Wednesday, July 4, 2018

When People Make You Angry

The most common reason for anger is because someone or something is stopping you from reaching a goal. When I think about anger in this way, I recall when people have inspired anger in me.  As a person who values loyalty as a foundational component to any relationship, anger also fires up in me when people pretend to be in allegiance with me.

When you acknowledge that your situation in life does not match the elements of support and encouragement (or whatever you deem crucial to your enjoyment in your career or relationships), change it.  If people exist who do not subscribe to your needs, either set out to educate those people so they are able to address your needs, or make those relationships less important and time consuming altogether.  This idea sounded difficult to me, at first.  But when I put this simple idea into practice, two things happened.

The first outcome was the people who cared about me stepped up to the plate and engaged with me in ways that were satisfying and helped grow both of us.  The second result was the people who were not interested in working together to continue our relationship in mutually satisfying ways ended.  What I took from this was some people are worthy of investment and others are not.

An prime example of both outcomes was a person in my life who was a subordinate, we'll call him Jim.  Jim was good at completing tasks which he was interested in, but not those in which he was not.  Problems came to a boiling point when Jim's disgruntled resentment surfaced in a confrontation about what he thought he should be doing rather than what his job demanded.  Jim expressed his opinion, I was not able to change what the job demands were.  Jim couldn't listen to what I needed as his boss, and Jim needed to move on.  Jim also directed anger at me for remaining clear in my stance that the work needed to be done, regardless of his point of view.  This type of situation is familiar to many; we all have been on one side or the other at times.

Try out the simple strategy and see what you discover.  I'd love to hear your outcomes!!!

Copyright 2018 Dr. Heather Corwin

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Be The Change You Wish To See In The World

As an adult and a parent, I find that I spend time reflecting on what I was taught, how I was taught, and lessons that I value.  When I took a Film Studies class in high school, I recall vividly the opening of the Western movie "The Wild Bunch" where kids are torturing a scorpion.  The idea that director Sam Peckinpah was conveying, or that I took away, is that all people have a primitive nature and we are taught how to be socially engaged and kind.  As in all areas, some people have predispositions to kindness or to cruelty.  Plus, parents and caregivers to have a huge impact on the direction of our social engagement preferences.

Which leads me to the idea that not everyone has the same values.  At school, my now second grade daughter is taught how to share and focus on the work before her.  She is encouraged to play well with others and be kind.  Sadly, these lessons do not always serve people.  In a large family, if a person would wait to take food, dinner might be gone.  Survival of the fittest becomes the lesson of the day.  Nevertheless, there is a time and place for everything, including kindness.

Sometimes, doing the right thing is hard.  Sometimes being kind and generous takes more energy than we wish to spend.  Sometimes people treat us badly and we are not full of what Ghandi called satyigraha, or resisting peacefully.  Right now I have many areas of my life that cause me anxiety; I'm not alone in this.

I often look to world leaders to inspire me and how I interact in the world.  Past leaders are who I'm turning to these days.  The phrase that comes to mind lately again and again is the one inspired by Ghandi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."   I shall endeavor!

Dr. Heather Corwin, Copyright  © 2018

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Listen to Your Body

There are days, few thankfully, that I feel simply tired or bad.  On these days, I'm often reminded of
the stressors that are filling my life at an UN-ignorable decibel level.  When I feel bad, this is my body's way of saying, "hey, calm down.  You need to rest today and take care of yourself."  When I was younger, I just plowed through these signs and then got sick.  Now that I'm older, half the time I jump straight into unwell.

These times are not unique in my body being clear about sending me signs that are terrific warnings for me.  When my hair stands up on end, I know something is going on that requires more attention int the moment.  When I get a sensation in the pit of my stomach, I stop everything and listen.  When I want to be alone more than anything, I find a way to do that, even if in short spurts.  My body is loud when it signals to me.  I'm thankful, even when I don't want to listen. 

Today I have a burning in my throat and an ear infection.  I didn't listen soon enough and now I'm paying the price in pain.  Pain is the body's last resort to signal something needs to change in behavior.  Got it.

May your Spring be filled with signals you hear, your health be vigorous, and your laughter heal your heart.

Copyright 2018 Heather L. Corwin, Ph.D.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Grief jumbles up my soul inspiring me to cull out all behavior that exists for others and does not serve my heart.

The ache of my mother’s death echoes this new loss of love.
Strings of hurts entwine like a knotted necklace.   
Without patience, I try to fling the hurts away.


I will not be who I am not.   
Life demands my happiness.

even when I throb within the void acknowledging the hole left behind
even when I sob within the void
even when I …

Time marches onward making the void bigger and smaller.

