Monday, August 31, 2015

Elul: Accepting That I'm Where I'm Supposed to Be

Asher conquers a Colorado peach at the Farmers Market
while mommy is busy working in California. 
[Thanks to Tatty for the picture, of course.] 

Lately, and maybe because it's the Hebrew month of Elul and the High Holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are right around the corner, I've been thinking about where I am in life. In a few short weeks, the books of life and death will be written and sealed, so it's a heavy time.

After spending three days out in California with my (amazingly awesome, there are no words for them) coworkers in Mountain View, walking past the offices of Apple and LinkedIn and being a few doors down from Google ... man, I was fan girling in a serious way. I'm finally in the industry of my dreams. I mean, I've been working in social media for the better part of my adult life and consider myself an expert in many things (content, audience cultivation, Facebook ads, social campaigns, social virality). But for the first time in my life, I'm able to travel to the hub of the startup world, launch a brand digitally from scratch, and watch it grow, soar, succeed.

This is the career changer, the life changer. And being in California with my head down and hanging out with my coworkers as they troubleshoot and I troubleshoot and we all make amazing things happen, I was in the thick of it and it felt right.

On the other hand, my husband and son were back in Colorado, so I was able to wake up at 7 a.m., start working right away and pull a full day, not finishing up until 5:30 or 6 p.m. and feel completely and utterly accomplished. It was amazing. I could do it every day of my life and feel fulfilled. I think.

Once upon a time, I envisioned my life differently. I was going to live in NYC and work at The New York Times, and when I graduated college and ended up at The Washington Post, I was well on my way to realizing that dream -- maybe. But I was depressed and unhappy. The hours were terrible, my neshama wasn't at peace, there were many things missing. So the course of my life changed forever when I left Washington DC in early 2007. Since then, every year has been a patchwork.

Five years ago, I was playing the happy housewife. Newly married, newly moved to Teaneck, I was attempting to keep up with the Schwartzes, buying new dishes and servers and attempting to fit into the Shabbat hosting world. Things weren't good, but they were manageable.

Four years ago, I was on the verge of divorcing my first husband. I was severely depressed, medicated, and desperate for a change. On the outside, I put on the ultimate show. On the inside, I was dying.

Three years ago, I was on the verge of making aliyah (moving to Israel), where I anticipated big life changes, finding a new mate, having children finally, fulfilling the dream of Eretz Yisrael.

Two years ago, I was a newlywed and several months pregnant. I was baffled at how I'd gotten to where I was, but elated at the challenge, despite being broke, mostly jobless, and unsure of what was in store for me and my new family.

One year ago, life was unhappy again. The adjustment back to the U.S. had been incredibly hard on everyone and things weren't going well. Asher was a happy, bouncy baby, but there was a lot going on and, little did I know, I was about to lose my job and my husband -- all on my birthday.

And today? Well, today my husband is back. He's working full time at two different jobs (construction/house flipping + the kosher pizza place while the owner receives treatment for cancer), so we see him on Shabbat and for a few hours in the middle of the day. I'm working, making sure the house runs smoothly, the laundry gets done, food gets on the table, and making sure Asher gets to daycare so all of those things can happen smoothly.

It's not perfect, but it's where we are, and despite the freedom I have when I'm knee-deep in the startup world in Mountain View, it's nice to come home to toys all over the floor and a tiny person who says, "Mommy, Mommy!"

I recently asked my Facebook friends if they were where they thought they'd be in life, and without an official count, I'd say 95% of the respondents said "no." I wasn't surprised.

Am I where I thought I'd be? Definitely not. Is it where I want to be? I'm still figuring that one out. But the truth is, for all of us, we're exactly where we're supposed to be. Ultimately, it's all about acceptance, and if we can accept and appreciate where we are, then it will always be where we want to be.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Off to See the Wizard (or to California)

I had what can only be described as the worst start to a day ever. Okay. That's an exaggeration and I acknowledge that. But on two hours of sleep ... Everything seems miserably terrible, right?

