Albert’s CTCT Reviews

CTCT Marketplace reviews:

Albert is an Email Expert!

by PeteL77 on 07/06/2014

If you’re looking for friendly, expert help with your Constant Contact and other marketing needs, look no further. Albert has taught me many email marketing tricks and shared the down-low on many of Constant Contact’s special features, including Surveys, Segmenting, and Template design. Albert is willing to sit down and literally walk you through everything, step by step, at your own pace, and on your own time requirements. Highly recommended Constant Contact Expert!


Constant Contact is great!

by Downtown Boise Association on 07/21/2020

We use Constant Contact for all public and membership newsletters, surveys, and contact databases. Never any issues!


Grateful for working with Albert!

by SteveH730 on 07/10/2020

Albert has been a wonderful coach, advisor, and all-around champion for our organization for several years. He brings energy and enthusiasm to all of his work and provides thoughtful and encouraging advice when we need it most. We have been lucky to work with Albert over the years and recommend him highly for his creativity, excellent skills in marketing, and commitment to the community. Thanks, Albert!


Conversation With Albert

by LarryJ345 on 06/28/2020

As an entrepreneur I get to work, study, and teach all types of people oftentimes our personalities don’t match but sometimes they do. That’s the case with Albert he has a sort of soft-spoken way he shares information with his clients that allows them to relax and absorb his message. I had the privilege of interviewing Albert on one of my Zoom Interviews and since that time we’ve been able to share content back and forth in emails and I continue to learn from his many years of experience and wisdom.


A true marketing professional and coach

by US_Archive on 08/21/2019

Albert is a master at keeping things simple and understandable. I’m just getting going again with Constant Contact and his advice has been well taken. He has also helped to make me feel more comfortable about including some of my personal feelings about climate change, Puget Sound, etc., into my business messages. Why not…


CC demystified: Albert knows Constant Contact like the back of his hand

by kymbo1 on 07/30/2019

I’ve worked with Albert for over 4 years attending workshops, one on one with CC, and in a few different PDX communities. He has a very calming presence that is critical in learning something new and techy. Albert has helped me see how easy it is to use CC and he is very patient and empathetic with me, as I struggle with dyslexia as well. Thanks, Albert. I look forward to another session with you soon. Kim Gordon Cumbo


Working with Albert Kaufman

by MarkB952 on 01/23/2019

I’ve worked with Albert for years and he’s a great resource, teacher, and go-to guy for not only Constant Contact emails but for social media strategies in general. From a workshop on email marketing I attended in his living room years ago to the larger workshops he leads now, Albert always has helpful tips and shortcuts to take you to the next level, wherever you are. I highly recommend Albert…


Wow, what a jewel!

by Parrish_Books on 11/14/2018

I sent an email asking if I could hire Albert to help me with the newsletter I always struggle to create. I was prepared to pay for his time but he immediately jumped in and got me headed in the right direction with a free consultation I was not expecting. (I was wrapping a book order when he responded so quickly so I dropped everything and listened to what he had to say. And I am glad I did.) I think I am going to finagle some of his time to make other improvements in our business approach to media. Whatever he charges will be more than worth it. Thanks, Albert.


Charles Baldwin

by charlesb680 on 09/04/2018

Albert is the reason we subscribe to Constant Contact. He is a knowledgeable professional in all facets of online communication. He listens well, is able to pinpoint problems and recommend solutions, is always available when a need arises, and he is creative. I cannot think of enough superlatives to describe this man. Find time to meet him and he will not disappoint.


Terrific coach and champion

by SteveH730 on 09/04/2018

We have been blessed to work with Albert Kaufman as our email marketing coach and promoter. He has coached me over the years to produce newsletters with a growing readership and reminded me of features and new products that we could use to strengthen our message. Plus, he’s a real champion for our mission and programs. Special thanks to Albert for all his support and encouragement!



by JenniferG27 on 09/01/2018

Albert was super fast and helpful! He gave us some great ideas for getting more opens and clicks and they worked. When we need email help, we call Albert!


genuinely helpful

by PaulL488 on 08/30/2018

Albert has always generously offered his support and insight in a way that is truly helpful to someone like me, who is not overly fluent in computer matters. Albert has an expanded sense of vision, in that he is very interested in supporting people and projects that will benefit the greater good.


Love working with Albert Kaufman

by StephenH067 on 08/22/2016

Albert is an excellent advisor on email marketing, surveys, and broader communications strategies. He listens well, provides sound advice, and genuinely cares about our success. He also provides recommendations on how we can enhance our outreach and communications, and he is willing to provide hands-on support. It’s been a true privilege working with Albert! Thanks! Steve Higgs SAGE Executive Director


Excellent Marketing Coach

by NigelL83 on 08/05/2016

Albert listened to my story when I first contacted him with great interest and has helped me understand the basics of email marketing. We are about to launch our first campaign. I could not have a better guide to assist me. Thanks, Albert.


Countless Helpful Suggestions!

by SteveB9336 on 08/04/2016

“I first met Albert at the Oregon Country Fair in 2015, and he immediately had some useful suggestions as to how to make my newsletters more small-screen friendly, and more appealing in general. Since that time, he has offered countless helpful suggestions that have led to more compelling communications and a happier and more vital list. He also reinforced the benefits of my own humorous “Daily Laughsitive” feature by doing one of his own, Song A Day. Steve Bhaerman Author, comedian


So helpful

by KellyA060 on 04/02/2021

I’ve been a Constant Contact customer for nine years and have been very pleased with all the services. I needed to take my marketing to the next level and I’m a one-woman show and not super tech savvy so tend to hesitate when it comes to learning how to navigate new things. I scheduled a consult with Albert and it was so helpful! Very hands-on and I not only better understand the systems I wanted to start using but also got several great little nuggets that he showed me. Really appreciate this service!


Finances and Debt

Finances and DebtDragon

I got turned onto The 4-hour Work Week years ago. It helped guide me in so many ways and I spent a year closely listening to Tim Ferris as he began an amazing podcast series which has since gone on to be the #1 business podcast many years running, I believe. Tim spent all this time interviewing many people who run the companies we all use every day. This podcast shares all sorts of ideas, but one that regularly comes up is reducing debt and ways to do that.

