July 3, 2014 by Leave a comment

Independence is happiness

--Susan B. Anthony


This year marks 238 years since the United States declared its independence from Great Britain. While America celebrates its freedom, are you celebrating yours? As we go through the long weekend, taking in the displays of fireworks, fun with family and friends, backyard barbecues, picnics and parades, think about the fight and struggle our founders and citizens went through to get to this day.

Here’s the thing: if you want independence, you have to fight for it. It’s hard work, so if you’re not prepared to push forward, that’s okay. Independence is not for you. Bravery is required. Willingness to strike out down the path and taking the journey alone conjures nightmares. It can be lonely to think for yourself, to act solo, or be a lone dissenter. Terror sets in oftentimes, and the wanna-be independents cower in the corner or buckle under pressure of all kinds.

The four cornerstones of character

on which the structure of this nation was built are:

Initiative, Imagination, Individuality and Independence.

--Eddie Rickenbacker

(WWI American Fighter Ace)


Truly independent people scare the heck out of those who subscribe to hive mind. And those possessing hive mind don’t realize they have it. Perhaps some hive minders suspect they are part of the collective mind. It happens when a random independent thought shoots through their mind – a foreign thing not part of the group. Panic sets in and they quickly sweep it into the basement, lock it away in the deep dark. It’s too much to deal with. A person embodying and displaying initiative, imagination, individuality and independence is considered a rogue, heretic, crazy or non-conformist.

Everyone should want to be that. But we lie to ourselves, brainwashing our egos into thinking our lives are perfect as is, tricking ourselves into a lifetime holding pattern.

Independence destroys the status quo. Independence turns the comfort of everyday life and patterns upside down and inside out.

It’s scary.

But really.

What is independence?

What does it mean to you?

What does it look like in your everyday life?

Where are you independent – and where do you want to be?

Independence is a heady draught …

It is addictive, and with each drink, you want more.

--Maya Angelou


Independence is whatever form you want it to be:







And if you achieve and combine independence in these five areas – you’ve hit the jackpot.


By achieving independence, you become the foundation on which interdependence is built. Independent people build a robust society of authenticity. Independent people – people who think for themselves without labeling themselves, their thoughts, their lifestyle, or others – are rock solid. They aren’t easily swayed – but they are flexible in their thoughts and beliefs.

So, on this Independence Day … declare yours.

Drink deep of your individuality.

Dream the dreams of your imagination.

Drown yourself in initiative.

Declare your independence.

Light the fireworks of your soul, and dance the freedom of your spirit.


--Syndee Barwick



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June 23, 2014 by Leave a comment





A few days ago, we explored the U.S. Men’s team win over Ghana in the World Cup, and how a couple of spectacular goals at the beginning and end of the game in Goooaaalll! Part 1 .


Yesterday, the U.S. Men’s team faced Portugal. What happened? Well, they were thisclose to winning – and to advancing into the next round. But what happened? They didn’t get the win, as it were. Perhaps they got caught up in premature euphoria. And Portugal wanted not to lose. So, in the last few seconds of the game, they out-maneuvered and out-shot the U.S. – and the game ended in a draw.


As they say, “it ain’t over, til it’s over.” Clearly, this was the case. More to the point: NEVER GIVE UP!


Now, the U.S. team plays Germany on Thursday. Let’s see what happens!


Here are points 12 -22 for keeping your eyes, head and heart on your goals. It wasn’t only the U.S team who had their eyes on the prize. Portugal did, too!


  1. Visualize your target – your ultimate goal (over and over again)

All successful people, whether they be athletes, artists or heads of business, have one thing in common: they see the outcome in their mind’s eye. They visualize what they want to achieve. That’s what John Brooks did. He dreamed it. And he believed it. You can, too.



  1. Take aim and go for it

            Set your sights on your goal. Sure, it may have taken days, weeks, months – even years – to get there. But you’ve visualized it, planned for it, taken steps to get there. Don’t waste any more time. GO FOR IT! Run for it, head it in, kick it, hit it, but whatever you do MOVE towards it! Sometimes, you have to go with your instincts – and many times your primal self is much wiser than your thinking self.


  1. Don’t be intimidated

Don’t be daunted by the amount of work ahead of you. Don’t be intimidated by a person who you deem to be smarter, better qualified, or better looking. Don’t be discouraged by daunting circumstances. If you can dream it and see it, you can do it.


  1. Fresh eyes give new perspective

John Brooks sat on the sidelines for most of the U.S. match against Ghana. He observed everything, and watched how the opposing team played as well as his own teammates. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t engaged. Sometimes you have to step away from a situation to get a better perspective on how to solve a problem or reach your goal. Don’t disengage. Just take a look at the situation from different ways.


  1. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity

Some say the U.S. team was lucky. Sure, they were. But luck is where preparation meets opportunity. They trained – mentally and physically – for the World Cup, and they knew how to capitalize on opportunity. The same goes for you. Create your own luck. That means preparing yourself for what you want (whether taking classes or practicing), keeping your eyes, ears, heart and mind open to notice and recognize opportunities – and to take action when you see/feel them!


17.       Keep trying

If you want something bad enough, you have to keep trying. And it’s okay – really, really okay – to fail or lose. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” No matter what, keep going. Don’t be afraid to lose. If you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch your goal, nothing can keep you from it.


  1. Okay to be an underdog

            It’s GREAT to be an underdog! People’s expectations aren’t that high, and there’s a lot less pressure on you. You get to set your own pace, ask dozens of different questions, try many different paths. And, one day, you’ll be “an overnight success” – with years of work, trial and error and testing behind you.


  1. Don’t listen to detractors

There are always people who want to tear you down and tell you what you CAN’T do. Don’t listen to them. Plug your ears with your fingers and sing, “LALALA!” at the top of your lungs. If you listen to the naysayers, you kill your dreams in midstream – or before they even begin.


