Noodle on This: Find Common Ground with Others

Noodle* on this …

Image of oxpecker bird and zebra face to face finding common ground

If two different species (the oxpecker and zebra) can find common ground, why can we humans not do the same thing with one another?

Embrace a diversity of ideas. Embrace the fact that you can disagree with people and not be disagreeable. Embrace the fact that you can find common ground – if you disagree on nine out of 10 things, but can find common ground on that 10th, maybe you can make progress. If you can find common ground, you can accomplish great things.

~ David Boies, Attorney

The oxpecker and zebra could not be more different and yet they live and thrive together. One would think that because they are so different they would have co common ground and that a tiny bird might be afraid of a big zebra. But, they have found common ground.

The oxpecker feeds on the ticks and other parasites that live on the zebra and when danger approaches, the bird flies up screaming a warning to the zebra. The zebra gives the oxpecter a safe place to land and rest its wings. Both the zebra and oxpecker benefit from the relationship.

We humans cannot always see that we are connected to one another and how we can support and help one another. When we see someone “not like us” or hear something with which we do not agree, we immediately go into judgment mode.

Working in an emergency room, I come in contact with many people “not like me” every day and although it is sometimes hard, I am learning to see each person as a fellow traveler on the rocky road of life. So, I look for a way to connect with them. Sometimes a person is wearing a colorful shirt or has a cool tattoo or a Chicago Cubs cap (Cubs Rule and miracles happen!) These things become common ground for a conversation and as a result, I get to meet some amazing, brave, funny, interesting people who, at first glance appeared to be “not like me.”

Your Noodle Challenge

What will you do to find common ground with people “not like you?”  Write your idea(s) in the Leave a Reply field below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image Credit: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn. All rights reserves

Noodle on This: Reading Takes You Places

Noodle* on this…

An Apple for the Teacher Dedicate the next book you read to the people who taught you to read

An Apple for the Teacher
Dedicate the next book you read to the people who taught you to read.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss

Reading takes you places – both literally and figuratively.  In school and work, it prepares you to be and do your best, which may lead to good performance reviews, raises, promotions and even new career opportunities.

There are other benefits of reading, too…

It improve your memory and  helps keep you mind active. This is a deterrent to dementia. Reading builds you vocabulary helping you to express your thoughts and feelings more effectively. It supports your well being by reducing stress and helping you be more patient and understanding with both yourself and others.

Reading can also take you to new and interesting places. Recently, I read Douglas E, Richards’s book Split Second. In this fascinating science fiction/action book, Richands wrote about both time travel and space travel, which got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing):

What if you could choose to travel through time or space? Either time or space – not both. Which would you chose and why? 

I would like to travel back in time.  Why? Because those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Imagine being an invisible witness to the Yalta Conference in February 1945 where Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt were the key decision makers. The decisions they made at Yalta changed the map of Europe. What was said? What happened that is not in any of the history books and what can we learn  from these leaders and the people around them?

Your Noodle Challenge

This challenge is a multiple choice. In the Leave a Reply field below you may

A. Tell us what book you are currently reading and your thoughts about the book.

B. Answer this question: What if you could choose to travel through time or space? Either time or space – not both. Which would you chose and why? 

C. Answer both A and B.


The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading. ~ David Bailey

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image Credit: Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn 

Find Your Passion and Let it Soar!

Noodle* on This…

Discover your passion and set it free to soar like this seagull about to take off.

Discover your passion and set it free to soar like this seagull about to take off.

My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring, roaring, diving and why? What’s this passion for?  ~ Virginia Woolf

OK, the holidays are over. You packed away the decorations and you may or may not have broken or forgotten your New Year’s Resolutions. You’ve gone back to work and with no vacation in sight, you may be sinking into the depths of a winter depression. Here in San Diego, winter is really tough. Not!

You need something to make your mind and heart soar and roar – something you are passionate about. What excites you? What do you enjoy doing that you haven’t you done recently? What is your passion?

Whatever it is, do it! Put it on your schedule and invite a family member or friend to join you in your soaring, roaring adventure. Find joy in your passion and share it.

