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Month: December 2016



BOOK:  THE QUARTER-LIFE BREAKTHROUGH:  Invent Your Own Path, Find Meaningful Work and Build  a Life That Matters

AUTHOR:  Adam Smiley Poswolsky

PUBLISHER:  Tarcher/Perigee (Penguin Random House imprint) [2016]

It has always confused me, the propensity of the media and other folks to pour hate on the generation of youngsters born in the two decades before the century turned.

The Millennials (born around 1980 to 2000) have been called, “the lazy generation,” “the entitled generation,” and “the me-me-me generation.”

For real, it sounds a lot like sour grapes to me.  Gee, wow!  What expectations have we older ones put on this group of youngsters that they must be made to feel like they have disappointed us so badly?

It’s been said that this generation is doomed.

Shackled by huge personal debt, shaken and pounded by the falling debris of the tectonic-plate shifts of recessions and other economic “adjustments,” and haunted by a real lack of single-job options that can actually cover their costs of living, this supposedly techno-addicted crowd of privileged, me-centered youngsters with the attention spans of gnats are going to sink into mediocrity and gloom, eking out their dismal existence in their parents’ basements…it says here.

Micah Tyler sings an a capella song. “You’ve Gotta Love Millenials,” that is bouncy, cheerful and teasing about the very real problem this generation (and the rest of us) face.


The doom-and-gloom predictions and all that bugaloo-ing “awfulness” story-telling just do not jibe with the young people I know.

As far as I can see, the young ones of my acquaintance do not match the much-bugled stereotypes.  The labels plastered all over their cohort group by the assorted haters are lies.

They are bright, these young ones.  Some of them are even brilliant.

They are eager to get their hustle on.  Some of them work 18-hour days to make ends meet as they master some discipline, trade, or profession.  Often they take on side-gigs that expand their skill-sets or they invest in their own continuing education.

Some of them have taken off on adventures that expand their view of the world, tasting life in other places, looking for a place to land or trying to clarify some vision they are pursuing.  Others delve into their roots, looking for wisdom in the ways of the ancients.

Some of my young friends band together to make some grand scheme fly, cobbling together constructs that often fall short of their aims.  Their failures do not keep them from trying again.


These young friends of mine are a rowdy and boisterous crew.

They are the freedom-runners. 

They have abandoned “career ladders,” choosing instead to forge new trails through the uncertainties of a world that does not hold still, a world that seems to be falling apart….the very same falling-apart world that every generation before us all have lived in.

The Millennials I know are often unsure of where they are going, but they try to keep running on with hearts held high.

They are filled with confusion and doubt about their direction.

They are almost never sure how to answer the inevitable questions about where they think they are headed.

Many of them are looking for a direction that makes sense to them, one that has meaning for them.

Others of my young friends (as well as many older ones) who followed more conventional road maps now feel trapped by their earlier choices.  They may want to make a change, but are reluctant to chuck out the good things they have already built.

Often they have taken on obligations and responsibilities that hold their feet to the fire.

They, too, are looking for a way to move in a direction that makes sense to them towards a life with more meaning and mana.


Comes a book, THE QUARTER-LIFE BREAKTHROUGH, written by a fellow Millennial.  The author, Adam Poslowsky (who prefers to be called “Smiley”) is a young professional who paid attention as he worked through the daunting process of re-inventing himself.

Smiley learned to ask the Big Questions that helped him find his own meaning and mana as he re-made himself from a professional administrator/facilitator at the Peace Corp headquarters in Washington, DC into a writer, public speaker and career-change couch living in San Francisco.

In the book, Smiley focuses on the process of finding work that aligns with your own life-purposes.  The goal, he says, is to “find a job or opportunity based on your purpose now,” that pays the rent and allows you to:

  • Share your gifts
  • Make a positive impact on your world
  • Surround yourself with believer
  • Live your desired quality of life

The book is packed with real-life stories of people who are succeeding in making the transition to more personally fulfilling lives and work choices.  Smiley also draws on his own experiences to point out new ways of looking for paths to reach the over-riding goal.

He does not hand out the easy, clichéd advice that says you have to quit your job and go chasing after your “passion.”

He points out that passions change.

He points out that while you are making the shift, you do still have to eat and keep a roof over your head.

What Smiley does in this book is hand you a tool box of questions and exercises and head-games as well as a dollop of resources to tap as you figure out who you are and what moves your heart now, the gifts you hold, and the impact you want to make on the world.

From there he helps you take a look at your available options and suggests ways to beta-test your ideas and your potential directions without blowing up your world.

After that, it’ll be up to you to make your moves.

Working Hands by aaron gilson via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Working Hands by aaron gilson via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
This book was a crowd-funded, self-published work that made good.  It was successful enough on its own (with a lot of hustle and thought put in by Smiley and his crew) to be picked up by a more traditional publisher.  The author includes that story in the book as well.

I found THE QUARTER-LIFE BREAKTHROUGH to be an extraordinarily honest, down-to-earth and heartful book.

If you work it, I am convinced that it can guide your own Inner Smarty-pants to find the Life Answers that can work for you…even if you are NOT a Millennial and have lived way past your own quarter-life mark.

Here’s a poem…


Ya know….

I really thought it would be

DIFFERENT somehow.

I thought that as I got older

I’d develop…well, BOTTOM, I guess,

A sort of weight

That would let me float around

Without floating away…

Like…those little weight-buttons

Holding down supermarket helium-filled

Happy Face balloons.


That doesn’t seem to be happening.

Here I am, well-nigh unto being ancient

And STILL I feel like an airhead

Blowing around in a world of heavy winds.


Somehow, I thought that by now

I’d have found SOME sort of all-purpose Swiss-knife answers

That you could pull open and use to twiddle this

And twist that,

To break down all these head-scratching puzzlements

Into component parts of exceptional elegance and grace.



