I am a passionary, a visionary driven by great passion and action. As an active, high-energy social entrepreneur with meaningful social connections as a wife, friend, daughter, mom, and grandma, my life is balanced on a fulcrum constructed like the seesaw at the playground. That fulcrum allows me to stay present in both of these important focal points of my life.
I appreciate engaging in rewarding work that uplifts individuals experiencing illness, setbacks, challenges, or grief. And I also must balance this with healthy gobs of self-care which prevents me from burnout. My self-care menu includes a diverse repertoire, kicking off with spending time with family and friends, which amplifies my sense of meaning, purpose, and belonging. And even though I am an extrovert, my spiritual side needs frequent alone time to walk in nature, swim, or escape into wonderful books and films to discover inspiring people and satisfy my love of learning new things. All of these activities nourish my creativity.
The concept of polarity is fascinating to explore and something I think about and appreciate a lot. The Oxford dictionary defines polarity as the “state of having two opposite or contradictory tendencies, opinions, or aspects.” The concept of polarity conveys the constant pull of many responsibilities, interests, and choices we make each day. Being aware of the polarities allows us to make more informed choices and be more present in the moment, rather than feeling we are being pulled in multiple directions.
Many of my work and self-care rituals can both calm or energize me—which might sound like an oxymoron at first glance. Like so many things in life, these activities spark different emotions, depending on the situation. For example, creating new collaborations with leaders in long-term care facilities to inspire residents to experience greater physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing is both exhilarating and also humbling. Going to the gym six mornings a week gets me energized and also calms me down so I can focus on the rest of the day while being centered and grounded. Speaking of contradictory things that make perfect sense, while I adore my online Google calendar—which allows me to keep up with action-packed days of physical activity, Zoom community gatherings, Soaringwords collaborations, and family time—I also get tremendous joy out of an archaic ritual that harkens back to a simpler, less turbo-charged era. At the start of each week, I grab seven oversized index cards and write out the plans for each day’s meetings, events, commitments, or chores so that I can enjoy the blissful indulgence of crossing things off a list on an actual piece of paper.
Another seemingly contradictory ritual is how I combine thoughtful time management with my motto “stay open to being open.” Being open to being open means appreciating and expecting that spontaneity will happen on a regular basis. Over the past few days, several delightful, unexpected opportunities appeared, and I immediately grabbed the gold ring for each one of them. The first was running into an old friend who recently lost a parent and inviting her to come to dinner this week. The next morning at the gym, I saw a poster announcing the premiere of the new Helen Mirren film, so I bought five tickets and everyone I invited to join me said yes. Another spontaneous moment was saying yes when my son and daughter-in-love said they wanted to stop by for lunch on Saturday. I got up at 7 a.m. before going to synagogue to make a large salad and re-arrange the food from Friday night so it was beautiful and plentiful. We had a lovely visit which culminated in them asking my husband and me if we’d like Charlotte, our granddaughter, to sleep over. The answer was an obvious, resounding YES! Within moments, the metaphorical “WELCOME TO CAMP GRANDMA AND GRANDPA” mat was rolled out. If you’re wanting to tap into your sense of awe, wonder, and joy, I highly recommend that you hang out with an inquisitive adorable four-year-old (not that I’m biased). We swam at a local pool, went on a crosstown bus (as she exclaimed, “I love buses so much!”), and walked through Central Park immediately following a thunderstorm to visit the castle nestled at the foot of the Great Lawn. As we got closer to Belvedere Castle, Charlotte started shouting exuberantly, “Princess, are you there?” I sang made-up songs when walking up a hill: “We’re going up a mountain, a mountain, a mountain. We’re going up a mountain. Here we come.” She picked up the tune and mirrored my exaggerated hand gestures as we climbed up every hill. This whimsical ditty became an instant shared ritual. And as if this wasn’t magical enough, my husband Jacob noticed a rainbow above the clouds.
Throughout our 23-hour visit, I activated my childhood doodling prowess and spent a considerable time making coloring book pages for Charlotte to fill. Bubble letters were my specialty and I took special requests sketching pages and pages of butterflies, unicorns, and puppy dogs for Charlotte to color in, as she said, “all by myself!” Finally, at the end of a fun-filled day, I am grateful that I honored my intuition to go to sleep when she did well before 9 p.m. because 5:45 in the morning came swiftly. Fortunately, she colored quietly on the paper and not on the dining room table while I dragged myself out of bed. We went to the local bagel store, followed by playing in the sprinkler in Central Park, and meeting the rest of the family for lunch a few hours later. At the end of the playdate, we were tired and thrilled.
They say that the best part of being a grandparent is being a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend. This spontaneous playdate taught me another valuable lesson in polarity, as well. As we move through life, we constantly alternate between being both a teacher and student as we learn from each other. And now I can take all of these spontaneous moments and incorporate the joy and insights into the other parts of my life until the next session of Camp Grandma resumes. Today, I invite you to spend a few minutes thinking about being open to the abundant polarities in your life, and how you can say “yes” to spontaneity and joy.
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the power to heal.