Nella Coiro

Blog posts : "Click comment link below, email or PM me to comment."

What brings joy to your Heart?

“I’d like to plant some roses.” I told my husband Kenny this idea in May. And so, we bought and planted two roses bushes. And then… we bought and planted two more  bushes. Actually, he did the planting.

We watered them nearly every day. Periodically, we gave them plant food, and I told them how beautiful they looked, and how much joy they brought it to my heart. (Okay, I’m a little bit weird.) All summer long, I had the joy of roses.

Throughout my day, I make an effort to notice what brings joy to my heart. This year, I decided to grow roses. Over the summer, each of my four rose bushes have grown from one foot to three feet each. Two of these bushes have pink roses, and the other two have red roses. They bring such joy to my heart, when I look at them, or I touch their soft, velvety petals. Their beauty is heartwarming and calming. 

I thought about the roses and the happiness that they’ve given me. And then, I realized that each day I need to make an effort to notice something that will bring joy to my heart. Now, as the winter is quickly approaching, I need to find  to something else to warm my heart, because my roses will be sleeping for the winter. 

 And so, my attention is brought to the autumn hues, as the leaves turn to beautiful orange, yellow, and red colors. This is always been my favorite time of the year. The weather is nice, and the colors are magnificent..

I think that there’s always something that can bring joy to our hearts. It might take a bit of effort, and we just need to look for it. 

Many people find the winter dreary. No singing birds. They’ve migrated to warmer temperatures. It gets dark much earlier. It takes a little bit of work to find something joyful during the winter months. Holiday season is heartwarming. However, after the winter holidays, we have more winter time, and we get fidgety as we think Spring. 

Like most people, I have to make some extra effort to find something that brings joy to my heart. I like a nice crispy winter day. I don’t mind snow, if I don’t have to go anywhere. I absolutely love my wood-burning stove, a little cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows, and a good book or a movie. 

So my questions are:  How do you get through the winter months? and What brings joy to your heart? 
…and, by the way, here’s a photograph of my beautiful roses:

Go Back


“Don’t give up a minute before the miracle happens.”

Several years ago, I heard the quote cited above, and these words of encouragement have dwelled in my heart ever since. I have carried these words with me through many experiences, challenges, and tribulations, and they have helped me through many difficult moments. 

Giving up has never been a part of my DNA. I am, innately, a survivor. Even when I don’t really want to be a survivor, and I feel weary, somehow I find myself being filled with resilience. Therefore, giving up is simply not an option.

Now, regarding the second part of the quote – what exactly is “the miracle” that happens? Volumes of books have been written about the nature of miracles. I won’t bore you with that, because it’s really a rhetorical question. There are millions of definitions, theories, and personal opinions.

In my experience, a miracle is the ability to see a situation from a broader perspective, and recognize aspects which might have previously eluded us. The miracle allows us to see the hope of infinite possibilities.

Imagine looking into a mirror in a dimly lit room. There are many things that we don’t see, but they are still there. Then, suddenly a bright light emerges, and we are shocked to see details that escaped us a second ago. New insights suddenly fill the room. They were there a minute ago, but we just didn’t see them. When our perceptions and perspective changes, this our choices and our future. And... that’s huge!

Knowledge might be power, but insight is priceless. And insight begins with a change in perspective, or a “miracle.” 

Regardless of what’s happening in your life... never relent... stay strong... and keep your focus on the upcoming miracle - it’s only a moment away…

Go Back

Equanimity, Mindfulness & Other Tips

In life, it’s impossible to avoid obstacles, and we are going to have our own personal storms. Life can drastically change within the link of an eye – an unexpected illness, untimely deaths, losses of other kinds – the list is endless. 

Life happens, and it can easily push us from our calm center into the chaotic turmoil of a whirling emotional cyclone. Other times, we can inadvertently get pulled into someone else’s tornado. It’s impossible to walk into another person’s storm without getting wet. 

When confronted with storms, it can be difficult to maintain some level of equanimity – the ability to stay calm in the midst of adversity. To do this, I practice mindfulness.

I begin by paying attention to my thoughts. In doing so, I become aware that I have many thoughts flowing through my mind – one after the other, in rapid succession. Very often, these thoughts are either concerned with what happened yesterday, what mistakes I might’ve made, and negative scenarios of what might happen today, tomorrow, or even in the far future. Needless to say, this isn’t going to help me to be calm. I need to either stop or change these thoughts in order to achieve some level of equanimity and bring myself into a place where I feel calm and relaxed. 

I ask myself these questions: where am I now? I look around me to observe the room that I am in. I listen to the sounds that are around me. Essentially, I’m bringing myself into this present moment, and in doing so, my thoughts are changing, because I cannot think of two things simultaneously. 

As I think about the room that I’m sitting in, and the quietness around me, my thoughts begin to move away from the turmoil that I was focusing upon just a few moments ago. Sometimes I look at my dog, and his cuteness warms my heart and calms my soul.

Think about what might work for you. Do you have a memory or thoughts that calm you? Does nature help you to relax? Sometimes I find refuge and serenity by focusing my attention on the beautiful trees that are now changing colors, or the sounds of the birds singing in the trees.

Thought changing exercises and mindfulness practices help to bring me back to my calm center.

When I’m usually caught up in the turmoil of worry and racing thoughts, it is often because I am trying to change something that I have no control over. This brings me back to a prayer that I’ve learned decades ago, and it has always helped me to relax and gain some perspective. It’s called the serenity prayer, and it reads: “God, grant me the serenity to except that I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.“

I hope that some of these tips help you in when you’re going through trying times.

Go Back

Resilience and Equanimity

Do you ever wonder why some people seem to handle adversity better than others? Given the same circumstances, why do some give up, while others stand and fight, overcome the challenge at hand, and emerge stronger?

In this blog, I would like to talk about how we react when we’re presented with challenges, and ways that we can cultivate resilience. Below, I want to share some insights that I’ve learned over the years which have helped me. 

Learning Lessons  

Every difficulty or challenge is accompanied by a learning opportunity. In the midst of adversity, even though it can be difficult, we need to step back and ask ourselves: “What’s the lesson here? What am I supposed to learn?”

Although it’s not always easy, I order to rise above fear, we need to keep our focus on the learning opportunity rather than the obstacle at hand. One of the most important truths that I learned is that if we don’t learn the lesson the first time, it will just keep repeating itself, with greater intensity, until we do so. The situations might be different, but the core lesson to be learned will be the same.


We can live without water for 2-3 days, without food for about 4 to 6  weeks, but I don’t think that we can survive very long without hope. There isn’t any motivation to forge forward if the only thing that we see is never-ending darkness. On the other hand, if we have a strong sense of hope – the belief that “this too shall pass”, we can survive just about anything. 

