October 26, 2016

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My New Adventure!

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”
Lewis Carroll

I ran into a friend recently who asked me why I was blogging so infrequently these days. Besides being flattered that she noticed my absence, I was SUPER excited to tell her what I was doing with my writing time…and I’m even more excited to tell you.

Are you ready?

I’m working with my husband to launch a podcast about parenting and things that matter to families!

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What? Was that a gasp? Can you even believe it?

Ha! OK – so maybe this isn’t the most dramatic development but still, Billy and I have been having a blast plotting, planning, and recording this new venture.

For the moment I’ll spare you the backstory of how we found our way in front of the mics and instead invite you to check it out for yourself.  The first episode explains what you can expect from the short (30 minute) discussion and the show description says:

This podcast is a dialog about challenges and opportunities parents face as they raise kids, enjoy marriage, and live a purpose-filled life. These honest conversations give parents fodder so they can talk to each other, be encouraged, and recognize they aren’t raising kids alone.

So go over to iTunes and search for “Between Parents”  (or click this link).

We would LOVE to hear what you think and what topics you would love to have us discuss!  So while I’ll be blogging less, you’ll actually be “hearing” from me more!

Can’t wait to catch you over there!

October 24, 2016

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How to Tackle Monday

Are you dreading today?

One study says most people don’t crack a smile on Mondays until after 11 a.m.!

What in the world???!!!  One seventh of your life is Monday, so it’s crazy to dread today.  Today is precious.

What are you waiting for?

Before doing anything, start by smiling.  You should be embarrassed if you wait until 11 to crack a grin!! Take a power pose and identify ONE single step you can take toward a goal or dream.

Scoff at fear.  Try something new. Have fun!

Do you need a visual of what that looks like?  Well, I’ve got just the thing…

55 seconds of the canine variety.

Figure out where there’s a pile of leaves in your world, then jump in.

You’ve got nothing to fear!

October 16, 2016

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On the Road Dining: Taiyaki NYC

I like to think I am up on food trends, but every time I go to New York I am reminded staying current is as much luck as anything else. I think it’s easiest to follow recommendations from friends you trust and let them take you any place they love.

During my last trip to New York I went to a three-day-old spot in Chinatown.

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Thanks to Courtney, one of my local/transplant friends, I felt VERY hip. She had read about a new, VERY popular dessert shop with “fish and ice cream” called Taiyaki.

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Um. What?
Ice cream and fish?
Yup.

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Imagine Japanese-inspired ice cream – think black sesame, bean curd, green tea – served in a fish shaped waffle-ish cone and then topped with a delicate topping of your choice PLUS a surprise custard in most orders.
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If you don’t know what to order or what flavors go well together, Taiyaki has helpful menu suggestions to discover the perfect combo. Of course, if you’re not feeling adventurous, you can always go with a fruit option.

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Like many popular spots, don’t expect much seating or places to hang out, but while we were staying around the store, the owner, Jimmy Chen, walked over to say hello. Chen is a recent NYU grad who fell in love with this dessert while he was traveling in Japan and decided to bring it back to Manhattan (he says it’s the first place of its kind).

Props to Jimmy!!  We loved our experience and are thrilled there’s a “new fish in town.”

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If you live in New York or travel there, be sure to check it out!

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DELISH!!!

October 8, 2016

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What You Know When You’re 12

Don’t you love the prefix “Pre”?

We all know pre means “before,” and I find those three letters surprisingly optimistic and cheerful.

I think PREgame, PREsale, or PREschedule.  All fun things, right?

Today I have a 12-year-old son (what??) who is, by definition, a PREteen.

He is PREparing for some marvelous years ahead filled with opportunities and privileges he’s just starting to imagine. But there’s already so much adventure at age 12, I don’t want to rush through what is already in place. I want to celebrate what PRE brings us now.

Maybe your preteen experience isn’t fresh in your mind, so here are a few reminders of a 12-year-old mindset and how it’s  leveraged in daily life.

Fashion Freedom

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Comfort Rules!

There is no shame in wearing shorts year round if they keep you out of uncomfortable jeans. Warmth is overrated!
Are you interested in pairing earth tones with neon? Go for it!
Why are there fashion rules anyway? No one needs those!
If anyone (including your best friend) tells you to go to a cotillion anything — RUN!  Sheesh… that was terrible.

You do you. Ignore everyone else!

Shoelessness

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Barefoot is always choice #1.
Flip flops are a close second.
Tennis shoes are a negotiated settlement so you don’t have to wear anything from the loafer family!

If you are losing battles for the more appealing options, put the shoes you dislike someplace where no reasonably minded person would ever look… and always know where to find a pair of flip flops when the search is abandoned.

Lightening Fast Learning

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Focus intently on the Marvel movie trailers and learn every bit of dialog. Memorize the release dates of movies, TV shows, and Rotten Tomato scores. Even if you can sing every last lyric from the Hamilton musical (leaving out the swear words), chances are people may still believe you have forgotten test dates.

