Thursday, November 30, 2006

She says, "The Living Situation"...I add, "...from hell!"

Dear Wanda,

A very good friend of mine introduced your website to me and I hope you will have a moment to give me some advice on the situation I am in.

I am currently living in southern France, waiting for my residence permit, going to school, having a somewhat typical student life. I am having some disturbances in my living situation: I am staying with a French man ( in his 60s' or 70s') who is working as a pharmacist ( I am not sure how much he works though) We share an one bedroom apartment. He is my landlord but he pays the rent to the "real" landlord. He sleeps in the living room and I sleep in the bedroom.

When you open the door, living room is on the left hand side and there is a small hall way in which situate bathroom and toilette; at the end of the hall way, there is my room. The disturbing parts are:

1/. Whenever I open the door, alone or with my friends, almost every single time, there he is: naked in front of the porn and jerking off! The scene traumatized one of my friends and surely me as well, especially when I got back one day at 2 PM, he was doing the same thing! 2PM?! 2PM?!

2/. He insults me, judges me for no reason and blames me for the things I never did like an addiction. For example: I am at the point where I am afraid to come back to the apartment. So I leave the place in the morning and I usually get back about midnight. I have not used the kitchen for at least three days.

He comes in my room when he wants and complains that my room is not tidy enough. Tonight, he yelled me for "messing up" the kitchen that I hadn't stepped in the past 72 hours and that I lived like a F&*^ing pig, and that I needed to clean the kitchen up. When I tried to explain, he
told me to shut up and just clean up the mess. Alright, I did. I had no desire to get into a fight at midnight.

I am a literature and language student. I've already graduated and I am currently in a program to improve my French but at the same thing I am doing Italian literature and German. For him, I am a complete loser. He kept pushing me to get a job. He swam open my door while I was still asleep a couple of weekends ago at 8AM trying to get me out of bed to look for a job.

I am taking almost 30 credits at school and I have left my resumes in many places. This is the low season in France, and most of the places want only full time workers. Yes, for the moment, I am job-less. I quit my job when the school started because the work schedule didn't fit my school schedule at all. Money is important, but my education comes first, in any case.

His vocabulary will be something desired. "F&^%" can be used as an adverb, adjective, noun, verb, it can even an independent sentence all by itself; it is a useful word, but don't wear it out!

You may be wondering why I haven't moved out this place. I am waiting for a convocation that would allow me to pick up my residence card from the Prefecture. But there had been some complications on the immigration office and the post office... long story short; I can't move out of this place until I get my residence card. I on the other hand have no idea at all when I will receive that golden convocation and get my rights back. I think I will have to be nice to him for a while because he has my 300 euros deposit.

He finished a book on how to take vitamins and nature weight lose. He is seriously over weight, and it is obviously that he tries very hard to take care of himself: 20 kinds of tablets every meal, every day; 5 kinds of facial cleanser or night cream/day cream all over the bathroom. He was
expecting me to help him sell the books by going to pharmacies one by one and trying to have the owner take the books. I am afraid it is not going to happen because I have school. He has strong mood swings, he could be really happy for one hour and becomes a complete monster the next. I am truly at the point where I desperately try to stay out of the apartment as much as I
can. I leave the place in the early morning for school and I get back as late as I can, hoping he would be asleep by then.

This is a big city and I don't seem to find a place to hide. Please let me know what you think of it.


Emma K.

Dear Emma K.,

RUN! Run as if your very life depended on it.

He may not be physically abusive, but this is emotionally and sexually abusive, even if he never touches you.

What would I do? I would start looking at options for social services to help women deal with sexually abusive situations. I don't know the system in France, but I would certainly go to any social service agencies that might sound like options and they will be able to steer you toward the ones who know what to do.

If I had to, I would go to my embassy. In the meantime, look for other options (even if it is spending the night with friends). You must take care of yourself.

That's what I'd do.


You may send your questions to or post them by clicking on "comments" below.

A Cyber Fan Speaks....

Anonymous said...

Wanda, where are you? I keep checking. I keep hoping you'll write again. Come back if you can.

A cyber fan.

Dear Fan,

I am honored, indeed. Thanks for inviting me back. Parts of my life are settling down. I have postings in line. I shall return!

Thanks for your persistence in checking back. I do appreciate your loyalty.

Here I come...
ready or not.


You may send a question to Wanda by posting a comment below or by sending an email to

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chicken Makes Visit to Hospital

Dear Wanda,

We have a friend in the hospital who has been in and out for several months now do to having his body severly injured in a horse riding accident. We talked to a mutual friend today who said that depression is really setting in on him.

I think we will make the 100 mile drive up to see him but don't know exactly what to say to him or bring to him that would help him out. We haven't seen him since the accident. We have talked about it but I guess have been chicken. What would do you in our position?

Dear Chicken,

First, I send good wishes to your friend and hope he has a good team of doctors, as well as a lot more people like you on his side.

Our culture isn't very good about teaching us how to deal with injury and grief and loss. Mostly, we are expected to keep a stiff upper lip and make our lives look as normal as possible. The fact that you are "chicken" is pretty common. Give yourself a break about that. Just remember that this guy is your friend and you love him and you want to help. Good intentions go a long way.

I am also pleased that you are looking for information, knowing that you don't know what to do. Good intentions are wonderful and having ideas, tools, and skills can make the whole process easier on you, too.

Depression is common after a serious injury or illness. Much of the depression is biochemical because the body requires so much energy to heal and deal with the injury's shock to the system. The adrenals take a huge hit with this kind of accident and once the life threatening portion of the process is over, depression can set in while the body it trying to restore its equilibrium. I once knew a guy who was an Ironman Triathlete. I asked him what he felt after he had finished a competition and he said, "Depressed." The demand takes all his juice and it takes time to recover.

When the shock is not intentionally self-imposed (as in an Ironman competition), we tend to think that the depression is purely emotional. Our ideas about depression and emotional difficulties in this culture are unkind at best and self-destructive at worst. (That, however, is probably the fodder for another post at another time.)

What Would Wanda Do?

I would go visit my friend. I'd take the visit as it comes and "pace" him. Pacing is a concept from Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP). What I'd do is meet the person where he is. I'd match his energy level and his current level of expression to develop rapport. In other words, I would just be with him. Does that mean I would become depressed if he is depressed? No. It means, if he is depressed, I would keep my initial energy level low. I wouldn't come in and start laughing and joking and slapping him on the back. I would test the waters and see how he is feeling. I wouldn't patronize or talk down to him. I would just match him. A really good way to develop rapport is to begin to breathe at the same pace he is breathing. Some of us do this unconsciously; however, in matching his breathing consciously, I am purposefully saying non-verbally, "I am with you. We'll take this at your pace."

After developing rapport, I might begin to "lead" him a bit. Leading is also an NLP concept. Once I have rapport, I can begin to take the lead and see if he follows. I might start to smile a little bit more (on purpose) and tell him stories that are lighthearted to see if he is able to let them in. If he can't start to smile and lighten up with me, then I would back down again and just be with him where he is.

Since I am also a massage therapist, I would probably ask him if I could touch him. You don't say what his injuries are, but I would ask to touch him in a way that wouldn't hurt or jostle his owies. Ideally, if I could touch his back without hurting him, I would put my hands on his adrenals. The adrenals are small glands that sit on top of each kidney at the lower part of the ribcage. Probably, I would just put my hand on his back and hold it there with the sense that I was supporting his adrenals in their recovery. I'd send his adrenals good energy.

If touching his back wasn't possible because of his injuries, I might hold his hand or give him a hand rub or a foot rub--something to make contact with him physically. Touch is an important part of healing and hospitals don't provide for much of it other than turning or poking or prodding and such.

Last, I would talk with him. I'd tell him stories that are light and funny or amusing. I would catch him up on people we both know and care about. If he got around to talking about his depression at all, I would tell him that it is normal to feel some depression after an incident like this and that a big portion of it is physical rather than just emotional. Having that information can take a big part of the worry out of the depression.

Most of all, I would just love him and do my best for him to feel it while I was with him and for a long time after.

That's what I'd do. I hope this helps.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Checking in....

I am sorry to be gone so long. Sometimes priorities shift. I have had family responsibilities requiring my attention lately, so I haven't been able to get to your questions.

I ask for your patience and continued presence. Please, keep checking back. I'll be back soon.

In the meantime, please know that I am thinking of you and missing you all, too.

More soon...


Please email your questions to or post them as a comment by clicking "comments" below.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Take the High Road--Always the High Road

I work for an organization that is lacking in integrity and where employees are treated very poorly. My particular boss (a supposed leader in the organization) is immature, retaliatory and volatile. I am in a leadership position and have a lot of responsibility for setting strategic direction in my area. I have a terrific team of professionals that I work with and that is the best part of my job.

I am looking for other work partly because the work environment is toxic and the people I work with, in my professional field, are the meanest group of people I've ever met. I don't feel that my professional expertise and judgment are valued or appreciated - in fact, I feel that I'm resented for the work I do.

My question has to do with my own professional integrity as I look for other work. At my level, I would expect to have a candid conversation with my director about my job search so we could do some transition planning for a significant body of work that will come up after the first of the year. However, there could possibly be some retribution if I make my wishes known or at least he could make my life a living hell.

I am torn because I care about the work I do and don't want to leave my wonderful team in the lurch. I also feel strongly about the "right thing to do." I don't want my last weeks there to be hellish, especially since I don't have an exit date. What would Wanda do???

Sounds like a great place to be leaving, even though your team is terrific. My guess is that your team is great because you are there. You bring something to that toxic, intolerable situation that no one else does. Your team is lucky to have you and will miss you, no doubt.

Your boss, on the other hand, sounds like a bully. Perhaps, if you tell him you are leaving and he starts acting out on you, you can bring his behavior to light and call him on it. That could be a great gift to the organization and to your team if he were dealt with and his harmful behavior were minimized.

Take the high road--that's what I'd do. I would check with myself and ask, "How do I need to handle this for me so that I have no regrets--no shoulda, coulda, woulda?" Bottom line I have to live with myself long after this particular job is done.

I would do what my professional ethics tell me to do and have the conversation with my director about the transition planning. I would behave as if the organization appreciated my expertise and professionalism and give them the highest level of service I would want to give to any organization. This one may not appreciate it, but if you can do that for people who don't treat you well, then the next employer who is looking for your level of professionalism will be thrilled. I would do my best to give my current employer nothing to complain about professionally.

If my life became hellish because I made the "right" decisions, I would deal with those things one at a time. Gentle confrontation can work wonders. Whenever I am in a difficult situation that requires confrontation, I do my best to maintain my highest integrity and have no regrets about what I say or do. Often with bullies, all you have to do is stand up to them and they buckle. If you need other tools, check in again.

I hope that helps. That's what I'd do.


Email your questions to or post them as "comment" below.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More BABIES!!??

Dear Wanda,

One of my oldest and dearest friends is in a dilemma and I don't know what to tell her. After years of fertility treatments she and her husband adopted a baby. Two years after that they had a biological child of their own without even trying.

Her husband always said he only wanted two kids and now he is ready to have a surgical procedure to prevent any more babies in their family. At one time she agreed on the 2 but now she isn't ready for him to make that decision permanent. She feels really strongly in her heart that she needs to try again.

She is always asking me what to do and I don't know what to tell her. I am not going to get in the middle of that one. Of course, as her friend I want to take her side, but as a parent of 2 kids myself, I totally see his point. I also understand at her age with the struggle she went through that she may still have that 'baby bug.'

What would you tell her (or not tell her)?


Glad I am done with that

Dear Glad,

Not getting in the middle sounds like a really wise decision. She is ambivalent. Her husband has been clear and continues to be clear about his position. Sounds like the two of them have some interesting discussions ahead of them. Maybe a professional could help.

I would start by saying, "I can't tell you what to do. When you ask me that, what is it that you really are wanting?" If she says, "I really want you to tell me what to do!" Then the two of you can laugh together and it might be a light spot for her. She might not even know for sure what she is wanting and asking her could help her get clearer.

Then I would say, "I can't tell you what to do. I have thought a lot about your situation and what you have gone through and wondered what I would do if I were in your shoes." Then, if she still wanted to talk about it, I might tell her what I had been thinking: "I can understand both sides of the issue. Your husband has been very clear all along that he only wants two children. For him, having another biological child isn't important. On the other hand, now that you have one of your own, having another one seems important to you. I can understand that, too. There is not one right answer here. What is important is that you and he work it out so that you come to a mutual agreement, because in the long run that will deepen your relationship."

I would go on to say, "Could you ask him not to have the surgery yet? He has been clear about what he wants, and he may remain clear. However, if you tell him you are having second thoughts and want some more time, he might be willing to process the issue with you. Could you ask him to talk to a therapist with you? This is a situation where someone who is trained in working with couples might be able to help the two of you process this difference in opinion and desire. Maybe you will change your mind. Maybe he will change his. Maybe nothing will change. Even if the latter is true, you can come to some understanding between the two of you that can help your relationship down the road."

This kind of dilemma is very important in a relationship. If they can get through it skillfully, it can bring them closer and help them understand each other, as well as increase their mutual respect. If they bumble through it and one or both of them makes a decision based on capitulation and resentment, it can destroy the relationship later if not sooner.

I would encourage her to find a way to work this through with her husband. In some regards, the decision they make is not nearly as important as working it out so that they both feel heard and respected. Hopefully, they will end up seeing eye to eye whatever decision they end up making.

That's what I'd do. I hope this helps.


Please send your questions to or post them below by clicking on "comments".

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Help me, Wanda, to get motivated!

Dear Wanda, what is a good way to get motivated to do a big project that you just don't want to take the time or the energy to do?......example: painting the last 2 rooms left to paint in my house!

Good question. Interestingly enough, this is not a simple question to answer because motivation differs from one person to another. Some people are motivated by finding pleasure, some by avoiding pain or displeasure. Some are motivated by rewards (buying that CD or pair of slacks you've been wanting), some by the intrinsic value of the project ("The house will be finished!" or "Those two rooms look so much better--now I can stand to go in them!"). So the answer for Wanda very well might not be the answer for you. The question then becomes, "What motivates you?"

An issue of consideration is "How am I feeling?" If I am tired and worn, not very much could motivate me to paint two rooms of my house--not even having my mother come to visit.

Another thing to consider: "What are my priorities?" If I have vegetables to can that will spoil while I am painting, then the veggies become the priority. If I don't have any energy left after the canning, then the painting will just have to wait. I might have other deadlines to meet that will cost me late fees that I don't want to pay (pain avoidance) and that outweighs my desire to paint the rooms (search for beauty and completion). The bills become a higher priority.

But for the sake of this question, let's assume we are healthy and have some energy and that we don't have pressing needs above the painting.

You don't say whether you have kids. If this were my chore and I had kids, I would give them some paint (something that my final coat would cover) and let them have at the room. How much fun would that be? Let them paint whatever they want (remember to test this stuff so you know your final coat will cover it!) and everybody could have a good time doing it. Then...the place would be such a mess after we had had a really good time, I would be motivated to put on the finish coat and make the room look like new.


I would schedule it in my calendar. I'd make a date with myself and my paint roller. I actually like painting. More to the point, I like the finished product. I would put it in my date book and let nothing else get in the way, and I would revel in the feeling of watching the chore be accomplished...inch by lovely inch.

Either way, I'd try to make it fun.

That's what I'd do.


Email your question to or post it as a comment by clicking on "Comments" below. (Comments are welcome, too!)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I'll be BACH...

...and you be Beethoven.


So, I had a very successful shopping trip. For the record, I went to IKEA and found several things I was hoping to find. Those of you who are familiar with the store know what that means--the last two days, I have been putting things together and getting stuff put away.

Please, bear with me and keep coming back. I will answer your questions. Promise.

Have a good Sunday!


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You won't hear Wanda say this very often--

What would Wanda do?

I'd go shopping.

That's right. I have a big day planned tomorrow so I won't get to your questions. However, I do thank you for sending them in. Please keep them coming and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Until then, I'll miss you.


Send your questions to

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What to Ask Wanda...

I am sure you lie awake nights wondering: "What should I ask Wanda? Would this topic be okay? Or this one? What if she doesn't know anything about that?"

By all means ask the question. Wanda knows about a lot of different things and even if she doesn't know anything, she probably has an opinion. You can rest assured, however, that if she doesn't know, she is not afraid to say so.

