Archive for the ‘wisdom’ Category


My good friend Sue Bergin — writer, hospice chaplin, collage artist, musician and all-around deep thinker — has a new book out, Am I a Saint Yet: Healing the Pain of Perfectionism (available here).  I’ll be attending her book launch Saturday, and I’ll review it here when I finally have a copy.


As soon as the Christmas noise is over, we’ll likely be inundated by the media with recommendations for New Year’s resolutions. That’s all well and good (I mean, who couldn’t stand to lose five pounds?) but I think we should temper our expectations. I say, if the resolution is the result of your comparing yourself negatively with others, rethink it.  Or, better yet, drop it.

My resolutions will likely run along the lines of slowing-down-to-smell-the-roses kind of stuff.

How about you?

My new mantra

Posted: August 7, 2012 in wisdom


Apropos of yesterday, when I complained about all the “gottas” in my life, this seems fitting, even necessary. We could all use a little more bliss in our lives, couldn’t we?

Actually, the full Depak Chopra quote reads:

If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It’s very important to be aware of them every time they come up.

Update: WordPress was hiccouging all over the place this morning, and my original post had some weird copy errors. Corrected. Thanks.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

— Robert Frost

A silver lining?

Posted: November 13, 2011 in Money, wisdom

Slate’s DoubleX site, which runs lifestyle stories and news for women, recently asked readers to write about their experiences in the current recession. It is, as you would expect, a litany of losses and limitations, many of them affecting seniors:

Pamela, 70, whose aviation technician husband was involuntarily retired from his job a few years ago says that they can no longer afford to travel. This hurts, since their families are several states away. “I have not seen them for four years,” she wrote. “Mom is 93.”

But there is a gritty hopefulness in some of the stories. People are not letting their losses rob them of their humanity:

A retired teacher who racked up a lot of credit card debt when times were good found herself unable to pay her bills and so has turned to bartering. She gets her house cleaned in exchange for piano lessons, she catered a dinner party in exchange for fabric (she sews), and she drives a friend to appointments in exchange for symphony tickets.

A man who with his wife runs a computer repair firm said that since the downturn they have fallen behind on their bills and run through their retirement savings. But, he wrote, “We still go out on date night to local restaurants, and we tip well. If you want to make yourself feel better and make a direct positive impact on someone else—tip well.”

[A paralegal wrote] “We have gone from fairly affluent with regular vacations to below poverty level, and guess what? We’re still here! Our experience with this has brought the family so much closer that it has been worth it.”

I remember seeing a tee-shirt once that read “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you’re making too much money.” Maybe some of us were making too much money, or rather spending too much money that just wasn’t ours. “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,” wrote Wordsworth more than a hundred years ago. Our cocaine, it would seem, was upscale real estate, and all that came with it. That big overpriced home on the right street that we had to have seems to have dragged many of us down and stripped us to our essentials. And for the best of us and the best in us, that may not have been a bad thing.

Sure, it’s cold comfort when you’re facing a foreclosure or a mountain of student loan debt or the loss of retirement savings and health benefits. But we’re a resilient species, and we can learn and adapt and even thrive again.

As Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” And so will we. For the better, I hope.

Sorry, Joe. It’s time to go.

Posted: November 10, 2011 in News, wisdom

I dabble in public relations at the college level, so I’ve been avidly following the mess at Penn State, which really blew up overnight. From the NYT story:

After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.

The demonstrators congregated outside Penn State’s administration building before stampeding into the tight grid of downtown streets. They turned their ire on a news van, a symbolic gesture that expressed a view held by many that the news media exaggerated Mr. Paterno’s role in the scandal surrounding accusations that a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulted young boys.

