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Showing posts from 2017

Love Lives On

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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. CoetzeeWhen 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 maternal grandmother.It was painful to witness Bubby’s decline. Though only in her mid 70s, by then she was legally blind, mostly deaf, unable to manage on her own. She had a room at a Jewish nursing home downtown, an institutional environment where I always felt uneasy.On one visit, as I was leaving I noticed two of Bubby’s former neighbors sitting in folding chairs on the lawn. I went over to them. Mr. Klein’s recent stroke had paralyzed one side of his body and frozen half his face; his attempts to talk were unintelligible. Mrs. Klein, however, seemed virtually unchanged since I’d last seen her, more than ten years before. S…

Electrocuting the Ants

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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 the stars. Meanwhile, to prepare myself, I read Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Bradbury, and other SF masters of the day. At the same time, I plowed through one field of scientific inquiry after another, beginning with magnets and batteries – I built my first lead-acid battery when I was seven – and moving quickly through fossils, geology, chemistry and electronics. But entomology was my most enduring interest and bugs were my favorite experimental subjects.The insect kingdom was convenient for testing ideas that came up in both my scientific and science fictional pursuits. My interest was, I believed, purel…

How to leap tall buildings in a single bound

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The only way to find the limits of the possible is by going beyond them to the impossible.
– Arthur C. ClarkeDuring 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 me. Soon, I was wandering over to the adult section of the library every week, taking out as many science fiction books as the librarian would permit. I also haunted the local pharmacy’s rack of science fiction and mystery novels, trying to figure out how best to allocate my 50-cent allowance. By my early teens, I had amassed a collection of several hundred science fiction books and had read many more.Around the time I discovered Asimov, I decided I wanted to be a “space scientist,” a dream that carried me all the way through my first year of engineering school. By then, I had …

The Cast of Characters

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NOTE: I’ve been working with an illustrator on the characters in my forthcoming book on balance and thought you might be interested in what we’ve developed. Here’s the cast of characters and a brief introduction to them.Know thy self, know thy enemy.
Sun Tzu, The Art of WarThis is a book about balance: What disrupts it, what restores it, and how to keep it going.It is also a story, and like any story, it has a cast of characters.Some are friends and fellow travelers. Some are enemies. In the pages of this book you will come to know them well. But first, some introductions.Al/Alice
We are the heroes of this saga, an epic battle not only for balance but literally for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.UnBalancerThe villain in our story is the nefarious UnBalancer.UnBalancer is a fearsome and sometimes deadly force. It strives single-mindedly to unseat us, and sometimes it wins the battle – but not, as we’ll see, the war.BalancerOur chief ally in combating UnBalancer is Balance…

Miracles

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There are two ways to live: You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.
– Albert EinsteinI am a miracle worker by trade. Or more precisely, a facilitator of miracles.I state this with humility. My powers are as ordinary as those of the Wizard of Oz, whose only real magic was tricking Dorothy, the Tin Woodsman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion into beginning a journey out of their self-limiting beliefs.The best trick I’ve found to facilitate miracles is deceptively simple. (Like the Wizard, I, too, sometimes need to be a little deceptive). It’s called the Miracle Question and it goes like this:Imagine that after you finish this essay you do whatever you would normally do with the rest of today. But tonight, while you’re asleep, a strange thing happens: A miracle occurs. This miracle is just for you, and it’s that all your problems and concerns are solved. Wonderful, right? However, there’s a catch. Because the miracle happened while you were …

Got Anxiety? How to Help

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NOTE: This article first appeared on lifehack.org, where I am now a columnist.In Part I of this two-part series, we looked at what anxiety is and how to tell if you or someone close to you is suffering from an anxiety disorder.Now let’s explore the causes of anxiety disorders and the treatments for them. We’ll also delve into the best self-help strategies anxiety sufferers can practice themselves and how their friends and families can help.Types of people who are prone to anxiety disordersThe causes of anxiety disorders are not completely understood, but most people I’ve worked with seem to have one or more of the following: a more sensitive temperament, to have suffered events that felt traumatic to them early in life, and to have endured a period of stressful situations. The combination of these factors brought them to a tipping point that created an anxiety disorder. Specific risk factors for anxiety disorders include:Childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect, or witnessing a trauma…

The Two Faces of “Anxious”