Here are ten categories to start with. This is by no means an exclusive list, but just in case you need a little jump start...

1. Food. (Wanda has lots of good ideas...sometimes even some recipes...and believe it or not, she knows a thing or two about nutrition.)

2. Cars. (Okay, I might not be as good here as Click and Clack the Tappett Brothers.)

3. Communication. (...with people or four-footed animals.)

4. "How to" questions. (Wanda is probably a runner-up to Martha Stewart--but she has no prison disrespect intended.)

5. Personal growth and Spirituality. (Okay, Wanda's audience isn't as big as Oprah's...yet.)

6. Health. (Dr. Weil may have more education, but Wanda has just as many opinions.)

7. Work. (Unlike Maynard G. Krebs, Wanda will not run screaming from the room.)

8. Weather. (Why not?)

9. Math. (Okay, so Wanda isn't quite as smart as Marilyn vos Savant, but she's pretty darn smart--and she's good at math.)

10. Grammar. (Staying in at recess was so much fun to her, she became an English teacher.)

So, go ahead--ask your questions. That's what I'd do.


Email your questions to or by posting it as a comment (click "comments" below).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How to Keep the Mojo Moving

A few days ago, I made a decision to leave my current job. I was challenged to make a commitment in order for the energy to begin moving, so I made a declaration. I also began affirming that I was ready to lovingly release my job to the next person so that person could take it to the next level. I also began meditating on opening myself to wonderful opportunities in a wonderful organization where my skills and experience are valued and appreciated and where I am richly rewarded financially, mentally, emotionally. I'm chanting morning and night that "all of life comes to me now with ease and joy and glory." I also put an etheric "for sale" sign in front of my house.

Yesterday was the worst day at work I've had in a long time - I had non-stop conflict with the employee union, including the beginning of a complex legal dispute. To top it off, my boss (a narcissistic jerk) questioned why I had to take my son to the airport next week when he goes back to college because it will be inconvenient for him. I felt like I'd been hit with a rubber hose all day.

This morning on the way to work, I realized the Universe was merely responding to the energy I've been putting out. I continued with the chants and affirmations and asked that God let me know that his/her hand is in this whole deal. When I got to work, I called a contact number I received from someone in another state. At lunch with a friend, I was telling her about the etheric "for sale" sign. She asked what that meant and I told her. Come to find out, her kids (son, daughter-in-law and twin toddlers) are looking for a home the size of mine, in my part of town for about the price I want to get. They will call me. When I got back to the office, there was a voice message from a recruiter in another state who got my earlier voice message (forwarded from someone else) and a copy of my resume. I called him back and we chatted. There aren't any openings now in my somewhat specialized field and there isn't a lot of turnover in those jobs there (it's a much smaller community). I know that one contact can lead to another can lead to another can lead to another.

My question - how can I keep this good mojo going to produce some results? I'm not attached to a particular outcome (like moving to another state) but do want to be with my sweetheart.

What would Wanda do?

You have been a busy Glenda, haven't you?

I applaud your commitment to move forward. Don't you just love how the Universe affirms our decisions? What better way to tell you to get the heck out of OZ than to turn up the volume on the "you are a doormat and only a doormat to us" message at work. Your boss sounds like a real Jamaican dish (You know...Jerk Chicken! Okay...okay--too corny. Hey, corn is good with Jerk Chicken, too.)

Bottom line is--you are doin' it, sister! [Yes, I know this is an anonymous post; however, I do know that the writer is me.] Every time the divine crosses your palm with a phone number or a message or an opportunity, you are stepping up to the plate. How does it get any better than that?

Seriously, how does it get any better than that? Ask the question and wait expectantly for the answer. If you assume that this is as good as it gets, you will limit the outcome.

That's what I'd do. Ask the question and wait expectantly for the answer. I'd be faithful about asking the question over and over again.

Every day I would "cut the cords" with my current job and shake the dust off my feet on the way out the door to affirm my decision to myself and to the Universe and to God that I am, indeed, done and willing to pass the job on to someone who will do a good job and appreciate this position more than I can right now. This job is just right for someone...just not me (you) in this moment.

By "cutting the cords," I mean getting rid of any energetic ties I have to the place. Some people like to make a physical movement, as if they are gathering the "cords" from all around themselves and then hold them right in front of their body about solar plexus level. Then, while holding them with one hand, use the other hand like a blade to make a slicing motion. When they toss the cut ends away, toss them to a plant or a candle flame or some place where they can be recycled and not just float around, looking for a way to reattach.

[Some people might think Wanda is weird for all of this. That's okay. I say to them...try it. See if any of this stuff I am suggesting makes any difference in the reality of your experience. You don't have to take anything I say at face value. But if you try it and it works...I'd really like to hear your stories.]

Your etheric "For Sale" sign is terrific! Just as with a physical sign, I wouldn't take it down until the deal was done. So many things can happen. Keep the sign up and keep the energy flowing around it. I'd send it some good energy every day until I have the buyer's signature on the dotted line.

And you are so right about making contacts. Especially in a smaller community, people talk. Business owners and people in management will spread the word among themselves. Talking to one is as good as talking to several. But I wouldn't rest on my laurels. I would keep talking to anyone and everyone I could. I would ask for what I want, just as you specified ("wonderful opportunities in a wonderful organization where my skills and experience are valued and appreciated and where I am richly rewarded financially, mentally, emotionally"). I would set the mojo on what I really want in my next position so that the powers that be out there hook me up with the right place, the right job...right livelihood.

I'd be faithful. I'd be diligent. I'd be disciplined. And I would get all my friends on my side to help me hold the vision.

That's what I'd do.

Hope this helps.


Email your questions to or post a "comment" below.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is It Culturally Significant...or Just Rude?

I live in a culturally rich city and use public transportation every day. Most people are polite and wait their turn to get on and off crowded buses and trains.

At every stop, however, I see people of one particular ethnic group pushing people out of the way to get on the vehicle. The other day, two such men pushed a woman from her seat!

It is not uncommon to see members of this group prevent people from leaving the train while they crowd on.

The other day, an elderly woman with two canes struggled with difficulty to get off the train, while a woman of this group, rushing to board, nearly knocked her down.

Of course, not every member of this group behaves this way, but so many do, and in so much higher proportion than any other ethnic group (including teenagers, if I may include them here), that I wonder if it is a cultural issue.

Perhaps in their native land, it is acceptable for people to behave that way, or a matter of survival.

I want to understand other cultures and not let ignorance foster prejudice.

The ethnic group is Chinese. I know they come from a country that is outrageously overpopulated. Can you help me understand their behavior, which seems excessively rude?

Dear Anonymous,

I applaud you for your use of public transportation, and even more for your desire to understand a culture that is different from your own. I hope those around you see your desire to learn and understand and that it rubs off on those who need to broaden their horizons.

I am not an anthropologist, nor a sociologist for that matter. However, I am a student of human behavior. My guess is the same as yours--that this pushy, [apparently] aggressive behavior is a cultural issue, and may very well have been learned as a matter of survival. While I have not experienced first hand what you are describing here, once when I was at Disneyland, I had several encounters with Asians who cut so close in front of me that I thought I was going to run over them. Their awareness of and need for personal space was very different from mine, so I realized that I needed to watch out for them the same way drivers need to keep an eye out for motorcycles. First look, no one is there. Second look, the motorcycle is in your lane. This, of course, is based on my assumption and my guesses and not on first hand knowledge, since I have never been to China or anywhere in Asia.

The first thing I would do if I were you, would be to educate myself about some of the cultural issues. Since you live in a city of diversity, you might look into Chinese-American cultural liaisons. I suppose even talking to someone at the consulate could be enlightening. (We are not very culturally diverse in my city, so I am not up on these things. I tried Googling the issue, but didn't find any relevant information. Sorry I can't help you more than that.)

Once I found a resource, I would ask this question: "I have noticed when using public transportation that many people of the Chinese culture forge ahead when getting on and off public transportation. At times, it seems they have no regard for other people who are in their path. In my culture, this is unusual and might be considered rude; however, I want to understand how this is perceived in their culture and not jump to conclusions. Can you help me understand?" Very much the same question that you asked me.