  1. Don’t stop: keep moving, keep thinking, keep creating

            Do something every day to keep your skills honed and your dream alive. Never stop coming up with ideas or strategies on how to reach your goal. Motivate yourself. Sit in nature. Listen. Observe the birds with their heads cocked, waiting for that next worm. Watch the squirrels gather acorns. You have to keep moving. Don’t give up.


  1. Substance over flash (but a little flash never hurts)

What’s the heart of your goal? Does it have substance? Great! Substance give longevity to your dream and the ultimate outcome. Substance gives your goal heft. But no one said delivering it with a little pizzazz was out of the equation! So, go ahead. Use a some flash when executing the goal – but make sure it has substance as a foundation.


  1. Celebrate all victories – small and large.

The U.S. Men’s National Team celebrated every victory on their road to the World Cup. And each team member celebrated their own personal achievements, as well. Make a list of your goals, small and large. As you check them off, one by one … celebrate! Celebrate by yourself, celebrate with friends, family, pets, neighbors. But only YOU will understand the true significance of your accomplishment(s). In the end, ask yourself, “What have I accomplished?” If you finished a course, graduated from school, completed that novel, started that business, organized your house, fixed your car – it doesn’t matter. All of it contributes in some way to that ultimate goal, whatever it is.


So ask yourself: What’s my goal? What’s my dream? What did I do today to move forward towards it? Remember to celebrate every single day!


We’d love to hear your goals, dreams and steps on achieving those, so go ahead! Make a comment and send us your thoughts.


Until next time, stay motivated!

cat goal.jpg

--Syndee Barwick

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June 17, 2014 by 1 comment


Part 1



“I had a dream. I told some teammates I dreamed I scored in the 80th minute and we win the game.”

--John Brooks, substitute defender,

U.S Men’s National Soccer Team



On Monday, the U.S. Men’s Soccer team surprised a lot of people – except themselves (and perhaps their fans) – in their first match of the tournament, with a spectacular 2-1 win over long-time Group of Death nemesis, Ghana. Two goals: one in the 30th second of the match by captain Clint Dempsey, and the other in the 86th minute by substitute defender John Brooks, clinched the first game contest.

How can the U.S. team’s win – and John Brooks’ spectacular end-game goal – provide motivation and inspiration for the goals we have for ourselves?

Here’s the first 11 of 22 suggestions to keep your eye on the ball – and on the ultimate prize – which is whatever goal (or goals) you’ve set for yourself


  1. Don’t define yourself by other people’s expectations of you

Let’s face it. The US is not known for its soccer (or football, as it’s known to everyone else in the world). People don’t expect much from the US team – except that they’d lose right off the bat.

Guess what?

They didn’t. Will they keep winning? Who knows.

But one thing’s for sure: they won this one.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Because if YOU don’t, how do you expect anyone else to believe in you?


  1. Just because you’re a beginner doesn’t mean you can’t score big

John Brooks is a rookie – and filled in towards the end of the game, at the proverbial “last minute.” But he also had hours of practice on the pitch, along with the skills, focus and passion for the game.


So what you’re new to the field, business, endeavor, craft? Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. If you have passion, it means you’re inclined to learn as much as you can about whatever it is you’re passionate about. Read as much as you can and practice whatever it is you want to achieve. Pay attention and stay tuned in to what you want. You CAN score big. Beginner’s luck? Maybe. But I’m certain there was a whole lot of preparation that went into that win.

  1. Use your head

Brooks did – and headed that ball into the net. Captain Clint Dempsey suffered a broken nose – but kept going, playing the entire game while swallowing mouthfuls of blood.


In life (business or personal), use your head, too. Make plans. And more plans (aka contingency plans). Prepare for every situation, running through the playbook of life in your head. Then act. Act with authority and precision. And if you get a bloody nose or a black eye? Keep going.


  1. Follow your heart

Your head is only one part of the equation. Your heart’s got to be in the game, too. Without heart (passion), your goal – and the steps you take to get there – are stiff and painful. If they are? You’re on the wrong path. Pick a new one (it’s okay).


  1. Be ready for opportunity ! Take that chance!

Sure, there was the chance that Brooks would miss. But he was ready for that opportunity, and when the nanosecond of chance opened, he took the shot.


You can, too. Keep your eyes and ears open, learn as much as you can. Be ready. Be prepared. Take that chance!


  1. Set the pace

Captain Clint Dempsey scored the first goal within the first minute of the match.

He set the pace for the team – and for the game. Ghana coach Akwasi Appiah said it was “a disaster for us.”


Set your OWN pace. Don’t let anyone else do that for you. What are you comfortable with? Taking the lead? Or hanging back and working methodically? But always, always, be the leader of YOUR OWN LIFE and your own dreams. Don’t allow anyone else to do that for you. You’ll be resentful and miserable. Take charge of your life, your dreams, yourself. You know your capabilities (most of the time). Push yourself, and let others on your team (see below) help you achieve your very best.


  1. Build a good team (support)

You are the coach and captain of your life, your goals and your dream. But you need a team. For advice, for support, for wisdom. Everyone has a part to play on a team. Build a great one, BUT …


Be wise and be careful about whom you choose. You need people who believe in you, but you also need people on your team who know more than you about different things. They need to help you build, not tear you down. No naysayers allowed. It’s okay for someone to challenge your ideas, the help you patch the holes in your plan. But if you have someone who constantly dwells on the negative, boot them off your team.


Oh, and your team needs to kick your butt, too, because believe me, you can’t kick your own.


