Category Archives: Living Right

A Solution to Any Relationship Problem: What Abraham Lincoln Did

The_Peacemakers_1868“You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors…

Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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Why Sacrifice is Good: The Art of Giving Up and Letting Go

blue_realse_clouds_220520_lOne of the biggest things humans have trouble doing is sacrificing.

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The art of giving up and letting go for the long haul seems almost foreign to us. Why, after all, would you give up something of value when you don’t have to? Continue reading

Why Germany is Not the Only Shining Star of the Syrian Crisis

germany refugees
Germany is praised as the shining star of helping Syria.
They have accepted more than 500,000 refugees, and is the sole European country who actively embraced the refugees from nearly the start. They have not only opened their doors, but also rapidly increased their acceptance rate.
There are lines in Austria to get through to Germany.
There are borders at Hungary that say, “No, you can’t enter.”
Yet Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel is actively accepting refugees, publicly endorsing a policy of open doors, and setting up programs to help and integrate the refugees.  More than 6 billion euros will be devoted to the Syrians.
This is in stark contrast to Britain’s agreement to bring in 20,000, and France’s agreement to bring in 22,000 —  which is over a period of two years.
This Isn’t New

Unfortunately, genocides and massive fleeing isn’t new.

During World War I, the Germans invaded Belgium. Thousands of cities, buildings, homes, and lives were destroyed. While more than 200,000 have fled Syria, one million fled Belgium in 1918More than 250,000 came to Britain (Britain was a superb example of welcome).

Armenia was equally devastated.  One million Armenians were killed: Half of their population.  It was what we know today as the first genocide.  Just think if half of your country, your population, your people, your heritage was obliterated.


“I’ve Never Heard Of That” Crisis                                                   __

Then there are refugee crises which we just don’t hear of. Columbia has had four million leaving their homes since the 1960s…that’s 10% of their population. Yet it’s not reported as a crisis because people can’t or aren’t leaving the country.

The Ongoing Refugee Crisis

We seem to forget ongoing refugee status countries. In Iraq, more than 4.7 million have left their homes since the 1980s.  Two million have exited.  They’ve gone to Jordan and Lebanon, which brings to me the next point.

The Crisis Will Quadruple: Twenty Million Need Help

While many people may be ‘getting tired” of hearing about Syria, we are not even close to nearing the end.

More than 4.7 million Syrian refugees have fled.   About a quarter are headed or heading to Europe.  That leaves 75% of Syrians still in need of a new home.  

A daunting, new, rushed move to a new land, new culture, with possible disrespect for their culture, fear of their religion and no work permit.

Potential, temporary food supplies for their families – if they are lucky.

Forget about school for their kids.

For those who have might have the option, one Syrian parent who had migrated to another country spoke of her experience: “I have to ‘un-brainwash’ my ten-year-old every night. What they say in school about history and culture isn’t correct. I don’t like the way he is being taught to think.” (paraphrase)

And sometimes, dirty looks, fear or anger from the local town. “These people aren’t welcome, we don’t know their religion, they are taking my job, and there just isn’t enough [employment].”

This is the new “home” they are forced to seek.  Three million Syrian refugees need it.

Yet 14 million Syrians in-country need safety, food, shelter, schooling and basic survival.   That’s nearly 20 million — not 4 million, who need help. The crisis is quadruple.

So expect the refugees to keep coming.

2012: 100,000

2013: 800,000

Within four months: we added another 800,000 refugees….

We are Ignoring the True Leaders
We should be grateful for Germany’s efforts accepting 500,000 refugees. It is a grand, noble and right commitment.   Yet why are we ignoring the countries who accept refugees ongoing, through no choice of their own?

Nearly two million refugees are in Turkey, a population of 75 million. That means three percent of their population will become Syrian.

More than 1.1 million are in Lebanon, a population of 5 million. Twenty-five percent of their population will become Syrian.

More than 800,000 have fled to Jordan, a population of 6.5 million. Twelve percent of their population will become Syrian.

In Egypt, there are 118,512 Syrian refugees.

In Iraq, there are 245,543 Syrian refugees.

So while Germany is accepting 500,000, their population is over 80 million. It’s less than one percent of their people.  

Countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are the true stars. They accepted refugees from the start. They are completely overwhelmed.  Who has time for policy and political announcements?