However, if I found myself in the situation you describe with getting on and off the bus, here's what I would do:

First, being who I am, I would be protective of the people who are getting jostled...especially the elderly and infirm. I would step in front of someone who was trying to get on the bus while the lady with two canes was trying to get off and act something like a school crossing guard. Certainly, I would try to be of good cheer while doing this, but sometimes, it is important to step in. If the men who pushed the lady out of her seat spoke English, I might intervene and say, "Excuse me, but this lady was sitting there. Would you please give her her seat back?" And wait expectantly for them to get up and give her the seat. Being as polite as possible, I would speak the expectation and wait. It might work. It might not.

If that didn't work, I might contact the transit authority and talk to them about the issue. Perhaps the drivers are supposed to intervene and "direct traffic flow" on and off the buses and trains. It might be that some training and education is needed at that level and by bringing it to the attention of the central authority, some needed training might be brought to bear.

Second, I would work on creating good boundaries for myself. A number of techniques can be useful to do that. One of the easiest is to visualize a field of energy around me and make it dense enough that it keeps others at a comfortable distance from me, even when their personal space needs are less than mine. (I might do this in conjunction with acting like a school crossing guard.)

Third, I might send good wishes to the people in this situation--or pray for them--or somehow bring a sense of calm to the situation. Catching people's eye and smiling at them can effect a tremendous change in behavior. Once you make eye contact, you are a person to them and not just another body in their way. It's worth a try.

Most of all, I appreciate your being aware of this culturally sensitive issue and wanting to educate yourself. If you find something out about this issue and what it means in the Chinese culture, I would very much like to hear what you learn.

I also welcome posts from others who are reading who might have more insight or cultural experience than I do.

I hope this helps.


Email your question to: or post a comment (by clicking on "comments") below.

Monday, August 21, 2006

How to Post Anonymously

If you want to send a question, but don't want the readers to know who you are, you can post anonymously.

First, you can click on "COMMENTS" at the bottom of any post. A window will open with a space to type your comment-question. When you send it, you will have the option of using your Blogger name, which will link to your blog, a name you make up (or your non-Blogger user name), or Anonymous. If you choose Anonymous, no one will know who you are unless you decide to reveal yourself.

OR, you can send an email to If you want to be truly anonymous, use an address that doesn't relate to you or your name. If your email address reveals you to me, but you still want to use a pseudonym or sign "Anonymous," I will respect that choice and not reveal your identity to anyone.

However you choose to do it, keep those cards and letters and questions coming in.


Friday, August 18, 2006

King Seeks Advice in Helping Friend

What would Wanda do?

A good friend and I meet for coffee every week. We talk about everything, and we have a healthy relationship.

His wife is mentally ill and now must live in a group home. My friend has completed a legal separation with her, to protect himself and his daughter from her spendthrift ways when she is in her manic phase. The wife has been diagnosed as manic depressive for the past six years. Her medication is continually being readjusted. Her brother is her legal guardian.

She can no longer live in the home, as she is often violent with my friend, and with their daughter, who is now 13.

My friend is very religious and his church disapproves of divorce. He believes marriage is a covenant with God and that it would be desertion and sinful if he divorced his wife. Yet, many people in his church are divorced. His pastor is understanding and my friend has counseled with him in the past, and my friend respects the pastor's advice.

His wife is delusional most of the time, and often believes that their daughter is five years old, and that my friend has another name, and is not her husband, and that she is, instead, married to someone else.

The long term prognosis for the wife is that she will not improve, and that she will need institutional care in a group home setting for the rest of her life.

The wife's mother actively grandparents the daughter and my friend, his daughter, and the grandmother are very close to each other emotionally. Grandma was recently widowed, after being her husband's caregiver for five years, and her relationship with her granddaughter is helping her deal with her grief as she moves ahead with her life. She now travels and is more socially active, but still provides after school care for the daughter. The daughter spends many nights at grandma's.

The grandmother would be supportive of a divorce and wants to see my friend date women and have a happy life.

My friend has had counseling several years ago, along with his daughter, and now his health insurance would again allow him to obtain counseling, but he is fearful of going.

The daughter is a typical 13 year old, but also very angry and withdrawn, and sarcastic -- more than the normal 13 year old. At church camp two weeks ago, she broke down and cried about the family life situation, which was the first time she has cried about it since the mother left the house.

I think my friend needs to move on, and think about dating and being loved by a woman who can be a true partner to him. This would be a good role model for his daughter, who worries about her dad.

I have told my friend I will be his friend regardless of what he decides, and I will. But, I really think he needs to be more self-directed and develop a relationship with a woman that is healthy and emotionally satisfying.

He also has a dream of returning to college to pursue a master's degree, but has not taken the first step in that process. Yet, when we talk, he realizes he has the support of his family and friends, and could make the necessary financial arrangements.

He works as a clerk for a major retail store, but is at a dead end there. He has the burden of private school tuition for his daughter, as he believes she is not challenged in public school and is adversely influenced by "bad" kids and lack of discipline. She has a 4.0 GPA in private school and is active in music and plays. Yet, emotionally, she seems very immature for her age, at least when I have been around her.

My friend is very reserved and sullen most of the time. This year, he has gained several new friends, and has taken some risks, such as joining a leadership workshop and joining a college alumni motorcycle club (and taking a day trip with them). We also took a short road trip several weeks ago, without his daughter, and he had a great time. He seemed surprised he had such a good time.

What would Wanda do?


The King of South Prairie

It's good to be the king, isn't it? The hard part is realizing that even though one is king, one is limited in the effects he can have on individual lives.

The truth is, your friend is a fortunate man to have you in his life. It sounds like he has support, as well as a spiritual life. We all need those--even the royal We--in situations like this. And thank God for Grandma in both of their lives.

Another truth is this. Your friend and his daughter have been abused. You say the wife has been violent with him and their daughter. Of course, we know that her mental illness is behind the violent behavior. It is good that wife / mother is getting treatment and is out of the home. Nonetheless, both your friend and his daughter need help dealing with the reality of what their life has been for the last six years while their beloved wife and mother has been decompensating and is no longer the person she was.

I am concerned that he is fearful of going to therapy. Do you know why? I would want to find out and offer to help him find a therapist who would work with him and his daughter (maybe together, maybe separately), specifically on dealing with the trauma of the last six years. It is likely that they both have many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Several therapies* are very good for dealing with this disorder (and trauma in general, even if they don't have the full-blown disorder). I would guess that he is at least partly afraid of being talked into something he doesn't want to do (e.g., divorcing his wife). A good therapist is not going to do that and if the therapist tries to influence him in a direction he doesn't want to go, your friend has the right to say, "I am not here for that" or "I don't want to talk about that issue right now," or to find a new therapist. Being treated for his trauma disorder will give him much more freedom to make clear decisions about what he does and does not want to do in the long run.

Whether he decides to go to counseling or not, his daughter needs help. Her immaturity could very well be the result of being frozen in time. It is common that people become developmentally frozen at the time a trauma occurs. So if you told me that this daughter seemed emotionally 7 (current age 13 minus 6 years of Mom's mental illness) I would not be surprised at all. With good treatment, she will catch up to her chronological age and be much more ready to face life as it comes.

Being me, I would teach him the Trauma Tap as a public health intervention. It seems corny or strange to people at first, but once they try it, they often find how much better they feel and will keep doing it...because it works.

Clearly, your friend has some strong beliefs about what marriage is and what it means. I am guessing that you disagree with him on some of those, as very likely, I would. So, I would share my beliefs and thoughts and questions with him in our conversations. The goal is not to change his mind, but to share myself and plant the questions. Perhaps with time he will be able to wrestle with them...and God...and himself...and the angels to come up with the answers that are best for him and not just regurgitation of the doctrine.

I am too much of a mystic to take doctrine and dogma as the final answer. I would share with him my journeys through difficult subjects and the way God conversed with me or gave me tangible (and sometimes not so tangible) answers to awkward situations in my life. Some of those situations were ones that "the church" had a definite answer for. However, when God and I talked about it, the possibilities opened up.

From what you have told me, I agree it would be good for him to move on and that whatever he does models for his daughter the way to handle life. But We (royal or not) don't get to make the final decision. If he decides to stay married because of his "marriage covenant," that's okay. I would wish for him to find a way to do that and be more present and fulfilled in his life as it is. That may include getting his advanced degree and moving into a more satisfying career. If he decides to get divorced and open to the possibility of a new relationship, now that his current wife is in an appropriate placement, he is modeling for his daughter that it is okay to leave an abusive relationship (even though the wife "didn't mean to be abusive") and make decisions that will bring health and happiness into one's life. I am encouraged that he is taking some risks and trying on new things like motorcycling and leadership. This is a good sign.

