I Look Forward To

I look forward to the day when my skin does not afford me more of a privilege than those of other colors and shades. We are part of the same human race, each unique, like our fingerprints, yet the same because we have hearts and brains that want and deserve to live with calm, peace, and love.

I look forward to the day when I am not defined by my gender but by my being a member of the human race. We should not be graced with privilege or limited in freedoms based on our gender, preferred pronoun, or sexual preference.

I look forward to the day when my religion is not held against me, and all can worship freely and safely. Your choice to pray is just that, your choice. To whom you pray and where or how you pray is never a justification for others to impose hatred or violence upon me, you or anyone.

I look forward to the day when respect is an assumed behavior, kindness is a given, and uniqueness is celebrated.

I look forward to the day when people are granted the same opportunities as others. It should never matter who anyone wants to marry or if they have a disability, or what their socioeconomic status, religion, or color of their skin is.

I look forward to the day when people cast their ballot and make their voices heard peacefully, both in person and by mail.

I look forward to the day when the news is filled with positive stories and not overshadowed by reports of violence, hatred, fighting, and killing.

I look forward to the day when I live in a land guided by the written words about equality and justice for all; when honor, authenticity, and the spoken words are not filled with hypocrisy, contradiction and lies.

I look forward to the day when my wish for peace does not sound like a naive impossibility, and my hope for equality is a reality.

I look forward to the day when disagreements are just that and not a gateway for violence, hatred, inequality, and aggression.

I look forward to the day when being upset is welcomed, but violence is not, when demonstrations are peaceful, and destruction is condemned.

I look forward to the day when food, shelter, healthcare, and education is available to all. And with ease.

I look forward to the day when a badge and uniform is treated by those who wear them with the utmost respect for the system they are representing and not as a false justification to act as judge and jury.

I look forward to the day when people can mourn the loss of their loved ones after a long-lived life and not because of a life cut short due to the ignorance and insanity of others.

I look forward to the day when my dreams and hopes become a reality. Maybe one day we will live peacefully in a land where similarities and differences are valued, celebrated, and welcomed, and also the norm.

Defeating the Coronavirus War

The days are so strange. There is an eeriness in the air. Few cars on the street. More people walking around – many in the middle of the road for social distancing purposes. I haven’t been in my car more than two times in nearly three weeks. And when I was, it was upsetting to drive around and see the empty train station parking lot, barren quaint downtown closed to foot traffic, playgrounds off-limits and wrapped with police-tape, and of course, all of the empty schools.

Work has transitioned from in-person meetings to video calls, and my client calls are overtaken by pretty much all things Coronavirus. Stress and anxiety are high, concerns are significant, and fear is rising. Our new boss, COVID-19, is bringing out one of two mindsets – the glass is half-full or half-empty. With either perspective, however, almost every client conversation focuses on how they can successfully make it through this unknown period of uncertainty without breaking. Some are dealing with quarantine, fear about getting medical help if needed, a partner’s positive test results, and making sure their elderly parents have food. Others are worried about staying financially afloat and doing whatever is necessary to keep their employees employed. Question marks are hovering over every thought – when will this end? What if I lose my job? What if I run out of toilet paper? How do I get groceries safely? When can I see my friends again? Can I survive another four weeks (at minimum) being around my spouse and kids all day?

Every time I learn of friends and acquaintances, strangers, too, testing positive for COVID-19, I am saddened, scared, and concerned. To the best of my ability, I understand the severity of this battle, but yesterday was the first day that I truly felt the magnitude of COVID-19’s power. My body felt heavy, and my head heavier. The news seems to be getting bleaker as regions of the country are preparing for what’s currently happening here in NJ and so many other states.

Last night while sitting on my couch I watched videos on my phone of military men and women coming home from overseas. With tears rolling down my face, I couldn’t get enough of them. There was the son who surprised his mother on her lunch break, the sister who set up her brother to think he was getting in trouble by the school principal before surprising him at school, and then there was the father who showed up at his son’s elementary school assembly.

I typically watch these videos when they pop up in my social media feed, but last night, I sought them out. It had to be an unconscious linking of our military and medical personnel. Just like you, I want every soldier to return home safely. And just like you again, I want every nurse and doctor to return home to their families safe and healthy after this war ends too.

I’m pretty sure that the deep sadness I felt last night was a reminder that we are at war. The military videos represented my hope for an ending to this COVID-19 war – an end I hope is not all doom and gloom but one filled with relief, gratitude, and joy!

Today’s a new day, and I’m feeling grateful for the opportunity to be sheltering in place. I’m following the rules and keeping my social distance from the many I would love to see and hug. I’m remaining connected with friends, family, and clients by Zoom calls. And my sadness, while real, pales in comparison to what’s going out there on the battlefields.

For all those fighting their own battle to get better, keep fighting the fight! I’m cheering you on and wish you nothing short of a speedy and healthy recovery. To the doctors and nurses on the front lines, thank you for your commitment to saving people’s lives! Stay healthy and strong and never forget that you too will have your day of returning home when this war is over! And when that happens, after you get some sleep and reunite with your family, I want to be there alongside everyone in our country to celebrate you and your contribution to defeating the Coronavirus War.

 

Work-Life Balance While Working From Home During The Coronavirus Pandemic

March 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in the blink of an eye. We are scrambling to figure out how we can continue being productive now that everything has gone virtual – everything but our kids, that is. We still have meetings, projects, emails, and calls, and yes, we now have our kids, who want and need us, at home all day, every day too.

In the past, when you daydreamed about spending less time at work so you could have more time with your family to laugh, play games and go for walks, I’m pretty sure you didn’t think that the Coronavirus was the way this would happen. After a week of togetherness, a little less time with your family and more time at work may be what you need. After all, you are still expected to be productive and effective at your job.  

I have previously talked about strategies for creating a healthier work-life balance, but that was when our routines were our routine. Now, with the COVID-19 outbreak, things are different, and new routines are emerging. For this reason, I modified these 4-steps to help you have some semblance of a healthy work-life balance during this challenging time.

1.    Set Boundaries: Your boundaries will vary depending upon the demands of your job and the ages of your kids. The overarching goal, however, is to be clear and direct with your employer and family about what they can expect from you and what you expect from them.  

  • Make sure your family knows when you cannot be interrupted (excluding emergencies, of course) and when you’ll be available to help with schoolwork and hang out. 
  • To the extent that it’s appropriate, let your boss and colleagues know that you are balancing work and being home with your kids and that you may have unexpected interruptions.
  • If you typically spend significant amounts of time in meetings and helping others with projects that are not your responsibilities, this is an ideal time to transition your focus, time and energy to do that which is your responsibility.

2.    To-Do Lists: Even if you have always worked from home, there is no denying that things are different now. Be kind to yourself and accept that during this time, your productivity may temporarily decline.

  • Set realistic expectations for yourself. 
  • Create a Today To-Do List with the things that must be done today (personally and professionally) and add other to-dos a Master To-Do list.
  • Don’t forget to include time for yourself. Self-care is essential, especially now!

3.    Delegate: Now is a great time to delegate tasks that could or should have previously been completed by others. Doing so not only helps you; it allows others to learn new skills, take on more responsibility, and become more independent.

  • Assign age-appropriate chores to your kids (i.e., make their bed, do their laundry, prepare dinner for the family). 
  • Stop holding on to work responsibilities that others can or should be doing. 
  • Communicate openly (at home and work) when you need help or support by asking someone else to take over a task, either temporarily or permanently.

4.    Meeting For One: During the Coronavirus pandemic, this strategy is less about blocking time for yourself so that you can get work done (though still necessary) and focuses more on ensuring that you are tending to your self-care.

  • Self-care is not selfish. It’s essential that you give yourself time to write, walk, meditate, exercise, or whatever you need to take care of yourself.
  • Hopefully, you are enjoying the added family time but know that 24/7 togetherness can take an emotional toll on you, so regularly give yourself some space from others and when necessary (if possible). 
  • On the work front, allocate time for yourself so that you can be productive and meet your responsibilities. 

