Don’t Let Your Ego Create A Battlefield Of Bruised Relationships

October 17, 2011 by  
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So often we get wrap up in our righteousness that our own true feelings are obscure to us.  Thoughts of a bruised pride get intensified.   We judge others while imbuing our ego with energy.  In the end such feelings and attitudes lead to misunderstandings and battered relationships.

But what if rather than jumping on our high horse we gave ourselves time to look past what seems to be obvious to us to actually see the truth?  What if we didn’t pay attention to the histrionics and actually looked with our hearts at the pain in others?  Maybe we would be able not to be sidetracked by attitudes that don’t really matter and would instead connect in a loving way.

As each one of us move forward on our own journey of self-discovery and wisdom, connecting with others in a real way becomes more important.  Our ego learns to step aside to let us try to go to the essence of another and when we fail to do that, we hurt.

It doesn’t matter what our pride says.  The truth is for us to live in harmony we must live in consciousness.

The below posted article poses an interesting exercise; how would you relate to others if it was the last time you were seeing them?

I bet most if not all troubles and animosity would fall off because in the end what matters is our humanity and the love we have for one another.  If we agree that is the truth then we must practice it.

Read on.

Lessons in Humanity From My Barista

By Roger Housden

The first person I normally greet in the morning is Diego. Today, I look at him with eyes whose vision has been altered by reading the opening lines of a poem by Ellen Bass called “If You Knew”:

What if you knew you’d be the last to touch someone?… Continued


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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10 Life Lessons We Should Unlearn

February 7, 2011 by  
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Below is a very good post from O Magazine.  It talks about 10 misconceptions about life that causes us pain and turmoil.  But, the greatest message is; we all march to the beat of our own drums.  No matter how hard we try to be and to live like everyone else, we fail.  And the reason is, we are all unique.  We are the sum of our own experiences, and the way we process them.  Yes, we all want to be loved and to love but how we go about it is our own unique path.  The same goes for being safe.  So why do we put ourselves at the mercy of a set of life rules created by our society when we know they don’t apply?

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Love Lessons From Erich Fromm

January 12, 2011 by  
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“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.”

We are first attracted to someone because of a chemical compatibility.  We want to be with them and can’t get enough of their touch.  It is passion and it is an all burning sensation.

As time goes, passion starts to fizzle and either turns into love or the relationship ends.  When we decide to be with someone we are also making the decision that as we get into life’s routines we will remember and honor the decision made.  That is why a healthy long lasting relationship, requires respect, friendship and commitment.  Because without a doubt there will be many occasions we will feel like throwing everything out for the chance to experience the cycle all over again. Deciding to be with someone and loving them should be based on friendship and admiration for the other person’s values, growth and struggles.

“Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an ordination of character which determines the relatedness of the person to the whole world as a whole, not toward one object of love”

We all have love within us.  It is up to us to connect and embrace this life energy source that is at our disposal.  It isn’t true that we can’t feel love unless we are in love with someone else.  Feeling love is a state of mind and heart that each one of us can apply to our lives and the world.

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.”

If we really want to have a healthy and intimate relationship with another person, we must first acknowledge the love already exists and permeates our lives.   We must know we don’t need to be in an intimate relationship to be in a state of love. We must know no one outside of our selves can turn us whole.  We are whole to begin with.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

To be creative, to tap into our most original thinking and dreaming; we must let go of the notion of certainty.  Creativity means exploration.  It means enjoying the process without demand for a specific outcome.

“It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas and feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing on reason or mental health.”

On our search for well-being we are always confronting ideas that are accepted as “normal” by a majority but go against a truth we are in the process of unveiling.  The result can be 1 – feeling outside the norms of society and therefore alone 2 – feeling less than as we are not fighting for the same goals but somehow allow our lives to be measured by those values which we no longer adhere to 3 – feeling like we give more than receive as we become more aware of other people’s needs and rights.

It is important that we continue to remind ourselves that our well-being and mental health is our own journey and the reward is a life well lived. Conforming to a consensual validation goes against finding our own truth.

Erich Seligmann[1] Fromm (March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980) was a German-American Jewish social psychologist, psychoanalyst, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist.


