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A Yom Kippur Moment

Sitting with my whole family in my sister’s home, I notice how my 12-year-old niece, without thinking, sits down on my dad’s lap. How special that a 12-year-old can still feel comfortable with her grandfather and without thinking just take a seat. And my dad gratefully accepted her on his lap. I am confident the moment was not lost on him. We both share the ability to appreciate the moment.

It was just a moment, a moment of connection, a moment of love, a moment of trust, a moment that was the result of 100s if not 1000s of moments before.

This moment encapsulates my hopes and dreams for my own future. One day I want my 12-year-old granddaughter to come and sit on my lap without a moment’s hesitation. I want to allow it to happen and experience that moment of gratitude. I want to represent safety, love and compassion to my grandchildren. I want to provide a place where they can just be.

While I watched my niece sit on my dad’s lap, I also felt a tinge of sadness. My niece will not be a sweet and innocent 12-year-old forever and my dad will not be around forever.  How can you grapple with this moment of pure love and joy, and then deep sadness?

I guess the point is just to feel and welcome whatever emotions arise. These moments can create multiple emotions, both positive and negative. It is not our job to judge these conflicting emotions. It is not our job to deny them either. We are complicated creatures, and simplifying these moments would not do them justice

As I get older I hope to continue to feel these emotions no matter what they bring up. I hope as a mother I can model how to be open and awake to these emotions so my kids will appreciate these moments as well.

How can we stop and enjoy these moments? If I had been texting, I would have missed it. If I had been thinking about what I needed to do tomorrow, I would have missed it. If I had been worrying about something I said earlier, I would have missed it. But I didn’t. And for that I am grateful.

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Diamond In the Rough

While unloading groceries yesterday, my engagement ring got caught on one of the drawers and my diamond slipped out of its setting. I was shocked to see my ring setting minus a diamond! Luckily I was able to immediately find the diamond, but my heart was racing when I did.

I have had this ring for over 20 years. I wear it every single day. I never take it off. It is a small enough ring that it does not get in the way and I would feel naked without it. I have never wanted an upgrade, even as I have genuinely admired the upgraded rings of my friends around me. I happen to love big beautiful diamond rings. But so far I have not replaced mine.

My 16-year-old daughter was sitting with me when the jeweler asked me if I wanted to upgrade my setting. She looked horrified when I paused to consider it. (As I mentioned, I love big beautiful diamond rings.) She shook her head vigorously. “That is the ring daddy gave you! I can’t imagine you with a different ring. I love your ring!” Not surprisingly she had a strong opinion (she is 16), but I appreciated her nostalgia. Not everything needs to be improved or upgraded.

As we approach our 20th anniversary of marriage, this event made me stop for a moment and think about any symbolism my broken engagement ring might have. I rarely see a coincidence as a mere coincidence. What is this telling me?

Don’t take things for granted:

I have worn this ring for over 20 years without a problem, and then out of the blue it comes out of the setting. My husband and I have our daily routine. We go to bed together, we wake up together, we touch base during the day, we organize our schedules. This predictability is not something to take for granted. Unexpected things can happen. Appreciate the routine.

Time can wear down the foundation:

images-92Sure, love can grow deeper as you are married longer, but minor annoyances can also grow, age-old fights can become ingrained and the wear and tear of life can feel insurmountable. In many ways marriage can get harder as we get older. This is less of a problem if you acknowledge it and move through the challenge together. Sometimes my husband seems surprised when things are tough. I gently remind him that marriage can be hard work sometimes. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

Shiny new things can be appealing:

Sometimes my husband and I think about things we can buy to add a little spice into life. But ultimately, spending money is not going to strengthen our marriage. For us, simply going out to dinner can make us feel more connected and happier together. For our 10- year anniversary, instead of a trip to Europe, we went out for Indian food at our favorite restaurant (located in a Jersey strip mall!). While going to Europe is an amazing way to celebrate, that was not going to work for us at that time. In the end, I will always remember that evening as being full of love and laughter—which is why I married him in the first place!

