Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Tribute to the Penultimate Mediator: My Mom

My mom is the ultimate optimist. She loves life no matter what it brings. She has always worked hard to make each of her three children, and each of our spouses, feel that they are her favorite and that our own three children are superstars. Each of her 9 grandchildren and each of her 5 great grandchildren adore her for her special attentiveness to them. She travels hours to see their hockey matches, and ballet recitals and babysits two four year old little girls most every week!...and don't even ask about my Dad! She has spent 65 years adoring him and making him feel King of their castle. Never mind that currently they are cruising the Arabian Sea, where she's engaged in bridge lessons while my Dad (now 83) is on deck watching for pirates (alongside the armed guards on the Fly Bridge who are legitimately hired for this purpose these unfortunate days).

So on this Mother's Day, I want to say "thanks" to my loving, wonderful, joyful mom. The lessons of optimism, re-framing every situation to find the good and positive, the attentiveness to each person's perspective, the perseverance in keeping a family as diverse as ours (in most every way) together, year after year, week after week, the balance, and re-balance of perspectives and needs, the open ears and eager open arms, the broad shoulders, the empathic listening, the quiet reassurance (even when it's hard to believe) that "everything's gonna be alright", the light sense of humor and sage advice (as in "you should invest in Kleenex, you're going to be buying a lot of them" when our daughter became critically ill many years ago), all go into the package that is my mom.

Happy Mother's Day: and Thanks for all of these valuable lessons. Hopefully, they have made me not only a better mediator, but a better mom as well.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Condoleeza Rice and Renewed Faith in the Future of America

Last night I attended the Southern California Chapter's Association of Corporate Counsel Association's Annual Event. I'll be honest, I did not expect to be "wowed" by the keynote speaker, Condoleeza Rice after hearing Bill Clinton speak at last year's event. But wowed I was. Rice is articulate, insightful, charming, honest and, in ways I never appreciated as she worked under President Bush, a brilliant thinker. She restored my faith in America, which my readers know was a bit shaken after last week's visit to Alberta. She reminded us that America was founded upon the "myth of the log cabin" and that she was proof that "it doesn't matter where you come from, it matters where you're going". She gave a few good lessons in leadership, my favorite of which was: "I'd rather be naive than cynical, because cynical people can't lead." She reminded us that this country was built by and enhanced by holding promise that the best and the brightest from all over the world could rise to their full potential here. She sees the wisdom and value in education for our children that includes a central place for the arts and despairs that the new global economic leader, if the historic American capitalism loses it's edge, will be replaced by the worst of America if we don't begin to address critical issues including immigration (which she seems to support in accord with the old plan developed by McCain and Kennedy under Bush), education and poverty. She set the audience on edge with respect to the threat by nations that are politically unstable, such as Iran and now Mexico, where the titular authority is unable to control a militant minority and where the government itself is subject to mis-dealings in ways that enhance rather than protect against the instability. As a former student of International Relations, I found her talk fascinating. I haven't yet found the thread which binds this to the work of a mediator--but I'm pretty sure it's there--perhaps sewn into the lining or between those logs, holding us all together.