Saturday, December 31, 2011

How Great is Good Enough?

The song Sweet Caroline is running through my head.  It has been since I watched the 34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors earlier this week.  This year, singer/songwriter Neil Diamond and actress Meryl Streep, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, jazz musiscian Sonny Rollins and broadway actress Barbara Cook were honored, to quote President Obama, for a "lifetime of greatness."  

So fun, right?  "Good times never seem so good; Oh I've been inclined to believe it never would."  Tell me that you listened to that and didn't smile.  No way.  

Yes, it was nostalgic amusement to listen to Neil Diamond's catchy tunes.  And an inspiring lesson in tolerance to watchYo-Yo Ma take his work around the world.  But as I watched the tributes to these great people, I was most deeply moved by how sincerely moved they seemed to be.  As the Kennedy Center honorees watched chronologies of their life's work along with the audience, their faces revealed pride, but also humility.  True appreciation.  Just the seemingly appropriate amount of awe.    

And I got to thinking ...

*How do you get to be that great?
*Did these performers set out to be great?  Was it luck that got them a lifetime of greatness?  Hard work?  Talent?  Destiny?  All of the above?
*Why doesn't determination and hard work = greatness for all people?
*Can it?

Asking these questions made me think of another catchy tune from my childhood; who remembers this one from Sesame Street?  

"Thats about the size, where you put your eyes" was intended to teach kids that big and small are relative terms.  But shortly after we met, my wise husband spinned it as a lesson on perspective about life.  Since, its this happy, silly song that pops into my mind when I need a little extra push to be able to see a glass half full.  Unfortunately, it sometimes comes through in Larry's singing voice. . . 

"Thats about the size, where you put your eyes" also reminds me of one of my favorite maxims from Pirkei Avot, the compilation of Jewish ethical teachings that translates literally as 'Ethics of Our Fathers.  (What can I say; you can take the girl out of the Jewish day school,  but you can't take the Jewish Day School out of the girl.)  Anyway, the saying goes - eizeh hu ashir, mi she sameach b’chelko (Pirke Avot 4:1) - "Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot."  

Perspective.  Maybe that is the secret ingredient to achieving greatness.  Knowing when "good enough" is "great."  Knowing that "as good as it gets" is good enough.  And since life is not going to deal most of us the kind of talent displayed by the Kennedy Center honorees - or many of us the best opportunities to cultivate our skills and interests - maybe greatness means at least aspiring to emulate their effort, and their gratitude.  

To see the good times ... as good.  

Thank you so much for tuning in one last time in 2011. Wishing you & yours a truly great 2012.  


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Botox or not to Botox. Why is that a question?

To Botox or Not to Botox?  
Why is that a Question?

I'm so annoyed and embarrassed.  I have to write about Botox.  Well, I don't have to, but it seems that telling the real and true story of me turning 40 includes revealing the oh so unattractive details of me dealing with my supposed diminished attractiveness.

This is not, I repeat not, a pathetic plea for compliments.  Nor is it a call to debate the politics of beauty, though thats obviously on my mind.  No, it is simply a sharing of the narishkeit that is one 39 year old woman lamenting the deepened, static frown line in the middle of her forehead.

Whole wheat bread.  Brown rice.  Apples.   Blueberries.  Greek yogurt.  Almonds.  Salmon.  (what I eat).  Hike.  Ski.  Yoga.  (what I do.)  Add the words Botulinum Toxin type A to this paragraph and it seems like that song from Sesame Street:  "One of these things is not like the others.  One of these things just doesn't belong  ... "

It makes no sense that someone who espouses "healthy eating and exercise" as her "other religion"  - hell, someone who just moved to Colorado in the name of an "active, outdoor lifestyle" - would consider injecting something so unnatural into her body.  Right?  Unless of course, you think about the second part of Botox's clinical name - "type A." And then maybe it starts to make some sense after all...

True confessions time.  I tried it.  Botox.  Last February, 2011, shortly after I turned 39.  20 units.  Injected into the aforementioned forehead wrinkle. 