Expectlife coaching the unexpected

My father-in-law passed away six months ago and grief is a powerful thing. My husband’s suffering was hard on our marriage. But, thankfully we had the foundation to get through it. Marriage is not immune to the ups and downs of life. If we can honor that, we can get through them together.

Things are just things:

Ok, I got lucky and found the diamond. But what if I hadn’t? That would have been ok. I don’t need a ring to prove our love. Love is the energy we bring to our relationship on a daily basis. Love is knowing that we are both completely invested in the success of the relationship. It is a delicate dance and I don’t want to learn to dance with anyone else.

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The Hero of Your Own Story

Much of my time as a coach is building my clients back up. I have had cancer survivors, spouses of cancer survivors, clients who have cared for sick parents and others who have cared for children with special needs. These are people who inspire me, yet when I tell them this, they look at me like I have six heads. They’re not so special, they tell me. Loo at all their failures. When I point out all the amazing things they have accomplished, they say, “Oh you had to say this because you are my coach.” No I don’t and honestly I could not pretend to be inspired even if I tried.  These are people who have suffered and survived. They should be strutting around tooting their horn, but instead they are stuck in self-doubt.

My job as a coach is to remind people that there are multiple ways to tell their story. There is no one right way. Our life is complicated and telling our story is complicated. Is the way you tell your story serving you?

When prepping for job interviews, I help my clients write their story. What are you proud life coachingof? What have you struggled with and survived? How have you grown as a person. How have your circumstances made you the person you are today? And how does this translate into you being successful in the future? You cannot convince a future employer that you are awesome if you are stuck in a mediocre story. Practice telling your new story until you believe it in your soul.

This is your truth. I am not asking my clients to lie or create something out of nothing. We all have things to be proud of. We have all survived in our own way. But we need to see it and believe it. And, most importantly, we need to tell it–to ourselves and to others.

In the book The Artists Way, Julia Cameron advises her readers to let their fear be their fuel. When writing your story, let your self-doubt fuel you. When you spiral downward by focusing on your perceived failures and your weaknesses, question your assumptions. Imagine I am sitting in front of you. How would I challenge you? What are you minimizing? What are you highlighting?  Why are you making those choices and do they serve your future? We all share a fear of failure as well as a fear of success. Use that fear to fuel you.

You get one life. Are you going to be the hero or the villain in your story? You are the hero… trust me. Not because you are perfect or because your life was easy, but precisely because it is not.

 

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A Key To Success for Working Moms: Create All-In Partnerships

Since I became a mother 16 years ago, I have experienced the challenges of being a working mother. Also, as a coach and a friend I have watched others struggle as working mothers. Being a working mother is fraught with guilt, exhaustion and moments of intense satisfaction. Tiffany Dufu author of Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less has a fresh look at the dilemma and a useful guide for us to follow.  The premise of the book is that women cannot “have it all” if they continue to “do it all”. It reminds me of the story of Cinderella, when her evil stepmother tells her she can go to Unknown-1the ball if she gets her enormous and impossible list of tasks done first. She has been set up for failure and so have we. How can women truly advance in their careers with these kinds of expectations? Dufu has given this a lot of thought, spoken with a lot of successful women and has experimented with her theories. Thankfully, she shares her well-researched strategies with us in her book.

Dufu explains that one way women can do less, is by creating “All-in Partnerships” with her husband (or partner or family member, etc.). All-In Partnerships mean that both parents are running the home. If you think about all the times we are disadvantaged in our career due to our home responsibilities, we need to ask ourselves, do we need to be doing it all? How can we share the wealth? The more we share our home responsibilities, the more time we will have to devote to our career. OK, don’t roll your eyes, because according to Dufu, we are as much on the hook as our spouses in our journey to create an All-in Partnership.

How do we create an All-in Partnership?

  1. Let Go of Home Control Disease (HCD)

First, Dufu explains, women must let go of Home Control Disorder or “HCD”. Come on, you know what she is talking about, right? By being the boss at home, we are limiting our potential of being the boss at work. Dufu talks about how she provided her husband with pages of notes the first time she left her son with him when she went on a business trip. She talks about how she was guilty of HCD and being a maternal gatekeeper. She bought into society’s expectation that her way was the right way when it came to the home. After hitting rock bottom after having her second child, she realized things had to change.

