Friday, May 25, 2012

A Spiritual Lawyer's Advice

I think Perry Mason had more to do with my being a lawyer than anyone else. And watching Law & Order for the past ten or so years made me feel better about being one. But after 30 years of practice, I know for sure that truth and justice are not necessarily the American way.

The American way is more about getting one over on the other side and finding loopholes to pervert the intention of the law. While justice is something we all yearn for, in reality, it's expensive and hard to come by.

I gave a talk recently to business owners about the Top 5 Legal Tips  they should know.  I planned to talk about business formations and reading contracts before you sign them. And I did touch on that.

But I began to think more deeply about it and my advice boiled down to one piece of wisdom:
 Avoid contact with the legal system as best you can.

As a lawyer, part of the system and part of the problem, it's clear to me that  Justice  - with a capital "J" - is not only hard to get , but it will take longer and cost more than you think. So be prepared!

I've observed it's often better to step back and see what's really going on in connection with "the other side." In a partnership split, does one owner really covet the other's pretty wife and smart kids? When one sibling sues another about shares of a parent's estate, is it really about who was loved more, or whose life turned out better?

If you can come up with a spiritual resolution, you can save yourself a lot of legal fees. Maybe you just are jealous of your sibling or your partner. Whatever it is, work it out with a therapist before you sign a retainer agreement.

And if you do find yourself needing a lawyer, remember:
  • If you're at the point of a lawsuit, the lawyers may be the biggest winners.
  • If you're in a lawsuit, the winner is often the one who has the most money to spend.
  • There is no such thing as a non-litigious area of the law. Even house closings have "the other side."
  • Try not to sign something you haven't read. The fine print is written by lawyers and it can and will be used against you if a dispute arises.
  • Don't be afraid to negotiate to get a better deal or remove language that can come back and bite you later.
  • Trust your own gut reaction. If you don't want to annihilate the other side, maybe you shouldn't.
And who knows - if life is a mirror, and what is around us reflects us, maybe it makes sense to behave decently and you'll be treated decently in return.

If you need a lawyer, invest the time to find someone you like, who is competent and compassionate. Then if legal troubles cross your path, you'll have a trusted ally and advocate.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

JORDAN ALMONDS - Are They From Jordan?

That’s not what this story’s about – so here’s the answer. No they are not. Here’s a little history if you need a digression.

When my brother and I met up in Florida for the first time in about a year – to celebrate our fifty something birthdays – we  had our birthday dinner, and then we stepped outside into an upscale outdoor Florida mall – and happened upon an outdoor acoustic show, an ice scream store and something called  It'Sugar.

 Yes there is such a place and it carries exactly what you’d expect. Only unlike the mall candy stores I’d seen in the past – this place was supersized – and it carried fewer items – but seemingly picked by Martha Stewart because the colors in the various displays were so coordinated – with such abundance and sleek plastic looking  sugar coatings - that you couldn't help but approach.
And when my brother and I made our way around the plastic looking candy, walking quickly past the gummi bears, and tennis ball size jaw breakers, we both suddenly stopped at jumbo sized pastel colored Jordan Almonds. 
“I’ve  always loved them” we both said at the same time.

He immediately grabbed a bag and we surrendered to the type of indulgence one only confesses to family members or former college roommates who know the true you. We purchased some…..or I should say, my brother purchased some. A quarter of a pound to be exact.
I was witnessing a frugal Taurus, in action. I called him on it.
“Shouldn’t we get more?” I asked truly puzzled at the paltry 18 or so almonds in the clear plastic bag.
“But Sue “ he practically whined” they’re $6.99 pound. “

To me, being the overly indulgent Aries, abundance is key and this was falling far short. I piped up: “Who cares, they’re here and so are we. Do you think we won’t want more?”
He was certain we had enough and I didn’t want to look like the overindulgent person I am, so I said nothing further.

By the time we returned to the beach house, and mellowed into some 123 Boggle and mind-numbing tv favorites (e.g., Law and Order) and delicious laughs from “Modern Family” – the Jordan Almonds were gone.
Not only were they gone, by the next day – we started to make only slightly out of the way Jordan Almond runs.   CVS – which seems to be on every corner in Florida – didn’t carry them.

My brother, surprised me with abundant knowledge about food stocking - here was a family resource I was glad to tap into.... He accurately reported:”“Nah, no one carries this – CVS is paid to only carry the big brands – a one off item like this isn’t going to be here.”  Could he be right, I wondered. Surely at Easter we could find them everywhere.
But he was right. See for yourself:

                                                            NO JORDAN ALMONDS AT CVS
I was bewildered but as I perused the shelves –there was no doubt about it. There were no Jordan Almonds.  And that was true everywhere else we looked too.

Where are they from? Jordan?

Turns out we finally found them in the nut section of Publix – miracle of miracle and then had enough to sustain us for the next several days, as well as the car ride back to New York.
 Who would have thought this little Florida foray would have uncovered such a long held secret – hidden from a family member with the same DNA and same secret craving for these sugar coated delights.

I know that by the time my brother returned to California, he had given up the search for these lusty almonds. But me, well this was one familial common denominator – that once reactivated – was hard to suppress or repress.

