What about 100% of Effective People?


“100% of effective people seem to have read that book.”

Listening to Scott Adams plugging Influence by Robert Cialdini.  Tim Ferris asked him for his opinion on best book ever (or book he’d be most likely to gift to others). This is a great listen for Scott Adams fans. He covers broad territory – from hypnosis to affirmations (always fascinating) to cartooning to Builder protein bars.

So I’m moving on to ‘Influence’ after I finish Tools of Titans.  I’ve pretty much reached the point where I’ll do whatever Tim Ferris says to do.  If Scott Adams seeks to eliminate decision making from his daily routine, I am seeking Tim Ferris to make my decisions for me.




Flash Cards for a Functional Year


I’m sorry the title of today’s offering isn’t better.

I should have written something about a happy or joyous year, right?

But seriously, happy and joyous aren’t my goals.

I wouldn’t mind being happy and joyous, mind you.  It’s just that I don’t generally set out to be happy and joyous. Generally, I set out to be functioning and, hopefully, very high functioning.

So far, it looks like this could be a good year for high functioning.

The basics appears to be in place in that respect, so I’m pleased.


How’s THAT for some jumping-up-and-down, crazy, out-of-control positivity, eh?

So here are my basic rules for achieving my goal of having a high functioning year.

And yes, I keep them on note cards.

(1) Ignore my brain

Well, I can’t really ignore my brain, but I can try to step away from messages my brain sends to me.  I can try to avoid getting hooked by bad brain messages.  And I can try to avoid getting caught in the swirl of my brain activity…when my brain activity is swirling.

(2) Question my brain

I can ask whether my brain is being helpful or unhelpful at any given time. If it’s being helpful, I can work with it.  If it’s being unhelpful, I can choose not to engage with my brain…or at least try.  Some days are better than others, but it’s a good exercise to disagree with my brain and practice rejecting it when it is not helping me.

(3)  Ignore others

I can’t really ignore my brain, but I can definitely ignore other people.  I don’t need to be rude or disrespectful toward them.  I don’t even need to let them know I’m ignoring them. I can just discount their input, their perspective, or their words (or their texts and emails).

I should probably mention that I don’t mean all others. I just mean those few others who tend to be unhelpful. Let’s ignore them.

(4) Don’t Feel Bad

Number Four pertains to Number Three.  I can ignore those few others I ignored in Number Three without feeling bad about the fact that I’m ignoring them or wondering if I’m hurting their feelings. And if I worry about them at any point, I can remember that there are plenty of people out there who are ignoring me.

(5) Move

I need to move everyday.  Whether its a few miles of running or 10,000 steps of walking or something more structured, I need to move.  I’ll assume you’ve experienced the difference between moving and not moving.  Moving just feels better. Period. It feels better, it looks better, it works better.  So I gotta move. Every day. In some way.

(6) Be My Own Police

I need to be vigilant about my environment. No moody music. No sad movies. No time spent alone around known triggers.

Policing myself is easy in some respects since I’m quite rigid and generally hyper-disciplined.  It’s a bit harder when others are around and I have to bow out of an activity or conversation topic that triggers me.  It’s especially hard when I’m in a place – physically or mentally – where everything’s a trigger.

When everything’s a trigger – or when it just seems like everything’s a trigger – it’s important not to take on big thoughts or big decisions.  During those times, I try to call a personal time out and I declare privately that everything’s on hold. I take more hot baths than usual and eat some comfort food (i.e. oatmeal for dinner) and I just allow time to pass.

(7) Regroup, Reorganize, Reimagine

This is the story of my life. I do this all the time. I do it every weekend. I do it every month. I do it anytime I need a do over or a new start.  I make lists and charts and graphs and spreadsheets and then more lists.

I always know the most current priorities. And I always feel like I can be on top of things.

It might not be that I’m actually on top of things, but hey, at least I feel like I am.  And I have to think that feeling there is part of the way to being there, right?

(8) Fantasize

I imagine fantasies that are partly based in reality so that they can serve as positive visualization.

These days I imagine that Leonardo DiCaprio likes my style of painting and commissions me to paint for him. In the advanced fantasy, he provides me a studio in which to paint.