  1. Delegate with Joy

We have learned that “women acting like men” in the workplace is not preferable as it denies the workplace the benefits of a different way of seeing and doing things. Dufu career coachingargues that men confront the same bias at home. They can contribute at home, but they are asked to act like women in that domain. Women may delegate to their husbands, but then they micromanage what they delegate. For instance, how many times have you reorganized the dishwasher after your husband has filled it? “One UK study showed that women spend three hours every week re-doing chores that they think their men have done “badly”. So much time would be freed up if the job was accepted as complete, even if it wasn’t accomplished the same way we would have done it.” Women are slow to share their power in the home—the area that women have historically governed. But the key to work/life success and satisfaction is sharing the control of the home with your partner. We need to assume that our spouses can handle delegation, are capable of learning something new (they are!) and we need to let go of our own perfectionist standards of running a home.

  1. Leverage the unique skills of our spouse on the homefront

Once Dufu started letting her husband do things his way, she discovered that sometimes his way turned out to better than her way (go figure!). One of my favorite stories Dufu shares is the Career coachtime her husband was in charge of finding a babysitter at the last minute. As Dufu explains, when looking for a babysitter, she typically would send one text at a time, waiting for a response before reaching out to another sitter. Her husband’s efficient strategy was different. He sent one text out to 10 potential babysitters and charged them with responding first to get the job. They had a babysitter within minutes. Brilliant!

  1. Drop the Ball!

Dufu discusses her efforts to create an All-In-Partnership with her husband. They literally sat down and created an excel spreadsheet with every single task that they do (which was eye opening in and of itself) and then they decided who would do what based on their strengths, interests and availability. (There favorite column was the “no one does it” column-but this is for another blog.) They continued to use this spreadsheet with modifications when her husband “commuted” from NY to Dubai for work. She tells a fabulous story of how her husband was in charge of dealing with any apartment-related problems. When Dufu noticed she had a leaky faucet before leaving for work one morning, she texted her husband who was in Dubai so he could fix it. Amazingly, when she returned home from work a new, ugly, yet working, faucet was in place! He had bought the faucet online and worked with the super to install it. OK, the faucet was ugly, but Dufu had “delegated with joy” and was able to focus on other things at work knowing the faucet would be taken care of. And her husband could contribute to the house even when far away. Now she smiles with pride when she passes the ugly faucet knowing that this is the perfect representation of dropping the ball. Done is better than perfect—“one person’s ‘done’ can be another person’s ‘perfect’”.

Dufu reminds us that we are not the only ones who can run a home. Our partners are more than capable. Patience and gratitude are great tools as we build our All-In Partnerships and watch our career success grow.

Interested in exploring more tools and strategies for career growth as a Working Mom? Contact me to set up an initial consultation.

 

 

 

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10 Tips for an Awesome Summer- You Got This!

It’s June, time to think about your summer. Ever notice how Labor Day comes and you look back on your summer with regret—all the things you hoped to do did not happen. Let’s change that now! Get out your calendar and PLAN for the following activities. Make your summer count. Try new things, take advantage of the warm weather and longer days, enjoy the slower pace and create new traditions and memories. Go through the 10 suggestions below with an open heart and an adventurous spirit. Just Do It!

