The 14-Month Gift (A True Story) 2

By Chris Simmons

She’s getting worse. “Do you remember this?” I ask. She takes the embossed cork from my hand and looks it over with the idle curiosity of a bored child. Then, recognizing her own handwriting, she reads aloud “Grandale Farm, October 12, 2008.” The words hang in the air with no spark of emotion. “This would have been our second date,” she observes, her face tightening with concentration as she tries to remember. Just a few short weeks ago, her eyes would twinkle as she fondly recalled “the best date” in her life. Now all she remembers is we started dating in early October.

My beloved Karen has been sick for two years. At first, they thought it was severe asthma, then two months ago, they said advanced fibromyalgia, and now they concede they have no idea. However, since Thanksgiving, she has taken a severe turn for the worse. She is in constant pain, losing her eyesight and short-term memory, and suffering from chronic fatigue. Three months ago we were talking about getting married and now we’re selling the house and discussing her will, final wishes, in-home nursing, and funeral arrangements.

The fourteen months we have shared together have been a wonderful dream, but one that now ends. Karen knows the end is near and does not want my last memories to be the pain of watching this disease ravage her petite body. For days, she has been building an emotional wall in a desperate effort to go numb. With tears in her eyes and her heart breaking, she says she wants me to remember only “the healthy Karen.” Against my will, but respectful of her dying wish, I move to a nearby apartment.

However, it is not all bad news. Karen’s long-term memory is still intact and in early December, she resolves to get out of the house and visit friends and family, most of whom she had fallen out of contact with during her extended illness. Even in her weakened condition, reconnecting has already improved her mental and emotional state. She truly feeds off the energy of other people, so I know her outreach will both fulfill her social needs and give her a chance to say her goodbyes. It is, understandably, quite exhausting, so she will have to learn to pace herself.

To stay strong, I rely on the unconditional love of my youngest daughter, Morgan. With flowing blond hair and piercing blue eyes, she has always been my “Angel Girl.” I don’t bring her when I make my frequent checks on Karen. Her physical pain is becoming crippling and her short-term memory quickly fading. Good days are increasingly rare. Returning to the apartment after a recent visit, Angel Girl optimistically asks, “How is Karen today?” I tell her only part of the sad truth, “Her short-term memory is getting much worse.” With the innocence only a child can muster, Morgan asks, “Does that mean she won’t remember me?”  Fighting back the tears, I tell her, “No my Angel, that means soon she won’t remember us.”

Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend Reply

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.

How Liars Lie: The “Referral Response” 1

By Chris Simmons

In trying to deceive, liars may refer to previous statements in an attempt to create the illusion they have been cooperative and to buy themselves more time. This is true even if the earlier claim was actually a “non-answer.” In this countermeasure, typical replies would include “As I told you earlier…” “We already addressed those allegations…” or “Like I told Mom…”

Stating something once often leaves little or no impression. However, every subsequent “telling” erodes our skepticism or disbelief. Repetition is a subtle and often underestimated psychological tool. Even when we don’t believe someone, the recurring response reverberates within our mind and over time, can open one to the possibility that he/she is telling the truth.

As Vladimir Lenin so famously said, “A lie, told often enough, becomes the truth.”

Reminder:  No single technique is foolproof.  It is simply one of many tools available to help you discern the truth. However, deception generally manifests in a cluster of behavioral cues, which often provides opportunities to use several additional tools (in sequence) to preclude you from being lied to or manipulated.

Did You Get Married and Divorced For The Same Reasons? 1

By Aaron Karmin, PsychCentral.com

Why is it that we fall in love with our dream-mate and then spend the next forty years yelling, fighting and screaming as if we had married our worst enemy? It makes no sense. It makes even less sense to get a divorce and marry someone just like the first one.

All humans acquire expectations, both positive and negative in childhood. These expectations encourage us to think, feel, act, and make choices in certain ways. However, expectations do not exist in a vacuum, they exist in a context. And the context that shapes our expectations is built around our past.

Our past doesn’t necessarily predict our future, but what is familiar is comfortable and can offer security. For example, a woman who was criticized by her father and blamed by her brother will not be comfortable with a partner who treats with empathy or support. When she dates a controlling and hostile guy, her friends will say: “He’s not for you,” but she will defend him saying: “He’s really a good person down deep. It’ll work out, you’ll see.”

