Happiness in the Lost and Found


happy-cloudsI’m fascinated with what brings people joy, or what I like to call, the Universal Search for Happiness. There are scads of movies about finding it, exhaustive studies that attempt to define it, experts that instruct how to feel it, and umpteen songs and books that describe it.

Don’t you want it too – that feeling of weightless bliss that curls your toes and tingles your insides? That “thing” that makes you grin and giggle and glow?

“I only want you to be happy,” says the mother to the child.

“I’ll give you a lifetime of happiness,” say the lover to his mate.

“I’m tired of drama. I just want to be happy,” says the widower looking for love.

I’ve felt and experienced happiness. I’ve reveled and marveled in its power. I adore those scintillating moments of elation whenever they occur, and bask in the warm and fuzziness of it all. And while I am the first to recognize how wonderful it would be to exist in a heightened state of pure elation, I am also well-familiar with the pesky but unavoidable universal truth that always gets in the way: happy doesn’t last. Continue reading


My Words: A Near Death Experience


My written words almost died. They were still taking up space in my head, mind you, just muddling around in a stew of dense, colorless gunk. But they were lifeless. Suffocated. Submerged.


My words finally came back. It’s about time.

One year ago, as my alphabet and punctuation marks became increasingly limp and useless – just stubbornly waiting to stand up and be recognized – I made a big, jumping-off-a-cliff change in my life that was more terrifying than anything I’ve ever done before. It was also enormously painful and endlessly paralyzing. There were countless days when I wondered if I’d survive. But this is what happens when you choose to end 19 years of marriage.

Oh, I spoke. I vomited stories and descriptions and emotion. I spewed out memories and realizations, exclamations and thoughts, disappointments and hurt. I conversed and shared, reflected and screamed. I whispered, sputtered and sorted out the madness and anger as depression hovered. I sought refuge in the friends and relatives who saved me, who encouraged and nurtured this oral purging that I so desperately needed. Yes, my spoken words were fine. Just fine. Continue reading


Turning 50? Give Me a Minute



It was about 9.925 years ago that I turned 40, and made a determined proclamation:

When I turn 50, I will either be traipsing nonchalantly in Italian wine country, or lounging decadently on an exotic beach, surrounded by loved ones and celebrating life!

fifty2This week, on the cusp of my grand debut as a quenquagenarian, I have no bags packed and no passport ready for stamping. It just didn’t work out the way I planned. My big birthday celebration will consist of a smallish, self-initiated gathering of close friends at a local bar, and I’m really okay with that. Truly. I will be. Just give me a minute.

Turning 50 is a strange experience. It’s like you’re moving from one science-fiction-inspired universe into another, without complete control of your own destination, while helpless observers standby and offer advice, support … snide comments and black balloons. There’s no turning back. Ever. Continue reading


What Makes a Good Team? An Outsider’s Perspective


(Editor’s note: This first appeared as a guest post on Vida Aventura’s website, written for company owner Deseri Garcia, personal coach and team-building guru.)

A day with the Indiana Fever reveals valuable lessons in teamwork and unity.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in my life working in teams. I’ve enjoyed (suffered from) countless groups that could be described as challenging (dysfunctional at best), and exhausting (pure torture at worst). I’ve done my best to work with strong-willed personalities (egomaniacs), quiet observers (terminally clueless), and eternal optimists (annoyingly perky).

On the other hand – and not coincidentally – as I’ve grown and matured, I’ve also worked with truly inspirational, motivational, satisfying and productive members of fantastic teams. The conclusion, of course, is that when you’re a part of a high-performing team, you just feel better, get more accomplished, and produce greater results.

Vida Aventura Owner and retreat leader Deseri Garcia, with Indiana Fever's Tamika Catchings and me after an amazing day.

Vida Aventura Owner and retreat leader Deseri Garcia, with Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings and me after an amazing day.

What’s the secret?

What’s the magic formula to building a great team? There are lots of really smart people who know way more about it than me. But I can tell you that I know one when I see one. Which is why I was so giddy when my good friend and Vida Aventura Owner Deseri Garcia asked me to join her for a team-building retreat with the Indiana Fever. Continue reading


Fifty Shades of Fruit Loops


I saw Fifty Shades of Grey last week and contributed to a weekend box office record of $94.4 million in ticket sales. Since then, I’ve read impassioned pleas from mothers, advocates and well-intentioned citizens who are convinced this movie will lead to the moral decay of future generations.

fiftyAnd while I am the first to speak up against domestic violence and intimate partner abuse, let me set your mind at ease. Blaming this movie for the demise of healthy relationships in America is like blaming Fruit Loops for obesity.

Let’s start at the beginning. I didn’t read any of the E.L. James’s series, which apparently features bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) as one of the main characters, and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. This wasn’t because I’m a prude, mind you. It was because so many of my writer friends warned me that the poor quality of sentences and paragraphs would send me into an emotional tailspin. Who would want that?

So when I went to the movie, my expectations were extremely low. I merely wanted to giggle with my girlfriend and consume champagne. In the dark and with popcorn. Continue reading


Yoga and the Great Brain Escape


Over the past few months, no less than 15 friends or well-meaning health professionals have insisted that I include yoga as part of my health regime. And I have ignored them with style and grace. It’s not that I don’t take yoga seriously, exactly. My hesitance has more to do with the thought of practicing it with other people. In public.

My skeptical attitude isn’t due to fear or loathing. Rather, I hesitate only because my brain is similar to many other writers and creative types, meaning it never turns off and there is a constant narrative or dialogue (usually satirical), darting around in my head. So when there is a room full of people stretching, om-ing and smiling in a serene, almost Stepford Wife kind of way, well you can imagine what a gold mine of comedic skits there is before me, just waiting to come to life.

Peace Through Yoga in Zionsville, Ind., was the scene of my first true yoga encounter. In public.

Peace Through Yoga in Zionsville, Ind., was the scene of my first true yoga encounter. In public.

It was this mindset – unfortunate or otherwise – that plagued me when I attended my first yoga workshop at Peace Through Yoga. Yes, it was an actual workshop – with other people – and for three hours.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the vision board portion of the program? You know, when grownups, armed with scissors and glue, cut out images and words representing an ideal future and create collages on poster board?

Continue reading


Rape? Don’t Cry for the Colts


The Indianapolis Colts are used to being tested. They are no strangers to adversity … what with head coach Chuck Pagano battling leukemia in 2012, and owner Jim Irsay being arrested and charged with DWI last year and then serving a six-week suspension.


Colts linebacker Josh McNary.

But when the news broke yesterday about Colts linebacker Josh McNary being charged with rape, it was like something out of a B-movie on cable. And I have to shamefully admit that my first thoughts were these: not now, and whoa, the timing is suspicious. Right before we travel to Foxborough, Mass., to fight for the AFC Championship? Could the New England Patriots be behind this? Would they sink this low … and actually set a player up just to throw off our game? I was desperate.

And then I read the criminal complaint, and reality set in. Nope. Not a joke. The nightmare is real, but it isn’t for the National Football League, because if anyone has learned anything over the past year, immediate (and appropriate) action should and will be taken. And the nightmare isn’t for the Colts organization, because let’s remember … it’s a football team. Yes, we’re playing in an important game, but the key word here is … game. Continue reading


Holiday Guide to Self-Medication


©2014 Michelle Freed

As we officially head into what many of us consider to be Pre-Holiday Crazytown, I have some bad news. You are most likely on the verge of a physical, emotional or mental breakdown.

Holidays can be hazardous to your physical, emotional and mental health. Duh.

Holidays can be hazardous to your physical, emotional and mental health. Duh!

Studies show that brain activity rapidly decreases 5-7 days prior to significant family gatherings, due to stress, overwhelming to-do lists and relatives who don’t know how to look anything up on the Internet. This means that your chances of contracting a cold or flu (and a diagnosable mental disorder) more than triple.*

Personally, I’ve already shown signs of logic and memory deterioration (example: I stored the glue gun in the oven and trimmed the refrigerator with tinsel). As an added bonus, this morning I discovered a box of nails hanging out with sandpaper and medieval torture implements in my esophagus. It’s not something I like to brag about.

The good news is that there are lots of ready-to-purchase, over-the-counter remedies for almost all pre-holiday ailments. It’s just a matter of knowing which ones to use at what time, which is why I’m here to help (hint: you might want to destroy your browsing history after reading this, should authorities or technologically savvy 10-year-olds get involved in the crime scene). Continue reading


Power is a Four-Letter Word


Power is obviously a five-letter word, but lately it’s sounding more like something different. Not literally, of course, because that would be weird. Powr? Pwer? It just doesn’t have the same ring.

superman-chris-reevesPower is the thread that strings together the events of the world in the same headline and lead story. Ferguson, ISIS, the CIA … and now Sony Entertainment Pictures. Hell, let’s even throw in Bill Cosby to the mix. You name the crisis, scandal or despicable situation, and you’ll find people in power who have abused it.

Is it that simple? Of course not, but just for the moment, let’s act as if it is.

Voltaire wasn’t blowing smoke up his derriere when he said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The problem is that people and organizations often come into positions of enormous influence without having any idea how to handle it. As far as I know, there’s no Power for Dummies book (but really, it might not be a bad idea). Continue reading


The Ferguson Tragedy: It’s So Easy


For most of us who watched the news break last night from our cozy leather recliners (perhaps with a cold beer in hand), the “whole Ferguson thing” is easy.

Scenes from Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014. Photo by Reuters

Scenes from Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014. Photo by Reuters

When St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced that a grand jury will not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the August killing of teenager Michael Brown, some of us felt exonerated. “See?” we say. “That police officer was only doing his job.” It’s that simple.

Some of us were outraged, wondering why, after everything we’ve seen and heard, we will not see a fair trial, with evidence presented in a public court instead of a private grand jury room. “It’s so obvious,” we say. “It’s a cover up.” Continue reading