Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Facebook and the New Meaning of the Word "Friend"

On, I found this definition of the word “Friend” - a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

While I am one of the millions of people on Facebook who does really enjoy the connections that I have made with people from my past, it saddens me that it has also diminished the beauty of the word friend. Can anyone just be a “friend” simply by clicking “add friend?” Don’t you have to earn it? Shouldn’t we value being called a friend?” What is the new meaning of the word "friend." And as a parent, how do I explain the difference of being a friend for life and a friend on the computer? Luckily, my kids are still two young to be on Facebook.

Years ago, I was devastated by the break-up of one of my oldest and longest friendships. From that moment on, I promised myself that I would value the people in my life who were kind to me, with whom I connected and who earned my friendship. And for those who called me their friend, I would share my life with them with honesty, with passion and with respect in order to keep the name “friend.” My friends are very important to me and I tell them so. I think it is important to be a thoughtful friend. What does my friend like? Is she sad today? People come into our lives at different times and some stay for a long time and others for only a short time. I believe that some are meant to have a specific purpose to help us or to give us the opportunity to help them.

At this stage of my life, I realize I see my best reflection by the people who surround me. Sometimes, spring cleaning is not just to get rid of old clothes that don’t fit, sometimes it means leaving friends behind that also do not fit in my life anymore.

Life is short, love is real and friendship is a gift. Cherish it all.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blessings and the Power of a Prayer

For my birthday, my friend took me to see a Rabbi that is very special to her. In my search for spirituality, I never thought that it would take me to a private meeting with such a deeply observant Rabbi.

Nervous and excited are the two words that describe my feelings as I entered the house. The orthodox community has always been a mystery to me. It often made me feel less than because I didn’t know enough, didn’t pray the way they did, and never thought I could catch up even if I started studying right away. Still a mystery, but I don’t feel bad anymore.

Upon entering the house, my friend immediately introduced me to those who were assisting the Rabbi with all his visitors. They made me feel comfortable and although I was not dressed like them or spoke like them, I felt absolutely welcomed.

It was time for me to go see the Rabbi and I was chicken. My friend asked, “Do you want me to walk you in?” And of course, I said, “Yes.” And we entered the room together.

My friend left us alone, and as the Rabbi and I began talking, I felt immediately at ease. This man could not be more different than me and we may never speak again, but at that moment, it didn’t matter. All he wanted to give to me were blessings and a prayer. I told him of the highs and lows of the past few years and the hopes that I have for the future. I shared with him my recent passion for Jewish meditation and he spoke briefly of the strength of my own breath. He then said, “Let’s breathe together.” He asked me to open my palms and breathe deeply and whispered, “Breathe happiness in and sadness out.” His voice was quiet and beautiful and in his hushed tone, I felt safe.

When we were done, he then asked me to take my hands to cup my face. I did this and not knowing what to expect, I looked up at him. He began my blessing with this, “Hashem loves you.” Frankly, I know he said more, but this is what struck me to my core. Hashem loves me. How beautifully simple and powerful. Maybe it is because I needed/wanted to hear it.

In this birthday year, I begin to notice how much I do pray and how much better I feel afterwards. Praying, breathing, giving gratitude, or asking for help – whatever it is, it feels good to speak with G-d.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Amazing Race – Best Show on Television

Have you ever seen “The Amazing Race?” It is my favorite show on television. Here are my top reasons for loving this show:

1. Partnership is one of the key elements to winning the million dollars.
2. At least once in each season the participants are faced with their greatest fears.
3. The Casting Director successfully chooses the coolest characters.
4. The tasks/challenges are varied and interesting (and I would love to be in the conversation in the production office to determine each task).
5. I love seeing a little bit of each country. The show does a great job of introducing some local culture.
6. I am always fascinated by the determination of some competitors and equally fascinated by the great sportsmanship of others.
7. Both joy and frustration have equal play in this game and the editors do an excellent job of balancing it out for the viewer.
8. Just when I think I know which team is going home, there is a turn in the game.
9. The personal stories of the competitors are moving and watching them each learn something new about themselves is always a great moment in television.
10. It is awesome to watch people living out their dream of traveling together, competing together and sharing this experience together.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gifts from the Heart

While studying this week with Rabbi Ruth Sohn and friends, we discussed how the Parasha T’rumah related to our lives. Here are a few ideas that struck me –

“You shall accept gifts for me from every person whose heart is so moved”

If you give a gift with love and thoughtful intention, it becomes worth more to the receiver and you. When choosing a gift for a friend, think about what your friend would want to have. What is your friend’s favorite author, restaurant or activity? The thought that you put into the gift will make it more valuable to your friend and more fulfilling to you.

“Take for me an offering – gold and silver and copper...”