  1. Sometimes sitting on the sidelines gets you ready for the action

So, John Brooks, a sub right off the bench in the last 4 minutes, headed the ball into the goal. Skill, surely. But also an element of surprise. Obviously, if he’s on the team, he’s got skills, and it didn’t matter if he was sitting on the sidelines or not. He was still focused, so when he got in the game, he delivered.


Have you been sitting on the sidelines? Do you know a craft or business as well as any expert? Then GET OUT THERE. Get in the game. Become the expert. All your game-watching has prepped you for the action.


  1. Doesn’t matter by how much you win

Only YOU know what a “win” in your life looks like. It doesn’t matter what it is, it doesn’t matter by how much. And, don’t forget, the win is sweeter when the journey is well-traveled. And when you win? Scream it from the rooftop!!


  1. Third time’s the charm (sometimes)

In the last two World Cups, team Ghana knocked the U.S. out of competition, preventing them from advancing further in the tournament. There’s the old saying, “Third time’s the charm.” In this instance, for the U.S., it was. PERSISTENCE in the play, to constantly engage in the game, made the match

Practice made the US team better.


So apply PRACTICE and PERSISTENCE to whatever goal (and path) on which you’re working.


  1. Dream (keep chasing it)

In the 86th minute of the game (just four minutes after Ghana tied the match), substitute defender John Brooks, 21, scored the game-winning goal.


Two days before the match, John Brooks said, “I had a dream. I told some teammates I dreamed I scored in the 80th minute and we win the game. Now it was the 86th minute, and we won.”


He also said that in the dream, “I also scored on a header … It was my first dream about scoring. Hopefully not the last.”


Was John Brooks prophetic? Or, did he make a dream the new picture of reality?


Doesn’t matter, does it? He had a dream (in this case, a literal one!) and he made it come true. Without a dream – a goal – the reality has no heart.


What’s yours? And how are you going to pull it from the ether into the realms of reality?



Come back in a few days, and we’ll look at the next 11 points in GOOOAAALLL!!!

--Syndee Barwick

Captain Clint Dempsey scored the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history – in the 30th second of the match.

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Published in Motivation


June 9, 2014 by Leave a comment


In today’s world, it’s a challenge to maintain an upbeat, positive attitude – especially when you start – and end – your day with the news. Sure, it’s necessary to be informed, but if you’re soaking in all that negativity and bad stuff, positivity can flee from you like a fugitive you see on the latest broadcast.

Closeup of message stones on white background.

Negativity affects every aspect of your life:

  • Health (Mental, Physical, Social, Spiritual)
  • Work
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Friends
  • Money
  • Sleep


People who possess and maintain a positive attitude experience healthier, better lives.  Don’t believe it?  Here are some statistics:


  1. “According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 83, No. 2, pages 261-270), is one of many (studies) over the past several years that have begun to suggest that your personality, attitude toward aging and other psychosocial variables might help either grant you extra years or shorten your life. Personality and attitude may also influence your physical and mental abilities as you age.”


  1. “According to Management Help: A person's attitude represents how they feel or their state of mind about something. For example, one can have a good (or positive) attitude toward their work, usually meaning that they feel good about their work, their job, their organization, etc.”



For a great family life according to , theh say the number one value is Be loving. It's the greatest gift and blessing. It's the basis of all relationships and morality. The more love and kindness you give, the more you receive. Remember that the best gift you can give your child, your partner, your friends and yourself is YOU: your time, your attention, and your love


So, here are a few ways to start, maintain and end your day:

  1. Limit your news time – and don’t watch it right before you go to sleep.
  2. Meditate in the morning and at night. It’ll rebalance your mental, emotional and spiritual equilibrium.
  3. Exercise. Exercise gets the blood and endorphins flowing; just wait for that rush to begin! (Don’t do this at night – you’ll never sleep!)
  4. Read something inspirational: a poem, a story, a speech
  5. Watch something inspirational: a video, a movie, an interview
  6. Hug your pet
  7. Kiss your children
  8. Do something for yourself to keep your life headed in the direction YOU want.


What are some of the positive ways YOU start, experience and end your day?


Stay motivated!


Debbie Haghighat

Syndee Barwick

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Poppies In Memoriam: Remembrance & Dreams

May 24, 2014 by Leave a comment

This weekend, Americans observe Memorial Day. At nearly 150 years old (initiated following the end of the Civil War), Memorial Day is the way in which our nation commemorates those who have died in service to the United States.

We need to remember that THIS is the reason for the day, rather than a “day off” to hold backyard barbecues, pool parties and store sales touting “the BEST Memorial Day savings.”

No. No. No.

We have lost ourselves if this is what is important to us.

Having a father who served in both World War II and Korea, Memorial Day was (and still is) important, especially when young. We marched in parades (me, as a Girl Scout and later in various school bands), while my Dad marched with various organizations with which he was affiliated.

This was a big deal.

When, exactly, did we forget about the importance of the service and sacrifice? For without these two things, whether from family, friends or strangers, we would not have the freedom and the chance to pursue our dreams.

A small way in which to honor these service people is to sport a poppy. Several organizations distribute poppies, but have you ever wondered what the significance of the poppy is in relation to Memorial Day (as well as Veteran’s Day)?

The red poppy is the international symbol of remembrance. How did that come about?

During World War I, known as “the Great War,” in the spring of 1915, after a harsh 1914/1915 winter, the fields in around Belgian Flanders began to sprout poppies early as an unusually warm spring arrived. These fields were the sites of terrible fighting and devastating human life lost. Strewn with bodies and drenched in blood, the fields were decimated, and death hung in the air and soaked the ground. Seemingly, nothing survived.

But life, as it is, does in various forms. With the first breath of spring, red poppies dotted Flanders fields, in and around the battle zones. From death, life. The fighting had disturbed the long-dormant poppy seeds, causing them to germinate with the arrival of an early spring. And, in the spring and summer months of 1915-1918, red poppies could be seen everywhere in Belgium, France, and Turkey (Turkish Gallipoli).