Additional suggestions:

  • When possible, stagger meeting times with your partner so that one of you can be more accessible to the kids.
  • Get out of the house every day! Fresh air, the sun, and moving your body are all necessary for your physical and emotional health.
  • Remain connected with your friends and family. We are emotionally healthier when in contact with others, so pick up the phone or have video calls. 
  • Binge-watch TV shows, watch movies, play games, and read books.
  • Thank the medical doctors and nurses who are putting their lives on the line for all of us right now. 
  • Thank everyone else who is also working hard to help us have some sense of normalcy in our lives. This includes postal workers, local restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacists, delivery services, and all the employees making this possible!
  • Support your local merchants now, if possible, and as soon as they reopen.
  • With every challenge comes growth. Identify yours and realize that there is always a silver lining, even when it seems like an impossibility.

These are not carefree days, but we will get through them. In the meantime, stay healthy by practicing social distancing and do your best to maintain a healthy work-life balance while at working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Get your go-to guide that’s chock full of reminders on maintaining balance. It’s perfect to pin up in your workspace. Get it here.

*If you have not yet received your free copy of the “Effectively Managing Your Workday: a 4-step system proven to help you manage your workload,” guidebook, you can download it here.

COVID-19 meets Time, Distance, and Shielding

March 17, 2020

One of the things I love about my brother-in-law, Lee, a Ph.D. Nuclear Physicist, is his ability to enthusiastically and skillfully explain complex scientific facts, theories, and challenges in ways that I, a non-scientifically knowledgeable person, can understand. I’m always intrigued by his research, experiments, and findings that range from, for example, deactivating nuclear bombs, global warming, and curing cancer.

In early February, when the Coronavirus’s severity and awareness were in its infancy, I had an unrelated conversation with Lee about the protocol physicists follow when ionizing radiation reaches dangerous levels. He explained that everyone should avoid all toxic exposure, which makes sense, but is it’s not always a viable option. In those instances, people should then follow specific sequential steps with the ultimate goal of reducing all levels of exposure to as low as possible.

My initial intrigue about this protocol related to my client work, as I was able to easily swap out radiation with personal and professional relationships. And now, with the rapid worldwide spread of the Coronavirus, I see in bright shiny lights how the efforts for containment align with Lee’s lesson. In all cases, while the risks are different, the goals are the same – mitigate all danger through the “time, distance, and shielding.”

The goal of never being exposed to toxic levels of ionizing radiation is logically accomplished by staying out of the danger zone altogether. In reality, however, this is not always easy to do, so you should, therefore, limit the amount of time you are in that area. If the risk still remains, create distance between you and the toxic zone. In due time, the dangerous levels should subside, and you will be able to return to this area but must always proceed with caution and shield yourself since some degree of radioactivity will forever remain.

As I think about the progression of the COVID-19 virus, it’s easy to see how this protocol could be the framework for the worldwide response. Initially we all contributed to the virus spreading like wildfire by going to work, flying on planes, eating at restaurants, sitting in classrooms and going to grocery stores. When the rate of people getting sick and dying rose so quickly, we responded by limiting the time we spent anywhere. But that too wasn’t enough. So now, here in the United States, businesses and schools are going remote, retail stores and restaurants are shutting down for a few weeks, and we are keeping our distance from one another – a practice we now call social distancing.

When the virus is contained, and the curve flattens, COVID-19 will still exist, which means that we will still need to keep our distance and wash our hands thoroughly. Hopefully, a vaccine will become available soon because that is also a necessary form of shielding that will help prevent this pandemic from rearing its ugly head again.

I’ve known Lee for more than 30 years, and this is by far the most powerful lesson I’ve learned from him. Initially intrigued by its connection to my coaching work, I would never have imagined that just six weeks later, it would also help me understand how this pandemic is being managed. While we need more than hope, I am hopeful that the COVID-19 toxicity curve will flatten by following this framework of “time, distance, and shielding.”

I am sending everyone healthy wishes!

Want to spend more time with your family and less time at work?

Do you want to spend more time with your family and less time at work? Do you want to go on weekend excursions with the kids, have date nights with your partner, and go out for dinner with your friends? Want to exercise regularly, have more time to relax, read books, and binge-watch shows?

These are loaded questions, I know. Perhaps the better questions to ask are, what work tasks are you responsible for that could or should be someone else’s responsibility, and how much of your personal time do you spend working? 

