Friday, June 22, 2018

Good Citizen

This morning when I stepped out with Romeo at 5:30 AM there was a dead chicken on the sidewalk at the intersection in front of the variety store. I wondered what that was about. I walked downtown admiring the morning light illuminating the tops of the buildings, thinking about the chicken. When I came back I saw Sandy, the lady with the skinny silver braid carrying the dead chicken by the feet. I watched as she walked up the street and disposed it in a trash barrel. What a good citizen!

Stairway to Heaven

This morning I had to walk over and admire the new staircase in front of tenement 628. The stairs have been rebuilt and painted and a pressure treated railing installed with an inside handrail. Over the past few weeks I watched the workers working with a wheelbarrow mixing cement and carefully rebuilding the stairs. For nearly a decade the front stairs had been blocked off by two by fours. The cement had crumbled and the landlord didn't want to fix it so he blocked it off closing the front porch. The tenants no longer had proper access to their building. They had to go in on the side. It was not just an eye sore it was a story about the slum landlords ruining our neighborhood. Well now there's a new landlord and he knows what he's doing. Amen. Thank you, Anthony. And thanks to the City for finding him.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


I just finished the memoir of Richard Simmons and I LOVED IT.

King and Queen of Cruelty


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

David Wagoner Poem


by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner

An Elephants Nose

Elephants have a keen nose. They have more smell receptors than any mammal – including dogs – and can sniff out food that is several miles away. A new study tests their ability to distinguish between similar smelling plants.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Paul Krugman

Wise words


My neighbor Alice tears up stale bread and sprinkles it on the sidewalk in front of her apartment for the birds. "One morning I saw two young kids down on their knees picking up the bread scraps and eating them! Apparently they weren't getting enough to eat at home. I told them that's for the birds let me give you something to eat, and I gave them packages of cheese and crackers. Whenever I see them I give them food," Alice said.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Romeo Swims

We just took Romeo swimming in the river behind Harris Pond. We threw a stick and he swam out and brought it back and dropped it on the shore. We did this about six times. We enjoyed watching him swim and he loved it. Then we walked the path because it was in the shade and we forgot to bring a towel to dry him off. He is such a good dog and he learns so fast.

Abusive Narcissism

Abuse takes place when one person fails to see the humanity of another, taking what he wants in order to experience control, disordered intimacy or power. It is the symptom of an illness that is fundamentally spiritual: a kind of narcissism that allows him to focus only on sating his need, blind to the pain of the victim. This same narcissism caused the editors of our sacred stories to limit the rape of Dinah to only nine words in a book of thousands.

Refraining from troubling behaviors is not enough; abusive narcissism must be unraveled through a transformation of heart and mind. A shift in the larger culture depends on putting the stories of women front and center. We must create space for them to be heard, not only by women but also by men, who are steeped in a culture that valorizes those behaviors. Seeing women as the rightful owners of their own bodies depends, first, on encountering women as fellow humans.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Romeo's Big Bone

We call Romeo's big Nylabone bone leg of mailman. Our mailman is named Liam. So we also call this bone leg of Liam.

Editorial Cartoonist Rob Rogers

I should’ve seen it coming. When I had lunch with my new boss a few months ago, he informed me that the paper’s publisher believed that the editorial cartoonist was akin to an editorial writer, and that his views should reflect the philosophy of the newspaper.

That was a new one to me.

I was trained in a tradition in which editorial cartoonists are the live wires of a publication — as one former colleague put it, the “constant irritant.” Our job is to provoke readers in a way words alone can’t. Cartoonists are not illustrators for a publisher’s politics.



Where Female Elephants Without Tusks Roam — and Poachers Stay Away

South Africa’s Addo elephant park has few females with tusks, a trait that has died off because of hunting but also keeps poachers away.

Reported by a Prisoner-Journalist

Comedy Writers Today

On an average day, Baze says, the Late Night writers’ room comes up with 500 jokes. Eleven make it on the air. “I tell the writers, ‘Look, you’re basically writing your jokes into a shredder, and every once in a while one of them will get plucked away and it’ll get to be on TV; don’t fall in love with your material.’”

“It’s incredibly hard, I think, to be funny when you’re really angry and sad at the same time,” McNearney adds.

Library Fines

Cities like New York and Los Angeles abandoned fines for children in recent years — and librarians across the country are joining the cause to do away with fines entirely, arguing that they’re discriminatory to low-income residents and a barrier to engagement. While circulation is on a downward trajectory nationwide — decreasing 3 percent across American libraries over the last five years, according to a survey from Public Libraries Online, in part because of the internet — library systems that have cut out fines entirely have in fact seen usership increase. In Salt Lake City, which ended its late fees last May, checkouts have risen by over 10 percent. Other cities, including Columbus, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee, report similar spikes in circulation after abolishing fines.

And while it’s easy to imagine $10 in late fees being a burden for some families, doing away with fines doesn't seem to make a dent in the overall budget of library systems. In Baltimore, for instance, fines accounted for only .25 percent of its $40 million budget, according to The Baltimore Sun. That’s a small price for the city to pay in order to keep libraries open and accessible to those who need them most.

Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is…

A health literacy program
About people helping people, one-on-one
For individuals who do not have any background as a mental health professional

A Fertile Chiaroscuro


I was in reality confining myself to a narcissistic prison, and preventing myself from loving and being loved.

I pledged, with an intensity I’d never known before, to do whatever I could to open my heart to my child, as well as my wife. I started a regimen of individual psychotherapy and medication. During the ensuing months, the war in my head occasionally calmed to where I could quietly survey the destruction and envision its cessation.

One morning, just after Una had turned three, I was reading William Blake and came across this passage: “Mutual Forgiveness of Each Vice / Such are the Gates of Paradise.” I understood that forgiveness need not be simply the letting go of anger; it can also be a way of experiencing beauty and wonder, the earth’s infinite, exquisite intricacies. In forgiving, I concluded, we no longer subject the world to our selfish judgments but instead expose ourselves to what exists regardless of our appetites: a reality now gloomy and now luminous, a fertile chiaroscuro. To trade the egocentric “ought” for the generous “is”—this is forgiveness.

Stripped of its dark powers, my bipolar has become more than an affliction. I can see it now as indispensable in the shaping of my identity—the root cause of my flaws, yes, but also the source of my productive sensibilities: my love of contemplation, my honesty about life’s troubles, my willingness to endure confusion and discover solutions.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Working Out

People thought I was a charlatan and a nut. The doctors were against me -- they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.

