Waiting for Superman

I am flying back from Geneva to DC. I have a long list of work I was going to do on the plane, a long list of various things to “think about” (I love to think in the air…). But, somehow, the personal video screen has kidnapped me. Somehow, I started to watch “Waiting for Superman.” It seemed the perfect movie to watch, as I have been thinking about education a lot lately.

My best friend is moving back to DC, and thinking about where she is going to live based on the school options; her daughter – and one of my goddaughters – is not even 3 years old. One of my sisters recently left Georgetown University after two years, without a degree. At 14, one of my future nephews is at an important turning point in his Swiss public school curriculum. Two weeks ago, one of my colleagues decided to leave DC (and Alchimie) and head back to Missouri because she was offered the chance to pursue an MBA for free. And, most vividly, my father told me yesterday, while we were talking about my 18 month old niece Sasha, that an adult’s responsibility in life is to teach his or her kids and grandkids about the world (in this case, he was teaching her about the elusive and temporary nature of snowflakes). Of course, over the last two years, I have also followed the rise and fall of DC ublic Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Somehow, however, I had missed this movie. Thank goodness for trans-Atlantic flights.

I don’t pretend to know anything about how we should educate our children; I certainly don’t pretend to know more than the thousands of professionals dedicated to education. I don’t even pretend to know if I would choose a public over a private over a charter school for my child. But, I do know that I agree with Bill Gates when he says that the economic success of the country, of a country, depends on the education of its people. I do know that education is a right, and should not be left up to chance or up to a lottery. I do know that parents should be involved in their children’s education. And I do know that my father (who was the first in his family to go to college, let alone obtain a medical degree) was right when he made me study when I didn’t want to; when he told me that As were the only option, not because he liked As, but because they would get me into college; when he told me that education was the most important thing in the world, and that especially for a girl, more degrees is always better. Thank goodness for Dad.

Work-life balance?

I don’t often repost data or information without commentary on my blog, but I came across Tim Ferriss’ blog earlier today and just had to. I can’t think of the right adjectives to describe the data… amazing, amazingly scary, disturbing, funny… so many words come to mind. As I begin to think about my New Year’s resolutions, perhaps I can add to the long list:

  • Do not check email in the middle of the night (or in bed in general)
  • Take time off, and encourage my team to use up their vacation days

Thank you Tim for the reminder!

Grateful… for football

It is Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving Thursday, and as if yesterday wasn’t enough, I can’t wait to have some leftovers for lunch and watch more football this afternoon (college in this case, Alabama vs. Auburn). Yesterday was one of my most fun Thanksgivings ever. Instead of listing the really important things I am grateful for this year (family, friends, a fiancé, health…), I thought I should focus on what really occupied my day yesterday, namely football.


As a matter of principle, I like to do what my clients ask me to do. Usually, this is even a pleasure. A month or so ago, I had an unusual request from one of my long-time favorite clients, Hela at the Collection. Monica, the spa manager, asked me to come in and discover the newest treatment on their menu, acupuncture. This was I think her way of thanking me for some fun training and gratis product. Thank you with needles…??? I initially declined, but then reminded myself that I do have a rule about doing what my clients ask of me. So I relented, and booked a treatment for the 5th of November, which back then seemed like a very far away date.

Yesterday was the 5th of November. At 10:30 am, I arrived at Hela at the Collection, always amazed by the beauty of the space. I came so close to backing out of the treatment, but the lady at the front desk told me how she had already done 5 such treatments, and that acupuncture had changed her life. “You don’t even feel the needles,” she said. Yeah, right. Anyway, cancelling at the last minute would have been rude so I dutifully filled out the required forms, and waited.

In comes Sung – my acupuncturist. He leads me to the treatment room, and asks me a few questions: do I have pain anywhere? No. Am I ill? No. How is my stress level? I run my own business – enough said. Have I ever had acupuncture before? No. Am I afraid of needles? Yes. He is reassuringly calm, and tells me he is a third-generation acupuncturist, and that as I am in no specific pain, we are going to work on balance and boosting my immune system. OK.

I lie on the treatment bed, fully clothed (no shoes), and he covers me with a sheet. Before pulling out the needles, he feels my belly. Stomach, intestines, whatever else is in that general area. Apparently, from that, he can tell that I don’t drink enough water and eat too quickly. Hmm. He is going to adapt the acupuncture treatment to help me flush out toxins and relieve stress in my stomach.

This is when I close my eyes. I can’t look at needles without feeling faint (yes, I also get Botox with my eyes closed), even though he insists on showing me how small they are. And the treatment begins. To distract me, Sung tells me he is from Korea, but has been living in California until very recently. He spends part of his time at Hela at the Collection, part of his time working with an acupuncture professor doing research at NIH. All of this sounds very serious. He pauses. “Are you feeling any pain?” “No, you can begin.” Actually, during our brief discussion, he had inserted needles in my feet, lower legs, head, ears, and arms and hands. I didn’t feel a thing. I still couldn’t bring myself to look at the needles.

He said I should stay there about 25 minutes. I might start to feel relaxed, calm. He would be just outside if I needed him. Within about a minute of him leaving the treatment room, I fall asleep. Deep sleep. My phone rang (I noticed later) and I didn’t even hear it (which never happens, usually even just a vibrate ring will wake me up). Apparently, between the relaxing needles (!!), the infra-red light he placed over my naked feet to help with blood circulation, and my general state of sleep deprivation, this was exactly the treatment I needed.

It was painless. It felt relaxing. I had a power-nap mid-morning, and an extra spring in my step for the rest of the day. Thank you Sung. Thank you Monica. May I please come back?