Finding Beauty/ Speaking Good Truth


As the bee pollinates and produces food and more plants, so we can nourish our children’s souls and bring beauty to their lives and the world. Good delivered consistently begets good. Yet I’m beginning to hear increasing concern about praising children. The often repeated phrase “Good job!” or participation awards regardless of the quality or consistency of participation may indeed become empty and contribute to problems more than strengths. Professors are pointing to research which finds that if we reward children for being kind or generous, they will stop caring for the inherent intangible rewards of helping others and become more mercenary, serving only when it serves their own purposes to earn a badge, go out for pizza or get accepted to a better college.

What I hear though is not a problem with praise, but a longing for authenticity and integrity. We don’t want shallow, meaningless words. We do want heartfelt appreciation. But surely we don’t need to wait for grand moments. Hopefully we can find beauty often in daily moments. I believe it is important for us to notice when our children do something we value and give voice to the positive observations we make. It’s unfair to ignore the good and only criticize; that is hardly likely to encourage the values we hold dear. If no one notices when children make their bed, pick up their toys, or put the backpack somewhere that it won’t be tripped over, why bother? If we cherish our time in the kitchen preparing a meal together or in the driveway playing ball, let’s say so.  If we see when our child shares or stands up for someone vulnerable, they deserve to hear that we noticed and share their values.

The key to praise or simple acknowledgement that nourishes a child’s soul is authenticity. Praise that encourages is specific, noting what the child did well and why we care. Here are some samples: “Thanks for telling me what you want. I noticed how you were able to calm yourself. You have waited patiently and I appreciate that.”  Our tone of voice, smile or touch should be sincere, not fake or distracted. In this way we reduce anxiety and decrease depression. We strengthen attachment and deepen relationships.

It helps if praise comes often enough that our children believe we generally notice their good points and that those qualities come in a variety of areas worth noticing. Praise should not be so rare as to be shocking.   If perhaps we’ve been more critical than kind, our children may perceive us as prickly but beauty can blossom in the relationship.


We can bring light into darkness.

Renewal Resources

Basketball Reflections

Renewal Resources is a nonprofit, public benefit organization serving our community through therapy, classes, groups, support teams and retreats. We offer care and compassion, strategies and support to nurture your inner resources with hope, meaning and healing. 



Life lived well can be a little like being on a good basketball team. Wouldn’t it be good to know that we aren’t alone, but we are part of something bigger, with purpose and built in support? I’d like to think that there are some people in my life who would be willing to charge into the fray, fearless for me when I’m afraid, furious for me when necessary. It would be great if at least one person in my life somehow towered above the others and could be counted on to catch the rebounds if I don’t make the shot. Sometimes in life, we make that 3 point shot and people start to believe in our potential. Other times we get the fast break, and then trip over our own feet and are crushed. The pressure to “succeed” gets so great we develop depression, anxiety or are tempted to cheat.

We have to be intentional in building the network of our lives much as a coach is intentional in recruiting players with a variety of skills.  We need to build the team of our lives with depth. A good team doesn’t just rely on a few stars, but has strength on the bench, ready to provide respite for the first string or move into play in case of injury. And building a team means contributing to the life and strength of others, not just looking for what they can do for us. Psychologist Alfred Adler believed that personal mental health improves as we increase our social interest. The more we cooperate, encourage others and make decisions in light of the greater good, the healthier we will be. A team that builds each other up, will get better as a whole. A second string player may be able to coach the first string player in chemistry between classes and the game. Life: we’re in it together.

I usually recommend having at least 5 unrelated sources of support–(our own team)-and being an active part of the team for those people. That can be a Herculean task in our increasingly isolated existences amidst the anonymity of urban/suburban living…when just surviving at work or school requires vast hours of time. Still, it can be done. One or two people could be ones with whom we have a lot in common, who are accessible and know how to listen, ideally without giving advice. At least one should be someone from a very different background, with different skills, who can provide a different (perhaps even opposing) perspective from our own to keep us open and balanced, to challenge us. Some might be relatives; some might become the family we choose. It’s very helpful if we have multiple people in whom we can confide in case one is not available; everyone is chronically busy these days. It’s also helpful to have a group in which we participate without telling all our troubles, a place we can go just to serve or have fun. A group provides a buffer against isolation and bullying. A choir, sports team, religious or service group, hiking/cycling club or the like can fill that role.

Finally, being part of a team means being willing to do your own individual work so that when you come to the team, you’re ready. If you’re playing basketball, it means getting in shape, eating right, and practicing shots on your own time as well as with the team. In life it means self-care through diet and exercise, plus meditation, mindfulness, journaling or sometimes counseling. In confidential counseling we can work through the issues that are too embarrassing to tell friends or too heavy because we don’t want to wear out our welcome. We might expect to go for counseling to deal with grief, loss, communication problems or trauma recovery. But just as some private tutoring/coaching helps us become a better team player, counseling can also contribute to our personal growth and ability to enjoy the game of life. Who are we?


What We Do

Mindfulness Stairs

Renewal Resources is a nonprofit, public benefit organization serving our community through therapy, classes, groups, support teams and retreats. We offer care and compassion, strategies and support to nurture your inner resources with hope, meaning and healing. 

Mindfulness Moment:

Stairway to ???

As you look at the picture above, what do you see? Does it feel like life is an uphill climb or that these are the stairs to an exciting new vista, an opportunity for a great view? Or does it look like the the stairs are descending, coming towards you?

Focus on the stairs … then notice the physical sensations in your body? Do you notice any muscle tension or tiredness? What thoughts pop into your head? Are they more like …”The stairs would make climbing that hill easier.” or “Why isn’t there a hand rail?” Do they feel inviting or intrusive?

Focus on the trees for a moment.  Pay attention to your body again. What do you notice? Any changes in heart rate or breathing rate? Any new thoughts? For some the trees may be lush and rich, comforting representatives of evergreen, ever growing life even when the grass is dry and brittle. For others they may be annoying, in the way, and blocking the view.

Our bodies tell us a lot. They are an early warning alarm of discouragement or anxiety or they can be an indicator of peace. Listen to your body. It’s alert and informative long before the thoughts formulate in your mind. But notice those instinctive thoughts as well. The quick little thoughts often tell us more about ourselves than the well-formed opinions we share with others. Mindfulness often means to just stop and notice. If we become uncomfortable when we stop and notice, that’s important information.

If you notice more tendencies toward depression or anxiety than you’d like to live with, find a skilled professional to walk with you towards the future you would rather live into. If you live or work near Los Altos or Fremont, California, call 408-420-7895 for an initial free phone consultation.