Ten ‘Dirty Secrets’ To Having Happiness

By David Steele

My observation is that we want to be happy, but don’t know how.

This problem has been exacerbated by the messages in movies, television, and other influential media, that promote a consumer-oriented, immediate gratification society. We seem to feel entitled to be able to buy and get what we want with little effort on our part. We have been conditioned that happiness comes from the outside, by having enough money, the car we want, the job we want, the partner we want. Then, when we get what we want, we find that we aren’t happy!

Our relationships are not working because of this externalized, entitlement mindset. If we aren’t happy, it is our partner’s fault and the relationship isn’t working for us. I believe this is part of the reason for our divorce rate.

These dirty secrets of happiness are quite contrary to the messages found in the entertainment media, and I refer to them as “dirty” because many of us (consciously or unconsciously) want to believe the commercials’ promises and don’t want to look at the reality.

Secret #1: If you want a partner, be a partner

Many of us have a wonderful, romantic, vision of the life partnership we want; the reality is that great relationships require a lot of self-work and effort on your part in the relationship. If you feel like you are putting more effort into the relationship than your partner, you’re probably doing it right. The good news is that you CAN live your Vision, the challenge is that the effort must come from YOU.

Secret #2: The journey is the destination

We tend to focus on goals and results, which works well in many areas of our life, but not so well in our relationships. Chances are, you will always be striving toward the relationship you really want, and will never “arrive”. The destination of Life is Death, the awareness of which pushes us to be present in the moment, because we realize that is all we really have. Similarly, our journey with our partner is all we really have. Learning to be present with and appreciate the journey is the path to happiness.

Secret #3: The journey is always longer and harder than expected

We are an impatient culture that wants immediate results. While some of us have the work ethic and self-discipline for the sustained effort necessary to be successful, few of us are happy doing so. We look around and everyone else seems to get what they want so easily, and we wonder why it has to be so hard for us. Truly accepting this principle is a necessary step toward happiness.

Secret #4: Have goals while letting go of outcomes

While having goals and wanting results is natural, letting go of outcomes seems to be a necessary ingredient to happiness. This means being able to “go with the flow”, to be flexible and creative, to view mistakes and failures as opportunities. Success and happiness comes from a yin/yang balance of ambition and acceptance, assertion and tolerance, firmness and flexibility, choice and fate, having goals and letting go of outcomes.

Secret #5: Grow up and take responsibility

There is a wonderful book on this subject that I highly recommend by Dr. Frank Pittman, “Grow Up! How Taking Responsibility Can Make You A Happy Adult.” (St. Martin’s Press, 1998), which does an excellent job of explaining how we have become a society of victims, narcissists, and adolescents, and what to do about it.

He writes: “…happy grown-ups take responsibility. They take responsibility for their bodies, their characters, and their relationships. They own their lives and they own up to the choices they make. Finding the responsible thing to do is the lifelong quest for grown-ups. And it leads to real, grown-up happiness…” (page 278)

Secret #6: To be happy we must grow, to grow we must stretch

Our human nature is to have an inner conflict between comfort and challenge, growth and inertia. Balancing these opposing forces within us is an on-going effort. When we lean too far towards comfort, we risk stagnation, complacency, inertia. Too much challenge can lead to stress and burn-out. Our culture overvalues comfort and undervalues effort. Many of our clients engage our coaching to get what they want, and resist stretching beyond their comfort level to get it.

Secret #7: To get it, you have to give it away

This is a paradox that challenges the “Me” generation. We are much more motivated to “get” than to “give”, which wreaks serious havoc in our relationships. When we focus on giving and let go of keeping score, we have a chance of finding happiness in our life and relationships.

Secret #8: What goes around comes around

There is a consequence for your every choice and action. Of course we want our choices to be successful and get us what we want, and we resist acknowledging the possibility or reality of undesired outcomes. While this may seem simple and obvious, the spread of AIDS, multiple divorces, unwanted children, etc, are caused by people that are going after what they want and ignoring future consequences.

Secret #9: The Truth will set you free

Most of us struggle with a dissonance between what we want and what we have, the way things “should” be with the way things are, what we WANT to believe and the reality. When we can let go of our fears and ego enough to accept the truth about ourselves, life, relationships, etc., we open the door to the possibility of happiness.

