A "Magic" Moment

It was the latter part of 2002 and my workday in New York City (fundraiser) was a typical one - busy, exciting and never failing to enthrall.  Ending early, I was looking forward to a couple of hours of challenging basketball games at my gym, The Reebok Sports club.

The locker room was almost empty when I arrived at 4:30pm and I went to my normal locker. This was usually my quiet time as the noise and thrill of the basketball games above were consistently lively.

As I stood up and looked behind me, I was surprised to see my favorite NBA basketball player, Magic Johnson. I have been around plenty of celebrities during my ten years in Manhattan so I don’t get overwhelmed by famous people. I was surprised because it was rare to see a highly famous person in the general locker room area as there was a special VIP room for them.

Then, I thought about Magic and what I had heard about his love of people and social skills, along with his down to earth nature and realized that I shouldn’t have been surprised at all.

With this wonderful opportunity for a private chat, I immediately seized the opportunity! We talked about the choke of the Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western conference finals – a series that the Kings should have won but were crippled by the famous Robert Horry 3 pointer at the end of Game 4 to lead Los Angeles to victory, which tied the series at 2-2.

If not for Horry’s heroics, the Kings would have been up 3-1, needing only one more game to end the series. The Lakers went on to win the NBA Championship. It was exciting to hear about Magic’s take on the series and how (in his opinion), the Kings weren’t ready to be champions.

We also talked about some Lakers history, my background and a bit about why he was in NYC.

As some of you know, I’ve been a Los Angles Lakers fan since 1979 – the year Magic joined the Lakers. Some of the best moments in my sports life have been watching Magic over the years, especially facing our arch enemy – Larry Bird and the Celtics. I never missed a single minute of those classic NBA finals or any series involving the Celtics.

What touched me the most about Magic that day was the humanity and kindness. He treated me as if I were an old friend, listening intently when I talked about my college years and giving me great insight about all the things I wanted to know from him. It was a moment I will never forget.

Seeing Magic’s business savvy over the years wasn’t unexpected after that encounter as he possesses some of the main ingredients for success – positivity, listening skills, engaging, a will to win and maybe the most important – the ability to make people feel good.

By playing the game so passionately, he made Lakers fans (and probably most basketball fans) feel good every time he stepped on the court.  In addition, he was one of the fiercest and most competitive players yet always seemed to have fun. And who could forget that smile, which was a common site on and off the basketball court.

It was inspiring to read about Magic’s recent success as the new co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers – an organization in dire need of his forceful energy. A quote is below:

"They swapped the biggest scoundrel in Los Angeles for the biggest prince, an East Coast carpetbagger for a West Coast institution, pursed lips for a glittery smile. Magic Johnson, the leader of the Dodgers' new ownership group, is a five-time NBA champion. Frank McCourt, the disgraced seller, is a loser too many times to count. McCourt made his money in Boston parking lots."

We could all learn a lot from 5 time NBA champion Earvin “Magic” Johnson. He has reached the top of the sports world and is on his way to doing the same in business. He's also been outspoken and positive about his HIV status and has undoubtedly inspired many who live with the disease. The 20th year of his 1991 press conference announcing his HIV was last November.  His aforementioned humanity seems to have played a large part in his sports, financial and health success.

My life has been filled with numerous moments of grandeur although this moment with Magic was one of my favorites.  I was grateful to be able to tell him how much his play inspired me and what joy I got from watching the Lakers dominate in the 80’s.

My Los Angeles Lakers circle is now complete.

Thanks Magic!

Happy Gswede Sunday!


My "American Basketball Coach in Sweden" is in its 8th year and will take place in May of 2012!

Bilingual is Beneficial – Are you Hindering your Child?

Before and after I became a parent, I witnessed something far more frequently than I ever thought I would. What surprised me were parents NOT speaking their mother tongue to their children

Whether it was a Swedish parent living abroad or an American parent in Stockholm, I was puzzled (and still am) as to why they would hinder their child by speaking their 2nd language to them. 

For Swedes who live in the USA or outside of Sweden, I understand the ease of speaking English or the local language with their mixed child although the comfort seems more for the parent. Is the parent embarrassed?

Hearing from a highly educated American parent (who lives here) about how she speaks her 2nd language (Swedish) to her child was shocking. When I asked why she did that, she replied that it was “easier for my child” and she wanted her to be “comfortable” as Swedish was the primary language spoken at the day-care.  As many people know, children can easily handle two or more languages and are often proud of it.

Maybe the opinion of this neuroscientist and her research may help those who fall into this category:

Q. Many immigrants choose not to teach their children their native language. Is this a good thing?

A. I’m asked about this all the time. People e-mail me and say, “I’m getting married to someone from another culture, what should we do with the children?” I always say, “You’re sitting on a potential gift.”

There are two major reasons people should pass their heritage language onto children. First, it connects children to their ancestors. The second is my research: Bilingualism is good for you. It makes brains stronger. It is brain exercise.
Here’s what an American woman (married to a Swede) with two children wrote to me recently:

"George - Giving kids multiple languages is such a gift - I think the persistence of speaking your mother tongue to them (even if they reply in their other language) pays off and is something they will be grateful for in the long run.  A great bonus that it helps their brains in other ways as well."