The gold, silver and copper reference signifies the importance of the gifts. These metals are unique and special elements just like you. Everyone has special gifts to bring to any situation. When one volunteers, he/she brings his/her special skills to the organization. Can you help a kid read? Can you help paint a building? Can you help create a great fundraising event? These are all skills that help serve the community. When I am looking for volunteers to work on a specific project, I think about their special talents and expertise that will make this project successful.

Thank you to all my family and friends who share their unique gifts with me. This birthday has been the best in years because of all the love I received. Thank you to Rabbi Ruth Sohn and to all who meditated and studied with me. It made my birthday week unique and full of love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meeting Gloria Steinem

Today at an event for The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to hear Gloria Steinem speak to a room filled with 500 women. Gloria Steinem is 29 years older than me. As I listened, I was mesmerized by her voice - confident, calm, filled with humor, joy, and direct. Growing up, I read about her, watched stories about her, and understand that our lives have changed because of her. As she stood in front of me, she appeared as just one of us. I’m not sure what I was expecting – for her to glow, be taller, or be super intense waving a bra.

I am grateful to her and the women who stood beside her, walking with her to help me. She led the way. And the biggest lesson that I took away from today was to continue to teach equality to my daughter and son. I need to nurture their spirit so they grow up to be whatever they are going to be, to respect each other and to know that they both have a voice to fight injustice, promote equality, and to do good in this world.

Tonight on American Idol, Steven Tyler said, “We are all bozos on the bus until we find some way to express ourselves.” What I want for my children, I want for me – to be confident enough to use our voice and to help others do the same.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Learning to Cope With Sadness Will Make You Happy

Validation - Tonight, Perry and I went to hear a wonderful family therapist named Susan Stiffelman speak on her book, "Parenting without Power Struggles." She had a lot of great lessons that seem so obvious and of course the minute we get home we fall right back into our regular script. Perry and I are committed to teaching our kids to grow up to be healthy adults with good coping skills. So when Susan said in the beginning of her presentation that one of the key lessons for us to teach our kids is how to cry and to cope with sadness, I was so excited because this is what I say all of the time. I had an even prouder moment when Perry leaned over to me and said, "you just wrote about that." So here is my repost from Feb. 3rd.


Sadness - it's okay
February 3 - In thinking more about my post yesterday, I realized that one of the most annoying aspects of these self-help reality talk shows is that I'm sick of the hosts telling me to fix something, do more, be better, and be happy. Perhaps as a society, the reason for so many depression and anxiety medication commercials is because we are constantly being told that we should be happier and more grateful. By the way, I truly support medication for anxiety and depression, so do not take this in any way as a suggestion for you to stop your medication. And if you know anything about me, I'm pretty much not just a "see the cup half full" woman, I often see it bubbling over. These are pretty much my daily responses - "Life is good," "everything is great," "I'm happy," and at the very least, "I'm fine."

I suggest that we find ways to cope with sadness and teach our kids to be sad. In developing these coping skills, our kids will be healthier adults who can move in the world with less anxiety. I have learned that being sad is okay. Sad things happen, life is not fair, and sometimes people disappoint you. And it isn't until you walk through it and come out stronger that you realize how important it is to understand the sadness. Without exploring this, it is then that one becomes angry, depressed, anxious. When my father passed away a little over 2 years ago, I couldn't comprehend how huge the loss would be. The months following his death, I was numb, the word SAD seemed liked a joke. 3 little letters to describe how I was feeling, I don't think so. Confusion is more like it. And now 2 years later, with the Giants playing in the Superbowl on Sunday, I can smile knowing that my dad is somewhere with his old friends and will be enjoying the game. And there are other times when I will experience a moment of discomfort and sadness, like when my kids do something really cool and I think, "I wish my dad was here."

Thanks for listening and stay tuned. Shabbat Shalom.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Am A Mixed Bag

After being thoroughly disgusted watching "2 Broke Girls" tonight, I decided to nurture my soul by watching Debbie Ford's documentary, "The Shadow Effect." You must see it. It is a wonderful exploration of the dark and the light within us all. Debbie Ford beautifully shares the great wisdom of so many who eloquently speak of this in many of their presentations and writings. Here are some fantastic points that are worth sharing:

1. We are all mixed bags. In the course of my life's experiences, I have learned a great lesson of compassion and readily speak these 5 words whenever someone disappoints me. We are all human and can only bring our individual experiences to every situation.

2. When we are in pain, many of us choose to bury it. Even though it takes more energy to suppress pain than to actually feel it, we rather not feel the pain or discomfort, so we push it away. Which is why when finally decide to face our fears, you hear people say, "I feel like a weight was lifted," or "I have a great sense of relief."

