Asking for Help

ask_for_it_logo So many times, I encourage clients to create an “ask.” What do you want people to do? 

In business, as in life, if you don’t articulate what you want, you may not get it. And you have to say it in words that engage others, connect with the heart, and build mutual benefit.

This morning, my alarm rang at 6:30 so I could meet a lovely client and friend, Alisa Peskin-Shepherd, at Channel 2, our FOX affiliate in Detroit. We had a TV interview for her because I asked the lovely producer, Annie Fuchs, if she was interested in a segment related to Alisa’s expertise.

If I didn’t ask, I couldn’t book the client. Clear, concise, direct conversation.

And of course, the ask is posed to people you are already engaged in relationship with. Sure, sometimes I reach out to a member of the media I don’t know well and hope for the best. But more often than not my successes in the public relations realm come from carefully built relationships with key people, and I only ask when I truly think it’s a fit.

ask-questionsNot too much, not too little, just enough. And sometimes, they ask me for help and even when I don’t have a client who fits the bill, I go out of my way to find someone for them. It’s just what you do when you are in mutually beneficial relationships.

I write here every day because I love words. I love storytelling. I love sharing my insights and feelings and musings on the world and seeing the resulting conversations. I love connecting with like-minded people.

Mailchimp_FinalBanner-04So now I’m going to create my ask and hope you will offer up your ideas. I am evolving my business in a few directions. One is to teach more writing. Tomorrow launches my first 21 Day Writing Challenge, and we have a great group signed up, from San Diego to Virginia and everywhere in between. I can’t wait!

(There’s still room for you to sign up TODAY – and we’ll have a 21 Day Blogging Challenge starting March 1st. Stay tuned for details.)

Your-People-Logo-02I’m also narrowing the focus of my PR clients to just a good handful of wonderful clients. I am in the market for 1 or 2 more this year, preferably faith-based organizations and/or nonprofits. Know anyone? If so, I’d sure appreciate it if you might make an introduction.

flavors-faithAnd finally, I am booking speaking engagements and looking for the right audiences. I speak on food and faith, inspired by my latest book, The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breadsand I speak on storytelling, relationships, and higher purpose to build business. Both can be stand-alone talks or all-day interactive workshops. I’m booked for March and April already – but the rest of the year has some openings.

So there it is. It’s hard to ask for help, isn’t it? You don’t want to step on toes or be boastful or demand too much. And as an independent, strong woman, I don’t like to appear weak.

Except it’s from strength, not weakness, that we ask for guidance, and there is a fine line between asking too much and not asking enough.

We are in relationship in this world to make a difference. To build up the world in community and meaning. And we cannot do it alone.

So I ask you, humbly, with gratitude, to offer your thoughts and insights, your introductions, your invitations. Who do you know whom I should know? And how can I help you in achieving your dreams, too?

Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it.

Posted in Business | Tagged | Leave a comment

Honoring the Dearly Departed

James_Tissot_Jesus_Mary_Magdalene_and_Martha_at_Bethany_700 I really think it’s the right thing to do, to go to the visitation, Asher texted me from school. And so my beautiful son and I drove 21 miles south to share our condolences on the loss of my son’s friend’s grandmother.

He wore a black pinstriped suit and tied his opalescent blue tie in a Krasny Hourglass knot, which his friend’s father noticed. And, once there, we learned wonderful stories of this recently departed woman, mother to five, grandmother to 13, great-grandmother to five, whose lifelong mantra focused on the importance of family togetherness, love among siblings, and open-minded acceptance.

the Krasny Hourglass tie knot

the Krasny Hourglass tie knot

Black poster board on easels around the room showed collages of family photographs, some yellowed from the passing of years, some recent. Family gatherings Up North. Weddings. Births. Cousins, arms slung around each other’s shoulders, silky hair shaggy and smiles big.

There were photos in churches and two from grandchildren’s bar/bat mitzvahs. Although she was Catholic, when one of her sons converted to Judaism, she told the entire family to accept and love him for his choices.

Her son told us about how warm, wonderful and loving she was in life. How she emphasized the importance of family, how the whole family celebrated when the one wandering son moved back from Chicago so that all five siblings and their families now live in metro Detroit.

