Thursday, August 23, 2012

talking about abortion


We are talking about abortion.  Representative Todd Akin from Missouri made his absurd, infuriating, depressing remarks about “legitimate rape.”  The Republican National Committee released its 2012 platform calling for an amendment to the Constitution and legislation to outlaw abortion.  In all cases. 

We are talking about abortion.  Almost forty years ago, in January 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that a woman’s right to privacy extends to her right to have an abortion up to a certain point in her pregnancy but we are talking about abortion.  Still.  Again.    

It is time for me to share a deeply personal story.

In late August 2007, I was thrilled to be 12 weeks pregnant.  I was happily married and enjoying being at home with my then 18-month old son.  My husband and I very much wanted another child.  Because I was 35 years old, I elected to do a first trimester screen, a relatively new, noninvasive evaluation that combines a maternal blood-screening test with a fetal ultrasound to identify risk for specific chromosomal abnormalities. 

I arrived at the doctor’s office for my screening appointment, signed-in at the desk, and sat down in the waiting room with “Parents” magazine.  Within a few minutes, an ultrasound technician called my name.  I rose, put “Parents” on a table, and followed the technician to a large, cold room where she instructed me to take my clothes off and put on the thin paper robe waiting for me on the examination table. 

The technician gave me a few minutes to undress and then came back into the room.  I lied down on my back, and placed my legs into the stirrups at the end of the table.  The technician lifted my paper robe and inserted an ultrasound wand into my vagina.  The technician looked at her screen.  She looked at me.  “Will you wait here, please,” she said.

I waited.  My heart beat a mile a minute.  Clearly something wasn’t right.  She had only looked at the screen for a few seconds.  A few excruciating minutes later, the technician came back into the room with a man who introduced himself as Dr. L, the head of the high-risk pregnancy department.  Dr. L re-inserted the ultrasound wand into my vagina and took a look at the screen.  Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard a compassionate voice, “Evelyn, will you please get dressed and come talk to me in my office.”
“Your baby has what is called an omphalocele,” the kind doctor said.  He went on to explain that an omphalocele is a fetal abnormality where the contents of the abdomen (small and large intestine, stomach and liver) protrude through a hole in the abdominal wall, right where the belly button would be.  Omphalocele occurs in approximately 1 of every 5,000 live births and is associated with a high rate of mortality and severe malformations, such as cardiac anomalies and neural tube defects.  A high percentage of live-born infants with omphaloele have chromosomal abnormalities.    
My baby has a hole?
I crossed my arms over my belly, hugged my baby gently and cried. 
Then I wiped my eyes and asked Dr. L whether he would mind if together we called my husband to explain the situation.  My head was spinning, my belly hurt, and I wasn’t sure at that moment whether I would be able to do more than cry and say “ our baby has a hole in her stomach” when I left that office.  My husband is a pediatric intensive care physician and I wanted to make sure we had full medical knowledge.  I called Larry, and prepared him briefly for the fact that I was going to put him on speaker so Dr. L could deliver some unfortunate news. 
Can you imagine being Larry at that moment?
I left Dr. L’s office and drove straight over to Larry’s.   As soon as Larry closed his office door, I released the floodgates of my grief.  We held each other.  We cried.  Larry talked a little about the babies he’d seen born with omphalocele in the PICU.  I talked about getting home to our son.
Later that evening, I called my rabbi.  He is an insightful, delightful man and he came right over.  We sat in my living room, my rabbi and I, talking about Judaism’s view on abortion.

“If a woman suffers hard labor, the child must be cut up in her womb and brought out one limb at a time, for her life takes precedence over [the fetus’] life.  If the greater part has already come out, it must not be touched, because one life does not supersede another. (Mishnah Ohalot 7:6)”

Judaism has always accepted that life begins at birth, not at conception, and that abortion is permissible, or even mandatory, when the mother’s life is in danger.  When the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards addressed abortion in 1983, its conclusion was as follows: “An abortion is justifiable if a continuation of a pregnancy might cause the mother severe physical or psychological harm, or when the fetus is judged by competent medical opinion as severely defective.” 

