Seeking Rest in a Busy World

Rest is hard to find. Our homes, schools, and public places are filled with sound and activities. People talk, electronic devices ping, beep, and trill. Machines hum. We are plugged in 24/7.

Our lives have become a hive of constant connection. We are never alone! And quiet time is so necessary for well-being. A recent study looked at the benefits of time alone. It turns out, even extroverts need alone time and that time spent alone makes people feel more rested, which contributes to their well-being.

james_tissot_-_quietAnd the activities that people in the study found the most restful?
1. Reading.
2. Being in a natural environment.
3. Time spent alone.

So grab a book and head outside for some quality alone time. It’s good for body and soul.


Want to know more about the benefits of rest? Try these titles. Just want to relax? Check out the downloadable music suggestions at the end of this post. For a full list of relaxation resources, click here.

jacket-aspxSilence : the power of quiet in a world full of noise / Thich Nĥát Hạnh. (Hardcover)
One of the world’s most beloved teachers and Zen masters shares a profound, concise, and practical guide to understanding and developing our most powerful inner resource—silence—to help us find happiness, purpose, and peace.

jacket-aspxThe art of stillness : adventures in going nowhere / Pico Iyer. (Hardcover)
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.

jacket-aspxStillness speaks / Eckhart Tolle. (ebook)
If you connect to the stillness within, you move beyond your active mind and emotions and discover great depths of lasting peace, contentment, and serenity.



jacket-aspxRelaxation revolution : enhancing your personal health through the science and genetics of mind body healing / Herbert Benson and William Proctor. (Downloadable Audiobook)
Using the mind to quiet the body not only eases stress, it actually alters the activity of thousands of genes, promoting wellness. Science now proves that relaxation not only changes how a patient feels physically and emotionally, it has the power to transform genes, molecules, cells, and other physiological functions to relieve a variety of afflictions.

vector-musical-1Downloadable Music

Positive thinking, vol. 1 – music for meditation, relaxation & yoga

Guided meditation guided relaxation & guided imagery for the body and mind

Classical music for relaxation vol.1

Spa music: relaxing music for massage therapy, spa, yoga, stress relief, meditation and sleeping



Understanding Urban Issues

Here is a group of books – some of them very good – that are sure to fuel political fire, no matter which fence you sit on regarding the issues of the blighted inner cities.

indexGhetto is a brand-new book by Mitchell Duneier on the term “ghetto,” which dates back to the 1400’s when Jews were forced to live in isolation from Christians. They were free to come and go, except at night, and anyone could do business with them. This led to a flourishing if separate culture for hundreds of years. Enter the Nazis, who isolated Jews into Ghettos with barbed wire. No one was allowed in or out. Here, people had no jobs, severe overcrowding, no public services, and as the ghettos decayed and residents grew desperate, people accepted the fact that Jews lived like animals, and it helped fuel antisemitism. Why would people live like that if they didn’t deserve it, forgetting that to cross the wire was not just banishment, but death. By the 1940’s the term expanded to the narrow neighborhoods that African-American people were allowed to live in. There was no barbed wire, but an invisible barrier that they weren’t allowed to cross except for work. As their neighborhoods became overcrowded because no one could move out, they fell victim to the same issues faced in Germany. Duneier presents facts throughout the last century – the 40’s, the 60’s, the 80’s, and today, on the current use of the term vs. the historical one, and how the stagnation and forced living creates the discord we see today. The book is far too long and detailed – it could be half and still be excellent – but even if you have to skim it, it is serious food for thought.

Easier to read, if not more infuriating, is Family Properties:  Race, Real Estate, and the5190mOD8p3L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ Exploitation of Urban Black America by Beryl Satter. Satter details the blatant racist policies of 1940’s Chicago, where Real Estate agents were threatened if they sold houses to African Americans past the “White” line, and people who did buy in would find the houses disassembled by the neighbors to prevent it. It took many years and many lawsuits to get things to change. This book will make you angry.

514dyV2l3KL._SY479_BO1,204,203,200_A head scratcher is All Souls: a Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick McDonald. Mrs. McDonald is Irish, unmarried, and pumps out children like party favors (11 in all), living in the infamous projects of South Boston – an area run by no less than Whitey Bulger himself. Michael tries to sort out his childhood as his siblings fall victim to gangs and drugs and forced busing. Entertaining and tragic, even if you can’t relate to their lifestyle.

Death at an Early Age, Savage Inequalities, and Fire in the Ashes, all by Jonathan Kozol, are heart-rending books about the disparities in Urban and Suburban education. They are excellent reading that will break your heart. The realities of urban living will block most of these kids from ever achieving, and it is not their fault.

