Addressing Conflict Head On – Can I skip that growth process?

I’ve always had an issue with addressing conflict face to face. In the heat of the moment, I’m afraid that I won’t be as eloquent as I want to be, that I won’t get my point across, that I’ll be interrupted, or get so frustrated that I end up crying even though it’s more anger tears than anything else. It was easier for me to write down how I was feeling. I remember writing letters like that to friends when I was younger. I’d get it all out, then they’d read it and then hopefully we could have a conversation, even if still an argument. I felt like I was “heard” in my letter and then what followed afterwards felt more manageable.

That method serves its purpose somewhat, but it’s not really ideal, and as an adult it’s harder to get away with it. Work is one of those places where this is particularly difficult for me, mainly because of the crying part. Tears aren’t professional, even if they are “I’m pissed off” tears.

In the past couple of days a situation arose at work that I can’t let slide and that emails won’t resolve. It’s a situation where even an email airing out my initial grievances is not going to take away from how pissed off I’m still going to be when we talk. It’s somebody that I already have trust issues with and quite frankly don’t like, but had accepted as one of those people that you have work with even if you’d never break bread with them.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far from perfect…I have a temper and sometimes little patience if I’ve already explained something a couple of times. However, I do pride myself on being a genuine person, both personally and professionally. I am cordial even if I don’t like you, but I don’t go out of my way to gush about you or hug you if I don’t like you. It is not in my nature to be fake. This person that I am having the issue with is the fakest person I know. From the very beginning of our working relationship, he’s done very little to ever have a conversation whether in person, phone or email that had anything of substance. Instead of actually giving a direct answer on a question, it’s some vague response and then some comment about how I’m a superstar. It makes me gag every time. I just have very little trust in this person, but I accepted that we had to work together and always kept my guard up.

This week, however, he decided to basically dress down some of my hardest working employees in front of his team. This is something he never would have done if I had been in the room. As one of my team members, who never takes things personally, angrily told me what had happened, I grew more angry by the minute.

I went back to my hotel that night knowing that I’d have to talk to this colleague but trying to figure out the best approach. Email him first with some thoughts asking to meet about it later? Just approach him directly without any forewarning? It ended up going in another direction when I seized the opportunity of my company meeting presentation the next morning to at a minimum refute what he said the day before to the whole company. I did not reference him or use his name, but I basically advised the group about how things really work and should work – as a collaborative effort. This then ended in a barrage of emails from him (with our boss CC’ed) trying to explain himself and basically denying everything that I was told. We never got our face to face before I left the office.

So now I have a looming “appointment” on Monday to hash through the situation with him. At least it will be over the phone. I know that as part of my personal and professional growth, I need to approach situations like these head on. I need to take a deep breath and get out my points as eloquently as if I were writing it down. Wish me luck.

I’m not going Silent

I’ve already written 2 posts in the last couple of weeks about my Jewish identity and Israel although I’ve really only skimmed the surface about how I am feeling about the current situation in Israel and, quite frankly, around the world. I’ve struggled with whether to write more about it and whether I should just present facts instead of including feelings. The truth is that I am scared and pretty horrified with all the anti-Semitism creeping up around the globe. It was always there…it had to have been for it to rise up so easily in people.

Throughout my 30+ years of life, I’ve seen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict boiling under the surface and then boil over only for it to go under the surface again (because it’s always there). I’ve seen news about suicide bombers in Israel. I’ve watched Clinton standing beside Arafat and Rabin asking them to shake hands knowing that this “peace” was only momentary. I slept in a bomb shelter when in Israel 19 years ago because the sirens had gone off where we were staying. I worried about my younger brother when he went to Israel as rockets rained down on northern Israel.

What’s happening right now feels different. Perhaps it’s social media that makes one more hyper aware of what is going on. My newsfeed continues to be filled with people’s own thoughts of what is happening in Israel and Gaza, with news clips of people speaking for or against Israel, and updates on people who even amongst the turmoil continue to make Aliya.

But I think it’s definitely more than just social media. There’s definitely a large part of this whole pro-Israel and pro-Palestine that is more about religion than any fight over land. This isn’t about Israel wanting to occupy or conquer Gaza. This isn’t really about the Palestinians wanting their own country. It is about Hamas, who proclaims in its charter that one of its goals is to kill all the Jews.

What happened in Paris earlier this week is extremely frightening. If these people are protesting Israel’s invasion of Gaza or rallying for Palestine, they shouldn’t be attacking French Jews in their synagogue. This was an act of anti-Semitism, plain and simple.