I had an abortion.  I had an abortion in part because my faith says it is permissible.  I had an abortion in larger part because my husband was on board with my decision.  Mostly, however, I had an abortion because I knew that as much as I might want to be a stronger, “better” person, I would not be able to handle the particular challenges of having a baby with an omphalocele in my life without it adversely affecting my mental health, and, thus, my ability to care properly for my precious son.  I'd suffered from post-partum depression after his birth and had recently recovered.  I’d left my job to stay at home to nurture him, and I was finally feeling like I was doing a decent job.  I did not want to spend the third year of my son’s life in the NICU, in and out of surgeries, or grieving for a dead child.
The vulnerability I feel in sharing my story is overwhelming.  I am terrified of your judgment, or worse, your indifference.  I am pushing past this.  I am sharing because I believe in the power of storytelling and I am hoping that there might be some other average American women out there like me who have their own raw, messy abortion stories to tell. 
Yesterday, Esquire posted a piece on its blog entitled “The Democrats Problem with Abortion,” in which the author states:
No more enabling. No more wishful thinking that the whole icky business would go away so we can all talk about The Economy, or, worse, The Deficit. No more clinging to "rape, incest, and the health of the mother." No more Clintonian caveats about safe, legal, and rare. ("Safe and legal." Full stop.) No more pathetic attempts to reach "common ground," when, at least in our politics, there plainly is no common ground to be reached. (If you want to argue that there is, take it up with Planned Parenthood.) No more, "Well, I respect the beliefs of the other side" goo-goo rhetoric. Just a simple demand that the conservative opposition respect the settled law.

I would like to see the Democratic Party make a national campaign issue out of the fact that this perfectly legal medical procedure is unavailable to women wishing to exercise their legitimate constitutional rights to it in most of the nation.

Amen.

We are talking about abortion and I have a funny feeling that the only way we are ever going to be able to stop talking about abortion is if for the remaining 74 days until the 2012 presidential election, we don't.  Please don’t stop talking about abortion.  If you had an abortion, please tell your story.  If you agree that the decision whether to have an abortion is one to be made between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her god, please say so.  Say it to yourself.  Say it out loud to friends and family.  And please say it with your vote.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

One year later

I promised myself I'd keep blogging for the first year we lived in Denver, Colorado.  I haven't been very good at writing the last several months.  There have been many, many times I've wanted to.  An article about women and work I wanted to comment on.  Something funny and fabulous the kids did that made me want to muse on how lucky I am.  Something annoying or totally maddening the kids did that made me need to explore how the hell I was going to deal.  But I got busy with projects and trying to find work for Becker Impact and well, life just sort of took over.  But today marks a year since we left Columbus, Ohio on August 11, 2011 to head west.

Yep,  a year ago today, Evelyn Becker, Larry Schwartz, and Caleb and Adina Becker-Schwartz waved nervously as the American moving truck filled with our belongings took off, hugged friends and neighbors a little too tightly, and took a long sentimental group look at 2592 Bexley Park Road.  We got settled in our (hybrid) (yes, I feel the need) SUV.  Simultaneous audible deep breaths from the front seat.  A quick nod from me, big smiles and a "we are doing this together and its going to be good" kiss and we started driving towards Denver.

To mark this momentous Becker-Schwartz anniversary, here's a quick review of each family member's current state of being:

Caleb:

*Thrived in 1st grade at Denver Jewish Day School; excited for 2nd grade.
*Loves skiing and living in a ski-obsessed land.  Incessantly, relentlessly talking about which trails he is going to ski this season, asking us which we want to ski, etc. etc.
*Also totally into karate.
*Went away to summer camp for the first time last month.  12 days!
*So excited for pirates & ninja camp at Keystone Science School next week.
*Starting Storm soccer at the end of the month.
*So smart, so intense.  To the right is a list of what Caleb recently wrote about himself.  I agree Caleb, an excellent summary.

