Archive of ‘Ultimate Blog Challenge’ category

Barely…

Have you ever been so exhausted you cannot even exchange pleasantries with the people you love anymore?
This is how I’ve felt for the last few hours.

Barely able to hold a conversation without snapping at people (even though really I didn’t mean to-sorry!).

Barely able to sit down without taking a brief nap.

Barely able to finish the dishes.

Barely able to hold a coherent conversation.

Barely able to write this….zzz

I’ll do better tomorrow. I promise.

Happy Easter and Passover everyone!

Good night.

Prepping for Passover

I’m a little behind on my blog posts right now, but I have a good excuse. I’m hosting a Passover seder on Saturday night and the whole mishpucha will be here. Parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, kids and cousins will gather around my dining room table (and partly into the living room) to hear the Passover story.

I’m actually pretty excited to open up my home for this holiday. Typically I’m the house for Break the Fast during Yom Kippur. Since everyone is starving when they get to my house, no one complains that the food was ordered instead of home made. As long as it isn’t late getting to the table. Being trusted to host a Passover seder means you’ve hit the big time in a Jewish family. It’s a lot of coordinating from the food to the set up to the service, led by yours truly.

Some of my best family memories took place around the seder table. When I was little, we had somewhere around 30 people at my aunt and uncle’s house every year. I don’t know how she did it, but having her and my mom in my corner is making all of this much easier. Back then, she cooked and set it all up. My uncle led the seder.
Everyone had a part. It was amazing.

My seder will not live up to that caliber, but I know it will still be wonderful. And I have a lot of people cooking the traditional meal of brisket, chicken, matzah kugels, matzah ball soup, and so many vegetable dishes plus dessert. I’ve rented a table and chairs, ordered flowers, cleaned my house (well almost done with that) and all that is left now is to set the table with all the accessories-including the finger puppets depicting the 10 plagues.

A seder AND a puppet show! You are impressed now, right??

I expect my Passover experience will lead to a lot of blog material so I will end for now, but there will be more to come.

Ever Have A Day Like This?

At 5:30 this morning, I checked my calendar and realized I had 5(!) meetings today.

The thought of that many meetings in stuffy conference rooms made me want to crawl back under the covers. Lots of thoughts raced through my head. Maybe I could call out sick. Maybe I don’t have to attend all 5 meetings. Maybe I should block out time for bathroom breaks and eating.

Upon looking at my calendar again, I made up my mind and reluctantly got dressed. I’m too Type A to miss that many meetings and I know my Jewish guilt would eventually kick in. My first meeting was to on-board a new employee. Since I’m her boss, I kind of needed to be there. My 11 am was a full-on team briefing which we haven’t had in over a month where everyone could attend. I didn’t want to be the only one to not show up.

Following those two meetings, I thought I had a break to read and answer emails, check in with my other direct reports and maybe get a little lunch and cross a few things off my to do list. But no, scratch that. My 1:30 was moved up to 12:30. Honestly, THIS was the meeting I could have skipped if I had the guts. But, I was the one who called the meeting in the first place so I was sort of obligated to be there.

My 2:30 meeting ended promptly at 3 pm and I went back to my desk forgetting I wasn’t done yet. I had one more to go. And I was 7 minutes late.

Ever have a day like this? Please don’t let me be the only one.

Reclaiming My Time

Recently, someone asked me why I’m participating in this blog challenge?

He wasn’t being rude about it. He was just curious. Seriously , what’s the point of stressing out and searching for an idea for my next post. Then, slave away over a warm laptop, choosing the right words and fighting off writer’s block and self doubt each day until I publish 30 consecutive blog posts?

The answer is simple. I’m reclaiming my time.

Time is a precious thing. Use it or lose it. Waste it away on mundane tasks or channel it towards something you love to do. In the end, it’s up to me.

I love to write and my biggest excuse for not writing is that I never have the time for it. But, to be honest, that really isn’t true. Instead of watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory, I could be writing. Sort through piles of paperwork or write? Fold laundry, take out the trash, do the dishes and other household chores — heck I have teenagers for that now. I choose to write.

Reclaiming my time means creating space for me to do what makes me happy. I also hope it helps me establish a writing habit. I’ve never really had one before. If you asked me what my process is or how many hours I write a day, I couldn’t answer because I thought it depended on the day. But again, it’s just not true. I may have to wake up a little later or skip out on the antics of Sheldon, Leonard and Penny.  And that will be okay, because to me writing is time well spent.

A Prom Dress Shopping Complaint Letter

Dear Department Store Conglomerate,

A few weekends ago, my daughter and I went shopping for her senior prom dress at your store in King of Prussia. Your selection was lovely and we easily identified several gowns we liked until we found the one she loved. Right there in your dressing room, her face lit up when she saw herself in the well-lit mirrors. We all knew this was the dress for her.