In early May 1915, a Canadian soldier named John McCrae, from his artillery position near the Ypres-Yser Canal in Belgium, noticed the bloom of poppies. From this, he composed one of the most famous poems in relation to World War I, thought to be in honor of a fallen friend.



In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872 - 1918)



Poppies symbolize dreams, sleep, and beauty. To the ancient Greeks, they were they flower of Morpheus, the god of dreams, who existed outside of reality. To the Chinese, the poppy symbolizes beauty, success and rest. In Christianity, the poppy represents death as a period of tranquil slumber.

And, we all remember the fields of poppies scene in the Wizard of Oz, as Dorothy falls asleep.

But the poppy also represents new life, resurrection and remembrance. Poppies give us new life out of death: physical death, spiritual death, emotional death. But also the death of old ideas, old habits, old patterns, old ways of life. In poppies, we see hope and dreams sprouting from the old.

Poppies allow us to remember. Remember who we were, who we are, and who we wish to be. They allow us to remember others, for without strangers, family and friends, we could not be who we want to be or do what we hope to do.

How does who you are today relate to and rely upon those who came before you - your ancestors, as well as those you never knew? Those unrelated by blood, but through spilled blood provided freedom to allow you an opportunity to pursue your dreams?


Celebrate and Decorate

Celebrate the lives of those who served.

Decorate the graves of those who you knew as well as strangers with carnations and poppies.

Celebrate the dreams you’re allowed to dream.

Meditate on sacrifice. What have you sacrificed for the good of others? In what type of service have you’ve been?

Moment of Remembrance

In December 2000, Congress passed “The National Moment of Remembrance Act.” The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the United States.

So, on Monday, Memorial Day May 26, take one minute to remember. Those who have gone before, that which might have been, and what it is we have now.


--Syndee Barwick


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Mother’s Day is a Century Old!

May 10, 2014 by Leave a comment

MAMA MIA – Mother’s Day is a Century Old!

“I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet,

there would be no more wars.”

--E.M. Forster


            Have you planned the dinner? Signed the card? Sent the flowers? If not, get a move on, because Mother’s Day is this weekend – the official, 100th anniversary of the holiday!

Do you know the history of Mother’s Day? Granted, EVERY day should be Mother’s Day because without Mom (whether Mom, Grandma, Mentor, Sister, Friend) we can become rudderless. Moms are our internal compass, that little person on our shoulder whispering in our ear, the voice of whom we hear in our heads when an important decision is necessary. You know exactly what I mean, don’t you?


“Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.”

--Harriet Beecher Stowe


Here’s a super-short Mom’s Day history…

Mother’s Daydates back centuries. Celebration of the mother figure in the form of goddesses – especially the Earth goddesses such as the Egyptian Isis, the Roman Cybele, and the Greek Rhea – were paid special homage in thanks of bringing the Earth back to life every Spring in the form of flowers.

In other forms and in other countries Mother’s Day was celebrated. For example, in 1600s England, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, it was decreed that “Mothering Sunday” be held in honor of mothers of all classes, and so families could gather without stress. It also meant that a one-day reprieve from fasting (during Lent) was given to families, so mothers could celebrate with their children in a large feast.

Julia Ward Howe (born 1819), a New York city-bred poet and activist in the suffrage and abolitionist movements, was the woman who sowed the seeds of Mother’s Day in the United States. It was Howe who, during a visit to a Union army encampment during the Civil War, heard soldiers singing, “Jim Brown’s Body.” This inspired her to write a poem that went along to the music. This poem was published as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” becoming the patriotic anthem of the Union army – and one that lives on today. In 1870, it was Howe who introduced the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in honor of mothers and women everywhere – an outgrowth of her involvement in the Suffragist movement as a leading voice in the earliest of Women’s Right Movements.

Although the holiday she wanted failed, Howe had planted the seed of the idea for a Mother’s Day that took root and blossomed into the Mother’s Day known today throughout the world. Anna Reeves Jarvis, who lead a West Virginian woman’s group, decided to celebrate a form of Howe’s holiday, a day where war-divided families could come together: and Mother’s Friendship Day was born. Upon her death, her daughter, Anna M. Jarvis, campaigned for a day dedicated to mothers and to peace. On May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day was adopted and celebrated by Andrew’s Methodist church in West Virginia, and by a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Two carnations – Anna Jarvis’ favorite flower – were given out to every mother.

Today, white carnations are given to honor deceased Mothers, while pink or red carnations honor those Mothers who are still alive.

Because of Anna Jarvis’ relentless effort, Mother’s Day spread around the country until President Woodrow Wilson official set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914. This weekend makes it “officially” 100 years old!

Today, over 75 countries around the world celebrate Mother’s Day on the same day as the United States, while many more have Mother’s Day celebrations on different days throughout the year.

Flowers are the most popular Mother’s Day gift (inspired by the ancient goddess celebrations and the precursor gifts of honor in carnations), followed by chocolates and jewelry, and accompanied by cards. In fact, Mother’s Day is the second most popular gift-giving holiday behind Christmas! But don’t let the commercialism detract from the meaning and purpose of the day.

So, how will you be celebrating your Mother or Mothers? Your Mom is the person who may or may not be related by blood. She’s the one who has fed (or still feeds) your spirit, who provides guidance and support, to whom you turn in times of great stress. Whether your mother is alive or has passed on, don’t you see your mother reflected in yourself?


“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy.

No man does. That’s his.”

