I Do Therefore I Am

Looking back over the past ten years, the times when I’ve been the most unhappy have also been the times when I haven’t had enough work to do. This is not a mere coincidence, but a trend that disturbs me. Writing has been a tool to help me wrestle with these type of stuck patterns, extending my understanding, and putting old stories to rest. Noticing this trend, I’ve wanted to write this piece for a while, but I’ve put it off, too busy with work and other projects to get to it. 

In truth, it’s not just busy-ness. I recognize that a part of me is holding tight to an old story that how much I do is what proves my worthiness. It’s the part of me that got good grades, that wants to always do a good job, that likes being busy and moving quickly. This drive to do and accomplish has made me competent and successful, and I’m utterly terrified to loosen the grip on it. 

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The Surprising Journey to Becoming a Psychic

I was at a friend’s wedding recently when someone asked the typical icebreaker, “So, what do you do?” Just a few years ago, I would have answered it easily and concretely: “I work in urban planning and economic development, helping to grow industries in New York City.” Now I hesitate, my mind going through flowcharts of what I could say and what their reactions might be. The couple looks expectedly in my direction. “I’m a life purpose coach,” I say. 

My husband laughs and adds, “Oh, she’s a psychic.”

Awkward silence.

Or maybe it was just awkward for me. You see, the last thing I ever thought I would be was a psychic. It started nine years ago, when I was at MIT getting my master’s degree in city planning and I had a spiritual experience that opened up psychic gifts that I never knew were possible.

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The Legs of My Stool Are Wobbly

A few years into my career, a good friend suggested I make a “Praise” folder in my work inbox where I could collect nice things bosses, colleagues, and clients said about me. These weren’t necessarily extravagant compliments, but a thoughtful comment above your basic “thank you” qualified. I collected items with some regularity. While I didn’t refer to the folder often, I reviewed it when I needed a boost of confidence or a reminder that I was doing good work and was respected by my peers. So when I started a new job 18 months ago, I dutifully created my new “Praise” folder. Then I waited. Over a year into my new job, the praise folder’s contents are scant — and I could use its support more than ever.


I’m in the solid middle stretch of my career. After 15 years of employment, I’m now working at a company widely recognized as a market leader, in a position people might consider enviable, yet in some important ways I have never felt more unsure of myself. At a time in my life when I assumed I’d feel settled and certain about my abilities, I have been doubting my skills and intuition like I am just out of college. My work sense of self is a stool built on expertise, praise, and culture, and right now all of its legs are wobbly. (read more…)

Movement of Change

Shoes, Vincent Van Gogh (1888)It was around mile 10, after a slow steady climb of four miles, that I knew I was in trouble. I had opted to not wear running gators on my low cut hiking boots, cheerfully ignoring all the warnings people had posted about the sand on the course. How bad could it be?. Well, it is as bad as everyone says; we hadn’t even hit the sandpit at mile 22 and the blisters on my heels were raging. I tried to put them out of my mind and ate lunch with my brother in law, who was struggling with an awful headache. I knew if I looked at my blisters, I would want to quit or I would just perseverate on the pain. Instead, I focused on enduring the next 16 miles.

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The Unasked For

“You were born,
and so you’re free,
so happy birthday.

-Laurie Anderson “Born, Never Asked”


When I was in my twenties, I couldn’t imagine the classic indicators of adulthood we are expected to pursue — and wasn’t sure I wanted them. I certainly didn’t see an urgency or need to get married. Well, my ‘to be’ wife did, and before long, we were wed. Nor did I think about having children — and now I have two; a son, 41, and a daughter, 36. I saw no reason to have pets, yet at one point in the mid ‘70’s we had 13 cats and two dogs living with us in our small apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Oh, yeah, let’s not forget the chicken that my wife, Hana, rescued in Riverside Park. Chiccolini lived with us for a couple of weeks.

Writing about these parts of my life now makes them feel like an inevitability, but at the time I protested them strongly and vociferously. I’ve thought a lot about my robust capacity for resistance, and it occurred to me a few years ago that pretty much everything I consciously resisted, everything that challenged my sense of who I was and what I knew, turned out to be something defining and valuable. (read more…)