You are a human "being," not a human "doing" 

Recorded on April 20, 2020, during the beginning of the pandemic.

Hello everyone. I hope you are all doing okay right now. I have a message that I wanted to share. I realized over the last few days that right now is the perfect time for me to share some thoughts that I’ve had for a few months now. I can’t take credit for the title of this advice - it was shared with me by my rabbi, Ted Falcon, when I was struggling.

 

But first, a preface. Most of us are at home right now. We are practicing social distancing, and it’s been about a month for me so far, that I have been home. Under normal circumstances, I like being home. Under normal circumstances, I’m actually quite productive at home. But I’m not right now. Because these are not normal circumstances, for any of us.

 

There is this inner drive that most of us have, that we want to be doing something, we want to be productive, we want to be contributing to the world in some way. And we have all this time right now, right? What are we DOING with all of this time? There is this pressure, that we should be DOING something right now. We should be taking advantage of this time to finally do some task, some activity, some accomplishment that we had hoped to do someday, when we had more time.

 

But then, right now, most of us are NOT doing what we think we should be doing. And then we feel guilty about that. And we feel crappy and worthless.

 

Here’s the thing...you are a human being, NOT a human doing. You do not need to DO something to prove that you are worth loving, that you are worth existing. Life isn't really about being as fucking productive as humanly possible. No. It is about existing. And connecting. And surviving. And dealing with the pain of life. And trying not to kill ourselves in the process. But we aren't always successful.

Right now, just live. Just breathe. Just wake up and get out of bed and struggle through your day and work on loving yourself the way that others that know you love you. You are an amazing brilliant worthy human being no matter when you do today, or what you accomplish. You are still a gift to this world.

 

Right now, in the midst of this pandemic, in the midst of this uncertainty, of this fear, of this lack of physical connection, right now, YOU GET A PASS, if you need it.

 

You are a human being, not a human doing. Just "being" is enough.

We are all like microtubules (aka, it's okay to fall apart sometimes)

Recorded on February 28, 2020. This might sound too "scientific" to some, but it's an idea that really resonated with me at the end of 2019.

Today’s topic might sound a little scientific, but bear with me, because I believe that there is real truth in what I am about to share. I’m going to talk about how we are all like microtubules.

 

Okay, so first, I have to explain what a microtubule is, not everyone remembers all the details of cell biology. A microtubule is a long cylindrical tube, that forms an essential part of the building blocks of our cells - it’s part of the cell skeleton. Our cells have lots of microtubules, and these microtubules are made up of individual subunits to form the long tubes - like how lego blocks join together to form structures. In our cells, microtubules are constantly growing and shrinking. This growth and shrinkage is called microtubule dynamic instability. I have studied microtubule dynamic instability for over a decade. I’ve always been fascinated by these continuously changing phases of growth and shrinkage. I have a microtubule necklace, I even have a tattoo of microtubule dynamic instability above my ankle. Because the idea of this instability, these changing phases, has always resonated with me, so much so that I permanently inked on my body. But it took on an even greater significance for me last semester.

 

See, the shrinkage phase of a microtubule has a name. When a microtubule is shrinking, it is called a catastrophe. Undergoing catastrophe is critical for microtubule function. See, a microtubule can only grow for so long. At some point, it hits its limit. So then, if it needs to grow in a different direction, it cannot just move. Rather, it first must undergo catastrophe so that it can then, after the catastrophe is over and it rescues itself, it can start to grow in a new direction.

 

So late last semester, when I was contemplating the greatest disaster of my life, that still doesn’t make complete sense to me, I realized - this is a catastrophe. The fact is, I had grown as much as I was going to grow at BC. I had plateaued. I knew that. I was never going to significantly grow any further there. I had become stuck in my way, and the only thing that could enable new growth in my life, required first a catastrophe. This is the truth, as painful as it is.

 

So, at this point, I fully recognize that we are all like microtubules and I needed a catastrophe to drive new growth in my life. But I am still working on coming to terms with the reality of it. But at least I do understand now, the need for us to all fall apart sometimes.

I hope that, in your life, when you go through your own catastrophes, that you too can someday appreciate the new growth that can emerge from it. And that you embrace the idea that you are allowed to fall apart sometime. You do not need to keep it all together all the time. Dynamic instability is central to microtubules, central to cell function, and central to being human.


