Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication-A Giveaway

To continue on with the ideas in last week’s post, I am pleased to tell you about Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer.

I loved this book, really loved it.

Here’s what the publisher writes:

Say What You Mean is a step-by-step guide for meaningful conversations that bring people together. In this groundbreaking synthesis of mindfulness, somatics, and Nonviolent Communication, Sofer offers simple yet powerful practices for healthier, more effective conversation. The practices are simple yet deep, helping people develop healthy, effective, and satisfying ways of communicating in all walks of life.

The techniques in Say What You Mean will help you to:

  • Feel confident during conversation
  • Stay focused on what really matters in an interaction
  • Listen for the authentic concerns behind what others say
  • Reduce anxiety before and during difficult conversations
  • Find nourishment in day-to-day interactions

Me again: I highlighted passage after passage as I read. But these takeaways are the most important to me:

  • You won’t fix all your communication troubles at once. Just like the fitness program that finally kicks in, it may take many attempts until you figure out how to be a mindful communicator.
  • Learn to work out conflict in a relationship by beginning with the smaller, simpler issues. Once your skills are honed, you can move on to the dicier topics.
  • As soon as you see a downward trend in the conversation, calmly pause it with the sincere promise that you will resume again when ready. If you’re NOT willing to discuss something again, don’t make a false promise.
  • Keep difficult conversations to one topic and one topic only.
  • Use as few words as you can to say clearly and calmly what you mean.

Giveaway: For a chance to win a copy of Say What you Mean, please enter a comment by March 1. U.S. only. Thanks!

Oren Jay Sofer is the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication. He leads retreats and workshops on mindful communication at meditation centers and educational settings around the United States.
A graduate of the IMS-Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program, he holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University, teaches in the Insight Meditation community, and is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and a Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication. Oren creates mindfulness training programs for a number of organizations, including Mindful Schools, Kaiser Permanente, and 10% Happier. He lives in Richmond, California.

Fighting: Yes or No?

I’ve been painting up a storm in 2019. Above is my rendition of Bird Arguing with the Moon. I have no clue what they are arguing about.  Any ideas?

And as I paint, I have lots of time to think. Sometimes I get immersed in the world of my painting, but other times, I ponder different things.

I read lots of self-help. A few years ago, I wrote a post about the glory of the fight. A big old blow out can bring up issues and hostilities that need solving.

But lately I’ve been reading that fighting is NOT how to solve these things. Once tempers rise, it’s best to stop or pause the fight. Wow. Cliff will tell you  that’s not my style. Or didn’t used to be.

But I am slowly understanding that stopping a fight gives each person time to think and to choose more carefully what they want to say. Like toothpaste from a tube, you can’t take those words spoken in fury back again.  Ever.

Besides,  learning to stop or pause the fight, to resist the temptation to say one more word, builds character and strength. It’s like walking away from the bowl of m&m’s. (Another skill I need to focus on.)

I don’t know if Bird is going to call a cease fire to his argument with the moon. I hope they can pause for now and return to resolve their differences peacefully another night.

What about you?

Can you, should you, do you, stop fighting? Do you find this gets easier as you age?

BirdPS:  I post my art on Facebook and have been encouraged and touched by the response of my FB friends. If you’d like to see more of my art, send me a friend request at Barbara Younger.

PPS: I’ve since repaired the pencil lines you see above. I somehow forgot about them and went ahead and varnished the painting, so I couldn’t erase them. I asked my FB friends if the lines needed to go, and the resounding reply was, “Yes.”


The Breast Archives: The Film Is out!

Could you do it? Bare your breasts for the camera and talk about them? Not sure I could, especially now that the droop is settling in.

I’m delighted to announce that the groundbreaking film, The Breast Archives, has been released. And these women could and did. Here’s the official description of the film:

Real women reveal their breasts and uncover personal truths in this gently provocative documentary exploring embodiment, womanhood, and the power of being seen.

The Breast Archives uncovers nine women’s personal stories of empowerment. Baring their breasts and their hearts, the women share the unique journeys they’ve made with their bodies, from their formative years of hiding, shame, and disconnection to adulthood and the discovery of what it means to be a powerful woman. As the women slowly reconnect with their body-based stories they find a reservoir of strength and wisdom that lies within their breasts.

Read this post on Friend for the Ride to learn lots more about the film, its purpose, its participants, and its insightful and talented director, Meagan Murphy.

And here’s an article in the New York Post.

These are two options for viewing the film:

ITunes Link

The Breast Archives Official Trailer (November 2018) from The Breast Archives on Vimeo.



The Original Four (and More)

After my brother and I each grew up, got married, and had children, every now and then, I would realize that the original four of us were standing together in the kitchen: Mom, Dad, me, and Chris.

“Hey! It’s The Original Four!” I’d announce.

The others took it calmly, as I recall, but to me it was a moment to throw ourselves back to the way our family once was.

