Category Archives: positivity


I can remember, with the vivid clarity of early imprinting, being five years old and feeling an almost uncontainable full-body excitement when I knew my family was going to the beach. Back then it was Coney Island; later it was Brighton Beach. The crowds did not deter me or my family. It was all good.

The beach. Maybe the most evocative words for me in all of the language. Two syllables generating hope, desire, peace, and a thrilling tranquility. It is the same today as it was all those decades ago.

I’m counting down: only four days to go. Sure, the transition requires some major effort: planning, list making, shopping, packing, travelling. But then…ahhhhhh. I will smell the sea air, walk on the warm sand, see the thriving, mysterious ocean. It will call my name – my true name. It always does. And no matter the vacillating valence of interpersonal events during my stay at the shore, I can always walk over to the water’s edge and be restored down to my core.

One of the wonderful things about Fire Island is that the distance from bay to ocean is the length of two city blocks. That’s it. Water is never far away. I’ve been visiting Fire Island since the 1970’s and, once on the ferry, my blood pressure slows, my heart calms, my center centers. By the time the half hour sea voyage is over, I’m much closer to by best self.

The activities of daily living will become simplified. There’s walking on the beach, sitting on the beach (or reclining), sitting on the deck (or reclining), cooking – including much barbequing, an occasional trip to the market (right by the bay), walking around the charming town, walking to other nearby charming towns, taking the occasional water taxi to slightly more distant charming towns, chatting with my people (which includes anyone who smiles at me – and many who don’t), playing Scrabble (it’s essential), putting together (as a group “effort”) a complex jig saw puzzle, reading the books I’ve been meaning to read for months, eating food that tastes better than anywhere else. Oh, yes, swimming in the ocean – carefully, of course, but it always feels like coming home. And relaxing – at the most basic level. Let me say it one more time: ahhhhhhhhh.

Let the good time roll…

Every so often, in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life as we know it, there is a break in the action, a parting of the clouds, a wave that lifts us all, a waft of the sweet smell of success, an…okay, I’ll stop now, you get my point.

And so, after some difficult days, where I thought “these are the time that try men’s souls…” more than once (and that would be part of a Thomas Paine quotation which was recited by my father on countless occasions during my childhood)…as the World War II radio commentator, Gabriel Heatter was noted for saying: “There’s good news tonight.”

The weather has taken a turn for the ideal: it’s that warm, clear, spring day that just transmits hope and possibility with each minor breeze. A day to conjure with; a day to make you believe that it’s all gonna turn out. Whether that is, in fact, true or not, being alive on a day like this almost makes it all worth while. I had to say, “almost.” After all, I’m a New Yorker, and I don’t want to get too positive.

FYI: my new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future. Here’s the link:

You can find more information about me and my books at


Yes. I am the same person who has bashed hope all over town; the same person who wrote The DARK SIDE OF HOPE. But, as with most things, there’s another side to the story.

Hope is a haven. It’s a place of respite in the midst of the gray, ashen, and endless march toward nothing. (Dramatic? Why not?) I just caught myself feeling infused with hope, at the prospect of my partner in crime being released from the hospital earlier than I had anticipated. It was something his doctor had said, and my entire being ran with it – to the happy place that would replace the tight, managing but always feeling slightly adrift (at best) sensibility I have been walking around with since Wednesday last. For those few moments the world was a beneficent place. I was lighter and …well… hopeful!

I quickly told myself not to cling to that fantasy; replace it with a realistic and dimmer prospect.

But now I think I have to mitigate my harsh point of view. Why not enjoy the abating of tension, stress, anxiety, sadness? Where’s the harm? Yes, one might have to put back on that crappy suit. So? Will it be worse if you were without for a few moments? No. It will not.

In fact, my own experience just now is that after the hope itself abated, I was calmer, less twisted into the knot of dread. Will it return? Possibly. But for now, I’ve had my drink of the hope tonic and I’m better for it.

Counterforce needed!

After yesterday’s post, I’m certain there is a need for something along a more positive line. Hmmm. What have I got in my bag of tricks? I’ve got a little gratitude…

It’s nothing too complex: I’m just glad to be warm. It’s frickin’ freezing around these parts. North Pole cold.

Here’s what the California contingent said: “It’s New York in the winter; what do you expect?” Those west coast folks are a little too smug, it you ask me.

Part of the joy of living in New York is complaining. We are all past masters of the bitch and moan. It’s a skill that is practiced and prized in the city of many colors. We whine – in the most articulate way, of course; we bemoan our fate (the same fate we have encountered every winter without fail).

