Sunday, June 30, 2013

Align Your Voices

In the past few weeks, I participated in two extraordinary healing meditations with Dina Bernat-Kunin. There were several profound moments that occurred for me, but what sticks most is how Dina gave clarity to the voices within us.  And this is my interpretation:

Head voice - My practical, analytical voice that turns a problem over and over to come up with the "right" answer.

Heart voice - My compassionate, kind and more forgiving voice that allows me to see another's perspective.  I am more open to the "grays' of the situation.

Gut voice - My impulsive or that pull that guides me to make a decision because "it feels right."

This gave me such clarity as I had been lost inside my head recently with my own internal conflicts.  What to do?  What to say?  I come to an answer because all the facts prove my point, but I know that someone could be hurt or upset if I speak factually.  Or I need to say something right now because this information must be heard but it can also have some ripple effect that could impact negatively on others.

After my sessions with Dina, it became clear to me that working to get these three voices aligned will make my decisions feel right, clear, and soulful.  It is the process that helps me see the issue from all these sides and it is this process that gives me the clarity to own my decisions with greater strength, hold them closer to my heart and feel them in my gut.

It also reminded me that it is not about right or wrong, it is about how I learn to feel that my decision is the best for me at this time in my life.  Nothing is perfect, but with my head, heart and gut working together, answers come more freely and with greater confidence.

For more information about Dina, visit her website -

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Re-Active or Pro-Active: Chaos or Solution

Several times this week, I wondered if I was reacting (without being thoughtful) or if I was being pro-active.  While I remain committed to "being in solution," I am human and can't help but sometimes react poorly to a situation.  

To diminish the chaos in my life and more importantly in my head, here are some tools I use to be pro-active:
  • Meditate - finding time once a week to meditate with my group and to study has helped clear my mind so that I can process situations better.  Also, I know have found a group at work so that we can clear our minds for 10-20 minutes each week.
  • Take a walk - It may sound silly, picture this: I receive an email that is very upsetting and I start typing my response with such anger in my fingers that I feel like a cartoon character pounding at the keys.  When this happens, I delete the response, stand up and walk away from my computer.  Depending on how upset I am, I either walk into a colleague's office or take a walk down the street.  Fresh air gives me clarity that I can't get looking directly at the computer.
  • Count to 10 - I admit that I am often short tempered with my kids.  After a full day of work, and repeating requests for them to do simple tasks around the house can really drive me crazy.  So when I hear myself getting louder than I want and engaging in the chaos, I count to 10, walk around my house to another room, catch my breath and return to start the conversation again.
These tools help me at home, with my family, my colleagues and even when doing business with strangers.  And like working a muscle, the more I focus on being pro-active, I then feel stronger, calmer, more productive and better at making decisions for the greater good.

Have a good weekend and hope you are pro-active!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Want for Something Better

Today, my friends and I shared a wonderful meditation with Dina Bernat-Kunin who guided us to help us heal, move energy within our bodies, ease the burdens of every day life, and find a way to be unstuck.  My own experience this morning was powerful and as I focused on paying attention to my heavy heart, I physically felt a shift in my heart.

Once my friends left, I thought about how I got to this place in my life where meditation is nurturing, safe, and healing.  I could not have done this in my thirties.  I was trying too hard to become successful professionally, get married and maintain friendships that I held close.  Looking back, I realize that I wanted thoughtful space but did not call it meditation.  I went for long walks and sometimes even found peace in running.  Driving distances over 20-30 minutes also gave me time to think about my life, listen to music or talk radio, or simply get lost in the beauty of the landscape.

The moments that made me step into that better place was dressed as need, but I think now that it was a deep want.  My most successful transformations have come when I wanted it most.  I would say loudly,  "I need to change..." But the growth of my professional career, my personal life and my continuous pull to learn was and is driven by my realization that I want more.

My needs are basic - food, water, air, and love.   My wants are peace, joy, commitment, purpose, continuous education, laughter, comfort and someone to hold my hand.  I want to help my husband and my kids to live in truth and make decisions that are best for them.  I want partners in the community, teachers who inspire, and friends who share their lives.  And I want to walk on this journey and feel that I am always in the right place at the time.

And looking at my life right today, I can say, "So far, so good!"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Know The Right Amount

As I sit in synagogue this morning trying manage the continuous script in my head, "If only I knew Hebrew, this experience would be better."  I know enough to follow along, but not enough to speak or read to understand.  Sometimes, this chatter in my head makes me sad because I love being in synagogue and often sing and chant by memory.  

