Have You Tried Listening?


Like many of you I’ve come to really enjoy social media over the last decade. When used correctly it really is a great platform with many benefits .

The one thing I love the most are the new connections we all make online with like minded people. Although we may be  in different parts of the country or different parts of the world we connect.

Recently I was fortunate enough to meet Eloise online from Fertility Hub Help a great resource for those struggling with infertility. I was flattered when Eloise asked me to write an article posted here..Miscarriages, Loss and Ridiculous Comments  In the article Eloise also interviewed Dr Norian from Hrc Rancho- Hrc Fertility on the topic of miscarriages.

Eloise Founder of Fertility Hub Help Blog having experienced a difficult road to motherhood first-hand was frustrated by seeing people feel overwhelmed, lonely and desperate for answers. So, she decided it was time to re-address fertility in a fresh engaging way and to help remove some of the stigma around it. Fertility Help Hub is an oasis of knowledge and resources, all in one non-overwhelming place. It is an interactive, inspirational lifestyle website and social community.  Her Motto is: “We all need to feel part of a community and to know we are not alone.”

As many of you may know, I am involved in daily online conversations within the social community, providing emotional support including the infertility community. The acronym used a lot within the community is ‘TTC’ (Trying To Conceive). I noticed that a recurring theme is the multitude of hurtful comments people say without realizing the impact it has on the families struggling with infertility. In light of this, there have also been numerous supportive individuals who graciously ask what they can say or do to help.

Below is a list of a few things to say that may be helpful to those struggling with infertility. If you’ve got any to add, feel free to add
  them in the comments. 



  1. Just the act of “Listening” can be the most    powerful form of support, love and empathy
  2.   I am sorry you are going through this
  3.   I can’t even imagine how hard it is.
  4.   There are no words, is it okay if I give you a hug?
  5. I am here if you ever feel like talking.
  6.   It stinks and it’s unfair!
  7.   Infertility is a big loss, and it is okay to grieve.
  8.    I am sorry…it sounds like Infertility is being robbed of having children naturally.
  9.    That sounds really hard: Infertility is having to pay tons of money for something that other people take for granted.
  10.    It’s ok to cry, cry and cry.
  11.    It’s ok not to go to a baby shower or a kid’s birthday party, and it is also ok to leave early.
  12.   It’s ok to think about how situations will make you feel and you can say no.
  13.   I’m here to listen and not give advice.
  14.     “I love you” and if or when you want to talk I am here.
  15.    I am sorry to hear that.
  16.  Can I do something to help? Cook a meal?
  17. I wish I knew what to say.
  18. I am so sorry you are going through this, this is very hard.
  19. I am sorry people don’t know how to respond.
  20.   People may never understand what you are going through, but you do not owe them anything and you do not need to justify yourself to them.
  21. It is okay to not be okay.

 The worst things to say or hear:

  1.  Just RELAX, don’t stress so much it’ll happen naturally! This phrase has been labelled as one of the worst, and yet most common words of advice given to women struggling with infertility.
  2.  Have you thought about adopting?
  3. You have 1 child, isn’t that enough?
  4. 4 miscarriages may be a message to stop .
  5. At least you know you can get pregnant.
  6. God has other plans for you.
  7.  It was so easy for me to get pregnant!
  8. Maybe spend less time on your career or working out?
  9. Losing weight and moderate exercise helps!
  10. You’re trying too hard. Calm down.
  11. Just go on vacation and it’ll happen.
  12. It’ll happen when it’s meant to.
  13. Just get a pet!
  14. Have you tried ____
  15. Are you pregnant yet?
  16. Just adopt, there are so many kids that need a home!
  17. I know exactly how you are feeling.
  18. I have a friend who got pregnant after adopting!
  19. Take my kids they are a handful.
  20. Go to Vegas and get drunk and it will happen.
  21. Just do IVF and you’ll get twins.
  22. Just think positive thoughts (this minimizes the process of grief)
  23. At least it wasn’t a real baby!

 In addition I  also met two inspiring authors online, Michael Cave and Christina Oberon. Each author wrote a book based on their respective (TTC )struggles and overcoming  infertility.

image1Michael Cave writes in his book ‘Triple Blessing’ about a father’s journey through infertility : “When couples hear any of these insensitive statements, it makes them not want to share their infertility issues with anyone, and it remains a secret struggle.” He goes on to say, ”Some folks on the Internet are offended that people are resorting more and more to IVF, to make their dreams come true as if it’s taking the easy way out or…playing God.”