And so I’ve carried on the tradition with my girls. They have fun with it and even use the expression when writing about family gatherings on their blogs.

According to psychologists, your family of origin is oh so important. Oh no!

Once my girls were grown, I began to do the mom thing: How did I screw up my kids? They seem completely fine, but what might I have done to cause deep damage or even a bit of damage?

During Thanksgiving of her Freshman year in college, Laura sat in the kitchen with her psychology textbook in front of her: “I realize now our family isn’t that crazy after all.”

And Kath, after making friends at her first job with a guy who had huge family problems, said, “I realize you and Dad are more normal parents than I used to think.”

Those statements lack the enthusiasm of a Hallmark Mother’s Day card, but I took them in!

This Christmas, with daughters, son-in-laws, another set of grandparents, and grandchildren in tow, we went to our old house. We wanted everyone to see the house fixed up for the market, and we wanted them to get to say goodbye.

As we left, one of my girls called out: “Let’s get The Original Four.”

We stood on the porch where we’d taken photos for 34 years. You can see it above: a final old house photo of The Original Four.

But wait. Look again.

There’s baby Birch, the latest addition to the family. That’s not The Original Four after all. A foil!

And what an adorable and welcome foil that baby is.

Rejoice that your family of origin is just that. Life moves on and brings us new family members: by marriage, by birth, by friendship.

And they each give a whole new meaning to the word “original.”


The Ladies Room Door Art Series: Part Forty-eight

Blog reader and Ladies Room Door spotter, Pat, reports that she found the door above during her trip to Spain. The sign below announced the bathroom was up ahead.

Pat met the lady in the flouncy dress at the McDonald’s in Madrid.

She snapped these cuties in Madrid as well.

Pat found these at a souvenir shop in a town just past Gibraltar along the Sun Coast. The first two signs are above the doors.

And the next two are on the actual doors.


Back in the U. S. of A, Becky found this sign pointing to the bathrooms at Bella Sera, an Italian restaurant in  Old Town Monrovia, California.

And the signs below at Rudy’s Mexican Restaurant in Old Town Monrovia.

Cheryl  encountered this door at Bleu Voodoo Grill in Easley, South Carolina. A scary trip to the potty!

And I took this elegant W  just the other day at the Glenwood Grill in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Inside, I found the most elegant “Employees Must Wash Hands” sign ever!

Tacky or elegant, funny or nostalgic, scary or serene, outlandish or off-color, send me the doors you find on your adventures. Thanks!


My Cancer Story: Early Detection Is the Ticket!


In the spring of 2014, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Healthy all my life, the diagnosis shocked me as I imagine cancer shocks everyone.

Luckily, my cancer was early stage. Shortly after the diagnosis, I thought: At least this is good material for Friend for the Ride. I vowed then to become an advocate for early detection of endometrial cancer. You can read about my cancer journey here.

I alternate between seeing my oncologist every six months and my gynecologist every six months. I still get nervous before the exam. Each time thus far, when I get the news that all is well, I leave the appointment with a bounce to my steps.

I met with a new gynecologist this time. She looked at my chart and smiled. “We tell our early stage endometrial cancer patients they can expect to meet their great-grandchildren.” Sounds good to me!

But the key word is “early stage.”

  • Bleeding between periods should be checked out.
  • Any post-menopausal bleeding (even spotting or watery pink discharge) should be investigated.
  • Pain during sex (that feels different than pain related to dryness) should be discussed with your doctor.

Odds are you have no worries, but do consider further testing with the advisement of your doctor.

Early detection is the magic ticket, and I’m glad to be alive to tell you so! Please share this post and help me get the word out. Thanks!



Downsizing: New Folks Are Coming!

“I just feel so guilty,” I’ve said, a lot, over the last two years.

“The house doesn’t know we’re leaving,” Cliff always answers.

“Yes. It does. The house remembers all the years.”

I’m the one who pushed us to move. It was time to clean out, and the house and yard are large and not easy to manage. And I love our new house. Life is simpler here in so many ways. But for the longest time, I felt guilty about leaving the old one. Surely the  house feels our betrayal.

But now…

Just like in my beloved childhood book, Rabbit Hill, new folks are coming!

Thanks to our realtor Meighan Carmichael, and her sharp eyes and energy, the house was spruced up. Really spruced up. Painted. Repaired. Cleaned.


It sold the third day on the market. Wow. Cliff and I were shocked and delighted. And best of all, the new folks promise to love the house as we have.

I bet my old house does remember all the years, but most of all, I hope it loves the years to come.

Thank you to my friend Donna Warshaw, who took this photo at our final Christmas parade gathering in December. Of all the house photos taken over the years, this is my favorite because it shows such depth and because of the light in the window. That light shines in the room where I wrote many of my published books.

I’ve archived all of my downsizing posts here, and I’ve got a few more to come. If any of you have a downsizing story you’d like to tell, I’d love to feature you on Friend for the Ride.