I am a Realtor, a therapist, a teacher, a writer, and a consultant. I work with charitable organizations, I support causes that are near and dear to me, and I am a patron of the arts. I have a worldwide network of friends, colleagues, associates, and acquaintances that overwhelmingly make it a joy to be a committed citizen of the world. I take full responsibility for the information and content that is available to the public, but at the same time I reserve the right to shut down any negative activity, association, or harm directed at me by others. Don’t even get me started if that negativity is directed at my family or friends. I am blessed with the people I have in my life because of the way I value, care about, and protect them. It makes no difference to me what your station is in life – if you are in my circle you are valued, as is your privacy and safety.
I also have a very large circle of friends, associates, colleagues & acquaintances in the social media community. If I have not accepted your friend request, or deleted your friend status, it is for a reason. If I don’t follow you it is for a reason. Primarily I do this when I feel your intent toward me, or those I am connected with, is questionable at best. If I see that I have no logical association with you, if you have a sketchy profile, or if I know you in real life to an extent that I do not want the energy you put out in my life in any way shape or form I will not accept you into my virtual life.
Don’t ever mistake my kindness with stupidity, my professionalism with vulnerability, or my choice to let most things go with my inability to act when necessary. My resources to secure my own safety, as well as those I care about, are all in place. My contact list would astound you, and my ability to track you down if necessary is pretty awesome. I am smart, I am responsible, I take precautions to make sure that everything possible is in place so that I can live the life I live focusing on the positive adventure of it all.
As I review my lesson plan for The Family Program regarding safety concerns for kids, parents, and families my focus is proactive. Have your safety parameters in place, talk about potential risks and develop plans to avoid and or deal with them, be educated as to how social media works and know that everything you put out there on line is out there forever – and is traceable.
Personal safety as a Realtor, both in person and on line, is also a very topical subject. We have always been aware of precautions that should be in place, but recent news headlines have shown that we are perhaps not cautious enough. We become complacent, and are all only human in subscribing in the belief that it will never happen to us. At the same time the nature of our business is such that our image and our contact information is readily accessible on a global scale. A good friend and professional safety instructor, Thomas Grimes of New York’s Finest Speakers, said something that solidified the need for Realtors to be proactive – “Realtors make their living meeting strangers in empty houses.” That sobering thought is always top of mind when making sure that I have steps in place to conduct my business in a way that does not put me at risk.
In the past month I have experienced harassment in person, online, and via text message. My ability to judge “threat level”, as well as my sense to call my professional personal safety resource to make sure I have put all appropriate precautions into place makes me feel that I have taken all necessary steps. Adult bullies, cowards that hide behind technology, or someone with true nefarious intent – I do not want to be the person that did not take the time to make a good judgment call in this arena. Know that when these things happen I have a plan – go to the place of my cold black heart, gather resources, and put an end to it. Having this plan in place allows me to continue living the adventure of my life feeling secure, happy, and positive as quickly as possible. I choose to live my life in a spirit of kindness, compassion, and service and will not allow anyone to take that away from me.
When my kids would push the line a little more than they should, my response was always “if you think that is happening here you picked the wrong mother”. To those that make the mistake of pushing the line with me now – you picked the wrong woman.
This morning I took a quiz to find out “what my Disney personality type is” – what a special answer. I am Mary Poppins!! This means so much to me because Mary is my ideal, my role model as a Mom, and pretty much my favorite Disney character (after Dopey of course!). I always say that my mothering role models are Mary Poppins & Samantha Stevens in Bewitched. Loving & honest, fair & firm, fun & adventurous. When we went to the costume exhibit at LACMA a few months ago Julie Andrews’ costume was on display, I loved seeing it, and fell in love with her scarf. This Christmas I received the most wonderful gift from my uber talented daughter Katie – an exact replica of Mary’s scarf! She researched the needle size, yarn type, colors…everything. Tears were copious! Now you may understand my daily aspiration (and source of anxiety) to be practically perfect in every way!
You’re Mary Poppins! Your personality most closely aligns with the ESFJ personality type, or “the Caregiver”. Always energetic, outgoing, polite and proper, you are happiest when you can help someone. You have an incredible depth of generosity and compassion in your heart and you place great value on harmony and loyalty. You may come across as bossy (even when you’re singing!), but it’s only because you care so deeply for those around you that you’re willing to push them in the right direction when they need it. You’re a true provider for those you love.