The “replying in their other language” is something that can throw a parent off as maybe they feel a need to speak the primary language of the child.   My daughter speaks mostly Swedish to me and only Swedish to everyone else, yet I would never deny her the English language in return.

I’ve also heard about the extremes cases, where one parent’s language was forbidden in the household.  Such an act takes “Denying of a Language” to another level - a shameful one in my opinion.

One can’t help but feel for those people affected by the aforementioned selfish act; having to continuously explain why they don’t speak the language of one of their parents.

Parents or Mom’s/Dad’s to be, don’t take the wonderful gift of another language away from your child.  As parents, we are supposed to give our children every chance to learn, improve and succeed in life.  If you snatch this opportunity from them, you are not only hindering their progress, but doing so in those all important formative years.

Remember, it makes “brains stronger” and it “connects children to their ancestors” as the neuroscientist so eloquently said.  

That should be incentive enough for any parent.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

A weekend moment with Father and Son

Doing Less and "BEING" More

Below are a paragraph and link from my 2009 article about women who carry the impossible weight of GREAT on their shoulders:

"On a gorgeous summer day earlier this month, I enjoyed coffee, light snacks and good conversation with three lovely Swedish mothers and the subject of “Doing it all” came up; translation – being a Great Mother, a Great Wife, in Great Shape along with having a Great Career. I heard similar talk amongst several moms in Sweden and the USA previously with some having Superwoman desires for an unrealistic goal."

Here’s an eloquent response I received recently from a former college girlfriend – a woman I was fond of from the moment we met:

‎"Great mother, great wife, great shape, great career..." oh the pressure!! I'm exhausted already! Boring! Forget it! Throw in the towel! For me it isn't about "doing it all," but learning how to do LESS with a little more mediocrity! I can just "be" and that is good enough. We all reflect greatness when we live in alignment with our values."

What I love about the aforementioned paragraph is the focus on simply being. Why do so many find it hard to just BE?  My article was about women who try to DO IT ALL yet many men fall into the same category. As she says, “learn to do LESS with a bit of mediocrity”….a statement I agree with.

In addition, her line about “reflecting greatness when we live in alignment with our values” is powerful.  How many of you truly live in alignment with your values?  

If you let life dictate how you live instead of CYA or Controlling Your Agenda (My CYA article), your alignment will be off.  

If you try to DO too much because you want to be like others who DO more than you, your alignment will be crooked.

If your TO DO LIST is more important than your “family or me time”, alignment is often difficult to get right.

If you are constantly DOING and DOING and DOING things with your kids instead of letting them relax now and then and just BE, chances are that your alignment will have some curves.  Do you really want your children to grow up never being able to deal with boredom and always looking to find the next task?

In the last few years, I’ve found some parental conversations to have a familiar tone when it’s raining outside. Friends are calling each other and asking, “What are you doing?” or “What should we do since it’s raining?”.  Did the thought ever occur to them to a) relax in the house with their kids, or b) give them some quiet time or just BE?

I realize our worlds are busier and more complex than prior generations and often require more endurance from us in terms of work and being a parent, yet that is no excuse for pushing ourselves to exhaustion and/or missing out on the preciousness of life. 

Since life is often hectic, it is extremely important to take a few steps back when possible and relax instead of chasing the DOING part or the unattainable GREATNESS you may seek.  The To Do’s in life aren’t going anywhere.

Don’t “beat yourself up” as this mother candidly admitted in another response to my article:

"Essentially, what I am saying is that I am not able to be great, less alone good at all areas at the same time. What I have learned after many years of beating myself up for it, is that it is OK. As long as I do my best and try to meet everyone I come across (family, work, etc) with compassion and honesty, I am satisfied."

I learned a long time ago how important it is to just be and relax, not just once in a while but everyday.  Even though life can get in the way at times, I find it much easier to soak in the joys and challenges of daily life by just being.

Maybe slowing down a bit and choosing the path of some of the words below may help you get off of the endless treadmill of DOING and get on the healthier path of LIVING:

--   Less is More
--     Just BEING is good enough
--     Kids don’t have to DO SOMETHING all the time
--     Being GREAT is difficult to achieve with one life element and nearly impossible with more than one
--     Relax, Relax, Relax
--     Smell the Roses EVERYDAY not just on vacation
--     Value your “Me Time”
--     Teach your kids how to deal with boredom
--     Be Genuine
--     Don’t envy those who may DO more than you; it’s not a competition.
--     Breath
--     Have Compassion
--     Be Grateful for Life
--     Give and Love
--     Nothing is more important than your health – Move the body
--     Less Stress, Less Stress, Less Stress – Crucial to your Health
--     Reflect Greatness by Living in Alignment with your Values

The most well-rounded people I know and admire exude many elements on the aforementioned list.  In addition, they DO a lot yet don’t get stressed and/or obsessed by it,  they prioritize the art of relaxing especially with their kids,  they give more than they receive, they take care of their health and know that life is NOT about how much we can accomplish.

They don’t know it all, or claim to know all or care about knowing it all. What they do know is this:

The true essence of life is about being/living in the moment and enjoying the small and/or beautiful moments that occur each and every day

Just Be.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

My friend Tony knows how to BE in the moment although he has been known to DO too much sometimes. His photo is above along with his quote below:
"After a beautifully warm Saturday, a freezing fog descended on Stockholm overnight, turning the trees into sculptures. I can't wait for the sun to light them up today! :)"