Hugging It Out

Flattery won’t get you far with me, but my kids know a big hug will every time. Lately, I seem to be getting a lot of hugs and you won’t hear me complaining.

My oldest is counting down the days until the end of her high school career. She has a bright future ahead of her and she is excited about it. I’m sure leaving the nest gives her some trepidation. We’ve all been there. It isn’t easy. We have been her safety net for the last 18 years and soon she will fend for herself at college. Of course, we will always be there for whatever she needs and offer our words of wisdom and support. We just won’t be right by her side or waiting in her dorm room for her to return from class. Actually, I think she would be mortified if we did the latter.

So, I’m getting a few extra hugs from her lately. It is extra nice because I admit I’m having a hard time with this big change too. This isn’t like going away to overnight camp and I’ll pick her up in 3 weeks. This is quite a reality check and it is happening sooner than I’m willing to admit.

When she hugs me, my only rule is that she must let go first because I’d hold on forever.

My son is getting in some hugs of his own these days. He was always one to cuddle up next to me and snuggle when he was little. He’s too big for that now, but I’ll take a great big bear hug from him anytime. After all these years, boys are still a mystery to me. I’m never quite sure when he needs one and when he just wants to be left alone. I think it’s his way of checking in with me before he goes off with his friends. Or maybe he just wants to give me a hug just for the hell of it. Either one works for me. I don’t need a reason to get one of his hugs.

Mainly, I think it is his way of showing me that even though I nag at him to clean his room and use a bath towel more than once before throwing it in the hamper, he loves me as much as I love him.

Hugs are the best, especially from my teenagers, and I’ll take every single one of them in for as long as they let me—without question.

 

Roomies

I met my college roommate the day we moved into our freshman dorm. Months earlier, I filled out a survey and ta-da; there she was with her entire life in tow. She seemed nice enough and although we weren’t the best of friends, we got along fine. One night, she didn’t come home from a party and since this was before cell phones were a thing, a few of my friends and I went to find her. We found her alright – completely wasted and unsure how to get back to the dorm. We helped her find her way back, got past the security guard and R.A. before we practically carried her up two flights of stairs to our room where she promptly passed out on my bed.

It was then that I knew I was officially in college.

Unfortunately, she turned rather mean as the semester went on and I decided to move to another room which turned out to be a much better fit.

I’m reminded of this story because today we met my daughter’s roommate at Admitted Students Day. They have been Face Timing each other for the past month and a half and when they saw each other they embraced as if they had known each other for years. They were adorable and inseparable–taking selfies and walking shoulder to shoulder through the student activities fair remarking on how cute college boys are and how awesome it was to be there. We parted ways with her family after lunch and they were texting each other on the way home.

I can only hope that they stay friends and avoid the girl drama that high school tends to bring on. I hope they help each other navigate their way around campus and inevitably back from college parties. It’s an exciting time for her and for all of us. It is the beginning of a new era and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

Are Cover Letters Extinct?

What happened to the art of writing a cover letter?

A few weeks ago, I posted a job for a staff writer and it was amazing how many resumes came in without a cover letter? Did I mention this is a writing position?!

If the best writer in the tri-state area didn’t send a cover letter, it immediately went into the “no” pile. Why? In my opinion, cover letters help candidates stand out among a sea of writers with all too similar qualifications. Bachelor’s degree in writing, check. Editor of your school paper, check. Proficient in Microsoft Office and WordPress, (zzz….) check.

Cover letters are literally a different story. They prove to me that you can write and show how you organize your thoughts and tell your story. And here’s a piece of advice, if you are applying for a staff writer position and I specifically state that I want a cover letter, not writing one is just plain lazy.

I did a little googling on this subject and one article said that only 15% of hiring managers read the cover letter. If this is true, count me as a proud member of the minority. I read all cover letters. They give me insight into who you are as a person and a professional.

Upon further research, I found that most career advice articles tell job candidates to write a cover letter because it’s an opportunity to stand out in a pile of applicants and show that you would be a great hire. Even if the hiring manager doesn’t ask for one, sending a cover letter shows you are a motivated candidate who will go the extra mile.

And that’s what I’m looking for. A little motivation. A little creativity. A little extra effort. Is that too much to ask?

The Name Game

I have a first name that you will never find on a key chain or a coffee mug.

Once though, I found it on a nail polish label. I hated the color, but I bought it anyway. Just so I could have something with my name printed on it.

As a child, my sister always found her name on everything. Karen is an easy name to locate. I was a little jealous. I always had to settle for Lisa and then draw a big E in front of it to spell it right.

It took my rabbi three times to spell my name correctly in the prayer book I was given at my bat mitzvah. Somewhere out there are two prayer books that have the inscriptions Mazel tov Alisa and Mazel tov Elissa.

Collectors items, right?  I’m sure of it.

I also have the kind of first name that is hard to pronounce. One person will say Alyssa, with a short i. Another says Elisha with an h. Still others say Eliza. That one is where I draw the line. There is no z in my name and when I’ve been going to the same doctor for 20 years, you would think he would get it right.

