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Archive for the Mini Relationship Tips

hello and welcome to 2013!

i am a bit of a thesaurus addict and dictionary devotee.

when writing this post about vows and commitments (good and worthy topics for the top of a new year), i found these definitions striking:


:: to solemnly promise to do a specified thing; to dedicate to someone or something, especially a deity.


:: to pledge, devote or bind to a certain course of action; to be in a long-term emotional relationship with

somewhere in the moment when 2012 became 2013, i made some simple vows to myself for the upcoming year:

* Be Oracle Led. (have my Sourced bodily wisdom, the deity that is in me, lead the way)

* Take My Full Share. (of the moment, of life, of love)

* Be Bold. (insert my wisdom into the moment, with exuberance)

for the ceremony in which i committed to these vows, i created an intricate dance performance – involving a projection of me dancing with my live dancing self, a beautiful musical score, to an audience of the most extraordinary humans i know.

here’s a sneak peek image from the performance:

and here’s my guideline for creating your own vows and commitment ceremony:

your own commitment ceremony (your vow exchange with You), need not be as complex as all that. it can certainly be involved, and include the goodstuffs of ceremony, or you can keep it simple and simply Hear Yourself as you make your vow(s).

all that stuff of ceremony (like candles, incense, singing, dancing, setting the space, gathering witnesses, etc) PREPARES you to step into the Sacred, Holy and True, but you don’t NEED any of it.

the moment your heart speaks the vow IS the moment of commitment, and that can happen anytime, anywhere, no bells, whistles or cathedrals needed.

the Divine is everywhere. the Holy knows when you mean it or not. and you know when it’s True. (if you liked that, feel free to tweet it)

so, your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Your Commitment Ceremony To You

1. create a vow (or vows) to You.

what do you solemnly pledge to do, be and uphold for yourself this year, even when you don’t feel like it – especially when you don’t feel like it?

(said differently, what course of action are you devoted to? what do you promise to yourself? what do you agree to uphold? who do you vow to BE, in rough times as well as smooth, in this long-term relationship you happen to be in, with Yourself?)

i say, come up with ONE powerful vow. or two or three. when you can remember them off the top of your head, you know you’re really going to do ’em.

2. plan (and do) your commitment ceremony.

it can be long or short. take yourself on an afternoon, a day or a weekend getaway. or grab 2 minutes of silence on the bus on the way to work. rent out a church, or do it on the toilet.)

it can involve real jewels and killer duds, or a gum-ball ring and your favorite sweats. however, i do recommend you have some item, like a ring, a necklace, a picture, or somesuch that acts as an anchor to remind you of your vow or vows.

(that’s the real reason we use a ring in a marriage commitment ceremony: to look down at your hand and see the daily reminder of your vows)


get Real, get Sacred, bring your vow(s) and your talisman and do the deed.

and of course, make my year by letting me know a vow or two of yours in the comments below!

welcome to 2013 and the You you are bringing into it,


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on the steps of the home of my mentor’s brownstone, i described a miserable period of time in my 20s, my ugly duckling phase as i call it. instead of asking, “are you my mother?” like that little duckling did, i asked every tom, dick and harry, “are you my soulmate?”

(i know i’m mixing duck stories here … just wait a bit)

most of the toms, dicks and hairies answered point blank, “no, i’m not,” but i figured i should sleep with them at least once just to make sure.

(rinse, repeat … sigh)

“i had no intuition,” i told my mentor. “oh, darling!” she said (she really does talk like this) you were DEVELOPING your intuition.”

spidey sense. mojo. guidance. inner knowing. your personal oracle. intuition.

i sort of assumed you got yourself one of these by being born with it or being touched by the tip of a fairy godmother’s wand.

but, developed? crafted out of trial and error? improved on? refined? perhaps i wasn’t a lost cause after all.

knowing what to do that’s right for you … this kind of superpowers comes from a combination of 1. LISTENING and 2. PICKING UP. these superpowers feed on repetition over time. they love life experience and grow stronger with your awareness.