Hope Strong front There is wonderful advice in Christina Oberon’s book ‘Hope Strong’, where she provides hope through the emotions experienced during infertility: Regardless of the things said or not said by others, Christina wants her readers to “remember that everyone’s path to motherhood is different and unique. Your path is not easy, and this is your challenge. And, as the day turns into night and the night fades into the glorious morning sun,  remember, you have not been forgotten.”

Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 1.07.35 PM

Dr. Norian at HRC Rancho areas of expertise include: in-vitro     fertilization (IVF), pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS), gender selection, egg freezing, optimal treatment for low responders, LGBTQ fertility treatments, surrogacy and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). | @HrcRancho 


After Eloise’s husband’s devastating infertility news and painful, unsuccessful MICRO-Tese operation in the USA, they turned to IVF with donor sperm. Eloise and her husband went through three difficult rounds of IVF to create their family.  Fertility Help Hub was born from that experience to offer fertility tips, advice from experts around the world, support and key resources. All the things they wish had been accessible at the time. Fertility Help Hub wants to help break the infertility stigma, so people don’t have to suffer in silence, feeling isolated.

AF0F3AA4EB1163702619131318272_3580aa717eb.1.5As a  multi-faceted entrepreneur who spends time  in the world of social media, music, film and the world of parenting. I am an active advocate for the emotional and physical well being of children-adults, an author and songwriter. Author Page Amazon Books #HungryFeelings


Dear Mom and Dad : it’s not that I want to break things!

IMG_5878-150x148And it’s not that I purposely trying to miss behave. I really do want to behave, I do want to listen to you, but sometimes you tell me every second of every minute of every day what to do, who could listen to that.

Would you be able to handle that if someone told you what to do every minute? Daddy, I see you get annoyed every time mommy tries to tell you what to do? Ha ha yes I know I’m 4, but I do see things.

You always saying to me, please behave, I would if I could, I want to listen to you but then something happens to me and takes over my body. It’s just that I’m not old enough and I don’t have the words to tell you what’s bothering me, so my behavior is telling you what’s bothering me.

I need you to understand that my behavior is communicating and telling you what’s wrong ,but I don’t know what’s wrong, and I don’t know how to tell you, so you have to help me .

You have to say “maybe your feelings are hurt” and I’ll say “no it’s nothing”.

You have to say “maybe you’re angry” and I’ll say “I don’t know” , you have to help me and I’ll probably be years before I could figure out what I’m feeling .

But you have to keep trying till I am 10 and then I can tell you once in a while.
But I’m young now and need to learn my feelings words .

And you will know you guessed the right feeling if my mood or my behavior gets better or my expression changes.

Then you will know that you got it right.

I wish I could just say what I’m feeling, I wish I could know what I was feeling, but even adults don’t know what they feel a lot of the time.

You wouldn’t expect me to all of a sudden just know how to read without teaching me,right? So I am not going to know how I feel and then on top of that know how to tell you .

Please teach me , but maybe you don’t know how to teach me about my feelings, do you know how?

Try the books Listen To Me Please  And My Feelings are Hungry 


Be a Behavior Detective using Time-In Parenting and Emotional Intelligence to Improve Behavior

If your child is overeating or misbehaving try a behavior-food-mood makeover using the anacronym P.L.E.A.S.E (in addition to  the conversation starters in the books and song “My Feelings are Hungry” and “Hungry Feelings not Hungry Tummy” for children and parents on Amazon. 

                         P is for play: Play together more, including imaginative games.

                         L is for love: Spend more quality time together. Children may appear to tolerate a parent who is unavailable, very anxious, overworked or distracted but they often medicate those difficult feelings with food.

                          E is for emotions: Have empathy for your kid’s feelings, i.e. “I’m sorry that happened.” Educate your family on emotional intelligence by consulting with an expert to uncover hidden feelings. Remember that healthy feelings lead to healthy eating.

                          A is for activity: Be more active daily, increasing the amount of xercise you and your children get.walk and talk bike and talk etc 

                          S is for silence: Listen more, talk less, pay attention to your child’s clues  and be in the moment. When you speak, keep it positive by demonstrating new skills instead of resorting to punishment and control.

                          E is for eat healthy: Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous are great places to learn!

Try Exchanging these Old Thoughts:

“It’s hopeless.” “They hate me.”

“I am always upset.”

“You never play with me.”

“I always fail.”

“I am not good at anything.” “Things are always so hard.”

“Things never work out.”

New thoughts :

“I will feel better.”

“Disagreements happen. We’ll move past it soon.”

“Stories and hugs make me feel calm.” “In the morning we will play again

and have fun.”

“It will be great when I do well.”

“I will do my best and try hard.” “Wouldn’t it be nice if things

got easier?”

