How do you turn a rifle into a carrot?

Today, if a 20-year-old had not burst into a small-town classroom, my state of Connecticut would be a happier place.

Today, if the young man had not had an assault weapon, 20 sixth-graders and 6 educators would be at this moment celebrating the holidays with their families.

Five years later we are still awash in Sandy Hook grief. And the killings continue. My home paper The New Haven Register had front-page stories this year:

Fourteen-year-old Tyriek Keyes passed away from a fatal gunshot wound last Thursday, four days after being shot near Bassett and Newhall Streets….

Two days after Keyes’ death, a 13-year-old boy was found shot near Bassett Street…

Where find light in this darkness?

Tuesday’s front-page headline was a welcome change:

Surrendered guns turned into gardening tools in latest New Haven gun buy-back

Reporter Jessica Lerner writes that this year’s buy-back will be different. New Haven Police Officer David Hartman explains that the donated (no questions asked) firearms will be given to local metal sculptor, Gar Waterman, who will turn over the smashed pieces to the Department of Correction where volunteer inmates will forge the pieces into gardening tools under the tutelage of RAWTools, a nonprofit Colorado group that forges hand tools from weapons.

Steven Yanovsky, from the Newtown Foundation, says,

“It allows us to take this method of destruction, this murder machine, and turn it into something which is the polar opposite… you’re taking a weapon of death and turning it into the complete opposite, which is life. So you go from a rifle or a handgun to carrots.”

Yanovsky continues, “Yes, this is a baby step, but this is where it starts, and hopefully, it will spread throughout the country.”

Are we finally getting the words of Isaiah —

“…and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

“How many deaths will it take till we know…?” Thanks to Bob Dylan for keeping the question alive.

To the parents of those children who today would be sixth-graders, heartfelt gratitude.

May your words inspire us to action.

An OASIS in the Overwhelm Sanity Tip: set aside a few minutes today to ponder —

  1. What can I do to turn an aggressive attitude I have towards someone or something into a carrot?
  2. What one action will I take to let policy-makers know that I count on them to enact and enforce common-sense gun laws?

Like the Sandy Hook parents, let’s turn anger into action, grief into love whenever and wherever we can.

…holidays have you in a tizzy?

11/18/2017 04:31 pm ET

Have too many things on your plate these days?

I do. After my busy mind woke me at 3 AM, I had a tough time getting back to sleep. Definitely in a tizzy.

Webster defines tizzy as “a highly excited and distracted state of mind, origin unknown (1940).” (Makes me wonder…before 1940, did people have fewer tizzies?)

Anyway, my crazed state was a strong reminder for me to get real and practice what I preach: find an oasis in my overwhelm. How?

Pause. Get clear. Take action.

So, before rushing into writing this blog and tending to all my other “must-do” stuff, I sat down at the kitchen table with a cup of jasmine tea. I gave myself 60 seconds to breathe, and hang out with a few questions. I asked myself:

What is one thing I am thankful for – right now

  1. About my body? I know it’s getting older and has aches – but/and what is one thing I appreciate about it right this minute…
  2. About my mind? It’s cluttered, yes, and doesn’t always remember everything – but/and…one thing I really am thankful for about it…
  3. About my current life situation? ….

After I jotted down my responses, I took another 60 seconds to “breathe them in.” It gave me time to notice where I felt each appreciation. Then I fed that wiring in my brain/body.

Those two 60-second breaks worked for me. I hope they work for you.

If you’d like some extra OASIS in the Overwhelm tips for the upcoming holidays, come to my Take the Jangle out of the Jingle Season workshop on December 14 in New Haven.

I invite you to respond to my Survey question: What’s your single greatest fear of challenge regarding stress? Your response will help me plan my 2018 online course. Thanks ahead of time!

Warm wishes for a thanks-full Thanksgiving to you and family. Pay it forward!

How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World

photo Paul Bloom

So much rage / violence / death / confusion embedded in our past, present, and future.

Past: the Burns/Novick series brings the anguish and horrors of Vietnam to our eyes

Present: our sisters and brothers die “unneeded” deaths in massive numbers: another mass shooting in the USA…killing, displacement, starvation in Syria, France, Myanmar, Puerto Rico – and so many other places

Past/Future: I just saw the 1959 movie On the Beach. I wake at 3 AM wondering, Is North Korea still here? Will my grandchildren live to reach 20?

What to do, how stay sane, in these crazy times? Back to the basics:

  1. Take care of my body
  2. Keep my mind as clear as possible
  3. Do what’s possible in front of me – the “ordinary things” – for myself and others

Even as I do all of this, I notice – and feel –incredible rage inside of me. I’m seen by others as a usually “calm” person, but in these days how many times I want to give the finger…

What to do with my rage?

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  • First of all, know that it’s there, inside of me
  • Second, see what the rage is about
  • Third, do something positive with that energy

If I, who am safe, loved, “privileged”, feel this so intensely, what must it be like for people not so fortunate?

