4 years, 9 months, and 6 days. Never wrestle with pigs: you’ll both get dirty and the pig likes it.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Unfortunately, rude and crass people are part of the fabric of society.  Civilized societies do a better job of educating its citizenry and create a more orderly society as a result.  But, even then, there are fringe elements who celebrate anarchy, chaos, disorder, and filth.

The best you can do is to steer clear of them.  (We live in nice neighborhoods precisely to avoid such elements.)  However, it is not always possible to avoid interacting with them.  When confronted by the likes of such, you have several choices: (1) do nothing — which is ALWAYS a choice; (2) speak up for yourself and teach people how to treat you; or, (3) walk away.  How do you decide which course of action to take?

First, security ALWAYS comes first.  If you endanger yourself or your loved one by challenging the louts, then think twice about doing so.  Remember, such low-lifes usually do not have much to live for; thus, they may choose to take risks which you may prefer not to take (e.g., jail time for assault, or loss of face for being rude and creating a scene in public).  In such situations, it would be best to walk away.

Second, ask yourself what you hope to gain with a given course of action.  Yes, I always tell you to teach people how to treat you.  But, sometimes, it is simply not worth your time to teach that particular person — because you’ll never interact with him/her again, because he/she is so poorly brought up and so crass that no lesson will take and the people will never amount to anything more than a lout, a thug, or a hooligan.  Don’t waste your time and energy.  Walk away.


And, remember, low-lifes comes in all shapes, sizes, and styles.  People often confuse money with class.  They are not the same.  There are many without means, but who are well-mannered and well-bred.  On the other hand, there are many rich and powerful individuals who behave boorishly, and are not better bad monkeys and gorillas which cannot control their own impulses.

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

Walk away.

All my love, always,



4 year, 9 months, and 3 days. Be bold.





A few years ago, at Easter dinner with my in-laws, I noticed my husband’s grandmother dipping pieces of yellow cake into her glass of soda. She’s a woman of nearly 90 with a preternatural grip for hugs and pinching cheeks but, in this, she was gentle: letting each bite soak into her orange Crush, allowing it to achieve full saturation before popping it in her mouth.

“Ew, Nonna!” someone chuckled in protest. But it was her table and home, and she’d apparently been doing this for years, so no one said much more about it.

Some seasons later, maybe a Thanksgiving, my other nonna-in-law did something similar with her dinner roll, tearing it into strips and letting the red wine from her glass climb up into the bread before eating it. This time, I resolved that I would ask why. But first — wanting my question to come across as the genuine curiosity it was, rather than an accusation of bad table manners — I decided to try it myself.

Those first few dips completely changed the way I eat at family meals. Part of what won me over was the pleasure of the thing itself: Wine-soaked bread is sharp, puckery and delicious, a double hit of fermented tang. But more important, I soon came to realize, was the role it can play in pacing out a marathon meal.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Be bold.  Don’t be timid.  There is no rehearsal in life.  This is it.  You get one chance to make the most of each moment because you can never have that moment back.  Try new things and new ways of doing things.  If you fail, fail spectacularly, then try again.

Don’t fear failure.  How else would you learn what works?


Don’t worry about what other people think or say?  They have their own crosses to bear and who knows how well they carry on with their own burdens?  They have their own lives to live.  Let them worry their insecurities and failures.  You just focus on what you have control over:  yourself.

Do your best.  The hell with the rest.



What is the commonality of those listed above?  They tried and failed, but never gave up.  Be persistent.  Be bold.  Be you.

All my love, always,






4 years, 9 months, and 2 days. Don’t be a snowflake. Be resilient.





In its annual survey of students, the American College Health Association found a significant increase — to 62 percent in 2016 from 50 percent in 2011 — of undergraduates reporting “overwhelming anxiety” in the previous year. Surveys that look at symptoms related to anxiety are also telling. In 1985, the Higher Education Research Institute at U.C.L.A. began asking incoming college freshmen if they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” during the previous year. In 1985, 18 percent said they did. By 2010, that number had increased to 29 percent. Last year, it surged to 41 percent.



