Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 24- Waze

"Trust in Waze," that's what we say.

Anyone in the DC area who knows what it is like to drive from Virginia to Maryland in rush hour has felt the pain.

Waze to the rescue again. I am grateful for Waze.

Or, more appropriately, I suppose...I am grateful for crowd-sourced data that leverages route optimization algorithms in real-time

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 23: Kids' Self-Sufficiency

As a parent, one of my goals is to help raise kids who can do things on their own.

We recently bought a nightstand for Paco and the NFO asked me to put it together.  Now, in fairness, she did ask me to put it together, but what I chose to hear was "make sure it gets put together." But that is a topic for a different day.

You know what I really heard? Learning opportunity!

So, I tasked Tikkanen and Jokinen with getting the job done, figuring they were at the stage where they could do it.

And they did (I only got involved at 2 small points for some final Quality Assurance work). 

It was a great feeling to see them do it and I felt very grateful to the NFO (aka my wife) and my kids for the fact that we had all reached this milestone.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 22: Epi Pens

I have a pretty severe allergy to sesame seeds (not oil) and tree nuts ( but not almonds, pistachios, pine nuts or peanuts).

Last night, we went out to dinner at a local Israeli place.

Anyone who has been to Israel knows that they basically fly planes over the entire country and consistently air drop sesame seeds on pretty much anything you can imagine. Pretzels, dates, etc. I think they make you walk through a pile of sesame seeds after you get your passport stamped when you enter the country.

And it's insidious because, for example, take something like hummus. Ground up chick peas, right?

Yes, but added in Tahina and boom...death trap.

As a result, I know to be VERY careful.

Asking is usually not a good idea because Israelis don't even realize how it is everywhere--the hummus example being the bets one.

But last night, I got caught...there was a beet salad that had a sauce which, I am pretty sure had a Tahina base.

Sure, you could say, "Jeremy, why take the risk?"

A fair and noble question, but let's ignore that for another time.

I got hit...hard. I was miserable. I thought I could fight through it. Water, claritin, benadryl.

Nothing. Finally, after a few hours of misery and a couple vomiting attacks, I stabbed myself with the Epi-Pen and...voila. All set.

Another valid question is: why didn't you do it sooner?

We can also ignore my own psychology on that one. The point is...it worked. Well.

So, today, I am grateful for the Epi-pen and its wonderful abilities.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 21: Warm beds and blankets

Like many, we had our first snowfall of the season yesterday. I hadn't been sleeping well the last few nights so I decided that I would allow myself a bit of a "sleep-in" on Sunday morning.

Of course, the NFO had given me the green light as well since there were no pressing child-related obligations.

It had been a long time since I could just lie in bed on Sunday morning and not have to jump out to do something.

The snow on the ground outside, the grayness of the sky...it was a perfect morning for just staying snug in the bed.

And it was warm.

I found myself being very grateful for the fact that, in this cold weather in particular and when so many others have less than I do, that we have a warm bed with great blankets and a warm house.

It was comfortable on many different levels.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 20- the Gift of Song

This weekend, our synagogue hosted the Maccabeats, whom some of you may remember burst onto the scene with the Candlelight video that went completely viral.  For a while, it was a sensation.

As part of the festivities, we were privileged to host 3 of the singers for lunch where we got to hear the story from the inside and "talk shop."  

In addition, they regaled Tonka with "Happy Birthday" as it is tomorrow.

As I listened to them sing and others around the table joined in, I found myself feeling grateful for the gift of song that we have and how much we can communicate to each other through song and music.

It's not something that I've thought much about, but our 3 guests devoted a nice portion of their lives to it and have enriched the lives of millions of people (look at the # of views they have!) through it.

That's a great gift.


Friday, December 08, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 19: Maria and Irma

I love Fridays. Not because it is the end of the week or because Shabbat is that evening (though both of those are true).

I love it because our cleaning ladies, Maria and Irma, come and work tirelessly.

It's not that our house is dirty. The NFO and I both make efforts, but you know how it is.

But the time from 10-3 on Fridays after Maria and Irma have left before the kids come home from school...it creates a  special Zen-like atmosphere for me.

They have an amazing work ethic and always with a smile on their face. They NEVER complain and are just fun.  They have fascinating personal stories as well as they have overcome adversity.

I just feel so fortunate to have them and am so grateful for all they do to run the household.

