I used to read books by and about heroines.

Anne Frank. Nien Cheng. Women who survived horrible torture and privations of war with the kind of spirit that just kept pushing up like a crocus through the snow.

And I wondered…would I show the same kind of tempered steel fortitude if I were thrust into the same circumstances?

Well, I have had a couple of weeks of really annoying life problems. A sick dog who almost died and now needs a period of intense babying, which she is taking as her royal due. Mysterious leg cramps that kept me up all night (WebMD urges me to eat a banana). Too much scheduled into too little time. And a muse who is balking at showing herself during this overscheduled time.

All what they call #FirstWorldProblems. The kind that would make my religious aunt tell me how blessed I am. The kind that would make my best friend tell me to put on my big girl pants. The kind that make me realize – I’m no Anne Frank. Some days I feel more like Frankenstein. I think I blunder on through like the big monster more than I survive by any courage.

So, I wonder…what are the First World Problems that bring you to your knees?


What Do You Do to Renew?


What do you do to renew? What do you do when you’re a writer and words dry up, when you’re a psychologist and your clients’ troubles seem trivial, when you’re a boxer and, all things considered, you’d rather read a good book than get pounded on?

How do you find inspiration?

I have had a week of chaos good and bad: a move that has me still living out of boxes, contractors still tinkering and popping over at the ungodly early hour that apparently is written in the contractor code; losing an hour to daylight savings time; a daughter’s excitement at buying her very first car on her own; a dog’s near death and emergency surgery.

Writing? Well, I can’t quite still my mind enough to let words come.

I know that some people find inspiration and silence in prayer, but I have never been comfortable with that.

On the one hand, it seems like superstitious chanting to some paternal figure cooked up to make us feel less alone in the universe. On the other, even if prayer is “real,” then why is my prayer any more compelling than anyone else’s? It seems like God or gods have too many people tugging their sleeves, from football players and rap stars importuning, to parents hovering over sick children, or soldiers silently moving their lips on the battlefield. Why would anyone listen to me?

So, if not prayer, then what about meditation? I do try that, because I believe in relying on the power of self. But sometimes the self just wants to turn over and sleep in. Sometimes, the meditating mind gets distracted by the day’s to-do list.

I could drink. A nice glass of wine certainly relaxes. But one glass can lead to another and being high isn’t quite the same as being elevated.

So, from a place of utter exhaustion, I’m asking…what do you do to renew?