0609_bereavementHer grandson told us how they shared a love of dogs. When I remarked that we learn who we are from our grandparents more than from our parents, the son said, “Yes, well, she never told me to pick up my room.”

The job of a grandparent is to love fully and deeply , to sweep you up in their arms and show you that the world is good and right. The job of a parent is to guide you and set you on the right path, all in love, but with the firm hand of someone who wants the best for you.

We didn’t have to attend this visitation all the way Downriver on a Thursday night in winter during rush hour. It’s not a best friend to my son. But I am so grateful that he insisted.

QrHv749057For we are not fully alive if we cannot honor the end of a life. If we cannot embrace the beauty of who a person was in the years that she walked this earth, then we have not stopped to marvel at all of God’s creation. Then a life is lived in vain.

I felt proud as a mother last night, realizing that the man my son is becoming is a good person, with a huge heart, and kindness running through him. He is a person not afraid of confronting life’s challenging moments but rather faces them head-on, with compassion and love.

3f8335d636d2e8d600879024200e14deAs we left the funeral home, he held the door for people walking in. He pulled the hanger off the rack for my coat. He held the door of the sushi restaurant where we went for dinner. He pushed the cart at the produce market where we picked up weekend groceries.

And all the while, we talked and talked, shared moments and stories. I listened to the music the played in the car and we talked about what he liked and why. We discussed family, the people we love, the stories of our pasts.

The first time I took my small children to visit my late grandfather’s grave, some people wondered why we would spend time in the cemetery. It connects us to the legacy of those who have left us, who paved the way for us, who started our stories, I said.

The peacefulness of that green landscape, and the simple stone declaring husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, were but a mere summary of all the incredible details of one man’s life, a man without whom, we couldn’t be here today, we couldn’t build for tomorrow.

Our children’s actions and choices do reflect on us parents. Yesterday, I saw in my son all that I had hoped he would be before he was even born. I wanted to be the mother who taught my children to be true to themselves, to blaze their own paths and not be afraid to not fit in.

I wanted to be the mother who taught my children to feel ok in the midst of discomfort, to embrace challenge and loss and fear and sadness. I wanted to be the mother who raised good children into great people, with compassion and love for all humanity.

I patted myself on the back last night. But even more, I pulled my son close, my arm around his broadening shoulders, and felt the warmth of his heart seep into my own.

Posted in family value | Tagged | Leave a comment

8 Reasons Why Everyone Needs to Write

NYC Automat, circa 1980

NYC Automat, circa 1980

When I was 10, my family went to New York City. We swam in a penthouse indoor pool. We stared up, holding hands, at the 10th floor observation deck of the Statue of Liberty. We ate at the Automat. We rode a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park.

And I wrote stories, poems, and a quick little skit to remember this journey.

It wasn’t so much a travelogue as it was a journey to figure out who I was amidst all the bustle of my family life. I still have that corduroy-covered journey, on whose inside back cover my best friend in the world, Missy, drew the behind of an elephant and the words “The End.”

Mailchimp_FinalBanner-04On Monday, my 21 Day Writing Challenge launches, and everyone reading this blog should consider joining me. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, here are 8 reasons why:

#1: You have an important story to tell, and you are probably not telling it.

We all shy away from grandstanding and boasting, but the truth is, you were born for the unique contributions you can bring to the world, and if you’re not fulfilling your destiny, it’s time to start. The best way to figure out who you are and why is to write. The words come from the deepest part of your soul.

#2: Sometimes it’s not cool to scream.

Edvard Munch's famous painting known as "The Scream"

Edvard Munch’s famous painting known as “The Scream”

We all have days of pure anguish, arguments we’d rather erase, frustrations and feelings that need venting. Writing is a perfect, safe venue for all of that intense emotion. And the best part is, it doesn’t hurt anyone.

#3: No one else can say things quite like you.

If you didn’t know it before, you’ll surely figure it out when putting pen to paper. The way you weave words into sentences and thoughts into ideas will uniquely inspire others. If you take the time to sit down and get it out, that is.

#4: It feels good to focus on you.

How often do you take time out of your busy schedule to ponder the meaning of your life and listen to your own voice? This Challenge, as easy as it is, will give you prompts to start writing and if you even spend 5 minutes a day on it, it’s more than you’re giving yourself now.

