Monday, February 29, 2016

Our Lady of Malibu School: First Malibu School for Peer Mediation

Our Lady of Malibu School (OLM) is the first school in Malibu to offer Peer Mediation as an elective to their students.  Principal Michael Smith, who has a background in mediation, was instrumental in organizing this peace-making program in collaboration with Pepperdine University and Dr. Amora

Fisher, a Pepperdine Straus student who developed this Peer Mediation program as a Justice for Youth program.   I had the honor to be part of this wonderful program right from the start, helping with implementation and teaching the class for 12 weeks.  

It was an amazing experience for me to work with OLM’s wonderful, smart, and talented students. They were open to learning peace-making skills and committed to being the peer-mediators for the school.  We had six graduates of the first program. Our Lady of Malibu School plans to offer the elective next year as well.

The school also had a contest open to all OLM students to come up with an art piece in any form st, 2nd and 3rd prizes. 
(painting, drawing, statue, poem, etc.), to show the peace-making idea behind mediation.  Three students from grades 6 through 8 won 1

I have enjoyed watching the students grow from this experience. OLM has reported   fewer struggles among the students since the program was initiated.  Principal Smith has said that it has been good exposure for the whole school as well as all the students who took the 12-week course.  The graduates of this program at OLM are now Peer Mediators who are available to resolve any small disputes among other students in the school.

We have had a few successful peer-mediations observed by the course instructors and other OLM teachers.  I continue to be available to OLM School to assist with mediations that might need a little more work than what a peer-mediator can handle.

I am at school three days a week, working with the principal and the teachers to encourage, facilitate and find solutions for better communication and acceptance between students.

Amora Fisher holds monthly peace circles to encourage and facilitate the same peace-making skills among the students, staff and parents.

I am very excited to be part of a program where we teach young children to choose alternative dispute resolution through peace-making skills instead of anger and violence.  I am very proud to be part of OLM School as they introduce and use mediation within their school and our small and wonderful Malibu community.

Photo Caption:  Top Left, from left - Veera Mahajan, Anjoulie Kempton, Nicole Reynaga, Principal Michael A. smith, Calvin Joyce, Eliza Byrnes, Amalie Kempton, Liam Fox and Dr. Amora Fisher.

Photo Caption: Middle Right, from Left - Peace Contestant winners, Addy Arlidge, Chase Freeman and Eliza Byrnes.


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Monday, February 22, 2016

Mediate, Be Civil, Be Happy!!

Let me share a simple example of a dispute that involved several parties. There is one plaintiff and her lawyer.  She is suing several different parties.  Her lawyer is trying to get money from wherever she can, and hoping to get a lot of money from each one of the defendants.   Sadly, the lawyer is not very well prepared to present her case. She is not even sure of the laws that she claims the defendants broke. She is not willing to hear any explanation from the defendants or to negotiate at all.

Worse yet, the lawyer is letting her client believe that she has a great case and that she is entitled to
win a lot of money. She’s handling this case on contingency and letting the client believe that she has nothing to lose, but she is not preparing her client for the possibility she may lose the case in court and the judge may find her responsible for all lawyer fees for all of the defendants. And we all know that is not cheap.

Unless you have a clear-cut case and you know you are going to win in court, I suggest going to mediation and saving yourself time and money, and saving very expensive court time that taxpayers pay on your behalf.  Mediation is especially important if you wish to salvage any business or personal relationships, rather than fight in court and say and do things that you can’t take back.

The best part is mediation is a win-win strategy. You are not leaving your fate in the hands of a third party like an arbitrator or a judge. You can practice your negotiation skills and mutually agree on what you can pay and accept.  You can use the help of a trained mediator to help you navigate through this wonderful process of resolving disputes in a civil manner.  Also, know that you don’t lose anything by trying the mediation process.  Everything said or disclosed in the mediation is held confidential by all parties and cannot be used in court if you are unable to resolve your disputes in mediation and have to go back to court.

At least you know you tried your best to resolve your disputes peacefully.  Statistics show that most people who go through mediation end up resolving their conflicts and come out happier that they chose this alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method. 

Disputes are a common and normal part of life.  With all the people we deal with everyday in business and/or in personal matters we are bound to have conflicts. How we deal with these disputes and the people we are in conflict with is most important. It does not help anyone if we threaten to take everyone to court every time we have a problem.  Let’s try to resolve our disputes in a loving and friendly manner. Let’s call for mediation instead of yelling, “I will sue you” or “See you in court.”

Please see this handy little chart (from for all the reasons why mediation is better.  I am not saying this just because I am a mediator. I have tried and experienced mediation. I am going through mediation now. Believe me, it works and saving relationships is the added benefit. Relationships can even improve when you are civil to each other and try to listen to each other.

Be peaceful! Be happy!



Monday, February 15, 2016

Being grateful for the life we have!

I am always working on making myself a better person. I sometimes follow the example of the idols I respect and learn from, but I am always grateful for the life I have. 

I received this beautiful poem from a friend this morning reminding me how important it is to be grateful and peaceful in our life instead of complaining and thinking someone else has it better. You never know what is happening in someone else’s life. Everyone has his or her own story.