- Jack LaLanne, "Jack LaLanne, Founder of Modern Fitness Movement, Dies at 96", New York Times, January 23, 2011

One Thing

I have one thing in my mind. How can I get people to start taking care of themselves? That's all I think about.

Jack LaLanne, interview, Alive Magazine, March 2007

Jack LaLanne

I'd rather take a beating sometimes than get in that gym every morning. Anyone who gets up that early and says he likes it is a goddamned liar. The only good thing about it is that when I'm finished, I look at myself in the mirror and say, "Jack, you've done it again!"

-Jack LaLanne

Be Strong

"Thoughts are things. Negativity is what kills you... It's tough to do, but you've got to work at living, you know? Most people work at dying, but anybody can die; the easiest thing on this earth is to die. But to live takes guts; it takes energy, vitality, it takes thought. . . . We have so many negative influences out there that are pulling us down. . . . You've got to be strong to overcome these adversities . . . that's why I never stop."
- Jack LaLanne

My Obligation to Life

"I train like I'm training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I've always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest... How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don't work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It's my tranquilizer. It's part of the way I tell the truth--and telling the truth is what's kept me going all these years." - Jack LaLanne

Paul Krugman


James Baldwin

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
― James Baldwin

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
― James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death--ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.”
― James Baldwin

“I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do.”
― James Baldwin

“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.”
― James Baldwin

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
― James Baldwin

“The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. ”
― James Baldwin

“People can cry much easier than they can change.”
― James Baldwin

“It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.”
― James Baldwin

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word "love" here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace - not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“People don't have any mercy. They tear you limb from limb, in the name of love. Then, when you're dead, when they've killed you by what they made you go through, they say you didn't have any character. They weep big, bitter tears - not for you. For themselves, because they've lost their toy.”
― James Baldwin, Another Country

“The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”
― James Baldwin

James Baldwin

“People can't, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life.”
― James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

“There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.”
― James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room

I LOVE Ram Dass

“We're all just walking each other home.”
― Ram Dass

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”
― Ram Dass

“We're fascinated by the words--but where we meet is in the silence behind them.”
― Ram Dass

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”
― Ram Dass

“The most exquisite paradox… as soon as you give it all up, you can have it all. As long as you want power, you can't have it. The minute you don't want power, you'll have more than you ever dreamed possible.”
― Ram Dass

“I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion--and where it isn't, that's where my work lies.”
― Ram Dass

“The heart surrenders everything to the moment. The mind judges and holds back.”
― Ram Dass

“In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.”
― Ram Dass

“Be here now.”
― Ram Dass, Be Here Now

“Your problem is you are too busy holding on to your unworthiness.”
― Ram Dass

“As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can't see how it is.”
― Ram Dass

“Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.”
― Ram Dass

“The most important aspect of love is not in giving or the receiving: it's in the being. When I need love from others, or need to give love to others, I'm caught in an unstable situation. Being in love, rather than giving or taking love, is the only thing that provides stability. Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me.”
― Ram Dass

“Suffering is part of our training program for becoming wise.”
― Ram Dass

“What you meet in another being is the projection of your own level of evolution.”
― Ram Dass

“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can't be organized or regulated. It isn't true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.”
― Ram Dass

“Let's trade in all our judging for appreciating. Let's lay down our righteousness and just be together.”
― Ram Dass

“Only that in you which is me can hear what I'm saying.”
― Ram Dass

“The next message you need is always right where you are.”
― Ram Dass

“Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it.”
― Ram Dass

“We are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another.”
― Ram Dass

“A feeling of aversion or attachment toward something is your clue that there's work to be done.”
― Ram Dass

“I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn't create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people.”
― Ram Dass

The Way of the Wizard

“The most creative act you will ever undertake is the act of creating yourself.”
― Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard

Soul Silence Solitude

“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.”
― Deepak Chopra

The River

“Don't try to steer the river.”
― Deepak Chopra


“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.

The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.

If this sounds too mystical, refer again to the body. Every significant vital sign- body temperature, heart rate, oxygen consumption, hormone level, brain activity, and so on- alters the moment you decide to do anything… decisions are signals telling your body, mind, and environment to move in a certain direction.”
― Deepak Chopra, The Book of Secrets


“You will be transformed by what you read.”
― Deepak Chopra

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jack LaLanne

"Most people, when they reach a certain age, let down and talk about what they used to do. Well, who gives a damn about what you used to do? It's what you're doing now."
- Jack LaLanne

"It’s not what you do some of the time that counts, it’s what you do all of the time that counts."
- Jack LaLanne

"Your muscles know nothing. It's your brain. Exercise is something you've got to do the rest of your life. It's a lifestyle. Dying is easy. Living is a pain in the neck. You've got to work at it."
- Jack LaLanne

"You see, you don't get old from age, you get old from inactivity, from not believing in something."
- Jack LaLanne

"The most important thing in your life is your health and your body. You can have all the education and you can have millions of dollars in the bank, but if you've got headaches every day, if you're fat and you are out of shape - what good is your money? Your health account and your bank account, build them both up!"
- Jack LaLanne

"If you want to change somebody, don't preach to him. Set an example and shut up."
- Jack LaLanne

"Physical fitness takes commitment to exercise just as it requires good nutrition. But it doesn't have to be painful. Just the opposite: Vigorous exercise actually is stimulating. It boosts your energy levels, invigorates your mind, and just feels good afterward. The hardest part, of course, is getting started."
- Jack LaLanne

"Everything you do in life, I don't care, good or bad - don't blame God, don't blame the devil, don't blame me, blame you. You control everything! The thoughts you think, the words you utter, the foods you eat, the exercise you do. Everything is controlled by you."
- Jack LaLanne

"There is no fountain of youth, What you put into your body is what you get out of it. You would not feed your dog a coffee and doughnut for breakfast followed by a cigarette. You will kill the damn dog."
- Jack LaLanne

"Those who begin to exercise regularly and replace white flour, sugar and devitalized foods with live, organic natural foods begin to feel better immediately. Exercise is king, nutrition is queen -- put them together and you've got a kingdom."
- Jack LaLanne

