Beautiful

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What do sex, faith and race all have in common? Your perception of each relies on your perspective.

I LOVE this! Not only because it was a question posed by a Senior high school boy for whom I hold high regard, but because his answer gave me much to think about while standing in an open field, holding a piece of painted metal in the hot morning sun. Rather than melt, I was cooled by the “aha” of how much I value perception, perspective and the heartfelt knowing of who stands for me, and for whom I stand.

Last week, at 9pm, an email from a mom I had known since my daughter’s days at her K-8 school came in. Help! Her son had bumped up against the deadline of his Senior Project and he needed several pairs of hands the next day to help finish it out. Without asking why or for what, I immediately responded Yes. To me, it wasn’t about the details, but the act of showing up for a friend and simply doing what was needed – something I personally place a high value on.

The next morning, with curiosity and delight, we Moms found ourselves in a large wet grassy field in the rolling and beautiful back valley of a local school, moving as directed – to the right, to the left, a little higher and a little lower. Turns out the project, built on learnings from The Beautiful Project, was the brainchild of this young man we had watched grow from a gangly, bright little middle school boy into a thoughtful, smart, handsome and quirky young man. I loved his project – he wrote poems and short stories about perception and perspective when one looks at sex, faith and race and then physically cut metal pieces, hand painted them and used his talent for math and science to parcel each piece individually, so that when standing at a distance, different pieces made up the words Sex, Faith and Race. One big giant metaphor.

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As I stood there and laughed, I also stood there and wept.

I wept for his creative brilliance. I wept for the support and sincere good cheer this group of moms gave to each other and to these kids over the last 12 years (and for the amazing and loving friends and family who showed up for my daughter over the last few weeks to celebrate her high school graduation). I wept for the friend who taught our children creative applications to intellectual challenges, and was no longer living to see us all standing in the field. I wept for the end of this era. I wept for the future this young man had in front of him, and how special it was that he would leave his legacy in the grassy fields of his high school.

Touched to my core, I raised my metal piece high, and low, and side to side. And when I was done, I left with my own new perspective. Amazing what our kids can teach us.

Who do you MindFULLY stand for and who stands for you? Let us know!

 

 

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Hallowed Halls of High School

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Have you ever laughed so hard that you thought you might wet your pants?

I have. On more than one occasion. And usually that occasion involves an old friend from high school.

I graduated from high school a very long time ago. I’m beyond blessed to still be in touch with some wonderful people from that time in my life. And as my own daughter marches toward High School graduation in less than a month, I can’t help but to be flooded with observations, insights and memories.

OK, according to old friends, maybe not so many memories. Recently they reminded me of prom fiascos, adolescent dramas and people who I swear I would not remember if they fell in my soup. For better or worse, I didn’t remember many of their tales.

But amidst the belly laughs I’ve had with them recently, I also had a belly ache when I learned of the death of one of the more prominent figures of those hazy high school days. Not that I had seen this old friend since college, but to learn his life had not been easy, wasn’t enough to erase the picture of a young, sweet, handsome boy my girlfriend had loved in high school.

As my daughter has both feet out the door and both arms wrapped around our legs, it has been a year of constant thoughts and body memories. And according to Why You Truly Never Leave High School, an old New Yorker article I re-discovered recently, there is good reason.

http://nymag.com/news/features/high-school-2013-1/

Take a read, and if you care to, let your mind wander. Maybe you have no interest in going back there. Maybe you’re curious with time and distance. See what comes up and if you want, how you remember that time in your life. Then, try and find a friend or family member from that time and see how they remember it. Chances are, you will gain insight into something of today that connects back to a year you rarely think of.

Then, be kind to yourself and cheer the person you have grown to be, understand that it’s natural for grown people to sometimes act like they are still in high school, and maybe call an old friend and reconnect.

And along the way, don’t forget to laugh…

How do you MindFULLY remember High School? Let us know!

 

 

 

 

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I was recently reminded of the oldie but goodie, Autobiography in Five Paragraphs. Once again I was faced with a situation that would have brought me to the edge of the hole, had I not been that road before. And before. And before.

But this time, I recognized the road traveled. And it was actually a no-brainer to make a left turn. I had come to learn that there was another way of looking at the street I was on, something different to see and often, someone new to meet. Pride, relief and a smidge of gratitude wafted up from my toes.

Sometimes you just have to adjust your internal GPS and trust that a new way can lead you home. And if you can’t find your way? It’s OK to ask for directions.

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

 Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

– Portia Nelson

How do you know when to MindFULLY walk down a different road?

Let us know!

JOY

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Last weekend we saw the movie,  JOY. I went in wanting to love it. As someone who barely showers without having an idea, I thought it would motivate me.

It did.