I’m extremely appreciative of the people who ask me how to pronounce it or if they got it right. I think it is a kindness to do this. Sometimes, I get so tired of correcting people and, let’s face it, there are worse things in the world so I just let it go. Call me whatever you want, I think. But then, someone called me on that too. A friend pointed out the right way to another friend and that person was mortified that she was saying it wrong all this time. And she was upset that I never corrected her.

I can’t win. Honestly, I never could figure out the proper etiquette for this kind of thing.

For all of high school, I went by Lisa and I didn’t mind. It helped me fit in with my fellow classmates. But after college, I gained a lot more self-confidence and realized my name was pretty and different and I embraced it whole-heartedly. From day 1 of my career, I introduced myself as Elisa and never went back. Now, I no longer care if I ever find it on a key chain or a coffee mug again (although I’m happy when I do 🙂 ).
So thanks Mom & Dad for giving me a beautiful name.

And for the record, it’s pronounced Eh-Lisa or Uh-Lisa. But, its okay. I still love you if you get it wrong.

Awesome Swim Moms

I am at the age when making new friend groups doesn’t happen all that often anymore.

Between my husband and I, we already have high school friends, college friends, work friends, synagogue friends, and neighborhood friends.

I think the last time we made a set of new friends was after my daughter was born. Every weekend, we took her to endless birthday parties and preschool events which paved the way for what continues to be years of wonderful friendships. When she started kindergarten, we made even more friends. Let’s face it. First children are friend magnets.

By the time, our son was born though, we already had a well-established social circle. Sure, we met other parents who shared the same classrooms and weekend activities as we did and we laughed and talked and schmoozed, but for some reason the friendships never really stuck. This always made me sad because they are the nicest people and had we met them the first time around, things might be different.

But this year, we miraculously found a new friend group. After Andrew joined the high school swim team, we were invited to a party at the beginning of the season. I admit I was a little reluctant to go because I didn’t know many people. But that one party changed my mind instantly. As soon as we introduced ourselves as the parents of a freshman swimmer, we were literally embraced by the other parents as if we had been there for years. And by the end of the night, I’m happy to say that we made some amazing new friends.

Friends to work the snack bar with at swim meets. Friends who saved seats for us when the stands above the pool deck were crowded with parents. Friends that I could text in my newly-minted “Awesome Swim Moms” group chat and within 3 text messages learned what brand of purple shampoo was best to use on my son’s bleach blond hair- a tradition among the swim team members.

And even though swim season is over, our friendships are secure as ever as we sit at water polo games and carpool for lifeguard training. Each family belongs to a different swim club so there is already talk of spending our summers together.

I didn’t think it would be possible to find a new friend group. But my fellow swim moms are a rare find and we are all becoming fast friends and this fish out of water is forever grateful for all of them.

 

On the Nose

Do you need a Kleenex? Do you have a cold?

If you spend enough time with me, you will inevitably ask one of the above questions. Why? Because I sniffle–like a lot.

Until recently, I hadn’t looked into why this is the case. After all, this isn’t anywhere near an emergency medical situation. I can breathe fine and my seasonal allergies are treated regularly. But, recently, I began to notice how often people ask about my “cold.” My office is an open floor plan so you can imagine how annoying I must be to my co-workers. Of course, they are too polite to say anything.

I admit that there is another reason I’ve been reluctant to do anything about this condition. Years ago, I had a traumatic experience at an allergist appointment. (Sniff. Sniff.) With very little warning, this jerk – I mean doctor –  stuck a scope so far up my nose I thought at one point it was behind my eyeball. I had to lay down in the waiting room afterwards because I was so freaked out and his lack of a bedside manner did not help. So, I haven’t been keen on a return visit to get this resolved.

And then, one day I had a face-to-face appointment with someone I met on LinkedIn to interview for a book I’m working on. It took her less than 5 minutes to hand me a tissue box and inquire about my non-existent cold. First impressions being what they are, this was the last straw.

I called a family friend who is an ENT and made an appointment. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious about it. Anxiety is a funny thing. I tried to talk myself off the ledge by spending the entire day convincing myself that after giving birth to 2 children, enduring multiple dental procedures and a colonoscopy, I can handle a scope up my nose. Right?

Anxiety can be a crippling thing, Even for something as minor as this. But, my anxiety teaches me an important lesson that I continue to re-learn. When I empower myself to face the things I once feared, I am better for it in the long run.

And I’m proud of myself because I can honestly say that it was a much better experience this time around and thankfully I didn’t pass out. And although my blood pressure told a different story,  I was finally able to relax and take charge.

 

 

Where Blog Posts Come From

“OH! That would make a fantastic blog post.”

This is what I say to myself daily, but frequently I don’t sit down and take the time to write. Work obligations and family time and—of course—laundry, are inevitable obstacles and the idea quickly fades away.

But the buck stops here (at least for the month of April). Writing a new blog post every day is a challenge for me. We are talking 30 posts in 30 days. They call it the ULTIMATE BLOG CHALLENGE (UBC for short). That’s a lot of pressure. I’ve done this challenge before and the farthest I’ve accomplished is 18 posts straight through. That’s more than halfway through, but this time I’m planning on reaching day 30.