Adina:

*Thrived at Hebrew Educational Alliance Preschool last year; very excited to be a "lion" (pre-K).
*Loves hiking and skiing.  Composed an original family song - "We love to hike and ski, we love to hike & ski." Trust me, its fabulous.
*In fact, Adina often sings whatever comes to her throughout the day. In the sweetest voice.  Ever.
*Also totally into art.  Loved art camp this summer.  And if her Jewish mother does say so herself, she is rather good at it.
*So excited to start dance classes in the fall with her pre-school buddies.
*Also starting Storm soccer at the end of the month.
*Smart, sweet, crazy happiest kid I've ever met.

Larry:

*Speaking of happy.  OHMYGOD.  Happiest Larry since I met him in 2003.
*Totally digs his life.
*Anesthesia is enough.
*Enjoying leadership positions in the Jewish community.
*Always planning our next couple or family adventure.
*Wakes up at 5 to go the gym, works all day and (almost) always still comes home with a smile on his face, excited and ready to engage fully with his family.
*Colorado = a loving, sexy, and fun husband.

Me:

Hmmm...

*If you're reading this entry, then you're one of the seven people who've cared enough to read all along (thank you! I love you!) and know that I think Denver = the most amazing combination of outdoor and urban living I could have imagined.  I was scared shitless because of all the moving I did as a kid, worried as always about tainting my children's uber-privileged childhood, but Colorado is without a doubt the second best decision Larry & I ever made as a couple (the first was to get married of course.)

*In spite of my terror at the thought of how one makes new girlfriends at age 40, I have in fact, connected with a number of intelligent, charismatic, sweet, funny women.  Thank you Colorado-born friends for being open to the new girl.  Thank you Denver for being a city full of "new" girls looking for the same life - and friends to share it with - that I am.

Red Rocks, James Taylor concert
*After a seven-year hiatus from an office, I am engaged in some challenging, interesting, paying work.  Work that I can do mostly from home, mostly while my children are at school.  Work that allows me to combine what I care about most - making the world a better place - and what I'm best at - writing and talking.  Work that allows me to well, work, but still answer, "I'm a stay-at-home mom" when asked what I do.  Yes, I'm ridiculously lucky.  And I've worked my heart out.

So, thats it.  The end of this blog.

Thank you for reading.

For sharing this journey.

Now please come visit!


Love,
Evelyn









Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SATISFACTION

SATISFACTION

I've been settling back into life in Colorado after a fantastic two week visit to Israel.  The main purpose of the trip was to watch my baby brother, who moved there 4 years ago to join the Israeli army, get married.  Based from an apartment in Rehavia, we enjoyed a couple of days of wandering around old and new Jerusalem and a perfect day trip to Masada and Ein Gedi.  An emotional evening in Yad Binyamin and a lovely shabbat in Jerusalem connected my family with that of my new Dutch-born now Israeli sister-in-law.

Next, it was off to my favorite beach in the world, the stunning Herzliyah Pituach.  A day trip up North, highlighted by stops to buy a funky piece of pop art in Tzfat and enjoy dinner in the fabulous Zichron Yaakov, and then back to the beach.  A final day in Jerusalem, taking in all the sights and sounds and having one last delicious tasting meal.  Two long, but ohdeargodthankyou uneventful flights back home.  And now, as the saying goes, its back to reality.

A really nice reality.

I am fast approaching the one year anniversary of living in Denver, Colorado.  Spending two weeks 7,000 miles away in the country where I for so long dreamed of settling provided an excellent opportunity to reflect on the life Larry and I are creating for ourselves and our family here.  We simply couldn't love Colorado more.  The people, the weather, the community, the beauty, the endless number of things to do.  We marvel at the fact that we could spend every weekend for the rest of our lives in a different national or state park, trying a new outdoor adventure, or simply enjoying Denver's museums and restaurants and we wouldn't be able to do it all.  Thats just in Colorado!  We're planning our first road trip to Sante Fe, NM, a five hour drive away, for the fall.  I am proud of our insight and foresight, empowered by our audacity, and very very grateful for our unbelievable luck.