Really, the key thing I’ve learned is to try to avoid getting into debt in the first place. But if that’s not possible then reducing your debt takes precedence over other things. If you consider the interest one pays for keeping credit card debt you can see that that can quickly add up over time and can definitely weigh on you in many ways. A way I was able to pay off my college and grad school student loans was by taking a job in the high-tech sector for a couple of years. It was boring work, but it paid very well. Once I had my loans paid off I moved away from that sector mostly. I realize this is not possible for everyone, but if you do have debt figuring out ways to reduce and eliminate it will help you out greatly. I’ll never forget the day I paid off my loans and the smile that crept over my face when I realized I was done with the monthly payments.

I wonder if that’s partly why I’ve been unwilling to start down the road to home ownership. Or, home moanership as I hear it referred to, often. I do think I’ll own a home at some point, but up till now the goal as evaded me. I was actually close, once – during the time I was working for those high-tech companies. I qualified for a $400,000 loan, but I was pretty sure my time in Seattle was coming to a close. Had I bought a house then it probably would have doubled in value in the last 20 years, but what can you do?

Back to debt and finances. Another wonderful resource in this area is Mr. Money Mustache. His tagline is “Early Retirement through Badassery”, and he really walks his talk. I think I’ve learned more about life and how to live a good one from Mr. Money Mustache than any other source. I recommend signing up for his newsletter. It comes out very infrequently, but often has something interesting and different to say about living in our society. One of his main themes is about how to live a high-quality life through things like – killing your commute; what kind of car or truck to buy; the types of phones and phone plans that are out there and his encouragement for us all to learn to repair what we own vs. paying someone else to do it or buying new things.

So, what are your thoughts about debt and finances? If you’ve got anything to add please leave a comment below – especially if you have any great stories when it comes to this topic. I’ve learned a lot over the years from peoples’ comments on my writing and I hope that continues as long as I live.  Thanks for reading and enjoy the day!


Albert Kaufman, 7.19.21


Building Neighborhood Resiliency

Stronger Neighborhoods

This is a list of items from a post I started in 2016 on Building Neighborhood Resiliency. If you have more resources, please send them along. Thanks.

Building Neighborhood Resiliency

As the snow is here – in Australia it looks warm and sunny 🙂 I just got this newsletter from an Australian group called Good Hoods. (2022 – not sure they still exist)

Here’s what they wrote:

“Dear Albert, During the recent Discovery Tour around Australia we met some great people and heard about amazing initiatives working to build community connection and resilience. We now have a network of passionate resilience experts, including yourself, and together we believe we can create a nation that is ready for anything. Following the tour, we have been thinking through how we can continue to help people connect and come together. We know that resilience is a process and something that grows over time. One of the first steps we all can take is to connect with others so we feel a sense of belonging. That’s why we are launching Good ‘Hoods – a new initiative to help create connections and a sense of pride in where you live. We want to connect people who want to work together to create more resilient communities, and share initiatives so the good continues to grow. We have shared some of the great initiatives from the tour that you may want to replicate in your community, see a sneak peek below:

Street BBQ: there’s nothing like a good BBQ to bring people together. We’re encouraging our people to say that first hello to their neighbors this summer, and we want to share the resources with you too. To help get you to get started we’re giving the first 200 to register their own street BBQ a $50 supermarket voucher. These first resources are based on what we heard would be helpful.

Sincerely, Jacki Johnson
Group Executive People,
Performance and Reputation Insurance Australia Group

SNEAK PEEK One of the great initiatives we heard about. Learn about this and others on the Good ‘Hoods website. In 2010 and 2012, floods devastated Uranquinty. So a local group, Progress Association, worked with the NSW SES to devise a disaster response plan to minimize damage from future floods. Find out more.


Interesting, I just found this collection of recently collated resources on this topic, today.

Related, this just in. Nick Licata was an incredible member of the Seattle City Council.

This comes from Jim Diers, who used to be the head of the Dept. of Neighborhoods in Seattle and who’s gone on to do great work & writing…


Jim Diers Community Builder

A fundamental principle of community organizing is to start where the people are. The closer you engage people to where they live, the more likely they are to get involved. You should be able to get successively larger turnouts for gatherings at the neighborhood, city, state, and national levels, but the percentage of the population engaged will most likely be the highest at the street, block, building, or floor level. Why? Because the farther the action is from where someone lives, the more likely they are to expect others to take responsibility. If it’s on their street, however, who will step up if they don’t? Logistics like transportation and child care are so much easier. And, their participation will generate peer pressure for the rest of the neighbors to join in. Most importantly, neighbors are likely to enjoy immediate and ongoing benefits from their participation due to the small scale and the relationships that are built with people who are so accessible. There’s no need to expend energy on bylaws, minutes, treasurer’s reports, nominating committees, and Roberts Rules of Order; the focus is on community.

The Opzoomeren Movement

I recently witnessed the potential of block organizing in Rotterdam where the Opzoomeren movement has taken hold. It started in 1994 when the residents of Opzoomer Street got fed up waiting for the local government to address problems of crime and blight. They came to realize that there was much that the neighbors themselves could do, and they decided to take action. Today, about 1600 streets are following their example. Neighbors come together to do whatever is most important to them whether that is caring for latchkey children and housebound elders, planting trees and gardens, or organizing street parties. Because half of Rotterdam’s population is immigrants, neighbors are often engaged in teaching one another Dutch. On many of the streets, neighbors have gathered to discuss how they can best support one another. They develop a code of conduct that is prominently displayed on a large sign. No two signs are the same although there are some frequent themes.

A typical sign reads 1. We say hello and welcome new neighbors. 2. We take part in all kinds of street activities. 3. We help each other with childcare. 4. We keep our neighborhood clean and safe.

Each May, all of the streets celebrate Opzoomeren Day. In order to be recognized as part of the movement, a street must undertake at least four events or projects each year. An Opzoomeren bus is available for neighbors to use as a pop-up café, gallery, workshop site, or whatever.

The Limitation of Block/Neighborhood Watch Programs

Of course, street-level organizing is not a new idea. Practically everywhere I go, there are long-standing crime prevention groups known as block or neighborhood watch. Seattle has had one of the most successful block-watch programs. First organized in 1972, the Police Department now claims that approximately 3000 blocks, or 30% of the city, are participating. In August of each year, about 1400 block parties are held in observance of National Night Out Against Crime. The shortcoming of the program, however, is its singular focus on crime. Neighbors typically get engaged when it is too late – after there have been house break-ins or other safety issues. They call the Police Department for support and are taught how to install security systems and watch out for strangers. After that initial meeting, the group often becomes dormant until there is another crime wave. Police departments typically fail to understand that the safest blocks are the ones that focus not on safety but on building community. Rather than simply teach people how to be secure in their homes and watch for strangers, residents should be encouraged to get out of their homes and connect with neighbors on a regular basis. It is much more sustainable for people to engage with one another around their wide range of interests rather than the police department’s narrow public safety agenda. That’s another key aspect of starting where the people are.