When Mr. Hanks was 5, living in Redding, Calif., his parents separated. His mother, a waitress, kept the youngest of the four children while Tom went with the other two to live with his father. He was playing with his siblings one night when he was told he had to go with his father. He was a cook who married twice more and Tom had lots of stepsiblings and lived with a lot of upheaval. “By the age of 10, I’d lived in 10 houses.”

“By and large, they were all positive people and we were all just kind of in this odd potluck circumstance,” he said, adding that he still vividly recalls the confusion of being that little boy. “I could probably count on one hand the number of times I was in a room alone with my mom, or in a car alone. That is not exactly what happened to me, but there were times when either my mom or my dad — the same thing was true for both — in which being alone with them, I realized, was like, ‘This is a special time.’ For other people, it’s not a special time. It’s just part and parcel to the day.”



My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Be like Tom Hanks.  He’s had his share of rough times in life, but he remains strong, good, and talented. He doesn’t adopt a “Woe is me!” attitude.

Everyone in life has his or her own cross to carry.  It is no use to cry about it all the time.  Deal with it and move on.

Victimhood is becoming an art, and it is making us weak.  Yes, mourn when bad things happen.  Take time to recover and heal.  Then, get back on the horse and move on!

Don’t wallow in the misery, the misfortune, the bad.  Without the negative, how could you fully appreciate the beauty of kindness, of goodness, of fortune?  Take the bad with the good.  Learn from each.  Keep what you must.  Then, move on with the business of growing as a person and living as a person.

According to the article above, 18% of incoming college freshmen felt overwhelmed in 1985 versus 62% today.  Has college gotten harder?  No.  Has the challenges of living on your own for the first time gotten harder?  No.  Yet, why are more incoming freshmen overwhelmed?  Maybe they lack the survival skills and fortitude of earlier generations for whom life was more challenging, and for whom less was given.  These days, we have too many helicopter parents whose life’s mission is to not let their child fail.  (Of course, I’m oversimplifying.  The factors are many, and too much to go into here.)  They intervene at the most inopportune times, when children are presented with opportunities to test themselves, learn, and grow.  Without challenging ourselves, how will we ever know what we are capable of? how good we are?

Giving everyone a gold star for showing up is doing a disservice to our children.  It fails to reward each individual child’s effort.  Empty praises help no one.

He goes on to admonish against today’s culture of excessive parental praise, which he argues does more for lifting the self-esteem of the parents than for cultivating a healthy one in their children:

Admiring our children may temporarily lift our self-esteem by signaling to those around us what fantastic parents we are and what terrific kids we have — but it isn’t doing much for a child’s sense of self. In trying so hard to be different from our parents, we’re actually doing much the same thing — doling out empty praise the way an earlier generation doled out thoughtless criticism. If we do it to avoid thinking about our child and her world, and about what our child feels, then praise, just like criticism, is ultimately expressing our indifference.

To explore what the healthier substitute for praise might be, he recounts observing an eighty-year-old remedial reading teacher named Charlotte Stiglitz, the mother of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who told Grosz of her teaching methodology:

I don’t praise a small child for doing what they ought to be able to do,’ she told me. ‘I praise them when they do something really difficult — like sharing a toy or showing patience. I also think it is important to say “thank you”. When I’m slow in getting a snack for a child, or slow to help them and they have been patient, I thank them. But I wouldn’t praise a child who is playing or reading.


Be present.  Do your best — neither I, nor anyone else, can expect no more than that.  Keep trying.  Keep moving forward.  Keep learning.  Keep growing.

Be thankful for what you have, and the many blessings in your lives.  However, that does not mean you can rest there and stay where you are.  Life continues to flow around you.  If you don’t move forward with it, then you will be left far behind your friends and cohorts.  And, I’m not talking about things and acquisitions.  I’m talking about life, maturity, and the unique experiences that only living will afford you.  You do not want to be a man of 90, but stunted in emotion, intelligence, and life’s experience.  It would be unbecoming.

All my love, always,



4 years, 9 months, and 1 day. Make it your goal to be better today than you were yesterday.






My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

So it is with life.  Take it one step at a time.  Nothing changes overnight … not even you (even cosmetic surgery takes days).

Have you noticed how difficult it is to keep your New Year’s resolution about studying better, playing video games less, etc.?  That’s because most of us have these grandiose plans (like “I’ll lose 35 pound this year” or “I’m going to get straight A’s this quarter”) and find it very hard to follow through.

