January 2014
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Archive for January, 2014


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Chatterbox is the name I have given to my negative inner critic.  The badgering voice does its best to disrupt my inner peace and magnify to gigantic proportions my short-comings, failures, inadequacies, fears and doubts regardless of their veracity.

Psychologists call our inner voice ‘self-talk’.  The critical inner voice is not conscience.  It is the saboteur, the negative and well-defended part of ourselves that is opposed to personal growth and healthy maturation.

Twenty-five years ago I began the work of mastering my chatterbox.  My out-of-control, running amok, negative inner voice kept me ruminating on the past and fearing the future.  No present, no peace.

I launched an inner personal campaign to change my thinking style.  ‘I can’t’,  ‘I should’, ‘I have to’, ‘I shouldn’t’ were traded for ‘I can’, ‘I choose to’, ‘I want to’.  Like boundary setting for two and three-year-old children, every time I caught my chatterbox using negative words, I changed them to positive.

I used mantras, repeated over and over to derail this powerful locomotive of negative thinking.   One of my favorites, which I still use, is “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want….”  Initially these efforts were not enough.  I got a pair of headsets, plugged them into my bedside boombox and listened to Kitaro’s “Silk Road” for weeks and weeks.

Today my inner life is changed.  Although my chatterbox is still with me and gets really turned up by any emotionally charged situation,  it is no longer dominant, no longer able to rob me of present moments.  This is really hard work, but diligent effort pays off.

I have inner peace to a degree I never imagined possible.  I can actually be still and meditate without the obnoxious intrusion of the chatterbox. 




Until recently I had a copy of The 7  Habits of Highly Effective People.  Now sitting on my desk is The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People, an article by Cloe Madanes in Psychotherapy Networker.  I read it as satire, a well-done spoof.  But then again….

1.Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss.  The author points out the advantages and strategies that will contribute handsomely to your misery.

2.Practice sustained boredom.   Not as easy as it may sound.  But using the techniques outlined in this section should have very positive results.

3.Give yourself a negative identity.  Whatever negative identity you choose, play the part to its fullest.

4.Pick fights.  Be unpredictable.  Throw tantrums out of the blue.  Make mountains of mole hills and then deny your responsibility by claiming the other party is misunderstanding your intentions.  Express how hurt you are.

5.Attribute bad intentions.  Believe that no one wishes you well, that no one likes you or your opinions.  Hold grudges.

6.Whatever you do, do it only for personal gain.  Resist the temptation to help others.

7.Avoid gratitude. There is nothing in life to be thankful for.  Remind people of this constantly.

8.Always be alert and in a state of anxiety.  Nothing will ever work out for you. Cultivate pessimism.

9.Blame your parents. Your unremitting misery is someone else’s fault.

10.Don’t enjoy life’s pleasures.  Constantly remind yourself the world is a horrible place full of suffering. You don’t deserve pleasure.

11.Ruminate. Maintain a state of constant worry.  Focus on your personality defects and personal problems.  Give free reign to negative thinking and feeling.

12.Glorify or vilify the past.  If you had a wonderful moment as a child it is gone forever.  Or, your whole life has been a terrible ordeal.

13.Find a romantic partner to reform. Be selective.  Choose someone with real behavioral defects.  Perfect scenario for living as a miserable martyr.

14.Be critical.  Be critical of everything.  Get creative about what, when, where and who to criticize.  Offer these opinions to all you meet.

This article can be read in its entirety at:


Update: Rain.  Mendocino County has officially declared a drought.  Sonoma and Marin Counties are asking for voluntary reductions in water usage.


We need it!  This weather year (from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014) is shaping up as a record-setting dry year across most of  California.  Santa Rosa has received 8.71 inches of rain to date compared to an annual average of 32.22 inches.   There are as yet no calls to restrict water usage and the dreaded word ‘drought’  is seldom mentioned in reports on our current predicament.  But it is a looming reality.

Several small, local municipal water systems are running dry.  The  Sierra snow pack is 20% of normal.

There are other consequences.  Air quality is fair to bad, and ‘spare the air days’ are setting records too.   Fire danger remains high as the normally (by now) green rolling hills remain brown and crisp.  Today an unseasonal wildfire is raging in Northern California.

I recently read an article by Peter Crutchley, “Did a prayer meeting really bring down the Berlin Wall and end the Cold War?  Got me to thinking about praying for rain.  

The weather year is not over.  The majority of our rain often falls January through Spring.  Whatever your belief, I invite you to join me in praying for rain.  A wet New Year would be very welcome.


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