Today, my daughter sat down next to me and saw the sadness on my face.  When she asked what was wrong, I was honest.  "I don't know enough," I said.  My 12-year-old daughter immediately responds, "You know the right amount."  Her words are so kind, I ask her to repeat them.  As she repeated the words, "You know the right amount" a smile crosses my face and I can feel myself physically relax.  

So, in my ongoing search to find solutions, I need help to identify my problem.  What is it that I want to accomplish:

To learn to speak Hebrew or
To deepen my ability to prayer without knowing Hebrew or
To deepen my ability to prayer with knowing Hebrew or
To deepen my study and practice of meditation or
To learn more Torah text or

I am on a journey.  I know that learning is the key to this journey.  I am not sure what my next steps will be or how or when these problems will become great opportunities.

Today I will simply appreciate my daughter's words and be grateful that I know the right amount. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

View of the World

My son and his friend are having trouble getting along.  Some suggested that they take a break from each other, but I think my little 7 year old and his friend behave more like an old married couple than friends who should be separated.  The boy's mother and I have had productive conversations about how their friendship models a more mature relationship and their constant bickering allows them the ability to learn to fight, make up and then resume their friendship. 

This weekend it occurred to me that the reason their friendship has this tension is because they view the world differently.  Both kids are great, funny and articulate.  One is passionate and reacts with his emotions.  He is bright-eyed, curious and he smiles the minute he sees you.  One is even-tempered, literal, a rule follower and constantly policing others. 

These two drastic views of the world cause them to irritate each other.  The boy's mother and I decided that in the coming weeks we will work with the boys to help them see each other's perspective and create some opportunities for them to be on the same team, do an activity together and simply have some fun.  

What if, as adults, we tried harder to think the same way?  When I am in conflict with others, I will think about their perspective, their world view.  Is this not compassion, kindness and even mindfulness?  What is your intention?  Does it conflict with mine?  Are we all here for the greater good?  

We all think we are right.  At what point, do I say, "I don't know" and "Can you help me?"  I want to work well with others.  I, too, was having some difficulties with a friend and it was frustrating.  I could not see my friend's perspective and nor could my friend see mine.  And then there was a shift.  Where we had been on opposite sides of the street, we were now walking together and it seems as though we now speak the same language.  

I am grateful for the ability to articulate my view of the world so that others can hear and for the ability to see theirs.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Cup Bubbles Over - It is Who I am!

What an amazing evening tonight for my colleagues and me.   We were lucky enough to be selected as award recipients by the Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California and tonight was the award ceremony.  It is truly an honor when those who work with your are genuinely celebrating and cheering you on for the job well done.  The room was full of family, friend, kind strangers who took a moment out of their lives to come together to honor a colleague who succeeds and gets recognized for work well done.

As I step into the role as Co-President of the JCPSC, I see the road ahead and am proud to help strengthen our networks, build some new programs and take time to learn with each other.

Below is my speech from tonight's award ceremony.  It will give you a small glimpse into my gratitude for my professional life.

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Thank you so much for this award.  And congratulations to everyone receiving an award this evening, I am honored to be in your company.

Thank you to Robyn for nominating me and to JCPSC for recognizing me with the Excellence in Fundraising Award.  I am deeply honored to receive this recognition for simply loving what I do everyday.

How many of you see the glass half full?

How many of you see the glass half empty?   You don' t answer that.

Well, I have been told that I see the glass bubbling over.  When you say, "Good," I say, Great," when you say, "I like it," I say, "I love it," and when I say, "Think Big and Dream Big," I mean it.  It is what I do…it is who I am.

In my opinion, people give money to people they care about and to organizations that are solving the problems they want solved.  So I spend most of my time asking people to care about our community.  Some days it is hard, but every day it is still the best job in the world because I too care so deeply for our community.  I want what donors want.  I want to solve problems, I want to learn and I want to share these incredible experiences with them.  Our community is rich with people who are doing good right now.  It is an exciting time, it is serious business and I am grateful for all the wonderful opportunities that I have had and will continue to have.

My job allows me to meet heads of state, travel around the world, and witness moments that transform the lives of donors and those we serve.  Fundraising means so much more than asking for money.  I am a partner to so many dedicated lay leaders who donate their time and money.  Thank you to Sharon Janks for being one of those extraordinary partners and with whom I have worked closely for the past 6 years.  Thank you to Jay Sanderson and Nancy Sacks who listen to all of my ideas and sometimes even say, "Yes."  And I am only here today thanks to my incredible colleagues who laugh with me, cry with me, teach me, and get me through some tough days.  So many of you are here tonight and I am truly grateful.

