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Sunday
Mar122017

Shells and Stories for a Birthday

I often come to the edge of the earth to celebrate my birthday.  I know that some people don’t like to celebrate their birthdays, but I do!  After much soul-searching, I believe this birthday-celebrating need stems from the memory of years of ice cream cakes all mushed together into a cold and sweet mess in my mouth.

So, on my birthday, at six o’clock in the morning I walked down to the beach.  Having a birthday in October gives me almost an hour to watch the sun god slowly lift the bright orange ball out of the depths of the ocean, and raise it triumphantly into the blue sky.

It’s an awesome sight every single time. What a gift it is to start the day this way!

I believe strongly in the power of little things. Noticing little things brings meaning and happiness. 

As I walked along, I picked up many tiny pieces of shells.  No they weren’t traditionally beautiful like some of the larger, whole shells you could find, with the lovely coloring and markings and gradations, but these were more interesting.

Think of their history, the stories they could tell.  They have been broken apart by wild waves in a stormy ocean, but they have survived to tell the tale.  These shell pieces are stories; they are survivors from rough seas.  And today, they once again shine brightly in the sun, radiating light and happiness with the savvy understanding of life that only years can bring.

Time, we know, brings both scrapes to the shell and stories to the heart.  But as long as the sun god keeps raising up the orange ball, the sunlight will reflect that history and its inherent beauty.   

©2014 Margery Leveen Sher

 

Sunday
Feb192017

Consider the Smile

Whether you are deciding whether to do business with someone, or to develop a personal relationship, or how to evaluate someone in the public arena, I suggest you consider this one simple question:  Can you imagine this person smiling?

I don’t mean a sarcastic grimace.

I don’t mean a holier-than-thou smirk.

I don’t mean a baring of the teeth sneer. 

I mean an honest grin. Maybe even a chuckle. Can you imagine this person smiling at the antics of a toddler? Guffawing over a Jerry Seinfeld rerun, or, if you are of-the-moment, a Trevor Noah commentary? How about puppy videos, for godsakes? Can you imagine this person smiling guilelessly about anything?

I submit to you that if you cannot imagine such a person smiling happily and kindly, then you should run as far away from them as you can. If that person, for example, is in the public arena….say a politician perhaps…or a politician’s staff…work as hard as you can to get them out of any position of power.

A person without an honest smile is not a person you want around you or influencing your life in any way.

Now I know the world news is very scary these days, but tell me: Have you sincerely smiled or laughed lately? What about?

©2017 Margery Leveen Sher

The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunesRead the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U

 

MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk filled with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:

Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work

 

Saturday
Jan072017

Ah…Spirit of Steve Jobs!

Ah, spirit of Steve Jobs, see what you hath wrought!

This is what I said to myself over and over again during the three hours I spent in the Apple store trying to buy a new phone.

I am the yin to Steve Jobs’ yang. He was a genius and I am an idiot.

I stupidly went to the store way too soon after Christmas. I thought it would be better than before Christmas, but I was very wrong.

I watched the scene as if it were an out-of-body experience and I clearly saw the two distinct sides of myself.

The store was unbelievably crowded; it almost reminded me of my trip to India. People were everywhere and were moving around from area to area, a vast sea of busy busy humanity. Can you imagine how much money Apple makes? This was but one store on one afternoon. How many stores on how many afternoons and mornings and nights serve how many people’s “needs”?

I put “needs” in quotes because I remember that the foundational genius of Steve Jobs was that he created a need that we did not know we had. If you read my book or my blog, you know that I have a problem with Totally DeTestable Technology™. I am sure that when confronted with the first cell phone, I said something like, “What is wrong with my black phone with the rotary dial? It works! Why do I need anything else?!”

Anyway here I was at the Apple store, so Steve Jobs was truly a genius.

I have an aversion to busy stores. If I were wealthy enough and so inclined, I would be the kind of lady who would frequent the kind of dress shop where you sit on a couch with a glass of wine and the saleslady (probably known as your consultant) brings you dresses that may meet your requirements. Nobody else is in the shop. So on the one hand, the whole Apple scene was enough to cover me in hives.

On the other hand, how exciting a scene it truly was! I love diversity, which is why I love living where I do. The store was filled with people of many races, many ethnicities, many religions. The man sitting across from me was speaking Chinese. The woman next to me was wearing a hijab. There were people even older than me, and there were way too many who were born with a smartphone in their hands. I loved the people–watching!

So the two opposing forces of my personality were on display. The lover of quiet and orderliness and the lover of a mishmash of human activity.

The only obvious truth is that Steve Jobs was right. Even my prima donna side was willing to do as I was told for three hours while various fixes were made and transfers of data were made.

And I never told the many genius bar people that their whole store was full of Totally DeTestable Technology. I simply told them thank you as I pocketed my way-cool new phone.

