Never Underestimate Your Strengths or Overestimate Your Weaknesses

I recently came across my old baby book. Along with my first tooth and a lock of hair from my first trip to the salon, there was a page where I highlighted my competencies and described what I wanted to be when I grow up.

It appears that I was a very confident seven year old who dreamed of one day becoming both a singer and a mother.

baby book

Back then I had the voice of an angel. At least that is what my Grandmother told me.

I had no reason to doubt her. As I sang, even I heard the beautiful melodies in my head.

Then one day I belted a song into my first cassette recorder. After playing back my rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, I was shocked to discover that I did not have the voice of an angel, but in fact, had the voice of a dying animal.

I also later learned that my grandmother was deaf in one ear.

While I didn’t end up pursuing a musical career, I never stopped singing into hairbrushes. You wanna know why? Because, singing is so much f..king fun! Even when you are really, really, really bad at it.

To think, had I underestimated my strengths and overestimated by weaknesses, I might have wound up a starving musician who never got to karaoke.

120 blog posts down – 245 left to go…

Everything Changes, Nothing Changes

20 years ago, I could be found in New York City, sipping cappuccinos on sidewalk cafes, writing about the meaning of life.

Here I am, two decades later, in Georgia, parked in front of a suburban juicery, drinking beetroot, and writing about the same exact thing.

Yes, beetroot. I don’t even know me anymore.

Everything is different. Nothing has changed.

The earth spins but never moves. It just accumulates questions with every rotation.

119 blog posts down – 246 left to go…

The Suspense is Killing TV

Dear Network Television,

We need to talk.

As you know, we’ve abandoned your commercials years ago. Now, we’re about to walk away from your shows.

Not because they are bad, but because we no longer have the patience to wait days, weeks or even months for closure.

Your cliffhangers have been gradually losing effectiveness since someone shot JR.

And don’t even get us started on sitcoms. Sitcoms are not meant to keep us in suspense. They are just supposed to satisfy our urge for half hour of mindless comedy.

We don’t have time to become emotionally invested in your neverending story lines. We’re too busy minding other people’s business on social media, reading fake news and binge watching to conclusion.

It shouldn’t take 9 years to find out how Daddy met Mommy, or 2 seasons to discover that Jack was murdered by a faulty, hand-me-down crockpot (eeew). And who accepts used kitchenware from strangers? It’s almost as bad as sharing bar soap in a public restroom.

If you can’t do better, please partner with those who can. Amazon, are you listening?


A. Nielsen

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The Arc of the Moral Universe Bends Toward Justice

“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over. It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.” – Stewart Ryan, Prosecutor

While the road to justice may seem endless, there is nothing more inspiriting than watching truth finally reach its proper destination – except perhaps seeing justice and karma working together in sweet harmony.

117 blog posts down – 248 left to go…

Preoccupation with Closed Doors

Isn’t it incredible how inventors come up with the best quotes?

As if transforming the planet with their inventions isn’t enough, they have the remarkable ability to move us with their words.

While researching Alexander Graham Bell quotes for my “Phoning it In” post, I came across this gem:

“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Doors only stay open for a moment in time. And once they close, they usually remain shut – forever keeping in the darkness.

How can you see the light coming through an open door when you’re too preoccupied staring blindly at closed ones?

116 blog posts down – 249 more to go…

Everyone Waits But Not Everyone has Patience

According to Dr. Seuss, one of the places we’ll go is to the waiting place – full of people just waiting.

“Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.”

Waiting is a part of living. Everyone waits. But not everyone has patience.

Patience is defined not by how long we can withstand lingering in the waiting place, but rather by how we conduct ourselves while over there.

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Never. Stop. Learning.

I love learning. Everything. Anything. Any subject. Any topic. I even appreciate learning lessons. Yes, including even the gut-wrenching ones.

If there was a full-time job for a perpetual student, I’d be the first to apply.

I was sad when my school years ended. Partly because I didn’t want to grow up just yet, but mostly because I truly do enjoy learning.

After I graduated college, I contemplated going to law school. But, I went to Wall Street instead because, you know, that’s where poets go.

As an added bonus, I got the chance to study and take many more exams. Believe it or not, I had as much fun studying the material as I did applying it.