Hamas wants us to be an extinct race in the same way that Hitler did. If that’s not anti-Semitism then I don’t know what is. And as a people, we cannot sit back and just let that happen because of bad PR.

I normally don’t agree with Bill Maher, but he has been very eloquently speaking to what has been going on in Israel and Gaza. Here’s a quote of his that is actually from a few years ago.

Bill Maher Quote

Reading the quote for the first time brought chills down my spine. It speaks to how I feel right now.
People have a tendency to root for the underdog and, in this case, they believe that underdog is Hamas. The reality is that Israel doesn’t have to apologize for the fact that it built the armed forces and military equipment to protect itself and its citizens. The reason that there are far less casualties on the Israeli side is because of the Iron Dome, not because Hamas isn’t attacking. However, the more other countries around the world speak against Israel’s actions and completely ignore Hamas’, the more events like those in Paris will happen.

There are things people are doing like raising money or supplies to send to IDF soldiers, as well as rallies being held in different cities. I keep looking within myself to see what else I can do and I think it’s continuing to speak up about the topic, continuing to share and like posts on Facebook that highlight what is happening, so that all my friends, no matter the religion, can be exposed to information that they might not be getting elsewhere. We’re not in a day and age where people can pretend not to know what’s happening like in the 1930’s. I’m not going to go silent and I know plenty of people who aren’t going to either.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books from when we were kids? Sometimes I think it would be cool if life was like that. You choose one path and see how it plays out and then go back and choose another one to see what changes in the outcome. Sometimes you end up in the same place and sometimes you end up somewhere completely different.

I don’t mean it in regretting a decision, so then you go and change your course. It’s more about having, or trying out, new experiences in the same period in your life.

Like I don’t regret for a second choosing where I went to college, but sometimes I wonder if I’d be in the same place now had I chosen a different school. Or what if I hadn’t been waiting outside that sushi restaurant senior year when I re-met the guy who would become by first love and instead had gone to the movies like I had been planning to? Or what if I hadn’t eaten that burger for lunch that made me lethargic for the rest of the day and had decided on that salad with tuna?

Choose Your Adventure or Sliding Doors…however you want to see it. It’s just interesting to think about the different adventures we may have had and the different ones we’ll continue to have.

#tbt – Israel 1995

I’m not an avid participant of #TBT (Throwback Thursday) on Instagram and Facebook. But every once in awhile, I feel compelled to post something a I see my newsfeed fill up with nostalgia.

Israel has been on my mind the last couple of weeks, and as I drove home, I thought what better way to take part in #TBT than to post pictures of the best summer of my life.

In 1995, I headed to Israel with a youth group consisting of about 40 friends. We had spent every Saturday and one night a week for the past school year training to become leaders/counselors, learning about Israel and bonding. This trip was the ultimate bonding experience. We spent 6 amazing weeks traveling the country, sleeping in the desert, repelling, clubbing and drinking, spending a night in a shelter, and simply making incredible memories.


The most memorable week for me, although also the one I least enjoyed, was the week we spent in the “army.” I use the word army loosely because even though it felt rough to me, it’s only 1/8th of what the real army is probably like. We woke up at 5 am and had to make our bed, get dressed and be out of our tent in like 5 minutes. We prepped for breakfast and then cleaned all the pots and pans afterwards. We hiked or ran in the desert at night alternating carrying a stretcher and full jerry can on our backs. We learned to shoot M16s. There was nothing relaxing or fun about it to me.

In the Army Now
In the Army Now

I think back to that week, or maybe it was only a few days, and try and picture what it is like for every Israeli at the age of 17 or 18 to enter a real training camp. I think about them now as they get ready for a possible ground invasion of Gaza. And as I think about all of that, I know that that week I spent was a piece of cake. There was no danger whatsoever. Nothing was going to happen to me if I didn’t run fast enough or if I missed the target completely when shooting the M16. No one was shooting back at me and there was no threat of a rocket falling out of the sky.

I am lucky to have been able to spend those 6 weeks in Israel and make the memories that will be with me for a lifetime. I can’t wait for the day that I can send my children to have that same experience. This is why I am thankful for Israel itself and for all those that defend it.

Back in the Saddle – At least Halfway

Last week was kind of a whirlwind as I went back to work and by Tuesday afternoon was on a plane to the CA office. With going to both offices, a board meeting and a travel day on Friday, it all flew by. It wasn’t without its stresses and annoyances, especially with things that are still open ended from when I left two months ago.