  1. Step out of character: the same way kids pretend to be someone else and “start fresh” at summer camp, we can have an opportunity to act out of character over the summer too. Mixing things up and acting out of character can teach you a lot about yourself and who knows what opportunities it can open up?
  • Do you prefer adventure? Take up gardening
  • Are you a homebody? Go campingcareer coaching
  • Are you always the boss? Be a participant and not a leader of an activity
  • Do you avoid attention? Sing karaoke….sober
  • Do you wear a lot of makeup? Go natural
  • Do you wear only tans and beiges? Add some color
  • Do you only consider it exercise if you’re pouring with sweat? Try restorative or yin yoga
  • Hate to sweat? Try a spin class or warm yoga
  • Are you impulsive and fast moving? Start writing in a journal and meditating
  • Do you overanalyze everything? Make a quick decision and take on the mantra “fail fast”
  1. Experiment with the plethora of fresh fruits and veggies summer has to offer and try some nutritious foods you usually overlook.
  2. Take advantage of the longer days to take a walk with your spouse, kids or friends at dusk and enjoy the companionship and cooler weather.
  3. Get dirty. Garden, walk around barefoot, paint, hike, bake. Do whatever you need Life coachto make a mess and enjoy it!
  4. Connect with old friends. Summer can make us sentimental. When feeling nostalgic, act on it rather than wallow in it. Call, email, text or even snail-mail an old friend. It is never too late.
  5. Find your inner athlete—even if you have to search really, really hard. Join a tennis clinic, play on your neighborhood softball team, run a 5k, hike a local trail, bike on vacation, participate in a master swim class, play Frisbee or kadima, do cartwheels, or just go back to #3 and walk
  6. Invite friends and neighbors over to grill. No need to set up a fancy table. Burgers, hotdogs and beer can be an easy way to entertain without the pressure. Paper plates and no cooking pans can make clean up a snap.
  7. Throw things out!! A cluttered house can feel even more claustrophobic in the heat. Spend a few moments every day or pick one day a week to clear out the clutter. As my husband tries to tell me “the garbage can be your friend”.
  8. Read a juicy book or watch a juicy show. Put away the non-fiction and the news and read or watch something that is pure bliss. A whodunit, romance, fantasy, whatever your preference, indulge!wellness coach
  9. Create a new family tradition. Game night, Friday night dinner with friends, put together a 1000 piece puzzle, have a ping pong tournament, take a trip to the beach, whatever you need to do to share something special and make it an ongoing memory.

So… what’s your plan? Share your priorities in the comments section, announce them to your friends, put them in INK into your calendar and make things happen. As Sheryl Sandberg says “YGT”—You Got This!

To learn more about my Summer Goals workshops or my 1-on-1 coaching, email me at  or visit my website.

 

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How to Slow Down Time

I am 45 going on 46. I am at the start of midlife. This is the time many people start saying they wish they had a magic wand to slow things down, which I totally understand. Not only do I want to slow down my kids growing older, I want to slow everything down.

Fortunately, we do have a magic wand. We have the power to slow things down, and we all know this intellectually. Slowing down is hard because life pushes us along at a brisk pace. If we want to slow down, there are no short cuts. Being present in life is hard work and requires constant vigilance. I am going to share with you some ways I am learning to be more present so that I can savor this time.

Connect with your Teenager

Do you know who Murr, Joe, Sal and Q are? Well I do, and let me tell you, it is not something I would typically brag about. These are four best friends who have created a popular TV show called Impractical Jokers where they all have the best time embarrassing each other. My 13-year-old son loves this show and was completely insulted when I couldWellness Coaching not tell the four guys apart. Considering the fact that my son strung the most words together when discussing this show, I decided I better hop on the bandwagon. Now, when he watches the show, I watch it with him and savor the joy of watching him laugh until he cries. I have learned who all the characters are and can engage in somewhat “intelligent” conversations with him about it.

Connect with your Elders

I love being around people who are older. Not only does it make me feel young, but I am comforted knowing that they have insights to share. I know that they have been around the block and have experiences I have yet to have.

I will never forget the time my parents slept over when my kids were still little. My dad was reading a book to my son and my mom was reading a book to my daughter. Rather than surreptitiously skipping pages in the book in order to finish it faster so bedtime would arrive more quickly (as I was guilty of doing), they were slowing things down. They were life coachingmaking the bedtime story process take longer! It was astounding to me. My parents were living in an alternate universe where their sole purpose in life was to savor their grandchildren.

Earlier this week, my mother-in-law and 16-year-old daughter had a 15-minute conversation about The Odyssey and Macbeth. I had no idea my daughter could talk about literature with such depth. It took someone older who was savoring time with her granddaughter to create the environment for this sort of conversation. I saw what was possible if I slowed down.

