5 commandments of returning from vacation.

Assigning myself 5 commandments of going back to work after a somewhat off the grid week of vacation.

  1. You are not limitless. Saying no is not a special occasion; it’s a standard.
  2. You are not 2- or 3-dimensional. There has to be more than work and home.
  3. You are not worth any less than your peers. By definition you are at least equal.
  4. You must take your pulse. Recharging is mandatory for phones and people.
  5. You must seek the bigger picture. Every day, just a little bit.

In the meantime… a few hours of freedom left.


Zooey update: twenty two months

You give kisses now! I love that! The little pwaa! of your tiny lips. Especially when the aim is off.

You’re still sparse on words – what do you wanna say, Zooey? You can tell me… or Big Bird, we’re into Sesame Street now…

I mean, I love the faces you make – you’re speaking with your eyes, with your little button nose, with your shoving to get in the center, make sure you get yours along with the other kids.

But maybe we can both try something for the next few weeks… deep breathing, letting go, saying what we need and what we want and what we don’t want, as hard as that can be at times.


Tell-All: 4 team management lessons from Summit planning

I recently, ahem, was part of a core team running one of the biggest events in startup-Jerusalem each year, in its 4th year. It’s a production put on with a lot of demands, a lot of resources, a lot of professionals, but the core team from within the company are not necessarily production careerists (though a couple of us are definitely).

Before this year, the event planning was fueled with stress, rife with resentment, and even filled with fear. This year was different. And I’ve been exploring why.

1. The revolution will not be televised – and will not happen without a good team. 

For months we joked about filming a documentary of the event prep. We (I) didn’t do it, but if we had, it would have probably been side-splitting hilarious (to us). Something I learned was, any job – even the hardest, the ones that make you feel enslaved, depraved, and unappreciated – are actually awesome if the people around you are fun to have around, genuinely good people, and hardcore team players. That was a real turning point for me; why shouldn’t planning an incredible, complicated event be fun, if the people you work alongside inspire you to do your best possible job? The chemistry was right, the people were solid, and the goal was clear. It was a new level of teamwork we brought out from within ourselves.

2. A team is the sum of all its parts.

A few years ago I had this revelation. I was wondering why people would pay me to write for them. I knew practically why, but it was a symptom of impostor syndrome, and I really didn’t get it. I asked the question on twitter, and got a response: because they can’t do it themselves. They actually aren’t equipped with the skills.

Ever since then, I repeat this to myself. I’m not a logistics person; someone else is not a brand-builder. I’ll never run the finance department; someone else won’t be writing compelling invite copy. And so I build this appreciation every day for the people around me, diverse skill sets and frames of minds. Different career paths leading to this project; different life experiences to lend. I wish more people could appreciate how we all have something to contribute. If we acknowledge healthily what we lack and promote with vigor what others contain, we become a stronger force – with better results.

3. Ditch the dead weight – from your mental load

When working on such a massive, months-long project, it helps to leave behind the haters. The ‘this has nothing to do with me’ attitude of colleagues. Feeling held back by a need to convince everyone or try and infuse inspiration into every single colleague is not going to help me do a better job. I found staying focused on the end result was the right way – more calming, more productive. And luckily, from previous experience, we had the confidence to know we could keep moving forward and that we were right: it was going to be successful, amazing, and even better than we ever imagined.

4. Putting the ‘der’ in leader. 

Ok, this is going to seem obvious but shutup it’s been three years and I still don’t always get it.

I find managing a team challenging. I freely admit it because I think it’s healthy and it prompts me to work harder to seek out mentors and case studies to learn from. I’ve had no direct mentor, and frankly, not always the best examples to learn from. So I’m winging it.

This was the first year I felt properly equipped to run my part of the event as far as personnel. So I knew I had no one to blame but myself if I mess it up. And there were plenty of pitfalls – delegation is still rough on me. But as the heat got turned up, I knew it was manager do-or-die – if the team doesn’t get to take the wheel, then what is the point of joining for the ride? I lose them now, I lose them in the future, too.

Last week I learned what it truly means to let go – of the doubt and fear – and felt such a new pride at this smart, proactive, flexible team I somehow found the insight to put together. The right people – true team players – seek out opportunities to grow and stretch their skills. They don’t just take orders but they own their roles and figure it out. We need to surround ourselves with people like that – at work, at home, in life. It’s what makes a manager a leader.

There’s so much more I could offer insight on – and forgive me, it’s been quite a hiatus from thoughtful posts in the last few months while I was running around, well, learning. For that we’d have to get a cup of coffee or maybe just a humble facebook chat.

After all, there’s still event followup to put together.









