I Know What Rob Would Say

A practical and uplifting podcast to help deal with the common issues of daily life


My Apple Watch buzzed on my wrist while I watched TV the other night. The screen flashed red and alerted “Atrial Fibrillation.” I felt no discomfort other than the mild indigestion of an aging digestive system. I mentioned the signal to Mary Anne. The first alert startled me two weeks earlier.

I’d been placed on heart medication after being diagnosed with arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat caused by errant electrical impulses. I felt the symptoms a few months into the pandemic, and they increased as the politics in our country became uglier.
“Please call the doctor,” Mary Anne said in her soft defining voice. I made the appointment the next day, and they scheduled me to have a monitor placed on my chest…..

New Normal? I Don’t Think So…

As we begin to exit the pandemic, many of us talk about how we enter a period of “new normal.” Those of you who know me well know I am careful about the use of idioms. To me, “new normal” is an idiom, and I believe idioms represent lazy languaging—they tend to be vague and open to interpretation. Don Miguel Ruiz teaches me to be “impeccable with my word,” so I strive to do so. New normal, and even any “normal,” does not fall within my range of impeccability.

Throughout the pandemic, I wrote, edited, and recently published a new metaphysical fiction novel. We were stuck in the house, so why not? The book is entitled Braided: A Not Not True Story. My editors thought the subtitle to be a typo, and tried to correct it. It drives editing software crazy, but that is the subtitle: A Not Not True Story.

You might point out that the subtitle, “A Not Not True Story,” is vague and open to interpretation, and therefore idiomatic, and I would agree with you. So in my quest to remain impeccable with my words, I chose to write a mystical and metaphysical manuscript of over 60 thousand words on 246 pages over two years to bring the meaning of Not Not True to life. I invite you to read the book to understand what I mean by “Not Not True.” I think you will find it entertaining and provocative. But for now, I’d like to say more about how the pandemic brought me to a place of “not not true.”

When I think about how the pandemic affected me, I don’t feel I’ve entered a “new normal” period in my life. New normal seems like an oxymoron to me—how can something be new and ordinary at the same time. Nothing seems “normal” to me anymore.

The pandemic changed me in ways I’ve never experienced before and don’t fully understand. I feel I’ve entered an utterly unique terrain without a roadmap or compass as if I’ve been blindfolded and dropped on a distant planet. New normal just doesn’t fit, so I believe we need a new idiom; one that describes that we must define our new state as we go through it. Therefore, it is neither true nor not true—it is Not Not True.

As I sit here in a favorite coffee shop writing these words, I remind myself of certain empirical truths. One is that we are all on a speck of cosmic dust circling a burning sun along with our brother and sister planets, blasting through the universe at 490,000 miles per hour. I pause to look over at my cup of coffee sitting on the table next to my computer and notice the liquid in the cup remains perfectly still—not even a shimmer of vibration. My physical and observational cues of careening through space at 490,000 miles per hour are not present. So is that true, or not true? Professor Google said it, and I read it, so I must be experiencing it, right? But is it really “true?” I no longer treat this fact as normal, or old normal, or new normal. I am putting this information in the part of my experience of not not true. It resides together with my understanding of the existence of God—a great mystery.

It seems we humans have become agitated with the existence of great mysteries. We seem to be obsessed with explaining the unexplainable. There is an excellent marketplace for interpreting the unknown—what I call the land of the not not true. There are churches, synagogues, mosques, and spiritual communities on every corner, each with a different explanation of what is not not true. We must have great patience to live with mystery. A favorite philosopher of mine puts forward a unique antidote.

Years ago, we studied Carl Jung’s concept of active imagination. One of my teachers warned me that I should not read Jung from cover to cover but to study and meditate on his quotes. Jung said, “Normality is a fine ideal for those who have no imagination.” Jung was not one to mince words.

He also said, “Active imagination requires a state of reverie, halfway between sleep and waking. Without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth.

Living in the world on Not Not True is to live in a state of reverie between sleep and waking. So you might say, “Hey Rob, just get some good weed, or find some magic mushrooms and let your mind expand,” and I don’t judge these mechanisms of entering into active imagination—I did grow up in the ‘60s. Many people use micro-dosing of natural mind-altering substances to help them in their therapeutic processes and life journey. We participated in many sessions of pranayama breathwork, a very effective way to enter an altered state of consciousness, to facilitate our active imagination sessions. It is always best to use mind-altering techniques and active imagination sessions with an experienced facilitator until you feel proficient enough to practice sessions independently.