Life Lessons

August 29, 2010 by  
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I have just watched the brilliant TED TALK (ideas worth spreading) below by Lewis Pugh.  Please watch as it contains important observations and lessons about life.

Pugh, is a 40-year-old former reservist in Britain’s special forces regiment, the Special Air Service.  He has gained worldwide attention for his extreme adventures, designed to dramatize the environmental threats to the planet.

Besides doing something important for the environment Pugh reminds us of how important it is to fully commit to that we want to achieve.

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Hospice Volunteer

January 31, 2010 by  
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by Wendy Hammond

Lately, I’ve been middle aged.  I suppose this is why I wake up at two in the morning and consider my life.  Usually I’m horrified.  I wander around my dark house listening to the music and rhythms of my husband’s breathing, and I think about the things I’ve always wanted to get out of life, and I wonder, in my middle aged way, why none of it feels meaningful anymore.

The search for meaning led me, several months ago, to get on the internet and type “hospice + volunteer” on the Google search page.  I had read Kubler-Ross’s Death and Dying, and Tuesdays with Morrie and I figured that by working with the dying I’d find the meaning in life.

So I signed up for volunteer training at a nearby hospice.  Every Wednesday night about 40 of us met in the Hospice cafeteria.  We watched Nurse Betty demonstrate how to put on and take off latex gloves.  We listened to lectures on the stages of dying, bereavement, and color therapy for the sick.  We practiced healing each other with energy from our hands.  For our last class, a college professor spoke about the life lessons we would learn from the dying.  Then Helen, the director of volunteers, gave each of us a blue paper with scrolls xeroxed on it.  The paper certified that we had graduated from the volunteer training and were now ready to minister to the dying for one shift every week.  We ate sugar cookies and hugged each other goodbye.  We drove back to our homes imagining how we would sit at deathbeds and commune with the souls making their way to the world beyond.  We would hold their hands and talk deeply about life.  Some of us would write our own books: maybe not Tuesdays with Morrie but certainly Fridays with John.

That first night, I presented myself to the nurses station full of expectation.   I made myself notice every detail — the rose colored carpet, the buzz of the fluorescent lights — because I wanted to remember every moment as I began my journey into the depth and breadth of life’s meaning.

The receptionist looked up at me blankly.  Apparently she didn’t know I was coming.  “Wait here,” she said.  I leaned on the counter and waited.  Every so often a nurse or CNA ran past the desk. “Do you know about this volunteer?” the receptionist asked.  They all shook their heads and kept running.  Finally a short muscular man named George grabbed my elbow.  “I’ll take her,” he said.

George raced around the floor pointing out where to fetch chucks, diapers, wipes, gloves, gowns, towels and topical medications.  I ran behind him hoping I’d remember half of what he said.   He showed me where to put soiled laundry and how to deposit biowaste, then he turned and looked me over.  He frowned.  “How strong are you?”

“Pretty strong.”

He kept frowning for a moment as if he didn’t believe me.  Then he smiled, wickedly.  “Good.”

I held no hands that night; I didn’t discuss the meaning of life.  I cleaned up shit.  George and I went from patient to patient turning them, changing diapers and chucks, replacing soiled bedclothes with fresh, putting salve on bed sores.  The smell of shit was constant.

As I worked I thought about Tuesdays with Morrie, how wise Morrie was, how much he liked to talk.  Most of these patients were too sick or too medicated to say anything, much less impart wisdom.  Some of them slept, some stared.  Some patients looked dully at television sets.  Every few seconds a TV character got shot or fell off a building.  It struck me how easy death was on TV and how hard it was for these patients.  These people had been dying a long time, and most of them had months to go.

I must have made a face because George said, “Do you mind this?”

“No, absolutely not.”  But I realized that wasn’t the truth.   I didn’t like that truth, I’d been trying to ignore it, I felt ashamed of it, but here it was.  Death, the process of dying– it was pissing me off.  Here I’d spent my valuable time training as a volunteer, and now I was doing smelly, hard physical labor.  I had expected, in return, to find meaning in life, but I wasn’t finding meaning in life.  I was watching the meaningless suffering, helplessness and medicated boredom of people slowly dying.