The Poem:

Sometimes you are unsatisfied with your life,
While many people in this world are dreaming of living your life.

A child on a farm sees a plane fly overhead and dreams of flying,
But, A pilot on the plane sees the farmhouse and dreams of returning home.

That’s life! Enjoy yours…

If wealth is the secret to happiness, then the rich should be dancing on the street.
But only the poor kids do that.

If power ensures security, then officials should walk unguarded.
But those who live simply, sleep soundly.

If beauty and fame bring ideal relationships,
Then celebrities should have the best marriages.

Live simply, walk humbly and Love genuinely….
All good will come back to you….



Monday, February 8, 2016

My exciting and humbling trip to India

I went on the long trip to my birth land because the NRI Welfare Society of India invited me for the Hind Rattan Award. I also wanted to take this opportunity to talk about my passionate purpose and desire to eradicate domestic violence through my book, Learning to L.I.V.E.
(L to R) Vijay Sampla, Minister of
Social Justice and Veera Mahajan

Hence the journey started. I packed my bags with clothes, shoes and toiletries for a 12-day trip. I also packed a lot of books and magazines. I was receiving the award for my work with Malibu Chronicle, so of course I needed enough copies of those to share, and for show and tell.  Since I was there I wanted to find any other possible opportunities for the growth and celebrity of my favorite publication!

The program was very well organized.  I had the opportunity to meet and have conversations with dedicated organizers, many honorable dignitaries and wonderful and successful delegates from around the world. We had many formal events where we heard about all the positive things India is doing to make NRIs (non-resident Indians) feel comfortable to come back to visit and do business in India, or to collaborate with Indian companies. Also, it was exciting to see how people from India (like myself) are creating history and doing wonderful work around the world.  In case you didn’t know, I am the only person (male or female) of Indian origin in the United States to ever own and run a mainstream magazine like Malibu Chronicle.  I am very proud of it. It’s great to see that India appreciates and is proud of what I’m doing.  It was an honor to be called for the Hind Rattan Award in New Delhi, India along with a few very accomplished Indians around the world.

After the award ceremony, we as a group went to Jaipur.   On our way, we took a little detour to go to Agra for Taj Mahal.  There is nothing that can compare to Taj.  If you go to India, you have to see The Taj, the white marble temple with the tomb inside. It tells the story of the love of a 17th century king for his beloved wife.  I am amazed how much talent India has and had centuries ago. Jaipur is the pink city and has amazing architecture.  As we traveled, I noticed that, while poverty was still evident, people were not begging. Instead, the cities were vibrant with people selling products and food everywhere. I definitely want to go back with my sons one day.

Towards the end of my trip, I was able to go to Haridwar and Rishikesh, holy cities only a few miles away from where I was born. In Rishikesh, I walked on a hanging bridge over the river Ganga that I remembered walking on with my father when I was eight years old.  He crossed the entire bridge with his eyes closed because he was afraid of heights, but he still went with us.

It was nice to go back for business and for personal reasons.
On Lakshman Jhoola (hanging bridge) over river Ganga in Rishikesh India

This trip encouraged me to have my book, Learning to L.I.V.E. translated in Hindi, the national Indian language.  The founder and organizers of NRI Welfare Society, Gurinder Singh and Deepak Singh, have a publishing house in Delhi.  It was nice to spend more time with them and their families in India.  I feel blessed that we have become good friends now.  They agreed to have my book edited, formatted and published in Hindi in India.

Another good outcome of this chain reaction is that this experience also encouraged me to have my book, Learning to L.I.V.E. translated into Spanish.  The Spanish translation should be available here in the USA very soon.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Wonderful Things Happen Everyday

Wonderful things happen everyday even though sometimes they are not clearly ‘in-your-face’ wonderful. If you only take a few minutes and let the experience happen, you will see that something positive will happen, either to enjoy now, or to learn something about life so you can enjoy it in future. Sometimes it is there just to test your choosing capabilities. Even if you have honed a trait, life will throw a pop quiz to test your abilities just to see how good you really are.

A math teacher may think you know your multiplication. She will not move you
to division until she is sure you have mastered the multiplication skills. She will give you a few tests. Even after you have passed all your tests and she graduates you to division, she may still give you a challenge quiz just to make sure you have not forgotten all you had learned so far.

Life is just like that. Sometimes people wonder and question why  they keep repeating the same problems and mistakes again and again.  If we do not pay attention to the lessons that we learn through life experiences, we have to repeat them over and over until life is sure that we got what we needed to get out of it. So, if we really want to move forward, have a better life and not go through the same problems, we need to be more observant and pay attention to where we are today and what we are doing here so we do not continue to make the same mistakes. Only then we can move forward and graduate to bigger and better things and, of course, to new mistakes and new lessons.

Life, after all, is a string of experiences. Make sure the average of the experiences in that string is positive in order to build a happy life. It is up to you and the choices you make. Every choice you make today will have positive or negative consequences. Let’s take time and not rush into things. Let’s enjoy our option to choose and create the life we want for ourselves instead of letting things happen and complaining later.

If it is not Fun, find out what you can do to change that!

Life is to be Happy!

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