Is it live or is it Memorex?

(Faking it till you make it and the cure for hypochondria) If you’re old enough, you might remember the iconic Memorex television commercials from the 1970s in which jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald shatters a wine glass with her voice. Then, the playback of a recording of Fitzgerald on Memorex tape shatters another. The announcer asks: “Is it live or is it Memorex?” More on Memorex in a moment. But first, a brief trip…

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Stuck? Find the bottleneck.

A few months ago, I took a business bootcamp course from Mirasee, an organization that helps build and scale businesses using a combination of audience-building strategies and online courses. The intention of the course designer and company founder, Danny Iny, was to teach participants how to jump start a business. I’m not sure, yet, whether the course will help me do that, but it’s already made a difference in how I approach problems…

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The Reluctant Carnivore

Last week, I happened upon a Facebook video that gave me pause. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=Sx-CxuAeVPo Until a few years ago, I’d always eaten meat. I love a good hamburger, a steak, turkey breast, salmon, grilled chicken. And I’d always been aware that I was indirectly killing a sentient creature. But, I thought, I’m also an animal, and other animals eat animals. I could hunt for my food if I had to. In April, 2014, a…

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Dive Deep to Live Creatively

Creative activities—and the creative approach to life that often accompanies them—can help us better withstand the huffing and puffing of life’s Big Bad Wolf. Creative activities are rewarding outlets for self-expression. They give us a sense of accomplishment, often have a centering effect, and they’re usually fun to do. But besides these obvious benefits, creative activities can also enhance how we approach our lives. When we work creatively, we dive deep into ourselves.…

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Clean Up Your Cat Hairs!

Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay is desperate ground. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War Stress is one of the most insidious challenges to building resilience. It can be a constant strain on our natural balancing mechanism, gradually wearing down its efficacy and slowing its response time. Basic ways to reduce stress that therapists often recommend include changing your emotional relationship to the stressor…

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The View from 30K

I recently flew from Boston to the West Coast to see my oldest and closest friend. I don’t fly often, but when I do, I try to get a a window seat. Yes, there’s less legroom, and yes, I have to step over people if I want to use the restroom, but there’s no other way to get the view from 30K, and the view from 30K is important to me. On this…

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Artists for Artists (Part I)

While I was waiting for my flight home in the vast Hong Kong International airport, I reflected on the many things that had been stirred in me by the experience of being in Hong Kong. Chief among them was a vague sense of fraudulence. Although I’d just run a vital, stimulating workshop on cultivating creativity at the Asia Yoga Conference, my own artistic creative output had been sadly lacking for nearly a year.…

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Guest Post: Ken Ring is Still Waiting to Die….

Waiting to Die – Part II Kenneth Ring I might have been a tad too glib when in the first installment of what clearly will be a terminal series having to do with my personal terminus, I observed that at least for me waiting to die was rather boring. After this winter, I have had cause to change my mind. For a while there, I thought it might be more of a matter…

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Justice: Attorneys, samurai, and Old Testament Jews

In the late ’50s, psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg observed that as we mature, we progress through three basic levels of moral development. At the pre-conventional levels, our sense of what’s fair and just is self-centered; we are concerned mainly with satisfying our own needs and avoiding punishment. Most of us move on to the conventional levels, where our sense of justice is based mainly on societal expectations; we make moral decisions based on rules,…

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How (and why) I became a therapist

Recently, I was in touch with a woman who is transitioning from being an engineer to becoming a therapist, and we’ve been exchanging emails on our respective paths. I thought I’d share a bit of mine, here. My path to becoming a therapist was a slow, trial-and-error process. I’m 67 now and was 51 when I enrolled in Cambridge College’s program to become a mental health counselor. I grew up a sort of…

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25th Anniversary Celebration

NOTE: Today is the 25th year anniversary of my near-death experience, an event that ended one phase of my life and began another, like the period at the end of this sentence ends it. And then a new sentence begins. This post from my book Paths to Wholeness: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas describes that experience and its aftermath. GRACE: CONTINUATIONS On February 21, 1993, at about 7:45pm, I was granted a form of grace…

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“I Apologize.”

Before I started my training as a therapist, I took a short course in community mediation. Most of my mediation experience was as a volunteer in small claims court. We mediators helped conflicting parties try to reach a mutually satisfying agreement rather than simply letting a judge adjudicate the case. Small claims court is all about settling financial arguments, and money was always the identified issue in the cases we handled. But in…

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A Wild Beast or a God?

Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god. – Francis Bacon Solitude, my refuge as a boy, felt like imprisonment for much of my later life. From my last year in high school and through my 20s, I struggled ceaselessly to avoid it. I structured my life to reinforce connection. I hitch-hiked across the United States and Canada to force myself to ask strangers for rides and places…

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Now, Be, Here

I was 20 when I first encountered Baba Ram Dass’s square, purple-covered Be Here Now, the book that launched many of my generation on an Eastern-inspired journey. I was walking though the student center of the University at Buffalo when I ran into a high school friend sitting on the floor outside the bookstore, guitar at his side, leafing through it. He handed it to me. Be? Here? Now? More than 40 years…

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How the light gets through

Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. – Georgia O’Keeffe In August, 2003, I attended a five-day, mostly silent retreat with Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (and 900 others). I thought of it as “Buddhist boot camp.” We awoke at 5:30 a.m., exercised with Thich Nhat Hanh or one…

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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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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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How to leap tall buildings in a single bound

The only way to find the limits of the possible is by going beyond them to the impossible. – Arthur C. Clarke During much of my childhood, I lived in the realm of possibility: machine intelligences, aliens, mutants, future worlds, alternate pasts. Infinite possibilities. My first science fiction book was Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot. I was 10 when I found a copy at a Temple Sinai rummage sale. It opened the universe to…

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