Looking for a few good … opinions!
(And offering a giveaway)

Thanks for your thoughts on The Art of Balance title earlier this fall. The book is moving through its early pre-release stages. I’m busily getting feedback, making revisions, building a new website for Transformations Press, and investigating ways to network. But before I can get much further, I need a good cover! 1. The Scene: You’re feeling stressed and you’re scrolling through books on stress relief in the hope of finding a solution…

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Garbage and Flowers

  For the last several years, I’ve found myself attracted to the dead leaves I see on the ground as I walk, particularly those in late fall and winter. I’ve taken thousands of pictures of them. A friend’s mentioning to me the concept of wabi-sabi helped me understand why.     For the last several years, I’ve found myself attracted to the dead leaves I see on the ground as I walk, particularly…

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Time: Visible and Invisible

  My first experience of time as a continuum occurred when I was about ten years old. Before that, I think time was invisible to me. I was riding my bike past Johnny Sybulski’s house and I stopped, suddenly, for no particular reason. I looked at the simple brick facade, the white trim, the unkempt bushes, and I became aware of myself looking. I thought, “This is just one second in my life,…

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First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is!

A recent trip to Vermont reminded me that, although I’m still enamored of the mountains north of Santa Fe, NM, New England mountains also have their particular, softer charm. Some views of the Green Mountains, north and south             P.S. If you find what you read here helpful, please forward it to others who might, too. Or click one of the buttons below the blog entry. Comments always…

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Love Lives On

The gaze of love is not deluded. Love sees what is best in the beloved, even when what is best in the beloved finds it hard to emerge into the light. – J. M. Coetzee When I was 25, living in Manhattan, and trying to jump-start a career in writing and photography, I visited my parents and brothers in Buffalo two or three times a year. On those trips, I also saw my…

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Electrocuting the Ants

I did terrible things to insects as a child. Like many other boys growing up with nothing better to do, I tore the legs off Daddy Longlegs, incinerated pill bugs with magnifying glasses, and set fire to more than one ant hill. But I didn’t stop there. I was a kid scientist. Spurred on by the early space program and largely ignored by the adults around me, I dreamed of one day voyaging to…

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The Cast of Characters

NOTE: I’ve been working with an illustrator on the characters in my forthcoming book on balance and thought you might be interested in what we’ve developed. Here’s the cast of characters and a brief introduction to them. Know thy self, know thy enemy. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War This is a book about balance: What disrupts it, what restores it, and how to keep it going. It is also a story,…

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Miracles

There are two ways to live: You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein I am a miracle worker by trade. Or more precisely, a facilitator of miracles. I state this with humility. My powers are as ordinary as those of the Wizard of Oz, whose only real magic was tricking Dorothy, the Tin Woodsman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly…

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When Failure is an Option

Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. – F. Scott Fitzgerald In our success-driven culture, there seems to be no end of helpful adages for dealing with failure. But “failure is not an option” is small comfort to those who believe they have already failed, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” seldom encourages the already discouraged, and “we learn more from failure than from success” is scant consolation…

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How to (Really) Listen

The first duty of love is to listen. – Paul Tillich Failures to listen are endemic to our species. The most common complaint from parents who bring their children to me for counseling is that “they don’t listen,” by which the parent usually means that the child does not obey. When I talk with children, they likewise complain that their parents don’t listen, but they mean it literally. Failure to listen to children…

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Stay Sane with the Personal Craziness Index

To stay sane in an insane world, we need more than new tools and techniques. To maintain sanity, we also have to keep doing the things that got us there. The final piece of the resilience puzzle is to build Balancer-enhancing attitudes and practices into our daily lives, so they are as much a part of our routines as breathing. Then we keep watch to make sure we’re staying on track. When Balancer…

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Three Ways to Mix Mindfulness into Your Life

At the risk of stating the obvious, in order for Balancer to keep us balanced, it’s helpful to do activities that explicitly promote … balance. Mindfulness-based activities are at the top of the list. The term mindfulness, the state of being focused on the present moment, without judgement, has become part of the zeitgeist in the past several years, and for good reason. The benefits of mindfulness-based activities are physical, emotional, and psychological.…

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Handling Change, Part I:
Radical Acceptance and Self-Compassion

Emotional adaptability is the ability to respond to changing circumstances and events without being unduly shaken by these changes. It’s a Balancer characteristic and a key component of resilience. Those of us who are emotionally adaptable can bend with the wind, like saplings. Those of us who are less adaptable are likely to strain and crack as we struggle to maintain equilibrium. Emotional adaptability varies from person to person and can also be…

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Handling Change, Part II:
Forgiveness and Self-Forgiveness

Forgiveness and Self-Forgiveness Like acceptance and compassion, the ability to forgive ourselves and others can free us from what Romantic poet William Blake called “mind-forged manacles” – in this case, feelings such as anger, hatred, resentment, guilt, shame, and victimization. Liberation from these feelings through forgiveness can help us be more available in the present moment and more adaptable to its ever-changing conditions. Forgiveness, however is sometimes difficult to achieve. Some obstacles to…

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Handling Change, Part III:
Creative Approach and Experimental Attitude

Creative Approach Creative activities – and the creative approach to life that often accompanies them – can also help us become more emotionally adaptable. Creative activities are rewarding as outlets for self-expression. They feel good, they are centering, and they give us a sense of accomplishment. And they’re often fun! But besides these more obvious benefits, creative activities can also change the way we approach our lives. When we work creatively, we dive…

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Strive for Excellence, Not Perfection

My father was a storekeeper and the son of working-class immigrants. He wanted his children to do better than he had, and he believed the gateway to a successful life was education. Consequently, he held me, his firstborn, to high academic standards. This meant I had to get A’s, and to earn my father’s approval I abandoned many other activities so I could focus on schoolwork. By the time I completed high school,…

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How to Boost Connections and Support

For most of us, UnBalancer flourishes when we’re isolated. We are social animals, and separation from others weakens our ability not only to thrive, but sometimes even to survive. Ostracism – being ignored and excluded – threatens our basic need for belonging. In other mammals, being ostracized removes the individual from the protection of the pack and usually results in death from predators or starvation. Human beings are hard-wired to fear ostracism, so…

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How to Rebalance Your Brain in 3 Easy Steps

One of the most powerful resilience-building, Balancer-enhancing strategies is to consciously look for growth opportunities in experiences – to seek the silver lining in the cloud. Looking for the growth opportunity in the struggle makes it possible for us to find it. Difficulties become, as a friend of mine puts it, “just an AFGO – Another F***ing Growth Opportunity.” Thinking of struggles as AFGOs allows us to accept, in a tongue-in-cheek but still…

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Learning to Love Yourself

In my more troubled youth, I was often told that to truly love anyone, I needed first to love myself. This advice, though well-intentioned, set up an unhelpful dynamic. Loving myself seemed as much like actual love as masturbation was to sexual intercourse – a solitary substitute for the real thing. Why would I want that? In my mid 20s, while riding the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn, I had an insight: To…

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Build Your Resilience in 6 Steps

  In recent posts, I’ve talked mostly about ReBalancer, the force that kicks in when our default stabilizer, Balancer, gets thrown out of whack by the UnBalancer. ReBalancer handles out-of-the ordinary stresses, but ReBalancer alone can’t keep us on an even keel. For that, we need Balancer to be healthy and strong. Balancer doesn’t ask us for much. Much like our immune systems, it chugs along on autopilot, making minor course corrections when…

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