--Oscar Wilde


For women, at least, it is inevitable, I think, especially as we grow older. We begin to look more and more like our parents/mother, and I know from personal experience I sound a lot like my Mom. Not voice-wise, but in what I say and at times, how I act. I stop and think, “I’ve become Mom!” Which is not a bad thing. Instead I say, “When did that happen?” It’s a gradual thing, sneaking up on us when we didn’t expect it. For men, it’s similar. Although they may or may not hear themselves saying things their mothers said, I know they DO hear their mother’s voice in their heads.


“What do girls do who haven’t any mothers to help them through their troubles?”

--Louisa May Alcott

mom trumbull


What Would Mom Do?

Mothers put up with a lot and possess an unbelievable, seemingly fathomless well of patience. As babies, then toddlers, then teenagers and all the things that go along with those stages.

I was, and still am, lucky. My parents let me be whomever I wanted to be, dream impossible dreams, and allowed me to stretch my wings at a young age. That’s not to say they weren’t firm. They were. But they weren’t suffocating. Especially my Mom. With humor, she went through numerous obsessions with boy bands, horses and other foci of my affections. Fortunately, I never got out of hand, because always, always, I’d think, “What would Mom do if I …?” Yeah. That reeled me in most of the time.

So, on this 100th anniversary of the first Mother’s Day, what will you do? How will you honor your mother?

The most important thing to do, above everything else is to say these words:

“Thank you. I love you.”


--Syndee Barwick

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May 1, 2014 by Leave a comment



We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

-William Shakespeare



May Day! May Day!

Believe it or not, summer is upon us. In ancient European cultures, today was the traditional summer holiday, and the summer solstice (on June 21) was considered Midsummer.

In ancient Rome, the earliest May Day celebrations occurred with the Festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, vegetation and fertility.

In Great Britain, the maypole, may baskets full of flowers and sweets, and the crowning of the May Queen. Beltane bonfires burned bright the night before, scorching away the old and allowing the new to bloom.

Ah, fertility and renewal. That’s the root of May Day. Plants begin to flower, and the cycle of renewal is upon us once again.

It’s the perfect time to renew yourself. Here in the eastern United States, yesterday was a day drenched in downpours and flooding. But today? Gorgeous. The sun is shining, the trees are just beginning to bloom, and the flowers have opened.

What a metaphor for life, no?

One day is solid gray, soaking you to the bone. Dismal, dank, dreary. And the next? Brilliant, bold, fresh.


There are three kinds of people in this world:

People who make it happen,

People who watch what happens, and

People who wonder what happened.

--Tommy Lasorda

            It’s the day to make things happen – whatever that thing (or things) may be.

Don’t have a plan? Make one.

Don’t have a direction? Find one.

Don’t know how? Find someone who can help.

Don’t have a clue? Yes you do – they’re all around you.

Do you want to do something? Just start.

It won’t be easy and it won’t be simple. You have to work at it.

With that in mind, May 1st is also the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of workers. How coincidental (or not), that May Day is also International Worker’s Day, which celebrates the international labor movement. With roots in farm labor, the movement grew, blossomed and spread. And, believe it or not, May 1st is a national holiday in more than 80 countries and celebrated unofficially in many other countries.

So, it’s no wonder it’s a time of celebration, renewal and work. These may seem disparate concepts, but upon further investigation? Not at all.

Said Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy (at UC Santa Barbra) with Need to Know (PBS):


“May Day has ancient roots in the spring festivals of rebirth. It is a day from medieval England and other peasant societies. So for the working classes it’s seen as a moment of rebirth.”

See how it’s all connected?

It’s a time for celebration, it’s a time for work, it’s a time for renewal. For others, surely. For yourself, most definitely.

It’s time to celebrate who you are. It’s the perfect time to WORK on yourself. It’s time to renew and restart whatever you may not like about yourself, or feel dissatisfied with.

Don’t wait.

Don’t watch.

Don’t wonder.


Make it happen.

May Day is the time to start.


What are you waiting for?

Stop wondering if I’m talking to you!

Quit watching from the sidelines!

Get moving and make your dreams real.


--Syndee Barwick

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April 22, 2014 by Leave a comment

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

--Chief Seattle


Happy Earth Day!

It’s a day of ACTION. Talking is great, but lip service is cheap if nothing is done.

earth day.jpg

On this day 44 years ago, the very first Earth Day was celebrated. From that first Earth Day of 20 million people on April 22, 1970, a multitude of acts, agencies and events grew. Besides the of the EPA, the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species act, several other laws and organizations were enacted and formed. The Earth Day Network is one of those. Working with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries, the EDN’s mission is an enormous one: to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. From a not-so-humble beginning of 20 million participants 44 years ago, more than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities and events each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world!


From bringing awareness of climate change to promoting clean energy, the Earth Day Network’s broad brand of eco-activism is unparalleled. Today, the core programs of EDN are:

Greening Schools and Promoting Environmental Education                                                          

In partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council and The Clinton Foundation., EDN’s Green Schools Campaign’s goal is to green America’s K-12 schools within one generation.


Accelerating the Global Green Economy                                                                                              

EDN creates dialogue with civic, corporate and world leaders about transitioning from a fossil fuel-based economy to one based on renewable energy, efficiency and sustainability.


A Billion Acts of Green ®                                                                                                                                

The world’s largest environmental service campaign inspires both simple , individual acts and larger organizational initiatives that reduce carbon footprint and support sustainability.


What can YOU do to preserve our home’s beauty?


You may say, “Feh. Recycling is a waste of time.”


Every act, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, helps. Imagine if everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – did something small every day what a huge impact it would make. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether or not you have children and grandchildren (and if you do, think about the legacy you’ll leave behind), every citizen of Planet Earth needs to get involved or risk the slow suicide in which we now live.

“All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man …

the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.”

--Chief Seattle


We only have one Earth. This is it. There’s nowhere else to go. Smog-filled skies, poison drinking water, garbage-strewn seas, contaminated earth. Humans can be stupid, selfish and irresponsible. Some of us aren’t aware of that. Others are and, sadly, don’t care.