“Wouldn’t it be nice if things started working out?”


“Mommy, I’m Ugly!” — or Mommy I”m Fat, Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem Part 1

Screenshot 2018-03-29 14.59.33The first in a series of steps to take to build your child’s self-esteem. Here’s one moment that all Moms dread: you’re standing next your daughter, and she looks in the mirror and says “Mommy I’m Ugly!”

As a child psychotherapist, I’m very familiar with this scenario. So when I recently encountered another Mom’s who wrote, “My daughter said ‘Mommy, I’m Ugly!” and another said her daughter said “Mommy I’m fat” (and she isn’t) I felt compelled to share what it probably means, and specific techniques that can help our children build their self-esteem.

(See the books “My Feelings are Hungry” Or Hungry Feelings not Hungry Tummy if your child is overweight) on Amazon  
When your daughter doubts her appearance, your heart sinks, and your first impulse is to say, “That’s not true, you’re so beautiful. Why would you say that?” Every Mom worries that this is the first step on the long road to poor self-esteem.

Do you remember the scene in “Alice In Wonderland” when Alice falls down the Rabbit Hole? That’s what happens to a child’s self-esteem when they experience what I call “hard feelings,” and don’t have the skills to deal with them. These pivotal moments, when handled well, can positively impact the course of your child’s life.

I won’t blame parents or the media here. In fact, this discussion is completely separate from the realm of appearances, because what’s really happening lies beneath the surface.

When children experience what are for them unmanageable feelings, those feelings can easily become transformed into thoughts like “I’m ugly ” or I‘m fat. If they’re not handled correctly, those emotions are then acted out in a variety of ways.

Self-esteem, as you may know, comes and goes — sometimes all of us feel good about ourselves and sometimes we don’t. Therefore, what we really need to teach our kids is resilience, so they develop the skills to overcome their “Rabbit Hole” moments and reclaim their self-esteem.

Here are the first 3 of 6 steps to take when your child says the dreaded words, “I’m ugly”: or I’m fat (and its not true relative to size:)

Step 1: Instead of Over-Reacting, Use Empathy and  Behavior Detective Parenting Techniques

Strive to handle this sharp heart-piercing arrow without over-reacting. Some knee-jerk responses include, “Don’t ever say that!” or, “Why would you say that?” Children don’t really know why they say things, so your best bet is to instead discern what’s going on underneath, then learn to talk about feelings in new ways.

This is what I call “Time-In Parenting,” a new collection of research-based techniques designed to improve family members’ Emotional Intelligence.

First, you must listen carefully and acknowledge how your child is feeling. After you hear her out fully, use empathy and say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” You can also say: “That’s a hard feeling. Let’s talk about it, because it’s not nice to call yourself names. We treat others kindly, and we need to talk to ourselves that way, too.”

Most kids know how it feels when a friend says something mean or they get bullied, so comparing this type of negative self-talk to bullying may help them relate to it more. If your child then points out your own negative self-talk by saying, “But Mommy, you do the same thing!” first thank them for telling you, then make a promise to improve in this area, too.

Step 2: Become a Feelings -Behavior Detective
After you’ve acknowledged the hard feelings your child is experiencing, begin to address the underlying reasons. Become what I call a Feelings Detective by subtly moving the discussion away from feeling ugly. Say, “Sometimes kids use the words ugly, fat, and hate when they don’t have the words to say what’s really on their minds.”

There are a wide variety hurt feelings that can arise in the course of your child’s day, any of which he or she can easily turn into a negative thought about himself, herself or someone else. Your job is to discover what happened, and find a better way to express it and heal it. Here are some helpful things to say:

• Say, “Let’s figure out together what hurt feelings you’re really trying to tell me about.”
• Ask, “Did something happen at school with your teachers, or when you were playing with friends?
• Did I do something that hurt your feelings?
• Did someone give you a mean look?
• Do you wish I paid more attention to you?
• Am I too busy and distracted?
• Did you see a post online that was hurtful or you felt left out?

Perhaps your child got in trouble at school, was scolded harshly, or fought with siblings or classmates. Any of these things could provoke a negative self-image. You’d be surprised by some of the things that cause children to think negatively about themselves, and until you ask — and really listen — you may never find out what they are.

Maybe they’re angry because one parent works too much, gets easily distracted, or yells often. You’re probably certain that you’re not mistreating or neglecting your child, but kids have a view different view of the world then adults do. For instance, they often miss you deeply while you’re at work.

They’re also egocentric, thinking the world revolves around them, or that everything is their fault, so they often take innocent actions personally. With guidance and practice, they can develop the necessary skills to express their feelings effectively.