 

Mental health issues and getting help

Recorded on February 24, 2020.

Hey there! So, someone anonymously requested that I talk about mental health issues, and how to ask for help when you know you need it, but maybe you seem put together to others and you are afraid of the stigma of having a mental health issue. So here is what I am going to do. I’m going to tell you about my mental health issues and how I ask for help when I need it. Maybe I look put together to many, but I am not.

The truth is, I have struggled with mental health issues for most of my life. With anxiety. With depression. I’ll tell you a secret. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing most of the time. Right now, in my life, I feel lost. I feel like I’m drowning much of the time. I wake up in the morning and I don’t want to get out of bed. I just want to lie there, forever. I don’t know what the point of life is. Fact is, most of the time, I don’t think there IS a point. And I think about killing myself, sometimes.

 

I am not sharing this with you, because I want or need your sympathy or pity or concern. I'm good. I have been struggling with these issues my entire life and I will keep struggling with them for decades more. I share them with you because I want you to know, that if YOU struggle with these sorts of issues, you are not alone, even if you feel that way.

 

And I want you to get help. I get help. I get a lot of help. In the last 6 months, I have seen something like 8 different therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, counselors, to figure out how I’m supposed to manage my life. And I’ve been on medication, when I have needed it. And I will keep seeking the help that I need to survive for the rest of my life.

 

Look - there is no good rational reason for my struggles - I know that I am fortunate. I am privileged. I have more than enough money to be comfortable. I live in a nice home. I have a husband and two wonderful children. I have a well-paying job. I have friends and family that care about me. I am part of a religious community that supports me. I am healthy and I have access to good healthcare. I should have no real reason to be depressed. I should have no real reason to feel so lost. But I do. I feel alone and misunderstood and depressed and the world just makes no sense to me.

 

But that is life for some of us, for most of us, at some point or another. So get the help you need. Even if you don’t understand why you need it. If you are struggling, if you feel lost and alone, reach out and get help. Because you can still bring so much light to this world, even if you yourself feel dark inside. I know this to be true, because it is my truth.

Taking responsibility for your feelings

Recorded on February 11, 2020.

I’m going to talk about taking responsibility for your own feelings. This is a very new life advice topic for me. It’s one that I’m grappling with and processing right now to improve my ability to do this, to take responsibility for our own feelings. What do I mean by that?

You have the power to decide whether to feel positive, or negative, or apathetic, at any given moment. You have the power.

I know from personal experience that we don’t always realize that we have this power. Actually, we almost never realize it. Instead, our ego, our experiences, our ingrained patterns of behavior that we have developed over the years, have led us to automatically respond to situations in a certain way that we think we don’t have control over. If someone says something nice, we become happy. If someone says something mean, we become sad or angry. But we are simply reacting to the situation. Listen to what I just said. We are RE-ACTING. We are acting in a way that is a repeat of what we have done before in similar situations.

 

Most of us in our society are conditioned to believe that when something happens that we don’t want or we don’t like, that we are obligated to feel pain or sadness or anger or hurt. That just isn’t true. Instead, it’s so much healthier to acknowledge that we did not want “whatever happened” but then to decide to not dwell on it or get stuck in what happened. Instead, we can let it go.

We don’t have to react. We can choose to act with intention and love in this world, at all times, if we wish, if we value that.

I have come to the realization lately that I have been reacting without thinking my entire life. If someone that I care about says something that I interpret as being rude or mean or hurtful, I would say to that person, “You hurt my feelings. Your words made me feel bad.”

 

But now I’m realizing, wait a second....I’m saying, that person MADE ME feel bad? No, no other person can MAKE ME do or feel anything. I made myself feel bad, after hearing those words. But it was MY choice to feel bad because of what that person said or thought. Me. I need to take responsibility for my own feelings.

 

I don’t have to feel bad just because someone else says something that I don’t agree with. That I don’t like.

I’m working on this right now, in my life. I think that it will be powerful and healthy to recognize that I have the ability to decide how I feel. So, I am going to continue working on taking responsibility for my own feelings. I hope that you might try taking responsibility for yours as well, as it might bring you more peace in your life too.

How to deal with social rejection

Recorded on February 5, 2020. 

 

A student requested that I talk about how to deal with social rejection. I don’t know if you realize this, but another way of asking this question, is “How do you deal with the pain of being human?” It’s the same question. Dealing with rejection, with the possibility of rejection, with the reality of rejection, this is fundamental to human relationships. And relationships are fundamental to our human experience. So this is a pretty big question that philosophers have been addressing forever. And so I don’t know if I have any good insight, but I will give you my take on it.

The key to dealing with social rejection is to accept the rejection without allowing it to hurt you. You can do this - even though it sounds impossible. You can acknowledge that you don’t like the rejection, you don’t want to be rejected, but you don’t have to feel pain. You actually have more control over your feelings than you realize. I will talk more about this in a future video - it’s something that I am working very hard on right now myself.

 

For now, just consider the possibility that you don’t have to feel overwhelmed in pain when you get rejected. I know that it’s so much easier said than done. But you can do it. It just takes cultivating. It just takes practice.

 

One way to practice handling social rejection in a healthy way is to seek it out. I spoke about this in my class a couple times before. There is a technique called rejection therapy, Jia Jiang has an awesome website about this social self-help game that he created.

 

This game is amazing - being rejected by another person is what you are trying to achieve. The concept is that you ask some stranger for a favor that you think will be rejected. Anything from asking a stranger to take a picture with you or to give you $100 or ask to speak over a grocery store’s intercom or make an announcement on a flight. Random crazy stuff. Some people will take the 30 day challenge, where you must be rejected by another person at least once, every single day, for 30 days. Now, I haven’t done this challenge myself – but I think it is AWESOME idea and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who does think that their fear of rejection inhibits them. I also highly recommend that you check out this guys’ website - Rejection Therapy with Jia Jiang. His stories are fantastic. He has videos posted for all of them. Here’s one thing he says:

“By getting rejected, I learned not to give a damn about people’s opinions and judgment, and became relentless in going toward my goals. I learned that I can’t control and don’t want to manipulate others’ feelings and attitude toward me, and the only thing that mattered was what I can control – my own actions, emotions and reactions.

Lastly, I learned that courage is not like height or even intelligence, which are mostly genetic. Instead, it’s like muscle, and much of which can be gained through exercise. In this case, repeatedly seeking rejection is the exercise.”

The world has billions of people with billions of opinions. If we constantly worry about what other people think of us, we will inevitably conform to their expectations, or worse, to our imagination of their expectations. We will live mediocre lives and have forgettable careers.”

 

Social rejection is part of our daily reality. And so the key accept it and let it go.

Lessons I learned last semester

Recorded on February 1, 2020. Here, I talk about some of the key lessons that I learned from the transformative experience I had at the end of 2019 - losing my job.

 

Today, I want to talk about some of the lessons I learned last semester when my world came crashing down. While I am not yet at a point where I can look back and say that I am GLAD it happened - the pain was too traumatic and it’s still too recent for me to say that, I do believe that I will feel this way within a few years, and I recognize that in the grand view of my life, this experience, this loss, this trauma, was a good thing for me to grow as a human being, and I have gained more than I have lost. So, you may wonder, what did I gain? What are the lessons that I learned? There are a lot, so I will start with a few.

First, I learned that my actions were not in line with my actual life priorities...I had been spending too much of my emotional energy on my career and not enough on my family and other loved ones. My 10 year old son, in particular, needed more of my energy to reach his full potential. He wasn’t being neglected, per se, he felt my love, but he has intense emotional needs, and I know that I could have done more to support him. I am now doing more to support him. He has a lot of social anxiety, and lunchtime is very challenging for him, so now, in his lunchbox, every day, I leave a letter for him telling him that I love him and sharing some nice thoughts. This is a lot of work on my part, every single day writing a new letter. But I do it, and I think it’s worth it. So, I am prioritizing my family now more than before, in terms of my actions and not just in my head.

