Tag Archives: Inspiration

Thank God It Is Friday

Word Press asks “What’s your favorite daily ritual?”   The Shabbat.  How is that daily? Thinking about it looking forward to it, preparing for it, savoring it.

The Lyrics
I gotta feeling that tonights gonna be a good night
That tonights gonna be a good night
That Shabbats gonna be a good, good night (4x)

Tonights the night, Lets Live it up
No Need for money, Lets save it up
Go out and dance it, Like oh my god
Jump off the Sofa, Turn TV off, off

I know that well have a ball
If we get down and go out and just lose it all
I feel stressed out, I wanna let it go
Lets go home and eat a huge matzo ball

Lets do it, lets do it, lets do it
Lets do it, lets do it, lets do it
Live it up

I gotta feeling that tonights gonna be a good night
That tonights gonna be a good night
That Shabbats gonna be a good, good night

Fill up my cup, mazaltov
Look at her lighting, Shell bless it up
Friends all around, Lets turn that frown
Shabbat each Friday and so well do it again

Here we come, Here we go, We got our challah
Easy come, easy go, you betta Holla! Holla!
Family Talk, Body Rock, Rock it dont stop
Round and round, up and down, around the clock

Oh what a feeling oh tonight was such a good night
Oh tonight was such a good night
On Shabbat I had a good, good night.
Gosh I cant believe I get to do this every Friday night.

Emotional Fitness Thoughts

I am old enough to remember the ad that recommended “The pause that refreshes.”

Shabbat is that for observant Jews.  Observing the Shabbat is the fourth of the Ten Commandments.  I often think of how the value of Shabbat grows in proportion to the work requirements of the days. Jews could not demand work of employees  or in ancient time of slaves or animals on Shabbat. Jews were required to set slaves free after seven years of servitude.  Many asked to remain slaves.

Non-Jews are not expected to observe all Ten Commandments.  But if they observed the Seven Laws of Noah were  as valued by God as Jews who observed all The Ten Commandments and the other 613 laws Jews chose to obey and were chosen to obey – hence the name “Chosen people.”

Not a Jew? Here is what the God of my understanding expects of you as spelled out in the Noahic Laws:

  1. Don’t worship idols. Think money, things as well as graven images.
  2. Don’t  murder. Not  killing, for all have the right to defend themselves.
  3. Don’t steal.
  4. Don’t engage in sexually immoral behaviors.
  5. Don’t blasphemy.
  6. Don’t eat the flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.
  7. Do  maintain fair and just courts.

Many see the Jewish God as a dark and gloomy one.  Many see all gods that way. I prefer to think whatever God exists is patiently waiting for humankind to commit to observing the Seven Laws of Moses and so bring peace on earth.  I think that God must weep at our behavior, but that hope and patience are stronger in that God than in mankind.


Too bad  observing the Shabbat has been left off that list. However, doing so is a choice and that is today’s Emotional Fitness Tip. Create a Shabbat Day for yourself and your family.  Minimally, set aside a lengthy period of time to turn off the world of work, buying, connecting electronically. Use that time to be with family, friends, and nature or other sources of beauty and inspiration. Turning off and tuning out parts of  the world will be hard at first, but the more you try, the easier it gets and in time leads to living the good life.

Here is today’s Free Poster Coach.  It teaches The Be With Beauty Exercise.

Be with beauty emotionalfitness exercise.

As always thank you for all you do to Practice Kindness, a major emotional intelligence boosting practice. Liking, commenting, or sharing any social media you find helpful is one way to be kind. It may seem like a little, however, doing a little matters a lot.


EFTI’s poster coaches are free digital downloads designed to  improve Emotional Intelligence. Best printed up in color on card stock. they can be posted almost anywhere.  Their intended audience? Anyone who wants to improve their emotional fitness or anyone else’s emotional intelligence.  Parents, teachers, therapists, coaches, fitness trainers, school guidance counselors, preachers, and non-preachers.


Lessons from my foster children

This is my parenting blog‘s  response to a  WordPress Weekly Prompt: “This week….teach us something—or share something you’ve been taught .” Kids in 1951, kids now. #cartoon

My husband and I were short-term foster parents. Some 366 youth lived with us for  a few days,  or for weeks or  even months. We learned from each.

Before we became foster parents, I was teaching at Columbia University School of Social Work. I was also a licensed mental health professional and had directed the social service department at a Woman’s Hospital in New York City.   In other words, I was thought by most to be an “expert.”  In many ways I was. But in one important way, I was not.  I had not yet raised children from birth to adulthood.

I was  raised in the fifties where you didn’t question parents and never said anything if you could not say something nice.  I was almost a mealy mouth.  But five things made me the person I am today. Meaning someone who tries to tell it like it is, but so it will be heard which means saying the not so nice stuff nicely. Those three things:

1. A rebellious mother. She eloped to marry  a man her family thought beneath her.  Actually, he was above them by miles in kindness.

