A Gift From Tokyo

Recently, I was in Tokyo for a business trip, and had a few spare hours per day to enjoy the city, culture, and people. It is considered one of the most densely populated cities, and yet there is such organized chaos.

I was reading up on Japanese culture as well as “do’s & don’ts” which were so interesting. Simply, there are things that I observed in Tokyo that I have not seen in the U.S. And quite frankly, there’s an envy and appreciation of their lifestyle that resonates with me.

Although the duration of my stay was short, I noticed a few admirable qualities that I want to incorporate more into my life.

Attention to Detail: I was impressed with everything that I interacted with from the moment of my arrival.  At the airport, the jetway & the floors were immaculate.  The lighting had a positive energy, and even the immigration officers has a good disposition, even to the point that my passport stamp was in alignment square with the edges of my passport.  At the hotel, the cleanliness of the room made me feel like I was the first guest staying in the room – everyday.  The sushi chef served each piece of with minimal sauce that was the appropriate size and portion. 

Courtesy:  There are a bunch of “don’ts” that I read about, but what resonated was that they were not negative, but embodies the priority on courtesy.  Don’t stick your chopstick vertically into your rice as it resembles a funeral ritual.  Don’t wear your shoes inside the home. They should be removed once you are through the door as the “outdoor” shoes are considered unclean.  Don’t skip the line when waiting for a train or anywhere you have to wait as there is typically a single file line. 

Mindfulness: There seems to be a focus on the task at hand.  They do not eat on the run.  There are allocated tables and seats near food stands or kiosks.  I never saw anyone walking and eating a sandwich or burger or even drinking.  No one was eating or drinking on public transportation.  This is probably why the public stations, buses, and subways are so clean.  No one was on their phone while walking on the street or in the busy train stations.  They would step aside, stop to answer the phone, and politely tell the caller that they would call them when arrived at their destination.  It led to such a focused intention of arriving to their destination. What a complete contrast to the “L” & buses I’ve ridden on in Chicago!

I experienced such sense of pride in their actions and behaviors.  I am not joking when I say that everyone, yes, everyone exceeded my expectations. Regardless of their minimal English, their responsibility to me, or their role, I felt everyone did their best with the utmost politeness.

While these qualities are somewhat incorporated into my life, I definitely want to practice building on them to be a more robust person.  Upon my return, I have been steadily slowing down, allowing more time for tasks, being more deliberate in my work, and most importantly,  appreciating being more mindful.  

All Fore One! – Thoughts for Those Women Thinking About Playing Golf or Just Starting Out

Unlike my husband and daughter who started playing golf at an early age, I began learning in my 30s & once my career was established.  My father had suggested that I play golf socially.  He said it was great for business, and I can attest that he is 100% correct. I took a few lessons, but nothing much came of it.  It wasn’t until my 3 year old daughter started taking lessons that I thought I should take it more seriously.

At first, I was apprehensive about committing to the sport.  When I went to the driving range to practice, I didn’t hit the ball all too well.  Sometimes I whiffed, and I was more concerned about making contact with the ball versus where the ball went.  I didn’t like being on the driving range with others, and probably hit my ball off the tee over 90% of the time.  At the time, my favorite part was choosing my outfits.

I joined the 9 hole league, and was absolutely petrified of being on the golf course without my husband.  I wasn’t sure about the rules because my husband tried to be supportive and not too critical.  I was nervous about what the girls would think of me.  I wish I could say that I had the best experience, but I did not.  Unfortunately, I was placed in a foursome where the other three were mean girls….and they were adults.  A vivid memory is that one of them ran over my ball with the golf cart, and drove away laughing. I unsuccessfully tried to hack the ball out of the mud, and was discouraged.  

The brightside of that horrible experience is that I am overly sensitive and supportive of new women golfers.  I am convinced that my experience is isolated, and the rest of the women golfers are nice to play with.  I managed to perservere, and enjoy playing on a regular basis.  I take multiple annual girls’ golf trips with numerous girlfriends, and we play golf as a family when we are on vacation.  I’ve won a couple of local women’s tournaments, and occasionally win the “longest drive” and “closest to the pin” competitions at golf events.  I enjoy the summers in Chicago when there are many fun charity golf events.  

But my favorite part of playing golf is the fellowship with women.  It doesn’t matter if you are good or not, just as long as you show up.  When women play together socially, we encourage each other, we listen, and we laugh. And that’s laughing together not laughing at each other.  We learn to focus together while we are trying to do our best.  Typically, the women I play with are good at almost everything they touch whether it’s their profession, philanthropy, and/or honoring their family. Golf is not easy, and some days you do well, and others, not so much.  If you don’t take it too seriously, it can be fun and enjoyable.

So if you are considering taking up golf, I would highly recommend it. Who doesn’t need more girlfriends to spend quality time with and enjoy life? I welcome it wholeheartedly FORE sure!