In seemingly unrelated news, the Rolling Stones are celebrating 50 years of being on stage together!  Fifty years.  My favorite Stones quote, in fact, the quote that appears next to my picture on the senior page in my high school year book is - "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

Well damn if that's not totally true.

For a lot of years, I talked about moving to Israel. I love it there.  Again - the people, the weather (really, I like extreme heat) the culture, the outdoor adventure.  And, of course, the history.  Nowhere else compares.  Of course.  But.  Israel isn't what happened for me.  I went back to the University of Maryland after spending a year at Hebrew University instead of finishing my degree in Jerusalem.  After college, I visited Israel, volunteered for the army, played around, but then went back to the states to go to law school.  After law school, I looked into doing an intensive Ulpan and taking the Israeli bar, but I thought it would be easier to move to Manhattan and work at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.  Ha!

Etc. etc.  Blah, blah, blah.

Life happened to me.  A really good life.

And along the way, I kept working at getting what I wanted.  I keep working at getting what I want.  Every day.


And I've got exactly what I need.  (ignore that old guy on the cell phone please.  He's got nothing to do with my life.)

See, I told you the Stones' anniversary and my trip to Israel were related.

Enjoy ...


Love, Evelyn



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Home is Where the Heart Is

A couple of weeks ago, while eating shabbat dinner, I was telling my hostess how much I am loving everything about Mile High life.  The ridiculously perfect weather.  The laid back but sophisticated culture.  The buzz of activity.  The fit, friendly people.  "Great," she said, but "does Denver felt like home yet?"  I didn't have to think.  No.  Not yet.

And then, just like that, came Friday May 11, 2012.

Very early in the morning on Thursday May 10, I flew to Columbus, Ohio for a work project.  Columbus is where I had lived from February 2006 until this past August, 2011.  A fabulous friend greeted me at the Columbus airport, and we stopped for a quick but lovely coffee catch- up chat before I had to report for work.  The project kept me busy until fairly late into the evening, but I was able to meet up with some of my favorite people for a glass of wine at one of my favorite (old) neighborhood spots before crashing in a friend's guest room.

A very long Friday morning meeting later, a quick drive-by my old house, and I was back on a plane to Denver.

I felt it the minute I got off the plane.  I was home.  Denver, Colorado is my home.

Had I needed to step back in order to move forward?  Was the "Columbus is no longer your home" trigger in my cerebral cortex set off when I slept in a friend's guest room even though just around the corner stood the house where my son took his first steps, and where I brought my newborn daughter from the hospital?  Perhaps there is some mathematical theorem supporting the hypothesis that it takes nine months of living in a new city for it to start to feel like home.

Or, maybe, I don't know, just maybe, I am finally, simply, ready.  100%.  To move on.

PLEASE NOTE DEAR C-BUS FRIENDS THAT THIS DOES NOT MEAN TO FORGET, STOP CHERISHING, &/OR NOT DO EVERYTHING IIN MY POWER TO BUILD AND GROW OUR RELATIONSHIPS FROM A DISTANCE.


I will do all of those things.  And I am moving on.

In her new book "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake," one of my favorite authors, Anna Quindlen, reflects on her approach towards the age of 60.  At one point, she ponders whether just like there is a resting heart rate, perhaps there is also a resting age rate.  I.e., the age you naturally feel.  And Quindlen writes, "If you woke me from a sound sleep and shouted, “How old are you?” I suspect I’d mutter, “Forty-one.” 


Quindlen then writes ... "And if you woke me up from a sound sleep and shouted, “How’s 60 looking?” I would murmur, “Good. Really good.  Better, in many ways, than 41."


