Forgiveness, the art of letting go

•February 12, 2017 • 2 Comments

It is normal that when someone you know or care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and even thoughts of revenge. Or, you can make it easy for yourself by embracing forgiveness and move forward. I think true forgiveness is one of the hardest letting-gothings for most people to do; I know it is for me.

Most everyone has been hurt by the actions or words coming from another person. Might be a colleague sabotaging you in a meeting, someone criticizing your parenting skills, finding out that your partner had an affair, etc. The resulting wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of bitterness and anger.

If we don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays the biggest price. By embracing forgiveness, you can then partner with peace, hope, gratitude and joy. The simple act of embracing forgiveness can lead you down the beautiful path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Holding a grudge is easy

When you have been hurt by someone, particularly by one who you love and trust, the fighting-tigersresult is usually anger, sadness and confusion. If one keeps thinking about the hurtful events or situations, resentment, grudges, vengeance and hostility can take over your life and drown you. If the negative feelings overtake the positive ones, you will become a washed up shell of whom you are supposed to be, driven by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. You will eventually be defined by how hurt you are, which will become a crutch and an allowance for failure.

Forgiveness – what is it?

Forgiveness is a decision and a powerful way to let go of resentment. The act that hurt or Helping handoffended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other more positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can also lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

It is important to remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

I personally found out the benefits of forgiveness…

A few years back I went through a very emotional and stressful situation. Emotionally it animals___birds_eagle_in_the_fog_on_background_with_mountains_057742_was one of the worst experiences I have ever endured in my life up to that point. Something I never thought would happen to me. I felt I was so unfairly treated and did not deserve it. I became so, so angry, bitter, and definitely looking for revenge. It was a stressful time, no sleep with nightmares, accompanied by loss of appetite. I was stressed out and became sick quite a few times during that period. Over time I became physically worn out with no energy for anything. I felt like a different person. No resemblance of my former self. I knew something had to change. I was open to something, anything.

One day, almost a year after the event, I met up with the person. We had a calm and boy-in-lakeselfless conversation. I began to understand that person’s side of things. All of a sudden I had this urge to forgive. It was not a conscious thing; it was more of an impulse. After listening, absorbing, and understanding what the other person was telling me, I suddenly said the words “I forgive you.” I am not kidding when I tell you that as soon as I said those words it felt like the heaviest weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt 100lbs lighter! I instantly began to relax and felt so happy as if I had just finished a massage session and meditation class simultaneously…the feeling felt so good it was like I had just taken something! Instantly, the psychological toxins left my body. One or two days later I felt like a healthy new person, ready to start a new chapter in my life.

So, I know though personal experience that letting go of grudges and bitterness decreases stress and clears the impediments to happiness, health and peace. Being able to “forgive” affords one the possibility of the following (some of these positive outcomes have actually been scientifically researched):

  • Fewer symptoms of depression with less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health with lower blood pressure
  • Higher self-esteem which leads to healthier relationships with the people around you
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being

Forgiveness is a commitment

If forgiveness is not an impulse or doesn’t come spontaneously, then it needs to become a conscious commitment in order to start the process of change. Change is hard for a lot of people but thinking about the following tactics might help:

Consider “forgiveness” and its importance in your life at a given time. Think about how heavy life is when carrying anger and bitterness in your heart. Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being. Actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you, when you’re ready. This will help you move away from being a victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life. As I have learned, by letting go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You will find compassion and understanding for the person that you forgive.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”  – Mark Twain

Can I find true Happiness?

•March 25, 2016 • 1 Comment



For many years I thought one had to work hard in order to find happiness, and once actually found from that point on I would be consistently happy until my last day.

TreesAs I have moved through life I discovered that there was always some perceived obstacle in the way. There was always something I felt I had to get through before happiness would flow over me, some unfinished business, and time to be spent on something, or a debt to be paid.

I am not saying I have never been happy. Obviously, throughout my life, I have experienced extreme happiness. What I was looking for was more consistency.