Secret #10: Our relationships are our mirrors

The definition of intimacy that I like is “Into Me I See”. This can be quite challenging and uncomfortable, as we will experience the parts of ourselves that we don’t like (our “shadows”) as well as what we want to see. Happiness in a relationship means learning to use the relationship to learn and grow, which means taking full responsibility and even embracing our shadows when they get reflected to us.

Bonus Secret: Happiness is a fleeting experience and highly overrated as a life goal. Incorporate the above “Ten Dirty Secrets of Happiness” into your life and learn to have goals while letting go of attachment to outcomes. When you can be happy with “what is,” you will experience true contentment.

David Steele is founder of Relationship Coaching Institute, author of the ground-breaking book for singles Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life in Today’s World, now in it’s second edition- http://www.ConsciousDating.com

What Are Your Feelings Telling You?

By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

Our feelings are an incredible instant feedback system regarding what is good for us and what is bad for us.

For example, our physically painful feelings let us know that something needs attending to regarding our physical body. If you put your hand on a hot stove, the burning feeling immediately tells you to remove your hand. If you didn’t get the pain, you could badly your hand. So the instant pain is vitally important information for your wellbeing.

The same is true of our emotional feelings. Our emotional feelings are triggered from both external and internal experiences.


There are many life situations that can cause both painful and happy feelings. For example, the following are some of the painful or happy feelings we have in response to life.

Sorrow – over seeing people suffer
Outrage – over seeing injustice
Helplessness – over other peoples’ choices and the outcome of things
Loneliness – when we want to share love and no one is around or those who are around are closed
Heartbreak and heartache – when people we care about do not care about themselves or about us
Grief – when we lose a loved one or loved ones are harmed
Fear – of real and present danger

Happy – when things are going well financially or in a relationship, or something is funny
Relaxed – when on vacation or with close friends or doing something you love
Proud – when we do well or someone we care about does well
Excited – about doing something special
Pleasure – from something that feels physically or emotionally good, such as food, sex, or approval.

These are just a few of the many feelings we may have in a day in response to life. We can just enjoy the positive ones, and we need to learn to acknowledge and give ourselves comfort or reach out for comfort when we are experiencing the painful feelings of life.


While you may believe that feelings such as hurt, anger, anxiety or depression are coming from other peoples’ behavior or from events, this is not true. We are causing many of our distressing feelings by our own thoughts, beliefs and behavior.

The following painful feelings are just some of the feelings that we cause:

Fear – of what might happen
Depression, deadness
Blaming anger
Annoyance and irritation

When we have these feelings, it is because we are thinking and behaving in ways that are not good for us. Just as the painful burning feeling from your hand on a hot stove is telling you that you are doing something that is harming you, so these painful emotional feelings are telling you that you are off track – off the mark – in your thinking and behavior.

For example, if someone judges you and you feel hurt, it is easy to believe that it is their behavior that is causing your hurt feelings. Yet most of the time, it is really your thoughts about their behavior that is hurting you – beliefs such as “I’m not good enough,” or “I must have done something wrong” or “I’m no okay.” If you didn’t have these beliefs and you were not taking the other person’s behavior personally, you wouldn’t feel hurt. You might feel lonely in being with that person and helpless over his or her behavior. You might feel sorrow at being treated badly, or heartbroken if it is someone very important to you. But your feelings will not be hurt when you do not take anothers’ behavior personally.

If you are feeling hurt, your hurt feelings are telling you something important. They are telling you that you are thinking in ways that are not good for you. They are telling you to pay attention and stop doing what you are doing or stop thinking what you are thinking, because you are harming yourself.

You are also the cause of the most wonderful feelings, such as:

Inner Peace

These feelings are the result of thinking and behaving in ways that are in your highest good – that are in alignment with your soul.

What are our feelings telling us? Our painful existential (result-of-life) feelings are telling us that we need to comfort ourselves or reach out for comfort. Our existential positive feelings are just to enjoy for as long as they last. The painful inner feelings – the ones we are causing – are telling us to attend to our thoughts, beliefs and actions that are causing our pain so we can stop harming ourselves. Our wonderful inner feelings are telling us that we are definitely on the right track and to keep doing what we are doing and thinking what we are thinking.