Jacket.aspxI cannot recommend the book The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Edward Burns enough. I could not put it down. It covers the grim streets of Baltimore, a place so bad it’s where trauma surgery originated. It is compelling and reads like a novel. And they made a TV Miniseries out of it. One of my top-50 favorite books.

51BHwvQwVbL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_If you’re really, really, really into sociology, then go back to the original: How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis. This is one of the first sociological studies on the slums of 1886 New York City, and the issues seen there – discrimination, overcrowding, street children,  gangs, alcoholism, domestic violence, prostitution – paint a familiar story as European immigrants try to find a way to survive in a hostile new world. It’s dry reading at times, but interesting in the patterns that appear.

Lyndon Johnson took decisive moves to improve our urban areas; 50 years later, not much has changed. The issues brought up in these books are just as relevant today as then, and we have more than enough information to make positive changes. These books will open your eyes.

The Narcissism Epidemic

Jacket.aspxMerriam-Webster Dictionary defines narcissism succinctly: “Caring too much about yourself and not about other people.”

What that definition doesn’t spell out are all the ramifications of such self-absorption.

In the book The Narcissist Next Door, the author, Jeffrey Kluger, writer and science editor at Time magazine, uses the word “monster” in the sub-title: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed–in Your World.

Are narcissists monsters? Consider these examples of typical narcissist behaviors:

  • Your narcissist mother constantly belittles you but denies she is doing any such thing. There is always an excuse for what she says and does. She is oh so thoughtful. Her selfish manipulations are for your own good. Nasty comments mean she is concerned about you. She only wants to help you.
  • Your narcissist boss criticizes and demeans you. He lets you know he thinks less of you than he does of your coworkers. If you complain, he will treat the matter as a non-issue. He doesn’t care about your complaints. He just wants to let you know that you’re never right.
  • Your narcissist sibling ignores all boundaries. She goes through your things regularly. She asks nosy questions, snoops into your email, room, and conversations. She digs into your feelings, particularly painful ones, and is always looking for negative information that can be used against you.
  • Your narcissist spouse tries to make you look like the crazy one. He will claim not to remember events, flatly denying they ever happened. He will tell you that you’re unstable, otherwise you wouldn’t believe such ridiculous things. You’re over-reacting, like you always do.

Sound like someone you know? Probably, because the number people with this personality disorder doubled over the last 10 years just in the United States. Some refer to it as the Celebrity Epidemic, where outrageous, selfish behavior is rewarded with fame and money, while others blame it on the American emphasis on the importance of the individual. Still others think it is genetic, an inheritable trait that has always been prevalent but is now rampant because of lack of social consequences. Whatever the cause, the cult of self is thriving.

How do you spot a narcissist? First, remember narcissism is not an all-or-nothing disorder. It is a continuum, with some mild behaviors, such as always steering the conversation back to yourself, to more extreme forms, such as those who demean and torment you when no one is watching and then act simply darling in public. Extreme narcissistic behavior includes:

  • Comments that diminish, debase, or degrade someone else
  • Feelings of entitlement
  • Envy that tries to either take or spoil someone else’s pleasure
  • Lying, constantly about everything
  • Emotional manipulation
  • Constantly seeking to be the center of attention
  • Extreme defensiveness and sensitivity, especially about imagined insults
  • Lack of empathy
  • Will never admit to being wrong
  • Bragging and exaggerating achievements
  • Denial of any of the above behaviors

So what to do if you live or work with a narcissist?

Save yourself. Experts overwhelmingly say to leave any relationship where extreme narcissism is present. Most narcissists will never acknowledge they have a problem. It is always everyone else, not them. Getting a narcissist to see a counselor or doctor is nearly impossible, and even when they do, they seldom admit responsibility and so never change. Make your feelings known, but if the narcissist cannot understand or acknowledge your pain, then it’s time to move on.

Here are some resources to help you deal with the narcissist in your life.



Jacket.aspxThe narcissism epidemic : living in the age of entitlement / Jean M. Twenge, PhD and W. Keith Campbell, PhD



Jacket.aspxThe mirror effect : how celebrity narcissism is seducing America / Drew Pinsky and S. Mark Young with Jill Stern



Downloadable Audiobooks







Jacket.aspxWill I ever be free of you? : how to navigate a high-conflict divorce from a narcissist, and heal your family / Karyl McBride

How to Spot a Bully in the Workplace and What to Do About It

Do any of these things sound familiar?

