Many of us live our lives as if there will always be plenty of time – time to go back to school, time to pick up a passion that was put aside for family or career, time to pursue a dream that’s nagged us since we were young. “Later,” we we tell ourselves, “when the kids are grown, when my debts are paid off, when I have more… time.” It’s perfectly understandable why it happens; an endless stream of day to day tasks and responsibilities distract us from one simple truth – time has an expiration date, so the time to live is now. Continue reading
In the 1970’s a folk artist from Detroit penned and recorded some of the most poignant songs of our time. An edgy brand of inner-city poetry, his songs addressed societal issues that were tearing our country apart: war, racial inequality, abuse of women, poverty, drugs and corruption. They were heartrending and profound. They expressed the frustration of an entire generation. And due to a lack of commercial success… they were never heard.
Across the Atlantic, South Africa was being rocked by the oppression and violence of apartheid at the same time. However, thanks to the underground anti-establishment songs of one particular musician, the seeds of full-blown protest were being sown. In a country where speaking out against apartheid meant imprisonment and other atrocities, this was nothing short of a miracle. His records were secreted into every liberal home, and he became a bigger household name than Bob Dylan.
Believe it or not… these two stories are about the same man. Continue reading
Just two weeks ago, the world watched in awe as Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, in shark-infested water without a protective cage. Throughout the 100 mile trip, the endurance swimmer contended with harsh wind, exceptionally cold water, fatigue and jellyfish. Hardly a novice, Nyad had attempted the crossing four times before, each time dealing with storms, asthma attacks, a swollen tongue and lips, and even vomiting due to excessive intake of salt water. But all of this isn’t even the most impressive part to me. Her fifth and final attempt took 53 hours, resulting in a historic achievement, all at the tender age of 64. Continue reading
As my daughter nears her sixteenth birthday, I’m noticing that her growth as a person is increasing exponentially with each year. In the old days, her maturity was happily and easily measured by annual report cards and steadily increasing clothing sizes during each year’s back-to-school shopping spree. These days, her rites of passage are tougher to measure because her maturity and eagerness, like her longer legs, make for bigger steps at a much faster rate. First steps and words have given way to her first job, later curfews, excitement for driving, SAT’s and saving to travel abroad (without a parent, mind you). And as we discuss plans for college, a career and a life of her own, I’m full of pride and anticipation. After all, my little girl has grown to be a passionate, intelligent and independent young woman. But as she approaches the mid-point of her high school career I’m also struck with a bit of melancholy, because despite my long-held belief that children are only on loan to us – I never understood how quickly that loan would be due.
Ask any number of people to summarize their childhood, and you’ll hear a variety of descriptions. Our childhoods are laced with humor and heartbreak, tragedy and joy, failure and triumph – all in varying degrees. Some of our parents gave their all, though limited emotionally, financially or physically. Other parents had much to give but thought only of themselves and neglected, abandoned or abused us instead. Some of us possessed an innate tenacity and self-assurance while others harbored self-doubt and timidity. Some of us thrived, some crumbled, and some are still trying to come to terms with who we are and how we feel about the men and women who raised or didn’t raise us. Whatever our backgrounds and tendencies, though, I think our journeys contained certain commonalities; what we wanted wasn’t always what we needed, and sometimes what we needed wasn’t at all what we received. Continue reading
This week, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. One friend from high school announced that she was following her passion and moving to India to teach yoga. Another quit her ho-hum job, packed up her life in a New York minute and moved to New England to open a bed & breakfast (where she plans to perfect the art of the gourmet morning meal for her guests and long, dreamy walks along the beach for herself). Three more friends sent their kids off to prestigious colleges, another gushed about seeing his fourth Broadway show in one month, and yet another posted photos from a swank, Venetian costume party – IN Venice. And while I poured over the photos of yet another friend’s fitness competition (Yep, she lost 40 pounds AND managed to become a hard body in the process) it occurred to me… I had developed a nagging case of FOMO. Continue reading
I recently had an opportunity to see “King Lear” at Boscobel’s Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. As I took in a breathtaking sunset over the cliffs beyond the river – and brother turned against brother; sister murdered sister; and children and their father acted rashly, abusively and cruelly to each other – I considered the fact that Shakespeare’s play is as significant now as it was in his day. From the cases we read about in the news to the injustices we suffer at the hands of our own so-called relatives, it’s appropriate to consider the truism, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” The saying, of course, implies an unspoken wish that we could choose our relatives. But I have to wonder, maybe it’s a good thing that we can’t. Continue reading
Words. They can build confidence or implant doubt, heal a relationship or destroy one, generate interest or suppress it in a mere phrase. Words express our deepest feelings, sell our skills and ideas, and set plans in motion every day. Words are the basis of communication and expression, but we often don’t even think about what we’re really saying. We often forget the simple fact that words have power. I read a terrific blog post by Seth Godin today. In it, he describes how the words we choose greatly affect how we and our ideas are perceived by others. I’d like to take this idea a step further, though; I think the words we use also influence the way we perceive ourselves.
In the midst of the challenges and chaos of our day to day existence, it’s easy to forget that there’s a world of opportunity out there. Sure, we dream of alternate careers, travel, starting a new business, moving to that distant place we’ve always dreamed about, learning to play the piano. We even imagine how rewarding it would be, but at the end of the day we often file these cravings away in folders labeled Someday, Pipe Dreams or Impossible. The reality is, many of our dreams don’t have to be “out there” at all. They’re not only possible, they’re attainable with some planning and work. And the only things stopping us are two little words…. “I can’t.” Continue reading
There’s a section of the Alps between Austria and Italy that’s so incredibly steep and high, that it was considered impossible to cross years ago. Because it was treacherous even for pack animals, travelers had no choice but to take the long journey around it. It was inconvenient. It was costly and it was time consuming. And even though people wished for a path through the mountains, they also said it couldn’t be made. Carl von Ghega built one anyway. It took twelve years and 20,000 workers, but the determined engineer designed and oversaw the construction of a railway that consisted of 41 kilometers of track, 14 tunnels, 16 viaducts and 111 bridges.
But the most amazing part? He built the railway before there was a train in existence that could make the trip.