Instead, here I am,

Still dragging around all these kluge-solutions

Cobbled together out of various bits and dribs and drabs

That happened to be sitting around at the time.





All these kluges I’ve devised

Are actually the weight-buttons

Holding down BALLOON-ME?

Wouldn’t THAT be a kick in the head?

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  (book) via

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Here’s the work of another guest poet.

Deborah Coleman is a regular presenter of poems at our Maui Live Poets gatherings.  She says of this poem, “Afro-American history from the time we landed on American shores is full of Sheros and Heroes that have advanced humanity forward many times by leaps and bounds….Our history’s achievements were woven into our life style, repeated in celebrations, song and dance.”

“More than reminded, we were expected to give back.  My opportunities rested on the shoulders of the past five generations.  Knowledge of the Law, spiritual and letter, was my sword to be wielded with intelligence.”

“The Civil Rights act signed by LBJ said that all colleges and Universities had to accept a certain number of minorities into their colleges, and this was monitored by the federal government.

So as not to let too many Afro-Americans into colleges they accepted women who were also considered a minority along with the disabled, gays and lesbians…in record numbers because it was safer for the college in their opinion.

So women of European descent were the demographic, (they had to keep statistics for the Feds), that benefited the most from the civil rights act.  This is very important to know, because people associate civil rights with Afro-Americans only. This is not what Martin was about,” she says.

Gardenia by Deborah Coleman
Deborah’s poem celebrates and honors the Bill of Rights because she feels, “Knowledge of The Bill of Rights gives us the courage to stand for them in our lives. They were written to protect our God-given Divine Right to the pursuit of Happiness.”

“Freedom” by andres musta via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Here’s Deborah’s poem:




The women and men of Valor in our Democracy
Speak truth to power in protest, dance and song
and ultimately our light shows up inaccuracies and wrongs.

In setting up the constitution, Thomas Jefferson said it is our duty to speak truth to power,
when it had erred, or gone astray during a critical hour
John Adams added to the chorus and said it was the Jury’s duty to be the conscience of the people in the court room, giving us the power.
If the law was wrong or outdated
they were not to blindly follow lawyer or court order.

James Madison said if men were angels we wouldn’t need governments,
And Ralph Waldo Emerson of that higher consciousness class,
said he was his own man, nothing is sacred but the integrity of my own mind.

Conforming to tradition and institutions was society’s conspiracy against man, And who was it who said “How many roads must a man walk down before we can call him a man?”
Lamps of liberty we naturally expose boundaries, limits, and restrictions, on the minds of ourselves, brothers and sisters.
We confront our servants, in the form of government leaders when the law is encroaching on the rights of others.

The Bill of Rights is a powerful document, for
without it we would not have a Constitution or centralized government.
The White House and Congress would not exist.
Merchants frequently broke out in brawls across state lines,
Prices of goods and services differed due to local rules
Injury and damages goods abound, something had to be done.

James Madison wrote Thomas Jefferson then in France,
Something needed be done, the constant brawls,
Were eroding the young republic
Jefferson summons all 13 colonies to a Constitutional Convention.
The farmers and shopkeepers said hockey sticks no,
We just defeated the largest menace in the world,
Now you want us to give our hard-earned power to another.

It took that Golden Jewel, the Bill of Rights, our divine liberties enshrined,
before they would even be inclined.

Activists guard those precious rights, more than a military’s might
keeping us safe from Government greedy hands.
Mother Earth joined our cause robed in environmentalist garb,
Protecting people from big corporations encroaching on their land and lifestyles.

She was 91 when Shell said they needed her land,
The offer was very generous so of course she would understand.
Three thousand people in her town, upstate New York
She knew everyone by name and decided to stake her claim.
Called each one and explained what needed to be done,
And the fight against big oil had just begun.
Lawyers said you don’t have a chance I’d take the money and run.
The headlines read,
The first town to ban fracking was owed to a young woman of ninety-one.

The internet joined with the people to fulfill Eleanor Roosevelt, Declaration of International Human Rights. Now no one could escape, liberty’s light.
Guatemalans sent a clap out, to protest their corrupt government, 30, 000 people showed up, and asked the leaders to step down.
They responded, in essence, go home you are blocking the center of town.
They went home and regrouped, no one was to go to work the next day.
Even the farmers stayed home.
The city could not operate and the leadership fled in fear of worst to come.

Our value exceeds any price, our spirit inspires the lost and downtrodden, those unable to comprehend, that their power lies within.
We do not know what we can do until we try,
And activism churns that inner core, which opens the door
To those enshrined liberties we all adore.

© Deborah Coleman, 2016

Picture credit:  Bill of Rights Stamp by Stuart Rankin via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

[Please note:  If any of you would like to contribute a poem,  I’d be happy to hear from youClick here to access the Guest Poet Portal.]










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I’m writing this on the day after Christmas.  It always seems to be a time that encourages reflection.

This time of year feels like what I imagine landfall at a home port must have felt like for the captain and crew of the tall ships in centuries past.  There’s all kinds of hoo-hah and celebration, but underneath it all you are thinking and planning and preparing for your next voyage.

Very soon now we’ll be ringing in the new year.  Facing future is the order of the day for many folks.  It’s a time for reflection on the past year and a time to regroup and re-think.


For my own self it is a time to take a new look at what I call my “manifesto.”  I made up this thing about 14 years ago when I realized that every year I spent this time brooding over all my past failures and vowing (yet again) to pick up chops.

Even as I put together my plan for the new year, I knew in my gut that the resulting euphoric high from doing it was likely to last about a month and a half.  After that I fully expected to drown again in the all of everything.  I knew I would probably fall right back into the same-old.

The whole process was less than satisfactory.  Rather than making yet another to-do list of new year’s resolutions, I decided to choose the direction I was going to head and to write it down.

