It may have been all the fairy tales I’d read as a kid, or maybe it’s just the nature of being a child, but everything new seemed magical to me when I was growing up. I was raised in a suburban development on Long Island that was built on former potato fields. There were still farms on Hempstead Turnpike, the main road a couple of blocks away, and … Continue reading The Magic of Childhood
While parking my car at a busy shopping center, I witnessed an unfolding drama. A woman in a red car was heading for a spot when a blue car came from the opposite direction and slipped right in. I settled in to watch the battle, but then a new spot opened up right next to the red car. Disaster was averted. Well, not quite. Instead of … Continue reading Small Slights, Big Emotions
When I was a child, my father was movie-star handsome and powerfully built, with sparkling blue eyes and a sharp, curious mind. He left early every morning to work at his own business and returned home to dinner and his many hobbies. He had a darkroom in the basement and was an amateur photographer. He taught himself to play the guitar. He studied and took … Continue reading Ambivalence When a Parent Dies
I hear some lawyers say, “I don’t like other lawyers. They’re money hungry and unscrupulous.” I hear some police officers say, “I can’t stand other cops. The job is the center of their life and identity. Not me.” I hear some psychologists say, “Psychologists are crazy. I stay away from them in my personal life.” I hear some teachers say, “Keep me away from other teachers. They’re bossy … Continue reading Bias Against Our Own Kind
I was listening to a podcast from Studio 360 called, Can Laughing Make us Healthier?, and my first thought was, everybody’s got a gimmick. In the 1970’s there was primal scream therapy, where the patient remembers and reenacts a disturbing past experience that occurred in childhood. They express their repressed anger and frustration with spontaneous screams, hysteria, or violence. I’d hate to share a neighboring office with a primal scream therapist. … Continue reading Laughter Yoga – Gimmick or Game?
My mother asked me how my internet search for a relationship was going. “Terrible,” I told her. “I’ve been doing this for years and it’s a complete failure.” “Years?” she asked. “10 years! No, 15!” I said. 15 years was a nice round number and added just the right amount of dramatic spice to my pessimism. But I knew I was lying to my mother (and myself). Here’s what … Continue reading I Want it Now!
When I tell people I quit eating added sugar over a year ago on a dare from my son, the response I get is, “Wow, I could never do that. I don’t have your willpower.” But I quit the sugar precisely because I realized that willpower is a myth. How else to explain that whenever I hosted a holiday party, I had to give away, … Continue reading The Willpower Myth
I was so terrified about speaking up in school that if I had to give a presentation, I’d spend the whole class thinking of what I had to say. I’d become deaf to what everyone else was saying. After I spoke, my deafness persisted. My heart pounded as I numbly replayed my mistakes, and I shuddered at the memory of my faltering voice. People sometimes say, “I have low self-esteem.” Does that mean they don’t like … Continue reading Self-Esteem is Overrated
I met a man, I’ll call him Martin, who was devastated about how his marriage had ended. “After 30 years and 2 kids,” he said, looking baffled, “my wife left me for another woman. How could I not know she was gay?” “What’s the worst thing about this loss for you?” I asked. “It’s bad enough that my marriage is over. We never had a close physical relationship anyway. I … Continue reading When You Lose Faith in Yourself
I once dated a guy, I’ll call him Mark, who said that he chose to never fall in love. “You choose that?” I asked. “But haven’t you ever met someone you couldn’t help but fall in love with?” I was asking, of course, because I was quickly falling for him and wanted to test the waters. “I don’t permit myself,” Mark insisted. When he saw my incredulous … Continue reading Manufacturing Romantic Chemistry