1. LISTENING: the CALL of your intuition or spidey sense comes in many forms. words. primal inner grunts. body tingles. signs in the world around you like billboards, novel titles and newspaper headlines.

your guidance speaks a unique language, designed specifically for your ears. so first you have to listen and learn its language. even if you’re getting silence or static for a long time, keep listening. fluency is coming. i promise real-deal mojo is in there – in you. [if you like it, feel free to tweet it]

2. PICKING UP: your instincts calling; are you going to pick up? your inner primal grunt says, “sell the stock.” sell it. the billboard says, “the Philippines are waiting for you,” so you decide to go on the trip with your two friends. your gut contracts slightly and you decide, no second date.

to pick up means to act, leap, try. take your own best advice. heed the call. i won’t promise it will guarantee the obviously perfect outcome. perhaps in hindsight you’ll realize the guidance wasn’t, “sell the stock” it was “salt the stock.”


the point is you listen and you take a step in the direction your inner finger is pointing. rinse, repeat; rinse, repeat. from then on, the process is iterative. you fall on your face less and less. you hone. you get nuanced. you get fluent in oracle-speak.

after enough listening and picking up, you start to find your PLACE, your HOME and your NORTH STAR. you realize you’re carrying the COMPASS inside you. you find yourself surrounded YOUR PEOPLE. you molt your ugly ducking feathers and swan it up.

so, your mission, should you choose to accept it: PICK UP. when you get the call, PICK UP.

the outcome of your action? it’s none of your business for a while, just keep asking, “how high?” when your compass says, “jump!”

by the way, i’m teaching this process of instinct-honing in my upcoming Inner Feminine Badass Bootcamp. take a look and see what your Inner Feminine Badass feels about joining us:

to your PICKING UP what your mojo is putting down,


the last mini tip was about why to heed feedback that hurts. this one’s about how to give feedback that hurts way less.

here it is in a nutshell:

decent feedback format =
1. what worked +
2. what i’d like to see more of +
3. what to leave out next time

why, you might ask, would you even want to use sucha thoughtful feedback format instead of just layingyour unadulterated opinions on them?

as i see it, the whole point of offering feedback is to help that person see a blind spot or two in order to do it better next time.

i suggest that it’s actually in that person’s best interest when you take responsibility for giving your feedback in a way that doesn’t send them into a tailspin of self-doubt or defensiveness.

it’s better form – and just kinder to a fellow human being – to dispense your opinions and insights without them needing to get out their shield or some boxing gloves.

let me break down the magical feedback format a bit:

1. start with what worked:

this pre-supposes there WAS something that worked! scour your mind and heart to find something. i know you can.

the person is already harboring doubts and worries that they screwed up and you’re about to rub their nose in it, so to speak. they are armored and prepared to get pounced on. when you start with what worked they breathe a sigh of relief and release the niggling doubt that they are worthless. they feel safer and they being to trust you. they open up to hearing all of what you have to say.

not a bad way to start.

2. what you’d like to see more of:

this pre-supposes there was something good you’d like to see more of, or something you didn’t see, but you’d like to.

of course it’s easier to just lay on them what’s not working, what’s missing or where they missed the mark. the result that’s nearly guaranteed, however, is that they don’t hear your feedback at all, it’s so drowned out by their inner moans of self-loathing and recrimination. or they hear you perfectly loud and clear and they close their ears forever to anything redeemable. your decent intentions to help them go to waste.

too bad for both of you.

3. what to leave out next time: if you’ve got insight into how they can trim the fat, edit, polish and shine, give it to them. they are going to be more open and receptive to hearing the nitty gritty because you didn’t smack them down in the opening round. [feel free to tweet it]

TRUE: we can’t control if someone will crumple or implode when hearing your words, no matter how well-wrought, but you can do your best to wield your feedback with a dash of care.

this goes for giving feedback to your lover, your employee, your friend, your kid, your goldfish … heck, even yourself!

so, your mission, should you chose to accept it:

when next giving feedback,

1. tell ’em what worked.
2. tell ’em what you’d like to see more of.
3. tell ’em what to leave out next time.

literally, you can start your feedback with these sentence stems:

“well, what i saw that worked was …”

and then, “what i’d like to see more of is …”

and then, “and what to leave out next time is ….”

to your fabulous feedback and perhaps a comment below??? 😉


PS: thanks to and Carl Buchheit, one of my crackerjack mentors, for first enlightening me to this uber-useful feedback format.

it felt like a knife being inserted between my ribs, then twisting.

and that wasn’t even the most painful part.

that knife pirouette let in the bright light of day and shone it on a fragile pink part of myself, a part i considered so icky that i’d purposely hidden it far, far from view.