Just as we had in Florida, I began searching for them. After all, it was the week before Easter so they should have been standly proudly beside the Little Peeps and the ever precious and wonderful Cadbury Eggs (the secret treat that Amanda and I share) – but no – the Jordan Almonds were nowhere to be found.

Not at the A & P amid the nut shelves, not in the off-major-brand drug store Value Drug – nor other places where I thought they may be – places not like CVS  which are nationwide and shut out minor brands….I learned CVS essentially only carries M&M products. I was searching for these precious nuts – not just for myself – but for my beloved brother too. He’d left some stuff behind and I wanted to surprise him by returning not only his random possessions – but also by enclosing some Jordan Almonds.

And then lo and behold – just when I had given up – there they were. Tucked on the bottom of the dried fruit and nut section of a local neighborhood gourmet store. Three little containers – incredibly overpriced (yes Richard – a lot more than the $6.99/lb) and I scooped them up – all three. (No Jessie, I didn’t leave any just in case some other desperate soul came in looking – sorry!)
                                                         HERE THEY ARE ON THE KITCHEN TABLE
So at long last I was ready to send off the little memento to my brother. But what do you think happened next?
I’d ask you to turn this upside down to read the answer, but I’m sure you don’t need to turn your monitors on end – nor do I know how to type upside down….

[Secret Answer: There is only one Jordan Almond tub remaining. I hope to send it to my brother soon– but I can’t swear to it.]
Happy Spring and Here's To Abundant Jordan Almonds - adding a sweetness to all of our lives.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Having Wrinkles in a High Def World

When Bruce Springstein took the stage at the 2012 Grammy Awards Show, he looked pretty much the same as he had 30 years ago when I saw him at Madison Square Garden. Born to Run and hot to trot. Clearly a little nip and tuck had been at play, but it was so nice to see him so energetic and seemingly still in his prime. Only he and God know whether his knees or hips were in extreme pain for the next few days.
Paul McCartney, whose big brown eyes and boyish face graced my walls for years when I was a teenager, looked not so much old as sad and tired. And no amount of flat dull matte brown hair color could change that impression. I was surprised the Hollywood hairdressers hadn’t done right by him, but even his music seemed to be missing some spark.

But none of it prepared me for the Beach Boys – the cute surfer dudes of my youth whose on screen close-ups were alarming. With their faces weathered and swollen from booze drugs and age, I barely listened to the music. Gone were the thoughts of their glorious musical genius and the happiness it brought.  There were no “good vibrations” on my end. My eyes were fixed on what they had become visually. Note to self, get to a plastic surgeon ASAP. Maybe Joan Rivers was right.
A few nights after the grammies aired, I saw a special about Lucille Ball and she looked wonderful, even as an older woman without surgery. Yes, there are wrinkles and all the rest of it, but she still had the sparkle she possessed as a young woman. Her eyes were bright and she brought a smile to my face and she was already over 60.

Many of the TV icons of my formative years were older people! Who didn’t want Marcus Welby as their doctor or Bonanza’s Lorne Greene, as their dad (or now as their lover!), or Donna Reed as their mother? Was it my perspective or was it ok to be older then?

The advent of high def for celebrities must be what "talkies" were for silent film stars.  When voice was added, those without good ones were axed.  Now that humans are to appear without wrinkles or signs of aging - what will happen?  Will today's hollywood moguls stop making movies or tv shows with anyone over 45? We would've never seen the Golden Girls!

After turning 40 as my eyesight started losing ground,I often thought maybe it’s a good thing. After all, before my glasses are on, I look pretty good in the mirror. 
As I insert my contacts lenses, and I come into clear focus, my own high def horror begins.
Lord put some make-up on that face – where did all those age spots and wrinkles come from? Maybe older people will just keep their hi def tvs a little out of focus to avoid seeing too much!

As an aging boomer, caught between twenty something children, and eighty something parents, fortunately I get another "reality" based perspective. My parents are residents in senior living places and through them I meet plenty of older people who never experience nip and tuck and look wonderful. It’s not all about wrinkles and face-lifts. Being able to laugh and smile is worth a lot more than a face without lines.

A human face sparkles if life shines within.

As these folks share their stories, I get the triumphs and the ups and downs that they  have experienced - that have molded them into who they are. I'm not focused on what a plastic surgeon might have fixed. Then again in the new high def world order, maybe that's how we're all evaluated?
Whatever....Making it through life’s ups and downs is achievement enough – fewer wrinkles or a slack chin don't matter so much at 80, any more than the indelible stretch marks that come with bearing children.

Even as I ponder the likelihood of me and plastic surgery, aging has brought me some special gifts. For starters, I've never felt as self-possessed and free to be who I am. It's been quite liberating to feel self-acceptance. Unlike many of my peers who want to turn the clock back, I have no desire to be 20 or 30 or even 40 again – even if I would be wrinkle free. Sure when I watch tennis players on TV I wish I could play as well, or at all for that matter.  But since I don't inhabit the high def screen, I can sit comfortably in the audience, with my glasses on, ogling the icons who stay forever young.