Here’s my current manifesto’s statement of direction:

“The path I choose, the one I will gladly and freely accept, is the life of a kanaka makua, a sovereign person.  This life-path I am choosing is one that is filled with freedom, creativity, love, joy, synergy, balance, aliveness, contentment, peace, art, books and music.”

This statement has stayed pretty much the same for the past few years.  It is, after all, the result of years of revision. I do know my statement sounds high-flying and woo-woo to the max, but that is just me.  (I’ve always figured that if you aim for the stars, at least you’ll maybe get your ass to the moon….)

The rest of my manifesto goes on to delineate how I plan to walk in the year ahead.  I go over the strategies I noted at the beginning of the year.  Then I will refine (or dump) the ones that did not work as I expected or write down new ones that I’ve discovered.

I limit the things to no more than the six life-areas that I feel are important:

  • caring for the framework of my life (house, gardens, transportation, offices,  workspaces, body and finances);
  •  making room for my heart people;
  • playing and helping other people play;
  • making the ordinary sacred;
  • remembering and honoring the fact  that the Creative and the sacred moves through the world;
  • learning to dance well with money-energy.

Your life areas will probably be different.

Each area gets no more than six simple strategies to help further the steps I am taking to make a life filled with meaning and mana.  It’s gotten a lot easier to do this manifesto-thing now than when I first started.  The manifesto sits in a computer file from one year to the next.  (Writing it out by hand every time I revised it used to be a major production.)

My manifesto strategies are not goals.  There are no dance-step diagrams in this thing and no deadlines that have to be met.  They are just a part of a roadmap and a plan for the next journey I am choosing to make in the coming year.  As 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon once said, “The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator.” To my mind, the ablest navigators are the ones who know where they want to go.  It’s the first step.

In this ever-changing world, however, on any journey, you do need to be able to “flow with the go,” as Guy Kawasaki says.  Objectives, goals, deadlines and such will happen when you interface with the world.  Those will come later.  Manifesto-making is just choosing the direction in which you are heading.  There are no firm-lipped resolutions to mess up, no florid vows to break, and no major deadlines to blow.

For a less woo-woo (and probably more practical) approach to writing a manifesto, here’s this YouTube video “How to Write a Manifesto” published by Empower the Tribe.

A more detailed how-to-do-it may be found in Todd Henry’s book, LOUDER THAN WORDS.


This year when I do my manifesto, I’m also going to try a reflection exercise that online entrepreneur Derek Halpern, the self-styled “conversion expert,” and the founder of the website “Social Triggers” recommends.

Here’s what you do:

  • Look back at the past year. Now ask yourself,  “What went well?”  Do a monthly review of your past  year and choose the one thing each month that worked out really well for you.  (I plan to look through my old planner book and my journals for the year.  I’ll pick out the triumphs and blessings in a year beset with setbacks and list the best, one for each month.)
  • Now, look at all those shiny triumphs and ask, “Can I do it again? How?”  As   Halpern says, “If something went well once, it can go well again.”  The thing you have to figure out is how to make that happen.

And that’s it….

My own feeling on this is that if you can spend your time figuring out how to replicate and reiterate the things that worked during the past year and then go do it again next year, then by the end of the year, you’ll probably have a whole bunch of new shiny stuff.

The exercise could also be a good way to remind yourself that the Universe is still on  your side…especially after a hard year.

Halpern shares his knowledge of psychology with entrepreneurs and bloggers, helping them gain greater market share with many counter-intuitive strategies that work.  You might want to check out his website, Social Triggers.


One book I’ve found valuable in thinking about all this stuff is LIFE CYCLES:  Your Emotional Journey to Freedom and Happiness, by Christine DeLorey.  DeLorey is a writer and world-renowned numerologist.

The book is divided into three parts.  First you learn how to find your “Destiny Number,” the one you were born with and what it may mean for you.  Then you learn how to determine where you are on your Journey through the 108 possible cycles of your life, year by year and month by month.  The last part is an explanation of DeLorey’s philosophy and why she constructed the book in this particular way.

The structure of this book has proven to be useful to me.  Knowing where I am in a cycle of my life and using that as a starting point, I have been able to make some fairly good decisions that have led me to very good places in my life.  I have also, I think, been able to resolve many puzzling questions for myself and find new ways of thinking as well.

Numerology is an ancient way of studying life.  Whether you believe in its effectiveness or not, in the hands of a person like DeLorey, who has apparently thought deeply about life and how to live it most effectively, numerology becomes a very useful tool for finding strategies for navigating through all of the situations and circumstances that life can throw at you.  It makes the chaos feel more organized.

For years now, at the start of each month I have read the relevant entry in DeLorey’s book for whatever month of the cyclically numbered year  I’m living through.  I pick out the likely lessons for the month.  I consider  DeLorey’s suggestions for dealing with them.  During the month I often get the chance to try out these suggestions.

I am not sure why this practice seems to work.  (It could just be a function of where I am putting my attention, after all.)

However, when I’ve encountered situations that go wonky, I’ve been able to take stances and make moves that help resolve things in a satisfying way using DeLorey’s advice.  The lessons I’ve learned along the way have been eye-opening and the take-aways I’ve gotten from the situations are often surprising and sometimes counter-intuitive.

I do recommend giving DeLorey’s LIFE CYCLES a space on your reference shelf.  Perhaps it will work well for you as well….


Doing the work of making a manifesto, then trying to figure out where you might explore next and how, then working your way through your year following the things you’ve thought on seems like a lot of complications for an already complex life, I know.  For some reason, though, I’ve found that making the time and doing it upfront in this way seems to help you figure out how to take care of getting the most important things in your life done.

Meaning and mana in a life doesn’t just happen automatically, I find.  Maybe nothing that is worthwhile happens automatically….