Perspective is powerful. Although we don’t always have control over our circumstances, we have complete control over our thoughts, and how we choose to perceive our situation. With some work, we have the capacity to re-train our minds, shift our focus, and redirect our thinking. 


When I use prayer and meditation to connect with God/the Higher Power, I am given the strength to deal with each and every obstacle which crosses my path. Each morning, I thank God for today, and ask him to help me to live my best life in these twenty four hours. 


In the ”big book” of 12-step recovery groups, accepting that which cannot be changed, is an important tenet. An excerpt reads: “… acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake… I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes."

This is similar to the Serenity Prayer which says: “ God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Impermanence  (Everything Changes)

The Buddhists believe that all of our suffering is caused by our desire to cling to things in our physical world. Since everyone and everything is impermanent, we suffer when we lose that which we desperately cling go. This makes sense.

My father-in-law was a serene person. He did not react to the drama and disruption created by others. He went with the flow f life, and he lived in a state of peace. So, it’s not surprising that his favorite mantra was: “This too shall pass.” To this day, his influence and these words still help me through every difficult moment in my life. Everything changes. More importantly, every trauma passes. 

Equanimity and Grace

Regardless of what happens to us in life, we always have the power to control our reactions. Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl says that everything can be taken away from them except the last of the human freedoms – the freedom to choose our attitude and how we respond to any situation.

Closing Thoughts 

I’m a big fan of Maya Angelou, and I particularly love her poem “Still, I Rise” because I believe that it eloquently expresses the essence of resilience. When I encounter personal obstacles, I repeat these words cited below, and they always strengthen my heart and lift up my spirit:

“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise

Go Back

Ball of Confusion

“So, around and around and around we go, Where the world's headed, nobody knows.

In 1970, the song “Ball of Confusion” hit the top of the charts. The lyrics addressed the issues and stresses during that time, and sadly, many still apply today. If we don’t pay attention and become proactive, history will keep repeating itself. 

Even wars continue – one after the other. There were only 23 years between World War I and World War II. Five years after World War II ended, we became involved in the Korean War. Eleven years later, the Gulf of Tonkin incident brought us into the Vietnam War in 1964. In 1990, we became involved with the Kuwait Gulf war. Eleven years later, in 2001, we invaded Afghanistan, and then we invaded Iraq. Twenty years later, we’re still involved in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. 

Aside from our inability to avoid wars and maintain long-term peace, we have enormous turmoil here in our own country. To summarize: a pandemic that killed over half a million people in the USA, quarantines, businesses closing, hunger, homelessness, violence, unemployment, a drug addiction epidemic, social injustice, hate and intolerance, conspiracy theories, and a lack of mutual respect and caring. 

Despite the Covid-19 global epidemic, people are still refusing to wear masks, while others refuse to get the COVID vaccine, making it a political rather than a public health issue. And if that isn’t bad enough, how about January 6th, when radical American terrorists actually tried to overthrow our government, because they weren’t happy with the outcome of an election that was proven to be the most secure election in American history. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that day.

To make things worse, twenty-four hours of ongoing cable news has contributed to a negative environment with more stress. In fact, studies  have shown that our anxiety level and our blood pressure can elevate after watching just a few minutes of cable news. I’m not surprised, are you?

Besides this, I’m very annoyed that the cable news genre needs news analysts to interpret the news. Seriously? Have we become so stupid that we don’t have the ability to understand the news without interpreters? Do you find this insulting too? Can we just return to a time when we had 6 o’clock and 11 o’clock news, and we didn’t need interpreters, because we’re not dummies?        

Are you overwhelmed yet? 

Since maintaining inner peace and serenity seems to be an elusive concept in the crazy, stress-saturated world in which we live, how do we find inner peace when we’re surrounded by an external “ball of confusion?” 

Dr. Viktor Frankl, author and Holocaust survivor, has asserted that when we are powerless to change the circumstances around us, then we need to change our attitude. I try very hard to follow this philosophy, and the tools that I use to change my attitude are meditation, prayer and focusing on what I have to be grateful for. (Trust me – Some days, I’m more successful than others.) This is the only way that I can maintain some level of inner peace in this tumultuous world.

If you know a little bit about my work, or you’ve read my books or blogs, then you probably already know that I write a lot about the importance of spirituality, and how it helps me to find my inner strength and resilience. Is it easy? No. Can it be done? Yes, if we take it in increments, one day at a time. Some days, it’s one moment at a time.

I’m what you might call a spirituality boundary crosser. This simply means that I have an inclusive interfaith approach concerning spirituality. I draw heavily upon the tenets in 12-step recovery groups, and see value and wisdom in all religions and spiritual traditions. 

I particularly like the 11th step of A. A., which reads: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.“

Meditation involves focusing and clearing our racing thoughts. Traditional meditation includes a mantra, which is a word that we focus on in a rhythm-like loop. Many people use the word Om. However, there are other ways to meditate. If we play solitaire or other calming video games and apps like candy crush or popping bubbles, these will help us to focus our attention on the game, and simultaneously prevent us from obsessing on random or stressful thoughts.

Prayer helps me to reach out to the God of my understanding. I see praying as having a conversation with God. I tell God my concerns or fears, ask him for wisdom, guidance,  and strength, and thank him for the blessings that he has given me in my life. I pray for those that I care about. I also pray for those whom I might have negative feelings toward. This isn’t easy, but it’s healing and it helps to melt away disappointment and resentments.

To summarize, although we might not be able to change some of the insanity around us, we can take steps to calm the turmoil within.

Go Back

“There is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”

As I re-read Amanda Gorman’s eloquent and powerful inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” many thoughts crossed my mind. My first thought as a fellow poet was “Wow! What an incredibly gifted writer!” Second, I was impressed that a twenty-two year old woman had so much insight beyond her years. I certainly didn’t have her level of insight when I was in my 20’s. I also realized that although her poem were focused upon the country, her words could easily be applied to individual adversity, learning and growth. 

In this blog, I want to explore some excerpts that were particularly poignant, and led me toward further self-reflection. Let’s take a closer look: 

“When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never ending shade? The loss we carry. The sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it.”

If you have ever felt depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, or have experienced adversity, tragedy or loss, you too might have searched for a glimmer of light within the darkness of your challenging circumstances. Yet somehow, hopefully, you were able to exit the darkness, and, as Gorman asserts, “braved the belly of the beast.” We are usually stronger and more courageous than we realize.

I don’t think that anyone would disagree with the fact that human beings are “far from polished” and “far from pristine.” Yet most of us try our best to walk through our obstacles, focused on resilience, and realize that “even as we grieved, we grew… even as we hurt, we hoped…even as we tired, we tried.” 

