Category Archives: The Bridge to I Am

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The Love of an Aunt: Call me “Ellie”

My Beautiful Aunt Gilda died on her birthday, yesterday at 2:00 PM. She passed with amazing grace, and my perimagesonal loss is deep. You see, my Aunt was a caring mother to me in every way. I was blessed to have her as a role model, a mentor, a confidante and a source of unconditional love.

Aunts have the power to play that kind of role in the lives of their nieces and nephews. They have the power to fill what otherwise might have been an empty space, a void, in the life of a child. My Auntie stepped up to that fill that space for me and I am all the better for it. She’s wearing the captain’s hat in the picture; she would guide me through a lot of stormy weather and she never abandoned ship.

Perhaps the most beautiful gift my aunt bestowed upon my was my name. My birth name is Elena, but it was my Aunt always who always endearingly called me “Ellie”. When I turned 18, she took me with her, my Uncle and my cousin on a trip to Italy. She just about let me run wild there. It was a life transforming trip and I returned back to the states as “Ellie” forevermore.

Thank you Aunt Gilda for my name, for being My Captain and for the gift of your love. I will feel for you in the space around me. I know you are right there. RIP

 


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The Bystander Effect

I just read a book that described the research behind the Bystander Effect. It is a disturbing phenomenon, indeed, and it has been empirically proven in many studies. The misconception most of us hold is that when someone has been hurt, witnesses will rush to their aid. The sad truth is the more people who witness a person in distress, the less likely it is that any one person within the group of witnesses will help.

The line of thinking in the Bystander Effect is that if one person , alone, sees someone in  trouble, he or she will feel compelled to help. If three or more people are witnessing someone in trouble, each supposes someone else in the group will help and so the individual abdicates his or her personal responsibility to step in. According to David McRaney, author of You are Not So Smart, the Bystander Effect has cost plenty of victims either their physical and/or emotional well-being. In many cases, by-standing has caused victims their lives, while others looked on.

I can personally relate to the Bystander Effect. When I was traveling in Florence, Italy, I was unaccustomed to the uneven cobblestone walkways. Upon exiting my hotel, I tripped just outside the entrance and went down sprawling onto the sidewalk. I hurt my knee and could not immediately get up. The number of pedestrians who literally climbed over me was astounding. Scores of them. Not one person offered help. I don’t remember what hurt worse: the injury to my knee or the shame of being ignored via apathy. I think the latter. Gosh. How do some people sleep at night?

I believe that the Bystander Effect needs to be considered as seriously as leaving the scene of an accident or leaving the scene of a crime. If it was our civic and legal responsibility to help someone in need, perhaps there would be less bullying, less domestic abuse, less hate crimes, less assaults, fewer injuries and fewer victims. Why do you think people abuse or bully other people? …because they can!

I have decided that by-standing someone in distress is officially not part of my behavioral repertoire. If I see someone being mistreated or in danger, I want to act in some way to be of aid to the victim. In my opinion, not only is it the moral choice; it is my honor to be of service to another who may be in distress. Give it some thought. What stand do you take?


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Mother’s Day and Mythology

Mother’s Day is typically celebrated for loving mothers everywhere. The day is dedicated for remembering all the sacrifices and kindnesses mothers, old and young, have demonstrated to their offspring.

But for many children, Mother’s Day is a myth. It is a fantasy; an idea or illusion a child wistfully carries in their mind, but never truly experienced. The population of these children who are older, are the ones who linger by the Hallmark cards for long periods of time: reading and replacing; reading and replacing. They finally settle for some benign message that ultimately says “Have a Nice Day”, but nothing more. This blog is dedicated to all those children. There are plenty of them out there and, for them, Mother’s Day can trigger some powerfully painful emotions.

The children who contend with Mother’s Day Mythology are usually the children who have not received love via compassion from their moms. They may have been overtly or covertly abused. They may have been overtly or covertly neglected. They may have even received some virtuous traits from their mom’s role modeling, but they still suffer. Many are in therapy or many need to be. Sad children, young and old, affected by insensitive mothers and who may now struggle with attachment challenges, low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, …too many adverse effects to list here.

