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6 Tips from the Periodic Table for Holiday ‘Family’ bonding

27 Nov

This is that magical time of year when stores are filled with yummy stuff to buy and eat and people gather together to fill up on food, conversation, news, and… discomfort. The internet is filled with tips for dealing with family drama and office holiday parties. Ironic isn’t it – that we all want to get together with family (and colleagues) and these get togethers make us want to run to our beds…

In these waning months of the International Year of the Periodic Table (PT), I’m convinced turning to the Periodic Table (PT) as my relationship and conflict guru is the guide to thrive during holiday get-togethers. Around the world people will be gathering around new and different tables over the next few months and the PT has successfully gathered diverse elements since, well, the Big Bang.

Here are my 6 tips for bonding and reacting positively at all your tables:

  1. Everyone has a seat – and belongs – at the table bonded or not. We may all want to be inclusive but it’s challenging. We like people like us. Quiet emotions, be open to acknowledging and learning about those you don’t bond with. Ask questions and listen – it’s what we all want and love. Elementally we each bring something unique to the table.
We bring gifts to the table, even when others judge us. Find the people who will react positively and be open to sharing ideas and laughter.

2. Acknowledge and celebrate what YOU bring to the table. Being attuned to others’ successes is easier than acknowledging the gifts we carry deep inside. It’s easy to feel unworthy of bonding or reacting positively with others (especially these days thanks to social media) BUT don’t get sucked in by others’ ‘stuff’. Recognize what you bring to the table -WRITE it down. Really, make a list and check it twice. First and foremost be kind to yourself. Don’t make others’ lack of reactivity your problem.

Ok, I know everyone suggests writing down your list of positive qualities is the key to success and there’s a reason why: It WORKS! Write a list of the gifts you bring to the table and reasons you’re worthy of being included and celebrated.

3. Remember not all elements and families bond or react with each other. Sitting at a table feeling inert and not attracted? Well, you’re not with your metaphorical chemical family (the people you share qualities and characteristics with and who ‘get you’). Oh well! It’s not good or bad -CHOOSE to learn about others and enjoy your time.

4. We all seek balance and I think that’s especially true at the holidays. Media energy and shopping/eating/ excess can make us feel even more unbalanced and ‘incomplete’. Especially if others are posting glorious pics on their social media. Like the PT elements, we bond for completion. Here’s the thing though – if we don’t feel complete at a holiday table it’s easy to reach for things that will ‘fill us up’ including food, alcohol, or filling up a cyberspace shopping cart … We’ve all been there (right?) and none of that really helps. OF course you could always balance some chemical equations instead (I’m kidding – really) – OR reach out to your chemical family. Another perfect cure: sleep. Really, sleep is nature’s best medicine!

5. Choose: joy, kindness, thankfulness. OK, technically this has nothing to do with the PT, though the PT has remained exactly as it is since the beginning of time so those elements must know something right? Easier said than done is being kind to yourself. Remind yourself of the gifts you bring to each and every table you join.

Celebrate being with families – chemical and biological – where you are supported and bonded. Make a decision to create those tables!

6. Think like a scientist! View these tips as an experiment for success and tweak as needed. Viewing each table as an experiment and a place to learn and grow can make each gathering a fun and interesting time. Unwrap the gifts part of your elemental core and enjoy every table – reactive or not.

Happy celebrations with all your families: chemical and biological!

Who sits around your Table (Periodically)?

16 Nov

These final months of the International Year of the Periodic Table bring to mind other tables we sit around periodically: Lunchroom, Dinner, Conference, and of course all the tables we’ll sit around this holiday season. Gathering around tables is about sharing: sharing food, ideas, and possibilities. The Periodic Table (PT) shares insights into possibilities especially when the right elements gather and create the right solutions.

So, how do we get the right elements together and encourage the sharing of their ‘charges’ and unique characteristics?

The PT is all about diversity, even when elements don’t bond or react, kind of like most normal tables we gather around. Diverse tables give us opportunity to interact and learn from others whether we bond or not – if, of course, we actually listen to each other.

Dmitri Mendeleev assigned seats for all the elements around the PT. Not alphabetically like in a classroom, but according to its atomic number (protons), like an ID number for each element. Even when ‘absent’, that place is there for that element when it ‘shows up’, like an empty classroom or office desk is for us. Elements are very clear about who they are and their characteristics. We humans have so many options and distractions, not to mention so many tables we can join even with no reserved seat.

