How Can We Help?

On NPR this morning I tuned into a discussion with a journalist who had recently spent time in North Korea. I instantly thought of when Otto Warmbier was “released” earlier this year, right before his death. I watched the TV in complete horror as I became sick to my stomach imagining what awful things they could have done to him.

The journalist went on to discuss how in North Korea, they have a way of ensuring the people don’t rebel. It’s known as the ‘three generations of punishment” rule. If you organize rebellion, not only will you be sent to prison camp, but your children and your children’s children are doomed to live out their lives there as well. The North Korean people only know lives full of constant fear and complete lack of hope.

Atrocities against humans happen everyday all over the world. Basic human rights are violated every second. I don’t pretend to know the answers to solve these problems. But we can not live in a bubble saying we don’t know how to help either. We are incredibly lucky to live in this country where we are free; so many lost their lives so that we may enjoy that reality. And when we band together, we always make a difference.

What are your thoughts on how we can help?



“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one” -John Lennon, Imagine

I have always been someone who sees the world not as it is, but as it could be. That can be a good thing and it can be a very bad thing. I’ve always been envious of the realists in that regard. For me, on the inside, life can be constantly stressful; I’m forever trying to fix things. With a tweak here and a tuck there, everything could be perfect.

In all of the anti-anxiety manuals, they tell you to let go of all that you can’t control; they tell you to stop trying to make everything into the ideal. Buddhism says that suffering ends when you accept things as they are, not as they should be. And sure, all of those tenets are very helpful in making me feel more relaxed and less stressed out.

But seriously, even though I would love to be stress-free all the time, what good does that do humanity as a whole? This planet, while so wonderful on so many levels, still needs a ton of work. We need to keep learning, keep challenging and keep CHANGING the world for the better. We all know there is hope. But with hope must come ACTION. And if we all believe and challenge ourselves to make it happen, we CAN create the perfect world. It’s all up to us.

Imagine that.


Don’t Underestimate Me

“You’re not that smart, you just work hard.” -Sister Mary Ann to me in the first grade.

On the website,, Saul McLeod discusses Carl Rogers’ (1959) belief that self concept has three different components: the view you have of yourself (self image), how much value you place on yourself (self esteem or self-worth), [and] what you wish you were really like (ideal self). I could go on for days about all of these theories. But today I’d like to stick to the effects of someone else’s ill-conceived comments on a youth’s self-concept. At the age of six, I was quite impressionable. And as a serious student of an all-girl Catholic school, I took everything I was told as the be-all/end-all answer. Apparently, I was not smart.

As I mentioned in a previous post, therapy has taken situations like this and placed them into context for me. Thankfully, I have carefully thought through this experience many times and instead of believing it, I have turned it into an opportunity to discuss how important it is for us to believe in our own abilities as human beings, and not allow ourselves to be forced into someone else’s schema of how they see and order the world around them, especially in academia.

As I listen to those around me, I am constantly hearing people categorize themselves. “I’m a math person, not an English person.” “I’m a science person, not a language person…” and so on. Just because certain subjects may take us more time to understand than others, does not mean we have to consider ourselves completely incapable of learning them. It happens in personality too. Just because we don’t always enjoy extroversion over introversion, doesn’t mean we can’t adapt in certain situations.

The world is tough enough as it is without us placing all sorts of chains on ourselves. People are forever going to try to fit you into their order of understanding. It is crucial that you don’t let them and allow yourself to flourish into the amazing person you were meant to be. You can be everything, if you only let yourself be.




Thoughtful Leadership

“You know, great powers don’t get angry, great powers don’t make decisions hastily in a crisis.” -John R Allen

During my career, I have been lucky enough to lead teams and truly make a difference in individual’s lives. And as with any such opportunity, there have been critiques. I have sometimes been criticized for taking too long to make a decision. In certain circumstances, people have longed for swift judgements, which from their perspective, were extraordinary clear. But I recall, in all of those circumstances, there would be those severely adversely affected by such a decision. Not everyone on a team knows the intricacies behind their colleagues’ stories.

People with limited understanding of one side of a situation will blindly call for swift “justice,” as they understand it.  But they have not thought through completely the lives of those on the other side. And it is not always their job to do so. But it is clearly the decision maker’s job to fully and carefully evaluate all sides and all options.

True leadership is thoughtful leadership. It is not leadership seeking attention, leadership seeking power or leadership with a selfish agenda. A leader must not make uninformed decisions at lightning speed so they can be viewed as decisive and resolute. People who make such decisions do so only so that their egos can be inflated by the short-term praise they win.  But the long-term effects of those hasty decisions are potentially devastating and permanent.

As a leader, you are entrusted by your people to be thoughtful. They expect you to be fair. They need you to think through all intended and unintended consequences. You should be educated in the rights and wrongs of historical events. The President of this great country continues to make reckless, impulsive, careless decisions which will severely alter the lives of so many so that he can continue to build a shallow resume filled only by ego-driven motivation.

We must continue to think and resist.

Nutrition for the Soul

“Take Time to do What Makes Your Soul Happy”-Unknown

I’ve been reading seriously for about a year now about physical nutrition. I’m forever trying to get healthy and get to my ideal weight, while constantly falling prey to eating due to stress and emotions. I truly believe that if you get your sustenance right, the rest falls into place. Our bodies thrive given the proper fuel. I’m still on that personal journey but know I will eventually get there in my own time.

What I have found to be just as important, and something I’ve been more vehement in protecting, is getting the proper nourishment for my soul. My stomach growls when it needs food and weakness begins to set in. In kind, my mind and heart wear down without qualified refreshment.  Of course, that type of replenishment requires one of the hardest luxuries to find: time.

We are all in a game of survival on this planet. While certainly more evolved than the animals in the wild, we still have needs that must be met. We don’t have to hunt for our food in this day and age, but every day is still filled with all the stresses of paying the bills and feeding our families. Who amongst us would not love to simply spend our entire days doing only the things we love. Alas, we must make a living.

But what truly separates us from the wild is the burning need for connection, understanding and peace. And just as important as making time to cook nutritive meals, we must make time for the restocking of the spirit. In order to give, we must refill. I believe that all of us need very different things to keep ourselves truly happy, but we need to make the time to understand what those things are, and demand the time to do them. The simpler those activities can be, the more realistic they are to accomplish.

Do you truly give yourself the time you need to rejuvenate?


Take a Risk

“We are all living in cages with the door wide open” – George Lucas

I have always suffered from anxiety, ever since I was a little kid. I’m sure there’s tons of reasons for it; some hereditary, some conditioned. But it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and with the additional responsibilities of work and family, life has little to no tolerance for it. I know I’m not alone in this condition, as I have this conversation several times a day with my co-workers and friends. But this year I finally took a step that I had been avoiding for years. I started therapy and it’s been the best decision of my life. I believe that burying our issues, like I had done for 40 years, truly leads to future implosion. The weight lifted from my shoulders has been tremendous. I will forever be an advocate for people getting the mental health assistance they need. I view my transition not as a stigma, but as an honor.

A life-changing moment happened for me a month or so ago, as I was wide awake at 3am, panicking. I was so sick of the insomnia I was experiencing and was combing thoroughly through my brain; sifting through the golden nuggets of therapy I had taken in over the last year. A recurrent and key theme was that I had spent my entire life trying to be perfect. There was no room for error, ever.  Either you did it right, or you didn’t do it. On top of that, I never EVER took a risk. Why would I actually take the chance of looking foolish or falling on my face? I began to think, maybe that belief was truly the root of my stress. I found a few inspirational quotes which drove that point home. The most notable quote was:

“Celebrate failure; it means you took a risk”- Unknown

It was as if the combination unlocked, the gates opened and I was finally able to break free. Only, those gates were never actually closed in the first place. It was only me placing my own restrictions upon myself. I don’t have to remind you, that’s no way to live.