I would not be able to do my job well without the support of my husband Perry, and my kids Madeleine and Elliot.  My family listens to the stories of the day, we share many Jewish experiences together and they forgive my occasional long hours away from them.

When I was growing up, I did not know that this would be my chosen profession.  But I watched my dad, may he rest in peace, go to work every day loving his job.  And I also watched my mother who is here tonight take care of us with the same dedication.  In fact, I used to refer to her as the CFO of our house.  I didn't follow in their footsteps exactly, but as I continue to pave my own way, I take with me their enthusiasm and commitment.

Thank you again to the JCPSC for this moment.  This is fantastic and I am thrilled to share it with you all tonight.   And as I take on the leadership role of Co-President with Saul, be prepared for every one of your glasses to also bubble over.  Thank you.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

This Week I Felt Like A Rebel

In the past eighteen months, I have attended meditation and Torah study at shul almost every weekend. It is the best book club ever.  Week to week we read the stories of the Torah and apply the lessons to our every day life.  Visions of walking with any one of the Jewish leaders brings me back every week to learn more.  This is the longest I have ever stayed connected to a group.  The wisdom and simple connection that I feel when our group shares our thoughts and experience is elevating.  And of course, the lessons seem to speak to me because of an issue that I am dealing with either personally or professionally.

This week is no different.  One of the great teachers we study is Rabbi Shefa Gold. In her book, "Torah Journeys," Rabbi Gold teaches about the rebel within.  Below is the spiritual challenge she offers with this week's torah portion.

As we celebrate Shabbat this weekend, take a moment to meditate with this guidance.  Thank you Rabbi Gold for the beautiful teaching and your nurturing wisdom.


     This week of Korach sends me to memories of those times I was called rebellious. I remember my confusion; my only aim was to speak my truth and fight against what I perceived as hypocrisy. Now I see that I lacked patience, compassion and humility, but my intentions were good and the passion that moved me came from the sacred core of Divine Essence within me.

THE PRACTICE FOR THIS WEEK of Korach is to dig up the rebel buried within you and combine her essence with the specific qualities that you have worked long and hard to develop.

REMEMBER YOUR OWN PASSION which may have, over time, been dampened by life's disappointments.

REMEMBER THE REBEL you once were and the energy that moved through you at that time. In the portion of Korach, the earth opens her mouth and swallows the rebels. They are planted in the ground like seeds, waiting for just the right conditions to grow into their fullness.

IMAGINE THE REBEL YOU ONCE WERE as a seed planted deep in the ground. Now you can bring to that seed exactly the qualities that would help it grow.

YOU CAN WATER IT WITH PATIENCE, shine on it the light of compassion, and fertilize the soil with all the shit you've been through.

Shabbat Shalom.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What's Your Word?

What words define you?  This week, I was lucky enough to staff some meetings with guest speaker Natan Sharansky.  Having heard him before in a larger event, I was looking forward to the smaller meetings that were scheduled.  In one of the meetings, he was asked, "You were a prisoner, dissident, Member of the Knesset, and now Chairman of the Jewish Agency - what did each role mean to you?"  Sharansky responded with such clarity, "Those are just titles, in every role, I fought for identity and human rights."  I was moved by the foundation of his principles and how he held onto those principles no matter what.

Last week, at another event, I was again lucky to hear Leon Panetta give a very compelling and passionate speech about his life and politics.  I was again moved by the clarity in which he described his life's journey.  With every position in which he served, Mr. Panetta said that he accepted the job as though he was "answering the call."

So for the past few days, I have been thinking about my personal life and professional career and wondered what words would use to define me.  The word that best describes me is "Solution."  Looking at the past few years, I realize that the most critical moments were about overcoming hardships, personally and professionally.  Not every solution is profound or right, but it is still nonetheless a solution, a way to move forward.  It doesn't feel good to be stuck and therefore, living in "solution" helps with being "unstuck."  This past year, I noticed that my colleagues and I began referring to my office as "the solution room" which prompted me to name my blog, "My Solution Room."  It feels good and it feels right.

My life is not perfect, but it is real.  Living in solution does not mean I don't have problems.  There is still so much to do - personally and professionally.  Even when I am afraid and worried, I try to focus on what needs to be done.  Sometimes things are difficult and I feel paralyzed, but I know that a solution will come.

So what words describe you?