Birch Aquarium. For over 20 years I’d seen the sign. For over 20 years, I drove past the entrance, on to other sites in La Jolla. Why? I like aquariums! They’re all about the water!

Enough of just looking at the coastline…ocean view of coastline

…the time had come to personally discover Birch Aquarium. aquarium sign2 (2)

I meandered through the exhibits, appreciating colors…orange fish in tidepool

Big Blue Bass

Butterfly Fish

…and the curators’ creativity.

sunken boat with fish

I learned about fish who blend into their environment. Some fish look like plants…tidepool…others look like the surrounding flora.

Dragon Seahorse

Birch even boasts a nursery—for fish!

Baby Seahorses

Juvenile Moon Jellyfish

Juvenile Moon Jellyfish













Breathing in the salty fresh ocean air energized me. And viewing the grey whale statue jumping out of the water reminded me that I too, can jump up and move!


grey whales (2)


All photos (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016



“Dump these words—unless you need them!”

What? Just wholesale toss these words in the trash can?

“Yes! Unless the word adds value,” Marcia Riefer Johnston advises us. To write concisely, dump unnecessary words.

Why? How?

What does Concise Writing Mean?

  • Provide enough information to meet the audience’s needs
    • Answer the question, “WIIFM?”
  • Provide enough information to accomplish the author’s purpose/goal
    • Entice the audience to read your content!

Why do we want to write concisely?

  • Usability and readability
  • Cheaper to translate
  • More engaging content
  • Content that fits on small screens (think: smartphone, tablet, iPad)

How do we write concisely?

  • Dump unneeded words, words that don’t have value
  • Remove be-verbs
    • Caveat: Sometimes they serve a purpose; sometimes you do need the passive voice

As you edit, ask these questions:

  • Will my audience find the information useful?
  • Does the information meet my purpose?
  • Could I state the point in a more direct way?


  • Use tools such as grammar check, Grammarly, Acrolinx, or
  • In a Word, document, search for all forms of be-verbs

⇒Marcia’s Caveat: The writer is the master of the tool.” (OK, so we used a be-verb here!)

Want to practice concise writing?

Kudos, Marcia! Thank you, Tom Aldous, for organizing this format

What are your tips for writing concisely? Enter a Comment and let us know!

“Welcome to Kiev.”

Three words I never thought I’d hear in my life. The KLM plane had just touched down at Borispol Airport.

I had flown with a group of women from the US. In Kiev, we met a group from Israel and Europe. Our spiritual journey to the birthplace of Chassidus was about to begin. For me, the trip was a family reunion of sorts, since I met up with my Israeli cousins and friends.


Kiev, Berditchev, Mezhibuzh, Breslov, and Uman had not been on my list of places to visit. I’d studied about the former USSR and learned about the roles these cities played in Jewish history. Over the last few decades, I’d heard the first-hand stories of visitors to this part of the world. While the experiences interested me, I never expected to travel to Ukraine.

So what changed?

A suggestion here: “I’m going to Uman in July; why don’t you come with our group?” Debbie had asked. A hint there: “It’s a healing, life-changing trip!” The emotional video on the Holy Journeys website drew me. And Hashem [G-d] created life circumstances that made the trip possible.

I traveled through time and physical space to a mystical—but very real—place. Learning, praying, laughing, crying, dancing, and singing—all the raw emotions rattled my core and catapulted me into a positive direction. With immense gratitude to Hashem [G-d], I share with you some of the photos from this trip.

Tomb of Rav Levi Yitzchok from Berditchev

Tomb of Rav Levi Yitzchok from Berditchev [For historical description, see:]

Berditchev Cemetery from Sara

Berditchev Cemetery (Photo Credit: Sara Melman)


 Baal Shem Tov

Tomb of the Baal Shem Tov and others (Mezhibuzh) [For historical description, see:]

Hotel in Mezhibuzh on Left

Hotel building in Mezhibuzh

Night Sky En Route to Mezhibuzh

Painting of Night Sky en route to Mezhibuzh

In Uman, we prayed and learned at the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. I was drawn to the exquisite beauty of Gan Sofia (Sofia Park).

Fountain near entrance                        Lily Pad                                        Waterfall


Photos (except Berditchev Cemetery) and painting (c) Sherri Leah Henkin 2016

Once I got out of the hot car, I felt the gentle cool breeze. Inhaling deeply, I smelled charcoal mixed with Israeli spices. I walked into the house, and quickly found a corner on the crowded counter-tops to deposit the cut fruit. I wanted to be with that barbecue smell and lively children’s voices.

My daughter-in-law set the tables set in her signature color scheme—black and white with red accents. The tablecloth is white with three-inch black polka dots. We eat off black plates, use white plastic cutlery, and drink from red 16-oz plastic glasses. In between the abundantly-filled serving plates and bowls, there are ruby red votive candleholders. This is one classy lady!

Our food resembled the diverse crowd: Israeli, Moroccan, and American dishes. From the Israelis we had homemade meat kabobs, colorful but very hot peppers, baba ganoush, and other small eggplant and pepper salads. From Morocco we had 9”x13” pans of colorful salads, each with its unique dressing: cabbage, endives, and a few others that had a Spanish influence. And from the good ol’ US—barbecue steak, chicken wings, corn-on-the-cob, and of course, hot dogs. Even the breads represented the different cultures—hot dog buns, pitas, and cut challah!