3. Unfortunately, I have learned my greatest lessons from the pain of a life trauma. When my father died, I felt extraordinary emotions that no could have explained to me. Walking through this pain can strengthen our soul if that is what I want.

4. We like to beat ourselves up for all that we don't like about ourselves. Forgiving others is kind, forgiving yourself can be life changing.

The sum of my experiences is what defines me. And I define myself as a mixed bag. Find Debbie Ford's, "The Shadow Effect," I hope it nurtures your soul like it did mine.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

365 Days Until 50

I love Palm Springs.  I love that when I am here there is no burden of time, no attachment to the clock.  Whenever I am here I am relaxed and feel an incredible sense of ease in all that I do.  Sometimes I wish I could live here all year round, but then it probably would lose the "getaway" feel that I find so precious.  

One of the things I like most about this place is that I do everything according to my own body clock.  I get up when I am ready, I eat when I am hungry, I read, I take a walk, then eat again when I am hungry, read some more, do a puzzle, watch some television and then go to bed when I am tired barely ever looking at a clock.  The only time we looked at the clock this weekend was to make sure that we got to the movies on time.

This has been a wonderful birthday weekend filled with a lot of laughs and great fun with my family and friends.  As it comes to a close, I am grateful for feeling the best I have felt in a long time.  I am choosing faith instead of fear, learning instead of limits and serenity instead of stress. At least these are my goals.

365 days until 50.  Here we go...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Charles Phoenix

For my birthday, we went to see Charles Phoenix and his presentation of retro photographs - this one is "Pools, Backyards and Barbecues."  Here are some things I learned today.

1. Charles Phoenix is hilarious even at 10:00am in the morning.  Not really the time for a stand up routine, but it worked and I loved it,  

2. Looking at old photos of other people illicits laughter from the inside.  I was laughing out loud from beginning to end.

3. To see  how much younger we look just one or two generations away from the 60's is incredible.  I have to go back to my family photos to see what my mother looked like at my age now.  I am not sure at what age I thought my parents became old because my parents were always on the go.  I still consider my mother a young energetic grandma and my dad always wanted to go out up until the day he died.  My own grandparents and their peers were always old to me.

I suggest you visit to see some great photography and if you ever have the opportunity see him perform, I highly recommend it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Birthday Resolutions for Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my 49th birthday! Here are a few presents I will give to myself.

1. Meditation - I began meditating a couple months ago and I really enjoy this opportunity to learn something new. The class I take is half meditation and half Torah study. After the first 30 minutes of class, the discussion that takes place is very thoughtful and serious.

2. Tennis – I didn’t realize how much I missed playing tennis. After almost 20 years, I began taking lessons and now I want to keep playing. Tennis is social, competitive and physical. It gives me an opportunity to meet new people with whom I must engage; it allows my natural competitive nature to come out in an appropriate venue; and it gives me a great work out.

3. Cooking – This is one area that I am shocked by how easy it is to learn. If you take the time to really understand the basics, then other recipes seem less intimidating. With all the cooking shows that are available, it is fun to watch someone else cook and then try it at home. I have taken a couple of cooking classes and hope to do more of that in the coming year.

4. Travel – This will solve two issues for me – First, I want to travel more. Second, in order to travel more, I have to plan which is another exercise I need to do (I tend to be more spontaneous which is not great if I want to travel).

5. Writing – In the short period that I have been writing again, I love it. Sitting at the computer writing gives me the best “I’m in the right place at the right time” feeling that I have had in a long time.

6. Balance – If I can shed any light on this one, I would, but frankly I feel like my life is an on-going teeter-totter of “I need to figure this out” and “Just be in the moment.” We should analyze but not too much, we should consider our options but go with our gut. It is very confusing. So I probably have to balance both – sometimes I will have to look at the multiple opportunities that are presented and other times I just have to grab hold.

7. Laugh a lot! I want my year filled with humor – continuous laughter brought on by Saturday Night Live, Impractical Jokers and everyday life. I want to embrace the laugh that comes from the belly that I had been afraid of for some time because it led to crying. Now I say bring it on. I want to laugh until I cry!

Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Quick Tips to Working Together

Personalities are what make us all unique. However, when many personalities come together, it is sometimes difficult to manage everyone’s unique energy, working style and opinions. Here are a few quick tips to keep your sanity while working in larger groups:

1. Stick to your job – When you are in a large group, always be clear about the work assignments and stick to it. Often we get caught up in doing other people’s jobs or simply criticizing since we know better.

2. Write it down – Write everyone’s tasks in a project document. This allows all team members to know their job. No confusion, no excuses.

3. Speak with kindness – To send your message to the entire group, speak with kindness. It is easier for everyone to hear you when you speak nicely. It allows the group to engage in a more productive conversation.

4. Speak privately – If you need to be more direct with one of the members of your team, speak to him/her privately to explain your intention. If you have a conversation outside the group, you will have a better chance of that individual understanding you.