Anyway, my earliest memory,  is as a four-year old.  Not religious, my mother  had  sent me to the nearest church to attend Sunday School; it was a Methodist Church across the street from our house of the moment.

That particular Sunday was Children’s Day and parents were lured to the service to watch the children perform. I was one of a group singing “Jesus loves me.”

The minister took advantage of the large audience to preach hell and damnation for anyone who smoked.  At the end of the service, my mother shook the preacher’s hand and then walked about ten feet away and lit up an Old Gold cigarette. The smoke drifted toward the preacher and as she smoked she smiled.

2. A learning disability.  Not known then, but understood more frequently in today’s world, I and many members of my mother’s family suffer from a lesser known learning difference called Dysgraphia.  We can read, think very well, but fumble a great deal putting words on paper.  Poor handwriting, terrible spelling, inability to punctuate properly, at a loss with many grammar rules. How did I become a published author? Thanks to my parents and those teachers who saw more than my errors I loved school and learning; then,  word processing and spell check entered my world; finally life as a foster parent and a therapist meant an unusual story.

The main lesson from my learning disability was and remains an ability to tolerate uncertainty.  I was often wrong, and that does create uncertainty. But I was right enough of the time to keep trudging forward when others stopped.

One of my guru’s Harvard researcher Jerome Kagan believes the ability to tolerate uncertain is a main key in understanding human behavior,  particularly, when it comes to conflicting beliefs. Explains fanaticism to me and why wars are raged with religious beliefs as a reason or a tool.

3. Training as a mental health professional. There I was taught the Freudian art of listening with to underlying stuff, and the Rogerian Art of communication more wisely mainly by the use of reflection back the client’s words.

4. Marriage to a Talmudic learning invested Jew who believes arguing and discussion are major keys to learning truths and have nothing to do with whether you love or hate the person you are arguing with.  I learned to debate without fear of rejection from him.

A side note: I believe much of the ability of the Jews to move ahead in this world and to garner hatred lies in the fact that studying the Torah teaches critical thinking.  The great teacher Hillel taught all the Torah encompassed in one sentence “…that which you hate, don’t do to others.”  He adds that the rest of the Torah is commentary leading back to the one core value. The commentary’s teach critical thinking. 

How does this lead to hatred? As Kagan notes critical thinking creates uncertainty and he also notes that uncertainty  blamed on someone else creates anger. When the Jews refuse other versions of God, they create uncertainty.

Finally, critical thinking  is recognized as a get ahead skill and getting ahead creates uncertainty about the self that can and often does lead to jealousy and resentment of those left behind.

5. Life as a parent and foster parent.  My husband and I were selected to be special need foster parents because of my training as a mental health professional.  It was thought being a therapist meant troubled youth would be treated therapeutically in our home and the courts – each child in our care had run aground of the law in one way or another – would better understand the child’s needs before he or she moved on to a more permanent living arrangement.

Did not work that way.  After four weeks as a foster parent, I lost all faith in my professional training.  Four of the first six kids placed with us rioted, threatened to kill our children and us.  You can read more about that in my book “When Good Kids Do Bad Things” and my second book “Parents are People Too, An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents.”

What allowed us to survive?  My husband’s knowledge as a dog trainer. He specialized in training guard dogs and knew dominance came first but had to be followed quickly by caring behavior.  I discuss this in a blog post about parenting lessons learned from mother dogs. Treat Children Like Dogs.


After I became disillusioned with my professional training, I kept reading and looking for help.  The more direct experience the help givers had with children, the better the advice. Often that meant experienced parents.  But it might also mean camp counselors, teachers, therapists who specialised in helping children and various researchers.

At the same time, most parents advice suggests  following your instincts or intuition. Sadly instinct is a very primitive source of advice designed to keep you alive. Intuition is what we no longer remember how or where we learned the knowledge it suggests is true and right. Intuition works well in many situations, but must also be countered with careful thought in other situations.

In time I came to value intuitive knowledge, parenting based knowledge and professional knowledge.

One professional knowledge tip I came across was in Gregory Bateson’s bookSteps to Ecology of the Mind. Bateson wanted to sort out the many  paths to reality.

He noted that: “The more views of the territory, the more accurate the map.”

Actually, he got this idea from Polish-American scientist and philosopher Alfred Korzybski.  The painter Magritte often illustrated this idea. His most famous illustration of this idea is the Painting The Treachery of Images also known in English as “This is not a pipe.” 

The cartoon I used at the beginning of this post illustrates the danger of limiting ideas of helpfulness to one or two possibilities.  Commonly thought of as “Either/or” Thinking.  Not helpful. Better to think “Yes/and.”

Uncertainty does create painful feelings.  As Kagan points out it can create anger  when blamed on someone else.  Parents and teachers are often targets because if they correct a child, they create uncertainty. So are religions who oppose another religion’s view of God.

Uncertainty can also be blamed on the self and that creates depression, shame, and poor self-acceptance. When nothing can be found to blame, despair is created.