Another example is the woman who was “abandoned” by her father as a child. She is not “comfortable” with men who are stable and predictable. She will gravitate towards men who will mirror her father’s example and abandon her. If she accidentally marries a man who is unlikely to abandon her, she will provoke him until he can’t stand it any more and stomps out the door. Mission accomplished.

If this woman finds herself dating a man who treats her with respect, she will feel “uncomfortable” and soon end it. She will not question the nature of her “discomfort,” nor seek to relieve it. She will keep dating until she meets someone that she feels “comfortable with.”

Still another example is the woman who was her father’s sparring partner. She will be comfortable with men who fight with her. She will be uncomfortable with men who try to calm her down, to please her, or treat her as an equal. She will scorn such people as “too passive,” or “too boring.” She will search for someone more “exciting” to turn her on. In time, she will find him and they will make miserable music together.

This process is not rational or logical. We ask ourselves, “What does she see in him?” If we ask her, she will come up with some cover story like, “He is so strong, so sure of himself.” The paradox is that we often separate from our partner for the same reasons that we were first attracted to them:

First Attraction: “He was so strong and manly.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He was a brute”

First Attraction: “She was so cute and helpless; she needed me.”
Grounds For Divorce: “She was so dependent on me, I couldn’t breathe.”

First Attraction: “I loved his sense of humor.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He never took me seriously”

First Attraction: “She was sharp as a tack.”
Grounds For Divorce: “She cut me to ribbons with that mouth of hers”

First Attraction: “He was so ambitious and successful.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He never came home from work.”

First Attraction: “She was so pretty.”
Grounds For Divorce: “She was always getting looks from other men”

First Attraction: “I loved her independence!”
Grounds For Divorce: “She wouldn’t do a thing I told her.”

First Attraction: “He was a take-charge guy.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He was a control freak.”

First Attraction: “He was so easy going.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He never made a decision”

First Attraction: “He was so attentive.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He never let me out of his sight.”

First Attraction: “He was so passionate.”
Grounds For Divorce: He always yelled at me.”

First Attraction: “He couldn’t keep his hands off me.”
Grounds For Divorce: “He would push and smack me

U.S. Invasion of Grenada, 30 Years Later Reply

By JTamayo@elNuevoHerald.com

As U.S. and Cuban troops fought in the tiny island of Grenada 30 years ago, Havana’s official news media reported that Cuba’s “glorious combatants” were “at this moment immolating themselves for the homeland, wrapped in the Cuban flag.”

That was not true. But that apparently was the order that Havana had given to the detachment of more than 700 Cuban “soldier-bricklayers” building an airport on Grenada.

A U.S military unit monitoring radio traffic overheard a Havana transmission ordering the Cubans to “fight to the last man,” said Chris Simmons, then an Army lieutenant who landed in Grenada on the first day of combat — Oct. 25, 1983.

The U.S. monitors were supporting another American unit tasked with capturing leaders of the Cuban detachment, Simmons said. But the Cubans managed to seek asylum in the Soviet Union’s embassy.

Cuban ruler Fidel Castro was not pleased.

His top commander in Grenada, Col. Pedro Tortoló Comas, was sent to Angola and was last confirmed driving a taxi in Havana. And his ambassador to the former British colony, Julian Torres Rizo, now lists himself as a Havana tourist guide.

The invasion, Operation Urgent Fury, now is largely remembered as the only time when U.S. and Cuban troops fought each other directly, despite more than 50 years of hostile relations – 30 of them during the Cold War.

Planning for Urgent Fury began after Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a close Cuba ally, and 10 followers were murdered during an Oct. 19 coup by his hard-line Marxist deputy, Bernard Coard, and Gen. Hudson Austin, head of the 1,500-member PRA.

President Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion, saying he was worried about the safety of 600 U.S. medical students on Grenada. But he clearly was concerned about Cuba’s construction of a military-capable airport on the former British colony of 100,000 off the coast of Venezuela.

In brief, sharp clashes, 19 U.S. soldiers were killed, including four members of SEAL Team 6 – the same team that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Twenty-five Cubans were killed fighting and another 638 were captured, including 86 who surrendered after Navy A-7 Corsair jets blasted the Cuban detachment’s headquarters, marked in U.S. military maps as “Little Havana.”