I always wanted an actual studio.

Then I imagine that my art becomes wearable as yoga clothes and I pass people wearing them in airports.

You know you’ve made it when you see your products in airports.

(9) Initiate More Conversations

This one is tough for me but I’m going to do it. I am going to initiate more conversations. I tend to not do so and I know all of the neurotic reasons I don’t initiate conversations. Mostly I don’t because I’m an uptight workaholic Type A personality.

But not initiating is hurtful to people I love so I am going to really really really try to initiate more conversations with a few people I love and a few people I like.

(10) Number Ten

I feel like there should be a number ten.  Nine seems so wrong to end on.

Ooooooh! I know! I know!

I’ll reinforce a rule I made last year and didn’t do so well with.

I want to throw things out and/or give things away EACH WEEK.

Okay. I’ll journal that so I keep on track. Dump stuff each week. I really really really want to get rid of stuff.

Well, back now to working on the art business, which I never have to remember to do.  Same with painting…no reminders ever necessary.

And then out to walk the dog and knock out some steps.

I hope your 2017 is filled with meaning, passion, purpose, love, giving, hope and inspiration….and laughs, hugs, cuddles, and all that mushy stuff too, of course.

xoxo, d

Don’t you want something different?

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The puppy who’s no longer a puppy has been fed, walked, watered and thrown balls to.

Well, they weren’t actually balls. They were actually pieces of penne pasta, if you must know.

This puppy who’s no longer a puppy likes the half-crunchy-half-chewy pieces from the top of the casserole. So she gets them thrown across the room and she chases them down.


She’s not too spoiled.

So let’s see. We’d covered two points so far in previous essays:

(1) Don’t be upset if the Person With Depression (PWD) can’t always keep your schedule; and

(2) Don’t take it personally if the PWD drops off of the face of the earth.

So, that brings us to the third helpful lesson we learn from Rob Kardashian‘s life and his family’s responses to his depression (as witnessed by me from my obsessive viewing of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Rob and Chyna)

(3) The Person With Depression (PWD) most likely isn’t choosing for his or her life to be this way. 


I cringe every time I hear any person who doesn’t suffer from depression asking WHY the PWD is being this way, as if the PWD is choosing to stay in bed, choosing to stay at home, choosing to be completely lifeless and choosing to be completely hopeless.

Think about it folks, especially you folks who don’t experience major depression.

Who in the world would want to volunteer for depression?

It’s so hard to explain to people that depression takes over your body and mind. It consumes you to the point that you can’t control it because it’s controlling you.

Depression takes over, making choice an irrelevant factor after a certain point.

I know, I know.

You’re saying “But you DO have a choice.”

And yes.  Yes, there are points where the PWD has choices.

But those points are NOT during the time of crisis.

During the time of crisis is NOT the time to ask why the PWD is choosing to be this way.

Choices are a topic of conversation better left for when the PWD is feeling better.

Choices are a topic of conversation for when the PWD has more control over the depression than the depression has over the PWD.

When the PWD is in the throes of depression, your job as a family member or friend is simple: help them to get through it and then help them to get out of it.

And if you’ve never been in the throes of serious depression, chronic depression or major depression, just know that it’s awful.  It is painful and upsetting and full of constant reminders that life won’t get better.

It’s worse than you can imagine.

So, for the PWD, hearing a family member or friend question why one would choose that way of life isn’t helpful.

It’s just more hurt on top of the already hurtful hurting.

Okay, that’s enough about depression for one day.

Hope you’re more down than up this fine day. And more yes than no.

Time for me to paint some pretty paintings.

Enjoy your version of painting, whatever it is.

xoxo, d

Giving real life stories value, purpose and power.

Why didn’t you call me?


Okay. Phone rang. Answered phone. Call over.

Back to Rob Kardashian and Part II of how his experiences with depression can help others.

(2) Sometimes it’s hard for the Person With Depression (PWD) to pick up the phone. 

So there are a bunch of episodes where Rob disappears.

As the official disappearing member of my family, these episodes are especially special to me.

