Thank You for Joining the Blog.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Who knows; maybe your comments will one day appear in a book (with your permission of course).

Please share your thoughts: how you use your life's lessons, your creativity and spirituality to navigate life.

Your definitions, experiences, general thoughts are respectfully requested.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Frustration comes in many different shapes and sizes. We are frustrated at times, with ourselves, spouses, friends, bosses or siblings. Frustration is born from a feeling of helplessness to "fix" a problem. Granted, when frustration comes from our own deeds, we have the chance to correct our own course. But what happens when it is because we see a loved one spiraling out of control?

I live with a man who is as good as gold. I'm frustrated that he won't take better care of his health. I've  cajoled him, begged him, pleaded with him, sent him articles - you name it, I've tried it. The kids have asked me to talk with him and I tell them to express their feelings directly to him since I don't have the power to make him change. They have, and it has done nothing to move this mountain.

I can't understand why he is not more concerned himself. He has enjoyed relatively good health in spite of careless treatment of his body - up to recently. As we age and systems break down, his will break down faster and he'll be more seriously impaired. Yes, this is one of my greatest frustrations, on a daily basis.

It hurts when someone you love doesn't care enough about himself to care for his body and mind. It hurts that I will watch his health decline, without being able to do anything about it - all the while resenting too, that my life will be impacted because of it.

What do you do when you feel frustration? How do you cope?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On Moderation

So you ate too much this Thanksgiving. Now you will enter the holiday season of massive shopping and gluttonous eating and drinking.

Have you considered the price you will pay? Maybe it is going into debt that you have to dig yourself out of, come January. Maybe it will require you to start a diet, or at least resolve to. Join a gym, go to the doctor?

Moderation has always been the sensible course, yet it is so hard in the face of the merriment all around us. Why not give yourself the gift that keeps on giving, this holiday season? Moderation is not deprivation. Eat, drink and be merry, but also be sensible. Today's overindulgence leads to tomorrow's regrets and the need for abstinence.

Resolve to enjoy the company, the spirit of the season, and what you eat, so you won't feel the need to deprive yourself later.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Message About Your Unique and Awesome Power

There was a passage spoken to the young, female character in Akeelah and the Bee that has moved me and many others. It has been quoted in other movies and in a speech by Nelson Mandela. It has often been incorrectly attributed. This was written by Marianne Williamson in her book "Return to Love." It stands on its own as a tremendous work of inspiration and I wish to share it with you.

Our Deepest Fear

by Marianne Williamson
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."


What are you grateful for?

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for. We often dwell on what we don't have. It's easy to do when the media surrounds us with what we should have; must have. If we don't have these things, we feel inadequate. What do we really need?

When my children were young, they would be inundated with commercials for the toys they had to have. Now that they are young men, they are bombarded with the same - grown up electronic toys; also must- haves.

When he was young, I told my son, "no, he could not have that toy." He replied by saying, "I'm tired of being poor." The blood nearly burst out of the veins in my head! I wanted to put him in the car and drive him to places where people really were poor, to give him some healthy perspective. Instead, I got a grip on my emotions and told him that in fact, he was so privileged. He had a nice home to live in, his own room, a computer, TV, pets, good food to eat, instruments to play, etc., etc. In addition, he had two responsible, working parents, who could provide more than he "needed," and much of what he wanted. How dare he be so selfish?

I told him maybe we should have an experiment. I would provide just what he needed and I felt was my moral obligation to provide him. That would include a bed in a heated home, meals and clothing. Everything else was not necessity, rather, they were gifts of abundance. He went to his room to consider it and came out with a straighter perspective. He didn't want to give up all the "extras." He understood that not everyone has all that he has.

Of course, kids forget and will at times feel entitled. I always need to remind them that they are privileged and that in fact, they should be giving back to those less fortunate. So far, I am pleased with the results. They still want their toys, but now they earn the money to buy them. They hold charity concerts, run a non profit, give blood. It's a start. . . . .

Why So Glum?

For many reasons, this time of year brings many and mixed emotions to so many people. Bad holiday memories? Losses in and around the holidays? Year end regrets? Whatever the reason, the holiday season is fraught with high intensity. Even those who are carefree stress over holiday preparations. Instead of this time being jolly and happy, it is far too often a time of difficulty.

When everyone around you seems happy, it only intensifies feelings of isolation. So how can you cope without seeming like Scrooge?

First, be good to yourself. You can acknowledge others' happiness without feeling you must comply with their feelings. Find your supports. You know who they are. Trusted friends or family.

Exercise, eat well. These things will also help you through tough times. Indulging in unhealthy habits will only make you feel worse. Guilt and unwanted weight lead you down that slippery slope where you feel like there is no return.

Write. You don't have to be an articulate maker of prose to express your feelings. The writing is for your eyes only, so let it out.

Have a good cry if you need it. If you find it difficult, rent a sad movie. Yes! The benefit of crying over something external still releases toxins through your tears.

Also, laugh. It bolsters the immune system and actually enhances your mood. With the winter bringing a dearth of first run TV, rent comic movies or old comedy shows.

Engage. There is danger in isolating yourself. Others, wrapped up in their holiday celebrations, may not notice your needs. Invite others to your home or arrange to meet with friends.

Soon enough, January will be here, with hope for a better year.

Friday, November 19, 2010

When Someone You Loves Becomes Ill

I got the news in an email. "Preparation for our meeting this weekend," she said. "I didn't want you to be caught by surprise." Surprised? No. Shocked, frightened, sad? Yes. My friend is healthy. She takes are of her body and mind. She has healthy relationships and has learned to balance her life with things other than work, like family and friendships. Her family has no history - how can she have cancer? Yes, I said it. The "C" word that is uttered in hushed whispers, lest it be contagious. It is only by the grace of God that she found out in a routine colonoscopy. An exam we all put off, saying we'll get around to it, but really hate doing. Some never do get around to it, at their peril.