Pay attention to your feelings – they have so much to tell you!

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including “Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You? and “Healing Your Aloneness.” She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner bonding now! Visit her website for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.comor email her at mailto:margaret@innerbonding.com. Phone sessions available. 

Listen In As BLAM’s Aiyana Ma’at Talks About How To Finally Love & Accept Yourself

By Aiyana Ma’at

This past weekend I had the awesome opportunity to join with women in the Washington, DC metro area and celebrated our Divine Feminine—Mind, Body, & Spirit. It was awesome! I spoke about how we as women can truly love and accept ourselves for all of who we are. I was blessed by all that was shared. We dealt with Abuse, Loneliness, Rejection, Low Self Esteem, and so much more. I never take it for granted when the Creator allows me to be in the presence of other like minded sisters reaching for their truest and most authentic selves.

Listen in for a clip with me talking about how to truly love and accept yourself once and for all…..

Stop Playing. Start Pushing.

From Hiding To Healing Your Shame

By Darlene Lancer, MFT

Shame is so painful to the psyche that most people will do anything to avoid it, even though it’s a natural emotion that everyone has. It’s a physiologic response of the autonomic nervous system. You might blush, have a rapid heartbeat, break into a sweat, freeze, hang your head, slump your shoulders, avoid eye contact, withdraw, even get dizzy or nauseous.

Why Shame is so Painful

Whereas guilt is a right or wrong judgment about your behavior, shame is a feeling about yourself. Guilt motivates you to want to correct or repair the error. In contrast, shame is an intense global feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or self-loathing. You want to hide or disappear. In front of others, you feel exposed and humiliated, as if they can see your flaws. The worst part of it is a profound sense of separation — from yourself and from others. It’s disintegrating, meaning that you lose touch with all the other parts of yourself, and you also feel disconnected from everyone else. Shame induces unconscious beliefs, such as:

  • I’m a failure.
  • I’m not important.
  • I’m unlovable.
  • I don’t deserve to be happy.
  • I’m a bad person.
  • I’m a phony.
  • I’m defective.

Chronic Shame in Addiction and Codependency

As with all emotions, shame passes. But for addicts and codependents it hangs around, often beneath consciousness, and leads to other painful feelings and problematic behaviors. You’re ashamed of who you are. You don’t believe that you matter or are worthy of love, respect, success, or happiness. When shame becomes all-pervasive, it paralyzes spontaneity. A chronic sense of unworthiness and inferiority can result in depression, hopelessness, and despair, until you become numb, feeling disconnected from life and everyone else.

Shame can lead to addiction and is the core feeling that leads to many other codependents’ symptoms. Here are a few of the other symptoms that are derived from shame:

  • Perfectionism
  • Low self-esteem
  • People-pleasing
  • Guilt

For codependents, shame can lead to control, caretaking, and dysfunctional, nonassertive communication. Shame creates many fears and anxieties that make relationships difficult, especially intimate ones. Many people sabotage themselves in work and relationships because of these fears. You aren’t assertive when shame causes you to be afraid to speak your mind, take a position, or express who you are. You blame others because you already feel so bad about yourself that you can’t take responsibility for any mistake or misunderstanding. Meanwhile, you apologize like crazy to avoid just that! Codependents are afraid to get close because they don’t believe they’re worthy of love, or that once known, they’ll disappoint the other person. The unconscious thought might be that “I’ll leave before you leave me.” Fear of success and failure may limit job performance and career options.

Hidden Shame

Because shame is so painful, it’s common for people to hide their shame from themselves by feeling sad, superior, or angry at a perceived insult instead. Other times, it comes out as boasting, envy, or judgment of others. The more aggressive and contemptuous are these feelings, the stronger the shame. An obvious example is a bully, who brings others down to raise himself up, but this can happen all in your mind.

It needn’t be that extreme. You might talk down to those you teach or supervise, people of a different class or culture, or someone you judge. Another tell-tale symptom is frequent idealization of others, because you feel so low in comparison. The problem with these defenses is that if you aren’t aware of your shame, it doesn’t dissipate. Instead, it persists and mounts up.

