Archive of ‘LWOAM’ category

Experts, Seekers and Imposters

Am I an expert?

This question has gone through my mind so many times as I continue to look for a new job opportunity. Whether I am updating my resume, rebranding myself or writing an elevator speech, I wonder if saying I’m an expert is going a step too far.

Do I say I’m an expert in nonprofit communications? Have I earned the right to say I have “expertise” in email marketing? Should I change my LinkedIn headline from “Senior Marketing Communications Expert” to something less significant? Above all, am I misrepresenting myself by saying I’m an expert at anything?

Being the word nerd that I am, I decided to look at the definition of the word expert. It reads “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.” After reading this a few times, I felt much better about calling myself one.

Here’s why:

  1. I don’t say I am THE EXPERT in marketing and communications. I am saying that I am an expert.
  2. The above definition doesn’t insist that a person must know everything on a particular topic. I think that alone is a huge distinction.
  3. I can quantify my expertise because I have had a successful career in communications for over 20 years.
  4. I have invested time and money in professional development classes, workshops and conferences in order to improve my skills and keep learning as the times change.
  5. I’ve been asked on numerous occasions to speak about different topics under this umbrella. More importantly, the feedback about my breadth of knowledge and how much it has helped others with their own work.

Many of us suffer from what they call “imposter syndrome” or the feeling that despite your obvious success you suffer from feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that take over the actual proof of your competence. Boy, does that sound familiar!

But before I got too caught up in that way of thinking, I looked up the word imposter on its own. An imposter is “a person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain.”

I think anyone who has studied and made a career in a certain field can read this definition and feel at ease. With these explanations, we should most definitely not consider ourselves imposters.

So, what happens if we don’t see ourselves as experts or imposters? I think there is one final word we can use to describe ourselves and that is seekers. Seekers are people who want to learn more. They may not be experts yet, but they are not imposters. They are defined by their curiosity and by observing and gaining knowledge so they can one day call themselves experts.

What are your thoughts? Are you an expert or a seeker? Do you suffer from imposter syndrome and if so, how do you deal with it?

Caught Barehanded

Today, I went to a Bath and Body Works where a sign posted on the door read: “Spread Love, Not Germs.” And then I watched a woman dig down deep into a bin of $5 bottles of hand sanitizer. Apparently, the particular scent she desired was located at the very bottom of the barrel.

Was she wearing gloves? Nope.

Did she at least wash her hands at the sink before she dove in? I don’t know.

I’m guessing she didn’t see the sign.

What I did know at that moment was there was no freaking way I was buying hand sanitizer from that container. Nor did I want to reach my hand into any of the other bins in the store. I wanted to get the hell out of there. I made my way to the counter and told myself that the bottles of hand soap in my arms were three or four deep on the shelf and completely untouched before I came along.

And even though I witnessed what I considered to be a heinous act against her fellow shoppers, I felt terrible for the next person who didn’t see it happen. She would unknowingly put her hand into that bin to select her item and will have had no idea what a bad decision she was making for herself and her family. I only hope she washes her hands immediately after.

And these are the things that I think about when I try to enjoy a few hours of shopping with my daughter. I get upset and then concerned. I looked around for the pandemic police to come to our rescue and wipe down every bottle in the store.

It’s exhausting to be this anxious and over a little thing like a bottle of hand sanitizer. I don’t want to be this person. It is hard to suppress my feelings, but I managed to do so. What is the alternative? The last thing I want is to become agoraphobic and stay home until a vaccine is discovered, tested, approved and distributed in a safe and effective manner. That could take a while, so we all have to figure out ways to live with this virus. My hope is that we all make better choices along the way.

And to the person who made a poor decision to plunge her uncovered hands into that bin, I hope the French Lavender fragrance was worth it.

Friday Thoughts

I had big plans for this month. Working from home gives me so much more flexibility that I could easily squeeze in the time for a blog post every day. Right?

Apparently not. Last week, I was furloughed from my job with the hope of them bringing me back in January of next year. It has taken me a little while to get used to this new reality. From filing for unemployment to coming up with a new daily routine, it is all a bit of a shock to my system. All last week, I went to bed wondering what I did that day. Did I accomplish anything? And old habits are hard to break. I still wake up at the same time and automatically pick up my phone to check my email–only to remember that I am locked out of my accounts, and I have no meetings today.

But, I am thinking positive. I know I’m going to land on my feet and be fine. I have a large network to tap into and people have been generous, kind and willing to help. Right now, I’m technically still employed and my benefits are intact. But, I’ve never been in this situation before. It is bizarre, and naively, I didn’t think it would happen to me.

