really interesting. Just something to think about; something to be said about the simplicity of life. One of the greatest lesson I've learned in life, from my travels to developing countries. I remember sitting in a remote village in Ghana, after a day of Malaria testing, watching three girls that were about 15-17 years old. I remember thinking how simple their lives appeared to be, compared to what I pictured any teen of about the same age back home, in the US. These girls weren't worried about what car they got to drive when they turned 16; they weren't worried about make up, nail polish, their luscious locks of bleached-out hair; they sat in a circle playing a game, snickering at every young teenage boy that walked by. You could see their happiness radiating in their smiles and eyes. It was beautiful; honestly. I envied them as I sat and watched them. They really knew what life was, friends, and finding happiness in such simple things. The "Poverty" rules here have such a great perspective, in my opinion! Yes, there are rules that are under each class that I like and dislike, thinking of myself personally. However, I think this chart is quite accurate in a lot of ways...makes me think that sometimes we, majority of which are middle to wealthy-classed people, have a skewed perspective. I don't know. Just something to think about, right?

One-of -a-kind objects, legacies, pedigrees.

To be used, spent.
To be managed.
To be conserved, invested.

Is for entertainment. Sense of humor is highly valued.
Is for acquisition and stability. Achievement is highly valued.
Is for connections. Financial, political, social connections are highly valued.

Social inclusion of people he/she likes.
Emphasis is on self-governance and self-sufficiency.

Emphasis is on social exclusion.
Key question: Did you have enough? Quantity important.
Key question: Did you like it?
Quality Important.

Key question: Was it presented well? Presentation important.
Clothing valued for individual style and expression of personality.
Clothing valued for its quality and acceptance into norm of middle class. Label important.

Clothing valued for its artistic sense and expression. Designer important.
Present most important. Decisions made for moment based on feelings or survival.
Future most important. Decisions made against future ramifications;
Traditions and history, most important. Decisions mode partially on basis of tradition and decorum.

Valued and revered as abstract but not as reality.
Crucial for climbing success ladder and making money.
Necessary tradition for making and maintaining connections.

Believes in fate. Cannot do much to mitigate chance.
Believes in choice. Can change future with good choices now.

Noblesse oblige.
Casual register. Language is about survival.
Formal register. Language is about negotiation.

Formal register. Language is about networking.
Tends to be matriarchal.
Tends to be patriarchal.
Depends on who has money.

Sees world in terms of local setting
Sees world in terms of notional setting.
Sees world in terms of international view.

Love and acceptance conditional based upon whether individual is liked.
Love and acceptance conditional and based largely upon achievement.

Love and acceptance conditional and related to social standing and connections.

Survival, relationships, entertainment.

Work, achievement.
Financial, political, social connections.
About people and sex.
About situations.
About social faux pas.

Source: Ruby Payne

12 January 2011

Haiti on my mind...

Haiti, mon pays
Wounded mother I'll never see
Ma famille set me free
Throw my ashes into the sea

Mes cousins jamais nes
Hantent les nuits de Duvalier
Rien n'arrete nos espirits
Guns can't kill what soldiers can't see

In the forest we are hiding
Unmarked graves where flowers grow
Hear the soldiers angry yelling
In the river we will go

Tous les morts-nes forment une armee
Soon we will reclaim the earth
All the tears and all the bodies
Bring about our second birth

Haiti, never free
N'aie pas peur de sonner l'alarme
Tes enfants sont partis
In those days their blood was still warm

(Translation:  Haiti, my country, wounded mother I'll never see. My family set me free. Throw my ashes into the sea. My cousins, never born, haunt the nights of Duvalier. Nothing stops our spirits. Guns can't kill what soldiers can' t see. In the forest we are hiding, unmarked graves where flowers grow. Hear the soldiers angry yelling, in the river we will go. All the still-born children form an army, soon we will reclaim the earth. All the tears and all the bodies bring about our second birth.Haiti, never free, don't be afraid to sound the alarm your children are gone in those days their blood was still warm.)

Jan 12, 2010 brought intense pain and sorrow to a country that I couldn't have imagined taking on any more suffering. The massive earthquake on that day brought Haiti to the surface of attention. A country that many people couldn't have placed on a map, people and a culture that aren't thought about on a daily basis, devastation that many can't even begin to comprehend, including those that were affected and appear to be so resilient...Haiti has been on my mind for years now, studying and working in public health. I have had many missed opportunities to visit this country, but hope at some point I will make my trip to Haiti. In the meantime, Haiti is on my mind. Especially lately though. Throughout November and December, I was back in Washington, D.C., working for my old boss at WHO/PAHO. For four weeks the only thing that was on my mind was cholera and Haiti. The devastation in this country just doesn't end and I don't think anyone can wrap their mind around the extent of pain and suffering. As I sat through all these meetings with top officials, including world-renowned Epidemiologists, Doctors, Politicians, etc, I have never felt so sad. Studying Haiti and all their problems, I have always had a glimpse of hope for their future. Sadly, I don't feel that right now...gut-wrenching image after image break my heart and make me lose my sense of hope that I try to maintain when I think of those that are there. I think of the pain and suffering that has been endured, throughout past generations and that will be endured for generations to come.

You take 2010 alone, this country has suffered one of the most devastating earthquakes our earth has seen (in the sense of impact on human beings), one that killed more than 300,000 humans and displaced around 1.5 million, most of which will never rebuild their homes or lives and will be in long term camps for internally displaced populations. This country has more recently faced extreme flooding during the 2010 hurricane season, specifically with Hurricane Tomas, which hit in November. This is a country that so gratefully had not been exposed to Cholera for more than 100 years, but within the last few months has been introduced to the bacteria, creating an outbreak that has devastated countless...numbers aren't even accurate at this point, as there is no effective surveillance system set in place.

