Sunday, May 27, 2012

A One Day Vacation - Worth Every Minute

This weekend, my husband and I took our kids to Carlsbad, California for a very brief, yet impactful vacation. We promised our son that we would take him to LEGOLAND for his 6th birthday. Since his birthday was about a month ago, we spent the past few weeks counting down to the big day. The special draw to LEGOLAND was the “Star Wars” attraction and my son is deeply consumed by all that is “Star Wars,” especially Legos. We drove down on Friday night, checking into a hotel nearby so that we could wake up early to arrive when the park opened.

The morning arrives and as we walk up to the gates, my son reminds me that we need to go straight to the “Star Wars” exhibit. Enjoying his excitement, I assure him that it is our first stop.

We search the map and head quickly to the area. My husband and daughter stop to go on a ride and my son and I continue on our mission. We get our first hint that we are close when we see MiniLand, the area of the park with all the mini cities like Washington, DC and New York. And then my son sees it -- a larger than life Death Maul made of Legos right in front of the mini store that sells all the Star Wars Legos. I look ahead and see our goal. I take him by the hand and lead him away from the mini gift shop.

Pure, sincere to the bone joy hits my son like a waterfall. His little 6-year-old emotions are in overload as he jumps from one installation to the next. And I admit that even I was impressed with the amount of detail and the visual representation of some of the films’ moments.

My son leaned over to me and said, “Mommy, I think I am going to cry.” Worried for a moment, I kneeled down to look at his face. I then realized that he was joyous. I hugged him and asked, “Because it is so beautiful?” And he said, “Yes.”

That was the first great moment of the day. Next one came later in the afternoon just before the park closed. As we made our way around the park, we finally came to the rollercoaster in the Dino Island area. My son, never having been on a rollercoaster, was not quite sure what to expect. We waited patiently in the 30 minute line inching slowly to the front. As luck would have it, as we got closer, we were first in line for the next group. My son, excited for this new adventure, wanted to sit in the front row. And so he did.

My husband and son in the first row and then my daughter and I sat behind them. Honestly, I am not even sure that the ride is longer than two minutes, but it was the most fun and exciting two minutes for my son. When it came to a stop, my son was beaming, his eyes exploding with excitement, his cheeks all puffed up from the biggest smile on his little face. He jumped out of the car bursting with pride that he had just rode his first rollercoaster.

We left shortly after feeling fulfilled and tired. Following dinner, we went straight to the hotel, both kids falling asleep with ease. And now we are home. We were away for approximately 36 hours and it was more than a birthday gift to my son, it was a gift to us all.

Friday, May 18, 2012

On the Bridge

A couple stands on a bridge looking out onto the still lake. The next phase of their life is about to begin; they are getting married. We all have moments on the bridge. What will happen next? From the very beginning of our lives, we are trying to cross that bridge – graduating from school, dating to marriage, raising children, watching them grow up and be on their own. Recently, I have felt that I am on the bridge, not sure what is on the other side. This year, before I turn 50, I want to remain still and enjoy the view. We are always rushing to cross, never seeing all that is around us. While the image works perfectly for the big events of our lives, it is the more subtle and quiet moments of our life that we also find ourselves in that spot – sometimes the view is cloudy and sometimes it is clear for miles.

First day of work – Remember that feeling when you walked into your new job and all the anxiety of the interview and negotiation process was behind you. You have a confidence that you are in one place for a while and now you can allow yourself to feel safe –your moment on the bridge.

Dinner with friends – Ever look around the table and realize you are blessed with those around you. That is your moment on the bridge.

Losing yourself in a great book – Ever get so deeply involved in book that you can actually see yourself walking among the characters, smelling their food, and crying with them. Moment on the bridge.

Your kid becomes independent – This is really different for everyone. For me, this one hit me hard just this week. I allowed my daughter to take a walk with her friend without me. I wasn’t a nervous wreck while they were gone, but I was noticeably calmer when they came back. But her excitement and confidence hit me in my core. Times are different, she had my phone with her, but I immediately reminisced about how my friend and I used to walk to the movies every weekend. That was one of the highlights of our friendship, two girls just taking a walk and talking about whatever. Definitely a moment on the bridge, the view was a little cloudy, but the sun came through.

Watching a friend’s family suffer – When you are watching another family deal with great sadness, it is sometimes difficult to know your place. Standing by as others struggle, die, or survive, can also impact you in the quiet of your life. When it is not happening to your family directly, this allows you to rethink some things in your life giving you a moment on the bridge.

Wherever you are in your life right now, take a deep breath and know that this too is a moment on the bridge.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Need Answers...Me too!

Everyday there are messges from the universe that can help us make decisions or simply give us comfort when we need.  The hardest part is how to recognize these messages and then interpret them.  All the questions come to you like a fast train - Where am I supposed to be?  What path should I travel?  When is the right time?  Who is the right partner on this project?  Stop...STop...STOp...STOP!   Somedays I feel like I am in my own episode of "Celebrity Apprentice" and I'm not sure who is the project manager.  So here are some ways that I process these questions.

  • Talk to new people who can give me a different perspective.  Step out of my regular circle to get new ideas, to widen my network and to allow myself to hear new voices.
  • Research as many ideas as I can - however crazy it sounds.  Meet with people who can help me learn about the idea and can help grow it.  I may not like all the information and feedback I get, but if I am listening carefully, all information is useful.
  • Listen carefully to all the messages that come to me, however they come to me.  I might read something or be watching television, I listen as if I have bionic ears. There are times that I am sitting in a meeting and my colleague says something that inspires me.  LISTEN!
  • Write down all that I want from my next project.  What will make it more satisfying than my current project and what aspects of this current project would I like to keep.
  • Go out.  Go somewhere new.  Go play tennis (my preference - see earlier posts).  Go see the museum exhibit that my friends mentioned.  Let my mind have a new experience.
  • Answer only the easy questions.  The universe will help you answer the others.

