4 years, 8 months, and 8 days. Remember the virtue of discipline. Focus and be present.








My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The mind is an amazing thing, and controls so much more than we give it credit.  For example, haven’t you ever gotten really sleepy as you’re reading an assignment but perk up the minute a friend calls to talk about something fun?  Fatigue is “nothing more than a mental creation, a bad habit your mind cultivated to act as a crutch when you are performing a tedious task.”  Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.  When your mind is focused, it gives you energy.

For many years, I often forgot to eat lunch because I got so caught up in my work.  My friend Nicole once said that it must take a special kind of stupid to forget to eat lunch.  Yes, you can say being focused makes you “stupid” because it causes you to forget about or ignore nonessential things.  (I said I’d forget to eat LUNCH, not that I’d forget to eat altogether.  At some point, the hunger pangs made themselves known, and I’d stop to eat … often, this occurred long past the usual lunch hour.)

Focus on the task at hand, my sons, and you’ll be surprised at the results.  Not only will you enjoy what you do, but you will also get so much more about of the experience.  If you must do something, why not do your best and make the best of it?

All my love, always,








4 years, 8 months, and 3 days. Be wary of social media. It is unhealthy.



I started the research for a book I am writing on how the external world affects our mental health. I wanted to acknowledge the downsides of social media, but to argue that far from being a force for ill,it offers a safe place where the insanities of life elsewhere can be processed and articulated.

But the deeper into the research I went, the harder it was to sustain this argument. Besides the Daily Mail screeching about the dangers, other people – scientists, psychologists, tech insiders and internet users themselves – were highlighting ways in which social media use was damaging health.

Even the internet activist and former Google employee Wael Ghonim – one of the initiators of the Arab spring and one-time poster boy for internet-inspired revolution – who once saw social media as a social cure – now saw it as a negative force. In his eyes it went from being a place for crowdsourcing and sharing, during the initial wave of demonstrations against the Egyptian regime, to a fractious battleground full of “echo chambers” and “hate speech”: “The same tool that united us to topple dictators eventually tore us apart.” Ghonim saw social media polarising people into angry opposing camps – army supporters and Islamists – leaving centrists such as himself stuck in the middle, powerless.

The evidence is growing that social media can be a health risk, particularly for young people who now have all the normal pressures of youth (fitting in, looking good, being popular) being exploited by the multibillion-dollar companies that own the platforms they spend much of their lives on.

Kurt Vonnegut said: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful who we pretend to be.”


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I have always taught you to be your own man and to think for yourselves.  Too often, America is becoming a country of sheep, where everyone copies everyone else and each individual is afraid to be different from others. How ironic.  In a country where individualism is touted as the ideal, peer pressure and social forces run counter and those who are different are ostracized and rejected.


But, remember, “a tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.”  Ignore the small-minded. They are insecure and feel good about themselves only by putting others down.  They are nothing.  Give them pity, and no more.  They are not worth your time.

Instead, focus on what you love and on pursuing your dreams.  You will never have to work a day in your life if you do what you love.  I have been blessed in that sense.  I have enjoyed my work and, for the most part, the people with whom I work.  I wish the same for you.

Jonas Salk said, “I have had dreams and I have had nightmares.  I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.”  Dare to dream big, boys.  Go big, or go home.  The world is full of timid people who live forgetful lives.  Be like

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!

Hunter S. Thompson

Get off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other junk.  Those “friends” and “followers” aren’t really your friends.  They won’t recognize you from Adam.  They don’t really care about you and will never lose sleep over your everyday struggles.  Let them be and leave them in their virtual worlds.

Go outside.  Meet people.  Make friends.  Give a hand to someone in need.  Live!  You’ll be glad you did.  Your life will mean something and will be worth retelling.

All my love, always,


4 years, 8 months, and 2 days. You know that you shouldn’t be watching pornography and over-sexed TV shows at this age, so don’t.

[A] 2005 study by the London School of Economics found that more affluent children are more likely to have their own computers, and tend to navigate further and more skillfully around the internet. They also spend more time on the web, have better online skills — and are well-versed at evading parental monitoring.

The study of 1,297 children also found that while 57 per cent of the over-nines had seen porn online, only 16 per cent of parents knew. One can only imagine how much higher the number is today, six years later.

In fact, it’s become so widespread that it’s changing our children’s view of what sex is — and what is most worrying is that we don’t even realise it’s happening….

Straight consensual intercourse is almost non-existent because it is considered boring.

Instead, the first glimpse of sex your child is ever likely to see may well be sickening images where women are degraded in the most disturbing ways.

Because we rarely talk about porn with our children, they don’t know it’s fiction and naturally assume it’s what grown-ups actually do.

The sex our daughters hear so much about — and feel so much pressure to take part in — is shown as a brutal sport that men do to women. There’s no kissing, no expressions of love or moments of tenderness.

For children, who are born with an inbuilt sense of right and wrong, these images can be deeply disorientating.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1380257/Is-YOUR-child-watching-porn-The-effects-graphic-sex-images-young-minds.html#ixzz4sQvzg2KQ


Children as young as 8 and 9 are coming across sexually explicit material on the Internet and in other media. Although research is just beginning to assess the potential damage, there is reason to believe that early exposure to sexual content may have the following undesirable effects:

Early Sex. Research has long established that teens who watch movies or listen to music that glamorizes drinking, drug use or violence tend to engage in those behaviors themselves. A 2012 study shows that movies influence teens’ sexual attitudes and behaviors as well. The study, published in Psychological Science, found that the more teens were exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they started having sex and the likelier they were to have casual, unprotected sex.

In another study, boys who were exposed to sexually explicit media were three times more likely to engage in oral sex and intercourse two years after exposure than non-exposed boys. Young girls exposed to sexual content in the media were twice as likely to engage in oral sex and one and a half times more likely to have intercourse. Research also shows that teens who listened to music with degrading sexual references were more likely to have sex than those who had less exposure.

Why are teens more likely to have sex after being exposed to sexual content in the media? Just as we read specific books and show educational movies to our children in hopes that they learn lessons from the characters, the media provides a type of sex education to young people. Media messages normalize early sexual experimentation and portray sex as casual, unprotected and consequence-free, encouraging sexual activity long before children are emotionally, socially or intellectually ready.

High-Risk Sex. The earlier a child is exposed to sexual content and begins having sex, the likelier they are to engage in high-risk sex. Research shows that children who have sex by age 13 are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, engage in frequent intercourse, have unprotected sex and use drugs or alcohol before sex. In a study by researcher Dr. Jennings Bryant, more than 66 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls reported wanting to try some of the sexual behaviors they saw in the media (and by high school, many had done so), which increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Sex, Love and Relationship Addictions. Not every child who is exposed to sexual content will struggle with a mental health disorder, but research shows that early exposure to pornography is a risk factor for sex addictions and other intimacy disorders. In one study of 932 sex addicts, 90 percent of men and 77 percent of women reported that pornography was a factor in their addiction. With the widespread availability of explicit material on the Internet, these problems are becoming more prevalent and are surfacing at younger ages.

Sexual Violence. According to some studies, early exposure (by age 14) to pornography and other explicit material may increase the risk of a child becoming a victim of sexual violence or acting out sexually against another child. For some people, habitual use of pornography may prompt a desire for more violent or deviant material, including depictions of rape, torture or humiliation. If people seek to act out what they see, they may be more likely to commit sexual assault, rape or child molestation.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Ok, let’s take this issue head on and deal with it.  Not being there and knowing how your mom is hands-off when it comes to your upbringing, I can only assume that you’ve seen porn on the internet and elsewhere.  (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if B, your older but low-minded cousin who used to steal your toys, has even purposefully introduced to you porn.)

You know that X-rated and R-rated movies are restricted to people of certain age (18 and 16, respectively).  Thus, you know that it’s wrong to secretly look for and look at pornographic images and videos when adults are not around.  If you know it’s wrong, don’t do it.  It’s that simple.  Have self control.

The reason porn is restrict to older individuals is because young kids are not mentally prepared to process the images they see.  Porn is like fast food.  It’s stimulates the senses, but is mostly unhealthy and bad for you.

For example, these days, most porn include anal sex as if it’s normal.  It is not.  In fact, the sphincter muscle — which prevents poop from dripping out of you when you are not pooping — can get over-stretched by anal sex and, over time, stop being able to clinch to stop poop from falling out whenever.  Yes, if this happens, the person will end up having to wear diaper to not shit her pants.

Full-thickness rectal prolapse.

If you love or even care about the girl, would you want this to happen to her?  Think about it.

