Why do you get out of bed and go to your workplace every morning?

Is it a sense of personal responsibility to your commitments? Is it driven by the requirement to be paid in order to live your life?

Is it because you believe in what you do? Or what your organization is aiming to do? Are you looking forward to some major event, and each day is a step in that direction? Or are you chiseling away at a glacial pace, knowing someone long after you will be the one at the finish line, but you got in early on the relay?

Is it because you’re building your own professional self? Or you are part of a team, and without you, the gears can’t run?

Is it because you need meaning in life to get you going in the morning?

Is it because you need money to make your life run?

Is it because if you don’t, people will judge you?

Is it because you owe it to the cause?

Do you often consider why it is you get out of bed and go to your workplace every morning?

Does your answer ever change?

‘Where are they now?’ edition

Is it a getting older thing? A life experience thing?

Years pass, before you know it, decades pass.

Then you start to enjoy the thought of meeting up with old friends. Old bosses. Old acquaintances. Old teachers. People who taught you. Who, today, still wouldn’t laugh at you for when they knew you as a puppy, still growing and learning. For slipping or saying or believing ridiculous things.

Met with someone today from a previous life. From… well… over a decade ago. We caught up on 13 years. I was going to be a journalist and ended up in startup marketing. He told me he remembered the first year he joined the staff of our newborn campus Hillel, and we went down to the Israeli Consulate for some activism thing. And we stopped at some gas station and I came out with a freshly purchased Sunday Times. Who would do that anymore? he seemed to imply. Or, maybe, what student would do that back then?

Something I didn’t remember but was interesting to hear. The details get fuzzy and motivations blurry. Maybe it’s life place now, maybe because I don’t get enough sleep or have enough time to spend on memory. Maybe that’s why we like to get together after all these years. A quick hour to remember what was. Remember what’s real.

Oh, Jerusalem: High impact presentation of a high impact city

Every day I wake up, get myself and what feels like 3853075 other people ready for our routines, drag my ass to my car and eventually end up on the road into work.

The thing about that road is, it’s the road to Jerusalem.

And not just the road to Jerusalem, but the road to some of the holiest places, to billions of people.

And, begrudgingly, exhausted, sitting in my car, podcast-listening, sun-glare in my eyes, cursing at tunnel drivers, I forget this. Every, single, day.

But yesterday, I remembered. It’s been years since I looked around a room and thought, Oh, Jerusalem.

A co-worker signed us up for a 2-day intensive Dale Carnegie workshop on giving high impact presentations. I went in with no expectations; to be honest I’m too busy to have expectations these days. So I thought I’d get some public speaking tips and move on.

The course itself was incredible – an absolute mindfuck, actually – and maybe I will write about that another time. It doesn’t take a tenured psychologist to understand that my self talk when I present does not match the incredible feedback I got from peers (aka, in my mind, I have no right making  fun of Donald Trump for the insane shouting and hand gestures; I’m an ex-New Yorker too – but no one else seemed to see that or care).

By the end of the first day, after the 13 of us had each given several presentations, vulnerably, hilariously, warmly, I caught myself looking around and seeing the people in the room in a Jerusalem light. What a cliche, I thought. The Evangelical Christian, the Muslim Arab, the Hassidic Jew, the national religious Jew, the modern observant Jew, the traditional Jew, the secular Jew. Educators, non-profit do-gooders, community organizers, procurers of Zionist fervor, ambassadors of Startup Nation. European accent. Russian accent. Various Anglo accents. Arab accent.

So Jerusalem.

Then today, we came back. Presenting our passions – social causes, educating teens on dealing with academic stress, getting Christians and Jews to repair centuries of damage, making the Jewish Quarter of the Old City a more pleasant place. Creating opportunity for anyone to invest in innovation. Bringing young Jews to Israel to fall in love and move here. Empowering Jewish women to take back their power.

How very… all over the place.

Our trainer from the States had to say it. I had wondered yesterday if he had thought it, and then here he was at the end of day two, and he had to say it. This place… it’s moving, it makes you think, it’s powerful. Look at all of you here, together. It gives you hope. 

You know, I should hear it more often. I’m in Jerusalem every day. Getting my things together, scrambling to the car. Foot alternating between gas and brake pedals, weaving past signature white stone. Driving on an ancient road that eventually gets you to one of the holiest places for billions of people. Just ten minutes from where I spend the majority of my day time figuring out new ways to invite people to invest in this place. Ten minutes from where billions of people throughout history have invested so much energy and time and emotion.

I should hear it more often – it gives you hope.

Oh, Jerusalem.

Answer any question, honestly.

If we’re being cynical, the propaganda machine is running in full force at my house. If we’re being honest, I’m just trying to protect my offspring. If we’re being optimistic, the hope is knowledge will lead to creative, original and practical solutions.

This Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, hit me hard. Harder than in years I can count on both hands. I think there are a few reasons for this:

  • Syria.
  • I have a lot more responsibility, suddenly. I’m waking up from a very intense few years of having kids.
  • My boy is a bigger thinking, processing human and asks bigger questions.

Who were the good guys? Who were the bad? Why is there a shirt hanging on the stage? Why did they have to wear those clothes? If you’re grandma is that old why wasn’t she in the shoah? Oh did she fight in the war then? The Russians were good and then they were bad?

What side was Israel on?

Wait, what?

We have a problem.

“Ima, why do adults always look at their phones?”

“Oh, I… um… it’s…”

Because if you think kids have no self control, you’re kidding yourself. Because adults have no self control. Because it gets lost over time. Because we’re so misguided. Because we’re just awful.

Because we adults get addicted to things. Because we are needy and insecure. Because we cannot control our basic instincts to become completely absorbed and obsessed and self centered. Because instant gratification is a too sweet. Because too much of a goof thing may make you sick but sometimes you just keep doing it because you’ve lost the ability to feel good or bad. Because we make a lot of rules but don’t follow them. Because we learn but we don’t internalize. 

“And then I see them looking at their phones and then I look too and then after a few minutes my eyes hurt and it doesn’t feel good… so why do adults always do it?”

Because your eyes are young and hopeful and capable of seeing the brightest of bright colors, colors we cannot even see anymore after years of sitting at a desk or reading books or watching TV or becoming cyborgs, staring at phones. Your eyes are young and your brain is youthful and you have everything ahead of you except eventually it will be staring at phones. Or whatever that comes to mean. But it won’t be color. Not these colors, organic wholesome natural colors. LED colors. Artificial coloring. 

Because I used to be able to sit in a car or a bus for hours and think and day dream and plan and focus and wonder. And now I can’t even go a minute or two without feeling for the phone. 

Because deep, personal, intimate creativity has been cut off for so many of us by broad, global innovation. 

Because adults have no self control. Because adults feel they must be in constant control.

Because we’re screwing it up everywhere we turn. Because a generation ruins it all for the next one. Because we are a species that denies nature and facts. Because we don’t deserve nice things and we’ve evolved to sabotage ourselves. 

Because even though your question is a punch in the gut, I don’t know how we will stop. 

 

 

It’s time to normalize pumping at work.

I work full time, and there are days when I’m in back-to-back meetings all day. There’s never enough time to get my work done, because if I’m not at work, I’m picking up my kids and starting the second half of my day. And when that’s over, preparing for the next one.

The reality is there are days that I end up with a rushed 20 free minutes midday and I have to make a choice – find food because I’m about to collapse, or pump.

Why am I bringing it up? Because I feel like when we talk about working moms and how insane it all is, we don’t get into the messy awkward stuff. Like boobs exploding in pain in the workplace. Like having an extra personal, physical thing to take care of during the day aside from feeding ourselves. Like feeling disappointed if I didn’t pump one day because I prioritized meetings over having extra milk for my baby. Like getting over knowing that all my coworkers know where I’m going when I walk away from my desk with my bag, and the answer I give is ‘no’ when they ask if I’m leaving for the day.

I guess I’m sharing this because 2.5 years ago I decided I wanted to normalize pumping in the workplace to help the next set of moms coming up under me. It was harder last time around (I was the first and only one doing it, hello freezing server room), but this time I do feel change, both in myself and the company.

Today, my workplace is very pump friendly, and there are four of us now, and though it gets crowded, they keep adding new locks and shades to close off private offices.

So here’s to normalizing pumping, friendly workplaces, and hungry, tired moms overcoming the added daily challenge of exploding boobs.

Homeland insecurity: An expat on the labor of love and land

An expat is neither here nor there, not completely. An expat has their heart in two places. An expat has passports updated, ready.

An expat’s fomo is just another part of the gig.

United States of America:

I don’t know if it’s an apology I owe. It’s an acknowledgment, at least.

Over the last five years or so, I started feeling really, significantly disconnected from America. I started giving up. The feeling I’d never move back there by choice developed into more than a feeling; eventually a ‘known’.

I felt if I ever moved back, I’d be relocating to a new unfamiliar country. I mean this on a personal level. I came to feel I didn’t fit in the landscape. The culture.

I had fallen way out of love, way out of like, with my country, my people, my culture. Not a government thing – an everything thing. The whole picture. The inaction. The action. The priorities. The sensitivities. The personalities. The close mindedness.

I had cared so much but then I just couldn’t invest any more care.

And then this happened. A year and a half ago, everyone started talking about 2016. And it was ridiculous and I laughed. And I still couldn’t make the feeling come back. I stood by and watched. Until I started watching closer, until I started thinking again, until I started caring again. Until I realized I have something to say and for me, there’s still a place in the conversation.

And I didn’t have to ever want to move back to know that I do care and always will. Being away is what keeps me with you. Being away helps me be the best version of a patriotic citizen I can be. It’s an acknowledgment of the kind of relationship we have. It’s an odd but honest one.