I didn’t “check-in” on Facebook at your store and when I paid for the dress I didn’t sign up for your member rewards program or provide my email to get a receipt. I simply used my credit card and walked away with the dress of her dreams.

I knew once I handed over my email address to you, I would give you the authority to send me whatever deals you wish for as long as you’d like in order to lure me back into your store. Yes, I can always unsubscribe to emails, but that’s not the point. I thought I beat the system.

Sure enough when I returned home 30 minutes later, I found several Facebook ads from your department store. Just 30 minutes later! Geez, you guys are fast!

Was I micro-chipped without my knowledge when I stepped through your doors? Did someone from the store scout out the parking lot for all the cars within a 300 foot radius of your front door, run license plate numbers and steal my right to be left alone?

I was annoyed to say the least. I specifically chose not to give you my email because we only shop at that store for special occasions. And, I honestly am doing you a favor so as not to waste your time, printing or postage on little old me.

I just wanted the dress.

I’ve heard of people who live off the grid and while I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon, I see its merits. I just want to be a 40-something year old woman who has control over who can enter into a marketing relationship with me. Is that too much to ask?!

So, thanks for the selection and the memory of when and where we laid eyes on the perfect dress. Please keep your ads to yourself.

Much appreciated. 🙂

The Writing Sweet Spot

I imagine one day I will turn a bedroom into a writing haven for myself. The room will be cozy, but not in a distracting way. I’ll have a comfy chair to curl up in and an ottoman to put my feet up, plus a writing desk situated by the window. Thus offering me two places to write my page-turning memoir or novel. The room will be well lit and there are plenty of places for all my books. I may even put a twin bed in there for cat naps between moments of brilliance.

But, I’ll also sit in my beautiful room and suffer from writer’s block because I could be in the perfect setting with no one home to interrupt and hours of free time on my hands and nothing inside of me to write.

So then I wonder, why bother with my own writing room when an idea can strike at any time. I can be at the baseball field watching my son play and a story line will come to me. I could be eavesdropping on an incredibly loud conversation between a parent and a coach on a cell phone while standing in line at CVS. A conversation that you want to walk away from but also desperately want to hear what happens next.

Honestly, I need only a few things to find my writing sweet spot: a notebook or my laptop, a good pen, a place to sit and a fantastic idea. All of this and the above sticker so people think twice before interrupting me.

 

 

For Charlie

I’ve never met Charlie, but he is one of my heroes.
A childhood cancer hero.

Right before he turned 3 years old, Charlie was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. He was given less than a 5% chance of survival. He underwent multiple surgeries, endured 2 years of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation. He spent more time in the hospital than on the playground. Because of the tumor, he lost vision in his left eye.

But Charlie is a survivor and he was no evidence of disease (NED) for 8 years. Now 13, he is in the battle of his life again. Doctors found another brain tumor and he had major surgery yesterday. His family posted a photo a few days before showing Charlie with his braces off–not because his teeth were perfectly straight–but because of his pending surgery. Getting your braces off is supposed to be a happy day for kids, but not this time.

Did you know childhood cancer is the number 1 cause of death by disease in the U.S. for children under the age of 19? As the Communications Manager at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, I know this statistic all too well. I use it constantly to inspire people to support much-needed childhood cancer research. But, I don’t just write about it. I have the honor of knowing some of the faces behind the statistics.

Yesterday, I marked my 3 year anniversary working for the Foundation. I’ve written plenty of stories about these kids and their families and what they have been through. I’ve spoken to researchers about their progress in the labs and the great potential to find less toxic treatments and more cures. But, I don’t just work for the Foundation, I donate part of my paycheck to the cause as well. And when you see me, I’m probably wearing a Foundation t-shirt to raise awareness because kids fighting cancer are my heroes.

As part of my writing process, I typically keep one of them at the front of my mind. Today, I think of Charlie.

At the Flea Market

Did you know today is National Eight-Track Tape Day?

It doesn’t get nearly the social media attention it deserves, especially when it competes with National Pet Day. But, you could say this plastic covered, music technology means a lot to me.

Before I was a mall rat with my ’80s big hair and off-the-shoulder, neon tops, I was a flea market chick. The Berlin Farmers Market in South Jersey was my hangout on Saturdays and Sundays. For a good part of my childhood, I’d accompany my dad on weekend trips to the flea market which was complete with colorful characters and lots of “collectibles.”

When I was there, I learned to keep an eye on the merchandise, talk to customers and make change as I helped my dad with his record business. Known as “Bob the Record Man,” he carried pretty much every rock album produced in the ‘60s, ‘70’s, and ‘80s genre, plus ’45s for the random jukebox owner that stopped by. It was an impressive collection and my dad was incredibly knowledgeable about his inventory, even though he never listened to it on the radio and preferred Oldies ’98 and‘50’s rock and roll music.