Don’t you feel sorry for us? We have to wear coats! and hats! and gloves! Oh no, what a trial.

Wait a minute…this was supposed to be a positive post…

Yes. Here goes: My apartment is cozy. I work from home. And Fresh Direct delivers. I’m a lucky girl. When the deep freeze eventually thaws, there will be the particular joy of watching Spring bloom. As a neighbor recently said to me: It’s why we live in New York, so we can have all the seasons.

Now I know all about the age-associated migration to Florida. But that’s not for me. I’d rather stick around and grouse. In truth, I can’t imagine anyplace else I’d rather be than NYC.


Hey, Coolstein fans, just taking a blog break. There are those who beg for a return to the original blogging format. Throwing them a bone (sorry Brownstein).

In life we tend to notice losses. They are – emotionally speaking – loud and in your face. When they collect a bit, we feel bereft and oppressed. The job you got fired from (or never got in the first place), the girlfriend or boyfriend who dumped you, the shoes you had your eye on that are now not available in your size, and – the big one, of course – death. You don’t need me to address the pain and misery inherent in loss. It is, for sure, the human condition. Some say that’s what makes us human.

I think there is another side to this coin of living. It’s what is found. The unexpected, believed to be gone forever, never even knew it existed, and the much yearned for. All can be found.

You hear from someone after twenty years. The connection is there – easy and warm, just like it was before. You’re cleaning out your basement and there are your school yearbooks, replete with random cherished objects and notes stuck between the pages. You thought they had been trashed fifteen years ago. A friend asks you to go with her to the Humane Society. The liquid eyes of a silent puppy, who has almost given up on getting adopted, meet your own. And you find each other. Love. You find love: in a friendship, a romance, a long lost cousin, a new beloved pet.

Your life is fuller than before and the scales now have more weight on the side of hope.

Look around in your life; look past the losses to that which you have found. Turn the coin over.


When John, my UPS guy, rang the bell yesterday, I had no idea he was delivering a transcendental experience. My birthday is coming up on Sunday and my son had foreshadowed one of the presents he had sent.

“If Mohammad can’t come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammad.” Hmm. An opaque but intriguing statement. He also quickly referenced something about “a piece of California.” I had no idea.

The small cobalt blue Mason jar was gleaming when I peeled away the gift-wrap. Inside I could see all manner of differently hued and textured rocks and shells. There seemed to be a bit of sand, too. I gingerly opened the classic wire closure and removed the thick purple felt that was being used as a stopper.

Each stone, rock or shell exuded energy…with a somewhat foreign feel, but one that pulled me in. What is that, I wondered with my objective mind, as my tactile self got to know the jar’s contents? I handled the bits of nature, now feeling like an archeologist exploring ancient ruins. For a long time I dug through the treasures, turning them over, feeling their warmth and coolness.

At a decent hour (which was three hours from the time of the delivery), I called my son. He was so happy that I was so happy. He described his process of hand selecting just the right elements to represent his physical world. Then he mentioned the orange shell. I searched again through the bits in the jar, and I found it: the tiniest conch-shaped shell, delicate and perfectly formed. It was orange. I’d never seen that before. It is –in its way –the soul of the gift. The familiar in a new guise; the unfamiliar in a recognizable form. So that’s California, my son’s new home. I have a piece of it now.

ON THE FERRY…the what?

No, not to Staten Island – FIRE ISLAND. I visited my spiritual home on Saturday with the pre-pre-warm-weather hordes. Bundled up in parkas, scarves and woolen hats, the hearty lovers of the Isle of Fire boarded the ferry. Those who were opening houses for the season were laden with start-up supplies and – of course – quite a few dogs.

The crossing – as we like to call it – from Bay Shore to the island, is a journey of many dimensions. Off in the distance, growing larger by the minute, is the neighborhood I prefer above all. The not so gentle waves lapping at the large ferryboat, The Fire Island Miss, set a new calming rhythm to my heartbeat. By the time we reached our destination–the aptly named Fair Harbor – I was one with the wind, the sun and the water.

The golden retriever, attached by a flexible leash to a salt-and-pepper pony-tailed man on the bench in front of us, took up residence by our feet. He permitted our intermittent petting, occasionally raising his head to look one of us in the eye. He was the very definition of chill – a be-furred memo to my chronic New York City anxiety: “Let it go,” his gaze said. Relax.” And so we did.


I sat down next to a woman on the bus. It was a triple seat that ran along the side near the driver. We were headed uptown on First Avenue. It was to be a fairly long ride from 44th street to 96th, and I settled into my internal space, not looking for any incursions from the outside world. That state was impacted almost immediately when the woman picked up a fluffy white dog – that had been unobtrusively sitting by her feet – and placed it (turns out to be a “her”) on her lap.