We presume infinite resources. They aren’t. Resources are finite, and in the near future, major wars will be waged over natural resources (in fact, much of the unrest in the world is, in fact, conflicts over resources).

What else can you do? Besides the “Triple Rs” try the Triple E (for Earth):

Eliminate! Eliminate the bad ‘tude towards the Earth

Eradicate! Eradicate the continued persistence of disposability

Educate! Educate yourself, your family, your friends and others about what you can do to clean up and preserve the Earth.

“Humans merely share the earth. We can only protect the land, not own it.”

--Chief Seattle


C’mon people! Motivate yourself and others. Take action today and every single day to save our home. Make your Mama happy.


  1. No plastic shopping bags
  2. No Styrofoam take out trays
  3. No plastic water bottles
  4. No Styrofoam or cardboard coffee cups
  5. No gas-guzzling vehicles
  6. No disposable paper napkins
  7. No disposable plates (paper or otherwise)
  8. No meat
  9. No consumerism (stop buying what you don’t need)
  10. No junk mail

The Earth isn’t disposable: stop clogging up her arteries with garbage!



  1. Tote bags for shopping
  2. Limit pesticide use (no lawn fertilizer, limit pesticides on flower, fruits and vegetables)
  3. Use energy efficient light bulbs
  4. Drive an energy-efficient car
  5. Recycle cans, bottles, newspapers, clothes: anything you can
  6. Transform old clothes and other household items into artwork
  7. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth (and fix leaks!)
  8. Turn off the lights, television and any other electricity source when not in the room
  9. Walk or bike instead of using the car (if you can)
  10. Use refillable water bottles

If you have other tips or stories to share about how YOU take action in your life to celebrate and save our big, bodacious and beautiful Mother Earth, please do!


Happy Earth Day!

May the skies be blue, the seas be clean and the earth rich.

Honor your Mother. J

--Syndee Barwick

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April 16, 2014 by Leave a comment


“…and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Last time, I confessed my addiction to Game of Thrones and love of dragons in the Day of the Dragon post. But the dragons are inextricably entwined with their mother, Daenerys Targaryen.  For me, Daenerys is one of the most compelling and complex figures in epic fantasy and on television.  As with all great figures, she is multi-layered.

Her journey is a hero’s journey, triggered by and tinged with aspects unique to a woman (oppression, discrimination and abuse by men) and encompassing two of the three faces of a triple goddess – maiden and mother. Daenerys travels from innocence to experience. From one who is outwardly submissive and meek to a leader of many.

She is someone who claims her power over and over, learning and growing stronger in spirit, mind and emotion with every step in the march towards the Iron Throne. While her endgame is always at the top of her thoughts and actions, Daenerys is amazingly aware of her journey, as well. As with all journeys, her is littered with trials and setbacks, but she learns and treks on.


Here’s the thing: Daenerys never imagined her what her life would be beyond the all-encompassing prison of her brother. Her inner dragon slept, while her brother – the self-proclaimed dragon – raged about, proclaiming his worthiness. A pretender.  It took an unexpected – and unwanted – incident to set Dany on her course – and to awaken her dragon.


*While Daenerys keeps her sight on the ultimate goal of Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, what is YOUR goal (or goals – it’s always great to have more than one)? Do you have one? If not, why? What is YOUR dragon? It could be anything: your strength or power – or your weakness, something against which you feel must be fought?*

“She made herself stronger by fighting with the wind.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Daenerys’ journey starts with the Machiavellian arranged marriage her brother Viserys orchestrates with the Dothraki’s leader, Khal Drogo (to provide him a built-in army so Viserys can retake the Iron Throne). Upon meeting Drogo, however, we see that spark of defiance and self as she meets the Khal’s gaze, unbroken. At her wedding, she receives a box with three gorgeous stones – really petrified dragon eggs. She is married to the Khal, becoming Khaleesi  to the Khalasar.


She adapts, learning the language, the customs, the people. And she both trains AND tames Khal Drogo. When the Khal dies (a simplistic description), Daenerys wants to die, as well.  She walks into the funeral pyre with her three dragon eggs. As a true dragon, fire does not hurt or kill Daenerys. Rather, she emerges from the ashes unscathed and reborn. Hatched anew, she walks from the remnants of the fire, naked as she was on her first birth – along with three baby dragons wrapped around her.

What a powerful, eternal, symbolic visual.

“...if you dance with dragons, you must expect to burn.”

George R.R. Martin, The Mystery Knight

Over and over, we see Daenerys reborn, regroup, reform, and reinvent herself. She adapts and changes, doing what is right for her ultimate quest (regaining the Iron Throne), but what is right for the people in the lands she conquers on her march to King’s Landing.

*Like Daenerys, we all must reinvent ourselves or realign our thoughts. How have you done this in the past? The act of reinventing ourselves is powerful, growing in strength each time we do it.  Is there a current situation in which you’d like to reorganize or regroup? If so, what steps are necessary to do that?*


“A dragon's heart burns fiercely, even in the face of evil.”
― S.G. Rogers, Jon Hansen and the Dragon Clan of Yden

Daenrys has a gentle heart, a Queen who desires respect and to be feared as a leader, but who also wants to be loved.  A person who, says Jorah Mormont, “can and should rule.”  How does she deal with her enemies, with those she conquers? How will she ultimately rule?

She observes and assesses the situation, asking questions and soliciting information. Dany gathers facts as well as opinions. She’s a careful planner, but when she acts? Swiftly and fiercely, with mercy shown only towards those who have shown mercy to others.

She abhors subjugation – especially women and children. And torture, murder for the amusement of the rulers of the kingdom? Outrage burns hot, and Daenerys – on her march to conquer – also avenges unjust deaths.