In short, as you have done, I would assure him of my friendship regardless of his choices. I would bring up my perspective and how I have dealt with such struggles, being fully present to my relationship with him. I would gently...oh, so gently...challenge some of his thinking and ask bigger, broader, deeper, questions. But first and foremost, I would encourage him to get help for his trauma and his daughter's. Healing the trauma and grief of the loss of his wife as he knew her, his daughter's mother, and all the dreams of "happily ever after" that they might have had will open more options than any royal conversations.

I hope this helps. If you need help finding therapy resources, let me know.


*You can find therapist resource lists on most of these sites:

Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT) -
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) -
Healing from the Body Level UP (HBLU) -

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pain and Self-Loathing in Vegas (or somewhere)

I'm struggling right now with a ton of self doubt and self loathing. I've been shown recently just how much, throughout my life, I have put my needs aside for others. I don't speak up when I object to something that's said because I don't believe I am worth being heard. I also have a lot of fear that others will think me wrong or stupid. So, I don't tell people what's going on with me and I don't speak up when I am screaming inside. I'm at the point that it feels like life is just too hard and I don't want to have these feelings anymore.

What would Wanda do?


This is something that Wanda has some experience with. You are not alone. They say "misery loves company" but they don't know what that means. It isn't that someone who is miserable wants someone else to feel / be miserable. It is that none of us wants to be alone, and if we can know that another human being has experienced what we are going through, it makes us feel less despicable. Certainly, if someone else has been there (who isn't there now), there might be hope for me.

We all have at least two levels of experience going on at the same time: Being and Doing. "Who I am" is separate from "What I do." People aren't writing to me saying, "Who are you, Wanda?" Instead, they want to know, "What Would Wanda Do?" Who I am certainly affects the responses I give to people; however, what I would do is about behaviors.

Self-loathing is shame. This happens at the Being level. This happens when we don't receive enough positive attention and strokes for just being alive on the planet and being a joy in someone's world. Usually, it starts with our parents who we expect to cherish us and delight in our little being-hood. Just our baby-lumpness is enough for them. If we don't get unconditional positive regard for being alive, we tend to internalize shame: I am not okay. There is something really bad wrong with me. I am despicable. I am the piece of poop that the world revolves around. I don't deserve to live. I am nauseum.

And if you loathe yourself, how are you going to have confidence in what you do? Self-doubt can happen to anyone. We all sometimes question our behaviors and motives. If we are already full of self-loathing, though, how are we going to trust anything about who we are or what we do?

Women especially learn to put themselves aside for others, but it is not exclusively a female state. Anyone who has grown up with an immature or a chronically ill parent can learn to put himself or herself aside to meet the needs of the one who is more needy. Sadly, it becomes a survival technique and the child doesn't get to go through the process of being taken care of and loved and cherished and attended to, because she is so busy trying to make the world be okay by taking care of the parent. Her being isn't given enough positive strokes. Instead, her worth is measured by what she does.

So, of course, it feels like life is too hard. When you have to take care of everyone else and not get your own very basic Beingness stroked, it is too hard.

What I would do is find at least one other person I can talk to. A person who will show up and be present. A person who will not try to fix the problem but will love me as I am. It doesn't mean I will always get what I want when I want it if I start speaking up about my needs and desires. What it means is that when I speak up, that other person can say, "You have a right to ask for what you need. You deserve to be heard. Your needs and wants are valid. You are a good person. I want to hear what you have to say. I want to hear how you feel. You are not stupid. You are not wrong."

I'd find someone who can separate who I am from what I do. Everyone at one time or another will choose a less than stellar behavior. We are not our behaviors. The behavior is the Doing part. We need to receive feedback about what we do, both positive and negative. Yet, even when it is negative feedback (something we did that was hurtful or not on the mark) we are still worthy and worthwhile human beings, and we need someone who can stand by and love us through that. That someone might be a partner, a therapist, a friend, even sometimes a 12-step sponsor. Alanon is a good program for people who have learned to set themselves aside for someone else. If I couldn't figure out what else to do, I'd go to a meeting.

What I say to myself is also important. I'd begin to speak lovingly to myself and distinguish between who I am and what I do. I'd be kind to myself. I'd speak to myself the way I would to someone I cherish. If I didn't know what that looks like, I'd look for models in the world. Do you remember Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live? "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and by golly, people like me." It may be a corny model, but it is better than how many of us treat ourselves.

I'd start speaking up. I would say what is true for me. The first few times, it might feel like the world will stop turning. I would keep taking the risk and even if people didn't agree with me, I'd validate that I'm okay--and when I couldn't do that, I would ask a friend for the support and validation I need.

And last, but certainly not least, I would remind myself that these are feelings. Feelings are not the whole truth. Feelings are energy. They come. They go. (Thank God!) As far as I know, it is not common that people die from feelings. I need to let my feelings inform me, and I need to remember what I know. I need to call on my whole self and not let myself be run by the feelings of my inner wounded five year old. There is indeed more to me than that.

That's what I'd do.

Thanks for asking, and please, stay in touch. There is hope.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

When Should a Friend Speak Up?

Anonymous writes...

What a fun blog! Now here's a question of delicacy. And not the tasty kind either.

Your best friend who is widowed is dating a guy and is serious about him. You want her to be happy, but he does not have her level of education, sophistication, intelligence, you name it. Most of her friends think he is after her money and the security it will provide, whether he can get his hands on it or not. He makes inappropriate comments in social situations, and loudly, such as in the middle of a piano concert, or talking about their sex life at the dinner table. We all want her to be happy and he is good to her.

Should we just let things be since he seems to fill her needs? Should we speak up if she asks what we think of him? So far we just grin and bear him. We play nice because we love her.

What would Wanda do?

Wow. You jumped right in with a tough one, didn't you? Can something that is tough be considered a delicacy? I guess it all depends on the culture you come from, doesn't it.

At this stage of the relationship, it seems that your "playing nice" is appropriate. However, since you just "grin and bear him," I am guessing that being around them (him) socially is a trying affair. One could hope that your friend will realize over time that he is something of a rube and doesn't fit well in her circle of friends. On the other hand, if she really likes him and grows to love him--and he treats her well--she may decide that he is the one for her. Will that mean the end of a friendship with her if it is too difficult to be around the boyfriend?

You say that this woman is your best friend. People have different standards for intimacy with their best friends and I won't even venture a guess what that level is between you. If it were me and my best friend, I would somehow need to find a way to talk to her. Certainly, "if she asks what we think of him," I would need to find a way to tell her my thoughts, feelings, and concerns as tactfully as possible, the whole time being absolutely clear (with myself and with her) that my first concern is for her happiness and well-being.

Would I bring it up if she didn't ask? There are two situations that would cause me to do that. One is if I were seriously concerned about her well-being (financial or otherwise). If I really thought this guy was trying to take her for a ride, I would have to talk to her about it--especially if I saw them getting really serious (i.e., moving in together, getting married, somehow commingling their funds). The other would be if I found myself wanting to avoid being with them (or I saw other friends backing off) because of her beau's behavior and verbal inappropriateness. I realize that my saying something might hurt the friendship if she felt she had to choose him or me. On the other hand, if I were choosing not to be around her because of him, what is there to lose? Both of these situations require some kind of threshold being (or about to be) crossed: 1) their decision to make their relationship more permanent when I see some big red flags, or 2) my feeling like I can't be around them for some reason of values and sensitivity or taste on my part.

I am not as concerned about his lack of education or even intelligence as I am about whether he will be able to fit into her culture and circle of friends (and maybe how she would fit into his, but we are not looking at that side of the equation right now). Sometimes, with time, two people can learn one another's cultures and have the toughness softened...kind of like marinating a tough cut of meat, or using the fruit acids and enzymes to cook the fish in a poke (a Hawaiian dish pronounced PO-kay) or ceviche. (Come to think of it, I once had a tako poke--octopus poke--that was pretty tough.) It may be that this relationship needs to marinate a bit longer. He might become less of an insult to the taste buds (or jaw muscles--less chewing and clenching) over time as they settle into the relationship. It would be very sad, indeed, if being with him made her circle of friends smaller.