What I decide to do will probably be different from what you decide to do.

If you’re near Madison, WI on October 24, I invite you to join me for my keynote How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World. Whatever, do something pro-active for you, and for somebody else. My simple Self-Care Checklist may give you a few ideas.

Oh, and why do I have a splint on that 3rd finger?

Playing football with my grandsons. I caught a bunch of the high spirals from 10-year-old Jules, but on the last pass I heard my finger pop. When 6-year-old Theo saw my finger drooping, he glanced up at me and said mournfully, “GranMillie, you’re really old.” Then a dramatic pause – “but you’re really good.”

So now my middle finger is not a rage weapon. Rather it’s a trophy reminding me that sometimes it’s definitely worth not “acting my age” – whatever that means.

After the orthopedist set the splint, he said “Ten weeks, 24/7. And don’t get it wet.” Then he added,” I’ll be watching you in Sunday’s NFL game.”

I may be kneeling with the rest of the guys.

Speak the truth. Harm no one.

What we do matters.

Lucky Ol’ Sun – Lucky Us –

Example: As is our routine, Pablo and I chose dates for our hike in the Wyoming Rockies according to best coordination with Nature:

After the glaciers melt. Before the snow starts.

Bingo! By sheer luck, or call-it-what-you-wish, we will be in the 30-mile ribbon of total blackout solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. Funny. I’m remembering a song from my childhood – “That lucky ol’ sun – ain’t got nothin’ to do – but roll around heaven all day…”

Strange and wonderful to head into the wilderness for ten days. Away from electronics. Cut off from “world news.” Immersed in tangible world reality… Who knows what will happen in our time away?

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Wake up to the day’s most important news.

Give yourself a “roll-around-heaven” OASIS right now:

– If you’re near Cape Cod, treat yourself to an OASIS massage at OASIS by the Sea in Falmouth, MA

Dive in to the Authorized OASIS Training on September 14 at Mercy by the Sea in Madison, CT

– Indulge in the OASIS 60-second Sanity Tip below.

OASIS Sanity Tip

Facts of Life:

Sun shines. Glaciers melt. Snow falls. We breathe.

Today, take 60 seconds (at least!) to:

  • Sit outside. Absorb the sun’s warmth.
  • Put your hand on your heart. Feel its rhythm.
  • Do one simple kindness for a) yourself, b) someone else.

Wherever you are, I send you refreshing OASIS greetings,


When’s the last time…?

Bruce Plasse

On this hot summer day I am savoring pleasures I had as a kid on 42nd Street in Louisville, KY.

We did all kinds of things that moved our bodies and activated our brains. And nobody had to plug us in or drive us anywhere. We just did it.

Here are some of my favorites:

Play Rock Teacher on the front steps
Chalk Hopscotch on the drive
“Mother, may I?” on the sidewalk
Kick the Can in the street
Hide & Go Seek till it got dark
Sprinkle each other, or just Stand in the Rain and get soaked
My all-time favorite? After a heavy rain – Popsicle-Stick Race down the street gutter: Whose stick will get to the corner sewer first?

When’s the last time you did something simple – outside – and free – to celebrate being alive?

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The photo is of me and my friend Wendy Battles sprinkling each other – as grown-ups – in my backyard in New Haven. Never too late to enjoy simple pleasures!

Here’s a quick OASIS Sanity Tip for you:

Take a few minutes now to get nostalgic. Ask yourself:

What were two of my favorite outside free activities?
Who were my real-life buddies before social-media electronics took over?
Savor the memories.

Now, take action:

What is one free outside activity I can do today?
What is a favorite game that I can teach to someone under 12?
With whom? Exactly when?

If you are eager to bring even more peace and pleasure to yourself and others, I invite you to try some Oasis in the Overwhelm 60-second Strategies. You may even want to become an Authorized Oasis Trainer – a powerful way to make yourself and our world happier and healthier. Want to do the Training en español? ¡Contáctanos!

I send you refreshing breezes on this Summer day, Millie.

Mother Of All Bombs…

This morning the daffodils in my backyard shout “Happy Passover / Easter — whatever!

So vibrant. So erect. So fleeting… My life, the life of my grandchildren, the life of each person in our world — how fragile, how fleeting.

The juxtaposition of last week’s headlines rattles me:

chemical warfare / missile strikes

palm sunday processions / church bombings

passover gatherings/ hate killings

And then

Mother Of All Bombs! — is Mother Of Us All trembling?

Awake at 3 AM, as I walk in daylight, I look for any spark of insight, of hope.

The only glimmer I find?

When we get into any kind of “us” vs. “them,” we’re in big trouble. Eons ago, or right this minute in my neighborhood, in my country, “my” world.

Dylan’s song rings strong. I alter his words a bit –

how many deaths will it take
till we know
that killing won’t stop killing.

My life work, Oasis in the Overwhelm, aims to help each of us find a place of respite, of clarity, when life appears to be too much. I wish all of us – me, too — deep wisdom and active compassion today. A simple Oasis Sanity Tip:

Today, any time I catch myself in “us” – “them”:



Look for the big picture, the very big picture

Do one simple act to make that big picture a bit saner

Peaceful Passover, Easter – whatever – to all.

The daffodils don’t want us to ignore their beauty.

…How Many Deaths Will It Take…

Photo Paul Bloom


On this April day in 2017, dew on the petals in my front yard captures me.

How beautiful. How fleeting. How fragile my life – the life of each person – in our world.

The juxtaposition of headlines rattles me:

chemical warfare / missile strikes

palm sunday processions / church bombings

passover preparations / hate killings

In the middle of the night, as I walk during the day, I search for any spark of insight, of hope.

Does This Baby Iris Know Something I Don’t…?

Millie Grenough

When I walked to my sideyard in the middle of last week’s blizzard, a flash of purple stunned me.

How in heck can that little flower push up through all this snow?

My daughter-in-law phoned me that afternoon.

“Millie, I’m worried. The daffodils in our yard just showed their green. I don’t think they heard the weather report. We’re supposed to get a big snow this week. What’s going to happen to them? Will the blizzard kill them?”

This is Elizabeth’s first winter in Pittsburgh. She’s used to southern California winters. I’ve been in New England for many seasons, so I could reassure her.

“They’ll be okay. They’ve been around for a long time. I think they have more wisdom than we do.”

After I hung up, I wrote this poemette (is that a word?) —

baby iris know

how to grow in snow

An amazing miracle!

Well, not really a miracle. They’re just being natural, just doing what they do.

But I began to wonder: do they know that the earth seems to be getting warmer? …are they already beginning to adapt? … do they have anything they want to say to me, besides

“Notice my fragile beauty”?

The snow is melting now. More colors are popping up: a sunshiny crocus, pearl-white snowdrop, more purple iris.

I take a little more time than usual to look at them. I ask,

What can I do today to appreciate all the beauty around me?

What simple act will I do to help something – or someone – come to fuller life?

Thanks, baby iris.

Stressed Out in America — or How NOT to Deal with Stress

Millie Grenough

“Stressed Out in America” shouted the New Haven Register front page. Reporter Ed Stannard cited stats showing that the level of anxiety is increasing:

“Two-thirds of Americans say they are stressed about the future of our nation, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans,” according to the American Psychological Association’s report Stress in America™: Coping with Change.

“Between August 2016 and January 2017, the overall average reported stress level of Americans rose… At the same time, more Americans said that they experienced physical and emotional symptoms of stress in the prior month, health symptoms that the APA warns could have long-term consequences.”

Not surprising to me since my field is Stress Management. Not surprising to you, because you’re living in it.

The question: what do with this current reality? A piercing question for each of us.

How am I dealing with stress?

  • Trying not to tear out my hair. Brush it instead.
  • When I feel angry, use that energy to take a positive action—even if a tiny one.
  • Pay more attention to everything and everyone around me: my grandkids, people I meet in the supermarket.
  • Try not to judge people’s words instantly. Instead, listen with longer pauses. Look for common ground.
  • Temper my addiction to news. Instead, walk around the block, meditate, hang out with friends.

How are you managing your stress? Let me know.

If it feels right to you, join me for a whole-day retreat at Copper Beech Institute on Sunday March 19. Theme? Welcome Fresh Life This Spring. Time to refocus, refresh, rejuvenate.

As the good ol’ song says, You gotta accentuate the positive… Give it a shot.

Valentine for My Country

Millie Grenough
Coach, Trainer, Author who helps you find an Oasis in the Overwhelm, whatever it may be
This post is hosted on the Huffington Post’s Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and post freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

My country, ‘tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty –

Of thee I sing!

What to give my country for Valentine’s Day – chocolates? red roses? No.

Much better: Truth Bouquets.

I send luscious bouquets to:

– Margot Lee Shatterley – you shine light on so many hidden figures

– Gabby Giffords – you carry on, even after being shot down

– Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Elizabeth Warren – you speak your consciences on the Senate floor

– Peter Salovey and Yale Corporation – you change a college’s name from Calhoun to Grace Murray Hopper

– Julius, my 10-year-old grandson, after seeing a Noguchi sculpture – you ask, “What is lynching?”

– My husband – you answer his question calmly, clearly

– Millions of people in the USA and around the world – you stand up strong for your beliefs

– Youtube – you make it possible for me to hear Marian Anderson sing My Country, ‘tis of thee at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939

To all of you I offer bouquets. Of you all, I sing.

Happy Valentine’s day, country of mine. Let freedom ring!



Millie Grenough, Author Oasis in the Overwhelm.

P.S. Give Yourself a Valentine ~

Join me this Wed Feb 16, 8 – 8:30 PM for a brief chat – Free

Topic? Compassion – for Yourself & Others: Strategies for Tough Times

Decide now to come to a 1-Day Retreat – Sun Mar 19

Theme? Welcome Fresh Life This Spring

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