#5: Your loved ones want to know you better.

What you record today will be a gift for tomorrow. When my grandparents were in their 70s and 80s, I sat down with them and a tape recorder and interviewed them about their stories. I learned more in those visits than I ever would have just spending time with them and creating memories. Their stories rounded out my sense of who they were and who I was in connection to them.

And when they died, I was so glad I’d recorded their wonderful stories when they were young and well.

#6: Your story may change someone’s life. Or your own.

Our society consumes memoirs with vigor. Everyone wants to peer into someone else’s life and glean lessons and inspirations. They also like to see that other people are, like them, real and human and frail and funny and strange.

#7: If you don’t set time to write, you’ll never do it.

Newspapers and magazines are hungry for stories from everyday folks like us. If we don’t carve out time to scribble our musings and insights, we can’t submit them for consideration. The daily publishing tips help you easily build relationships with editors on your road to getting published.

#8: It’s affordable and it comes with community.

This program only costs $99, and a built-in element is the private online group where you can connect, ask questions, get feedback and more. As you shuttle kids from here to there, race through to-do lists, cook dinner, do the laundry and fall into bed exhausted, who do you really connect with? Here’s a group of supportive, like-minded individuals ready to meet you.

So, are you going to write?

Join me. Only 3 days left to register.


Posted in soul-searching | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Morning Blessings

What do you say when your eyes open in the morning?

Alarm-clock_2093184b Hit the alarm clock, peer through the blinds for any glimpse of light, and, finding none, burrow back beneath the covers with the hope that you don’t really have to start your day just yet?

Or perhaps that’s the wish. Perhaps instead your alarm buzzes you awake with a startling jolt and you grumble under your breath and shluff to the bathroom to begin your routine. You pull on clothes and pour the coffee, nudge the kids from their restful sleep, pack the lunches, pack your bag for work and go about your day.

Blindly. As if without thought. Perhaps actually without thought. You just do it because you have to, no joy, more resentment for being a slave to time.

What if your day, this very same day with obligations, began differently? More consciously?

gratitude-vidya-sury-1With a prayer. Or a few yoga poses. Or deep breathing and 5 minutes of meditative silence. Or if you were so grateful for that cup of steaming coffee that you leaned in toward the mug, closed your eyes, and inhaled deeply the scent of the ground beans grown on another corner of this planet and realized all the machinations the beans had to go through, and the people, and the effort, to get to you and begin your day.

Every tradition, every community, has rituals for beginning a new day. There are prayers for every moment of the day, for every miracle you encounter, for the beginning and closing of events and of simply waking and laying down peacefully to sleep.

Many of us never recite them and for those who do, sometimes we fall into the routine of recitation so we don’t actually feel the words as we feel the beat of our miraculous hearts keeping us alive.

1345678621940074I’m trying. Trying to start the day with consciousness and go through my days with reverence and awakening. Gratitude. Happiness.

I am trying to be kind to others as a reflex, and to see the good in every situation, even the ones when a child yells at me and a bedroom door slams. When I pick up laundry from the floor for the millionth time and remind the same beloved kids to make beds and they still go to school without doing it, I am trying.

This concept of saying a blessing, of blessing time, of remarking on this moment as if it is special, it’s important.

Last night, my daughter played beautifully in her orchestra concert. There she sat on stage, her long, luscious blond-brown hair cascading all around her, her eyes sparkling, her small feet poised in black patent leather wedge-heels, and she sat erect and proud, her viola on her shoulder and her bow poised to make beautiful music.

I sat in the audience, with my husband, my sons, and my parents. I thought about how, if my children are getting older, then I must be, too, and then of course my parents must be. My grandmother has already left us. Time marches on.

gratitudeFor that moment, I felt so incredibly grateful to be alive and healthy and youngish. I realized the quick passing of time from youth, which we take for granted while we are gloriously in it, to young adulthood, which we embrace with such vigor, to middle adulthood, when we start to realize our mortality. Older adulthood is not far away.

This morning, my father and I shared a quiet breakfast in a favorite restaurant, our weekly ritual of coming together because we love each other and we are so grateful for this time together. We started having lunch or breakfast once a week several years ago, when I realized that time would pass whether I cherished it or not, and so would relationships.