Of the family, extended family, and friends, I was the only third-generation American. Other folks were born in Egypt, Israel, Morocco, or France. So if you only spoke English, you were out of the conversation! I got to speak English, Hebrew, and even some French…at this Fourth of July barbecue!


The kids downed the food quickly so they could get into the refreshing pool water. Large floating cushions were more exciting than the food and certainly more entertaining than the adult conversation. “I call the pizza!” What?? Pizza after meat?* And then I realized that one of the floating cushions is shaped like a pizza slice, covered with cheese and tomato sauce.

“I want the swan!” And the seven-year-old swam adeptly to the oversized bright pink swan with the black beak.

“I’m headed for the Jacuzzi? Who’s joining me?” Jake called out. He may be 13, yet he enjoys a good pool party to relax! The only being that followed him, though, was Jax, the blonde Labrador…with his tennis ball. Jax dropped his ball in the Jacuzzi and waited a bit impatiently until Jake tossed it back.

By this point, the adults had moved from that classy food table to the far end of the yard, near the pool. We too, enjoyed the antics. And welcomed the shade from the lemon tree and other surrounding tall shady greenery. We settled comfortably on the chocolate brown rattan chairs with off-white cushions. Matching rattan side tables with glass tops displayed the desserts. While these dishes didn’t represent the cultures, we had variety! Home-made hot pecan-chocolate pie, courtesy of Ellen, who enjoys experimenting with new recipes. Fresh juicy red watermelon and orange cantaloupe on a tray, surrounded by one-inch sweet cherries and green grapes. Hashem [G-d], the Master Painter, creates beautiful colors. A custard cake, topped with strawberries, kiwis, and apples called out to some. And the smooth blue and red ambrosia rounded out the dessert choices.

While the kids were intrigued by some of the desserts, when the red and blue popsicles came out, the kids ran from all sides of the pool for these! “I want red!” “Gimme the blue one!” Then they hurriedly jumped back into the water, with the popsicles. Oops! The kids just broke one of the cardinal rules—don’t eat and swim. This Red Cross-trained former lifeguard looked the other way!

Whoosh! Boom! Eli, the other 13-year-old cousin, cannon-balled into the water, splashing all who sat a bit too close! No matter—the cool water refreshed us!

“Hey, Josh, when are you coming in?”

“Not today”, the 24-year-old family friend called out. Dressed in a white polo shirt and jeans, with his collegiate Dockers, Josh tried to act like the young adult. But Eli and Jake pulling at him and the seven-year-old cousins teasing him was just too much to resist…and in Josh went! “Josh’s in the pool! Josh’s in the pool” three-year-old Mickey happily sang.

The kids—and young adult—played for the next hour in the pool as the sun set. The darker the sky got, the brighter the pool lights became. The adults cleaned up. Jax kept running around looking for someone to play ball with him. Occasionally, I gave in and played “catch”, Jax-style.

At about 8:45, we heard the first firework noises. Once the sky was dark blue-black, we finally saw the tip of a white streak in the sky. By this point, the kids were out of the pool, ready for the final evening activity. Semi-dry, they gathered in the front of the house. The large cracks of firework energy and fanciful displays seemed to echo the vibrancy we had seen in the pool.

 white fireworks

  Red fireworks

Double fireworks


Photos ©Sherri Leah Henkin




*Kosher dietary laws–we don’t eat dairy right after a meat meal.

From the title you might think this post will describe physical exercise. Or perhaps the body mechanics of lifting heavy equipment.

Nope. Mechanics here refers to those talented individuals who service our cars at auto repair shops. I have new esteem for these folks since I spent this past Monday morning with several of them!

My morning plan was to drive to the local Pep Boys and replace two front headlight lamps. I chose that type of store since they have a large stock and could repair the lights early in the morning. Great, I thought, I’ll be done by 9 and on my way home!

On the way to the repair, this bright orange light in the speedometer area went on. Hmmm…I know that means something, but what? I knew the light wasn’t for the battery—I learned about that light two months ago—and knew the orange outline didn’t resemble an oil can. By process of elimination, I figured out I was looking at the engine light.

Working hard not to panic, I moved into Action Mode, planning the calls I’d make once I reached the repair shop. I transitioned to Philosophy Mode—it’s the car, it’s not me or a member of my family. That thought process brought me to Prayer Mode—Please G-d, make this something really simple and inexpensive! Thank You!

When I got to the Boys (as Pep Boys employees call themselves), they told me they couldn’t do the repair. While the Boys worked on the headlights, I worked on calling my mechanic. We arranged that I’d bring my car to his shop by 9:30. The headlight bulb replacement took a bit longer, which turned out to work in my favor. I had time to make some calls, and decided to call my friend in Israel. I stood in a lot in Los Angeles speaking with her in her home in central Israel—from my cell phone! The wonders of technology!

