Never mind that I had to get up early on a weekend morning.
Never mind that I had to park a few blocks away to get to the venue so I would not have to search for a parking spot.
Never mind the fact that I waited in a line stretching to another state on a bridge for 2 hours to get through security.
Never mind that I did not have time to eat a breakfast or for that matter lunch today.
Never mind that it was so hot I was a sweaty mess by the time the event actually started.
Never mind any of those things from today.
They do not matter, for I had the great fortune of being in attendance today as the Dalai Lama spoke to an audience of thousands in Louisville.
Once I was able to see him and hear his message, any of the above frustrations was gone from my memory. His Holiness had a simple message; we are all capable of compassion. It is our “default setting” as one of the speakers, Dr. Doty stated in his remarks. Sometimes it is our circumstance, our ego, our bias or our environment that clouds this default nature within us.
Regardless, we are all capable of compassion by seeing ourselves in others. Even for wrongdoers, we can show them compassion by separating the wrongdoer from their action. It is a world of compassion, of tolerance, of humanity that we are looking to create “as man has matured” and we have expanded our scope with small acts of kindness. Though compassion makes for a good slogan, this goes beyond words; this compassion in us begins by taking action.
This compassion and kindness towards others is what I experienced in line waiting for this event. In my 28 years in Kentucky, I had never seen a more diverse group of people gathering for an event. There were people of many different nations, languages, religions, dress all gathered for one single purpose. The air amongst the crowd was of understanding, of tolerance, of compassion.
In particular, the individuals around me were amazing. There was the young mother from my hometown of Bowling Green, KY who had offered to both her sons the opportunity to see the Dalai Lama speak, and her 8 year old choosing to come with her.
Then there was the mother and son duo who had flown from Texas to Louisville for the sole purpose of seeing the Dalai Lama speak.
For me, it was an honor to hear the Dalai Lama speak. He exuded a sense of calmness, peace, and serenity. I enjoyed listening to every word he spoke and watching every action he made in greeting every person he came across. You could tell the audience felt the same way. As he spoke the entire audience hung on his every word. He captured and sustained their attention the way he captured mine.
As we all left at the end of the event, the serenity and peace of his presence stayed with us. His compassion inspired you, regardless of faith, to be a better human being, full of compassion, caring and tolerance. “Compassion begins here [points to his heart]“. I truly believe this was a great start to experience this compassion.
By Lauren Mayer, on Tue May 21, 2013 at 3:00 PM ET
Americans have always had a love-hate relationship with France. On the one hand, we use “french” as a positive adjective, applied to everything from kissing to toast, and we admire French cuisine and fashion. (I’ve always had this image of impeccably chic French women with a spartan wardrobe of 3 perfectly fitted sweaters, a pair of slacks, a pencil skirt, and 2 Hermes scarves, out of which they create 300 different, equally stunning outfits. As well as never getting fat despite enjoying daily champagne and truffles.) But we also use being French as a symbol of snobbery and effete-ness (remember how John Kerry was attacked during the 2004 election for speaking fluent French?, which was supposed to reflect everything that was wrong with his privileged background). And there was that unfortunate episode in 2003 when France’s refusal to participate in the Iraq war resulted in Congress renaming a familiar side dish – anyone remember “freedom fries”?
So France’s latest news will probably cause some mixed reactions, but I for one am thrilled that the country we associate with ooh la la and romance has now opened up official recognition of romance (i.e. marriage) to same sex couples. Sure, France is a largely Catholic country, but it’s also a place we associate with l’amour, toujours l’amour. (Madame Popejoy, my high school french teacher, would be proud of me, I didn’t even have to look up the spelling!)
Quick disclosure – I was actually born in France. (I have no french roots, but my dad was in the airforce about to be stationed in Labrador; he & mom had a whirlwind courtship and he swore the last thing he would do before he shipped out was to get her pregnant. And it was. So she went to France, where her parents were on sabbatical and which was at least a little closer to Labrador. So while I have no recollection of my 3 formative months in France, I have a soft spot for the country.) (And my parents checked, as a US citizen born in an Air Force Hospital, I could run for President. Of course, at the time they checked, Donald Trump wasn’t around. . . . )
Anyway, here’s this week’s song in celebration of France joining the increasingly large list of countries that have legalized same sex marriage:
By Nancy Slotnick, on Tue May 21, 2013 at 8:30 AM ET
How POPS changed my life.