In our cafeteria of life, we’ve all found ourselves at the universal table of delight and/or dread: The Lunchroom Table (LT). With no Periodic Law, in schools and corporations lunch seating is more likely to follow the chaos theory aka popularity.

I’ve sat at my share of tables unbonded and it sucks! I wonder what I’m missing and why I don’t fit. The truth is I’m elementally the wrong fit for that particular table, but I can listen and learn even though it’s uncomfortable and I can’t wait to go home. It’s all about the chemistry – Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not! I think we can enlarge our tables is to be open and interested in others even when they are not as cool as we think we are…

I often find myself at new tables and when I’m lucky I find a place and interest with others. It certainly makes life interesting and fun to talk with people I normally wouldn’t have the chance to get to know.

A table of charged elements is the most fun and most interesting – and scary.

Talk about cool: schools are reacting to unreactive students and creating positively ‘charged’ lunchroom experiences by mixing up the elements:

I love this cartoon of the lunchroom from the article. Bravo to the teachers who facilitated and the Principal who ‘forced students into this ‘arrangement’!

How Assigned Seats During Lunchtime Can Foster a Positive ……

As you head out during the holidays, share the gifts you bring to the table and be open to listen and understand what others have to offer! Enjoy!

What’s your (recycling) style?

25 Oct

It used to be talking about the weather meant that there was nothing else to say. Now, the weather is a powerful character in our stories, changing lives wherever it visits. Mostly thanks to climate change.

The UN Climate Action Summit in late September brought energy and reality to an earth on fire (literally in California, and many places around the world). Activist Greta Thunberg urged world leaders to act NOW. Corporate leaders are hearing the same cries of anguish.

Hearing and listening are different things.

Sexy plastic bottles?????

When and why did carrying around plastic bottles, and coffee to-go cups become sexy? And they must be, otherwise why would people around the world want to be seen with them? Hollywood is surely the greatest advertiser for pulling a water bottle out of the fridge, steps from a sink with running water, cool (read Nadine Zylberberg’s “Single Use Plastics On-Screen and Off). Unless you’re in Flint, Michigan or The Warm Springs Indian Reservation (where water needs to be boiled), in most of the developed world tap water is fine. Perhaps a new reality show will be the ‘Battle of Hydration’: what will get us first: thirst or plastic pollution.

Sign at the Paris Airport declaring wonderful water in their fountains!

A few facts:

  • March 18th is Global Recycling Day. Put it on your calendar for next year.
  • Recycling one ton of plastic bottles saves the equivalent energy usage a two person household will use in a year. BUT: only 27% of plastic is recyclable! The math: 73% of plastic is destined for a landfill, the ocean, or a park near you.
  • Every three months, Americans throw enough aluminum in the landfills to build our entire commercial air fleet.
  • Littering isn’t just ugly – chemicals from plastic leach out into the water or soil. Micro-plastics in fish is known, but what about the effect on trees and their ability to produce needed oxygen?
  • The most littered item: cigarette butts!

Scary, true… especially waiting for the UN Climate Summit, Paris Accord/Agreement, and/or corporate leaders to take real and immediate action. Screw them, we got this:

Are you an Instagram influencer or want to be one? Start ‘Throw-away&Waste Free Wednesday’s”. No plastic&to-go cups & containers on Wednesday’s.

Looks good doesn’t it? #Throw-away&Waste Free Wednesday: No plastic&to-go cups&containers on Wednesday’s.

Redefine sexy and cool and be the influencer in your office or school:

  • Have ONE reusable mug for your coffee that you carry on Wednesdays Each reusable mugs need to be used 300x to offset the materials. Basically it’s having one for a year.
  • Get one of those little reusable bags that folds into the size of an apricot, throw it in your briefcase or handbag and use it for a year.
  • Chat around the water-fountains (or bubbler if you’re in Wisconsin) instead of texting.
  • Demand Hollywood make desk mugs, reusable travel mugs, and, water out of the tap sexy again. If fashion and jean styles are being recycled, why not how we drink coffee and water?

E=MC2 is about a small mass creating a huge amount of energy. That small mass is me, you and, all of us! We can’t wait for The UN or corporate leaders LISTEN and take action. People listen to action. We can do this by starting small and influentially starting a movement:

#Throw-away&Waste Free Wednesday: No plastic&to-go cups&containers on Wednesday’s

Margaret Mead’s truly Genius Quote!

Too much of a good thing: 3 things to learn from corn

27 Jun

“Americans are already paying the price of inaction,” he (President Barak Obama on coal power) said.

“Our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all humankind.”