Stop Rushing

My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 was to get over my desire to be exactly on time to things. I was like Goldilocks, I didn’t want to be too early and I didn’t want to be too late; I wanted to be exactly on time. Well as we all know, this goal is impossibLife Coachingle. My blood pressure was rising several times a day as I attempted to be exactly on time. Now, I have decided to leave 15 minutes earlier than necessary. For example, if it takes 15 minutes to get somewhere, I leave a half hour before I need to be there. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me. Often, I do encounter detours, construction, or other delays on the way, and I relax and listen to my music without panic. The less you have to rush in your life, the more you can slow down and enjoy the moment. When rushing, life is a blur. When taking your time, you can actually see the colors and details around you. You can BE in the moment. Which is a magical way to slow down time.

Connect with yourself

While I love Flywheel, I disagree their motto “Never Coast”. Ok, fine, during their 45-minute class you can “never coast” but please leave that motto at the door. Any productivity book you read (and I have read dozens) tells you to try to make your life easier. The more systems, rituals and habits you have in place, the easier it is for you to get the job done and Life Coachingthe more access you have to creativity and connection. Think about it, if you are riding a bike, when is the time when you can take in the beauty of your surroundings? When you are coasting of course. Otherwise you are pushing hard to get up hill or flying downhill. My question for those who are always pushing or flying is –what are you pushing your way to? What are you flying away from? What is wrong with coasting and being present?

So, you may ask, how do I slow down and connect with myself when life is so busy? Introduce these activities into your life—and do only the activity—no multitasking!

  • Take a bath
  • Do slow yoga
  • GardenLife Coaching
  • Take a walk
  • Learn to knit
  • Complete a puzzle
  • Meditate
  • Breathe
  • Dance
  • Color or Draw
  • Bake

Be a rebel. Throw off the fitbit for a nature walk. Watch stupid shows with your kids. Post about the awesome 200-piece puzzle you just completed. Let’s change the norm from busyness to presence. OK, gotta run (just kidding …).

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No One’s Perfect

A couple of weeks ago I spilled coffee on my computer and had to migrate my data to a new computer. At the exact same time my website encountered some problems and I had to figure out how to recreate certain pages.  Needless to say,  I was just a bit freaked out by all of my technological bad luck. My sweet and patient (at least at that moment) 13 year old son attempted to talk me off a ledge as he watched my stress spiral to the next level.

The next morning my son innocently asked me if I help my clients with stress. I laughed at his question, as I understood his underlying concern. How could I, as a life coach, help my clients with stress when I myself can get irrationally overwhelmed on occasion? If I could not be 100% in control of my emotions, how could I profess to help others?

After this conversation with my son, I realized that I have had several conversations like this in my life. Once when I visited the dermatologist I had indicated on my patient information life coachingform that I was a yoga instructor. When I was nervous while the doctor removed three moles (that ended up being totally fine and I question his overzealousness in removing them), he asked without compassion ” you are a yoga instructor, shouldn’t you be able to calm your anxiety?” Ummm no, not necessarily… And then more recently a friend reminded me of the blog I wrote about body image when I was having a momentary body image crisis. The assumption being that I should be cured of all body image issues since I had written about my struggles.

The fact is I am a teacher and a student. I try to grow and learn every day, but I am far from perfect. I hope that I make that clear in my blogs that whatever I write about I am trying to figure out too. We are in this together.  Life is complicated and demanding and I am very life coachingmuch human.

I think our desire, or even expectation, for people to be perfect is a way for us to calm our own anxiety. A therapist should not have problems, a doctor should have perfect health habits, a teacher should know everything about his or her area of study, a mother should be loving and patient with her children and a father should be confident and unafraid. These labels and expectations are created to instill confidence but instead they demand a perfection that is detrimental to all of us.

As a coach, I am hoping to life coachinghelp people work towards their ideal self and create circumstances that are nutrient rich for their growth. Most of us are trying to learn, grow and improve. No one has everything figured out and if they pretend they do then they probably have bigger issues. As Albert Einstein said “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

The most I can guarantee you is that I am on a quest to know myself and to serve others in their quest to know themselves.  Life is full of mystery and wonder and we are all just travelling through it together, hoping to find our way.