I am referring to Privately Owned Public Spaces, not those cupcakes on a stick that they sell at Starbucks. Those are just weird. Though they are only 170 calories and they’re darn cute. But I digress.
Public space changed my life the first time in ’99, when I met my husband on a street corner. Now it’s changing my business life—who knew that all one has to do is go out in public? I guess on some level I did.
As with most things in my crazy-sexy-cool life, I came upon the POPS serendipitously. [Disclaimer: Please note that my characterization of my life may be highly exaggerated given that I have an eight-year-old son, a pile of bills to pay, and an anxiety disorder. But at least on Tuesdays, I have a crazy-sexy-cool life.]
I was trying to find retail space in New York City for a potential Matchmaker Café site that would fit into my budget. My budget was a maximum of $0. A girl can dream. I came across the empty space in Lincoln Center, next to the Apple store, that used to be Ollie’s, and I noticed that it was empty and locked. I was walking down that block on a frigid winter Tuesday because it is the same block where my husband and I met on the street, incidentally. For those of you who believe in fate, this fact is significant.
I did a quick survey of the premises, knowing that the space had been a public space and having a gut feeling that it wasn’t supposed to be closed. I had no understanding of POPS or their legalities, but something seemed fishy. Thanks to the handy “Open to Public” POPS sign and to the magic of Google, I had the email address of Professor Jerold Kayden, within minutes. He literally wrote the book on the POPS. And within a few more minutes, he emailed me back!
So, short story long, we had a phone meeting and I was told that yes, it’s true, that POPS is not allowed to be closed. But no, in fact, I could not make a Matchmaker Café in that space for free, even if it is benefitting the public, because that would be commercialization of the space. I was crushed. But he invited me to his conference at Harvard to learn more about public space and its uses. It was a free conference. And my old stomping grounds. So I went. It was a crazy snow storm but I put on my Dickie’s coveralls that have a Matchmaker Café patch on them and I got on the train.
Read the rest of… Nancy Slotnick: How POPS Changed my Life
By Krystal Ball, on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM ET
President Obama recently celebrated 100 days of being office for his second term. In recent months his approval rating has been wobbling, but according to a Pew Research Center poll released on Wednesday it has gone up to 51%. While it still lags behind his 55% approval rating a month after being re-elected, his rating is higher than the 47% he received in March.
However, even with his rebounding approval rating, the president faces persistent criticism about how much he has or has not been able to accomplish. With the budget talks at square one, the gun control legislation not passing the Senate (due to a GOP blockade), and both sides failing to rid the country of the sequester, President Obama’s 100 day mark didn’t seem to be filled with many accomplishments.
In this week’s episode of Political Playground Krystal asked her 5-year-old daughter, Ella, what she would ask President Obama if she was a member of the press like her mom.
“Why can’t both sides work together” Ella responded.
Americans agree with Ella. Pew Research Center also found that 80% believe that the president and Republican leaders are not working together. Forty-two percent blame Republican congressional leaders for the gridlock in Washington, while only 22% blame the president.
Ella does have some advice to help President Obama in his next 100 days: “Make your team work harder!”
By Lauren Mayer, on Tue May 14, 2013 at 3:00 PM ET
As last fall’s election made painfully clear, we are a bitterly divided nation: liberal vs. conservative, urban vs. rural, blue vs. red. States in particular have gotten increasingly polarized, with many state legislatures in the control of super-majorities, and each with their own occasionally defiant ideology. Some are pro-business & anti-regulation, some have enacted their own abortion restrictions, some have legalized marijuana even for recreational use, etc. And many states have well-accepted images – Texas has cowboys and oil mavericks, Florida is the home of retired grandparents with New York accents, and thanks to the TV show Portlandia, Oregon is now known to be laid back yet trendy. And so forth.
But what’s happening to California? We’re still a lopsidedly blue state, known for our mild weather, tourist attractions, and botoxed spray-tanned movie stars, but we also used to be the proudly progressive state, or as my Long Island father-in-law calls us, “the land of fruits and nuts.” However, now 12 states plus the District of Columbia are ahead of us in legalizing same-sex marriage. And that includes all of New England, which used to be a bastion of Puritan conservativism. (In my freshman history class at Yale, where I was the only student from the west coast, we learned that the early colonial settlers preferred New England to Virginia because they feared the milder southern weather would encourage indolence and leisure - the professor helpfully added, “so that could explain what’s wrong with California.” Fortunately, I have neither blond hair or a tan, so no one realized I was one of those self-indulgent slobs who’d been corrupted by sunny weather.)
