• The Transformation Process

    “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Then we’ll figure out what to do.” –– Sylvia Boorstein Recently, I came across this quote by Sylvia Boorstein. This was not the first time I read that, in her effort to cultivate loving kindness, Sylvia addresses herself as “Sweetheart,” especially when self-criticism and self-doubt bubble up. Today, as my daughter and I were driving to visit a friend, I found myself sharing these words with her and talking about the importance of practicing loving kindness and how this practice needs to also include ourselves. It has never been easy for me to include myself to the practice of loving kindness. I tend to be hard on myself and “sweetheart” is not exactly the term I use when I get frustrated with myself. I know that I’m not alone in this. Most of us tend to judge ourselves harshly and beat ourselves over the head. As we began to discuss the brilliance of finding a loving way to address…

  • On Strength, Health, and Sanity

    The day after Paying Attention was published, I received a thoughtful email from a friend and faithful reader of my posts. She usually writes back to let me know what the post meant to her, ask me questions, and at times challenge me to go deeper. These email conversations have become our little ritual and I love it. After I posted Paying Attention, I sat with what I had written. I felt that the post was incomplete. There was more to be said about how each of us is handling the tremendous stress and pressure we’re experiencing. There’s nothing simple or straightforward about our current, collective experience. When I received my friend’s reply to the post, something she said gave me pause. I asked her permission to share one of her comments and decided to jump-start a conversation based on her experience. This is what she said … I have found lately that I have wanted to be less introspective. I think I am less willing to look inward now even though the time is…

  • Paying Attention

    Is there anyone among us who doesn’t know by now that we’re being shaken to our core by immense social and global changes? There’s the ever-evolving pandemic, the chaotic political landscape, and the recent, long-due protests that the NY Times is calling “the largest movement in the country’s history, according to interviews with scholars and crowd-counting experts.” Although we all inhabit this world at the same time, our individual experience of the crises are not of the same intensity. Yes, our lives have been disrupted and our rhythms and rituals upended. But then, there’s loss of life, livelihood, and security. There’s a thundering, universal demand for letting go. Letting go of old belief systems and destructive behaviors. Letting go of our attachment for things to go back to the way they’ve always been. Letting go of our need to be comfortable. Letting go of our tendency to turn a blind eye. Letting go of our illusions, among other things. The ground underneath our feet is shifting and emotions run high. Everything’s up in the air,…

  • What’s in a Day

    A couple of days ago I was listening to Tara Brach as an intro to my morning meditation. In her talk, she referred to RAIN: Cultivating Mindfulness in Difficult Times; a four-step process we can use when we find ourselves in the grip of difficult emotions. When we can’t see the forest for the trees, RAIN can help us cut through the stress and confusion by: Recognizing what is happening. Allowing what is to be. Investigating our experience, gently without judgment. Nurturing what needs to be nurtured, with kindness. As I listened to Tara Brach walking me through the four steps, I found myself at a place of honest recognition and raw vulnerability. I was able to sit with whatever was triggering me and allow it to exist without trying to change the narrative and distract myself. It was a rewarding experience. You can play with RAIN anytime and anywhere. Right now, as you’re sitting, just close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths, and scan your body. What comes up for you? Is…

  • On Self-Compassion

    I woke up Monday morning (last Monday that is) feeling energized and ready to go. I had plans for the week ahead. In addition to the usual tasks, I was going to write, reach out to some friends and family members, and begin setting the foundation for new projects. My intentions were good and I had the energy and inspiration to match them. It didn’t exactly go as planned. It’s now a week later. As I sit down to write this, I look back and wonder where the days went. My mood began to deteriorate from the get go. It was a rainy and cold week. Neal and the girls were frustrated. They’re all working remotely but last week the Gods of internet decided to play games. As soon as I’d sit down trying to focus, somebody would burst in, frustrated, asking me to do something about this forsaken internet. We kept getting in each other’s way. I found myself getting more and more distracted. Inspiration, energy, and creativity went out the window. Eventually, I…

  • The Eye of the Storm

    We're being hit by a powerful storm. We're asked to take cover and wait it out. We're trying to care for our family and keep healthy, while working from home. We're trying really hard to keep our perspective and maintain hope. Staying calm, sane, and present with ourselves in the midst of chaos is not easy.

  • The New Normal

    This morning I asked the girls … “Hey girls, what do you think I should write about today?” Elinor turned to me and said, “Write about normalcy. I keep thinking that when I go back to New York, life will not be the way it was before I left. I used to walk to work every morning and I’d see familiar faces, the same young people walking to work too. Some of us will not have jobs by the time we get back and how is that going to play out? And, what about some of my favorite places? Will they survive? How is the new normal going to be? I have no idea.” I have to admit, although this idea of life not returning to what it used to be has been on my mind too, hearing my daughter say it out loud, made me pause. The girls are at the very beginning of their adult life, a life that will be defined by this pandemic. The decisions that people my age have made…

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