200 Words

My life in 200 words. No more. No less. Okay, that’s 14 words already. Here goes nothing. I’m frustrated a little too easily these days and I’m feeling pretty guilty about it. I know that everyone is busy. I try hard to be patient. I do. But that has never been a virtue of mine. I came home from work tonight to wet clothes that should already be in the dryer, dry towels that need folding and overflowing hampers of clothes that haven’t made their way down to the laundry room. And, I can’t find any empty baskets! (98 words) I have a lot of personal goals this year and I want to fulfill them all. But, I can’t seem to work it into my schedule and it’s SO frustrating. To be honest, maybe I’m not frustrated. Maybe I’m overwhelmed or I’m giving in to all the self-doubt I carry inside, but rarely show others. I don’t have an answer yet. So, today, I made a phone call to talk to someone about all of this. I haven’t felt a need to make an appointment for quite a while. But, I woke up this morning and realized, it’s time for a visit. (200 words).  

Perfect Song

Today, I’m putting the finishing touches on a script for an hour-long program for a gala fundraiser this weekend. I’ve written all the announcements, crafted remarks and edited descriptions of the auction items. I’ve coordinated the live interviews and orchestrated the timeline. The lighting guys have their instructions and the slideshows have been proofed and submitted to the A/V company. There’s just one thing left to do—the music cues. This is the fun part for me. Picking the perfect song to introduce important people is a unique musical gift that I believe I have and take very seriously. I first realized I had this “gift” while planning my kids b’nai mitzvah. I selected songs for each friend and family member who was called up during the candle-lighting ceremony. One set of grandparents got a Beatles tune because my father-in-law loves them. “Walking on Sunshine” is my sister’s theme song so that was a no-brainer. Friends that moved out of town heard “Who Says You Can’t Come Home,” by Bon Jovi. This process takes forever, but it is a labor of love for me. I spend precious time (that I don’t really have) considering lists of song titles before picking out the right one. I listen to, and often look up, the lyrics to songs to make sure the sentiment is right. Sometimes, I’d finish the list, submit it to the DJ and then switch out a song (or 2) for another one I heard on the radio. I think I drove him crazy. But, I’m sorry. I can’t leave this important decision up to a DJ who doesn’t know the people in my life and let him pick random songs for them. And yes, I realize that no one (and I mean no one) being called up for the honor of lighting a candle is paying much attention to the song. But, that doesn’t matter to me. It’s the thought that counts. But, I digress (breathe, Elisa). Back to the gala, we need a song for a grand entrance, but not just any entrance. My bosses’ grand entrance into a room of nearly 1,000 supporters and potentially generous donors. This could be tricky and A LOT of pressure. I have a few ideas, but I don’t think they are going to like any of them. First, our musical tastes are quite different even though we are of the same generation. My team had some suggestions, but absolutely no one wanted to make the decision for them. I tend to agree with them, so I’ll take my special “gift” and sit this one out. To satisfy my inner DJ, I can still come up with what I think would be the perfect song. Some of the ones I’m toying with are “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire (great party song with a subtle tie-in to the cause); “I Got A Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas (gets the audience pumped and in the mood to give); or “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars. (well-known, but maybe too obvious for a fundraiser). In the end, I’ll leave it up to them to decide. I think that’s what is called job security.

Beautiful

There are some songs that instantly bring me back to my childhood. Tapestry by Carole King is one of those albums I listened to over and over as a child. I think we may have worn out the needle on the turntable at some point because we played it so many times. I got to revisit those songs when I saw the Carole King musical, Beautiful today. I knew very little about this songwriter/singer’s life except that her hits could be a soundtrack for parts of my life. Hearing songs like “I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet” and “You’ve Got A Friend” easily brought me back to my old house listening to that album as we did the dishes. My sister and mom have better singing voices then I do, so I just hummed along, but the memory is clear as day. And then, sitting in the theater, I had an unexpected reaction to another old favorite, “So Far Away.” Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore? Cue the tears…I mean, how true is that? So many people who have come and gone in my life. It would be so fine to see their face at my door. And it doesn’t help to know they’re just time away. Okay, you get the idea. Ugh, those lyrics just get me and I don’t know why. Maybe it is because I have a child going off to college or maybe because I miss friends that I haven’t seen in a long time and not sure when I’ll see them again.  