Hasn’t this country suffered enough? Unfortunately not. The entire infrastructure is a disaster in Haiti, which means this country is far from seeing the end of its own misery. As long as there is a corrupt system in long as there is no long as people, particularly those in power, are only in it for themselves and not for the well-being of the Haitians...this country will continue to be a disaster. How do you fix a country that is so messed up? How do you solve all of the issues? There are SO many layers to even the most basic of issues. Mass education and a shift in politics, with a little top soil would do wonders for this country...but again, so many layers...where do you even begin to try and fix even those three problems?

Just thoughts on my mind...I wish I had the answers. I wish I could do more to help. I wish people that don't belong there would stay out and not use up the resources that are needed for those in need. Haiti is on my mind, especially today...the first anniversary of the earthquake.

11 January 2011


This is my favorite song, as of late. I love it! I could honestly put it on repeat and listen over and over!

09 January 2011

My poor lungs...

This is what they have been suffering!
 Yes, INVERSION...gross! I came across this blog posting that very clearly explains inversion. I want to share because I think it is interesting and I think all to often people don't understand what inversion actually is, nor do they do their part to reduce the smog, by carpooling, taking public transit, or just reducing amount of daily driving.
Summarizing though...Normally during the day, the ground gets heated up by the sun. The hot ground warms up the air immediately above it, and that warmed air rises. But in winter, with snow on the ground and a low sun-angle, the ground is often colder than the air and acts to cool the air immediately above. The cool air is dense and so it doesn’t rise; it sinks, hugging the floor of the valley. When the weather is “nice”, with clear skies and high pressure, warmer air in the sky above, the warmer air sits on top of the cold air, which can’t rise, holding it in place in the valley below. During an inversion, freezing water vapor from a water source- such as snow- is produced by evaporation. The water vapor can’t rise up to dissipate or form clouds or whatever, and instead and fills the cold-air layer with a chilly mist. The damp air serves to amplify the chill, especially for us Westerners, who are accustomed to a ”dry cold.”
 The trapped compounds are known as secondary pollutants...they’re not the stuff that comes directly out of your tailpipe, but rather the result of the sunlight-fueled reactions between the tailpipe emissions and other stuff in the atmosphere.There are other sources of pollutants that contribute to bad air conditions during inversions, but cars account for the lion’s share by far. The air quality effects are exacerbated by thin air, which is a by-product of altitude. This is why 8,000-foot high Mexico City suffers so terribly from inversion-produced smog. At 4,300 feet, the altitude is also a factor in Salt Lake’s inversions.
All I have to say is gross, GROSS, GROSS! I realize inversion is normal, but it is still so gross. I literally couldn't see our beautiful mountains majority of the week. 

Check out this cool interactive website to see how pollutants affect our lungs:

I will gladly be escaping this muck, come Thursday! I am planning to take advantage of my flight benefits, a long weekend, and a dear cousin, who currently lives in MAUI. I recruited a friend from San Francisco that I rarely get to see and we are going to head to Maui for five days to bum around on the beach. I can hardly wait to get away from the cold and gross air!

07 January 2011

Changing the World

Mahatma Gandhi believed that we must be the change we want to see in the world. This was well demonstrated when he helped India gain its independence. Gandhi was a revolutionary man, but he accomplished India's emergence as a nation without starting a revolution. In fact, he advocated no violence. One of the most powerful countries in the world yielded to the commitment of one man and the dream of millions.
What change can we effect? What's the difference we want to make in the world?
Gandhi said, "In a gentle way you can shake the world." Here are some things to think about how to do just that …
1. Know that all significant change throughout history has occurred not because of nations, armies, governments and certainly not committees. They happened as a result of the courage and commitment of individuals. People like Joan of Ark, Albert Einstein, Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison and Rosa Parks. They might not have done it alone, but they were, without question, the change makers.
2. Believe that you have a unique purpose and potential in the world. It's not so much something to create as to be discovered. And it's up to you to discover it. Believe that you can and will make a difference.
3. Recognize that everything you do, every step you take, every sentence you write, every word you speak-or DON'T speak--counts. Nothing is trivial. The world may be big, but there are no small things. Everything matters.
4. To be the change you want to see in the world, you don't have to be loud. You don't have to be eloquent. You don't have to be elected. You don't even have to be particularly smart or well educated. You do, however, have to be committed.
5. Take personal responsibility. Never think "it's not my job". It's a cop-out to say, "What can I do, I'm only one person." You don't need everyone's cooperation or anyone's permission to make changes. Remember this little gem, "If it's to be, it's up to me."
6. Don't get caught up in the how of things. If you're clear on what you want to change and why you want to change it, the how will come. Many significant things have been left undone because someone let the problem solving interfere with the decision-making.
7. Don't wait for things to be right in order to begin. Change is messy. Things will never be just right. Follow Teddy Roosevelt's timeless advice, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
8. The genesis for change is awareness. We cannot change what we don't acknowledge. Most of the time, we aren't aware of what's wrong or what's not working. We don't see what could be. By becoming more aware, we begin the process of change.
9. Take to heart these words from Albert Einstein--arguably one of the smartest change masters who ever lived: "All meaningful and lasting change starts first in your imagination and then works its way out. Imagination is more important than knowledge."
10. In order for things to change, YOU have to change. We can't change others; we can only change ourselves. However, when WE change, it changes everything. And in doing so, we truly can be the change we want to see in the world.

The following is inscribed on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abby (1100 A.D.) …
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.
But it, too, seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.
From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world.

Since my 10-point list above was inspired by Gandhi's belief, it seems appropriate to end with another of his quotes: "Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger and we will make not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large."

By Michael Angier

01 January 2011

To a New Year!


"We will open the book. It's pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." (Edith Lovejoy Pierce)