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Understanding Gisele (Day 28 of Lose The Temper)

Oh Hello,

Good weekend — I didn’t lose it. However, apparently last night poor Gisele let it rip and threw some Patriots under the bus.


Oh dear.

What do you bet that beautiful lady is feeling pretty terrible this morning. I mean, did you watch the Super Bowl? All of those guys were trying so hard. Did you see that guy at the end try HIS HARDEST to catch that huge big hail mary Tom Brady passed? She must feel terrible, and I bet you her husband isn’t pleased with her.  No bueno Gisele.

But apparently there were people heckling her about the loss in her hotel, which couldn’t be fun. I bet she was exhausted and has been stressing for two weeks about this game — whatever, how easy could all of that be? And she has a small kid and I think a step-kid. I could see myself doing the same thing. Well — I don’t think I would blame it on the guys. All those football players kill me with their effort, strength and enthusiasm. No, I probably would have let it rip on the hecklers in a different way, like this:


Something like that.

Not now, now I probably would breathe through it. And if I were Gisele, I would breathe through it and then take my husband home, go into the huge screening room (don’t you think they have a huge screening room?) and show the replays of him spiraling that ball beautifully through the air over and over again — like almost nobody else in the world (except old Eli). But, because she lost her temper, maybe they had a fight, or maybe she got in hot water. I hope not. I hope he understood, like my husband has in the past, that sometimes it’s really hard not to say the meanest thing.

Okay, back to work.

Have a good one.



Friday Movie Day (Day 24 of Lose the Temper)

Oh hello!

I really wish I knew more about how to work this blog because I want to link and put pictures up, but I can’t figure it out! I will though. Where there is a will…

So sometimes on Fridays, I review movies for Sam Seder’s podcast — The Majority Report. I LOVE doing it. First of all Sam is a smart and funny guy and I am proud to be a part of his talk show which is really about politics. I love being on a podcast because it makes me feel cool — like I’m apart of the system of  how the future is going to roll — but mostly, I love watching these movies. The rule on the show is, you have to be able to stream the films off of Netflix. I studied documentary film in college, so for this job, I have been drawn to the documentaries and I have to say, I am so rejuvenated by watching them. Documentaries are hard to catch in the theaters, so Netflix is a blessing to this wonderful kind of filmmaking.

How this relates to losing one’s temper is —  in watching a good documentary, you are reminded and educated about how complex the world is and how much more interesting it is than your own life. You gain perspective — and you learn so much — that is the best part of it.

When I got divorced and was in the really sad and horrible part of it, someone told me that the way to deal with trauma is through education. She said that I should go learn something — ANYTHING,  and the act of learning would lift me up out of the misery of my own life. So that day (I was living in a college town) I looked for a lecture to attend. There was one on FISH and the state of our oceans. I went to the lecture and sure enough, I was transported. Suddenly I wasn’t soaked in my break-up — I was concerned, worried about and motivated to help in the efforts to save our dying oceans. I came home feeling alive, and when a marriage is dying, feeling alive is very important.

Now nothing remotely close to the end of a marriage is going on in my life, however, watching these movies is making me feel alive — because I’m learning — and I think that is going to have a positive effect on my life in general, so here is the list of documentaries that I have recommended on The Majority Report:

Bill Cunningham New York – fascinating and fun look at the life of Bill Cunningham, photographer for the New York Times.

A State of Mind – A look into communist Korea while watching 2 gymnast prepare for the Mass Games.

For The Bible Tells Me So – How the religious right have used the Bible to deny human rights.

Man on Wire – About Philippe Petit’s walk across the Twin Towers on a wire.

These movies are all FANTASTIC and deeply interesting. The one that moved me the most (although, they really all did) was For The Bible Tells Me So. Everyone in America should see that movie.

Okay. Have a great weekend. I am particularly motivated and actually I feel quite confident that I will not lose my temper and some of that feeling is because of these movies. Watch them and you will see why.

Go Giants!!


I’m Sneaking One (Day 23 of Lose the Temper)

Oh hello,

I am at the library where I am working on my book (which is at a place where I really need to work on it and concentrate) — or I have been since ten. But I had a thought so I’m sneaking in a little blog.

