ISIS

Holiday Revelation – Who Knew?

Can we believe Thanksgiving has come and gone? Went to the dentist yesterday and their tree and various holiday decorations were everywhere. And yes, we have already gotten two “holiday letters” – both from sweet wonderful families who knew enough to keep the details brief and the photos beautiful. Please take their modeling if you are so moved to write such a year-end letter.

Many of us describe Thanksgiving as our favorite holiday. Fabulous people know well how much they have to be grateful for even if the world with ISIS and various other disturbances (don’t worry, I won’t even mention politics and the 2016 election) has become more frightening. Just read the quick summary of climate change – a short guide for those that have missed what’s been happening and thought: OMG, of course I knew about climate change – but I really didn’t KNOW IT.

That “lack of really knowing” has been a theme for me so far this holiday season. Sadly, I (in a not so fabulous way) have started to do the “older person discussion shuffle” – that dreaded description of “the young” as “having no idea about blah blah blah”. Blah blah blah being whatever we went through when we were their age – this of course being completely reedited for prime time.

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While of course we won’t repeat our parent’s favorite litany of the great depression (1929 not 2008) or talk about WWII (the big one); some of us are starting to recap our early feminist battles or our being the first/fifth this or that woman who did whatever. We got so sick of hearing about the great depression we dismissed its lessons. We were all pretty sorry we did that when 2008 came around. Let’s not tell our adult children or our grandchildren we did this, that and the other wonderful thing because they might do what we mostly did: ignore the real important messages. Talking too frequently leads to deaf ears.

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Continuing this theme of not really knowing I/we saw several movies over the Thanksgiving holiday – both about things I thought I knew all about. Spotlight (trailer below), about the child molestation scandal in the Catholic Church in Boston; and Trumbo (trailer also below), about people being black listed in Hollywood back in the day when fear of communism was racing across America. Being a history bluff I wondered if either were worth seeing – what of course drew me/us in were the amazing casts in both films, and of course the out of this world reviews.

In both cases I realized I had about 20% of the story. Remember Hedda Hopper? Now we were a little young to read Hedda Hopper’s columns but most of us vaguely remembered those hats she was famous for. Well hold on to your hat when you see and experience Helen Mirren’s portrayal of her in Trumbo. She was essentially, absolutely NOT fabulous – despite those amazing hats. Won’t say more – don’t want to spoil it for you.

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Watching the “action” in Spotlight is electrifying – and reminiscent of our work days pre-technology. Old fashioned researching, digging, and reporting reminds us all that whether you are a media/newspaper fan or not, we absolutely need investigative reporting in this fabulous (but flawed – kind of like us no??) country of ours. Of course we still have it. Many of us are aware of how the video of the shooting death in Chicago a year ago was brought to light – by yes, investigative, newspaper journalism.

So we don’t know lots. Even personally – my sister told me a story about she and her late husband that shook me up a little (my lips are sealed). Thought I knew… clearly I didn’t.

So it’s the holidays. Let’s try to stay fabulous by not being so damn sure we know it all about everything from decorations to family recipes. Let’s listen more than talk, go to the movies and learn something, and throw ourselves into the season promising to do new, fun, different AND traditional things. Be fabulous enough not to need to remind people of how you got so fabulous. Actually it doesn’t matter anymore – fabulous is having high integrity and being our best in the NOW. So happy holiday season fabulous sisters – keep up your own good work.

Patty

Being a Bit Naïve – Not Always Funny!

I am not a “been there/done that” sort of woman. Things have and still seem to surprise me. When young, naïve was an understatement to describe my lack of sophistication and savvy. My all time “who knew” story was being asked by a guy at 22 to meet him at the Harvard Club. Yes, I did manage to find it, and yes, I asked for “John Smith” who promptly appeared in the lobby area.

Unfortunately the idea of Harvard as a private club somehow eluded me — I commented to him and a few of his friends that it was interesting that the “Harvard Club” – a public place in my mind – looked and felt like everyone on the walls in those rather grim portraits, and right now standing in the lobby could have ACTUALLY GONE TO HARVARD. Looking at me now as a sophisticated woman of a certain age it seems impossible I could have uttered this HUGE faux pas — but yes sister fabulous women, I did.

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Needless to say John sneered and sent me packing. I tell the story to remind myself and others in my life that I was not born at Saks Fifth Avenue nor raised on the main line of Philadelphia. But interestingly, though much more “seasoned” and exposed to all sorts of people, places and things, I remain more or less a trifle naïve. Not necessarily about which fork to use, or knowing Peter Michael is a great chardonnay not just a guy’s name, I mean naïve in the sense of wondering what in the world is going on here — how could this be happening?

Here are some recent shocks to my system. Am curious if you share my shock or just want to shout to me Patty, snap out of it – don’t be so naïve! More pointedly: when is it OK to be naïve and when does it literally become dangerous?

Shock One: Ben Bernanke was turned down for a mortgage. Yes, it seems the bank he applied to used an algorithm to block new loans to those just changing jobs — even if he is in the one percent and the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank.

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This article makes the point that common sense needs to come back into the mortgage system. Can you blame me for having missed the fact that human factors are no longer used in giving people mortgages? That amazed me — sure you can get a line of credit or a mortgage online, but when did your ability to demonstrate your reliability and financial responsibility lose out to a formula that excludes any personal judgment? This knowledge allows for a great deal more empathy to those who are still being told they can’t have a mortgage. Just laughing at the stupidity of the bankers who rejected Bernanke is not the point.

Shock Two: A long ago corporate client called me out of the blue this weekend. The call came 10 years or so after he had a personal crisis and retired from corporate life to get his life back in order. He indicated his wife was scheduled for surgery this week that is extremely serious — and he wanted me to know that even though we hadn’t seen each other in forever he was using the “wisdom” (his word) I had imparted to him years ago about corporate change and transformation and was using it to help he and his family deal with this stunning negative turn of events in their lives.

I was hugely flattered but amazed. I certainly never thought my corporate consulting work would help someone deal with the possible death of a spouse. Or, maybe I did or at least hoped whatever good I was doing went beyond just good things for the institution. And, it reminded me that what we say – and what we have said – really does matter always.

I was wrong to underestimate the impact I had on people I worked with and naïve to think that my words and actions at work did not have enormous impact.

Shock three: The Canadian capital of Ottawa is the scene of violence today and the story continues to unfold. Terrorism seems to be at issue here. Watching the historic Ottawa Parliament building in lockdown is unnerving. While ISIS did seem far away it is getting unnervingly close. The whole idea of people being “radicalized” and traveling to join various terror spots makes me uneasy. How could the story of freedom and democracy we grew up with fail to connect with a troubling number of people here, in Canada and Europe? What part have we all played in alienating some people so much that they want to join in a crusade against what we see as decency?

While being naïve can be very funny, it can also be dangerous. It can leave us unconcerned with issues that we seriously need to reflect upon and take action upon. As fabulous women we have to know when to laugh, but also when to stop laughing at women wanting to marry ISIS soldiers – and rather contribute to creating bridges of understanding in our own communities so even the thought of this is impossible. Fabulous women know when to be serious and take responsibility for modeling important interest and passion. Or we should.

Patty

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