What will bring me joy and make your heart soar and roar? Understanding and mastering  Fractal Art.  My dog will keep me company and my sister will check in from time to time to make sure that I haven’t passed out from lack of sleep and/or food.  I get very focused when I  am fractaling.

Use the space below to share you passion with us.

Happy Soaring and Roaring!

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm

Original watercolor painting by Diane Chinn.



Share the Spirit of the Season Throughout the Year

Noodle* on this…

spirit-of-the-holidays-12516The spirit of the holidays is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things.  ~ Thomas S. Monson



How will you share the spirit of the holiday – love and generosity – not just during this festive season, but throughout the year?

Here are 12 simple suggestions:

  1. When you are at the grocery store, help another customer put their groceries in their car and return the grocery cart to the store for them.
  2. Call a family member or friend just to say “Hello, I am thinking of you.”
  3. Tweet or post on Facebook something that you admire about a family member, friend, or co-worker.
  4. Volunteer at a local hospital or nursing home.
  5. Take the time to learn about a problem facing the area where you live, such as flooding, drought, mental illness, or homelessness. What you do to help?
  6. Help a neighbor take out the trash cans for garbage pick-up.
  7. Thank customer service workers, such as food service, store clerks, call enter operations, business/medical receptionists, and others for their help.
  8. Donate shoes to a charity for those in need.
  9. When someone talks to you, stop everything you are doing and give that person your undivided attention.
  10. Don’t be afraid to look a homeless person in the eye and smile.
  11. Find a account of a family or person in need and donate to the account.
  12. Have a particularly difficult neighbor or coworker? Be extra nice to him or her.

Share your commitment with us in the form fields blow.

My holiday wish for you:

… Simplicity, patience and compassion.
These are your three greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward, yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

~ Lao Tzu , Tao Te Ching, #67 (Stephen Mitchell Translation)

coexist, noodle on this

Co-exit image courtesy of Orren Merton

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Noodle on This: Admit You Don’t Know

Noodle* on this…Three monkeys statye and ignornace
It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.
~ Thomas Sowell

Once you identify “your own ignorance” what should you do? You may be thinking, It depends on the situation and to a certain extent, it does. We want to be seen as knowledgeable and informed. We also have a fear of being seen as incompetent, inadequate or even worse an imposter. In fact,  being afraid of “not knowing” is so common that psychologists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) Counseling Center call it the imposter syndrome. According to their research, 70 percent of people report feeling like an imposter from time to time.  But it really is OK not to know everything all the time.  

Each of us has a specific area of expertise.  My friend Stanley is a law professor specializing in law and religion, constitutional law, and torts (civil actions).  I jokingly told him that if I got into “legal trouble” I would call him to represent me.  He chuckled, shook his head and said that he took criminal procedure in law school; but that was many, many years ago. He said that I would need an attorney who specialized in criminal law. He was comfortable saying I don’t know. 

It really is OK to say I don’t know. It tells people you are being honest, which helps build trust. It also frees you to say I don’t know but I will find out,” and then take the necessary steps to find out.  It also sets you apart from those who “make up” an answer  or who pass the buck by saying go ask Harvey.

Curiosity may be hazardous for cats but it is a healthy desirable instinct for humans.

Curiosity may be hazardous for cats; but, it is a healthy and courage trait for humans.

Saying I don’t know but I will find the answer, also shows that you take initiative and that you are willing to learn new things. This shows that you are courageous, flexible and willing to be creative, to try new things  all of which lead to problem solving and progress.

Your Weekly Noodle Challenge
I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar. – Richard Feynman

When was the last time you willingly and freely said I don’t know?

Be courageous! Admit it, when you don't know the answer.

Be courageous! Admit it when you don’t know the answer.

  • How did it feel?
  • What happened as a result of saying I don’t know?
  • Did you learn something?
  • What opportunities or alternatives were presented as a result?

Share your experience with us in the Comments field below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

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Your Weekly Noodle: January 1, 2016

Noodle* on this …Happy-New-Year-Images-2016-advance
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~ Oprah Winfrey

It is traditional to start the New Year with a resolution.  I make the same resolution every year: I resolve not to make any New Year’s resolutions. As Oprah suggests, let’s get it right in 2016 and start a new tradition a new tradition.