Creating Family Traditions


As we watch Kiana grow older, we like to talk about the experiences that we have as a family. Over the Veteran’s Day weekend four years ago, our weekend plans to Texas were rescheduled, but our family had allotted the time away. So I planned a surprise trip to London. I cashed in all my miles & my points for the next great adventure.
Our trip to London was one of the best experiences. Although Scott & I had been to London 13 years before, it was like a first experience to watch my daughter see and learn about London for the first time. In addition, despite the desire to go away to a warm place, London in November was such a fruitful experience. We, as a family, have a new appreciation for Veteran’s Day as it is a BIG deal in the UK. We wear our poppy pins proudly.

Our second year was an even better experience with our trip to Paris. Again, although Scott & I had been there before, we enjoyed watching Kiana excited to see the Eiffel Tower, for her to try a macaron at every store that sold them, and to view how small the Mona Lisa is in real life. Scott & I enjoyed the vacation as well because we were able to reminesce about how we had saved our money for our first trip. Although we had a wonderful first time, our second time had us falling in love with the city again.

Year three was a pivotal since no one had been to Spain before. It was an experience the three of us would be tackling together. We loved eating jamon iberico until we couldn’t anymore (Day 4). We also empowered Kiana to choose and arrange the itinerary. This was the best decision, and stopped the “I am bored” comments. She planned for us to take segways through Barcelona’s Olympic Park, scooters down the boulevard alongside the beach, and electric bikes up and down the narrow streets.

Now we are in year four, and our tradition continues. This year we headed to Italy which included Rome & Florence. This is the second country that no one in our family had visited before. As we continue our adventures, all three of us actively researched what would be fun to do as a family. We were amazed at Rome and Florence’s history, their loyalty to the Catholic heritage, and the preservation of art not only for its beauty, but for the history & pride it brings to the country. This does not even include the amazing food we discovered and devoured.

With all of this being said, my wish is that Kiana has memories of great childhood experiences that teaches her about different cultures that is not so centric on our American life. In times of instant gratification of accessible data from her iPhone, she has learned patience by assisting in planning and executing itineraries, map reading, and hands on minor foreign language dialogue. We hope that our good fortune allows us many more trips abroad as a family to continue the tradition.

Baseball Parks

Baseball listI travel a LOT for my business.  In the beginning, I used to get excited for the trips, and then eventually I got hit with the negatives of traveling which includes airline delays, bad weather, and long hours.  So I created some goals and activities that help ground me and keep the trips exciting.  One of my goals is to visit all of the baseball parks in North America.

People ask me who my favorite team is, and my answer is “I am a fan of baseball.”  I reminisce about my family going to the game, and my father teaching me how to keep score.  I enjoy people watching – especially the kids who are high on cotton candy with the expectation that a fly ball will land in their glove.  Mostly, I enjoy the sounds and sights of the individual parks.
Prior to my trip, I log onto the mlb.com website and check the schedule.  I look at the features of the park including the food venues.  I enjoy taking public transportation to the park.  I typically choose a couple of places ahead of time to hit, but for the most part, I wander within the park.
It’s been interesting to compare the different parks.  I do enjoy the nostalgia of the older parks such as Wrigley, Camden, and Fenway (despite some of the technology and aesthetic changes).  But I am more captivated by the newer parks such as Miller Park and Target Field.
Favorite Foods:
1.  Rangers Ballpark: Coney Island’s Foot Long Chili Dog
2.  Citi Field: El Verano Taqueria’s Elote Corn on the Cob & Chicken Mole Pipian Tacos
3.  Kauffman Stadium: Royals All Star Barbeque’s BBQ pulled pork sandwich
Favorite Park:
Target Field for the Minnesota Twins
I’m looking forward to a great season with my favorite mantra when I am at the game: “It’s a great day/night for baseball!”

Travel

I have the good fortune to travel around the world for my career.  I’ve learned through the years to take the opportunity to enjoy the cities and countries by spending a few extra days absorbing the culture.

There are a few goals that I have when visiting.

  1. Baseball Parks – I want to visit every ballpark in America.  I’m a fan of baseball, no particular team, and I’m fascinated with the spirit of the game. (add check list)
  2. Chinatowns – I was born in Chicago Chinatown, and I find myself comparing it to every Chinatown in the world.
  3. Farmer’s Markets / Food Trucks – I believe that we have a responsibility to support the local communities.  It’s amazing to see the different markets and foods all around the world.

The Aloha Spirit

homepage-1When I was 10, my parents, sister, and I went on our first vacation to the Hawaiian Islands. This trip changed my life, and I return there every year.  One of the biggest reasons we love Hawaii so much is that we acclimated to the lifestyle so easily that the locals believed we were from the island.  No where on the mainland had we received that vibe.