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Moving Beyond My Comfort Zone

 

One of my favorite signs from the Women’s March in DC was “Introvert by Nature, Protester by Need”. Based on the reaction among the crowd, It was clear to me that many other people identified with this sign as well. How does an introvert, who hates crowds, push oneself to attend a march with hundreds of thousands of people? How do we help ourselves push outside of our comfort zone?

As a coach, I often help my clients move outside of their comfort zone. It is common for our goals to be outside our comfort zone—which is exactly why it can be difficult to attain them. So how do we move outside our comfort zone without going into Unknown-1full panic mode?

The best way to deal with discomfort is to understand what causes our discomfort, anticipate and prepare for those triggers and find healthy coping alternatives. Most importantly, we need to continue to step out of our comfort zone!

  1. Pay Attention

First you must identify when you are uncomfortable. How does this feel in your body? How does it affect your thoughts and your behaviors? Then, ask yourself what emotion you are feeling. Is it fear, sadness, uncertainty, anger, frustration or something else? Be sure that the emotion you are identifying is the primary emotion. For instance, you may feel embarrassed as your primary emotion yet it presents itself as anger. This can be confusing. We think we are angry but we are actually embarrassed. Digging deep enough to find your primary emotion is hard work and requires some truth telling and self-awareness. Just like with toddlers, meltdowns are usually the result of a primary emotion like exhaustion or frustration or envy. The anger (or secondary emotion) exhibited is merely the way the primary emotion is being expressed.

  1. Identify your crutches

life coachingDo you grab your phone whenever you have a moment of boredom, too much time to think or when you are in an intimidating situation? Do you reach for a cookie? Do you bite your nails? These are self-soothing techniques, but it does not allow you to really work through your feelings and better understand yourself.

  1. Create space between yourself and your crutch

In order to grow and learn how to regulate your emotions, you must identify your crutches and then make space between you and your crutch. Sitting in your discomfort is, for lack of a better word, uncomfortable. Leave your phone in your purse, walk out of the kitchen, put your hands in your pocket.

  1. Engage your curiosity

Meet your discomfort with curiosity. Why are you feeling uncomfortable? What is your primary emotion? What are some other ways you could help regulate these primary emotions? For instance, if you are at a party with lots of people you find intimidating, don’t grab your phone and start scrolling through Facebook. Instead ask yourself “Why do these people intimidate me?” “Is there someone in this room whom I find less intimidating?” If yes, go find that person. Observe the people in the room; is there anything you can learn about them or yourself? How can you be present even though it is uncomfortable?

  1. Find a healthy alternative to your crutch

As an introvert, attending the DC March required me to step out of my comfort zone. During the march, I utilized coping mechanisms to help me. I noticed the calm of the people around me and found comfort in the collective emotion of pride, enthusiasm and solidarity. I held my daughter’s hand. I took deep breaths when I needed to reconnect with life coachingmyself. I moved when I felt claustrophobic to a more open space. I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone to attend the march, but I did what I needed to make it manageable.

  1. Anticipate and prepare for moments of discomfort

There are also ways to anticipate discomfort and help yourself before you feel uncomfortable. For instance, I knew I was going to feel nervous at the march, so I followed the safety advice thatLife coaching was provided by the organizers of the march. I may have been overly cautious, but I knew these efforts would help keep me calm during the march. Planning ahead is a productive way to help with emotional regulation both before and during the event.

What are ways you self regulate when stepping out of your comfort zone? I would love to hear your strategies. We all have moments we are uncomfortable –it is a universally human condition. So embrace it, prepare for it, be present in it, learn from it and feel proud of your courage to step into it.

Contact me for more information about stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals.

