Watch “Defining Moments – Choose your Battles.” on YouTube

Posted on May 5, 2014. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Defining Moments – Choose your Battles.:

My mother taught me early that I must choose my battles wisely, decide what issues are worth my attention and efforts.  Sometimes, you may have to lose a battle to win a war.  Here’s my story of when I finally realized the gravity of actions and consequences.

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The Doors of Destiny

Posted on March 3, 2014. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Doors of Destiny

The doors of Destiny await, what is meant for you is the key, your belief and energy turn the lock.

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The whole world is waiting for YOU!

Posted on March 27, 2013. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The first time I heard this song, it brought tears to my eyes and still does. Your dreams are beautiful, and your dreams make you beautiful.

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The Most Expensive COOKIE In The World

Posted on February 5, 2013. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This is my 40th post, so make sure you check out the previous 39!

 

 

People that know me, and those that have viewed my post, Taking Things In Stride ( https://morelemonsplease.com/2012/03/19/taking-things-in-stride/ ) know I like my cookies.  My father used to go to the bakery and pick up cookies that were 6 inches across!     Born into a sweet tooth family, a dinner treat was something revered.  At my grandmother’s, there was an endless supply of ice cream.  She was well known for her brownies, apple pies and sweet potato pies, which all went well with Breyers.  Weekends were spent sitting on her couch after a family meal, eating dessert while watching captivating cinema, like Beastmaster in LA, Trolls, Escape from New York or Leprechaun.   My Grandmother snacked on danish cookies almost daily.  For the divorcee whofamily pics 001 worked until she was in her 80’s, having treats was the simplest of comfort and reward.

My Wife loves sweets, which are in abundance in the Philippines.  Halo-Halo, Buko Pandan, Boba Teas or Sago’t Gulaman, she’ll take them!  My favorite of Filipino desserts is Biko, a sweet sticky rice and coconut treat my mother-in-law made for me.  Very time and labor intensive, it was her way of showing her love.  Sweets convey a kindness, a warmth, a belonging in any language without uttering a word.  I paid $50 for some biko, but the store skimped and made it with regular rice.  That’s the most I’ve ever paid for a dessert and it was a waste of money for something so unauthentic.   I’ve heard stories of extravagant desserts, like Serendipity NYC’s edible gold foil desserts, which cost in the thousands, and a cake encrusted in diamonds from Japan that cost over a million.  However today, the question is about the most expensive cookie.  I’ve waxed nostalgic, but now I must tell you what happened over the weekend.

I was walking in the store and there was a mother walking with her daughter.  The daughter, who looked to be about 9 years old, turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, I want a cookie!”.  The mother, looking forward without making eye contact, replied, “And I want a million dollars.”.

I watch the life and excitement leave that little girl’s eyes in that heartbreaking second.  I had witnessed The Most Expensive Cookie in the World.

Comparing the want of one cookie to the want of one million dollars spoke volumes.  In our youth, we compared something unobtainable to the millionth power.  Not in a million years!  You’ve got a million in one shot!  Removing whether or not that child was deserving, the issue is the comparison attached to the request.  Sometimes the smallest ripple becomes the biggest wave, and small disappointments can become ground zero for the biggest obstacles in our psyche.

Two dear friends created organizations that have programs supporting positive development of girls, and I’d like to take time to give them a shoutout.  Linda Arrey is the founder of W.I.L.D.E., Women in Leadership Development and Empowerment.  Based out of Atlanta (Hotlanta!),  thier mission is to empower a new generation of women leaders to benefit whole communities.  www.wildellc.com .  Amy Siskind is the co-founder of The New Agenda, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls by bringing about systemic change in the media, at the workplace, at school and at home.  www.thenewagenda.net  Please visit their websites and LIKE them on social media, give your support!

Support is what we need to give to children asking for a cookie, a little piece of comfort.  Support is needed for the child that was told no, whether no was for their own good or otherwise.  Disappointments will always be there, but they don’t have to stay there.  I couldn’t recover fast enough to say something to that mother, and maybe it was for the better.  Time brings a cooler head, so more than likely my words now would go further.  If I did see them again (I would recognize the mother), I would tell her that if she gave her a cookie for every book the child read that made her stronger, wiser and taught her how to obtain wealth, that child would reward her with 10 million dollars.   That 10 million might not manifest in currency.  It may be the child who received the encouragement to become something too valuable to quantify in currency: saving lives, changing the world, etc.  It may be the child that overcomes odds such as disabilities or environment.  It may be the child that just smiles and lives an average life, grateful to know what love and support feels like and able to share it with others.  There are no guarantees, you do what you can and hope for the best outcome.