Not long after I began working on the Street, something extraordinary happened. The Internet emerged and brought us infinite knowledge at our fingertips.

Suddenly, I found myself in a state of perpetual learning.

I even learned the law!

We live in remarkable times where there is no excuse not to be learning – just as predicted by Isaac Asimov in 1988.

“Once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries, where anyone can ask any question and be given answers and reference material in something you are interested in knowing from an early age, however silly it might seem to someone else, that is what you are interested in.

You can do it in your own room, at your own speed, in your own direction and on your own time. Then everyone will enjoy learning.”

“People think of education as something that they can finish. And what’s more, when they finish, it’s a rite of passage. You’re finished with school. You’re no more a child, and therefore anything that reminds you of school – reading books, having ideas, asking questions – that’s kid’s stuff. Now you’re an adult, you don’t do that sort of thing any more.

You have everybody looking forward to no longer learning, and you make them ashamed afterward of going back to learning. If you have a system of education using computers, then anyone, any age, can learn by himself, can continue to be interested. If you enjoy learning, there’s no reason why you should stop at a given age. People don’t stop things they enjoy doing just because they reach a certain age.

What’s exciting is the actual process of broadening yourself, of knowing there’s now a little extra facet of the universe you know about and can think about and can understand. It seems to me that when it’s time to die, there would be a certain pleasure in thinking that you had utilized your life well, learned as much as you could, gathered in as much as possible of the universe, and enjoyed it. There’s only this one universe and only this one lifetime to try to grasp it. And while it is inconceivable that anyone can grasp more than a tiny portion of it, at least you can do that much. What a tragedy just to pass through and get nothing out of it.” – Isaac Asimov, 1988

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Closing Windows

I once worked in the fashion industry for a wholesaler of scrunchies.

Yes, scrunchies.

I guess you could say that I am in part responsible for this:


I’m sorry.

Fortunately, I was let go before I could cause further damage to fashion trends.

Firing employees was an extremely stressful task for my boss.

When my turn came, he could barely get the words out.

He watered down the firing by assuring me that “When G-d closes a window, he opens a door.”

I was so moved by the quote that I interrupted him during the firing and exclaimed, “Great quote! Before you say anything else, let me grab a pen and paper so I can write that down!”

Then I thanked him for the beautiful words.

He seemed both surprised and relieved by my response.

But, I was truly grateful for his decision. I knew I was not destined for the scrunchie business. Plus, the Rachel haircut would soon extinct scrunchies anyway.

That was the day I learned to treasure closing windows.

113 blog posts down – 252 left to go…

The Fine Line Between Compassion & Sacrifice

One night I was talking to my young daughter about bullying.

I told her there may come a time when she will encounter the “mean girl” who will try to affix some derogatory label to her.

If that should ever happen, I instructed my daughter to laugh in the bully’s face and walk away with her head held high.

I explained to her that bullies are acting in that manner because they are struggling with their own demons and insecurities. They are likely very unhappy individuals who are possibly even being bullied themselves.

My daughter became very upset. She said, “if that’s the case, then I would feel sorry for the bully. I wouldn’t want to laugh at her, I’d want to try to help her.”

I learned – the hard way – that my daughter’s is a very noble, yet flawed solution. Because bullies have a tendency to mistake kindness for weakness, she could find herself becoming an ever bigger target and enduring greater abuse.

My daughter’s response had me pondering. Being merciful shouldn’t mean having to forsake our own happiness for another’s.

Unfortunately, there is a very fine line between compassion and sacrifice.

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The Cleanse

I am a big fan of “the cleanse”.

There is nothing like a good cleanse to eliminate toxins and refresh the body and soul.

Funny how getting rid of something can actually make you feel more full.

I just completed a 5-day purification plan. I may have even found a Honey Nut Cheerio I digested when I was two. Let’s just say that it was both detoxicating and intoxicating at the same time.

Writing has consistently served as my spiritual cleanse. In unleashing words, I often find clarity.

“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.” – Ayn Rand

Today, I came across the following graphic:


It occurred to me that life’s challenges are also a form of a cleanse.