And this is the least of the problems.  For example, the anus and intestine are not meant for sex; thus, they could tear during sex.  Yes, you could have cuts inside your butt.  Worse, the wall of the cavity inside your anus could come out and protrude outside of the anus.  Yes, in essence, the inside of your butt could come out.  Pleasant, eh?  Worst yet, there have been cases where the thin muscle that separates the vagina from the intestine gets torn.  Yes, in those cases, poop comes out of the vagina when the person goes to the bathroom.  It’s not a pleasant image, is it?  Now imagine all the germs and bacteria from one’s feces infecting the womb where babies come from. No, it’s not good.  Would you want the possibility of that happening to someone you love or care about?

Rectal prolapse

For now, I know you’re curious, but I ask that you refrain from watching porn and engaging in premarital sex.  One day, when you are old enough, you will find love that is amazing.  In that loving relationship, the sex will also be amazing because it would be about the expression of love for someone you care deeply about.  It’s worth the wait, my sons.

All my love, always,






4 years, 8 months, and 1 day. Human desires are bottomless pits and trying to fill them is an unending task. Don’t indulge in such inexhaustible pursuits.





[The problem is we are getting t]oo much dopamine and not enough serotonin, the neurotransmitters of the brain’s “pleasure” and “happiness” pathways… Despite what the telly and social media say, pleasure and happiness are not the same thing. Dopamine is the “reward” neurotransmitter that tells our brains: “This feels good, I want more.” Yet too much dopamine leads to addiction. Serotonin is the “contentment” neurotransmitter that tells our brains: “This feels good. I have enough. I don’t want or need any more.” Yet too little serotonin leads to depression. Ideally, both should be in optimal supply. But dopamine drives down serotonin. And chronic stress drives down both.

Too many of our “simple pleasures” have morphed into something else – a 6.5-oz soda became a 30z Big Gulp drink; an afternoon with friends gave way to 1,000 friendings on Facebook. Each of these momentary pleasures is just that – momentary. But chronic dopamine from your favourite “fix” reduces serotonin and happiness.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Beware of the elusive and destructive “pursuit of happiness.”  Don’t buy into the lie.  Happiness is like a butterfly.  No matter how fast you run and how hard you work, it will continue to elude your grasp so long as you chase it.  However, if you bathe, wear bright clothes, find a peaceful spot in the garden, and sit still, you’ll find that butterflies may come to you.

Happiness is like that.  When you are too busy chasing after the things that make you happy, you get caught up in the chase and fail to slow down to enjoy the moments that make up life, those moments in which happiness is hidden and waiting to be discovered.  For example, happiness is being with you, watching you play, hearing you tell your stories and your discoveries, seeing the brightness in your eyes.  The activities in which we are engaged in those moments are unimportant.  If I over-emphasize those activities and put too much import in making sure they are perfect (as we are apt to do), I would have overlooked those moments of happiness from simply being in your presence.

Tips for Getting a Butterfly to Land on You

If you’re lucky, a butterfly might land on you while you are in the exhibit. Though there’s no guarantee this will work but, you can do a few things to increase your chances. The best rule of thumb is to act like a flower:

  • Wear brightly colored clothes. I have a bright yellow and orange tie-dyed shirt that always seems to lure butterflies to me.
  • Smell sweet. If you’re wearing a skin lotion or perfume that smells a bit like flowers, that attract a hungry butterfly.
  • Stay still. Flowers don’t move, so you won’t fool a butterfly if you’re walking around. Find a bench and stay put for a while.




But, worse, in truth, the “pursuit of happiness” in modern time has turned into nothing but the unrelenting pursuit of pleasure.  We stuff ourselves with Doritos, sodas, and other junk food because food scientists at Frito-Lay, PepsiCo, and elsewhere found the exact chemical formula to ensure those chips, drinks, etc. stimulate our taste buds and ensure we cannot stop at eating just one chip, one sip, etc.  See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html.  Gaming companies spend billions of dollars and countless hours scouring psychological studies and techniques to ensure their games produce the optimum mix of reward and chance to ensure that players would spend hours hooked to the game.  Social media giants are no less devious.

As stated in the Guardian article above, dopamine is the reward neurotransmitter that tells our brain Doritos taste good and you should have another.  Unfortunately, that way lies food addiction and obesity.

On the other hand, serotonin is the contentment neurotransmitter that tells us we’ve had our fill of the good stuff and should stop.  While serotonin cannot be found in chips, sodas, and video games, it can be yours with a massage, meditation, outdoors activities in the bright sunlight, exercise, or a healthy diet.  See, e.g., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/; and, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201111/boosting-your-serotonin-activity.  (Yeah, there’s science behind that as well … the good science, not the science that feeds the greed.)

