I used to teach a night class at the local college about the history of social welfare in America. One of the evenings was devoted to Social Justice and Discrimination. We discussed prejudice and stereotypes. Students seemed to think that while negative stereotypes were evil, positive stereotypes were a good thing. Jews are smart. Black people are great musicians and athletes. Asians are math geniuses (even though they are abysmal … Continue reading Positive Stereotypes are Negative
I once had a co-worker who got married 3 times – to the same man. I’d met Leanne just as she was divorcing her husband for the 2nd time. “I should have known better,” she said with a sheepish grin. When I ran into Leanne a couple of years later, I asked how she was doing. “I married him again,” she said, rolling her eyes. “The … Continue reading If it Doesn’t Work the First Time
I spent my entire education, including high school, university, and graduate school, as the quietest student in history. In 4th grade I stopped ever raising my hand, and did not once answer a question for the next 20 years in any classroom. But I longed to speak in public. Years ago, I was introduced to the non-profit organization, Toastmasters International, where I met the kindest group … Continue reading Are You a Natural?
This is a story of how I changed the lives of 8 people for 10 days in a trifling way. But mostly, it’s about how I changed myself. Many years ago I was a shy social worker at a small, non-profit agency helping runaway kids by giving them shelter, advocacy, and counseling. We were housed in an old building undergoing renovation during the hottest July I can … Continue reading Doing the Impossible
We may think that our experience of happiness is objective, but it’s not. We all carry an unconscious frame of reference in our heads that filters how we feel about our lives. Everything – our relationships, our beliefs about our own success, our friends, family, and wealth, are perceived through this filter. Since we’re always comparing ourselves to the people around us, we need to discover … Continue reading Am I Happy, Compared to You?
I was listening today to an interview of the soon-to-be 94 year old Norman Lear, the creator of such innovative American TV shows as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, and One Day at a Time. His career spans over 50 years and he’s still going strong. When asked for his secret to happiness and success, he said, “Two words. Over and next. When … Continue reading Over and Next
I adored my mother’s father. Grandpa was poor, money-wise, but rich with his gifts. They weren’t board games, dolls, or pretty dresses, which I had plenty of. His gifts cost almost nothing. A walnut in a shell became a ball to toss across a room and a missile to knock down a pyramid of playing cards. Grandpa taught me to play cat’s cradle with the string … Continue reading Gifts from Grandpa
As a psychotherapist, people entrust me with their most private thoughts, feelings, and experiences. I hold that trust as sacred. Not because of strict confidentiality laws (which I uphold), but because I regard the safety and protection of these people as my highest priority. So where do my stories come from? First, when I tell a story about someone other than myself, either in a lecture to a group … Continue reading Privacy and Stories
When I was a girl of 9 or 10, I was the oldest of 3 sisters (eventually there would be 4 of us.) At this time, a girl I’d never met became an unexpected visitor at my house. This was rather mysterious as she’d sprung up out of nowhere. She seemed younger than I, but was quite large — tall and ungainly. My parents said she was … Continue reading Family Secrets – A Popular Pastime
What? An affair? Cheating on your spouse? Am I serious? Kevin (not real name) was a married man with 2 kids. He explained to me, “My wife is bipolar and it’s depressing to be around her. She doesn’t like me and I don’t like her. But I can’t divorce her because she’s not capable of caring for the kids alone and neither am I. She’s often in … Continue reading Can an Affair Preserve a Marriage?