Last Sunday, I went to a free event in New York City called Conversations New York. Over a hundred strangers came together on a sunny, breezy day in Bryant Park behind the main branch of the New York Public library. All around me, people lounged on the lawn eating lunch, playing ping pong, and reading books and magazines at the outdoor reading room. For the … Continue reading Connecting with Risk-takers
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about a catastrophe that almost happened, but didn’t. Really?! I’m worrying about the past? Don’t I have enough things I could drive myself crazy with? But if I’m worrying about bad things that almost happened, it’s a sure bet I’m not the only one who does. Last weekend I met my friend Nina in the city … Continue reading More on Luck (Or Moron Luck)
A friend wanted to talk to me about the dire state of American politics, specifically the terrible foreboding he had about the man who will be our next president. “Oh, that’s right,” my friend, Joe (not his real name), said. “You’re not following the news.” “If you want to talk to me,” I said, “I don’t mind hearing the important stuff second-hand. But for now, … Continue reading How Much Should we Give for our Country?
After two wonderful back-to-back vacations, I returned home with a severe chest cold. I stopped writing for over a month. Although I began to recover from my cold, I became wracked with doubt over restarting my writing habit again. Questions tortured me. Why am I writing in the first place? Who cares about what I have to say? How can I possibly contribute anything important … Continue reading Comfort in Unexpected Places
I used to belong to a ski club that traveled often to the breathtaking mountains of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. I was friends with a group of New York City firefighters who also belonged to the club. Once, instead of taking a bus, I decided to take my car and split the driving with a couple of these men. I’m scrupulous about wearing seat belts and … Continue reading Telling Yourself Superstitious Tales
Sometimes I look at people around me and marvel that every one of us alive right now is descended from an unbroken line of modern human beings who first walked the earth around 200,000 years ago. If you’re not amazed, and rather impressed with yourself, think about this: In the 4 billion years since life emerged on our planet, over 99% of all species that have ever lived, have gone … Continue reading Designed for Anxiety
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
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
It’s one thing to be criticized by others. It’s quite another to do it to ourselves. Is it always a bad thing? I had a client who told me she was a bumbling, stumbling klutz. She constantly tripped over her own feet, walked into furniture, and knocked statues over. “You’re a clumsy idiot!” she’d berate herself. “Don’t ever try dancing. You’ll look like a complete fool.” In a New York Times review … Continue reading Self-Criticism: Who’s your worst enemy?