My sons, don’t feed the black hole that is man’s unquenchable desires.  If you chase after pleasure, you will find it a relentless and endless pursuit.  Our brain is hardwired to adapt, so a new watch or a new game will quickly lose its luster as you adjust to having it and reset your sight on something different. See, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/07/magazine/the-futile-pursuit-of-happiness.html.

Still yourself.  Enjoy the moment and the people around you.  Help those less fortunate.  Work with others to build a better community for yourselves.  I promise that you will find the effort extremely rewarding, and happiness will ensues.

All my love, always,



4 years and 8 months. There is so much chaos, pain and suffering these days. Live as if today is your last.







My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

You cannot turn on the news these days without hearing about hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fire, war, and misery.  Whether the harm is inflicted by nature or by neighbor, the results are the same.  Human misery.  Human tragedy.  It’s exhausting.

Turn away if you must to preserve your sanity.  But, recognize that pain and suffering is a part of life.  You will never be able to escape it fully.

Because life is fragile (even though you are not), make the most of it.  Make it count.  Make your life count for something.  Don’t be among the countless who pass through life hiding behind their fears and insecurity, who never extend themselves to touch the lives of others, who are quickly forgotten once their thread is cut short.  Be different.

Live fully.  Embrace each day.  Find joy wherever you may.  Find strength within yourself.  Find comfort in friends and family.  There is goodness and beauty in world … be it the laughter of children, a community garden, a house built by Habitat for Humanity.  Find it.  Immerse yourself in it.

Above all, stay mentally and emotionally strong.  Shosh, as I have always said, your mind is your greatest asset.   Protect it.  Cultivate it.  Rely on it to pull you through the dark days.

Don’t let dark thoughts and negative ideas poison your mind.  Weed out from the garden of your mind obnoxious conceptions, loathsome ruminations, offensive reflections.  Feed not those things that detract from the beauty of your mind.  Instead, read voraciously.  Nurture curiosity.  Fill your lives with music and dance.  Explore the rhythms that drive our lives.  Do what strengthens your mind and spirit.  Grow.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do
The necessary habits for attaining success.

We see the climber on the summit of the mountain, but we don’t see the blisters on his feet or the cuts on his hands from grasping onto the rocks.

We see the published author, but we don’t see the pile of rejection slips in his desk drawer.

We see the successful businessman, but we don’t see the many nights he stayed up starting all over again when his first start up fell apart.

We often see only the tip of the iceberg of success without all the mental toughness that was needed to get there. In her insightful book, Amy Morin describes “the 13 things mentally strong people don’t do.

  1. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. “Feeling sorry for yourself is self-destructive,” Amy writes. “Indulging in self-pity hinders living a full life.” Self-pity not only wastes our time, but it also holds back our relationships. Mentally strong people replace self-pity with gratitude.
  1. They don’t give away their power. Many of us give away our power when we don’t have physical and emotional boundaries. Mentally strong people know how to stand up for themselves when they need to. Not allowing other people to control our actions requires us to have clear goals that we can keep track of so that we know where to draw the line when we are pressured by other people’s agendas.
  2. They don’t avoid change. Shying away from change prevents growth. Mentally strong people lean into change even when it is frightening. “The longer you wait, the harder it gets and other people will outgrow you.” Amy writes.
  3. They don’t focus on things they can’t control. “It feels so safe to have everything under control but thinking we have the power to always pull the strings can become problematic. Rather than focusing on managing your anxiety, you try controlling your environment.” Mentally strong people don’t waste energy focusing on what they can’t control; instead they prioritize internal loci of control like focus and effort.
  4. They don’t worry about pleasing everyone. They acknowledge that there will always be times that others will be angry or disappointed, and they don’t allow others’ opinions to derail them from their goals.
  5. They aren’t afraid to take calculated risks. They analyze the costs and the benefits of a risk without allowing fear to block the way forward. They ask themselves questions like: How will this help me achieve my goals? What is the worst thing that could happen and how could I reduce the risk it will occur?
  6. They don’t dwell on the past, which doesn’t solve anything. Instead they reflect on the lessons that they have learned so that they can look at the situation from a new perspective.
  7. They don’t repeat the same mistakes. They accept responsibility for their mistakes, study what went wrong and plan what they can do better next time.
  8. They don’t resent other people’s success. Resentment is anger bottled up and hidden within us that distracts us from our own goals. Mentally strong people don’t focus on comparing themselves to others; they don’t see success as a scarce commodity. Instead they are happy when the people around them succeed.
  9. They don’t give up after the first failure. Mentally tough people see failure as an inevitable stepping stone towards success; they recognize that achievement is a process rather than an immediate destination.
  10. They don’t fear being alone. They appreciate the benefits of occasionally being alone which include increased creativity, more empathy, greater productivity and better mental health.
  11. They don’t feel like the world owes them anything. Without a sense of entitlement, they don’t blame life or the world for their failures. Instead they focus on their efforts and turn their expectation into appreciation.
  12. They don’t expect instant results. Mentally tough people know that success takes time. They know that change is a long journey that requires us to patiently keep our relentless focus on our destination.

