Thursday, December 14, 2017

Point of View - Seth Godin


That's the difference between saying, "what would you like me to do," and "I think we should do this, not that."

A point of view is the difference between a job and a career.

It's the difference between being a cog and making an impact.

Having a point of view is different from always being correct. No one is always correct.

Hiding because you're not sure merely makes you invisible.
-Seth Godin

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas weekend

We celebrated Christmas with the family this weekend.  The house was bustling with cousins and friends.  My parent's house felt just as I remembered it as a kid - warm, loving and a little bit chaotic.  Kids were tearing through gifts, getting one half-way out of it's package before the next distraction.  Talking to each other over walkie talkies, throwing footballs, a sleepover at Grammy & Papa's so the fun wouldn't stop.     

J truly believes in the magic of it all.  We sent his elf Maxi home to the North Pole (J didn't really like being watched all the time!) --- Rudolph came and picked him up and believe it or not, the next day it snowed!  We think Maxi was sending a message that he had arrived safely.   On Sunday at the family party, Santa came with a gift for all the kids and amazingly enough he knew J liked monster trucks (!!) 

A season of magic and anticipation...  we had a great time!




Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Wholehearted manifesto

I always come back to this.

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto
Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

Monday, December 4, 2017

To travel

We long to travel.  To explore a sight unseen, embrace the unfamiliar.  What draws us to it, I am not quite sure.  Perhaps to be in a place that you do not know allows a certain freedom that we long for - in unfamiliarity there are no norms or favorite spots or schedules.  If critical thinking is connecting the dots between things, a joy of travel - and exploring the unknown - might be a way of identifying new dots of which you can later connect a thread. 

.A Jose Andres restaurant, two charming dining rooms, a new neighborhood, history, an expansive evening of freedom.   A weekend in DC. 

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”  - Pico Iyer 



Thursday, November 30, 2017

FIVE!

We had a great time celebrating your 5th (!!) birthday.   My Thanksgiving baby, we started the week with an early school dismissal and your favorite way to be picked up - "mom at the door"- part of the preK pick-up process.   We had a fun day opening presents and playing legos and monster trucks for hours.

On Thanksgiving we celebrated with Grammy & Papa and your favorite, a bowl of vanilla ice cream with extra colored sprinkles.  On Sunday, we had a fun bowling birthday party!  Your closest friends - new & old - joined us for the festivities and you were beaming with joy to see everyone.  We bowled a full game, sang Happy Birthday, and finished the afternoon with plenty of arcade games. 

FIVE is off to a great start!











Monday, November 20, 2017

The center will not hold

Happy to have enjoyed this fantastic documentary over the weekend.   I found myself enamored by Joan Didion: her brilliance, her charm, her unapologetic interpretation of the world.   

I was surprised to see that the reviews were not as great as I thought the film was.  A reminder, I suppose, that we all go to the theater or turn on the tv for a different reason.  For me, it was beautiful.  I thought the direction - combining interviews, old photographs and video clips, her writing - was just right.  She didn't claim to be a perfect mother and the grief and reflection surrounding the death of her daughter felt raw and real to me.   I wanted more.... it prompted a trip to the bookstore and a Sunday morning coffee date with her 1970 classic, Play it as it lays. 

I don't know what Griffin Dunne's goal was in producing this film. If it was to spark an interest from a reader who was otherwise not very informed about the life and work of Joan Didion, he was successful. 


A few lines worth remembering:

“Character — the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life — is the source from which self-respect springs.”   

“I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”   

“Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.”   

On Trump:  There's no subtext or subtlety in what's going on politically. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Helping Hands

Happily supported the Holiday Helping Hands project organized by Together Rising this week.  Glennon Doyle Menton has been a mentor to me as I have navigated my divorce and the rebuilding of our family unit.  For me, participating in her foundation is a way to say Thank You for the wisdom she generously shares.

700 families were supported through thr Holiday Helping Hands program.  Simple wishes: $100 was the maximum that a family could ask for, just enough to buy some toys for Christmas, a winter jacket...

I emailed my Amazon gift card directly to a fellow mom, going through a divorce and trying to give her three kids a special Christmas.  No overhead, no administrative cut, just a way to help a fellow mother who may just need a boost this season.  I've been lifted and I've needed lifting.  I'm reminded of this:

It is among the most basic human truths: Every one of us, some day, will be brought to our knees.  By a diagnosis we didn't expect, a phone call we can't imagine, or a loss we cannot endure.  That common humanity inspires our mercy.  It fortifies our compassion. It drives us to look out for the sick, the elderly, the poor and the most vulnerable among us. 
.....

We must decide, instead, to take care of each other -- because, but for the grace of God, we will all one day wake up in need of a little mercy.  This nation's character has never been defined by the power we give the already strong -- but by the strength we give the weak.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Drive: Daniel Pink

Finished this one last week.   I thought it was a worthwhile read if you have an interest in social psychology.  About 60% through I felt that Pink had made his point and did not have much more to say but still an interesting book with a strong case to make.

