Life Lessons by Eleanor Roosevelt

Posted by Harriet on

IMG_2386I was like a tourist yesterday going to a landmark I had never been to right in my own backyard; well it was a two hour drive.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park, New York.   I’m not a museum person but I am a memoir person and love learning about people and how they lived; especially someone like President Roosevelt who despite being paralyzed from the waist down due to polio, went on to live a life most people could only dream of.  Talk about transcending adversity and not giving in to limitations!

The other thoroughly intriguing person is Eleanor Roosevelt, as she too lived through tremendous challenges; hers being childhood losses (both her parents died when she was a child) and despite being very timid, fearful and insecure, went on to become an outspoken and fiercely passionate woman who lived a most meaningful, purposeful and authentic life.  Talk about personal growth and pushing through fear and ones comfort zone!

I feel compelled to share with you some of her amazing quotes that are truly statements by which to live a rich and rewarding life:


No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

“Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.”

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”

“The way to begin is to begin.”

“It is not more vacation we need – it is more vocation.”

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”   (I was so excited to just find out that this quote, which I’ve been quoting for years and never knew who said it, is by ER.  

{Com}Passion – A Necessary Combination

Posted by Harriet on

IMG_6232My rabbi gave a beautiful sermon this past Saturday in synagogue.  He spoke of passion and compassion as being closely tied together; that just by adding ‘com’ to the word passion, you’ve created the greatest virtue of all.  Both words call upon us to feel deeply.

I never thought of these words as being connected.  Upon looking up the origin of passion, I found that it comes from the Latin word, suffer.  Makes perfect sense –since passion means to feel strongly about something, compassion is to feel strongly about the suffering of others.

Without passion, nothing happens; without compassion, the wrong things happen.”  Jan Eliasson


Questions to ponder:

What do you care deeply about?

What moves you?

What excites you?

What saddens you?

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

If you could turn a wrong into a right, what would it be?

What injustice would you fight for?

How do you respond to other people’s misfortunes/problems?


Watch this beautiful video of a passionately compassionate human being.


This makes me want to do so much more.  How about you?  Any answers to any of the above questions?  I’m glad you stopped by.  

Coming Back To Ourselves

Posted by Harriet on

holdingflower“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”  Mary Oliver

“Who am I”, you may ask yourself all too many times.  You’ve forgotten yourself in the midst of all the stress, chaos and turmoil of life.

Every time I facilitate a workshop, there’s at least one participant who says either aloud in front of the group or privately at the end of the session that she doesn’t know who she is anymore, that she doesn’t know what she likes and enjoys; that there is such a disconnect.

Whether it’s raising kids or being a caretaker to a spouse or elderly parents, you tend to put yourself on the back burner.  By the time you can move to the front one because some of those responsibilities and obligations have minimized, you begin to realize, “I forgot who the heck I am.”

If you’re not busy nurturing others, you may feel submerged by problems, drowning in the swirling negativity.  This doesn’t exactly lend itself to thinking enjoyment.  It’s more like a downward spiral.  In that mode, your mind may not take you out on that beautiful nature walk or to your drawing pad to sketch the perennial black-eyed susans growing in the front yard.

We somehow seem almost conditioned to remove ourselves from our own lives.  It’s as if we have to subjugate ourselves to our external callings.

Getting back to ourselves, becoming aware and bringing forth our best selves is a gift we can give the world. 

Look For The Silver Lining

Posted by Harriet on


So what’s the silver lining in your recent challenge?

For me it was the fact that my severe joint pain hit my left hand, that I was able to walk and that everything about our trip was just so perfect – the weather, accommodations, beauty, logistical arrangements and touring.

I developed some weird allergic reactions to a couple of antibiotics.  One antibiotic was given for my infected root canal and when I developed a  C-diff type terrible stomach reaction, I was given another antibiotic to quell that.  A few days later I broke out in hives and a skin rash.

We were due to go on vacation so I stopped the antibiotics (as per doctor’s orders) and took benedryl for the itches.

A few days into the trip I developed swelling and joint pain in my hand, the likes of which I have never experienced.  That progressed to severe joint pain in different parts of my body.  I couldn’t raise my arms and layed like a mummy to go to sleep.

But as long as I could walk, we went about our travel days.   So I needed some help pulling my arms through my clothes.  And I, totally out-of-character, probably took more tylenols that week than in my lifetime.   (not much of an exaggeration here)

As long as my gut stayed good (which is my weak link), I was determined to proceed with a gorgeous trip.

And so I kept pulling myself back to the all the good and kept looking for all ‘at leasts’: at least it’s not my right hand, at least it’s not my stomach, at least the couple of health people I saw were good, at least we’re still doing what we set out to do.

What Kind Of A Person Are You? by Tyler Perry

Posted by Harriet on


“I have this tree analogy when I think of people in my life, be it friends, family, acquaintances, employees, co-workers, whomever… They­ are all placed inside what I call my tree test.

It goes like this:


Some people come into your life and they are like leaves on a tree. They are only there for a season. You can’t depend on them or count on them because they are weak and only there to give you shade.

Like leaves, they are there to take what they need and as soon as it gets cold or a wind blows in your life they are gone. You can’t be angry at them, it’s just who they are.


There are some people who come into your life and they are like branches on a tree. They are stronger than leaves, but you have to be careful with them.

They will stick around through most seasons, but if you go through a storm or two in your life it’s possible that you could lose them. Most times they break away when it’s tough.

Although they are stronger than leaves, you have to test them out before you run out there and put all your weight on them. In most cases they can’t handle too much weight. But again, you can’t be mad with them, it’s just who they are.


If you can find some people in your life who are like the roots of a tree then you have found something special.

The Good and Bad Habits of Going Through Grief and Becoming Mentally Strong

Posted by Harriet on

amymorinI haven’t posted a blog interview for quite a while.  I’m actually working on compiling 3 years worth of my monthly interviews into a book.  When I stumbled upon Amy Morin online, I had to ask her to do a blog interview.  Her personal and professional life is the theme of my work and blog-  rebuilding life through and beyond adversity and loss.

Talk about overcoming challenges.  Ms. Morin had to deal with tremendous loss over a three year period.  First she lost her mom and then her 26 year old husband, both suddenly.  A few years later her father-in-law became ill with terminal cancer and died.  As a result of all this, Amy wrote “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” and it went viral.  She turned it into a book by the same title which was recently published.  As a social worker/therapist, she brings her personal and professional skills to the specific area of resiliency-building.  Resilience is a muscle we can all build and grow.


What helped you carry on and move in a positive direction?

My education as a social worker and my experiences as a psychotherapist certainly taught me a lot about grief. So fortunately, I had an understanding of what to expect and what sorts of things are helpful.

I also have really supportive friends and family and a strong faith in God, which helped me deal with that pain. I always held out hope that life could get better and I knew I could create a future that I looked forward to if I used my grief to heal.


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