In recognition of this, New Zealand’s program has morphed from neighborhood watch to Neighborhood Support. Neighbors Provide Mutual Support There is so much that neighbors can do to connect with one another and provide mutual support. Emergency planning is one such activity. Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel told me that one of the most important lessons from their devastating earthquakes was the importance of neighbors knowing one another. With limited emergency workers and many impassable roads, most Christchurch residents were totally dependent on the skills, resources, and care of their neighbors in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes. I now live on Vashon Island, Washington which is highly susceptible to earthquakes. Over 200 groups of five to fifteen households each have self-organized in this rural community in order to develop and implement emergency plans. Frequent power outages and other winter storm damage provide ample opportunity to practice mutual support. On our street, for example, some neighbors used their chainsaws to remove downed trees while others prepared a kind of stone soup; the ingredients came from everyone’s thawing freezers and the stew was prepared and served in a warm house equipped with a generator.

Fortunately, we didn’t need the skills and knowledge of the physician who is also part of our group. There are so many other ways in which neighbors can support one another on a daily basis. On some streets, elders have buddies who check on them each day and provide the transportation and maintenance that enables them to stay in their homes. And, for young parents, there are babysitting cooperatives. Neighbors share their expertise with one another whether that involves technology, recycling, gardening, auto mechanics, or whatever. I visited a street in Garland, Texas where many of the neighbors worked in the construction trades – there was at least one carpenter, plumber, electrician, bricklayer, and roofer. They conducted regular work parties to help one another with their house projects. Those who lacked the skills to help with construction prepared lunch or supervised the children. A couple of the neighbors had built bars in their back yards so that everyone could socialize after a day of work.

The Value of Bumping Places

Gathering spaces are essential to building community. I like to call them bumping places because the best way to build relationships is to have places where neighbors can bump into one another on a regular basis. The closer those bumping places are to where you live, the more likely it is that you will continually bump into the same people. There are many opportunities to create bumping places on a street. A vacant lot or underutilized yard can be converted into a community garden or pocket park. A little free library combined with a bench becomes an instant bumping place.

In the Taiwan village of Tugo, residents have turned their front yards into small parks with tables that are shared with their neighbors. I met a man in Matsudo, Japan who had given up his valuable private parking place in order to redevelop it as a community gathering place complete with seating, fountain, and artwork created by the children of the neighborhood. In the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, neighbors converted their intersection into what they call Share-It Square, a most unusual bumping place. They painted a large mural in the intersection in order to slow traffic and provide a sense of place. Then, at each corner, they built a cob structure including a bench, a community bulletin board, a children’s playhouse, and a place where people can deposit and retrieve all sorts of free items. There is also a stand for a thermos of hot tea that entices neighbors to sip and talk together.

The Share-It Square neighbors didn’t seek the city’s permission before they painted the intersection, because they knew they wouldn’t get it. The project has been so successful, though, that the City of Portland now permits similar projects in other neighborhoods. And, the idea of painting intersections has spread around the world from the Cathedral neighborhood in Sioux Falls to the Riccarton neighborhood of Christchurch.

Connecting Neighbors through Events

Events are another way to connect neighbors at the street level. On the Fourth of July in Tacoma, Washington, residents are encouraged to barbeque in their front yards as a way of welcoming neighbors to join them. In other places, neighbors are invited to watch movies projected onto the side of someone’s house. Several rural communities in Australia have festivals in which all of the households along the road are encouraged to create unique scarecrows out of straw; neighbors walk the road together enjoying one another’s creativity. In Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario, there are several neighborhoods in which the houses have large front porches. They hold annual concerts featuring a band on each porch. Neighbors are invited to sit on the lawn and enjoy the music. I attended one such event that featured 44 bands with very different styles of music playing on 22 porches over the course of an afternoon.

Building Blocks for Larger Civic Action

Street-level organizing can produce the building blocks needed for larger civic action. Some neighborhood associations develop a broad base of participation by having their board members elected from each street. The street representative’s job is to ensure good two-way communication and to mobilize their constituency as needed. The City of Redmond, Washington used this decentralized approach to maximize public input into policy decisions. Rather than rely solely on the testimony of the “usual suspects” who attend public hearings, they produced videos on key issues under consideration. Those videos were made available for house meetings at the block level and the ensuing discussions engaged people who would never think of speaking in the city council chambers. Feedback from the house meetings helped inform decision-making by elected officials.

Oftentimes, the best way to build a campaign is house by house and block by block. For example, on the issue of climate change, neighbors can be given a menu of actions for reducing their family’s carbon footprint. Each action is worth a certain number of points. If the family can demonstrate sufficient points, they are given a yard sign identifying them as a green household. When green signs start spreading up and down the street, everyone is more likely to want to get on board. Similar approaches have been utilized in creating drug-free, nuclear-free, and hate-free zones. One of the best things about block organizing and one of the greatest challenges is that the neighbors often have more differences (e.g. race, culture, age, religion, politics, career) than are likely to be found in other types of communities that are organized around a common identity or interest. Some local places celebrate the unity of their diversity through common signage.

The residents of the Croft Place apartments in Seattle’s Delridge neighborhood did that as each family painted a placard hung above their door featuring their name and representing their culture. Similarly, on a street in Taiwan’s Taoyuan City, each household has a placard depicting the kind of work that their family does. In Roombeek, a suburb of Enschede in the Netherlands, houses on one street each have a display case showcasing what is special about the family that lives there. Agencies as Facilitators of Local Connections Street organizing works best when it starts with the interests of the residents themselves, but there is a role that outside agencies can play in helping to foster connections. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, for example, a community development corporation trained interested residents on how to build a block organization. Upon completion of the training, the participants were given vouchers to acquire the ingredients for three dinners that they hosted for their neighbors. Over dinner, they discussed their dreams, challenges and gifts and developed plans for supporting one another. The resulting block organizations also proved to be a good vehicle for voter registration and turnout.

In Portland, Oregon, a non-profit called City Repair provides a mobile bumping place known as the T-Horse. When the converted van arrives on a street, gigantic wings are installed on either side of the T-Horse to provide protection from sun or rain. Inside the van, they make tea and serve it to the neighbors who sit on cushions under the wings and get to know one another.