I haven’t lost my temper at all in the last three days, and I think it’s due to one thing: WORK.

I was thinking about it, and the last time I lost my temper was January 9th. Work-wise I was waiting for my editor to give me notes on a manuscript I had sent her. Waiting, doing the holidays, cooking, cleaning, sometimes lying in bed looking out the window. I was idle. I was in limbo and therefore I was very attuned to all the little BS stuff, or big stuff, but stuff that because I had nothing else going on I could really sink my teeth into and maybe get agitated by. So if something happened with the kids or an ex-spouse or the republican debates, I would take it on and try to make something out of it that felt as satisfying as, well, writing.

My power shrink told me when I feel like I am going to lose my temper to go write something, but in a bigger picture, I think that anger is dampened by doing something you love and care about every day. And if you get paid to do it even better. It’s like your interest in something blows away the urge to get mad — at anything. Maybe you might get a little mad, but your energy is already used up POSITIVELY somewhere else.

Maybe it’s a self-esteem thing? The time in my life when I worked as a waitress, I was happy as a clam. I never got angry. I didn’t have a lot on my plate (no husband or kids, or even a boyfriend?), I was doing little movies and slinging spaghetti, but I was happy and working ALL THE TIME. (By the way — I would be a waitress again in a second. Loved that job.)

I am racing because I am going to see our kid in Titus Andronicus at his school (proud proud proud), but I think when people say work is the meaning of life they are on to something. Maybe people are workaholics so they don’t lose their temper! Working is in our blood, it’s what humans have done non-stop for millions of years – there must be a damn good reason for it besides just getting food on the table.

Okay, more soon.


Fessing up (Day 20 of – Lose the Temper)

Oh hello,

Well… not the best weekend for me really. I didn’t “Lose my temper“, but I wasn’t zen Buddha-on-the-mountain for some parts. I could feel my blood boil twice to the point where I think by almost anyone’s standards it would count as a strike against me, once on Saturday morning and once on Sunday night. Here’s the thing though — am I supposed to confess every tense moment where maybe I didn’t handle something with the grace and mellowness of Obama??? It was a complex weekend!  But maybe so. Maybe that is the point of all of this. The point of this year-long project is to exorcise will power not just over the big blow outs (which, I would ike to say, are not that frequent – since I started this blog, people are now asking me, “Did you lose your temper yet? like I was Mike Tyson), but the smaller impatient-mood-swingy-fed-up moments as well.

Here was my problem this weekend. I reacted to everything. I’m a reactor. I have a sizable emotional response to almost everything that happens to me. Almost nothing rolls off my back. I am the opposite of a duck. I am a hedge hog. It can be a good thing, like, I am really fun when an awesome song comes on the radio because I don’t take it for granted — I dance and thank heaven for the band, and maybe I’ll hug the person next to me out of sheer joy. Or as I told you, last week, I wept taking our beloved bird, Bobby, home from the store. I wept because when we took him, he had to leave his little, green brother. His left-behind brother was clutching the side of the cage and chirping desperately, “Please don’t take him!” Tears streamed down my face as I signed the bill for the bird food. I couldn’t hide it from Kate and Daniel the bird breeders who were standing there looking slightly embarrassed for me. “Separation happens in the wild,” Kate said trying to be comforting. And when something unpleasant happens I react to that as well. Living with me during the last election must have been a nightmare because Sarah Palin ENRAGED me.

So last night a NY Times article about private school education in NYC  gave me a grand moll anxiety attack about education in general. My own kids education… my attempts to try to make that experience as good as I can for them… Is it good enough? Is is not? Am I doing all that I can? What about Mandarin? Somehow, that lead to my book that is unwritten… snowball, snowball, snowball. And then I lost my mind a bit. I tried to watch Downton Abbey to shake it off. I tried to disengage from the topic, and everyone in the house (not counting kids –  they were asleep and untouched by this episode). I FORGOT to meditate which had WORKED for me the day before… I was unsuccessfully disengaging from that article for HOURS. I just couldn’t stop my anxieties and worries from running wild, and, needless to say, I wasn’t pleasant to be around. What I wanted was for God or Glenda the Good Witch to come down and say, “sweetie, it’s all going to be okay. I promise.” But they didn’t show up  —  and I couldn’t find that voice in my own self.