OK, so it WASN’T a real knife, even though it felt like one; i was just asking for some simple feedback. it WAS, however, my trial-by-fire way to learn

>>> it starts out simple and innocent:

“hey, what do you think of this article i wrote?”

“hey, i know i’m a catch but i can’t find a date. do you see a blind spot that i should look at?”

“hey, do i look fat in this?”

>>> and then comes the knife, the carnage, the shame, the exposure:

“actually, i don’t understand the last half of the article, and the first half bores me – i’m sure i’ve read it somewhere before.”

“when you walk into a room, you exude neediness. you suck all the air and light out of a space, and no one has room to breathe.”

“you do look like you’ve gained 20 pounds. i noticed you’ve been prioritizing work and croissants over going to yoga for the last two months.”


whether the feedback was solicited (i asked for it) or if it just came unbidden out of left field (thanks for sharing), i’ve learned that if it hurts, there’s something important in it. otherwise it wouldn’t hurt.

when people lay truths like this on me and i react by wanting to lash out at them or hide in a hole, i know they are speaking some version of truth … something i need to hear.

if it didn’t contain a kernal of truth, important for me to hear, it wouldn’t land on me like a blade ripping at my heart, it would slide off like teflon – or simply leave me confused.

today’s tip isn’t about how to be more conscientious when giving feedback. (that’s next week’s tip!). for sure, some folks who’ve laid my viscera bare with their feedback could have been more artful. but that’s not the point. i’m interested in how feedback lands for YOU, not in THEIR delivery.

consider that this kind of pain is like a little flare, sending the message high into the air so your bigger self can read it’s sky-writing: THERE IS SOMETHING HERE FOR YOU TO LOOK AT, TAKE IN, AND CHEW ON.

consider, too, that the shame-filled bits you’ve squirreled away in a dark place in you, they gain their power by being kept in that dark place.

your shadowy parts, with light poured on them, become your blossoming. ~ LiYana Silver, (click on it to tweet it!)

it’s tough, but i’ve learned to open into this kind of feedback and even welcome it. i’ve learned to breathe through the pain and the shame of it, because on the other side of it is a more aligned, empowered, true me.

SO: your mission, should you chose to accept it:

–> get ripped.

–> meaning, when you receive feedback that rips at a tender part of you, consider that there’s something in there that’s important for you to hear and heed – and that it can lead to a more empowered, authentic, aligned and bright YOU.

to you,


PS: especially if you surround yourself with a kick-ass tribe, to their eyes and hearts you are completely fucking naked, anyway. they see and feel everything. they LOVE you. and they want your most authentic you in the world and so their dragon’s breath singes everything off your bones that isn’t truly YOU.

PPS: your comments give light and breath to this tip. share below, wise one

Are you ready for the most audacious, outrageous holiday tip? It’s not about the best temperature to bake a roast or how not to yell at your mother in law even when you want to.

It’s not about what shoes are best to wear as you beat the streets for stocking stuffers and it’s definitely not how to stay slim in the middle of endless holiday party temptations. But it may just help you have this be the most love and delight-filled holiday season yet.

This time of the year has always mystified me. The intent is a beautiful one: ’tis the season of love and giving, after all. Yet the actuality is a far cry from the intent: it ends up being mostly about giving and getting a bunch of stuff no one really wants or needs, out of obligation, and running ourselves ragged – and getting into scary debt – in the process. There’s mostly no love for what we give, what we get, or how we acquire, give or receive it.

Now, it would be wonderful if there were a ton o’ love in the things being bought or got, but for the most part, there’s not.

Get the rest of the tip here:

“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.” ~ Unknown

I first created this Mini Relationship Tip four years ago, almost to the day.

I’ve added to this oldie but goodie, and I know you’ll find a gem of “life alchemy” in here for yourself.

You’ll definitely NOT want to skip reading this one because at the end there is a piece of uber personal, amazingly timely news.

Getting to Good

August 2007:

Like an acme safe ala cartoonland, I recently feel like I got hit on the head with EXACTLY HOW to have my life and relationship be great, gorgeous always full of fun and delight.

Only instead of landing like a ton of steel, this landed like a drizzle of honey on a bed of feathers.

The price to earn pleasure is not pain and suffering.
The price to earn pleasure is enjoying what is already here.
It is pulling your head out of your own a.s.s. and looking around and acknowledging all the good that is already present.  The best place to start is approving of and appreciating what is SO.
It is looking around at this green earth and the flora and fauna and crazy humans
inhabiting it, and finding it good.

The key to getting the good stuff is to start with the good stuff.
And the key to getting things to be better is to start with the good stuff.

Sometimes things in our life or relationship are really the opposite of good, right? They suck, they are hard, they are bad. I know.

The law of physics, so to speak, around having things get better is that things have to first start from a place of GOOD before they can get BETTER.  Good goes to better.

If things are bad, and we only focus on that they are bad, they get worse. Bad goes to worse.

You have to notice the things that are good or find something good about the crappy thing that’s happening before it
can get better.

The law looks something like this:  bad –> good  –> better.

You can’t get from bad to better, you have to get to good first.  The key is to start with good.  Then, things are good – I mean, that’s pretty great, right?  And what if things got even better?

Too abstract? Let me give you an uber personal, amazingly timely example:

I have a “pinch me” relationship.  It floors me constantly and there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t feel grateful and blessed for this work of art we’ve co-created.  Throughout the eight years my husband and I have been together, we’ve had one point consistently come up where we are not on the same page: around whether to have a child together.

And we were having a really crappy time figuring this one out, in fact we almost broke up a few months ago with how much we were suffering trying to figure it out.

An esteemed teacher pointed out to us that we were having a terrible time and losing big time, while we were figuring it out.

(Enter visual – safe falling on LiYana’s head).

Could we have a great time figuring this hard, crappy, bad thing out?  What in the world would that be like?

I took this to heart in the biggest way possible. I looked at my tendency in problem-solving: freak-out, get overwhelmed, play the victim. I looked at my tendency in working through impasses: back-down, feel defeated before starting, suffer.

As we talked further about it, it turned out that my husband’s biggest fear in having a child together was losing me. He could see (easier than I of course) my defaults in problem-solving and working through impasses. When he thought through having a child, he loaded up my freaking out, getting overwhelmed, playing the victim, suffering and feeling defeated. He loaded up losing the bright, vivacious woman and lover her cherished. And he was right.

I asked myself, would it be possible to celebrate, enjoy, find pleasure, have some humour while working on the bad stuff?

What has happened since then is amazing – a deepening of love, appreciation, a clarity around what we both fear around having a child, and what would be amazing about it.  All the while a greater sense of partnership and so much more fun and enjoying each other.

The most remarkable thing is that as my husband saw the fruits of me really taking this on, he started to see that he might not lose his bright, luscious love to the inevitabilities of child-rearing. He saw that I could enjoy ourselves no matter, and that changed the tide in him. Where he was a NO to a child, he became a maybe and then a YES.

We would never have gotten to this place without the power of “getting to good.” Ever. In fact, I doubt we’d be together at all.

We both pulled our sorry out of “bad” and got ourselves to “good” and it keeps getting better and better and better….

These are things I’ve always known, but sometimes they alternate between peeping and sleeping in me, but now they are roaring and won’t shut up.  Thankfully.

August 2011:

We’re officially pregnant with our first child, one who was planned, dreamed of, and who will be welcomed by two pretty large hearts who have spent four years practicing “getting to good” even when times are hard. It’s a magical little world we’ll be welcoming our little one into.