Many cities make it very difficult to organize street parties due to the time and expense involved in acquiring the required food handling and street closure permits. But some local governments, like Airdrie and Grande Prairie, Alberta and Burlington, Ontario, realize that they have an interest in building community. They make the regulatory process as simple as possible and even supply block party toolkits that include equipment and/or money to help with the event. The City of Seattle has a Small Sparks fund which facilitates residents who feel isolated to connect with their neighbors. For example, one mother and her child with disabilities used the money to purchase a wagon that they pulled door to door as a magazine exchange. Another individual noticed that all of the falling apples on her street were attracting rats, so she purchased a press and invited her neighbors to help make cider. A lonely senior in a high-rise apartment invited the neighbors in the surrounding houses to the community room on the top floor where they had a great time folding paper airplanes and tossing them out the window.

Many cities throughout the world sponsor a Neighbor Day as a way to encourage and celebrate caring neighbors. Among other things, the City of Seattle organizes a contest for students to depict pictures of caring neighbors. The winning entry gets printed on the cover of a greeting card and the inside message simply says, “Thank you, neighbor!” Thousands of people utilize these cards as an excuse to visit their neighbors and let them know that they are appreciated.

Building community in dense, high-rise housing can be challenging, but again, agencies can play a role in facilitating connections. Over 80 percent of Singapore’s population lives in multi-story buildings constructed and managed by the Housing Development Board (HDB). HDB has made community building a priority. They include community gathering spaces in their developments and make funds available to support community-driven place-making projects. An annual Buildathon trains practitioners on how to work in ways that are community-led, and a Community Week recognizes good neighbors and exemplary community projects.

A promising, relatively new tool for block organizing is the Abundant Community Initiative being implemented by the City of Edmonton and other municipalities. Utilizing a strengths-based approach, Block Connectors are recruited and trained to have conversations that uncover the gifts, needs, passions, and dreams of their neighbors. The information and relationships that emerge through this process lead to the formation of interest and activity groups, skills exchanges, and a vision for the neighborhood. The work is done under the auspices of the local community leagues and helps them to be more deeply rooted in each of their neighborhoods. Thus, neighborhood associations and agencies alike are learning that a top-down approach to citizen engagement doesn’t work. If you really want to get broad and inclusive participation, you need to start where people are – as close to their home and their heart as possible. Of course, starting where people are also entails starting with their language and culture and with their pre-existing networks, but those are topics for future blogs.

Albert: “I love this paragraph: “Police departments typically fail to understand that the safest blocks are the ones that focus not on safety but on building community. Rather than simply teach people how to be secure in their homes and watch for strangers, residents should be encouraged to get out of their homes and connect with neighbors on a regular basis. It is much more sustainable for people to engage with one another around their wide range of interests rather than the police department’s narrow public safety agenda. That’s another key aspect of starting where the people are. In recognition of this, New Zealand’s program has morphed from neighborhood watch to Neighborhood Support.”
This fellow from Eugene passed away last April 2016. It’s good to read about people who spent their lives making a difference in their communities. “Wilde says, “Most of his background and activism centered around community resilience. How can our communities be as strong and resilient as possible? How are we operating within our communities to make it accessible and equitable for all its members?”
this one just in from the UK. Good to know there is good change happening in the world. “Across the country, community-owned pubs are hosting activities like massage, lullabies for babies and financial advice. Could this model save Britain’s locals?”
This looks like an interesting conference in this vein. I’m glad to know things like this are happening. I am curious if anything like it is happening closer to home. And, if not…. hmmmm
I’ve been thinking about ways we can recover from Eagle Creek and other wildfires. One way to do that and make some friends at the same time is to plant trees. Here’s the latest news from Friends of Trees.
Here’s a new Permaculture resource: Andrew Millison: I am sharing a free open source textbook I wrote for my Advanced Permaculture Design for Climate Resilience course. This book is essentially about climate classification systems, climate change projections, finding analogous climates to your own around the world, and how to design for resilience from extreme climate and weather events. Please feel free to check it out and I hope it can be helpful to you! Here’s the table of contents: Part 1: Climate Assessment Climate Climate Classification Systems The Climate Analogue Tool Climate Analogue Examples Climate Change Projections Climate Change Analogue Climate Change Analogue Examples Part 2: Design Strategies for Climate Resilience Drought, Heat, and Erratic Rainfall Wildfire Tropical Cyclone Effects Sea Level Rise and Flooding
Introducing the Eco-School Network We’re thrilled to launch the Eco-School Network as a nonprofit that equips parents and students in Northwest Oregon to lead the change toward sustainability. After incubation through the Center for Earth Leadership, our stellar parent leaders now engage 25,000 students/year in preserving a healthy environment for all through school gardens, waste reduction, and walk and bike to school programs.
We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community: Our book is part of an emerging “gift culture” worldview. It is a manual for designing a personal community based on the gifts that each person brings. Focusing on non-residential, place-based, and committed community, we present tools to support and fortify the longing of the human heart for intimate, conscious connection. Indiegogo happening till end of today!–2#/
I’m not exactly sure where to file this. And, what we as a neighborhood could collectively do to stem the impact of climate change. Drive smaller cars? Stop driving altogether? Leave trees standing? Stop using gas-powered leaf blowers? Walk more. Bike more. Take the bus more. Stop ordering from Amazon. Buy local. Buy nothing. Anyway, this article got me thinking.
Here’s an article on why kids playing outside is a good thing.
A new world record was set by India planting millions of trees in one day. I wonder if Oregon could beat this record? “1.5 Million Volunteers Plant 66 Million Trees in 12 Hours, Breaking Guinness World Record”
—————- – thanks to my neighbor, Jamie, for this reference. There is no one coming to save us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Our lives and our cities are shaped by the forces of global capital, which can only produce social oppression and ecological destruction. To address these persistent issues, we’re building resilient networks of cooperation – block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood – to determine the conditions of our existence together.
an interesting documentary. Added to my watchlist.
This seems a good place for this. Improving our emotional health will build our community. And lead to better health for ourselves, too.
———————– The 100 things challenge | Dave Bruno | TEDxClaremontColleges Dave is the author of The 100 Thing Challenge, a book that documents his challenge to live with less than 100 personal items for a year. Dave challenges our conceptualization of The American Dream and asks us what is truly necessary to live a fulfilled and happy life. – I found this after reading The Art of Non-Conformity (great book!)
Thanks, Greta!