Second, related to this, I realize now that I am not defined by my job. Before, my whole identity and feeling good about myself was through my work success. It was my dream job. I loved it. I loved it too much. I was obsessed with my job. I did not have a healthy balance. I was working too hard. And it was killing me slowly. I had all these health issues because of stress, that I thought that I was managing. My health issues have gotten better since I lost my job at BC, even going through this traumatic experience. Because it was repressed stress that was killing me, stress that I was not acknowledging. But I was trying to be everything to everyone. I was trying to be the “best professor ever.” To be worthy of existing. To fill this whole inside me, that we all have inside ourselves. So, I have a job now that I appreciate, that I’m grateful for, but I don’t love it, in this obsessive unhealthy sort of way. I do my work 9-5 during the week, and then I come home. And I turn it off.

See, another transformative lesson I learned, is that I do not need to be working ALL THE TIME. I do not need to be ACHIEVING, or PRODUCING, all the time. If I stop working today, the earth will continue spinning. I am not that important. Everything around me will continue. I didn’t know that before. I had this sense of self-importance that isn’t healthy or helpful for anyone.

I also finally got a dog. A dog that I love with all my heart. And that my kids love. And she loves us. And she helps remind me to embrace the present. And relax sometimes. I grew up with dogs, and I wanted a dog for so many years, for me, for my kids. But I was too busy, before. I’m really glad that I have a dog now.

Another lesson - be careful who you trust. It’s a good thing to trust people, to love people, to care for people, to focus on the good and the light in people. But we all have darkness inside us too. And by refusing to see that in others, by trusting everyone around me unconditionally, I put myself at risk. I cared about people that betrayed me. I never thought that it would be possible, for anyone to hurt me like that, because I would never intentionally hurt someone else like that. So, I am more aware now. That being careful is important.

I also learned, yet again, that I can overcome some pretty serious darkness. I was in the darkest place in my life for a few months there. It didn’t seem possible to me, what happened. I felt that the world had gone mad and nothing made sense. I felt beyond lost. But I regained my footing. And I am so much more grounded now than I was before. So I learned a lot. I learned more than this even, but this is what I will share for now.

The imposter syndrome

Recorded on January 29, 2020.

 

I’m going to talk about the imposter syndrome…I talk about it a lot, I know all my former students have heard about it, but my message bears repeating because the imposter is insidious. It is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. They think that they have tricked people into thinking that they are smarter or more competent than they actually are. It is surprisingly common, especially academia. I have seriously struggled with it…I still don’t think I’m all that smart…it’s just my hard work and determination that has allowed me to do well in my research career. That’s the imposter syndrome talking. Now, I’ve made peace with it – it doesn’t stop me anymore, although it does give me pause sometimes, but it can straight up undermine you, if you let it. And that is why I share this so much with students.

Interestingly, it turns out that the more successful people are, the more they feel the imposter syndrome.

A few years ago, I was at a scientific conference, the international frog meeting, and I was talking to one of the most successful scientists in my field. He is a Dean at Berkeley, literally one of the top leaders in his field. And he mentioned that he struggled with the imposter syndrome. And I said, “You?” And he looked at me, and I will never forget what he said, “Laura, 90% of all scientists have the imposter syndrome. The other 10% are assholes.”

So if you ever struggle with the imposter syndrome, you are not alone.

 

Most people, at some point in their career, or in their lives, they are going to doubt themselves. They are going to think to themselves, maybe I’m not really good enough, or smart enough, or capable enough, to do this thing. Almost everyone will doubt themselves. The successful ones? They aren’t the ones that are the smartest or the most capable. No, rather, the successful ones are those that move forward towards their dreams anyway, DESPITE their fears.

Do not let your fears hold you back. Do not let your academic rankings hold you back. Your grades do not define you. You are so much more than a number.

 

There is so much unhealthy competition these days. It is unnecessary. Because I promise you, there are enough problems in this world that EACH ONE OF YOU can contribute to making this world a better place and you do not need to beat out anyone else to do that.

 

In your life, do not focus on being THE BEST, because that is something that you can easily fail at time and time again. Instead, focus on being YOUR best. That is something that you can succeed at. That is something worth striving for. Because all of us can always slowly work on becoming better versions of ourselves.

Just do NOT let the imposter syndrome drag you down.

The importance of taking a gap year after college

Recorded on January 27, 2020.