The poet goes on to talk about a nation that “isn’t broken”, but “simply unfinished.” Since a  nation is actually a collection of individuals, let’s talk about people. Can we really be “broken,”or, as she suggests, are we simply “unfinished?” I contend the latter. Although life can sometimes leave us feeling “bruised and battered,” I don’t believe that we can ever be “broken.” Rather, most of us endure, we try to learn from our mistakes, and strive toward being better people, and less “unfinished.” And it’s a lifelong journey.

I contemplated the following verse in further depth, because it also relates to vengeance versus forgiveness and letting go: “Victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.” Violence and the desire for revenge has never brought about “victory.” Even if someone has hurt us, retaliation will not truly soothe our pain, because this will not erase the offense. Further, this behavior will only make us a perpetrator, like the person who harmed us. 

Sadly, some in our society (too many), no longer see “agreeing to disagree“ as a viable option. Rather, disagreement has abruptly caused relationships to end, and ignited the flames of anger, hate, and violence. This must stop! Until we can “lay down our arms,” and embrace tolerance, even in the face of disagreements, then, as a society, we’re doomed to fail. This mentality is simply unsustainable.

Concerning our historical inheritance, Gorman asserts: “It’s the past we step into, and how to repair it.” Regardless of our past, we are not doomed to repeat it, and we have the ability and the choice to move beyond it. We can repair and change the future by what we choose to do today. 

Further, we can emerge stronger. We can enjoy life. We can laugh. We can recover. We can choose not to look back on the horrors of yesterday, and instead, look forward to the hope of tomorrow and of better days. Although life can wear us down, frighten us, and sometimes catch us off guard, ultimately we’ve got this! 

“For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”        


Go Back

Goodbye 2020

Now that we’re approaching the end of 2020, saying that it’s been an overwhelming year would definitely be an understatement. When we wished one another a happy new year on January 1st of 2020, no one could have a fathomed the horror that this year would bring upon us. So, I guess the term happy new year is simply a wish that we’re hoping for the best, and we certainly don’t want to think about the worst.

We all celebrate the end of the year and the coming of the new year, with a sense of anticipated hope for better things to come, and this will be especially true of this year. Yet, millions have lost a loved one, and were not allowed to hold their hand during their final moments. These heartbreaking memories and this level of grief doesn’t fade with the passing of time. Instead, this changes us, and remains with us.

Anger, anxiety and fear don’t easily fade into the sunset either. Even the good news concerning vaccines isn’t a soothing balm and a solution for the intense suffering and the new normals. Now, we have a new mindset, because we’ve become acutely aware that there are deadly threats that are invisible, and we can’t see them coming. Even enlightenment can have components that are distressing and painful.

There’s so much happening in our world simultaneously – and much of it is about facing the reality that we have absolutely no control over the external circumstances that can greatly impact upon our lives. This enhanced reality will follow us beyond 2020, and into the years to come. 

There are also social ramifications. The pandemic has drastically changed how we will interact with one another in the future. No one will feel comfortable with handshaking ever again. Hugs will be accompanied by anxiety for a long time. Since I’m immune compromised, I cannot imagine ever feeling comfortable when standing close to a stranger, or without the protection of a mask.

We’ve become so aware of the fact that even those we love can unknowingly transmit invisible and deadly germs. How will this translate at family gatherings when we might be expected to hug or kiss friends or relatives? 

How will we greet one another in social situations now? Elbow bumps? Personally, I’ve always preferred the Indian namaste greeting, but social greeting changes are going to be awkward for western society. People don’t like change. Just look at all the people who are still refusing to wear masks, even if it kills them. And it just might do that.

Then, what can we take away from 2020 as learning lessons?  Here are a few ideas…

  • Live each moment with a sense of gusto, because it is precious and tenuous, and can quickly fade within a heartbeat.
  •  Stop worrying and rehearsing for a possible disaster that never happens. Often, whatever we’re worrying about usually doesn’t come to fruition, and at the same time, we can get blindsided by something we never even anticipated.
  • We need to learn tolerance and mutual respect, even if we don’t see eye to eye on particular situations. What ever happened to respectfully agreeing to disagree? Many people have ended relationships this year because of political differences. Was it worth it?
  • There were those who refused to wear a mask to protect both themselves and those around them, turning a public health issue into a political issue. We need to be less selfish and gullible, and more caring of those around us.
  • Last, but certainly not least, we need to say “I love you“ to those that we care about.


Go Back

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

The term “Am I my brothers keeper?“ originally came from the Bible (although all religions and spiritual traditions share this philosophy.) As the story goes, when Cain killed his brother Abel, God asked Cain where Abel was, and he defensively responded, “How should I know. Am I my brothers keeper?” In other words, was he responsible for his brother? Cain hated and was envious of his brother, killed him in cold blood, and he was annoyed by the question. 

Over the years, the meaning of these words has taken on a different meaning. When I was younger, this phrase meant that, in the spirit of brotherhood, we should have an attitude of caring about and helping each other. There was a time, not very long ago, when people looked out for and empathized with each other, and were more respectful of one another. A lot has changed since then.

This led me to think about what this sentiment means in our society today.

Although we still have heroic first responders and health care professionals who will risk their lives to help or save other people, they are a small fraction of society. In general, however, our society has become more selfish and self-absorbed. More and more people have a me-first attitude, and many people care less about each other than they used to. It’s also alarming to note that increasing numbers of people lack empathy. 

Here are some examples:

Let’s begin by looking at the battle of wearing masks. Years ago, this battle wouldn’t exist. People wouldn’t even think of putting someone else in danger if asked to take a simple preventive measure. They didn’t have this me-first and I don’t care about you attitude. In the middle of a pandemic where hundreds of thousands of people have died, there are people who refuse to wear a mask, not only to protect themselves, but to protect those around them. Why? (Needless to say, there are political reasons, but I try to avoid discussing politics in my blogs.)

Let’s talk about the holidays. I understand that people want to be with their extended families during the holidays. But, aren’t they putting their selfish desire to be with certain family members ahead of that person’s health? How is going against CDC guidelines doing the loving thing? Experts have told us that the biggest spread of the coronavirus happens during small residential gatherings where there are people from different households sitting around a table, without social distancing, and people are not wearing masks. In fact, after Halloween, as a result of people having small Halloween parties, there was a surge in cases.

And so, I just don’t get it.

While we’re on this topic, have you noticed that all of the television commercials are encouraging people to holiday shop? For example, the Fed-Ex commercial with the song “I’ll be home for the Christmas“, and the Post Office and Amazon commercials where they are delivering packages, and all of the retail outlet advertisements that encourage shopping for Christmas presents? Are they living in an alternative reality? It’s sad enough that people have been encouraged, for health safety issues, not to be around extended family members during the holidays. This doesn’t help.

Has the rigidity of tradition blinded people to doing the loving and sometimes difficult thing, even if it requires sacrifice?

So, how did we get here and does that matter? The more important questions are: How do we change? How do we get back to the attitude of caring about one another in a selfless loving way, even when it might be at our own expense?