Who wants a cookie?

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The Amazing Transformation of a Guy who Didn’t Give Up.

Posted on November 25, 2012. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Losing Your Job, Part Two

Posted on May 17, 2012. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Who would have thought disrobing and standing in front of people in your underwear would be an omen?

As I drove away from my FORMER job, I was relieved, even if I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring.  I knew from my family that opportunity is forever present, but it’s up to us to discern that opportunity.  The first month was challenging, and I started to doubt if my speaking out was the right thing.  It had to be, staying silent for me was ugly and evil.  I knew I could survive, but I cringed at the thought of the battle scars.  I also knew I had a few more cards to play, and I had nothing to lose.

After a month, I put in my appeal of the termination.  In their haste, my supervisors committed a no-no much grander in scale than the technicality that got me fired.  I also started writing about all the illegal activity I could remember.  A month into my battle plan, my money ran out.

Believe what you will, but I believe prayer works.

The next day, I got a phone call from another officer who had also experienced issues at the job.  She informed me that the Prosecutor’s Office was doing a big investigation.  By no means did enough heads roll, but they arrested a token few whose indiscretions were too much to conceal.  Somebody was finally looking.

Example:  An inmate complained that she was being forced to have oral sex with an officer known to “hate inmates”.  He denied it, then the inmate produced a Ziploc Baggie filled with his semen, not an easy find in an all female facility.

While on the phone, the mailman came with one envelope from the Department of Justice, one from my attorney.  The State of NJ wanted to settle my previous lawsuit  (discrimination and harassment) and combine my suit into a Consent Decree.   I’ll go into more detail in the “More Lemons Please!”  book.   I received a check, and I was able to exhale.  However, I knew it would not last, and I had to find something.

After wearing polyester for so long, I needed to find a new fashion attitude.  I went to a plus sized fashion convention, where I drew some attention.  As I was looking at clothes, I was asked to try on different styles by one of the vendors.  I ended up modeling at the convention including a line that is known as “fetish wear”.  Actually, with the fetish wear, I got A LOT of attention.  I found that I became adventurous going forward, and wow did I do it with a twist!

Later on, I also helped run that clothing company and found it strikingly easy.  There was a system in place and all I had to do was follow the system.  I learned that there were skills I got from law enforcement that I could re-translate.   Once I knew what those skills were and saw the pattern, I was no longer one-dimensional.  I stopped being stressed when I realized a change in definitions revealed more about what I could do.   I packed up, walked away from my house in NJ and  moved to the Midwest.  I was part of a successful business.

Then, I lost my job.  Again.

Let me know when you’re ready for part three.  https://morelemonsplease.com/2012/05/26/losing-your-job-part-three-finale/

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I don’t want to grow up!

Posted on April 29, 2012. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

ImageJann and I just got back from a week in Sarasota on business.  During the trip, we did things most people do, eat, sleep, sight see, and do the business we were there for.  While there, I did something that was special to me:  I fulfilled a lifelong dream of seeing manatees.

ImageMeet my new friend, SNOOTY, the oldest living manatee in the world.  We broke away from our business seminar early (I know you understand, Andrew) and headed for the first feeding show.  After all the grown up topics, I needed to give balance to my inner child and make this dream come true.

Image (My Mentor, Andrew Neitlich)

During our trip, we also found time to meet with our friends, Yuka and James Mehling.  We got our supply of Haraki-Gordon Green Tea (best in the world),  and walked the beaches of Siesta Key (voted #1 in the US)  While on the beach, armed with ziploc baggies, Jann and I scooped up white powder-fine sand to bring back for friends and for our own reflection.  Later, we combed the beach looking for shells to take back as well.  That night, we dined at Vizen (the most AMAZING Japanese food, from someone not fond of Japanese food). The chefs, Matsu and Mariko were gracious hosts, and opened my culinary eyes. I’m sure they laughed as we threw decorum aside and publicly proclaimed our delight at every stage of our meal like kids.

Image(James and Yuka)

Jann and I often reflect on our path in life and have come to the conclusion that too many people think that growing up means you leave the child in you behind.  If you take a look however, you’ll see that true success involved a balance.  Have you ever seen a baby try to stand, fall, then give up?  Have you even had a group of kids ask “What parameters should we use as we play?”?  There is a remarkable spirit in childhood some of us lose touch with as we age.  Strangely, we seek it as we age, realizing it’s slipping through our grasp, hoping to revisit that magic before it’s too late.  It’s that magic that makes the human race progress, climb, reach for stars, and takes simple thought and wildest dream into the here and now.  Would we fly, reach the moon, go around the world, or even be able to read this on your electronic devices without this magic of spirit?