On World AIDS Day, and always, I remember my dear friend Silvio – “Sal”. We met at three years old in dance class – went all through school, community theatre, Broadway treks, and exploring NYC together. Regardless of where we were at in life, we always kept in touch and maintained a life long friendship. I spoke with him often during his final days at Cabrini Medical Center, until he literally could not speak anymore. When he died, the devastation of AIDS became a personal issue for me. I looked for ways to honor Silvio’s memory, but also to make a difference in his name. My search led me to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS & God’s Love We Deliver – two organizations that I am proudly a part of still. While today we do not experience the daily loss of family, friends, and co-workers as I did starting in the early 80’s – we are still a world in which HIV/AIDS is a health issue that needs to be eradicated. The focus in ways has changed, due to the hard work of many, to assist and encourage long lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. There is great hope, and good outcomes – but AIDS is still a killer among us. Today on World AIDS Day, and always, look for ways to do good, be educated, and make a difference.
Sometimes we go through life from one task to another without truly being present to the world around us. We miss beauty, moments of gratitude, and the opportunity to connect with others.
When we are in that mode we might walk past a window that the sun is shining through without even noticing it. We might not appreciate what a gorgeous day nature has provided us. We might miss a moment to be thankful for our ability to see and walk and think.
Practice being present to the world around you. Connect with the people, gifts and moments that make our lives richer. Make it a point to find magic.
Sometimes it’s just a window that the sun is shining through, but in a moment of being present it is so much more. For me I saw the light of God and love…
The moment you stop waiting for others to treat you in the same way you treat them.
When you realize that when it comes down to it some people will always choose to do what is best (most convenient, most fun) for them.
When you experience that the people who have the most will most often do unimaginable things in the name of money and status.
When you expect support and encouragement and find yourself alone.
When someone you thought would always have your back moves on to a trophy wife, trophy friend or trophy life.
That is the moment of change, of choice, of deciding. Sometimes you choose to get back in line and ask for more.
Sometimes you choose change, you choose to stare down fear and move forward listening to your own voice. No longer waiting for approval, directed by the opinion of others, you see a path you didn’t realize was there. You experience catharsis.
When you are brave in the face of fear, when you realize that keeping your own counsel isn’t loneliness but wisdom, when you accept the challenge to live the best version of the life you alone were meant to live, you will know success.
Full disclosure – there is no book, class, movie or study that will prepare you for parenting. There are suggestions, ideas, outlines and blogs – ultimately this is a hands on job. Each and every child is born with their own unique personalities, needs & wants, and that is why every experience of parenting is a new frontier.
The best advice we received from our Lamaze instructor was applicable as each visit to the hospital began – take a good look around before you leave because life as you know it will never be the same. As a planner extraordinaire, each of my three children have taught me that there is no planning that will ever make parenting a follow the dots proposition. In fact my experience as a parent with each one of them was in essence them laughing in my face and challenging me to up my game. I assure you my husband felt the same way.
What I have found is that there are some concrete ideas that form the foundation for a family, once in place being consistent allows the room for all the creativity to flourish. Once your family has structure in place, you are all more confident in pushing boundaries a bit without fear. The most important part of parenting, starting out, is that you realize it is a lifetime commitment. If you don’t understand this before starting out you are like the bride who is all about the wedding, and didn’t give much thought to the marriage. Parenting is not for wimps, it is hard, it will kick your ass in ways you cannot imagine. It also has the miraculous ability to make every second of even the depths worth it when you get it right.
I think the reason I am ready to share this parenting book now is that I have three children I can now consider “fully baked”. They are all ready to head out on their own, and we are ready to let them do so. Along the way we have been told how “lucky” we were to have such “easy” kids. The Family Program will share just how much hard work, dedication, heartache and consistency went into making it look that easy. Most importantly, I am happy to share when I got it wrong. I think the unkindest thing you can do to a parent is to make them feel that everyone has it figured out except them. We are so tied into making sure that by all appearances we have it under control that we are afraid to admit that at times we have absolutely no idea what we are doing!
I want this book to serve as the kitchen table, the front stoop, the place where sharing happens and advice is given as it would be between family and friends. I want this book/blog/page to be a place to learn, to feel good about yourself and to raise kids who will grow up to make the world we live in a better place.
Thank you for joining me on this adventure!!! xo
When I am teaching The Family Program, I am often asked what is the best age to start teaching about acceptance, at what grade should you introduce the concept of others in the world that are different from us. In actuality we all begin learning these values as soon as we start understanding communication, as we are taken out into the world, as we are introduced to the world around us.
The amount of information babies take in in their first year is astounding: the basics of who to trust, understanding what you need and how to get it, learning what makes you happy. The drive for information as children become verbal is like a thirst that cannot be quenched. We all start out like this – how we choose to continue, at what level we strive to learn more is directly affected by the response to our needs at this developmental time in our lives. A child that is listened to, has their questions answered and is engaged in activities at home and out in the world around them will thrive.