I might get this slightly wrong, but here’s the essence of a great quote:

“Your enjoyment is your blessing on all creation.” – Vic Baranco

So, this week:

1. Do a little inner inventory: what is your tendency when things get hard? When you feel defeated? When you are stressed or overwhelmed?

2. Try “getting to good” first: try your version of celebrating, enjoying, finding pleasure and having some humour while working on the bad stuff.

3. Leave your first thoughts from #1 and #2  in Comments, so we can all see how this is for you!

I promise you, this is pure life alchemy, friends.

My best to you, LiYana

(published in August 1, 2011)

I had lunch a few weeks ago with a dear friend of mine, a multi-talented man of about 60 who has had life experiences that would have half of us green with envy and the other wonder how he made it through alive.

He had been having a mad, wild, wonderful love affair with a friend of mine for about 6 months, that recently ended. Their age difference of about 20 years was too much for her, and even though they were both having the time of their lives, she decided not to continue it.

He had been reticent to get into any relationship after his divorce several years ago, and I knew he was totally smitten with my friend. I asked him how he was doing with the breakup. In essence, I might have been asking …

*  Was he crushed by her ending the epic love affair?
*  Did he feel foolish or ashamed because he had been such a YES, and she had ultimately responded with a NO?
*  Was he scorched and ready to raise his fist to the heavens of eros, saying, “never again!”?
*  Did he resent her?
*  Did he feel like crawling into a hole, fit only for wiggly slimy things like he felt?

These are all reactions I’ve had myself in similar situations. I hear them from clients all the time. Perhaps some sound familiar to you.

But he responded with something quite different and beautiful.

“Absolutely not. I’ve never LOVED like that before. At every turn, where I could have closed up, I opened. Whenever there was a time where I could have shied away from being truthful and transparent, I spoke it. I took out all the stops. I’ve never done anything like that in relationship before. I quite honestly didn’t know if I had it in me. I went to places in myself and with her I never had the ability or courage to go for in my marriage. I am so glad and proud of myself that I went for it. Now I know what I’m made of, and I know how well I can love and let myself be loved.”


That’s a response we all might craft in a moment of meditation, feeling at our best and most magnanimous, but these were his unscripted, honest sentiments, shared over iced tea on the patio of a fine restaurant establishment on an anonymous Monday afternoon.

Let us all take some snippet of golden goodness from my dear friend, shall we?

So, this week, Choose Love.

*  If there is a place you’ve been holding back with your loving, let it loose.
*  At a moment you feel like closing up, protecting yourself or retreating, open outward.
*  If your honest truth is bubbling up, before you judge it worthy or not wothy, let it flow.

“Choose your love, and then love your choice.”
~ Unknown

To your loving and being loved,


PS: Please don’t skew this and use it as an excuse to pour your love onto a person who isn’t loving you back at all, who isn’t reciprocating, or is treating you badly, OK? You deserve to be MET, to love your fullest and be loved to the fullest. While this is a call not to hold back, do so with the deserving, OK?

“Great things are only possible with outrageous requests.”
~ Unknown

So, I give you lots and lots of great communication tips through these Mini Relationship Tips, right?

But what about when you are communicating like a pro – your tone and intention are loving, appreciative and juicy, your words are considerate and compelling – and yet your gorgeous request is still met with a … NO?

I mean, you’re working your hump off to make your offer or request too good to pass up, attractive beyond compare and a big, luscious win-win for both of you … so what gives? Shouldn’t they be leaping off their seat to crow a resounding YES from the rooftops!?

Actually, people usually say NO for some “good” reason. It’s a reason that is not only pretty unclear for you, but likely not totally clear for them, either.  Underlying any NO, there’s usually some fear of theirs. Or there is a way they think they might lose out by saying YES.

So, this week, when you get a NO, try asking,

“Is there some way that my request has you feel like you could lose out?”

“Is there something you are concerned about or afraid might happen as a consequence if you were to say yes?”