I think what Wonder-shrink would say is, it doesn’t matter if you are freaking out, you can’t take it out on anyone. And that is right —  but I failed because, I’m still learning. And truthfully, the thought that I may not be able to give my children the best possible education on the planet makes me want to cry and get mad at someone. See – I’m a reactor. 

Anyway, do I have to start again? I didn’t yell… I was just dark and stormy.

Tomorrow I begin a new program for writing my novel. It’s called, the can’t-go-to-spin-class-program. There simply isn’t time for me to do a whole gym thing, get to the library, write the amount I need to, and do all the kids stuff — but I’m scared because a good spin is KEY to staying mellow. Whatever! Some of this feels like boring navel gazing!!!! Ahhhh! But I started it so…

Until soon.


Bobby Love (Day 16 of Lose the Temper)

Oh hello,

I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love with a wonderful bird!!! (you have to sing that to the tune of “A wonderful Guy” from South Pacific.)

Man am I in love with our son’s bird, Bobby. I won’t go into it, because you get it, I fell in love yesterday — simple — just look at him. I feel like I have a new baby (in a totally different way than actually having a new baby, but still.)

I will say for the purposes of this blog, that I believe that having an animal in the house will have, and already has started to have a profound effect on tempers flaring. All of us have become so calm because there is a sweet, angelic, bird around. In one day, the experience of living in this apartment has deepened. There are concerns where there used not to be. There is awareness. The peacefulness and sensitivity of this creature has penetrated everyone. Not that this household was a nut house two days ago, no, but I truly believe that ever since that bird came through the front door, we are experiencing empathy in a way we were not before. I can not IMAGINE raising my voice around this bird. I will never.

So Bobby love, who is really our son’s bird (I HAVE to remember that — BUT HE IS SO SWEET ALL I WANT TO DO IS CUDDLE HIM!), might be a five-inch helper to me in the pursuit of never losing my temper again — or at least for a year. Funny that he is a love bird, no? Life works in mysterious ways…


The constancy of stillness (Day 15 of Lose The Temper)


Oh hello,

Haven’t lost the temper so far, and it feels great. I am now seeing, even after 15 days, that if you begin to practice behavior on a daily basis, that behavior gets stronger. I am now used to the idea that I can’t lose my temper. Not that I won’t, but the idea that I can’t is real for me — not just an intention, its active. I am telling you —  this feels very much like quitting smoking. Once I started thinking of myself as a non-smoker, that idea became more important and, dare I say, more powerful than smoking — which is wild to me, because I loved smoking. And was addicted.

I know that I have to address this thing out there, and I don’t want to. It’s meditation. Ugggggggggghhhh. For the last couple of years I have been hearing more and more about meditating, and I have successfully avoided even considering it because it seems to me like a big bore. But then, the day after I decided to not lose my temper for a year, I was snuggled into my bed with the latest issue of O magazine and there on the WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE page was a picture of Oprah herself (wrapped in a lovely looking blanket that I want if I ever do meditate,) sitting with her hands crossed and her eyes closed  – quietly meditiaing.

Ughhhhhhhh. Is this the universe telling me something in it’s sing-songy voice? “Oh Isabel, you want to try this no temper thing? You better try mediating…Oprah does…”

Apparently it’s awesome and grounds you and you experience peace that stays with you, makes you a better person – you find your power. I know I should do it — BUT I DON”T WANT TO!! It’s seems like a drag to me. I don’t want to sit still. I don’t want to say a mantra over and over in my head. I HAVE RESISTANCE.

You are supposed to do it for 20 minutes in the am and at night. I feel like I don’t have that time. I bet I do, but I feel like I really don’t. I want to watch food tv right up till the last-minute before I get in bed and read for 7 minutes. Or have sex! If I start meditating before bed my husband will fall asleep and I’ll never have sex. I bet that isn’t true either. Apparently you have better sex when you meditate. He could meditate with me? Ummm.

Should I try it? I think I have to. Uggghhhhhh. I will and let you know. Funny about resistance, it’s so powerful. I think I give in to everything, but I don’t.