Here is what I want to say to children who have not yet risen above their maternal yearning:

  • You are a lovable and valuable human being.
  • You are whole and nothing is missing.
  • You have special gifts and talents that deserve to be encouraged.
  • You deserve unconditional love and regard.
  • You are not to blame because your Mom struggled in her parental role; she probably wasn’t mothered very well, herself.
  • You are not to blame that you may not have loving feelings for your Mother.
  • You can blame your Mother every which way from Mother’s Day and it won’t change a thing for you, unless you change.
  • You can grieve the loss of a loving mother, whether your Mom is alive or not.
  • You can still find a loving mother-symbol in other relationships.
  • You can still be a wonderful Mother, even if you didn’t have one.
  • You can forgive your Mother and release yourself from the myth.
  • You have strength, wisdom, determination and fortitude as a direct result of your painful mother-experience.
  • You have everything it takes to be your own loving mother.

I humbly and respectfully invite any child of this particular experience to add to this list. I am certain there are many more attributes to be shared. You deserve to be heard on Mother’s Day.

If you have or had the gift of a loving mother, please take a minute and send some loving thoughts to all the children who wish they did too.

Thank you for reading my blog and Happy Mother’s Day.


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Love and the Long Hot Summer

I live in the desert and have had to endure many long, hot summers; sweltering heat that you can literally see waving within your field of vision. Summer in the desert is not for the faint-hearted: heat so intense that when you open the door, it feels like you are walking into a blow torch. Your car becomes a kiln and you dry up like a prune.

Then, there is the monsoon. Suddenly, a tsunami of dust can envelop you with shearing winds. This is sometimes followed by torrential rains and subsequent flash flooding. If you can’t escape to a more temperate zone, one of the few remaining ways to cope with the intensity of a long hot summer in the desert is to see the meaning in it. So, here goes.

Sometimes our love-relationships are like the long, hot desert summer. Loving someone can be searing with burning passion. Conversely, it can include dry spells that leave us, as partners, quenching for replenishment.  Love can predictably kick up an incredible amount of old dust that overwhelms us and makes it hard to see and even harder to breathe. It can involve the collision of two volatile fronts that create a micro burst of exceptional energy. Loving someone can build-up a climate of thick, soupy emotional pressure that culminates with a torrid thunderstorm of upset, followed by a flood of cleansing tears and a calming, cooling-down.

Seasons of loving someone. Our love-relationships can, at times, be like the desert’s long, hot summer.


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Relationships: Disappointment Redefined

Here is an article coauthored with my colleague, Vicki Carpel Miller, B.S.N., L.M.F.T.

Disappointment occurs so frequently in the area of dating and love relationships; a person deserves to experience it as a blessing rather than a burden.  The key to this shift in perception rests in conscious and gentle decision-making when dealing with unsatisfying relationships so that you can effectively use disappointment rather than allow disappointment to use you.

Conventionally, disappointment signifies some form of personal betrayal or failure in the fulfillment of your life goals and hopes.  Disappointing dating or relationship scenarios can happen with certain predictability.  An online prospect backs out of a date at the last-minute; you find out after the fact that your boyfriend has been previously married and didn’t disclose this information to you; your partner goes back to a former lover; you find that your wife is a closet alcoholic; the person you’ve been dating asks you for a loan after 2 weeks; you overhear a woman at the health club talking about her last evening’s date with your boyfriend; your spouse is having an extramarital affair. At these relationship crossroads, you are spiritually challenged to integrate the ensuing disappointment with a style that does not lessen faith in yourself as a valued and lovable person.

While disappointment is typically defined as a betrayal or failure, the etymology of the word itself actually denotes the state of not being appointed or chosen.  When you utilize this definition from the spiritual side of your personality, you can perceive a far more empowering picture. Please read on.

A “calling” while dating or participating in an ongoing relationship serves a higher purpose in human interconnectedness.  You are here to positively touch the lives of certain people and you are not here to touch the life of everyone who comes your way.  When a potential partner goes on to someone else, you can precariously judge it as your failure and your betrayal, or you can embrace the universal perspective that it is everyone’s success when someone feels connected with another.  You can then perceive it as acceptable that another person is the chosen one for that particular other.  Concurrrently, you are obviously the chosen one for someone else who is only waiting for you to free yourself of negative self-talk so they may openly be invited into your sphere of influence.

It is important to stay conscious of the spiritual nature of relationships which is to be in connection with others.  When disappointment occurs against this frame of reference, you can utilize it to peacefully let go of someone you may love, but who would be better served elsewhere.  In so doing, you simultaneously magnetize and attract to yourself the person who is a better match for you.  Have a little faith in yourself, redefine your disappointment and you may very well be chosen.