Posts from life lessons

Pacific Time

It’s that time of year again. The Gotham Gal and I are spending the rest of the winter out west.

Blog posts will start coming in around 6am PT/9am ET.

We plan to spend this winter in Utah (where I am now), LA, and I will also be in the Bay Area a fair bit.

I find this time of year to be particularly invigorating for me.

Getting out in the fresh air and skiing, biking, and that sort of thing always gets me going.

But it’s mostly about reducing the back to back to back meeting grind that my work day in NYC has become and replacing it with reading, writing, thinking, and dreaming that I find so helpful.

The Gotham Gal and I are going to go out and ski the 16″ of new powder that we have gotten in the past 48 hours this morning and then go see some great indie films this afternoon.

Should be a great Sunday.

Light And Love

Today we celebrate the life and teachings of the great Martin Luther King Jr.

He had a way with words and among my favorites is this quote, which seems very apropos right now:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Being Direct

I saw The Gotham Gal’s reply to an email this morning that we were both copied on. I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was something like “I understand, but no.”

No beating around the bush, no letting down softly, just complete and total honesty about where our heads are at on something.

She has taught me this lesson consistently over our almost forty year relationship. I have a tendency to be too nice and leave people with an unclear view of where I am at.

I’ve gotten much better at this over the years as the pain of leaving things hanging has taught me this very important point.

Being clear and direct with people, even if it means upsetting them, is better than being nice and leaving them confused.

Seeing that email reminded me of that and the next hundred emails I replied to got a very direct answer this morning.

Meditation And Distraction

I’ve been meditating for ten to fifteen minutes every day for the past two months. I have not missed a day since I started. I find it to be a wonderful practice which I enjoy and look forward to very much every day.

I am experiencing a number of benefits but the one I am most cognizant of is an increased ability to avoid distraction in a conversation or some other situation where I need to be focused.

I’ve always been good at being focused, sometimes to a fault. But I also find my mind wandering in situations where I am losing interest and that’s obviously very bad.

At the core of my meditation practice, as it was taught to me, is bringing my mind back in focus and back to the breathing. It is that thing “snapping back into focus” that I do regularly in my meditation practice that has helped me so much with staying present throughout the day.

Meditation is like repetitive exercise of the focus muscle in the brain.

So if you are having trouble being present in situations you want to be but can’t, I would strongly recommend trying meditation. It’s helped me with this and I imagine it will help you too.

Email Bankruptcy

I saw this tweet in my timeline yesterday and thought “what a great way to start the new year.”

I had 1,625 unread emails in my inbox this morning.

I have archived all of them that came in during 2017.

If you sent me an email in 2017 and did not get a reply, you won’t.

I am starting the year fresh. It feels good. Thanks for the suggestion OoTheNigerian.

How To Deal With Trolls

I have dealt with social media trolls a lot over the years.

I have found that these things work best:

1) Ignore them

2) Don’t mute or block them

3) Let their ridiculous comments/tweets/etc stay up to show how crazy they are

4) Ignore them

5) Ignore them

6) Ignore them

What they want and crave is attention.

Don’t give it to them.

Meditation

I’ve been meditating every day for ten to fifteen minutes for the last couple weeks.

I am not using any technology, just old fashioned sitting and breathing.

My friend and former partner Jerry introduced me to a teacher who gave me the basics and I’ve been doing it every morning right after I wake up and before I write.

I like the addition to my morning routine. It’s very peaceful that time of the day and it’s a nice bridge between night and day.

I’m hoping for a bunch of benefits; lower stress, more presence in my personal interactions, lower blood pressure, and a healthier approach to life.

That’s a lot of asks from sitting and breathing for ten to fifteen minutes a day but I’m told it’s all there for me if I commit to the practice and keep it up.

I’m very much a creature of habit and so I’m pretty sure I can do that.

And it might improve my writing too. That would be a win for all of us.

Happy New Year

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

I’d like to wish a happy new year to all my Jewish friends and colleagues and readers.

I don’t personally identify as any particular religion.

I was brought up Catholic, married into and raised our children Jewish, and I appreciate both of these religions.

I also feel great connectivity to Buddhism and have many wonderful Muslim friends.

There are bits of all of these belief systems that I connect to and appreciate.

But mostly I am a fan of spirituality and belief systems.

Being human is a strange, wonderful, and, at times, unnerving experience.

Spirituality and belief systems help us with our humanity and make our time on earth a bit easier.

If we could have that without all of the other stuff religion brings, that would be a wonderful thing.

Today is a day for my Judaism. I will attend services with my family, hear the shofar, wish everyone Shanah Tovah, and celebrate with a big meal with friends and family.

Rosh Hashanah is my favorite Jewish holiday and I plan to enjoy it. Shanah Tovah.

September 11th – A Day Of Remembrance

I have written a lot about September 11th on this blog over the years.

I started AVC a couple years post 9/11, while I was and NY was still very much in its wake.

Time has a way of making traumatic things fade away and that has happened to some degree.

But a smell, a scene, or a person can take me right back there to that awful day.

So today, like all September 11s, will be a day of remembrance for me.

Flood Damage

I got an email from a friend last night. He said that his friend was flooded in Texas and had lost many family mementos and valuable items.

Obviously this is a terrible thing to have to go through.

We went through it during Hurricane Sandy when the Hudson came over its banks and flooded our building’s basement and first floor.

All of our building systems were destroyed and all of the families had to vacate our building for what turned out to be almost four months.

We also lost everything in our storage unit in our basement, including many family mementos and valuable items.

We fought with the insurance companies for almost a year and recouped maybe 50 cents on the dollar.

The mementos were and are irreplaceable. Gone forever.

But as I am typing this, I must say that although it was a terrible experience for us, nobody in our family was hurt and we have fullly recovered from it

Thankfully we have the means to absorb the financial losses and I realize that many people don’t.

We should have better federal flood insurance for this reason. The federal flood insurance system doesn’t cover many things that it should and sadly many people in Texas will suffer significant financial losses that they will not be able to fully recover from their insurers.

At this time, it seems that the death toll for Harvey will be in the range of Sandy, which took 117 lives, mostly in NY and NJ.

To lose so few when so many are impacted is a testament to the outpouring of assistance that we saw in both Sandy and Harvey. There are many heroes in both of these disaster stories.

So first and foremost, we should all be thankful that so many were saved from harm. And we should seek out ways to help those who don’t have the means to sustain the financial losses they have taken. That is where I want to focus our support right now.

Floods are terrible. But once the waters recede and recovery begins, many will recover quickly, as we did, and move on. Some will struggle. They will need our help and hopefully we can all come together to provide that.