Go Back

Musings on Challenges, Pain and Struggles

I haven’t written a blog for a few weeks because I was struggling with the sadness and grief of losing my sweet basset hound, Penelope, in addition to the ongoing stress of being on dialysis, and the work involved with going to evaluations hoping to be included on kidney recipient transplant lists in different states. So, there’s a lot is going on in my life. 

Today I was at an evaluation, and there were a few other people there to be evaluated as well. I was struck and saddened that one of the patients was a young woman, possibly in her early 20’s. She looked so afraid, and my heart really went out to her — so young, and she needed a kidney transplant. Since transplants usually only last a certain number of years, this young woman will possibly need a few transplants throughout her life. That’s so sad, and her life will surely be challenging.

Sometimes it’s important to remember that we’re not alone regarding challenges and struggles. As I mentioned in my book, The Forgiveness Journey, we all have a story. 

Of course, we’re going to feel that our pain is the worst, because we’re experiencing it. But it helps to look around us. Our physical world is filled with challenges, pain and struggle. On the plus side, we usually have more strength and resilience than we realize.

Unless you’ve come face-to-face with a serious illness or a life threatening situation, it’s hard to explain the barrage of feelings and the ongoing, underlying fear and stress. You bounce around through the grief process, and you learn the deepest meaning of the word powerless

Eventually, however, you somehow come to terms with your circumstances, even though you might still have moments where you feel depressed, frustrated, or engage in the self defeating mind game of “what-if’s” or “if only’s.” Personally, although I have my moments, my “why me’s” and times of tears, I’m still here, and somehow, I’m able to keep moving forward. Even in dark moments, after contemplation, ultimately, I concluded that giving up was just not an option.  

I think that everything in life can be seen as a learning lesson. In the midst of serious challenges and times of pain or grief, perhaps we can capture a glimpse of the preciousness of each moment. We might realize how many moments we have wasted, or about the stupid things that we worried about that might have seemed monumental at the time, but now seem trivial, in the broader scope of things.

It’s interesting to note how our priorities can change in a heartbeat. We could be so upset by a particular situation, and unexpectedly, something more tragic happens. Then suddenly the situation that was so devastating now seems unimportant. This raises the question, was it really as important as we thought? It’s all about perspective …

These pivotal, challenging and upsetting moments will change us. They have to! If our lives are always fine and dandy, we really have no reason to change or grow. But when the shit hits the fan… then I believe that change is inevitable. These are the moments when we find and draw upon our inner strength and courage.

For example, I have always been somewhat of a procrastinator. However, when I learned about the seriousness of my illness, I stop procrastinating, and completed the projects that I have put off for years. I became acutely aware that I wasn’t immortal, and it was time to follow my heart. If I wasn’t in this situation, I’m not sure that my motivation wouldn’t have rose to the level that it did. And so, as the old cliche’ goes, “each cloud has a silver lining.”

So, where am I going with this? To summarize: 

  1. Shit happens to everyone, and it’s unavoidable and inevitable. 
  2. Often, when shit happens, it can be motivating and enlightening. 
  3. Challenges, struggles and pain can prompt us and ignite personal growth and change. 

(As always, I welcome and appreciate your comments and emails.)


Go Back

The Pain of Losses

As you know, I write my blogs and my books based upon my own experiences, in the hope that it might help someone else. This week I want to talk about loss. As many of you know,  I don’t have children, and I treat and look upon my animal companions as my children. (If you are someone who has the philosophy “It’s just a dog”, then you might not want to read the rest of this blog, and that’s okay.) 

A week ago today, on 9/10, I lost Penelope, my basset hound of 11 years, and so I am completely heartbroken. Although I believe that her spirit lives on, and we will reunite in the afterlife, this doesn’t ease the pain of her physical loss. Today we picked up her urn with her ashes, and her collar, and I cannot put into words how upsetting this was. We were particularly upset by seeing her collar. Every morning we heard her collar jingle as she came into the bedroom to wake us up and greet us. It symbolizes so much. The mutual love — the mutual joy of waking up and greeting each other.

Since it’s been a few years since I lost my other basset hound, I forgot the intensity of this pain. It’s a pain that feels like someone has ripped my heart into shreds. To me, there isn’t a difference between losing my hound or losing a human being. And since I’ve been running a group for several years for those grieving the loss of their animal companions, I know that many share these feelings. Since her loss was sudden, shocking and unexpected, this made it even more upsetting. I miss her so much.

And so, I would like to share some insights. For myself, this loss was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” In the past few weeks, I was sick, needed to test for COVID-19, and thank God I was negative. Since the test results took time, I was shipped off to another dialysis center which was an hour away, because I needed two negatives before I could return to my dialysis center. Then I developed a blood clot in my hemodialysis graft and needed an emergency procedure. Let’s just say that shit relentlessly kept happening in my life non-stop.

Besides this, I’m trying to get on transplant lists and I’m told that the waiting list is 5-8 years long. Therefore, theoretically, I might spend the next 5-8 years going to dialysis three times a week, three hours each treatment… this has become my life. Right now I feel that I’ve run out of strength and resilience, and it has become hard to pray because I feel that my prayers aren’t being heard. (I am hoping that this will change with time.) So, as much as I’d like to think of myself as a badass warrior, I am forced to face the fact that I’m a vulnerable human being.

What is the lesson here? What is the struggle about? I think that it’s all about dealing with loss… loss of someone I deeply loved… loss of strength... loss of stamina… loss of resilience… loss of faith and spirituality… loss of autonomy… loss of health… loss of independence... loss of control... loss of the illusion of power.

Maybe you’ve been there yourself, or perhaps you can identify with some of these feelings. If you have, I feel your pain.

Let’s begin with the lose of a loved one… Whenever we make ourselves vulnerable and allow ourselves to love either an animal or another person, we are at risk to eventually feel the pain of loss. The greater the love, the deeper the pain of the loss. Since animals love us unconditionally, we share a special bond and a unique type of love with them.

And yet, I wouldn’t change a thing, because I enjoyed the 11 years I’ve shared with her, loved her, took care of her, and gave her a good and happy life. And, she taught me so many lessons and helped to mold me in significant ways. The pain I’m feeling right now because of her physical loss doesn’t negate the eleven years that we shared, nor does it negate the importance of her life.

The Buddhists talk about impermanence, and that it is our obsession with attachment that always gets us into trouble. We go through life clinging to one thing or one person after another, hoping to find happiness. Love and it’s intensity complicates this even further. Then we get frustrated when the world doesn't behave according to our needs and wants. We suffer because we can’t accept that everything is impermanent, including relationships and life itself. Nothing will last forever. Most of us live in denial and we’re too afraid to face this truth about loss.

This loss of Penelope, my fur-child was devastating, and caused me to think about, and triggered the pain of other losses, and, as mentioned above, I’ve had quite a few, especially in this last year. As I contemplated, I was able to see that there are some similarities between all losses. 

First and foremost, it’s frustrating and terrifying to realize how incredibly powerless we are, especially concerning health, life and death. This has to be one of the worst feelings in the world. Second, we struggle with letting go, especially if we love someone. Third, we become angry with the God of our understanding because we feel we aren’t being heard, or God isn’t doing it our way. Fourth, we see a loved one suffer and can’t do a damned thing about it. (I find it interesting that I can deal with my own illnesses much better than dealing with the illnesses of those I love.)

Unfortunately, we only grow and learn through struggles, challenges and pain. I was speaking to a dear friend of mine the other day, and she said something to me that was eloquent and insightful, so I would like to share it: “This is what life is about – learning lessons. You have some big bumps in the road right now. You can either let it break you or let it change your thought process... It might feel slow, or walls are up around you, but you are changing. Just keep that perspective.”

I want to end this blog with my friend’s words.


Penelope, My Baby Girl - 9/24/09-9/10/20

Go Back

Frozen in Time

I was listening to the radio today, and I heard an old song from the 1960’s. The song was entitled Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire. These are the lyrics:

“The eastern world, it is exploding,
Violence flaring, bullets loading.
You're old enough to kill but not for voting.
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're toting.
And even the Jordan river has bodies floating,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Don't you understand, what I'm trying to say?
And can't you feel the fears I'm feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there's no running away,
There'll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulating,
I'm sitting here, just contemplating.
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don't pass legislation,
And marches alone can't bring integration,
When human respect is disintegrating,
This whole crazy world is just too frustrating,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
But when your return, it's the same old place,
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.”

No, no, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Except for the line, “You're old enough to kill but not for voting,” nothing has changed since this song was written in 1964. That’s 56 years ago! The voting age has changed from 21 to 18, but that’s it?  WTH?! Do you find this upsetting too? If someone read the lyrics to the song without knowing when it was written, one could easily think that it was written yesterday, because so many things still apply to our world right now!  

How sad is this? Over half a century has passed, and yet we still have:

  • War
  • Hate 
  • Hypocrisy 
  • Racism & Misogyny
  • Senators and other politicians who don’t give a hoot.
  • A lack of mutual human respect.

If you look at the title from a broad lens,  the concept, “eve of destruction“ is not a singular event. It is more of a lingering downhill struggle. We, as a society, are self-imploding and yet we’re clueless.

It’s a bit ironic that we’ve made incredible advances in technology, science, and medicine, but have failed as a society in other important areas. Perhaps we need to take our focus away from our cell phones and iPads, stop taking selfie’s (which, by the way, no one cares about), stop living vicariously through social media, stop wasting hours a day playing Call of Duty and other video games — and wake up and look around!

Have you noticed that technology has become such a distraction that artistic expression, especially in music, has come to an indefinite pause? What great songs have been written lately that will still be listened to decades from now? 

The problem is that the digital technology, especially the internet, is so addictive. According to an October 2016 Newsweek article, Andrew Doan, M.D., a recognized expert in technology and video-game addiction, calls video games and screen technologies “digital drugs.” Doan asserts that they raise levels of dopamine— the euphoria neurotransmitter that is linked to addiction. Research shows that long amounts of time focused on a screen can affect the brain’s frontal cortex the same way that cocaine does.

Since people use this technology as the primary means of communication, social skills are also compromised. Telephone conversation or face-to-face communication is quickly becoming a lost art, and actually causes anxiety, especially in kids. Most methods of communication are handled through texting, which is vulnerable to misinterpretation. As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, people become brave when they can hide behind a computer or a cell phone. They will text words that they would never dare to say on the telephone or in person. 

What will this society be like in 20-30 years? Maybe you won’t be around to see it, but your children and grandchildren will! And, if you believe in reincarnation, you’ll be back! Think about that! 

The solution isn’t easy, but it can be accomplished by practicing balance — utilizing some of the old time-tested methods, and emotionally detoxing from technology obsession.

Author Edward Everett Hale said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” 

We can detach ourselves from the fate of remaining “frozen in time.” The world is changed one person at a time. Are you willing to be that person?

Go Back

Is Agreeing-to-Disagree a lost Art?

Agreeing to disagree means respecting that someone might have a different opinion than yours, and neither of you will change the other person’s opinion. Arguing is both disrespectful and a waste of time and energy. The best way to handle this situation is to change the topic.

There certain topics that are based on emotions rather than logic, and often opinion differences don’t mean that one person is right and the other person is wrong. Rather, they have different perspectives concerning the same situation.

There’s an old cliché that warns us to avoid discussions and debates concerning politics and religion, because these are highly emotionally charged topics. I think that this is also true today.

Agreeing to disagree doesn’t denote submission or consent. It simply means that you recognize that the other individual has a different opinion on this topic, you respect their right to a different opinion, and you choose not to argue about it.

If people are mature, then having a difference of opinion shouldn’t lead to hostility and anger. People need to be sophisticated enough to understand that others are entitled to have a different perspective, even if their perspective is different from ours. 

It’s nearly impossible for two people to agree on every issue, and only the most rigid and ignorant people will terminate a relationship because of this. In situations where we feel particularly passionate about a topic, it’s best to avoid a conversation if we know that the other person has a different opinion.

It seems that the internet and social media platforms have made it easier for people to argue and engage in verbal abuse. It’s easy to hide behind a computer and attack or threaten someone who disagrees with you. It’s another thing to hear that person’s voice on the phone, or sit face to face with them.

People are very brave and will say things while hiding behind a computer, or text messaging, that they would never have the courage to say in a more personal setting that includes telephone or in-person communication.

We need to be cognizant of how we’re being heard when we’re using a computer or private messaging, because misinterpretations and escalation can run rampant.          

Again, regardless of how we choose to communicate, agreeing to disagree is about mutual respect.

Go Back

Can We Counteract the Narcissism Epidemic?

I remember a time, not very long ago, when people actually cared about each other, and expected absolutely nothing in return. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie and compassion. People would hold the door open for the next person. They knew the words please and thank you. They were respectful. Neighbors actually looked out for each other. 

So what happened? I think that it was a combination of factors: the internet, cable news, social media, dysfunctional tv shows, and violent movies and video games. And so, we now live in a society that have moved from being community-centered to narcissistic and self-centered. An act of kindness often has strings attached. If someone is doing something to help you, it is because they believe it is benefiting them in some way.  If you are no longer of use to someone, they just discard you like yesterday’s garbage.  

The human race is moving toward a sad place.  