Happier News

Today is Chloe’s “gotcha” day. We adopted our poodle four years ago, and I can honestly say she has made our family complete. During quarantine, she has been by our side, putting smiles on our faces and up for some short-term snuggling when we are feeling down. I’m so happy we have her in our lives. Happy “Gotcha” Day, Chloe!

Back to School

Our daughter heads back to college in two weeks which leaves me with mixed feelings. I love having her around the house. It’s like she never left. If this was her freshman year, I’d encourage her to go to our local community college to take her gen eds. But, she has had her taste of sweet freedom and there is no putting that genie back in the bottle. To be honest, I’m betting on her being back upstairs in her room taking classes by October. I can’t see how this on-campus life is going to work, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Meanwhile, our son, Andrew, will be a junior in high school. This is a big year for him, and I want him to have the best set up to succeed. For me, that would have meant in-classroom learning. He is much better in that environment than reading off a computer screen. But, the school board recently decided to go all virtual for the first marking period. No fall sports which is a shame, but at least, we are not on complete lockdown. He can see his girlfriend and core group of friends at a social distance, of course. People are upset with this decision. Mostly because we all thought we had options between sending them back in person and online learning, but the school board decided for us and in a way that gave none of us a voice in the process. While that is frustrating, frankly I’m relieved not to have to make this decision myself.

For the record, there is no right answer when it comes to sending our kids back to school. Whatever decision you are making for your kids – keeping them home, sending them back, doing a hybrid – it’s the right decision. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. This is hard, and I support you.

Blog Update

Our fearless leader of the Ultimate Blog Challenge recently asked what our plans are for our blogs in the future. My plan is simple – to keep writing. I didn’t get in all 31 blog posts like I wanted to do. Oh well, shit happens And it really hit the fan here this month.

I will keep writing. I hope you keep reading.

Stay healthy and safe everyone. Wear a mask. XO


Out of Control

The very definition of being in control is having the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

I’ve never been a control freak, but I am a Type A personality and I like the sense of security that comes with feeling in control. But so far, everything this year seems completely out of control. From being reassigned to another team at work to being forced into quarantine, I am not in control of anything right now. And then – as if that weren’t enough – a tragic event has befallen our country and shook many of us to our core.

Personally, my cocoon of living in a peaceful and somewhat controlled world has been violently shredded and replaced with a brand new world that I don’t recognize and never knew existed.

Okay, maybe I did know it existed. And now, I realize I have been unintentionally complacent towards it. And, I’m angry at myself for not seeing it sooner.

As a Jew, I recognize the antisemitic stereotypes and prejudice that I’ve experienced towards me, my family, and my community. But, those instances have never interfered with my ability to buy a house, receive a quality education, and pursue my dreams. I’ve never been followed in a store or pulled over in my car for no particular reason. My mere presence in places has never been questioned. I’ve never had to hold my tongue or change my tone for fear that police officers would feel threatened and justified in harming me.

Living in my safe cocoon has been a privilege, and I see that clearly now.

So now what? I guess recognizing it is a step in the right direction. Now, it’s a question of what I can do about it. Instead of feeling out of control, I’ll let go of the reins a little more and let others take the lead. I’ll take a step back and stay alert for instances of injustice and unfairness towards the black community and then speak out when I feel it’s needed. I’ll read more about their history and their lives. I’ll listen to their stories. I’ll learn a lot and more importantly, I’ll share what I’ve learned with others so we can all make changes for the better.

And if and when the opportunity presents itself, I’ll find ways to make a difference. So please, let me know what I can do. Or if I’m on the right track. I’m all ears.

Getting Back to “Normal”

Well, it’s happening. We are slowly starting to enter into a whole new world. A world where we need to wear face masks in public. A world where we still need to maintain a social distance from each other. A world where we need to remember to bring your keys, phone, wallet, face mask, gloves and hand sanitizer before we leave the house. And when we leave the cocoon of our homes, we must learn to trust other people that they have socially distanced as well. Let’s face it – few of us have followed these things to the letter. Personally, I would have loved to secure a delivery slot on Peapod or Instacart instead of going to the grocery store every week.

As much as I want to support small businesses, I don’t think I’ll be running out to shop anytime soon. But I would like to get a mammogram which is way overdue. I’d like to go on vacation, but I have to think about what that looks like for our family. Regulations have been lifted in some places for the Memorial Day weekend. Experts say we won’t know the effects of this until Father’s Day. Will there be a spike in cases? Time will tell.