Anyhow I went to bed around midnight after packing and prepping the house so Mr T could easily manage three days at home alone with Asher while I'm in California for business. Making Mac and Cheese for lunches, doing laundry, doing dishes, cleaning up, making a list of things to know ...

So my alarm went off at 2:50 am for a 3:20 Super Shuttle pickup. I fell asleep at some point before one. I think.

Got to the airport swiftly, got through security quickly, and then? The wrong airport train (to get to the terminal as) opened, a bunch of us got on, and then it turned out the doors had opened in error and we were all stuck. The only option? Get off the train, go up the escalator and back through security. Okay. Annoying, but not the end of the world. The lines were suddenly long and they decided this time around to confiscate all my kosher food. Then they insisted on me going back through security. Again.

So. Tired. Frustrated. Suddenly without my kosher goods. I cried. Everyone ignored me, too. So I complained to the TSA desk and the guy was apologetic and noted I should have had my food confiscated the first time through. Awesome.

Anyhow. There are worse things. Luckily there's instacart so I can't get groceries delivered to my hotel. And the company is getting a kosher caterer to provide me food at an event today. So. Positives. Also, Mr T sent me a pretty awesome Bob Seger song "Get Out of Denver."

I'd just like a trip through the airport with a bit of ease.

Also, there are some serious jerks on this flight. I get that it's early but the disrespect is ... Wow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Giveaway: The Tea Book

As you may or may not know, my most recent work adventures have taken me into the impressively fascinating world of loose leaf tea. Now, I'm not talking Doctor Who blends or Cotton Candy blends, but pure, authentic loose leaf tea from the world's most natural sources in historic growing regions like Taiwan. The great thing about tea, too, is that all unflavored teas are naturally kosher!

Thanks to my (amazing, wonderful, I seriously can't tell you how happy I am here) job, I've had the chance to taste a lot of tea I never would have before and my tea porn collection continues to grow, especially in the form of books. As a self-proclaimed bibliophile (I have a huge list of every book I've ever had to sell or get rid of in moves so I can repurchase them all someday), when I can rationalize a purchase because it makes sense for work, I'm a happy clam.

But the book I'm talking about today -- The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard -- is one that my awesome boss sent me. But I am so in love with it that I bought another copy to actually give away here. Why?

The tea industry in the U.S. is growing at an insane rate: $1.8 billion in 1990, $10.84 billion in 2014, and predicted to more than quadruple by 2020. But most of the tea consumed in the U.S. is black tea and it's iced. The funny thing about this is that traditionally, Americans were heavy green tea drinkers up until World War II. Then things changed and as the iced tea industry grew, American tea tastes continued to fall in that category.

Luckily, with books like The Tea Book, pure, unflavored teas are getting the attention they deserve. With five categories of leaves from the camellia sinuses plant -- black, white, oolong, yellow, green, and pu-erh -- there is an abundance of opportunities to experience tea (without sprinkles, fruit, and herbs if you don't mind me).

The great thing about this book, though, is that it takes you from the past to the present, around the world, into the teahouses, tea cultures, and tea farms so you, the reader, can really start to understand what tea is, why it's the second-most consumed beverage in the world after only water, and how it has evolved into an industry of blends, herbal teas (tisanes), and more.

Now, if you know me well enough, you know that I am, and have always been, first and foremost, a coffee drinker. The truth is that my love of coffee is still potent, but my love of tea is taking over (it's all thanks to a 2007 Aged Oolong, believe it or not). So both as an individual and as a representative of what I foresee being the most revolutionary tea company this side of the industrial revolution, I'm stoked to give away The Tea Book. 

Whether you drink tea or not, this book will blow you away. The visuals are stunning (it's a DK Book, which you might know from their amazing educational books and children's books), the history is quirky and fascinating, and it's just a beautiful conversation piece.

Ready? Enter to win by 08/20!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thread and Flourish Box Review!

Love scarves? Love handmade goodies? Check out the Thread and Flourish Box (and a quick look at doing a head wrap with an infinity wrap).