Cinema Paradiso-Love What You Do!

There are so many great movies out there. I have recently started going back though and seeing some that I  remembered that I enjoyed. One such movie was the 1989 Italian classic, Cinema Paradiso.  For those who don’t know (or don’t remember) this is a coming of age movie about a filmmaker recollecting his childhood, his love with the movies in village’s tiny theater and the deep friendship he formed with the theater’s projectionist. There are a few quotes associated with the movies. One of the more minor ones though has always stuck with me.  The scene is when Alfredo is telling Toto (Salvatore) to leave the town he grew up in and go to Rome.

Alfredo: Get out of here! Go back to Rome. You’re young and the world is yours. I’m old. I don’t want to hear you talk anymore. I want to hear others talking about you. Don’t come back. Don’t think about us. Don’t look back. Don’t write. Don’t give into nostalgia. Forget us all. If you do and you come back, don’t come see me. I won’t let you in my house. Understand? 

Salvatore: Thank you. For everything you’ve done for me. 

Alfredo: Whatever you end up doing, love it. The way you loved the projection booth when you were a little squirt.

The second I heard that last line- “Whatever you end up doing, love it” -I remembered the impact it made on me 20 plus years ago.I always say it seems like 85% of the people who work today DON’T enjoy what they do. AND it has nothing to do with how much or how little money they make. Very powerful line, from a very wonderful movie.

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Spanish Lesson #2: Take Twice As Long To Eat Half As Much

One of my favorite Spanish pastimes is the two hour lunch. I know right there I’ve lost half of you American readers since most Americans eat lunch at their desks or on the go during the work week. But in Spain, lunch is a long, leisurely affair and it doesn’t have to detract from the work day.

Lunch starts late, say 2pm and sometimes even 3pm, so there’s plenty of work that can be accomplished in those morning and early afternoon hours. And that long, afternoon time out of the office spent over a glass or two of wine and assorted small dishes can be a great occasion to really connect with people–not to mention actually enjoy the food you are eating rather than rushing through it. In fact, when you eat slowly you not only have time to enjoy the food but as many a study will tell you, it takes your stomach  20 to 30 minutes to tell your brain that it is full so you can actually leave lunch feeling healthy and satisfied (even if lunch did include a plate of  incredible Iberian ham).

More importantly, the experience of really being in the moment–as opposed to being in a rush to get to the next appointment, email or task–can grow your relationships with family and friends in an incredibly meaningful way. I can tell you that I have had more valuable and productive discussions over long lunches with people here (whom I have know for less than 5 months) than with people I’ve known for 20 years or more over American style lunch.

So I have deepened my relationships on both a personal and professional level (and acquired a love for some of Barcelona’s finest cuisine in the process). The lesson here, I guess, is to start looking at lunch (and really this goes for any gathering over food and wine) in an entirely different way: “Take Twice As Long To Eat Half As Much.”

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People Who I Appreciate...Seth Pariser

Upfront I do want to say this is Seth’s second appearance in my blog. Seth I hope it does not go to your head. But in all seriousness Seth is one of my closest friends…and has been for 23 plus years.  We went to college together, and he was my roomate in New York City until Mike Rosner came along and then ultimately the greatest roomate ever…Alison.

Seth is the epitomy of a passionate caring individual. That is who he is at work, at play, at home. He has many diverse interests. In some ways very much like me, in some ways very much not…I don’t do landscaping and interior design. However Seth is one of the greatest people on this planet. He is the kind of friend that could call me at 2am and I would jump out of bed and drive 1000 miles to help him. Thanks Seth for continuing to make my life better.

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Forgiveness-The Acid Test

I just finished reading the classic book The Power of Your Subconscious Mindby Dr. Joseph Murphy. If you never heard of it I am not surprised-it was written in 1962! However 226 positive reviews (some life changing) can’t be wrong.

Lots of interesting stories and scientific facts. Some parts a bit too religious for my taste, but I was able to sift through and get what I needed out of the book. There was one section in particular that struck me on the power of forgiveness. Now, we all know how important it is to forgive. Ideally in life nobody does anything wrong to you (and vice versa) but in all likelihood they (or you) will. As is the case with many things, it is not what happens but how you handle it, and forgiveness it is no different.

I will spare you the forgiveness prayer he offers  (you can read the book-or contact me). However I  do want to share the most important part and quite frankly one of the biggest takeaways for me on forgiveness. Dr Murphy states:

“There is an acid test for gold. There is also an acid test for forgiveness. If I should tell you something wonderful about about someone who has wronged you, cheated you, or defrauded you, and you sizzled at hearing the good news about this person, the roots of hatred would still be in your subconscious mind playing havoc with you.