Small note: I have to start writing my book soon  – big time. I am in a reasearch mode now, so I can blog-out a little, but I worry that my writing all day will take away from blog. Hope not, but maybe. Will keep you posted. I want to do all these interviews and learn how to post videos! Maybe if I meditate I’ll be able to fit everything in – Oprah does.





Sleeeeeep (Day 13 of Lose The Temper)

Oh hello!

I have one message for today and that is that I am now CONVINCED that sleep is the key to all happiness and certainly the key to avoiding losing one’s temper.

There are libraries full of articles, books and studies proving that sleep is imperative to a happy and healthy life and more evidence of that is easy to find with a simple Google search. Don’t we all know that sleep is incredibly important? This is not some earth-shattering revelation, I don’t need to cite articles — But I will tell you this; I almost lost it last night because of one thing — sleep deprivation. So, I guess we could read a few more articles, like this one:

The boys’ father was here for the weekend, so my husband and I went to a friend’s birthday party in Connecticut on Saturday. The birthday boy’s wife (deftly) re-created a college pajama party. The idea was to travel back in time twenty odd years and party like it was 1991 — which I did. Oh boy . . . Well, it was fun. We danced and played beer pong and did jello shots. Yup, I said jello shots. Pizza after midnight, you get it. No kids to worry about, so you could trick yourself into not minding your own bedtime.We’ll sleep in!” I think I recall myself shouting to my husband over “Jesse’s Girl.” And then I might have howled, “Whoooo hoooooo!”

If (or when) you behaved like this in college, you were kind of alright. You could sleep in, eat eggs and bacon, go back to bed, play Hacky Sack, listen to Blues Traveler and then whatever. You might not see anyone else except your room-mate and people who went to the same party. You could all be exhausted together and go to the movies. But I bet you weren’t even exhausted because you were 18.

BUT I’M NOT 18!!!! So yesterday (after totally not sleeping in because I can’t do that anymore because I’m not a teenager) was one long, uncomfortable yawn. For the first 3/4s of the day it was fine because the boys were with their father and my husband and I shuffled around doing this-and-that with no incident. But then, daddy went back to Ohio and I took over without my usual trusty 8 hours. I was ill-prepared for the kids transitioning from dad to mom, for cooking dinner, overseeing baths and an unscheduled, late-afternoon trip in the cold to the bird store to visit “Bobby,” our LOVE BIRD who is coming to live with us for the next 15 years on Wednesday.

By 8 p.m. I was dangerously close to losing it. The little guy was being wildly contrary (his reaction to a dad weekend being over) and I found that I couldn’t take it the way a good and tolerant mother should — the way that with enough rest I usually can. Divorce is tricky to manage, there are subtle and not so subtle feelings that the kids have about it and you need to be ON YOUR GAME to deal with it  — and that means sleep. (It’s not that they are reacting to our divorce 24/7, it’s usually just during transition times, where you have to be prepared for justified and understandably bumpy moments. I was not thinking of these impending moments when I was holding court on the beer pong table.)

I didn’t lose it in a trip-the-light-fantastic way (the ones we are trying to avoid) because when my husband heard me struggling during bath time he called me in to watch five minutes of the Giants game. Husband is aware of my vow to not lose my temper, so his ears are pricked up for the danger signs, like if he hears an “Arrrgggggh!” from me, where he once may have thought, “She’s the mom, she knows what she is doing,” he might now step in, and that IS VERY IMPORTANT. It is very hard to parent alone — and sometimes I don’t know what I am doing.

“Chill out love, the Giants are up by one, look how awesome Victor Cruz is.” (Victor Cruz, the wide receiver for THE GIANTS, is awesome by the way).  This invitation to mellow out was enough for me to breath, reboot, go back, give a big hug to contrary-I-miss-my-dad kid in apology for the “Arrrrgggggh” and read a bedtime story before COLLAPSING in front of the amazing, entertaining, and heavenly Downton Abbey.