 

I want to talk about why you should NOT be afraid of taking a gap year or two or three, after undergrad, before you start med school or grad school. If you take a gap year, you are not a failure. You are not taking it easy. You are not going to lose your momentum. Rather, you are simply recognizing that you will be a stronger candidate for med school or grad school, you will have more options moving forward, if you focus on intentionally leading a more balanced life.

It can be incredibly challenging for a college student to be successful in classes and extracurricular activities and be healthy and connect with friends and loved ones AT THE SAME TIME as applying for med school and grad school.

For med school, studying for and taking the MCAT, and all those applications, and all those interviews. You could miss a lot of class senior year – classes that you and your family have paid for. And then those classes don’t even count in helping your GPA, even though students tend to do best during their senior year.

 

Plus, did you really have enough time to do all the extracurricular activities and get all the clinical experience need? The only people that I see that succeed without a gap year are the ones that entered college committed to med school, with a clear and concrete plan, and started volunteering at hospitals or joined EMS as freshman. That can work, but it is not the only way.

There really is no rush. I know, some of you think that you just want to get it done- that there is this finish line and you just got to push for it, and then, once you get there, you can start living your life.

I have news for you. That isn’t a finish line. It is just one more mile marker in this ultramarathon of life. It’s like, a few years ago, I was running up this hill – and it looked like, if I just made it to the top then I would be able to coast downhill for awhile. And so I pushed really to get there. But then, I reached it, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s just another friggin hill! I’m like, what the hell- how come I didn’t see that before? Because my view was off.

 

It’s like, last year for me. Over the last six years, I had almost killed myself to get tenure, thinking that, once I got tenure, then I can coast a bit. And wouldn’t you know it? I get tenure, and less than a year later, I lose my job. And yeah, now I have another great job, but there is no tenure for professors at med schools.

You think your goal is to get into med school, or whatever it is, and then you can coast? No, life just gets harder.

So, whatever goal you think you are going for. It’s a great goal, I’m sure – but it’s not a finish line. The only finish line is when you die. And the faster you run towards it, the sooner it will come. Stress will bring it to you sooner.

So you don’t need to run. You are living your life right now. What are you doing, right now, to make your life meaningful, fulfilling, and as low-stress as possible now, given your long-term goals?

Take your time.

There are lots of things you can do during your gap year, to make yourself a stronger more compelling being. And I like to tell students, the longer you take before you go to med school, the more maturity you have, the fewer people will die someday under your care.

Just remember – the average age of starting med school is 26. That is the average, not the oldest. The average. Med schools prefer more experienced, more mature candidates. I have a lot of friends that work in med schools, and they, that you can tell, right from the start, who are the students that entered right after undergrad and who took a couple years. The ones that took their time are better med students – they are more relaxed, less high strung, more mature, better equipped to handle the rigors of med school.

 

Taking a year or two will not make you lose momentum. It will give you a breather to recover from the first hill that you have overcome (college) and get you stronger and ready for the next one.

The power of music

Recorded on January 23, 2020. Here is a link to the songs I mention.

 

I want to talk about the power of music for improving our mood. Music has a way of resonating in our soul that words alone do not. We can hear messages and feel messages through song that can be meaningful to us. I think that I was in college when I first realized this - I was going through a period of depression and I heard some song that was cheery that I liked, and for the first time in days or weeks, I felt genuinely happy, and I thought, oh, music has this power over us. I need to remember this. But then life went on and I forgot. But then when I was in grad school, I was going through some dark times where I was sure that I wasn’t good enough to become a professor, and I had young child at the time, and so I was watching sesame street, and then this music video came on, by Will I Am, If what I am is what’s in me, then I’ll stay strong, that’s who I’ll be. And I will always be the best me that I can be. There’s only one me - I am it - have a dream, I’ll follow it, it’s up to me try...Oh, I keep my head high...There’s nothing I can’t achieve because in myself I believe in…

I didn’t really believe that, but that song gave me the motivation, the inspiration, to try. It’s up to me to try. I listened to that song and watched that video obsessively for years. Every time I doubted, every time I failed, I listened to it. And I believed.

So that truly began my love affair with music. And so since then, I find songs that resonate with how I’m feeling in a given period or experience in my life. And then I play them a lot. Sometimes they are happy songs, sometimes they are sad songs that capture how I feel and help me better process those feelings. I’m so grateful and appreciative of the gift of music that others share with us and bring to our lives.