They are here right now, as I am typing this, so it's top of mind. And yes, I tell them how much I value them, greeting them with "my favorite 2 people in the world!" when they walk through the door ;-)

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 18: Nikki (our Roomba)

Keeping a house clean is a challenge. Both the NFO and I are running around daily and let's just say that the kids don't always help as much as I would like ;-)

Recently, however, I bought a Roomba robot vacuum and it's been a nice stress minimizer for me. We call the Roomba, "Nikki" (more on that later).

When the kids leave in the morning, I do a quick walk through of the main floor of the house, picking up anything that will get in the way of Nikki doing her job (like shoelaces, etc.)

Then, I push the button (I was going to say 'turn her on,' but thought better of it) and go about my business. About an hour or so later, she returns to her dock and the house has had a nice vacuuming. For a wanna-be Zen guy, it's a great feeling.

We call the Roomba "Nikki" for a few reasons.

"Nikayon" in Hebrew means "clean up" or "cleaning."

Then, in a nod to our Finland fetish, we made it "Nikkanen" (to go along with Tikkanen, Jokinen, and Lakkanen).

Finally, we shortened it to "Nikki."

When we were deciding what to call Nikki, we also had to determine gender. I didn't want to assume it was a female who did the cleaning and we thought that Nikki could be male or female.

However, Lakkanen (age 9) suggested that Nikki was actually a transgender female, so we agreed that Nikki was a transgender female robot vacuum.

As part of the deal, Lakkanen is also known as "Nikki Janitorial Service Team" as she is responsible for cleaning the Roomba after each use.

So, today, I am grateful to the inventors of Roomba who give me a feeling of serenity.  I am grateful for the effort they put into creating something that works (pretty damn well) and which has some amazing technology to solve a need.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 17- The Right Therapist

I've changed my mind significantly about the value and need of therapy.  I'll admit that, once upon a time, I viewed it as a sign of mental weakness. Sorry, just being honest here.

Anyway, I eventually felt compelled (for reasons I'd rather not share) to give it a try.

Thing is, I've learned the hard way that the "fit" between therapist and patient is ueber critical.  My first two were very nice people, but didn't have the requisite skills to call me on my excessive amount of BS and self-justification.

Third time is the charm, I suppose, as I have found someone who meshes well with me. It's been a powerful and enlightening experience.

So, today, I'm grateful for the right therapist and, I suppose, for the wrong therapists (for me) who helped me realize what the right therapist looks like.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 16-- Erica and Alice

Apparently, for the last 8 months, all of my e-bills that were meant to go to BGE Home have, instead been going to BGE.

These are 2 different entities.

As you can imagine, I was surprised and unhappy to learn that BGE Home thought I owed them $1,000 for payments that I thought I had already made.

Naturally, I wasn't excited about the prospect of having to clean this mess up and so, as I made my way to Erica (at BGE) and Alice (at my bank), I may have been a little more curt and gruff than I would have liked.

This was probably email #15 and call #6 around the still unresolved issue.

So, I was thrilled to find two people who seem to genuinely care about solving this issue and doing so with empathy and compassion, even if I wasn't as nice as I could or should have been.

What Erica and Alice showed me is how to be graceful under pressure and how to be professional when a customer/client is stressed.

One of the things I struggle with, at times, is treating everyone with the respect they deserve simply by virtue of the fact that they are human beings.

I'm getting better at it and I'm not proud to admit that I have this problem, but I am grateful for people like Erica and Alice who demonstrate how it can be done and how you can get things done at the same time.




Monday, December 04, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 15: Autumn in New England

Paco and I spent the weekend in Stamford, CT.  It was cool and sunny.  The leaves were all different shades of colors and there was a slight breeze.

It was refreshing and a great reminder to appreciate the natural beauty that is around us.

So, today, I am grateful for autumn in New England.




Sunday, December 03, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 14: Inconsiderate husbands

A few weeks ago, someone we know spoke incredibly rudely to the NFO. The content of the comments were fine, but the manner and tone were entirely inappropriate.

I wasn't there myself, but the NFO tells me that the wife of this man was working quite hard to have him stop and he totally ignored her.

Later, when I confronted the man about his behavior, I expressed how I felt. His wife was present when I did and she concurred with me.

He was obstinate in his position, so I said to him, "you shouldn't just take my word for it, listen to your wife, SHE is telling you that you made a mistake."

His response was, "it's ok, there are plenty of things I ignore that that she says" (or something to that effect).