Ultimately, living in a world of the Not Not True is residing in your own world of active imagination without becoming unconscious of the world and the people around you. The pandemic and my active imagination bring me to a place of higher consciousness of how I wish to travel through my life and how I want to behave with the people and world around me. I imagine myself being the very best citizen and occupant of our planet as long as I walk upon it and our solar system as it makes its way through the galaxy and even beyond. I wish the very same for us all.

May we all teach peace, and live in peace.

Mother Nature just put us all in time out

The human inhabitants of our world are struggling with a ruthless pandemic, and many are dying while the swans are returning to Venice and the fish are visible again, swimming below in the clearer waters of the canals.

Many years ago, as a beginning therapist, I learned the technique of the “time-out.” I asked couples caught up in repetitive marital arguments to take a break, retreat to neutral corners, and reflect. I wanted them to find a quiet space and take time to reflect on their own feelings and behavior before reacting. In that place of solitude, I asked them to consider how they might approach the issue differently so they might resolve the conflict. Are they listening closely to what their partner has to say? Do they understand their feelings and needs before responding? Or are they reacting to what they think they heard them say?

I used the same technique with parents having difficult times with their children. I remember asking one mother if she used time-out with her four-year-old son who was driving her crazy. She said, “I seem to have him in time out all the time. When he throws his temper tantrums, I march him off to the bathroom, put him inside, and tell him he can come out when he stops. He goes nuts in there, kicking the door and screaming. The problem is, he’s getting bigger and I can’t chase him all over house and physically force him into the bathroom.”

I paused a moment before I said, “Oh, that’s the problem, you’re putting the wrong person in time-out.”

She said, “What?”

“It’s you who needs to go into time-out.”

“Me?” she asked with a confused look on her face.

“Yes; you. The next time he throws a tantrum, I want you to take yourself to the bathroom and lock yourself in there until he stops,” I instructed. “You must not come out until he is quiet for at least three full minutes.”

She said, “And leave him alone out in the house? He’ll destroy it! He’ll break everything we own. And what if he walks out the front door and goes out in the street alone and gets hit by a car?

“It’s just an experiment.” I replied. “Just put all your valuables away and lock the doors. Trust me, he won’t do either. That’s just your anxiety talking. Are you willing to try?”

She agreed to try. I added, “And while you are in the bathroom, I want you to meditate; calm yourself down. Remind yourself you are a great mother trying to learn something new, and everything will turn out well.”

The next week she came in to report what happened. She followed the instructions, taking herself into time-out in the bathroom when he was throwing one of his worst tantrums ever. When she closed and locked herself in, he promptly parked himself outside the door, screaming and crying at the top of his lungs. He kicked and punched the bathroom door. She heard him throw himself on the floor, kicking and screaming. She thought she would explode. She had to cover her ears and sing to herself to block out the racket.

And then she heard nothing coming from the other side of the door. Her anxiety went through the roof. She thought, “Oh God, what’s he doing now. She uncovered her ears and heard him breathing on the other side of the door. She remembered she had to wait a full three minutes before she did anything. It seemed like a lifetime. After about one minute she heard him say something quietly to himself. She heard him say in his four-year-old voice, “This just isn’t working anymore.” She waited another minute before she opened the door. She pulled her son up, gave him a big hug, and had a good day.
She couldn’t believe it. “This just isn’t working anymore? Could a four-year-old really have such insight?” she asked me.

“Who knows…” I said. “Who cares.” You learned that taking yourself to time-out, relaxing, and waiting for things to settle down on their own, works.

So as I sit here in my easy chair in my living room, listening to Joni Mitchell singing to me in the background while I write this article, Mother Earth’s words come to me… to all of us.

She says, “I have sent you all into time out. I have sent this pandemic to you as your loving mother. To survive, you must go to your homes and be alone for a while. I am putting you in time-out to reflect, to listen, and to act. Give yourself time to reflect on how you have been behaving. Listen closely to what is taking place on the planet. It is serious. Take responsibility for what is going on in your environment; your personal environment, and the larger environment. If you are being a virus on my earth, then stop. If you are over-consuming and polluting, you must do better. Hold the earth in love. Care for it. Stop your pettiness and learn to love one another. I have the power to cleanse the earth of you if need be. Heed this warning you are experiencing. The life I offer you is a blessing; not a privilege.”