Over the last few months, I have listened to a lot of songs to help me process my struggles. I’m going to post on my website the most important songs - one is about asking God for help in not drowning in life’s struggles, one is about me being a phoenix rising from the ashes and my wings are still a little wet. One is about Defying Gravity. When things first went down at BC, I was sulking a little bit and so I listened to the song, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, from the musical Wicked. I listen to different songs for different times and feelings.

I want to share part of the song that I’m currently listening to. It’s super trendy right now I know, forgive me, it’s on the radio all the time, but it speaks to me right now, it perfectly captures how I feel right now, when I think back on my time at BC. It reminds me of when, last semester, I knew my lab there was over, but I was unable to contact any students yet. The song echoes my sadness, and my nostalgia for my lab and students at BC, but my hope for the future, and my knowledge that I always the amazing memories from my time there. So I’m going to share with you my favorite part.

From Memories - by Maroon 5

There's a time that I remember, when I did not know no pain

When I believed in forever, and everything would stay the same

Now my heart feel like December when somebody say your name

'Cause I can't reach out to call you, but I know I will one day, yeah

Everybody hurts sometimes

Everybody hurts someday, aye aye

But everything gon' be alright

Go and raise a glass and say, aye

Here's to the ones that we got

Cheers to the wish you were here, but you're not

'Cause the drinks bring back all the memories

Of everything we've been through

Toast to the ones here today

Toast to the ones that we lost on the way

'Cause the drinks bring back all the memories

And the memories bring back, memories bring back you

 

So, I hope that you remember, that music can be a powerful way to feel connected to yourself and to others.

How I stay so positive

Recorded on January 21, 2020.

 

This was actually the topic of the very last life advice that I gave in the very last class I ever taught at BC, Advanced Cell Bio, in mid-September, before I was unexpectedly suspended. A student had asked me how I stay so positive all the time. And this is what I said.

How do I stay so positive all the time?

I don’t.

 

There are moments, days, weeks even, in my life, when I am curled up in a ball crying. I have had my fair share of pain and despair and negativity. But eventually, in these moments, I finally start to remember my life philosophy.

I don’t pretend to know the answers or to know what the meaning of life is or what we are all doing here. It’s a mystery to me. I don’t know these things. I don’t know what’s real. But what I do know, what is certain to me, is that I am in pain sometimes. And other people - they are in pain too. That is real. That is certain.

And so, at some point in my life, years ago, I decided that one of my life goals is to help others in pain. There are many different ways of doing this. Being a professor was a pretty powerful platform to help others, that is true. But even if that title is stripped away from me, I can still help others, one way or another, if that is my goal.

But it is hard to be effective at helping others if I am curled up in a ball crying.

And so I wipe away my tears, and I think about the love and the light that I can share and give to others in my life, and that makes me smile.

 

And so that is why I seem to be so positive all the time. Because I recognize the truth of our pain, but I recognize the power that we each have to love one another and help each other through the pain.

Keep climbing

Recorded on January 17, 2020. This was the first advice video that I recorded when I began this website. It discusses my experiences at the end of 2019, and how while we never know what life will throw at us, we always have the option to be grateful for our opportunities and keep moving forward.

Hello everyone! Happy new year! So, I might not be at BC anymore, but I still have life advice to share if anyone wants it. In fact, I have even more life advice now than I had before. Because life advice comes from struggles and pain, and I have had quite a bit of that recently.

For this advice, I want to talk a little about what happened to me these last six months, and what I learned.

Six months ago, I was on top of my world. I had my dream job, that I loved, that I was successful at, I got tenure two years early, I thought I would have that job for the rest of my life. I had worked so hard for 20 years, since I was in college, to achieve that dream. Over the years, there were moments when I didn’t know if I would make it. I doubted myself and I struggled and I failed sometimes but I kept pushing. I kept climbing that mountain, even when there were setbacks, even when I made wrong turns, I kept going. And I made it to this amazing mountain peak.

And it was beautiful. It was everything I had hoped for. And I thought it was all worth it.