What do we lose as we move towards more compliance, more regulation, more perceived control?  My intuitive response has long been - we lose everything.  This book gives scientific rational to support that.   Like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Pink argues that Motivation 1.0 is about satisfying basic needs - food, security and sex.  Motivation 2.0 is based upon reward and punishment.  Motivation 3.0, where many of us currently reside, is about a human need to learn, create and better the world.

  “People use rewards expecting to gain the benefit of increasing another person’s motivation and behavior, but in so doing, they often incur the unintentional and hidden cost of undermining that person’s intrinsic motivation toward the activity.”

“Management isn’t about walking around and seeing if people are in their offices,” he told me. It’s about creating conditions for people to do their best work.”

“Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one's sights and pushing toward the horizon.”

"While complying can be an effective strategy for physical survival, it's a lousy one for personal fulfillment. Living a satisfying life requires more than simply meeting the demands of those in
control. Yet in our offices and our classrooms we have way too much compliance and way too little engagement."

“children who are praised for “being smart” often believe that every encounter is a test of whether they really are. So to avoid looking dumb, they resist new challenges and choose the easiest path. By contrast, kids who understand that effort and hard work lead to mastery and growth are more willing to take on new, difficult tasks.”   
Image result for drive daniel pink

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

One year

I haven't written much about my divorce on this site.  I suppose I was waiting to feel more clear about it.

My ex moved out of our house this week, last year.  I remember relief.  There was uncertainty, angst, sadness, anger and just about every other embodiment of fear that any person could feel, but there was relief.  I knew it had to be done.  I knew I had lost the will it takes to keep our marriage moving forward.

We had been together for 15 years when we split.  We would have celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and our perfect son's 4th birthday later that month.   There was a lot to lose but we were in a free fall towards disaster.   We both agreed.  If we got off the train now, before it collided into a concrete wall, there would be a relationship left to salvage.  We would have the stamina needed to co-parent and do it as well as J deserved.

So, we held our breath and let go.  We told each other that there was no rule to divorce and like everything we had done in our nontraditional love story, we could do this by our rules, too.  Sure, there were bumps along the way - when people are threatened, scared and the foundation of everything they had built their adult life upon is uprooted, no sane person is going to act with complete composure.  But there were proud moments, too. We cooperated. We kept J first. We did well.

Divorce doesn't only affect a nuclear family.  The lives of our parents, family and friends were also challenged by our decision.   I witnessed raw bravery from someone I had known my entire life but had never shown me his true strength.  I saw my childhood girlfriends stand by my side despite not knowing "what to do" as we waded into uncharted territory together, yet again.  I was on the receiving end of weakness and cowardliness - reminding me where I'm coming from and where I'm proudly not going.  A lighthouse emerged in the darkest of days and gave me strength and hope - gifted me with a compass of which I will never lose.  Perhaps what makes me most proud is simply that I kept going.... 

I wanted out of the house and back to the city.  I wanted my beautiful boy to feel loved and happy and safe.  I refused to be anything for him but a role model of strength - we can do hard things.  I refused to raise him in a world where home is dysfunctional and the centers of his universe are not in harmony.   Baby J was born of a dream....  he came true.... and we would not fail him.  Never.  If separating was what it would take to give him the best chance of peace and stability and a model of courage - that is what we'd do.  R and I shared mutual values when we brought our child into this world - we believed in pursuit of dreams, challenging the status quo, goodness and bravery.  The best way to honor those values was to live them.   When the question inevitably comes, the answers for  my beloved boy, is that he has freedom to live his best life. I will love you the same way you loved me.  At 4 years old, my truest partner, J, never doubted that I knew what I was doing and that we would be ok - he loved me like a rock through each and every easy day and hard day.  That is our bond - trust, unconditional love and support to be the greatest version of yourself that you can be.

And a year later, we are becoming a fixed family.  I will not accept the "broken family" verbiage.  J is not growing up in a broken family.  His parents don't live together but they are not broken.  He is not a child of a brokenness.  He is a child born into love and living every day in love.  He is our angel, first and always.  I see pictures and videos and hear the day to day stories from his dad - standing on the podium with him at a BJJ event, laughing with "the guys" at a house party, eating Brazilian food and taking care of the yard.  With me, we do as many fun things as we can - singing, dancing, parties - his joy is undeniable.  We are fixing ourselves and our family, day by day, year by year.




 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Belonging via Brene Brown

Via Brene Brown's September Forbes article.

Schawbel: How do you define “true belonging” and how is this different from “fitting in?”

Brown: The quest for true belonging begins with this definition that I crafted from the data:
True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging does not require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.
True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. If we are going to change what is happening in a meaningful way we’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up and join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.
Its counterintuitive, but our belief in the inextricable human connection is one of our most renewable sources of courage in the wilderness. I can stand up for what I believe is right when I know that regardless of the pushback and criticism, I’m connected to myself and others in a way that can’t be severed. When we don’t believe in an unbreakable connection, the isolation of the wilderness is too daunting so we stay in our factions and echo chambers.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

Our first Halloween in the city and what fun we had!  .