Also killed were 24 civilians and 45 Grenadians in the People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA).

Sporadic combat continued for four days as 7,300 U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force troops, plus 330 soldiers from a Caribbean coalition quickly swept over the 133-square mile island, despite crude maps and deadly communications snags.

Simmons’ platoon, part of the 82nd Airborne, was involved the last major firefight of the invasion, a 10-minute clash that left seven PRA fighters dead. Another U.S. unit trying to support his platoon caused a friendly-fire incident, in which one U.S. Ranger captain was killed.

The last of the U.S. forces left Grenada on Dec. 12. But the saga continued.

About 1,000 U.S. citizens on Grenada, including the medical students, were evacuated safely.

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., deputy commander of the invasion, went on to command Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in 1991.

Simmons achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel and an assignment as the top Cuba counterintelligence specialist at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, where he helped track down Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes in 2001. He retired in 2010.

And the more than 600 Cubans who surrendered were greeted as heroes when they returned home a few weeks later. They marched near the front of the May Day parade in 1984, carrying a banner reading ’’Heroes of Grenada.”

The remains of Bishop and the others who were massacred were never found. The Cuban-builtPointSalinesInternationalAirport was renamed in his honor.

After almost 26 years in prison, Coard and six others convicted in Bishop’s murder were freed in 2009.

Grenada now celebrates each Oct. 25 as Thanksgiving Day.

Two of the Cubans who played key roles in Grenada did not fare well, with Castro publicly criticizing Torres for failing to properly report on the mayhem that sparked the U.S. attack and punishing Tortoló for the embarrassing surrenders.

Torres had been an up-and-coming officer in the Foreign Ministry, serving as first secretary of Cuba’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations for two years before he was sent to Grenada in 1979. A Cuban intelligence defector later identified him as an intelligence agent in charge of contacts with the Venceremos Brigade, founded in the 1960s by U.S. citizens who favored the Castro revolution.

After returning to Havana, he disappeared from public sight and was reported to have been posted to a backroom job in the Foreign Ministry or even demoted to cane field worker.

Now about 70, Torres did not reply to El Nuevo Herald’s requests for an interview sent to his LinkedIn account, which lists him as a Havana tourist guide.

His Chicago-born wife, Gail Reed, a journalist and Venceremos Brigade member who served as press attaché in the Cuban embassy in Grenada, returned to Havana and was reported to have freelanced for Business Week and NBC News in the 1990s.

She now works as international director of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, a California non-profit that promotes public health exchanges. Now about 65, Reed did not reply to an El Nuevo Herald request for an interview.

Bearing the brunt of Castro’s ire was Tortoló, then 38, who had served as chief of staff for one of Cuba’s three military regions — a top post within the Revolutionary Armed Forces — and finished a stint as military adviser in Grenada in May of 1983.

One day before the invasion, Castro had sent Tortoló and Communist Party operative Carlos Diaz to Grenada on a Cubana de Aviacion AN-26 plane carrying tons of weapons to organize the “soldier-bricklayers” resistance.

Diaz was killed in combat but Tortoló sought asylum in the Soviet embassy. A Havana joke at the time had him suffering a “combat injury” – a broken thumb from ringing the doorbell at the Soviet mission.

The colonel was court martialed and busted to private. In a videotaped ceremony, then-Defense Minister Raúl Castro ripped his rank insignia from his epaulettes and sent him to the war in Angola — along with 25-40 other Cubans viewed as having surrendered too easily.

Although Tortoló was widely reported to have been killed in Angola, Miami Cubans who claim to know him said he returned home, was given a low-profile government job, and, at some point in 1999 or 2000, was selling shoes. They declined to provide his current contact information, saying he wanted to put Grenada behind him.

Miami journalist Camilo Loret de Mola said he met Tortoló in 2003 when the former colonel was working as a taxi driver in Havana with his personal LADA, a Soviet-era copy of a Fiat awarded to top government officials in the 1970s and 1980s.