That’s because we’re creatures of habit.  We gain weight or hold our weight steady because of our eating habits.  Our grades in school are a reflection of our study habits.  We cannot expect a different result if we keep doing the same thing — by force of habit.

Unfortunately, habits don’t change overnight.  People say, it takes 21 days to form a habit, but that’s a misinterpretation of the originating study.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonselk/2013/04/15/habit-formation-the-21-day-myth/#6160c47debc4.

Most people believe that habits are formed by completing a task for 21 days in a row. Twenty-one days of task completion, then voila, a habit is formed. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. The 21-day myth began as a misinterpretation of Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s work on self-image. Maltz did not find that 21 days of task completion forms a habit. People wanted it to be true so much so, however, that the idea began to grow in popularity.

Tom Bartow, who successfully started advanced training for Edward Jones and has since become a highly sought after business coach, developed the following model of what habit formation really looks like:

 The 3 phases of habit formation:


This phase of habit formation is characterized by the feeling of “this is easy.” As all married people will tell you, at some point even the greatest honeymoon must end. The honeymoon phase is usually the result of something inspiring. For example, a person attends a highly motivational conference, and for the first few days after the conference the individual is making positive changes in his or her life.


Inspiration fades and reality sets in. A person finds himself struggling with the positive habit completion and old habits seem to be right around the corner. The key to moving to the third phase of habit formation is to win 2 or 3 “fight thru’s.” This is critical. To win the fight thru, use the following techniques:

  1. RECOGNIZE: Recognition is essential for winning the fight thru. When you have entered the fight through, simply say to yourself, “I have entered the fight thru, and I need to win a few to move past this.” Winning each fight thru will make it easier to win the next. Conversely, when you choose to lose a fight thru, you make it easier to lose the next one.
  2. ASK 2 QUESTIONS: “How will I feel if I do this?” and “How will I feel if I don’t do this?” Bring EMOTION into the equation. Let yourself feel the positive in winning the fight thru and the negative in losing.
  3. LIFE PROJECTION: If the above 2 techniques haven’t moved you to action, then imagine in great detail how your life will be in 5 years if you do not begin making changes. Be totally honest with yourself, and allow yourself to feel what life will be like if the changes are not made.


Entering second nature is often described by feelings of “getting in the groove.” Once in second nature, the following are 3 common interruptions that will send a person back to the fight thru:

  1. THE DISCOURAGEMENT MONSTER: An individual allows negative results discourage him or her into thinking, “This isn’t working, and there is nothing I can do.”
  2. DISRUPTIONS: An individual experiences significant change to his or her current pattern (e.g., vacations, holidays, illness, weekends).
  3. SEDUCTION OF SUCCESS: An individual begins to focus on positive results and begins to think, “I’m the special one. I have finally figured out how to have great results with not so great process.”

If a person experiences an interruption that sends him or her back to the fight thru, winning 2 or 3 fight thru’s will bring him or her back to second nature.

Most people want positive habits to be as easy as brushing their teeth. HELLO…LET’S BE ADULTS HERE…being great isn’t easy. In fact greatness requires sacrifice. It requires doing things that others won’t or can’t do. GREAT HABITS ARE FORMED DAILY. Truth be told, good habits require consistent commitment. Highly successful people have learned to develop good habits. Make the commitment to make it past the fight thru, no matter how many times you go back to it, to reach new levels of success.

I like that: “greatness requires sacrifice.  It requires doing things that others won’t or can’t do.  GREAT HABITS ARE FORMED DAILY.

There is a concept out there that might help.  It’s contained in the title of this blog.  It’s called the Kaizen method.  In essence, it’s the power of continuous incremental improvement.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  You’re more likely to follow through if your goals are simple and achievable.  For example, if you want a stronger core, have it a goal to hold a plank position for 30 seconds.  Do it tomorrow when you first get out of bed.  It’s only 30 seconds.  Then, increase that pose by 30 additional seconds everyday.  It’s only 30 seconds more.