5. Take a walk – When your nerves get the best of you, take a walk. When you are frustrated with how the team is communicating and you feel like you are not being heard, take a walk. Give yourself a moment to breathe and re-focus.

Most of all have fun. Working in a group can be very rewarding.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Think Big!

In recent meetings, I noticed that I alone have a tendency to think big. Usually, my hopes and dreams for a project exceed those of others in the room. I also began to realize that the intensity of my big visions is equal to the frustration I feel when the others in the room don’t share my enthusiasm. So for the dreamers out there, here are a few tips to keep your emotions in check and help you continue to dream big.

• Your ideas are great even if some people don’t quite support them.

• When you have a big idea, write it down and send it to someone. Maybe together, you can make it happen.

• When you feel frustrated, go for a walk, put on some music, cook your favorite food, or go play tennis (I have found tennis to be especially satisfying because you get to smack the ball).

• Find others who dream big.

• There will always be people who want the idea to be their own. Sometimes they will be very critical of your vision until they come up with something similar and call it their own. Be patient with them, they are often insecure and have difficulty promoting the work of others.

• Keep dreaming.

• Teach others to think big, dream in color, be creative and work together.
Work is work – you bring the energy, the enthusiasm and the joy that makes work fun and exciting.

Wishing you a great day at work.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Six Things I Want My Kids To Know

1. If you are ever sad like Whitney Houston, tell someone. If you think your friends are sad like Whitney Houston, tell someone. When you are sad, don’t drink or take drugs, tell someone.

2. Don’t ever let anyone hit you like what Chris Brown did to Rihanna. No one is allowed to hit you. No one. If anyone ever hits you, tell someone.

3. If you ever feel alone like Michael Jackson did, tell someone. I want you to know that you are never alone. Mommy and Daddy love you for who you are, not how much you earn or how famous you may or may not become. We love you for you and the light that you bring to this world.

4. If you ever do feel lost like Lindsay Lohan, tell someone. You need to know that you can always tell Daddy and me when you feel like you might be in trouble or if you feel unsafe. If you don’t feel comfortable telling Daddy or me, please tell someone.

5. If anyone tries to steal your moment like Kanye West did to Taylor Swift, remember that you always hold the power and no one can take that away from you. You hold the power of your life, your emotions and your love, don’t ever let anyone try to take it away from you.

6. Life is good and sometimes it will be difficult. When you are struggling, tell someone. I want you to know that it is important to ask for help. If you can, ask Daddy or me. If you feel more comfortable, ask someone else. The most important thing is to know that someone will help you, you just have to ask.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thank you to all who volunteers!

Gratefully, I spend my days working in non-profit. As a fundraiser for many years, I am dedicated to my employer and my community. Today was The Jewish Federation’s city wide phone-a-thon and service day. We had over 500 volunteers today engaging in some type of volunteering.

I am truly moved by those who show up to give of their time. It is the generosity of their time and efforts that I find most admirable. Volunteering is hard. We talk a lot about the rewards of volunteering, how it feels good, how people should do it as well as admonish those who don’t do it. But we never really talk about how hard it is.

Physical contribution – some volunteering is hard labor. Cleaning up the beach, painting a school, or packing up food boxes can sometimes be physically challenging. Some people volunteer at Habitat for Humanity to build homes – I find this extraordinary. It takes a lot of strength to build a home.

Social Pressure – Everyone comes to the table with a different level of hunger and thirst. Sometimes, it feels the same in philanthropy. Some volunteers are starving for any kind of philanthropic experience – serving on a board or committee, committing to a weekly volunteer position, or raising money. Others come to the experiences more slowly. When a committee is a mix of all these different volunteers, each member must find their own comfort level to be involved and stay committed. As I watched a room full of callers today, I was touched by the generosity of those experienced who took the time to teach those who were new to volunteering in this capacity.

Emotional commitment – It is never lost on me that our volunteers have a deep emotional attachment to our organization. Their joy and sometimes their frustrations come from their love and investment in the survival of the organization. They come to care deeply for the beneficiaries of the organization and for their professional partners with whom they may work for many years. To witness a moment of tearful joy and pride for the work that is accomplished or the heartbreak for those who continue to be in need, is the great reward of a professional.

To all who volunteer for The Jewish Federation and organizations all over the world, thank you for helping us make the world a better place.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Impact of One's Voice

I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of how I use my voice, how we listen to our inner voice, and how difficult it is to ignore the negative voice. As I continue to grow and learn how to use my voice, what I am most intrigued with is the power of the quiet voice – sometimes more powerful and dangerous. It is easy to hear the loud voices, yours and others, and then to change the direction based on what you hear. But it is the quiet, low, repetitive voice that is both haunting and damaging.

For women, I believe it is the constant quiet barrage of belittling and criticism from our families, peers, and the media. Women work hard to seek support, encouragement and positive reinforcement from those around us. My first boss after college taught me a great lesson which I only fully appreciated years later. She asked me to do something and when I returned to her office, I said, “I can’t…” She said to me, “Never say you can’t. Find a way that you can. Find the solution.” As we battle the negative chatter in our brain, it is these words that I remember from over 20 years ago.

For men, the societal pressure to provide is changing but it is still felt. Like women, men hear the negative chatter that perpetuates the demand for them to provide, be perfect fathers and to know something about sports. Recently, I was picking my daughter up from a new friend’s house and I was speaking to the parents. I saw some beautiful vintage movie posters on the wall, and asked the father, “Are you in the entertainment business?” (I already knew the mother’s profession.) He said, “No, I’m a stay-at-home dad.” To be honest, I’m not sure of the exact words or phrase that he used, but I am positive that his comfort and security in stating his position felt like a breath of fresh air. I admired the quiet power in his voice, how whole he sounded. I envied him, not that other men should sound like him, but for me – I would like to present myself with such conviction.

Use your voice with strength and love. Listen to your inner voice with compassion and truth. Listen to those voices that are kind and hopeful. Do not believe the lies told by others or those you tell yourself. Remember people hear you, your voice makes an impact, use it wisely.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Got to laugh! Watch Impractical Jokers!

Impractical Jokers - If you want to laugh, you need to watch the most hilarious show on television - Impractical Jokers. My family and I absolutely love this show. Seriously, this show makes me laugh out loud for the entire episode. Four best friends take on a variety of practical jokes, all in good fun and with no harmful intent. They are regular guys who just challenge each other to do the goofiest tasks. They pretend to be news reporters, cashiers at Costco, salesmen, or caricature artists. They are all wired for sound and the friends are telling the one doing the task what he needs to do or say. So funny, it makes me cry.

Besides the tasks (which are funny), I have fallen in love with these guys. Q, Sal, Murr and Joe are best friends. Their laughter is incredible contagious and you can’t help but laugh.

I want you all to take a moment to find them online or dvr the show. It is on TRU tv on Thursday nights at 7:00pm. Sit back and enjoy it.

If you have a show that makes you laugh harder, please let me know. I’m always looking for more television shows that make me laugh so hard that I cry.

Hope you have a Friday that makes you laugh!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Which day of the week do you like?

I think my favorite day might be Wednesday, maybe because this week, my Wednesday was great. It was one of those “things are going my way” days. Let’s talk about the other days and see what I discover.

Sunday – Except for the day I got married and the day my son was born, Sundays are usually very depressing. I am usually carrying on some internal battle to be productive, to get out of the house, or to accomplish something and almost always, I am only counting the minutes until Monday morning.

Monday – I love Mondays, it is like a rebirth every week. I think it is my most creative day of the week. I dream big on Monday. I wake up Monday mornings raring to go. Mondays are also my day for tennis which might be why I love it so much.

Tuesday – This is another pretty good day of the week. I like how it sounds – Toooooooooosday. Say it, it’s fun. I feel like a lot of good things happen on a Tuesday. I don’t have any statistics, but I feel like it.

Wednesday – This is one of the best days of the week because it is right in the middle. Psychologically, we are halfway to the weekend so no matter what you made it half way. I have survived two days and now I have only two to go until the weekend.

Thursday – I also like Thursday. There is always good television on Thursday nights. It is the day you get to take a deep breath and relax because tomorrow is Friday. I also find this is usually a very productive day for me because I always think that I have to get everything done today because you never know what will happen on Friday.

Friday – This is supposed to be a really good day, but I find this day to be one of the most anxious days of the week. I have to do my weekly report, which means I have to review with myself to see what I have accomplished from when I dreamt big on Monday. I have to prepare our Shabbat dinner or make some plans for Shabbat. I will say that I usually have the best night sleep on Friday night knowing that Saturday is my day to relax.

Saturday – Definitely, Saturday has become my favorite day of the week. A few weeks ago, I began meditating at synagogue and now I just love it. I look forward to getting up, walking to shul and being part of such a beautiful spiritual community. And it just sets the tone for the entire week.

Sorry other days, for now Saturday is my favorite.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fundraisers: Be Proud!

Everyone should feel as I do when they go to work every day. As I see it, I help donors fulfill their philanthropic goals. When I work with donors, I often think of them in a ten year plan. In my current position, I work with donors whom I have known for almost 15 years. It gives me great pride to see them in top leadership positions in my organization as well as other worthwhile organizations in our community. Below are my top 10 inspirations for all the great (and want to be great) fundraisers:

1. Own what you do! Sometimes when the words “fundraiser” or “solicitor” are said, the speaker’s voice chokes back with bitterness. When I hear that, I think, he/she has no idea what I do. I help elevate a donor’s purpose in life and enrich their soul. In doing so, I enrich mine. Let me be clear, fundraisers should not apologize for working so hard on behalf of the community. We do the work that some people don’t/won’t/can’t do.

