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“Communication breakdown, it’s always the same…” — Led Zeppelin

We exist in relationship. Relationship with self, relationship with others, and relationship with things, experiences and activities. Communication is what keeps all of these relationships together and in this article I attempt to breakdown some critical failings within our systems of communication in the hopes of healing, optimizing and stimulating thriving relationships in your life.

It’s easy to imagine some people for whom communication is free and easy and others where it is awkward or strained. I have found that it’s in these uneasy communications that much about our nature can be revealed and new growth and opportunity arise. We each have our own template for language, varying greatly between ethnicity, local and regional custom, family upbringing as well as individual experience. Some people are apt to verbal communications and may be audible learners. Others quite the opposite. With so many different starting points, it’s no wonder we don’t always get the joke or understand the premise. This doesn’t even begin to account for the underlying emotional sensitivities or lack thereof. How many arguments arise from the wrong interpretation and poor timing? …

I was drawn to her immediately. Her presence loving and her story real. You could just feel it. No surprise then when she told me she was from Detroit. It doesn’t get more real than that. Detroit, Michigan once the darling of America’s industrial excellence, featuring the Big 3 automakers that were among the highest valued companies in the world, went through a huge recession and had horrendous crime around the time she and I were growing up, a byproduct of white flight, racist policies, and crack cocaine.

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I grew up not far from there and a world apart. Not far as I lived outside of Flint, which was like a small Detroit, up until the 8th grade and later in a quaint village near 13-mile, just 5-miles from the infamous “8-mile” movie starring Eminem. Worlds apart as we lived in the suburbs with single-family homes and big fenced yards. For the better part of my adult life now, I’ve lived in Marin County, one of the wealthiest counties in America. I’m surrounded by almost entirely white neighbors where often the only people of color are those that work here primarily as cooks, construction workers, landscapers, and cleaners. There are people of color that own businesses and live here too, although limited and mostly separate. Nobody I know is racist, but to some it may look and feel that way. …

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My body needs me to notice, listen, and respond to it.
To accept it and just let it be.
To feel, touch, hear, taste, smell, and see.
To move it up, move it down, and move all it around.

My body needs me to nourish it with good food and plenty of water.
To relax and release tension.
To sit and stand upright.
To rest and sleep.

My body needs me to smile and laugh.
To cuddle, caress, stimulate and sensuate.
To feel the warmth of the sun and all its living things.
To get dirty and be clean.

My body needs me to dance and sing.
To put it to good use.
To think good thoughts. …

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Taijiquan (“Tai Chi”) is translated as “Supreme Ultimate Fighting” and for good reason I believe. It has a long revered heritage originally said to have arisen from watching a crane and snake fight and has survived the millenia by adapting and diversifying to today’s more esoteric and health promoting aspects. That said, Taijiquan is at its roots a martial art.

In the battle between crane and snake, every strike of the snake is expertly shielded and deflected by the crane’s spanning wings and followed by a crane’s beak attack nearly missing as the snake has already recoiled for a strike of his own.

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I have just returned from a week-long workshop retreat led by author, speaker Charles Eisenstein at Esalen in Big Sur, CA. It was a remarkable experience and I wanted to share it with you.

I picked up a vibrant couple on the way down Sunday afternoon from my home in Marin County and they were the first of many lasting gifts of this adventure as we shared stories and, despite the curvy roads and my tendency to talk with my hands (sometimes both of them) while driving, together we enjoyed the immense beauty of the cliffs as they met the expansiveness of the ocean. We made a quick stop at Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park to see an 80-foot waterfall from the cliffs over the beach before arriving a couple miles later to a truly idyllic setting filled with organic shaped structures built into a sprawling landscape along the cliffs separated by a walking bridge over a gorgeous creek. …

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In honor of the great Albert Einstein (it’s his birthday) here’s a very partial collection of quotes. I not only appreciate his intelligence, but also his humanity and holistic worldview interlacing science, religion, and politics into the human experience…


“A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future.”

– “My Future Plans” an essay written at age 17 for school exam (18 September 1896)

“If A is success in life, then A = x + y + z. Work is x, play is y and z is keeping your mouth shut.”

- Said to Samuel J Woolf, Berlin, Summer 1929. …

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We all know how hard it can be to break a habit. What if there was an easier way? First it might help to understand why it’s so hard to break ‘bad habits’ in the first place:

  1. Physical — Tobacco is perhaps the best known habit causing a physical addiction that is both pleasurable and creates withdrawal symptoms. Sugars (mild) and Pharmaceutical Painkillers (severe) are a couple along the spectrum of physically addictive.
  2. Circumstance — These are habits largely formed by your upbringing and current surroundings. Based on our human need to belong, it’s easy to get pulled by the local societal and familial norms. Like fish in water, many bad habits are formed unconsciously or at least early or isolated enough that the individual isn’t yet aware of the consequences nor would know any differently. …

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We exist in relation and relationships. Relationship with self, relationship with others, and relationship with experience and activity. Within these relationships, communication keeps them connected and working. This article considers how we communicate with ourselves and with others as one of the keys to unlocking our individual and collective potentials and promise.

The word ‘communicate’ comes from the Latin verb meaning “To Share”. In a relationship, the sharing of useful information in a timely manner is really important. It’s easy to imagine some people for whom communication is free and easy and others where it is awkward or strained. I have found that it’s in these uneasy communications that much about our nature can be revealed and new growth and opportunity arise. …

“Begin with the end in mind” is a mantra I borrow from one of my heros and author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey.

What end do you have in mind?

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It’s a big question and needs refinement, but first let’s answer the big one… what end do you have in mind for yourself? There’s a practice for envisioning this end that goes something like this:

You are at YOUR funeral having died peacefully in your sleep. Who do you hope to see in attendance? What thoughts do you want them to carry? How about those in the front row and the people speaking on your behalf? …

Yes it’s true, but Matter matters too!

Over time I become increasingly aware that the “negative” manifestations in our lives are due if not mostly, then significantly to the well-being of our physical bodies. Let me explain:

No matter the final outcome or next steps on our spiritual journey, our lifetime is contained within our body. This makes us human, a member of the Animal Kingdom here on Earth. Like most animals, humans need need air, water, food, shelter, sunshine, sanitation, sleep, and touch to survive. To thrive we all need a sense of belonging and purpose.


When these essentials are met, good health usually ensues. Of course some people are not so lucky and despite their best efforts have experienced poor health. These folks can verify the importance of health on their ability to contribute their best to society. We will all experience this firsthand as we age beyond our prime. …


Adam Cole Shapiro

Personal Empowerment

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