It’s hot.  I mean really hot and I walk around feeling soppy.   I have to admit I’ve never gotten the whole ‘ain’t summer grand’ thing.

Growing up, it didn’t feel as hot as it is now.  We survived with fans – even in  out cars.    Though things always feel different when you’re a kid.

There’s a reason fans were enough back then:  since 1970, the earth’s temp has risen more than 1 degree Fahrenheit.  If you like this hotter world we’re melting into, stick around another 80 years or so.  Global scientists predict the temperature will rise about 11 degrees F – IF we keep burning coal, oil and fracked natural gas.

Of course not every area will suffer equally:  small Pacific islanders won’t suffer – they’ll just no longer exist.

It’s hard to imagine the power of a rising ocean level sweeping away cities, though hurricane Sandy gave us a sneak preview.   Honest now:   have you bought additional rain gear in the last year?   Will building big, big sea walls protect hurricane-challenged areas like NYC?

But it’s really corn I want to talk.  That same treat that reminds us it’s summer in the best possible way:  grilled, boiled, buttered, salted or plain.   Then there’s full planet empty plateseverything I didn’t know (we’ll just stick to corn for now) until I read  Lester Brown’s ‘Staple Crops Vulnerable to Rising Temperatures’ in Heifer’s World Ark this morning.

Remember the saying:  thigh high by the 4th of July as a good sign for corn.  As the world blazes,  rising temps will interfere with our corn growth spurt.

I know it sounds ‘corny’, or should I say there’s more than a kernel of truth in it, but it’s all about sex, or more specifically pollination.

Pollination is the most vulnerable part of corn’s life cycle.  Those silky strands stripped off the cob, sometimes right in the store, are each attached to a single kernel.  Each strand needs a grain of pollen to fall on it, that grain journeying to the kernel for fertilization and our ultimate delight.   Too much heat?  The strands dry out, thwarting all hopes of fertilization.  Hmm, I would never have thought about the similarities of human and corn reproduction.

Then there’s sun stroke/shock:  those high temps that leave me wilted and my hair curly, dehydrates the plants.  Just like we need to drink more water in the heat, so does corn.  (sans plastic bottles)

Unable to hide in the shade, plants curl curl their leaves to reduce sun exposure.  Less sun means less photosynthesis.  Less photosynthesis means less carbon-dioxide absorption – and less oxygen production.

For those who need to keep score: Greenhouse gasses: 1, summer picnic: 0

The sun gives life.  The sun can take away life.  Here are 3 things to learn from corn’s challenge:

1.  It’s all about balance:  or equilibrium, or homeostasis.  Even if like sun we think we need more of something.  Too much work burns us out – get it.  Too much play can leave our brains soppy.  Overspending can thwart hopes of fertilizing retirement, home or a new car.  We can take steps to regain balance in our life (usually).  But we can also take steps to balance adding hot air to the atmosphere.

2.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction:  Mixing biology and physics is enough to get anyone drunk.  If something is good for us, more MUST be better, but like sun and crops, instead of increasing yield, it decreases it.  It’s like thinking a bigger house will add joy, when it can also just add more stress.  Or, how technology makes our life easier – absolutely makes it more complex.  Changing one thing mean something else will too.  Just not in the way you think.

3.  It’s personal: Optimally and often, when good things happen, they spill into all areas of life.  It’s as if there is a cosmic synergy that sparks and connects all our dreams.  Yet I realize each part of us is tethered to the outside world by a vulnerable silky strand.  Each strand needs to be nurtured to fertilize, before yielding a bushel of dreams.  If the right job, love, or opportunity isn’t attracting the right pollinator, there is one variable that isn’t ‘right’?    Sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in the big picture and forget the little details that make that picture come alive.

A field of corn is similar to a networking event.   There needs to be balance (between listening and talking), going to too many  events can be as bad as going to none (burn out), and, it’s all being in the right place at the right time to meet the right ‘pollinator’/organization that will yield results.

Let’s respect the power of nature – and the added power we gift her by our actions!

Enjoy this weekend’s picnics (and corn on the cob!)

10 Characteristics to ensure a Big Bang Life!

21 Jun

Today’s the day to nurture and flaunt your inner scientist!

Do you diligently watch Big Bang Theory reruns?  Sneak into Star Trek conventions in strange cities?

While TV’s Big Bang nerds are cast as socially inept, it’s likely the coolest kids would be envious of their social network.

Like most things in life, it’s not what you know  but how you use it.

Time to rethink scientist’s bad rep.