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You Are Not In Control

Family we’re 4 days out from our son’s second hip surgery and this morning he made a comment which caught me totally off guard.  I took some time to sit still and deal with some of my emotions surrounding his upcoming surgery.  In the end I rest on the fact that I’m not in control….GOD IS.  Family keep us in your prayers….

Are You Afraid Of Allowing More Good Into Your Life?

By Linda Ann Stewart

Many years ago, I participated in an exercise at a workshop to show us how at ease we were with allowing good into our lives. As I imagined a little extra good flowing in, I was fine. But when I visualized a lot more good, I started to get anxious, even scared.


The exercise continued, expanding the amount of good I would let in. When I got past that first barrier, I was once again comfortable with the concept of letting more good into my life. It was an interesting exercise for me, showing, that for some reason, I was fearful of allowing more Universal good flow into me.


Why would anyone be afraid of more good? Imagine heaven smiling down upon you, living in grace, everything falling into place in your life. Why would that create anxiety? Isn’t that exactly what you want?


Since the time of the exercise, I’ve discovered that many people share the fear I experienced. It comes in various shapes and forms, and from multiple causes. And it’s one reason you unconsciously block your desires. Because of past experiences, you don’t know what catastrophe will happen if you actually achieve what you say you want in life.


Over the years, I’ve identified a few reasons for that concern:


Fear of a backlash.

If you receive more good, you fear that somehow it will be taken away. It’s almost a superstition that one hand will give the good, and another hand will take it away. Sometimes, this comes from childhood. You might have received something you really wanted, but then had a cherished toy taken from you because your parent decided that you’d outgrown it.


Have to give it away.

I’ve known several people who deliberately kept their income at a low level so they wouldn’t have to give their extra money to indigent relatives. They couldn’t say “No” to the relatives, and save the extra for a rainy day in their own life. From a young age, they were trained that they had to give all their extra toys and cherished possessions to their siblings or cousins. They were the “Cinderella” of the family, and haven’t realized that things can be different now.


Fear of punishment.

Somehow, you fear that more good will bring some punishment upon you. Some force will come down and make you pay for having something great happen. You’re receiving more good than you deserve and should be flogged for it. The only thing that punishes you is your old programming. You deserve all the good you receive.


This is one of the issues I discovered I had. I once had a childhood friend who would put me down whenever I had something nice happen in my life. She once told me that she wanted to make sure I didn’t exaggerate my importance. So I stopped telling her of any positives that occurred.


To begin to overcome this irrational fear that more good is scary, examine what happened when you were a child. When you got some toy or reward that others didn’t get, how did you feel? What happened? Did you get beat up, was it taken away, were you emotionally abandoned, resented or attacked? Maybe you always had to share, and when you got the toy back, it was damaged or destroyed.


Whatever happened to you, it set up a pattern in your subconscious to expect this type of reaction every time you received something good in your life. And it probably continues to this day. To begin to combat that programming, remind yourself that you’re the grownup now, and you have the power to say “Yes” or “No” or “Take a hike.” And that you have the strength, ability, knowledge and resources to take care of your own inner self and worth.


I still practice the workshop exercise occasionally. It gives me feedback as to where I might be blocking myself, and to expand my acceptance of more good. When I feel the fear, I talk to it, letting it know that it doesn’t have to protect me anymore. You can do the same thing, and allow yourself to open your mind to receive more good every day.


Linda-Ann Stewart empowers people to discover new possibilities and realize their full potential through speaking, life coaching, visualization and hypnotherapy.

