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My birthday on Dog Island

I spent my birthday last month on an island in the Gulf of Mexico, and did yoga two days in a row outside on a screened porch listening to ocean waves a few hundred yards away. I smelled pine trees and saw bushes in bloom, instead of smelling the carpet my dog spends his days on and gazing out on the Midwest gripped in the worst winter in a generation. I felt soft breeze and sunshine on my skin and  even had to move into the shade, wore shorts and a tank top all day and got just enough sun…

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Travel Day 1: 2 hours from Heathrow

My favorite author, Alain de Botton, hooked me good with his book: On love. With the second one I read, The art of travel, I was a fan for life. He’s a sharp observer who mixes his academic specialty of philosophy into everyday life with such a light, witty hand that I’ve learned to go anywhere with him. I’ve read probably 10 of his books and loved, or at least liked, them all.

So I grabbed up The art of travel for a second read on my way to the airport. This trip is different than any I’ve taken and…

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Financial advice for Valentine’s Day

I have arrived at some financial advice for new couples with plans to be long-term, whether nearlywed, newlywed,  or otherwise recently hitched. It’s two words: Stay together. There are corollaries to that prime directive that my own observation and systematic research have shown are closely related:  Live within your means. Stay employed (not always under your control). Save, save, save: for rainy days, for education, for retirement. Have insurance (again, not always an option). But whenever possible without completely sacrificing all happiness, stay together.

              I reached this groundbreaking conclusion during a conversation I recently had with my spouse of 32…

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I’m a lifer

A live-your-best-life website sent me this suggestion: Remember a smell or taste that brings back a happy memory for you. What is the smell, and how does it make you feel?

I knew right away: Honeysuckles in late August in south Texas, walking through my neighborhood in the (relative) cool of the evening, feeling the excitement of a new school year about to start.  I will begin my 37th year as a teacher two weeks from today, and the excitement is just as delicious as when I was 10. There’s some dread – the workload will bring sleep deprivation and…

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Learning - and teaching - to see

“What’s going on here?”

That was posed as a central question in a course called Frame Analysis that I took from my mentor and spirit guide Robert Hopper around 1980. The idea was that we humans all need to have some idea of an answer to that to move from one situation to the next. The framing we learned about in that course was the kind that happens in conversation: how we know someone is joking, flirting, getting angry, taking charge, and so forth. I’ve studied and taught around the edges of those issues ever since.

Soon I’ll teach a…

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if you think life is unfair -

Try death.

I know that sounds bleak, but it’s been that kind of week. Last week was that kind of week on a national level, between Alton, Philandro and Dallas. Then it became that week locally, when a 52 year old mother of four had a semi-freak accident on Saturday, wrote cheery Facebook updates well into Sunday afternoon, then died Sunday night. This was someone whose smile was the first thing you saw when you came into the room, the person whose eyes truly did seem to sparkle all the time, the one guaranteed to make you laugh within five…

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National Bad Boyfriends Day

It may sound self-centered to declare this National Bad Boyfriends Day when the reason for the declaration is that my two bad boyfriends happened to share this day as their birthday, but hear me out. The two of them shared other things, though they never met:  They were both addicts, and they were both emotionally abusive. They both told me what a sorry excuse for a woman I was, and I believed them for far too long. It took a long time and a lot of therapy to get past what they told me, and that can still bubble up in certain…

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Better than a movie

Christmas weekend seems to lead to observations of family life, a time-out pulse-taking every year. This year, mine is grounded in a sweetly recent memory: a candlelit dinner I got to treasure a few weeks ago with a family that is at the same relational stage mine is. The parents are in their fifties, as Spouse and I are.  Their children are late 20’s - early 30’s, as ours are. Each of their offspring now has a partner defined as permanent, or likely to be so. One difference is that both of my children are married to their partners:  “American…

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Language Use Pet Peeve 2015

I try not to throw stones. As one who uses up a lot of language in a day, I know I live in a filigree crystal house.

But honestly.

“Does that make sense?” seems like a harmless enough utterance. And it would be, if used literally and thus sparingly, only when checking for actual coherence.  Does my proposed action (or perhaps one I have done in the past and just told you about) cohere with other actions?  Does the story I’m telling hang together so that you know who the characters are and what the details mean? Does the argument…

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Making sense?

There was a tragedy in my Midwestern town last night, the kind you may hear about (or not) on the national news. Senseless and brutal and  worst of all, the same kind of thing we hear on the news almost every week. A security guard at the mall a few miles from here was fired from his job, went home for his gun, came back to the mall and shot a 20 year old woman three times in the back, and she died. He ran, but was caught a short time later on the freeway out of town. The story…

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A beach house that survived the hurricanes - so far

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Kristine Muñoz

Curriculum Vitae




Interpersonal Communication