What it Means When Someone Hides Their Mouth or Eyes Reply

By Chris Simmons

People often hide their mouths or eyes when they are attempting to deceive. They accomplish this by shielding their eyes or mouth with the open palm facing inward. When blocking the mouth, their hand gestures will close enough to their face to intentionally conceal your view of their mouth but far enough away so as to not obstruct their words. These gestures aid the deceiver because it makes them feel as if they are literally hiding the lie. When they use their hands to cover the eyes, its because they do not want to make eye contact, nor do they want to see your reaction to their deceit. Additionally, an oft-seen variant of eye-shielding is simply an extended closing of the eyes.

Conversely, when a person physically covers their mouth with their hand, it generally indicates a strong desire not to speak, rather than intent to deceive. However, the physical blocking of the mouth also suggests the person prefers not to speak because you’re not going to like what they have to say. As such, the covering is an avoidance technique used to prevent an uncomfortable situation.

Body Language—Explained Reply

Learn How To Decode The Unspoken Messages People Send Your Way

By Annie Finnigan, Woman’s Day

Can’t figure someone out? Then you’re probably not tuning in to her body language. We all speak without saying a word—you just need to know what to look for.

Have you ever been talking to someone when suddenly she crosses her arms? In that moment, the whole vibe of your conversation shifts. You start to feel a little defensive because you think that’s how she’s feeling. But are you reading her right, or just jumping to conclusions? The truth is, if you misread people’s body language—or worse, don’t pick up on it at all—you’re missing more than you think.

“Up to 80% of what we communicate is nonverbal,” says Joe Navarro, a former FBI agent turned nonverbal communication expert and author of What Every Body Is Saying. That means every gesture, look, mouth twitch, eyebrow raise, even the way we stand sends a message. No wonder researchers have been studying the science of body language for decades—and what they’ve found can help you communicate more effectively.

We relate to people in three ways: verbally (with words), vocally (tone of voice), and visually (body language), says Albert Mehrabian, PhD, emeritus professor of psychology at UCLA and author of Silent Messages. But the three V’s don’t always line up. Think about someone who tries to put a good face on during a difficult time in her life. She may tell you she’s doing fine, but she frowns a bit when she says it. That’s why body language matters so much: It tells the truth, even when our words lie, according to Dr. Mehrabian. “If there’s an inconsistency between the verbal, vocal and visual, our words give off the least information,” he says. “Our facial expressions play the greatest role.”

The tricky part is noticing them in the first place. Of the thousands of facial expressions we make each day, some flash by so fast (in less than 1/25th of a second) that they barely have time to register, according to psychologist Paul Ekman, PhD, co-editor of What The Face Reveals, who pioneered research on these fleeting involuntary shows of emotion, which he dubbed micro expressions. But if you keep an eye out, over time you’ll start to catch some of these blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments.

FACE FACTS

How do you learn to pick up on telltale facial expressions? Start by doing what national poker champion Annie Duke does: Constantly study people’s faces. “Poker players are good at hiding nonverbal cues,” she says. “But I always watch them very closely, and if I see them blinking fast, licking their lips or flashing a quick grimace before they smile, chances are they’re bluffing.”

You can catch even the most fleeting facial “tell,” but it takes a lot of practice, says John Gottman, PhD, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington and cofounder of The Gottman Institute, who has studied body language in his research on marriage and relationships. The key? Watch the mouth. “That’s where most of our nonverbal information comes from,” he explains. Say a waitress twitches her lip to one side when you order an inexpensive dish instead of a pricey one: It’s a sign of contempt because she knows she’ll be getting less of a tip. Or say you give a pal a gift she doesn’t like. She may smile, but her lips will be the only thing on her face to move. If it were a genuine smile, her eyes would crinkle at the corners and the apples of her cheeks would lift, too. And take wide eyes: While they can convey surprise or fear, the mouth is the real determining factor that helps you tell the difference. The mouth drops open when we’re surprised, but pulls back when we’re scared.

TUNING INTO BODY TALK

While the face reveals key clues, the body fills in the rest of the story. The starting point? The feet. “They’re the most honest part of the body and really let you know how someone feels about you,” says Navarro. Whether you’re sitting or standing, if a person’s feet are pointed toward you, that’s a signal that she enjoys your company and wants to stick around. But if her feet are angled away from you, odds are she’d rather be somewhere else.

