Married, yet Self-Reliant equals Inspiring

You never know where you can get your inspiration.  In the New York Times today, was an article by Joyce Wadler She told the story of a woman who dreamed of her very own gingerbread house (gingerbread trimming on the house.) It told of her marriage and difficult financial problems, but mostly it was about a woman who relied on herself to get what she wanted out of life and didn’t depend on her husband for that. Instead she appreciated his contribution and enjoyed the things they had in common while respecting their differences. Check it out.  I found it inspiring.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/garden/24cottage.html?ref=garden. What are your thoughts?

10 Tips to Marriage Surviving and Thriving – Tip Two

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com” 

 Tip Two:    You don’t have to agree with each other

You don’t have to agree with each other. It is an unrealistic relationship expectation. People in a relationship do not have to have the same opinion on everything. This is very difficult for many people to wrap their minds around. How many times have I heard that “He’s a great guy, but he’s a Democrat/Republican and I’m not.”  I say, “ So what.”  It’s not about agreeing with each other; it’s about supporting each other. 

 You know, I really believe that bringing more couples to live and thrive with each other in love and respect is truly creating world peace one relationship at a time.  And here is where the rubber meets the road. 

It’s easy to get along with people you agree with  

It’s easy to get along with your twin that agrees with you on everything.  It’s a little more difficult to get along with other siblings that understand your history but don’t necessarily share your interpretation of that ‘history’. Friends are easier to get along with because you usually don’t live with them so it’s easier to avoid the issues that you disagree with.

 The challenge is to get along with people you don’t agree with

But a romantic relationship becomes so intimate that you frequently share your thoughts and outlooks that often diverge from each other.  Nathan will talk about government with anarchistic anger.  I’m more pragmatic and more inclined to think in terms of working within the system.   It took me quite a while to ‘allow’ him to have different thoughts from me—especially about the kids. 

 Never mind what other people think of your partner’s opinions

I’ve observed that some of the issue with differences of opinions is connected with our friends and family and being acceptable to them— including  our partner being acceptable to them.  So his opinions, we fear, will make our important people think less of us, ourselves–as if they can’t separate him form us. I have not been above such thinking.  Fortunately, I’ve come to the point that whatever my friends or family think of his rantings, so be it–in fact, he’s not ranting so much these days.  My only caveat for my sweetheart is that I don’t want to be the dumping ground for his harangues. I give him a few minutes time limit, and then he has to talk about a specific plan he has or wrap it up.

 But for sure we don’t agree.  I really think that his different approach to some things is part of his attraction.  I’m sure you’ve heard that the very trait that attracts us to someone is the trait that drives us crazy. ‘Too much of a good thing’, as they say.

 Try this at home

So let your partner be who he is, believing what he does.  And next time, you get into a discussion, simply say, “I see your point of view.”  No arguing, simply respecting his perspective. Try it out and let me know what happens.

My next 3-Step Transform your Relationship Experience tele-class begins April 5

If you are a woman around 30-55, blaming your husband for your unhappiness, but not wanting to divorce—at least not yet, have I got a course for you.  My 3-step Transform your Relationship Experience course starts the first Monday of every month.  The next class begins April 5. To find out details for my next training, click http://budurl.com/tyret.



10 Tips to Marriage Surviving and Thriving-Tip One

"Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com"

Ten Tricks are too many to absorb at one time, so here’s one trick for today.

Stay tuned as I unfold the rest of the ten in the coming days.

 Trick Number One: No name calling. 

No name calling no matter how innocuous. There is no right way to call your beloved a name.  There is no voice sweet enough, there is no joke funny enough to warrant calling your loved one “an idiot”, not even “you cute idiot”, definitely not “you dumb dodo bird.”  And, of course, if you curse it’s one thing, but absolutely NO name calling curses.

 My hubby is about as good natured as they come, although you might not know it if you catch him in the middle of a tirade. However, he has his limits and boundaries.  Very early on, he made it perfectly clear that name calling was a Deal Breaker.  And his flashing eyes was his exclamation point.

I came from a family that weren’t big name callers, but an occasion one could be sacrificed on the alter of clever sarcasm. 

Nathan response. NO NO NO NO.  Since it was clearly a deal breaker; I acquiesced.  Best move I ever made. 