In any case, it sure does work better than making dumb resolutions that you know you are never going to keep.

Here’s a poem:



It seems to me

That this whole year

I’ve been looking at

Who I am and where.


I like me.

I like where I am.


For one whose imperative

Seems to be about growing,

About transformation,

This is a conundrum.


What do I keep?

What do I let go?

How do I change?

Or do I have any say, really?


I know the direction

I am wanting to go…

Towards peace and joy and love.

I am learning again

What doesn’t get me there.


But, it seems a small goal,

A very little one.

Still, if I can get there

Maybe I can point the way

For others who are trying

To get there as well.


Maybe that is all that I can do.


by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Tall Ships by JFB119 via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
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I’m re-reading an invaluable book, CREATING A LIFE WORTH LIVING, which was written by Carol Lloyd, the founder of The Writing Parlor and the Life Worth Living workshops.

Over the years since I first read it in 2011 it has kept me focused on integrating my propensities for Making into a regular, ordinary sort of life.  It is an ongoing process, always.

As she was putting together her book, Lloyd interviewed a slew of creative people and picked their brains about how they do what they do.

In an interview with performance artist Chris Wink who was part of a New York-based theater group which was a collaboration of three artists, there was this thing:

“If you’re going to create something, the first step isn’t to start creating something, it’s to create the process,” Wink says.  “…tending to the vessel and shaping it into what it’s going to be is really important.”

The “process” is a matter of making room in your life to create whatever it is you want to make.  It is about finding the space and the time and it’s about choosing how you’re going to move forward towards your goals.

Sunrise by Jessica S. via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that by eliminating what doesn’t matter you can do more of what does.  [Following your own heartsong matters.  It’s a good thing to make room for it.]


For the past month or so I’ve been working on clearing out the workspaces in my little house, re-organizing and de-cluttering them so that I can see what’s there and see the resources I have on hand.

Even more importantly, I have been clearing my head and seeing where I am going with all this dancing about.

I have been looking at how well my Making has been integrated into the rest of my life and tweaking the places where there are glitches or downright knotted and tangled bits, trying to get to smooth.

I am seeing how I need to make blocks of time available so I can actually sit down and make a something without having to worry about needing to be someplace else.

I am also clearing away all the non-essential stuff that clutters up my calendar with distractions from this thing I’ve declared is most important to me:  making stories, making art, and making meaning.

I’ve deliberately turned away from perfectly good opportunities for me to practice skills I’ve developed that lead me away from what I am calling “Flying My Falcon.”

I am setting up routines and rituals that help keep my energy flowing so that I have the wherewithal to actually make something worthwhile.

I am touching base again with the attitudes, the heart-people and heart-places that are valuable to me because they help pump up the wellspring that powers my Falcon-flying.

It is always an ongoing thing, this tending to your process.  It’s easy sometimes to get so caught up in the day-to-day crises and fumbles and stumbles that the thing you want most to manifest sort of fades away into the ethers somehow.


The following YouTube Video, 8 Artists: Advice to the Young, was published by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art’s Louisiana Channel.  The video montage has snippets from interviews with Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovich, South African artist William Kentridge, rock singer and poet Patti Smith, American singer David Byrne, German film director Wim Wenders, Danish-Islandic artist Olafur Eliassan and British artists Dinos and Jake Chapman.

It’s wise and warm and a very nice space to put your head.  And that’s another part of creating process…

If you want to listen to the full interviews for these and other artists who are equally inspiring, CLICK HERE.

Here’s a poem:


I am making myself,

Day by day by day.

The choices I make, the moves I do

Create the conditions around me

As I play in the World,

As I play with all the other peeps

Who are all busy

Making their own selves too.


There are those who say there is a Creator,

An enormous amorphous being who

Personally had a hand in the making of me,

Who continues to oversee my days

Who notices every time I fall down,

Who apparently is the archetypical Control Freak Extraordinaire

Since this non-gendered One apparently feels a need

To direct my every move.


I find that…scary.




When I try to be the one herding lemming-folk

Who are determined on self-destruction,

Or are just plain oblivious to dangers and sharp teeth,

There’s a certain point where I drown

In the details involved in taking each one in hand

And guiding every one of their steps,

Soothing away the hurt of every bump.


I notice that it never helps the lemming-folk grow,

This interference of mine.

Their sleepwalking apparently deepens.

They still fall off cliffs.

They run headlong into crocodiles and things.

They pick up hammers and whack themselves on their own foreheads.

They blindly blunder into each other and bonk each other in the jaw.

Meanwhile, I go nuts,

Stuck on a meaningless treadmill of

Amoeba-like action/reaction ad infinitum.

I would not wish that state of being on any creature…

Especially not the one who put together all the wondrousness of the Universe!


Myself, I think the Dude/Dudette or Whatever

Just placed a spark of Itself into everything alive,

And each sparklet likes to play.

So they do.

And that’s how the Universe got born,

And that’s how it keeps going.


Me, I think I’ll just keep trying to keep my sparklet going strong.

I figure it’s the best way I can help out….

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Intention 1 by Teddy Llovet via Flickr [CC-BY-NC 2.0]

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Apparently there is a fairly new form of social angst going ’round, a mind-set gone viral in the past decade or so.  The people- in-the-know call it “FOMO.”  The acronym stands for the “Fear Of Missing Out,” it says here.


From where I am standing, FOMO looks like an upgraded, updated version of the old “keeping-up-with-the Joneses” syndrome, a new twist on our very human impulse to measure ourselves against our perceptions of the tangible and material successes of all of the other people in our lives and finding our own lives or our own selves depressingly inadequate.

It was in 1913 that cartoonist Arthur Momand began poking fun at our propensity for checking out what the neighbors are doing and trying to copy or, better yet, to top them.  The strip ran until 1940 in The New York World and various other newspapers of the time.