As I listened to him explain to me why he thought his behavior was ok (it wasn't), I had a realization. It was something that the NFO has been saying to me for a long time.

When you are a husband, your actions do not simply reflect upon you. They reflect upon your wife and your children.  It makes them look bad by association.

I felt terrible for this man's wife as she not only had to deal with the mess that he created and being ignored (on this topic) but also had to suffer the indignity of being cast in a bad light because of something he did.

Now, I probably should listen to my wife a lot more than I do (working on it), but I was grateful to have the opportunity to see an example of what not to do and how every action I take as a husband does reflect on my wife...whether she is there or not.

I am very sorry that the NFO had to go through this experience.

I am sorry that the wife and family of this man had to go through it as well.

However, I am grateful that his total disregard for her feelings in this moment was a huge reminder to me of what I should and should not aspire to be as a husband.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 13- Viola Davis

I just finished watching the movie Fences and thought it was magnificent. I was so enamored with Viola Davis' convincing performance that I feel compelled to express my gratitude for her gifts as an actress.

With so much video content out there, we see all ranges of acting quality these days, so it is particularly powerful when I am privileged to see someone who obviously has a gift for her craft.

That I get to appreciate that as part of a story that tells a really powerful message...to me, that is something worthy of gratitude.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 12- Joyner Lucas

Saw this article  about Joyner Lucas' new song/video "I'm Not Racist" on CNN this morning and watched the video.

WARNING...it's NSFW and has a ton of language that you may not want kids (or others) to hear.

I'd never heard of Joyner Lucas before, but I am grateful for his willingness to attack an issue that is bothering many of us...the state of race relations in America.

It's complex and deep and I really admire how he is going after this head on with an effort to be equitable and respectful while not backing down from the problem.

Frankly, I think we need more of that, so I am grateful that Joyner is out there setting an example in his own way.




Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gratitude Journal-Day 11: Ragy Thomas

Ragy is the CEO of Sprinklr and 6 years ago, he changed my life.

After being introduced by a mutual friend and reading my blog (not this one, but the Never Stop Marketing blog), he reached out to me and insisted that I join him at Sprinklr.

I was skeptical. He was adamant and persistent (traits I would soon see a lot more of!) that it would be a career/life-changing move.

In more ways than one, he was right.

I remember, however, that his decision to hire me as VP/Marketing was met by some hesitation by some of his Board members and advisors, thinking that I didn't have the right skill set to do the job.

Ragy dismissed their concerns and believed in me.

It was-and is- a great feeling and I am forever grateful for that.

It's also a valuable lesson for the future. Another thing I for which I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 10- Adam Faleder

Today I am grateful for Adam Faleder.

The reason I am grateful for him is that he knows how to make people feel special in a genuine way. He has a great sense of humor and a fantastic smile.

But what I am most grateful for is the fact that he constantly asks if he has done something that is "blog-worthy."

As if the crowning achievement of one's life is to be featured on this blog.

Well, my friend, today I am grateful for the fact that you make me feel like my blog- and what I have to say-has meaning.

That is both blog-worthy and, more importantly, worthy of gratitude.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 9- the Garbage Collectors

Monday is "trash" day in our neighborhood and every week, the trash and recycling trucks dutifully drive by, taking away our refuse and keeping our streets clean.

Ironically, I started watching the movie "Fences" this morning while on the treadmill. In it, Denzel plays a trash collector.

It got me thinking about how much these guys put up with and how it is a job that I personally would rather not have.  Yet, they do their job and make our lives better.

Without them, our neighborhoods would not be as clean and healthy as they are.

So, today, I am grateful for all of the people who pick up our garbage and do their jobs so well.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 8- the people of the coffee supply chain

I am a big coffee drinker.

I like to say that I am a married, 44 year old man, who has a minivan; I don't drink. I don't smoke. I am vegan.  There's not a lot of crazy in my life...so I go hard on the caffeine!

I am sitting here with a cup of homemade bulletproof coffee that I just made (which I really like) and I just took a moment to think about all of the people who made this moment possible.

The people who grew the beans, harvested them, roasted them, shipped them, packaged them, made the machines to put them in bags, made the French Press, produced the ghee and coconut oil, and the Vitamix I use to blend it all.

Not to mention, the people who made the mug from which I am drinking.

It's actually quite overwhelming that there were so many people who worked without even knowing that I exist and through their efforts and innovations, I can enjoy this cup of coffee that fuels the writing of this blog post.

