Elevators. Small spaces where big things can happen.
Twenty years ago, I was in a Vancouver hotel for a company meeting and stepped into an elevator. Our eyes met instantly. She was adorable — short blond hair, blue eyes, and a friendly smile. Someone introduced us, and later at a group dinner, we had our first conversation. During the next few days, there were a few more.
We flew home on the same flight to Philadelphia and flirted shamelessly while picking up our baggage. I called her a few days later, and she agreed to meet for dinner — the…
I’m a writer integrating spirituality and practical communication principles living in a small seacoast village on the northeast coast of Scotland. I grew up in New Jersey, Boston, and Long Island and went to college in Ohio.
In my twenties, I started to practice meditation, following the teachings of an Indian guru. For ten years, I lived like a monk, renounced all the worldly pleasures, lived in ashrams through the U.S, and traveled the globe teaching meditation. Finally, in my thirties, I reentered the mainstream and raised a family while building my sales, consulting, and executive coaching career.
There’s a lot to disagree about these days: politics, shutdowns, masks, travel restrictions, vaccines—you name it. And then there are the more mundane disagreements in everyday life, the little things, like setting the thermostat.
Someone wants to turn it down. You want it up. Someone says, “It’s too hot in here.” You say, “It’s not hot. It’s cold.” Before you know it, you’re in a silly argument. None of us need more aggravation, especially right now.
In order to express yourself respectfully and defuse arguments before they start, it’s important to understand the difference between facts, opinions, and toxic opinions.
That was my 10th grade English teacher, Joel Kabatznick doing his “Words of the Week Club” routine. Every Friday, he’d spend about ten minutes teaching us words we didn’t know, like “idiosyncrasy” or “meretricious.” And, every so often, he’d slip in his brand of sex education, which would make every teenager squirm and blush when they had to say things they thought about but would never say in public, much less in a room full of kids they didn’t really know.
Mr. Kabatznick was by far the most memorable, inspiring, and hippest teacher I’ve ever had…
Words create our reality. Once we put them out there, we can’t take them back. Expressions like “I didn’t mean to say that” or “I was only kidding” come too late.
So why do couples get into needless arguments? Jeffery S. Smith, MD, writes in Psychology Today:
The cause of arguments and fights is a lack of mutual, empathic understanding. When empathy is not engaged, then people revert to a self-protective mode and become judgmental. The result is a bad feeling on both sides and no happy ending.
People want to be understood, not just heard.
I was penniless at 32 years of age. I had nothing, not a dime. No cash, no savings, no car, no nothing.
I’m not going to bore you about how I reached the unimaginable place of being broke at an age when most people are well on their way to padding their retirement account. If you’re interested in that strange story, it’s here.
I got on my feet thanks to a guy named Henry Reif, who took a chance and loaned me a few thousand bucks. Thank you again, Henry.
It’s easy to forget where we came from and what…
Meditation is challenging enough even when you’re having a good day. If you’re stressed out, worried, or dealing with an overactive mind, it simply just makes things more difficult. Ideally, the more you can manage any mental clutter before you meditate, the better.
For example, I woke up at 2 am recently worrying about something that might happen in the future. I got agitated for a while, then took a few deep breaths and said to myself several times, “You’ve done everything you can to deal with this problem. The Universe has your back. Just let go.”
I focused on…
It’s been fifty years now, but I still think about you from time to time. Your face appears, like a pastel mirage in the clouds, drawing me into my younger days when I knew so little of this world. You were funny, beautiful, and full of talent.
I wonder what you did after I said goodbye.
Did you find a worthy lover? Did you move to New York and become a graphic designer? Did you travel the world looking for adventure? Did you marry and raise children?
You brightened my life that summer when you wrote letters in your elegant…
I called my good friend William and left him a voicemail. “I’ll be in Miami for five days. Hope we can get together one evening.” I never heard from him.
When I got back home, I called his mobile and work numbers. Nothing. I knew he was friendly with my ex-wife and asked her if he was okay. She said he was fine but was pissed off because I hadn’t returned his call from a month before my trip to Miami. I never got his call.
I reached out repeatedly for months to have a conversation. He wasn’t having it…
Humans are fragile creatures even though some of us look confident, tough, and can swagger around like we’re going to punch anyone who gets in our way. Social media is often the perfect place to strut our stuff, promoting our beliefs and opinions with the fiery enthusiasm of a stand-up preacher on the Santa Monica Pier or the street corners of New York City. Whether you asked for it or not, you’re going to get an earful.
It’s easy to be tough spouting our beliefs and opinions off. …