George and I started to work on Liz.  A nurse had already given her the maximum pain medication allowed, but still she winced badly even when we touched her arm.  “Can’t we just leave her be?” I asked.

George pointed to the blood on the bed pad near her bottom.  “Her bed sores are infected,” he said.  “You want ’em to get worse?”  Liz was a large woman, and we heaved and pulled and cleaned as gently as we could, all the time watching the agony on her face, now lessening, now getting worse.

As we worked, I began to notice the transaction I had expected — my time and labor in exchange for a sense of meaning.  I considered how much of my life had been a transaction.  My effort in exchange for money and success.  My nurturing in exchange for my family’s love.  Was I a human being or simply a consumer?  No wonder I didn’t find meaning in life lately.  And what a horrible thing I was doing tonight, trying to buy a sense of life’s meaning off these sick and dying people.

When we finished, Liz’s face was flushed red and covered with perspiration.  I wiped her forehead with a cool washrag while George adjusted the pillows under her knees.  She started to whisper, “You’re so good to me.  I can’t thank you enough.”

I wanted to believe she was talking to us.  If I couldn’t get meaning out of this, at least I could get gratitude.  But her unfocused eyes told me she was speaking to someone not in this room.  George stroked her gray, matted hair.  “Go to sleep, Sweetie,” he said.  “Go to sleep now.”

She closed her eyes.  Her body twitched, agitated.  Finally I understood:  Liz wasn’t getting anything out of dying; she was just dying.  And I wasn’t getting anything out of cleaning her; I was just cleaning.  I was doing the work simply because it needed to be done.

Suddenly the shouting in my mind quieted down, and for the rest of my shift I lifted and cleaned and comforted as best I could, free for the first time in years from the questions like hungry monsters in my mind: what can I get out of this, where’s the meaning, what’s in it for me?

Wendy Hammond is a playwright now living in Asia and setting up the drama department of TischAsia (Tish NYU).  She is also a minister and a mother.


Sit Back And Enjoy The Ride

December 16, 2009 by  
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The world is a huge place; believe me, you will never know what’s coming your way.  That is life’s beauty and life’s fear.  But regardless, you are at the driver’s seat and sometimes you get to steer and sometimes you don’t.  That reminds me what flight attendants say before a flight: sit back and relax.

That’s what life is about.  Truthfully you just never know.  I’m at a cross road and I’m excited but I’m also a non-believer.   I mean, I don’t believe in fate or destiny.  And how can I believe that no matter what happens, I’m ready for it?  But deep down I know the truth: I am.  I’m going with the flow.

Today I got a call from someone who needs a liver transplant.   Many years ago he was an enlisted man and a needle went from man to man standing in line as soldiers and now he has Hep C.  The man behind him is dead and my man needs a liver, and who knows what goes on with the man in front of him.  He is still struggling with the whys.  The truth is there is no why, there is only what it is.  Get ready.

I told him to get busy.  I told him to move to another city where liver transplants happen faster.  I told him if he didn’t, eventually he would get really sick.  He said he didn’t want to be a burden to anyone while he got ill from liver failure.  I told him point blank not to worry about it; if he went into liver failure he would die fast with no time for anyone to waste their lives taking care of him.

I once knew a woman who was dying after getting new breasts.  She got one of the first ones and hers leaked.  Her cells stopped having the ability to expand and shrink.   Think about it.  Everything in our bodies contract and expand.  Her lips were frozen, her face was frozen and eventually her organs were frozen.  She died.  I wept.

We never know.

I once knew a woman doctor who was taking care of a dying old man who was the father of a Greek man.  After the old man died, the son wanted to thank the woman doctor for her care.  He sent her a note but she didn’t received.   Months later she finally got it and called him.  They went out – that was fifteen years ago – they are still together.

Twenty years ago a woman laying on a couch in Mexico City, and met a man from France.  He fell in love with her.  She took her time.  Twenty years later, they hate each other.

In Rio de Janeiro, I got a dog for my parents: it didn’t work out and I brought the dog to Los Angeles.  The Brazilian mutt became an American citizen and he doesn’t even know it.

I once met a man who changed my world and after he did he died. That is life; unpredictable, wonderful, and mysterious.   It is precious and as I have said before; ask anybody fighting for their lives, if life is worth living.  No bullshit.