Everyone has been commenting on how refreshed, relaxed and tan I look. I’ve been hearing “You look great” so much that I’m really wondering what the hell I looked like before the break. My one true friend at work said that I just don’t look tired and angry anymore…we’ll see how long that lasts 🙂

Yesterday evening as it sunk in that it being Sunday meant I had work the next day, and then this morning as I drove the tedious commute, I was back to feeling tired before the week even began thinking of what was ahead of me. It’s not that things are crazy yet, but it’s that all the same problems are still there. I knew they weren’t going to go away, but part of me hoped that the distance would make me feel less frustrated by them. It didn’t. Which is why I’m glad that last week I let my boss know that I didn’t want to continue in my current position.

I always knew when taking the sabbatical that even if I decided I no longer wanted this job that I’d have to come back to formulate an actual exit strategy. I can’t leave everything up in the air, so I knew I’d be coming back for some length of time to help them find a replacement and keep things going. So that’s where I am at right now. It will be a few months.

The decision I have to start making for myself is whether to stay with the company in another capacity. This is the luxury I have by working in the family business…I have been given the option to create a new position if I want to. I mean, the position has to make sense and has to be approved by the board, but I still get the opportunity.

I have an idea, but it needs to be formulated further. There is also my idea and then where others have started to take that idea which might not fit into what I’d like to do, so that’s still a work in progress. I know some of you have been wondering what’s next. I’m not completely sure yet, but I’ll continue to share. The journey is by no means complete as career is only part of it. I am just getting started.

People Are Still Hailing to Hitler and Hoping For Israel’s Demise

In one of my first posts from Europe a couple of months ago, I talked about going to visit the Jewish neighborhood in Prague and said I’d write more about it after visiting a concentration camp the next day. After my visit to Terezin, however, I was at such a loss for words that I never ended up writing about my experience. I don’t know if it was loss for words exactly or I was just not sure how to capture all of the feelings and emotions stirring within. As my trip went on and I saw more Jewish neighborhoods and heard more stories from local guides, the words kept getting farther away from me. It felt too big to explain and so I didn’t.

Over the last few days, I’ve seen friends posting articles, news clips and opinions on Facebook about what is happening in Israel. I’ve been introspective and unsure of what my part should be. Sometimes social media seems so trivial, but sometimes it feels heavy and important.

Today as I scanned my newsfeed, there was a post from the New York Times with the headline, “Palestinian Death Toll Nears 100 as Hamas Promises More Attacks on Israel”. To be honest, I didn’t read the whole article, but many people don’t. They just read that and the little blurb below it, so it angered me that the headline appeared to be so biased. Israel is defending itself in the same way that the US would be if rockets were being shot into NYC. I never comment on articles by any of the publications I follow on Facebook, but I couldn’t help myself.

I wrote, “I’m disappointed that the choice in headline is so one sided. It’s a shame that this is happening on both sides, but there seems to be little reporting on the attacks to Israel’s largest cities and civilians as well. If the US was attacked like that, you don’t think we would attack back. Israel isn’t targeting the Palestinian civilians.”

I was expecting comments from others with opposing views. I was prepared or so I thought. One person, or perhaps organization, responded with a comment that wasn’t deragotory or unexpected, however when I looked more closely their profile picture was a picture of Hitler. I don’t think I can even explain the barage of emotions that welled up inside of me.

Having grown up surrounded with Jewish traditions and spending 15 years in a Jewish day school, I have always been very aware and proud of my Jewish identity. I’m not very “religious” but I am very in tune with where I come from and the culture and traditions that I want to preserve for myself and my family. I once got asked by a friend in college whether I would identify myself as American, Hispanic or Jewish. At the time, I wasn’t sure how to answer her, not really knowing why I had to choose. And although I still don’t think that I have to choose, and I identify with all three, I would put Jewish first. It is so much a part of who I am that I can’t imagine it not being the first “label.”

Having had family impacted by the Holocaust, lives lost and lives broken, makes be incapable of being OK with someone hailing to Hitler. My grandfather never talked about the affect that losing his parents and brother had on him, at least not to me, but he didn’t need to talk to us about it for us to know the hurt. And he’s just one story.

During my recent trip to Europe, I felt very differently from all the times I’d been to Western Europe. I was in countries that were invaded and inhabited by the Nazis. In Prague, our tour guide told us that the reason there were still 5 Jewish synogogues standing in the city was because Hitler wanted to preserve them as a museum of an extinct race. It’s eerie to be in countries where you can feel the ghosts of your ancestors. You know you have to experience it and visit these sites in honor of them…to preserve their memory and the lives they lived and could have lived. I didn’t make it to Poland, which I know would be even more emotional, but I still felt closer to my grandfather than I felt I ever had.

