Thank you Mr. Sondheim, Week 31 in the Time of Transition
I was working at Strawbridge and Clothier in the Men’s shoe department. This was a branch in the Echelon Mall in Voorhees, NJ, a short commute to Philadelphia. I was a student at Rutger’s University in Camden, still a theater major, though I would finish with a degree in English. Paul Puccio, an English major at another college, who worked in Men’s Furnishings, introduced me to the music of Stephen Sondheim. I was 18 years old. He was enamored with Follies and Alexis Smith. He invited me over to his home where I listened to his original Broadway cast album with Paul narrating to a neophyte. I was changed for life.
Thanks Giving & Thanks Getting, Week 30 in the Time of Transition
We’re about to ascend upon Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. I’m grateful for a quiet dinner with Larry and a restful weekend. I’ve been looking forward to this coming weekend since rest is usually ad hoc, and I am often trying to locate windows of opportunity to relax.
Funny Thing About Gratitude, Week 26 in the Time of Transition
I find it incredibly annoying when I’m upset about a person, place, or thing, I’m on a rant, and the individual listening responds by telling me I should be grateful. It feels like a dismissal of my complaint, valid or not, and a recommendation that I pivot to a “soft music inserted here” blissful moment when I see how lovely life is and how wrong I was to find the awful in this grand world we inhabit.
Hello Sunrise, Week 25 in the Time of Transition
When I was a young child and my bedtime was 7:30, the advent of a darker evening meant that I was awake longer while the night sky became opaque. It felt as if I was staying up later, even though I understood in theory I was going to bed at the same time. Since the pandemic my bedtime has gotten earlier. I go out less, plus I got older these past 19 months. I have yet to go to bed at 7:30, but it feels easy to get into bed when it’s been dark for a few hours.
Getting Away, Week 23 in the Time of Transition
Sometimes we just need to get away. It helps to clear our heads and take a break from day-to-day stress. That’s exactly what we did this weekend. It’s been a long time coming. I booked this trip before the pandemic shut down our world. I rebooked three times in the hope that quarantines were a temporary inconvenience. In the end we had to wait until the Canadian borders opened up for the fully vaccinated.
20th Anniversary, Week 20 in the Time of Transition
I’m teary this weekend. It’s hard to watch the news because my mind pivots to the many clients who spoke of their losses the days, months, and years post-9/11. As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, those of us who remember can clearly recall the exact circumstances when we witnessed or heard of the attacks. I am one of the fortunate who worked downtown, but I had taken the day off to attend a seminar. I never worked in the World Trade Center, but our social service center had a direct view. There were so many other stories like that of those who for unforetold circumstances were not in the towers when they fell.
A Pandemic Birthday, Week Eighteen in the Time of Transition
A few years ago I was at a networking event when I spotted an old acquaintance. I was happy to see her, filled with memories of the two of us with mutual friends enjoying parties, volunteering, and talks in the mid-80’s. When I approached her and reminded her who I was, in a cold tone she responded, “Yes, I know who you are.” I felt hurt and dismissed. I thought about those early years in New York City when I couch-surfed and lived hand to mouth. It was a hard time, and I was not always my best self. I had thought warmly of this person recalling her dedication to friends and of her strong work ethic. Her taciturn words indicated she thought less of me.
Not This! Week Seventeen in the Time of Transition
Sweet Sixteen, Week Sixteen in the Time of Transition
Sweet Sixteen. It doesn’t feel so sweet these days. I remember when I was turning sixteen, I yearned to have a fancy party as many of my friends were having that year. We couldn’t afford an expensive affair, so I begged and cajoled my parents into allowing me to have a house party. My mother did not enjoy entertaining, nor did she feel comfortable in having a good number of adolescents in her home. I didn’t realize at the time what a gift she was giving me just by saying yes.
Cloudy, Week Fifteen in the Time of Transition
I shifted my routine earlier this week to catch the sunrise. Typically I relish the space between sleep and daytime. The sweet spot of the morning. Following those moments I shift into meditation, then move on from there with coffee and the rest of the day. As soon as I awoke I brushed my teeth and ran to the East River to get a glimpse of the sunrise.