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Bar Mitzvah Love

After my son’s bar mitzvah a few weeks ago, I have been trying to put into words what was so special about the experience. I kept trying to write a blog, but everything seemed too superficial, not really capturing the emotions I felt that special day (and the weeks and months leading up to it). As always, I discovered my answer by reading. The two books I am reading right now, Life Lessons by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler along with the book Life Reimagined by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, emphasize the alpert_temple-163fundamental importance of love in thriving. At age 45 I feel I am finally really grasping the power of love. And when I think about it, the word that captures the wonderful feelings surrounding my son’s bar mitzvah is, simply, love.

For me, the energy in the room –filled with over 200 people—was palpable. I felt we were all there for the same reasons. To share a simcha and experience joy together. We were all rooting for each other. I was eager for my guests to have fun and I felt my guests were equally invested in my having a wonderful evening. We were all on the same team. After a very emotionally draining election, it was so wonderful to be in a place where we all wanted peace—at least for one evening.

Love through connections—old and new

Of course I must attribute this love in the room to the wonderful people who were there. Looking around the room I had to hand it to my husband and myself. We pick good friends and have wonderful family. We enjoyed connecting with our friends – old and new, and our friends enjoyed connecting with each other as well. There were opportunities for  acquaintances to connect on a deeper level and for people to meet the right person at the right time. There were moments of exchanged gratitude when a new friend of mine expressed her appreciation at being included even though our friendship is so new. Then there was another friend of ours who introduced his teenage daughter to my dad, a doctor, who had helped her with a medical challenge over 10 years ago. With each connection, it felt like electricity was released into the room.

Bar Mitzvah Boy Love

My son has developed some very strong connections over his 13 years. He adores his cousins and has a special affinity for the “law school group”—my husband’s law school friends and their kids that we have miraculously stayed close with over the years. In an effort to acknowledge these two special groups, we made space in our already packed schedule to spend some extra special time with them that weekend.

The cousins came over Friday night for dinner and then again on Saturday morning. Hudson was on cloud nine as he played with them –familiarity was so meaningful during this stressful and busy weekend. Amazingly, everyone from the “law school group” made an effort to arrive a little earlier (coming from between 3-8 hours away) so they could all meet for lunch.

These moments with the cousins and the law school group allowed the feeling of love to generate before the bar mitzvah even started! Honoring Hudson’s unique nature—a passion for friends and family—was a wonderful way to demonstrate to Hudson that we love him for who he is and encourage him to continue to develop strong supportive relationships throughout his life.

Love through sharing

While building up to the big day my party planner and friend Dayna and I would have so much fun watching the progress. Dayna would share her creations with me and I was mesmerized watching her magically turn ideas into reality. I would also send the pictures of Dayna’s handiwork to my daughter, sister, mom and best friend. It was so nice to have others share alpert_party_-37their excitement and watch the vision unfold. Those moments of excitement allowed me to experience the big day a hundred times before it actually arrived. Connecting around a fun event is the best way to expand the joy. Instead of just one day of fun, I was able to share the fun for several months.

Love through Faith

At our synagogue, the approach to preparing bar and bat mitzvah kids is to teach a child at his or her own pace and not stop until a few weeks before the event. With this approach, they continuously gave Hudson more and more and more prayers. He had no idea that these prayers were not required. When he finished learning one prayer, they simply handed him another one. Shockingly, Hudson ended up learning almost the entire life coachingHavdallah service. This approach demonstrates a faith in our children. They will learn what they are capable of. It is incredible to watch these kids lead the service with such confidence and pride. With much love, Hudson’s tutor, Rabbi and Cantor pushed Hudson to stretch and grow beyond his wildest imagination. He went above and beyond because his teachers had faith in his ability and then, in the end, he had faith in himself. I was in awe the first time I saw him practice the service in its entirety two weeks before his big day. I had no idea he was capable of so much; and I felt such love for his teachers for having faith in him.

L’ Dor v’ Dor: Love through the generations

I cherish having all ages in one room, it feels so sacred to me. Watching the life coacholdest generation kvell as they witness the traditions passed down from generation to generation is so moving. It is so sweet to observe the littlest members of the party look up to the older kids and have the time of their life eating junk and dancing the night away. A week after the big day, my father-in-law broke his hip and has been suffering ever since. I am so grateful he had that day to kvell over his grandson, see family and friends and to watch the passing down of Jewish traditions in action.