*How do YOU deal with problematic situations and people? Do you speak without thinking or having all the facts? Do you say or do things you regret later? Sometimes, the things we do or say in the heat of a moment are irreparable.*

"They say dragons never truly die. No matter how many times you kill them."
― S.G. Rogers, Jon Hansen and the Dragon Clan of Yden

No, dragons never die. They hide or disappear  - for a while. Then they come roaring back, often at the most inconvenient of times. Or they sink sharp claws into your back and ride around, a scaly, heavy and dangerous passenger digging into your heart, mind or soul.  No matter what you do, you can’t rid yourself of the dragon. And sometimes they turn on you, destroying you from within. This is why you train yourself and your dragon, and not slay them. As humans, it seems our DNA is programmed to kill those things which annoy, hurt or chase us, literally, figuratively or both.

*Our dragons train us, too.  To grow or shrink. To become what we were meant to be or dwindle into oblivion. What can we learn from these ferocious fighters and from the Mother of Dragons?*

"He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself,

and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

To slay or to save, that is the question.

In western mythology and tales, men slay dragons to save the women, usually princesses or virgins (or, usually, interchangeable).  Typical female archetypes, considered to be the “coveted” default in fairytales as well as in the culture at large. At the outset of GoT, Daenerys was both. An exiled princess and sheltered virgin who was forced into becoming part of the world.  By becoming an active participant in the world and as a mistress of her own life, she changes herself, others and the world around her.

*How do you affect and influence others around you? As you change yourself, do you see a change in others? Or, rather, is it your own perception that has changed*

The only person who saves Daenerys thus far is Dany herself.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t need anyone to slay a dragon for me, and I certainly don’t need to be saved by anyone from anything.  This has always irritated me with fairytales, folklore and film, for as long as I can remember – and why I love Daenerys.  She is known as Stormborn, but she is reborn in fire, literally and figuratively, over and over.

Rising from that fire, she is not only the Phoenix, but a mother of power, a mother of the wild, the Mother of Dragons.  She dies to her old self, but from the fire is a regenerator, and she is reborn. She is awakened. She reclaims herself. She needs no man to do that.

What we need is to train and transform those dragons – our own dragons. The inner dragons made manifest into the outer world.  Ride the coat tails of someone else? No thanks. Ride the lightning like a Valkyrie? Maybe. But  I’d rather ride a dragon of my own making.


“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole” ― C.G. Jung

Beauty and the Beast reminds me a great deal of Daenerys and her interactions with so many her life: her brother, Khal Drogo, her dragons, and others.

In the story of Beauty and the Beast, the Beast is the Prince inner self made manifest, and Beauty transforms him with love.

What if, though, the Beast is really the other part of Beauty?  The dark side to the light?  The part she needs to claim and reclaim to be whole?

Think about this:

All those times knights in medieval tales slay the dragons and save the princess?   What if they’re slaying the wild and untamed side of these women.  By “saving” the “virtuous” woman, the knight saves his idea of the “ideal” woman.  The princess then feels indebted to the prince, always in his thrall and under his control.


What if the princess could not and would not be harmed by the dragon? What if the DRAGON is saving the princess from the knight/prince and a safe life and a world full of mundane?  What if the dragon provides adventure to the princess, soaring to new heights, breaking her free of invisible chains imposed on her by her lineage and out of the dungeon of imposed social mores?


What if the dragon is a woman’s wild side? Like the wolf (also prominent in Game of Thrones), wildness knows no boundaries. It can only be subjugated and cast aside for so long, before it rises to its full power.


*What is YOUR wild side? What do you dream about at night or during the day?*


 “You were wild once. Don’t let them tame you.”

--Isadora Duncan


Daenerys is  the mistress, the commander. Both dragons and followers adore her, await her orders. But, the dragons, like Khaleesi, are wild. When the wildness in each of them slams head to head, the scenario may not end well. You can’t control the wild. You can’t tame the primal. Daenerys comes to that realization as her baby dragons are now adolescents.

And what of us? Even if it’s not actual dragons, the most ferocious enemy tends to be our selves.  But you CAN train what you think can’t be trained. The thing is, it’s work. HARD work.  Unfortunately people tend to shun hard work. If something gets too hard they hide or run. These days, people want easy and instant.

Don’t let that be you.

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

--Walt Kelly, Pogo

Yes, we are our own worst enemies. Instead of listening to our gut instincts, we listen to others who we believe know us better than we know ourselves, who we believe know what’s better for us than we do. Why on earth, above and below, would we do that? But we do.   To know yourself is the first step onto your path.

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path.

Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”
― Joseph Campbell

Daenerys doesn’t know her path. Not exactly, even though she knows what her goal, her eventuality will be. To rule on the Iron Throne. She solicits advice from her closest advisors, seasoned men and warriors, and considers everything carefully.

But in the end, she follows her gut and her heart – her instincts.  She must be careful, however, that she does not turn into the very thing she abhors:  a ruthless, bloodthirsty ruler who cares nothing for her subjects or for the world around her.

Does she makes mistakes? Absolutely.

Does she own them? Definitely.

Daenerys owns her flaws, her insecurities and her mistakes. She doesn’t pass blame or fault for decisions which were her own onto anyone else. That’s not to say, however, she doesn’t blame people. She most certainly does. She blames the ruling class for the terrible treatment and condition of subjects and of a particular kingdom. One of the milestones on her way to the throne is to liberate the downtrodden, showing them a better way of life. In them, she sees herself.

In the end, Danerys Stormborn, the Khaleesi, owns every part of her life. Through her own experience, she teaches others. With courage and compassion, with wisdom and wit, she grabs the reins of herself and jumps onto the backs of her dragons – not as tamer, but as trainer and mother, as keeper of the wild and ferocious.  She is the mistress of her destiny.

