Keeping Up


Recently, I was in Florida visiting my mother for a few days. The bedroom that I stay in has a TV. No matter how many times I go through this, I have the experience of initially feeling excited at the prospect.of having such a guilty pleasure at my finger tips. I imagine how entertaining and how amazing it will be to lie in bed and have access to what 500 channels has to offer. Some old and misty feeling that comes up promising I will get a chance to have something I am otherwise “missing out” on.

And yet, what I forget each and every time is how gross I feel on some level when I am done. It’s like the equivalent of being a kid, and getting to eat candy corn morning, noon and night after Halloween. At first it feels like such an awesome decadence, only to find in the end how desperate you are for your mother to take it all away from you and cook you something real. Something of value. Something you can sink your teeth into.

I think I especially felt this way this time because this time I ran head first into “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” Sure, I had heard the references. I had even seen Kim splashed all over the tabloid-type magazines at the check-out counter. I thought I had a sense of what this was all about. Not even close.

In the episode I had the great and good fortune to tune into, Kim, her entourage and her family had traveled to Thailand. Thailand for goodness sake. If you know anything about these people, you know they would not be able to make it 5 minutes outside of Beverly Hills. And yet, there they were, in a Beverly Hills equivalent in Thailand.

So, while it took me some time to catch up to the setting, that would soon be completely eclipsed by the incessant self-involvement, self-centered, self-absorbed, did I say narcissistic drive to this “reality” show? I want to spare myself and you from elucidating on any more details, other than to say, how is it that we have elevated this to the status that it possesses in our culture? And while likely many of us would deny ever tuning in, someone is. As a matter of fact, millions and millions of us someone’s are.

I do not know whether to be more concerned for us and what we are being subjected to and led to believe. Or for the Kardashians, who although may look like the rich and famous heroes in their own stage performance, may wind up being the ones more harmed than any of the spectators to this distorted depiction of human life.

What I am especially concerned about here is the message that this and its enormous cultural influence is having on our children. Messages of self-centered-ness that run contrary to our best, biggest and brightest virtues, ideals, and values of being part of something more than yourself. Messages our children are receiving from a “reality” show and are “following” to the detriment of an actual and real life; one that is based on meaning, purpose, worthwhile expression and real connection.

Beyond any of the specifics around how our children engage with the screen technologies, when you strip it all down, what we are really talking about here is nothing less than who they are, and who they are to become. Nothing less than how they are to live their precious lives; what it is they will make most important, and what it is that we are teaching them about what they should expect from life.

It stands to reason then, given the enormity of this, that we need to be asking ourselves some very big questions around whether or not the “selfie” life, as brought to us by The Kardashians et al, is in alignment with the most noteworthy of our values and ideals. Whether or not this type of “entertainment” is what will make for a great human being, and what it is that our world most needs right now from all of us.

And while some may say that it’s no big deal, it’s just entertainment. Fun. A harmless distraction. Is it? Not according to the multitude of girls looking up to and hoping to build lives based on keeping up with Kim Kardashian. Those young ones learning to believe that your ability to look and come off as “perfect” all the time is the royal road to success, happiness, and admiration.

Is it any wonder they are believing such things? We, the adults in their lives, have too often vacated the role of determining for them what is of value, and what is not, leaving a giant void for the likes of the Kardashians to fill. We, as the adults, have so lost track of the essential biological, psychological, social and emotional necessities of childhood that we have forgotten one of its central truths. That being, that our children model themselves after the examples they are given in life. That includes what they are watching on a screen. And that includes what they see us doing.

Couldn’t we do better? What about Keeping Up With The Dalai Lama? Or, Keeping Up With The Woman Who Found A Way To Give Shelter To Dozens Of Homeless People During A Dangerous Cold Snap? Or, Keeping Up With New Zealand’s Ban On Assault Weapons? Or, how about this one, Keeping Up With A Parent Who Has Gotten Clear On What Kids Really Need Beyond The Demands And The Seductions of Screen Life?

We have some very, very important things to figure out here as a culture. Real things. Valuable things. Things that our children absolutely require to sink their teeth into as the basis for a good and nourishing life.



Hips are my Achilles heel. The place where imbalances, misuse and conditioning all come together to form a perfect storm of discomfort, stiffness and pain. Recently, while noticing how clenched one of my hips was, I caught myself saying to myself; “I don’t need that level of effort to hold myself up.” The thought stopped me. And while I was talking to and about my musculature, it also served to reference a way of how I am in the world. As in all of the ways where I do more than my share, and then clench against the effort. The ways where I tighten up against what another is doing. Or not doing.

We all do it. “It” being the way we clamp down, tighten, stiffen, and over-effort. All of the ways that our bodies express and hold the tightness that our minds cannot seem to let go of. And while it is so very easy to be annoyed and frustrated by what the body is dishing up, it literally holds a truth the mind is just not capable of. But to know this takes practice and patience. It takes more than anything else perhaps, a willingness to want to know. To move beyond the inconvenience and the conditioning. To move even beyond the places where you feel like you do not know enough, or aren’t capable of this level of communication with your very own body.

So, next time some part of your body is sending out a strong signal of pain or imbalance, could you carve out some time, as soon as is possible, to be with your body for a few brief moments? Maybe it is in the bathroom at work, or right before you fall asleep, or sitting in traffic. Slow your breathing. Feel what your body is supported by. Then say, “If this part of me could speak, it would say…” And then really, really listen.

Do you hear anything being spoken by your body that in any way describes how you are doing? Or what you are up against? Some larger theme in your life? Where you are stuck? A place where you just can’t let go or move on? An effort that needs to be put down? A fight that cannot be won?

