finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story

Thursday, August 3, 2017

50/50 chance

As I was getting dressed this morning, getting ready to leave for an audition, NPR told me there was a 50/50 chance of rain. I stood in my kitchen thinking a moment. 50/50. Do I take an umbrella or not? I hate carrying umbrellas. Truly I do. So when the odds are in my favor, I tend to risk it. But this was 50/50. No one's favor. Hmm.

"No umbrella!" I boldly declared and off I went.

Ninety minutes later, sitting in the train heading home, torrents of rain pelting agains the train car, I am talking to my mom.

"But it was a 50% chance of rain! Why wouldn't you take your umbrella?" she asked. My mom carries 3 umbrellas in her car at all times: glove compartment, back seat and trunk. Because you never know where you will be in the car when you need one. I never carry umbrellas. I often get caught in rain.

"Well there was also a 50% chance of no rain!" I counter, worried as the skies look darker the more north we travel. I am gonna get so wet, I think to myself, certainly not admitting it to my mother.

I often live my life like this. I take chances. I tend to live on the risky side. Hopeful, I might even say, spinning it. What's the worst that could happen? Now sometimes this is not all that smart. Sometimes it is downright stupid, but when the odds are even.....I often think, why not?

Fifteen minutes later, I am about to step out into the deluge full of my odds and free of my umbrellas, when a woman sitting next to me, who I never said boo to the whole trip, suddenly asks if I need an umbrella? The train doors open. Time is not on my side. This is now urgent. I have an opportunity to walk home dry, but only moments to make that happen.

"But what about you? I ask, one eye on my stop. "What about... the rest of your life?" I ask perhaps more profoundly than intended. I don't think I can honestly offer to return it to her.

"I have extras. Here take it," she says, as she thrusts the umbrella in my hands, her daughter looking on in surprise, probably worried she will be the one getting wet later now.

"Thank you so much!" I shout as I run out the closing train doors. "A perfect gift on a rainy day!!" I yell as the train pulls out of the station.


As I step outside and push up the umbrella, I soon realize it is crap. It doesn't stay up and is bent down on one side. She so generously gave me a crap umbrella. "What about the rest of your life!" I remember asking her, now laughing. She'll be fine for the rest of her life without this umbrella---not to negate her generosity because honestly, it was such a kind gesture I think, as the wind flips it up to upside-down mode.  I stop and push it back into regular umbrella mode. The wind keeps flipping it up and I surrender, holding an upside-down umbrella, getting about 50% wet.

Oh well. You win some. You lose some.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I just met a trump supporter

Wow. I'm still in shock. Total shock. Just when you think you're safe. Where else are they hiding?

I mean I know my liberal bubble is massive. Most if not all of my peeps think Trump is a total freak show, destined to kill us all. I speak almost unequivocably against Trump in mixed company, fairly certain most of the people I speak, meet or like agree with me.

Then today. In passing. I mention something about Trump fans and a friend mentions that a woman standing next to me is a trump fan.  I dead stopped. Dead. Stopped. How is this possible? Tara? (name changed to protect the innocent) How is Tara a Trumpie? How can she be for everything I am against and vice versa? How can she support and admire this terrible terrible human being? I just had a lovely conversation with her. I like her! She's nice! I am floored. I now am questioning every nice thing I thought of her 5 minutes ago. I must have been wrong. She is awful. Right?

This is our problem, is it not? How do we reconcile such DRASTICALLY different world views with each other? How do we like the person who approves of everything we hate? How do we talk to the person we now know insane or ignorant or hateful or all of the above? How do we live together in this world?

I honestly don't know. I have no openness in my heart yet for that. Too many innocent good people  have been and will be hurt by that man. Too much is at stake and too much has already been lost. 118 days in.

Jaw dropped to the floor, I ignored this shocking revelation and kept on talking about whatever I was talking about. What was the alternative? At that moment, I didn't have one. I wish I was better prepared. I wish I could have said, "Oh you're a Trump supporter. Tell me more!" I wish I had said, "Are you pleased with all the decisions, threats and idiotic choices he has made so far? Are you okay with his lies? His ego? His relationship with Russia?"

But I was too shocked. Too assuming of my own bubble. Too scared to start a conversation I know has no way out because I know I am not willing to budge. I know there is no compromise here. I am literally unable to see your side of the argument. I want to be on the right side of history. I know I am on the side of justice and fairness and kindness and goodness. She is not.

So, what's the point?

How do we go on from here?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I do corporate training!

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Holy fun book clubs batman!

Just finished up speaking at two book clubs in Palm Beach Florida.

First of all: Weather? Top notch!
                     Host? Top notch!
                     Ocean? Top notch!

But back to the subject.

I was invited to come and speak at two book clubs reading my memoir THREE DAYS IN DAMASCUS. What a joy. Seriously! Not only did most of them read the book! (Honestly, I think they did!) But the conversation was top notch. Thoughtful questions. Engaged readers. Awakened advocacy for refugees. TOP NOTCH! (I don't know why I keep saying that. Jet lag? Ocean longing? Top notch!)

All I know is I am grateful for people's response and love.

If you have a book club who might be interested in reading my book and or having me speak, please be in touch. That'd be top notch! (Can't. Stop.)


Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I'm home. For now.

I have spent the last 6 weeks in 5 cities reading signing and speaking about and from my memoir, "Three Days in Damascus" (published by Palewell Press, 2016). What a whirlwind---Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Washington D.C. and then to London for the UK launch of my book last week.

It has been an honor and a joy to share my book across the world, advocating for refugees. I have so enjoyed speaking about my process and experiences and even more enjoyed hearing people's reactions and questions. We have had engaging and lively discussions on behalf of refugees and dislocated, disenfranchised people everywhere. I have been joined in discussion by advocates on the issue: Roya Naderi (Karam Foundation) and Jamil Khoury (Silk Road Rising Theatre) in Chicago, Kristi Rendahl (Center for Victims of Torture) in Minneapolis, Deborah Oster Pannell in NYC, C.E. Vargas (Int. Center for Religion and Diplomacy) and Erik Gustafson (Education for Peace in Iraq Center) in D.C. and Anna Farina (Syria Relief) in London--brilliant, generous people, sharing their perspectives and thoughts in the discussion. So grateful for their participation.

And I'm not done yet!

I go to Palm Beach next week for some book club discussions and then back to New York City for an author event at Intersections International. Intersections is the organization that brought me to the Middle East in the first place---starting me on this journey. What a fitting way to end this part of my book tour, bookending it perfectly.

If you haven't read the book and want to, you can find it in paperback or ebook on amazon here.

And the full tour and more on the book is available at