I have to face the 1990’s music that at 42 (almost) all I want to do — (and should do?) is be in bed with a book during the 10 o’clock hour with kids sleeping next door and husband somewhere close by. “Jesse’s Girl” at one in the morning — no longer such a good idea. “Jesse’s Girl” in a spin class at 10 am — still a really good idea.

So, Sleep. Right. I think I got that one now.

Xxx or Zzz

“Jessie is a friend,
Yeah, I know he’s been
A good friend of mine
But lately something’s changed
That ain’t hard to define
Jessie’s got himself a girl
And I want to make her mine
And she’s watching him with those eyes
And she’s lovin’ him with that body,
I just know it
Yeah ‘n’ he’s holding her in his arms late,
Late at night…”

In The Night (Day 10 – Lose The Temper)

Oh hello!

I have just woken up and I have to get the kids up and go to school, but I have to tell you — I lost my temper — IN MY DREAM!!!

It was so real that I thought it was life. The dream involved my ex-husband, his wife (both of whom I am in totally great relations with. We haven’t had a tiff much less a knock down fight in years. All is very well in that department), LAURA LINNEY (I am quite sure because of Downton Abbey) and my boys.

I lost it! I yelled and screamed and cried and hit —  Laura Linney. Isn’t that awful — I adore her! But in the dream she had let my children go to a play date in another town without asking me and I didn’t know where they were. Whatever, now that I am writing it down it all feels loony, but the  point is, when I lost my temper in my dream, I was SO upset and sad that I had screwed up my vow. I was so mad in that dream – whoosh.  And then I woke up  – sweating (hormones? fear?)  – and was SO HAPPY AND RELIEVED that is was all just a dream — I ripped the covers off and ran to the computer.

But I gotta go now. I’ll reflect all day and maybe post something later if I have any big, insightful ideas.

I’m going to be on The Majority Report with Sam Seder today at noon! Google it if you can to give a listen. It’s fun. I’ll tweet it too.

Have a great day!!!!

(By the way – losing your temper in your dream doesn’t count — right?)


Day 7 — Lose The Temper

Oh hello,

Nothing of note in the temper department happened today – very steady and jolly day if I do say so myself. Perhaps that is because so many nice things happened? Hormones? It’s Wednesday — the best day of the week? Got lucky? This blog thing is working? I’m mellower than I thought?

The day started with a WONDERFUL art show in the boy’s school. They go to a public school on the Upper West Side and this semester the 4th grade had STUDIO IN A SCHOOL teaching the kids to be creative, observe, to use all different kinds of materials, to explore and expand on ideas that they are already thinking about in their curriculums. It’s a program that pairs professional artists with educators and it’s amazing. My favorite piece of art that son #1 produced was a self-portrait of himself as an American Indian in colonial times – he had a bad-ass mohawk. Then after school today, son #2 and I met the newest member of our family, a sweet, two-month-old LOVE bird named…? Any suggestions? I feel a little nervous about having a bird, but my grandmother Mimi had many birds. Love birds, a cockatoo, a African Grey parrot, an owl that lived in their book shelf – so it’s in my blood somewhere to have a bird in the house. And in general I think having animals, taking care of creatures, deepens the ENTIRE life experience for everyone in the household, so here we are. Bird arrives next week sometime. (Also — this is an after thought — maybe with a bird in the house I will be reminded to an even greater extent that yelling and anger are not the best paths to choose when trying to sort out one of life’s knots. We shall see.)

Okay, so I have two big subjects to talk about here, but I’m not going to tonight as I didn’t do enough work on them today, BECAUSE I was watching a movie. Yup — right in the middle of the day. THERE WAS A REASON! Before you think I was just goofing off, I will tell you that I am going to be reviewing Netflix movies on Sam Seder’s podcast, THE MAJORITY REPORT, once a month and this Friday is my second time doing it. Sam is so funny and political and his show has great guests, is smart and fun – so I’m thrilled to be involved in any way. It’s basically all politics, but sometimes, on Fridays, I’ll be chatting him up about movies to stream. So I had homework today.

Okay, Top Chef is on. Gotta tune in. More soon about these two subjects I’m thinking about. One was inspired (sort of ) by Oprah and one by Diane Von Furstenberg — whom I adore.