I’m not sure exactly where this one goes, but it’s such a sweet way to connect with your neighbors.

Here’s something that’s happening on this topic in SF.

This article just got shared on LinkedIn. Seems relevant today and going forward. HOW TO BE EXPERIENTIAL DURING A TIME OF ISOLATION

This looks very useful right now.

Staying Safe and Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Friends of the UCLA Longevity Center, I hope that all of you are safe and healthy during the challenging coronavirus pandemic. The Longevity Center has transitioned the Senior Scholars program to online learning, while all other educational programs have been temporarily suspended as we look to the feasibility of moving to offer our programs online using video conferencing platforms (e.g., Zoom). With the uncertainty and evolving impact of COVID-19, it is natural to experience anxiety, and like any emotion, anxiety can spread from person to person. Moreover, many of us are following current recommendations for social distancing, which will limit the community’s spread of the virus but also presents its own challenges with isolation and loneliness. You may wish to keep in mind some of the following tips to reduce the mental health risks during this incredibly challenging time:

Be cautious about unreliable sources of misinformation in the media. Rumors and distortions increase stress and anxiety levels. Turn to trusted sources of information so you can remain up-to-date on emerging situations. Anyone overwhelmed with emotions should contact a mental health professional for assistance. Our UCLA clinics have rapidly shifted to telepsychiatry to respect social distancing efforts and continue to deliver mental health care. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be unnecessarily upsetting so taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, especially on social media, will help to reduce illness worries.

For those who are sheltering in place, keep in mind that it can lead to isolation and loneliness, which increases the risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. To overcome isolation, stay in touch with friends and family by phone, or even better, use social media and videoconferencing platforms (e.g., Skype, Zoom, Facetime). Keep to your daily routine as much as possible. If you are telecommuting for work, be sure to take your usual lunch break and maintain your daily habits. Try to remain positive. Just as anxiety can spread from person to person, so can optimism and a positive outlook. Rather than focus on worse-case scenarios, keep in mind what you are grateful about during these trying times. If you are feeling anxious, take deep breaths, stretch, do some yoga, or meditate. Try to eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid excessive alcohol use. Staying physically active is important. Below are some resources you may find helpful, but be sure to check with your doctor before starting new exercises, which may need to be modified if too difficult.

Chair Exercises:
Gentle Chair Exercises: Sitting Only
Gentle Chair Exercises: Sitting and Standing:

For the latest information on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) please check the following resources. Talk about your concerns with people you trust: sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the true risk to yourself and people you care about will reduce your anxiety. Follow CDC recommendations to help prevent the spread of symptoms through social distancing; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering coughs and sneezes; cleaning and disinfecting touched objects and surfaces, and washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. With our Longevity Center memory and healthy lifestyle classes temporarily suspended, check out some of the computer programs and websites for improving memory and other cognitive abilities, including Dakim Brain Fitness ( or 310-566-1350), Posit Science and Brain HQ ( or 866-599-6463), and Lumosity ( If you haven’t already, consider reading about how to keep your brain and body healthy as you age. I have written several books (e.g., 2 Weeks to a Younger Brain, The Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Program, The Small Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease) and there are many other excellent books on these topics (e.g., Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer, Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being by Andrew Weil).

You may benefit from relaxation practices that could help reduce levels of stress. The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center ( provides education and support for people interested in learning methods to pay attention to present moment experiences with openness. Several apps that provide meditation can be downloaded to a smartphone as well (e.g., UCLA Mindful, Insight Timer, Calm, Insight LA).

To keep your mind stimulated, take a virtual field trip by visiting zoos, museums, mars, and more online and check out some of these webcams for an adventure from home: National Park Service: Hawai’i volcanoes Iceland: Hekla: Borcay Beach, Philippines: Philippine coral reef cam: Venice Italy: Northern Lights: Nagasaki Harbor: Audubon Society Animal/wildlife cams and Zen cams Africa: Puffin cam: Bald Eagle: Zen: NASA Space Station Cam: Zen: Tropical Reef Cam For more information from trusted resources visit: UCLA Health COVID-19 updates Los Angeles County Department of Public Health California Department of Public Health The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention World Health Organization Sincerely, Gary W. Small, M.D. Parlow-Solomon Professor on Aging Professor of Psychiatry & BioBehavioral Sciences Director, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry Director, UCLA Longevity Center

5.18.2020 Albert: Something that keeps occurring to me – perhaps it’s occurring to you, too – is that just about everyone who you see right now is probably a nearby neighbor. We don’t have a lot of people from out of the area – Airbnb, out-of-town guests. Yet people hardly take a moment to say hello. I think there might be some value in slowing down a bit and noticing who is passing you by. I understand that it’s not the easiest time to meet your neighbors, but it’s not impossible. One value to know who lives around you is that they might end up becoming a friend. I haven’t thought this all the way through, but I have a feeling that if we were all to take a little more time to notice who is around us it could be a good way to strengthen the neighborhood. Perhaps this idea deserves its own thread. For now, I’ll leave it here.

Vitamin T

Vitamin T (Healthy Touch) and deepening connections with self and community – from Mr and Ms T

During these challenging times, it’s essential to maintain the TLC normally found in touch contact. Here are some suggestions for increasing energetic and physical TOUCH in your life.

Touch with Self – showering and massaging yourself with soap, shampoo or wash cloth; more time brushing your hair or massaging your scalp; body-tapping and shaking; dancing in your living room

Touch with Nature – forest bathing, re-wilding, lying on the earth; sun bathing, rain bathing

Touch with Spirit – meditation, gratitude practice, Qi Gong, T’ai Chi; eye-gazing with someone physically distant but present or on FaceTime or Zoom

Touch with Voice – talking with friends and loved ones (with soothing, calming tone); singing alone, online (Albert, Alex) or with others

Touch with Beauty – Spring flowers, trees, artwork, sunsets

Touch with Scents – flowers, cooking aromas, soaps, candles

Touch with Taste – really slowing down and taking in tastes, textures; meditative food prep with tasting; using chopsticks to help slow down pace of eating

Breathing Baths – staying in touch with your breath; keeping lungs healthy and strong with deep, focused inhales and exhales; breathing into other internal organs

Vitamin T

Get the Book!

Vitamin T – A Guide to Healthy Touch by Bob Czimbal and Maggie Zadikov

2501 SE Madison St., Portland, OR 97214    503.232.3522

My Great Ideas That Have Gone Nowhere

My Great Ideas

I have a lot of ideas. Here are a couple of great ones that I’d love to see in action. If you find value in any of them please take them and run with them.  Here we go.