 Even the funniest, cutest name that s/he doesn’t mind (or says s/he doesn’t mind) is progressively demoralizing.  And it will show up somewhere/somewhere else, maybe the very first nail your relationship coffin.

 If you have a hard time breaking the habit, I have a suggestion.  Everytime, he hear yourself about to say “you idiot”, change it to “you fabulous person”.  What’s good about this is that it keeps the integrity of your conversation cadence. In other words, you are used to calling him something. Fine. Simply call him something nice. 

Try it. Make it a game. Include him in the game. Include the kids or not.  Anyway you do it, it will work. And then get back to me and let me know your results so I can be happy for you.

 If you are a woman around 30-55, blaming your husband for your unhappiness, but not wanting to divorce—at least not yet, have I got a course for you.  My 3-step Transform your Relationship Experience course starts the first Monday of every month.  To find out details for my next training, click  http://budurl.com/tyret.  Check it out now.

Challenge of Imperfection in a Relationship

I was having lunch with 2 of my friends, recounting an incident from the night before. 

Here’s the incident: I walked into the den from my office. Nathan was watching television.  I started speaking to him.  He put the TV on mute to listen to me. I told him that my usb hub was broken and I needed a new one. He said okay, he’ll buy me one tomorrow; is that okay?  I stood there silently, thinking in my head that that wasn’t okay.  I wanted to go out tonight and buy one.  I said nothing. 

He looked at me.  I said “And when are we having dinner?”

Communication is MORE than Words

There was nothing in my tone, but there was something in my demeanor, even I’m starting to notice it. He said let me watch the news first, and then I’ll take care of everything.  I stood there.  He said, “I’ll record the news and watch it later.”

Dang, he just scored a Homerun. There is a way I get that I’m only recently acknowledging that Nathan has learned to recognize and respect.  It is the calm before the storm, or the earthquake or the volcanic eruption. For a good natured, happy person, I can really go ‘off’ occasionally.

 Relationship Challenge: When your Spouse knows you Too Well

Nathan used to tell me, “Oh you’re just hungry” or “oh you’re gonna get your period soon.” That’s all I needed to hear. I would go ballistic. After a few times, I finally realized that he was always right about his predictions, and, more importantly, so what. . And he also learned a brilliant behavior. He learned not to say his predictions out loud. He simply attends to me.

He’s getting so good at that, and I’m finally relaxing enough to allow for my own imperfections, as I watch the scenario plays out.

 It was Annoying that He was Right and I was Wrong

This evening, he said, gentle as can be, after pushing ‘record’ on the TV remote control, “Let’s go and see if we can fix the USB hub.” He asked me a bunch of questions about what I had checked.  I had checked. Then he said let’s try the printer that’s connected; if that works then the hub is healthy.  “Turn the printer off and on again.”  I did.  And, of course, then the printer worked. The hub was deemed healthy.  It was annoying that he was right and I was wrong, but, like a fine, expensive wine, I’ve mellowed with age.  It was relieving that I could solve the problem without going out in the rain.

 He Didn’t Gloat

He didn’t gloat or make a fuss. He just announced that he was going to the kitchen to make dinner, and it would be ready very soon.  If I wanted, I could come and set the table.

Eruption averted.  What’s amazing is that now, as I am also a reporter observing dispassionately (a technique I teach in my course), I can  notice the change in my body.  There’s a tension that I had that went away when I was ‘heard’, ‘attended to’, ‘cared for.’

 Being an Imperfect Spouse is Very Scary

 I was relating all of this to my girlfriends.  In the discussion that ensued, I realized that being told how I am, no matter how true and how innocuous, is really saying that I’m not perfect.  And not being perfect is very scary unless you/I am very secure. Otherwise, I think somewhere deep inside, beyond reason and good sense, that I am not good enough, that he will leave me. 

 It is such a relief to have faced that demon and faced him down.  I can be imperfect.  I can let my husband see my imperfection. And I can give him implicit permission to deal with my imperfection in his loving gentle effective way. Wow, and I get taken care of. 

 Guys Love to Fix Things

And the bonus for him is that guys love to fix things, and that’s what he did—big time.