"Thoughts are things. Negativity is what kills you... It's tough to do, but you've got to work at living, you know? Most people work at dying, but anybody can die; the easiest thing on this earth is to die. But to live takes guts; it takes energy, vitality, it takes thought. . . . We have so many negative influences out there that are pulling us down. . . . You've got to be strong to overcome these adversities . . . that's why I never stop."
- Jack LaLanne

As a Young Person

"All of a sudden, I'm thinking that if I keep eating the way I'm eating, I'm not going to live long and I'm going to die. Having those thoughts as a young person can be very haunting."
- Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons

"I was born with a crippled leg. I wore a corrective shoes since I was three years old and I still wear them."
- Richard Simmons


"I have rules about eating, exercising and rules about staying positive. And these rules are sacred to me."
- Richard Simmons


"I have loved deeply. I have lost intensely. I will never love again. I get that love by people who care for me."
- Richard Simmons

Love Yourself

"If you want to get the body you've always dreamed of, you have to earn it. You can't buy it, you can't rent it. You have to earn it. My formula has always been love yourself, move your body, watch your portions. And it sounds so easy, but it is not."
- Richard Simmons

Go Slower

"I am kinder to my body. I don't try to prove anything to myself or others. I keep thinking about the need to go slower, gentler and maintain a sense of humor about it all."
- Richard Simmons

Weave a Spell

"I am kinder to my body. I don't try to prove anything to myself or others. I keep thinking about the need to go slower, gentler and maintain a sense of humor about it all."
- Richard Simmons

"My life is just a never-ending work in progress."
- Richard Simmons

"I don't have a lot to offer one person. I have a lot to offer to a lot of people."
- Richard Simmons

"If I've got the right songs, I can weave a spell over everyone."
- Richard Simmons

"Our children are obese, either have or being threatened by diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and not socially adjusting properly to others because of a lack of fitness."
- Richard Simmons

"When I go to bed at night, I ask God to give me another day; I ask him to keep me strong and make me a good teacher and to keep spreading this right word."
- Richard Simmons

"I'm a real paradox. Because I'm a very serious person, and I take my work very seriously. But I wrap it up in a court jester and a clown and make people laugh and make them feel good about themselves."
- Richard Simmons

Feathered Wings and a Tutu

"If anyone's depressed for any reason, whether a relationship has fallen apart or they're having money problems, wearing feathered wings and a tutu takes you into a whole other world. A whole new woooooorld, a world of bright and shining stars!"
- Richard Simmons

"Number one, like yourself. Number two, you have to eat healthy. And number three, you've got to squeeze your buns. That's my formula."
- Richard Simmons

"Energy is that amazing feeling that comes to life inside of you when you're happy and believe in yourself." - Richard Simmons

"I spent my childhood eating. The only exercise I got was trying to twist off the cap of a jar of mayonnaise."
- Richard Simmons

"Count your blessings. You are one of a kind. There's no one in the world like you. You are amazing."
- Richard Simmons

"I've always practiced this: Love yourself. Move your body. Watch your portions."
- Richard Simmons

"There is no such thing as sleep deprivation, there is only caffeine deficiency."
- Richard Simmons

Be Nice

"I never say anything negative about anyone, because that won't get you anywhere."
- Richard Simmons

"Everyone in this world is somehow connected. So why not just be nice to everybody."
- Richard Simmons

Part Priest Part Clown

"That's what the majority of people in the world do, they walk among the ruins of their life. Things that didn't work out, relationships that went sour, jobs that disappeared. All they can think about is their ruins, and when you focus on that you can't build a new you."
- Richard Simmons

"Singing is good for the soul. It's the first thing I do every morning, after my blessings and my grace. I put music on and I sing."
- Richard Simmons

"Even though my work is whimsical. I have a very serious job. I cry more than I laugh."
- Richard Simmons

"When the king gets depressed, he doesn't call for his wife. He doesn't call for the cook. He calls for the court jester."
- Richard Simmons

"Stop trying to find something in food that will make you feel better. I used to have eating disorders; I'd binge and purge all the time: fried oysters, po' boys, muffulettas, beignets, coffee and doughnuts. I tried to medicate myself with food when people made fun of me or hit me with a bat in school. I'd always turn to food."
- Richard Simmons

"There's a list of foods I can't have in the house. Peanut butter, can't have that in the house. Potato chips, can't have that in the house. Random little small mini candy bars, don't even think about it. I just have to watch everything. I have to stay between 1500 and 1600 calories a day. That's it."
- Richard Simmons

"Sleep is critical to me ... at least eight or nine hours a night. I start to slow down my body and my mind at least 30 minutes before I get into bed. I don't watch any disturbing or invigorating TV at night."
- Richard Simmons

"If I don't take care of myself, if I don't feel good about myself, how can I help others?"
- Richard Simmons

"I sort of think of myself as part priest, part clown."
- Richard Simmons

How Can I Help?

"I just strive to do better. Every time I meet somebody, I ask myself, "How can I help this person?"
- Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons

"A kid who moves is a kid who learns."
- Richard Simmons

"I'm not going to be happy until every child in every school is physically active."
- Richard Simmons

Be Calm, Breathe Deeply

What I try and make sure I do is find 5 minutes–just 5 short minutes–to sit and be calm and breathe deeply. I find when I force myself to make the time, I feel immensely better.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Park Bench Grandma's

Harare's park bench grandmas: 'I speak to them and feel a load is lifted off my heart'

One in four Zimbabweans suffers from mental illness, but untrained female health workers are setting a new benchmark for the treatment of patients

The benches are a safe place for people struggling with depression, which in the Shona language is called kufungisisa, “thinking too much”.

It is a world away from conventional approaches to mental healthcare, but the Friendship Bench project has changed the lives of an estimated 27,000 Zimbabweans suffering from depression and other mental disorders.

Guardian Article
NPR Article

Jennifer Finney Boylan

I do know that we don’t have a good language for talking about sadness or depression, which are two countries that have a common border.
-Jennifer Finney Boylan
Fantastic article: What Is Sadness, and What Is Depression?

The Exercise Effect

Exercising starts a biological cascade of events that results in many health benefits, such as protecting against heart disease and diabetes, improving sleep, and lowering blood pressure. High-intensity exercise releases the body's feel-good chemicals called endorphins, resulting in the "runner's high" that joggers report. But for most of us, the real value is in low-intensity exercise sustained over time. That kind of activity spurs the release of proteins called neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections. The improvement in brain function makes you feel better. "In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression," explains Dr. Miller.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Excuse Me, Miss?