  1. Weight Loss idea: Wear in 1lb weights the # of pounds by which you’re overweight for that many minutes per day.  Lessen weights as you lose weight. Keep going till you’re done.
  2. Berm Portland
  3. Retree the planet with this cool device (1.14.2020 – something like this has now been developed)
  4. Defragging everyone’s commutes.  For every job that can be done anywhere in a city – 3rd-grade teacher; plumber; <most service jobs here>: create a database of all of the workers, swap people by their home location or where they want to land. Thus, bringing people closer to home = less commuting. Thank you to Mr. Money Mustache for the inspiration on that one.
  5. Where Does the dirt go: Database of all earth being moved in an urban area. If I am about to remove 2 tons of earth, let the grid know and someone nearby who needs the earth can have it vs. trucking it to the ex-urbs and back. See chip drop program in Portland.
  6. Moving everyone who shares a similar job role closer to home via a database that local employers participate in. This could also be used by tradespeople so that they are working close to home, perhaps using Nextdoor to guide their work sites.
  7. All popsicle sticks should come with a tree seed in them so one could plant a tree after eating the popsicle. Idea progress: I have submitted this idea to Larry Kaplowitz, one of the founders of Coconut Bliss. He said “great idea”. – Feel free to take this idea and run with it.  Dannon? Good Humor?
  8. License plates should have QR codes or some way that a person can text a person who owns a car to let them know: a) you’re blocking my driveway b) you left your lights on c) your puppy/child/ice is overheating….. A way for this to work could also be that the person types in the State and License # and then is able to text msg. to the owner without knowing their phone # or other contact info.
  9. How to be a better neighbor – an email series. Our lives could be enhanced so much by people doing some little things better. Better outdoor lighting. Not using the fob to lock and unlock your car and set off the horn of your car. Saying hello. I’ve been wanting to create an email series that teaches some of this and I’m stuck at #2 right now – someone, give me a nudge 🙂
  10. Turn OHSU lawn at 42nd and Division SE in Portland, Oregon into a giant sunflower patch. 
  11. Trying to get the Air National Guard base in Portland, Oregon near the PDX airport to stop flying F-15s over residential parts of the City. Ideally, I’d love to see the base either shuttered or moved to Eastern Oregon.  I’m not alone on this one.
  12. Street signs: They could be metal and wrap around telephone poles – so easy to display and possibly simple to manufacture.  The street on 2 sides, cross street on the other two – written vertically.
  13. Portland, Oregon Road Scholar program. (ed: 10.22.2020 I reached out to them again with the idea, perhaps it could at least happen virtually).
  14. 9 years ago in 2011, I had the idea to turn the SW corner of the Lone Fir Cemetery into a community garden as local organizations continue to fundraise to turn it into a memorial. I gave up pushing after running into organizational disinterest. Meanwhile, the spot remains a huge vacant lot – a perfect spot to grow food. Sign this petition, perhaps we can reignite interest in the idea 🙂
  15. More of these ideas I once posted on a site called WhyNot?
  16. 1.6.2020 – T-shirts with “massage here” printed on the top back (shoulders) – perhaps more info on pressure and directions on how to massage on the back of the shirt. 
  17. Social media support pages – See for yourself

Great ideas that have gone somewhere

  1. Farm My Yard – and on Facebook over here. And Twitter… The idea is a way to connect urban farmers with homeowners who’d like their yards farmed.  I think it’s also a possible business for teens or young adults to support themselves – providing produce to the community and local restaurants. Check out the website. I feel the idea could really take off if one neighborhood decided it wanted to be a pilot project. Or, if I decided to invest in 1000 yard signs and found people to put them in their yards 🙂
  2. After the Phone Book: I was part of a nationwide effort to get rid of phone books to some effect. Here’s the FB page and here’s a page on my site that explains the problem and some of the moves I and others used to stop the cutting of trees for no good reason.

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Saying What’s Real


Communication between people is a multilayered process. Because of this fact, many of us feel inadequate in our attempts to understand others and be understood. Whenever any two people try to communicate, there are at least two levels to that communication: the overt, conscious message and the covert, hidden message. The overt message consists of the words we hear and the gestures we see. The hidden message has more to do with the intent behind the words. This is something we ordinarily overlook because we don’t have the language to deal with it. Consider this example: on her way out the door, Jerry’s seventeen-year-old daughter Melanie announces, “Don’t wait up. I’ll probably be home after midnight.” The overt message here is some information about what time she’ll be home. What’s the hidden message? She is telling him that she is making her own decisions now about what time she’ll get home. She’s letting him know that he no longer has that sort of power over her. In other words, she’s asserting her independence.

Jerry receives and registers his daughter’s message on both levels. He hears her words. And he feels a discomfort in his gut — there’s something about her statement that just does not sit well with him. But, like most people, Jerry has not been trained to put value on his subtler gut-level reactions. So he nods robotically and gives his usual reply: “Have a good time and be careful.”

A communication like this leaves both people with a sense of incompleteness. There’s something between them that has not been acknowledged. The next time they are together, that unfinished business will affect how relaxed and connected they feel with each other. In time, as more and more of these incomplete communications recur, their communication channels will become more clogged.

If Jerry had better communication skills, he might notice the uneasy feeling in his gut and comment on it instead of going on automatic. Even if he didn’t know why, he’d still trust his gut feeling that there was more to Melanie’s message than the words he heard. If Jerry had access to the Seven Keys to Authentic Communication and Relationship Success that you’ll learn about in the following chapters, he might respond, “Hearing you say that, I feel uncomfortable. Are you telling me that you’re now setting your own curfew?” Or he might feel something stronger, such as anger: “Hearing you say you’ll be home after midnight, I feel angry. I think we need to talk more about this.” Using the key phrase, “Hearing you say that, I feel…” gives Jerry a lead-in to stay present to his feelings and thoughts about what he just heard. It helps him pay attention to his more deeply felt but subtler reactions, enabling him to respond in a more authentic way. In this book, you will learn about how and when to use this key phrase and six others to make yourself a more authentic, conscious, and powerful communicator. These phrases support you in noticing and expressing what you really feel — so you’ll be more effective in your relationships with others.

Cleaner Communication Equals Less Stress

We all know how unclear communication and unfinished business from the past interferes with our ability to be present. Knowing the seven keys helps you prevent the buildup of unfinished business in your communications with mates, lovers, friends, family, and coworkers. These tools help you get in touch with what you are feeling and express it rather than stuff it. Some of these tools can also be useful for cleaning up old business from the past.

