The other day I read that 75 percent of us cannot park a car in our garages because they are so jam-packed full of stuff. My husband and I spent a weekend weeding through our garage two weekends ago, only to be left with a fresh amount of new space for the overflow of stuff from the house to be moved to garage. My car will never make it there and given that I drive a Smart Car, that says a lot.
According to James Carse, Professor Emeritus at NYU, there are three kinds of ignorance: ordinary ignorance, willful ignorance, and higher ignorance. The first is the very essence of learning — you move from unknowing to knowing — like learning history, science, facts and trivia. The second type, willful ignorance, is when you know something but choose to pretend you do not. The third type of ignorance is lofty in scope and hard to achieve — it is a reverence for the unknown — for mystery — or what may be unknowable.
The other night I discovered a new game for the ‘over 50′ crowd. I was at a dinner party and a group of us were chatting about who knows what when suddenly I was trying to remember the name of the actor who starred in a 1970s (or ’80s) television cop show and had not too long ago been on trial for killing his wife.
I found myself saying words the other day that shocked me. “I’m not seeking right now” were in response to a friend’s questioning me about my interest (or lack thereof) in meeting her friend, a South American shaman who guides people in self-investigation.
I just spent the week with Sookie Stackhouse in Bon Temps, Louisiana. I had never seen an episode of True Blood until six days ago when I watched episode 1 season 1 on HBO GO on my iPad. Yesterday, I left Sookie screaming in the finale of Season 4.
My days of ‘hands-on’ parenting (the parenting that takes place between infancy and 21 years of age or so) are over. Our youngest of three kids just turned 21 leaving my husband and I in a new ‘phase’ of life. The all consuming enterprise of hands-on parenting changes radically when adult children take over the helm of their own vessels to travel through life.
The other day a friend told me a peculiar phenomenon: take your birthyear (e.g., 1955=55) and add it to your age (you will be this year, eg. 56); they will always add up to 111. My friends tried it and it was true. I knew the math behind it was simple, but my friend’s interpretation was on a very different plane: “See how we are all interconnected — we are all 111.” She’s a very spiritual and beautiful person — fun-loving, an artist and world traveler, completely compassionate and giving in life. If everyone shared her passion for life and kindness the world would be a kinder place. On the other hand, she’s not that grounded in science and sometimes takes “rational facts” as magical or spiritual.
Our three children are now in their 20s and exploring the diverse roads of life. By that I mean they are making decisions about whether to go to graduate school, what jobs to seek, and what career trajectories they might pursue. It is a time of decision-making, but unlike decisions of the past, these are made on their own — with requested parental input pondered, but decisions resting solely on their shoulders. And I see how such decisions weigh heavily upon them at times.
How you think and feel emotionally can contribute to your physical health and well-being — it’s just that simple. The list of scientific studies demonstrating that point comes from diverse fields of study including medicine, neuroscience, immunology, genetics, psychiatry and psychology.
In “The Road Less Traveled,” M. Scott Peck wrote, “Life is difficult.” Whether you are rich or poor, old or young, male or female, religious or atheist, employed or unemployed, or a politician, doctor, lawyer, teacher, parent, son, daughter, sister or brother, we all face difficulties in life.
A friend and I were discussing what it means to have success the other day and she was telling me how difficult it is to demonstrate success in her profession, a clinical psychologist. I had thought about that myself a while back when I realized that success to a mental health professional means that a patient no longer needs their services. It is a quiet affair to end one’s therapy; it is something private between clinician and the patient. There are no awards, promotions, publications, or other signs of success that might accompany positions in business or academia.
I think it is a misnomer to describe acts of kindness as random; kindness arises with an intention to “be kind” followed by an action. While the acts may be directed toward anonymous people or animals, the person’s act of kindness is anything but random — it is deliberate and directional — non-random in nature.
I’ve been a big coffee drinker most of my life. In fact, I can say my relationship to coffee was (is) an addiction. I couldn’t go a day without it. My early morning ritual centered upon it and even when I traveled I figured out my coffee situation well in advance. So as with many addictions, I attempted to stop many times and would suffer through withdrawal headaches for a week or so then relapse again.
