Sunday, November 30, 2008

Conflict Expert.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino just said (Sunday 11/30/08 10:30am on CNN) that "the media is addicted to conflict and it keeps the ratings up." She is of course correct. And now is the perfect time for the media to bring depth to some of those conflicts by having a conflict expert provide commentary. And, yes, I am available. "Wait a minute" you say. "You are a mediator." True, but, I am NOT living on Mediator Island singing kumbaya. Some mediators choose this profession because they are uncomfortable with conflict and ultimately their goal is to ameliorate it. If you know me, you know that is not where I am coming from. I love being in the trenches, analyzing the nuances of a conflict and helping determine the best way to hold and frame a heated discussion. I never encourage pseudo-peace. Instead, I find the dynamics of conflict and honest, up-front dialogue that focuses on defining the past, present and future aspects of a conflict fascinating. So, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, PBS, ABC, CBS, one of you, please give me a call.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Change Again?

I love listening to Sirius Satellite radio in my car. And, I have my own show on terrestrial AM radio. Sadly, it seems both of these mediums are on their way out. I don't have an MP3 player - or any player for that matter. And, I don't know what the difference is between an iPod and an MP3 player. Anyway, even though Susan and I are pretty much techno-dummies it looks like we will be moving our radio show to internet radio in early 2009. Is this progress or just change for change sake?

And, speaking of change, this year for the first time my sister and I will not be cooking Thanksgiving dinner. We are both really tired; there is a lot on our plates. So, I am going to buy a ready made turkey and 10 of us will eat it in her house. Once, years ago, we ate in a restaurant on Thanksgiving. That was not for me. I eat out so much, Thanksgiving is the one day I don't want to be in a restaurant. And, there are no real leftovers when you eat in a restaurant. Where are you going for Thanksgiving? Why is this Thanksgiving different?

The following list comes from a somewhat shocking email I just received. The email carried a warning about buying gift cards from stores that will soon be out of business. Some of these stores have been around for as long as I can remember. Is this Darwinian - with just the strongest and best retailers surviving - or one more sign of impending doom?

Circuit City - filed Chapter 11
Ann Taylor - closing 117 stores nationwide
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine's - closing 150 stores nationwide
Eddie Bauer - closing 27 stores, with more expected to close after January
Cache - will close all stores
Talbots - closing specialty stores
J. Jill and Pacific Sunwear (owned by Talbots) - closing all stores
The GAP - closing 85 stores
Footlocker - closing 140 stores, with more expected to close after January
Wickes Furniture - closing
Levitz Furniture - closing remaining stores
Bombay Furniture - closing remaining stores
Zales - closing 82 stores and another 105 after January
Whitehall - closing all stores
Piercing Pagoda - closing all stores
Disney - closing 98 stores, with expected to close after January
Home Depot - closing 15 stores
Macys - closing 9 stores after January
Linens and Things - closing all stores
Movie Galley - closing all stores
Pep Boys - closing 33 stores
Sprint/Nextel - closing 133 stores
JC Penney - planned closings after January
Ethan Allen - closing 12 stores
Wilson Leather - closing all stores
Sharper Image - closing all stores
K B Toys - closing 356 stores
Loews - closing some stores
Dillard's - closing some stores

Please pray for Barack Obama. He may be our only hope.

I cannot adequately explain the joy I receive from my dogs Stella and Roscoe - they are an amazing gift. And, so I am asking you to please consider adopting a dog or cat from a shelter. The economic crisis has forced many people to give up there pets and the shelters are at maximum capacity. Adopt a pet, I guarantee that your rewards will be much greater then any costs invovled.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Divorce Vultures

A former student emailed me asking about her friend's marathon mediation - it lasted from 10am until 1am.  Read what I had to say at

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change, Hope and Doom

We had a big night last night. Hope is again on the horizon. And, while I am not convinced that it is still possible to stop the downward spiral, if it is, clearly Barack Obama is our best choice and our best hope.

My questions for this week:

1. There is a universal law that says that what is perceived as the worst almost always has the potential to become the best. Our current economic crisis is going to give each of us a chance to really assess what is important and what is just distracting fluff. Along these lines, this year the holiday season will be very different. Do you have any ideas on how we can turn our challenges into blessings and survive the holidays this year?

2. What do you know about internet radio? Susan and I are considering moving our show from WNN, which is a local AM station, to this format.

3. I feel an amazing connection to my dogs Stella and Roscoe. And, it seems I run into people all the time that share this passion for their pets. Do you have a dog? Do you have an explanation for the intense connection we share with these creatures?

4. What has changed? What is the change we need? What shifts are happening for you?

I have been asked to answer last weeks questions.

1. Yes, it appears to me that it harder for a single person to find a life partner today than in the past. You would think that the internet would be making the process easier. However, we live in complex times and mate selection is complicated by confusing messages about gender roles and individual fulfillment. The cultural factors and the dynamics that play out in the process of mate selection continue to fascinate me. As a divorce mediator I find that some of the couples who end up at my table were mismatched from the beginning. So I believe that arranged marriage and/or old style matchmaking are very viable options in the 21st century.

2. If it helps, I am all for it. I am not sure if spirit attachment and/or soul fragmentation are what keeps us stuck. However, I do believe that a spiritual remedy can be the path away from our addictions and towards emotional health. The spiritual remedy involves becoming comfortable with surrender, acceptance, conscious contact with a higher/deeper power, and trusting the process of life as it unfolds. I believe that finding that comfort level is a process that involves finding the right discipline and staying committed to its practice. If there is a one size fits all spiritual answer I have not found it. But, I do know that any spiritual practice can take us to The Answer and can also take us away from The Answer.

3. I am in the process of writing an article, for a legal education website, about how pro-se/pre-suit divorce mediation is an emerging trend. Certainly, I am on a mission to carry that message. I will keep you posted.

4. We are heading into even tougher times. Peak-oil, environmental and climate crisis, war, and financial ruin in the stock market, the real estate market, and the banks. Peter Schiff says that the buy-outs have only postponed the inevetable. The jury is still out on where the US is going and if we can remain a viable world force. And, beyond our backyard Thomas Friedman reminds us that the world is flat, crowded, and hot. So, someone better come up with a plan. (Actually, Friedman proposes one.) Obama has his work cut out for him.

5. David and I are making progress on our move to Gainesville. A landscaper has made our house more attractive for sale and we are purging alot fo the clutter. We are going to Gainesville for another one of our exploratory missions later this week.

All the best, Elinor