We made our way to Dudley Street - A little time on the bike path, some houses were lit and others weren't - it made no difference.  By the time we got to Dudley Street we realized this year's theme was "science".  There were houses with front porches decked as mad science labs, plinko games and so many friendly faces and fun costumes all around.






Tuesday, October 31, 2017

True North


Sometimes, when we're lost, we refuse a map, even when offered.
Because the map reminds us that we made a mistake. That we were wrong.
But without a map, we're not just wrong, we're also still lost.
A map doesn't automatically get you home, but it will probably make you less lost.
(When dealing with the unknown, it's difficult to admit that there might not be a map. In those cases, a compass is essential, a way to remind yourself of your true north...)  - Seth Godin



Monday, October 30, 2017

Super Joe

You had your first "school dance" this weekend.  Dressed as Super Joe, you saw your friends and danced the day away. 

After the school party we came home and found some neighbors playing outside.  You were so proud to bring all of your toys out to play with the kids and when I asked if you were ready to go home (and leave the common area/patio) you reminded me "we are home!"    Thank you for reminding me to think beyond the four walls.  

On Sunday we got on our bikes for a game of police officer mama and Joe.  "We're after the thief who stole the strawberry cake and when we see him we're going to get him with our magical, monster truck rope and put him into the jail.  Roger that, Officer Mama" 

And our new song is an old song, Paul Simon's "Love me like a Rock".  Nothing could be more true and singing along to it while you pretend to strum a guitar and sing as many of the words as you can fills me up to the brim.   My boy, you are filled with more super powers than you could possibly know.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Whiplash via Design for Mankind

Bookmarking this perfectly articulated post by the always so articulate Erin at Design for Mankind.



I fell into a bit of an impromptu travel season this month – three back-to-back trips with a weekend between. Just enough time to empty the suitcase into the laundry cycle, to re-roll and re-pack once it was refreshed.

I know two things: (1) I love this job. (2) I love this family.
I am learning that one is not in direct competition with the other; that separation doesn’t always mean absence, that these two ideas are not mutually exclusive. That life, mostly, can be compartmentalized until it can’t.

When Ken and I travel for work – regularly for him, less regularly for me – we make a habit of not checking in. No Skype, no FaceTime. No phone calls. Just a few simple texts – the “safe and sound!”s, a few “i love you and miss you”s. Sometimes, a video of the littles, but mostly, space and silence.
After all, I’m in a New York diner and he’s wrangling a teething baby into a hot car seat, and wait a sec, my toast is here! – and would you just hold still?! – and hold on, you’re breaking up, and really, we know where this convo leads. The one who is away is away, the one who is home is home.
Hard jobs for entirely different reasons. No need to go around making a case for it.

Last weekend, Bee asks me when I’m leaving again. (Again was the word that caused the ‘oof’ in my heart, the lump in my throat.)
Saturday, I say.
She tells me that she’s not sad because she gets to watch Trolls while I’m gone, but would I like to take her favorite keychain in case I get sad?
Yes, I say. Yes, yes, yes.
And so, I find myself in Kansas City, and 30A, and New York. I find myself in airports borrowing Wifi, in diners ordering toast. I find myself in the back of a car en route to a hotel with white sheets where I’ll fall into bed, a gilded keychain on my nightstand.

It’s an odd thing, to receive the very thing you wanted. To receive the quiet of an empty room you’d wished for only weeks ago. To receive the alone time you crave, the silence you love.
The whiplash of it all.
The release from responsibility in one area, straight into the throes of responsibility in another.

Are your kids with you? the woman at the dinner party asks.
I tell her no, that they’re home and happy and that my eldest is probably gearing up for a rousing night of Trolls.
She tells me that she never travels without her kids. That she hires a nanny, that she can’t bear to leave them behind, that they’re simply too close, that it’s physically impossible.
I smile. I get it.
I tell her I prefer to compartmentalize when I can, and she blinks a few times.

It’s about presence, for me, I’ve come to know.
It’s about being gone when I’m gone. Being home when I’m home. Being all there, wherever I am, and resisting the temptation to bow out of social hour because I need to FaceTime the littles.
(Resisting the temptation to bow out of family hour because I need to hop on a conference call.)
And although I suppose there’s something to be said for letting your kids see you work and for letting your work see your kids, I know myself well. Some trips/speeches/workshops take such intense preparation – such focused presence – that a spilled juice box on a blazer would simply undo me.
But then again: last week, a rat scampered across my hotel lobby in Tribeca and I shuddered-then-smiled. Bee would’ve loved that guy.

I’m home now, just happily drowning in domesticity. The library fines, the broken washing machine, the van recall. There’s cauliflower to chop and fingerpaint to mix and it all feels so familiarly foreign.
My time away was good, and it was hard for me.
My time away was hard, and it was good for me.