But not in the way I thought it would.

And therein lies one of my favorite life learnings — “You always get what you want, it’s just not always in the package you think it’s going to come in.”

I thought the movie was good, but I didn’t love Jennifer Lawrence. She seemed too young and pretty to be the real Joy, whom I had seen interviewed. And while I could spend the day looking at Bradley Cooper, again I didn’t see him in the role. It all felt too predictable.

The part that felt motivating was yes, in a small way, to continue my journey toward making my own dreams a reality, but also … to organize my closet, yet again! As I was walking through Bed Bath and Beyond, I saw the JOY display. They are really milking the marketing. And I bought right in. Those skinny, purple velvet hangers called my name. As one with a small closet and not a lot of room, I am constantly cleaning out and trying to keep my few things in order. The hangers promised to double my space. Not so sure they did that, but everything is now hanging at a level eye and nothing is slipping off onto the floor. Opening my closet and seeing everything nicely hung, brings me joy. And I love that the hangers are purple and say JOY. What a wonderful thing to see when I take something out. Looking at the hanger reminds me of how lucky I am to have something I en-joy wearing.

 

After re-doing my closet and reflecting on the story,  what I also came away loving was the connection I felt to the movie itself and as such, to my friend Sharon, whom I miss madly. Her brother, Alan, edited the film and the very last credit read: In Loving Memory of Sharon Baumgarten Maifeld (and two others). Sharon always made me laugh, lighten up and reframe my feelings. My joy at having had such a loving friend in my life for so long is twinged with sadness, but joy seeps in when I wear some of the things she left me and I am able to channel her wisdom and love.

So, the next time you go to a movie and hold an expectation, see if you can expand your perspective a little. It may hold something different for you. Then again, you might simply en-joy it.

 What MindFULLY brings you joy? Let us know!

 

 

 

18 Gentle Reminders

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picLive and Learn. What else can we do? This Fall was a rough one. I won’t bore you with the details; it wasn’t dramatic and who wants to hear someone else’s stuff when everyone has their own fish to fry? But let just say that “fry” is the key word – at times I felt like I had gone from the pan to the fire. For me, the heat was even higher when I knew I was smart enough to do better…and yet, I couldn’t.

Lathering on the metaphorical balm last weekend, I spent Sunday in bed, napping, watching TV and re-reading old journals, looking for ways to bring perspective back into focus. Lucky for me, I have some very wise friends, have read some helpful books along the way and was able to find advice that I had jotted down in old journals, for just these times.

In Judaism, 18 is the number associated with “Life.” When I found our house on Zillow, one of the things I noticed was that the zip code was 80218. Re-reading some of my journal entries brought me back to “life” and so, given this is the season of lists, I thought I’d share my 18 Gentle Reminders. I am splitting them up between this MindFULL Monday and next. May you glance them over and feel as if you are sitting by a warm, cozy fire… and not in it…

  1. Notice people, numbers, sayings, songs that send you a message at just the right time (I call mine Binky Blinks. You can make up a name for yours). When you pay attention, they will appear. Promise.
  2. Sometimes we assume something about the other person that just isn’t true. Funny thing is that chances are both of us are experiencing similar things in a different way. We all try and be right and can miss what we need to hear and learn from.
  3. Gratitude is the best medicine. Everyday write down 3 things you are grateful for. If you’re sad, try best to come up with 10.
  4. We all have “soft spots” – parts of ourselves that are tender. One of mine is “not enough.” Sometimes folks “hit the spot” inadvertently and then we tend to “go South.” Best advice I’ve gotten: When an event is happening with someone, you have to decide if it needs to be solved or just let it pass through you. The moment the chatter starts, lean away from it (most people lean in and get involved). Get some space and give it room to pass through (from The UnTethered Soul).
  5. How people act is because of something in THEM. It’s not you, even if it feels like it is! Really. (Tough to remember but oh so true, whether you are 17 or 53…)
  6. “There’s another possibility of how to look at that…” Pretend the situation is a pie, cut it into slices and write all the ways you can imagine it could be (Special Thanks to Rena Tobey for teaching me this technique).
  7. We all grapple. It’s human nature. There’s nothing wrong with us. Try and shift from damning (y)ourselves to finding nurturing ground.
  8. Ask yourself, “What brings me peace in the most healthy way?” Make a list so you can take kind care of yourself during trying times. For me it’s re-reading excerpts from helpful conversations, warm baths and walks around my favorite park with my friend and her dog.
  9. Learn and know your strengths and weaknesses. We all have ‘em. There is no shame, just understanding. Understanding helps us re-frame, and re-frame can equal ease.

 

Check back next week for 9 more MindFULL Gentle Reminders! How do you MindFULLY turn down your heat? Let us know!