Yesterday as I was walking by the police station parking lot on my way to the library a well dressed young man said, "Excuse me, miss?"
"Do you know the new sandwich place on Jerome Avenue?"
"No, I don't."
"That's understandable, they've only been open 6 months," he said. "I'm mentioning this because my wife's friend a young woman got a job there and they abused her in the basement. I'm telling everyone so they don't go there."
"Well, if you weren't standing in front of the police station, I'd tell you 'go to the police.'"
"She wasn't going to tell the police, she was even planning to go back to work. I told her we must go to the police, for your sake and the next person's and we'll support you," he said.
"I'm glad you did. She's lucky to have you as a friend. You did the right thing. They're good here."
"Yes they are," he said. "My wife's inside with the girl right now, talking to a detective. I feel responsible because I got her the job. I haven't slept in three days."
"When I go without sleep I feel like I have an open skylight on top of my head."
"That's exactly how I feel," he said.
"I'm concerned about you. You need to get your rest."
"As soon as they come back out I will go home and sleep. I want to post this all over facebook," he said.
"Be careful. I want you to be safe and protected too. Why don't you go home and get your rest first and then maybe tomorrow ask the detective what's the best thing to do."
"For liability's sake?," he asked.
"Yes, and for your safety. Ask the professionals, that's the best way to handle it," I said.
"Thank you," he said.
"Good luck!" I said crossing to the library.

Paul Krugman

What all this tells us is that the problem facing America runs much deeper than Trump’s personal awfulness. One of our two major parties appears to be hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt. And unless that party not only loses this year’s election but begins losing on a regular basis, America as we know it is finished.
-Paul Krugman


Monday, June 11, 2018

Rapid or Static Change in Daylight + Mood

June is a difficult month for those of us whose moods are affected by the changing length of day. It's not whether the day is long or short, it's the rate at which the day-length is changing.

June being the month of the longest day, the changeability is at a near standstill.

By July, the length of day is decreasing ever more rapidly and registers in my brain as what I call 'transmit-mode.' This joyful mood carries through into August, and September.

Things rapidly wind down by late October, and the slow, difficult, internal 'receive-mode' is ascendant from November to December and into January.

My brain registers the rapidly increasing length of day with lifted 'transmit-mode' spirits in February and March. I call these the 'whoosh' months.

Then things slow down and become internal again. The length of day stagnates. This is why April, May, and June can be emotionally tough.

Playing the Tuba Prevents Sleep Apnea

Researchers in India compared the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea in 64 people who played a wind instrument versus 65 people who did not.

Researchers theorize the difference is due to the increased muscle tone of the upper airways that wind players have likely developed. Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax, briefly cutting off the ability to breathe. The patient awakens momentarily to catch his breath - as many as 30 times an hour. Besides causing fatigue, it can also lead to high blood pressure.

Strengthening those muscles by playing a wind instrument could be "a cheap and non-invasive method" of preventing sleep apnea.


Saturday, June 09, 2018

Mona Hanna-Attisha

What happened in Flint could happen elsewhere, as the push for austerity and a disdain for science are combined with antidemocratic measures like voter disenfranchisement, gerrymandering and state-appointed emergency managers. One of the lessons of Flint is that science and public health won’t save us without a functioning democracy. Being awake is not enough. We have to be loud. Only when we mobilize and have a say in what happens to our communities will smarter decisions be made — for the environment, for public health and for all our children.


Mona Hanna-Attisha (@MonaHannaAthe), the founder and director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, is the author of the forthcoming “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City,” from which this essay is adapted.

Terry Sullivan

"I’m a writer, and I use words to tell stories. But after a tragic event in 1993, I felt as though words had lost their efficacy. Luckily, I was able to use other mediums, namely drawing and painting, to help me deal with what I witnessed. If you’ve experienced trauma, art — whether it’s drawing, painting or writing, can help you cope. Here’s how I learned."


Sarah J. Jackson

Article on Anthony Bourdain
Sarah J. Jackson is an associate professor of communication studies at Northeastern University and the author of “Black Celebrity, Racial Politics, and the Press.”

Friday, June 08, 2018

RIP Anthony Bourdain

Daphne Merkin

We live in a society that is embarrassed by interiority, unless it is presented in a shrill, almost campy style under the aegis of the recovery movement, with its insistence on dramatic personal testimony.
-Daphne Merkin

Paul Krugman

We’re being governed by men with small and empty souls. Does it matter?

In a direct sense, not really. There’s a good case that Trump’s own profiteering is doing huge damage, but the small ways in which his officials have been ripping off taxpayers are trivial compared with the big things they’re doing to make America worse: undermining health care, environmental protection, financial regulation, and more.

In a deeper sense, however, petty corruption and cruel, destructive policy are indeed linked. Men who see high office largely as a license to live large, act like big shots and force government employees to act as their personal servants aren’t likely to care much about serving the public interest.

We don’t need a government of saints; people can be imperfect (who isn’t?) yet still do good. But a government consisting almost entirely of bad people — which is what we now have — is, in fact, going to govern badly.


Thursday, June 07, 2018

Mood Altering

I am amazed at mood the mood altering effects of swimming. I arrive grouchy tired and anxious. I go home centered and with optimism. "Just swim one lap, and see how you feel," has to remain my motto. Otherwise it's NO FUN.

Sally Goble

It is possible to find the good in every situation. People have asked me which pools has been my favourite. They imagine I will pick the vast ones or the glamorous marble-clad ones or the empty serene ones. But they all have their own personalities and challenges. For every luscious, quiet pool there has been a mobbed one, stressful to swim in but thriving and full of life. For every spartan, suburban municipal pool there has been a swimmer who has exchanged a friendly word of encouragement or who has laughed with me about lane etiquette. And for every super-heated leisure pool there has been a friendly chatty lifeguard or receptionist. You can find a bit of good in everything if you really want to.
another article

Tenderness and Kindness

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”
― Kahlil Gibran


“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”
― Kahlil Gibran

Trees are Poems

“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.”
― Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
― Kahlil Gibran