And I was looking at this view, thinking to myself, wow, I am so fortunate. I get to be up here forever.

And then I fell. I fell right off that mountain. I fell hard. That fall broke a lot of me, metaphorically. And I was lying there, bones broken, thinking to myself, how did this happen?

It didn’t make sense. Nothing made sense to me. I didn’t do anything “wrong”...how could I have lost my job. How could a misunderstanding do this. I was broken for a bit.

But I knew that I couldn’t lie there forever. So I started crawling. The crawling didn’t look so good at first. But it was something. And I knew that I would heal eventually. And so I slowly picked myself up and started moving forward.

I’m climbing a slightly different mountain now. But I am doing it. I am having fun. I am having successes. And I am grateful for this journey that I am on. Maybe I will fall again. I don’t know. We never know what the future has in store for us.

But no matter what happens, I will appreciate the challenges that life presents to me. And I will grow from them. Life is a gift. It can be brutal sometimes. You have to accept that. But it is a gift. What are you going to do with yours?

Someday, you may find yourself in a similar situation, where you feel like you have worked so hard, and then everything suddenly comes crashing down. But I hope that you remember that as long as you are alive and breathing, you can always rise again. If life doesn’t kill, it will make you stronger.

 

So go out there and just do it. Climb mountains. And when you fall, climb again. It’s worth it.

Learning an important truth about myself

Recorded on July 1, 2020. I had a useful realization about myself this week, about insecurities, happiness, mistakes, vulnerabilities, and my misguided drive to be "successful." Hope it's useful to others.

My initial response to the coronavirus pandemic

Recorded on March 14, 2020.

 

Hey there, everyone...so, I’ve been a bit quiet these last few weeks, I haven’t posted any new life advice videos. One reason is that, if I’m going to share life advice, I would feel silly not at least mentioning the coronavirus pandemic which is clearly now affecting the entire world. But then, I have been thinking, well, what should I say?

Here are my thoughts…

Right now, as you know, universities have all moved to online teaching, dorms have mostly closed down. Harvard has even shut down all research facilities for at least 2 months. My kids’ schools are now closed for two weeks, and I expect that this will be extended. Because closing down school for two weeks is not going to stop this thing. I am now working from home, to take care of my kids, and I am grateful and appreciative that my job allows for that, and that I am still getting paid during this crisis. Many people in our society are not so fortunate. And my heart goes out to them.

This pandemic is rocking our society. I do not see an end to this in the near future. I do admit, I get the importance of "flattening the curve", as they are saying, this promotion of “social distancing” to prevent more rapid spread, so that we do not overwhelm the healthcare system. But this novel coronavirus isn’t going to suddenly go away if we are all in isolation for a few weeks. We do not have the resources to eradicate it any time soon. Rather, from what I understand, young healthy people will actually need to get it and then recover from it and develop immunity, and if enough people do this, we will as a society develop herd immunity to it. Yes, people will die. And yes, this is going to take many many months. And yes, if we had a vaccine, that would be great. But that is going to take a year or more. What are we going to do these next few months? All live in isolation?

I do not have answers. I am interested to see how this continues.

But, it’s experiences like this that give us new clarity about the meaning of our lives and how we choose to spend our time each day. This incredible disruption to our lives gives us an opportunity to reflect. What is important to you? What, really, is important to you?

It is so easy, when life is going “smoothly”, according to our plan, that we sometimes lose sight of our being human.

When I think about my kids right now, they think it’s crazy and unexpected that school is closed for 2 weeks. But when I look back on my life, there have been so many crazy disruptions - when I was growing up, school was closed for 2 weeks after a huge earthquake in California, school was closed because of flooding, because of riots, because of war.

Your life will not turn out the way that you expect it. It never does. Life is full of unexpected surprises and twists and turns. And you just have to ride it. And be ready for this crazy adventure. And be ready to support your loved ones. And let go of this idea that you know how it is going to go, how it should go.

So right now, I’m working on keeping myself open, embracing the present, connecting with my loved ones, and hoping for a positive future, whatever life brings.

Take care.

Moving forward even when life feels shitty

Recorded on April 1, 2020. I recorded this to give an update about what was going on in my life at the time and to convey the importance of moving forward even when life feels shitty. We are all in this together.