Life Lessons With Tim Robbins

July 23, 2011 by  
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Yesterday, I went to see Tim Robbins, the actor, sing with his band.  I was mildly interested in seeing his act – although Tim Robbins is a great actor – but much more excited about seeing the friend who was taking me and who knew him from when they were both students at UCLA.

When I first saw Tim, I was sitting at the bar before the show started, with my friend when he came by to say hello.  As I still can’t help myself from being judgmental, I thought to myself; wow he has aged.

Tim had a great time singing.  You could tell this was a guy who had found a different outlet for his talents.  And he sang with his brother, sister, and the posters of his recently deceased parents.  He made a show for himself maybe even more than to an audience.

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A Year Of Good Deeds

February 21, 2011 by  
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My friend Claire Pascal started a blog called A Year Of Good Deeds.

Claire is a very special woman.  She’s a writer and a teacher.

When 9/11 happened it touched her so profoundly she went to Yale to study theology. She needed a different kind of knowledge to understand or at least to cope better with devastation.

My friend Claire looks at life and people with profound respect and understanding.  She’s kind to others as well and to herself.  She’s fallen many times without ever losing her heart.  And for that she has my admiration. It is not easy to fall, truly see oneself down, get up and still be opened to the world.

As Claire writes about herself she lets us in her humanity and we are all better off for that.

Below is Claire’s statement about the birth of her blog.


So my life fell apart. I couldn’t deny my alcoholism anymore, a dear friend died, and then my marriage tore apart–wrenching and painful. To recover from the wreck I’ve become, I’m conducting an experiment: I will do one good deed a day. I’m hoping this helps me peek out from my miserable self-absorption and perhaps do a tiny bit of good for the world. Will this make me or anyone else happier?


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I just got back from an AA meeting and I stand corrected about the saying: “Give 100% expecting nothing back.”  Here’s the more accurate version:  “Give 100% because it’s free and fun expecting nothing back not even a thank you.”  A tougher version.  Now I have to have fun while I’m giving without expecting a reward.

Good deeds today:  Flowers for my AA sponsor.  A thank you note to the woman guard at the entrance of my condo complex.  She’s the only female guard and she always waves and smiles at me when I come home late at night from work, which is often…Continued


Turning Loss Into Depth And Wisdom

January 15, 2011 by  
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By Angie Rubin

A couple of days ago, I had lunch with a woman who had been my late husband’s friend.  I had seen her once before since his passing two and a half years ago.

The friend wanted to check in with me and again offer her support.  We talked for a while and then the conversation shifted to her brother.  She said we both had a lot in common; he’s a Buddhist – she said. Even though I don’t know her brother, I intuitively knew what she was trying to say.  She was referring to the quality of acceptance.

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The Magic Of Touching

January 5, 2011 by  
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Many years ago when I moved to New York from Brazil the thing I missed the most was human touch.  In Brazil, when you meet someone you give them one kiss on each cheek. You hug and hold hands of family members and friends.  And when Brazilians talk to each other there is a lot of hand on hand and hand on shoulder action. So as a newly arrived Brazilian in the US, I had to resort to going to get manicures just to have my hands held.

As I think about it when we were babies; touching and holding is how we communicated and experienced the world.  As we started to walk – an adult holding our hand – gave us the courage and the safety to take those first steps.

When we were kids we touched, pushed and hugged our friends.  When we started dating holding hands became a whole new experience.

I wonder when in this country we become hesitant to touch each other.

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Why Do We Sometimes Have Such A Misguided Idea Of Who We Truly Are?

May 19, 2010 by  
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Last night I spent a couple of hours on the phone with a friend of mine who has lost a leg to cancer.  Now most of us would crawl into a ball and feel sorry for ourselves.  But not her.  My friend surfs, skies, and travels all over the country counseling other people that are about to go through what she has gone and it is going through. To all of us that get to watch her live her life we think she’s a warrior.  But not her.  She apologizes for when from time to time she needs a good cry. And she apologizes when she thinks she doesn’t do as much or she’s not as good as others.