As a working mom, you likely have far more responsibilities than you have time. You are probably also doing more than you should or need to be. Unfortunately, this not only limits the time you have with your family, but it also sets you up for potentially feeling resentful, frustrated, burned-out, and exhausted. 

Before you can make any long-term and impactful changes, you first need to figure out what work tasks you are doing that you should no longer be doing or can be taken over by someone else. Start by asking yourself these three questions:

1.    What am I doing for others that they can or should be doing for themselves?

2.   If I was suddenly out of the office and unavailable for two weeks, which of my responsibilities would others be able to manage with relative ease?

3.    What am I doing that requires a significant amount of my time, but is not my responsibility?

Your answers to these questions identify which responsibilities others can or should be doing instead of you. Relinquishing yourself from them will take some strategic planning, yes, but afterward, you will benefit in (at least) three ways.

First, you will have more time at work to do what you have been doing at night and on the weekends. Second, you will have more time to spend with your family, friends, and even yourself too. And third, you will have a healthier work-life balance and be more likely to experience greater satisfaction, focus, enthusiasm, and motivation at work.

Life as a working mom is busy, and while it is essential that you meet all of your work responsibilities, it is just as important to work at having a healthy work-life balance. Keep asking yourself these three questions and be discerning about how you spend your time, especially when feeling like your work-life balance is becoming imbalanced.

To learn strategies that will help you spend more time with your family and less time at work, click here and get your free 4-step guide, Effectively Managing Your Workday.

Innocent Fun

Many of my childhood friends grew up excited for Santa’s arrival. They made their lists and checked them twice, baked cookies and left them on the table before going to bed eagerly awaiting the excitement of waking up to find Santa’s gifts under their Christmas tree. A few months later, these same friends were excited for their Easter Egg Hunts and chocolate-filled Easter baskets.

My childhood experiences were also fun but different because I am Jewish. My family lit the menorah and recited the corresponding prayer before receiving one gift on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. A few months later, we then celebrated Passover, a holiday that began with friends and family gathering for the traditional Seder and Festive Meal.

Fast forward 20+ years when I am now a mother, and my daughter lost her first tooth. She was excited and couldn’t wait to go to bed so that the Tooth Fairy would come while she slept. My husband and I did all the traditional things, and she was very excited to wake up and find a few dollars and a letter from the Tooth Fairy under her pillow.

I was beyond excited about this first lost tooth, possibly even more than my daughter. It was a strange level of enthusiasm that I didn’t understand until a few weeks later when I realized that I was excited about the innocent fun of inviting a fictional character, the Tooth Fairy, into my home for the first time.

For me, this Tooth Fairy experience is what I imagine my Christian friends experience when Santa and the Easter Bunny visit their kids for the first time. It was pure innocence for my daughter, and later my son. As to be expected, they figured out the truth, and just like that, the Tooth Fairy no longer came to visit our home anymore. 

On this Christmas Eve Day, as I remember the fun of my heartwarming Tooth Fairy experiences, I’m thinking about all the parents who are about to have their own similar experiences. I wish them endless fun as they watch their kids rip open gifts from the big-bellied man with the long white beard. And for the kids awaiting Santa’s arrival for the first time (or the first time that they are big enough to know he’s coming), I wish them a fast night sleep and lots of fun and excitement when they wake up tomorrow morning.

For all who celebrate, I wish you a Merry Christmas! And for those who don’t, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and Happy Festivus to the rest of us. Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2020!  

Another First Day

September 5, 2019

Today marks the last-first day of high school for my daughter as she is now a senior and the first day that she drove herself – and my son, a sophomore — to school. After the traditional (and typical) first day of school pics, my husband and I watched as they drove off. My thoughts wandered from the past to the future, and I reflected on what was and what will be. I ultimately landed with feelings of appreciation for the here-and-now.

Parenting is the most complex, challenging, and long-lasting job I have ever had. It is also rewarding, and a privilege to be an observer, mentor and cheerleader as my kids grow into their own. Each with their own personality, strengths, and challenges, I am committed to doing my best to not impede upon their growing independence. I want my children to be their own thinkers who make responsible choices, contribute to society and experience satisfaction in all that they do and yet I also want to share valuable life lessons that I have been directly and indirectly taught. I am trying to strike a balance between offering guidance and support and not leaving them with the perception that my words are mandates and expectations.