It’s easy to get lost in the details of a Bar Mitzvah celebration and lose sight of the deeper meaning. A Bar Mitzvah celebration is an opportunity to bring the community together for a happy and uplifting event. I feel such gratitude that we were able to share so much love leading up to and during the event and I hope to continue to find ways to appreciate all of the opportunities for love and connection in my life going forward.

 

 

11

Body Image: Let’s Change the Conversation

How many times have you said or heard the following: “You look great! Have you lost weight?” Over my 45 years I have said and heard the following way more times than I can count. I have translated that sentence like this: You have lost weight -> you look great->you are happy. In other words you are thin=you are happy.

My junior year of college I had lost a bunch of weight. Other students loved to bask in the glow of my thinness and they would ask me “How did you do it?” and then they would listen attentively like I was the Dalai Lama. In my typical candidness I would answer, “I didn’t eat”. I did not say it with pride, I simply told the truth. And everyone would just nod in sad recognition. We were all enslaved to the thin ideal.

This past year in an effort to lose 10 pounds I had recently gained, I pulled out my back twice doing exercise that was not healthy for my body. I teach yoga and tell my students every class to listen to their body. Yet it is the hardest lesson I have had for myself.

So why, even though I have so much evidence to the contrary do I still have this thin=happy mindset? What do I need to do to move on?

Losing weight has become such a “should” in my life that my brain has created a huge neural life coachingpathway around that. Beauty in general is seen as an achievement; something you attain. Like most women, my relationship with weight and body image and beauty is so heavy, so loaded and so full of suffering.

I participated in a 10 month Certificate in Positive Psychology program, and I just returned home from a weeklong immersion with the other 150 participants. Many brilliant people spoke. The stories that were shared were incredibly powerful and I have never felt so much truth and love in one place. Interestingly, the two stories that had the most profound impact on me highlighted the issue of weight.

One woman had made a promise to herself and out loud to the group 10 months ago that she would come back much thinner. I remember my heart breaking at the time as the entire room erupted in applause for her. Yes, Positive Psychology embraces the mind/body connection and the importance of taking care of our body, but once again even in this safe space losing weight was considered a virtue. The woman came back this time and announced her “failure” to lose the weight. However, life coachingthankfully, her best friend reminded her of her magnificence and she decided she was going to focus on that beauty instead. Yes!

Another woman presented the poetry she wrote throughout the year. She said, I may never feel thin and beautiful, but I can create my own form of beauty through poetry. A truth was revealed to me. We can interpret our own beauty through kindness, authenticity, truth and courage.

In my Positive Psychology program we learned about Deceptive Brain Messages or (DBMs). Jeffrey Schwartz, MD & Rebecca Gladding, MD, outline the idea of DBMs in their book You Are Not Your Brain. DBMs are messages our brain tells us that are inaccurate but that we have been telling ourselves so many times we believe them. For instance you might say that you are not smart, unworthy of love, or not good enough at your job. Perhaps you were told these messages by others and then took them on as your own or you created these ideas from the media. Whatever the source, Schwartz has recommendations about how to alter these messages. Based on the most up to date brain research, we are learning that we can change our brain. Thinking new thoughts can create new neural pathways. Incredibly, we can change our brain throughout our life, not just during our childhood.

wellness coachingI simply need to change my thinking around my weight and beauty to create new neural pathways. This is my new challenge. Because the thing is, I am happy. The main thing that brings me down is when I start to focus on weight and external beauty. So now, when I think about my weight I am going to focus on my truth and authenticity. When I think about external beauty I am going to create new thoughts around my kindness and compassion. I am going to reshape my brain to be an empowering machine where health and happiness are defined by me.

I ask you. If you see me, please do not look me up and down and remark on my weight. Instead, you can learn about my happiness by a more accurate investigation. Ask me what book I am reading now and watch me light up with excitement. Ask me how my family is doing and I will share our challenges and successes. Ask me about what I do for fun, or about my career. Connect with me in an authentic and honest way and that will bring us both happiness.