I don’t know where those feelings come from.  I imagine for each person there is a different origin.  But I understand the feeling as I have also dealt and deal with it in my own life.

So I’m not going to address the reasons but want to talk about, once this type of feeling and behavior is identified, what to do about it.  Or better what I have done and do that has worked for me.

1                    –  Sometimes when we look at ourselves and judge us harshly the sentiments come from feeling less than or inadequate. Those thoughts might be coming from looking at others and their lives and making comparisons based on what we see.  When that happens I remind myself:  A  –  I don’t really know the truth about that person’s life and   B  –  Everyone is unique and has a different story.  We can’t compare an orange to a car.  “Is the car delicious?”   “How fast does the orange go?

2                    – I go within and I ask what’s really going on.  What’s triggering the feeling?  My mature side steps outside and talks to my emotional side to find out what is really bothering me.

3                    –  Who is the person who is actually standing over me and judging?  Whose sets of rules am I using for the judgment?  I’m sure the answers to these questions will involve many people but not necessarily us.

4                    –  I remind myself of all the things I have done that others have thanked me for.  And I remind myself of the love I have in my life from friends and family and then I know I must be doing something right.

If this sounds like too much trouble or like a therapy session, let me boil it all down.  Be your own best friend.  You would not let a best friend walk around having an erroneous image of themselves or feeling less then.  So do unto you what you would do unto others and tell yourself the truth.


My Friend

May 11, 2010 by  
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I was just looking at a friend’s pictures on Facebook.  I have known this friend for a long time.  I knew him when he was a single man and I now know him as a man married to a divorced woman and a mother of four.

He thought he would have kids with her, but that was not meant to be.  What was meant to be was him raising the four children of his wife and another man.

He often complains about him not having children of his own and of having to raise someone else’s children.  But when I look at his pictures, I see a happy man. Whoever gave birth to these children is not important.  What I see is a man who has found a family, a place and a world of his own.  But he doesn’t want to let go of his pre-conceived ideas of what his life should look like.  So he struggles between what it is and his fantasy.  But I know he is happy.  But he can’t see it and that is his loss.  And so he feels cheated.

When I think of him my heart aches because I see his misguided unhappiness.  He has all that he wants but he doesn’t see it.  How many times have each one of us not seen the gifts life has brought us until they were gone?  Let’s not do that.  Let’s see what we have TODAY and let’s cherish it.


Yes, You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

May 11, 2010 by  
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I once wrote about the differences between my dog and me.  The gist of the blog was that while my dog would sit outside my office door waiting for me – even though I was travelling – I was not going to wait outside my husband’s door because I knew he was not ever going to be there.

Today I want to write about how my dog and I are alike.   Or better how dogs and we have the same habitual behavior.

If you train a dog to sit for a treat, they will eventually always do the commend even when you no longer offer the treat.  Pretty simple; dogs learn from repetition.

The same happens to us.  We create habits from events and thought repetition.  Let me zero in on thought repetition.  If I think everything always turns out for the worse, then that will color the way I see life, and how I relate to others.  The habit I’ve created will make me feel down no matter what is happening around me.  In essence we are – just like dogs – creatures of habit.  But unlike dogs, we can teach an old dog new tricks, it just takes discipline.

Let me share a couple of ideas that have worked for this old dog:

1                    –  Make friends with yourself – If you start getting familiar with your psyche you’ll be able to identify what is your “shit” and what isn’t.

2                    –  Take responsibility for your “shit” – this is when you decide you want to make a change.  This is an important step and if you really want to raise the bar tell someone you trust you want to make a change.  By telling someone you’re well on your way to making the change a reality.

3                    –  Be vigilant – Like our dogs we will want to go back to our familiar response system.  It will take love, kindness and discipline to remind ourselves that we want to change.

If you can follow these three steps with compassion for yourself you can make a change in your life.  Big or small, it is all up to you.


My Friend

July 24, 2009 by  
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A friend of mine who is in deep pain sent me a poem she has written.

“I am a beggar.  I beg.  That is what I do.