How To Re-Invent Yourself

By Lana Moline

With each new opportunity, I think of ways to bring a fresh part of myself into it.  I don’t just want to conquer the experience, I want to grow and awaken parts of me that may be lying dormant.  Sometimes it is a new hairdo or adding new pieces to my wardrobe or simply a change in perspective.  To me, reinventing myself includes using my talents in ways that I may not have thought to do so in the past.  For example, my degree is in print journalism and for the longest I limited myself to seeking out and accepting primarily print opportunities.  What I failed to see at the time was that working in the print media industry means that I should remain open to all communications ventures.  I can recall the first time I was asked to speak at an event and how fast I said “no.”  The thing is, I didn’t have a real reason to say no, it just came out.  Perhaps in retrospect, I felt unqualified but as I think about it now I didn’t realize the consideration that went into that request.  I had spent countless hours sharing well thought out accounts of wisdom with a group of ladies who not only sang my praises but returned with friends.  In my mind, I was just engaging in girl talk and it never occurred to me once that I was hosting an “organic group forum” and headlined as the speaker.  Even as I write and think about it today, I am nervous but not as much as before.  Since that time, I have taught numerous classes on a variety of topics and plan to continue.  Reinvention means change and with change comes fear.  I am sure that anyone who has stood in front of a crowd as a speaker feels some nervousness but what I know now is that giving in to fear is a horrible way to surely stunt growth.
What are some ways to reinvent yourself?
1.  Put all of your givens on the table.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  There is no one else who can do what you were created to do.  Keep fresh on your mind that fact that you were presented with an opportunity because someone saw that light that shines so bring inside of you.  It is apparent to everyone.  Just make sure you are not the one to blow it out.
2.  Have fun with it all.  If you have fallen into a routine and continue to do things the same way year end and year out then it is time to shake it up a little.  Break the monotony, spruce things up a bit.  Try a new way or give in to taking a chance.  You won’t regret it because in the end the discovery is still the same.  Allow yourself to rekindle your creative side that got you to where you are now.  Enjoy the journey.
3.  The secret to success is in one word – SMILE.  When we smile, we exude confidence and a sense that we are balanced, calm and in control.  Now even if this is not the case, it’s the old cliche “never let them see you sweat.”  A smile sends the message that with you there is purpose and it influences others to discover theirs.
Our lives here on earth are not accidents.  So it is very important that we take the time to retool every so often.  You don’t need a reason to do it.  Reinventing yourself is a fun way to connect to and become the you that you were created to be, the very blessed you.
Lana Moline is an integral part of the Blackloveandmarriage.com writing team, freelance writer and poet who lives in Ft. Worth with her three kids and husband Emile. Married 11 years, both media professionals have vowed to maintain integrity in all aspects of print and broadcast journalism.Visit her atLana Moline Speaks.

Don’t Stop Praying

By Lana Moline

Maybe last week didn’t go as well as you expected or planned or now you are feeling the impact of a few bad decisions.  Whatever it is, you have found yourself at a place in a slump  looking for the bright side that everyone promises is there.  Well it is there, you’ve just got to keep believing and searching for it.  In other words, DON’T STOP PRAYING!

The journey is the itinerary or agenda and sometimes it will include difficult tests that you may not be prepared for.  It’s ok though because pre-test simply prepare us for our next encounter.  I had a gentleman say to me one time “you’ve never seen a bad day in your life.” I have seen some bad days but I keep them in perspective as lessons.  I used to beat myself up about mistakes that I made until I realize that it didn’t do any good.  It was a waste of time and energy and a huge distraction.  In evaluating some of my hard lessons, I realized that my biggest regret came from me trying to work it all out in my own strength and not continuously praying about it.

I learned the true meaning of love when I sincerely opened up to God about something that I knew He disapproved of.  Follow me for a moment.

I have to make a disclaimer because my posts are my devotions that God allows me to make public.  There are plenty that are extremely private but the ones that I publish are the ones that God will use in some way.  So whosever heart this touches, please know that God loves you right where you are.  

A while back I was a willing participant in wrong thinking.  As a result, this wrong thinking led to mishaps that were just wrong from the start.  As I grew in Christ, I kept wondering why I found myself back at the point of struggling with myself when I was clear what the word of God says.  God showed mercy on me and began to speak to my heart regarding my flawed thinking and that is when I went to Him in sincerity.  Here’s the thing, I knew where I was and where I desired to be but I couldn’t quite find my way from one point to the other.  So one day I prayed that God gently show me the error of my ways and teach me the correct way and He did.  God and His mercy tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out examples of what could happen if He withdrew His hand. From that moment on, our relationship deepened and my life was forever changed.  

I think many Christians may fall into the belief that once you are saved you should be past some things and that may be true.  But it doesn’t make you invincible or immune from sin.  Prayer is your IV to God’s mercy and protection.  Go to God with everything in truth.  There is no judgment.  He loves you so please don’t shut Him out.