The thing is that making contact with family and friends is a lot of work for someone who is lost in the darkness of despair.

I know that sounds melodramatic, but depression is melodramatic.  The whole depression thing is a big dramatic drama.

But whirling away at the inside center of all the drama is the basic inability to do anything. The inability to do anything and the total lack of desire to do anything.

So actually, a lot of the emotional drama comes from that tug of war between the PWD and family or friends who wish the PWD would just get over it.

Yeah, I said just get over it.

Your favorite phrase and mine too.

Here’s the thing.

Getting mad at the disappearing PWD isn’t really logical.

The disappearing PWD really just needs to be given time or a safe environment to be coaxed back into.

So getting mad at the PWD has the opposite effect; it pushes the PWD further away.

For some PWDs, it might trigger worse things like suicidal behavior. For some PWDs, your anger might be interpreted by them as a dare.

So don’t get angry.

It doesn’t help.

And it doesn’t make sense, if you think about it.

The PWD isn’t trying to upset you. The PWD is just upset.

Either step back and give the PWD some space or work on making the environment safer for the PWD so that he or she will reengage more quickly.

And remember…it might feel like it’s about you, but it’s not. It’s not about you.

More in a bit.

The puppy (who really isn’t a puppy anymore) is giving me the look.

xoxo, d

Giving real life stories value, purpose and power.

I’m sorry I can’t love you at the time you had love scheduled.


For months I’ve been wanting to write about my (completely one-sided) love affair with Rob Kardashian.

Yes, I love the guy.

I love him for unwittingly bringing to light what it’s really like to live with a condition you just can’t manage so gracefully.

Even with money.

Even with all that money, he just can’t manage his depression too gracefully. And it’s a great opportunity to help others understand just how difficult it is to live with depression.

So for months I’ve been wanting to write about Rob.

And then this morning I saw that Kanye is still in treatment for whatever he’s in treatment for.

It might be a breakdown. It might be exhaustion, which I think is just another word for  breakdown these days, right?

Whatever it is, I hope Kanye’s need for a time out and some professional help actually helps others the way that Rob’s depression helps me.

Here’s a starter list of what I hope Rob’s depression – and his family’s (often shocking) responses – will teach others:

(1) Sometimes it’s hard for the Person With Depression (PWD) to stick to your schedule.

We see this in almost every episode with Rob. His sisters or his mother schedule a dinner or a party or travel and Rob bails.

Then they talk smack about him. Then they talk more smack about him. Then he doesn’t show up. Then he apologizes. Then he makes it up to them with another dinner or another party or balloons or gifts.  Then they ask him why he couldn’t make it the other time and they tell him how hurt they were when he didn’t show up. Then he gives some lame response.  Then he apologizes more. Then they tell him how much they love him and how they want to be supportive.  Then it happens all over again in the next episode.

Well, folks, this is the story of my life.

I miss things.

Not because I don’t want to go to things, but because I am often not feeling well on the day that something is scheduled.

And I’ve found that some family members STILL don’t get that “not feeling well” is a nice way of saying “I absolutely cannot leave the house today.”

If you love someone who is living with depression or one of its related conditions, believe them when they say they can’t leave the house.  And don’t think it’s about you.

And don’t give them a ton of grief.  They’ve already got a ton of grief without you adding yours.

When they’re feeling good again, ask them how to be helpful during those difficult times.

Do they like to be encouraged to get out?  Do they like to be left alone?  Do they like for you to drop by?

Just ask them.

They’ll tell you.

Okay…that’s one down. Phone ringing. Back soon with number two!!

xoxo, d

Giving real life stories value, purpose and power.

Learning to Live with Life.

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Glenn Fleishman sharing the New York Times on Tom Brokaw just popped up on my Twitter feed. 

Now I’ll get the info in sets of three since I follow all three sources.

I like Tom Brokaw. I like him in all of the basic ways – as a professional, as a journalist, as a man, as a human. He’s a good egg.

I’ve followed Mr. Brokaw’s journey through his diagnosis of multiple myeloma at the age of 73.

I like people with issues, especially medical issues and major life crises.

I like watching people confront struggle and triumph over life’s bad badnesses.