But I digress – Minnesota’s vote for marriage equality is a cause for celebration, and I also understand that legislators in California are waiting for the Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8, but it’s still just a little embarrassing to realize that the way state legislatures are jumping on the bandwagon, we probably won’t even make it to the top 20. And of course there are plenty of liberals in Minnesota, but we don’t exactly think of it as a wild and crazy state full of drag queens and hemp growers. Minnesota has always defied easy categorization, with stoic, independent residents who don’t mind the harsh weather, a place whose congressional delegation can include both Al Franken and Michelle Bachmann, a state which includes wide open spaces and the thriving Twin City area where Mary Tyler Moore threw her hat in the air. So sure, I expected they might come around on marriage equality, but I still thought California would get there first. Now is our only example of leadership going to be allowing right-turn-on-red, as Woody Allen once observed? (Congrats to any of you who recognized that as a line from Annie Hall, and yes, I’m one of those fair-weather fans who prefers Woody Allen’s funny movies . . . . )
Oh well, we can drown our sorrows in organic chai lattes and kale smoothies (which by now they probably have in Minnesota too), and sing this song celebrating the latest good news on marriage equality despite California’s diminishing hipness . . .
By Nancy Slotnick, on Tue May 14, 2013 at 8:30 AM ET
A lot of girls swear by the “thank you” text after a first date. (We’re assuming the guy pays- because he should. :-)) And most guys say that they like to get the thank you text. Or email. But whenever something’s done out of obligation it loses its power. I’m not denying the importance of thanking the guy. But look at the text above, and now imagine saying (or hearing it) it in your most sexy sultry voice while looking a guy straight in the eye, leaning in and showing a hint of cleavage at the same time? Now that’s a powerful move.
Timing is everything. My husband and I missed the first season of 24. We got introduced to it when Fox ran a marathon on Labor Day of 24 hours consecutively, just as they really happened when Jack Bauer was really there. It was so realistic. Well, not really. But the draw of watching it in real time was so powerful that we became instant addicts of the show for life. We couldn’t even bear to go to the gym that Labor Day (well, we did but they had TV’s there) or go to sleep because of what we were missing. It was never the same in future seasons of course but we were happy loyal fans most of the time. It was the timing that got us.
So too is dating. The momentum, the pace, the immediacy as well as the suspense (you can’t give it all up in the first episode) are all what make things exciting. That’s why you have to “leave it all on the field” on the first date. Don’t get complacent and think- I’ll just send the thank you email tomorrow and then I can show how I feel on the 2nd date. You might not get a 2nd date!
Speaking of 2nd date, a lot of the clients that I coach ask me what to do after the first date to make the second date happen. My answer to the girls is this: Nothing.
As I alluded to above, what you do to get the 2nd date always happens on the 1st date. You can’t try to strongarm it afterwards. It just doesn’t work. On the 1st date, be flirty, interesting and interested. Be on time; thank him if he pays. If he doesn’t pay, be very skeptical. (Unless you asked him out.) Always kiss on the 1st date if you like the guy. Don’t maul him; it should come from him but help him create an opportunity for it to happen. Then say good night sweetly and turn and walk away with a spring in your step. That’s what I mean by “leave it all on the field.”
Read the rest of… Nancy Slotnick: “thx 4 the drinks. I had a great time.”
By John Y. Brown III, on Sun May 12, 2013 at 9:46 AM ET
Setting aside one day a year to say “Thank You” to moms—seems like the least we can do. And on balance a pretty good deal.
Without moms, there wouldn’t be the other 364 days a year.
And that’s just for starters.
We would have a lot of bad habits that would hold us back in life and probably eventually lead to homelessness. And we’d have bad table manners and not bathe as frequently as we do. And we’d never gotten beyond 3rd grade in school. And with the foolish things we would try to do in the back yard playing as kids, we’d surely have put out one or both of our eyes. And refrigerators would stay open longer and waste energy. And we would have been cold more often because we forgot to wear warm enough clothes and shoes. And wet more often, too.
Umbrellas may never have been invented if not for moms. Or chicken soup. Or coupons. Or the voice inside our head that says to us, “What would your mother say?” that keeps us from acting on ideas we have that are viewed negatively by society—except in Quintin Tarrentino films.
But even Quintin Tarrentino is better off for having had a good mother. He would have merely been a spastic truant had he not had a good mom instead of one of the greatest film makers of our generation. So Quintin Tarrentino should be especially grateful for his mom.