“What would you need in order for you to be a YES?”

(Good ones, right? Useful. Comments are currently being accepted below)

Rather than giving up, with an, “Oh, no! They said no,” rub your hands together, get excited about what you’ll discover underneath, and see if you can get to the bottom of this “no” matter.

Enjoy, LiYana

If you are anything like me, conflict isn’t the easiest thing to deal with. Conflict often likes to makes itself known as it races through your bloodstream when a friend or colleague brings up something they are disappointed with.  Or a lover lashes out with anger or struggles to articulate something, awash in sadness.  Or a partner lets you know what you did “wrong.”  Or a heated disagreement, sparks flying left and right.

The point in relationships isn’t to avoid conflict, however – the point is to deal with conflict constructively.

Nowadays, I am able to do that pretty well. But it’s all learned behavior, practiced and honed, with much sweat and adrenaline keeping me company. And I owe much of this essential relationship skill to an understanding of how lightning and lightning rods work.

Conflict in and of itself isn’t a problem. Often, it’s simply the squeak of a wheel desperately in need of grease. Conflict is something stuck, looking to get shook loose. If we can work with it and not freak out and run from it, freeze up in the face of it, or make it mean something’s wrong, then it can reveal a big learning or blessing. About ourselves, about the other, and about the relationship.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a Lightning Rod or Grounding Rod? It’s usually a long, tall piece of metal, often attached to the roof or side of a building, and its job is to attract the electrical energy of a lightning storm. Instead of the lightning striking the building – or your head – the Grounding Rod acts as a conduit; it collects the lightning’s energy and runs it into the ground. Hence, the term, “grounding.”

Without the Grounding Rod, the electrical energy would get into the building – or your head – and fry things.

So, the next time your nervous system starts blinking red, letting you know you’re entering into conflict zone, Ground.

Pretend your body is a Grounding Rod. Feel the electrical energy of the conflict’s lightening storm, but instead of letting it stay in your body, use your breath and intention to run it into the ground.

Then, when the lightening is dispersed and you aren’t a live wire any more, you’ll be able to think straighter and communicate clearer.

You’ll be able to make some sense of where the person is coming from, what’s squeaking that needs a shot of emotional WD40, what’s all bound up beneath what their words, asking to be loosened and looked at.

Enjoy practicing constructively dealing with conflict in a way that doesn’t involve freezing, fighting, flight-ing – or frying.

“The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

And don’t forget to leave a comment below.

Best, LiYana

Remember that game as a kid, “Telephone?”

You sit in a circle, and one person whispers a word or phrase into the ear of the person next to them.  Then each person in turn whispers it to the next. Then last person says out loud what beat-up, garbled version the word or phrase has become.

Your communication ever feel like an adult’s version of that kid’s game –  but not that funny?

Well, there’s what you heard, and then there’s what they said.

What you hear is often a far cry from than what person intended.  Since language is an approximation, we all interpret the same words in often vastly different ways. Stopping to clarify in this way can save you so much of the pain that comes from the build-up of repeated misunderstanding.

So, when that Someone says what’s on their mind, before you agree, disagree, judge, retort or respond, repeat it back, as you heard it.

Something like, “If I got that right (repeat back what you heard)” or “What I heard was (repeat back what you heard). Did I get that right?”

You may even need to check, “Let me see if I got all of that?” or “Is there any more you want to say about that?”

And (for extra bonus points!), validate their experience. Something like, “You make sense because….”  “I can see how you could see it that way.” “I can see what you are saying …” or “I imagine that you could also be feeling…”

(You’re not saying that you feel the way they do, you are simply saying you understand what they are feeling.)

This might feel counter intuitive, but try it out. It may just steer you clear of a pile of painful misunderstanding.

So, this week, Say What?

Say what you heard, and see if it’s actually what they said.

And don’t forget to leave your comment (look for the “Comments” link at the top of the page)!

Enjoy, LiYana

PS: How do I love your comments? Let me count the ways. Your comments row my boat gently down a stream. Your comments give peace a chance. Well, at the very least, your comments make my day, so go ahead!