We want certainty in our world. We want to feel in control which is why there is so much talk about becoming anything we want if we only believe and work hard. Sadly not true and as much a myth as the idea of Santa Claus and Tooth Fairies. Kagan notes as one of the things that makes us who we are is “Chance.”

To summarize: the  lessons I learned from life with my foster children:

  1. To seek advice from many sources.
  2. Intuition, personal knowledge  must be partnered with critical thinking otherwise we will be lead astray.
  3. Chance plays a part in every life.
  4. Free will is limited. We have many choices, but in all situations choice is limited.
  5. To have faith in the capacity of most humans to grow toward goodness. Few of my foster children ended up in jail or mental institutions. Most joined the legions of people living okay if not perfect lives.
  6. That people may not be inherently evil, but can be lead downs of paths of evil.  Self-defense is every person’s right. Speaking out against evil every person’s responsiblity.


Life is a blend of struggle and pain, easy times and joyous times, and in between the those two tolerable times.  Self-soothing exercises and being with the good times keep you strong.  The One Minute Meditation is one of Efit’s easiest self soothing exercises.

As always thank you for all you do to Practice Kindness, a major emotional intelligence boosting practice. Liking, commenting, or sharing any social media you find helpful is one way to be kind to me. It may seem like a little, however, doing a little matters a lot.




EFTI’s Free Poster coaches are digital downloads designed to  improve Emotional Intelligence. Best printed up in color on card stock. they can be posted almost anywhere.  Their intended audience? Anyone who wants to improve their emotional fitness or anyone else’s emotional intelligence.  Parents, teachers, therapists, coaches, fitness trainers, school guidance counselors, preachers, and non-preachers.



Shake it up: practice kindness

Want to manage anger better? Practice deliberate kindness. Shake the angry person up a bit. Here is a Poster Coach about deliberate kindness.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. #platoquote

EFTI Poster Coaches:  free digital downloads at the EFTI Store.


The more you practice any of Emotional Fitness Exercises the more automatic their practice becomes.  Automatic practice means if a negative feelings tries to control you,  you have a protective fence between you and the feeling. That protective fence helps you think before acting on a negative feeling – the game plan followed by #emotionalintelligent gurus.

As usual thank you for all you do, particularly the deliberate kindness of liking, comment, or sharing EFTI’s posts.


Today’s Daily Daily Prompt: Shake it Up. You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory. GO. I went with the title, but the suggestion I remember my 12 year old birthday did not resonnate.  We all do what we can. Stay strong.

links of interest


A post about the  need to recognize the universal morality.  There is one that crosses all cultures.

#emotionalintelligence building blog post.Remembering what matters

As with all Poster Coaches used in an EFTI post, this one can be downloaded for free at  the EFTI Store.


Harvard human development guru, Jerome Kagan did a study that showed all cultures promote two values: caring for the less abled and fairness a provided by a system of justice.

Why then war?  Because the values apply  only  to the in group, your tribe, or your family.

emotional fitness tip

Obviously, if there is going to be peace on earth we must become one tribe and accept the  universal values must be applied to all. No tribes, no special groups, no difference between family and others;  no others.

What can you do to bring that about? That is what today’s tips are about.

Tip one: Assume that once everyone sees everyone as a tribal or family member, peace will be more possible. Strive to understand all religions, all cultures.

Tip two: Be aware that as with families, some religions, cultures, individuals are not interested in peace and might view you and yours as targets.

The Twisted Thought error dubbed The Curse of Personal Knowledge operates in those who are violent and those who are not.  The violent will do to the non-violent what the non-violent never think of doing. Dangerous.  Why bullies have power.

Tip Three: Staying safe must be a priority for all and that means defending against the violent.  One of the reasons EFTI thinks all children should be enrolled in Peace Dojo Karate courses.  Adults not trained in self-defense need to do the same. 

Tip four: Challenge all beliefs that promote violence other than self-defense and yes that is sometimes hard to figure out, but not always. Religions that speak of damnation for non believers, excessive nationalism, and even sports events that promote winning with a “Kill ‘em” need challenging. If you do not protest, you agree.

Tip five:  Find peace within.

This post was inspired by this Word Press Daily Prompt: Daily Prompt: West End Girls  Every city and town contains people of different classes: rich, poor, and somewhere in between. What’s it like where you live? If it’s difficult for you to discern and describe the different types of classes in your locale, describe what it was like where you grew up — was it swimming pools and movie stars, industrial and working class, somewhere in between or something completely different?

The basic idea was to talk about cultures and promote diversity.  I grew up 70 some years ago in a small town where “Everyone knew my face” as the song goes. I could and did roam the streets in relative safety. For a while I thought my mother was a witch, because when I would come home from my rambles she always knew where I had been. Now I know it was an old fashion safety watch.

I was part of the “privilege white class” but also lived through the Civil Rights Movement and became aware of my privilege and became a Civil Rights activist.

I was blessed in many ways and am grateful.


As always thank you for all you do to support EFTI’s efforts to help others stay strong. Kindness is karma and comes back to bless you. Care and share.