I am lucky, love is beside me always. 
With love I am able to conquer fear.
With love I am able to soothe my soul.
With love, I will find what I need.
and I miss those who came and had to leave

Copyright 2016 Heather L. Corwin, Ph.D.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Losing Your Job

A dear friend of mine was recently laid off.  My first reaction was to jump on a plane, surround us with chocolate, and watch "I'm glad that's NOT me" themed films or historical romances. Since that's not possible, I went straight to the internet for inspirational stories around job loss.  These stories were mostly thank God I was forced to re-evaluate my life and now I'm happy!  And all I could think was, it's too soon to send this sort of stuff.

Loosing your job is a big deal.  People you spend the majority of your day with for years are people you will no longer see regularly.  What's more complicated is the idea that your boss, the person who may have cheered you on last week, is now the person telling you your services are no longer needed.  That hurts.  Betrayal and trust are often at the center of this event, which can erode confidence.

What brings little comfort is being let go was not a result of misuse of social media or lying on a resume, it was as simple and devastating as the company did not drive as much business as it once had, requiring down-sizing.  Facts do not help the heart feel better immediately, but they do soothe eventually.

What I do know is my friend needs me now: to listen, to laugh, to cry, to support grieving and recovery.  The truth is, life can offer us better opportunities than we can hope for when we are open to the possibility - which usually occurs when seeking work.  Here's to life healing the hurts and celebrating possibilities!!!

Copyright 2016 Heather L. Corwin, Ph.D.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Teaching Problem Students

Maybe I've been reading too much Brené Brown, but I'm going to dedicate this year to articulating my vulnerabilities.  Recently I've been thinking about what keeps me up at night.  As a teacher, what keeps me up most is when a student is not thriving or succeeding in my class.  My common go-to thought is, "I must not be enough."  I gently put that aside, awaken my curiosity around the students and situation, and see what I can bring to the equation that may evolve the situation in the direction of success. 

Allow me to introduce one of my undergraduate students who I will call "Jane."  Jane loved the teacher who instructed last year who had a totally different focus on the material.  That happens.  The student felt very loyal to that teacher.  I'm not sure where else she and I have challenges, but she stated that she doesn't believe I can teach her anything, which is a little mind boggling, especially since we've already spent a semester together.  Ego aside, I've been teaching a long time and this sort of problem has never occurred in my class - especially when I'm teaching majors.  This is usually when I have my biggest awareness epiphany's, in the face of challenge.  What I find interesting is this student also failed to complete substantial amounts of homework required of the class, which is no coincidence.  So is this blame game an attempt to assuage her guilt at not committing to the class or might she simply dislike the material... or me?  I'm always looking for logic.  I'm not into taking these challenges personally, but it's hard not to do so. 

Sometimes, as a teacher, the answer after you've exhausted all teaching angles is, "this student is not interested in engaging in this class for whatever reason."  That is a last resort thought for me.  Plus, there's always a reason the student does not want to engage.  However, discovering what is holding the student back can shed light on a multitude of blocks the student may have, which will allow the student to soar in her academics as well as in her life.  Most important, teaching requires both parties to engage.  If a student chooses not to, I have little recourse other than a grade reflection, which is lame.  Learning isn't happening.  Well, not the learning I have in mind anyway.

I'm not the perfect teacher for everyone, that's not possible.  So 2% of all of my students who do not connect to what or how I teach is a pretty good average.  Sadly, that doesn't salve me.  Logic doesn't ease my heart when spreading love of acting is what drives me.  I don't even care if a students does not have enthusiasm for the material, the assignments still have to be done.  Engaging is required of adults who do more than survive in the world.  Clearly, I'm more than a survivor.  Can I lead by example and hope that's enough?  We will find out.

Copyright 2016 Heather Corwin

Monday, July 27, 2015

Relocating Can be a Bitch

You know where your coffee place is, your dentist, your favorite breakfast place, where your friends like to hang out, your favorite romantic restaurant, etc.  But now you're half way across the country and none of those people, things or places are the same.  You don't even have the same bank because it's going to be another branch.  Life is full of details.

Details make up my life.  Now they're ALL different.

I can thank my lucky stars that the sameness is in my marriage partner - Doug.  Through the constant changes, we have each other - and will soon have other friends again as well.  Thankfully, I have friends in the area, but it's not the same... yet.  There's a loneliness that hits when moving to a place that's new because the older people get, the harder it is to establish new relationships.  I now have the opportunity to rekindle some friendships that I enjoyed years ago, and I'm delighted that many of those friends are interested in doing so! 

Now I just have to have patience and grieve the loss of the life I had in Pasadena.  Those people are not dead to me, I just won't have an every day interaction with them.  I look forward to visits!!!

Copyright 2015 Heather L. Corwin