I like witnessing the humility of life’s constant reminders that we’re SO not in control when it all comes down to it.

I like when good, reputable, professional, accomplished, successful eggs like Tom Brokaw share their experiences of real life’s ongoing struggles.  It helps me to know that I am not alone in feeling alone.  And it helps to give me words to define my own struggle…and ways to understand my own struggle.

Specifically, I’ve been working lately to come up with my own “take” on my message. For the first time in my life, I’m sharing the stories behind my art, none of which are lovely, upbeat or positive. My art is dark and morbid and depressing.  My art is the art of depression, which is dark, morbid and depressing, at least for me.

So basically it goes like this:

I’ve spent a lifetime living with depression. I’ve created a ton of art inspired by my dark experience. The art is dark. And now I’m sharing.

The thing is that darkness scares people. They assume you’re in the dark place at the very time when they themselves experience the darkness you’re sharing, even though the darkness you’re sharing could have been inspired by experiences from ages (or hours) ago.

So I like the idea of “Learning to Live With“….because it reinforces the reality that when you experience anything difficult, you experience it on a continuum.  You experience the discovery of the difficulty as you define it and identify its scope.  You experience the difficulty as you have it, hate it, fight it, embrace it, and own it. You experience the difficulty as you fix it and then move on to recovering from the fixing phase.

And then you clean up.  You experience the cleaning up of the odds and ends that invariably result from any life disruption.

And then, just when you thought you’ve cleaned everything up and put everything back into its proper place, you experience the fact that your normal is no longer the normal that other people experience.

And, if you have a chronic condition, the cycle repeats.

And repeats. And repeats. And repeats.

I suspect my next essay will be about the stages of living with depression…. or whatever difficulty, struggle, condition or other life reality you’re living with. Because yes, we are all living with something. And yes, we are all somewhere in the journey or process….somewhere in the stages.

And it’s life.

It’s just life.

So go live it.

And help others live it if you’re lucky enough to be in one of the easier stages today.

xoxo, d

Not-so-Manic Monday

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I’m looking for an essay I wrote years (and years) ago. An essay about how, when men don’t call after amazing first dates, it’s only fair to assume they have died.

I’m looking for the essay for my buddy Jon Birger who wrote a book on why men appear to be disappearing.  And why I will be alone forever.

Oops. Sorry for giving away the ending, Jon.

Along the way to finding the essay, I found another billion essays.

One in particular caught my eye because of its commitment to a recurring (i.e., SO OLD) theme: what works and what just feels like it’s working.  It’s kind of like that age old question of whether you should strive for an A or strive to write a paper that actually takes a risk and explores some facet of your talent and intellect that may not guarantee the A.

For years, I didn’t fix certain things because the high of starting to fix them seemed like enough. I was an A student who just needed to get the A to keep moving forward.

Now, of course, as with most things, the high of an A isn’t high – it’s just a way to forestall anxiety about not getting the A.  So now, at the tender age of way-too-old-for-this, I’m trying hard to fix some of the fundamental conditions that invariably result in pain.

Enjoy the read, if you choose to read.  This essay would have been written around 2010.


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Observations of the information age, where everything evolves quickly. Except people

“What else should we talk about?” I asked the therapist.

We were only five minutes into our session when I ran out of material. I had already briefed him on the weeks of my life since our last visit. I reported my success in managing workplace stress and how I could now get through a day without a bottle of Tylenol. He, in turn, praised me on my follow through.

Good doctor. Good patient.

So now we were free to talk about anything. But nothing came to mind. I had sought out his guidance after experiencing one migraine too many and now the migraines were gone. I was running and meditating and breathing lots of fresh air, all quite conducive to relieving the pressures of a typical professional life.  In my book, we had accomplished our goal.

“What would you like to talk about?” he asked. He was finished writing notes in my file and appeared ready for some good old neurotic entertainment.

The truth was I didn’t want to talk. It was a beautiful day and I had many other tasks that needed my attention. I wanted to be excused. But I didn’t want him to think I was using him only in times of crisis – even though that’s exactly what I was doing.

I decided to talk and to see where my innermost thoughts led.