No Ending to Mental Health Awareness Month, Week Five in the Time of Transition
Boy, Oh, Boy, Week 44 in the Time of Coronavirus
Yesterday I hit the wall. Before I lost all steam, I had lofty plans. I had research to do. There is always cleaning and organizing. I was behind on my writing. Yet, by the time I was three fourths of the way through a walk in Central Park, I felt as if I was dragging my leaden legs on the southern arc of the Reservoir. When I finally reached home, I couldn’t get my sweats on fast enough. Then Lucy had to go out. I love her, and also dearly wished there was someone else who would have taken her out. I was able to speak with a friend from the other coast, and that gave me a pleasurable energy shot. Though life in California is as fraught as it...
Cautiously Optimistic, Week 43 in the Time of Coronavirus
Is this really a Happy New Year? Yes, we survived 2020. And, yet, recalling how happy we were to be in a new decade just a year ago, we are constantly reminded of the unexpected turn of events in March.
In this first weekend of the new year, we take stock of the meaning of “hindsight is 2020.” Relieved that 2020 is behind us, our memories are raw from all we witnessed, and all we faced personally. I now know the impact of ongoing stress on my body and mind. I am just beginning to understand what is required to sooth myself and support others going through the intensity of extreme tension. Sometimes it means reaching out and caring for someone, taking the attention off myself. Other...
So Long 2020, Week 42 in the Time of Coronavirus
Before the end of this week we will welcome in a new year. Never will there have been a greater collective sigh throughout the globe than at the rotating midnight hour of 1/1/2021. We all faced many challenges throughout the year. And we all learned essential truths about ourselves. I learned that doing less was a relief. I learned that patience is not an end point, but an ongoing process. I learned to use my crankier tendences as a reflection on what vulnerabilities I am attempting to protect. I learned that I still have a lot to learn in asking for help. Plus, I learned that 2020 gave us endless opportunities to learn. I also learned that even with the possibility of learning, sometimes learning to relax was the...
Thanksgiving, Gratitude & Disappointment, Week 37 in the Time of Coronavirus
There’s no doubt that this is a Thanksgiving like no other. Many will spend Thanksgiving, if it is being spent at all, without loved ones. In a large number of cases, it will be the first holiday without someone because they died, either of Covid-19 or from other causes. It’s hard to feel thankful for these facts. We can embody gratitude for what we’ve had in the past. Or we may feel grateful for not having to be social when we’re not up to seeing anyone. However, that’s a far cry from the delight of festivities of past years.
Gratitude and its cousin, appreciation, can feel like a burden in times of fear, sadness and loss. I am all for gratitude journals, and gratitude as a tenet of...
Free Shakespeare in the Park
On a sweltering Tuesday in August, in my first full summer as a New York City resident, I was nervous and excited about the prospect of obtaining free tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The day in 1982 was hazy, and the great lawn was full of picnickers all with numbers for a place in line. I was number 26. I had gotten there so early, maybe 7 AM to ensure my audience participation. And, I was far from the first one in line. But with a coffee and an H&H bagel for breakfast, I felt well-prepared. Hour after hour of baking in the sun, I was a lucky recipient of two tickets...
The movie Funny Girl opened in 1968. I was eight years old and in Third Grade, struggling with Mrs. Mishaw, the dower educator who wore Irish wool suits and had no patience for fools. I was a dreamy fool finding solace in movies. Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice became my hero. Fanny Brice for celebrating her kooky self, and Barbra for singing so magnificently. She was the balm for an otherwise abrasive year.
This past week I got to revisit the magnificence of Ms. Streisand singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” She brought down the Brooklyn house with her clear, luminous voice. I was enthralled then, as I am now. And, if that weren’t enough, she sang at least three Sondheim...
The Last Word on The Marathon
In fact, more than anything...