For the past few weeks, I have been trying (keyword: trying) to have conversations with my kids about the upcoming year. I was curious to know what they were thinking about and wanted to share a few recommendations. They weren’t having it and masterfully changed the subject, listened with disinterested facial expressions, and sometimes engaged with as minimal interaction as possible. I hope that with each effort, a little bit of what I said was absorbed. Had they not resisted; I would have discussed these six points with them. 

Manage your time: It’s all too easy these days to get sidetracked with things other than your primary responsibilities so be diligent and make smart choices about how you spend your days — make sure you allocate time to complete your homework, study for tests, and hand in assignments when they are due. It may be disappointing to delay watching another episode of The Office but face reality, your job is school. If you want to be successful, you will need to make responsible choices, even though they may not be desirable.   

Be kind: It is so cliché, but it is also true —  kindness breeds kindness. It’s ok (but not fun) to feel upset, cranky or tired but mixing that with unkind behavior is inexcusable. It’s hard to receive support from others when you are not treating them nicely. Remember, you are responsible for your conduct and know that when you treat others poorly, there is a good chance that they will react by mirroring your behavior by treating you the same way.

Set goals: I know you want to go to college so I recommend spending some time thinking about what it will take to be accepted (i.e., commitment to academic achievement, participating in extra-curricular activities). Do yourself a favor and figure out how your long term goals influence what you are doing now, which in turn, may guide you to thinking about the goals you want to set for yourself today.

Be wise, think ahead and be present: Your job is to go to school. It may not seem like fun, but please know that there may never be a time again in your life when you have this opportunity. Yes, this is an opportunity. Learning is the key that opens doors to endless possibilities — but you need to be wise today in how you show up in what you are doing. Be present and also know that today influences your tomorrow.

Bigger is not always better: Better is a subjective word that does not always reflect your wants, needs, and responsibilities. If you go along with this assumption, you might find yourself in situations that lead to dissatisfaction and disappointment. Be discerning, be wary of the word “always” and allow yourself time to decide what it is that you (not others) believe is “better.” 

Mindset: We have talked a lot about mindset, especially recently as you have been mourning the end of summer. I have continually reminded you that school is non-negotiable, but your mindset about it is. You can choose to walk through the school doors thinking the day will be bad and guess what, it probably will be. However, if you shift your negativity to a positive mindset, you might enjoy your day – even if you don’t love what you are doing. We all do things that we don’t want to do, but when we see the value, we choose to do it. By the way, it was this mindset that made changing your stinky diapers not such a bad experience.    

As with other first days of school, today I am feeling reflective. I remember watching both of my kids walk through the kindergarten doors, and this year, especially, I’m envisioning graduation day with the not-yet-known college name written on my daughter’s graduation cap. At the same time, I am continually reminding myself to be present and treat every day like it is another first day.

     

Are you busier than you need to be?

Busy. People are busy. Professionally overwhelmed and overworked. Personally, not meeting responsibilities. Self-care? What’s that? Stress, fatigue, and frustration kick into high gear and with no roadmap for change, busy people remain busy.

Take Avery for example, a senior level attorney at a large law firm. She worked 60+ hours a week, arrived home shortly before her toddlers’ bedtime and rushed through dinners with her partner before going back to work. Avery went to bed late, woke up early…repeat.  

Struggling to meet deadlines and wanting a better work-life balance, she recognized change was necessary. Avery and I began working together in a professional coaching relationship, and soon after she realized how her aversion to confrontation and automatic desire to be helpful contributed to these challenges. In lieu of sending incorrect and incomplete documents back to her associate attorneys, Avery spent hours of her own time doing the work herself. Avery also proudly made herself available to answer questions and talk through client challenges whenever colleagues were in need.

Realizing now how these behaviors were cyclical patterns that contributed to several hours of additional work each week, Avery was motivated to address her tendency to avoid anything she thought might be uncomfortable and considered alternate ways of being helpful. She overcame both by communicating clearly and respectfully what work needed to be completed or corrected and asked people to schedule meetings with her if they wanted more than just a few minutes of her time.