2. Educate yourself in your organization – in addition to the professional training that you get in your organization, meet with key managers to ask more specific questions about their department. Often, when you learn more specific information about the programs and the staff, you have more confidence to articulate the organization’s mission. Ask many questions, you may learn about a new program or a change in an already successful program.

3. Have a strategy for every donor interaction – Regardless of the amount of time that you get to spend with a donor, 5 minutes or 2 hours, have a list of items that you want to discuss with the donor. As you move through the agenda, cross it off. This tells the donor that this meeting is productive and their time is not wasted. If you are speaking with them briefly on the phone, send a follow up email to thank them for their time and to complete any task you discussed. Donors like fundraisers who are responsible and follow through on tasks.

4. Interact often with donors – send them articles that you find interesting. Donors have many interests and you will have many conversations with them over the years. Develop the relationship so that they see you as a philanthropic resource and guide. Offer them opportunities to learn in various areas within your organization. Their interests can change over years and their professional expertise may be of use in different areas throughout the organization.

5. Learn about what your donors are involved in outside your organization – Donors often have interests outside your organization. These interests may enhance their experience with you or prohibit them from getting more involved at this time. As you find areas of interest, determine if these interests align with your organization. Perhaps there is a similar area within your organization that would speak to this interest. Always thank them for what they do on behalf of the entire community. If timing prohibits them from working with you now, still nurture the relationship. When their time becomes available, you will know and they will now want to work with you because you have developed the relationship.

6. Touch their heart through an experience – Many donors can and do buy whatever they like. They live in beautiful homes, drive great cars and travel to extraordinary places. What we can offer them is a heartfelt and emotional experience that money can’t buy. Take your donor to meet a beneficiary of your organization. Have the donor volunteer their time. Sharing this type of moment is rewarding for both you and the donor.

7. Think big – Share your organization’s hopes and dreams with your donor. These conversations can accomplish several things. First, you can determine very quickly how your donor sees him/herself. Secondly, it tells the donor that you want to have a long partnership with him/her. Finally, the donor will share their long-term goals and dreams.

8. Don’t rush, you are in a marathon, not a sprint – Donors feel more comfortable if you do not rush them. Timing is essential to the best solicitations as well as trust and trust can only develop over time. You want your donors to stay around for a long time and invest in your organization. Take your time to learn about the donor, educate them and the opportunities will present themselves for great solicitations, engagements and ultimately top leadership.

9. Work on areas where you are weak – Find someone you trust who will be kind with criticism. It is difficult to see your own weaknesses so you want someone who will be honest. Once you determine areas for growth, find resources to help you – classes, mentors and peers.

10. Figure out what you do best – You do a lot of things well, so construct your cultivation and solicitation to allow your best self to shine. Remember, if you are confident and comfortable with the information and goals you want to present, it will be easier to succeed. Use your assets to tell the best story, inspire the donor and create a long-term partnership.

Now go and have fun…

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Best Telelvision I Have Seen Recently

I love television. I wish I didn’t because I keep finding books I should read. But after a long day of work, and then having dinner and putting our kids to bed, I just love sitting in my cozy chair watching the TV. Below are some of the best that I have seen recently… #1 – Miss Representation This is one of the best documentaries that I have ever seen and thank you to Jennifer Seibel Newsom for making such an enlightening film. This made me stand up and take notice. The film discusses how poorly women are portrayed in the media and how numb we have become to the characterization of women in all aspects of film, television and music. I found it so disturbing that I made a conscious decision to change my television viewing habits. I felt so guilty for watching shows like “The Bachelor,” “America’s Next Top Model,” and “Project Runway.” These shows only perpetuate the insecurities of women. And these are not the only offenders. Female news anchors who are dressed inappropriately and don’t take themselves seriously. The absolute worst offenders advertisers and how they use of sex in commercials. Commercials portraying sexy women in little clothing to sell fast food or a car are now more frustrating than ever. I think everyone needs to see this film. Go to to learn more. #2 – I AM Tom Shadyac’s documentary about his search for deeper meaning in his life is also one of the most inspiring films that I have seen. After a bike accident, Tom realized that his “stuff” was not making him happy. It didn’t make him sad, but his expectation was that acquiring all the material riches would increase his happiness, which it did not. He sold his big house, gave away a bunch of stuff and downsized his life. And so begins his spiritual journey. One of the most compelling moments of the film is Tom’s conversation with scientists about how the heart sends messages to the brain, not the other way around. I was so moved by Tom’s reaction to the possibility/probability that the heart is the core of our messaging system. I, too, thought it made so much sense. Go to and I promise you will be moved. #3 – Suze Orman’s Money Class Honestly, I was not a big fan of Suze Orman, but the idea of the series grabbed my attention. I have recorded it and now I have watched two episodes and I am hooked. It is embarrassing how irresponsible, lazy, and/or ignorant we, as a society, are about money. I was amazed at how Suze simplified every money problem thrown her way and even more shocked as to how much I related to the anxiety her audience feels about their money habits. #4 – Saturday Night Live And now for some comedy – I have been watching this show since I was 16, every episode. I love this show. Even though I record every episode, I usually stay up to watch. The ensemble cast on this season is one of the best ever. Both Seth Meyers and Kristin Wiig are just two of my favorites. While I understand that it is extraordinarily hard work to put on at 90 minute live show, the entire cast looks like they are having the best time. My husband likes to say that I am an easy laugher (making me a great audience member for a comedy club), but I have frequently heard him give a laugh or two out loud. If you haven’t seen it in a while, go to the NBC website to view some of Andy Samberg’s digital shorts, especially some of the videos with Justin Timberlake, you will not be disappointed. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lessons from my friends

