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Hope You Enjoy This Excerpt from Thresholds…

thresholds-by-sherre-hirsch-book_angledI often tell people that I am a B+ mother and I have a B+ marriage, and they always laugh.  They think I am joking.  I am not. They think, Who want to be a B+? Be an A!

Not me. I strive to be a B+.  I strive to be very good, not perfect. Because I know that very good is possible, while perfect is not.

I did not know this from the get-go.  It took me a while to learn.  For example, in the first few years of marriage I thought that anytime the tiniest thing was awry in the relationship, we were on our way to divorce.  I had this naive belief that any marriage that was less than perfect was doomed.

Had I been paying more attention in Hebrew school when I was younger, I would have spared myself a lot of anxiety.  In the first few chapters of the Bible, we learn that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day God rested.  After the first day, when God separated the light from darkness, He saw the light as good.  On the second day, God made no comment.  On the third day, when God created the earth and the seas, He saw what He created as good again.  On the fourth day, when God created the stars and the sun and placed them in the sky to shine upon the earth, He saw it as good again. And even on the fifth day, when God created the animals, He saw it as good.  But on the sixth day, when God created man, he said, “This is not good.” Right away, God realized that creating Adam without a companion was a mistake because Adam was so lonely.  In an attempt to go from not good to at least better, He created Eve to be Adam’s companion and then He blessed the two of them.  Then, in an attempt to summarize all the work of the past few days, “God saw all that He had made and found it very good.”

God did not say that everything was perfect. In adding the “very” to the phrase after a long week of work, God was telling us that we do not need to aim for perfect. God was telling us that it is enough to strive to end each day able to say “good” and some days “very good.”

I don’t imagine God beating Himself up or thinking He was a failure for not creating the perfect world on His first attempt. And neither should we beat ourselves up for not immediately choosing the perfect room or reaching the perfect destination.

God teaches us that we must keep moving forward, even when the choices are not great and the outcomes seem far from perfect. Because only when we let go of the myth of perfection can we begin to enjoy  and embrace all the very good opportunities, experiences, and adventures that lie ahead.

I’d Like to Introduce You to Thresholds…

The One Question That We Must Ask Every Presidential Candidate Now

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In light of the recent comments made by presidential candidates, and due to the fact that we are approaching Elul (the month in which we reflect on our behavior of the past year in preparation for the High Holidays) I cannot help but think about the kind of person that I want to lead the free world.

I am not talking about their politics; I am talking about their character. And if you want to learn about the character of a candidate or any person for that matter just ask this one question:

Do you recognize the need for YOU to make Tshuvah?*

*Repentance: Admit your failings, make amends, and promise not to do it again.

To be a great leader, you have to know that you will make mistakes; you are human. But how you respond to them will separate you from all the others. Maimonides, one of the greatest Jewish philosophers, in his Laws of Repentance, Hilkhot Tshuvah, outlines the definitive Jewish way to repent that is applicable for all people — including the President.

The first step is to acknowledge your transgressions and confess. Jews often think that confession is reserved for Catholics. It is not. We are obligated to say OUT LOUD, “I regret my acts and I am ashamed of them.” Notice the latter part of the statement, “I am ashamed.” The second step is that you must feel remorse. We need a President that not only takes responsibility, but also has a conscience that governs his/her behavior.

According to Maimonides, he/she must then be able to apologize and ask sincerely for forgiveness. When was the last time you heard a President say, “I am sorry, please forgive me?” I get that is hard to apologize to a friend, let alone the American people, but shouldn’t our President have this type of integrity and courage?

Lastly according to Maimonides we must repair the damage we have done and promise that we will not commit that sin again. I know this is a tall order for all of us. I don’t expect any one of us to have it mastered. (If we did there would be no need for Yom Kippur – the day of atonement.) But if we want great leaders than we must demand greatness from them.

In this Presidential campaign, there will be mistakes revealed front and center, but let’s focus on how the candidates respond. Then we will learn far more than just their promises, policies and platforms; we will learn about their ability to be a true leader.

On My Mother’s Birthday…

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I know it is obnoxious to brag about your own kids, but what about your nanny’s?

Thirteen years ago, a timid Guatemalan woman interviewed for a position in our home. She spoke very little English, had three small children, and a loyal husband who worked in the kitchen at the Hyatt. As we spoke, I realized that she also had determination, an incredible work ethic, integrity and a dream for her children. I handed her the keys to our apartment and never looked back.

Now, many years later, so much has changed.  Her English is impeccable. She lost 50 lbs just by removing Coca Cola and adding exercise to her life. She is an American citizen. She is my trusted, more experienced, parental advisor and she is the mother of a college graduate in the top 10% of this year’s UCLA graduating class.

This past Saturday I had the privilege of attending the ceremony as her daughter Melissa, ranked second in her major, accepted her diploma as the first person in her family to ever graduate from university. And while everyone was taking pictures of her, I took pictures of her mother, Sonia, weeping with joy.

Today would be my mother’s 71st birthday.  She was an eternal optimist and dreamed big dreams for everyone she met. Especially her children. My father never finished college and my mother only finished later in life, after she’d gotten married. She and Sonia had spoken of many times about the dreams they shared for their children and the sacrifices it takes to help them along the way. If my mother had been there on Saturday, she would have cheered the loudest and taken thousands of pictures. She would have relished that moment and bragged about for months to everyone she knew.

Today, in honor of my mother, Sonia, and Melissa, take a moment to champion someone else. Remind them that you have their back and that you believe in them. Then go out and brag about them.

Post on Facebook. Tell us on Twitter.

It is not obnoxious; It is a reminder to all of us that when one person truly believes in you and is willing to sacrifice for you, your possibilities are limitless.

 

Adults Need Summer Camp, Too!

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As I anticipate shipping the kids off to summer camp in just a few weeks, I cannot help but wish I was going too.

Summer camp is the best in many ways. You unplug from regular life; you hang out with like-minded people, try new things, play, discover, and make great memories at a blistering pace.

And no homework.

But as adults, isn’t summer camp just a memory?

Just last week I had the good fortune of being invited to attend and present at the Remarkable Women’s Weekend at the Terrenea Resort in Palos Verdes. As the name suggests, we gathered 22 truly remarkable women. Each woman, via highly distinct paths, has made incredible impact in her professional, philanthropic and personal lives. Each woman is a rockstar.

I was not sure what to expect. When you put high-powered, dynamic and driven women together for a weekend, is that a recipe for success? Would they relentlessly compete? Would they retreat to their comfort zones? Could they connect?

We all know that women can be very hard on one another (at any age). But somewhere in the middle of the weekend, when everyone was gathered in spa robes and engrossed in multiple conversations, I saw clearly what this weekend was about. It was our chance to go to camp. Each woman stepping away from their titles, responsibilities, and electronic tethers to reassess, dream, learn and connect.

At the end of the weekend, each woman shared her reflections. As I listened, I was transported to the closing circle on the floor of Bunk 12 in summer of 1982. The sentiments sounded more mature, yet very familiar.

I realized then the power and importance of camp at any age.

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