Sir, can you spare some love?  And what about you sir?  Will you love me tonight?  How about tomorrow? And the day after tomorrow?

I am cursed.  Cursed to watch the years roll in front of my eyes.  To witness the losses.  To withstand emptiness. 

I’m cursed. Let there be no mistake.  The moment the mother left the child she condemned the child to bear witness to the passage of time, to put up a fight, to withstand, but to finally beg. 

I beg, I beg, I beg. 

Will there ever be an end to the begging.

My heart is cold.  The ice is broken.  The storm is coming.  Do you hear the whispers? 

Lift up the veil, my gallant one and kiss the lips that utter your name.  Have no fear.  I have seen the bottom of the well.  Please, let help me not ever go there again. 

Shush me sir. 

Sir, have you got any to spare?  Please, sir, will you feed my hunger?”

I was very moved while taken aback by the depth of her pain.  As she had email the poem I thought she would like to get my support and so I called her.

She said she’s feeling really lonely and in so much need to be loved and to love.  I told her I loved her, but she said “thank you but I mean a partner”. 

I think we often make the mistake of thinking that others can fill the holes we have within us but if we are honest with ourselves we know that is not the case. 

Life is complex and never made up of one constant color or feeling.  No one is always happy, satisfied, unhappy, depressed, and/or anxious.  I think somehow we need to learn to navigate these waters for ourselves.  Of course having a partner, being in love is a wonderful thing but even being in love goes through highs and lows. 

I have realized I am my own master piece, that my life is about learning who I am and overcoming and changing the parts of me that need a little chiseling.  I am my one and only constant companion and therefore I need to learn to love myself.  If I can accomplish that finding moments of happiness and love from the simple things, will be an easier endeavor.

I hope my friend can calm down and realize that she already has the love to comfort her within her own self.


My Older Friend Part II

July 10, 2009 by  
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My older friend left back to New York yesterday but before he went we had dinner together.  As I sat looking at his wrinkled face I wondered if he looked at younger people with jealousy and so I asked him.  He said his jealousy, if he could call it that, was only about younger people having more time to make mistakes, something he no longer had. 

I continued to push him in this subject and asked if when he looked in the mirror he felt sad for the aged face now staring back at him.  Without hesitation he said “no.”  Seeing that I needed more than just his “no” he went on to say that if you are happy in the moment with what you are doing and living than there is no space for longing then he opened up a big smile and said:  “you also get used to seeing yourself in a different way”.

I often ask my friend Lori, a therapist whose specialty is dealing with the aging, if we are going to be looney tunes like our parents when we get older – we both love our parents  but truthfully they are a little out there.

Lori always says no, that the key to aging is attitude.  If you are basically a happy, stable individual, that’s who you will always be.  If you are open to life that’s how you’ll be when older.

And so I had a great time with my dear friend who in his 70s who hoped on a red eye back to New York full of excitement from two days in Los Angeles ready to share his experiences with his wife and eager for his next adventure.

I think if we all had older friends we would know more about the process of aging and maybe even avoid some very silly mistakes and not waste our very precious time.

I look forward to my older friend’s next visit.



June 11, 2009 by  
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I’m reading a book “No One You Know” by Michelle Richmond.  In it she has a phrase to describe a character “I could tell he was a person who lived at ease in the world…”

Somehow that phrase made me stop reading and think about myself.  I like me. I like who I’ve become and I like my place in this world.  I like my home and I feel energized about the many possibilities that lay ahead.

I’ve lost what was most important to me, and I grieve for that, but ahead of me I have a new beginning a new start.

I also no longer worry about what it will be.  I actually welcome it with a certain level of excitement. 

A childhood friend sent me an email saying she misses our times together when we were young.  That struck me as odd.  So much life has happened since and so much life is still ahead, why miss the past?

Of course the past is what got us where we are and who we are but that’s what it is; the past.

I’m much more interested in who I will become and how I’ll deal with the next set of emotions, thoughts, wins and losses. 

I see life like the ride on a rollercoaster, there are the ups and the downs, but once you realize you will always end up on firm ground, it can be a lot of fun.