Raising children is the most harrowing, as well as life-affirming, experience there is. We live our lives under the illusion of control because to do otherwise would make us feel helpless and crazy. When we’re faced with things we can’t control, we can feel overwhelmed by worry. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I tried to eat right. But all day, every day, … Continue reading The Myth of Control in Parenting
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 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 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
We all hate when someone expresses their displeasure with our appearance, behavior, or something we’ve produced. We usually jump to our defense. But learning to use criticism to our benefit is one of the most important things we can learn in life. It’s hard to hear that our story, picture, new jacket, or haircut is not quite right, according to someone else. But it’s always useful. Always? Even if the person … Continue reading Criticism is useful, not insulting