This is your last window to leverage the “just a kid” thing, so play both sides of the intelligence field!

Yes, and…

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There are so many things to explore. Parents still think you need to be exposed to a wide variety of stuff, so say yes. Go with the flow. Learn magic tricks. Take up the banjo, or cello, or both! Learn to bake cupcakes. Spray paint random things. If parents offer to take you to a new state, see it as an adventure and don’t complain (or they may stop).

If you have the chance to see American Ninja Warrior, WILL yourself to stay awake until 3 am. Saying yes (even when it means losing sleep) usually has great payoffs.

Notice Little Things

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Read the fine print and notice everything that interests you. Watch where your mom hides chocolate chips for her baking. Arrange your Lego mini-figures so you know if anyone has messed with them without permission. Track football rankings so you know which team deserves your support (carving out Broncos, Bruins, and Jackets!).

Look for patterns –  like how signals are timed, when frogs are most likely to be in the pool, and what the dog is doing when he’s trying to find a good place to sleep. Become an expert on the lesser-known benefits of missing teeth (like using the space for holding chopsticks).

Stay Nimble

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You have better eyes than your parents. You can read fine print and navigate to websites before they can find their glasses. Pay attention to this type sequencing. Sure, they use words like “sequencing” which can be confusing, but you can move faster than they.

Speed is your friend and flexibility is your cousin, so keep them close.

Remember Promises

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When your parents thought riding to elementary school wasn’t possible without getting killed (who needs sidewalks or bike lanes?!) and they PROMISED you could ride your bike to Middle School, hold them to it. Know the precise age your older sister got her phone and then constantly remind your parents of their obligation to you. If they promised Taco Tuesday three weeks ago, don’t let it go.

Parents have faulty memories. It is your job to remind them of their duties.

Make ‘Em Laugh

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Things go better when people are smiling. Punishments seem to be lighter and getting past the stink eye is easier if you push someone’s funny button. Use voices. Wear costumes. Remember what makes each individual laugh. This skill will serve you well.

To our wonderful, amazing, 12-year-old son Josh, you are the very best 12 years a boy could be…and you’re just getting started.

Happy Happy YOU day!!

 

October 3, 2016

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Find Someone To Teach

“The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.
You open your safe and find ashes.”

Annie Dillard

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You are an expert in something.

Seriously. You are. I’m not talking PhD/TED speaker/Professor categories, but more daily things.  Think about all of the categories of your life.

Maybe you know how to make perfect steamed eggs.
Or you can swipe your stainless steel sink streakless.
You could be an alliteration ninja.
Perhaps you have incredible Photoshop skills.
Or you use iOS 10 so well you actually understand where your music lives and remember to swipe left for your camera.
Some people are dog whisperers while others know how to jump start a car without electrocuting themselves.
You could be totally fluent in emoji.
Maybe you understand Facebook algorithms.
Whether you have a GPS system hardwired into your brain or just know where to find the perfect bowl of pho in every major city, you have insights others don’t have.

Whatever that thing is, share.

Give your knowledge and expertise to others without an expectation of being paid back. Don’t look for a quid pro quo. Just keep your eyes open for opportunities to give your insights to others.

Teach what you know for no other reason than to make the world a better place.

This feels like a reasonable goal for today, don’t you think?

September 27, 2016

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Finding Perspective

Have you you ever heard of a Lepidopterist?  How about an Entomologist?

Well, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History employs people whose job it is to understand insects, moths, and butterflies. There are people who curate over 80% of the world’s bird species and millions of samples of minerals. The collections are MASSIVE and the organization of the whole thing makes me a little weepy. (The drawers are so very pretty!)

I watched this fascinating snapshot and thought of two obvious, but need-to-be-stated facts:

#1 – People have crazy jobs.

Seriously. I underestimate the variety and depth of work people have.  I recently learned an old proverb, “The clever fox knows many things, but the old hedgehog knows one big thing.”  The guys and gals at the Smithsonian are a array* of hedgehogs! They go DEEEEEP!

#2 – The world in an amazing place.

If you’re frustrated with politics or discouraged by current circumstances, step back and think about the breadth and depth of our amazing world. Get a little perspective. God deserves every ounce of admiration we can muster because DANG is this globe a mind-blowing creative place.

Just taste a little of the awesomeness for yourself.

And remember, you’re in good hands!

 

September 26, 2016

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Avoid Leadership Malpractice

“Before I do anything I ask myself, ‘Would an idiot do that?’
and if the answer is yes, I do not do that thing.”

Dwight Schrute, The Office

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Years ago I went with a girlfriend as her “plus one” to her company party. I immediately thought I had wandered into an episode of The Office.

It was  M I S E R A B L E.