Whether it’s shakes and supplements, this dreadful, laborious, obnoxious, magnificent blog or one of life’s many setbacks, I’m grateful for the cleanse.

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Phoning It In

I try to work out nearly every day. Sometimes I’m really into it. Other times, I wish I was doing anything else.

On those days I don’t exert myself very much. Although I am constantly being warned not to “phone my workout in”, I convince myself that a lame workout is better than no workout at all.

I’m sure most trainers would disagree.

But really, what is so terrible about phoning it in every now and again?

I once read that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone precisely for the purpose of phoning things in. I believe he was quoted as saying something along the lines of:

I bestow this here invention on the planet to give its inhabitants an ability to communicate with one another, from great distances, for two reasons. First is so that we do not have to subject ourselves to germs and odors from those who fail to bathe. And, second is so that we have the luxury of rotarying things in when we are exhausted or preoccupied.

Okay, so maybe those weren’t Bell’s “exact” words when he conceived of the telephone.

This brings me to my point of today’s blog post. I am in the process of writing a research report detailing a solution to America’s looming retirement crisis. I believe it is the most important piece I’ve ever written and, as such, it requires my undivided concentration. Quite frankly, this blog, this dreadful, laborious, obnoxious, magnificent blog is a pretty big distraction right now.

While I’m not about to renege on my self-commitment to completing 365 blog posts by December 31, 2018, due to time constraints, I am regrettably going to have to phone a few of these posts in.

Like I said, phoning it in is better than quitting.

But, I think Alexander Graham Bell would understand. He is also known for having once said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

Those words he actually uttered.

The fact is, some tasks can be phoned in and some just can’t.

108 blog posts down – 257 left to go…

Vanity Plates and Lasting Impressions

Some think that people with vanity plates are assholes.

Not me. I think it’s all about the messaging.

To me, vanity plates are a lot like Twitter. Both provide a limited number of characters to tell the world who you are and what you stand for.

In a sense vanity plates are nothing more than a pinned tweet rolling across life’s highways.

Some plates are so cryptic, I really have no idea what they are trying to say.

Others say way too much.

vanity ass

I have witnessed two vanity plate sightings that I will never forget.

One was on an electric blue Trans Am that I saw speeding on the Long Island Expressway in 1993 with the license plate that read: NANA1.

Mind you, there is a slim chance that it may have been a white Honda. However, when I make my movie, I promise it will be an electric blue Trans Am.

Another was a Porsche 911 convertible with a license plate that read: 1TRADE. I spotted this one just as I was just starting my career on Wall Street.

Each was inspiring in its own way.

I guess that the moral of this blog post is: If you want to leave a lasting impression – whether in a tweet or on a plate – just make sure it’s not one of being an asshole.

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Flowing into New

There are no beginnings or endings. There is only the flowing into new.

I often have to remind myself of this.

Otherwise I get too caught up in trying to precisely time transitions.

106 blog posts down – 259 left to go…

Do It For The Challenge

Too many people these days are driven purely by money and ego.

That said, I really couldn’t tell you what they love more: the dollar or themselves?

Those who can’t get passed their own greed and vanity are not only contributing to the downfall of society, they are a detriment to themselves.

It’s too bad that they can’t recognize it.

By overestimating their own self-importance, they miss out on the thrill of the challenge and the fulfillment in overcoming it.

It’s the challenge that yields the greatest personal rewards.


Case in point: When I was a student, I liked to receive A’s. Who didn’t? But the A’s that I worked harder for – that I had to struggle to achieve – meant much more to me than the A’s that came easily.

In the same way, the compensation that one labors for holds much more worth than any monies received from scratching a ticket.

Never underestimate the value of the challenge.

105 blog posts down – 260 left to go…


It’s the Experience, Silly

I was recently asked what it is that motivates me more: ego or greed?

I responded by stating that I was motivated by neither.

I am motivated purely by the experience.

The experience itself encompasses everything I treasure the most.

The challenge.




And, most significantly, the story.

The story is both infinite and priceless.

There is really nothing more motivating to a writer than capturing the story.

104 blog posts down – 261 left to go…

Believing in Miracles – That’s How I Roll

Once day, a long time ago, in a land far far away, known as college, I witnessed a miracle unfold. At the time, I was engrossed in a very suspenseful dice game. Let’s just call it “Yahtzee”.