As I opened my eyes to daily life, I saw others out there taking real risks with incomparable rewards. Most notably, my friend John just started a blog about how he retired from banking in the US, moved to Cambodia, and became a hotelier. His blog is here and it is truly an adventure to follow:


How inspiring it is to see others truly living their dreams. But they all had one thing in common: they got over the fear of failing and started thinking about what could go right instead of wrong.  Once I got over my analysis paralysis of over-thinking how/when/why/where and for whom I would write, I have delved in and started my blog. I stopped thinking of “for whom” and started writing “for me.” I am now confident in my thoughts and I want people to hear them. And if I can help just one person along the way, it’s all icing on the cake.

What would you do if you stopped being your own inner critic? Which dream would you begin?

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”- Anais Nin


Do Something

“To me, freedom entitles you to do something, not to not do something.” -Shel Silverstein

This week, I encountered several major instances of social injustice, just within my small circle of influence.  The phrase “no good deed goes unpunished,” by Clare Boothe Luce,  echoed loudly and repeatedly in my head, as if by megaphone.

My friend was in a store with her son, who happens to be on the Autism spectrum.  Three teenage employees were hanging out in the corner, blatantly laughing at him.  My friend’s son is one of the happiest, nicest and most loving kids I have ever met.  He would do anything for his friends, family or for that matter, anyone he just met on the street.  My friend’s heart was broken when she witnessed the situation. She was put in an uncomfortable position because it was now up to her to address it. She handled it beautifully and held those teenagers accountable for their behavior.

A teenager in the Bronx was charged with manslaughter.  His mother’s ex-boyfriend, drunk and on PCP, attacked her in her home.  This teenager jumped to her defense.  In the scuffle, the ex-boyfriend was killed. Now the son is the one who faces prison.  I do not have any evidence in front of me. But I have to assume that if I were the son in that situation, I would have done anything possible to save my mother from this horrific attack.  I’m sure he did not intend to kill him, but I also assume that it is difficult to pinpoint and calculate the exact amount of force necessary that will keep you out of prison and save your mother from certain death.

I have another friend who was held responsible for someone’s suicide, even though she had never even met him.  I cannot give details of the situation, but rest assured, she had done nothing but build a support network from scratch, with the intention of helping individuals in need. She simply became a scapegoat and was blamed for years of mental issues blatantly ignored by all those around him.

The common point of these three situations is that there are so many people out there driving swiftly and aggressively towards disaster; teenagers publicly exhibiting egregious ignorance, extreme chemical addictions robbing people of their senses, severe domestic abuse perpetually cycling through generations, and individuals not getting the mental health help they so desperately need.  But by the time concerned people get involved, they are often blamed, when they had absolutely nothing to do with the root cause. The action-oriented people discussed in the above three scenarios had no choice other than to get involved. But they had to make up for the inaction of so many people who should have been heavily involved in the first place. Studies out there have proved that people often recognize bad behavior, but remain silent.  It takes effort to get involved and most simply just don’t want to bother.

The teenagers that laughed at the boy; their behavior had been witnessed before. But instead of someone standing up and saying that it was wrong, it was simply laughed off.  The ex-boyfriend on drugs and alcohol; many unscrupulous people were profiting from his addictions. Chances are, the neighborhood knew about the awful domestic abuse that son had witnessed repeatedly over many years but no one wanted to address what was going on behind closed doors. The person who was lost to suicide; he was not getting the mental health services he so seriously needed because it was easier to look the other way.  As a society, we all bear collective responsibility for holding people accountable and getting them help if they need it. They might refuse upfront, but we must continue to try. We cannot stand by and let problems grow into insurmountable issues with dire consequences.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard passing comments, “Don’t get involved, it’s not your problem.”  We also have to support people who do take a stand, as often times they will suffer largely negative consequences just for doing the right thing. As June Jordan ignited the oft-repeated words in her 1978 poem entitled Poem for South African Women, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”