Don’t worry about what other people think, my sons.  You will never be able to make everyone happy, nor should you try.  Their happiness is their responsibility, not yours.  Live your dream.  Dream big.  Know that

I love you always,






4 years, 7 months, and 16 days. If you pay attention, you can learn something from everyone you meet. Pay attention.








My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Believe in yourself, and learn to turn your attention outward.  Shosh, remember that book we read years ago about Pinkerton, the little pig who constantly cried, “Me first!”?  He finally learned his lesson after he had to care for Sand Witch.  (Remember, he thought the question was “who would care for a sandwich, not sand witch.)

It seems there are too many Pinkertons these days.  Everyone is about “Me first!”  See, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/us/politics/louise-linton-mnuchin-instagram.html

Don’t be like them.  The world has more than enough selfish pricks.  If anything, we need more humility and kindness these days.

Be kind to others.  You never know what battles they are fighting.  But, it’s not just about them.  If you pay attention, they come bearing lessons from their lives from which you could learn.

Notice how everyone who meets Mr. Ted loves him?  Why do you think that is?  I suspect it has something to do with how he treats each individual he meets, and takes the time to talk to them.  His efforts don’t take away from the fact that he is among the top in his field, but they do make the world a happier place for that moment for those whose lives he touched.  Be like Mr. Ted.

All my love, always,


P.S., Eleanor Roosevelt is an amazing person.  If you have time, you should read about her.  In fact, try to read biographies and memoirs of the great ones.  They have much to teach us about life and how to live life fully and graciously.


4 years, 7 months, and 14 days. Don’t take yourself too seriously.





Here are the 4 rituals from Stoicism that will make you loved:

  • Not me: Stop talking about yourself. Let me talk about me and I’ll enjoy your company more. (Wow, this is more fun already.)
  • Practice “insult pacifism”: This is the worst blog post I’ve ever written? Trust me, I’ve written far worse.
  • Listen to the angel on your shoulder: Grandma is watching, potty-mouth.
  • Treat everyone as family: Treat people as your brothers and sisters and they’ll likely reciprocate.


My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Shosh, do you remember your first heartbreak by a friend?  Up until that point, everyone you’d met had loved you.  You were beautiful, and smart, and funny, and kind.  What’s not to like.  Then came along Quentin (I think that’s his name).  He was your best friend in preschool.  You guys hung out every day, and played well together.  One day, he simply stopped playing with you.

You were crushed.  You kept asking why, but no answer was forthcoming.  You guys didn’t get into an argument.  We had no interactions with his parents.  None of us knew what happened.  He simply stopped being your friend and played with other kids.

You somehow took this break as an indication that there was something wrong with you, asking what it was that you did.  But, life isn’t about you.  His action was his to own, not yours.

This is a hard lesson to learn.  Too often in life, people cede control to others when they shouldn’t.  Why should you own someone else’s misery, bad attitude, poor upbringing, boorish behavior, etc.?  Don’t.  Their bad choices are theirs to own, not yours.

Be good to yourselves and be good to others, but don’t take yourself or life too seriously.  Laugh more.  Learn to laugh at yourself.  If you do, then how could anyone ever get under your skin?  If they tried to insult you, you’d simply laugh and say, “Oh, if you only knew the other 1,000 things I do wrong or stupidly!”  What are they going to say then?

As I told Ms. L from the moment we decided to make a family together, if we put you kids first, and she put me next and I put her next, how could we go wrong?  We would always be looking out for the other’s interests.  Happiness lies that way, my sons.  Seek to make yourselves happy, and you will  burden yourself with efforts to fill a bottomless pit.  We are black holes that can never be fulfilled.  We are psychologically wired to always adapt and to seek out the new and different.  Nothing will ever be good enough.  Today’s Rolex is tomorrow’s discard.  You can do better.  Live for other and, amazingly, you will find yourself happy.  (By the way, this is not to say lose yourself in others or let others walk all over you.  Don’t.  Find someone worthy of yourselves.)

All my love, always,