About 15 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful person who came to be one of my closest friends. It blossomed into a relationship that was more like family and not just another friend. As our relationship grew, I would hear a lot about her husband, Michael Ovadia (Lenny). As we all spent time together I could tell he was genuinely a good person, good character traits and had a big heart. She would often tell me that he had a gift for talking, guiding, and helping others thru tough times, decision making, life challenges etc.
Because she is my close friend I would confide in her or vent when I faced tough times and she would occasionally share a few brief words but would always end the conversation with "you should talk to Len". I wasn't so sure how I felt about sharing my personal battles and emotions with Len because I didn't want to burden him with my problems, there was a fear or being judged or the possibility of opinions being formed. Even though I knew the good heart of Len and I knew he wasn't that kind of person I didn't want to risk a friendship or take his time. I remained hesitant to share with him. Until…... My marriage was at a very rocky spot, we tried marital counseling and it was not a good experience. My husband and I were growing further and further apart and with mixed emotions of wanting to end the marriage yet also wanting to save it, I clearly remember the afternoon I called Len and said "Are you home, I need to talk". I pulled in his driveway a few minutes later. He had no time to prepare and didn't even know what I wanted to talk about. I began to share what I was going thru and how I was feeling and he instantly started to pull the pieces apart, got inside my mind and started to untangle the spider webs, the circumstances, the emotions etc. What I saw as obstacles, Len saw as circumstances that could be overcome. He addressed each one and helped me see the light. While Len acknowledged that my feelings were real, he also could see that I was caught in a circle of frustrations/emotions that needed to be unwound and thought thru. When I left a few hours later, I had a new mindset and I had hope. I knew I still had hurdles and circumstances to deal with but the spider webs didn't feel like they were clinging to me anymore, I felt there was a chance to save my marriage, I felt I had the tools I needed to move forward and I knew he was holding me accountable to challenge my mindset and to make efforts on a positive level.
He offered to talk to my husband also and I wasn't so sure my husband would open that door because my husband did not like the counseling experience and is not one to share his feelings openly. Len is also friends with my husband and he felt he could help us both understand one another better. I went home and I told my husband that I had talked to Len and that Len wanted to help him/us if he could. He too was hesitant about opening up but thought about it and finally accepted. He and Len got together a few days later and talked and it was another positive experience resulting in my husband coming home with a clearer understanding and tools to help us move forward.
To this day, I give Len credit for unwinding a marriage that was in trouble and giving us the tools to build it up and rebound stronger than ever. My husband and I were going in circles with emotions, struggling with our communication etc. and I truly feel that a large part of our success is due to Len's generosity of helping us!
Outside of our friendship, social events, family gatherings etc., Len would follow up occasionally to see how we were doing in our relationship and if he could help in any way. As he held a position in our lives as a friend/family, he was always professional about how he handled this aspect of our lives and never sided with either of us, judged or allowed it to change the dynamics of our relationship.
Not only did Len help save my marriage, he was a great support system when my father was diagnosed with cancer and I was again facing another difficult time in my life. Seeing my dad fight his battle was a struggle for me emotionally, knowing his diagnosis was uncertain. Len had reached out over the course of my dad's illness and knew that I was really struggling with all the uncertainties and especially at the point when I knew my dad had become terminal. He, his wife Staci and I met for dinner one night. I walked in and didn't even know where to begin because my mind was again filled with spider webs, racing with all the "what if's", the anger, the frustration and pain. Though the pain in that situation will always be real, I walked away that evening feeling some peace from stories that were shared and the conversations we had.
I've taken away a lot from conversations I've had with Len. As I go thru life there are times I reflect back on things he said, thoughts he shared, guidance he provided, and intervention that was helpful. I clearly remember word for word statements he has made that I reflect on at times when I face a challenge or when myself or a friend may need to hear some encouraging words.
He was always available when needed and without even having time to prepare for what I may share with him, he was successful at providing valuable advice. I've known Len for many years and have seen him touch the lives of his family, friends and the general audience around him. He naturally has a gift for helping others and finds joy in what he does!