Well, I thought, I had no idea. Which in itself foreshadowed something a bit out of the ordinary.

I smiled…at the dog. Murmured “pretty” and returned to my insularity. The dog gave me nothing back. The women smiled. I return to my own downward dog position.

There was a man sitting to the left of the woman. As soon as he began to speak, I could tell that he was slightly developmentally disabled. In a way that gave him full access to asking any question of whomever he spoke with. For the duration of the trip they talked about the dog. Her name was Kara, taken from the real name of Super Girl. The owner shared about how she had come up with that. Kara was to be a service dog (what was her service? I wondered), and the owner had meditated, asking the universe to provide the right name. In keeping with the expectation that the pup would indeed have super powers, the name Kara seemed appropriate.

I also found out that American dog food is tainted and causes cancer. It could be true. So my seatmate cooks jerked chicken for her pup each day. You can imagine (if you know me) that my eyes wanted to be rolling and my somewhat smug and disdainful self was getting into high gear.

Kara rode leaning on the woman’s shoulder, the way you would hold a small child. (She weighed, I came to know, only ten pounds). While her head was continually turned in my direction, she never made eye contact, and she was not interested when I extended a finger to be sniffed as a prelude to petting her. Now the man on the other side had stroked her without difficulty. Kara and I were having a different kind of relationship.

About halfway through the bus ride, I began to take note of a radical change in the way I was feeling. Benign. Relaxed. Good. I was aware of a powerfully positive energy coming from Kara (Could it have been the owner?…nah.) My sense of well-being kept increasing. I looked at the dog. She continued to not look at me. But it was unmistakable.

I now knew what her superpower was. She was a healing force. Thank you, Kara.


It’s one thing to have a man offer me a seat on the subway. That’s happened increasingly often as my hair has turned silver. But today, it happened twice in one subway ride. Do I look like I’m about to keel over? I feel the same, but what’s going on in the land of perception?

I’m hard pressed to believe there’s been a measurable increase in the gallantry quotient among my fellow new Yorkers. So, by the simple math of deduction, it must be me.

Yes, this winter has been long. And I’ve spied a new wrinkle or six, but I think it must be more about a look in my eye, a look that says: Make way, I’m one of the elders. Don’t assume I can stay upright while the subway car bobbles and jerks. But that’s still not the whole story…

One of my psychotherapy patients has been grappling with aging and mortality; she quoted someone as saying, “Aging sucks.” Sure. That’s a no-brainer. But there are some upsides.

If you’ve been able to accrue knowledge and it’s transubstantiated into wisdom, you’ve put your life to good use. If you’ve developed deep bonds with a partner, family, friends, your community, you’ve spent the coin of your years well. If you’ve been able to journey to a tranquil place within your own self-knowledge and are now able to resist the primal pulls that dislodge equanimity; if you are now a very close version of your best self: your fellow homo sapiens may treat you differently. They may defer or ask for advice.

You may have achieved a new status, one that can’t be gained through any process other than the marination in life which time produces.

So now I know I’m old. And it doesn’t entirely suck.


Yesterday’s close-to-catastrophic events: Delta flight skidding off runway at La Guardia Airport – almost falling into the icy waters of Flushing Bay, and  Harrison Ford’s plane crash, have gotten me thinking about forced landings.

I’m in the midst of writing a book to be called Fear of Landing, which is about the various ways so many of us dread and avoid monogamy. Sometimes we “land” because we perceive ourselves to be forced to do so. Oy! Is that a prescription for later disaster (i.e. resentment – the poison pill of relationships!) So that’s one kind of forced landing.

I’m thinking seasonal, too. It appears that Spring is going to circle our runway until it has to make a forced landing. So, how do we – as the suffering, shivering masses – get that to happen? I say we baffle it with a convergence of bullshit and belief.

SPRING IS COMING! SPRING IS COMING! It’s almost here. Break out your short sleeves, get ready to pack up you parkas. Can you all join me in this refrain? I think we can force that bitch to descend. If not, I’m going to have to resort to one of my father’s famous threats (and yours too, I’m guessing): Don’t make me have to come up there.

It does seem as if our Glinda the Goodweather Witch has developed some severe resistance to making her regularly scheduled extended visit. Some of us have almost stopped believing in her existence. I say she’s still there and will be making an appearance any moment. We must be steadfast in our outpouring of energy. We’ll melt the ice, we’ll raise the temperature, we can do it! We are the champions, my friends…(When all else fails, invoke Queen).