As for the rest of the body, keep in mind that some gestures don’t necessarily mean what you think they do. Take crossed arms. For years, we’ve been told that’s a clear sign of defensiveness. “But it’s not if the person’s arms are lightly folded across her chest rather than tightly,” says Navarro. She may simply not know what to do with her arms. “However, most people cross them for self-comfort—they’re giving themselves a hug, in effect,” he explains.

But some body moves are indeed signs of negativity. If you notice a person’s hand balled into a fist with the thumb inside while he’s staring down, he’s feeling defensive. “Or if your husband turns his belly away from you, even if he’s still looking your way,” says Navarro, “he’s letting you know that he doesn’t like what you just said.”

SEND THE RIGHT MESSAGE

When it comes to your own body language, don’t worry about trying to fine-tune your every movement. “Behavior patterns associated with temperament or personality are at least 50% genetically determined, and are difficult to change,” explains Dr. Mehrabian. Say you’re naturally high-strung. Getting your body language to read calm and cool may be tough. “But you can learn to change some of the nonverbal cues you send out,” he adds.

And it’s well worth the effort. “We have 4 to 8 seconds to make a good first impression,” says Navarro. “The goal in that short amount of time should be to create psychological comfort.” In fact, a 2011 University of California, Berkeley, study found that people determine within seconds if someone is trustworthy, kind or compassionate based on how often he or she makes eye contact, smiles, nods while listening, and displays an open body posture.

So fine-tune where you can. An easy place to start: mirroring. For instance, take a beat to assess someone’s handshake and match it, using the same strength or gentleness as the other person. Other ways to put people at ease: Pay attention to your proximity and posture. In one-on-one situations, stand or sit at a slight angle to the person, but not too close. “Research shows that people feel more comfortable when you position yourself this way because it’s a less confrontational posture,” says Navarro. Make eye contact, too, but don’t stare. And pay attention to what the other person’s eyes are doing: Are they slightly lowered? Does she hold your gaze briefly or for several seconds before looking away? Match your look to hers, as you would with a handshake. With these few tweaks, you’ll make a good impression without saying a word.

Dr. Jeni Cross on “Three Myths of Behavior Change – What You Think You Know That You Don’t” Reply

Jeni Cross is a sociology professor at Colorado State University (CSU). She has spoken about community development and sustainability to audiences across the country, from business leaders and government officials to community activists. As a professor and consultant she has helped dozens of schools and government agencies implement and evaluate successful programs to improve community well-being. In this talk, she discusses her work around changing behaviors.

Chen Lizra on “The Power of Seduction in Our Everyday Lives” Reply

With nearly a decade of experience in the animation industry, working on projects for MTV, TVA, Alliance Atlantis, Mainframe Entertainment and Radical Entertainment, Chen Lizra’s intellect, imagination and creative thinking evolved her into a branding expert.

In 2009 & 2012 Chen was nominated as one of the “YWCA Women of Distinction in Vancouver,” and was recently honored by the Australian government with a Distinguished Talent Permanent Visa for her international achievements in the arts. As the international author of “My Seductive Cuba, a unique travel guide”, Chen has won two awards in the US, including the prestigious IPPY Book Award. With a passion for dance and creative movement, Lizra offers students seduction workshops and focused lectures and seminars about the art of seduction in our everyday lives.

7 Signs a Person May be Predisposed to Violence 1

By Chris Simmons

  1. Does he/she abuse or torture animals?
  2. Does he/she engage in high-risk behavior with little or no regard for their personal safety?
  3. Does he/she bully weaker individuals?
  4. Was he/she ever physically abused?
  5. Does he/she harbor unresolved anger regarding their childhood, family/close friends, or a work situation?
  6. Has he/she already engaged in violence?
  7. Does he/she over-react to the slightest perceived slight?

The “Red Flags” listed above, while not all inclusive, are reliable indicators that an individual is inclined to react aggressively. Normally, I tell others that to accurately read people, look for patterns of behavior rather than a single act. Violent behavior is the exception to this rule.

One of the best predictors of future actions is past conduct. You should be very cautious and concerned when the aggressive or cruel behavior has escalated over time. If confronted with the above indicators, take steps to protect yourself first. Once you and those around you are safe, an intervention by a trained professional(s) may be appropriate.