 Let me tell you, when I got married, “being taken care of” was a dirty phrase.  I was independent.  I could take care of myself. Don’t even open the door for me. Life to me was a test and asking for help was cheating. School definitely did not prepare me well for life. It’s finally getting through to me that all of life is relationships, and all of relationships is mutually taking and being taken care of.  And isn’t that simply grand.

 The other amazing thing to me is that so much of my previous anger at him was my own insecure feelings that I displaced to him.  How often is that true in relationships?  Is that true in your relationship?  Are you willing to expose your imperfections, your insecurities, so that your spouse can care for you?  How does it play out in your relationship?  Write me and let me know.  Write here on the blog if you would.  Or you can email me if you prefer.  I’m interested to know your experiences – and your questions.


A Valentine’s Eve Real Relationship Experience

I wrote this in hopes that it may encourage the disillusioned.

Nathan and I are definitely poster children (poster adults?) for quiet joy of happy company. And so I wrote……

It’s February 13, the eve to Valentine’s Day.  Ahhhh, it’s so romantic.  Now, for Real Life.

Over-romanticized versus Romantic

I believe that many people have an over-romanticized view of married life.  That’s so sad, because, it can never meet their expectations and then they feel that they have failed.  Not so, only unrealistic expectations. Stuff happens. It happens to us all. It’s not a about smoothly dancing through life it’s about dancing around all that gets in your way—-gracefully with good cheer.

Let me give a slice out of my very happy married life that isn’t typically “romantic” —- not even smooth or without disappointments.  Here is goes:

My cousin in-law wanted to show her mother (in town from the East Coast) Nathan’s art work.  So we invited them for dinner.  How lovely — of me to invite them when Nathan is the cook. He is always so good natured about my volunteering his chef services.

Last-Minute Cancellation

It was 4:30pm when we got the call that Mom had wrenched her back and had to be sitting on the plane for 6 hours tomorrow on the way home.  Dinner cancelled. Oh no, the smells were already wafting through the house: Eggplant parmesan, roasted little potatoes, already in their big casserole dishes.   Did I mention I was already getting hungry?

I called our son. Did he want to come over? No. I couldn’t think of anyone else to call so late.

I said: “Stop the cooking and we’ll worry about it tomorrow.  Do you want to go to the movies?”

He said: “Yes, I really want to see the Hurt Locker; it got great reviews.”

I think: “Oh, no, I don’t want to see that–too much violence.”

He said: “How about Inglorious Bastards?”

I think: “This is not going well.”

I’m ready to give in and see the Hurt Locker, but the pain onmy face must have been too clear and Nathan said he didn’t want to go to the movies tonight.

See, this is real life

Shall we eat in or go out?  This was a question that I could answer–easily.

I said, “We need to go out.”

He said: Okay, I want to go to the 8oz Burger Bar on Melrose. What a relief. It was something he wanted that I have resisted. I’m not a burger kind of gal, usually. Nathan wanted to try their veggie burger.

We went.  We shared a veggie burger and garlic potato fries, and I got grilled artichoke and delicious broccoli to round out the meal with a glass of sauvignon blanc to share.

The music was too loud. The restaurant was clearly going for the under 35 crowd. Nathan and I must have raised the average age by 10, maybe 20, maybe more years.

Food, the Important Stuff

Definitely the Way to my Heart is Through my Stomach.

The food was delicious. They always say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and that’s how it works for me as well.  Food calms me down and a bit of wine heightens my mood. If I have to choose between the food or the wine, food will win every time, unless I just ate.  It’s almost Valentine’s Day; see how romantic I get.

Afterwards, we went for a walk along Melrose to walk off the food..  It was more lively this evening, cause it was before 8pm and the stores were open. We went into Wasteland, a large, trendy store of retro clothing to browse. The store was definitely not making money from us. What I saw  that I liked wasn’t even for sales; it was an interesting partition made of wooden hangers—very cool.

We kept walking and passed a store called Street Sounds, 7704 Melrose Ave, the second DJ shop in Southern California. There was a T shirt in the window that said “I  (pix of) heart, (pix of) house, (pix of) musical notes–(I love house music).  It’s the ‘house’ that didn’t make sense, so I went into the store (empty at the moment) and asked the owner what it meant.  Apparently there is a musical genre called house music. Okay, so we’re out of touch.  We ended up having a wonderful conversation with this man who is of  the Bahai faith from Iran –coming about 30 years ago to go to college here. We got his whole story and Nate amused him with this standard stories.