Likewise, if you want better grades, for example, start by spending 5 minutes everyday (1) thinking about the (a) main points of your readings, (b) what the teacher wanted you to get out of that reading, (c) what the key points of the reading was, and (2) making good  notes.  Being able (1) to extract the (a) important points from your readings and (b) how those points relate to the overall goal of the class or the body of knowledge you’re trying to learn and being able (2) to retrieve that information are more important how much time you spend reading or how fast you read.

Make it a habit to spend more time THINKING about what you read instead of the mindless process of reading and highlighting without real comprehension of what the material says and how it relates to other things you’ve studied.  Every subsequent day, make it a goal to increase the amount of thinking time by 5 minutes.  You’ll find that, over time, you’ll understand more about what you read, and that you remember more about what you read.  I guarantee that there have been times when you have highlighted a significant portion of a page only to discover that you remember nothing about the highlighted portion: you had to reread it.  That is inefficient.

Learning requires engagement.  Think.  Use your head.  Ask yourself what the point of each paragraph was about.  What was the topic and what was the author trying to convey about that topic in that paragraph?  How did that paragraph relate to the preceding paragraph?  How did that paragraph relate to the author’s thesis statement or overall argument?

Use the Cornell method to take notes.  It will help guide you.  I promise that if you keep working to improve a little bit everyday, you’ll look back one day and be amazed at how far you had progressed.

Be better today than you were yesterday with respect to that one thing you’re trying to change.  What do you have to lose?  It’s only 30 seconds or 5 minutes.  But, if you follow through, the results will be amazing!

All my love, always,





4 years, 8 months, and 29 days. Embrace growth and reject stagnation. You will fail if you stand in one place because others will surpass you.




My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Remember when you were kids and I encouraged you to always try new things?  I love your sense of adventure and your willingness to try new things!  Don’t ever lose that sense of curiosity and adventure!  Those are the traits that will propel you forward in life, and help expand your horizons.

You guys would be proud of Ms. J.  She once bit the head off a giant roasted bug that was served as a delicacy.  I must admit, she was braver than in that situation.  I bit off other parts, but avoided the head.

The point here is to know your limits and to know what is good or bad for you.  If you know certain texture would cause you to chuck, then why do it?  Of course, if it’s illegal or a dangerous substance, don’t do it.  Don’t even try. That’s simply foolishness.  Below are faces of a person before and after meth use.  It isn’t pretty, is it?  Meth is highly addictive, so it’s risky to even take one hit.



I have a friend who takes the opposite tack with his kids.  He hates wastes more than he values a sense of adventure; thus, if his kids try a bite of something, he’d make them finish the entire thing.  Well, as a result, they don’t waste food, but, as you can imagine, they are not much into trying new things.

Me?  I prefer you try new things and would even allow you to spit it out if you find it disagreeable.  If you don’t try, how will you ever know new things and you will be stagnant for life, being limited only to what you already know.

That leads me to the concept of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset.  In essence, the former is being closed minded and the latter being open minded.  Be the latter.

Life is a journey.  Experience all the good things she has to offer.  Why deprive yourself because of fear of the unknown?

Think about all the wonderful fruits and vegetables you love.  Imagine the first person to eat a pineapple, tomato, or dragon fruit.  If no one tried, then we would never have known those fruits are edible.  That would be a waste. (But, that said, I’m not encouraging you to go out there and taste every new plant, seed, or fruit you come across.  Some are poisonous.  If you feel a strong urge to try fruits never before discovered, arm yourself first with the requisite knowledge about botany and other relevant sciences, and be certain to take the necessary precautions.  Again, DON’T DO IT.  Try things new to you, but not new to the human race.)

Don’t fear failure.  Failure is a healthy part of life.  It teaches you lessons about what to do and what not to do.  Anyone who has never failed is a person who had never taken risks.  Those people live in fear of life.  Don’t be like them.

All my love, always,








4 years, 8 months, and 26 days. If you encounter problems wherever you go, it’s most likely that you are the problem. Be better.



My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

In psychology, there is a theory called “Looking Glass Self”, and it suggests that our self-concept is shaped by the feedback we receive from others around us.  https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/self/looking-glass-self/.

There is an intuitive basis for this theory.  Think about it: if a kid is joking around and is getting a lot of applause and positive feedback from his peers and those around him, he’d most likely continue carrying on.  If, however, if he gets negative feedback, most likely, he’d stop.