Being away keeps me American.

Israel:

It’s time.

For too long I’ve used the American elections as an excuse to ignore you. The fact is, 2015 was so devastating and I just couldn’t pour anything else into this. Ever since, I’ve been angry, and ‘busy’ was a fine excuse.

But what if I was angry and busy, but for you, and not at you? I came here to be counted, I came here to cast my lot. There’s value in that and I will find it again. I will uncover it again.

I always wanted to come back around to political activism. This place is a fucking disappointment. It’s too painful to get involved but I don’t want to look back and know I didn’t do enough to show my kids what could be if we only work towards it.

America taught me that about my adopted homeland. After everything there in the past year and a half, I still care. I care about a place where my heart doesn’t beat.

Surely it is time to pivot back to the here and now. To where my heart beats in real-time. To where I chose to live. To where I’ve built a home. To where I cast my lot.

So what’s next?

One last thing: Consider why your mothers, sisters, daughters wear the veil

The first time today I was able to really consider it all – how to verbalize the anger and frustration and loss – was after I passed a couple male colleagues in the hall, after a joke was cracked, and I lashed back that this was not the time to speak to me about elections.

I didn’t even realize I’d feel such a loss before it happened.

I was on the verge of losing it all day, of letting out a verbal barrage of why their offhanded remarks or cable-tv inspired thoughts were not the reason why so many of us are so hurt and disillusioned today. Why it’s more personal than a party thing or political leaning thing. A why-do-you-even-care-you’re-an-expat thing.

I felt raw and I got raw. I showed my rawness. It was open and I wasn’t privately licking the wounds. I let them show.

That is never my strategy at work. It never has been in all my career.

And maybe it was because I never really believed this outcome could happen, that it took me so by surprise, that suddenly I was so so incredibly, deeply, painfully sad today. Sad for her. Sad for Hillary.

Because she may be flawed; she may be toxic; she may be power hungry; she may be criminal – but one thing she is, that I am too, is veiled. We women are veiled.

We veil ourselves in the workplace. We veil ourselves because it’s the extra credit we have to fulfill to be on the same page as you. We veil ourselves to help alleviate the pain and progress the potential of decreasing that pay inequality.

We veil ourselves so we avoid the pain and hypocrisy of being called bossy or nasty or bitch. 

The veil is invisible, but the fact is, every woman I know in the workplace wears one. Some are thinner than others. But it’s been taught to us, ingrained in us, through the way our parents spoke to us, through the education system, through religion, through society.

Be good.

Be perfect.

Put on a smile.

Don’t complain.

Don’t say no.

Even if all things were equal – paychecks, experience, power, chances of winning the presidency – the woman still wears the veil. All things being equal, she’s ten steps behind.

Hillary wears the veil.

I wear the veil.

A world where a presidential candidate can claim he’s great for women, and then threaten to sue every woman with a story to tell, is a world where we still wear the veil.

A world where a presidential candidate advises victims of sexual harassment in the workplace to find new careers, is a world where we still wear the veil.

The veil is thin, it’s sheer. You can’t see it unless you know it. That’s why the men who are disappointing me don’t even know why.

I grew up in the 90s; I only knew a strong-headed first lady. I grew up in the 90s; I attended Bring Your Daughter to Work Days. I grew up in the 90s; I believed wholeheartedly the glass ceilings were being shattered and I’d get a taste of that one day.

I was fed this by parents, education, society. But I knew the only way to do it was don the veil.

I button up my feelings at work. I’m complacent and cooperative. I don’t let my anger get in there. The 25-cent difference in my paycheck is eaten up by being agreeable and tame and a woman.

So when I passed the colleagues in the hall; when I swatted away stupid comments by privileged clueless well-meaning men; I lost it, when I let feelings out through my pores; when I got nasty – I thought of her.

All things being equal – and so many of you made that point – ‘they’re both horrible’ – as if all things were indeed equal – you don’t see what it’s like to be marginalized, veiled. When your whole life you lived the experienced of being marginalized, and one of your own is up there breaking down the way for you to follow – you have no idea what that means, how it reverberates. The ripple effect of knowing the veil paid off.

Privacy. Secrecy. Coldness. Power hungry. Overprotective. Flippant. Elitist. Pantsuits. Not a hair out of place. No home baked cookies.

It’s not all the work of the veil. But so much was born from it.

We can’t just be. We have to be in comparison to.

We have to lean in. We shouldn’t come off too strong.

We have to have it all. We can’t possibly achieve 100% at everything we do.

We live up to a standard. But we were asking for it by living up to that standard.

It was a strong, tiring try. I wanted a reason to put the veil away. Or peek out from behind it. Or know that maybe my daughters have a shot at not needing one.

Hillary made a crack in the ceiling. She did it with decades of veiled attempts.

But I think the truth is, the woman who becomes the first she-president of the United States will not wear the veil.