Avery’s efforts yielded many positive changes and she now has a better work-life balance. She no longer volunteers to do other people’s work and is relieved that her colleagues followed through with her meeting requests. She finishes far more of her work responsibilities while at work and is home at least two nights a week for family dinners. Avery is thrilled about having more quality time with her kids and no longer works at home every night. She attends weekly yoga classes, is reading more books, and relaxes in the evenings with her partner as they catch up on their favorite shows.   

Avery is still busy, yes, but with her new personal roadmap, she is no longer busier than she needs to be.  

Are you busier than you need to be? Doing other people’s work? Please share your thoughts.

Things To Never Say Or Do In A Meeting

As a rising junior in high school, my daughter is now at the point in her academic career when studying for the college entry exams is necessary. She took sample tests at a college prep program and we then met with Jim, a representative from the company, who was to review her scores and formulate a plan for helping my daughter be test-ready in a few months.

Well, that is not exactly what happened.

During the hour-long follow-up meeting, I was reminded of the many things that one should never do when trying to sell a service (or product). It doesn’t matter what setting you are in – business, academic or social – these are things you should never do:

1. Do not make comments that are sexual in nature or have a sexual undertone.

When the service being sold requires you to be sitting with a minor alone in a room – or with anyone and anywhere for that matter – you are to never talk like this.It is uncomfortable, inappropriate, wrong and in some instances, illegal.

Jim did not break any laws but when he shared his thoughts about each of our appearances, he was unquestionably inappropriate.So was him telling my daughter about colleges that have “hot guys” and other schools where she might find a husband – because certain schools have “good stock.”

2. Do not oversell yourself or brag about your accomplishments.

Find the right balance when letting potential clients know that you are skilled, experienced and can deliver value.Do not undersell yourself, but do not oversell either. Do not start a meeting by bragging about your many success stories, especially those that are unrelated to the meeting’s purpose.

Jim’s personal oversell was huge while the company’s services were completely undersold.I not only listened to him gloat about his past unrelated work experiences, he also let me know how many children he has, the town he lives in and that he can afford an expensive home and luxury car.The least he could have done was spend some time overselling the value my daughter would be getting if she worked with him and this company.Somehow he left that part out.      

3. Ask questions and listen to the answers.

If you want to get to know your potential client, it is a good idea to ask questions and listen to the responses.And by listen, I mean listen to the complete answer.Do not interrupt and bring the focus back to you by changing the topic away from the very subject you brought up with your question.

When asked about academic and career interests, my daughter partially answered.She stopped talking when Jim hijacked the conversation and shifted it back to himself and his many success stories.That was a great tactic…for getting a potential customer to tune you out and shut down.And that is just what my daughter did.

4. Know what you want from the meeting and don’t assume it will happen.

If the goal is to close the sale, I suggest that you focus on the pitch and do your best to make sure that the customer has everything he or she needs in order to make an informed decision.Be persuasive, sure, but don’t assume the deal will be closed at the end of the meeting.Listen, ask questions, give answers, provide valuable information and connect with the customer.Do that and you will likely be discussing next-steps, which, by the way, might include closing the deal.

In my situation, it seemed that Jim expected for us to walk out of the meeting with my credit card charged and test-prep sessions scheduled.He also assumed that it was OK to ask my daughter for her cell phone number.He was ready to enter it into his phone but stopped when I interjected and said that she would not be giving it to him.No cell numbers were exchanged, no credit cards were swiped and no sessions were scheduled.

5. Don’t judge and don’t assume.

Remember that appearances do not directly correlate with wealth (or lack thereof).And being wealthy does not mean that people will automatically spend their money with your business.Deliver a clear message about the value being offered and then, maybe then, people will choose to purchase the product or service being offered.

During this meeting, it was clear to me that Jim prejudged my financial situation and assumed how I would be willing to spend my money(this extended outside the parameters of the fees for test prep services).I quickly began questioning his authenticity for wanting to help my daughter and wondered if he was more motivated by the amount of money I would be spending if I agreed to the proposed plan.That leads me to the next point.

6. Don’t change the rules.

When discussing how your business works – what you offer and how the service or product will be delivered – it is frowned upon to change the procedure and methodology at the time that the service plan is being delivered.It is unprofessional and deceitful.