Looking into the not-so-distant future, will we be dropping Jenna off on campus in the fall? Will the high school reopen on a staggered schedule so some kids can attend? This is his junior year coming up. What will his college visits look like? Will those kids practice social distancing to the best of their ability? What will high holidays look like this year? All of it makes me incredibly nervous.

Meanwhile, I haven’t finished going through my pile of books I wanted to read. Truth be told – I’d need another six months in quarantine to get through them all. And there are still closets to clean and home improvement projects to work on. Not to mention that I’d like to lose a little more quarantine weight before I am seen in public again. To me, staying home still has its perks.

Everyone here is antsy to get back to normal life, but what is normal these days? We are about to find out.

A Sign of the Times

Welcome to Life Without A Manual. Aren’t we all living that way these days? This global pandemic has caused us to rearrange our lives and discover new and creative ways to work, parent, live and, most importantly, survive. It has affected everything from the most mundane of tasks to the milestones we want to celebrate–all at a safe social distance.

I have always felt that I’m living my life without a manual. The origin story of my blog name is the perfect example of this philosophy.

For instance, I have two teenagers and parenting them is a carefully woven combination of structure and chaos. While my kids are self-sufficient and can entertain themselves, we are working through a roller coaster of emotions for what I can only describe as a grieving process. They have to adjust to this new normal of online learning instead of enjoying the interaction of a classroom setting. They maintain friendships and relationships through the magic of texting, FaceTiming and social media instead of hanging out at the mall or in someone’s home. They are suffering a loss of certain freedoms they used to enjoy like driving and staying on campus. It would be nice to have a map to help guide them through these troubled times, but there is no map and no manual.

As for me, it’s been difficult to set boundaries between working from home and living here. I’ve had to set up shop at my kitchen island which is the highest traffic area in my home. There are constant distractions, and I find it difficult to ignore the dishes and the laundry. Doesn’t this give new meaning to the term work/life balance?

The only one who seems to be thrilled with this new arrangement is our dog, and she demands constant attention. But, so does my boss. It would help to have a company handbook to show us the rules of the road. But there is no handbook and no manual.

There are so many aspects of life that have changed and who knows how it will be when this is all over. While I don’t want every post this month to be about this pandemic, I also can’t ignore it. We are living a part of world history, and it should be documented – even in this small way. And if this isn’t living life without a manual, I don’t know what is.

So I’m here to support you, and let you know you aren’t alone. I’ll share my experiences with you – the good, the bad, and the anxiety. And so I know you are with me, I hope you will comment on these posts to let me know how you are and what you are doing to get by in these crazy times.

We are all in this together. This is the Ultimate Blog Challenge – 30 days, 30 posts.  Let’s do this!

Life Without A Manual – Work From Home Edition

For over 12 years, I worked as the Director of Programs and Communications for a large congregation.

What does a Director of Programs and Communications do? Well, in a nutshell, I used to call myself the synagogue’s “cruise director.”

I planned the programs and events. I made announcements. I wrote trip itineraries and nailed down all the details. I worked with the most amazing people — everyone from clergy, staff and board members to speakers, musicians and entertainers. I connected people with similar interests.

I also made sure the food was prepared properly; the temperature was on a comfortable setting; people were enjoying themselves; and everything ran on schedule. Kind of like a cruise director.

And here’s the funny thing…all this has left me pleasantly surprised at how prepared I am for other jobs and life experiences — including working from home during a pandemic.

These days, I’m asking my family the same questions I asked fellow congregants.

Is there enough food? Is it good?

Does everyone have what they need?

Do you know where you are going and what you are doing?


Seriously, it’s been a lot of fun and a lot of work. We’ve had some laughs, nice family dinners, a few meltdowns (mostly by me) and multiple trips to Giant for brownie bites and alcohol.

It’s like working at the synagogue all over again – except these “members” have seen me in my pajamas. 🙂


We’re All In This Together

My dog, Chloe, is pretty happy these days. Normally, she spends a good part of her day at home alone while we are at school and work. Although I wouldn’t put it past her to invite her dog friends over for parties once in a while when the humans are away. But those days are over, for now. She has her humans back, and we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I live in Montgomery County, PA and thanks to this pandemic, we are on – I guess you would call it a lockdown – for the next two weeks. All schools are canceled including public, private, religious and others. I’m guessing home-schooling and online schools remain unaffected. In addition, gyms, theaters, malls and entertainment venues are closed. Small businesses are making their own decisions as to whether or not to stay open. Large gatherings are canceled. In my school district, school events are either canceled or postponed through Memorial Day weekend. Medical centers, urgent care, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and grocery stores remain open. I understand the local liquor stores are experiencing an influx of customers as if it were New Year’s Eve.