Honestly, it shouldn’t be THAT hard. After all, it isn’t hard for me to come up with something to write about every day. Inspiration can come from the latest news cycle or a trip to the local supermarket. I never know when or where lightning will strike so notebooks are appropriately stationed in the car, on my nightstand and in my purse to capture whatever comes my way.

It’s a good thing I’m a morning person because I find that is the best time for me to write. Ideally, I’ll have a post published for you to read by the time you check your Facebook page in the morning (like today). But, no guarantees. 😊

There is so much to write about these days. For instance, I’m obsessed with the college admissions scandal in which 50 people including 2 famous actors bought their child’s way into highly-regarded universities. Not only did these parents have the means to get their children all the tutoring and coaching they needed to get accepted on their own, but they also took a spot away from a more deserving, hard-working and honest student.

As the mom of a soon-to-be college freshman, I understand this process is grueling. It can be incredibly stressful and full of fear and judgement. It is the ultimate test to our self-esteem as parents and students. But in the end, my daughter is going to a wonderful school and she worked hard to get there—and I’m incredibly proud of her for that. And I’m furious that Aunt Becky didn’t have the same faith in her own kids. And I’m sad for the kids that didn’t know their spot at the school their attending was bought. And yes, I believe there are some who didn’t know. What does that say about our faith in our children to create their own success stories?

Did I mention my daughter is going to college in the fall? Yep, our first child is spreading her wings and leaving the nest. Soon to be followed by her brother who I plan to be present for over the next few years of his high school career. I will probably drive him crazy.

Through my little blog in cyberspace, I’ve created a space to share my views like these (and much more), bring a little slice of life and hopefully a smile as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts too. Has what I’m writing about happened to you or is it just me? Do you have a different opinion or experience? I want to hear that too. I love to learn from the other side when it is done in a respectful way. So please, leave me comments on my posts. Notes of encouragement are welcome as well. Writing is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you.

Above all, let’s have some fun.
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21st Century Jury Duty – A Guest Post

Why everyone cringes when they get a summons for jury duty by Jackie Diamond
You get the summons in the mail and immediately you’re like, “oh sh*t”. You’re not alone. The majority of us cringe at the prospect of serving on jury duty. Now some of you are going to tell me that it’s our civic duty to serve on a jury of our peers. Fundamentally I agree. Except for the fact that the entire process is completely antiquated. And it places a burden on everyday modern life. The system is built on old, archaic platform from a time where mobile communication didn’t exist. And at times, it can feel demoralizing. Being stuck in a room, sometimes with little or no information or what to expect, and even worse, being cut off from the outside world. Having recently experienced this process, here are a few proposed enhancements to bring jury duty into the 21st century.
Enhancement 1: Scrub the juror database It makes sense for some people to be immediately eliminated from the jury pool. Are you a lawyer? A cop? Or work in the court system? Then you probably have a bias and even know the prosecutors and/or defense attorneys on the case. Therefore why would the court waste their time to ask you to serve in the first place? Believe it or not, there are plenty of people of people in these professions who are provided with a summons and asked to serve.
Enhancement 2: Online pre-screen Think of when you apply for a job. You are pre-screened with an online application. Why don’t we do this for potential jurors? It helps even further weed out people with certain “possible” inherent biases. Why does this process need to be conducted in person? Docusign is a much-respected and recognized way to legally sign a document. If you pre-screen potential jurors before they even have to take off of work and travel to the courthouse, you create efficiencies and save everyone a lot of angst and stress.
Enhancement 3: Schedule juror interviews What if jury selection panels could schedule interviews with potential jurors, based on their pre-screen (see Enhancement 2). Wouldn’t that make a better use of everyone’s time? And jurors wouldn’t have to worry about wasting an entire day sitting around being completely unproductive. Will any of this ever really come to fruition? Not sure. But it’s nice to contemplate when you’re wasting away in a jury room waiting to find out if you’ve been selected.

 

 

I Blinked

We live 3 blocks from our elementary school and I would often walk Jenna up to “the path” which leads to the back of the school. On one cold and rainy day, Jenna hopped in the car and I drove her instead. While waiting at the stop sign to make the turn onto the main road, I started to do the math.I thought to myself…right now she is in Kindergarten and she will graduate high school in 2019 and I’ll be…48 years old. It seemed like such a long time away so I just shrugged it off and took her to school. Now, she drives herself to school. She turns 18 tomorrow and she graduates high school in 5 months. Guess what, I blinked.

Encouragement

Writing can be a lonely hobby, but one that I feel is a calling. If I could only stay home in my pajamas with my laptop, mugs of coffee, books and fuzzy slippers and write, I would do exactly that—all day long. But up til now, I have had to give myself permission to carve out time to do what I love. On this journey, there are lots of people who have encouraged me along the way. Of course, my mom is no doubt my biggest fan, but there are others who stand out. When I sit down to write, I know it is because these people have out there who have and one of them passed away. She was an English teacher who volunteered every month at our synagogue. Every time she saw me, she would tell me what a great writer I am and that she was a retired English teacher so she should know. It always made my day. I haven’t seen her in a long time, but I remember how she made me feel and I won’t soon forget it.

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