According to, resolve means to decide to take action while commit means to bind or obligate. So, let’s commit to living grateful lives in 2016.

What is Gratitude?
Gratitude or thank you is an appreciation for what one has received. When someone helps us with “no strings” attached, we express our gratitude by saying thank you. According to Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at the University of California Berkley and an expert on the topic:

Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves… We acknowledge that other people – or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset – gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

Why live in Gratitude?
Living in gratitude is one way to get it right in several ways. According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, people who live in gratitude are healthier than those who do not. They have fewer aches and pains and are more likely to take care of themselves through regular exercise and doctor’s visits. They are also more likely to have better control of their emotions and experience less depression than others. Grateful people sleep better.

People who regularly express gratitude have better interpersonal relationships at home and at work. They are more empathic and less aggressive. Gratitude increases self-esteem, makes us more resilient and reduces stress levels.  According to Neale Donald Walsh, The struggle ends when gratitude begins.

Being Grateful
Gratitude, not just saying thank you but appreciating that what we have makes life easier, more enjoyable and meaningful.  Recently, I spent some time with a woman in a stressful situation – her son was very sick. I was helping her with a complicated problem, but through it all, she was the epitome of patience. She did not get frustrated, impatient or complain. When I thanked her for her patience, she said, “I don’t have much, but I have patience.”

patient womanI looked at her, saw a caring mother in pain and said, “I’m guessing that you have much more than just patience.”

She was silent for a moment, and then she said. “Yes, you’re right. I have my wonderful son, his sisters and brother. I have a loving family and friends. We have a roof over our heads, food on the table, money to pay the bills and a car that runs. I have my heath.” She smiled and said, “I have a lot. Thank you for reminding me.”

She was right. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of all that we have and to take the time to appreciate and be grateful for it. It helps us keep things in perspective, which helps us manage our emotions.

2014-11-26-gratitude2-thumbWhen I remind myself of what I am grateful for, the partial list reads as follows:

  • I am thankful for my family, my friends, and my silly dog Curly.
  • I am grateful for the people in my neighborhood and that we look out for one another.
  • I appreciate the people I meet each day as I live my life.
  • I am thankful for the trials and obstacles I encounter and the lessons I learn from them.
  • I find joy in doing work I love and getting to work with good, caring, fun, committed people.
  • I am grateful that I live in a place where I can ride my bicycle all year round, and,
  • I am especially thankful for you, my Gentle Readers – for your support and encouragement.  Happy New Year!

Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. ~ Melody Beattie

half fullWhat are you grateful for and what will you do to live in gratitude throughout the year? I will live in gratitude by:

  • Saying thank you every day;
  • Doing my best work;
  • Doing all I can to support my loved ones, friends, and co-workers;
  • Seeing the glass as half-full, and not half-empty; and,
  • Treating everyone I meet with respect and kindness no matter how brief the encounter.

Share your commitment to gratitude with us in the Comments section below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm

Photo Credits:


Your Weekly Noodle: November 11, 2015

Being rude does not make you right.

Being loud and rude does not make you right.

 Noodle* on this…
You can get through life with bad manners, but it’s easier with good manners
. ~ Lillian Gish

In our tell it like it is, anything goes society, etiquette, also known as good manners, seems quaint, if not downright antiquated. In fact, good manners are becoming so rare that British actor Bill Nighy said, if you have an enthusiasm for what they call ‘good manners,’ sometimes people don’t quite believe you. I’ve had that once or twice before, where they assume you can’t be for real.

What are good manners?
Good manners are about doing the right thing at the right time and the most basic rule of etiquette is being  courteous to everyone, regardless of their position or the situation. Every person is entitled to basic courtesy and respect.