While this mandatory form of social distancing may seem extreme, there have been 13 people tested for coronavirus in our county which is more than half the number of the entire state. My thought is this is due to lots of people in my area who are able to or need to travel for work and may have contracted the virus along the way.

I, for one, am grateful that our governor has taken this pandemic seriously and taking action. Without getting too political, I can’t say the same for the federal government.

I am not panicking – although sometimes my hypochondria gets the best of me.

I am grateful.

I’m grateful to be able to work from home.

I’m grateful that both of my kids are here.

Chloe is grateful for the company and more frequent walks around the block.

I’m grateful to have jigsaw puzzles to do, books to read and blog posts to write. As a side note, I’m pretty sure my current situation will result in a lot of material for this blog. After all, we are literally living life without a manual.

We will get through this. We have no choice. We’re all in this together.

Stay healthy, everyone!



I Should Be Writing

I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I have started and stopped about 25 different posts since the end of January, but I didn’t think any were worth publishing.

You see, I have this problem. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called imposter syndrome. It’s a psychological condition in which one believes that despite all their accomplishments, people have an intense fear that others will find out they are a fraud.

Yes, I know. I’m being ridiculous. I know I’m not a fraud, but let’s face it I’m not an author either (yet). But, it’s a process. It’s a long process to go from writer to a blogger to an author. I’ve been doing the writer part since the fourth grade. I wrote for the school paper in high school and in college, I minored in journalism. I was the features editor of The Quad, had a popular weekly column, worked weekends as an obituary writer and then landed a reporter’s beat after graduation.

But then, I decided to put down my reporter’s notebook for a 9-5 job because I didn’t think I could make a living that way and have a family. I didn’t have a mentor or anyone back then to encourage me and tell me otherwise.

Since then, I’ve been dabbling in writing for the last 20 years. I’ve been a blogger, a storyteller, a scriptwriter, an editor, a presenter, a communications manager and, most recently, an email marketing expert.

But I no longer think this dabbling crap is enough for me, and here’s why.

If you came to my house and looked at my bookshelves, you would find writing magazines, books about writing and grammar, prompt decks and a poster on my corkboard with a list of quotes from famous writers about…can you guess…writing!

In the drawers of my desk are countless notebooks and yellow legal pads filled with things I’ve written for the writer’s workshop I’ve attended casually for years.

If you looked in my Yahoo inbox, you’d see emails from websites like Writers Write, Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers, WOW – Women on Writing and so on.

If you read my mind, you would discover the plethora of personal stories still untold, the lists of people I want to interview, several book chapters and ideas, blog posts and more.

So, I’ll say it right now. I’m not an imposter.

I’m a writer.

And I feel like the universe is trying to tell me something.

Seriously, what the fuck am I waiting for?


Just Once…

This morning I had a dentist appointment. I hate going because even though the staff is incredibly friendly and professional, and my dentist and I exchange stories as if we were friends from the old neighborhood, they always find something that needs to be fixed.

My dental history is a sad litany of cavities, root canals and crowns. Just once, I’d like to go to the dentist and receive a clean bill of health. Just once, I’d love them to say, “see you in six months.”

But, before I even step foot into the dentist’s office, I get a text from Andrew.

If you are able to, can you bring me my warm-up jacket?”

Now, I know what you are thinking. Why did I say yes?  Why did I go out of my way to bring it to him, which is the complete opposite direction of the dentist’s office?

I know what you are thinking, and I hear you. I should say him no and just once not run over there to save the day.

But he had an important swim meet today. Literally called the “Last Chance” meet, it is his last chance to improve his breaststroke time so he can qualify for Districts. All season long, he goes to practice from 5:30 am (AM!) -7 am and then again after school from 3:30 pm-5:30 pm without complaint. Every day, he packs his snacks, his swim gear and his laptop and leaves the house and comes home in the dark. He’s allowed a free pass occasionally. And, if I didn’t bring it to him, he’d be standing around the pool wearing only his Speedo tech suit. I couldn’t do that to him.

Why am I telling you all of this? I’m not sure. Everyone has rough mornings. Everyone has that moment when they are ready to walk out the door only to be stopped by a text from their forgetful child. I don’t think I’m doing any significant damage by being kind and going out of my way to bring it to him.

And I had a fleeting thought that perhaps a good deed would equal good karma at the dentist.

Fast forward an hour later; I have an appointment to get a cavity filled on March 4th.

And how was your morning?

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