Repetition Proves my Membership in the Nostalgia Club

You know after 42 years married, I’ve stopped even counting how many times I’ve heard the same story.  It used to bother me as repetitive and boring, but now I am bemused by it as predictability and like a secret handshake that I know.

We walked back to our car and went home.  At home, we each went to our own computer to check our email. Now that’s a real Valentines’ Eve.  Enough time with you, now I’m heading into the other room.  “Nathan, here I come.”

What Do You Think?

Do you have any experience with letting go of your expectations of your partner and your overly romaticized view of relationship and life in general. ? I’d love to hear your success stories!

I welcome you to leave your comments on this blog post!

A Great Relationship in Silhouette

 Some things are simply typical and others are even more typical.  My colleague Jay Aaron asked me for a picture of Nathan and me facing each other.  We could use it on the website.  We could use the silhouette as a logo.  We could do a bunch of things for the website.

When Partners Do What They Do                                                                                                       

After all, with “3-step Transform your Relationship” course, I want to create a more purposeful web presence. And I like the idea of having me and my husband as an example of what’s possible between couples and as an example of what the ImperfectSpouse.com Web site is designed to achieve.

Some Things Are Simply Typical….

Nathan (my hubby), who is an artist photographer, wouldn’t take the time or effort to set up a tripod and take our picture together. Instead he set me up sideways against the white background (the kitchen cabinets) to take my photo, and then he had me take a similar picture of him.

This was Nathan’s way of doing things. Instead of arguing, I just went along. After all, it might work. I’ve learned it’s not about getting what you want; it’s about the cost of getting what you want. When the price is too high, I don’t always want it. It’s not about making him happy; it’s about having a very clear sense of what makes ME happy.  Right now, we were in a good mood, having a good time, and didn’t want to ruin that ambiance. Besides, I wasn’t sure we’d use the pix for a logo anyway.

After we shot the pictures, Nathan went into his studio. Alone with his computer, he did his magic, and voila our two pictures became a single picture of us both looking in the direction of each other.

Actually I thought those pictures came out okay.  It was interesting to see that he had my head ever so slightly higher than his, when I’m definitely shorter than he. He said it was his artistic license.  I took it as a compliment.

…And Other Things Are Even More Typical

The silhouetted profiles didn’t seem to match in emotion. I was laughing (surprise, surprise) and he wasn’t. In retrospect that may be representative.

Nathan does laugh. In fact, he is always saying to me, “Don’t make me laugh.”  He doesn’t really mean don’t make him laugh. He really means to say, “I wasn’t planning on laughing at this moment and I’m taken by surprise.”  But he’s not a smiley kind of guy. Even when he’s being silly, he’s not actually laughing, he’s making silly faces.  I’m the one who’s laughing. That’s always been my job. Keep ‘em laughing. I was the official court jester as a child in my family. That was my role.

The Value of Outside Input

When I sent the pictures to Jay, he pointed out that the combined image didn’t seem to work. It wasn’t that my and Nathan’s emotions didn’t match; it was that we weren’t actually looking into each other’s eyes and relating to one another. Jay said we seemed like two people looking out into space, with someone else’s disembodied head in front of us. Yikes!

The purpose of this image is to give people a sense of the RESULTS of the “Imperfect Spouse System.” If what Jay saw was what other people would see, this first attempt didn’t work. But the idea still might be a good one.

Besides, apparently Nate didn’t save the picture, so I can’t even show it to you.

Control and Change What You Can – Yourself!

Okay, let’s try this again.  While my son was over for dinner with his girl, I had him take pictures of us, but Nathan was insistently silly—passive-aggressively resistant.

Well, it’s part of my own Transform you Relationship Course, that you can’t change or control anyone else, least of all your stubborn husband.  My husband will spend many hours in the day, thinking and doing what will make me happy, but he will not do what he doesn’t want to do, so get over it and move on.