Sit back, relax and hold on to the steering wheel.  You are buckling up for the ride of your life.

I wish you, and I wish myself much strength and wisdom to live life fully.  That’s what it’s all about, trust me.  Happy 2010.


A Very Simple Story

July 30, 2009 by  
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I just came across the below story and wanted to share with you.  It is simple and poignant. 

“A saint asked his disciples, ‘Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?’

Disciples thought for a while, one of them said, ‘Because we lose our calm, we shout for that.’

‘But, why to shout when the other person is just next to you?’ asked the saint. ‘Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you’re angry?’

Disciples gave some other answers but none satisfied the saint.

Finally he explained, ‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.’

Then the saint asked, ‘What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small…’

The saint continued, ‘When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.’

MORAL: When you argue do not let your hearts get distant, do not say words that distance each other more, else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.”


Life Lessons And Other Things

July 25, 2009 by  
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Last May I bought a loft with my family in downtown LA as an investment.  I then spent about a month and a half renovating the place. The renovation was difficult as my handyman was working at the same time the graveyard shift at Home Depot.

Anyway the renovation eventually got done taking longer and costing more than I have envisioned.

Renting the place was another difficult phase; it is a renter’s market after all.

A couple of days ago I finally managed to rent the loft for less than what I had hoped to rent for but it was rented and I could move on with other things.

In the meantime my dad landed in the hospital for the third time this year, in need of four more stents in his heart, making him the record holder of max amount of stents in a heart; sixteen all together.

Yesterday, my handyman was doing some work at my house and when he was done, I asked him to go to the loft and change the garbage disposal which I had been told was broken.  The tenant’s furnishings were already there but the tenant himself was not coming in till today.

Around 6pm I decided I was done for the day, put my pajamas and planed to have a glass of wine on my backyard and then watch a movie.  It had been a real difficult week and I really just wanted some rest.

I was on the phone in the process of telling a friend of my plans for the night, when my other line rang.  I put my friend on hold when I saw it was my handyman calling.

“What’s up?” I asked.  “I think I have kinda of bad news for you.  Your loft is flooding the very chic Edison Club downstairs” he said.  I didn’t even get back to my friend.  I just switched my pajama bottoms for pants and ran out of the house without having had any food since breakfast and wearing my pajamas top.

When I arrived, the club’s manager was on the sidewalk with the VP of the HOA telling him what was going on. She was definitely upset.  I tried to take a breath but it was not good.   All I could think about was that I was going to have to break the walls, lose my tenant and have to explain to my family the financial mess I had gotten them into.

Anyway, she and I got off on the wrong foot.  She wanting me to wait till the next day before I did anything and me wanting to do something right away.  I had a new tenant moving in and I really needed to know what I was dealing with.  Needless to say we were very aggressive with each other.

We ended up calling a plumber and as time went by both of us started to calm down and she invited me to have dinner at the club while we waited for the plumber.  I accepted.

As it turns out, Barbara the manager, is a real sweet lady.  She had lost a son, had lived in NYC and had done it all.  I had lost a husband, had lived in NYC and had done it all.

As we continued to converse, she talked about the owner of the club, a guy named Andrew.  She said he was in his 40s and a self made man.  In college he had started a real estate renovation business and had become really successful.  I’m listening to the story and it is becoming more and more familiar.  She then says that Andrew had started a film production company and it was now out of town directing his first feature.

All of a sudden it all came together for me.  My husband had gone to Andrew’s house to interview him because of the amazing job, Andrew had done to his house which once had belonged to Charlie Chaplin.

Chris had mentioned Andrew to me and he wanted me to meet him because of the film connection.  I’m a film/TV writer producer.  Barbara and I could not believe the coincidence.

Almost two hours later the plumber arrives.  He was a real sweet guy and together we checked the club, my loft and next door’s loft to figure out what was happening.

Okay, now comes the real disgusting part.  The flooding was coming from the toilet.  The plumber shut the water off and promised to return the next day to fix the problem.

Moral of this long story is 1- Barbara and I could have saved ourselves a lot of aggravation if we had been a little calmer and 2 – We hadn’t assumed the worst.

My tenant will move in without knowing anything and hopefully all that ends well will stay well.