Maybe there's a resting home rate for people who move around a lot.  Not a resting-home as in where I might be living in fifty years or so, but place where I naturally feel like I live.

I suspect that if you woke me from a sound sleep and shouted, "Where are you from?" I would say Newport News, Virginia.  Although its been 27 years since I had an address there, its where I was born, and where I spent the first thirteen years of my life accepted, embraced, and celebrated by a large extended family.

I also suspect that if you woke me from a sound sleep and shouted, "How's your home now?" I would murmur, "Everything I always dreamed of."  And I suspect, hell, I know, that my answer would have nothing to do with location.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't often quote wisdom from my father.  But he did say something a lot when I was growing up that, well, damn if it didn't turn out to be true.  "Home is where the heart is."

Home is where the heart is.  Where you choose to raise your children.  Love your husband.  Build a community.  Be a friend.  Keep learning.  Keep living.  Grow old.

Hello, Denver, Colorado.  Here I am.



-E






Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Old is Wherever You Haven't Gotten to Yet."

"There was a time when I behaved as though I were the center of the universe.  It was a good time, when I was young and eager and terribly insecure and not beholden to anyone else, without responsibility for houses or children or the cleanup after a disaster.  I just like this time better.  I used to wonder what I was going to be when I grew up.  Now I know."

-Anna Quindlen



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Passover Impact: The Power of Storytelling



Passover Impact: The Power of Storytelling
Early Spring 2012 … Its been a busy and wonderful couple of weeks.  The weather in Colorado continues to delight and amaze.  Becker Impact is enjoying a rush of new clients and continuing to court other prospects for meaningful and challenging work.  At home, my family and I are excitedly preparing for the celebration of Passover and the arrival of our out-of-town guests.  

The Passover Seder is the most widely observed Jewish ritual around the world.  Why?  My research tells me that many are drawn to the religious aspects of the observance; others to the family and community elements.  Perhaps it is because helping organizations tell their stories is what I do for a living, but I think that it’s the emphasis on story-telling that draws so many into this holiday.
Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in Ancient Egypt.  The focal point of the holiday is the Seder, a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast.  At the seder, participants read from a book called a Haggadah, which tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Quick, think of a good story you’ve heard in the last few months, or even years – any story (children’s bedtime story, narrative joke, story in a presentation at work, etc.)
Now think of a couple of good statistics you’ve heard in the last few weeks.

Right?
Stories can have a profound effect on people, and can powerfully affect behavior.  People learn best – and change – from hearing stories that strike a chord within them.  This is because personal stories feel “real,” unlike abstract concepts, statistics or logical arguments.  Stories capture people on an emotional level, creating a deeper, more intimate bond.  Stories are memorable.   And today when we are drowning in information, good stories can cut through the noise.
According to Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, the most revolutionary aspect of the Passover Haggadah is that it’s a collage of many different voices, a collection of stories from the Talmud and a compilation of biblical and liturgical quotations. “The most common misunderstanding is that it’s just the story of the Exodus,” says Cohen, a consultant to Beit Simchat Torah, a gay and lesbian congregation in Manhattan. “One of the most damaging misconceptions in Jewish life is that there is only one version of one story, and that the stories of women’s experiences and those of others who are marginalized because of economics, physical ability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity are not part of that Jewish story.” TheHaggadah teaches that there isn’t just one story, she says. “That’s the telling we are obligated to continue.” 
I think that the popularity of celebrating Passover, and the meaning found in reading and creating new interpretations of the Haggadah, reveals the revolutionary power of story telling.  Recalling the plight of the Israelites helps us figure out how to most meaningfully experience and best appreciate our freedom today.  It enables us to define and articulate our own stories - as Jews, as citizens, and as individuals.  And it in turn, helps us create and implement a vision for most effectively sharing our stories with others.  
Wishing you a Happy & Meaningful Storytelling Holiday.