The mind is a fickle thing. Days spent in yoga pants and avocado smears, emptying the forks from the dishwasher, scrubbing dog pee out of the rug. Some nights we fall into bed dreaming of feeling seen, noticed, celebrated.
And there are those few times when we get our wish – an hour or two swimming in cocktail rings and champagne – and on those rare and lucky nights, we find ourselves falling into bed dreaming of anonymity, of comfort. Your own quiet life, your own soft pillow, eyes wandering to the gilded keychain where you belong.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? By its very definition, whiplash – the back and forth, the jostle, the snap – forces us to turn our necks. It just begs us to pay attention, to notice, to look a bit closer, right here, toward the left.
To surprise yourself over how you can race home with the same speed and passion and anticipation as you left it just days prior.
To wonder how on earth it is possible that you can conjure excitement for Spanx while, every other day, you lament the basic trappings of a mere bra.
To baffle yourself over the idea that a dirty hotel rat can make you shriek and smile in a matter of seconds, just knowing someone you love would delight in such a terrible thing.
To laugh at how dizzying it all is, the swapping of a cocktail ring for a 5-year-old’s keychain.
To smile at how, today, right this very minute, you can’t possibly think of a better trade.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Poems

Some poetry on a beautiful fall morning.

Otherwise

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.
—Jane Kenyon

“It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?”
Pat Schneider

Marie Howe, “Hurry”

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.
And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Everything Store

I'm overdue on recapping a few good books I enjoyed this summer.  Let's get started...

The Everything Store is the biography of Amazon as we know it today.  It includes a lot of anecdotes and history about Jeff Bezos without being "the Jeff Bezos story".  Every day my building lobby is filled with Amazon boxes and I certainly make multiple purchases per month - appreciating the ease and speed of the process.

I wanted to know more about a company that is critically changing life as we know it.  My son won't know life without 1-click, 1 day (or less!) shipping of what we need.  Jeff Bezos wasn't a passionate bookseller when he started the company.  He was, however, certain that the internet was going to revolutionize commerce and life and he wanted to be at the forefront.

I enjoy reading about visionaries -- creative thinkers who take enormous risk to push the boundary for the rest of us. I am forever interested in understanding the combination of factors and timing that make someone successful in accomplishing their mission.  I applaud the book for not making Jeff Bezos a flawless hero, straightforward boss or even-keeled decision maker.  Nothing that good comes easily.  His humanity - imperfect, brilliant and impactful - made the book a compelling read.

A link and an excerpt from his baccalaureate speech at Princeton

Tomorrow, in a very real sense, your life -- the life you author from scratch on your own -- begins.
How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?
Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?
Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?
I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.

Monday, October 9, 2017

HONK!

We stumbled upon this fantastic event over the weekend.   A completely eclectic mix of musicians performing in the streets for anyone and everyone to enjoy.   Toddlers danced, kids watched in awe, adults smiled.  For that moment there was only joy.

What is Honk?
Throughout the country and across the globe, a new type of street band movement is emerging — outrageous and inclusive, brass and brash, percussive and persuasive — reclaiming public space with a sound that is in your face and out of this world. Called everything from “avant-oompah!” to a “brassroots revolution,” these bands draw inspiration from sources as diverse as Klezmer, Balkan and Romani music, Brazilian Samba, Afrobeat and Highlife, Punk, Funk, and Hip Hop, as well as the New Orleans second line tradition, and deliver it with all the passion and spirit of Mardi Gras and Carnival.
Acoustic and mobile, these bands play at street level, usually for free, with no stages to elevate them above the crowd and no sound systems or speaker columns to separate performers from participants. These bands don’t just play for the people; they play among the people and invite them to join the fun. They are active, activist, and deeply engaged in their communities, at times alongside unions and grassroots groups in outright political protest, or in some form of community-building activity, routinely performing and conducting workshops for educational and social service organizations of all kinds.
At full power, these bands create an irresistible spectacle of creative movement and sonic self-expression directed at making the world a better place. This is the movement we call HONK!




Monday, October 2, 2017

Wake up

Wake up and say it's a great day to be alive.  In a world of mass shootings, bicycle accidents, car crashes and disease, we simply never know what life has coming.  I do know that I spent a weekend playing legos, soccer, doing races, art, tractor rides and cuddles with my sweet boy and for that, I am simply grateful.

Life can be a cruel teacher and a good friend.  And so it goes.  Onward always.  If the worst may happen, I can say my boy felt true love from his mama.  I slowed down to the pace that he wished to go and loved him as fiercely and bravely as I knew how to do.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Sunny days

There are grey days.  Inevitable.  Always.  They are as true as the sun rising and the tides changing.  But there are sunny days, too.   Days in which life is full of possibility and promise - where what you believe seems to be validated by people who's opinion matter to you.   Hope - always the antagonist of sadness.

James Altucher says if you try to get 1% better each day at your health, your relationships, your creativity and at turning despair into gratitude, then that 1% compounds into something pretty amazing.  I will never have all the answers but I can always improve.