And, go figure, I was still 39!

Did I look "younger"?  Of course not.  "Prettier?"  Sigh.  Since I promised not to talk definitions of beauty, lets just say that in the eye of this beholder ...  I liked the way I looked.  The wrinkle softened.  And I don't think I looked fake or plastic as per my concern.  Yeah, when my stomach wasn't turning about the fact that it cost $250, I was pleased with my face.

But.  I knew.   It was in there.  That queasy feeling in my stomach wasn't just about money.  I also felt very silly, and somewhat of a fraud.

Now, please.  Please.  If you choose Botox, or anything else like it, please don't huff off.   While I admit that if you'd asked the me of ten, fifteen years ago if I would ever do plastic surgery I would have stood on a soap box and delivered a feminist rant.  But the me of ten, fifteen years ago was obviously an immature idiot.  With the skin of a 30, 25 year old.  I swear that I am not judging you.  I am not exactly in a position to judge.

But I am here almost a year later, wrinkles still bugging me from time to time, and decidedly Botox free.  And wanting to share the top 3 reasons I haven't - and won't - inject again.

1) I have a daughter.  A very beautiful; very perfect daughter.  To whom I aspire to be a role model.

Need I say more?

OK.  I will.  Maybe its because my daughter has nystagmus, an eye movement disorder causing her eyes to constantly move back and forth, and I am acutely aware of the potential body image issues that may arise for her as a result in adolescence.  Or earlier.  Or maybe I'd feel this way about any daughter, because research shows over and over and over that girls face a tremendous amount of pressure to look a certain way.  Pretty; Thin; Fashionable; Sexy (yikes).  

So, yeah, I liked my softened wrinkle, but I like my daughter more.  How can I in good faith tell Adina that she is gorgeous just the way she is if I am injecting botulinum toxin into my face to change the way I look.

There is a question I think is fair to ask here: Adina sees that I color my hair (I know, you're shocked, but this kind of fabulousness does not  occur in nature) and that I wear makeup.  And that I enjoy shopping and keeping up with fashion trends.  Does this not conflict with a message of acceptance and body image confidence?

I guess, especially when you're trained as a lawyer, that most things in life can be thought of as a slippery slope.  I decide, because I can, to be comfortable drawing my line between injections and lipstick or a great pair of jeans.  And I hope - and work hard - to ensure that that my real and true emphasis on intelligence and strength comes through to Adina loud and clear.  

2) Vanity.  Sure, I liked the botox effect on one wrinkle.  But if you hadn't noticed, I also really like the way I look in general.  I think I look healthy.  Happy.  Strong.  Botox just didn't "fit right" with that picture.  For me.  And if I'm actually confident enough to think I look good without sticking needles into my forehead, well, hell, why on earth should I?

3) I'm not 20! (or haven't you heard?)  I'm not 20!  I am almost 40.  And 40 year old faces have wrinkles. They have wrinkles that formed from years of smiling and laughing, and also from times of tears.  I think at least one of the reasons my forehead wrinkle bothers me, but the lines around my eyes and mouth do not, is because my frown lines reveal to the world all those times that I have frowned.  That I have been angry, stressed, sad, or scared.  That I have raged, that I have cried, that I have momentarily wished for things I could not achieve or could not have.

And who wants to look in the mirror and think about all that?

Well, I guess I don't really have a choice.  I've got children to raise, a husband to love, a life to live.  I know how damn lucky I am.  So I control what I can.  Appreciating my good fortune.  And yes, my good looks.  And spending the cash available for vanity on chemicals (the blonde highlights) and cotton (Joe's Jeans are my fav) rather than toxin.  


You're beautiful.  Really beautiful.  Don't forget it.


Friday, December 16, 2011

blog interrupted

Good morning from, oh dear god, Larry's Inspiron Dell.  Yes, on Sunday afternoon, this Mac snob  spilled a cup of tea on my MacBook.  An entire cup of tea.  On my MacBook.

