Communication, Rainbow Hill Meanders


Can you hear me now?

151122-6D-8509Despite this wildfire marketing phrase, people are listening to each other less and less.

Listening is a skill we can all learn and practice. Face-to-face interaction is still the best way to connect with others – if you can be in the moment and actually listen.

Ted Talks has a great series of talks on how to hone your listening skills.

My favorite is the talk by Celeste Headlee: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation.

My favorite quote from her talk: “Everybody is an expert in something”

Another favorite quote: “There’s no reason to show you’re paying attention, if you are in fact paying attention.”

One of Headlee’s first rules of conversation is to stop multi-tasking. “Don’t be half in the conversation.”

In my household this advice is a bit controversial.

Grandma’s rule is “no cell phone when you’re with me, unless it’s an emergency.”

My generation is much more “it’s rude to multi-task, but the other person’s phone is like a third person in a conversation. They get a turn too.”

The kids are much more of an annoyed “Why did you stop talking?”

“Because you’re typing on your phone.”

Kids: “So?”

“We’ll wait for you to finish.”

Kids: “Just keep talking. We can do both. It’s annoying when you stop your thought.”

Ted Talks fall on my side of the equation, but what are your thoughts?

Do you multi-task?

Do you pretend to be in the conversation, but are skipping ahead to your reply, or just nodding and thinking of something else entirely?

Are you 100% in the moment and truly listening to and responding to what the person is saying?

I fall in all three categories, but I’m going to try to get better at the latter because all people are amazing. All you have to do is listen.

Please share your thoughts.


Also try Ted Talks by Julian Treasure

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Bengal Cats, Rainbow Hill Meanders

Bored Pandas & Ted

For those of you who don’t spend enough time online, I have a couple of suggestions. Warning! These are very addictive.

Bored Panda

Ted Talk Blog

One of my favorite talks & speakers. Follow Ed Young and get a science round-up post every Friday. Delightful as he brings you the best of the week’s science news.

140412 -  - medium-14A recent comment said the cats have a “pretty good vocabulary”. Indeed, they are most erudite. Considering how many times they are into the books, they are also very well-read. This Friday on Cat Convos, Hiyu will share his rendition of one of the classics.

See you then.



Bengal Cats, Blogging 101, Rainbow Hill Meanders

My Favorite Things

Loki and Kuri

Loki and Kuri

I recently had the privilege of attending a showing of “The Sound of Music” at the amazingly beautiful 5th Avenue Theater  in Seattle. True to form, I now have a song stuck in my head.

Besides “My Favorite Things” the other song stuck in my head is from “The King and I”. Getting to Know You resounds every time I think about all the amazing blogs and fabulous writing I’ve been discovering in Blogging 101.

Now back to “My Favorite Things”.

Musicals are squarely in the middle of my list of favorite things, but today’s post is going to be a tribute to many things at the very top of the list. (See bottom of this post for the lyrics stuck in my head)

School song book

Writing, Reading and Family are at the top of the list, but I’ll return to those in a later post.

Bengals and Bubble Baths

Thanks to Kuri, The King of Tales, these two subjects will always be inextricably linked.

I read before I brought my kittens home that Bengals tend to like water. Cute, right?Attentive Bengal I’ve had cats all my life and it hadn’t occurred to me that the water bottle spray to discourage unwelcome behavior might not work. The three Bengals just give me a look like “Interesting, why did you do that?” and “Can you do that again?”

There’s nothing like relaxing from a long day in a lavender-scented bubble bath. Kuri agrees.

In our house a closed door is a closed door. People knock. Kuri, who is always curious, opens the door. Hiyu and Loki will follow. Kuri jumps up on the side of the doorway and surveys the situation. As the other two watch, he makes his decision. He jumps into the water, sits on my feet and gives me a look that says “Now what?”

For me “now what?” translates for me rising quickly out of the bath and firmly telling the inquisitive cat who is sitting in water up to his chin, that “No, I don’t share.”

For Kuri this is not a one-time-thing. If I forget to lock the door, I end up sharing my bath with a cat.

TED TALKS They’re free, they’re great, they’re thought-provoking and they’re inspiring. You can also get TED as a free app on your phone. Ted Talks also help create my reading lists (great ideas), museum lists, and research questions. There is an amazing array of dynamic speakers in almost every category imaginable. (See end of post for a small sampling

Jamila Lysicott: 3 ways to speak English

Other linguistics and lexicography experts: Erin McKean, John McWhorter & Anne Curzan.