And we wouldn’t know how to say things like, “Happy Mother’s Day” and mean it. Or “I love you” and mean that.
So, for all those reasons and many more, Happy Mother’s Day!
By John Y. Brown III, on Fri May 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
Thank goodness for imaginary umbrellas and silver linings.
26 years ago this week, Rebecca Jackson (now Rebecca J. Brown) showed up to work at a Derby party my father and step-mother put on. It was a combination Derby and political event. My father was running for governor (term limits at the time prevented him from seeking a second term in 1983 so he had to wait until 1987). He was ahead in the polls but there was this fella named Wallace Wilkinson who was getting attention for proposing a lottery and he had a new hotshot campaign manager named James Carville, who had just come off his first major campaign victory and was looking to make a name for himself.
But 26 years ago yesterday isn’t about politics. But rather romance. I had invited a friend of mine to join me, Andy Blieden. Andy and I had been friends since high school and he was determined to fix me up on a date. The week before we had met for dinner and Andy asked when I had last been out on a date. I answered somewhat jokingly, “Let’s see, this is Thur. So….Wed, Tues, Mon…Um…About 8 ½ months since my last date, give or take a week.” That did it for Andy.
At the party, the outgoing and slightly intoxicated Andy, struck up a conversation with one of the Southern Belle’s greeting guests. He asked her what her name was. “Rebecca Jackson,” she said. “Are you dating anyone?” Andy asked point blank. “No, not right now.” Rebecca responded. “Would you like to date someone?” Andy humorously and pointedly asked. And then brought me over and introduced me.
But before introducing us, Andy pointed out Rebecca to me and said, “You have to meet this girl. She’s beautiful and not dating anyone now.” I said OK and then scoped her out from a distance. She had long blonde hair and seemed sweet and shy. I liked that. So Andy brought me to her and said, “Rebecca, meet John the third. John, meet Rebecca.”
I said, “Hi. How are you?”
“Fine. How are you?” Rebecca responded.
“Are you in a sorority?” I asked.
“Yes. Are you in a fraternity?” Rebecca asked.
“No.” I said.
After a pause, I said, “Well, nice to meet you.”
It was an inauspicious start but later in the day I struck up a much more meaningful conversation with Rebecca about such intimate topics as what she was majoring in and even disclosed my major, too. It was a start.
As the party was winding down I noticed that the group of Southern Belles were leaving the party. I went down and said goodbye and thanked them. And looked longingly at Rebecca because I wanted to ask her out on a date but she was surrounded by sorority sisters and it was too embarrassing for me to pull her aside. She seemed to look longingly back at me, but I couldn’t be sure. So I waved goodbye and as I walked away I was angry at myself for not having the courage to just ask this young lady out. I let her get away.
I missed my chance. She was gone.
Or so I thought.
A few minutes later while I was talking to a photographer working the party, I looked up and saw Rebecca walking toward the house. She had made up a story to her sorority sisters that she needed to go back inside the house to retrieve an umbrella she left behind. She never had an umbrella but wanted to give me another chance without all the other young ladies around to come up with the gumption to ask her out.
I saw her and without thinking went with my gut, “Rebecca. Hey there. Can I talk to you for a minute?”
I said, “You know. Um. ….Maybe sometime, um. We can, you know….If you want to….go out, or something.” Rebecca coolly said, “Yeah. That would be OK.” She added she was moving out of her sorority house and into an apartment that week and didn’t have a new phone number yet. I wrote down my phone number and said, “Why don’t you call me sometime, when you get settled in?” She grimaced slightly and I realized giving Rebecca my number and asking her to call me was not the proper way to ask a true Southern Belle on a date. I quickly recovered by promising to call her sorority in a couple days before she moved out.
I had her number but she didn’t have her umbrella. But achieved her goal of giving a shy guy a little extra time to do what she knew he wanted –and needed–to do.
And I’m awfully grateful for that. And will always have a soft spot in my heart for umbrellas, real and imaginary. Because that one umbrella changed my life forever—and without it I would have missed marrying my soul mate.
Three weeks later, my father lost the Democratic primary for governor to Wallace Wilkinson—but there was a silver lining. I came out a big winner and won the heart of a loving lady now named Rebecca J. Brown. And she won my heart. By a landslide.
I’m not sure what I’m whispering into Rebecca’s ear in the picture above on the afternoon or our wedding day 4 years later…..but it could have been something reaffirming my profound gratitude for sliver linings—- and imaginary umbrellas.