©2017 Margery Leveen Sher

The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunesRead the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U

 -

MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk filled with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:

Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work

 

Wednesday
Dec212016

Lessons Learned in San Francisco

Lesson Learned #1: Your hotel room door cannot be opened with your BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) card no matter how badly you have to pee and how loudly you curse.

Lesson Learned #2: Email follows you everywhere so you don't miss the opportunity to make failure into success. I have been submitting the picture book I just wrote to literary agents hoping that someone will agree to represent it. I got my first rejection! People have told me that you need to get 100 rejections before you are accepted, so....1 down, only 99 to go and then.... KABAM!!! SUCCESS!

Lesson Learned #3: We drove over the Bay Bridge at sunset. The lavender of the foothills blended with the blues of the bay and the buildings of the city were pitch black but lit by beautiful white lights. It was a magnificent vista. We live in a beautiful country – the natural landscapes are spectacular in so many places and they are often enhanced by breath-taking architecture. I have many favorite sites around the country and I am sure you do as well.

But I feel that these days the soul of our country is not matching up to the majesty of the land. So lesson learned: Let’s try to be as lovely within ourselves as the most awesome scenery we have enjoyed. Let’s rebalance. Let’s make the soul of our country (the sum of all of us) match the beauty of the soul-replenishing bays, lakes, rivers, mountains and seas that we enjoy.

Lesson Learned #4: The lovely uniqueness of San Francisco is proven yet again. No numbered spaces in this parking garage; instead we have reminders to nurture our soul (or if you are cynical, it's a fortune cookie parking garage). 

©2016 Margery Leveen Sher


The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is now available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunes.  Read the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U 

Saturday
Nov192016

That’s How the Light Gets In

So far, this month has been a month of losses.

I am afraid that the election confirmed a loss of civility as a norm in our society. I don’t want to write about politics but I do want to say that inclusiveness and respect for each individual are values we must fight for. Bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, and disrespect for people with disabilities must not be tolerated. We must speak up against bigotry whenever we hear it. I will support all organizations that fight for civil rights. Will you join me in consistently speaking out against hate and putting money behind our words?

Right after the election I lost my wonderful Aunt Shirley, and with her the last vestige of my childhood elders. My mother was one of five children, and as time went on five families were formed. My parents and aunts and uncles and cousins were a most close-knit family.  Three of the families lived only blocks from each other and there were no locked doors. Aunts, uncles, cousins wandered in and out of each other’s homes at will. It was a wonderful childhood, but even more wonderful were the values that were instilled in each of us kids in each of our five families. A cohesive family is golden. We have a little touch of La Cosa Nostra in the Smith Clan, as we call ourselves. The older generation of Smiths are not here anymore to guide us, and we mourn the loss of a generation, but they created the Smith Clan and the Smith Clan lives on. 

Right after Aunt Shirley died, Leonard Cohen did as well. Of course, he was not a relative so the loss was not personal. But I loved Leonard Cohen for his poetry, and the fact that he growled out his beautiful songs only made them more powerful. 

And next, Gwen Ifill was gone. I always considered Ifill a huge breath of fresh journalistic air amongst the shouters.

But now Thanksgiving is coming. Just in time, I think. Here’s an opportunity to remember all that we can be thankful for. I am thankful that Leonard Cohen reminded us that “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Before this month of losses ends, I am going to try to figure out how to bring some more light through the cracks. Will you join me? December can truly be a month of light if we “ring the bells that still can ring.”

©2016 Margery Leveen Sher

The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is now available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunesRead the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U 

 

MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk filled with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:

Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work

 

Sunday
Oct232016

Laundry, Type A’s, and a Nobel Prize

I have really thought a lot about this. Self-examination is a good thing, they say, so I was determined to determine why in the world I love to do laundry.

I have absolutely no affinity for any other type of housework. I have a talent for averting my eyes so as not to see work that unquestionably should be done.

But laundry! I love doing laundry! When I get home from work, I change my clothes and then put in a load of laundry before I do anything else. This is sacrosanct, and I have done it daily for my whole adult life.

You might question where I get all this dirty laundry. After all, it is just my husband and me in the house now. Well I generate a lot. I have confessed before that I only use a towel once. I know. I know. It is very un-ecological and a big sin. I am sorry. Besides the towels, there are always things to wash. Of course the clothes and sheets, but it is a good thing to wash blankets from time to time as well. Anyway, I find enough dirty laundry to keep me going, believe you me.

But why do I love it?

After much introspection on this important topic, I have come to the conclusion that I love things that allow me to multitask because then I feel all the more accomplished. Yay for me! Not only have I written this piece about laundry – a Nobel Prize level essay I believe – but I have also washed my whites at the very same time. How fabulous is that?!