I initially spoke with a different representative from this company several times, therefore, I was aware of the fee structure and program procedures.Imagine my surprise when Jim changed everything around and tried to sell me a different and more expensive plan.I was confused and became further skeptical of his motives, also wondering if this was related to the assumptions and judgments (I thought) he had made about me.

Following the meeting, I called my initial contact person and shared with him each of these six points.He understood my upset and agreed with my complaints.He apologized several times and kindly asked if my daughter and I would be willing to meet with him for a “do-over” of the follow-up meeting.I agreed.He also offered a few hours of complimentary tutoring, an appreciated gesture that offered value beyond that of the monetary savings.

This call reminded me of the final point I want to make.

7. $*^% happens and sometimes a second chance is a worthwhile chance to give.

I believe that no person or business is perfect – it’s just not realistic to think that way.Each experience is unique and what you choose to do in any given situation should be decided on a case-by-case basis.Sometimes it will be better to walk away and not subject yourself to an encounter again.Other times the situation may warrant going back and checking it out for a second time.   

For me, I do not trust Jim and would never allow my daughter to be alone in a room with him so there is no reason to consider giving him a second chance. But as far as giving the college prep company a second chance, I am happy to do that.The meeting may be a bust, I know, but my hunch is that it will not be.Either way, I stand by my decision for giving this company a second chance.

I’m curious, what would you do if you were in my shoes?

May Their Memories Be For A Blessing

I did not know Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain but I respected them and happily welcomed them into my home. I still have the Kate Spade bag I received as a gift years ago – always wanting to keep it despite not using it anymore. Kitchen Confidential was a great read and I laughed and learned as Anthony Bourdain ate and talked his way around the world.

If I were one to make assumptions, I would easily believe that both should have been happy and living life to it’s fullest. I would think that they should have received the best mental health treatment possible and question what could have possibly not been right in their lives. But I know better, so I will not assume and I will not judge.

I have no idea if either Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain had been under the care of a doctor and/or therapist, if they were on medication or if they even sought mental health treatment at all. I don’t know and at this time, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that they suffered illnesses that they did not heal from. And for that, they lost their lives.

Putting my sadness for their families and friends aside for a minute, I’m hoping that this news serves as a wake-up call to everyone. I hope that Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s death by suicide will be the catalyst for more significant conversations and proactive change in this growing healthcare crisis. May the legal system mandate stronger legislation that supports mental health treatment. May society stop stigmatizing those who are not well and start responding to them like they would had they been diagnosed with cancer.

Their deaths cannot and should not be in vain. Their loss must gift society with a long needed reality check that mental illness is real and – if left untreated or improperly treated – lethally dangerous. It sounds terrible to say, I know, but please let the pain of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s loved ones be the reminder to you, if you are the one suffering, that you are wanted and needed. And for the family members of someone with a mental illness, may you never be the young child burying your parent or the one saying a premature goodbye to your spouse or the parent doing the unthinkable, burying a child.

I am so appreciative that the announcement of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s deaths included their cause of death. Thank you for sharing this sad news with the world honestly. Thank you for putting the kibosh on what could have been endless rumors and speculation. Thank you for saying loudly what so many say with only a whisper – that they died by suicide.

It was on my first date with my husband that he told me about his own experience with suicide. As a 17-year-old high-school senior, he was living with only his father when the police knocked on his door to inform him that his father had committed suicide earlier that day while he was at school. The memories immediately thereafter remain a blur to my husband, perhaps an emotional protection from the depths of his loss. The impact, however, has been lifelong.

When I listened to my husband tell me that night about his father’s suicide, I recall taking notice of the factual delivery of his words. It was as if he told me that his father died of a heart attack. No skirting around his words or lowering his voice when the word suicide was spoken. He explained that his father died by suicide – that he had depression and it led to his death. There was no anger and he never thought of his father as selfish. He simply shared with me the sad reality that his father had passed away.

I won’t pretend to understand what my husband went through, or what these families are experiencing now. I can’t imagine what my father-in-law, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and so many others have endured – a pain so severe that they believed that death was necessary. I can only hope that one-day people who are living with mental illness will get the care they need and be able to live their lives with joy and happiness.

My deepest of condolences go out to the Spade and Bourdain families. May each of their memories be for a blessing.