After accomplishing, or overcoming, each perceived obstacle in many cases happiness Springdidn’t necessarily follow. Of course there was a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, but that did not necessarily mean it equated to true happiness.

A few years ago it dawned on me that these obstacles, to overcome, and goals, to achieve, were my life and would always be around. If I didn’t pursue happiness in a different way I would never find it.

After talking to a bunch of people it appeared what I was encountering seemed common. I realized the same mentality affected many people who were also attempting to find true happiness. They too found that true prolonged happiness was always out of reach due to the tendency of putting up barriers which needed to be overcome.

BeautySo, to be truly happy I realized that I needed to realign the way I thought. There’s no better time to be happy than right now. Why wait? Why not be happy now? It is important to FREE oneself of the restrictions set by an artificial road-map we set up for ourselves. Life is filled with challenges and negativity. It’s best to admit this and decide to be happy anyway. Humans are great at always making excuses in many aspects of our lives, including why happiness is out of reach. We are all experts at this.

The key is to enjoy every moment that you live within (time with your family and 2-flower-wallpaperfriends, a walk on a beach during a beautiful sunset, a bike ride in the hills, whatever the moment is) and treasure it. Clear the mind, live in the moment for as long as possible, and be happy that you can do the things you can or want to do. Once you internalize how special each individual moment is you will feel blessed and realize that good fortune is shining on you. No one can take that moment away from you. It is yours to enjoy and remember. TRULY open yourself up to these moments. REMEMBER that time waits for no one.

Every day will give you a number of happy moments, even when life is proving to be HD_beautiful_nature_landsacpe_1920RCRL_8003challenging. SMILE and focus on these moments. Let them guide you and push you in a positive direction. Doing so will pull your life into the direction YOU want to go. Life is our reality and is not perfect. But one cannot tell me that no good moment occurred in the space of 24 hours…even if it’s just the sun shining on your face.

So, even though finding consistent happiness is a work in progress I am definitely learning to decrease the number of barriers and obstacles I put up…there is no better time than right now to be happy. I am alive, and every day will give me a special moment. Sometimes I just need to apply the effort to look for it. It is there.

“I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.” –  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Sunset

The Big Comeback!

•January 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Fireworks explode over the River Thames


Happy New Year! 2016 will be the best year ever!

Wow, it’s been a really interesting couple of years for me. This is the first post for many, many months. Since it is the beginning of a new year, it is time to start writing again. I have missed it.

On Your Marks Get Set Go – RESET!

First, I feel writing things down, whether my thoughts, ideas, or plans, is the first step in making things actually happen, whether it’s helping other people, working on projects, or whatever it is. You know what I am saying. In many cases, writing is the first step to moving forward…

Secondly, it’s also important that I follow through and do the things I need to do to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. Only when one is healthy, by that I mean more than just the physical…I mean happy, can one excel at giving oneself to others. This takes discipline and commitment, and is easy to neglect.

Due to a busy schedule, a new family, launching a fitness business with a dear friend of mine (90 plus hours a week), and health issues, I have not been immersing myself, as I have done in the past, with the activities I usually do to stay sharp (physically and mentally). An intense Strength & Conditioning routine, cycling, weight training, writing, and reading have taken a back seat.

Bummers & Downs

I have experienced a number of downs within the last two years, including major shoulder surgery.  Little did I know that when I crashed during a bike race in the summer of 2008, I seriously injured my shoulder. However, after the crash I was able to go back into the gym and continue my strength and conditioning program, doing heavy weights, Shoulder Surgeryeven able to do military presses on most days. Over the years I had incidents that consistently affected the left shoulder, but it only took me out for a couple of days to a week and then I was back working out that area again, like nothing happened.