There aren’t that many machines that allow you to multitask. There is the washing machine’s sibling, the dryer. And there is the dishwasher. And there is a crockpot, which I don’t have, but still admire. What else? Of course, you can leave things to cook on a stove or oven, but that doesn’t count for me because I am always paranoid that the house will burn down so I am constantly watching. Oh yeah, the refrigerator. But still, that doesn’t give me the same level of excitement because it is always doing its thing. It’s not like I have to start it up and then it takes over. Can you think of other excellent machines that allow you to multitask?

Anyway, you see now why the washing machine is the perfect machine for a Type A. My laundry is clean and my Noticing for today is done. 

©2016 Margery Leveen Sher

The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is now available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunesRead the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U

 

MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk filled with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:

Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work

 

Wednesday
Sep072016

School Days, School Days

School days, school days

Dear old Golden Rule days

'Reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic

Taught to the tune of the hick'ry stick

What are your memories of your own first days of school? I have only a generalized memory of elementary school opening days. I remember feelings of excitement mixed with anxiety.

I always had a new “first day of school dress”. I remember red plaid dresses. I loved the smell of my new crayons and pencils. I loved my new pencil box. I remember the joy of putting new school supplies into their proper places. (I still like things that go into a specific place.) I remember feeling anxious about doing really well and not falling behind.

Isn’t this funny? After 19 years of school, this is all I can remember of the first day.

Let me see what else I can remember about all those years of school. I remember that my friend got me into trouble in kindergarten and I had to sit in the corner for sticking out my tongue. (It was her fault.) I remember when my 4th grade teacher made me stay after school all the time to practice writing with my right hand. (I am a lefty and the only thing I do with my right hand is bat. The last time I played softball was 6th grade when, I want to tell you, I was the star pitcher on the Pony Tail League.) I remember loving grammar in 5th and 6th grades, and getting those A’s. (I did not say I was a cool kid.) I remember when I got into the Safety Patrol.

In middle school (It was jr. high then.) I remember being in the bleachers cheering on various teams.

In high school I remember writing funny notes to my friends. I remember going to football games wearing my Bermuda shorts and knee socks. (I looked cool. Really I did.) I especially remember the day my history teacher – a big, burly guy - came into the class crying. That was the day President Kennedy was killed. I also remember many Saturday nights driving with my friends up and down Main St. looking for boys to honk at.

So let’s see….how much taxpayer money went into my public education….and this is what I remember?!

I am not going to go into memories of college and grad school. It was the late 60s and early 70s. That’s all you need to know.

Do you have more precise memories than I? I sure wasn’t much of a Noticer back then, I guess. After all, you can’t remember what you don’t Notice in the first place.

 So let me just wish all families, including those of us without young kids, a school year that will generate many great lifetime memories.

©2016 Margery Leveen Sher

The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is now available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunesRead the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U

 

MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk filled with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:

Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work

 

Sunday
Aug282016

Put the Pale Blue Dot in its Place

I am a geek. Specifically I am a space geek, and I want you to be a space geek too.

We can have space geek parties together! Truly, space Noticers are a fine group of geeks. C’mon. You want to join the in-crowd, the cool kids, the trend-setters, don’t you? (Of course, only geeks use phrases like that.)

While we are obsessing about sports or politics or buying the latest and greatest, the universe…or the multiverse….is going about its business of being born and dying and spinning and swallowing and spitting out.

The late Carl Sagan said that our planet is just a pale blue dot in a vast universe. Watch his awesome video here.

Our planet is in a solar system that is on one edge of the huge Milky Way galaxy. And the Milky Way galaxy is only one of at least one hundred billion galaxies. And now astronomers have found dark matter galaxies – galaxies that are mostly dark with very few stars. The rest of such a galaxy is composed of dark matter. And all these galaxies make up the known universe. And who knows how many more universes there are.

You can see the center of our own galaxy right here

These are all real images from our most powerful telescopes, but another amazing thing is the real photos taken on Mars

I have to admit, I spend a lot of time on these websites: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Hayden Planetarium (with the great Neil deGrasse Tyson), and various YouTube space videos. Try it! Just spend 10 minutes. You will Notice such awe-inspiring things. And it’s all real!

You don’t care?! You are going to ignore space and concentrate on the game? You don’t want to be a space Noticer? You want me to leave you alone? “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Who am I quoting? A prize will come to you if you know.

©2016 Margery Leveen Sher

The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is now available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunesRead the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U

 

MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk filled with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:

Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work

 

Saturday
Aug202016

Not Exactly Pete Seeger’s Question, But Still

I know. I know. I could ask all kinds of questions. Weighty, important questions like: Why are there always wars? Why are some people so unkind? Why is the ocean salty? Why does Pluto only have five moons?

I know you think about those kinds of questions all the time. But today, I want to ask some others that have bothered me for a while.

Why do the things I count on disappear?