 Answers will come.  And this is when listening is really important because while we all look for the answers in the big moment of our lives, sometimes it is the more subtle and quiet moments that help shape our lives.  Enjoy the precious and serene moments, it is usually where the answers are.

Monday, May 14, 2012

We Change Our Life and Life Changes

Life changes very rapidly, sometimes in the quickest moment.  At the beginning of the year, I made some significant changes to my life.  I added tennis lessons, meditation/torah study, and I began this blog.  With all that I have added, I had to give up some.  Do I miss what I have given up...not at all.  The benefits I have already received in the few short months from these activities far exceeds my expectations.  

Tennis - My intention was to get out more to exercise and work off some steam.  It has provided that and more. I have met some really nice people who would never have crossed my path.  I am the oldest and the least fit, so when I keep up and even beat the "kids" it gives me great joy, confidence and simply put, a lift in my spirits.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention how gratifying it is to me that after a bad day, it completely changes my mood when I get to smack some tennis balls for an hour.  Do I think of someone who wronged me that day when I smack the ball across the court...absolutely.  But only for a minute.  That is all it takes to get fully immersed in the game and forget about all the crap that took place that day.

Meditation and Torah Study - What a gift this has been in my life.  Back in December I had a brief experience with meditation, so when a friend told me about a meditation/torah study class at my synagogue, it was so easy to say yes.  Like tennis, it has introduced me to some great people.  With this class, I am enriched in so many ways.  We are a wonderful collection of experiences and we are all willing to share to enhance the learning.  The fear I had that I didn't know enough and would have difficulty participating was completely unfounded.  At first that horrible little voice intimidated me, but now I listen to a more positive voice and I appreciate every moment of learning.  I arrive to this class with a thirst and excitement for what I will learn that day.  And the meditation has given me new tools to use in my daily life.  As I move through my daily routines, I often get lost in the chaos, the noise and then unable to see the gifts right in front of me.  Now learning meditation, I am calmer, I react slower to frustrations around me, I have found ways to use my energy with greater productivity and I have gratitude everyday for the people and opportunities in my life.

My blog - I admit that there are days when I don't know what I will write and I get scared.  Or I finish writing something that I'm proud to share and wonder if I will produce another.  And even as I write this, I no longer have fear.  The past few months of writing were more than just the actual posts, I also read more, listened more and became more active in group discussions. I noticed a real difference in my choices of films, television, and articles.  Now when read the blogs of others, I am fascinated and envious of all the creativity, intelligence and thoughtful opinions that I have come across.  I have learned from so many and am so proud of what I have accomplished.

And all of this I believe has made me a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, partner and colleague.  I didn't realize it at the time, but adding these three at the same time gave me a variety of exercises that allowed me to express myself physically and spiritually.  I am excited to keep learning and know that I will find more positive and creative ways to express myself. 

Thanks for listening...and more to come.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Passage of Time

What marks the passage of time for you? Mostly it is the big life-cycle events –births, graduations, weddings and deaths. In the past few weeks, I have witnessed more subtle moments. And when these moments happen it is as though my body reacts before my head and I find that I am overcome with emotion.

A Child’s Laugh – In the past few months I noticed that my son’s sense of humor has changed. Now six, he knows what to do to make you laugh using language. Before he might make funny faces or speak in silly voices, but now he can quickly make a joke within a conversation. And if he simply says something that my husband and I find amusing and he doesn’t understand why we are laughing, he is quick to ask, “Why are you laughing?”

A Child’s Confidence – My daughter, now 11, has fallen in love with books in the last month. She and her friends have all read “The Help” and the entire series of “The Hunger Games.” If feels as though it happened overnight. Six months ago, my husband and I were begging her to read; we would ask her to read just a few minutes every night. I was a big reader as a kid and I wanted to pass on my love of reading. And when she couldn’t sleep one night, she began reading “The Help.” And she doesn’t just read it, she cherishes every page, falls in love with the characters and stops to tell me what is happening in the story.

Success Recognized – Someone with whom I have worked for many years was honored last week. Sixteen years ago, our professional partnership began. Before the event began, we reminisced about our first year working together and I reflected that I had always dreamt of this day. What struck me about the evening was not the huge success of the dinner, but how clear my memories were about that first year. I could not believe how quickly time has passed.

Take time to notice these smaller moments in your life. With children, the flashes can come fast and furious. With our family and friends, an instant can remind of us to stay close. Life is a journey of moments. Pay attention and hold onto as many as you can.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Danny Sussman's Speech Atop Mt. Herzl

Have you ever been listening to someone wishing you had a video camera to capture the moment? Last November, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles took 400 people to Israel to celebrate our 100th Anniversary. Luckily, we caught one of our most passionate leaders on camera as he welcomed young entertainment industry professionals to his hero’s landmark, Mt. Herzl.

On this celebratory mission, Danny addressed the group of from the Entertainment Division atop Mt. Herzl. His passion is infectious and his commitment is deep. Talking about Israel comes naturally to Danny and if you want to learn, he wants to teach. He is overcome with joy when he travels with first–timers to Israel. As seen in this video, he equates their arrival to Israel to their birth and therefore he wishes them, “Happy Birthday.”

I urge you to watch this video for an incredible dose of inspiration. And then watch it again. I did.