Science: Ed Young, Robert Full, Vijay Kumar, Jedidah Isler, Garrett Lisi

Art: Aparna Rao, Margaret Wertheim

Other Favorites: Susan Cain, Amy Cuddy, David McCandles, Tim Harford, Melvin Russell


Jamila Lysicott

Susan Cain:

Susan Cain’s bestselling book. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Erin McKean

Aparna Rao

With thanks to AZLyrics

From “The Sound of Music”

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings These are a few of my favorite things.”

 With thanks to LyricsMode

From “The King and I”

“Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, Getting to hope you like me. Getting to know you, Putting it my way, But nicely, You are precisely, My cup of tea. Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, Getting to hope you like me. Getting to know you, Putting it my way, But nicely, You are precisely, My cup of tea. Getting to know you, Getting to feel free and easy When I am with you, Getting to know what to say Haven’t you noticed Suddenly I’m bright and breezy? Because of all the beautiful and new Things I’m learning about you Day by day. Getting to know you, Getting to feel free and easy When I am with you, Getting to know what to say Haven’t you noticed Suddenly I’m bright and breezy? Because of all the beautiful and new Things I’m learning about you Day.. By… Day.”

A pari of bengals




Bengal Cat Pictures, Exercise, I-L, Writing

I Want…


Wanting, needing, desiring are all part of human nature. From the time we are born, we want and need to be fed and sheltered. “Want” and “Need” intertwine.

As very young toddlers, what we want runs into a resounding “No”.

For most of our developmental years, we’re taught need and want are different.

You need to do your homework. You want a shiny new bicycle. Later…You need a job (to pay your bills), and you want a shiny new car.

There’s a general consensus of what people need, but when you ask people what they want you’re likely to get two different types of answers.

Answer 1: World peace, the end of genocide, the end of disease and hunger, eternal youth, the end of global warming, clean air and education for all.

Answer 2: Car, boat, diamonds, the newest game, the newest of anything, losing weight and looking better.

I propose taking this want down to a personal level, but beyond the material.

What I want should start with the question of who do I want to be?

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Yes, Who do you want to be? What do you value most? Are you living in harmony with those values?

Do you know what they are? Have you thought about them lately? Do you know the path you need to take?

If you aren’t already trying to attain them, are you willing to make the five minute commitment towards them? (See post of February 16, 2015 if you aren’t sure how the five minute commitment can propel you to success.)

There are many ways to clarify what is most important to you and many books written by many people on the many paths one can take to realize those goals. If you check your library or book store you will find a barrage of suggestions and ideas.

I have a few suggestions of my own, but first the traditional questions:

If you had a week, a month or just a few months left to live, what would you do?

How do you want to be remembered when you are gone?

For the religious: What accounting of your life do you wish to make to your god or religion? What would you like your divine judgment to be?

My own take on the long list of questions to ask yourself includes the following:

A pari of bengals

What do you value most? How do you do your part in what you value most? Make a list of the values first. Maybe you wish to live your life with integrity, authenticity, honesty, perseverance, living in accord with your religious beliefs, money, success, fame, or maybe you wish to find eternal life in what you pass on to the next generation.

What moves you? Inspires you?

When does time disappear for you and you enter “the flow”?

The next set of questions from the mundane to the exquisite inquires as to how you reach those goals.

If you want to scale to the top of Machu Picchu, how much exercise and fitness do you need to fit in to your daily life?

Or how much weight do you need to lose to comfortably climb into a raft and face white water, or ride a horse for a day or more without feeling guilty about the load the poor creature is carrying? I, personally, love both these activities, but have over the years have loaded on too much weight to enjoy those adventures. Five minutes a day and then another five. A commitment and a lot of thinking on how to get there, and for me there is a reward well worth the time and work. It’s hard and a large change in habits, but the five minute rule helps me move forward.

If you want to write a book, how much writing time or grammar review, or commitment do you need to make?

If you want to take the challenge of writing a book with the support and company of others dive into National Novel Writing Month

Or if you want to learn how to sail, what’s keeping you from achieving those goals? How do you remove those obstacles and follow your dream?

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If you want to make a difference in the climate, in the treatment of animals, in the dire plight of millions of needy people around the world, what small steps can you take to add your commitment to the wellspring of a movement of people who share that drive. Sometimes all it takes is a small step forward.

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It’s worth five minutes a day to ask yourself if what you are doing on that day takes you closer to your dreams. If your work is not what you love, is the pay or experience worth it or do you need to find another path?

It’s worth it to take an hour a week to review and plan and see where you can take those first few steps to launch a dream.

If your dream is already launched (congratulations), what do you need to do to see it through? And what after the celebration of one dream come true, what is the next one you’ll pursue.