A List for Life

I write a lot of lists. There is my daily to-do list, a project list, a list of books I want to read, and restaurants I want to try. Lists remind me not only what I must do, but what I want to do. Plus, I’m a big believer in what I put out into the world will somehow work out in the end. The act of making lists is allowing myself to write down dreams and goals and then giving myself permission to fulfill them. Four years ago, under the advisement of a career coach, I created a completely different kind of list. He called it a life/work balance grid, but it is still a list. We took the time to map out what I wanted for myself in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years. Today, I’m revisiting this list. Here is what I’ve discovered. The good news is “remodeling my kitchen” was slated for year 5 and I did it in year 3. I also wanted to see one Broadway show a year starting in 2020. I’m happy to report that in year 4, we are seeing not one or two, but six(!) Broadway shows in 2019! Not on Broadway, but I never wrote down where I wanted to see the shows. That isn’t as important to me as enjoying the theater experience. I love supporting the arts and there are so many shows I want to see, so I’m happy to be able to do this. I also wanted to read 12 books a year and according to my Goodreads account, I’ve come close but haven’t hit the mark yet. Of course, this year, I doubled my reading goal and although I’m already falling behind, I plan to catch up soon. I’m still pursuing my writing dreams by blogging (obviously) and I now see myself as becoming an author. My dream, scratch that–goal, is to write a book that will help others and then stand in front of a room full of people to talk about it. Also, in my dream, I see myself sitting at one of those “Meet the Author” events signing my new book and seeing a long line out the door. Hey, it could happen. There are a few areas in the grid where I’ve shorted myself, but I’m glad to be doing this exercise so I can get back on track. Speaking of exercise, I need to lose weight and then maintain it. This is a consistent goal which appears on year 1, 5 and 10 on my life/work balance grid and yet, I haven’t been taking it seriously enough. Losing weight has been a struggle for me. It seems ridiculous too because I only need to lose about 25lbs to be at a healthy weight. But, it is so hard! I know it will only be harder as I age so I need to really take charge of this area of my life. I mentioned that I enjoy hiking—which I completely forgot that I wrote down 4 years ago. And then a lightbulb went off in my head. Hiking is exercise, right? I’ll be checking this goal off my list next year. Recently, a friend reminded me that we are about to embark on the beginning of the best part of our lives. We’ve put ourselves through school, our kids are either headed to college or will be in the next few years, our professional paths have made us financially secure (knock on wood). Pretty soon, we will have more time, as Oprah would say, to live our best lives. So, what exactly does that look like? It’s a good thing I have a list.

A To-Do List for a Quiet Workday

Downtime at work is such a rare thing and sometimes, it can catch you so off guard you don’t know what to do with yourself. You are caught up on your e-mails. The phone isn’t ringing off the hook. Here are a few quick and productive things you can do to make the day go faster and still feel like you have accomplished something: Get Organized – Take a good look at your projects and make a list of everything which needs to be done in order to check the entire project off of your to-do list. Choose one project –Pick a project that you can spend a big chunk of time on today. Set your timer for an hour and see how much you can accomplish. Need more time? Well, today you have plenty of time! Keep going until you reach a point when you want to stop for the day. Leave the office feeling like you got something accomplished. Learn something – Read some articles on-line or watch a TED talk on a topic of interest that relates to your field. Browse trade publications or read a few LinkedIn articles. Have a mobile meeting – Instead of meeting with a colleague in his or her office–take it outside and go for a walk. Get some fresh air and maybe your new surroundings will bring some new ideas to light. Break out the label maker – This one is my favorite! Take out old files you don’t need anymore and create new ones. File papers away that have been sitting on your desk with no place to go. Leave your workday with a clean desk. Help someone else in the office – Maybe you don’t have a lot to do today, but someone else is up against a major deadline. Offer your assistance —even if it is just to stuff envelopes or make copies. They will appreciate it and they won’t forget it when you are in need. Don’t forget the small stuff – Get a few quotes from vendors for an upcoming project. Order office supplies. Update your calendar with upcoming meetings and events. Empty your in-box. Send a thank you note.

Not My Night

Writing 31 blog posts is not easy. I’m constantly looking for material. If I don’t find it in my daily life then I go through 100s of writing prompts and magazine articles until something strikes my fancy. Unfortunately, even that doesn’t cure my writer’s block. Here is a behind the scenes look of how I approached this post today. 6 am – Wake up, shower and contemplate an idea for my post 7:30 am – Commute to work, think through my idea from top to bottom and eventually talk myself out of it, deciding there must be something else more interesting to write about. 9-5 – Work and wait for something interesting to happen. 5 pm- Nothing happens at work that I want (or can) write about. Drive home hoping for divine intervention to put me out of my misery. 6-8:30 pm – Berate myself for being the world’s worst writer. I mean, why can’t I come up with one decent idea? 9:30 pm – Decide on lame writer’s block post and promise myself this weekend I will do my due diligence and write 5 blog posts so that I don’t put myself through this torture again. 9:35 pm – Open up a Mike’s Hard Lemonade and think about tomorrow’s post. 🙂

An Unfair Errand

Shopping for a little black dress (LBD) after the holidays is completely unfair. I’m still carrying a little – okay a lot – of latke and gelt weight from Hanukkah. Not to mention that Hanukkah came right after Thanksgiving, which is most unfortunate for my waistline. Anyway, my job requires me to wear an LBD at our big gala next weekend. So, there I was at the mall this evening on an unfair errand – looking for the perfect dress. And when I say the perfect dress, it has to meet the following criteria:

  1. It doesn’t make me look fat. Thankfully, staff wears black so that is slimming. (Note to self: buy Spanx).
  2. It looks professional. I’m in charge of the program, which is a highly visible job that requires a lot of running around all while looking like I’m totally in control of the situation. (Which, of course I am… 🙂 )
  3. Speaking of running around. Said dress must be sleeveless because I’m a woman of a certain age and I get overheated easily at a moment’s notice. (Reminder: pack deodorant)
  4. More running. Dress must look good with flat shoes. No high heels for me. I can’t be on my feet all night without a good pair of flats.
  5. Under $100. I’m currently doing Weight Watchers and hope this dress is way too big for me by spring. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on it.