The “team” had scheduled the time together and by hook or crook they were going to have fun. The boss was running the show and he seemed oblivious to the rolled eyes when he spoke. He barely noticed people slink away to check emails or leave altogether.

Perhaps the awkwardness was terrible because the team didn’t enjoy each other, but I have seen a similar dynamic play out at home and with friends. Under specific conditions, being together feels like a forced march through mud with a pebble in your shoe on a 100-degree day.

Unfortunately, these circumstances aren’t limited to parties. We feel the “get me out of here”  at family dinners, team meetings, company outings.

There are plenty of ways to destroy fun and kill camaraderie, but the quickest are to:

  • Move too fast
  • Schedule too much
  • Put your pleasure at the center of an activity

Every leader fails occasionally, but there should be some sort of leadership malpractice when a team is in perpetual dread of a leader’s plans. If you are responsible for others, there are simple ways to counteract the drudgery and ratchet up the fun.  Begin with these three basics:

  • Set modest goals
  • Build in margin
  • Prioritize serving your team (not making them serve you)

You don’t have to make huge adjustments, just dial back the over-developed sense of urgency. In the process, not only will the results be more enjoyable, you will likely discover what’s really important.

September 23, 2016

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Book Review: Everything I Never Told You

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Since I dialed back writing this past summer, I dialed up reading.  I soaked in words. I bathed in stories. I swam in tales.

As you might imagine, all of my books have water stains.

So. Much. Fun.

I’ve debated where to begin sharing, but I decided to start with my favorite summer read because, well, because I’m impatient that way.

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast.”

These are the first couple of sentences in Celeste Ng’s novel Everything I Never Told You.

If that were the only sentence I gave you, chances are you would think this was a mystery or whodunit read. You would only be partly right. Given the subject matter, it’s surprising how much I enjoyed this book, but dang is the writing good!

Beginning with the title of the book, the communication theme is easy to catch.

“The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you–whether because you didn’t get to have your say, or because the other person never got to hear you and really wanted to.”

There are plot twists and insights galore, but most of them are revelations the readers learn which are invisible to the characters. We find out how the father flirts with abandoning his family.

“You could stop taking their phone calls, tear up their letters, pretend they’d never existed. Start over as a new person with a new life. Just a problem of geography, he thought, with the confidence of someone who had never yet tried to free himself of family.”

And how the mother drifts in and out of engaging in the grieving process.

“It would disappear forever from her memory of Lydia, the way memories of a lost loved one always smooth and simplify themselves, shedding complexities like scales.”

The story grapples with being misunderstood.

 “People decide what you’re like before they even get to know you.”

And with what will be missed when someone you love dies. Ng is unblinking in her assessment of a family which has regrets and lives with unanswered questions.

“All of that will be gone by morning. Instead, they will dissect this last evening for years to come. What had they missed that they should have seen? What small gesture, forgotten, might have changed everything? They will pick it down to the bones, wondering how this had all gone so wrong, and they will never be sure.”

By the end of the novel, the reader knows more than the people in the story. While this might feel unsatisfying, I found it encouraging. I wish I could say more, but I’m afraid it would spoil your experience.

September 22, 2016

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Always Finding The Best At Work

I have a new hero and he’s an elevator operator in Los Angeles.

You just HAVE to meet him.

Ruben Pardo has had his self-described “up and down” career for 40 years, and he loves his work. He takes pride in the precision of his skills and values the opportunity to connect with people.

I am challenged by Ruben’s positivity and am going to seek him out the next time I’m in L.A.

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart…

 

September 21, 2016

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Enjoying Today’s Season

“How was your summer?”

I know. For all practical purposes, summer’s been over since the kids went back to school. Still, I ask people I haven’t seen since June this opening question.

More than once – three times to be exact – the reply has been something to the effect of “meh.” Apparently summer is too hot, too unstructured, and has far too little football for the taste of many people.

I get it. Really, I do.

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I put football on TV at the first kick-off as a comforting backdrop noise reminding me that fall is indeed coming.

Apple pie season is around the corner.
I can let my pedicure go VERY soon.
Brussels Sprouts are going to be cheap.

Fireplaces, blankets, and soup will join the daily routine.

The summer sun will soften to a more gentle light, and if we can get out of 90 degree weather, life will be grand!
The anticipation is palpable.

If I’m not careful, I can look and long for what’s next and inadvertently look past what’s now. I can idealize what’s coming up and forfeit the enjoyment of today.

And, we all know every season comes with challenges.

Back to school routines are no joke.
Winter is, for the non-California dwelling among us, gray and icky.
Spring is a Claritin-filled fog.
Summer is — well, we’ve covered that.

Anticipation is best when it’s lightly sprinkled into a day; when it tilts us forward and makes us aware of opportunities and hope. However, today has joys and treasures, lessons and learnings for us. Being present is always a good option.

Yes, fall is happy. Treasure it.  Still, I hope you were able to enjoy summer as well!