Despite Paterno’s low level (or no level) of culpability in the case — he reported to administrators that an athletic assistant had observed Sandusky violating a young boy in the Penn State locker room — the Board of Trustees fired not only Paterno, but his boss, Penn State President Graham Spanier, reportedly one of the highest-paid and longest-tenured college presidents in the nation. Paterno did what he was supposed to do, but there is evidence that Spanier and two of his administrators tried to put a lid on the accusations.  This is a perfect example of the cover-up being worse than the crime (but just barely) and has evoked comparisons with the Catholic Church’s attempts to hide its pedophile priests. So far nine victims — disadvantaged boys enrolled in a program Sandusky founded — have come forward, and there are undoubtedly more out there.

The board’s actions may seem draconian, but they were right to do what they did. Indeed, they should have fired the whole lot of them last week, or last month. From a public relations standpoint, you want to keep your bad news to what we in our office call a 24-hour news cycle: Own up to the problem immediately, deal with it or turn it over to the someone who can (in this case the police) and MOVE ON. No one is served by wringing your collective hands and sitting on the truth. It’s like a festering boil — grit your teeth, lance it, shoot it up with antibiotics and allow it to heal. A band-aid, no matter how big, isn’t going to cover it forever. It won’t make it go away.

I’m sorry for Joe, a football legend who should have gone out with fireworks instead of this pathetic whimper, but he hired Sandusky, even groomed him as his heir-apparent. (Which makes me wonder: How well do we know anyone, really?)

I hope now Penn State can start to heal.

Update: And I thought it couldn’t get any worse

I can’t decide if this is good news or bad news: Hormones linked to regain of weight lost by dieting

According to the Associated Press, “Dieters who have regained weight are not just slipping back into old habits, but are struggling against a persistent biological urge.”

The study doesn’t sound like junk science, and it was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which adds to its credibility. And it was pretty rigorous:

Weight regain is a common problem for dieters. To study what drives it, [researchers] enrolled 50 overweight or obese patients in a 10-week diet program in Australia. They wanted to see what would happen in people who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight. Ultimately, only 34 people lost that much and stuck with the study long enough for analysis.

The program was intense. On average, the participants lost almost 30 pounds during the 10 weeks, faster than the standard advice of losing 1 or 2 pounds a week. They took in 500 to 550 calories a day, using a meal replacement called Optifast plus vegetables for eight weeks. Then for two weeks they were gradually reintroduced to ordinary foods.

Not surprisingly, once off the program and despite counseling, most gained some weight back in less than a year.

The scientists checked the blood levels of nine hormones that influence appetite. The key finding came from comparing the hormone levels from before the weight-loss program to one year after it was over. Six hormones were still out of whack in a direction that would boost hunger.

The dieters also rated themselves as feeling hungrier after meals at the one-year mark, compared to what they reported before the diet program began.

As a chronic dieter — and weight gainer — this has been my entire experience. I’m convinced I would be a lot thinner — and would have saved myself a lot of mental anguish — if I’d never started dieting, especially some of the extreme dieting I forced myself through. (Oh, to be as “thin” as I was in high school, when I thought I was a whale…)

At least the timing for this tidbit was fortunate. I had another one of my epiphanies last night: I decided that I was not going to SPEND ONE MORE MINUTE hating or rejecting myself because of how I look. I have wasted too much time and energy (and too many tears) for nothing.

Someone shocked me recently with this question (and answer): Did you know you can make yourself instantly much happier by doing just one thing? Lower your expectations. I think it surprised me because because I’d always bought into the old hang-onto-your-ideals-no-matter-what mindset. But some ideals must be questioned, especially if they come from society and not from within ourselves. I can’t and won’t hold myself up to a societal standard of beauty that I cannot attain.

I have to redefine beauty for myself. And that definition is going to include style, and integrity, and good health, and joy, and mindfulness, and a lot of other good things.

Absolutely Essential Update:


RIP, Mr. Jobs

Posted: October 6, 2011 in technology, wisdom

I am literally wearing all black today. We’re all Jobs-less now… Can’t think of another person who has had more effect on my professional life. Can Apple continue to thrive without him?

HagTag: Quote of the day

Posted: September 7, 2011 in wisdom