Having good manners means that we:

  • Treat everyone we encounter with courtesy and respect, regardless of how the other person behaves. According to Jackson Brown, Jr. Good manners sometimes means simply putting up with other people’s bad manners.
  • Listen to others without interrupting.
  • Arrive for meeting or appointments before the scheduled start time.
  • Use proper grammar when speaking and refrain from inappropriate remarks and off-color jokes.
  • Refrain from using  cell phones or electronic tablets when talking or meeting with others.
  • Don’t listen to or spread in gossip.
  • Remember that our actions speak louder than our words. If we do not use good manners, no one will listen to what we may say about their importance.
  • Say please and thank you often.

What are the benefits of good manners?
Like other topics I’ve written about, such as silence and compassion, good manners are a source of power and a vital skill worth developing and using every day. Good manners attract attention and build respect, which in turn can lead to promotions and pay raises at work .  Good manners also support personal relationships, build trust and prompt others to treat us with good manners. In our personal and professional, good manners create a psychological open space where problems can be resolved.

respectYour Weekly Noodle Challenge…

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. ~ Emily Post

Awareness means that we respect the feeling and opinions of others even if we do not agree with them.

In summary: Good Manners = Respect.

How do you show respect for others, even if you don’t agree with them?

Share your ideas with us in the Comments section below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm

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Your Weekly Noodle: October 28, 2015

Be silent an observant like the stars..

Be silent and observant like the stars.

Noodle* on this…
Quietness is the beginning of virtue. To be silent is to be beautiful. Stars do not make a noise. ~ James Stephens

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. – Max Ehrmann, Desiderata


We live noisy lives. Planes, trains, automobiles, cell phone ringing, music played over load speakers, all add to the noise of life. This constant noise affects our ability to learn and do our jobs. It exhausts us and interferes with our ability to hear and understand speech according to Professor Gary W. Evans, PhD, at Cornell University.

Unfortunately, there is little we can do about all this ambient noise. In fact, we are so accustomed to noise that silence makes some people uncomfortable, as in the phrase deafening silence. When I was in college, I took a course on employee coaching. There were about a dozen people in the class and on the first day, the professor had us sit in a circle – like a group therapy circle. He joined us in the circle and said absolutely nothing for a few minutes. But it seemed like forever! In just a few seconds, we students were looking at each other, squirming in our seats and clearing our throats. All the while, the professor sat quietly looking at his hands resting in his lap. Then, the students started asking questions and making comments. When that did not evoke any response from the professor, the talking died off and we all sat silently. Finally without looking up, the professor started reporting, without any notes, what various students said and did during the silent time. Then he looked up, made eye contact with each of us and said, Your most powerful skill is the ability to be silent and listen.

Silence is Power
There is power in silence. Being silent give us the time to think things through and sort out our emotions. It helps us solve problems while remaining calm. For me, silence helps me in my writing. It also gives me peace. Sometimes, when we are silent, we must face our fears. This helps us develop wisdom and strength according to people like Lao Tuz (500 BC) who taught that silence is a source of great strength and Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626 AD) who defined silence as the sleep that nourishes wisdom. Remember that silence like any other power can be misused when it is used to punish others or show anger.

What happens in silence?
When we are silent we can hear and understand what others are saying. Being silent in a conversation means actually listening to the other person, not thinking about what we want to say or what to have for dinner. When we listen silently, we hear the person’s tone of voice; notice the words they stress; notice their body language; and hear what the person is actually saying. Silence gives us what doctors call a tincture of time, meaning it gives us the time and space necessary for compassion, wisdom, peace and understanding.



Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…
You are most powerful when you are most silent. People never expect silence. They expect words, motion, defense, offense, back and forth. They expect to leap into the fray. They are ready, fists up, words hanging leaping from their mouths. Silence? No.”  Alison McGhee, All Rivers Flow to the Sea

Can you sit in a meeting or in a group of any kind without speaking? Try it. How does it feel? What did you notice? Spend a few minutes every day just being quiet and observant. Share you experience with us in the Comments section below:

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

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Your Weekly Noodle: October 21, 2015

We all have stories to tell and they are not just for children

We all have stories to tell and they are not just for children.

Noodle* on this…
Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. ~ Doris Lessing

Stories have the power to move us to action, to inspire us, to teach us and to give us hope. As a writer, I’m not a very good story teller. I am more of a reporter of facts and concepts. But, I know a good story when I read or hear one and my sister Andrea shared the following story with me. It may be true or it may be urban legend; not even Mayor LaGuardia’s biographers know for sure. But, it is a lovely story. So, read and enjoy it.