You may have memory of the hurt but you do not have the sting or hurt anymore.

This is the acid test of true forgiveness and you must meet it psychologically and spiritually or you will just be deceiving yourself and not practicing the true art of forgiveness.”

So use this acid test. It is a great away of being honest with yourself about who you have truly forgiven (or may still need to forgive). And like many things in life sometimes these things take time. But at least the game of self deception will be behind you.

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Spanish Lesson #1 Remember The Sabbath

I don’t mean to go all Ten Commandments on you, but ““Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” is alive and well in Spain.

That is to say they really understand the idea of a day of rest. And for those of who who’ve heard me talk about how stores close down midday or how the Spaniards take off the entire month of August, I’m not referring to that. I’m referring to the fact that most shops and restaurants close on Sunday and a traditional Sunday here is considered a day spent with your family, taking a nice walk and eating a nice long meal.

It occurred to me and Alison once we figured this out that it’s almost like observing the Sabbath (if we were more religious of course). Unplug, unwind, enjoy quality time with your family and also just quiet time with yourself.

Do you really need a whole day devoted to this every week, you might ask? Well, yes, having had no choice but to embrace it here I can say you do. It’s a gift actually. We all know we will be spending the day together and, frankly, it’s wonderful to walk around the neighborhood and see others doing the same.

Yes, our life in New York is busier times ten—more friends, more family, more extracurricular activities—but, really, there’s something to the idea of taking a day of rest. It’s good for body and spirt.

I’m surprised I didn’t see it before now.

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People I Appreciate...Coach Schanbacher (and a movie recommendation)

Like all of us, you probably had some great teachers, some bad teachers and several mostly average ones. In my case, all it took were a few great ones to make a difference in my life. One that made a difference was my high school cross country and track coach, (and 4th/5th grade gym teacher) Bob Schanbacher. I was thinking of him recently when I came across a documentary about a high school cross country team and their coach called The Long Green Line.

Coach Schanbacher was not the kind of guy who would scream or yell, but you could always tell that he really cared about everyone on the team. Besides the countless hours of running, jumping, lifting  and throwing he made us do there were also plenty of pointers I remember him dispensing. One year in particular – at an assembly – I remember him saying that it’s easy to set goals. People do it all the time. And sometimes people even go as far as to put a plan in place for achieving those goals. But ultimately, he said, it’s not just about setting goals and laying out a plan to accomplish them.Ultimately, it’s about doing the work necessary to get there. As it turns out, our team that year did exactly that. We did the work…and we went to the State Championships. If I recall, there were no stellar performances but nevertheless we accomplished our goal. Although I did not realize it at the time, that lesson stuck with me over the years.

Recently, I reached out to Coach Schanbacher (thank you Google) and within a day I got a response. He wrote back: “A teacher or coach never knows for sure what they leave with each student. They never know which moment or which concept sticks and makes a difference. I have coached a long time now and have had many opportunities to touch lives. I am most thankful for this. And in my attempt to touch lives the students have left their mark on me as well.”

So, Coach Schanbacher: Thank you. You certainly influenced my life and as a result, have had an effect on the lives of the many people around me. Thank you for giving me something to pay forward.

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Less is more

Imagine owning 15 things…that’s it. Scot Berkun interviews start up guru and minimalist Scott Hyde.

“The things you own, end up owning you” (from Chuck Palahniuk’s book/movie Fight Club)

The two concepts I enjoyed about this were the idea of minimalism. The concept that less is more. I am certainly not a minimalist, but do strive to streamline my life as much as possible.

The other point which I though was interesting was the concept of debt. We all know know debt is generally a bad thing. Hyde talks about  reading a post by Fred Wilson with the message of “when was the last time you didn’t spend any money in a day?” He then experimented from those thoughts and left his wallet at home to see how he would get by. Turns out everything he spent cash on was pure comfort goods, he states that he actually could go a week without spending cash besides on groceries. This experiment he said taught him one thing…”Debt kills dreams. Debt is cash, things and fear.”

Yes this is all extreme. I am trying to think about what my 15 things would be? Certainly deodorant, running shoes, my wedding ring, some underwear and a pair of jeans for starters. In all seriousness, I do think there are some valuable lessons here about creating some boundaries in our lives. The end results could make way for a happier, wealthier and certainly less cluttered life.

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