In one of the earlier strips, the main character Aloysius P. McGinnis ends up sitting in a bar wearing a ridiculous outfit his social-climbing wife forced on him because, as his wife says, “we will show that Jones woman that her husband is not the only Adonis that can wear pink socks and a fuzzy hat!”

Momand called his comic strip “Keeping Up With the Joneses.”

Ten years later, when Mark Twain decried the faddishness of the times with an essay entitled “Corn-pone opinions,” he used the by-then well-known Smith and Jones competition to illustrate his point:  “The Smiths like the new play; the Jones go to see it, and they copy the Smith verdict.”

Jealousy, envy and feeling left out fueled the movement to keep up with the Joneses, and the whole thing got a leg-up when the advertising and marketing industry joined in the chorus, encouraging consumer discontent in order to encourage their potential customers to buy-buy-buy.

The me-too, me-too moves morphed with the dawn of techno-advances that were not even a glimmer in the eye of those old hard-sell guys.

The biggest difference between FOMO and KUWTJ (besides the fact that the Jones one doesn’t make a really great mouth-byte) is the added electronical enhancements of modern tech – mobile phones and smartphones and the social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.

We are now bombarded with all the cool stuff all of our friends and acquaintances are doing and getting.

They’ve got the latest and greatest gadget.

They’re winning all kinds of awards and promotions.

They’re partying down (without me).

They’ve met their One.

They’re getting engaged and married.

They’re having beautiful babies.  On and on and on.

And me…MEH!  All I’ve got is slog, slog, slog….ARGH!


The origin of the term “FOMO” has been tracked down.  Ironically, it was another McGinnis – Patrick – then a Harvard Business School student, who wrote, in 2003, a light-hearted article in the school newspaper outlining the various ailments suffered by modern-day students.

McGinnis was apparently the guy who coined the FOMO acronym.  The Fear Of Missing Out, he said, leads to a state of over-commitment in which people pack a single evening with nearly a dozen events, from cocktails to dinners, parties and after-parties, and assorted gatherings and social events.  It eventually culminates, he said, in a drunken email at three in the morning to a jilted friend:  “Sorry I missed your 80’s theme party at Felt – you know that you are totally in my top 15.”

According to McGinnis missing out on a truly awesome event (despite the jam-packed schedule) caused people to become hesitant about committing to anything for certain, always holding out for the “better option.”  This syndrome he dubbed as FOBO:  “The Fear of Better Options.”

This video features an interview on London Real with Patrick McGinnis describing how he came up with FOMO.

(You can get the free full interview by clicking HERE.)

In his student article, McGinnis posits that while full-on FOMO takes a tremendous amount of energy and is terribly wearing after a while; aggressive FOBO alienates your friends.

(Keep telling your friends that their “do” is only a possible good option often enough, and your friends stop asking you to come hang with them.)

Yo-yoing between the two extremes eventually leads to what McGinnis called FODA, “the Fear of Doing Anything.”

Over the next decade or so, McGinnis’ seed-concepts and his acronyms took root, and grew and grew.  They even sprouted new FO-acronyms.

Meanwhile, McGinnis went on to become a venture capitalist, private equity investor and the author of THE 10% ENTREPRENEUR:  Live Your Start-Up Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job, where he shows you how by investing ten percent of your time and energy, you can become an entrepreneur without losing your steady paycheck.


Folks who pooh-pooh this phenomenon argue that FOMO is a “first world problem.” The people afflicted by it have to have some degree of social mobility, at least some discretionary spending, and the leisure time to actually worry about this kind of social comparison.

If you’re busy worrying about where your next meal is coming from, you’re not going to be too concerned about all this stuff, they say.

This doesn’t make the effects of the syndrome any less real for the people who are suffering behind it.

The “reasonable” voices made no headway against the excesses that keeping up with the Joneses brought on.  They make none against the ones evoked by FOMO and FOBO and FODA (and all the other FO-acronyms) either.

Social psychologist Andrew Przybylski and his colleagues defined FOMO as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, FOMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.”  Their 2013 study apparently cemented the legitimacy of the complaint.

Other, subsequent studies pointed out that not only do sufferers of FOMO need to stay connected, they also get to feeling like they want to be doing whatever the ones they’re connected to are doing.

They start thinking that maybe what they are doing in their own lives is unsatisfactory.

Dissatisfaction becomes the order of the day.

Status anxiety runs rampant.

It seems like any time we start comparing our circumstances with the typically rosy picture others present of their own lives on any social media, ours comes off looking worse in comparison.  Every time one of our besties does well we get to feeling like it sucks to be us.  ARGH!

Then comes the part where you feel like a turd and a bad person because you just can’t-can’t-can’t be happy for your own dearest friend one more time.


According to one mind-game theory, human motivation comes from three things: (a) autonomy (the need for self-direction), (b) competence (the need to feel effective), and (c) relatedness (the need to feel connection with others).

All three of these are powerful, fundamental needs that every one of us requires to feel good about ourselves.

If one of the three is out of whack, we are very likely to feel lessened and our motivational power takes a nose-dive.

Social media postings about our triumphs and the resultant validations can be a major high point for each of us.  They make us rev our engines, help us maintain our momentum, and keep us trucking onward.

The problem is most of us don’t just go from triumph to triumph.

All of us have down-times and off-days and downright horrid stuff dumping on our heads at any given time.

We tend to forget that what is true for us is probably true for all the golden people and social media bright-lights as well.

Then all that glowing good jazz that’s happening to Other People can really be a downer when you’re in the middle of a cycle of suck your own self.


Much of the speculation about FOMO and its effects on chronic sufferers seem to conclude that the condition is curable.