Ordinarily, I would only play to win. I mean, if you’re not in a game to win it, then you might as well just be a spectator. AMIRITE?

However, on this particular day, I didn’t really care about winning or losing. I was too distracted trying to comprehend the incomprehensible.

For what could only be described as a supernatural phenomenon, during a quick roll of the dice, one die landed on its corner – defying all laws of nature and physics.

This exceptional die then remained on its corner for what could’ve been anywhere between a minute to eternity – but long enough to capture its incredible landing on film.

I kid you not.


Although this was just a freak occurrence in some meaningless game, it proved to me that miracles do exist. They appear out of nowhere and when least expected. Hell, they can even be memorialized in a photograph.

And, if a die can defy every natural law and land on its corner, isn’t anything in life possible?

103 blog posts down – 262 more to go…

The Fine Line Between Enough & Complacency

Someone once told me, many years ago, that better is the enemy of good enough.

I struggled with this notion for a very long time.

As a writer, who has never once published an initial draft, I couldn’t understand how “good enough” could possibly suffice. As a perfectionist, many final drafts barely even passed muster.

I don’t believe in adequacy. I believe in excellence.

To me, complacency has always been the enemy of improvement.

It took me a very long time to fully grasp the repercussions of better.

Better means never pressing the send button. It means stagnation. It means never finding satisfaction. It means incompletion.

In reality, perfectionism is anything but perfect.

Today, an article by an ever-inspiring industry colleague reminded me that there is a fine line between enough and complacency, and that it is up to the individual to figure out where that line is.

For me, that line lies on a now desolate sandy beach. For, it was on this shore of better where I once sat watching ships sail.

102 blog posts down – 263 more to go…

Limiting Options Can Broaden Horizons

What does XM Radio, Diners and Manhattan all have in common?

Options. Options. And more options.

We all love having options. But I have found that unlimited options can be as limiting as having no options at all. In fact, options are another example of when more isn’t better – it’s just more.

Case in point: I am a huge fan of XM radio with its infinite selection of every song ever sung in the history of the earth. I mean, where else can you hear Shawn Cassidy’s the Doo Run Run? Okay, on youtube, but whatever.

While I am elated to have an endless array of music at my fingertips as I’m cruising, sometimes XM is just too much for me to adequately appreciate.

Even when I am completely content listening to 70s on 7, I catch myself flipping stations in mid-song just to make sure I’m not missing out on a better tune. I mean, there’s 80s on 8, 90s on 9, the Bridge, the Groove, E Street Radio, the Grateful Dead Station, underground garage, classic rewind, classic vinyl, the spectrum, the LOVE station, the coffee house, adult POP, bright POP. In fact, there’s like 20 different strands of POP stations, alone. No one needs that much POP. Too much POP can trigger Phil Collins nightmares. True story.

With so many choices, I sometimes find it physically impossible to commit to one song. I end up spending more time channel surfing than enjoying the music. Life was so much less complicated when I was tortured with radio jingles on the only 5 listenable FM stations.

I have a similar experience with diners.

Have you ever seen a diner menu? They are like 50 pages long and include everything from a half of a grapefruit to a piece of meatloaf. Who orders meatloaf at a diner anyway? I’d seriously like to meet the one person who ordered meatloaf off of a diner menu. I’d be very curious about other questionable choices that individual has made in his or her life.

Putting aside the rule that one should never eat dinner in a restaurant that also serves breakfast food, diners simply offer so many meal choices that it’s nearly impossible to get beyond the omelette page. While I love diners – especially Long Island diners – they are useless unless they’re for brunching or 4am noshing.

I will never, ever need 3,000 dinner options. Just give me a three choice prix fixe menu with a wine paring and I’ll be as content as a lawyer splashing around in a mud pit.

This brings me to Manhattan. When I was single and living in Manhattan, I used to liken single life in Manhattan to diner menus. In a city of 1.5 million there were just too many dating options. I found it so distracting that I had to go to Jersey to find my husband.

XM Radio, Diners and Manhattan have taught me that when you limit choices, you often broaden your horizons.

101 blog posts down – 264 more to go…