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NOTE: This post first appeared on lifehack.org, where I am now a columnist.“Anxious” is a word with two faces. Sometimes it means eager excitement. “I’m anxious to see you!” we say, as we get off the phone with a friend who’s coming to visit. The other side of “anxious” is a bit darker: “I’m anxious about that test,” we say, when we’re worried about the results. We call the second meaning “anxiety,” and most of us experience it from time to time.In common usage, both meanings of “anxious” describe our responses to fleeting, time-limited events.But anxiety can also have a much more powerful grip on many of us. Without the right kind of attention, it can rule our lives.I’m a psychotherapist in private practice north of Boston, Massachusetts, and I’ve worked with many clients who have anxiety. In this, the first of two articles on a psychotherapist’s views on anxiety, I’ll describe what anxiety is and how you can tell whether you or someone close to you is suffering from it. In Part II, …

My love affair with Georgia O’Keeffe

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For many years, people have pointed out that my Flower Mandalas must have been influenced by the flower paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe – which, of course, was not lost on me. But it was not until I traveled to Santa Fe and then north to Abiquiu and nearby Ghost Ranch that I understood how deep that influence was.I feel more at home and at peace (and at the same time, as the Brits say, gobsmacked) in this painted landscape than anywhere I’ve been on the planet, and I can see why O’Keeffe kept coming back, year after year, until she was finally able to put down a permanent stake there.Here are a few more of the images I shot on a too-brief journey up Route 84 into Georgia O’Keeffe country after attending the Creativity and Madness conference in Santa Fe.More anon,
DavidP.S. If you find what you read here helpful, please forward it to others who might, too. Or click one of the buttons below.Books:
Paths to Wholeness: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas
52 (more) Flower Mandalas: An Adult Coloring Boo…

How Art Makes You Stronger: Creativity and Madness

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I’ve just returned from an incredible week at the Creativity and Madness conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I wanted to share a little about the conference itself and what I presented there.The conference is the creation of psychiatrist Dr. Barry Panter and Mary Lou Panter and is currently run by Dr. Panter and his wife, Jacqueline Berz Panter. Barry began it 35 years ago as a way for health and mental health professionals to receive and to present ideas on how artistic creativity and mental health are connected. This conference and the companion conference Women of Resilience happen twice a year in the U.S. and twice a year in other parts of the world.
The conference has been held in Santa Fe, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Washington, Hawaii, all of the major cities in Europe, as well as in South America, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, and China. MDs, PhDs, Social Workers, MFTs, and other therapists and medical professionals can obtain continuing education ho…

Be the Change

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A man cannot step into the same river twice.
Heraclitis of EphesusI came of age in the late ’60s, the era of the first man on the moon, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, free love, civil rights marches, and the assassinations of iconic figures including Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. It was a time of reinventing the mores, values, and attitudes of the Depression-era parents who raised us. Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’” was our anthem – and our hope. We believed we could “change the world”: end war and poverty, achieve racial equality, bring literacy to the illiterate, and recreate the Paradise from which we felt we had fallen long ago. We could do it. My generation. Us, not them.I finished high school in 1969 and that year discovered the poetry of William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, and Robert Bly. These poet radicals became my role models. Much of my first year in college I spent attending concerts by topical protest singers, encircling draft boards, demonstra…

5 Topics: A very short manifesto

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“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of WarAn editor at lifehack.org recently asked me what topics I would choose if I could write about only 5. The question brought meaning and purpose into sharper focus.These are the topics I chose: Acceptance, Gratitude, Perseverance, Self-Love, and Hope.And this is why:Without full acceptance of present circumstances, positive change is difficult or impossible.Without gratitude to help us remember the positives, it is easy to get caught up in the negatives and lose momentum.Without perseverance, it’s easy to give in to despair at the first setback, mistaking, as T. S. Elliot put it, a single defeat for a final defeat.Without self-love, it is difficult to care enough about ourselves to persevere in the face of obstacles we encounter along the journey to self-actualization.Without hope, it’s impossible to start, and starting is perhaps th…

Can you help with a little experiment?

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I have a small, personal favor to ask of you.So far, my attempts to get my work out into the world have had limited success, and because I have what seems to be a helpful message. I’m looking for ways to find a larger audience.I’m actually excited to be part of the Better You Bundle for Good coming in a few days. It’s a large and varied assortment of books, personal development courses, and other resources. And for me, it’s an experiment.So, here’s the favor: Please download the free ebookChange Your Life! Experts Share Their Top Tips and Strategies for Reaching Your Highest Potential This book contains nearly 100 personal development tips from a diverse group of authors and course creators, including some of my own best advice. It’s a really interesting mix of “being-oriented” and “action-oriented” tips, and a portent of what’s to come in the Better You Bundles for Good package itself. Here’s the link: Download the free ebookDownloading the book will sign you up for the Bundles for G…