Trying to comprehend all of that actually makes the coffee taste that much better.

So, today I am grateful for my personal coffee supply chain.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 7-- postal/delivery drivers

It's gotten pretty cold recently here. For me, it's not super fun to be outside for a prolonged period of time.

Our mailman used to be Danny, until he retired. He was incredible and lived the USPS mantra of "neither rain, nor sleet..."

I learned once, but don't remember the name of our newest postal carrier. He's a really nice guy and is out there in all types of weather.

Same for the people who deliver our FedEx, UPS, Amazon packages and more. They are just super-efficient, professional, and nice.

They are, as some would say, "the last mile" and I feel bad that sometimes I am more excited about the thing they are delivering than I am grateful for the effort of the person delivering it.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 6- Ned Stutman

Today I am thankful for Ned Stutman and his legacy.

It is Thanksgiving Day and I just got back from the annual football game that is affectionately known as "the Ned Bowl."

Tragically, Ned died some years ago from cancer, but every year (and more often than that, at times), we are all reminded of his boundless energy, smile, great sense of humor, and passion for life during this game.

It was he who, in '86 or '87 (we don't remember exactly) took the initiative to get a football game going. We have played every year since.

He is missed, but his mark on the world is evident and appreciated specifically during this time of year.

I am grateful that there are people like Ned who have the energy to start something that adds value to the lives of others and give it enough momentum so that, even if the person is no longer with us, the tradition and meaning of the event persevere.

When I get the picture from this year's event (we had some first-timers as well), I'll post it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 5- Immigrant Workmen

Today I am grateful for the courage displayed by the immigrant workmen who recently completed the renovation of our bathroom.

These guys are impressive.  They left their homes in Central America as teenagers, knowing basically zero English. They came to America legally and were determined to improve their lives. They did this by developing  skills and a commitment to customer satisfaction. 

And it shows.

Their handiwork is evident in a beautifully built bathroom. The work ethic and professionalism they displayed the entire time was inspiring.

But what I loved most-particularly since I am working on this- was the sense of humility. They are grateful for the chance that America has given them and they don't take it for granted.

I am grateful for how they reminded me of what's really important and for giving me confidence that the American Dream is still alive.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gratitude Journal- Day 4-- Hostesses with the Mostesses

Today I am grateful for all of the hostesses (and the occasional host) who have fed me over the years.

Sadly, until only recently, I didn't really appreciate how much work went into preparing a meal for a guest. I am a bit embarrassed to say that, especially during my college years and while traveling as a young man, I took advantage of the generosity of others who made food for me and allowed me to eat in their homes.

I am particularly reminded of Madame Picard in Strasbourg, France (no relation to Captain Picard) who really went out of her way to make food for me when it wasn't really her responsibility to do it. This was Fall of 1995 timeframe.

Honestly, I probably felt a bit entitled (or more than a bit) and I am feeling somewhat ashamed about that now, upon reflection. I'll see if I can track her down to apologize.

In any event, as my wife, mother, and numerous others in my family are preparing for Thanksgiving, I am going to try and take a few moments to think about all of the effort that goes into a meal and not take these things for granted in the future.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Gratitude Journal: Day 3- Nurit Bar-Yosef

Today I am thankful for Nurit Bar-Yosef, her parents, and all of the musicians (and their families) who play for the National Symphony Orchestra.

Nurit is the concertmaster (a term I had to look up) that refers to the first violin and she plays beautifully.

As I sat in the Kennedy Center, next to Aaron who had the idea that we go, I couldn't help but think about the countless hours that Nurit had spent practicing to get to the level where she is right now.  I imagined her parents driving her to lessons, paying for them, taking her all over the world probably, getting some ridiculously expensive violin to play on, and the sacrifices they made.

Nurit probably made sacrifices as well, practicing violin instead of going out and hanging with her friends.

I was thinking about Malcolm Gladwell's theory of "10,000 hours" to become a master at something and thinking that Nurit had done all of that.

And, in that moment, I realized-and was grateful for the fact- that she had done all of that work so that I could enjoy it and appreciate it and feel uplifted and inspired by the sounds of the violin.

It was powerful.

And when I thought about it in that context, the $44 for the ticket seemed like a bargain.  A lifetime of practice, dedication and sacrifice by her and all of the musicians to get to a level of perfection that moved me.

I felt really grateful to be there in that moment and for all they did to make it special and memorable.