Walking home from lunch in Davis.  A perfect early fall day, a proud work moment and a weekend on its way.  All is good.




Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ray Dalio

Listened to his great interview with Tim Ferriss this week.   Lots of takeaways from this smart investor.

"Truth - more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality - is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.”

“Above all else, I want you to think for yourself, to decide 1) what you want, 2) what is true and 3) what to do about it”

“View painful problems as potential improvements that are screaming at you. Though it won’t feel that way at first, each and every problem you encounter is an opportunity; for that reason, it is essential that you bring them to the surface. Most people don’t like to do this, especially if it exposes their own weaknesses or the weaknesses of someone they care about, but successful people know they have to. b. Don’t avoid confronting problems because they are rooted in harsh realities that are unpleasant to look at. Thinking about problems that are difficult to solve may make you anxious, but not thinking about them (and hence not dealing with them) should make you more anxious still. When a problem stems from your own lack of talent or skill, most people feel shame. Get over it. I cannot emphasize this enough: Acknowledging your weaknesses is not the same as surrendering to them. It’s the first step toward overcoming them. The pains you are feeling are “growing pains".

“Imagine that in order to have a great life you have to cross a dangerous jungle. You can stay safe where you are and have an ordinary life, or you can risk crossing the jungle to have a terrific life. How would you approach that choice? Take a moment to think about it because it is the sort of choice that, in one form or another, we all have to make.”

And this one, especially this one.    

“I also feared boredom and mediocrity much more than I feared failure. For me, great is better than terrible, and terrible is better than mediocre, because terrible at least gives life flavor. The high school yearbook quote my friends chose for me was from Thoreau: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”   

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Up

There's always another level up.
There's always another ascension.
More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion.
More to shed.  More to grow. - Elizabeth Gilbert


Friday, September 22, 2017

Better

One of my favorite bloggers, Karen at Chookooonks, has lost everything (both cars were totaled, their home completely destroyed due to water, nearly all of their material possessions gone) as result of Hurricane Irma.   And yet she continues to write with such grace and steadiness.

I have so much admiration for people who can remain calm in the face of chaos.  It is an area that I will improve, must improve....  Inevitably, life will test us all in ways we can't imagine and in our response and reaction to those tests, we realize who we are.  

She concludes her post with a line from Former President Obama (how I miss him!) and says, "Ever forward.  And while it doesn't feel accurate to say that things are "good," things are definitely better.  And as Obama says, better is good.  In some cases, really good.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

True North

The compass rose is nothing but a star with an infinite number of rays pointing in all directions.
It is the one true and perfect symbol of the universe.
And it is the one most accurate symbol of you.
Spread your arms in an embrace, throw your head back, and prepare to receive and send coordinates of being. For, at last you know—you are the navigator, the captain, and the ship. - Vera Nazarian



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Parenting with a thought from Glennon

Each of us must carefully decide what our job description as a parent will be.  Mine is to raise J into a courageous young man who can love and is loved.  He is confident and secure.  He has passions worth chasing and work ethic that will carry him through the storms.  He is curious and kind.  Respects his parents for the humans that they are - imperfect but always well-intentioned.  I hope he sets healthy boundaries with how the world treats him and how he treats the world.  I hope he travels and sees things very different than what he's ever known.   The job of a parent is complex.  I am a student and not a day passes that I don't wonder how I can do it better.

A thought from Glennon: 
I always feared that my babies’ pain was my failure.
But if learning to step into life’s struggle is my warrior journey, isn’t it theirs, too?
More than anything, I want my kids to grow to be a brave, kind, wise, resilient humans.
...
So what is it in a human life that creates bravery, kindness, wisdom, and resilience?
What if it’s pain? What if it’s the struggle?

The bravest people I know are those who’ve walked through the fire and come out on the other side. They are those who’ve overcome again and again - not those who’ve had nothing to overcome. They are the ones who no longer avoid the fires of life - because they have learned that they are fireproof.
What if we are trying to protect our kids from the one thing that will allow them to become the women and men we dream they’ll be?

Maybe our job as parents is not to protect our kids from pain, but to hold their hands and walk into their pain with them.

If we want to invite our children to be Love Warriors, we need to look at them and say: “I see your pain- it’s big and it’s real. But I see your courage, too - and it’s bigger and it’s more real. That fire won’t burn you up, baby, You’re fireproof."

Last night at bedtime you read to me (you know many of your books by heart).  Growing, growing, everyday!  

Monday, September 18, 2017

Belonging

In college, I filled most of my electives with sociology courses.  As an adult, I never get tired of Brene Brown and other sociologists.  I'm almost always reading something - currently Bowling Alone - previously One and Only, which blends psychology with human social tendencies.

A primary theory is Social Bond Theory.  Originated by a criminologist, Hirschi argued that social bonding in its four stages, attachment, commitment, involvement and belief, minimize the likelihood of deviant behavior.   Most research agrees that "belonging" is a primary human need.