Social media is one of biggest contributing factors. People crave and have become addicted to getting attention from people they don’t even know. The “me,me,me” and “all about me” philosophy has flourished. People will spent hours taking selfie‘s of themselves, and then touching up and modifying these photos to hide any perceived imperfections, and they truly believe that other people really care about how they look in these photos. And yet, nobody thinks that this is unusual or unrealistic.

And this narcissism extends beyond each individual and contaminates others in our society. I believe this mentality is the major reason why the United States has more COVID-19 cases than any other country on the planet. A simple thing like wearing a mask to protect other people is considered by some to be unacceptable and a unreasonable. Why? 

They also know that since the mask is not an N 95 mask, and it will not protect them from catching something from you. It will protect you. Again, this mentality of “what’s in it for them“ seeps in. There are other reasons why this ignorant thinking prevails, but selfishness is a major contributing factor. And yet, if you ask the mask rebels if they would be okay if their doctors refused to wear as mask when examining them, they become miffed and cannot offer a logical explanation.

This societal narcissism has created an atmosphere where people lack empathy, where they’re only concerned with themselves, and where kindness and mutual respect is looked upon as weakness. 

This mindset has created another huge issue in society, and that’s the unwillingness to cooperate with others, and especially to agree to disagree. Our society has become incredibly disrespectful, abusive and, at times violent toward anyone who disagrees with them.

But wait… there’s hope

There are still heroes and heroic feats. It is most evident when we look at all the healthcare workers who have risked their own lives to save others during this pandemic. There are still people who have the ability to feel empathy for others.

There are still those who will step beyond their comfort zone for the greater good, and believe in fighting the good fight.There are still people who can empathize and feel for others. There are still those of us who will protest and fight for what’s right and stand up against injustice.

Therefore, although narcissism might be on the rise, it doesn’t have to be in inevitable. We have another choice.    

Go Back

Who’s Life is More “Precious”?

Do we now pick and choose which lives are more “precious” than others?

I have tried very hard not to be political in my blogs. Trust me, it’s not easy. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue so hard that it hurts! But there comes a time when, as Edmund Burke said, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for a few good people to do nothing!” And I believe that saying nothing and doing nothing is equivalent to compliance and consent, and, therefore, dangerous.

Throughout history, every time people have chosen to close their eyes and look the other way, tragedy ensued. For example, 6 million innocent Jews weren’t personally tortured and murdered by Hitler. No! He never killed one person and never visited one concentration camp.
Nevertheless, he was able to convince countless others to willingly (often enthusiastically) do his dirty work, while the rest of the world looked the other way, and pretended nothing was happening. 

Does this does sound like a scenario that could happen again? (You’re dammed right – it can!)

And it begins in increments… Keep in mind that even the biggest, most disastrous snowstorms began with a few gentle snowflakes...

In this blog, I’m going to try my best to avoid taking an overtly religious or political position. My mother and father would often say that it’s best to avoid debates on politics and religion, because no one wins, and friends are lost. This is still true today, but there’s a big difference. Once upon a time, people were more respectful of one another. And, believe it or not, it wasn’t that long ago. People understood the phrase “let’s just agree to disagree.“ Now, however, this common decency has become obsolete. If you don’t agree with some people, then you are, by default, the enemy. 

Some people will actually become violent and verbally abusive if you disagree with them. Does anyone else find this crazy and unacceptable? It’s a Hitler mentality… It’s a cult mentality… And it’s a dangerous mentality!

And so, I ask you, how the hell did a health issue become a political issue? A religious issue?How am I infringing upon your right if I ask you, as a fellow human being, to wear a mask so I won’t catch any possible illness, and I will do the same for you? Why is that offensive? Why is that asking too much of you? 

If you have a medical appointment, and your doctor decides that he or she is not going to wear a mask, would you find that unacceptable? Outrageous? Be honest. Would you say that he has the same right as you to refuse to wear a mask, because you are “infringing upon his rights?” Do you have different rules for your doctor (for example, “my doctor has a moral obligation to wear a mask when he/she is examining me?”) And, if so, why do these rules only apply when your safety is at risk??

Just help me to understand this. When I watch the news, and I see people having temper tantrums, saying that their rights are being infringed upon, I just don’t get it.

Anyhow, often, many of these individuals are the same people who are pro-life activists, and vehemently believe that “all life is precious.” Following that logic, let’s look at this scenario: Maybe you are a carrier of the COVID-19, and don’t know it yet. Maybe you’re next to someone, such as myself, who has an illness that puts them in a high risk situation. Do you not feel a moral obligation to see my life as precious as anyone else’s, for that matter? – Just as a fellow human being? No matter where I look, I just don’t seem to get a straight answer for this question, and that’s disturbing.

Help me to understand this... how is it that the same people who spent a great deal of time endorsing the “all life is precious“ philosophy, are the same people who are now fighting against wearing masks to stop the spread of a DEADLY virus... because, although “all life is precious”, there appears to be a caveat - all life is precious, BUT you’ll pick and choose who’s life is more precious? And... that makes sense, how?


(To leave a comment, click on the blue comment link below on the left side.)

Go Back


Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." —Thich Nhat Hanh

Do you know that when you smile, your brain releases particular neurotransmitters, which are natural stress reducers? These include serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain relievers, while serotonin acts as a natural antidepressant. 

It’s interesting to note that if we smile at someone, not only are these neurotransmitters released within our own brains, but the people that we are smiling at also have the same chemicals being released in their brains. (Now, how cool is that?)

Some research suggests that we can actually lower our heart rate by smiling. Furthermore, if you fake it till you make it, by feigning a smile, it will have the same effect.

Besides this, we all know that smiles can be infectious. If someone smiles at you, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to impulsively return that smile. It’s also interesting to note that when someone smiles, it can really warm our hearts. 

Smiling can make us appear younger. When we smile, our wrinkles are less noticeable, giving us a more youthful appearance. This fact alone is worth flashing those pearly whites!

Sometimes, when I’m not feeling well, despite my best efforts, my mood can easily become irritable and acrimonious. Trust me, when I find myself falling down this rabbit hole. I don’t even want to be in my own company for more than five seconds. A couple of times while in this frame of mind,  a simple smile was instrumental in helping the crankiness to melt away. And it doesn’t have to be from someone I know. The smile could be from a complete stranger. The source of the smile is irrelevant. There is just something very powerful and healing contained in this simple gesture.

Cortisol is another brain chemical, that is classified as a stress hormone. When we experience stress and anxiety, this chemical is automatically released. However… This is fascinating when the feel-good endorphins are being released, thenthis prevents the cortisol song from being released. Interesting? I thought so!

The cortisol hormone actually increases our uncomfortable, negative, cranky feelings.  Therefore, by lowering the cortisol levels, we can also decrease of the negative feelings.