Mug shattered. Computer went black.  I stopped breathing. Really.  And then I really panicked.  Ran for paper towels.   Desperately pushed the start button 150 times.  Then, something productive, I called Larry crying. 
I am married to a very nice, very calm man. 

On Monday evening, I took my lifeline to the Mac store at Cherry Creek mall.  Bad news - they charge $750 for liquid damage repair.  Good news - the Mac repair shop on 8th avenue might be able to fix it for a lot less.  So ... Tuesday afternoon, I went to the Mac repair shop.  If they can fix it, $180.  If not, $120.  And, of course, I'll need to buy a new computer. 

In the meantime, rather than accepting that this was a) just an accident or b) evidence of my extreme klutziness, I have decided to c)  take it as a sign that I need a break from working on work, and am very much looking forward to hanging out with my kids the next two weeks while they are on vacation from school.

The plan is "Becker-Schwartzes Explore Their New City."

And I am going to catch up on the blogging about life in Denver, relaunching a career after staying home, and turning 40 that has taken a bit of a back seat to PR.  Hopefully from my repaired MacBook.

Please hope with me.  And please, don't drink and type.

Talk soon,


Monday, December 5, 2011

Denver's Road Home

Yesterday evening, I was driving back to Denver from Keystone in what is apparently called a "foothills snowstorm." Allow me to clarify; Larry was calmly navigating the snowy roads and I was sitting erect in the passenger seat, every muscle tensed ever so tightly, gnawing at my fingernails.

There is little I hate more than being in a moving vehicle in shitty weather.

Anyway, we took a break in Georgetown, around 6, to have some dinner.  I opened up the car door, and was assaulted by a gust of frigid wind.  As I  ran for the door of the funky & adorable MountainBuzz Cafe, I thought, "What the hell do the homeless do here?"

I know, profound.  But hey, sometimes it takes having every bone in your body cry out in desperation for central heating - while you listen to your children whine pathetically for the same - to think about how others have it.

So ... We ate.  We got home safely.  I carried Adina, sleeping, to her bed.  Gave Caleb a quick bath and tucked him in.  Threw our dirty ski clothes in the washing machine, poured a glass of red wine, and sat with Larry while he watched the Steeler game from earlier in the day and rubbed my feet.  In other words, I took care of the needs of me & mine, and very much enjoyed the favor in return.

Then, around 6:30 am this morning, I turned on the T.V. and, go NBC, was reminded that tomorrow is Colorado Gives Day 2011.  Last year, in this "24 hours to give where you live," $8.7 million was donated to Colorado charities.  The details for this year = 

24 hours starting at 12 a.m. on Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Online through
To support the nonprofits that protect and nurture quality of life in Colorado.  

Ok.  Inspired by the cold and by Colorado Gives Day, I decided to do 2 things.  One: give a little to help the homeless, and 2) have the chutzpah to ask you to do the same.

I did some quick online research and found an organization in town that is doing the good work.  Denver's Road Home.  Please check them out at  I called their communications manager and here's what she told me:

Denver’s Road Home is our community’s 10-year plan to end homelessness.  In October 2003, Denver began an 18-month community planning process involving the city, homeless individuals, city council, business community, nonprofits and neighborhood organizations to address homelessness in our community. Since 2005, Denver’s Road Home has made tremendous progress, but there is still many more people that need our help. Together with our community, Denver’s Road Home has:
·         Developed over 2,300 units of affordable, supportive housing
·         Connected 5,817 individuals with employment
·         Prevented 5,714 families and individuals from becoming homeless
·         Mentored over 1,000 families and seniors out of homelessness
·         Reduced chronic homelessness by 75%
Our work is not done though. We continue to need our community’s help now more than ever to give homeless men, women and children an alternative to sleeping on the streets. Together, we can end homelessness one person at a time.

I'm kicking-off my campaign to fight homelessness on Colorado Gives Day - tomorrow, Tuesday, December 6, 2011 and will end it on my 40th birthday, January 23, 2012.  If you'd like to give with me, please visit and click on the DONATE NOW button.  

Thank you.  Stay warm.