As always, my work teaches me so many lessons about the world. So many people, colleagues and friends are accomplishing great things and simply doing good in the world. They have specific interests that truly move their spirit and elevate their work. We listen to donors share their passions and we get inspired. Contagious, magnetic, and infectious all describe the exchange of energy that takes place every day in my professional life and I am grateful. My work is passionate – the best and the worst. We work hard, we feel our cause deeply, and we want to share it with everyone. And we get frustrated – sometimes too much. We want people to understand, show up and give time and money. Like any love story, we want people to love our cause and when they don’t, we hate rejection. And like in the same love story, we quickly forgive and try again. Work is not just a job for us, it is hard to leave it at the office, and we are rewarded big time when our young leaders grow up and are the change we guided and nurtured.
In the last two years, I have taken the word vacation seriously and lived it is as a verb. Last year, in honor of our 15th wedding anniversary, we took our kids to Puerto Vallarta for 10 days. And this year, we traveled to Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York. Months later, I still smile reliving moments from the trip. You learn a lot about people when you travel with them, especially your family. First, my kids are 11 and 6 and great. And they like to talk a lot… a lot, which is great when you are traveling because without the distraction of television, iPad, cell phones or computers, they are ready to talk about almost anything. And somehow we, as parents, are less annoying in another part of the world. In Washington, we loved the museums, the tour of the White House and my favorite, the Monuments by Moonlight tour. Visiting Lincoln Memorial at night, with all the lights evoked so much emotion. As I walked up, I tried to put it all in perspective for both kids. For the 6 year old who loves the Transformers’ movie series, I reminded him of the most recent 3rd movie where the Lincoln Memorial had been destroyed, revealing the magic of the movies. For my 11 year old, once we finished climbing the stairs, I put my arm around her and read the entire Gettysburg Address. As I read these words to my daughter, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here,” I realized that this moment would live on for me and hopefully for her. I embraced this and every moment of our vacation.
I fell in love this summer. As my husband and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, I was reminded of what a great guy he is. He makes me laugh all the time, even if I am crying. When I’m down, he makes me smile; when I need strength, he holds my hand; he is a great friend and a wonderful father. Like many marriages, we are not always on the same page, but luckily and with some work, we come back together. And then there are my friends. Ten years ago, I had a friendship break up. People come in and out of life, but when those who have been around a long time leave you, it is sad. It took a long time for me to treasure new friendships. Luckily, I have had a best friend who held onto me during all the rocky roads I walked. With her help, I learned to trust myself and others again. She has been my friend since I am 11 and she really has taught me love in friendship. Because of her, I learned to be a better friend and now am fortunate to have close friends who I can count on and who can count on me.
Praying and meditating are the most healing exercises I practiced this summer. In January, I began a Jewish meditation class that was half meditation and half Torah study. At the beginning, my expectations were low as I had no idea what to expect. I had been to one meditative prayer service in December and it was great, different, beautiful and physically affected me. My reaction was so visceral that when a friend suggested this class, I said yes without hesitation. It began as an opportunity to learn to meditate and discuss the weekly Torah portion and it grew into a deeper meaningful experience. In the past, I had felt out of place in synagogue and longed for the ease and comfort that I saw in others. This group became my minyan, my place to learn Torah and most important, my place to learn to pray with deeper meaning. I prayed before, I have always considered myself spiritual, engaging in conversations with G-d. This was different. Meditation has helped me cope in other areas of my life, not just in synagogue. Torah study has given me knowledge, confidence and also impacted other areas in my life. This summer, after six months studying with an amazing spiritual leader, Rabbi Ruth Sohn and an incredible, generous group of people, I came to understand what a gift this is to me. After searching for years, I found a place to call my own.
So, if it all was so joyous, what was distracting and frustrating – life. With all good, there is the not-so-good. Traffic, noise, heat, and all the petty annoyances seem bigger when you are in it. And as I write this, I realize just how much writing helps to lessen those and remind me of all the joy and gratitude I have for what is my life.
Wishing all who celebrate a sweet and joyful New Year!