I hope this recipe is useful to you, dear Anonymous. That's what I'd do.


Email your questions to

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Proposal Proposal

Thank you for being available to solve the world's problems.

I'm a consultant. Several times in the last couple of months I've been asked to put together proposals for small companies. In all instances, the potential client needed the proposal NOW. These are special projects and there is no standard or template I could simply send out. Since I do have a lot of experience, I've greatly reduced the time it takes to do the necessary research and write a good proposal. It still takes at least a day, sometimes more. So I tend to drop everything else I'm doing to get the proposal in on time ... and then one of two things happen:

1) The company won't start the project for another few months even though I was given the impression that this was a rush project.

2) I find out that the company used my proposal to "shop." It's like I wrote their shopping list for free.

Do you have any ideas on how I can avoid getting caught in that cycle?

I don't mind writing the proposals, it's actually enjoyable work. But I want people to respect my time and effort. Maybe I should charge for preparing proposals. What do you think?

Constant Consultant

Dear Constant Consultant:

Thank you for your confidence in me. [I blush.] I am glad that the world does not depend on me for solving all the problems, and I am glad I can help with some.

You raise several issues here, so I will do my best to respond each of them:

First, "Your lack of planning does not constitute my emergency." I've seen it on t-shirts, mugs, and magnets; therefore it must be true. Just because they say it is a rush job, doesn't mean it is a rush job. Ask questions:

"When is your deadline? Give me your time line so I know what you need and I can let you now if I can fit you into my schedule."

"When is the meeting scheduled for which you need this plan?"

"Who will be at that meeting?"

In other words, get them to explain to you why it is a rush job. Don't take their word for it. Often times it is a rush job for them because they are anxious. It doesn't mean that you have to meet their emotional time line. Of course, if there is a legitimate business time line, it makes sense to try to accommodate them if you want the job.

Second, educate them. Let them know that this is a specialized service and you can't pull out a form and fill in the blanks. The plan you write will be for them and it will be one of a kind. That kind of work takes time. You have experience and know how to do it quickly, so you will be able to meet their deadline. However, it will require putting other projects that you are working on hold. Therefore...

Third, you need to charge them. The way I see it, you have a couple options for how to do that. Since new businesses are often short on cash, you could give them a "lower cost" option or the "full meal deal."

The lower cost options looks like this: "You pay me only 1/2 my fee for preparing the plan for you. We meet to go over it. I retain the plan. You are free to go away and think about it for as long as you want. If you want to go with my plan, the remainder of my fee is due and payable at the time I hand the plan over to you." If you decide to charge more than half, that's fine, too. I chose half as an arbitrary amount. The point is, come up with a figure that you think honors you and the work you do.

The full meal deal requires that they pay your full fee to prepare the plan, you meet with them and go over it, and they walk away with the plan to do whatever they choose with it. Then they send me a gift certificate for dinner at a fine restaurant. (Just kidding about that. I needed to make the full meal deal metaphor work out somehow.) You have been fairly paid. They get the product. If they want you to do more work for them great. If they choose to go shop around and find someone else, no problem.

Fourth, make sure you charge a fair amount so that whatever you do and whatever choice they make, you don't feel taken advantage of. I know one presenter who says, "If people don't pay attention and respect what I am offering them, I raise the price until they value it enough." There is great wisdom in that. People will value it to the extent that they pay for it.

Fifth, claim the harvest. What do I mean by that? Since you have already been through this process a couple times and people have used your expertise without paying for it, claiming the harvest means that you ask "the gods" (whoever they may be to you) to "pay" you for the good work and good will you have extended. Claim that your harvest be many fold. When you plant a seed in your garden, you expect to get a lot more yield than the three seeds you plant in each hole, right? So claim a full harvest in wealth, good health, spiritual blessings--whatever you need and desire.

That's what I would do. Let me know how it works out.


Email your questions to

Friday, August 11, 2006

Who's the Real Warrior Princess?

I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said "What would Xena do?" and I thought for a moment that you'd been trumped, Wanda. Fortunately, the bumpersticker was old and tattered. And besides, we know who the real warrior princess is.

Oracle @ Delphi

Dear Oracle,

How did you know I am a Warrior Princess? I didn't think the word was getting out already!

I wouldn't mind being trump-ed if it were Donald-style. Do you think I can make my first million on "What Would Wanda Do?" bumperstickers?

Let me know what you think? Any color choices? Oh, please, dear Oracle...tell me what you see.



Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Gift of Fear

I have a work trip scheduled out of town next week that involves flying from Portland to Chicago. I leave on my dear friend's birthday and will miss dinner with my grrrlz and some boyz.

Today the security threat goes up with the attendant fear and additional hassle of getting through security, etc. I pride myself on refusing to live my life in fear. But, I've got to tell you...I'm nervous about traveling - partly because of the energy out there now around airline travel and at the airports, but partly because it just seems like too much work to go.

I feel obligated to go because there will be others from my workplace attending, but I've got to tell you...the whole idea just doesn't blow my hair back. Give me some of your wisdom to help me think about whether I want to go or not.


Ms. Jong--

Your analyst will see you now. Please lie down on the couch and for God's sake, cover yourself with that throw and make yourself decent.

I applaud you for refusing to live your life in fear. As I have said before, fear is a contraction and it makes it difficult for us to move forward when we are in that state. Fear can also keep us tuned away from our inner guidance, whatever form that takes for each individual.

Sometimes fear is a gift. The capacity to feel fear is hard wired. We feel it because we have at some time in our evolution and development needed to feel it. Fear is a warning signal. True, for many of us, the signals got crossed somewhere along the line and we end up getting false alarms. Nonetheless, the capacity to experience fear and listen to the warning is an innate ability and one that keeps us alive.

Fear gets a bad rap these days. If fear comes up, the first thing we should do is look around and see if there is something that has caused us to feel fearful. Are we in imminent danger? Even if it is not evident in the moment, if our gut says, "Don't go there," it is in our best interest to listen. Follow your instincts, even if you can't tell anyone else why. This is not the same thing as indulging feelings. If "it just seems like too much work to go" were your only objection, I would say, "Buck up and go. You made the plans. Get outta that Lazy Boy and do what you said you would do." Going with "too much work" is indulging your feelings. On the other hand, if it doesn't feel right from a bigger perspective...listen.

One time I was selling a house and we had two offers on it. I didn't want to take the first one because it just didn't feel right. I couldn't tell anyone why. We ended up, for a variety of other reasons taking that offer and the deal was a hassle from the day it started until it finally closed. Thank God it did close, but there was something about it that just didn't feel right to me and whatever that was proved to be true.

If it were me, I wouldn't go. Right now, dealing with airport security is the last thing I would want to do. That's what I would be afraid of--not the terrorists (or whoever they are blaming this one on). I read on this blog today that on international flights you can take no liquids except milk or baby formula, and no carry on luggage to the UK. (I know that Chicago is not international, but what if you want to go to Little Italy?) I am more afraid of losing my mind at losing my freedoms than I am of the latest suspects of terrorist activities; however, if it were an elective trip--unless the destination was more compelling than the thought of going--I wouldn't go. And this is for work, for cryin' out loud!

Instead, celebrate the birthday. Put the top down and blow your hair back. Or get out the hair dryer to do it, I don't care.

Listen to your inner wisdom. Feeling nervous doesn't mean you're a sissy. Your grrrlz and boyz will understand. You understand. If no one else does, does it really matter?

That's what I'd do.


Top 10 Reasons to Ask: "What would Wanda do?"

10. Ready access--24/ waiting.

9. It rolls nicely off the tongue and lips. (Say it out loud now. I'll wait.... See?)

8. You can remain anonymous...or not.

Discreet packaging for discrete and discreet answers...and you never have to leave home for answers to embarrassing questions.

6. As
Hannah says, Wanda is "...too funny. And wise. And totally, completely, irrevocably and eternally awesome." (I blush.)

John S. says, "What a brilliant idea! ...I always look forward to her insight and wisdom. I'm happy the rest of the world now has access."

4. Much more relevant than taking the newspaper to Ask Amy or Dear Abby--and you don't have to recycle.

3. Your questions and Wanda's answers provide entertainment for at least two other people (according to my Bloglines subscription numbers).