Here’s to discovering and training your dragons!

Syndee Barwick

**all pictures property and courtesy of HBO

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April 9, 2014 by Leave a comment


“No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.”

--R.A. Salvatore, Streams of Silver

Okay, I admit it. My Game of Thrones addiction is a full-blown disease. Great writing, an intricate story, compelling acting, amazing filming …. it’s the whole package.

Of course, everyone has their own favorites, but the Khaleesi, Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons is especially spellbinding.  But, rather than concentrate on her for this post (check back in two days), her children are today’s focal point.


*picture, courtesy of HBO

"They are dragons, Khaleesi. They can never be tamed. Not even by their mother." - Joran


Here be dragons. There be dragons. Everywhere be dragons.

What is it about dragons that enthrall us, make our hearts beat a little faster?

Dragons are an integral part of our cultural and spiritual lives. They’re everywhere. They live and breathe within pages upon pages of books both old and new, in games, in video, in music, toys and fashion, on television and in the movies.

But why this fascination? Why do we return, over and over, to the image and trope of the dragon?

Let’s take a look at the dragon and what it represents – although what it normally symbolizes in the Western European tradition is vastly different than the Eastern tradition. In fact, the two views are polar opposites.


“No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it.”

--J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 In the East (especially Chinese tradition), dragons symbolize good luck, good fortune, wisdom, prosperity, longevity, immortality, and life. Royalty were the ones to sport any dragon symbols and for the people who weren’t royals? If they were caught wearing or displaying the symbol of the dragon, they’d be punished (or killed).  Dragons don’t only possess magic, they ARE magic. Something to be embraced and admired. Most of all, they are considered benevolent.

In the West/European tradition, however, dragons are viewed much differently. In the West, they were something to be conquered or slain. Dragons were known treasure hoarders, gathering more and more, guarding it treasure ferociously.  Saints, knights and heroes always hunted and killed the dragon to save the princess (more on that in the next blog post).  They’re viewed as greedy and evil, destroyers without conscience, the devil incarnate. Western/European dragons, unlike Eastern/Asian dragons, are most oftentimes considered malevolent.

Even within Western tradition, though, it seems that the symbology of the dragon is contradictory.  On the one hand, dragons are viewed as evil, and things to be killed or conquered. On the other hand, dragons are used to symbolize strength, power, authority and military might, killing machines that wreak havoc across a countryside and lay waste to everything in their paths.  How apropos for an army.

Double meaning much?

Perhaps that’s part of the fascination, this conflicting view.  We are always at war with ourselves. Always.  Whether to be safe or take a risk. Whether to be kind or naughty. To do good or do nothing.

The “hero,” whether knight, saint or supernatural always goes on the quest to slay the dragon. In slaying the dragon, safety is restored and balance is regained – supposedly.

“The hunger of a dragon is slow to wake, but hard to sate.”

--Ursula K. LeGuin

 There are, however, common characteristics that dragons possess in both the East and West:

Strength, Power and Freedom

So let’s look at those.

These are traits and stations in life which everyone wants (whether or not they admit it), but so few achieve. Dragons are the outer symbols of our inner desires and aspirations: strength (physical, mental, emotional) , power (self-empowerment hopefully, but outer power and influence, as well), and freedom (from want and authority, from poverty, etc.)

Dragons are primal, forces of and in nature and of the universe. They represent our inner selves. Nature IS strength and power. Whether humans like it or not, nature is unstoppable, no matter how many dams, seawalls and shelters we build. Like so many gods and goddesses of mythology, dragons are creators and destroyers, controllers of the elements.  As they breathe fire, they imbue life or destroy life.  Some breathe ice, which preserves. Their blood can be poison or it can provide invincibility.

Daenerys’ dragons follow her obediently, with love and admiration, but they are, after all, dragons. As they grow, they change.  It’s in their nature to breathe fire, to soar, to stretch.

Like us.

 Fairy tales are more than true:

 not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

--Neil Gaiman, Coraline

What does that say about OUR nature?

We are ALL baby dragons just waiting to hatch. Magnificent, yet undeveloped, creatures. Some of us do break out of the shell and grow large. Others stay small. And others don’t hatch at all, staying safely nestled in our protective – yet fragile – shells.  What do you want to do?

How can you use the dragon in your own life?   Start with those cultural commonalities of strength, power and freedom. What in your life do you need strength for? How about power? Do you yearn for freedom? What does that look and feel like?

What if by “slaying the dragon” great power arises instead? Maybe you don’t have to kill the dragon. Not because it’s fearsome, but because it’s awesome. Magnificent and ferocious.

We're our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.

--Tom Robbins

 Consider this:

We talk about “slaying dragons.”

But … why slay? What if training and riding the dragon fit better than slaying?

Notice that I did not say “tame.”  Dragons can never, ever be tamed. But they can be faced, communicated with, and trained. Throw the bridle, reins and saddle on whatever dragon lives with you and ride it. RIDE THAT DRAGON!  Instead of fighting AGAINST the dragon, fight BESIDE the dragon, then hop onto its back.

Reinvent that part of yourself and everything that haunts you: insecurity, fear, self-doubt, worthlessness.  Retrain yourself, your thoughts.  Use your dragon to assist you. They guard treasure, correct? YOU are treasure. Make sure your dragon guards your thoughts and emotions. YOU are your own dragon. Be fierce and tenacious, and guard yourself well.

Come back on Thursday and Friday for more dragons and Daenerys – and the meaning of power.


jsantadragonImage courtesy of John Santagada & Radioactive Uppercut:

 -        Syndee Barwick

©2014, Syndee Barwick and My Great Motivator. No part of this post is to be reproduced without written permission of the author.

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