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
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.
I’m the single mother of a terrific daughter who will be starting her junior year of high school in September. As the summer takes off and I look back on the past year, I recall a demanding, frustrating and enlightening agenda of late night study sessions, accelerated classes, soul-searching, worry about the future and career planning…
But that was just my school year.
There are times in life when everything seems to come together in perfect harmony. But there are often times when everything seems to be a mess – Nothing feels quite right, bad luck seems to follow you everywhere, and the background music of your life is an insistent cacophony of grating dissonance that announces, very clearly, “Your life isn’t working.” We’ve all been there, but have you ever wondered how you got there and why? Continue reading
They say “change is good” and, for the most part, I agree. After all, without a healthy dose of change life would be boring and spiritless. But what happens when the force of change doesn’t knock on the door but, instead, knocks down your whole house? Continue reading
Years ago I experienced divorce first-hand and it was awful. Emotionally crippling and physically debilitating, I found myself believing that the pain would simply eat me alive as I became a shell of who I used to be. I desperately wanted my “original” self back – to replace my newfound despair with my youthful sense of passion – to recapture my enthusiasm for life. So when I saw the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” I found myself living vicariously through Frances, the movie’s protagonist. The plot is simple: Continue reading
If you’re like me, you were probably raised to observe old-fashioned values and good manners; be fair, be kind, be patient, be a team-player. I’ve spent a lifetime observing these principles and, most often, I’m proud to do so. But I’ve also learned a valuable lesson – the final lesson in the “old-fashioned values” handbook that, I think, most of us were never taught… Not everyone deserves your best. Continue reading