Often suggested are things like going cold-turkey and taking a rest from all the social media surfing, developing an attitude of gratitude for life as you know it, and spending some time hanging with and appreciating your own self and your own life and your own accomplishments.

In other words, the way to balance an out-of-whack need for connection is to go back to validating your own self – finding and committing to your own path and your own direction, remembering your own competences and achievements.  Hmmmm….

Here’s another take on the issue of FOMO.  This video by the School of Life points to another way of looking at things….

And here’s a poem about a memory from younger days:


I am remembering the cousins.

We are sitting around the patio table.

The tabletop’s covered with old newspapers.

We are cracking open juicy, fat crabs

And digging out the meat,

And slurping it on down.

I am remembering the constant game we played.

“You- snooze-you-lose,” it was called.


The cousins never waited.

They always got theirs, and

If you were slow and didn’t know how,

They took some of yours too….

All of it, if they could.

And they laughed and teased the little one

Trying so hard to keep up.



And maybe that is why

When things don’t flow and things don’t move forward apace,

There is this pressure in the back of my head,

And why jogs and jigs and zigs and zags

Feel like tragedy waiting to happen,

And why the world seems to be laughing

As I keep on stumbling and bumbling.



I am wary still of the snatching hands

That seize my share of joys and prizes

When I am not quick enough, not smart enough,

Not strong enough, not anything enough.

I can still hear the echoes of the teasing

And it makes me want to run faster,

Try harder, jump higher…all that stuff.



Maybe it’s time to stop playing that game.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Reservoir Climb by Erick Gonzalez via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Tobin Hart, in his book THE FOUR VIRTUES, defines “creation” as “harnessing the capacity to take action.”  Everything can “do” stuff….it’s why we’re here on the planet, apparently.  (Even rocks and dirt can “do” stuff.)  What turns doing into creating is what Making is all about:  a purposeful directing of energies that brings something new into existence.

Piling a bunch of rocks into a heap is doing.  Taking that same pile of rocks and turning it into a wall for a house, a taro paddy, or a fort…that’s creating.  Creation has an effect on the world.  And it requires some kind of mind to harness the doing energy purposefully.

The mind doesn’t necessarily have to be human.  After all, birds and wasps can build nests.  The main thing that differentiates human Making from animal Making seems to be the sheer volume of different things humans set out to make.

Humans are more likely to just play with the materials at hand in new and different ways to produce an extraordinary variety of often-useless objects that become a new part of the world.  Humans also tend to imbue their creations with extraneous meanings, making up stories that we call “voice” and “vision” to the things.

I suppose that’s also a part of Making.  Hmmm….

Here’s a TEDxBedford talk by David Litchfield who is a teacher at Bedford College as well as a professional illustrator who does work for The Beano and the Telegraph among other publications.

His talk, How Doing a Drawing a Day Changed My Life, is a perfect illustration of what comes of Making…the building of a whole new mindset and a whole other world to inhabit.  To my mind, that is Making at its finest.

Here’s a poem for all the ones who back away saying, “Oh, I’M not creative.”:


I always have to giggle

When people tell me,

“Oh, I’m not Creative.”

I wonder whether they’re thinking

They are dumb-ass zombies,

Shuffling dull-eyed through the world

Losing bits of themselves, all unaware,

Like a pigeon dumping a load

On some old statue’s head

Without even noticing.


I want to shake them, you know.

I want to slap their heads.

I mean, WOW!

I want to tell them,

“Don’t you know?

Don’t you understand?

You’re human, dude!

You were born a Maker….

The evidence is all around you!”


Here we are…all us Makers

And don’t we spend our days Making?

Making do…

Making trouble…

Making excuses…

Making right…

Making wrong…

Making, making, making.

And now you’re trying to tell me

The flow of the Creative

Detours around you?



by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  JUMP IN by H. Michael Miley via Flickr [CC BY-SA  2.0]

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Very often we are told that the best way to solve any Problem is to concentrate and focus down and down into it, blanking out everything except that Problem.  The Problem becomes a world all by itself.  By delving into it deeper and deeper, you’re supposed to be able to pull out a solution that should, logically, solve the silly thing.

There are all kinds of books and videos and so on and so forth about this…all kinds of how-to-do-it and do-it-yourself info.  It’s how you’re supposed to do things, and there are a lot of people who will tell you how.

Most of the time, this strategy works fine.  Sometimes it does not.

The thing about this particular strategy is this:  there will be times when you’ll expend a lot of head-achey, heart-breaky effort and you’ll wind up repeating and reiterating the same so-called solutions everyone else who ever focused down on a particular Problem found.  These tried-and-true solutions may not be completely effective.  They may just be “regular” stuff people always do when faced with such a problem.

The solutions you find using this strategy probably will work just about the same way as all the rest of the solutions that others have found.  It’s possible that the old trite answers will fall apart in the same way they have always done as well.

In order to tell when the tried-and-true road is less than optimal, all you have to do is check the results that other people who tried it got.  Perhaps the results they got are not satisfactory for you.  “Good enough” may not be where you’re trying to go.

There are other ways of looking at a Problem that can produce fresh, wondrous, and often peculiar, things.   There are other ways to play.


Now, think about this:  What happens when you take a step back from the thing you’re seeing?  Instead of having The Problem looming large and important, blocking out your entire view of the world, you might, instead, notice the area around the Problem.

Maybe if you pay better attention to how The Problem is affecting the larger spaces you see when you step back, you might notice some detail you missed when your focus was so laser-sharp.  Maybe you’ll be able to notice another way to go next…something that might actually help mitigate the effects of the Problem better than a frontal, deep-drilling, logical approach.

Jumping into the fray before you’ve actually looked at the whole tangled mess as well as the space all around it often means you are ignoring some valuable information – like where all the exits are, for example, and whether there are more than one path that you might like to explore.  Stepping back and checking the spaces all around The Problem can lead you into unfamiliar, exciting new directions…or maybe not.  When you’re exploring new uncharted territory, there can be risks.