Step 3: Find Out What’s Underneath “I Don’t Feel Pretty”
or “I feel fat”

Begin to pinpoint the exact feelings your child is experiencing. Are they angry, sad, hurt, disappointed, lonely, or missing their grown-ups? A child might feel ugly or unwanted because they’re being compared to, or picked on, by their siblings. Perhaps your child is comparing herself to you?

Explain to your child, “When you look in the mirror and think you don’t look great, it’s usually because you’re upset about something that happened.

Are you angry with Mommy because I didn’t spend enough time with you? Are you missing or angry with Daddy? Often talking badly about yourself is turning your anger inward and we want to work on that.”

If you’re both having trouble figuring it out, you can use Feeling Town Map at back of my book, “My Feelings are Hungry” for choices of feelings or situations that your child may be experiencing. Or Try  the conversation starters in Hungry Feelings not Hungry Tummy.


I Love Oprah! My Hit and Miss Oprah Story (reprint from


I love Oprah and have watched her show for decades and still do. One day years ago I came home  to a message on my answering machine from  Oprah’s producers saying to please call them back they want me to be on the show!

I was so excited I still remember the feeling, I  was beyond elated and I felt like I had won the lottery. I had  just written my first book Listen To Me Please ( I am now on my 4th book) and I was thrilled and beyond excited. I couldn’t wait for the morning to come when I quickly called with great anticipation. The producer answered right away, we chatted briefly,  laughed a bit till we figured out that sadly they were looking for different Ava.

I was so disappointed I nearly cried.

I think my disappointment definitely came across because the producer apologized many times and seemed to feel really bad. She said if I ever had something else to submit I could submit it she would take a look.

So hence began my  journey of  “What can I submit to Oprah to be on the show.”

Believe me, I submitted many many many different things over the years. And to the producers, credit she always responded with a very nice no thanks, it’s not right for us:) My social emotional books for kids and parents didn’t align with the theme of the show. Although Oprah was very into psychological change and growth the show wasn’t about  Emotional Intelligence and Parenting and kids feelings.

Over the years I  continued to be a big fan and after a number of years of watching the show every day and loving it, I was inspired to write a song for Oprah.  I felt her work was incredible, inspiring, amazing and generous to all.

I presented my idea to my co-writer Alex Forbes and I got universal music behind my idea and they, fortunately, loved it and then the wonderfully talented artist Haley Westenra loved it and sang it and put it on her album Odyssey.

When we were co-writing the song I wanted to put Oprah’s name in the song, but my co-writers didn’t think it was the right thing to do, so it was two against one majority rules so we just use O for Oprah and O magazine.

I again submitted something to  Oprah’s producer thinking this time the song is it:)  and while the producer said she really liked the song it didn’t go further than that. Which of course was my last and final submission.

About a year goes by when all of a sudden while watching the show I see someone singing a song she had written for Oprah and low and behold the songwriter had used Oprah’s name in it…Oh well

When I looked into it, it turns out someone who worked at Universal music had moved over to Sony and they must have loved my idea from Universal and the next thing I know someone from Sony is singing Oprah a song.(It was a good song:) Perhaps Sony pushed the idea more than Universal or Oprah liked the song better or the timing was right. Who knows what really happened this is all speculation on my part.

However, I was recently reminded of the story so I decided to post it here.
The album did well it sold 100,000 units in the US so that was cool!
I still don’t actually know if Oprah ever heard it.But let me know if you have an Oprah story too!

Here is the song for Oprah I Called it  “You Are Water”

You Are Water, Song For Oprah
Written By Ava Parnass, Alex Forbes and Eve Nelson
Performed by Hayley Westinra


When I’m lost in a tunnel of shadows and fear
With no light
Only night
And I listen for a kind word, but nobody’s here
All so blue
All but you

You are the one voice
That gives me my own voice
O, don’t you know

You are water on a hot summer day
For a thirsty daughter who’s finding her way
You are water
I found my oasis
I’m drinking from the fountain of dreams
You are water

You hear the melody of my song
You stop time
Heal my mind
You show me struggle can make you so strong
Plant the seed
That is me

You are the one voice
That gives me my own voice
O, don’t you know

You are water on a hot summer day
For a thirsty daughter who’s finding her way
You are water
I found my oasis
And now I’ve got my arms wide open
Now I’ve got my wishes in motion

I want to thank you
Yeah, I want to thank you
Every step that you take shows me the way

You are water on a hot summer day
For a thirsty daughter who’s finding her way
You are water
I found my oasis
I’m drinking from the fountain of dreams
You are water