Then in February 2014 my left shoulder started hurting with the pain continuing to increase in intensity over a short period. With that came significantly decreased mobility. Finally, when I could not bare it anymore I went into surgery in June, after an MRI (torn rotator cuff, inflamed Burse, displaced nerve, chipped bone, cartilage damage, bone particles embedded in my bicep, and a detached bicep)  So a year and a half later it has improved, but there is still pain, with mobility at around 85%, which I will take! The area requires continuous physical therapy which I need to include every time I work out…it is getting stronger, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, I do have one small area, around the socket where there is no cartilage so at some point, down the road, a replacement will be required. Whatever, the most important thing is what I can do with it now!

Knee MeniscusThen something else, I started running again at the beginning of 2015. In May I was running on a stretch of road and tripped over a pothole, damaging my left knee. Over a few weeks the pain intensified and with a MRI it was determined that I had a torn meniscus. I had surgery in July. The good news is that the recovery was relatively quick.

There is a tendency to let one’s DOWNS keep you DOWN. When you are down it is easy to make excuses in order not to do stuff. But, the older you become it is important to understand that there are less and less “tomorrows.” Once you release this you can use that to motivate yourself to move up, forward, and leave your comfort zone.


I spoke to a friend recently, a top celebrity fitness trainer, who is super strong and fit, she said –”I was the most unfit IMG_1004 when I was a working in the fitness industry as a trainer…there was never the time, or sometimes the energy; I needed, at the end of a full day of training clients, for myself.” Since working in the Fitness Business it has been difficult to stay self-motivated with all my energy going towards other people’s fitness and well-being.  Combine that with my injuries, I have had the perfect recipe of not being consistent with my own strength and conditioning.

The time to start working on my overall strength and health is now.  I will probably never race a bike again. If I go down on my left shoulder again it will be a mess!  But I will start engaging by training on a bike, slowly and sensibly increasing my endurance and sustained power. Just to have fun but garner the benefits of riding too!

I want to get my body back to where it was in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and have fun doing it, dropping 30lbs, while reaping the benefits of lean muscle.

This post is not meant for sympathy, but it’s a launching pad, for me, for bigger and better things!  Here I come 2016!

Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Alpine Skiing

What is your Problem!? Just live life & be HAPPY – Simple!!!

•September 28, 2014 • 3 Comments

When I was a younger I spent a lot of time thinking and worrying about the possibilities of problems and/or negative _IGP4413 situations developing in the future.  What I have learned and try to remember is that having actual problems are problems enough, and there is no need to give space, or to become mentally hampered by spending time thinking and stressing about the possibility of problems, problems that may not even occur!

Also, I need to live my life, today, right now, in this moment, with the passion, and attention that it deserves. I need to embrace it and add special meaning to it all, and try not to become hindered by imagined problems.  This is very difficult to achieve for most people, even the most controlled among us.

Although, as I get older and live my life, I have developed much experience and tools to live my life in the way I choose, and to deal with the challenges and setbacks that constantly come everyone’s way.  This is the Beauty of experience and age.

So, Instead of stressing, being nervous or intimidated by what might go wrong, I am now much better equipped to be able to let myself be inspired by all that can go right and the resulting rewards, and the resulting happiness.  Although still hard, It islate summer light definitely getting easier, for me, to envision and make the choice to live the best life I can imagine, re-framing from going down the negative thought processes, and make the required commitment to do that.  In order to achieve this, another thing to consider, it is important not to be around Debbie Downers since that is a sure way to get dragged down the wrong path. Clean up your Rolodex!

The challenges that I do encounter and overcome serve as a reminder and let me know that I am moving forward in the right direction.  Actual problems keep me motivated to overcome them and drive me to fulfill my goals and dreams.  Nothing will stand in the way or prevent me from getting there!

I try reminding myself of all the opportunities awaiting for me every single day, which moves me forward, driven by the limitless possibilities awaiting around every corner, or within just a single phone call, or a single meeting…

Bottom-line, I want to and try to live my life with purpose, courage, richness and joy.  Part of this is only possible if I erase my mind from possible problems and negativities.

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.