“Danger! No Walking Backwards” by Matthew Klein via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]


In this YouTube TEDxMarthasVineyard talk “Step Back and Look Again” the self-styled artist-designer-activist Sebastian Errazuriz details how he has developed and uses the practice of stepping back and widening his focus so that a Problem is just a part of a bigger world rather than the only part of the world he can see.  He uses this mindset to make his extraordinary art/design work.

Errazuriz is internationally acclaimed for standing different.  His work always surprises and frequently enchants.  It also often provokes controversy.  It is “remarkable” —  the subject of many remarks.

His explorations – from his artful public installations and political and social statements (some of which he talks about in the video)  to his product designs that include experimental furniture that move and flow gracefully; fashion designs that include fanciful 3-D printed shoe-sculptures that recall past relationships as well as a fur coat made out of (gulp!) teddy bear skins and a dress made entirely out of zippers; and transportation options like a motorboat coffin – have been celebrated in over forty international exhibits or featured on magazine covers and in assorted books and catalogues, and critiqued or exclaimed over in thousands of articles and on television.

There is even a book about his work, THE JOURNEY OF SEBASTIAN ERRAZURIZ.

The man’s body of work asks you to “look again,” to see what is hidden in front of your eyes and to really notice how extraordinary this world can be.


Stepping back and taking another look apparently opens up the possibility that you will be more likely to see other ways of doing things that don’t involve getting caught up and trapped in a particular Problem.

Your visions and the things that grow out of them will probably be very different than what you’ve thought before.   Perhaps you’ll discover some interesting lessons (also known as “mistakes”).  Perhaps this way of Un-Seeing might lead to your finding uniquely effective solutions.

Step back….look.  What do you see?

Here’s a poem:



I’m really liking where I’ve put my head…

I’m standing here, looking at this World of Dust,

Seeing it as a mirror,

A kaleidoscopic construct of shards and tiles

Made of fun-house mirror glass –

Each one reflecting an image

That is quintessentially human.


Every bit of it shines.

Every movement of the one standing in front of it

Is echoed in that mirror-mosaic that

Repeats a captured image endlessly…

Maybe into infinity.


If you stand too far away from the mirror that’s the World,

Then the thing is just a lovely bit of shiny…

Mildly interesting in a sort of kitschy, impersonal way,

But not particularly arresting because,

Let’s face it…f’r real,

The way us humans are built,

The most mind-catching thing

Is pretty much our own selves.

If we’re not in it, whatever it is doesn’t mean much.


Step close enough so

You can see yourself echoed in the glass

And the mirror-wall becomes

An animated interactive thing…

Interesting – fascinating , even.


But if you try to encompass it all,

Try to see the bigger picture

Of you and everybody else reflected in it,

Your monkey-mind goes boggling off,

Gagging on the overload.


The crazy bent-glass bits

Distort the images they capture

And send them back bent out of shape,

Warped into patterns

That merge and dance before your eyes.

You can’t make sense of what you see,

But your diligent little monkey-mind keeps trying.


Step in too close and focus

On one little bit and you

Miss out on the impact of

The beautiful play of movement

Across the patterns of that glassy wall.


But then it hit me:

The construct’s really just a wall, you know.

You don’t get to step inside it

Just by looking at it…

No matter how hard you try.


It’s a reflecting mirror-wall, silly,

All it does is bounce back images at you

And the images …

Well, they’re just little bits of

The you who is dancing there

In front of it.

It’s not SUPPOSED to enfold you.

(Who wants to get hugged by a wall?)


And then it occurred to me…


Somewhere in that wall,

There’s an entryway –

Some secret door or

Maybe a hidden panel

That you press.

Maybe you can’t see it if

You’re dazzled by the image-dance.


And maybe that is why

You have to reach out and

Touch that wall…

Run your hands along it,

Making fingerprint smears all over it,

So you can find that hidden door

The one that opens up into

The Mystery that

The world-wall surrounds….


Ho, wow!

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Mirror Wall by Jason Meredith via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

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The wise guys tell us that most of the phenomena in the world are the results of consensus and moving energy.  They are part of the larger dance that includes everything and everybody.  How you see it is filtered through your own memories and the patterns of behavior built up by past experiences.

But then, one day you look up and notice that the world-as-you-know-it has changed so much you don’t recognize anything any more.  What do you do then?


Many wise guys say  that most of the world’s phenomena often have little noticeable impact  on you except as they accumulate all together.  It’s like the long-term effects of accretion and erosion — Earth-energy things.  It’s a slow-flowing liquid movement, like the movement of glass, for instance, or a glacier, and you are just one particle in all of this.

Margerie Glacier by Kimberly Vardeman via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
For decades it all goes along in a way that is understandable and part of a continuum that you are able to embrace because it just is a continuance of what has gone before.  And then comes the landslide, the calving iceburg, the new discovery, the game-changing world event…and everything is different and you’re there scratching your head.  Huh?


Some people say your view of the whole thing is like that of an ant lugging along a bit of a bread crumb with his buddies.  You, the ant, are doing your thing.  And the whole rest of it goes on around you.  You and the guys get the crumb home.  There’s a party.  Whoop-de-doo!  Life goes on.

Then one day some bozo drops poisoned ant bait on the counter and you and the guys lug it on home and it all changes.  Oy!


The best way to navigate in a world of change, according to the wise guys, is to try releasing old stuff — letting go of being an ant locked into ant-ness.  If you can do that, then you can stay in touch with the world all around you.  You have a better understanding about what is going on and you can respond better as a result.

In the following YouTube video, “Letting Go of the Old World,” the author of the book RESILIENCE FROM THE HEART:  The Power to Thrive in Life’s Extremes, Gregg Braden, tells a story about people in a town who are stuck because they are waiting for things to return to their old “normal.”