If you are wondering when to “start to teach” understanding about those different from ourselves, you have already missed many valuable opportunities. There may also be an underlying construct that “different” applies only to traits such as race, creed or sexual orientation. Children learn compassion and empathy when they understand that we are all different in many ways aside from the obvious – we have different feelings, gifts, talents and personalities. Learning to respect these differences in our homes sets the tone for a person who goes out into the world with an accepting attitude for all.
I remember clearly when our oldest daughter first asked about why people have different skin color. We were not in the city, or on vacation or watching something on tv – we were coloring together with the amazing box of Crayola 64s (with the sharpener built in!). Drawing a picture of our family – Mom, Dad & Jackie. She was about two and a half and wanted to know why she and Mommy were “peach” and Daddy was “sepia”. My first reaction was confusion, then laughter. How perceptive that she knew that to make our family picture look like real life she needed to change crayons. I remember sharing that the world is full of so many amazing colors that sixty four was just the beginning. That people, animals, flowers, the sky, water and so on and so on came in so many different colors that no one could name them all.
That lesson that the world contained more possible colors than even the Crayola 64 was huge for a little girl, and one we talk about to this day. It’s family lore! On vacation I have been known to go from “peach” to “carnation” with too much sun, “apricot” with the right amount of sunscreen. Dad is “sepia” and can tan to “brown”. Was that the moment she became aware that there was so much more to discover, who knows? I do know that a child growing up seeing the world as a wonderful canvas of color, rich with opportunity, is a good thing for all of us.
When you enter an emergency room you know how serious you are by how quickly you are taken care of, apparently I was in a pretty serious place. I was immediately given a baby aspirin – I will never forget the look of disbelief when I told her why I had refused one. Heart attack beats irritation to the stomach lining hands down – I now carry a bottle of baby aspirin everywhere I go! A further look of disbelief occurred when I was asked approximately what time the pain started and I answered 1:43 PM. As my receipt for the candles was marked 1:45 I thought that was as accurate as you could get. They were somewhat in awe of my lack of accepting the reality of what was happening here. They also were not impressed when I told them the only thing I had taken was a TUMS. I think the one thing they were impressed by was my seemingly delusional behavior, if you know me well you know the worse things are, the calmer I seem. I was as cool as a cucumber, except for the moments when my chest felt like it was getting stepped on by a giant and alternately when my head felt as if it were being squeezed in a vise. As the ER team did an amazing job of mobilizing, I looked at Anthony and the moment I saw his face it hit me just how bad this might be. All of the things I had been in denial about hit me with brute force, after all I had done to get to where I was in life how could it all be taken away??
A doctor returned with news, bizarre news. So far my cardiogram looked okay, but I would wear a telemetry monitor and have blood enzymes drawn throughout the night to see if that showed a cardiac incident. The bigger issue; however, was that I was severely anemic, so anemic that I needed an immediate transfusion. In my continuing effort to act as if this wasn’t really a big deal I very helpfully told them I knew my blood type was A+, they assured me that they would handle the typing & matching in the lab. My body was not producing enough red blood cells, and the ones it was producing were small (microcytic anemia). This severe lack of iron rich blood limited the oxygen traveling around in my body which in turn limited the oxygen sent to my heart. Prime reason for a heart attack – lack of oxygen sent to the heart. So apparently I had a seemingly non heart attack heart attack – all the symptoms and pain caused by an undiagnosed case of severe iron deficiency anemia. As the doctors explained what steps would be followed to figure out how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again this is what it sounded like to me: “blah blah blah bone marrow biopsy blah blah bone marrow biopsy”. Could I have cancer? Believe me at that moment I was having no problem facing the reality of the situation, and it wasn’t good. The following morning I passed a stress test with flying colors, but there was still no explanation for the anemia. The doctor did add that I was also low on B12, so while we were figuring out exactly what was going on I also was told to add 3000 mcg of B12 sublingually (love that word). After a lengthy chat with a doctor filled with lots of what ifs I was discharged that evening with quite a date card full of upcoming appointments – and a lot of trepidation.
