Life isn’t easy. We all say it, but I’d never fully appreciated the weight of it until a recent conversation with a friend. After years of struggling to stay afloat financially and emotionally, she’d relocated, lost her livelihood, and encountered life-changing upheaval that would make even the strongest of us crumble under the devastation. Her stamina was faltering. Her bank account dwindled down to nothing and she was losing hope – fast. Despite courageous attempts to change her circumstances and tremendous sacrifices, she felt defeated and out of options. Standing on the rocky shore of her existence after years of fighting to survive, she was wondering out loud if her ship would ever come in. Continue reading
“What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
The good you do today will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway…
Give the best you have and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.” – Mother Theresa
Very few things in life really last. Our children grow up and our roles as parents change. Holidays and special occasions come and go. Years with our loved ones fly by as just fleeting moments in time. Our favorite projects, at home or at work, often reach a peak before coming to an end, signaling that it’s time to move on to something else. In extreme cases, what we build and strive for can be torn down by others or taken for granted, never fully appreciated for the dedication and love that was poured into it. So why do we expend so much energy on things that may not last? Why do we plan, strive, devote ourselves to pursuits that will likely be temporary? Continue reading
A dear friend contacted me recently, out of her mind with frustration. It seems her employer had just derailed her pet project again, changing his mind and her team’s direction for the third time in two months. The change, sadly for her, will mean longer hours, heightened stress, and the certainty of a missed deadline for which, inevitably, he will hold her responsible. But perhaps even more significant, to her the change means a total disregard for her expertise and a lack of appreciation for the hours and dedication already poured into the work. After years of experiencing this dysfunctional pattern, my once passionate friend, a driven project manager, is now feeling nothing more than ineffective and deflated. Unwilling to expend her energy on what seems to be a losing battle, she has decided to stop trying so hard and simply “go with the flow.” But even as she says this, I hear the doubt in her voice. She wonders out loud, “Does this acceptance mean I’m growing up or does it mean I’m giving up?” Continue reading
I come from a long line of performers. In addition to winning adult Charleston contests at 12 years old, my grandmother often entertained her neighbors and grandchildren with silly characters she’d create, dances she’d whip up on the spot and skits designed to make us all laugh. My grandfather’s creative outlet was a Hammond organ. I used to sit at his feet, mesmerized, while he’d play. My father, meanwhile, fancied himself a doo wap singer. He’d burst into song whenever a phrase or word would suggest a lyric he’d remember. And my mother? She was a dancer – and I’m told a very good one at that. I myself spent years as a triple threat, an actress who could sing and dance, fully immersed in the process of trying to “make it” in show biz, so it was no surprise to me when my daughter was also bitten by the bug.
A few weeks ago, my very talented daughter was invited to audition in New York City, for “one of those national television voice competition shows.” (I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you which one or they’d have to kill me. Well, actually, they’d have to sue me; it said so in the contract.) And as I watched her bare her soul, present her best self to a room full of strangers and wait for acceptance or a rejection based not just on talent but on so many other factors, it occurred to me: there is SO much we can learn from performers. Continue reading
In the early 1900’s an aspiring cartoonist was fired from his job at the The Kansas City Star. According to his editor, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
The young man’s name was Walt Disney.
I want it. My daughter wants it. My closest friends want it, and I’d bet my life on the fact that you do too. There are classes on how to achieve it, books written about the subject and philosophers have always mused about lifestyles that are most conducive to it. Yet with all of this longing, all of the resources on how to grasp it, it’s still very hard to come by. I’m talking about inner peace. The most fortunate of us have to contend with day to day stressors of making ends meet, getting the kids’ lives in order, finding and keeping a good job, and finagling the time and money to pay our ever-mounting bills. But in extreme cases, some of us have to contend with fear and literal threats to our physical, financial or emotional survival – sometimes all at once. Regardless of our experience, we all want the same thing: to find a state of serenity and wisdom, a sense of purpose and contentment that would rival the life of a Buddhist monk. The truth is we can find it, it’s just that sometimes you have to fight like a gladiator to get it. Continue reading
Unemployment, mounting bills, concern about the future – with Thanksgiving around the corner, you may be wondering if you have anything to be thankful for. Despite the challenges of living in these tough times, it’s important to remember – you do.
When I was young, I had the distinct feeling that time was somehow standing still. Yes, the sun rose and set but the days seemed longer, experiences felt more heightened, and time itself seemed to stretch out so graciously that it was barely noticeable. Now that I’m older and busier, time seems to race by faster than I can measure. Weeks and months go by in a blink. This same phenomenon seems to be true for most people I know, which makes me wonder; if time hasn’t changed (a day has been 24 hours long whether we’ve been nine or forty nine) then why has our perception of time changed as we’ve gotten older? The short answer is – It may be because we’re not paying attention. Continue reading
There will always be someone with more than you – someone who is better than you are at a skill you’re passionate about, who is better looking, who has more money or “stuff,” who is more successful. It’s also safe to say that when we’re faced with these people who seem to be so much luckier than we are, many of us feel inferior or even short-changed. We’re often told not to focus on what we don’t have and, instead, to be grateful for the things we do. But I’m inclined to agree with Mark Twain who once said, “Comparison is the death of joy.”
A few days ago, my daughter was listening to music. Passing by her room, I stopped dead in my tracks at the sound of some comforting lyrics by Jessie J (someone I’d never heard of before). The profound phrase that wafted through the crack in the door was surprising in its simplicity: It’s ok not to be ok.