The body is a messenger, and as the old saying goes “Don’t shoot the messenger.” How about if we took this one step further? How about if we wholeheartedly embraced the messenger? Especially when we found the message to be impossible to bear.

What’s Left To Say?


“It’s the only thing that never lets us down.”

This is spoken out loud in my college class as heads around the room nod in agreement. “It” are the cell phones. “Us” represents the generations of children, teens, and young adults coming up now.

What is most alarmingly absent in this statement is another “us.” As in the grown-ups of this generation.

Need more be said?

Yes, as a matter of fact there is.

What could each one of us do, in our own way, to never, ever give the impression to another human being that a machine could be counted on more than us?

The Real Culprit


(This post was co-written with Joanna Silverman, a good friend and a long-term educator who specializes in children’s social and emotional development.)

It seems like almost every other week the ante around our children and the screen technologies gets raised. The most recent incident involved an Internet hoax known as “The Momo Suicide Challenge;” an outrageous and fictionalized viral legend purported to be encouraging young children to kill themselves via a maniacal-looking doll face that supposedly popped up unbidden in the middle of children’s shows.

As women who have been critically looking at the ways that screen use impacts the emotional, social, mental and physical development of children for years, there is a sad irony being played out here. Worried parents are posting all over social media about the dangers of this made-up scourge. The news has covered it. Schools and pediatrician offices have made public service announcements to encourage parents to monitor their children online; warning them of the possible dangers.The irony begins to reveal itself here when we are willing to notice that all of this frenzied activity goes on while we often miss the most obvious of all the culprits around our children and the hazards of being online.

While we both appreciate the fear that this has raised in so many families, we are left wondering why there is not such an outpouring around the very real dangers our children face each and every day. Dangers, by the way, which we willingly allow them to be exposed to. But because they do not initially or obviously present as menacing, or because we have come to rely so heavily on the screens as entertainers, friends and babysitters for our children, we do not notice. More to the point, we do not want to notice. For to do so would require work; a kind of work that far exceeds posting a warning to other parents via social media. A kind of work that might go unnoticed, and would certainly garners no “likes.”

For starters, what about the daily erosions to our children’s innocence as they watch content that is far too mature for their age. Examples of this abound and are most noticeably played out in the hyper-sexualization of our girls at younger and younger ages.  And because we are a culture that has become perilously accustomed to the use of violence as entertainment, our boys are daily killing, maiming and torturing others in their “games.” Even when we say it is disturbing and that we do not like it, we merely shake our heads. But we don’t stop it.

Because the “dangers” to low self-esteem and poor body image do not have a gruesome face that can be easily posted in a way to make a parent’s blood boil, we let that one go. Even though how our children feel about themselves will inform every single thing that they do for the rest of their lives; their relationships, work satisfaction, health, happiness, and more. And what about their precious little bodies that require movement for them to be healthy in body and mind, but that we have somehow decided must not be that important as we put them in front of screens where they sit hunched and motionless. Literally frozen within themselves.

And even with the bigger issues like the link between anxiety (the leading mental health issue among our children) and the introduction of cell phones and social media with our kids, who is posting to start a movement on this one? Who is starting a campaign around the rise in self-harming behaviors among our children linked to screen use? Who is demanding public service announcements around eating disorders that are fueled by sites supporting and encouraging this behavior? And who’s post about the losses in childhood due to sleep deprivation, academic and behavior problems linked to screen use has gone viral?

If we were being honest, and if we were willing to look more closely, we would come to see that what we are saying yes to every day is far more likely to damage our children than any disfigured face.

Truly, the baddest boogey man of all can be found in the very things we are saying yes to on a regular basis. The very things that our children spend hours and hours each day doing with a screen. And yet, we do nothing. Why is this? Why are we so quick to push the panic button on a hoax, while we sit by watching the demise of childhood? Unfortunately, this says everything about us, and nothing about the ones who perpetrate such hoaxes. You see, we are ripe for the picking here. For in these rare and exaggerated moments we get to rise up, indignant, against the injustices being inflicted upon our children. Simultaneously, we get to keep doing what we are doing. No change required. No discomfort called for. And we get to give ourselves the congratulatory luxury of feeling as though we have really done something because we have posted something.

So the ante has certainly been raised. Again. And while it would be easy to make extreme occurrences the focus, what if we made the focus us? What if we got real with ourselves around why it is that we keep turning our children over to something that is not good, safe, or worthy of their childhood? What if the real culprit here is all that we are ignoring?





Many of us believe that once things settle down in our life, once something changes, once someone starts or stops doing what they are doing, then, finally, we will get to what it is that we are really wanting to get to for ourselves. Maybe it is a book. A moment on our own. A new movement practice. A bath. Peace of mind.

Whatever it is though, we wait, or fight, or rage, or despair, hoping and praying that things will line up just so from the outside in so that we will finally have the space to be able to get to… Or to feel… Or get a chance to…

We may wind up waiting for a very long time. For some of us, that will be the equivalent of a lifetime.

Getting to what it is that we need to do for ourselves can only happen in any given moment. As in, right now. For the truth is, it is never an issue of some future configuration of things or other people’s actions, where the door will magically swing open, and there we will be; at the very place we have dreamed of. Finally.

Instead, what if it was about getting to what you need to get to for yourself, right now? With things exactly as they are. With not a single thing needing to be different outside of you.

If this makes sense to you, I offer you a powerful practice I have been working with. As I enter into my day with all that it asks of me from the outside world, I ask myself; “How can I make this work for me?” 

If you can get past the initial knee-jerk reaction that this is selfish, or that others will somehow be left out of the equation, or think ill of you, you will be gifted in the most unexpected and satisfying of ways. And literally, there is nothing you need to figure out or make happen. All that you have to do is to lightly hold that question in your mind as you move through your day. “How can I make this work for me?”

Try it.