Chemist from NYC Tech Day (google???)

Chemist from NYC Tech Day (google???)

Believing human behavior mimics the laws of science,  what makes a good scientist?  Is it biology or chemistry?  Alchemy at birth?

Here’s a compilation of the best scientists 10 characteristics.  For fun, insert your name for the word scientist:

1. Curiosity:  good scientists are insatiably curious about life’s ‘every things’.  I imagine their favorite word, like most 2-year old’s is ‘WHY’, marrying curiosity with child-like wonder.  (Hmm, picture the progeny!)  Curiosity can turn any experience into an adventure:  it prompts us to act, to take risks.  Though I wonder:  how will our ability to google everything impact our pursuit of curiosity?

Do we love George because he's a monkey - or because of his mischievious and enviable curiosity?

Do we love George because he’s a monkey – or because of his mischievous and enviable curiosity?

2. Open-minded and free of bias:  Great scientists are objective.  Imagine entering into situations and interactions without prejudice or tight and tiny opinions.  Open-minded scientists suspend judgement about findings until they are sure (and scientists really never are).  Wait – are eggs good or bad for us this week?  That’s one way to look at it.  Suspending judgement, like oil in water, allows scientists to continue observing and gathering data, while continuing their search for the best solution and opportunity.   Staying open-minded would lighten our load vs. carrying judgements and opinions.

3. Keen observer:  Scientists look and listen at information/data.  Never knowing what is most important, everything is considered and noted.  On the simplest level, it’s applying curiosity, watching and listening, for example, to loved ones behavior and actions, without bias.   Improved relationships anyone?

Observing life through a kaleidoscope

Observing life through a kaleidoscope

4. Resourceful:  Scientists look for avenues to explore in unexpected ways.  Have you ever seen some of those projects being funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the Federal Government?   For starters, I’m sure if I was a scientist I could get the NSF to fund my training for developing these characteristics in students!

5. Purposeful:  Scientists (often) believe they can change and improve the world through their research.  We’ll assume it’s not all about money or the plot of a Hollywood sic-fi thriller.  Imagine applying curiosity and resourcefulness to improve the world:  we could be styrofoam free, greenhouse gases would be relegated back to greenhouses, farmers applying the art of fallow could grow pesticide-free crops, and well-written sitcoms would edge out reality TV.  Perhaps we could  achieve world peace.

6. Good communicator:  While scientists are competitive due to funding and Nobel Prizes, they also need to communicate and share information, especially to us, non-scientists.  How is that doctors can’t explain a procedure or an ailment without an interpreter?  Sadly there are a handful of scientists who make it to the small screen and are deemed understandable:  Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan to name a few.  As I see it, scientific rules and laws simply and clearly mimic our human nature (shameless plug here for all the posts to come on this blog!).  And while it’s a scientist’s challenge:  science is simple at its core.

7. Persistent:  Scientists don’t give up when proving their passion.   Consistently, they can pursue the same hypothesis for many, many, years, following good scientific protocol changing one variable at a time.  Over time they learn through experimentation, slowly building evidence to prove or disprove their hypothesis.  It’s about  following dreams – logically.  Unlike (me), constantly drenched by chasing rainbows (or butterflies?) muddying my purpose.

Ever notice how all the really cool science stuff is for kids?

Ever notice how all the really cool science stuff is for kids?

8. Creative:  Scientists, through observation and open-mindedness come up with new problems and new ways to problem-solve.   Einstein said it best:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Personally I am victim to old biases and protocols clogging my creativity.  Sadly, the great boxed science experiments on store-shelves and in classrooms all have a set protocol and a ‘right answer’.  Creativity uncovers MANY right answers.

9. Critical Thinker:  Of course to get the most bang from experimental buck, scientists know all about logical analysis. What’s most critical, is remaining emotion-free, a challenge to many of us.  This is problem solving blended with creativity and an exacting methodology, while examining the observed.

10. Courage:  Scientists ‘get’ being laughed at for beliefs and hypothesis (even outside of social situations).  Is the world really round?  Imagine holding strongly to a belief and persistently plotting to prove and accomplish your passion?   REAL courage is all about staying open-minded and living without judgement.

Perhaps what I love most about this list is how ubiquitous these characteristics are for any person interested in a full life.  Including every manager, parent, friend, and human being.  I would be a better person by being a ‘better scientist’.  An exploration I can apply purpose and curiosity to!

Sure, scientists may be ‘different’ than you or me, but it’s not what you have – or even who you are:  It’s all about what you do with the qualities you posses!.

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