This is all a long winded way of saying that the land of Israel is necessary. When you see people saying “Am Israel Chai,” it is not just speaking to those living in Israel, but to the Jewish community around the world that must keep Israel alive. We must defend its right to exist in the same manner that we defend our right to exist. That people wish Hitler had succeeded saddens and scares me.

When we say “We must never forget” when talking about the Holocaust, we are also saying that we must never let it happen again. If there’s bias in the media, we have to refute it like so many of my Facebook friends have been doing over the last few days. We refute it with facts instead of emotions and hope for the safety of all of our brothers and sisters.

Am Israel Chai

Passing Notes

When my parents sold and moved from the house that spent my teenage years about 9 years ago, my room still looked pretty much the same way it had the day I left for college. It had it’s two twin beds with bed covering and pillows that made them look like couches, blue tinted wood built ins for my books, pictures, stereo (with record player) and desk. I don’t think I ever actually sat at my desk although I remember loving the chair when I got it at age 12 with its teal blue seat and a flower shaped back. Back then we had one home computer which was in a shared den downstairs.

When they were selling the house, I didn’t get too emotional like some people get when their parents sell their childhood home. Perhaps I felt more like our previous house had been my childhood home. What the move signified for me was that I had to pack up my room and really determine what was worth keeping. By having left it the same since I moved away, there were boxes full of notes and letters with my friends throughout the years. I definitely have hoarding tendencies.

In junior high and high school, we used to not only pass notes in class but write letters to eachother when we were in different classes and then pass them to eachother in the hallway or stick them in eachother’s lockers. I don’t know if this was just my group of friends that did this. It sounds kind of absurd now. Most of the times the letters mentioned how bored we were in whatever class we were in and possibly something about one of our crushes that we never actually spoke to. Sometimes they were actually arguements we were having (we were so dramatic); the page filled with rants about what the other one did wrong recently or how hurt we were. A lot of the times the letters were folded in some cool way, which I don’t think I can replicate now 30 years later.

We also wrote plane letters for whoever was going on a trip. The front of the carefully folded letter always said something like “DO NOT READ UNTIL THE PLANE HAS TAKEN OFF!” I remember the excitement of opening up the 5 or so letters, usually as soon as I sat down on the airplane. I don’t know how much we possibly had to say to eachother.

Any normal person might have just thrown them all out when it was time to pack up their teenage room, especially if they hadn’t look at them in over 10 years, but not me. I think I read all or most of them deciding which would be worth keeping. I don’t actually remember doing this, but when I moved into my new house last year I finally got that box out of storage and I definitely still have two small containers full of these letters and notes. I know it’s not all of them and knowing myself I must have made sure to keep the best or most meaningful.

It’s weird because I don’t even know what I’ll ever do with these, but it feels like part of my history. I don’t know if I ever would want anyone else to actually read them or who would care, but having them with me feels nice and nostalgic. It’s another memory besides pictures and actually reminds me of what it was like to be 14. We always look back at our past with enough distance that we’ve embellished it, but these relics of my past bring me right back to how things actually were. I now have the perspective to see that a friend was right about something or to still feel validated in being pissed at her that one day.

I’m definitely a sucker for nostalgia. I think it’s why one of my favorite movie or book genres has always been the coming of age stories.

Full Exposure

When I was in 8th grade I started writing in a journal. I actually recently found a diary with a lock on it from when I was much younger, but I think I wrote in it once. Anyway, I kept a journal from the age of 12 or 13 until about 25. Sometimes months would go by without me writing in it, but otherwise I was pretty consistent.

With that first journal in 8th grade, for some reason I decided to let a couple of my friends read it. I don’t know what possessed me to think that was a good idea, but I guess it’s similar to writing this blog. I wanted them to get a glimpse into what I was thinking and was better at expressing myself through writing. Although reading that joural back, there weren’t many deep feelings; it was mostly boys that I thought were cute. Shortly after I started letting them read those thoughts, I realized that I was sensoring myself. If I was pissed at one of them, I wouldn’t write about it. If I was feeling a certain way that I didn’t want to share, then it didn’t make it into that day’s entry. At that point, the journal wasn’t serving it’s true purpose. So I stopped sharing it. I don’t remember if they ever asked why. Quite possibly they were never really that interested, but I kept forcing it on them.

When I was about 14 or 15, I started writing what was supposed to be the beginning of a novel, but really was about me. It was written by someone I only still slightly recognize as myself; someone extremely insecure, hard on herself, and very naive. It wasn’t too difficult to read it and know that it was me. It was high exposure, but that didn’t stop me from actually passing it around a bus of 40 friends I was in Israel with that summer. It’s almost as if I could hide behind the writing and not feel as exposed. The nakedness and rawness doesn’t bother me. I didn’t care about or even think about how they would judge me. It was the complete opposite of how I usually behaved or felt. There was a boldness to it that didn’t exist in any other aspect of my life.