2. Wanda knows about a lot of things and a wide range of topics. (Come on folks! We've only begun to scratch the surface.)

1. IT'S FREE! and
free is a very good price.

Try it now:


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What Would Wanda Do?

John S. said...

What a brilliant idea! Wanda has coached me for a few years now and I always look forward to her insight and wisdom. I'm happy the rest of the world now has access. :-) My partner and I have been using a phrase for about a year now in situations where you want to react in one way, but your better judgement tells you its probably not a good idea.

So, you're driving down the interstate and some jerk cuts you off. You're in the left lane behind this person and they are going 15 under the speed limit. I'm ready to start the four-letter words flying out of my mouth when my partner asks me: "What would Wanda do?"

Dear John S.,

Just what makes you and your partner so sure that Wanda wouldn't let go with a string of the finest four-letter expletives ever applied to such a situation? Has your partner ever met Wanda? Hmm?

What a riot! Thanks for sharing your story. And seriously, while there have been many times that I might have used cross words with jerks like that, these days I am into more of a "Whatevah, Mon" kind of attitude. Of course, it helps to have the top down and be playing Jimmy Buffet or Bob Marley on my car stereo at the time.

Swearing at them turned out to be much harder on me than on them. Go figure! So, I decided it isn't worth it to raise my blood pressure and get my nervous system in a knot. Sometimes I will say, "Nice turn signal!" Sometimes I slow down and get out of their way. And sometimes I pray for them. If they are that much in the ozone and feel like they have to behave so badly, they must need help. It usually helps me feel better, too.

I appreciate your checking in and I hope you'll be back soon.


Monday, August 07, 2006

The Big Question - by Ellison

I am grateful to Ellison over at Blog d'Ellison for posting a What Would Wanda Do? question, even though he has no idea who I am. I do visit his blog on a regular basis through My Bloglines and make ever-so-astute comments to his posts periodically.

Given how appropos his post is to this blog, I reprint it here with full credit to Ellison. This is a slightly abbreviated version, followed by my response originally posted via Comment on his blog:


....waiting to board [at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport] amongst the steadily diminishing crowd at the gate were an African-American woman and a little white girl - about five, from the look of her - with her Mommy and Daddy.

In those moments before [...] boarding was announced, the little girl looked at the African-American woman intently, and then came out with the Big Question:

“Daddy, was Jesus white or black?”

The question was asked just loudly enough so that there was no question of everybody in the boarding lounge hearing it. How would the little girl’s Daddy answer?

The young father looked at his wife, then asked his daughter, “Well, what does he look like in all the pictures you’ve seen of him?”

“Oh. Yeah.”

Tough question...and an answer that probably works for a little Caucasian child.Of course, the conventional representations of Jesus in the Western world all show him as a White Guy. Not just white, mind you, but European white. Northern European white. Light brown hair, blue eyes, the works. Which, considering his physical origins, is pretty ridiculous. But see what kind of response you get to your depiction of Jesus with dark, curly hair, brown eyes, an olive complexion, and a taste for falafel.

My Christian friends are probably all familiar with the rationale that says that it doesn’t matter what color Jesus was; that he was sent to be the savior of all Mankind. But when you’re a five-year-old kid who looks more like Stymie than Spanky, it’s gotta be hard to wrap your mind around a God in whose image you have ostensibly been made, and yet who looks different from you.

As a Jew, of course, I don’t have this problem.

Our concept of God is of a totally spiritual, completely incorporeal being. “No form or shape of body has He,” we sing in our hymn Yigdal. It solves a lot of issues when your Deity is not subject to anthropomorphism…and makes it much easier to answer the little girl’s query.

But I’m not here to call other people’s belief systems into question. I am curious, though.

What would you have told that little girl if she were your child?

Oh, good...a What Would Wanda Do? question.

I would say, "See that woman over there? What color is she?" and wait for the answer, of course.

"What color am I?"

And I would look for as many different colored people as I could find, asking and waiting for the answer. Then I'd say, "Jesus is all those colors and more, because he is the love in everybody's heart."

That's what I'd do.


I like to watch, Eve...

Dear Wanda,

As a hairstylist I like to watch other stylists so their job, be it on TV or in a salon. Do you like to watch/listen to other advise (ex: Dr. Phil or Dr. Joy) people and see if you would give them the same advice?

Signed, Scissor Happy :)

Dear Scissor Happy-- now you are going to get me to reveal myself, hmm?

First of all, I don't watch t.v. I know, I know. I am sure it is hard to imagine not watching t.v., but I find so much of the fare to be inane and a waste of time. I don't seem to have enough time to do everything I want anyway.

I do, however, know who Dr. Phil is. Some of my clients listen to him and find his advice to be quite useful--in spite of his manner. He has a specific audience with whom he is very effective. I understand that he views his job as providing education to the public, and I say, "Go Phil!" We can't have too much of that.

And, I have to admit, I didn't know who Dr. Joy was until now. I looked her up and here's what I found on Wikipedia:
...Browne has a reputation for being gentle, and not adversarial towards her callers. Browne does, however, take a no-nonsense approach to calls, trying to hone in on a problem without getting caught up in callers' long stories or digressions.
That works for me. Maybe I'll have to tune in to Dr. Joy and see how much we would agree.

Thanks for the good idea...and thanks for asking.


PS - The title of this post is from Peter Sellers' as Chance the Gardner in Being There. If you haven't seen it, do.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Come brave

I know you are lurking around out there. I can see you (really, I can). Drop me a note via email (click on "View my complete profile" and then on "Email") or post your question / comment on another posting. I'll find it.

Hope you had a good weekend. I did.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Domino's Didn't Deliver "Potential Customer" Service

I'm not happy.

This afternoon I came home after being gone since early this morning. An 8.5 by 11 inch crumbled piece of paper (turns out to be an ad for Domino's Pizza) was taped to my glass screen door. When I pulled off the advertisement, the sticky gooey part of the scotch tape stayed on the glass.

I've got two problems with this. One. Hell ... let the whole world know I'm not home. 8.5 by 11 ... can you make that any bigger? Maybe a banner? Give me a break! What happened to door hangers? The ones that go on the inside of the screen door? Why would a large company like Domino's jeopardize my safety like that? Two. I hate cleaning up other people's messes. Especially if I don't even know them. And when I don't get paid for it. How dare they mess up my door like that. That gooey stuff doesn't come off very easily.

Soooooo .... I called Domino's and asked for the manager. He was kind enough to listen to my complaint, but also told me that they will continue to do this type of advertising in my neighborhood ...and that there is nothing that he could do about the problem.

Should I just let it go and live with it? What would Wanda do?

Dear Not Happy,

What's the matter? Don't you like pizza? Sounds like you might need some serious therapy!

No, seriously...I hear ya, darlin', and I get what you are saying. Yes, it is appropriate for you to be upset and to want Domino's to take some kind of action to prevent this in the future. If their advertising is ticking people off, it isn't likely to get them in the door is it? And, you shouldn't have to clean up after the yokels who make a mess on your glass door. (I get so irritated when the local newspaper company leaves unwanted advertising circulars in my driveway that I am tempted to collect them and dump the whole pile on the sidewalk in front of the door to their business. I don't, but it has crossed my mind. What I have done is call them and tell them to take me off their list. So far it has worked. But that's another story...)

In this case, I would go over the manager's head. Call the owner of the establishment doing the advertising and tell them that you don't appreciate it. I would tell them why it is not appreciated, too (i.e., It advertises that you are not home and jeopardizes your safety, and it leaves a mess on your door).

Tell them that you would like an assurance that this won't happen again and if they can't give that to you, you will be talking to the Better Business Bureau about your dissatisfaction, as well as telling your friends about how uncooperative Domino's has been in solving this problem. You might even give him your script: "Domino's may deliver pizza, but their concern for people and the environment sucks."

Now, as for the gooey stuff on the glass--use some coconut oil. It is great stuff. I use it for all kinds of applications. Just rub it on the goo and before you know it, you can take a tissue and wipe it off. Voila! That problem is solved.

In fact, I bet if you were to rub a thin coat of coconut oil all over the glass, the tape wouldn't stick! Hmm. That could be worth a try.

Let me know how it works.


Party on, Dude!


