Archive | Essays

We Walk Alone

Lately I’ve been walking right before bed–not just a few blocks, but miles and miles.

I’ve always been a big walker; everyone in my family walks a lot. Even before I moved to NYC three decades ago, I walked everywhere—-through Boston and its surrounding towns and, later, through Philadelphia and its insufferable suburbs. People I haven’t seen in twenty years will message me: I saw your parents walking down Route 16, four miles from their house. I see them walking through the Square every day. Whenever I visit my grandparents’ Northern Massachusetts town, I run into elders who say: I remember them walking everywhere together.

The difference, not to put too fine a point on it, is I walk alone. Continue Reading →

Metaphork in the Road

On Tuesday I was receiving back treatment from my craniosacral healer A., a lovely Italian (not Italian-American) woman who boasts a decidedly un-American unflappability. I was still fresh off The Breakup and on Day 2 of a period that really had wings, as my punny British beau used to call days of extra-heavy flow. (Sanitary napkin joke for those not in the know.)

“Are you feeling crampy?” she asked, and I shook my head. “But then I’m not feeling much of anything,”

She raised her eyebrow. “My sense is there’s quite a significant uterine release happening.”

“Why not?” I said grandly. It was true I was having my heaviest period in years, but that dovetailed with my theory that, post-age 45, periods are more triggered by strong emotions than hormones. This was a decades-long relationship I was releasing even if, after more than a week of crying and storming, I’d slipped into a comfortable numbness.

A second later, I heard before I felt an enormous whoosh—an electric current running through my body as if I’d been shocked. It shot from the top of my head (the crown chakra, the entrance point of heavenly consciousness) to my pelvis floor before it spread to my hips.

“Wow,” I started to say when A. interrupted me. “I’m sorry, Lisa, but I think I’m going to faint.” A second later she crumpled to her knees Continue Reading →

The Horror of the Schnorrer

I’ve been thinking a lot about schnorrers. For those who didn’t grow up with a shrewd Jewish grandmother, a “schnorrer” is a Yiddish term for a freeloader–a layabout who, no matter how charming, simply doesn’t earn their keep.

Most of us have been schnorrers at some point, have drained others of their resources and good will (emotionally or conversationally, if no other way). Goddess knows I have been. I was raised by someone who wasn’t especially interested in parenting so I learned early to extract from others what I should have been getting at home. It was a habit that lasted far too long. Into my 40s, even. And when I finally began to address these habits, I turned around and started attracting schnorrers to me like flies, perhaps to understand the pain I’d caused.

The evolution from transactional behavior to open-hearted exchange is a really challenging one, especially in a country that espouses a dog-eat-dog individualism that conflates self-possession with selfishness. But I’ve been working with this concept a lot, especially in my intuition practice, where I bent so far backwards to prove I wasn’t a con artist that I did myself great harm in the first year of the pandemic.

This last year has been one of learning better boundaries, no matter how tough it can seem, to build infrastructure that supports everyone. Not offering free guidance because ultimately it’s not free to me and my health. And not expecting loved ones to provide more care than they have to give. It’s about the transition from survival to thrival (yes, I know that’s not really a word) and I’m still learning how networks based on compassion rather than credit can exist, let alone flourish.

All to say that today I drew a new line. In the past I would have felt so defensive that it would’ve translated into anger at the other person. Today I did it lovingly, even if they didn’t experience it that way. I felt compassion for their unconsciousness, compassion for the part of myself that so anxiously needs others to be in agreement with me. All in all I still feel shaky. Isn’t that always the case the first time we exert a muscle?

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy