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Cruelty is Not Cool

October 8th, 2014

My grandson has Down Syndrome.  Recently my son-in-law posted this video on his Facebook page:

Take a minute to look at it and then come back.

Were you shocked?  Did it hurt your soul?  I was struck by two things:  people either did nothing or got aggressive with the abuser, saying things like “Shame on you!” and “Get out of here!  Your are an ass!”

The people who said nothing, probably because they were stunned, accidentally sent a message:  This behavior is acceptable.  They probably left feeling pretty crummy about themselves and the world.

The people who did take action, got pretty riled up.  One woman, a teacher, who stood up to the abuse was so shaken after the account she could hardly speak.  “I’m normally not like this, “ she said.

Coping with Difficult People Without Becoming One of them

My question is: Can people respond to cruelty without becoming aggressive?  Can we take action that makes the world a better place without getting ourselves all riled up?  Can we learn to cope with difficult people without becoming one of them?

My answer is Yes, Yes, Yes!

Cruelty is Not Cool campaign

I am starting a worldwide campaign to deal with all forms of cruelty.  Racism, sexism, insults to people’s bodies or their mental capacity– I want to teach people of all ages how to stand up to all forms of bullying and cruelty in a way that brings joy.

Did she just say stand up to bullying with joy?

Yes she did.

Imagine, if you will, people standing in line at a market.  The cashier has Downs.  Someone starts saying mean things, “Hurry up, you dummy!  You shouldn’t be allowed to have a job. I don’t want to be in the Retard Line.”

Idea #1:

One person makes a loud clap and says, “Enough!” then smiles.  He does it again.  “If you agree, help me!” he says.  Soon everyone is smiling, making a loud clap together, and saying “Enough!”  It is a Flash Mob of saying a kind and firm “No.”

Why smile?  It will keep your brain functioning at top speed and will show you are not being aggressive.  You are saying a kind and firm NO!  *Read William Ury’s book, The Power of a Positive No , if you want an excellent explanation of how to say a positive no and still maintain your relationships.

When the cruelty stops, you smile and say, “Thanks” to the person who was being abusive.  Then you turn to the cashier, smile, and say, “I’m thrilled you are working here.”

Idea #2:  

Fake a coughing attack.  Let people know you are not choking so they don’t try to save you and break your ribs in the process, but MAKE A LOT OF NOISE.

Why Be Kind and Firm? Why not smack down those bad guy bullies?

For two reasons:

#1 We have all been bullied and we have all been mean to others.  We are all innocent and we are all guilty. Fixing those “bad guy bullies” out there, instead of looking at the deeper causes of cruelty, perpetuates instead of solving the problem.

#2 Cruelty is pain leaking out.  If you add more pain to the situation, you do not reduce the cruelty.  Maybe at that moment it stops, but shaming people for their behavior just makes them more frightened and hurt more.  They will leak their cruelty somewhere else.

Are you with me?  Does this sound good?  Want to take action?

How do we get the ‘Cruelty is Not Cool’ campaign out in the world?

I have lots of ideas.  If you are interested in joining the campaign, reply to this email and I will put you on a special list.  Together we will generate and share ideas from all over the world.  It will be really, really cool.

Kindness Takes Courage.  It feels better too.

What do you think?

A Life Changing Trip

October 8th, 2014

One of my dearest friends, Jana Standfield, offers life-changing trips all over the world.  The first time I went to Bali I went with her and other singer/songwriters.  We visited amazing places I never would have found on my own and met people that are still an important part of my life.

If you are ready for an intellectual, emotional, social, or spiritual reboot, I highly recommend diving into a trip with Jana.

Call me (541-740-1439) or email me if you have any questions.  If you are feeling that “Oh my goodness! This could be awesome!’ feeling, I recommend you get more information and see if the call inside you keeps getting louder.

Jana’s trip to Istanbul with the Trip Tribe:

Helping people see the world with the Trip Tribe is my bliss, because it helps people go from local to global in a way that’s unforgettably fun. Helping YOU see the world would make me even happier!
Do you have a friend or family member… who could really use a getaway with the Trip Tribe?  Someone you care about who’s widowed, divorced, overworked, or just doesn’t have a group of awesome friends to travel with?