By now you might  be wondering where I’m going with this topic. Also me to explain. Since early in 2020 nearly everyone on the glow is wearing a mask to contain the outbreak of the pandemic. We wear facial masks to protect ourselves and others, , and and I am 100% in favor of this. In fact, I believe that we have a moral obligation to do so.

In lieu of this new normal, however, every potential “smile” is being obscured by a mask. Are you wondering if this has any impact upon each of us?  If so, is there any way to work around it? I have some ideas. 

Since we can’t show our pearly whites at the moment, we can still say the words that could bring a smile to someone’s face. 

Just the simple tone of your voice can share the same sense of warmth and compassion equivalent to a big, happy grin!

For now, let’s learn to improvise. Smile with your heart. Smile with your energy. Smile with your love. Speak words of compassion that will bring a smile to the other person’s face. We just need to get a little creative, and making our smiles a little bit differently right now.   

Go Back

Emerging from the Covid-19 Storm


“Once the storm is over you will not remember have you made it through, how do you manage to survive. You won’t even know or be sure that the storm is really over. But there’s one thing for certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walks into the storm. Once the storm is over, you will not remember how  you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t know know or even be sure that the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked into the storm. And... that’s what the  storm is all about”. ~ Haruki Murakami
This week, I chose the above quote as the focal point of this blog, since it seems to reflect our global journey concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. Long after this storm has passed, each one of us will be forever changed.
There will be changes in society that we can only I anticipate, & we e will live with  new normals. Nothing will revert back to exactly the way it was before. And, long after the dust has settled, we will still be experiencing some aftermath. We now have an entire new vocabulary like social distancing, PPE’s, N95’s.
Amazon and other online outlets made tons of money, and some people will continue to purchase their products online. This might eventually lead to the closure of many retail stores and shopping malls. What was a blessing for Amazon and online businesses was a disaster for other companies. Education will change as people continue to take online courses, and many will not go back to living on campuses again.
The aftermath of the pandemic storm has a snowball effect, and an undetermined duration. How long will it be before people go to a movie theater, sports events, restaurants, any social gathering? How long will it take before we can be around other people without feeling afraid? No one really knows.
Some cultural norms will change. Some might be temporary, until people begin to feel more comfortable, or until a vaccine is created. Others norms might become permanent, depending upon each individual’s comfort level.
What about the ways in which we interact with one another? In the past, there was always subtle peer pressure to conform to traditional greetings, and non-conformity was met with judgement. For example, there are many cultures, including my own (Italian-American), where we greet one another with hugs or cheek kisses. In fact, in some families, it is considered disrespectful not to do so, especially in greeting elders. How will we greet each other now?
Even simple social graces like shaking hands will bring about anxiety. How comfortable will you be with shaking someone’s hand right now? Yet, before the pandemic, we didn’t give it a second thought.
Personally, I’ve always preferred the “Namaste“ Indian greeting with the folded hands in the front of us, and no physical contact. Try doing the above in an Italian-American family gathering, and see what happens. It should be interesting. Let’s face it, like it or not, we usually conform to the cultural norms consistent with our upbringing. 
In Catholic religious services, there’s a part of the mass where the congregants offer each other “the sign of peace”, which includes handshaking. How comfortable will people be with this now? How safe is it? How will this affect romantic relationships and social interactions? As you can see it gets complicated.
What have we learned? In general, although some people are selfish and “clueless, most people follow the CDC guidelines. Sadly, others follow our current enempt leadership and those  who know nothing about science.
We will come face-to-face with the fact that we have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow. We need to live with uncertainty, live with the unanswered questions, and we’re powerless over everything except our own behavior and attitudes. 
regardless of the circumstances however we are going to survive! I always do!

Go Back

Coping During these Difficult Times

We are currently living in an atmosphere of unparalleled global fear, suffering, illness,  and death. Like you, I have been trying to wrap my head around all of this, isolating, praying that the virus declines, praying for the health care workers, those who are ill, and those who have lost loved ones. I am also praying that a vaccine is created very soon.  

It can be extremely difficult to feel God’s love and protection during a time when our world is overwhelmed by a deadly pandemic. Globally, over 210 countries and territories are have been effected by this pandemic, and countless people have already died. It’s terrifying and mind-boggling!

Families are grieving the loss of their loved ones, and others are heartbroken that they were not allowed to be with their sick loved one during their final moments, and sadly, these people died without the comfort of having their loved ones near them. Besides this, all of us must remain isolated and distance ourselves from each other at a time where we might need a hug and human contact the most. The overall global pain and fear is intense and palpable. 

We are suddenly faced with our mortality and how tenuous life actually is. Tragedies like this create heroes, and those working in healthcare are nothing short of heroic and selfless. Suddenly people are kinder to one another, and yet, at the same time, afraid to be near other people who might be carrying this virus. Our mixed feelings can be confusing. 

During times of great tragedy, some people will blame and walk away from God, while others will draw closer to their Higher Power. When we are immersed in a terrifying global pandemic like this, it’s hard to see beyond our fear, even though we know that the threat will eventually dissipate, and a vaccine will be created.
I’m in a high risk situation because I’m on dialysis and immune-compromised, and this adds to my anxiety. My dialysis clinic is using every precaution, all patients are screened before entering the building, and the nurses are amazing. Still, three days a week, when I must leave my house and go to dialysis, I’m terrified by the remote possibility of exposure. I’m surviving kidney disease, a day at a time, as well as other health challenges, and I surely don’t want this virus to be the cause of my demise!

So, how am I able to cope with the stress and fear created by this situation aside from prayer? Meditation, mindfulness, writing, and reading words that comfort and inspire me. I also limit the time I spend listening to cable news!

I have found the 23rd Psalm, has been particularly comforting. This particular psalm focuses upon walking through a period of darkness, yet feeling comforted by God’s presence and protection. Here’s The Passion Translation of an excerpt from Psalm 23:

The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.

If you would to share some ways that you are coping, or simply say “hi” , I welcome your comments. Just click on the word “comment” below, on the left, then write your message. Stay safe.

Go Back

Coping with Covid-19

I haven’t written a blog in a few weeks, but in light of what is happening on a global level in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic, I would like to share some ideas and words of comfort and hope.

None of us expected that a virus would immobilize the entire planet. Usually this genre is the topic of horror movies. To say that it’s frightening would be an understatement.

This threat can best be compared to ibeing hit with a bucket of ice water, and it impacts upon every single one of us. This is especially true for those of us who have illnesses that make us immune-compromised.  Three times a week, I must go to the dialysis center for treatment, and even though they are taking every precaution, it still makes me feel uneasy.

Further, we cannot retreat in a comfortable psychological state of denial, because there’s no where to escape. We are inundated by the terrifying numbers of sick people and deaths. You can’t turn on the TV or go online without hearing and reading about this virus. 

