Creating New Visions for Home and family

Here in St. Louis trees are budding and flowers are in bloom.  Many gardeners are already are tilling the soil, pulling up old roots and planting new seed.  Spring is a time when we can create new visions for our home and family life.  What do you want to plant in the garden of your life?    

Simplify to Care

We live in a materialistic consumer oriented culture.  Often the focus has been on money and stuff.  We believe that our things reflect our importance in the world.  The deeper truth is that who we are as persons has a much more powerful impact.  Let this spring be a time to acknowledge the gift that you are.  What are the gifts and strengths within yourself that you can now begin to express?  What purpose would you like to serve?  When you acknowledge the gifts that you have and that which gives you meaning, it is easier to let go of material items that no longer serve you.   For example on Earth Day, it was a pleasure for me to recycle because it served a deeper purpose.  I was glad to let go of the items that I no longer needed that others could use.

 Caring  Relationships

Research over the last years has shown that our relationships bring a greater sense of well being and joy than status or the accumulation of stuff. Releasing your extra stuff allows you to share your compassion and feel connected to community.  It gives a renewed sense of appreciation for others and yourself.    It helps you feel connected to a broader purpose.   Enjoy your community celebrations.   Take a moment to acknowledge your value as a person, connect with your strengths and share.  Happiness comes from connection. 

Appreciate Nature

Take time to get out and appreciate nature.  As we enjoy the sun, the air, the blooming flowers and the trees, it helps us to slow down and become more grounded.  As we appreciate nature, we are reminded that we are a part of a much larger whole.   Nature can give us a sense of awe.  It helps us to reduce stress and put things in perspective. 


Can Everyone Be a Leader?

As we watch the news on the elections, it becomes clear.  The issues are complex.  No one approach has all the answers.  Often we look to leadership outside of ourselves to solve our problems.  There is no question that outside expertise is important.   Still, there is another kind of leadership, the kind that exists within you and me.  This kind of leadership may have more power than you think.

So often we see a leader as someone who has authority and control. Actually, leadership may have more to do with our self knowledge and personal integrity than getting others to agree. Then we lead by our example.  Knowing yourself and maintaining your values while staying connected to others is fundamental to our personal health and success at home and at work.  This, I believe, is true leadership. 

Within your contacts every day, someone could be watching you, closely observing your words and actions. Someone could be inspired by what you say and do. When you are aware of that influence and use it wisely, you are being a leader. Here are three tips for exploring this kind of leadership.

Celebrate Your Strengths

What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, build deep lasting relationships with others, feel pleasure, and contribute to the world?  What is it that allows you to develop a sense of well being?    We all have character strengths that empower our lives.  When you tap into your strengths, it leads to a solid foundation of self esteem and increases your optimism, enthusiasm, and joy.  Here are some ways in which they show up.

 Discover your Strengths

During the day, when do you feel the most strong, enthusiastic, and deeply absorbed in your work?  These are the times you are in your strengths.  Your strengths are the areas where you can become deeply engaged.  When you use your strengths more frequently, it increases your happiness, sense of well being, and joy.

The Eco Mind

Here in St. Louis, flowers are blooming and trees are budding.  We are celebrating the new growth of spring.   Just as we enjoy seeing the new life of spring, we also can celebrate new growth by expanding our ways of seeing the world.  I would like to share with you a new growth of that is emerging in a number of disciplines.  It is called the Eco Mind.

The Eco mind is a world view that looks at the world in relationship to everything else. It creates a more life-serving mental map than one that only focuses on completion for scarce physical resources. Breakthroughs are occurring in a range of disciplines are confirming the positive social aspects of ourselves.  We are complex human creatures with many sources of strength that enable us to cooperate and work together in the best interest of all rather than just to compete.

We all have core assumptions in how we view the world.  These assumptions, often hidden, determine what we see and what we do not. They are often based on outdated limited views of ourselves developed at an earlier time.  Upon reflection, we can change them.  This spring, consider expanding your view by developing your Eco Mind.      

Celebrating Change

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are in the middle of celebrating the fall harvest. We enjoy seeing the colors of the trees and the fruits of our hard work.  When I think of the harvest, I think of the successes I have seen in the couples and families with whom I work.  Every dream has seeding times, growing times, and harvesting times.

It is deeply gratifying to me to celebrate the harvest of families who have grown their relationships. This continues to be a source of inspiration, healing, laughter, and joy for me and helps to create the kind of caring community that is needed for well being and flourishing of everyone. I have discovered five well worth celebrating in creating 
successful change:  They are character, committment, connection, communication, and co-creative solutions.  Learn about these five aspects of change in my October newsletter.  Go to the seminars section and listen to the recording a lively teleconference on how these principles apply to your lives.