Our Istanbul trip still has a few spaces left. I hate for anyone to miss out on being part of the Trip Tribe, which changes lives for the better, one trip at a time.  There are some awesome people out there who are meant to join us on this one…I just need to find them!

Always remember, on your journey of a lifetime, no matter where you go,”It’s not about the destination, it’s about who we become along the way.”


Writing is a Civil Right

October 8th, 2014

Let’s talk about writing.  I believe everyone is a writer and has something to say.  Most of us lose our joy of writing in school, while being taught by teachers who do not write.  Bless their hearts.

I was such a teacher myself. Bless my heart.

I suffered as did my students.  I did not know how to teach the joy of writing then. I was told, “You will teach the 5 paragraph essay” style, which I did.  I was better at blind obedience than I am now.

Now, when I go into a classroom for the first time, students and teachers write with enthusiasm and freshness.  And we dispense with the suffering.

I know everyone is a writer and everyone has something to say. 

One fourth grade boy wrote, “When writing is hard for me, my brain is at home taking a shower,”
“When writing is hard for me, I’d rather eat cake,” wrote a tiny first grade girl, the youngest of eight children.  Previously the teacher struggled with her to do any work at all.  When writing was easy for her, she said she was surrounded by butterflies.

Want to be surrounded by butterflies while, you write?  Read Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write. You’ll be set free to discover your truth and your brilliance, every day for the rest of your life.  No topic sentences required.

My Writing Process, as If You Care

Lea Bayles,, invited me to share my writing process in-this blog.  She is a fabulous writer, spiritual workshop presenter, and a healer of immense proportions.

1) What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m revising a section of my book Woman with a Voice:  Daring to Live Authentically Ever After, which is available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle book. I’m revising a section on relationships with a new title:  In and Out of the Doghouse.

2) How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

I’m funny.  Name another visually challenged (AKA, blind) speaker-songwriter who considers herself a blind-spot remover. My husband, Murray, and I co-wrote a blog called “Where the Rubber Chicken Meets the Road Less Traveled.”  We discussed our relationship challenges with candor, humor, and often creative solutions.


Here is an example:

Murray and the Ketchup Or When Attention Deficit Disorder Collides with Blindness

Excerpt from Woman with a voice:  Daring to Live Authentically Ever After by Vicki Hannah Lein

Because of my vision problems, Murray and I decided to organize the refrigerator in a way that would help me find things. The leftovers would go on the top shelf, milk and other large items on the second shelf, and so on. Murray readily agreed to this plan. So why did the ketchup, among other things, keep getting moved? “How thoughtless he is,” I said to myself. “How incredible, especially since he is a professional!” I fumed. “Does he hate me?” I wondered.

If he really loved me, the ketchup would stay put.” We reviewed our plan. Murray again agreed that keeping things in the same place in the refrigerator was a reasonable request, and he should honor it. Yet the ketchup moved again, and I was confused and hurt, and no matter how many times I confronted him, the ketchup still wandered the shelves of the refrigerator.

Then I thought of a new story: “Murray doesn’t hate me. He has attention deficit disorder (really), and is easily bored.  He thinks the ketchup bottle gets restless (like he does), so he moves it.” Now this version is probably more true than the “He hates me” story I told myself, but that isn’t important. What is important is that changing my story changed how I felt about this continual problem. Instead of being angry and hurt, I laughed. It became a joke, and (here

is the interesting part) the ketchup has stayed put ever since.

Maybe Murray’s memory works better when it is bathed in love rather than irritation. Although a little Ritalin doesn’t’ hurt either.

3) Why do you write what you write?

I am a natural born teacher.  Once I learn how to do something, I want to teach other people how to do it.  I’m all about freedom, and we can’t be free if we are stuck in patterns that make our situation worse.