I’m in Johannesburg for the beginning of World Cup. Although I learned a lot about soccer from watching my kids play when they were young, I’m not that knowledgeable about the game, players, etc. But the excitement in the air is palpable. South Africans and most of the world (the US lags here) are huge soccer fans.
Words fail us all the time. I was reminded of the inadequacy of words at my friend’s house last week. He has a son with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a genetic neuromuscular disorder affecting some 1 in 3500 boys. There is no cure for DMD.
My family attended our son’s graduation over the weekend at the University of Vermont where the commencement speaker was Eric K. Shinseki, United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Aside from delivering a short and rather entertaining speech, he got across a pretty simple message to the emerging graduates: the real mark of success is kindness, and sharing that with others.
The other night a husband and wife were asking me about meditation; the wife was a mediator and the husband was not. She clearly reaped great benefit from it and must have trying to get her husband to do it, but to no avail. I told the husband that I’ve been working to bring meditation to UCLA, in the medical school where our center is located (www.marc.ucla.edu), with a goal to teach meditation practices in a secular way, particularly in light of emerging research supporting its benefits on health and well-being.
I’ve been attending a series of lectures at the Hammer Museum in Westwood California around Carl Jung’s Red Book. The lectures are actually dialogues between an interesting person (e.g. actor, writer, artist, scholar, religious leader, etc) and a Jungian analyst or scholar around The Red Book and the process of inward investigation of mind (what the Red Book represents). All the events have been over-subscribed, standing room only, and a huge success. In the Q and A period following each Dialogue, a common question emerges “Why Now?”
The other night I attended one of the Red Book Dialogues at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, California. The Dialogues are a series of discussions between a celebrity (that night was Helen Hunt) and a psychoanalyst or Jungian scholar (that night was James Hillman) around The Red Book, Carl Jung’s personal journey into the mind. The Red Book is on display at the Hammer Museum through May.
No doubt we all time travel. Our minds constantly wander to the future or cruise to the past. I started studying mindfulness meditation when I discovered how often I wasn’t really ‘present’ in my day to day activities.
I ventured down a road of discovery when only one trail was available. Genetics research at the turn of the 20th century was like the early days of the gold rush, a maddening crowd with simple picks chopping away at the genome. But little did we know the magnitude of her complexity, honed by millions of years of creation. One hundred thousand genes became 30,000. The rule ‘one gene, one protein’ became obsolete. The stability of gene expression is now but a figment of imagination. Epigenomics* moves in – like a new kid on the block – all eyes turn toward her.
The birthday cake, potato chips, and cookie bag were on the grocery conveyor belt with a half-gallon of milk to look normal. Did the cashier suspect that the food was just for me or was my facade of a birthday party a good enough cover? The birthday napkins probably did the trick.
I never like the word ’spirituality’ because it seemed New Age or tied to concepts of God in organized religion. However, having returned from my first trip to India, I find it best describes the culture I experienced there.
I began writing for Huffpo several years ago. It was a turning point for my own self-expression as I had previously written only empirically-based scientific papers. Since then, I’ve found writing (Huffpost, books, journaling, etc.) to be a powerful method of personal reflection, growth, and creativity. As I pondered why, this is what I discovered:
In the aftermath of the holidays and a refrigerator full to the brim with leftovers, I remember a disturbing fact: 1 billion people in the world are hungry while we in America discard – throw away – 40 percent of our food a day (I heard that the estimate is about 1200 calories per person per day). Do the math. If we – 325 million strong – stopped wasting food – we could feed perhaps 130 million people with what we already discard!
I just finished reading Muhammad by Karen Armstrong (Orion Publishing, 1991) while en route from Dubai to Paris, and a steward on the plane stopped me to see if I liked the book. He was Pakistani and a Muslim and could not say enough about how wonderful he thought her descriptions of the origins of his religion were. He noted that even as a non-Muslim she had captured the essence of Islam.
Last night I pulled a down comforter over me in a five-star Dubai hotel as I sank luxuriously into the 1000 thread sheets and feather-soft mattress. We arrived in Dubai for a one night stopover en route to Paris from Malawi.
I grew up in the 60s in Midwest America. It was a time of change in the U.S. when a new sweep at gender equality crossed our nation. I was a child before the women’s movement and a woman in its aftermath. Women gained many newfound freedoms; but what if I had been born in another era or another country where gender equality is far from a basic human right.