-E

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Our roots say we're sisters, our hearts say we're friends."


For the first time since moving here in August 2011, I left Denver!  I spent this past weekend in Chicago hanging out with my sister.  Without my husband or my children.  Without work.  Totally relaxing.  And absolutely indulging.

I arrived in the Paris on the Prairie Friday night, and enjoyed a lovely evening of sushi and a movie.  On Saturday, we fought through the St. Patricks Day revelers to shop on Michigan Avenue for something to wear to our brother's upcoming wedding.  Then, after a lovely late afternoon nap followed by a delightful late afternoon mani/pedi, we ate an insanely delicious dinner at an Armenian restaurant.  Sunday, we got hot stone massages, and then ate lunch (more sushi) and walked around Lincoln Park.  Oh my how I love you Armitage & Halsted.

And now, I accept, its time to stop doing things because "it will be"/"is"/"just was" my 40th birthday.

While being in a great city was fun, what made the weekend so perfect was, of course, and undoubtedly, the pleasure of the company.  My sister.   My insightful, intelligent, wickedly funny, and beautiful sister.  We've lived and traveled together to Newport News toVirginia Beach to Israel to Disney World to Silver Spring to New York to Paris to Truth or Consequences to Baltimore to Columbus to Chicago to San Francisco.  To Denver.  What, you're staying in Chicago?  I guess its time for me to settle down too.

And the fact that I'm here, happy, at 40?  There is no way I would have made it without her.

Zero.

None.

She celebrated with me through the big moments.  Like when I made my big, single-girl in the city move to Manhattan after law school.  My sister was there with me then, meeting the movers and helping me unpack.  When I gave birth to my son, we lived in the same city so my sister came as soon as I called and was with me in the delivery room.  When it was time for my daughter to arrive, I called, and my sister got on the next airplane.  She was at the hospital in less than 24 hours and the first person to hold my daughter besides me and my husband.

And through thousands, maybe millions, of mundane every day moments - good, bad, and everything in between - she's been there, listened to whatever it is I have to say, listened to it again, and yes, sometimes a third (& fourth) time, offered her advice, and when I rejected that, her unconditional support.  And love.  Always love.

It was a great weekend with my person.  Next big birthdays?  Little sister - 40; big sister - gulp, gasp, can there possibly be enough carbs to help me deal - 50.


-E

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I skied a black diamond with moguls and lived to blog about it.

Here's a fun story.  The kids got me a ski lesson for my birthday.  Said lesson occurred yesterday.  At lunch, my instructor Kevin said that I am an "advanced intermediate" and he'd like me to try a black diamond run.  I laughed.  We got back out to the blues.  A little bit later, he insisted.  Said the black we would try is the same steepness as the blues I've done, just longer.  Sure.  Ok.  The day is almost over.  Challenging myself to the next level seems a nice way to end it.  I power up with a chocolate chip Z Bar I'd stuck in my jacket for my daughter and agree to give it a go.  


Kevin and I start down a run entitled "Go Devil."  Thats right, "Go Devil."  Its steep, but I take long, slow turns and don't look down.  I feel pretty good.  Then, wait.  What?  Moguls?  There are moguls on this run?  I've never even done moguls on a blue run.  There are a lot moguls?  Uh, KEVIN??!!#$*&&?    


I stop.  I turn around to Kevin who's been skiing behind me so he can watch and critique, and Kevin says, "I'm so sorry.  This was a mistake."  


Direct quote.  


Now I haven't taken many ski lessons, but "I'm sorry; this was a mistake" from the instructor does not seem like a good sign.  Kevin further explains that he didn't realize this run had moguls.  And I realize that a) Kevin is an idiot and b) I've still got to get down.