My hat is off (Day 5 of the project – Lose The Temper)

Oh hello,

I would like to start this post by taking my hat off to people who blog everyday. I want to, I committed to, I thought the only thing that would keep me from checking in on this thing daily would be if something exotic and exciting was going on, but then it turned out that over the weekend what kept me from blogging was that the kids had to eat three times a day. By the end of yesterday (we did go to the dentist and I baked 56 corn muffins for kid’s class snack) all I could manage was to fall on the sofa in front of The Bachelor.

HOWEVER, I did think an awful lot about the blog and the temper (which I did NOT lose I will say — and I could have twice — I don’t think it would have been an astronomical losing of the temper, but a small one that would have counted. To keep my cool, I employed deep breathing, taking 5 in my bedroom to affirm my vow, and I washed three or four dishes.)

My first thought came while I was driving home yesterday. My husband was working in the car, I was at the wheel, and the three kids were watching Turner And Hooch in the back of Big Beauty, our minivan. Now, I don’t usually allow movies during the day in the car, some of the best ideas I ever had, came in the car but they wouldn’t have if I wasn’t staring out of the window letting the mind roll around. I want the kids to have good ideas. But, when both of us have to use full concentration, I toss one in so we don’t get in an accident while 20 questions devolves. I say, “toss in” like I’ll put on anything. Not true. I happened to spend about 30 minutes at Blockbuster Video last friday carefully selecting old movies from the 90’s that I thought they would like (My Girl — BIG mistake for the boys. Truthfully, I didn’t know that the kid dies of bee-stings. It was very upsetting. I’m okay with it because life is life and I think its good to cry in movies, but it did upset them mightily. White Fang — SUCH an A. They all loved it, I loved it ((again)), its beautiful and action packed and it was so satisfying. Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom. AWESOME! They all loved it and laughed and laughed when the little side-kick-kid did anything. And Turner and Hootch — A home run. Big dog, Tom Hanks — need I say more.)

SO, they are watching and I am half listening to . . . Tom Hanks yelling AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS for the whole movie. Talk about losing the temper. He is losing it at the dog, his friends, some woman, for practically 90 minutes. If I yelled like that for 90 minutes I would be in jail. I took note of this yelling (that the kids were laughing their fannys off at) and started to think about all the yelling that other people do besides me. I thought of the last episode I watched recently of Downton Abbey, when The Earl of Grantham (the most mild-mannered, fair, divine man) totally goes ballistic on his butler John Bates — unjustly. I thought my favorite scene in WE BOUGHT A ZOO, when Matt Damon and his son in the film have a knock-down yelling match at each other. I thought in the car, if I got in a fight now with my son like that I would flog myself to no end — yet in the movie I was thinking, “Wow, they are really communicating and getting their much-needed-to-be-released-feelings out. Bravo! Then I thought about watching the football coaches — all of Sunday — yelling their lungs out at their players on the field (g big blue). I thought about Cher slapping Nick Cage in Moonstruck, “Snap out of it!” I thought of Michelle Pfeiffer yelling in MARRIED TO THE MOB and Alec Baldwin yelling back at her. I thought of the many (brilliant) TEACHERS I had in art school and in acting school that yelled like there was no tomorrow at us, and some even storming out of the room. All I thought about those people was that they were geniuses.

So here is a secret: I think I like to yell and admire people when they yell. OH NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Isn’t that terrible? But it must be true. I think there is something about yelling and totally losing it that I find passionate and real and sometimes, funny. That has got to be a first-step admission in my road to yelling recovery, right?  However, although I sort of do like to yell, it’s vomit. That’s what amazing-shrink-Milton said and I believe it. Sure it’s fun, sure it’s sort of sexy (I don’t know, is it sexy? Maybe not), it is certainly EVERYWHERE (just spend the next five minutes thinking about all the yelling and losing it you have heard in the last two days — even in movies. Unless you live in an ashram I bet it’s a lot,) but it’s unacceptable.

It’s like smoking really — it can make you feel cool, you get addicted to it and then you have to quit.

I thought I would get to my second thought in this post, but I think I will save it for tomorrow. I am going to experiment with this THING I’m thinking about today and tonight, and then I will report. (Hint it has to do with Oprah…)


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