Lana Moline is an integral part of the Blackloveandmarriage.com writing team, freelance writer and poet who lives in Ft. Worth with her three kids and husband Emile. Married 11 years, both media professionals have vowed to maintain integrity in all aspects of print and broadcast journalism.Visit her atLana Moline Speaks.

“I Love You. Go Away.” What An Adult Child Of An Alcoholic’s Love Life Looks Like

Sometimes your alcoholic parent was warm and loving, sometimes rejecting and hostile. Although your non-alcoholic parent told you that you were loved, he or she was so often absorbed with worry and so irritable that you rarely felt loved. There was no consistency.

This is love as you understood it as a child, and are still experiencing it. Ever wonder why you are attracted to the person who is warm and loving one day, and rejecting the next? Ever wonder why the person who says he or she will call and doesn’t seems more desirable than the one who is consistent?

If, by chance, you do become involved with a lover who is consistent, you find that sort of person very unsettling, because you have no frame of reference for this kind of behavior. I am talking about the type of  individual with order in his/her life, the person who can predict with a reasonable amount of certainty what tomorrow will bring. This also is someone who will behave, feel and think tomorrow much as he/she behaved, felt, and thought today. The challenge to win the love of the erratic and sometimes rejecting person repeats the challenge of your childhood. You are grateful when the inconsistent person throws you a crumb, but get bored quickly with the one who is available all the time.

You are playing out your childhood all over again, because the only consistency you knew was inconsistency. The only predictability you had was the lack of predictability. You lived your childhood on an emotional roller coaster. And that is what you understand. Think a minute: How many times have you created a crisis in your relationship to get the energy flowing again, and bring the relationship back to a more familiar ground?

Even though this may be obvious to you on an intellectual level, bear in mind that it may take longer for you to truly feel this truth because you were conditioned at such an early age.

BLAM Fam: Do you see yourself? You don’t necessarily have to have had an alcoholic parent for some of these words to ring true for you. Remember, you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge. Stop Playing. Start Pushing.

Source: Struggle For Intimacy by Janet Woititz, Ed.D.

Take Time To Get To Know And Enjoy Yourself And Your Life

By Lana Moline

It’s easy to start this by saying I’ve made some mistakes and then walk you through the lessons learned and wisdom gained.  While that may be true, this is not one of those.  This is one of the times during the year when my introspection is on full speed.  I think about all that I have accomplished and where I am and even what I want the next phase of my life to look like.  I think about my family, my husband and how my kids reflect every single dream and desire I have inside of me.  I think about how even within my serious projection, I find humor and laugh to myself.  I realize that it’s okay being me just as I am.  I love the nuances that color my persona such as calling my kids by fruit/sweet names like apple pie or honey bun or even how I trash talk in any game I play even if I am loosing.  Truth is, it took me a while to get here but I have to tell you how good this feels.

At lease once a year I do a total fast and by that I mean not only food but electronics, tv and anything that can truly wait.  I spend time reading the bible, writing and sleeping.  During this time I get to know myself even more intimately and take the time to let go of the things that just need to go.  If the weather permits, I spend as much time as I can outside and listen to what God is saying through everything around me.  That’s an amazing experience and when the end comes I always wish for one more day.

I share this because I was told that reading my site is like reading a page from your journal.  I am grateful to God for trusting me with this gift and every time I sit down to write, I desire to please Him in honor and truth.  I encourage anyone who is reading this to take some time to really get to know and enjoy yourself and your life.  There is no certainty as to the amount of time we have left to make an impact.  It is important that we decide how we can stand where we are and shine our lights.  I’ve never professed to be profound and if you’ve ever had a conversation you can agree that I proclaim quite the opposite.  My mission stems from yielding to the Master, closing my eyes and following His promptings.

As I end this page of my journal, I offer to you my birthday mandate.  For this entire day, find the joy in everything and celebrate with me.   Then each day that the sun rises again promise me that the celebration will not end and that you will enjoy the rest of your days with you.

Peace and blessings,

Lana Moline is an integral part of the Blackloveandmarriage.com writing team, freelance writer and poet who lives in Ft. Worth with her three kids and husband Emile. Married 11 years, both media professionals have vowed to maintain integrity in all aspects of print and broadcast journalism.Visit her at Lana Moline Speaks.