She tells me her prognosis is good. She is just at the beginning, exploring her options. She has promised to let her friends support her; to let me support her. "There is no pain like powerlessness," a line from a Jon Gailmor song, comes to mind right now. I have asked her to let me help so I don't feel powerless.  I ask myself if my offer is for me or for her. It really doesn't matter, since she is willing to allow me to accompany her in her journey.

All I can do now is to be present. Let her tell me what she needs. For now, that will have to be enough.


We all fear it. No one wants to talk about it. Yet death is as certain as life and no one can escape its grip.

Some of us find comfort through faith; that there is something after death. Nirvana, heaven, another incarnation perhaps; yet no one really knows for sure. That's why we must make the most of the life we know is certain - here and now.

This time of year seems to exacerbate death. Some who are dying, hold on through a holiday; others die before it comes. Survivors experience profound loss at subsequent holidays, for many years to come. A wise therapist once told me that layering new memories on top of the sad ones helps you deal with that time of year, and to move forward. It doesn't mask the grief, but it brings a new perspective. One that celebrates the good memories of those we have lost, and associates the holidays with current, happier times in our lives.

I know this from experience. I lost a young husband the day before Thanksgiving. The time leading up to subsequent Thanksgivings was unbearable; even as I formed new, happy memories to associate with the holiday. By the third year, I realized I wasn't so tense and irritable all of November. While I took the time to reflect and remember, no longer was their a "death grip" on me all month.

Today, so many years later, I still remember, but now I look forward to Thanksgiving with my cousins, who are very close to me. Now, Thanksgiving is something I look forward to with happy anticipation, not dread.

Have patience with yourself. Build new memories while cherishing the old.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Power is sometimes perceived as a negative quality. Powerful people are often described as: intimidating, overbearing, forceful, aggressive or threatening, yet some powerful people create good in our world.

When power is used for ill, it is at best manipulative and at worst oppressive or evil. "Power over" creates a disequilibrium where one person is strong and the other weak. When power is channelled for good, everyone benefits. Consider some of the most powerful figures in history and forces for good, ie, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King. Use of power for evil (ie, Adolph Hitler) is a plague on humanity.

We all have the ability to influence others for good or evil purposes. How will you use your power?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


When is the last time you felt awe? If you've ever had a child, you have experienced it. If you've ever noticed the color of autumn leaves backlit by the setting sun, you would have felt awe at the miracle of nature. There are ample opportunities to feel awe, if we are paying attention.

The dictionary defines awe as, "a reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder." Used in religious references, awe sometimes leans toward the fear. I like to think we can choose to be filled with respect and wonder, whenever something moves us so deeply.

I feel fortunate to notice opportunities to experience awe. I find it most often in nature; in the fleeting moments before the sun goes down behind the horizon; when the moon rises on the horizon, seemingly too big to be the moon at all; when the sky is a steely gray before or after a rain, and objects against it look surreal; when a rainbow stretches across the sky from one end of the earth to the other, lasting only moments, maybe even seconds. I have also been in awe in the midst of sadness or tragedy. That's when the human spirit rises to be its best, reaching out in sisterhood to hold each other up.

Awe is the gift that reminds us of the depth with which we can feel things, in a way that touches our souls.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Giving and Receiving

Why is it seemingly easier for most of us to give, than to receive? Some of us are shy and humble, and don't like attention. Some don't feel worthy. Others feel it will upset the balance of power to be  "indebted" to someone for some kindness they may have shown you. Let me offer another perspective.

It is scientifically proven that giving makes you feel good. It takes your mind off things that may trouble you. It builds self-esteem and confidence. There is tremendous satisfaction in filling a need someone can't provide for herself.

Even if you are uncomfortable taking anything, realize that you are depriving someone of the pleasure of giving. Songwriter Jon Gailmor once said, "There is no pain like powerlessness." I knew exactly what he meant when so many years later, I felt powerless to save my husband's life when he was dying of cancer. The only thing I could hold onto, was to give whatever he would take, so I didn't feel so helpless.

The gift you receive keeps on circulating, and even grows. While you may not reciprocate the gift, the kindness will be banked by the universe and available when you need it. Or maybe it will just be passed on to someone else who needs it more than you do.

I never forgot the kindness of a man who came to my aid when I was assaulted and robbed. While living in New York City as a young woman, I was riding my bike on a beautiful spring afternoon, along the East River. Suddenly, in a deserted stretch, I was stopped by a junkie, who held a broken glass bottle to my neck while demanding my bike. I gave it to him and he fled. I crossed the highway and found myself in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Shaken and scared, a man approached me, asked me what happened, and offered me a ride to a pay phone (this was WAY before cellphones). He said I might be unsafe crossing the projects to get there on foot. "Should I trust him," I thought? I was already vulnerable, and he could be taking advantage of the situation. I unconsciously weighed my options and decided I was better off taking him up on his offer. He drove me to the phone and waited for me to reach my boyfriend, to come and get me. When it was apparent he wasn't coming, the man said, "Don't worry. Here is cab fare," and he hailed a taxi. When I got in and asked for his name and address so I could return the money, he said, "Just help someone else out some time," and he left. It was 35 years ago, and I will never forget him. I have honored his wish by paying it forward, as he requested.

Kindness is bankable. The universe provides to those who need comfort, someone willing to give it. And for those who give it, kindness will be there when it is needed.