“I was really mad at my mother last week,” I offered, trying a little to remember her offense.

“What happened that made you upset?”

“I don’t remember. But I was definitely mad,” I assured him.

“And did you confront your mother about your anger?” he queried with only the slightest hint of interest.

“Of course not!” I laughed. “I told her I was tired of hearing her talk. She said ‘fine, I won’t ever talk again.’ And then we went to CostCo.

“And now? How do you feel now?” he insisted.

“Feel about what?” I mumbled, completely confused about whether we had even chosen a topic with which to soak up the remaining time.

I should have explained to this very nice man that I didn’t care about any issue unless it was immediately disrupting my life. I grew up in a house where nothing was allowed to fester for long and any hint of misery was quickly nipped in the bud. At the earliest indication of upset, anger, confusion, frustration or anxiety, my mother would descend with a heavy bang and yell “What’s wrong? Something is wrong.”

After the required dysfunctional dance of “nothing’s wrong” and “I don’t want to talk about it,” my mother would reach deep inside of our throats and painfully pull out the problem by its roots.

A tearful and emotional intervention fit for reality television would ensue. And then, my mother would matter-of-factly say “Let’s talk to someone about this!” Emotional issues were nothing more complicated than leaky faucets or creaky doors. The key was to find a professional who owned the exact set of tools necessary for a quick and final fix.

My mother would race to the phone, conducting a full-on aggressive campaign to identify the best expert for the job. She was inspired and determined as she explained the urgency of the situation. Within hours we would be in the car on the way to a highly recommended specialist.

“Just tell us what to do,” my mother would beg, perched on the edge of her seat with her stenographer’s pad ready to capture every audible sound.

It was rare that we visited a professional more than once after that first consult. More often than not, we returned only to report on our prideful success in carrying out the expert’s strategy. Again and again, we heard that we were incredible and that we would do very well going forward given our outstanding performance in the current challenge.

Whatever the problem, we were always fixed in an hour or so. Low self-esteem? One hour. Trouble focusing in school? One hour. Confusion about whether to put off college for a year? Thinking of murdering a sibling? That would be one hour. I was completely spoiled, convinced that we could fix anything with one phone call and an office visit.

But I wasn’t as efficient once I left home. I remember my first visit to a university counselor. I divulged an enormous and disproportional anxiety about turning in papers that were less than excellent. Within five minutes, she had resolved my episodic perfectionism and was searching for more interesting fodder. Perhaps I was obsessive, she opined? Did I find myself testing the lock on the door more than twenty times before being convinced it was secure? I tried to thank her and get out before she discovered real problems, but she tricked me into staying. She said she could help find the real me. It turned out that the real me was a comedian who visited her regularly for a year, regaling her with funny stories of how I talked myself down on a daily basis.

I didn’t return to therapy for many years. I was busy working and loving and learning to get through the normal burdens of an independent life. But when I went back, so many years later, I was convinced that I finally had enough conflicts to fill up an hour.

I was at a critical point, personally and professionally. Should I stay or should I go? Should I fight or should I flee? Rent or own? Boxers or briefs?

“I am easily a once-a-week patient,” I commended myself.

But the fact is that I was worse than before. I had become expert at resolving my life issues. I could easily anticipate what a counselor would say and I just wanted to get busy on following through. With useful tools like acceptance, meditation, Diet Coke and Dr. Phil, I could fix myself. Counselors were quickly becoming the middle man with high rates for overhead.

“Why are you here?” a new therapist asked?

“I don’t remember,” I said. “I made the appointment last week when I was upset, but now life is good. I have nothing to say.”

And for the first time ever, a therapist earned my trust.

“Well, then…life is fine! You should be happy! That was your goal, right?”

I agreed. I was fine and I was happy.

And then I set up a meeting for the follow week. I may not have a problem, but I’m not stupid enough to dismiss a therapist who works that fast.


2(1-3 Bugs) + 2(1-3 Joys) = 2-6 Bugs and 2-6 Joys

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The problem with keeping a daily journal, for me, is that I feel really awful when I can’t maintain it.  I vacillate between thinking I should force myself to write it and thinking I should get done whatever it is that’s keeping me from focusing on the journal.