February 6 - Three years ago, my friend moved to Israel with her children for one year. Her husband stayed in Los Angeles to manage his company. He visited as often as he could and skyped with them daily. I learned so many things from their experience and wanted them to know the rippling effect on me and our family.

#1 – The obvious lesson is that you should live your dream. When I heard that my friend was preparing to do this, it sounded right and by the look on her face, it felt right. Anything is possible. One can find 400 reasons not to do something, especially when it is big and involves others. It takes great courage and strength to change your life, your partner’s and your kids.

#2 – Partnership is critical to any marriage and parenting. We usually notice how our partnerships are tested when we are in despair. My friend’s experience really showed me that every day we make decisions for ourselves, our partner and our children. The number of decisions that this couple had to make together is overwhelming to me and I can only imagine the intensity of the conversations that took place. Their partnership in the year leading up and throughout their time apart has given me a new perspective. It has shown me that when one partner helps the other turn their dream into a reality, it doesn’t lessen their value, it strengthens the relationship.

#3 – What if your kids don’t want to live your dream? One of their children did not want to go and did not share the dream. To say that she was kicking and screaming all the way is not an understatement. Three years later this same girl, just began a semester abroad program in Israel – a choice she made on her own. The obvious lesson is that we know what is best for our children. The deeper lesson is that sometimes my children are going to be uncomfortable with a decision I make and that is okay. Allowing my children to experience discomfort rather than fixing it will ultimately give them a stronger core. This is probably the most significant lesson for me. It doesn’t take a big move for my children to be upset with a decision I make for them, it can simply be what I choose for dinner. Now I try to help them work through the discomfort. Teaching coping skills may be the best life lesson I can give them.

#4 – Sometimes people go away and do come back. Unlike death, sometimes people do leave our lives for a time and then circumstances in life bring them back. My friend’s daughter is in the same grade as my daughter and they have been friends since pre-school. Teaching your child that friendship (either by outside circumstances or by choice) may change, grow, end or just be on a break is nearly impossible unless it happens. When they left, my daughter was sad at first. Then she got back in the swing of school, time went by, and summer rolled around again and they returned. Our kids were fortunate to be able to pick up their friendship with very little change. My daughter now sees her friend’s experience as an adventure.

I am writing this post because my dream is simply to write more and to let people know that they have made an impact on me. I always say, “No one knows the impact they had on you unless you tell them.” This post is dedicated to my friends – thank you for enriching our lives.

Thanks for listening and stay tuned.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

These words are mine

February 5 - I am struggling to write today. I should be inspired because I just watched Tom Shadyac's documentary "I AM" on Oprah's OWN Super Soul Sunday. I should be able to write pages about searching for the deeper meaning in my life, how his film that included timeless footage of extraordinary acts of human courage moved me to do something different, or how those he interviewed who are brilliant and thoughtful brought me to tears because it only reminded me of my want to connect.

Instead, I am weighing ever word I write.

Why? Because in a matter of 3 seconds, I fell right back into the pressure of "will they like what I write?" Or worse, "they won't like this or how I say that." In 3 seconds, I forgot that this was my journey and these blogs are for me.

How did this happen? After the movie, I went to the computer to begin writing my thoughts. But, right before I was going to click "new post," I saw this other word - Stats. I clicked on this to show me the amount of viewers to my blog. Big mistake - what number would make me feel okay? I have never done this before, so why should I care who is reading my blog. Like the scale, we put so much weight on the number. Our society has determined that phrases and words like "how much," "did you lose" "did you gain" "did you save" have more importance than "do you care" "do you love" "are you loved" and "what moves you."