Mayor LaGuardia talks with children displaced by World War II

Mayor LaGuardia meets children displaced by World War II

In the middle of the Great Recession, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, worked to understand what life was like for all the people living in the city. It was not unusual for him to ride with the fire fighter, go on raids with the police and take field trips with orphans. On a bitterly cold night in January, 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took the bench. Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told the Mayor that her daughter’s husband had deserted the family; her daughter was sick and could not work; and her two grandchildren were starving.

However, the store owner, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. “It’s a real bad neighborhood, Your Honor,” the man told the Mayor. “She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.”

LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said, “I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days on jail.” But, even as he pronounced the sentence, he reached into his pocket. He took out a bill and tossed it into his hat, which was sitting on the bench, saying, “Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”

The following day, New Your City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered woman who had stolen a loaf a bread to feed her starving grandchildren. Fifty cents of that amount came from the store owner along with money from petty criminals, people with traffic violations and New York City police officers, all of whom gave the Mayor a standing ovation.

Tell us your story.

Tell us your story.

Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…
You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it. ~ Margaret Atwood

Now, it is your turn. You have a story – one that inspired, moved you to action, or taught you an important lesson. It may be a personal experience or story you read or heard. Share that story with us in the Comments section. If the story is not personal, please include a source citation for the story, so we can give credit where it is due. For example, the source for the Mayor LaGuardia story comes from I’ll share the stories in Your Weekly Noodle.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm

Photo Credit

Your Weekly Noodle: October 7, 2015

Businesspeople Playing in the Ocean

Noodle* on this…
We’re in a society where we have to justify play, But play reminds you of your better self and how happy you can be. In play, there’s a wonderful lightness of being ~ Sara Stieglitz

Play is not just for kids. It is just as essential for adults as it is for children. In fact, adult play  is a serious matter, just like humility, resilience and compassion. As with these topics, play enhances our immune systems; reduces our stress levels; helps strengthen interpersonal bond; enhances creativity, flexibility and productivity; and supports our well-being.

What is play?
According to Professor Peter Gray of Boston Collegeplay “is self-chosen and self-directed,” an imaginative, non-literal activity in which means are more valued than ends with rules that are not dictated by physical necessity but emanate from the minds of the players. Adult play can involve organized sports, playing a musical instrument, painting a picture, flying a kite or any activity that gives us pleasure, challenges us and is not mandatory or is not results or goal focused. Psychologist Stuart Brown writes that humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun – they are forms of play and that play is not just joyful and energizing – it’s deeply involved with human development and intelligence.

Play has no purpose other than enjoyment whether it is the challenge of a chess game, the fresh air; sunshine and people watching that come with a walk on the beach or an evening of board games at home with family or friends.

Dogs know how important it is to play. It is so important that they send their humans a special invitation – the play bow.

Dogs know how important it is to play. It is so important that they send their humans a special invitation – the play bow.

Why is play important? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It also  makes you less productive and less creative. Play give you a natural high which leads to smiling which elevates your emotional state and stimulates your brain to produce endorphins, which produce feelings of confidence and satisfaction. Playing helps release your emotional energy in a safe way. Play also allows you to trade routine for excitement and procedure for imagination and spontaneity.

Finally, how you play is as unique as you are. Each of us plays in ways that show who we are as people. Play is a free open expression of the essential you! That is not something we get to do often enough in our busy, task driven culture.

Even animals understand the importance of play. If you have a dog, you are familiar with the “play bow” – a signal that the dog wants to play.

In summary…

  • If you want to be healthy and happy, play. It strengthens your immune system and reduces stress.
  • If you want to be creative or solve a problem, play. It stimulates the brain.
  • If you want to be successful, play. It increases productivity and cognitive ability.
  • If you want strong relationships, play with others. You are more genuinely you when you play than at any other time.
  • Just play for no reason at all!

Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…Creativity
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. ~ Carl Jung

How will you play this week to support your well-being and creativity?

Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

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