They don’t have a choice.  Refugees are streaming across the borders, programs or no programs. Food or no food, health care or no health care, school or no school. The refugees are radically changing a government’s policy and allocation of funds. It revolutionizes a country’s culture, heritage and way of doing things.  Neither Jordan nor Lebanon have a chance to plan or prepare.   They have to accept this new normal, and now.


Be Grateful

And yet, we need to be grateful.  Yes, we need to be grateful for there was a time when no borders were open.

If we look back to 1938, it was at the cusp of World War II. The Germans were aggressively advancing, invading country after country.  They had just taken over Austria. Jews were massively exiting everywhere.

A conference was held in France on what to do. Country leaders were not only concerned about their freedom, but also about their ability to take in the Jewish refugees. Thirty-two country delegates were there.

Yad Vashem describes the situation:

During the conference, it became painfully obvious that no country was willing to volunteer anything. The British delegate claimed that Britain was already fully populated and suffering from unemployment, so it could take in no refugees. His only offer consisted of British territories in East Africa, which could take in small numbers of refugees. The French delegate declared that France had reached “the extreme point of saturation as regards admission of refugees.” Myron C. Taylor, the American delegate, allowed that the United States would make the previously unfilled quota for Germans and Austrians available to these new refugees. Other countries claimed the Depression as their excuse for not accepting refugees. Only the Dominican Republic, a tiny country in the West Indies, volunteered to take in refugees—in exchange for huge amounts of money.

The Evian Conference, France

Adopt Lebanon’s Courage

Thankfully, we aren’t facing such a draconian 1938. More countries are responding. Services are being set up.  Some ongoing life integration programs are germinating.

So if Lebanon can accept that a quarter of their population are Syrians, then we can be courageous, too.  While I am not Catholic, I agree with Pope Francis:

“Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family.”

Jordan and Lebanon are the true shining stars.

Read my next article on what Jordan and Lebanon are doing to cope with the crisis, and embrace their new country.

Lessons for Syria from A Leader’s Battle with An Escalator


Sometimes “You Just Have to Take the Step.”

I just returned from a most fascinating trip in global philanthropy.  I travelled from the UK to Zurich in Switzerland for a discussion on Syria.  Global leaders and funders discussed refugee acceptance, capacity within countries, capacity to change one’s country policy, funding, and… fears.    It was strategic and sincere.   It was two steps back, two steps forward.  There was inspiration — and overwhelm.  


It reminded me of my fear of escalators.   Yes, escalators.   


During this European trip, there was a lot of travel in a short amount of period. I was moving every night or two nights in order to get to all the meetings. That meant a lot of hustling with planes, Lyft, Uber, trains, taxis, shuttles, walking and running!:) Often times it would be a very close call at the airport.  I was traveling alone, hauling bags, scanning foreign language departures, making a connection, and running,  I would face a certain dread: The Escalator.


Yes, “The Escalator”. For some reason when I’m carrying bags, I’m tentative to step on The Escalator.   It seems I’m afraid that I might lose my balance, or my bag might tip me over. Perhaps I won’t get my bag on the step and I’ll fall.


So my heart starts to race.  I try to grab the banister but I don’t have hands to do so, so I’m very shaky.  It’s with a temporary, very temporary, sigh of relief that I get on it.  


The more you wait the worse it gets.   You start to overthink.  ‘Try to time it. Watch the flow of moving steps… maybe here… maybe now… No, I missed it…”  Your mind overthinks, paralyzing you.


But this trip it wasn’t possible.


I had to run to get many airline transfers and there was no time to waste. I literally had to jump on that Escalator.    I schooled my mind: There was nothing inherently wrong with The Escalator. It wasn’t trying to hurt me or trip me. I claimed I was in perfect step with The Escalator’s steps.  I faced it courageously and just took a step.


This small event gave me a greater sense of confidence. That thought kept coming so strongly: “You just have to take the step.”   


Is this important?


You bet it is. Anytime we face fear of any sort there is a time to overcome it. Fear, especially of inanimate objects, can demonstrate power over you and lead to weakness in other areas. Why should you be ruled by it?


Don’t dismiss this important lesson.  This isn’t really about an escalator.  This is about what you are allowing to control your thoughts and your experience.   You deserve to have freedom in your life.



Could this also apply to Syria?  