I wish all of you achieve your dreams and desires, large and small. I also wish that once you’ve found your crowning glory, you move on to the next quest.

May you always dream.

~ lisa

For those of you who have graduated past the five minute rule. Try the 30 day Challenge. This Ted Talk by Matt Cutts is eloquent and encouraging. Give it a try!



Life Lessons

As I said, I’m no Pollyanna, though I wish like Eleanor H. Porter, I could write a character who is so vividly portrayed that their name becomes a part of the language.

For those of you who don’t know, a Pollyanna is a person consumed with irrepressible joy and a tendency to find good in everything. This person is also someone who is often unreasonably and illogically optimistic.

I like to think that I can be just as sarcastic and cynical as the next person. I admit, I like to find good in everything and everyone, but not to a point of illogic. Sometimes things suck canal water, and that is what it is. As Alicia Hall (my brilliant daughter) says “When shit hits the fan, you have to accept the existence of both fan and shit and just deal with it.” She also says “You have to save the freak-out until it’s taken care of.” I find these very wise words to live by.

I’m also more capable than anyone I know to have a total, volcanic, hand-wringing, tear-laden, stress melt-down. Of course, up until now that has always been my secret.

For a full dose of optimism check out Pollyanna (1913) by Eleanor Porter. You can also find several versions of Pollyanna in film. I’m most familiar with Disney’s 1960 version starring Hayley Mills, but I just learned there is also a 1920 version with Mary Pickford. Now that’s a film I need to track down and watch.


So where does one find the balance between optimism and realism, humor and helpfulness? I could start quoting a whole array of philosophers here and many other wise people who have a much better grasp of the issues involved, but where is the fun in that? This is my version:

I often feel like my life is careening like an overloaded bus (you know the pictures of those that are five times past their capacity with people hanging off of every edge) making speed trials on a winding road overlooking ragged cliffs that drop off into a tumultuous ocean. I also sometimes envision a rowboat with two holes in the bottom in the middle of rough seas surrounded by sharks. Welcome to the rat race.

So my rat race might not equal the mind-numbing, exhausting, unremitting activity of the typical human in a pointless maze of commercial one-upmanship, but I think it all boils down to about the same angst.

IMG_0439 The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” – This quote is how Lily Tomlin popularized the paraphrase of this quote from William Sloane Coffin – “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.”

 “Often, people work long hard hours at jobs they hate to earn money to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.Nigel Marsh

I know I said I would not bring in any experts, but I found this talk to enjoyable not to pass it along.

And on to Ted Talks.  I have not yet waxed eloquent on these wonderful talks. TED is a brilliant, educational, global community of thinkers and doers. There are so many good talks by so many leaders in so many fields. It’s a cornucopia of learning.

 Back to the rat race and life/work balance. I hate that term. Okay, not supposed to use the word hate, but intensely dislike works too. This always makes it sound like the two are supposed to be polar opposites with no overlap. I’m all for overlap. Perhaps it is overly optimistic of me, but I like to believe that everyone can find work that so matches their passion, their sense of being, and their true calling in life that it no longer seems like work. That it is simply an extension of the whole of what their life is and integrates into all the other parts of their lives without having to choose. Okay, maybe I am a little illogically optimistic, but believing in things often makes them possible.

Lessons I have learned:

  •  Get out of bed and say “This will be a great day.” Don’t believe it? Change the day to where you want it to be.
  • Enjoy the coffee, tea or meditation with which you start your morning.
  •  Exercise: Even a little can improve your mood, and your health. Though first thing in the morning it often makes me more than a little cynical and cranky.
  •  Relax the muscles. Unclench the hands, unfurrow the brow, and breathe deep.
  •  Enjoy the little things: blowing dandelion seeds onto the grumpy neighbor’s yard, kicking fall leaves, writing/painting/composing something beautiful.
  •  Enjoy the cute: puppies, kittens, ferrets, cars, seaweed, whatever your fancy is.
  •  Use your senses: Listen to the laughter of children or the songs of birds, smell all the flowers and the exotic perfumes of life, or feel something as simple as the softness of a blanket or a cool breeze on a hot day.
  • Change what you can and leave the rest. You can always get to that tomorrow.

Today’s favorite FONTS: Traditional Arabic, Algerian, & Kalinga. Unfortunately I’m not yet skilled enough to portray all of them in their full glory on this page, but I do encourage you to look them up.

Another INSPIRATION is a man who most certainly found his calling: Sir William Osler.  I especially like the prankster part and the fact he wrote under the pseudonym “Egerton Yorrick Davis.”.  How can one not love that name?

QUOTE: “We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from it.” – Sir William Osler.