This Morning

This morning on my downtown walk with Romeo, I noticed a man passed out below the SPEEDWAY sign. His head and torso were on the raised island of mulch and his legs were draped across the sidewalk. He was facing up and his left hand was slightly open. Two scruffy guys, were standing right beside him talking to each other as if this was normal. I watched cars speeding by, even an ambulance passed but nobody stopped. As I walked I wondered what to do. Then I spotted a woman on her way to work at the health center. "Excuse me, do you have a phone? Could you call an ambulance? There's a man passed out under the SPEEDWAY gas station sign. You can see him from here," I said, pointing down the street. "Those are his legs draped across the sidewalk."
"Yes, absolutely, I can do that!" she said. I turned at the corner and started walking up my street. Two minutes later the ambulance and fire truck with sirens blaring, zoomed by.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Egg Head

This morning I sat down on the couch to tie my sneakers and my dog got so excited that he jumped up and smacked his skull against my forehead. Swelling began immediately. I wrapped two ice cubes in my turquoise washcloth and nursed the egg.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018


“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Cooking Under Pressure

Cooking class

POV: Swim Team
“More than just a heartening sports saga, Swim Team brings to light the systemic challenges confronting teenagers with developmental disabilities and their parents,” said Justine Nagan, executive producer/executive director of POV/American Documentary. “For too many, public resources and programs are either nonexistent or few and far between. In this film, we see how autism affects people of varied backgrounds, including those in communities of color and working-class families. Swim Team, with the stories of the Hammerheads and their parents, explores all of these issues and is a compelling, cheer-worthy sports film: a win-win for audiences all around.”

Swimming on the Spectrum

Invaluable Therapy

Besides drowning prevention and water safety, parents report other side effects from learning how to swim, including improved speech and cognitive function. According to an article published in the International Journal of Sport Psychology, water is a soothing environment that emphasizes gentle and repetitive motion. For children on the autism spectrum, the water on the body has a calming effect and reduces any enervating noises. Parents notice that pool time helps students cope with everyday stresses outside of the water as well.
A Social Outlet

According to the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF), swimming can help children on the autism spectrum improve speech, coordination, social skills, self-esteem, and cognitive processing. While these children are often excluded from other sports because there are too many elements to focus on, being underwater can provide them with alone time where he or she doesn’t have to anticipate a ball being passed to them or be responsible for the success of a team. Swimming provides an excellent opportunity for parallel play and for a child to be in the play environment but to interact at a level that is comfortable for them.


Water Meditation

Stress Management Plus Fitness

While swimming is great for fitness, it can also be a very peaceful exercise. Being in the water is quiet, smooth and rhythmic. You can experience a great exercise session that also feels like a meditation.


Why Swimming?

Why Swimming Is So Good For You

the fact that you’re submerged in water means your bones and muscles are somewhat unshackled from the constraints of gravity, says Hirofumi Tanaka, a professor of kinesiology and director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Lab at the University of Texas.

How you breathe during a swimming workout is another big differentiator, says David Tanner, a research associate at Indiana University and co-editor of an educational handbook on the science of swimming. During a run or bike ride, your breath tends to be shallow and your exhales forceful. “It’s the other way around with swimming,” says Tanner. “You breathe in quickly and deeply, and then let the air trickle out.” Because your head is under water when you swim, these breathing adjustments are vital, and they may improve the strength of your respiratory muscles, Tanner says. “This kind of breathing keeps the lung alveoli”—the millions of little balloon-like structures that inflate and deflate as your breathe—“from collapsing and sticking together.”

The exercise is also linked to many of the same life-extending, heart-saving, mood-lifting benefits associated with other forms of aerobic exercise.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Perry Ritter


My own Little Swimathon

I didn't think I would last more than one lap. "That's all it needs to be!" I reminded myself so I knew I had a choice. I've been pushing the peanut forward recently. I'd been swimming 40 laps for a while and this week having a case of the blues I tried 60 laps. Today was a surprise at 72 laps but I hadn't planned on it. I swam gracefully and slowly. Swimming is its own reward when you love the water. The bonus was that 72 laps is two miles. After 100 minutes of swimming, I floated home calm and centered. I am still feeling the effects. This has been my best treatment for the cyclical seasonal anxiety/depression of receive-mode.

Late Night Summer Kitchen

Last night at 9PM my stomach growled. I came down to grab a few slices of Pepper Jack cheese and ended up cooking for two hours.

First I pressure cooked a dozen eggs for 7 minutes (perfectly hardboiled).

I chopped my big head of green cabbage into slaw with carrots and red onions. I made my buttermilk/mayonnaise/ hot sauce dressing and mixed it with the slaw.

I pressure cooked red bliss potatoes with celery and olive oil and wine vinegar mustard, salt and sugar, hot sauce dressing for my favorite German potato salad.

These are my favorite summer foods delicious eaten cold on a hot summer day.

I soaked a pound of red kidney beans to pressure cook in the morning and then I jumped into the shower to cool off.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Spit Prevents Foggy Swim Goggles

Human spit does have the potential to keep your swimming goggles fog-free.

By spitting on the lenses of your goggles before a swim, and rubbing that delicious mix of mouth bubbles around the rim, you're actually creating what science calls a "surfactant". In simple terms, what the spit does is stop moisture particles from connecting with each other on the lens of your goggles, which slows down the ability of fog to form.


Notes on a Banana

I just read Notes on a Banana by David Leite and loved it.

Blue Mind

Swimming's twin blessings: shared experience and solitude.

"Swimming is between me and the water, nothing else," said the late American writer John Jerome in his 1997 book Blue Rooms: Ripples, Rivers, Pools, and Other Waters. "The moment the water encloses me, I am, gratefully, alone."

Swimming also lets us escape the sound-addled world, if only for as long as we can hold our breath. It's like putting on nature's noise-cancelling headphones and slipping away from the everyday into another space, if only temporarily.


It's hard to believe that in Australia, a nation of swimmers, daylight bathing became legal only in 1902, when a newspaper editor swam into the headlines by defying a public ban at Sydney's Manly Beach.

We wouldn't go to so much trouble, surely, if swimming didn't make us happy. Californian marine biologist, cognitive researcher and author Wallace J Nichols says that we each have a "blue mind" (the title of his new book), programmed to enjoy and benefit from proximity and contact with water. "We are beginning to learn that our brains are hardwired to react positively to water," writes Celine Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques, in the book's foreword, "and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what's broken."


The direction people swim laps usually matches the direction of traffic in that country; keep left in Commonwealth countries to avoid mid-lane collisions, swim anticlockwise in Europe. And almost everyone does it: whether we're in the Solomon Islands or Siberia, we want to swim, perhaps need to.

