You win some. You lose some.

During dinner last night, one of the darlings was waiting for the email on whether she had made it onto student council. Five people ran for three spots. Her speech was very funny, slightly quirky, personal, and poetic.

For example, in her speech, she mentioned, “I’m deathly afraid of squirrels. But I love whales.” A mom wonders (worries).

My other daughter said, “She’s going to win.”

“Whatever the outcome, you’re a winner in my book,” I said.

We started talking about rejection.

My husband talking about running for Actors Equity Council several times and not being elected.

I said, I can’t count how many of my stories and novels have been rejected.

My other kids talked about not getting parts in plays. Or not being chosen for a school leadership program or a semester exchange program.

Wow! I thought, as a family, we’ve really put ourselves out there. It takes courage to send yourself, your work, your potential leadership out into the world.

And the anxiety is intense — as you wait to learn yours or your work’s fate — from elections, an editor’s perspective, a director’s choice, or a program committee’s discretion.

So, we’d had no word yet on the results. Four of us were watching Modern Family. My daughter got the news.

She walked into the family room: “You’re looking at one of your 9th grade student council representatives!”

We can.
Yes, we can. Take a risk.

We cheered! Those moments of putting yourself out there pay off.

You’re no longer commiserating about rejection, but celebrating a win! We were so happy for her.

How do you handle rejection? How about those wins? Let’s celebrate our courage as we put ourselves in the arena.

Every risk — no matter how small — pays off. In some way. It may not even be the way you intended, but it will pay off. Today, take a risk to make something better.  

Ready, Set, Done. (I started this blog post in my journal and then finished it on my blog.) I am also a part of #31daysofwriting.

Lean In

I felt so happy to meet Sheryl Sandberg at BlogHer

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and the author of Lean In, talked about how women can step into their rightful place as leaders.

Sheryl Sandberg
Lisa Stone interviews Sheryl Sandberg at the BlogeHer Conference in Chicago

Sandberg said she was inspired by Mellody Hobson, a Chicago businesswoman, who said she was “unapologetically an African American and unapologetically a woman.” Sandberg said she was “unapologetically a business executive and unapologetically a feminist.” Me too!

Sandberg’s blunt truth is that “men rule the world. Ninety-five percent of big companies are run by men.” We all have biases so let’s not be afraid to talk about them and fix them.

As women, we must do a better job of believing in ourselves and stepping up as leaders. And we don’t have to be titans of industries. This applies to women as leaders in our families, school boards, small businesses, classrooms, and hospitals — wherever we find ourselves .

I love this message. I’m glad people are hearing it. I’m glad women are lifting each other up.

I stayed for a small group session. That’s where I briefly chatted with Sandberg. I told her I, too, was a COO of a small biz.

“Really?” she asked. “What’s your business?”

“I lead writing workshops.”

“That’s great!” She said. She seemed genuinely excited and interested in Boot Camp for Writers

As a workshop leader, I’m always trying to improve my game. So I wondered what kind of workshop does the most powerful woman in the world lead. Turns out it’s not so different than mine. Yes, the introduction part of the workshop is EXACTLY the same as mine. It’s a way for people to get to know each other and it’s an exercise I learned from my mother.

Professor Carole Robin from Stanford University led the small group exercises. She told us that we are “three to six times more creative in a group than we are alone.” The power of the peer group can be seen in study groups, weight loss programs, and I would add, church groups. We are challenged and encouraged in small groups. We learn best when we move out of our comfort zones. In fact, “it’s impossible to learn if you remain comfortable,” Robin said.

In our group of six we talked about times when we were brave and times when we were unable to take risks. I can’t disclose more because we agreed to anonymity. We learned that disclosure begets disclosure. And I made a few new friends and cheerleaders!

Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, is a bestseller and it’s my book club’s choice this month. We meet on Monday night. And you know I’ll have a lot to talk about when we get together.