The following weeks consisted of me laying down and going to medical appointments. In hindsight I had every one of the symptoms of severe iron deficiency anemia – most notably an unbelievable urge to chew ice – constantly, by the tray, by the glass, at all times. We knew it seemed weird, but didn’t think it signaled something that could be potentially life threatening. I am one oscopy shy of having had every oscopy one could have (never fear, the final one is happening soon). No bleeding, no explanation for the severe iron deficiency – and no feeling any better. As a final act of avoidance – primarily of the bone marrow biopsy – I asked to see the hematologist first. At this appointment he explained to me that for various reasons a person’s body can stop absorbing iron and that is what he thought was happening to me. Despite a very healthy diet high in protein (60 grams plus per day) and iron supplements (60 mg per day) my body was not taking the iron in. My body had stopped absorbing iron, and when this happens the only way you can get iron is via iron infusion therapy. After having the iron infusion therapy, you then regularly check your blood to make sure you are not running on low. Ideally this is done every six months to a year depending on how your body stores the iron it receives, and from here on in this is how your body will receive iron. Well at least now we had a plan.
According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. It can be caused by a low dietary intake of iron, poor iron absorption, or excessive blood loss. Signs of anemia include: constantly feeling weak and tired; short attention span; irritability; decreased performance at work or school; delayed cognitive development in infants and young children; decreased immune function leading to increased illness; swollen and red tongue (glossitis), and difficulty maintaining body temperature. Several groups are at an increased risk for iron deficiency including children and adolescents, pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, athletes, and older adults. Iron: An Essential Nutrient by J. Anderson and C. Fitzgerald1 (6/2010), Colorado State University
Part III – The Adamantium Cure or how I found a way to think positively about someone coming at me with a large syringe filled with dark liquid.
If you asked me on October 11, 2012 how I felt, I would have probably told you I was at the top of my game. Family was great, new job was opening all of the creative doors it had promised, I was working out regularly and I was happy. Perhaps I was more tired than usual, had a little insomnia, complained of a sore mouth/tongue at times, popped a bit more Extra Strength Tylenol these days, and my forgetfulness was becoming a running joke – but other than that, fantastic! Good friends were appearing in concert nearby and it was a great opportunity for a little road trip with my dear friend and travel buddy Joan – an overnight of good food and drink, music, and hotel sleep.
It was a much needed getaway – dinner was lovely, The Midtown Men were amazing, and a long night’s sleep seemed to be exactly what I needed. We started out the next day in high spirits for a little time in NYC before heading home and that is where my excitement unfolded. I was standing in a place of complete happiness when it began – in Tribeca, holding a Laughing Man latte, picking up Sandalwood Vanille Acquiesse candles at Stella. For me this is a personal trifecta! It started as a weird pain in right in the center of my chest at the base of my breast bone, a feeling that everything was tightening and wouldn’t release. If you’ve ever had spasm or cramping in your leg or toe – it was like that. It wasn’t heartburn, it wasn’t in my stomach, it was something I had never felt before. I kept telling myself just to breathe through it and it would pass. Focus on the candles, focus on the candles……
Next, when the spasm would begin it started to travel up my neck into my lower jaw. A very distinct and specific path that was so excruciating it hurt my bottom molars. That’s when I heard the voice that I knew to take seriously – it was Oprah. Specifically Oprah discussing the very unique symptoms women have when experiencing a heart attack. I just kept hearing her repeat “radiating to the jaw”, and thinking this is not happening to me. If you ever have heard stories of people in the throes of a medical emergency doing ridiculous things you probably, like me, thought “what an idiot, who could possibly be that stupid?” – I was and I know now why it is done. Denial. Denial that this could possibly be happening to you, denial that it could possibly be that serious, denial that you may die. Stupid is one of my least favorite words (along with hate and boring), but in this case the only words that could possibly describe my actions are utter stupidity.
I continued buying my candles, the more normal I acted the more normal things will be. I mentioned in passing to Joan, who is in the medical field, that I had a weird pain. I refused aspirin because, due to a previous surgery, cannot take NSAIDS – but did accept a TUMS. Joan suggested going to an ER – I insisted it would pass, dropped her at her train, and drove home via the West Side Highway to The Saw Mill to The Taconic. Called my doctor somewhere around Pleasantville to ask if I should check this out, was told to go to the ER. Drove home and mentioned calmly to my husband that I wasn’t feeling great and was going to the hospital – taking myself. He looked at me incredulously and drove me to the hospital. I believe the whole way I was explaining to him how this really wouldn’t be a big deal.
That last paragraph is humiliating to write, and embarrassment is the reason I haven’t written about this until now. In hindsight I cannot believe I did all of those things that were so irresponsible, and unsafe for me and for others. Denial can make an educated, common sense laden, pro active person a lunatic. The only thing I can say in hindsight is that I was so afraid I was dying I just wanted to make it not be happening.
Part II: When you enter an emergency room you know how serious you are by how quickly you are taken care of, apparently I was in a pretty serious place.