Braden says the old normal is not going to be coming back.  His suggestion for avoiding being overcome by the extreme changes in this post-modern world is the same as the ancient wise guys:  Let Go.

What Braden suggests is another way of Un-Seeing and , for real, it is very hard to do.


I do like Braden’s suggestion about properly mourning the world that is gone and then turning around to face the future again.  Somehow, that seems likely to make it a little bit easier, maybe.

Here’s a poem….


Okay, new project:

Letting go of all the dreams already blown away on

The whirling blusters that blast through my days,

Unheeding of the time and care I lavished on the silly things.


It’s not like they’re anywhere close by, those dreams.

They’re probably in Kansas by now.

They really were cool.

Everything just so….

The perfect this,

The stellar that.


Oh, dear…

Oh, my…

Oh, me….


Wise guys say it should not matter,

That the dreams are all illusion anyhow,

But what do THEY know?

All THEY ever want to look at is the Big Empty –

The same one that’s sucked up

Every one of those rainbow-colored ice cream sherbet dreams

That probably would have melted into sticky goopy puddles anyhow.


I wonder what those wise guys see in that Empty place….

And, don’t go telling me about the Empty that’s Full

‘Cause right now I am THIS close to bopping you!


It does make me wonder…

How come those dreams flew off and I didn’t?

Why am I still standing in this poppy field?

Who knows?


I wonder where they went, those dreams.

I hope it’s a nice place.

They really were some good little dreams….

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Ants Carry Off Some Bread by Tom Houslay via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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PRODUCT (Book)THE GO-GIVER:  A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea

AUTHORS:  Bob Burg and John David Mann

PUBLISHER:  Portfolio/Penguin [2007, 2015]


Parables are a story-telling format used since ancient times to impart wisdoms for living.  It’s a cool way to present big concepts without lecturing.

Religious leaders and philosophers are not the only ones who have made use of parables to great effect.  In more recent times a number of scientists and business thought leaders have tapped into the power of the parable.

Some of the more noteworthy of the latter include:


One reviewer at “Retailing Insight” described THE GO-GIVER as a cross between JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL and THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE and went on to praise it as “an uplifting quick read of a book that will appeal to consumers who want to bring more heart and a holistic sense of mission to their livelihoods.”

Here’s a YouTube video, “A Quick and Really Fun Overview of the Go-Giver” by one of the authors, Bob Burg:

Mann and Burg present one simple, old idea:  “Give and you shall receive.”  In their parable, a frustrated up-and-coming go-getter named Joe seeks out a remarkable man named Pindar who agrees to tell Joe the “secret” to a successful life.  It will take five meetings spread over five consecutive days, he says.

The only condition Pindar imposes is that Joe has to apply this new knowledge to his own life in a practical way before meeting with Pindar for the next lesson.

After the book came out in 2007, the authors started hearing from people around the world who had enthusiastically embraced the concepts they presented in the book.  Book clubs read the book and pondered on the ideas.  Study groups and workshops organized by businesses, houses of worship and community groups sprang up.  Folks really liked the message.

The authors co-wrote a couple of companion books, GO-GIVERS SELL MORE and THE GO-GIVER LEADER.  They even started a website to answer questions and continue the still-ongoing discussions about all this.

THE GO-GIVER is now called “a classic,” and the latest edition is an expanded version.


Pindar’s “Laws of Stratospheric Success” are simple.  Their nuances and ramifications are large.

THE LAW OF VALUE.  Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.

THE LAW OF COMPENSATION.  Your income is determined by how many people you serve them.

THE LAW OF INFLUENCE.  Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.

THE LAW OF AUTHENTICITY.  The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.

THE LAW OF RECEPTIVITY.  The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

Reading those statements without the parable probably has you going, “Yeah…so?”  You know, gut-deep, that these “laws” are very old human truths.  You’ve probably even gotten a lecture or two on one or more of them in your life.

Maybe you dismissed them as idealistic gassing that melts like snow in the heat of the “real world.”  You are likely to agree they’re really good ideas, but somehow you doubt that they’re effective in modern life.

What you might want to look at more thoroughly are the premises on which these laws are based as well as the effects following the laws potentially might have.  That’s all in the story.

The authors and the people who’ve tried to practice these principles say the laws work in all the various facets of human interaction – in relationships (family, friends, and business dealings), in self-development and in developing businesses and community.


Go get THE GO-GIVER.  Read it.  Think on it.  Do it.  That plan has apparently worked for hundreds of thousands of other people.  Maybe they’ll work for you too.

Here’s a poem written for a brilliant young student of an old Hawaiian master musician who died. Listening to the young man evokes memories of the stylings of his old teacher and those of us who knew him can hear the old one playing along.  (The word “mana’o” is Hawaiian for “knowledge.”  “Mahalo” is Hawaiian for “thank you.”)



Of all the ones he ever touched,

Of all the ones he tried to reach,


You heard him.


The core of him was in his giving,

The mana’o that he had to share.


You heard him.


On his work, he poured his passion,

And with open hands he offered it

To any who would stop to listen.


You heard him.


In his heart he understood, he knew,

That love and knowledge, hoarded, dies.


You heard him.


Our people died, their gifts unopened

By uncaring ones who could not hear,

Who only saw the surface treasures

And not the Spirit-beauty there.


You heard him.


His heart was drowning in deepest sorrow

For the death and dying of our people

And the beauty they would have shared.


You heard him.


And you try now, in your own way,

To keep your hands out and open,

Full of love, full of reverence for the ways of the old ones,

And, willingly, you try to share.


You heard him.


The gift he had, his greatest treasure,

Because you heard, lives on in you.


You heard him.


by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  (book) via

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