  • Someone falsely accuses you or one of your coworkers of making errors
  • You have been subjected to stares, glares and other nonverbal intimidation tactics
  • Someone at work refuses to speak to you
  • A coworker exhibits a wide-range of mood swings, including yelling and throwing tantrums
  • A coworker thinks the rules don’t apply to him
  • Someone at work is harshly and constantly criticizing you, disregarding any satisfactory or exemplary work you do

If you have witnessed or been subjected to any of these behaviors, then you have a bully in your workplace.

Jacket.aspxAccording to Gary and Ruth Namie, authors of The Bully-Free Workplace, bullying in the workplace is fairly common. Nearly half of all Americans have either witnessed bullying at work or been the target of a workplace bully.

The big question, the Namies assert, is not why bullying happens (the reasons are many) but what can be done about it. And the answer is fairly simple: There must be consequences for those who are bullies.

Turning the other cheek does not work. Mediation does not work. Anger management does not work. These traditional methods of dealing with workplace conflict are not effective because bullies thrive on exploiting any perceived weaknesses in their targets.

Walking away makes the bully think you fear him. Forcing a target of bullying to sit across the table from his tormentor in a mediation session gives the bully power because he is usually able to make it seem that the target is the problem. The target is portrayed by the bully as being too sensitive, or incompetent, or having no sense of humor. The mediation is actually a reward for the bully, who gets to portray his target as weak before their supervisors. And anger management presupposes that the bully is likely and able to change his behaviors, something not borne out by numerous studies on the subject.

So, what can you do? The authors of the Bully-Free Workplace suggest:

If you are an employee:

  • Confront the bully the very first time he attempts to target you. To quote the Namies, “To turn one’s back to walk away to fight another day proves very costly for targets.” Waking away is perceived by bullies as weakness, making them go after you all the more.
  • Don’t be an enabler. This means if you witness a coworker being bullied, either speak up or take the target by the arm saying, “I need to speak with you” and then lead them away from the bully.
  • Report the bullying, whether you are the target or the witness.
  • Stop rumors. Rumors about other employees are a form of bullying. If you hear them, tell the gossiper you don’t want to listen to negative talk. If you are spreading rumors, even if you are not the bully, you are enabling the bully. Shut up. Seriously.

If you are a manager:

  • Be willing to recognize bullying. Bullies often present their best faces to management. They agree with you, they praise you, they “always have your back.” Thus, when managers hear complaints, they cannot associate the talk with the picture they have of the accused bully. Take a step back and assess the situation as objectively as possible.
  • If you hear a report of bullying, investigate with the assumption that the report is true. This is especially important if the bully is in management. Studies show that other managers are usually reluctant to believe one of their upper-level coworkers is a bully, since, as noted above, the bully will often not show that side of his nature to equals or superiors in the workplace hierarchy.
  • Intervene when you see bullying or hear about it. An intervention from management will often stop a bully in his tracks.
  • Create an explicit policy against bullying because policies are enforceable and vague values statements are not.

And, oh yes… Warning signs that YOU are the bully:

  • In meetings, you are rarely ever challenged.
  • The final decision, even after getting input from others, is yours because it is more expedient.
  • Others do not understand or appreciate your management/teamwork style.
  • If a decision you made was a failure it was because you received incomplete or inaccurate information from someone else.
  • It takes a special type of person to work with you. Your staff changes often. Coworkers seem reluctant to work with you.
  • You believe fear motivates staff to optimal performance.
  • You believe leaders must demonstrate resolute certainty and unwavering principles.
  • You are surprised when other staff do not have the same high standards you have.

In addition to The Bully-Free Workplace, there are several other titles that can help you deal with workplace bullies:

suttonbookThe no asshole rule : building a civilized workplace and surviving one that isn’t / Robert I. Sutton, PhD.
A gem. I may write another post just about this book.


Jacket.aspxBullies : from the playground to the boardroom : strategies for survival / Jane Middelton-Moz, Mary Lee Zawadski
Follows bullying from childhood through adulthood and analyzes what works and what doesn’t when dealing with a bully.


Jacket.aspxBullies, tyrants, and impossible people : how to beat them without joining them / Ronald M. Shapiro & Mark A. Jankowski with James Dale.
A 4-point plan, called the NICE method (neutralize, identify, control, explore) for dealing with bullies.

Jacket.aspxThe bully at work : what you can do to stop the hurt and reclaim your dignity on the job / Gary Namie and Ruth Namie
The prequel to The Bully-Free Workplace.


Jacket.aspxOvercoming mobbing : a recovery guide for workplace aggression and bullying / Maureen Duffy, Len Sperry
Discusses the difference between mobbing ( when individuals, groups, or organizations target a person for ridicule, humiliation, and removal from the workplace) and bullying.