Pope Paul VI


Time to Sleep…

•January 6, 2014 • 5 Comments

2013 was a crazy year for me, during which I felt mostly tired.  No racing of any kind, but it was definitely a year of contemplation, planning, building, implementation, and moving forward.  It was a challenging, rewarding year with both loss and gains…

photo 1Loss…I lost my beautiful Doberman Anka.  She was my solid and consistent companion for almost 10 years.  Amazing how bonded we become to our pets, and how much they can teach us about our own life.  I could wax on about her forever, on many levels!  What makes the loss somewhat bearable was that she passed peaceably in her sleep, very early in the morning.  She was truly an amazing partner, her consistent presence helped me through some heavy stuff.  I will think about her and her life, what she gave me, for the rest of mine.

Gain…The day Anka died my incredible nephew, Lars, was born.  The Cycle of Life!  Going forward, Lars’ birthday will have special significance to 2

Gain…I have re-established a very special friendship that started in New York City 21 years ago. This event is a revelation and has restored my faith in certain aspects of my life which, based on certain events, took a little bit of a beating.

Gain…I went into business with a good friend, who has developed an amazing fitness and healthy eating concept.  It is based on his experience of training top-tier elite athletes and pouring that experience into a 30 minute workout that has produced amazing results.  We are in the process of opening a center in Los Angeles.  Construction is in full swing, with the opening occurring later this month.  If you are interested in finding out more, here is the website:

As the year progresses I will, among other things, touch base on the above, going into more details.  Since I haven’t written for awhile I thought I would create a starting point for 2014…

One area that I want to improve on, since I have been constantly tired, is SLEEP.  I have blogged on so many other areas in my life, areas I want to improve on, or eliminate, but I think sleep ranks up there in regards to importance.  I have come to the conclusion, at least for me, the saying “you can sleep when you are dead” is so bloody asinine, completely senseless.  It’s taken me 51 years to make this discovery for myself!

I have always done well with minimal sleep, whether recovering from training, or conducting business.   At least that is what I have until recently thought.  But, the reality has finally set in.

Maybe it is maturity and/or the increased ability to be honest with myself.  Lack of sleep causes me to “drift” through the day, not fully taking in a conversation, the view, the taste, the breeze on my face.  Everything appears hazy since there is a lack of focus.  As I move into the 2nd half of my life I want to see things much more “clearly”!  I want to take in everything, and will now attempt to achieve this.  I am going to make a concerted effort to get more quality deep sleep, by getting into bed earlier and eliminate such things as late night computer and TV.

People try all kinds of things to be able to live in the NOW,  like meditation, reading books on the subject, paying someone to help them with the process, whatever it may be.   However, it dawned on me that all of this is a waste of time and money, without the foundation of sleep and being rested.  Being rested allows me, better than ANYTHING else, to live in the now!  Sleep and rest also increases my memory, endurance, strength, patience and definitely cuts back on ROAD RAGE!  There are just too many benefits to list.

“True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.”  William Penn

photo 3

Perfection… is it attainable and is it desirable?

•January 7, 2013 • 8 Comments

I was listening to BBC World on Sirius Radio the other day. There was an interesting segment that caught my ear.  A person was giving a personal view point on “perfection” and the dangers of pursuing that ultimate goal, and why “good enough” is good enough. I found myself becoming a little annoyed with her view point.

She actually made the argument that the path towards perfection in fraught with negativities and dangers.

Amongst others, she discussed sushi Chef Jiro Ono as one example of an “unhealthy” pursuit of perfection.

This piqued my interest enough to start reading about the chef and his life.  His story is one that encapsulates the meaning of pursuing perfection.

Jiro Ono’s father was an alcoholic and worked in a factory.  When Jiro was 7 years old, his 1337256000000.cachedfather abandoned the family. The family had no money so Jiro left home at the age of 9 and started apprenticing at a sushi shop…working the same job for 76 years. Jiro currently holds the distinction of being the world’s oldest Three Star Michelin Chef at the age of 86.  He is regarded so highly, that even acclaimed chefs Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, and countless others, hail him as the greatest sushi chef that has ever lived, or at least currently the best sushi chef in the world.