Life is precious and tomorrow is not promised.  Dreams need to take flight, and there’s no better time than today.  My parting word:  Childhood never really leaves us.  Get back in touch with the child that dreams, the child that falls and scuffs a knee and gets back up without fear.  Paint life beautifully with the eyes of a child.

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if I die before I wake… (Prisoner no more)

Posted on April 11, 2012. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I had a wonderful time chatting with an old buddy, Ana Sonia Vinatea, who now resides in Dubai.  She’s an artist, entrepreneur, champion of all things 4-legged.  I was telling her about my “past life” as a law enforcement officer.  I’ve always been on the unconventional side, sometimes subversive.  I reflected on one moment of subversion.

Prison sucks.  It’s depressing, confining, and ranks rock bottom for life experiences.  We used to say it’s so low, that you have to jump up to touch the curb.  It’s hard to be optimistic in an environment like this for 14 years, but I managed.  My door was open to any inmate who had something positive to say, or dream, to the chagrin of most of my supervisors.

Those same supervisors eventually came under fire for illegal activities (rape, drugs), but I digress.  Uhuh.

One inmate (I’ll call her Yoli) came in to my unit.  She had some serious baggage, but she had a dream.  She thought if there was someone there to counsel her during hard times, she would possibly not be in the system.  She wanted to be that “someone” for others who need counselling and intervention.  I asked her what was stopping her, she said “I don’t have a GED.”.  I smiled.Image

My father went around to the area churches, dropping off fliers and brochures about continuing education. He always had them, the information pack rat he was.  I couldn’t bring in the information for Yoli alone, that would constitute “Undue Familiarity”, which is a serious offense and would have put my job in jeopardy.  However, I did receive a donation of brochures from a church, which was permitted.  I received the donation from the church trustee (thanks Dad) and placed the brochures on a table in the public areas.

I called Yoli over and told her to take a look at the brochures.  Fast forward…

Yoli took that information and got her GED while in prison, and signed up for distance courses.  She got her associates degree, became a substance abuse/HIV AIDS Counselor for a major NJ foundation with a flowery name, where she still works, at my last inquiry.  When Yoli took those brochures, she stopped being a prisoner to her circumstances, freeing her mind to live.  So often I saw people whose true incarceration was mental more than physical.  I still see it today, and it has nothing to do with correctional facilities.

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My best friend passed away in 2003.  I’m a bit choked up writing about him because we were so FRIGGIN close.  Almost everything I do, everyday, is him, especially this blog.  Both my parents fought to inspire people out of their mental prisons, and I carry their torch.  During my dad’s funeral, we watched person after person line up, and heard stories of my dad helping people out of their mental prisons that we weren’t even aware of.  Person after person told their stories of all my dad did for them.  He left a beautiful legacy, and I watch now as my mom leaves an equally spectacular legacy, finding someone to help in some way, each and every day.  

The day before he passed, I had a conversation with my dad.  I told him that I would be OK, and that he didn’t have to hold on anymore (They kicked him out of hospice because he stayed alive too long.).  I told him that I would do as he did, that I was holding on to everything he taught me.  If I die before I wake, I know that I have done what I could to help as many people as I could.  For every day I am here, I’ll look for one more person to help, because prisons suck.

Thanks Mom and Dad.Image

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Yo! You spilled something on your shirt…

Posted on April 2, 2012. Filed under: My Lemon Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

It could be worse.  Remember XYZ, examine your zipper?  Sometimes, we walk around without a clue, until someone points it out to us.  Sometimes, those revelations are embarrassing, shocking, relieving, even funny.  No one person sees everything.  We all have blind spots.

One of my best tools as a coach is to use peer assessments.  I’ve learned that sometimes how we perceive ourselves is not how the world perceives us.  Sometimes, people stop and give you feedback, giving you an angle or view that you don’t immediately have.  Often, this view allows you to adjust your direction and improve what and where you would be.  Often, this is the goal of the person who’s looking at you and giving the feedback.

However, not all feedback is constructive.  That is where you have to learn to make distinctions.   If what the person has to say allows you to build up or be better, keep it.  If what they say (Wow!  You’re sloppy.)  is destructive and leaves no room for improvement, walk away.

Sometimes, run away.

We all want to be our best, and sometimes, the eyes of others are the mirrors we need.

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