Tis The Season To Be Creative

It’s the holiday season and many of us are looking for fun things to do with friends and family. But one person’s fun, is another person’s misery. How to find something that fits for the whole gang?

One of my favorite memories, of holiday seasons past, was venturing into NYC with my family. I loved to ice skate at Rockefeller Plaza and press my nose to the holiday themed windows at Saks. I loved the smell of the pretzels and chestnuts roasting in the pushcarts on every corner. And I hated going to the museum. I was bored. Little chubby me would sit on the hard wooden bench in the center of the vast room, sulking that I wasn’t swooshing around the rink. Way back then, museums didn’t gear themselves to families. It was simply intimidating old pictures hung on a sterile, white wall.

So, imagine my delight when I discovered a fun way to learn about the Great Works of Art without ever leaving the comfort of home. Created by my ever talented, smart and resourceful friend Rena Tobey, Artventures! is a party game on the adventures of Art and Art History. It’s simple to play and you don’t need any Art History experience. Check it out! You can get it on Amazon or at www.artventuresgame.com

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Recently, Rena completed her MA, art history program. She has a special way of explaining art that makes it relevant and engaging. As posted on her website http://www.renatobey.com/ Rena values learning, creative possibility, and fun and dedicates her energy to sparking lively minds. Building on an academic and organizational career, she is passionate about engaging people with all forms of visual expression and filling the spoken word with verve.

So, this winter break, stack some trays in the kitchen, set up a museum lunch buffet line and settle in at your table for hours of fun with Artventures! I promise it will be an adventure well worth taking.

What MindFULLY fun things have you found to do with Friends and Family?Let us know!

The Uniform

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UNI

I love me two good things in life: a great Customer Service experience and a good “Uni” (a.k.a. “The Uniform”) — that Go-To outfit you can count on, regardless of weather or weight. Imagine my delight, when I stumbled upon both!

Color me crazy, but on Black Friday, I agreed to go to the Mall with my teenage daughter. Determined not to buy anything for myself, I wandered into LOFT while she scoured a Sale next door. Of course, there to greet me on the first rack in the store, was a tan tunic sweater for $20. It had my name on it.

“You’ll love it and should buy more than 1,” said the adorable, perky Sales Associate. Knowing I wanted for nothing, I stuck to the tan, even tho’ I eyed the black (who couldn’t use yet another black top?) and the silver. When I got home, I tried it on. It could not have fit more comfortably, nor been cuter. Of course, my “want for nothing” attitude flew out the window and I headed back to the Mall the next day. There in the store window read 30% Off Everything. My adrenaline rushed straight to my head, only to come crashing to my feet upon learning that my sweater was up to Full price and now marked down only 30%.

THIS makes me crazy. If it’s a $20 sweater, sell it for $20. If it’s $60, sell it for $60. After a quick chat with the same adorable, perky Sales Associate, we agreed I’d buy the silver sweater for 30% off and then call her Monday, when it was going to be 50% (!) off and get a price adjustment. OK. I know…I need a life…but that’s another post for another time. Excited at the thought of 50% off, I asked one of the ladies behind the counter about the houndstooth leggings to go with it. “Oh, those will never go on sale – they’re part of  a special line and if you read the fine print, you’ll see they are excluded from the Sale.” “But, that’s not fair, the sign says 30% Off Everything” I said. “You should read the fine print. I don’t set the price, I just sell the stuff.”

Those who know me, are probably laughing and cringing at this point in the story, shaking their heads and whispering under their breath, “Wait for it… wait for it…”

Well, needless to say, I launched into my Customer Service shpeal and laid out my retail background and marketing credentials. Big deal. It was what it was. I could take it or leave it. I took the sweater and left the leggings.

(Cyber) Monday, before calling my new personal shopper,  Janet, for my price adjustment, I poked around the LOFT website, only to see that the sweater was marked down to $23, but you had to pay $10 for shipping! Seriously? And to make matters worse, the leggings were right there for 50% off.

Lucky for me ( and really for them), I got a great sales rep on the phone, who patiently listened to my rant and without batting an eye, waved the shipping, sent it in 3 days and threw in a 50% off a full price item card. I ended up buying the black sweater, silver sweater and leggings for the Full price of one sweater!

I wrote a Kudos letter to LOFT and with gratitude for my new “Uni” donated a “Uni” (3 nice sweaters and a pair of pants) to a shelter. Now, I am all set for the winter. Bring on the snow and bread!

p.s. In an attempt to spunk up my “Uni”, I wear a “Uni” necklace designed by our fabulous and talented cousin, Susan Mayer. One good piece from Susan’s collection can change any outfit. Check out her jewelry line at any HML store or www.74harleystreet.com

 What’s your MindFULLy favorite “Uniform”? Let us know!  