Sushi is special and so uniquely Japanese.   It’s what I would define as a precision food.  If prepared sloppily it looks unappetizing.  One of the skills of being a Master Sushi Chef is to make raw meat into something that looks like a work of art, while at the same time appetizing.

There is a district in Tokyo called the Ginza district.  This district is widely regarded as one DSC_9081of the world’s most luxurious shopping centers.  In between the luxury stores, which include, amongst others Dior, Prada, Armani, and Chanel, lays a dull office building. Tucked away in its basement, a glass door away from a subway platform is Sukiyabashi Jiro a tiny sushi bar with only 10 seats.  The restaurant has no bathroom, no slick interior design.  Since it is so small, this allows the staff to focus on preparing top-quality sushi and serving each client the best possible way, noticing little details like how much they eat, or if they are right-handed or left-handed.

Despite his age, Jiro, come rain or shine, takes the subway to work every morning.  He still Kozue-Tokyo-Assorted-sashimioversees most of the details of his restaurant, including reservations and menu.  The chef takes no days off other than for national holidays or funerals. But in addition to purchasing the best and highest quality fish, Jiro also has a special rice dealer who sells his best grains to him, in order to optimize his sushi.

Only six people work at Sukiyabashi Jiro: Yoshikazu (chef Ono’s son); another  sushi chef; three apprentices, who must train with Ono for a decade to attain the status of shokunin; a woman who handles the accounting and the cash register, and another woman who cleans the restaurant.

Sukiyabashi-Jiro-Ginza-Tokyo-Oo-toro-594x445Sukiyabashi Jiro is so popular you have to make a reservation up to a year in advance and pay $368 (around 30,000 yen) for a fixed menu of 20 pieces of sushi.

The attention to detail is incredible.  For instance, Jiro ages his tuna for up to 10 days, and apprentices massage the octopus by hand for 50 minutes before preparing it. Chef Ono is such a perfectionist that he’ll even make his sushi different sizes for different customers, so that an entire party finishes the food at the same time.

Even though Jiro has had a hard life and follows a strict routine, he is enormously happy with his work; as he has stated many times, he is blissful and truly enjoys his work, which appears to keep him vital in his old age.

However, in order to pursue happiness Chef Ono has had to compromise his relationship with his family and two sons (which to some people may appear extreme). His relationship Sukiyabashi-Jiro-Ginza-Tokyo-Chef-Jiro-Ono-at-Workwith his eldest son Yoshikazu, who is the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, is sometimes strained since at times it is hard for Yoshikazu to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.

Chef Ono increases his creativity by focusing within a narrow range, rather than going wide.  By starting with the same daily routine, pursuing a narrow focus, combined with his talent and hard work, this allows him to be open to true creativity.

Beyond Chef Ono’s life and his restaurant, I am truly interested in his philosophies – which are what drives him in his pursuit of perfection, including:

  • “Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work.” – It is interesting that he doesn’t say “find work that you love”; rather he says “love the work we have chosen.”
  •  “Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably and is the key to success.”
  • “Cultivate love for your work, much like we do in a serious relationship that ultimately results in marriage. Joyful work requires a lifetime of devotion.”

Jiro’s philosophy on work is very different to how most of us perceive work.  In our culture we tend to categorize work in two ways, either work we dream of doing, or work we have to do for income in order to afford our lifestyles.  I think many of us tell ourselves that the work we would absolutely love to do is just a dream and we must endure a career of mediocre enjoyment until we hit retirement and only at that time can we begin enjoying life.