He also sold eight-track tapes which came in everything from the Beach Boys to the Bee Gees. If you are too young to remember albums, you certainly won’t know what these things are but just know that they came before the modern age of cassettes, CDs, the iPod shuffle and on-line streaming. Eight track tapes were cumbersome, but revolutionary at the time. After all, you couldn’t plug in your turntable and take it with on a 6 hour car ride to Boston or Williamsburg while listening to your favorite bands (I’m just saying…). So, the eight-track was the way to go.

To keep me busy and out of trouble, I had a few important jobs at my dad’s outdoor record stand and most of them were related to the eight-tracks. I alphabetized them. I applied the price stickers. I re-alphabetized them after a customer carelessly took them out and then replaced them anywhere they could fit in the box. And most importantly, when someone wanted to purchase them, I was at the ready to test them out in my dad’s tan Malibu station wagon. This was my favorite part of the job. At the age of 7, I was so excited to climb behind the steering wheel and turn the car key towards the windshield and then insert the tape in the proper way so it would play. I was careful not to jam it into the player which could cause the outer plastic casing to crack and certainly affect a $5 sale.

When the crowds faded, Dad & I would sit on the car bumper with the trunk door wide open to provide shade on hot sunny days. We played the Beatles eight track tape almost every weekend and ate funnel cake while talking about random things. A nice treat for a hard day’s work.

And now, whenever I hear Baby You Can Drive My Car, I’m immediately taken back to those days at the flea market—even if I’m listening to the song on the XM radio Beatles Channel.

Happy National Eight-Track Tape Day!

Top 10 Random Thoughts

  1. Happy National Siblings Day to my sister who amazes me with her quick wit, her resilience and her ability to pull the perfect movie quote out of thin air that relates specifically to whatever we are discussing at that particular moment. INCONCEIVABLE!
  2. Happy National Siblings Day to my son and daughter. I am incredibly grateful for both of you and love the fact that you get along with each other more often than you fight and you always have each other’s back.
  3. Don’t panic about the college admissions process. I’ve read so many articles about it over the last few years and the overwhelming amount of advice and information out there will make your head spin. But know this: Yes, it is stressful. Yes, you will doubt yourself (why did I let her stop taking piano lessons?). Yes, it is not fun. But, they will go to the university where they were meant to go. You got this. Trust your kid and trust the process.
  4. After a rather large kitchen renovation last summer, everyone in this house seems to still have trouble locating the dishwasher which is less than a foot away from the sink they are dumping their dishes in.
  5. Thank God for Randy Rainbow (pictured right). He is the only thing that is getting me through the Trump administration these days. If you need a good laugh, stop reading and go check out his YouTube Channel. This is one of my favorites. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
  6. Passover is coming and just like every year, I wish someone would consider re-branding Passover candy packaging. It looks so unappetizing especially compared to the brightly-colored Easter candy it sits next to at the supermarket. Also, did I mention I’m hosting a Passover Seder for 23 people next weekend? I should stock up on egg matzah.
  7. I love baseball for lots of reasons (Go Phillies!), but mostly because I think there is an element of kindness to it. Don’t know what I mean? Watch this.
  8. Spring break is next week for the kids. Soon after that will be the senior class trip, senior prom, Memorial Day and then high school graduation. And soon enough, I’ll be packing my daughter up to go to college. I wish time would slow the hell down and let me catch my breath.
  9. I had a dream about my grandmother the other day which was odd because I rarely dream about that particular grandmother. All of a sudden, she was there smoking a joint. What do you think that means?
  10. It took me over an hour to come up with 10 random thoughts. 🙂

The end!

Writing – All Day Long

I know some people feel that writing is not their cup of tea.

But, for me I could write all day long. In fact, that’s exactly what I do. Take today at work for example: Today I:

  • Assigned stories to the writers who work for me;
  • Edited 2 email blasts on completely different topics (one of which requires a large amount of reworking which I will have to read all over again tomorrow);
  • Proofread 2 emails on a monthly giving program for different audiences;
  • Led an bi-weekly editorial meeting of writers and communications specialists where discussed writing on different topics to a variety of audiences on several platforms (print, email, social, blog, etc);
  • Wrote many inter-office emails and Slack messages about 3 other writing projects in progress including an Annual Report;
  • Discussed the status of several communications pieces with directors;
  • Left early to pick up my son at the dentist and go to my Tuesday night writing workshop.

But, before I go to writing class, I am committed to composing a blog post every day for 30 days for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. i came up with this idea to write about writing on my way home – because that is pretty much what is on my mind all day long.

And, if that weren’t enough, there is still more writing and editing to do in class. This workshop is part writing and part critiquing other people’s work in a constructive manner. I already read the pieces once, but now I will provide helpful commentary to my fellow writers. Also, I’m supposed to submit a manuscript to this class for their reading pleasure and review sometime in the next 10 days or so–which I haven’t started yet.

That’s a lot of writing and I love it. And i know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. As a writer, I prefer coffee instead.
Seriously, how else will I get all this writing done? 🙂

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