I’ve written and spoken the words she sent me for all of us to hear. We are all frightened by what is happening on our planet. Our way of life may have to change forever. If we are to survive, we must take ourselves to time-out. Spend these hours we have alone to reflect, to take care of yourselves, to remain physically and socially isolated until the danger is past. Be quiet and reflect on the state of ourselves in relationship to each other and our planet.

I love you.

Beloofs about the Holidays 2017

Well, it’s time for my annual Holiday blog and podcast. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year, even Festivus for the rest of us first celebrated on the
Seinfeld show, I reflect again on all the beloofs created by the major religions regarding the potential meaning of the holidays. As a
therapist, I see the results of such beloofs in the emotional reactions of my clients to the holidays. The truth is not so pretty.

The most troubling to me are the beloofs that we must be “happy” and “joyous” during the holidays. I’ve learned it isn’t so for many people. We are exposed to the stereotypic scenes about the holidays: pretty families around a bountiful table of food, laughing and talking, celebrating and sharing gifts. Fires in fireplaces, trees decorated with colorful artifacts, candles glistening in the windows.

We send cards to each other and greet each other with words of happiness and hope: “Happy Holidays”, “Season’s Greetings”, “Happy Hanukkah”, “Best Wishes”, “Peace on Earth”, “Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year”, etc., etc.


If we really said what is in our authentic hearts and heads, would the words be these standard greetings and trite sayings we smile to each other as we pass on the street, in the mall, or in the workplace? Or perhaps might we share the truth about how we are feeling about what’s going on in our lives.

That’s not to say that for many of us the holiday season conjures memories of “Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la”. But for others, the season may trigger memories of drunken brawls, sexual molestation, abandonment, neglect, loneliness, poverty, or even death. Is one of our beloofs, “If I feel and express my real feelings during the holidays will I be seen as a Grinch?” Or, “If I don’t buy everyone the right gift they will think I don’t really care about them.” Or perhaps, “I don’t want ‘ruin’ the holidays for those around me?” Or maybe, “Let’s forget about it, just get drunk and watch football.”

Do I spend the holidays surrounded by others, or perhaps isolated and alone? Am I estranged from my family, or perhaps going through an ugly or heartbreaking ending of a relationship? Am I out of work or just short on money? Do I create stress and tension in my life secretly creating debt to try to keep up with my more affluent friends and family? Do I turn to my addictions to food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, or sex, in my secret need to find ways to sooth the overwhelming tension throughout my body, and to hide the shame and self-loathing that resides deep in my psyche?

How did these beloofs develop in the first place? Where did they come from – why are they so firmly entrenched in me as if they are a part of my very make-up? Well, I’ll tell you: These beloofs are bequeathed to us from our family system. They are passed on from generation to generation of millennia of ancestry. They are based in an antiquity of dogma and training from our various religious indoctrinations. These beloofs are in our deep-seated fear of being an outlier; of being different; of not fitting in; of being judged and ridiculed if we take the risk of expressing our authentic selves.

Are these beloofs working for you? If the answer is yes, then by all means hold on to them and be grateful for them. No one will judge you for having a joyous and fruitful holiday season. All I ask is that you recognize that not everyone shares your experience of the holidays, and honor their experience even if it does not reflect yours.

Are these beloofs about the holidays not working for you anymore. Do you really want to hang on to beloofs that don’t work for you anymore? Then try not to judge yourself for how you might be feeling this holiday season. You can release from the beloofs that no longer serve you and breath them out of your cells.

Here are some new beliefs in the form of mantras to consider repeating to yourself throughout the holiday season. Let yourself relax and breathe deeply, and repeat them to yourself many times per day as the holidays approach. I know they will change the way you feel at a very deep level if you practice them often. You may say them along with me if you wish:

“I free myself from any and all shame and self-loathing I hold about myself and my situation”
“I free myself from any and all shame and self-loathing I hold about myself and my situation”
“I free myself from any and all shame and self-loathing I hold about myself and my situation”

“My life is evolving precisely as it should”
“My life is evolving precisely as it should”
“My life is evolving precisely as it should”

“I seek out and find people and communities that love me unconditionally”
“I seek out and find people and communities that love me unconditionally”
“I seek out and find people and communities that love me unconditionally”

“I take the risk of expressing my authentic self”
“I take the risk of expressing my authentic self”
“I take the risk of expressing my authentic self”

May we all teach peace and well-being throughout the entire New Year!

Be Well, and take care.