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Lame Animal Totem: Passenger Pigeon

Happy-Go-Lucky in a Dangerous World I’m into Passenger Pigeons this month because their closest relatives—Band-Tailed Pigeons—have been showing up at my bird feeders. Scientists are now asking people (this means you!) to put up feeders, because human interference appears to be killing off all birds, everywhere. Buzz-kill, huh? But wait! It gets worse!

Passenger Pigeons were once the most abundant birds in North America, so numerous that flocks of them could darken the entire sky. They were also very friendly, so people used to club thousands of them a day, just to pass the time (this was before YouTube). This continued [...]

Loving The Mess That Is My Best

I’m always pathetically grateful for January, this blank slate of a month, in which I can resolve to clean up the utter mess I made of the holidays. I always mess up the holidays. Combine my logistical incompetence with the social demands of December, and you have the Hindenburg of social faux pas. I could tell you everything I did wrong last month, but then I’d end up in bed eating the Funyuns of Shame for another week, so let us not speak of it.

Suffice it to say that as 2015 begins, I’m taking stock of my life and realizing that [...]

Lame Animal Totem: The Blobfish

The Blobfish is a creature made of gelatinous tissue that allows it to float around the deep ocean floor, compensating for near-total lack of muscle by being totally nondiscriminating in its eating habits. Sound like you? Quelle coincidence! You and I have the same totem animal this month!

Blobfish energy is flaccid, weak-willed, and…I don’t know, whatever. When Blobfish floops and plurbles up through the plumbing of your subconscious and into the toilet bowl of your conscious attention, it’s time to relinquish all resolve, put on your bathrobe, and eat every last bit of pudding in the fridge.  If you can’t find [...]

How to Be Wildly Successful

It was a problem I’d never anticipated: My brainy daughter was having trouble in school. Katie began teaching herself to read at 15 months and tested at a “post–high school” level in almost every subject by fourth grade. Yet her middle-school grades were dropping like a lead balloon, and her morale along with them. I cared more about the morale than the grades. I knew Katie was quickly losing something educational psychologists call her sense of self-efficacy—her belief that she could succeed at specific tasks and life in general. People who lack this trait tend to stop trying because [...]

How to Survive Life’s Rough Patches

“Long and Rough Road” by CT M is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“What is happening to my life?” said Dorothy, exhaustedly sipping a triple espresso across the table from me. “Did I do something to deserve this?”

By “this,” Dorothy meant a series of crises that had recently hit her like a gang of meth-crazed prizefighters. Her husband had filed for divorce—a week after she lost her job, the same day she was diagnosed with diabetes. Then her best friend moved away. Now Dorothy was caring for both her aging parents while paying a divorce lawyer way more than she [...]

The Last Temptation of…You

A friend of mine called recently to say, “I’ve been offered a job I don’t want. The money, power, and prestige are huge. I’m not sure I have the guts to say ‘No.’”

If I’d had to, I would’ve shot him in the foot right then—anything to keep him from selling his happiness so cheaply.

Fortunately, my friend prevailed. He rejected all that power and money, knowing it would turn him into King Midas, surrounded by gold, yet lacking the warmth, tenderness, and joy that are his real life’s purpose.

I know many people who are having similar experiences. As they get [...]

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