I know I do. Having fed this obsession for some years now, it shows no sign of abating. My swimsuits wear out, my goggles fog up; I replace them and swim on. Bath-warm or brass-monkeys, stormy or still, crowded or calm, there's nothing like communing with water, anywhere and in any way you can, to bring you back to your senses and remind you that the world really is your swimming pool.


Michelle Oberman

Michelle Oberman is a law professor at Santa Clara University and the author of “Her Body, Our Laws: On the Front Lines of the Abortion War, From El Salvador to Oklahoma.”


I dreamed about a colorful flexible side table. It had red knobs and the table was wearing colorful pants and shoes just like a character. I was showing it to people. "Look you can make the tabletop move in any direction," I said.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

If These Walls Could Speak

New blog


“Literature has been our salvation, literature has inspired and guided lovers, routed despair and can perhaps in this case save the world.”
― John Cheever


“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.”
― John Cheever

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos (no less) and we can accomplish this only by the most vigilant exercise of choice, but in a world that changes more swiftly that we can perceive there is always the danger that our powers of selection will be mistaken and that the vision we serve will come to nothing.”
― John Cheever

“The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one's life and discover one's usefulness.”
― John Cheever


“Do you fall in love often?"

Yes often. With a view, with a book, with a dog, a cat, with numbers, with friends, with complete strangers, with nothing at all.”
― Jeanette Winterson, Gut Symmetries

Between Chaos and Shape

“In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.”
― Jeanette Winterson, The World and Other Places: Stories

In The Library

“In the library I felt better, words you could trust and look at till you understood them, they couldn't change half way through a sentence like people, so it was easier to spot a lie.”
― Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Jeanette Winterson

For a writer, what you leave out says as much as those things you include. What lies beyond the margin of the text? The photographer frames the shot, writers frame their world.

Jeanette Winterson

William Trevor

As a writer one doesn’t belong anywhere. Fiction writers, I think, are even more outside the pale, necessarily on the edge of society. Because society and people are our meat, one really doesn’t belong in the midst of society. The great challenge in writing is always to find the universal in the local, the parochial. And to do that, one needs distance.

William Trevor

Tim O'Brien

A good piece of fiction, in my view, does not offer solutions. Good stories deal with our moral struggles, our uncertainties, our dreams, our blunders, our contradictions, our endless quest for understanding. Good stories do not resolve the mysteries of the human spirit but rather describe and expand up on those mysteries.

- Tim O'Brien

John Cheever

To disguise nothing, to conceal nothing, to write about those things that are closest to our pain, our happiness; to write about our sexual clumsiness, the agonies of Tantalus, the depth of our discouragement—what we glimpse in our dreams—our despair. To write about the foolish agonies of anxiety, the refreshment of our strength when these are ended; to write about our painful search for self, jeopardized by a stranger in the post office, a half-seen face in a train window, to write about the continents and populations of our dreams, about love and death, good and evil, the end of the world.

John Cheever

Rita Mae Brown

In order to write at a high level of competence you need a comprehensive vocabulary, a keen sense of overall structure, and an inner beat or cadence. Your senses must be razor-sharp. Alcohol blunts those senses even as it releases self-restraint. Therefore many writers feel they are getting down to the real story after a belt or two, little realizing they are damaging their ability to tell the real story.

Rita Mae Brown

Ray Bradbury

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.

Ray Bradbury

Tom Wolfe

I always have a clock in front of me. Sometimes, if things are going badly, I will force myself to write a page in a half an hour. I find that can be done. I find that what I write when I force myself is generally just as good as what I write when I’m feeling inspired. It’s mainly a matter of forcing yourself to write. There’s a marvelous essay that Sinclair Lewis wrote on how to write. He said most writers don’t understand that the process begins by actually sitting down.

- Tom Wolfe

Philip Roth: Obstinancy Saved my Life

Everybody has a hard job. All real work is hard. My work happened also to be undoable. Morning after morning for 50 years, I faced the next page defenseless and unprepared. Writing for me was a feat of self-preservation. If I did not do it, I would die. So I did it. Obstinacy, not talent, saved my life. It was also my good luck that happiness didn’t matter to me and I had no compassion for myself. Though why such a task should have fallen to me I have no idea. Maybe writing protected me against even worse menace. Now? Now I am a bird sprung from a cage instead of (to reverse Kafka’s famous conundrum) a bird in search of a cage. The horror of being caged has lost its thrill. It is now truly a great relief, something close to a sublime experience, to have nothing more to worry about than death.

- Philip Roth


Books aren’t made in the way that babies are: they are made like pyramids, There’s some long-pondered plan, and then great blocks of stone are placed one on top of the other, and it’s back-breaking, sweaty, time consuming work. And all to no purpose! It just stands like that in the desert! But it towers over it prodigiously. Jackals piss at the base of it, and bourgeois clamber to the top of it, etc. Continue this comparison.

Gustave Flaubert

Colin Nissan: A Writer's Brain

A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.

- Colin Nissan

Joseph Campbell on Creative Incubation

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

Joseph Campbell

The Walk of Life

Article by Russ Olivo

WOONSOCKET - You won’t find Roger Lavallee’s picture next to the word “dependable” in Merriam Webster’s. But maybe you should.

In the kitchen at Chelo’s Restaurant, his reputation for reliability is as solid as a Swiss watch. Never late. Can’t remember the last time he took a sick day.

“He’s here every day – rain, sleet, snow – you name it,” says Restaurant Manager Barry Bennett. “He’s here every day, no matter what.”

But when it comes to punctuality, here’s the kicker for the 64-year-old prep cook, who marks 35 years with Chelo’s this week: The Lincoln resident sticks to his no-matter-what schedule without a car, a bus or even an Uber lift. He walks the whole way from his house in the Manville section. And back home again – usually six days a week.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

“I love being a medical student. I love being a football player,” he said. “It’s important to build a career that you’re going to be able to do for a long time. Medicine is that.”

New Book on Weegee

The photographer Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, lugged his enormous Speed Graphic camera around the nighttime streets of New York City in the 1930s and ’40s, cultivating a persona as stark and as memorable as his tabloid pictures. He was the wisecracking tummler in the rumpled suit, always on the lookout for a car crash or a dead gangster.