In 2014, we moved to the suburbs.  A nice place with the promise of a wonderful childhood for J, easy living and space galore.  I was surprised to realize that it was not a fit for me.  I felt extremely isolated on my acre of land, simultaneously claustrophobic and alone at the end of my cul de sac, and uninterested in the child-centric lives most of my neighbors appeared to be living.   I began to daydream of moving to the city when J finished high school.  He was three.

Life didn't have to be this way.  Just because I purchased the home that we thought would make us happy, didn't mean I was obligated to it for the next 15 years.  A strong real estate market meant selling the house was fantastically doable.  In April 2017, I sold the house and moved to Cambridge.  The need for an intentional life was stronger than the fear that I might be wrong.

And here we are.  In a lovely community.  J has made, and continues to make, so many friends in the building.  I am reconfirmed of my decision every time a little neighbor pokes her head at our window and asks if Joe can play hide and seek before it's time to go to bed.  I am energized when I open the window and see people walking, jogging, and riding their bikes on the bike path behind our place.

This weekend I coordinated a BBQ for the residents of our building.  It was a fantastic turnout! Neighbors from the UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, China, and all over the US joined to break bread and watch the kids run around.  The kids played for hours just like I had dreamed, but never saw, in my previous suburban neighborhood.  For a moment, there was only clarity.  This was where I belonged.





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My friend, NW

In 2011, I took my first trip to the Pacific Northwest.   The water, the mountains, the evergreens, the coffee and the people really spoke to me.  I felt relaxed and happy.  It was a fantastic trip with my old college roommate.

Last week I returned for 4 days with my childhood friends.   We focused the trip on Oregon - visiting wine country, the coast, Portland and Hood River.  We went white water rafting and drank plenty of good wine.  It was as great as the first time I visited.

Both trips made clear the great friendships I have in my life.  Similar to sisters, we have known each other for a long time.  We have also celebrated marriages, babies, new homes and promotions. We have gone through divorces, illness, difficult families, job changes and relocations together.    We move through life - its highs and lows - together. True friendship is unconditional and loyal. Supportive and energizing.   It gives and it takes, depending on the season or the need.

Cheers to my girls and to the Northwest, friends forever.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

First Day

Off you go to your first day of Pre-K.   You're in a new school (St. Joseph's) and you were both nervous and excited.  Mama and Daddy brought you in, you had a new backpack, your first lunch from home and you found some friends and started playing cars right away.   You told us - bye mama, bye daddy.... and off you went.

Our happy boy!   You make us so proud - I don't have a doubt in the world that you'll do great!



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Next Generation

We had our last day at Next Generation, Andover last week.   It was your first true school experience and you adapted really well!   You were shy in the beginning but we made sure you were in the same class with Emma, you were happy to see a familiar face.   In time, you warmed up and found a best friend in Max.   You two loved to play police on the bikes at recess and bristle blocks and legos during free time.

As the year continued, you got really comfortable with all of the kids.   Your teachers said it was a great class - I could feel that.  You all got along really well and mixed up who played with who.   You would introduce James and Robert to your Grammy when she picked you up...  you loved when you got assigned a "job" - lights, meal helper, line leader....   

You weren't sad to transition on to a new school. You tell me you're excited to start St. Joseph's. You have handled the changes this year so well.   I like to believe it's because the people in your life - me, your dad, Grammy & Papa, Tia Ane - are the rocks that ground you.  You never doubt how loved you are.  I admire your ability to be flexible and adaptable.  It is a gift that will always serve you well.  

Onward we go, little angel.  A new chapter awaits. 



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On the water

For the first time ever, I've spent some time this summer sailing - cruising, as they call it.  With no previous experience, I'm reminded that we're never too old to try something new.  The sensation of being alone on the water truly frees you of the burdens of ordinary life.  Out there, you feel one million miles from home.  Entering a harbor by sea is completely different than entering by road, exploring a coastal town by foot, unscheduled and free, maybe you'll stop in a gallery, stumble upon a local theater, have a coffee, or a beer or just breath the salty air, inquire about the lives of lobsters, and sleep under the stars.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Towards clarity

"Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore." - Cheryl Strayed. 

I may have posted this one before but it bears repeating.  My 30's have been a wonderful coming of age and period of improved self awareness and growing acceptance.  I often think of the line above. 

Trying, always, to get more clear.  


Monday, August 14, 2017

Grammy's birthday

 A picturesque weekend to celebrate Grammy's birthday.   J swam for hours and confirmed that Grammy is "his best friend".   The setting was spectacular, it was a weekend to be remembered for a long time.   Cliff House Maine.   