What’s very interesting is that Chef Ono still feels he hasn’t reached perfection despite the fact he has 3 Michelin Stars*.  So, the lesson I pull out of this is that perfection is never achieved but the driver to attain it, which keeps us motivated and moving forward.  The resulting created drive constantly pushes us though the boundaries which we originally thought were personal limits, allowing us to realize that we have so much more potential than originally we thought we had!


DSC_0129The Japanese word “kaizen” simply means “improvement”. The word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small.  The word Kaizen in English is typically applied to measures for implementing continuous improvement.  It is a philosophy I like to apply, or at least try to.

Cycling is physical and hard, taking serious commitment.  To have fun with cycling whether racing, or just keeping up with the local club ride, requires a certain level of fitness, achieved by dedication, time and hard work. One needs to put in the training, effort, and absorb the necessary pain to push through to the next fitness level.  The longer I participate in this sport, and apply myself the more improvements I achieve and find myself achieving things on a bike that I originally thought were not possible due to my size and weight!

article-2172800-13D27C1E000005DC-478_468x286To me perfection and continuous improvement do not have to be what other people think it is, but it’s what I think it is, whatever aspect in life we are talking about whether its sports, life, relationships, or work.  Doing the best I can, as an individual, giving 100% of my effort and ability, whether it’s besting a previous workout, pushing past maximums, that to my mind is one avenue of pursuing perfection…finding out what my body is capable of by pushing to optimize its capabilities.

I would never want to live in a world where “good is good enough.” I think the pursuit of perfection raises us and our spirit…for instance; it is what makes the Olympics so wonderful Cavendish of Britain cycles to win the London-Surrey Cycle Classic road race, a test event for the London 2012 Olympic Gamesand exciting, where the athletes’ lifetime of work comes to the fore, under the bright lights of the world stage. Pushing the boundaries, passing what we previously thought was impossible to surpass.   Without the pursuit of perfection and achieving the best we are capable of, to my mind, the world would be boring.  Pushing the outer boundaries is what pushes us forward as individuals, as well as human kind as a whole. Since perfection is never attained, it is what drives us further than we believed we could go.

Having said all this, I think there are always two sides of anything.  Whatever people do, whether eating, drinking, working, pushing to be the best whatever, we can take it too far. Pushing for perfection doesn’t need to be unhealthy as long as we do not lose sight of the other things in our life, that are important such as love, family, friends, health, etc.

But, I do not like or subscribe to the notion of “It’s good enough.” Those three words really bug me! It is lazy.  Granted there are situations where one has to prioritize if one is under pressure.  But I want to make that the exception and not the rule.  I feel that if I was to live by those three words I would be stuck in the universe of mediocrity!  No thank you!

“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Past Memories and the Creation of New Ones…

•October 22, 2012 • 2 Comments

I was sitting in one of my favorite cafés in Venice, and over the speakers a piece of music started playing which brought me back in time.  Memories started flowing into my mind…

It’s strange, but when I go over memories from my childhood the images come in sometimes as black & white or in sepia tones…very moviesque.  Interesting.  Sometimes, for me, there are things that are difficult to remember, even if I really want and try to, I cannot reach them.  Others flow easily into my mind and become more intense and vivid.  I think Mira Bartok is correct when she wrote in her book, The Memory Palace, “We humans are different–our brains are built not to fix memories in stone but rather to transform them. Our recollections change in their retelling.”

However, the advantage of having a twin brother is like having a proofreader.  He can really help clarify some of my unclear memories I have, since we experienced many of the same things as children.  One of the advantages of being a twin.

Anyway, I generally remember the fun and positive things during the earlier periods of my life, when I had less responsibilities and stress.

One of the things I remember as a child, was the times, generally after dinner, when the family would sit down together and watch home movies my father and mother had filmed.  The beautiful moving images were on 8mm film and projected on a white wall in the living room, or on a screen that my father would bring from his office.   The movies would be of my brother and I, family holidays, and family gatherings.  Most of the individual films captured moments of happiness.  I loved these evenings.  I forgot about school (which I hated…I was definitely not a scholastic prodigy!) and other things that I considered a struggle at that time, as I slipped into a fantasy world, immersing myself in happy and fresh memories.

