“I’ve learned that people won’t remember what you said
And people won’t remember what you did
People will only remember how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou

In 2005, my mother was in a hospital, dying. I remembered that a friend of mine, Pippa, had written about being a volunteer in a hospice and it occurred to me that my mother needed to be there, not in a hospital being tortured with countless meds, beeping machines and pointless procedures. Studies indicate that many people receive aggressive and unnecessary treatment in hospitals and if given the choice, would prefer hospice care.

My mother was suffering. She deserved something better. Read More →

In October, 2004, my mother nearly died. All her organs were failing and it seemed unlikely that she would last more than a few days in the hospital where she had been for several weeks. I remembered a friend of mine was a volunteer at a wonderful hospice, Jacob Perlow Hospice at Beth Israel Hospital, and I called my friend to ask how to get my mother admitted for hospice care. It seemed crazy to think about moving her at that point, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that normal hospital procedures were torturing her. If my mother was to die, I wanted her to die in peace.

The doctor who came to the hospital to examine her called me afterward and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone more in need of hospice care. She is going to be transferred immediately.” Read More →

Zoe jumping from the plane

“Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us up to a loving relationship with the world.” — Pema Chodron

Whenever I hit a valley in my life and I feel hopeless or worried, somehow if I can lean into it, sit with it, turn toward it, it always seems to pass.

This is an example of what I mean. Say you’re on an airplane about to jump out and you’re attached to a very tall, handsome (or beautiful) instructor. You’ve learned everything you need to learn before getting in the plane and it takes off and you’re okay and then suddenly it’s your turn to jump and you refuse to move. Read More →

One night, a few years ago, I went to a party for a professional organization I am a member of. Most people there were getting pretty drunk, feeling the effects of the lousy economy. I saw an old friend of mine, someone I hadn’t seen in many years. He flirted with me and told me, “I’m married and I’m miserable. I hate my wife and I hate my life.” I was a bit shocked at his honesty, but I had to admit I wasn’t particularly happy either. He also told me that he’d had a crush on me when we were young — would I have dated him back then? I lied and said, “Oh, yes. I would have dated you.” Truthfully, I wasn’t particularly interested in him way back then. But now, he had evolved into a mature, attractive man, with a lovely sense of humor, and I was interested. In fact, I went home and had my first erotic dream in a long time — and it was about him. Read More →

From 2001-2009 I was a caregiver for my mother, who was in and out of emergency rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabs. I was also raising a teenage daughter, living with a husband whose business had gone under, working hard at my own job, and walking two dogs. I was feeling overwhelmed, but that was nothing compared to 2009. Read More →

I was sitting next to two men recently in a coffeehouse and one of them was complaining (whining) about his divorce.

“I hate my life. My ex is killing me in the divorce, I can’t find a job, I feel like sh*t all the time, my kids don’t call, I’m so depressed, my life sucks. I miss my old life. We traveled all over the world. My life was so much better and now it’s awful, I hate it.”

I was curious about what his friend would say and leaned in closer, without appearing too obvious. I thought he might say, “Yeah, your ex is a bitch and you really got screwed. Poor you.”

But he didn’t. Read More →

Divorce. Death. Job loss. Moving. Daughter leaving home. Empty nest. Really empty nest. Two dogs, no job. Financial insecurity. Fear.

In 2009 I went through almost the entire list of life’s most stressful events. To say I got hit by what felt like a tsunami of loss would not be an exaggeration. I was in so much pain, I could barely take a deep breath.

I was never a big crier and suddenly I found myself crying. A lot. Read More →

Recently I ran into an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in a few years. She is in middle of a nasty divorce. “This is a nightmare!” she told me. They have kids, so both custody and finances are at the heart of the dispute.

My own divorce was final two years ago and in some ways it feels like a lifetime ago. Our divorce was also extremely unpleasant and I hope never to go through anything like that again in my life. I did a great deal of reading about divorce and one of the many books I read seemed to resonate the most: Crazy Time: Surviving Divorce and Building a New Life, by Abigail Trafford. She says that for many couples, certainly not all, but for so many of us, the first two years Read More →