 

 

Supposed To

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Supposed To. Two little words that can undo me as fast as stepping on a shoelace and having it unravel.

Memories of my husband standing in the bedroom hallway one morning with a compassionate smile and nailing this sentiment that had me up at 2am, calmed my aching heart. Thinking of his laser keen mind, huge heart and enviable objectiveness, a soft knowing wafted up from my pillow.

You’d think by now, I’d get it. And the good news is that I do. Faster than ever before. But at 2am, time seems to move as slowly as the driver in the left lane.

And when intersected with Holidays, it seems to stop.

So, how did I get it moving again? I got up and reached for the app I happened to install in September, based on Dan Harris’s book, 10% Happier. For two weeks, 5 minutes a day, Dan Harris and Joseph Goldstein teach you how to mediate without stigma, preconceived notions or incense. It was as good a time as any to revisit.

Every year, the Holidays bring something up for me. And every year I uncover one more nugget of insight. My favorite nugget is that “We usually get what we want, it’s just not always in the package we think it is “supposed to” be in.” When I remember this, inevitably something presents itself and shows me that all we are really “supposed to” do is Be Kind, Have Faith and Hold Gratitude.

Not because we are Supposed To. But because we Can.

What will you MindFULLY do this Holiday Season because You Can?

Let us know!

 

 

Binky Blinks

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Those of you who know me, know that I have a thing for “G-d Winks” — moments, people, ideas and “ahas” that show up at just the right time. Today I had “a moment” – a short conversation with a nice guy in a cigar shop. What was I doing in a cigar shop?

I was having a rough day. No, I didn’t pop in for a smoke. I was simply driving a bit aimlessly after realizing I had misread the time of an important event and missed it. All dressed up, and with my head swimming with my mistake, I slowly wandered home down a new street with lots of small store fronts. While stopped at a red light, I noticed a cigar store with a front bench stacked with colorful and shapely cigar boxes. Hmmmm… curious, I pulled over to take a closer look. A sign said $3 each. I was drawn to the boxes even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them.

As I was waiting to pay, I noticed how relaxed some guys were, lounging in large leather chairs, TVs on, having a smoke. The store, divided in half, was full. This led to a conversation with one of the guys working there, which led to the validation of an idea I have been carrying around. We talked for a bit, exchanged info and then he leaned over, winked at me and said, “There are two bags of boxes I just put out by the dumpster and they are either going to get thrown away or someone will just take ’em.”

Score! I pulled my car around the corner and loaded them into the trunk. Between the store and home, an idea of what I can do with them popped up. Names popped up. And then, I realized. I don’t just notice “G-d Winks” now I was noticing “Binky Blinks” – my new name for ideas that come to me when I intuit possibility.

In my exploration of NEXT, I am learning that  we all make mistakes and sometimes wander “aimlessly”. I wonder if it’s not what I don’t do, it’s what I do with what I’ve done. Using the cigar boxes as a metaphor for transformation, I plan to make something new of them. And the part of me that misread the time on the event? Well, my intention is to transform it and show up in a new way.

Hmph. Now that the smoke has cleared, I think I can see it all a bit more clearly.

Where do you see MindFULL possibilities and what do you do with them?

Let us know!

 

Nest to Next

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It has been a long time since last I posted. Over the past year, my “get up and go” simply “got up and went.” Life interceded and called my attention toward more pressing matters: the grappling with several dear friends challenges and illnesses, my daughter’s march toward Senior Year of High School and all it’s varied layers, and the ending of my favorite new TV binge – Nurse Jackie. Appreciating the luxury of time to show up for them has definitely made for a wider lens through which to see the day.

So, here I am. Back at the keyboard. A full journal brimming with ideas and finally the time and patience to allow them to play out. I am using this year to really explore what I love and see where it leads. As my daughter moves toward launching to college next Fall, I, too, am moving toward a kind of new launching for myself.

This year, I plan to evolve The MindFULL Creative into my next venture. I’m kinda excited to post what I learn. To offer what I find. And I invite you, wherever you are in your days, to contribute your thoughts.

Last Fall, I heard Gail Sheehy speak. My favorite line in her talk was simply, “Now is the time to start.” Then yesterday, I had a spontaneous visit with my old HS friend, Barb, who reminded me of one of her favorite ways of bucketing life; “Haves Tos”, “Want Tos”, and “F*&^ Yous”. It made me laugh. But it also resonated with the desire to fill this year with as many “Want Tos” as I can.

I’m excited to see where my daughter chooses to go to college and where I end up NEXT. I have a feeling it’s gonna be quite a journey.

“Want To” MindFULLY join me? We’d love to hear how you find your way to NEXT!