As my life marches forward I find myself thinking more and more of the past.  Many of the memories are not as fresh anymore, since they happened quite a few years ago, but I try to hold onto and remember the wonderful experiences I have had so far…such as growing up in the English countryside, playing in the fields on the local farms, building forts from freshly cut straw and hay bales…all the pets and animals we owned (ferrets, chickens, sheep, cats, horses), our massive vegetable garden, our homemade jams and juices, the three fields we owned, as well as two small apple orchards…the wonderful spring months as the buds developed into flowers and leaves, family holidays in Cornwell and Wales, learning to ski in Austria…riding lessons at the Balcombe Riding Stables, visiting my grandparents in Bremen, North Germany, on a regular basis…mum and dad taking my brother and me to the local pub, after driving back from the beach on a beautiful summer’s evening with the dreamy orange glow of a setting sun.

Other wonderful memories include my parents taking us to London to visit the zoo (where one of my favorites was the Chimpanzee Tea Party at 3 o’clock), the Tower of London, Harrods in the Royal Borough of Kensington, and Chelsea.  Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Westminster, Covent Garden, Speakers Corner next to Hyde Park…on and on and on.

Obviously, with the good memories come the not so good ones.  But one thing that I thought about is how careful one has to be in regards to not doing or saying something that has the potential of a negative result.  Negative actions, towards other people, have the potential to inflict emotional scars on them and myself.  When I was younger I said and did things with not much thought as to what the outcome would be.  So now I have negative memories, resulting from some of the things I have done…I can never take them back.  You can say ”sorry”, but the reality is that some residue of those actions will be there for life, ultimately forming into negative memories.

The practical reality of creating positive (versus negative) memories for the future has been reinforced a number of times, and again recently, when I read an article in Town & 

Country Magazine entitled ESTABLISHMENT VS. ESTABLISHMENT (January 2012, page 77).  This article was part of a series of monthly articles associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The Establishment vs. Establishment article covered three individual experiences, of demonstration, from the past (basically, the OWS movement is nothing new, just re-titled)…One of the three segments was called SAYING NO To DADDY and was written by Patti Davis (President Ronald Reagan’s daughter).

“…My father, for his part, was not a man to begrudge anyone a divergent opinion; he’d have been fine if I had written some articles disagreeing with his policies, or even given interviews, as long as I was respectful and civil.  But I chose stridency instead.  I chose an in-your-face approach that, because of who I was, actually distracted from the issue I was trying to address.  I said frequently that my protests weren’t personal – I was simply against my father’s politics – but of course that wasn’t heard.  Actions speak louder than words, as trite as that sounds.  I was a child railing against a parent, nothing more.

My immaturity lay in not understanding that the choices we make never affect only us.  Everything we do has a ripple effect.  Decades later I would look into my father’s eyes and try to reach past the murkiness of Alzheimer’s with my words, my apology, hoping that in his heart he heard me and understood.

This is what I know now that I didn’t know then: How you express yourself is just as important as what you are expressing.  Anger is generally not a good communication tool, and a daughter publicly protesting her father’s policies as he sits in the Oval Office, the elected Leader of the Free World, send only one message: anger…

…One of my deepest regrets is how I responded when my father asked – several times – if I would sit down and talk to him, listen to his side of the issue. “I already know your side,” I told him, “I know where you stand.” I can still hear his hurt silence on the other end of the phone…”

As I enter the next phase of my life, creating new memories (memories resulting directly from my own direct actions versus those that are forced on me, good or bad), it is important for me, particularly when dealing with people, to tread carefully, to be positive, helpful, and be as considerate as possible.  Depending on the situation, not an easy task, but one that will lead to more pleasant and happier memories down the road!

“Withdraw, like a turtle, into a hard yet harmless shell, ornamented with beautiful memories of the past.” – Mariam Masood