My neighbors have parties every Friday nite. Now these are nice family people. They have invited me a few times. But all they do is ply me with alcohol and I end up crawling home. (Well ok sometimes I sing and dance home). But that is not the point. Don't you think a party every Friday nite is a litte much. I mean if I'm not over there I'm hearing it. If I don't go I feel very left out and if I do go I am so sick the next day. And then they all talk about me in a laughing kind of way after I've been there. I'd like to sit down and offer them the idea of a party only the 1st Friday of the month. What would you do?

Nelly Neighbor

Dear Nelly,

It is Friday and I hope this is not too late to help you this week. I have to tell ya, my first question is...have you considered going to the party and NOT drinking? And if you can't, that might be the first place to look. What's up with that? (Not that there is anything wrong with singing and dancing home. You could do that sober, too!)

If partying is what your neighbors do, then every Friday might not be enough for them and they may also be holding back as it is. However, if they were my neighbors, I think I would ask for a curfew. I would suggest talking with them and asking them to tone it down by a certain time. For me, that would be about 11 p.m. Most good neighbors who are nice people really want to keep the peace and I would hope that would work.

Keep me posted. If you need more...we can take it to the next step.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tomorrow, tomorrow--I love ya...tomorrow--

I had to go out of town today and didn't have a chance to blog. I missed you all.

So, what would Wanda do? Communicate. Let people know--

I'll be back tomorrow. Hope you will, too.


love ya,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

To Grudge or Not to Grudge?

Dear Wanda,

I am curious as to your opinion on holding a grudge? This question doesn't come with any situation, just life in general. Do you believe in forgive and forget, forgive but never forget, or let it eat you alive?

Curious Kitty

Dear Kitty,

In response to your question, "D) None of the above," comes the closest.

Grudges* have a different definition to me than they do to most people. I define a grudge as a trauma that offends our basic values in such a way that we go into the freeze response. The offending trauma gets anchored to the freeze in such a way that whenever anything remotely looking, smelling, feeling, sounding, or tasting like the original trauma occurs, we freeze again and are unable to speak up for ourselves or get what we want and need.

You know how when there is a trauma or shock people go into fight or flight? Well, there is a third response: Freeze. Just watch a kid who has his hand in a cookie jar when he hears a noise behind him that might be Mom walking in to catch him. What is his first response? Freeze. Remember "Bambi in headlights"? What did Bambi do? Freeze. So the freeze response is a common reaction to trauma, shock, or fright.

In some situations, we experience trauma and the offending party also violates a basic value. For example, little girls love their daddies and want to be loved by them. Peggy gets a new dress and models it for her father, wanting him to tell her how nice she looks. Instead, he tells her that she looks like the dress was made by Omar the Tent Maker. Peggy is taken aback. What does she do? She freezes in that first instant. She holds her breath, her eyes get big, she flushes in embarrassment, her eyes tear up, and she turns to run to her room. (Of course, her father's behavior was abominable--but that's not the focus of this discussion.) Peggy's freeze response gets anchored to her father's offending remarks and she doesn't get what she wants from him; instead, she runs from the room as he laughs at his oh-so-clever comment. He's her father. She is stuck living with him. She may feel that any other response is unsafe.

Years later, Peggy goes on a date with Bobby. She dresses up to look her best for him because she really does want to impress him and wants him to like her and think she is pretty. He picks her up for the date. All is going well, until they arrive at the party where Bobby is interacting with a bunch of his macho friends and makes a disparaging remark about Peggy's appearance in order to show off for his friends. (Yes, of course Bobby is a pig and that isn't the focus of this discussion either.) Once again, Peggy freezes. She gets embarrassed. She might even tear up or leave the room, but she doesn't say anything to Bobby. She can't. Her freeze response in reaction to the first incident with her father locked in the grudge. Now she is stuck at the party with this pig and his friends who think it is funny to pick on her. Who knows...she might even end up marrying Bobby. (God forbid!)

However, there is hope for Peggy and there is a way to get rid of a grudge once it has taken hold. There is also a way to keep from having a grudge take hold in the first place. Speak up for yourself. When Peggy's father insulted her, if she had said, "That wasn't nice, Daddy. You hurt my feelings" or "I don't like what you said," she would not necessarily have locked in the grudge because she didn't get stuck in the freeze response. Years later when Bobby turned into a jerk, she would be able to say, " Take me home. I won't put up with your rudeness" or some other statement that would be clear that he crossed the line and had permanently blown it with her.
Grudges can take place in all kinds of situations. That is why a few days ago I suggested to Martha Graham that she and her troupe talk to the member who was backing out on the order not to lock in a grudge and carry it forward, making her life miserable. The one who backed out offended all the other members of the troupe by not keeping her commitment. Commitment is a value that the whole group held. How else can groups operate to get anything done unless everyone is committed? (Value = A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. [See] )

So instead of freezing, holding your breath, or contracting, take a step forward, exhale, and speak up for yourself. Even if all you can say is, "This is not right," that is enough.

Forgiveness and forgetting (or not) are different issues all together. We can talk about those sometime if you want. And nothing is worth letting it eat you alive...nothing.

So remember--don't wait to exhale...whatever you do.

*Thanks to Dr. Helen Tuggy and Dr. Judith Swack for this concept.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Update: Martha Graham Dances on the Head of a Pin

Here is a dance update you can post.

Last Saturday our performance came and went without our little pinhead......the night before she committed to being there. A couple of the other girls had talked to her and she agreed to ride down with one of them. Of course the one she was going to come with showed up alone as our little pinhead was not there when she went to get her. She wouldn't answer her phone either. The best part of it is that the one she was supposed to ride with (BTW it wasn't me) left her a nasty message on her phone that she should have had the "balls" to tell us at least that night before she wasn't going (yes, this is the edited version of her message and she was lucky it was the other one who left it and not me!). This was done as we were scrambling to change the dances to work without her little pinhead there. Needless to say that even though this was our last performance for the summer we are still going to complain to 'higher authorities' and hopefully she will not have a place with the troupe next year. Mean? Maybe but something has to make her wake up and realize the world doesn't evolve around her little pinhead!

Martha G.

Well, Martha--you tried. All we can do is our best. You and the troupe gave her every chance to make it right. She couldn't rise to the occasion. That must be one scared little puppy there. Sad story, indeed. Let's hope she gets the help she needs.

Thanks for editing the message before sending it to me. This could be a family site!

Appealing to higher authorities so that she won't have a place with the troupe next year is not mean. Of course, it could be done in a mean-spirited manner, but that isn't necessary. Take the high road (once again). Simply report the facts. That will likely be sufficient to bring about the desired outcome from the powers-that-be.

If push comes to shove, you all can simply refuse to be on the same team with her again. However, I think if she doesn't have the cajones to tell you she isn't coming to the performance (after telling you again that she would), she won't have the cajones to try out for the team again. I mean, let's face it--would you want to face you and your team members next year? I don't think so.

The world may not revolve around her little pinhead, but I hope it will evolve beyond it.

Thanks for the update.

Another Expert Who Wants to Get Paid

I hope Wanda posts this because I think it relates, at least a little. I am a hairstylist and people will call me or come in the shop and ask me what kind of color they can buy and do at home themselves....hhmmm. There are a few things wrong with this. Over the phone do I know what kind of shape their hair is in and if something goes wrong whose fault it is? Then you get bad mouthed! The other thing is I didn't spend all the money and time to go to school to tell people what to do for FREE!!!! If they come in and see what a great job I can do then they will spread the word and I will have even more customers!!


Of course, I'll post this! Not only is it in the comments section where you left it, but it is worthy of a headline and a response.

Next time someone calls and asks you what they should use on their hair, tell them to hold the phone up like they are looking in a mirror so you can see it. Then tell them to run the phone through their hair so you can feel it. If they go through those steps, say, "Hmmm...I think you need a professional to take care of that for you. I don't know of any over the counter products you could use to handle that problem. When would you like to come in? Let's get you scheduled."

If they say, "What is it? What is the problem?"

Tell them, "I'll discuss it with you when you come in for your appointment. I can't talk about it over the phone."

Or if they come in and ask for a product name you can always tell them the name of a product and say, "When would you like to make the appointment with me?"

They say, "But I am going to do this treatment and home."

Your response is, "I know. When are you going to do it? We can schedule an appointment after that so I can fix it. Of course, I might have to charge extra for that."

Taking the high road doesn't mean you have to be humorless or a patsy. Let me know how it works.