Then I lecture myself for overthinking something simple and encourage myself to say “fuck it, whatever.”  

I feel like my life goal is to get to “fuck it, whatever” (hereinafter referred to as FIW) without having to go through all of the pre-FIW angst.  I would love to be less structured, less intense, less uptight.  But so far I haven’t figured out the shortcut to FIW

I have, however, gotten my time down for getting to FIW. It used to take me days or weeks to get there relevant to any particular issue of uptightness.  Now I can usually get there same day if I do it right and with the requisite amount of awareness.

I can’t always maintain FIW for very long, but I guess room for growth bodes well for never being bored.

For those of you still reading, thank you.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, “fuck it, whatever.”

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I stopped writing the daily journal on Thursday because I was in a bad mood.  I could have come up with a ton of Ughs or Bugs, but not Joys.

It’s not that there weren’t Joys.  And it’s not that I don’t remember there were Joys.

It’s just that my Bad Mood Brain (BMB) gets MUCH pissier if I try to think of positive things on purpose.

And getting my BMB pissier is just not enjoyable for anyone.

But now that my brain has a weekend break so I can do some review.

Ughs and Joys Drumroll……

UGHS AND JOYS, in which we journal our one-to-three highs and one-to-three lows of the day, more or less.  

Okay, let’s get the UGHS out of the way…..


I was behind all week. I just couldn’t catch up on outstanding deadlines. And I couldn’t figure out how to do anything differently to catch up. And it was awful.

I hate being behind. It really stresses me out.



I should have broken down Ugh One to say “I was behind Thursday morning.”  Then I could have said Thursday afternoon and Thursday night for Ughs Two and Three. Four, Five and Six could have been Friday morning, afternoon and night.

Because honestly, I can’t remember – and don’t want to remember – any of the other crappy stuff from Thursday and Friday that happened related to my being behind.  I was just behind and hating it and that made life sucky.

For me, one of the worst feelings in the world is working, working, working and, at the same time, getting asked where the work is by clients.

I call it ‘worrying about working while I’m working.”

I hate that.

Also – and this would be Ugh Four, Ugh Five and Ugh Six if I hadn’t already listed them – worrying about getting work done KILLS my creativity.  It’s not that I don’t feel creative.  I do.  It’s just that I can’t connect the creative dots as quickly or efficiently or well.

Wow….negative much?

Whose idea were these Ughs and Bugs?

Actually, I know exactly whose idea they were and I shall slap him when I see him.

Okay, some Joys.

Joy One:

Good weather. I love good weather. Even the storms.  I love the storms.

Joy Two:

I gave Bella (the dog) a bath and she smells good again for a while.

Joy Three:

I have what seems to be a fully-heeled ankle.  After three weeks of having to be super careful, I was able to bike and even run a bit yesterday!  Looking forward to a ton more running.  Yay!

Joy Four:

I saw my nieces a few times and got a sleepover.  I’m constantly amazed that these small people choose to visit here when they have time to visit.  It’s really great and flattering.  And it’s a little scary how much I love them.

But it’s nice to know I can feel love like that for family.

Oops. I should NOT have said that.

I sincerely hope no family members are reading this.

If you ARE a family member reading this, that was NOT about you, obviously.

Joy Five:

I pre-cleaned my car in preparation for getting it washed.  Getting the car washed is such a hopeful life activity.  Anything is possible when you have a clean car.

Joy Six:

Summer. It’s just the best. On a daily basis while it’s here, it’s just the best.

Okay…back to experiencing life so I can get all meta later and judge it.

Hope your Ughs and Bugs are few. Hope your Joys are fully experienced.

Here’s some of the art and humor from the part of the week where I checked out because of my stupid Pissy Bad Mood Brain (PBMB).

xoxoxo, d

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Ooooh! Forgot a MAJOR JOY!

Reply All got mentioned by Comic Strip of the Day this week.


It’s a huge honor to be mentioned by CSOTD because Mike Peterson is picky and he always puts me in such good company.

Thank you, Mike!!!  ♥ ♥ ♥

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