Family

Reclaiming the Holidays

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During the holiday season, I often get one of two troublesome feelings. First, I think that the whole month-plus is too hectic and too busy. The season feels overscheduled with events and get-togethers that are good and joyful, to be sure, and which I would probably miss if they didn’t happen. But in my more reflective moments, a deeper sense that something is missing creeps into my experience of ...

Seeking Meaningful Holiday Celebrations

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Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I remember the childhood magic of unpacking our Christmas decorations every year, the anticipation of eating the candy cane cookies that my dad and I twisted into perfect pink and white hooks, and the joy of finding at least one special present under the tree. For years, I told my parents that someday I would get married at Christmas; eventually I ful...

Compassion for the Holidays

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It’s been a tense year, to say the least. Political polarization is at an all-time high and people on both sides are angry. Many people don’t just disagree with the other side’s views anymore; they think the other side’s views—and the people who hold them—are abhorrent. It can be hard enough to navigate political differences with strangers and acquaintances. But what are we supposed to do when the...

Bracing for Holiday Challenges

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A few days ago, I called the father of my two twenty-something children. For the past couple of years, the kids and I have been celebrating Thanksgiving at his condo in Philadelphia—Christmas is at my house. I had gotten word through the “grapevine” (a.k.a. my son) that his dad was upset about the possibility that after dinner everyone would leave for their separate dwellings, and then he’d be stu...

Gratitude—The Big and Small of it

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Many of us, myself included, use the words “thank you” as carelessly as “excuse me” or “gesundheit.” We tend to throw around “thanks” without necessarily giving it a thought. We say it at the Starbucks drive-thru, after opening a present, or when someone holds the door open for us. But I want to talk about gratitude, and I’m not entirely sure that thanks and gratitude are as synonymous as we might...

Integrity and Freedom from Judgement

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As I’m writing this, the hearings on the newest Supreme Court judge have just finished. I purposely did not watch them… it was too much for me. Lately, I have been overwhelmed with the feeling that I’m waiting for a dream sequence to end; that I’ll wake up to a world where leaders don’t mock abuse victims, where honesty and integrity are still valuable, where character and courtesy mean something....

If you’re not first, you’re last.

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Before we jump right in, I have a confession to make. Prior to 2016, I paid just about as much attention to football as I did to politics – ahem – almost none. In my mind, both American pastimes were just fuzzy activities that existed in my periphery as I fumbled my way through life as a twentysomething (I’m sure many of you can relate). Whenever I got together with “the guys” to watch...

Lessons from a Culture that Celebrates Life

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Finding his way through the vibrant “Land of the Dead” in the Disney/Pixar film Coco, Miguel sadly watches an older soul fade away in front of him. Perplexed that someone can disappear, even from the land of those who no longer live, he asks his trickster companion Héctor what happened. Poignantly, Héctor informs Miguel that, “Our memories, they have to be passed down by those who knew us in life—...

Great and Terrible Babies

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Babies are great… and awful. If you listen to an honest debate between a loving parent and someone who doesn’t have children, chances are high that they would not truly understand each other. Parenthood is a life-changing experience, so much so that it is often hard for people whose home has already been invaded by a baby and people who still think that Saturday mornings are for sleeping in to spe...

Sufficient, But Not Saving

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I often notice that a lot of commercials and ads have one big message in common: if you’re not buying or doing or subscribing to or wearing such and such, your life is not as good as it could be. There seems to be almost a moral pressure to consume the advertised thing. It’s easy to wonder if I’m good enough, doing the right thing, living life the right way, or consuming the “right” things. These ...

When Fall Doesn’t Come

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I am a California baby raised primarily in the northern Midwest. For most of my life, fall meant a clear change in the seasons. In childhood, fall meant leaving the city for field trips with my Detroit classmates in the orchards of the Michigan countryside, driving through different northern regions to see the colorful changing foliage, and jumping into leaf piles that my dad created in our front ...

Bingeing, Self-Control, and the “Great Life-Waster”

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I’d like to take a moment and consider the word binge.  According to Webster’s dictionary, a binge is “an unrestrained and often excessive indulgence.”  Another definition is “an act of excessive or compulsive consumption.”  Of those definitions, I find the word “compulsive” to be the most significant and the most frightening.  The implication is that if I’m binging, I literally cannot stop myself...

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