You Caught Me: Solemn Words from a Former Felon

Then you caught me. That's what my friend Clemetin told me yesterday. You might imagine that when Clemetin, who spent 27 years in maximum security prisons, talks about being caught, he is referring to the many episodes of being caught by the police for doing nothing more serious than sitting on a park bench. But no... He was talking about being caught by a net of support just when he was about to fall again. Clemetin was reflecting on the fact that he's been out … [Read more...]

6 Little Things You Can Do to Overcome Sadness

Someone I know is sad. So I've been thinking about "ways to get happier" advice. Of course, it's a lousy idea to give advice. Because really, the only way to get happier is to get fed up enough with being unhappy that you finally decide to make some changes. Little Things to Make You Feel Happier But my desire to give advice is boiling up, so I'll share my advice with you. And then, though my friend may never even read it, at least I'll feel better! Though you may … [Read more...]

6 Simple Ways to Get into a Flow State

Every so often things that felt confusing and challenging and hard start to flow. Rather than fighting to make things come to fruition, they just do. Rather than feeling stuck, you have a sense of where you are going, why you want to get there and where you need to focus your energies to make them happen. The Magic of Getting into the Flow State When you're in a flow period, excitement and anxiety come together to create energy. And at least for a while, what seemed … [Read more...]

The Power and Pleasure of Getting Expert Help

Have you ever had that sense of frustration as the darn little ball on your computer goes round and round and you sit there wondering why your computer is sooooo sloooooooow? The spinning ball -- or for you it may be the Windows hourglass -- combined with the waiting are frustrating. But what's even more upsetting is that sense that you don't really know what to do. You don't know if something's wrong with your computer or if you've just clogged it's innards with so … [Read more...]

The Very Real Dark Underbelly of Gentrification

When Tyko and I moved to the South Bronx seven years ago, we unwittingly became gentrifiers. It's hard to think of ourselves that way, but in reality that's what we are. We are people who have moved into a poor neighborhood, not because we must, but because we can. All of our married lives we've lived in poor neighborhoods, not to make a political statement and not to make a financial killing as the neighborhood gentrifies, but because it seemed like a financially smart … [Read more...]

No More “I’m Sorry”

Again and again I find myself starting or ending emails and phone calls with "I'm sorry." I'm sorry it took me so long. I'm sorry I couldn't make this or that happen. I'm sorry I haven't done this or that. But recently, it struck me that mostly, I've got absolutely nothing real to be sorry about.  I may have wanted to get something done the day before I actually did it, but the person I'm writing to doesn't care... or hadn't even considered that I might respond … [Read more...]

We Are All Sparrows

My friend Maria Hoehn, a professor at Vassar, helped organize an event last night to get the Vassar community to think about how they might help with the Syrian refugee crisis. Every day for some time now, the Syrians who are fleeing their country have been on my mind too. But what I might do seems paltry when compared to the vast need. And frankly, when the need is so great and my means and energy so minuscule, it's easy to do nothing! But this morning, when I spoke … [Read more...]

Does it Pay to Be a Snitch?

I was breathing easy about Clemetin. His life was going smoothly. He hadn't been stopped by the cops in quite a while. Perhaps as a result of the change in the stop and frisk policies adopted by the city some months ago. And he's been very proud that he has stopped shoplifting -- something that for Clemetin has been a way of life since he was a child. But then, one day went by and then another without a word from him. I didn't think much about it until the phone rang … [Read more...]

Judicial Wisdom Shines Through Our Imperfect Legal System

If you've been following my blog, you probably have read at least one post about my friend Clemetin. Last week, in a post about the need we all have for unconditional support, I discussed Clemetin's current judicial predicament. And this week, he stood in judgment. Here's the outcome: Clemetin is not in prison. In fact, he's not even on probation any more. So what happened? He had the good fortune of appearing before a wise judge who made a humane … [Read more...]

What Does it Mean to Have Limited Opportunities?

I've been enjoying Seth Godin's new book, What to do When It's Your Turn (and it's always your turn). It's a beautiful book. Fantastic images. Elegantly laid out. And it has one of those covers you just like to touch. One image in the book jumped out at me. It shows a wonderful photo of 29 physicists who in 1927 gathered at the Solvay Conference in Brussels. The photo includes many of the most remarkable physicists of their time... in fact... of all time. People like … [Read more...]