Now at 34, I am a very different person. Of course, I still have my insecurities, but I am much more secure in myself than I was 20 years ago. I do express my feelings and open up to people once I get to know them. It takes me time to warm up to people, but I can be very candid and open. I was thinking about this blog and how it’s just an evolution to having shared that journal or “novel” so many years ago. It’s been great to get messages from friends that have been following saying that they can relate and how they’ve enjoyed reading my posts.

While I haven’t necessarily sensored myself, I have debated whether to share certain experiences or opinions or internal debates. It is a complete exposure. Like at 15, I am not that nervous about being judged by my blog, but opening the door to certain topics can be real intimate and I’m not sure how intimate I want to get with all of you. I know that if I want this blog to continue to develop and to really speak to where I am in my life, that I will need to start delving more into topics that might not be as comfortable. This post is perhaps the first step into opening that door.

Easing Back In – Is that Possible?

Sorry for being so disconnected, but I literally was. My internet stopped working on Wednesday out in the NC lake house and didn’t seem to want to work again. Now I’m back home with my alarm set for 6 am to head off to the office tomorrow.

When I was younger I hated missing school. Not because I was that much of a nerd (just a little bit), but because I was didn’t want to miss out. I didn’t want to feel lost when I got back: having missed a test that I then had to make up somehow or an important lecture whatever self induced drama had happened with my friends. I know it sounds crazy, but I really didn’t like the feeling of coming back and hearing about things that happened while I wasn’t there. It wasn’t until senior year that I realized I wasn’t missing much. As long as I didn’t have a test that day, I didn’t care much.

With work, I started similarly. It was always hard for me to take vacations because of how much prep work you have to do before you go and then the avalanche of emails that awaits you. If I felt a little sick, I thought about what big meeting I might be missing or what was on my to do list. As time went on, every once in awhile I’d take a “work from home” day saying I wasn’t feeling that great. Those days meant checking email regularly and maybe having a couple of conference calls, but spending the majority of the day vegging out at home.

This sabbatical has been a really drastic break not just in regards of my work ethic, but from that fear of missing out. Contrary to what people thought would happen, I truly disconnected. Emails were not coming into my phone. I did check them a couple of times, but there was nothing besides HR type emails since everyone knew I was out. Even my father and brothers cut out the work talk around me. Only this last week have they started to mention a little bit of what’s been going on around the office, so I’m going into the office tomorrow having missed a lot. I don’t know what our inventory levels are. I have no idea what’s going on with customers. And I definitely don’t know what kind of drama has been going on between departments in my absence.

It feels somewhat unsettling, but at the same time it definitely is better than coming back from a 1 week vacation. I have no choice but to ease in because I need to be filled in on what’s been happening by my employees and my boss. It should be interesting.

It will also be a long week. Tuesday afternoon I head out to the California office for the remainder of the week. I finally get to see the finished office building that I worked on for the last 3 years and we have our first board meeting there. It should should be interesting.

You also might be wondering what decision I’ve made. And the truth is I’m still waffling between two things, so I’m hoping that the first couple of days back at the office help sway me one way or the other…

Almost Paradise

It’s officially my last week of sabbatical and I’m spending it at my family’s beautiful North Carolina home. To give you an idea of how breathtaking it is, the picture at the top of the blog is the view from the house. That photo was taking with my phone while sitting on the top porch. If you want to come to a place where you can disconnect, this is it.

The view from the house
The view from the house

My niece and nephew are with us and that adds just a whole new feeling to our time in the house and what we can expect in the years to come with an expanding family. I know it’s still some years away, but I look forward to all the cousins, my future kids included, running around all day swinging into the lake on a rope swing, kayaking, making smores, and just being kids. It’s a whole different energy that I can’t wait to be around.

The twins have already brought some of that as we see everything through their eyes for the first time. We weren’t sure how they were going to adapt to a new environment, especially my niece who cries every time she sees my dad. Interestingly enough, she hasn’t cried at all with him here in NC. They both seem to be loving it here. This place suits them. They love the outdoors and seeing the water.

For us, their non-parents, or at least for me it’s been great to walk out of the room in the morning and get greeted by them. I know that I can only imagine the love that a parent feels for their child. I also always knew I would love my nieces and nephews a lot, but it really is an incredible love. I can’t think of a better way to spend my last week before going back to work.