How to Be Emotional Strong - Tap Into Your Strengths of Character

Today, with the many changes in the economy, the loss of jobs, and the challenges of the weather, it is easy to become anxious and depressed.  The next series of posts look at the importance of cultivating your resources for


Saint Louis Confluence

Lifetree Solutions developed from a St. Louis confluence of several converging streams of thought. While the "Show-Me" state is often seen as conservative, it is also very much on the forefront of an emerging consciousness of greater prosperity and world peace. At the confluence of different ecological terrains, three major rivers, this area still carries influence of the ancient spiritual and cultural vortex of the Cahokia mounds. There's an integrative energy in the St. Louis area that cannot be missed.

Lifetree Solutions derives its spiritual inspiration from the major Christian traditions in addition to the influences of new spiritual thought and the intellectual questioning that is so vital in this part of the world. It is based on a broad perspective of evolutionary change and the shift in consciousness needed for planetary survival from the work of Institute of Noetic Sciences,the Gateway for Conscious Evolution, as well as the work on Femine Power.  Added to this is the recent work in Positive Psychology and on the evolutionary shift in relationships, all integrated within a broad "Map of Consciousness" developed by David Hawkins. The scientific combines with the spiritual by using an "Attractor Field Technique", for releasing negative energy. The continuing emergence of this new integrated consciousness is an exciting aspect of our work.

Becoming Resilient

LifeTree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.
October, 2010
 Becoming Resilient
 1.  Welcome
 2.  Becoming Resilient
 3.  Key Essentials for Change
 4.  Relationships Build Happiness
 5.  Announcements
 1.  Welcome
 Fall is here.  In the Midwest US, trees are displaying their beautiful red,
 yellow, and orange colors and the days are sunny and crisp. Autumn is one of
 my favorite seasons of the year.
 Autumn is a time of harvest.  This year's harvest has more people choosing
 life by questioning the cultural influences that have driven our behavior. 
 The old story of money and stuff as leading to happiness has lost its appeal.
 Now people are seeing it for what it is, a fabricated story developed by
 advertisers to get you to buy. It also is a story of corporate domination
 and exploitation. Rather than relying on Wall Street, people are now actively
 creating change on Main Street.
 I am very happy to see this. It awakens our capacity for cultivating real wealth
 -- healthy children, families, communities, and ecosystems. The need to question  our culture became very clear to me last June when once again I was doing an  investigation as an expert witness. In addition to working with individuals and  families who want to expand and grow, I am sometimes asked to do developmental  investigations for young adults in prison. 
 Their developmental histories shows a consistent pattern - troubled childhoods,  family disruption, little community support, gangs, drugs and alcohol, violence,  and crime.  Today, the United States has one of the highest crime rates in the world.  In our current days of mass incarceration, it has been estimated that one out of every 31 US adults in the justice system (Alexander, 2010).  This does not make me happy. The lioness within me began to roar. We have the information needed to do a better  job. While we cannot change the past, we can learn from this information how to create change for the future. I began coordinating information on our strengths.  A book is forthcoming.  Meanwhile, let me give you a few basics.
 2. Becoming Resilient
 Economist, David Korten recently came out with the new expanded edition of his book,  "Agenda for a New Economy." It is issued as a report for the New Economy Working Group.  In it Korten gives the rationale for the kind of change most likely to be successful.  The most critical change needs to come from the bottom up. When society is organized  by dominator systems, the impetus for change rarely comes from within.  It has to come from the people.
 Korten finds that that most successful projects do not come from a large,
 well organized plan.  Instead they come from the dedicated efforts of many people,  each finding the role that best uses his or her gifts and passions. 
 The connections are maintained by the framing ideas and mutually supportive
 relationships. The knowledge comes from the people's heads, that is, our heads,  not from outside experts. The challenge is to recognize, organize, and use it in  effective ways. New ideas gain traction depending on what works and what does not.
 3. Key Essentials for Change
 Korten believes a successful strategy for change has three key elements. The first  is to identify and question the stories driving our culture.  Exploitive dominator  structures are based on our culture's stories about who we are and the nature of man.  What is the story that the media is giving us?  Is it that we are hedonistic,  dependent, little beasties in need a strong leader?  Research gives a picture that  is quite different.  More and more it is showing that we are wired to care and connect; to create and to do.  We grow and develop in the context of our relationships.   Questioning our cultural stories is critical for change.  It happens as we individually engage in conversations in our neighborhoods, at our meet-ups, in our religious institutions, and in our families. Take time to question and decide what makes sense to you. 
 A second critical source of change is in the support we give to the businesses and  activities in our local communities.  You can have a significant impact by supporting your local farmers, shopping locally, and getting involved in initiatives for building  your neighborhoods. 
 The third way is to get engaged politically.  Gather information; talk with your
 neighbors, and work to elect leaders that will enact real policy changes. Be sure
 to vote.  All of this activity helps to create the kinds of change that supports life.
 4.. Relationships Build Happiness
 The good news is that these kinds of changes lead to increased happiness. More and  more research is showing the critical importance of our relationships to our happiness.  Last week a study by Wagner (2010) reported that people who decided to prioritize goals around good relationships and good health were happier, regardless of major  life events.  Those who focused primarily on being able to buy what they wanted or on being successful in their careers reported less happiness. 
 In this study, the less people were involved in relationships, the less happy they
 got.  The lesson is, if you want to be happier, consider changing your life goals.
 Concentrate on helping others, your relationships, and family, rather than on
 material possessions as a priority.  People who are active in their churches
 and communities and in social and political activities also report higher levels
 of life satisfaction.  Get involved.  Working to make a difference can give you
 internal rewards: A sense of satisfaction, connection with others, and a feeling
 of aliveness in creating an effect.
 5.  Announcements
 Upcoming Teleconference - I will be interviewed by Joe High, 4th Quarter Financial Coach, Tuesday, October 12, 2010 9:00-9:30 AM  Phone 218-548-0869, Access code 978836#
 Topic:  Put Your Relationships First:  Have a Healthy Financial Discussion with Your Spouse.
Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

 Alexander, M.  (2010) The New Jim Crow.  New York:  The New Press.
 Kasser, T. (2010) Making a Difference Makes You Happy.
 Korten, D. (2010)  Agenda for a New Economy:  From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, San Francisco, Ca:  Berrett,-Koehler Publishes, Inc.
 Wagner, Gert (10/4/2010) Happiness Levels Are Not Set in Stone.

Newsletter Name: 
Lifetree News

Holiday Gifts

Lifetree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.
December, 2009

Holiday Gifts

In This Issue:

1.  Welcome
2.  Holiday Gifts
3.  Making Your Gifts Special
4.  More Than Material Gifts, We Need Each Other
5.  Announcements

1.  Welcome

The holiday season is a time for giving, sharing, celebrating, and creating
new visions for the upcoming year. When you look over the last year, what
has touched you the most? How has this impacted your intentions for the next
year? What I received was better than I expected. It was the joy of seeing
the rebuilding of community and our relationships. A key to it is
appreciating the gifts we have of each other. This is the focus of this

As of last month, I have changed the name of my newsletter, Successful Relating, to LifeTree news, and have given it a new format.  I hope you like it.

2. Holiday Gifts

The Holidays are a time for sharing gifts. Often, we see gifts as material items
and search for the perfect one, only to feel tired and drained. Actually, far
more important than the material item is what it means to us. We want to express a grateful heart and love. There are many ways you can share with the loved ones in your life. This year, I encourage you to take a moment to discover the priceless gifts that have no price tag,and do not wear out. Even better, you can give them anytime, even at the last minute.

Gary Chapman, in his classic book, The Five Love Languages identified five
ways through which people share their care and good will. Their love language
is their primary way of expressing and interpreting love.

Here are the five love languages:

• Acts of Service
• Quality Time
• Words of Affirmation
• Receiving Gifts
• Physical Touch

The five languages of love can help you discover ways of sharing holiday cheer
that are special and unique for each person. Moreover, once you identify their
love language, you can continue to build on them throughout the year. Watch your
loved ones. See if you can determine the languages that resonate most with them.
If possible, ask them about their love languages. Then give a gift in that

Making Your Gifts Special

In order to make your gifts special, you want to observe your loved ones to
discover what they actually like. So many times, we give what we like, and assume they like the same. Actually, what they like may be very different. A gift is
appreciated more when it is special for them. Below are examples of how the love languages show up.

Acts of Service - First, check out if your loved ones enjoy acts of service as
a language of love. Do they like to do things for you and others? Then design
an act of service in their special area of giving. For example, if they enjoy
cooking, you might what to have a baking or a cooking party. Notice where your
loved one's seem most enthusiastic and engaged. Tell them what you appreciate. Another way can be helping out in the community by giving to a needy family, a neighbor, or to a food pantry. All of these celebrate your loved ones whose love language is acts of service.

Quality Time - Watch to see if your loved ones appreciate your undivided
attention. Then create a special time for them. Often quality time is not
considered, especially during the holiday season. Yet, you will find that
it is deeply appreciated and enjoyed. It could sharing a special meal, and
sharing your stories, or the photos of the times you have enjoyed. Being
there for this type of person is critical. The TV off, chores and tasks set
aside, is especially important for this person to feel special and loved.

Words of Affirmation - If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments
and encouragement can mean the world to you. You can see it in your loved ones by their response to your good words. If they smile and say how much they
appreciate it, it is a good clue that it is special for them. You can make
your appreciation special with a note or a poem describing what you have seen.
It is especially helpful when you are acknowledging their effort in completing
a difficult task. Notice how it builds your relationship and your joy of giving
and receiving love.

Receiving Gifts - Carefully selected material gifts can be deeply meaningful.
These gifts do not need to be pricy to become priceless. Much more than the
cost of a physical item is the thought and effort behind it. As we become
older the novelty of material items has often worn off. A meaningful gift
might be a special memento acknowledging your loved one. Or it may be a
material item they really enjoy or need. For young children, rather than
buying numerous toys, why not try a gift as such as blocks that stimulate
their creativity. Too many material items can inhibit children's attention,
whereas creative items builds their resourcefulness.

Physical Touch - Notice how your loved ones respond to physical touch. Then
give as you see appropriate. Some people are comfortable with open expressions of affection. Others may like affection that is more discrete. For example, a cool teenager might like a hug or an arm around the shoulder, as long as their friends are not looking. Little children often are more open in
receiving hugs. Tired adults might appreciate physical touch with a back rub,
a foot rub, or a coupon for a professional massage.

All of these ways are of sharing gifts that build our sharing and our
appreciation of each other.

More than Material Gifts, We Need Each Other

This last year we have seen the fallacy of an economy that places an emphasis
on materialism. It has not always served us. In the study of happiness, getting
more stuff has only a transient effect on our well-being. After the novelty of
material items wear off, real happiness and well being comes from our sense of community, working toward a higher purpose, and engaging our most prized and individual talents.

This holiday season, you might consider the gifts that are enduring,that have
no impact on our environment, and do not drain your pocket. Discuss it with you
loved ones, ask them what they would like. You may enjoy your material items
more, when they are continually balanced with the priceless ones.

5.  Announcements:

Women's Growth Group - Learn how to change your stress to success by discovereing what you really need and want.  Experience support from other women as we release old limiting relationship patterns.  This group will be held at 1:00 PM Saturday, January 30th at my office.  Email me for a flyer.

May You Have a Joyous Holiday Season,

Dr. Alice


Chapman, Gary.  The Five Love Languages. Chicago, IL:  Northfield
Publishing, 1995.

Newsletter Name: 
Lifetree News

A Good Laugh

Successful Relating
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D., Editor

October 2007

In This Issue:
1.  Welcome
2.  A Good Laugh
3.  The Hidden Secret 
4.  Announcements

1.  Welcome

Welcome friends.  Today, I would like to give you good laugh. It is a story I received from my colleagues, Judith and Jim. It won the prize for the worst first date on the Jay Leno Show. How can you capitalize on the positive on
that?  Here is a shortened version.  

2. A Good Laugh

A lady went on her first date with a fellow she had only recently met, skiing
in the mountains in Utah. It was extremely cold, so she warmed herself up with plenty of latte. At the end of the day, they were driving back down the mountain,
when the lady discovered she had to relieve herself.

They were at least a full hour from any sign of civilization, and there was no
gas station or restroom in sight.  Finally she convinced her new friend
that he would have to stop. She could not hold it any longer.

Her companion politely stood in front of the car to watch for oncoming cars. He
was most gentlemanly and was careful not to look. The slope was slippery so she stabilized herself by leaning against the fender. When she was done, while trying to recompose herself, she discovered that she had a new problem. Her buttocks were frozen to the fender.
Her date asked her, what was taking her so long, she answered saying she was "freezing her butt off" and needed some assistance. She tried to cover herself with her sweater, and, as she looked desperately into his eyes, he burst out laughing. As hysterical as the situation was, they realized that there was only one way to get her free.  He simply would have to "pee her off" (the fender).

The audience roared, and she won the prize, "pants down." Jay Leno’s comment…"This gives a whole new meaning to being pissed off.” Oh, and how did the first date turn out? The fellow became her husband, and he was sitting next to her at the show. For the full story go to

3. Turning the Negative Around

Now, how could such an embarrassing moment turn positive?  What was the hidden secret?  Can you discover it?  Apparently, they definitely had creativity, acceptance, humor, and a bit of persistence.  What would you say?  The woman
asked for help when she needed it.  Finding a solution together strengthened their bond. The point is, that with the right perspective almost every situation can be turned around. 

5. Announcements
If you could jump ahead a month and gain ten years of peace, health, and happiness, would you do it? Unfortunately, we cannot jump ahead. We can make breakthroughs.

On November 10, I will be giving a workshop, “The Hidden Secrets of Managing Stress.” I will give you the tools for managing eight core sources of stress so that you may discover experience more flow, joy, and meaning in your life.

Check it out at:

Overcome your challenges,  join us in the upcoming workshop.

Have a Great Day,

Dr. Alice
Presented by Alice G. Vlietstra.

Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating
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