Thursday, August 10, 2017

Oprah at Harvard

Always a worthwhile read.  Commencement Address

I have to say that the single most important lesson I learned in 25 years talking every single day to people, was that there is a common denominator in our human experience. Most of us, I tell you we don’t want to be divided. What we want, the common denominator that I found in every single interview, is we want to be validated. We want to be understood. I have done over 35,000 interviews in my career and as soon as that camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and inevitably in their own way asks this question “Was that okay?” I heard it from President Bush, I heard it from President Obama. I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives. I’ve heard it from victims and perpetrators of crimes. I even heard it from Beyonce and all of her Beyonceness. She finishes performing, hands me the microphone and says, “Was that okay?” Friends and family, yours, enemies, strangers in every argument in every encounter, every exchange I will tell you, they all want to know one thing: was that okay? Did you hear me? Do you see me? Did what I say mean anything to you? And even though this is a college where Facebook was born my hope is that you would try to go out and have more face-to-face conversations with people you may disagree with.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Proust Questionnaire 16-20

16. When and where were you happiest? 
I believe happiness is a state.  I have been fully, truly happy many times in my life. I describe it as complete. Wanting for nothing.  Present.  A few times that I will never forget (in no particular order): A side of the highway somewhere between Vancouver and Seattle.  A trip to Spain. NYC on my birthday weekend.  My backyard with J a few weeks ago.  They are moments in time of clarity and light.  I am with someone that I love. I am accepted as I am.  I am free. 

17. Which talent would you most like to have?
It would be nice to be an artist - to be able to express myself with paint, or photography or drawing.  

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be a better person if I had more patience, with myself and those around me. 

19.What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Bringing my son into this world and being his mama. 

20.If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A man.  I have no single doubt that they experience a very different world than a woman does.  It would be interesting to see their perspective.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Weekend magic

A person will be called to account on Judgment Day for every permissible thing he might have enjoyed but did not. - The Talmud 



(Hull Bay, MA) 






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Freedom welcome

"When you say or do anything to please, get, keep, influence, or control anyone or anything, fear is the cause and pain is the result"  Byron Katie


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Together Rising

My admiration for Glennon, Brene, Elizabeth Gilbert etc. has never been a secret.  Therefore it's no surprise that Glennon's charitable organization, Together Rising, is doing such wonderful work.   I set up a (small) monthly recurring donation, basically the price of a lunch, to help her cause.  She does simple things - $100 gift cards for single moms at Valentine's Day, yes!!! and huge things - see their work with refugees here

They also have a great "Together Letters" program that lists people who need a little extra TLC in the form of a mailed letter.  Who can't do that?   I can....  and J can draw a pretty good picture and accompany me to the mailbox!  Little by little, step by step, bird by bird, dollar by dollar.....

"Justice is love in public" 


Monday, July 24, 2017

What we did

If I could hold these moments forever, I would.  I try so hard to hang on to them tight as I know they are fleeting yet magical.  You are growing up.  Transforming.  Becoming you right before my very eyes.  It is magnificent and magical.  I literally stopped myself many, many times this weekend with nothing but a grateful heart.

>  You are making lots of friends in our new neighborhood.  There's a 6 yr old girl who is sweet as can be.  You've really taken to her.  On Friday night you went to her door all by yourself and asked if she could come out and play.   My heart nearly burst.   Not just at your maturity but at your growing comfort level.... a long way from my shy boy.    ....happy ending: at first she said she had to stay in (it was after 7pm) but then said "Joe! my mom said I can play a little longer!!"   It was a Friday summer night - rules are meant to be bent.   :)

>  A full day at the beach.  5.5 hours!  You "surfed" on a boogie board, rolled in the waves, rafted with me in a tube, dug 50 holes and played great with friends, new and old.  It was Brooke's Grammy's beach house and I love that you know all these warm, loving, Grammies.

> Sunday, our day.  Relaxed.  Stayed in pj's and watched cartoons without much rushing.  Rode your tractor to Dunkin' Donuts like we do every weekend and then played outside, content as can be, for a few hours while mama read her book near by.   Like me, I think after a busy weekend of friends and socializing, you enjoy some time for yourself...  you talk, make up stories, sing a lot, and just enjoy some time to be an introvert.   There is nothing wrong with that and I'm grateful we have the type of schedule that you have time to cool down and re-energize.

It was just perfect.  Life is so good with you.

Can you come out and play? 
Beach day!

Dinner companion

Sunday donut



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fear shift

“People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.”  - Tim Ferriss

Fear is a disease plaguing modern day America.  Kids aren't taught to fail.  Life has become so comfortable that our addiction to achievement, people-pleasing, safety, correct-ness is making risk less and less palatable.  

FEAR:      //       Proposed shift in thinking: 

What if it doesn't go right? <friends and family will think I'm dumb> // what lessons will it teach me -- mistakes are great teachers.  

What if I get there and don't like it. <I have wasted time> // Isn't dreaming of things you'll never do equally (more) of a waste of time. 

What if I get hurt <I hate a bruised ego or broken heart> // Everyone does.  But it doesn't kill you nor does it stay broken/bruised forever. 

What if I am not strong enough to finish <I will realize I am weak> // You are weaker if you don't try. The person with the least strength is the one who doesn't try. 

