Month: May, 2013


Happiness upon retiring is not necessarily about not working. I think it is more about the end of “striving” through life. If you don’t hate your job, even if you love your job, retirement is a welcome relief.  It’s not just that you don’t have to get up and participate in the rat race anymore, it’s that you get to enjoy life at a slower pace. There’s nothing further to prove. If you have an ambition—to write a book, or travel the world, or make art—whatever it is—you are now doing it for yourself. There’s freedom in that.


Fear of Flying

“Don’t be scared,” the mother said to her three-year-old son as the plane taxied for take off.  I cringed. Had I said that to my children? Or, more accurately, how many times had I said that to them?

We do it out of love; it’s a prayer for them to be safe from harm and free from pain. The problem is: it doesn’t work. We can’t save them from all worry, fear or pain.

It was a throwaway line this caring mother said to her son. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” is what she really meant to say.

Bet Din

Dear Mom,

            Your granddaughter is converting—she will really be Jewish! I am excited at this big step in her life. 

            Miriam’s conversion makes me think about the decision I made NOT to convert. I did it partially because I didn’t want to hurt you. Looking back, however, I wonder if it was the right decision. I think that rather than being disappointed at my deciding to no longer be Catholic, you might have been happy if I had been part of any organized religion.  I didn’t mean to disappoint you.

            Now your granddaughter is converting and I am proud. 

The Undertoad

“I couldn’t shake the weirdness,” she said. This was my student describing a strange feeling she’d had all day.

I have had that same feeling. John Irving described it as the undertoad, I believe. A slight feeling of dread, or discomfort. Something slightly off. It follows you all day long.

Whatever it is, it makes us feel uncomfortable. And alone.

I wanted her to know that I totally understood the feeling. I wanted to reach, not just across the room, but into her heart. I wanted her to know that she is not alone. She is loved. She is understood.

Pajama Pants vs. Sweat Pants

I saw you again yesterday, Mister. The first time I saw you in the neighborhood you had your tiny baby in a stroller and you were headed out for coffee. You were in your pajama pants. I judged you for that. Totally judged you.

Yesterday, you were in sweats. Thank goodness. Sweatpants can be considered clothing. Especially since you were running with the baby in a running stroller this time. You were exercising in exercise clothing. So appropriate. I judged you again. Only this time, the judgment fell in your favor.

(not sure if it was the same guy or not.)

Rough Cut

Teenagers believe they have the market cornered on choosing an identity. Their developmental task: who am I?  Yet, I too decide every day “who do I want to be?”

Do I want to be Mom? Pick up the phone!

Do I want to be a writer? Pick up the pen!

Do I want to be a sister? Who knows.

Am I “the greatest counselor of all time?” Listen!

Am I a friend? Pick up the phone!

Am I a good friend? Make a date.

Am I a depressed person? Shut down the computer. Engage in life.

Who am I today?

On Aging

It’s hackneyed, but true: getting older is not for sissies. This thought pops into my head many times as I go about the business of my life. Looking in the mirror, I’m surprised by the image looking back. She is no longer young. I see life etched in her face, regret shadowed in her eyes. It is often a shock and a disappointment.

Watching carefully the old ladies I see in my travels through the neighborhood, I’m deciding how I want to be when I am old. This is what I have so far: svelte, tailored, handsome maybe, confident, graceful.