Unclear communications and unexpressed discomfort about them are a major source of stress in our lives. How often have you wasted energy worrying about what you should have said or wondering what someone really meant? Imagine how much more time and energy we’d all have if we had better communication skills.

The seven keys help you become more present — so they could also be seen as seven keys to present-centered relating. When your communications are based on present-time feelings, and you know how to skillfully clean up the old business from your past, you have a lot more of your mental attention and energy available to you.

Unmasking the Intent to Control

In my opening paragraph I mentioned that every communication has an intent behind it. Most of us do not have the knowledge, the skill, or the confidence to address the often hidden intent of another’s communication — especially if the intent has something to do with trying to control an unknown outcome or trying to mask one’s anxiety about feeling “not in control.” People try to manipulate the outcome of their interactions all the time. And if they’re not doing that, they’re trying to bolster their egos by acting more in control or “on top of” the situation than is actually the case. In my research, I discovered that almost 90 percent of all human communication comes from the (usually unconscious) intent to control. Most of us are not aware of when we are communicating with the intent to control and when we are expressing our feelings and thoughts simply to exchange feelings or information.

The intent to control reveals itself in many disguises:

  • denying that you feel pain when you’re hurting
  • trying to impress others
  • manipulating to get what you want
  • being nice or agreeable to avoid a hassle
  • lying to protect someone’s feelings
  • assuming you know something that you really cannot know, instead of living with the uncertainty of the situation (e.g., jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about what someone else’s behavior means)
  • keeping silent to avoid conflict
  • playing it safe
  • trying not to rock the boat
  • trying to appear more “together” or composed than you really feel

As you look down this list, you’ll notice that all of these things have something to do with avoiding uncomfortable feelings (e.g., anxiety about feeling not in control) or avoiding an unwanted outcome. Perhaps you recognize yourself in one or more of these examples. If you do, then you’re probably aware enough to admit that this sort of controlling doesn’t really work. We may cling to the illusion of control and continue trying to predict or manipulate the outcome — for example, we may try to make ourselves feel more comfortable by assuming we know how someone else is going to react to us. But we can’t; such things are unknowable until they are revealed in time. If you are focused more on avoiding the discomfort of not knowing than on communicating and really listening to others, you are not present. You’re in your head or in the future — as if you’re playing a game of chess: “If I make this move, my opponent will have to make that move.” This is an example of the intent to control. This sort of strategizing keeps you in a state of chronic fear or anxiety. Trying to avoid uncertainty is very stressful. On the other hand, when you relax your grip, allow things to unfold, and pay attention to what is actually going on (vs. your wishful thinking or your fears), you are naturally more confident.

Again, most people are not even conscious of the fact that most of their self-talk and communication with others comes from the intent to control. It’s no wonder that they often feel frustrated and out of control. You see, the more you try to control things, the more out of control you feel. When you are more focused on creating a favorable outcome or a favorable impression than on expressing yourself authentically, you are reinforcing your fears and anxieties. You are in a sense affirming that if things do not turn out according to plan, you will not be okay. This puts your well-being on pretty shaky ground. The fact is, you will be okay. And the only way to really discover this and learn to trust yourself is to risk feeling what you feel and expressing yourself authentically. Feeling and expressing what’s so for you in each moment is what I call “getting real,” or “relating.” There is a big difference between communication that comes from the intent to relate and communication that comes from the intent to control.

Controlling Is Largely Unconscious

Most people’s communications are tarnished by unconscious defense mechanisms designed to protect them from feeling hurt, rejected, abandoned, controlled, or not in control. All of us have been hurt by other people at some time in our lives as we have tried to express ourselves authentically, offer love, or get our needs met. Somewhere in our past we learned various strategies to protect ourselves in order to minimize further damage. In my own case, I learned to judge my father for how easily he was provoked to anger rather than simply feel my fear of his anger at me. So now, when someone I love gets angry at me, I have a tendency to judge rather than feel. Most of us have developed similar control patterns, and we’re not even conscious of how this robs us of our ability to feel and express our real feelings. We may not be conscious of our patterns, but other people are impacted by them nonetheless. And we are impacted when we’re on the receiving end of such strategies — as we saw in the case of Jerry and Melanie. But healthy human communication is not really about protecting ourselves from discomfort or controlling how others react to us. Healthy communication, communication that fosters connection, trust, intimacy, and respect, is about knowing and being known. It is not about getting people to do what we want. It’s about creating mutually beneficial solutions. It is not about controlling what we feel. It is about feeling what we feel, and sharing what we feel and think in the present moment. This sort of openhearted sharing is “relating.”

Controlling vs. Relating: What’s the Difference?

Here is an example of how the intent to control might show up subtly in an intimate relationship. Georgia tells her husband, “Since you’re going out with your friends tonight, I think I’ll call my ex and see if he wants to come over. He still enjoys my company.” Instead of telling her husband how she feels about his going out without her, she sends the not-so-subtle message that if he chooses not to be with her this evening, she’ll find someone else who will. If her husband, Howie, knew how to say what’s real, he would reply, “Hearing you say that, I feel…” (followed by a feeling such as disappointed, threatened, angry, or insecure). Without such tools, he’ll probably do what most unskilled communicators would do — he’ll try to act unruffled or in control: “Sure, honey…whatever.” The phrase “Hearing you say that, I feel…” supports relating. Most people are in the habit of controlling.

This phrase helps you bring your awareness to this present moment. When you can do this, you’re more connected to yourself and to the overall context, so you feel more confident and powerful. Fear of an unwanted outcome recedes into the background and is replaced by trust, the most basic kind of trust there is — the trust that no matter what the outcome, you will be resourceful enough to deal with it.

The Seven Keys Help You Feel Safe

The seven key phrases you are about to learn are designed to enhance your capacity for love and trust by bringing your awareness into this present moment. The regular use of these seven statements proves that when you know how to focus your attention on the present moment of contact instead of getting caught up in the mind’s machinations and strategies, you naturally feel safe. You learn that you don’t need to insure a predictable outcome to feel okay. Then you can let go of the illusion of control.

On the other hand, if you allow your attention to be clouded by hidden agendas and unfinished business that you do not know how to address, you will feel unsafe. When you feel unsafe, your need to control things gets magnified. This breeds further fear and mistrust.