What if I hate it once I start <Are dreams healthier in your head> // You can move on to a new dream that will be more fulfilling.  We are not gifted a finite number of dreams to dream per lifetime. 

What if I do it and it's everything I want it to be //   Bliss.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

True Grit

Action and consequence.  Every.single.time.   There is not another way regardless of how good looking you are, how much you make, how good your life is going.  Our choices make other choices unavailable.  Our actions produce consequences that we must endure.  and that's it.  there simply is no way around it.  Learn it at 10 years old, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 - the sooner, the better.

“You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it.” - Charles Portis

“We must each of us bear our own misfortunes.”   - Charles Portis

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wild Geese

Was surprised I haven't posted this one before.  I think of it often.   Always resonates.

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. 
 Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 

Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain Are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. 

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting— 
over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thoughts by Emerson


“There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson


  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

On Prince

Trying to consolidate some goodness I have saved to my phone, social media etc. to this one space.

Love this, posted by Adrienne Maree Brown

Prince taught me how to be who i am still becoming.
he was every. single. thing.

Prince taught me to stretch between genders, and then beyond the binary of gend...er, in how i love and understand myself, in how i understand my desire, my holiness.

to embody raunch and devotion in equal measure.

to be unapologetically sexy, a small man or big woman, to induce desire and discomfort, taking the center of everyone’s attention with transparent seductions in a society that demonizes nature and the sensual world.

to be political and humane with my curiosity and my resources. to seek guidance and teachers and collaborators all around me.

to have diva-high standards, and to offer my opinion with a pursed lip and raised brow. to be shady as an art form.

to wear more eyeliner.

to love god and pleasure in the same breath, with the same song, with the same dance. to believe different things over time, but always claim myself as a child of the divine.

to be generous with time and support for those in my field who please me, to mentor and partner with and uplift talent.

to take the lower harmony sometimes, even if you can hit the upper range.

that it’s ok, in fact it’s my right, to be vulnerable and controversial and personal in the public realm and still have a private life.

to grace the world with the exquisite gift of a perfect falsetto whenever the moment calls for it.

and mostly to be different, to offer the world a joyful rejection of the normal, the appropriate, the mediocre.

Prince, from 'Way Back Home':
Most people in this world are born dead
But I was born alive
(I was born with this dream)
With a dream outside my head
That I could find my way back home
...
Lemme tell you about me
I'm happiest when I can see
My way back home
Can you see
My way back, my way back home

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Here we are, just as we are


"The ancient Greeks had a view of love which was essentially based around education, that's what love means - love is a benevolent process whereby two people try to teach each other how to become the best versions of themselves."  - Alain de botton

"Real intimacy is a meeting between two souls, an invitation to meet each other exactly where they are, without expectation or agenda.  It doesn't demand gifts and benefits, sexual prowess, conditional offerings.  It merely asks you to show up as you are, fully revealed and present.  It invites you to shed your masks, disguises and adaptations, and to drop into whatever is real for you in that moment. Real intimacy meets you where you live, not where you or anyone else wants you to live.  It's the big sigh of relief that arises when you finally know that you don't have to put on a show to feel accepted.  Here we are, just as we are.  Hello." - Jeff Brown

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mind dump

"Your mind is not for storing ideas, but for having them" - David Allen.  

I recently started keeping a (no frills) task list via my Outlook.  I write down things I need to do or use it to bookmark interesting places to see, activities to do.  I've found it helpful in freeing some mental energy and also satisfying when I cross something off.    

Monday, July 10, 2017

Back from vacation

I want to capture this fresh from vacation bliss I am experiencing right now.  Coming back from almost 10 days off, more time than I can recently remember.  It was perfect - we went to Maine with friends --- and ate junk food, went to the beach, played cards, lounged around.  J got his first lego set, we did some baking, we took lots of tractor rides on the bike path.  There were bookstores and marinas and first times.

Yesterday we listened to the Beach Boys on Pandora --- a station filled with old fashioned good time summer music.  We danced in the living room and I felt light. Free. Happy.   It hasn't been the easiest year but I made it to the other side and have more confidence in myself than I have at any other time in my life.  I am proud of where I am today and that feels good and complete.

And a few favorite lines from J to honor the sweetness that is four and a half:

"My Grammy is picking me up on Monday from school." - to his friend in our building.  She didn't care too much.  I love overhearing what he says to his friends.  No filter, just stream of consciousness.  What he's looking forward to, what's on his mind....

"It's ok if you don't want to be my friend.  I have lots of friends.  Like, Max, Emma, Brooke, Noah, Nate....(and the name of nearly every kid in his pre-school class)"   Joe sticking up for himself when one (presumably tired) little girl at the playground said she wasn't his friend.  <no bullying here!>

"I didn't know Papa used to be a king and Grammy was a queen" (when I showed him my parents wedding photo)

"At the yellow house I didn't have colored sprinkles, or the zoo game, or a friend like Ophelia" -- priorities.