That’s why I’ve changed what I CAN change – myself. I no longer expect Nathan to do what he determines he doesn’t want to do. Heck, we paid an agent to sell his artwork and Nathan wouldn’t do the artwork or use the color palette that the agent requested. We let the agent go; it was a waste of money to try to get Nathan to do anything that he didn’t want to do, no matter what a “good idea” it was.  ( Don’t look; he doesn’t have his site on the web yet. That will come some time this year.)

When you Can’t Get What You Want…

I can control myself and my own expectations and my own reactions and responses, and I do. I laughed and had a good time.  Based on, when you can’t get what you want, you might as well have fun with what you get.

All’s Well That Ends Well

But, get this epilogue….

Later that same evening, he was helping me clean up from dinner with the kids. He looked at me and said that there were two times particularly  (at breakfast and when I’m sleeping) that he looks at me and says to himself that he is the luckiest man in the world to have me, to live with me.

That’s a man for you—drive you crazy then melt your heart.

Postscript

The pictures my son took of Nathan and me together weren’t the best pictures of us. But they’re better than the first attempt, because they show us more like we truly are when we interact with one another.100_0261

I don’t know if we’ll use this second set of pictures for the ImperfectSpouse.com logo, but they’ve already served their purpose. “Proof of concept” for my business, and here they are, already being used on the ImperfectSpouse.com Web site as the catalyst for this article post!

What Do You Think?

Do you have any experience with letting go of your expectations of your partner and allowing him to just be who he is and act like he acts, without triggering you? I’d love to hear your success stories!

And I’d love to know what you think about our photo. Does it bring up a feeling inside you about the kind of relationship that you’d like – the kind of relationship that Nathan and I share? Please leave your comments on this blog post!


Balance your Life and your Relationship

Amazing Woman's Day Logo 2010You know, I’m doing so much to prepare for Marsh Engle’s Amazing Woman’s Day on January 30, 2010 since I’ve been chosen at one of the Amazing Woman’s Alliance Power 100, that I have to make sure that I spend enough time with my hubby.

I’m excited about being a Feminine Leader (as opposed to a Masculine Leader—sorry couldn’t resist it) and will host a table and lead a break-out session.  Being at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills will be fun, and having my step-daughter visiting from New Hampshire and attending is an awesome bonus.

Barnsdall Art Center is a great Hidden Treasure in Los Angeles

Anyway, so I took time this morning to help him with his interest.  Nathan is president of BACSAC, oh help me, I have to remember what that stands for.  Okay, let’s see—Barnsdall Art Center Student  Assoc Committee, or something close to that.

Today was registration for the winter class and 250 people registered for classes.  Some classes, ceramics and jewelry, were maxed out.  Since becoming President, Nathan has a charming paternal interest in the smooth running of all events.  For registration, they have city employees and regular volunteers that do a fine job. And the new treasurer was there pitching in and up to speed as this was her second registration already.

What/Who’s more important at this moment?

It’s one of those situations.  I would have rather been home working on my class worksheets for my Monday 3-steps to Transform your Relationship telecourse.  Check out http://imperfectspouse.com/3-step-telecourse. Or I’d rather be working on my breakout session for Amazing Woman’s Day.

But it would seem inappropriate to be refusing to help my husband (and he doesn’t ask that often) so that I could be writing about great relationships.  The irony was not lost on me so I yielded, waking up at the ridiculously early time of 7am — and even did so reasonably pleasantly.  (Nathan can be so sensitive when I have a snotty attitude.)

Hidden Bonuses of Being Nice to Your Partner

Actually, when I think about it, forcing yourself to spend time with your spouse even when you have important things to do, could be one of the big bonuses of married (or connected) life.  It makes for at least some balance in your life.  Another person in your life, living with you lets you know that they have the right to spend some time with you.  So I know to pull back my focus enough to sure that I get him in the picture. The bonus for me is that I think I become a better person when I’m not so turned into myself, and I get me best thoughts when I’ve changed my mental scenery.

