What's On Your Nightstand? Where Do You Escape?

When I think of reading, it seems that summer is typically a time of fiction for me.  Maybe it’s just the vacation travel that sets it off, but, I find I’m ready for an escape into suspense and the world of spies.  Others tend to escape more easily into history, romantic twists and turns, or adventures in some future time.  I noticed when flying recently that Bourne Objective, a novel  written by  Eric Van Lustbader was a popular choice.

I finished with my spy novel, and needed something else.  I borrowed from my friend’s library and have returned to non-fiction:   Reading Lolita in Tehran by Aztar Nafisi.   Nafisi is currently a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. and provides a view into the revolution in Iran (1979-81) and life throughout the Iran-Iraq war until her departure in 1997.  When I mentioned reading this to co-workers they had seen the author interviewed and were familiar with the work.   As a true lover of words, this one has slowed me down, wanting to savor the discussions of literature that provide relief as her known life turns into a nightmare. 

Several years ago I heard  author Connie May Fowler describe a truly horrible childhood and her discovery of the library, her sanctuary, where she regularly escaped her pain through the characters and plots in the books she found there.

I’m very grateful that my reading and escapes are simply for pleasure, not to make a horrible life tolerable.  My life would be much less rich without books, fiction and non-fiction.  I try not to live life with regrets, but, have realized that I will likely not be able to read all of the books  I have interest in before I fall asleep with an open book on my chest for the last time.

What are you escaping into on these hot summer days and nights?

Who Are We Without Our Stories?

I recently attended the memorial service of a good friend, David J. Kaplan.  Dave was a Property Manager with Fremont Properties in San Francisco and we worked together off and on for many years.  The title of this piece, “Who are we without our stories?” is under a wonderful picture of Dave on the printed memorial card.

It is Dave’s stories that I want to honor. He had a true gift – with few words he was able to have a big impact on many.  As a world traveler and accomplished photographer Dave would entertain with stories of his travels.  When he described a rain forest adventure, you could feel the moisture, smell the smoke from distant fires and hear the native drumbeats. He would continue into an area much deeper than casual travelers would dare – really get to know the people and culture.  Adventure was in his bones, but caution ruled…….he always came back.

He also told tales from the world of business and many times the theme would be the same….he would be incredulous that someone could be caught up in something so petty as to lose sight of the big picture.  It’s such an important reminder.  Dave really knew how to appreciate what he had, right now, right here, in the moment.  He touched me:  he made an impact:  he left a legacy.  For all of this, for his stories, I told Judy at the service, “he had a piece of my heart.”

It’s appropriate to close with a quote from Dave…..he ended an email to me with these words,

“Take good care – kiss your wife and boys for me……….the rest is BALONEY!!!!!!!”

David J. Kaplan

Happy Mother's Day…..Celebrate!

I can say with certainty that 100% of you reading have or had a mother!  Even if, for circumstances you did not design, you never knew her, you had one!  And, for those of us who are truly fortunate, we have our Mom available and can wrap ourselves around her this Sunday.  For some, that hug will be long distance and will take the form of a card, call, flowers, or other special delivery.  And, for others, it will be time spent together with the woman who gave birth to us or raised us as her own.

There are many odes to Mothers more eloquent than anything I could pen, but, I will take a few words to describe my sweet Mom, Sadie.  She lives in Welaka, Florida, population 500.  I grew up there and it was (and is) a small, rural, sleepy town on the St John’s River.  My parents moved away after I started college, but, returned to retire there.  Welaka’s river views are some of the most beautiful and it is still very much “old” Florida. Mom hates cold temperatures and the hot and humid climate suits her well.  Sadie is very much a Southern lady.  She is soft spoken, kind, well mannered, creative and can grow anything as well as put a wonderful meal on the table with little notice or planning.  She tracks environmental incidents, ponders global crisis, worries about the future, worships, loves greatly and cares for those in her family and community on a daily basis.  Her life is rich. 

Complaining is not part of her make-up, although she has earned the right.  For the past 28 years, off and on, she has battled breast cancer.  Sadie defines “survivor”.  Her courage and faith is amazing to those of us who truly know her and her petite frame hides more strength and stamina than a person twice her size should have.   She fits in the chemo and lab dates, doctor visits and other required appointment s with minimal disruption to her and my dad’s schedule.  Together they spend time with friends, volunteer, garden, feed sandhill cranes and other birds that populate the area and give Lucy the Labrador a great life.  

I’ll be back in Welaka for Mother’s Day this year, allowing me to spend time with my mom and dad as well as my 20 year old son.  I am an only and mother of an only.  Maybe this is one of the reasons we are so close?  Maybe not, but, I do know when you have small families you appreciate them!  So, I’ll close with an encouragement to wrap yourself around your Mom – however you choose or can.  I’ll make sure I give plenty of hugs on behalf of some of you who can no longer do so!

A Reflection on Disappointment

Recently Customized was nominated by one of our customers for recognition.  Our nomination was for Supplier of the Year (in one of four company size categories) through the Northern California Supplier Diversity Council.  We were, of course, truly honored that this customer would identify our service as worthy of this award.

We didn’t win.

So what’s the appropriate response?  Obviously we believe we earned and were a good choice for this award.  Disappointment is inevitable and the question becomes, “Why didn’t we win?”

By reviewing the list of nominees in our category, we realized that each of the other companies are also fine organizations.  They operate with integrity, and, in this case one thing we noted is that they are fully ingrained into the Minority Business Community.

Through life’s disappointments, don’t you find that there is usually a take away?  Our lesson learned:  Mirror success!  We’ll be paying close attention to those companies who got to give acceptance speeches, and, hopefully we will find ourselves in the happy position of being nominated again, maybe even in the next size up!