We get our cues for how we should behave from others around us.  For example, if everyone tells a child he’s stupid, eventually, he would stop offering suggestions and comments.  He would most likely grow up believing he is stupid, regardless of his actual IQ and intelligence.

Now, this may be true of many, but not everyone.  Some people have a stronger sense of self, and hold true to themselves no matter what others say.  These are the vanguards of society.  These are the people who fought for women’s suffrage when it was an unpopular idea in society.  These are the people who fought democracy in the face of despotism.  These are the people who fought for civil rights when it was unaccepted and deemed dangerous to the status quo.

Be like them.  Be true to who you are, regardless of what others tell you.  You know what you like and dislike.  You know what is wrong and what is right.  Don’t let others persuade you otherwise.


Marketers, models and mouthpieces are paid to persuade you to buy their wares.  They’re biased.  Why would you believe them?  Fools who rushed in want you to do likewise so that they wouldn’t look foolish for being the only ones fooled?  Why would you copy their mistakes?  They’re suckers, and that’s their problem, not yours.


And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.


Deal with problems.  Assess the feedback provided by others.  If the feedback is valid, thank the person for being honest and make the adjustments as necessary to become a better person.  If the feedback is crap, thank the person for taking time to provide the feedback, then promptly ignore it and put it out of your mind.  It’s crap.  Why would you waste time with crap?

If everyone is giving you similar feedback, either your conduct could be better or they have all drank the Cool-Aid and have bought into what’s being marketed by the talking heads.  Assess the feedback, then act accordingly.  Just because everyone says so, does not make it right.

Remember, the Catholic Church excommunicated and punished Galileo for asserting that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not otherwise as everyone believed at the time.  http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/31/world/after-350-years-vatican-says-galileo-was-right-it-moves.html.  Even men of faith and of science can be wrong.

Be you.  You are the best of me.

All my love, always,



4 years, 8 months, and 23 days. Be real.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I watched the movie Surrogate the other day.  It’s about a future where people use robotic versions of themselves to do their bidding and live their lives.  The people through sensory downloads and digital connections, people see what their robot body-doubles see and feel what they feel.  Thus, the people, in essence, live vicariously through their “surrogates”.  They no longer shower or shave because they never venture outside anymore.  They stay locked up in their homes while the surrogates live their lives for them.

We are far from that state, but nevertheless, our lives are filled with the artificial and the false these days.  Most people don’t worry about eating their daily intake of fruits and other sources of natural vitamins and nutrients because they rely on multivitamins instead.  They sweeten their drinks with saccharin and other chemicals in order to avoid natural sugar.  They get nose jobs, breast enhancements, Botox, face lifts, and other cosmetic surgeries to create artificial versions of themselves.  They sign up to get their news from Facebook or other sources that narrowly tailor the news they receive so that it wouldn’t upset their world view or world order.  Then, they complain about fake news.

(Unlike blogs and yellow journalism, real journalists working for reputable news media work hard to fact check and protect their reputation.  That said, everyone makes mistakes.  Don’t use a few mistakes to discount the source altogether.  Thus, get your news from reputable sources like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Financial Times, etc.   Read from multiple sources so that they balance each other out.  One source may be biased.)

People are so reticent to engage life these days.  Look at the self-help industry.  It’s a multi-billion dollar industry because everyone is wanting someone else to tell them what to do.  Why?  You want to plant a garden?  Do it.  Why do you need a book to tell you how to plant a garden?  You want to lose weight?  Eat healthier food, consume less calories, and exercise more.  Do you really need a book to tell you that?

[P]eople are good intuitive grammarians: at age four a child effortlessly conforms to the rules of grammar as she speaks, although she has no idea that such rules exists.

Khaneman, Daniel, Thinking Fast and Slow (2011), p. 5.

We in America are getting away from the business of just living, spending time with friends and loved ones, communing with nature, being in tune with ourselves.  Don’t buy into that model.  It sucks.  Look at how lonely and isolated Americans are.  Twenty five years ago, most people surveyed say they have three close friends.  Now, 29 percent were able to name more than two close friends, and 36 percent had no one to talk to.  https://www.livescience.com/16879-close-friends-decrease-today.html.  How sad is that?!!!

Be real.  Be you.  Be happy.

All my love, always,