“I have no inhibitions, and neither has my camera,” he declared in a 1961 autobiography — a fascinating and problematic document if there ever was one, given Weegee’s compulsion for exaggeration and self-promotion. This, after all, was the man who titled his first solo exhibition “Murder Is My Business” and likened a picture to a blintz: “Eat it while it’s hot.”


A Cultural Shift in Ireland

Ireland has begun grappling in recent years with the legacy of its treatment of unwed mothers, as scandal after scandal from its past as a strongly Roman Catholic country emerge. They have helped propel a cultural shift in Ireland, and a weakening of the church’s influence, and led to referendums legalizing divorce, gay marriage and, last week, abortion.

New Book by Benjamin J. Rhodes

The next day, Mr. Obama focused on cheering up his despondent staff. At one point, he sent a message to Mr. Rhodes saying, “There are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the earth.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ram Dass

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”
― Ram Dass

“Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it.”
― Ram Dass

“As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can't see how it is.”
― Ram Dass

“Your problem is you are too busy holding on to your unworthiness.”
― Ram Dass

“Pooh! De Gompany! I Am De Gompany!”

Yet despite unwanted attention and decades of articles depicting eating alone as some frightful activity, women have long cherished a solitary meal. M.F.K. Fisher could wax poetic about its pleasures. Fellow food writer Marion Cunningham, a champion of family mealtime, wrote in her popular “Supper Book” that “sometimes eating supper alone feels private, quiet, and blessedly liberating.” In 2017, The New York Times asked the humorist Fran Lebowitz which three writers she would invite to a literary dinner party. “None,” she replied. “My idea of a great literary dinner party is Fran, eating alone, reading a book.”

“I was often alone, but seldom lonely,” he wrote in “Between Meals,” his memoir of his days in Paris, “I enjoyed the newspapers and books that were my usual companions at the table, the exchanges with waiters.”


Artist DeVonn Francis

Food as a “vital anchor” for community building, justice work and healing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Power of Positive Psychology

The power of positive psychology: finding happiness in a cold ocean swim

Posted July 27, 2011, 3:31 pm , Updated August 25, 2016, 8:24 am
Kay Cahill Allison

Former Editor, Harvard Health

While swimming in the frigid ocean off the coast of Maine a few days ago, I entered what psychologists call a flow state. It felt like a million bucks.

Here’s what happened: On a hot Sunday afternoon, I walked into the Atlantic off Cape Elizabeth. Although the water was painfully cold, it was sparkling and exhilarating. I began to swim. The activity absorbed all my attention. It completely squelched other thoughts and worries. And it made me happy for hours afterward.

Experts in the burgeoning field of positive psychology hold that people usually guess wrong about what will bring them happiness. Money, for example (beyond enough to cover life’s basic needs) doesn’t predict happiness. Instead, according to the new edition of Positive Psychology, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, researchers are identifying a number of elements they say contribute to a sense of happiness and well-being. One is engaging in flow experiences, a term coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University in California.

To experience flow is to achieve a state of intense absorption in which you lose awareness of time. It occurs when you strike the right balance between challenge and skill. If the task is too challenging for your level of skill, anxiety creeps in. If your skill level exceeds the challenge, boredom sets in. Swimming in the cold surf of Maine posed a challenge for me, but I’m a competent swimmer and had experience in cold water. I swam with a partner for only a short time to avoid hypothermia. It was fun. It made me happy. (You can read more about flow in the online excerpt of the Positive Psychology report.)
The happiness‑health connection

Achieving happiness may be more important to your health than you think. In a 2008 review of studies on happiness and longevity, Dutch sociologist Ruut Veenhoven found that happiness appears to protect against illness. In 19 research projects involving populations chosen independently of their health status, ratings of mood, happiness, and life satisfaction at the beginning of a study had a large and positive impact on the chance a person was alive at the end of the follow-up period. The most satisfied people gained an extra 7.5 to 10 years of life. That life extension is equivalent to giving up cigarettes by age 35.

In Positive Psychology: Harnessing the Power of Happiness, Personal Strength, and Mindfulness, Harvard faculty editor Ronald Siegel and contributing psychologist Steven M. Allison explore both time-tested and modern avenues to happiness. The report describes many paths to happiness (curiously, swimming in a cold ocean isn’t among them), including:

Expressing gratitude
Living life with meaning
Finding and using your inner character strengths
Putting mindfulness to use toward well being
Savoring pleasure
Achieving flow experience
Developing self compassion

The report is available at

Most Problems are Water Soluble

The pool was closed yesterday and all of the regular swimmers were desperate to get in the water today for mental health.


“Leisure without books is death, and burial of a man alive.”
― Seneca

“Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.”
― Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.”
― Seneca

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”
― Seneca

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”
― Seneca

“Hang on to your youthful enthusiasms -- you’ll be able to use them better when you’re older.”
― Seneca

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”
― Seneca

“Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.”
― Seneca

“Life is like a play: it's not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters.”
― Seneca

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
― Seneca

“All cruelty springs from weakness.”
― Seneca, Seneca's Morals: Of a Happy Life, Benefits, Anger and Clemency

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
― Seneca

“Non est ad astra mollis e terris via" - "There is no easy way from the earth to the stars.”
― Seneca

“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”
― Seneca

“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.”
― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
― Seneca

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. ... The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.”
― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”
― Seneca

Empire of Deceit

This article contains material adapted from “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic,” by Barry Meier, published May 29 by Random House.

Katelyn Alcamo

Allowing your child to express anger in a safe environment also helps them to develop emotional intelligence. If you are constantly shielding them from frustration, anger, or sadness, they may not learn how to regulate these emotions or how to express them in socially appropriate ways. It is important to remember that parenting isn’t about being liked.
-Katelyn Alcamo

The Equestrian

“I kept everything in for so long,” she said. “I wanted to hide, but what I really wanted was someone to find me and put their arms around me and say, ‘It’s O.K., you’re going to be fine.’ That’s what the horses have done for me.”

Monday, May 28, 2018

Saved by a Song

Margaret Renkl of Chapter 16 interviews Nashville singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier:

It’s going to be about the call, the pull, to write songs that are challenging to listen to, about letting the woundedness seep into the songs, be witnessed by the listener, and have the listener say, “Me too.” And that lets the wounded person—which for the longest time was me—know that I’m not alone. When you tell your story, you become the storyteller, which distances you some from being the victim. If your story is one of trauma, there’s a part of you that believes you are your story. You identify so closely with the woundedness that you think you are the woundedness.