Thankfully, after visiting 4 different stores, trying on 12 dresses and allowing myself a good, yet short-lived, cry in the fitting room at White House Black Market, I selected a dress that fits me and all of the above conditions. My errand was a success. Shopping used to be a lot more fun when I was young and skinny. I miss those days.

At Night…

At night, I hear laughter coming from her bedroom as she cracks up over an episode of Friends. At night, I hear the pages of her textbook turning as she pours over her notes for tomorrow’s test. At night, I hear the rustle of the paper she tears out of her notebook that disturbs an otherwise quiet house. At night, I hear her Face Timing with her friends. At night, I hear her yell for me when she needs a form signed or wants to borrow my hair dryer. In less than a year, I won’t hear any of this because she will be away at college and I’ll hear none of the above coming from her bedroom.

Sorry, I’m Booked

spent this chilly Sunday morning taking inventory of my bookshelves. With my new goal of not buying new books this year intact, I wanted to reacquaint myself with the books I already purchased. All 89 of them. That’s right, 89 books. This includes all of what can be found on my bookshelf and what is currently downloaded onto my Kindle. And now that I have that big number in my head, I won’t buy another book for quite some time. I’m not even going to calculate how much this habit of collecting books has cost me, but if you’ve ever purchased a book, you can do the math. (However, in my defense, most of the books are in paperback). So, what books are these? Here is a breakdown:

  • 35 popular fiction selections
  • 20 leadership and business books
  • 18 titles with words of wisdom and encouragement from fellow writers
  • 16 random books that fit into various categories

You know how when you want to lose weight, you put a number on the fridge of how much you want to lose to stop yourself from eating anything that is bad for you? (Am I the only one that does this?). Well, I’m going to find a way to do something along those lines with my Amazon account. I’ve even unsubscribed from any social media page that touts book lists in front of my eyes. And when I pass by the local Barnes & Noble, I will repeat the number in my head until I am a safe distance from the premises. I’ve gone cold turkey. Meanwhile, back to my bookshelves…there is good news. Actually, great news! There are some fantastic books in my possession. I can’t wait to finally dive into The Hate U Give and Crazy Rich Asians (both of which I’ve been waiting to read before seeing the movie). I’m looking forward to cracking open the two marketing titles from well-known business writers Dan & Chip Heath. I keep hearing how amazing they are, and I haven’t yet had the pleasure of soaking in their expertise. And of course, my “can’t-live-without-but-apparently-have-had-no-time-to-read” books about my passion for writing. There is so much there that I need to absorb. If you want to see my book list, friend me on Goodreads, but please don’t recommend any titles to me. I’m not sure I’m strong enough yet to resist the temptation.       https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/6205627

College-Level Advice

towson tigerFor the last two years, we have visited several college campuses looking for the right fit for our daughter as she moves into the next stage of her life. We toured large universities and smaller colleges. Some of them in or near major cities and others out in the sticks. We’ve spoken to guidance counselors, admissions counselors, and yes, even my own counselor (a.k.a. my therapist). Just like any other phase of parenthood, you will receive a lot of advice about this journey. While advice was always appreciated, there will be times when we just wanted to figure it out on our own. And I think that is the best tip I can give to those just starting on this adventure—listen to what others tell you but follow your child’s lead. Although you didn’t realize it, over the last 18 years you have raised them for this moment. Know that you brought them up right with a good head on their shoulders and a set of values that you have given them. Trust that your child knows what they want and what they don’t want. Let them lead. My favorite part of this whole process has been visiting campuses and discussing them on the car ride home. I loved listening to her weigh the pros and cons of each place, considering the location, the community, the academic and social life and the overall “feel” each place offers. And all this time, I’ve admired the maturity she has shown in her decision-making. All along, the only piece of advice I bestowed upon her was what I have told her all her life—go with your gut. I find this is a wonderful mantra for any decision one makes in life. Her gut will tell her what is right and what is wrong for her. If she isn’t happy and confident in her choices, then problems will surely follow. The moment she stepped on Towson’s campus; she knew it was the right place for her. She made a point of meeting the local admissions representative every time she came to our area to learn as much as possible about the community. When the admissions staff called her up to the stage this past fall to tell her in person that she was accepted, the open house became a welcome home. And when she told us that when she thinks of herself at college, she saw herself at Towson, we knew it was the right place for her. So, my unsolicited, but well-meaning, advice to you as you go through this amazing time in your lives as parents is to let your child take the lead. Whether they want to live in a big city or out in the sticks, small college, large university, community college, military, trade school, or whatever, let them go with their gut and they will wind up exactly where they were always supposed to be.

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