This is my reminder that I am writing for me. If anyone reads this or not, this is already one of my favorite blogs. I just reread it and I love it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Jewish Meditation - I'm in the right place at the right time

February 4 - I started my day with Meditation Plus which is a beautiful combination of Jewish Meditation and text study. There are about 12 of us (all but one were women) today. We are led by Rabbi Ruth Sohn, a thoughtful teacher who guides us to share our personal stories as they relate to the meditation and weekly text. I am new at this so I am both excited and anxious when I arrive in class because sitting still for 30 minutes sounds like a big deal and yet, somehow it is exactly what I what I need right now in my life. Following the meditation, we study a piece of this week's Torah portion. In the hour, I am touched by the honesty and sincerity of everyone's comments and their willingness to share in the group. In addition, I find myself deeply moved by studying ancient text which is applicable to our life right now. The search for deeper and thoughtful learning has begun. I am blessed with a wonderful husband, two amazing kids and family and friends who enrich my life. I want more. I want to learn more and give more. I am excited about this journey because I am not alone.

Thanks for listening and stay tuned.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sadness - it's okay

February 3 - In thinking more about my post yesterday, I realized that one of the most annoying aspects of these self-help reality talk shows is that I'm sick of the hosts telling me to fix something, do more, be better, and be happy. Perhaps as a society, the reason for so many depression and anxiety medication commercials is because we are constantly being told that we should be happier and more grateful. By the way, I truly support medication for anxiety and depression, so do not take this in any way as a suggestion for you to stop your medication. And if you know anything about me, I'm pretty much not just a "see the cup half full" woman, I often see it bubbling over. These are pretty much my daily responses - "Life is good," "everything is great," "I'm happy," and at the very least, "I'm fine."

I suggest that we find ways to cope with sadness and teach our kids to be sad. In developing these coping skills, our kids will be healthier adults who can move in the world with less anxiety. I have learned that being sad is okay. Sad things happen, life is not fair, and sometimes people disappoint you. And it isn't until you walk through it and come out stronger that you realize how important it is to understand the sadness. Without exploring this, it is then that one becomes angry, depressed, anxious. When my father passed away a little over 2 years ago, I couldn't comprehend how huge the loss would be. The months following his death, I was numb, the word SAD seemed liked a joke. 3 little letters to describe how I was feeling, I don't think so. Confusion is more like it. And now 2 years later, with the Giants playing in the Superbowl on Sunday, I can smile knowing that my dad is somewhere with his old friends and will be enjoying the game. And there are other times when I will experience a moment of discomfort and sadness, like when my kids do something really cool and I think, "I wish my dad was here."

Thanks for listening and stay tuned. Shabbat Shalom,

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mixed Messages - Let's find some clarity!

February 2 - Over the past 25 years, I admit to being a mild Oprah fan. I watched many shows, not all, and mostly over the past few years. I do admire what Oprah has done for the empowerment of women and at the same time I realize that her show was also a daily reminder of what was wrong with me and how I need to improve. In order for her show to be truly successful, it fed on our insecurities. So, what if Oprah had said, "I think you are perfect just the way you are. You don't need my help." I believe there are many shows and other media that send us mixed messages.

Many things and people have inspired me over the past few months. One of the most significant documentaries I have seen is "Miss Representation" (which I saw on OWN), I was blown away by how men and women are so critical of women in a different way than they are of men. And as women, we let it happen. At first, I was outraged and thought, for my daugther and son, we will change our television watching habits and then I realized that for my own health and well being, I needed to stop watching shows that are condescending to women - it leaves me with few options. In my search throughout this year, I hope to find positive examples for my kids (and for me).

Thanks for listening and stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feb 1 - My birthday month begins

February 1 - In 17 days I will be 49. When I look in the mirror, I try to see if that is what I thought 49 would look like. Externally, I obviously look different than when I was younger, and internally, I am constantly reviewing a list of moments in time that now feel different. Am I so old that the feelings from the memories simply fade? I look back at my childhood and young adult life and try to remember what I felt at the party, why I let him speak to me that way, or how I thought I was wrong about her.

What I do feel is a new strength, power, desire to do something big. What that something is - I am not sure, but in the past few weeks, I have been meditating, studying torah text, and learning tennis again. The meditation and torah text go hand in hand and I am loving it. It feels good to observe Shabbat in this way. The tennis gives me a great reason to smack a ball and release some of the week's frustrations. I didn't realize when I started both at the same time, what a wonderful complement these two activities were to each other. Both are helping to give me greater clarity as I embark on this journey to 50!

Thanks for listening. Tune in tomorrow.