Once the Boys finished, I headed to my mechanic’s shop. Thankfully, no more dashboard lights lit up! The mechanic discovered that there was an evaporation problem, a leak somewhere. Consequently, he had to give the car a complete physical.

I left the mechanic-doctor to his work and headed over to the local coffee shop. I got some exercise as a result. Since I had notebooks, pens, pencils, and digital devices with me, I kept myself productively busy. And bonus—I had a gift card for the coffee shop—so I could treat myself to free refreshments!

The mechanic-doctor called to report his final diagnosis. The leak was…drum roll…from the broken seal on the gas cap! All other engine-related items were fine. A simple and inexpensive repair.

My prayers aren’t always answered so clearly and quickly. I hope I didn’t cash in all my chips this time, as I whispered a prayer of gratitude.

Spending Monday morning at the mechanics’ shops was a minor inconvenience that taught me to look at the big picture.

Gratitude—it was daytime, repair places were close to home, able mechanics, friends, and the light went on while I was already on the way to a repair shop.

Perspective—I’m fine, my family is fine, it’s only a car. A car is a machine whose parts wear out. Some parts need repair and some need to be replaced.

♦Be prepared—I had my cell phone, notebooks, pens, money for the repair, and even a gift card!


What does writing a powerful resume mean? I base the concept on Marcia Riefer Johnston’s definition of powerful writing:

Powerful writing is writing of any kind that accomplishes something, that gets through, that works. It’s a handshake between friends, an instant of connection and understanding. You can find powerful writing in…resumes…Powerful writing changes things—for a person, a classroom, a country; a planet. (Word Up! Marcia Riefer Johnston, p. 2;

You want your resume to be the handshake between you and your prospective employer or client. Change the way a prospective boss thinks about you. Change the way you think about you!

To create the instant connection and understanding:

  • use action words
  • state specifics
  • write clear, concise text
  • eliminate clichés
  • show who you are


Change this: Manages and handles all of payroll for multi-state offices

to this: Manages payroll for 10,000 employees in 10 states.

Action Words

Change this: Effectively developed customer base through prospecting and networking

to this: Grew territory revenue by 10% per year for five years

Show Who You Are

  • I love to problem-solve with clients and find creative solutions for their requirements.
  • I thrive in the fast-paced healthcare environment.
  • I customize treatment plans based on the patient’s level of understanding.

Take a look at your resume. Can you eliminate some fluffy language? Could you add stats and action words?

What other tips do you have?

Show yourself! Write a powerful resume!

♣ ♣ ♣

Contact me: sherrilhenkin (at) gmail (dot) com.


“Hey, Sherri! I need a favor…can you just give my resume a quick review?”

“Sure! When it’s in final form, send it to me and I’ll spend about 15 minutes reviewing, at no charge.”

Fifteen minutes? Is that enough to review the detail?”

“No. However, I’ll give you an idea of what technical details might need attention.”

“OK! Deal!”

You probably agree with my friend that 15 minutes isn’t enough time to review the resume. Think of this scenario: In real life, your resume may only get a six-second initial review! (See The Ladder Study.) Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and a hiring manager may review for 30-seconds to a couple of minutes. And based on that review, you’re either in the running…or not. In 15 minutes I can provide an overview of the technical details.

Disclaimer: I don’t always provide complimentary resume reviews!

Your Resume is Your Self-Portrait

  • It’s a study in black and white.
  • Step back and view the resume in full page mode. What does your eye see first? As the painter, what do you want your audience to focus on?
  • From my point of view, I want my audience to see my name clearly, in the center.
  • White space—space between headings and text, in the margins—makes the resume easy to read.

Sample Resume-Sherri Henkin


  • Type Face; examples: Times New Roman, Arial, Tahoma

→Tip: Use sans serif for headings and online material; examples: Arial, Calibri, Tahoma

(Awkward note: WordPress automatically uses serif font on my blog!)

  • Point Size: While 10-point size will squeeze a lot of information on the page, the page will be hard to read.

→Tip: Consider 11 point or 12 point for text and 14-18 point for headings.

  • Font Characteristic: Examples: bold, italic, or underline

→Tips: Bold your headings. Be consistent!


  • A spell-check feature will not pick up all spelling errors. For a humorous review, see Adventures with Automated Spell Checker.
  • Tidbit: As the office manager of a law office, I reviewed the resumes before sending them to the hiring attorney. When I spotted spelling errors, those resumes often didn’t make it past the gatekeeper—me!

→Tip: Manually proofread your resume, especially application/computer program names, cities, company names…everything.


  • Remember your grade-school grammar: subject and verb must agree!
  • If you’re no longer working in a position, use past tense!
  • Contractions: Most of the resumes I see don’t—I mean do not—use contractions.

Miscellaneous Technical Tips

  • Make sure your name appears on each page.
  • For multi-page resumes, include page numbers.
  • Document title:

♦Use your full name

♦Consider including the company you submit to

♦Example: Sara Stone Resume for Best Company in the World

♣ ♣ ♣

Ready for your Resume Facelift?

Contact me: sherrilhenkin (at) gmail (dot) com.


*Data for font information: STC’s TechComm 101; see With gratitude to the instructor, Leah Guren from Cow TC.



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