I really don't know how to explain how I made it down.  I do know that it was very, very slowly.  And with very little skill except a great big surge of that little ole thing called survival skill that kicks in when one has to save herself in a highly dangerous situation.  So I pizza wedged, and I stopped.  And I pizza wedged and I stopped.  And, very important note here, I did not freak out.  And finally, I made it through those bumps. 


A little bit further on some smooth, groomed steepness I'd expected, and I arrived safely to the base of Mountain House.  Thankfully I was stunned into silence at this point because completely securing his place as a person I never want to see again, Kevin then patted me on the back and said, "You were awesome.  I can't believe you didn't just take off your skis and walk down.  Or slide down on your bottom."  


Thanks Kevin; I wish I'd known those were options!  


Oh, and by the way Kevin, I just used this super secret method of finding out stuff, plugged in "Go Devil," and ... "Go Devil is a black run on Dercum Mountain, right below the terrain park . . . Go Devil is a long steep run with moguls and could be difficult for intermediate skiers, please be sure you are up to the challenge."  


Anyway, you'd think that the best part of this story was that after congratulating me for keeping my skis on, Kevin handed me his card, said he hoped I'd request him next time I signed up for a lesson, and then skied away, leaving me me standing there at the bottom of the mountain drooling.  Nope.  The best part of the story is that LARRY ARRIVED AT GO DEVIL A MINUTE OR SO BEHIND US AND WITNESSED THE WHOLE DAMN THING.


And what does Larry have to say?  "I saw your brown jacket and pink helmet and just couldn't imagine what you were doing there.  I would have no more expected to see you than the pope."  


Great.  And why didn't my husband intervene?  Well, he had this to say, "I'm just so glad it was that guy who got you into that situation and not me."


Ok.  Alls well that ends without a major injury or death, right?  I can't say that I will be rushing to do another black diamond run anytime soon.  Still, it feels pretty good to know that I made it in one piece.  And, I am fairly certain that a Take2 down Go Devil is in my extremely, need a lot more lessons from someone other than Kevin, distant future.  


-E

















Friday, February 24, 2012

Trial & Error



Pretty much everything I've gotten right in life has been through trial and error.  Great marriage?  Its my second.  Had to have a "starter marriage" in my early twenties, and kiss a lot of frogs between the mid-20s & early 30s years to learn who to be with and how.  

Fulfilling, challenging career?  Sure.  After spending 16 hours a day, 6 days/week in a tiny cubicle, researching and writing minutiae about products liability and securities litigation (topics I care very little about) and deciding that the moment when I spilled an entire container of minestrone soup on my keyboard and called my sister to cry and rant about hating my job INSTEAD OF CLEANING IT UP was a sign to get the hell out.  And yes, I  found my talent for PR, and a way to integrate my passion for social change with my writing and speaking skills, but then I took a long break to focus on motherhood and I am still now, at 40, very much working on developing a career.

And speaking of mothering.  Oy.  Raising my kids seems to call for more falling down and getting back up, practicing over and over, and getting in a good cry and then moving on than anything else I've ever done.

Apparently, to authentically learn and grow, I have to experiment.  A lot.  Get messy.  Reevaluate.  Readjust.  Over and over.  Its really hard.  But the thing is, "The hard is what makes it great."  - Tom Hanks, "A League of Their Own":    


And it really is great.  I secured my first consulting gig in Denver this morning.  A project with an organization whose mission I care deeply about; a project I could start while my son, home sick from school, sat nearby watching TV on the couch.  So I'll keep doing it the hard way.  My way.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Would you?

Have a great weekend,

-E


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mile High on Green Tea

A Becker Impact LLC update:  In the early hours of the morning before the kids woke up, in between meetings, in between dinner and bath-time, and after the kids were asleep, I wrote and submitted the first Becker Impact proposal.  And then the second.  And I plan on creating the opportunities to keep them coming.  So please keep your fingers crossed, send good vibes, pray, whatever it is that you do to try and help out a chick who is starting her own business and eager to secure that first big client.

Weekdays, while the kids are at school, I continue to at least look like a very busy professional. Apparently, I am good at networking.  I kinda knew this already; now its confirmed.  I occasionally meet people in their offices. But most mornings and afternoons you will find me in one of Denver's charming, funky, work-friendly coffee houses.  Talking to presidents and communications directors and VPs of public policy/affairs of nonprofits and foundations about their organizations.  Shmoozing with other communications consultants, lobbyists, and fundraising specialists about collaboration.  Sending emails introducing myself and Becker Impact and asking someone to meet and caffeinate with me.

I am learning.  Getting to know nice, smart, interesting people.  Feeling confident and hopeful, and insanely vulnerable.

Will all this professional yenta-ing work to get me work?  I hope so.  I read this on another communications strategist's blog: "Networking is a marathon sport.  Its hundreds or thousands of small interactions that eventually culminate in powerful connections being made.  The more dots you put in your network via meetings and conversations, the more likely you'll be able to make connections between those dots in the future."  (click here to read the whole piece: http://www.thoughtleadersllc.com/2009/03/get-jacked-up-on-caribou-3-key-networking-tactics/).

Add the seriously major benefit of discovering all the best places to drink green tea*, eat a mixed berry muffin and work, or hang out, read a magazine, play on the internet, and people-watch, and its really been a productive couple of months  There are some truly fantastic coffee houses in Denver.

Larry and "G" have suggested that I write a coffee table book about all these delightful places.  Love the idea.  In the blog world, you can find a comprehensive list at milehighbuzz.com.  And from yours truly, a quick list with links to my favorites.  (Plus a little shout-out to good 'ole Starbucks because I frequent about a dozen Greater Denver locations, sometimes 2 or 3 in one day).

Fluid Coffee Bar
St. Mark's Coffee House
Common Grounds
Aviano
Wash Perk
Taza de Cafe

Wake up.  Enjoy.  Get to know someone new.

-E

*About a month ago, after a hell of a lot of cups of coffee, my stomach started to rebel.  I have therefore, for at least most of the time, happily made the switch to the kinder and gentler tea.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Follow your heart.

** WARNING: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.  Material contained within may cause intermittent rolling of the eyes and the onset of mild to moderate nausea.  

It is Valentines Day tomorrow.  So who else to write about this evening besides the love of my life, my beloved, the adorable smart-ass mensch sitting to my right paying bills - Lawrence I. Schwartz.

It seems that a bit of romantic sentiment about my husband started pushing its way to the forefront of my thoughts this past weekend.  At shabbat dinner with some friends, I found myself telling a story of a seminal moment in me and Larry's "courtship" that I hadn't reflected on, much less talked about, in a really long time.

The story in a nutshell:  Its 2003.  The friends who set us up tell me Larry is divorced.  I trust said friends.  We go out 3 or 4 times.  I like Larry.  He then tells me that he is separated (about 6 months); the divorce not yet final.  I (so very not in the mood to be rebound-girl) tell him: great meeting you; have a nice life.  A few days later, 6:30 am, I am running along the Baltimore Harbor.  Larry pops out of nowhere, scares the shit out of me, shoves a letter in my hand and runs off.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I reread that letter this afternoon (yep, still have it.)  Great letter.  Yes, yes, lots of lovely things about me.  And he obviously spent a convincing paragraph or two on "my marriage is over and I'm ready."  But what really stands out in these now exalted four pages is Larry's sense of hope.

Hope.  noun
1.
the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

Inspired me then.  
Keeps me going now.  

Larry's optimism is well illustrated by his latest "major life decision."  Taking a substantial pay cut so he could raise his children and live his life more actively, more outdoors, more Jewishly.  Living his life according to his values.  How many of us can say that this is really what we do?  I am moved; I am motivated; I am so damn proud.

Happy Valentines Day LOML.  Thank you for stalking me.  And relaxing me enough to be able to just follow my heart.  You were right.  Its turned out pretty well.


Love.

-E