That’s the beauty of art—of all art: songs or literature or painting or pottery, anything—if you pour your soul into it, you get to step back and become your own witness, and that’s a transformative thing. The storyteller has power. The storyteller has agency. The storyteller takes a step back from the story and tells the story from a position of strength, even if it’s the hardest story ever told. You don’t just bleed all over people.

Chapter 16: There’s shape.

Gauthier: Art has to have structure, and there’s things that have to happen, and it has to be crafted. You have to understand craft as well as art. You don’t just read people your journal. That’s not going to create empathy. It’s going to disturb, and not in a good way. Voyeurism and empathy are different things. To bring someone into the experience of another is a profound thing.

Margaret Renkl: Before Judging

I remember our teacher’s response. “When someone is struggling with addiction,” she said, “remember that you don’t know how many times he resisted that temptation before he finally gave in. A person who resists 99 times, even if he gives in the 100th, is a stronger person than someone who’s never been tempted at all.”

I have thought of the beloved teacher’s words countless times over the past 38 years. It’s such decent, human advice: Before judging another person, consider all the kinder ways there are to interpret what might seem at first like a terrible moral failing. And the way to do that is to imagine what it feels like to be fighting their battles.

-Margaret Renkl


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Tidal Theater

“Questions, inside the larger mystery of sorrow, which contains us and our daily transit, and is large enough indeed to contain the whole shifting tidal theater where I make small constructions, my metaphors, my defenses. Against which I play out theories, doubts, certainties bright as high tide in sunlight, which shift just as that brightness does, in fog or rain.”
― Mark Doty, Heaven's Coast: A Memoir

A Memoir

“I don’t know anything different about death than I ever have, but I feel differently. I inhabit this difference in feeling- or does it live in me?- at the same time as I’m sorrowing. The possibility of consolation, of joy even, does not dispel the sorrow. Sorrow is the cathedral, the immense architecture; in its interior there’s room for almost everything; for desire, for flashes of happiness, for making plans for the future…”
― Mark Doty, Heaven's Coast: A Memoir

Understood Intuitively

“I think I understood intuitively that there was no sustenance for me in the religion of explanation and prohibition.”
― Mark Doty, Heaven's Coast

In Grief

“Being in grief, it turns out, is not unlike being in love. In both states, the imagination's entirely occupied with one person. The beloved dwells at the heart of the world, and becomes a Rome: the roads of feeling all lead to him, all proceed from him. Everything that touches us seems to relate back to that center: there is no other emotional life, no place outside the universe of feeling centered on its pivotal figure.”
― Mark Doty, Heaven's Coast: A Memoir

Stories We Tell

“We live the stories we tell; the stories we don't tell live us.”
― Mark Doty, Firebird

“To tell a story is to take power over it.”
― Mark Doty, Firebird


“You can know an animal - or a person, for that matter - in an instant, really, though your understanding can go on unfolding for years.”
― Mark Doty

Mark Doty: Love and Art

“ the face of all dangers, in what may seem a godless region, we move forward through the agencies of love and art.”
― Mark Doty, Dog Years

“Love, I think, is a gateway to the world, not an escape from it.”
― Mark Doty

“Intimacy, says the phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard, is the highest value. I resist this statement at first. What about artistic achievement, or moral courage, or heroism, or altruistic acts, or work in the cause of social change? What about wealth or accomplishment? And yet something about it rings true, finally—that what we want is to be brought into relationship, to be inside, within. Perhaps it’s true that nothing matters more to us than that.”
― Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy

Mark Doty

“There are those fortunate hours when the world consents to be made into a poem.”
― Mark Doty

The Introvert's Dilemma

“The introvert's dilemma is that we might not get a lot of invitations for the kind of socializing we like best--small, mellow gatherings. In other words, the kind of socializing other introverts like to do. Because, let's face it: We're introverts. We're all at home waiting to be invited to do introvert things. Which means, of course, that none of us are getting the invitations we crave. It's an introvert standoff.”
― Sophia Dembling, Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After


“Introverts are actually a lot like Clark Kent-- mild and unassuming much of the time, but able to swoop in and turn on our Supercharm when we choose.”
― Sophia Dembling, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

“One of the risks of being quiet is that the other people can fill your silence with their own interpretation: You're bored. You're depressed. You're shy. You're stuck up. You're judgmental. You have nothing to say. When others can't read us, they write their own story-not always one we choose or that's true to who we are.”
― Sophia Dembling, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

“We know what it feels like to have our energy drained by too much interaction. It feels like my brain is tired, almost like a muscle would be tired. The more depleted my psychic energy is, the slower my thoughts come, the harder it is to speak full sentences or focus on what's going on around me. My senses become even more sensitive; noise and fuss are more overwhelming. And I become tense, irritated, cranky. That's when I know I need to stop, sit down, let my brain relax and put up its metaphorical feet.”
― Sophia Dembling, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World


“Nine out of ten introverts agree: The telephone is the tool of the devil.”
― Sophia Dembling, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

For Introverts, Energy Flows Inward

“Jung was the first to propose the model of psychic energy, suggesting that for introverts, energy flows inward, while for extroverts, energy flows outward. Introverts tend to embrace this definition. It feels right for us because we know exactly what it feels like to have our energy depleted when we have sent too much flowing outward.”
― Sophia Dembling, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

Sophia Dembling

“What is a friend? We probably all have our own definitions. For me, it's someone I don't feel alone with. Who doesn't bore me. Whose life I connect with and who takes reciprocal interest in my life. It's someone I feel comfortable turning to when I need to be talked off the ledge, and for whom I am glad to return the favor. Just a few people in my life fit that bill.”
― Sophia Dembling, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

More Vroom Vroom!

The fitter you are, the faster you’ll sweat. Seems like it’d be the opposite, but: “When you sweat early into your workout, it means you’re able to regulate your temperature before it gets too high, which requires less energy,” says Lawrence Armstrong, Ph.D., director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. If you imagine your energy supply as a gas tank, saving energy on thermoregulation means you’ll have more vroom-vroom to power your actual workout.


"Water isn't just for drinking or washing. Water has its own spirit. Water is alive. Water has memory. Water knows how you treat it, water knows you." Wabinoquay Otsoquaykwhan, Anishinabe Nation.