Also, I think in retrospect that I discuss maybe just one thing that is bothering me each car ride or urban walk that with Nate. We

Out to Dinner at Jerry's

Out to Dinner at Jerry's

went out to dinner tonight, because he didn’t feel like cooking.  (Yes, I know that I am truly blest.) So I was saying about having sometimes what seems like the smallest things that roam around in my head until I make a decision. This time it was which eye doctor should  I go to for my next eye exam. (Well, I had a couple of docs in mind and each had positives and negatives.) This helping me make these decisions isn’t something that I would notice as much if I weren’t teaching this course, but bringing it to consciousness, I truly value it.  He’s  learned to be a great sounding board. Thank you Nathan.

Good Deeds are Rewarded

Oh, and great postscript, while I was helping out at registration, a gentleman asked if I were teaching a course. I said,”No.” He said, “Oh, well if you were, I would register for that class.”  Providence rewarding my good deed.


There’s a Place for Apologies in a Great Relationship

I finished the second class of my second class at around 6:30pm.  As you probably know by now, I’m teaching the Three-Step to Transforming your Relationship Experience course starting the first Monday of each month.

The next 3-Step “Transform Your Relationship Experience” TeleCourse begins February 1, 2010. Check it out and register here:

http://ImperfectSpouse.com/3-step-telecourse

I’ll have to apologize later, when I have time

So as I was saying, I was finished my teleclass and I had to cross off the next thing on my ‘to do’ list.  I had to go apologize to Nathan for being in such a snit before the class.  The printer wouldn’t work and I couldn’t print out the script to my class and Nathan was nonchalantly opening the mail and making comments—-that required thoughtful answers.  There was less and less rope and the end on my tether.

After he did get my script printed, I suggested that I needed to concentrate on what I would be teaching FULLY – without distraction or interruption.  I was basically a calm communicator, but definitely Not pleasant.  He did get the hint and left, closing the door after exclaiming that he didn’t do anything wrong and that I shouldn’t be angry at him.  I explained that I wasn’t upset at him; I was just upset. I apologized but with that same edge because I was still agitated. He left; I was relieved.  I couldn’t be nasty if there was no one to be nasty to.

You know one of the things that I teach is that when we women (and men) are unhappy — or tense, or worried—and we blame it on our spouses and our relationships, we are externalizing.  We need to turn that feeling and point it back to ourselves.  So I did know that Nathan was just trying to help, wanting to enjoy my company, and all the negative emotion was completely generated by me—and I can be very good at that.

I took responsibility for my own grouchy behavior Read the rest of this entry »

I Made a Relationship Choice

First, click the “3-Step TeleCourse link at the top of this Web site and sign up for “Transform your Relationship Experience”  TeleCourse

Nathan and I went for a walk on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywooe, down where Chin Chin is. We passed a store window with a mannequin  dressed in elegant Elizabethan attire. The entire outfit was made of recyclables—plastic bags, paper, batteries, etc. Very, very clever.  Then on a small sign it listed all the things that were represented as recyclables.

I said, “Hangers. See, I told you hangers are recycled.”  (He gets his shirts laundered and put on hangers.  He always puts the hangers in the trash.  I even brought up a separate trash can to the bedroom for the hangers and other recyclables. He got confused about which was which, and hence ignored it completely. Read the rest of this entry »

Name Calling is a Relationship Deal Breaker

With 42 years of marriage, we’ve gone through some rough spots.  But some things actually started out at the front of the line. One incredibly important deal-breaker was name calling.  My sweet easy-going (not necessarily easy to get along with) husband came with only 2 requirements:

  1. If at all possible that we get custody of his 2 children (8 & 13) and
  2. No name-calling—not in a joke, not in a double-entendre, not in a clearly sarcastic remark, not ever.  It’s the only time I saw that flash of “Don’t mess with me or I’m outta here —now.”  He meant business!

I came from the heart of sarcasm land. My mother would say the most outrageous thing in complete seriousness until I got completely hysterical and then announce she was kidding – and not a moment before my hysteria.  She told my brother to call me Fatty, because she thought it would motivate me to lose weight.  I am serious.

And she loved me.  True, she wasn’t mature in every area of her life.

So not saying a funny, sarcastic, but insulting name as a joke was really hard for me.  I would declare, “Oh for heaven’s sake, you’re brilliant, Nathan. Clearly I’m only kidding when I call you ‘Stupid’.”  Apparently, he didn’t get it. Read the rest of this entry »

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