One of my favorite parts of the week is my time with my dad. Sometimes we talk about important things and sometimes we don’t and every time, it is wonderful. Precious. An incredible gift.

You see, there are so many opportunities for blessing the moments that pass us by. I am as guilty as the next. But what if we stopped to truly see how fortunate we are?

What would it be like to live each day, each hour, each minute, as if it were the only one? For it is, you know. And to complain or whine or wish it different is the scourge we bring on ourselves. For life is truly good. And so are we.

Peace-+-Gratitude-543x361This morning, I blessed the new Hebrew month of Shvat with a group of women in my synagogue. We came together to ring in the new month and ring off the old month that has already passed. To step in with open eyes and open hearts and make of the coming days what we want them to be.

All of our traditions give us the gift of prayer and community to make life more meaningful. Let’s use it wisely. If you don’t find a prayer to start your day that resonates with you, write your own. Find the words, whether 2 words or 25, to shake yourself awake with the recognition of what a gift this life is.

Then live it like you mean it.

Posted in reverence | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afraid to Say ‘Spiritual’?

This picture was taken a few years ago for a story about me as a Mompreneur - featured with 3 of my kiddos.

This picture was taken a few years ago for a story about me as a Mompreneur – featured with 3 of my kiddos.

I’ve just set up a Facebook page for me as a speaker and author (click on it and like it!!), and my wonderful business coach and I were discussing what other title to add. She wanted “conscious entrepreneur.” I preferred “spiritual entrepreneur.” A conversation ensued.

(P.S. The header says conscious but will say spiritual by tomorrow!)

“I’m thinking how others will perceive it. Conscious is the new buzzword out there and spiritual might make some people nervous or confused,” she said. “If you’re working with businesses, you want to have a more conscious leadership approach though you would teach spirituality in a way that serves them. Having said that, the choice is yours – what feels right in your heart is what we should use.”

MC3-Conscious-Business-TenantsMy response: I hear you…conscious is a word that I think has been overused, especially in yoga circles, and it just doesn’t feel like me. I am a spiritual entrepreneur and I don’t want to be afraid to say it. If it alienates potential clients, are those clients I want? I’m open to a conversation on it. Perhaps there’s another word?

The final decision: I own it, so it’s mine.

I’m not afraid to be who I am. Well, truth be told, I am a little. But I don’t want to be, and frankly, when anything comes from fear, it’s destined to fail.

So I’m going to dare to be different and put “spiritual entrepreneur” out there.

578751_394083553987421_914045881_nHere’s the thing: I’ve always loved pondering the meaning of life. Wondering about God. Prayer. Ritual. Observance. What we do and what we don’t do, either by virtue of belief and choice, or by virtue of fear of the unknown and dogmatic doctrine that’s been beaten into us until we are compliant.

When I was a teenager, I went on a date for the first time with a boy who wasn’t Jewish. He was a nice kid, and he took me to Red Lobster for dinner.

I’d never been to Red Lobster. While my family was not in the least bit religious, and we ate lobster like the rest of them, it just wasn’t a place that we would go. Old habits die hard, I guess.

spiritualI was so curious about what this boy believed, how he lived, what his family did, the stories they lived by. I was curious about the world, and I wanted to taste all of it.

Then I learned that he chewed tobacco. And the relationship was over before it started.

When I was younger, I worried that I would scare boys away because I thought too much about lofty things. Spirituality. Religion. Belief. God.

It’s this understood but unstated foundation for so many lives, and yet if we cling to it too much, and we are not bona fide clergy, then we’re weird or other or different. I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to fit in.

The truth is, I am different. This is who I am. I think about spirituality. I care very much about the meaning of things. I enjoy conversations about God and higher purpose and what we believe.

And I’m not going to hide from it.

SOC1My favorite clients are the ones who embrace purpose and belief. Faith-based organizations are some of my favorites. Those who are not afraid to say who they are and that God is guiding their path.

So why should I shy away from doing the same?

Those who think spirituality is weird are not going to want to work with me anyway. I’ll be too frou-frou for them. They’ll whisk me off, saying spirituality has no place in business.

I believe it has every place and then some. Let’s be honest about who we are. It’s the only way to get where we’re meant to go.

Posted in soul-searching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment