Looking back, which experiences, jobs and personality traits do you think have really helped you? Looking back, I think they all have. Starting with my shyness and insecurity, my learning disability that made me feel inferior and ashamed, my sense of alienation, my lifelong ability to love and be loved. All of it. When I speak to an audience either live or on my radio show, because of my insecurity/humility, I feel grateful to everyone who listens to me and that gratitude comes through. That makes for a deeply caring and compassionate relationship between me and the audience.
What’s the hardest part of your job? The hardest part of my job is actually the best part of my job. I love what I do and I love the opportunity to have repeated compassionate relationships throughout my days. I love being with people who open their hearts and I love the fact that what ever I have inside of me can be helpful to them. So, the hardest part of my job is saying no to a person or couple who wants to see me or saying no to someone who wants me to speak at their organization. I just wish there were more hours in the day because I would have more opportunities to teach kindness and compassion.
Where did you start when writing this book? I began writing this book when my daughter Debbie was pregnant with Sam. It began as a series of letters I wrote to him and published them in my newspaper column I was writing at the time for the Philadelphia Inquirer. They were wildly popular so I continued writing after his birth. And then when he was 18 months old, I realize he was on the autism spectrum and then the letters took on a whole new meaning as we both had “special needs” (whatever that means!)
What was the best thing about writing this book? I had free reign to express my love, hopes and faith to my precious grandson for all the world to read.
What was the most interesting thing you discovered when writing this book? I was delighted to hear how wildly popular this book was around the Asian rim. It became a bestseller over there and I was invited to Taiwan to receive the “Fervent Love of Life Award” one of the greatest honors of my life.
What was one of the best things that happened because of this book? I like to believe it opened people’s minds and hearts when it comes to disability. One of the things I wanted people to get out of this was that beneath the surface, we are all the same. We all suffer, feel shame, frustration and insecurity. We all feel hope and desire. We all want well-being and love. I think with this book and my subsequent books this may have happened for many of my readers
What gives you joy? Beauty and love. And they are both plentiful, all we have to do is be open to what’s around us.
What is your trick to staying positive? Oh my goodness, I don’t stay positive. When I have pain, I suffer. When I experienced loss, I cry. As I age and my body begins to fatigue, I feel great sadness. But what I feel every day is gratitude. And this makes all the difference between a life of well-being and one of suffering. I feel gratitude that I am able to bear witness to nature, to see the beauty and smell the life. I’m grateful that I am able to breathe without difficulty, grateful that I love so many people so deeply. Grateful for my girlfriend, children and Sam. I could go on and on and on!
Do you have a favourite location, museum, place or items? I grew up in Atlantic City right on the ocean. In my heart, I never left. The ocean is my happy place. Then again, I love nature in all of its dimensions-including human nature
What are your favourite gadget? Perhaps my favorite gadget is my pacemaker!
Read my review of ‘Letters To Sam’ here.