I’m going to check out, which is the fastest growing and most engaged internet community . I’m going to value and encourage the leadership of the women and girls in my life. I’m not afraid to push back on sexism and the pay gap. I’m not afraid, even when I feel myself shrink from taking my rightful place at decision-making tables.

I have Sandberg on my side. So do you. So go ahead. Lean in. We’ve got your back.



Right outside my office, there was an empty cubicle and right next to the empty cube was P’s desk which overflowed with papers and magazines. I told P. that she and I should both ask management to break down that wall and enlarge her space into the empty cube. We did and now there’s one large cube.

I like encouraging people and being encouraged to learn, grow, and get bigger. Not everyone does this. I think sometimes people might feel like enlarging someone else’s space might diminish their own. But admiring and enlarging others makes us bigger too.

I love the way Vincent Van Gogh wrote in his letters to Theo about his admiration for his contemporaries. He admired religion, Japanese art, other artists.

“If I love someone or something, then I do so in earnest and sometimes with real passion and fire, but that doesn’t make me think as a matter of course that only a few people are perfect and all the others worthless — far from it.”

More inspiring quotes from Vincent van Gogh:

“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

“I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.”

And in his letters, Vincent advised his brother, Theo, over and over, to “admire.” For me, that means to enlarge others. I look for the good in everyone and try to get them more space.


Mother Daughter Book Club

The House on Mango Street

This month we met at our house and we discussed the House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. We were five moms and six daughters, in 6th and 7th grades. We had these comments:

  • the language is poetic
  • the daughter feels ashamed of her home
  • all women and girls feel that they are different
  • the women keep the families going
  • every man is suspicious
  • it’s not so great to be pretty
  • names and naming are important

The next book we read is Home for the Holidays: Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick.

I have signed myself and the girls up for Girls Leadership Institute in March. It’s expensive and I have to save some money in the coming months from my writing and teaching to pay for it.

As I was sitting in the circle last night, talking about this book with my book-loving friends, old and young, I felt we are already in a leadership group. Sharing the truths found in books is a way to talk about yourself, your values and girls’ leadership.

Family Screen Time

Sometimes I like staring at a screen with my kids, instead of staring at our own individual screens. Tonite the darlings and I played wii. We were yelling at the screen instead of each other. I played horribly in every single wii game, especially wii Fishing and wii Ping Pong. The kids enjoyed how bad I was. They bonded over my ineptitude. That was nice that they bonded.

We were all fairly exhausted. One of my daughters had been to the Met, the other to the Natural History, my son to the basketball court and me? I played games with my colleagues in the 3rd floor conference room at the Leadership Academy. Yes, the workplace academy was a big success. As I’ve mentioned, I love this kind of thing — a chance to deepen friendships, share positive ideas, strategize, commit to change, help other people become leaders. What’s not to love! 

One highlight for our group was learning about and applying the three levels of listening.

1) Listen to yourself. Your thoughts, feelings. (And yes, insecurity lives here.)

2) Listen to the other. With focus, as if to a lover.

3) Listen to the global environment. The vibe.

It made sense. Often I’m stuck in a personal, reflective space when there is a bigger mood I could be aware of.

I would pay (and I have paid) to experience this kind of personal growth — to learn how better I can understand and use my gifts. Instead, I get paid to learn. I love that my job involves so much learning — about myself, about the other, and about the global environment.

Okay, so given that I am competitive and I have to face the reality that I may never beat the darlings at any wii games, I can console myself that I am good at other types of games. Like the game of personal growth. I am curious about the world and what makes other people tick. I love encouraging others. I hope to continue to share this openness and positivity and teach my kids to value learning and their own unique skills.

I hope that the kids and I do not lose ourselves in screens, but if we do, at times, I hope that we can always stop our individual games and learn to play together. Even if we are not gifted with the necessary hand-eye coordination.

When work becomes play — be it the work of parenting or paid work — it really rocks.