We can overthink, think, plan, logisticize all we want on Syria.  Many countries don’t have time to plan for any refugees. Refugees are streaming over the borders as we speak. Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey have to jump on the escalator, fear or no fear, plan or no plan.   And they– we– must unite together to address the situation in a smart, caring, loving, open way.   


“You just have to take the step.”


Now I look forward to The Escalator –  my friend. He’s going to transport me more quickly and in a kind way.  Maybe we can view the same with the refugee crisis.   As tough as it is, taking one step to accept a refugee can bring us to a kinder, gentler, more united world.  A world less based on fear and more on harmony.


Is there something holding you back today? How might you overcome it?


I’m so grateful to travel free: Both in the sure step of my foot and in peacefulness in my heart.  I encourage us all to do the same with the refugee crisis.   Or find a fear in your life, conquer it, and be free.  



Everyday, Something New


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If you look at every day as revealing something new,  then your life will be filled with joy. 

It is that simple.

There is no “same old, same old”…

There is no humdrum.  There is no “boring”.

In fact, “boring” was a swear word according to my beloved Oma. My grandmother was a prolific influence in my life. She was the first female woodwind at the Juilliard School for Music in New York and she was extremely perseverant in making her career happen. You can read more about her in the New York Times, or about her influence on my life.

My Oma was Frances Blaisdell, and she took nothing for granted. She worked very hard. She accepted every performance, large or small, performing to two hundred people — or two. In her mind, everyone deserved a performance.

My Oma experienced the Depression, but my Oma’s work ethic was due more than just to a time in our economy.

She loved to work. She grew up on a farm and they had to do a lot of canning of beans, peas, jams, and jellies in order to save for the winter time. While it was a lot of work, she knew it had to be done.

Later, when she had to work really hard on the flute, it was an absolute joy! She would rather practice than do canning, any day.

Hard work often makes us appreciate the work that we love. 


However, sometimes we face tasks that we don’t enjoy. Yet there is always something new to be learned. If you feel as if you are involved in drudgery, then why not think about the future vision of your life. If a task seems similar, then try it a different way. If you drive to work the same way everyday, find a different route, cook a different recipe, try a new yoga class.  Don’t just accept life as it is.

Life has glorious gifts, every day! Every day!

Every day we need to be grateful for what we can learn, experience, or be involved with.

Every day has something special, whether it is the kind outreach to the homeless person you passed by, a sweet smile to a co-worker, or a beloved call to your mother.

Don’t let the day pass without letting something special and new happen.

If you look for it, every day has something new to learn or a new way to give.

Don’t miss it…

This is a photo of me performing with my grandmother, Frances Blaisdell, my mom Alexandra Hawley, and me at age 10. It was my debut at Stanford.  I was so grateful for  my long dress as I was shaking.


Some of You Might Not Want to Vote This Year

Some of You Might Not Want to Vote This Year.   I understand. It’s not an easy landscape and can be daunting. Sometimes the people we want leading the country, won’t run. The candidates we want to stay in, drop out.   Or sometimes the candidates we like, change their views.
I’m hearing some people murmur, “I don’t even want to vote.”  iran-elections-ppl-voting.jpg
But we can’t take it for granted.
The Iranian women don’t.
In a landmark election, Iranians chose between President Hassan Rouhani, or other Iranian politicos tougher on the U.S. and the West.   This would determine the tone of Iranian leadership to come within the country.
55 million people in Iran are eligible to vote.
Women lined up around the polling site, nearly 80 miles south of the capitol.
And there was a 73% turnout rate.
The Iranian people care about their future.  So should we. Register to vote. And if you think you might be gone traveling, please get an absentee ballot. I do that just so I can stay on top of it.
Please don’t take it for granted…you have a voice. Please use it.  We have a freedom we should not dismiss.

The Grass Is Greenest Where You Water It

rice-field-387715_640“The grass is greenest where you water it. Successful couples have learned to resist the grass is greener myth – i.e. someone else will make me happy. They have learned to put their energy into making themselves and their marriage better.”

-Mitch Temple

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Let’s be focused on how green we can make our grass!

Truly wouldn’t that be lovely?  If we all focused on what we have — the wonderful family or our friends who are like family; the job, or the opportunity to explore something new; the husband or the opportunity to date and find the right person – what a joy-filled world we would have!  And a joyful world starts with each one of our own little worlds. Continue reading