Globally, we are experiencing the epitome of powerlessness, and quite frankly, it’s horrendous! Each of us is called upon to walk the talk. As the saying suggests, “Talk is cheap.” It’s fairly easy to be philosophical when our very existence is not being threatened. It’s far more challenging to rise above our fears and pull ourselves together in this atmosphere.

I think that technology has contributed to tone of self-centeredness. People would rather text than to talk on the phone, or God forbid, face-to-face. This focus has echoed  a social atmosphere that emphasizes a self-absorbed mentality  of “me, me, me” and “me first.” We have lost our ability to be patient, because computers have trained us to expect instant gratification and lightning-speed results.

But now, fear has changed the way that many of us see life. We are afraid, insecure, and we realize that we’re all in this together and we need each other. Fear can do that. Suddenly all of our petty differences have become irrelevant. Within the blink of an eye, our priorities have changed. We see that what we once thought was so important is now looked upon as irrelevant nonsense. In fact, many people who have not prayed for years are now looking to God for comfort and help. 

Since this virus is insidious, no one is completely safe. Even those who are wealthy cannot buy their way out of this situation. Illness is the great equalizer because everyone, rich or poor, are at risk, and the fear of death is universal.

Sadly, human beings have been  accustomed to wars. It’s so easy to defeat perceived enemies when they are visible and we have weapons to protect us. It’s not easy when we feel that we’re at the mercy of an enemy  that is invisible and deadly. We really don’t like the fact that our knowledge is so limited, and we don’t feel comfortable with the feeling that we’re basically unarmed.

When this epidemic is over, every one of us will look upon life and relationships quite differently. We will be reacquainted with how valuable life is. Hopefully , we will not
focus upon silly differences, and recognize that we far more in common than we have ever  realized. I hope that this happens. 

Sadly, many lives will be lost, and many will suffer the pain of these losses long after the virus subsides and becomes a distant memory. So, I hope that you are safe and healthy. If you’re a health care worker, thank you so much, and may God bless you and keep you safe. 

Stay strong and let’s pray for one another. We are all in this together. This too shall pass.

Go Back

Weathering the Storm

There is an old saying, “When it rains, it pours.” This illustrates that often when adversity and troubling situations come at us, they are usually accompanied by other negative situations that seem to happen simultaneously, or in rapid succession. This past week, I have experienced the full meaning of this wise, timeless aphorism. More about that, coming up…


There’s another quote that also involves the metaphor of rain and struggle. However, it presents a very different way of looking at life difficulties. It reads, “Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning how to dance in the rain.” (Vivian Greene)


Therefore, like everything else in life, we have two different ways of how we can view and approach similar situations. Honestly, it took a few days before I was able to move from the horrible feeling of fear and powerlessness, to a place of acceptance and inner strength. How did I move from feeling helplessly rained upon to “dancing” in that downpour? Mindfulness, meditation and prayer. 


Allow me to expand a bit... mindfulness is about clearing our thoughts of disastrous projections and staying in the moment we’re in – the now. Is this easy? Heck, no. It takes work, and requires vigilance, but the payoff is tremendous and can be life-changing.


This week I devoted all of my focus and energy on practicing being in the present moment (mindfulness), and setting aside time (between several appointments) to meditate and pray. I’m not specifically talking about a particular religion, but rather a spiritual connection and conversation with the God of my understanding. I define prayer as communicating with my Higher Power. 


The power of prayer works for me, and if I didn’t have a strong spiritual connection, I would not have been able to survive this past year. Daily mindfulness and meditation is a winning and powerful combination.


In this past year, I was inundated by an enormous amount of unrelenting rain… my health situation took a hit, which brought me from 13 years of kidney disease to dialysis, because my kidney function suddenly and rapidly declined. Now, I have a rare complication with peritoneal dialysis, so I will be undergoing a second surgery, so I can switch to hemodialysis.

I have also had some other non-medical setbacks and a few tragic losses. The “One day at a time” philosophy has always helped me.


The year wasn’t totally horrible, and there were joyful moments too. I wrote two books that are selling quite well (and I’m working on a 3rd book.) More importantly, I’ve received so many messages from readers sharing that my books have helped them. I’m so honored and humbled that my words and experiences have helped others… that’s priceless. I’m also lucky to be married to someone who is supportive, loving, and understanding beyond what I can adequately express in words. Again… priceless.


Over the years, I’ve learned that when I’m having a challenging or a difficult time, it also helps me to balance the scales, by looking at my blessings, and getting off the “pity-pot” as quickly as possible, weathering the current storm, and reminding myself of another cliché that an ancient Persian Sufi poet once said: … “this too shall pass...”


Go Back

The Fire of God’s Wisdom

“At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice as I offer my prayer to you. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.”  (Psalm 5:3 The Passion Translation)

This beautiful psalm captured my attention because it spoke to my actions every morning when I wake up. I talk to God about whatever might be troubling me  – “the pieces of my life.”  Then I say this prayer: “Dear God, please help me to remember that nothing can happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together.“ If it’s a particularly difficult day, I need to repeat this prayer throughout the day, to remind myself that I’m not alone, and God is walking with me on my life journey.

Sometimes situations approach us at 100 miles an hour, and with no forewarning. When we’re blindsided by events that are  unexpected, we become fearful.  Since this describes my week, I was reminded of a quote that I heard decades ago: People make plans, and God laughs. We can try to plan ahead, but it helps to remember that life is filled with uncertainty and surprises, curve balls and unexpected obstacles. There are times when our future plans can disintegrate before our eyes, and so it’s wise have a backup plan.


Once we can fully accept our powerlessness over external circumstances, life gets a lot easier. If you’re like me, you are familiar with the acceptance dance of moving forward toward acceptance, then taking a few steps backwards, and grabbing the steering wheel once again. It’s difficult to let go of our need to control situations, and it’s usually fear-based. Yet, we have all done this at one time or another, even when we realize that we don’t have the power to alter circumstances. 

Author M. Scott Peck asserted that “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, on… It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

The Power of the Now

If we use mindfulness skills and try to stay in the present moment, it is easier to manage these unplanned hurdles. When I am presented with upsetting news, my gut reaction is to obsess about catastrophic outcomes. Through much personal growth work, I have learned that I can’t stay in this negative mindset for too long. After spending some time with negative projections, I move forward and explore Plan B and other options.

The Fire of God’s Wisdom

Besides acceptance and mindfulness, clarity of mind and taking action will help us to deal with our unexpected challenges. This brings us to the second part of this psalm, where we wait for God’s fire to fall upon hearts – wisdom, peacefulness, hope, and solutions. As this happens, the murky fog begins to dissipate and help us to move forward with strength and determination.

Acceptance is the first step that lights our path. As soon as we accept our circumstances, everything else will fall into place. Therefore, as 12-step recovery groups contend, “acceptance is the answer to all of our problems today.” 


Go Back

20 Blog Posts




Contact Me