It has taken me thirty-five years of working as a relationship coach and teamwork consultant to boil the knotty problem of human communication down to its essence. The seven statements you are about to learn are essential for having authentic relationships. Use them whenever you want to keep your attention focused on what is going on here and now with this person in front of you. Using these seven statements prevents your fears about an uncertain outcome from taking over because you are more connected to yourself and to the other in present time. Feeling present and connected keeps your attention on what you’re doing. This is very empowering. When you’re present, you’re not in fear. Fear is about the future.

The need to control the outcome often comes from the fear that something will happen in the future that you won’t be able to deal with, so you try to control how you come across or how the other person responds to you. Present-centered communication (relating) is open and relaxed about such things. Your aim is to express yourself authentically and allow the other to have whatever reaction he has. When you are not so focused on controlling the outcome or your anxiety about the outcome, your attention is available to deal with what’s really going on right here in front of you. You’re naturally going to be more resourceful. Take Jerry and Melanie’s brief conversation as a case in point. If Jerry had told her, “Hearing you say I shouldn’t wait up for you, I’m feeling uncomfortable,” he would have made real contact and received his daughter’s attention in a more meaningful way.

Using the seven key phrases brings you into a frame of mind that taps into your natural loving and self-trusting essence, as opposed to your self-protective (fear-based) conditioned self. You develop the ability to relate more and control less. And you learn that whatever the other’s reaction, you’ll find within yourself the resources to deal with it.

Can You Make These Statements?

Before being introduced to the Seven Keys to Relationship Success, take the following quiz. The quiz consists of fifteen statements, not seven. But all fifteen are variations on the seven, and when applied consistently they can lead to successful outcomes for most relationship dilemmas.

Take a look at the fifteen statements below. Next to each statement, write 0 if it would rarely or never occur to you to say this, 1 if you might occasionally make this statement, and 2 if such a statement is typical of your style.


1. Hearing you say how that affected you, I feel sorry I did that. 
2. I want you to listen and hear me out before responding.
3. I’m sorry. If I had it to do over, I would...
4. Tell me more about why you feel/think/see it that way.
5. I didn’t mean to hurt you. What I wish I’d been able to communicate is...
6. I’d like to make it up to you/to make amends.
7. Could we sit down and talk about something that’s on my mind?
8. I’m feeling unfinished about that recent conversation between us. Could we talk about it?
9. I need some time before I respond to you.
10. I see it differently than that. May I tell you how I see it?
11. I think/favor/want...What do you think/favor/want?
12. I appreciate you for...(something this person did or said).
13. I want...How does that work for you? (Is this something you can give?)
14. I feel crummy about what just happened. Can we talk about it?
15. I notice myself getting defensive. I think I’m getting triggered.

The highest possible score is thirty, and the lowest would be zero. The higher your score, the higher your likelihood of having successful relationships. Here is a breakdown of what your scores might mean:

  • 0–9: You probably find yourself frustrated in relationships more often than you would like. This book will open your eyes to new possibilities.
  • 10–15: You have a high aptitude for relating and are open to learning. You will probably find the skills and tools in this book compatible with your style.
  • 16–24: You have good relationship skills and have the aptitude to take your skills to the highest level if you wish. Read on!
  • 25–30: Your capacity for present-centered relating is already at a very high level. Congratulations! Perhaps this book can be useful in helping others you know reach the level you’re already at.

Benefits You Can Expect

If you are like most people, you need to believe there is a reasonable chance of succeeding before trying something new in potentially risky situations. The seven key phrases foster greater self-confidence when you’re trying something new because they give you an actual script to get you started. Once you have uttered the words, “Hearing you say that, I feel…,” the rest is a lot easier. Other benefits you can expect are: 

  • The seven keys bring you into the here and now. This helps you stay focused on what is real rather than what is imagined or feared. Fears are usually about the future. When you are present, you are in your body and more apt to be in your heart as well. This helps others trust you more and helps you trust yourself.
  • They make you more resourceful. When you are more conscious and present, you are more resourceful. Your attention is on your current reality, so your communications are more likely to bring successful outcomes.
  • They make your communication more impactful. When you make stronger, more intimate contact, you are more likely to get the other’s full attention. You are not easy to ignore.
  • They put you in a more open state of mind by helping you access a fuller range of feelings, including the softer feelings and wants that lie underneath the harder, more defensive feelings. This builds empathy, trust, and rapport between yourself and others.
  • They assist you in feeling connected not just with yourself and the other, but also with your entire context or current reality. This means your communications are more apt to be appropriate to the situation rather than understated or over the top. When you are more connected to your current reality, you make healthier choices because you see more of the total picture.
  • They put you and the other person into a cooperative relationship rather than an adversarial one. When you communicate with the intent to relate using these statements, you are sending the meta-message, “I’m on your side, I value this relationship, I’m willing to take a risk or take some leadership to help make our relationship better.”
  • They help you unhook from who you think you are or who you think you should be. Being in the present and communicating from that experience of presence allows you to expand your identity to one that is more spiritually unified with all that is. When you’re not focused on controlling the outcome, you tend to feel mostly loving, relaxed, and open — even when things don’t go your way. Presence brings you into a state of harmony and unity with the rest of life. When you are simply authentically present, you tend to become less invested in your self-image or who you think you are.

Communicating with Awareness

Practicing the seven keys is a curriculum for presence. They foster a high level of self-awareness in each moment. This engenders respect and openness from others, whereas trying to make others respect you engenders the opposite.

They remind you to relate. When you are relating, your communications take on a quality of caring, openness, and authenticity that just naturally engenders respect and love. It’s a paradox — when you stop trying to play it safe or get others’ approval, then you wind up winning the admiration and respect you want. When you are trying to control the outcome, you are in your head, imagining something that is not now. Your communications tend to come across as less connected, less genuine, and therefore less trustworthy. People may feel manipulated around you without knowing why.

Whenever you are in a situation where you can’t get through to someone or communications have hit a wall, try using one of these seven key phrases. If one doesn’t work for you, try another. In most difficult situations, any one of the seven can get things moving again because they all bring you into present time. In a very real sense, they bring you back to reality.

Sometimes using just one of these phrases will get you back on track or keep you on the right course. Other times, you’ll want to use two or more of them together.

In the chapters that follow, you’ll be learning about how and when to apply these seven vital communication practices.

Based on the book Saying What’s Real: 7 Keys to Authentic Communication and Relationship Success. Copyright 2005 Susan M. Campbell. Reprinted with permission of H J Kramer/New World Library, Novato, CA.