I’m also a “BlindSpot Remover”.   Partly because I am legally blind, so I get plenty of opportunities to deal with physical blind spots. I’m calibrated to look for and listen to what is unspoken. When I see a “spell” around a behavior, such as people-pleasing, I want to break the shackle of illusions and set us free.

4) What is your writing process?

Julia Cameron in all of her books suggests we write morning pages, daily, to free our minds and souls of clutter and to help us get in touch with the deeper truths in us that want to emerge.  So I write every day.

Often when I am writing morning pages, a title will appear on a line will pop out to me.  This title, such as Living from the Heart of What Matters, will turn into a poem.  I’m Living From the Yummiest Part of Me became a song.

I write as long as there is energy of writing and then I take a break.  I may go out on the balcony, sit in the sun, drink a little coffee, listen to a book on tape.  Another thought will emerge, and I will go back to whatever project I’m working on. If I try to write “something good”, I get caught up in trying to please other people and meet perfectionistic expectations.  I will have no fun writing and my writing will suffer because the subtext will be:  “Is this good?  Do you love me?  Do I finally belong forever and ever?” Yuck.

My writing often makes people laugh or cry, think differently, or more expansively about their lives.  That is gravy.  I am amusing myself, fulfilling myself, and trusting the process instead of the product. I live my live this way and it is much more fun that trying to be perfect or right all the time.  I am not afraid to fail or make mistakes in public, and this gives me enormous freedom and joy.

I’m not trying to write a good poem or a profound song or a book that will get me on the New York Times best seller list.  If those things happen, that would be just fine with me, but I do not start out to write with those goals. My intention is to get as close to a truth resonating within me as I can.  When I experience something I think other people might benefit from, or an experience I want to remember,  I write a paragraph.

I have the courage to be disliked and that, my dear, has made all the difference.


The Instant Gladification Sisters and Murray

October 8th, 2014

Freebo, who played bass for Bonnie Raitt,  introduced me to a new online live music format called Concert Window.  We did a concert with Janni Littlepage, who sang with Loggins and Messina, in her living room a few weeks ago.

Note:  I have become a name-dropper, but you probably already noticed that.

We had a great time.  Since there is a chat room, we could respond to listeners and take requests. It’s not as good in some ways as a live concert  but you get the intimacy of being in someone’s home and you don’t’ have to leave yours.

Deb Gauldin, possibly the world’s funniest singing nurse, and I will be doing a Concert Window event while I am visiting her in Raleigh.  Think of us as The Instant Gladification Sisters.  Deb is hilarious and I’m funnier when I’m around her.  We will be singing and harmonizing and having a great time, so please join us if you can.

We start at 7:30pm EDT on Thursday, May 22nd.

Wherever you are in the world, you can tune in!

We will be taking requests and answering your questions.
Without a doubt, this show will be panty-liner worthy.
Murray and I will also be doing a live webshow on Concert Window, which starts at 7:30pm EDT on May 29. Wherever you are in the world, you can tune in! We’ll be taking requests and answering your questions. You can purchase online tickets on a pay-what-you-want basis starting now at The webshow will not be recorded – it’s offered in real time. We hope you can join us!

Our show is In and Out of the Doghouse:  What Men Wish Their Women Knew But Are Unable to Tell Them Because, Well, They are Men.

We’ll be telling stories and I will sing.   Murray will be channeling his Habib character and who knows what else.

Please pass this on to anyone you think might enjoy these shows.


Angels Never Die

October 8th, 2014

If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.

  Robert Brault


Vicki and her mother in Venice, ItalyMy mother died 11 years ago.  She was ready to go and I was with her when she died.  Being present at her death was one of the most sacred moments of my life.  Sad?  Of course. But it would have been even sadder to watch her die slowly in pain.

The song I am sharing with you, Angels Never Die, was written during the year before my mom died.  It let me finish it right before she left this world. Shirley I was able to sing it to her the day she died.  When I finished she said with the last bit of pure Shirley-ness she had left in her, “I really like that!”

My mom really liked and believed in me.  There was never a place I went where her prayer had not preceded me.  She is still with me, and I still reach for the phone sometimes to share some good news.


Here is  Angels Never Die with my blessings.

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