Now, I admit this blog post will turn out to be from a woman’s point of view, but I bet you guys can come up with your own examples.

So the problem is that once I decide I love something; that I must have it; that it solves all my problems; sooner rather than later, it disappears. It is no longer sold.

Take, for example, lipstick. You may grab a lipstick from the counter and say, “This looks good. I’ll take it.” Not me. I have spent a good part of my life looking for the perfect lipstick. (Yes, I am too a feminist!) Eventually I decide to settle for one that will do, even if not perfect. I use it up and then go back to the store for a replacement. It is never there. Never. It is not in “this season’s collection”. It is gone and I am back to the drawing board.

May I discuss bras? The holy grail of fit, comfort, serviceability, and attractiveness is just that: the holy grail. Impossible to find. However, when I finally come close enough to the grail and purchase the piece, I often want to replicate that purchase after a while. But, no cigar. It is always discontinued. What is it about this? I won’t go into any theories about uniqueness of boobosity resulting in poor sales for any garment I like.

Ok, just one more proof of concept. Yogurt. Specifically frozen yogurt sold in frozen yogurt shops. I have spent several happy summers in my city, walking from one frozen yogurt shop to another sampling the wares. These shops were plentiful, one or two in every neighborhood. I loved them from the bottom of my heart. The fun of eating frozen yogurt while walking down the street on a hot summer day cannot be surpassed.

Where have all the yogurt shops gone? Now maybe you don’t think this is as important a question as Pete Seeger’s, Where have all the flowers gone? But the closing of the yogurt shops is a terrible turn of events, in my view. I am bereft.

So listen. What do you think about this problem of disappearing things? Am I the only one worried about lipstick, bras, and yogurt?

What’s that? I am bringing up a ridiculous issue? You would rather that I comment on this exemplary US election season? Ha!

©2016 Margery Leveen Sher

The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is now available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunesRead the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U 

 

MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk filled with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:

Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work

 

Saturday
Aug132016

The Lucky Girl in the Red Plaid Glasses

I wasn’t too bright and I was very quiet and shy, but I was a pretty little girl - so all was well.

I remember as a two or three year old chasing after all the black dots and lines I saw. Are you familiar with “floaters”? You see dots and lines – it’s really shadows of clumps of vitreous on the retina. It is unusual to have floaters so young, but I did. No adult knew that, though.

By the time I got to elementary school, it was clear that this shy little girl was a real dummy. Into the slow reading group she went.

I remember in first or second grade, trying to memorize what the teacher was saying because evidently she was doing something on the big board in the front of the room, but I had no idea what. It is, indeed, much slower to learn when you have to memorize everything instead of reading the blackboard.

But I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I didn’t complain. Anyway, I was shy.

Somehow in third grade, the teacher and my parents began to realize that maybe I couldn’t see well. What a revelation!

I loved my new red plaid plastic glasses. I could see, and soon I was able to move reading groups.

As the years passed, my glasses got thicker and thicker. My parents, especially my father, were early adopters (I didn’t get those genes), so I always got the latest, thinnest variation, but they were still thick.

When I was 13, something new was invented: contact lenses. I remember when I got my contacts, I looked into the mirror and for the very first time clearly saw my face without glasses. It was a miracle. I was elated.

Over the years, I have worn many types of contacts, always trying to get my vision crisper. My vision has been around 20/800 in both eyes for a very long time. I blame old Great-Aunt Sarah. She was renown in the family for her coke bottle bottom glasses and for walking into things. I did indeed inherit those genes. Fortunately and thankfully, my vision could be corrected well enough, and I could go through my life pretty much like anyone without vision problems.

Then along came the cataracts. The world got blurrier and greyer. Night-time driving was hazardous. Depth perception was very iffy and steps became perilous.

This week I had my second cataract surgery. It is truly a miracle. I see clearly for really the first time in my life! Modern medicine is a wonder and we who can take advantage of it are so very lucky. I feel exactly as I did when I got my contact lenses at age 13. I am absolutely awed.

The girl in the red plaid glasses is truly a lucky girl. I often think that if I happened to be born into a poor family in a third world country, I may have been sent out to beg or worse. 90% of the 285 million visually impaired people in the world live in low-income areas. Imagine how difficult their lives are.

Not only am I just lucky for where and when I was born, I am lucky that I could take advantage of all the technological and scientific advances that came along. I am definitely adding Prevent Blindness to the list of charities I support.

Noticers, we know how critical our vision is to our work, but also remember what Mark Twain said:

“You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

So let’s practice Noticing until our imaginations are 20/20!

©2016 Margery Leveen Sher

The Noticer’s Guide to Living and Laughing…..Change Your Life Without Changing Your Routine is now available on Amazon, Nook, and iTunesRead the reviews and purchase here. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZTM73U

 

MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk filled with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:

Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work