Zooey update: twenty one months

You’re just one of the girls, Zooey.

You’re thing now is part de-planed flight attendant, part big kid going to school – rolling around Nettles’ backpack (especially convenient because she doesn’t want to, and, um, between us – you’re being kinda used… but there’s time to work that out…).

You pick it up in the morning and hand it back as you walk into your gan… and on pickup, it’s the first thing to run and hug – although, sometimes Nettles or I get one before the bag does.

I suppose I should have seen it coming, but hair is kind of a big deal in our house these days. Your older sisters are having a ball of it (or making balls of it… who knew kids needed to be taught to brush their own hair?!) and you are right there beside them, soaking it in – from the conditioner to the braids to the headbands.

I may not be as great at providing you with the kind of entertainment I did for your oldest siblings, but you do have them around to look out for you… and make sure you get what they got… guess I did something right…

Zooey update: twenty months

Fire and doughnuts. What more do you need?

You really love Chanukah.

At first you were all, huh? What? I’m supposed to eat this? Naaah. Really? Just eat it? This? Uh… I guess… 

Oooooh, I get it.  

And you wanted so badly to light the candles yourself… which, you know, you nearly did, as much as I could push the limit on fire safety with a twenty month old…

In gan, on the playground, in a new place… you’re curious… and cautious. A combination we know well; but you have your own spin.

You’re getting involved, letting us know in your own way that this is something you want to do (or this is something you don’t want to do) and we hear you loud and clear, even if it’s not with the same words.

The last week.

This isn’t how I thought it would end.

I didn’t think the end would begin with a deep soreness, tiny stabs of pain, highlighted by stinging tears; the added torture of me trying to hold all this in and stay strong for you, to avoid the chance you’d feel unwhole, to acknowledge your instinctual longing, to turn away in the hope you wouldn’t see me holding back, and cry yourself to sleep.

I just didn’t see it coming, I didn’t know that’s how it would go.

Day by day for this last week, I held back while you went ahead. How each day, you could start a little more fresh, a little more optimistic; how you could then end each day a little more fulfilled, a bit brighter, that much more ready.

Without me.

You were slowly moving on, and I wasn’t seeing it. My time was occupied waiting for us to reunite.

Day by day, you managed; surpassed; moved on.

One week later, you are the happiest I’ve ever seen you.

Running ahead, a vision of fresh opportunity, arms open, drawn to people who are not me, people who have not nourished you with love and comfort for the last year and a half. At the other end of these last few days, you haven’t run to me in desperation, clinging to the crutch I nurtured. Now you see me and smile while you hang back, greet me brightly from a distance. Even Ruth, she said to me today – one week later – “you know, she’s just so happy. I can’t even explain why. She’s just been happy – changed.”

It’s been a week. And I never thought once in this time that this is how it ends. You, reborn. Me, at a loss.

I didn’t want to hurt you, I absorbed all the pain. And I didn’t see it coming.

And here we are. The physical pain has passed – it’s been a whole day without the break in my chest, the throbbing, the feeling of being shattered, burst open, bruised. That’s subsided and now I look up from this dark week and the tears are receding with the tide, the cracks are filled, the sores are healed; but the pain in my heart is encased in a crust that is raw and fresh and choking.

And you – you’re happy. And tonight, I hold you in my arms, your tiny head resting against my shoulder, the slow, mellow motion of your breathing against my upper chest… as I hold you like this, in the dark room, quiet and at peace… as I hold you I know you are happy. And I know I am, somehow, too. And I know this pain is about my loss and my failure to never consider it could end like this, but knowing – somewhere, between the tender bruising that is both reminder and revelation – somewhere, deep inside my chest, right behind my deflated, soft, healing breasts – baby girl, this is for the best.

Zooey update: eighteen months

It may be autumn but your steps are in full bloom. Your toddle is… toddle-y, and exactly as it should be. It’s not that you couldn’t walk or wouldn’t walk, but I think we both know you were going to go with what came easier to you as you cautiously sorted out the whole walking on two legs thing.

Meanwhile, you won’t let yourself be left behind – walking or crawling, toddling or not…

If all of them other kids get to lick the chocolate off the mixing spoon, then goddamit so do you.

I always tell people that what I’ve noticed in sibling pairs is, the friendship starts when the younger sibling is around 18 months. And sure enough, here it is. You’ve paid attention long enough – now you are playing for attention. You’re also fighting back – finally – and to be honest, I agree with you, your older siblings deserve it.

And, there is a smattering of words we hear. No! for starters. No! (that’s mine). No! (I wanted abba, not you). No! (this is my drink, get your own).