September 29, 2010

Autumn of Squash

I love creating themes and this season, I pledged to my sister, is Autumn of Squash.

September 28, 2010

Judas Priest Note to Self

VH1 Classic Judas Priest quote by Rob Halford:

"When you set yourself free, no one can touch you."

The wisdom you learn when flying Jet Blue and indulge in TV.

Heading Home to CA from DC

The end of another fabulous visit with family. Next time I am here my sister Marlene will have had her baby. Exciting to anticipate a new niece or nephew.

September 27, 2010

Cyber Grammie

Here's my 92-year-old Grammie on the laptop. She is playing Mah Jong, of course, between checking her emails. She is amazing.

September 23, 2010

Celebrating Tradeswomen

Tonight I am representing Flyaway Productions at the Celebrating Tradeswomen, Inc. event in Oakland's historic Preservation Park. Flyaway is being honored for a dance that Choreographer Jo Kreiter created last year celebrating women Pile Drivers who helped to construct the Bay Bridge. The piece was called The Ballad of Polly Ann, a compelling production that used oral history interviews, composed into music by Pamela Z, as the soundscape for women demonstrating their strength and grace through aerial dance.

September 21, 2010

The Final Box

This morning I searched through "the final box" that still remained unopened after the divorce. It wasn't as though I was avoiding the box, although perhaps I was, it was more that I thought I knew what was inside. My memory was that it was only filled with sporting goods, but today I discovered it held more.

This journey began last week when Cousin Diana, my neighbor Matt and I discovered that we all love racquetball. Diana found a court at UC Berkeley and today was our mini-tournament. It was only after our match that Matt revealed he had "studied with the State of Maine Racquetball Champion". Despite his pedagogy, Diana and I were able to score a few points. Of course, he paced his game to meet our abilities - Diana's at a much higher level than mine. Who knew she was a butt-kicking racquetball player?

This is one of my favorite sports but I had forgotten that I actually owned a racket and all the necessary gear, until after today's game. When we arrived back at the apartment, Matt and I ventured down to my storage unit so that I could explore "the final box". Inside was racquetball gear from when I lived in Salinas (two lifetimes ago), plus tennis rackets, bike supplies, a frisbee, and my rollerblades (recently replaced when Matt and I found a free pair of the exact same skates, in my size, discarded at the curb after a yardsale).

Today's opening of "the final box" was no coincidence, it coincides with clearing out the cobwebs in my heart.

September 18, 2010

Sausal Creek Photo Shoot

My neighbor Matt and I are out adventuring in Oakland's Sausal Creek and found this cool drain cover.

Networking to Reach Your Dream

Yesterday a local university had me speak about networking to a Job Club, made up of people who had been laid-off by the school. When I was first asked to be the speaker, it had not been made clear to me that the connection these people would all have is their former employer. As the coordinator prepped me for the attendees, just a few minutes before the program started, I suddenly understood that this workshop session was going to be different from any I had done before. These people were all going to be connected through a common loss.

This assumption was the case as each of the 15 attendees introduced themselves. An entire row of people had been former colleagues at a museum run by the university. They still acted as a team, even after being jobless for a year. What I heard from them was frustration, disappointment and confusion. Several of the attendees had been just a few years from retirement and others were completely reconsidering their career paths. A few were completely unsure of how to transfer their skills to new jobs or new employers.

What I soon recognized was that these mostly Baby Boomers were people who could easily have been my bosses if I had been working inside the university, yet, here I was offering them insights into networking. It was an interesting twist that I was now the expert on a topic that just seems so intuitive. I am sure they would say the same about their former work.

As the attendees introduced themselves, most started by sharing their "war stories" about how they lost their job. A few people started to cry. It was heartbreaking. But as they started to discuss their goals, dreams began to emerge. Many of the people began to talk about non-profits they would like to start, the nature centers they would like to work for or how they wanted to make their artwork full time.

By the end of the session everyone was smiling and chatting. Several said to me that they felt totally inspired about following their dreams and could now come from a place of strength when networking. My goal was to help them recognize the gifts they have to offer and to help them see themselves as a commodity as opposed to a liability.

Networking is all about presenting yourself passionately by being tapped into what makes you unique and having the ability to connect that with what the other person wants to accomplish. To do this you need to put aside your story of perceived failure and connect through common goals. As I said to one attendee, "the other person knows nothing about you, so why not present yourself as the person you want to be in the future building on strengths from your past?"

September 16, 2010

La Mission

Ghostly Presence

The beauty of the visuals blending with the music of the Mission - cars, buses vibrating cars, dogs barking, and the sounds of women's voices speaking in melodies.

Beauty on the Building

Women in Flight

Singing Praises

I am finally seeing the Flyaway Production's Singing Praises performance on the Women's Building this evening. We had an event tonight that I coordinated to honor the 100th Anniversary of the building. Two of the Muralists were there to share their stories of painting the building. 17 years after painting the mural they still meet every six weeks to stay connected. That is the power of collaboration.

September 15, 2010

The Muse of Open-Heartedness

Over the past few months, as I articulate my personal values, a result of teaching this topic in so many of my courses, I am recognizing that open-heartedness is my core value. If you look around my apartment you will see this reinforced in the artwork I have collected - many hearts.

What I am realizing is that the people who resonate with me are the ones who have open hearts. I would describe these as folks who demonstrate integrity, respect, are trusting and trustworthy, who listen to and really see others, who continuously reflect on their own actions - recognize their impact, treat others as they expect to be treated themselves, are honest, have emotional and social intelligence, and always strive for the fullest self-actualization. This may seem like a laundry list of the tallest order, thankfully, it reflects the values of the people who are closest to my heart and I believe I am close to their heart's as well.

When you are open-hearted, you experience emotions that perhaps others avoid. Being closed-hearted is certainly safer if you are into self-preservation, and I believe the result is missing out on reaching your fullest potential and the fullest joy of having deep, loving relationships. Being open-hearted requires bravery.

Open-heartedness is an intention. It is obtained through meditation - in whatever form that takes, unique to each individual. Discovering open-hearted people, and living as one yourself, is a blessing and a gift, an opportunity to learn to live an authentic life; reaching your fullest personal and social potential.

There are spiritual "muses" in our every day lives, people who are inspirational. As I reflect on the family, friends and colleagues in my world who are open-hearted, I feel loved-up. These people are gifts. We open-hearted muses are sometimes perceived as the most difficult to comprehend and the most desirable to "obtain" because we are seen as the magic elixir for fixing other's woes. So many times I have heard, "you are so good for me." How selfish that now sounds in my ears, whereas before I perceived it as meaning that there is mutual respect and love. Capturing and consuming a muse is not the path to open-heartedness.

We open-hearted people often live outside of the expected "box norms" that so many try to use to categorize the world. I would say that we are creatives in that we are continuously exploring our own paths, willing to make space for others to walk beside us, as we notice the beauty of our inner and outer surroundings. In turn, we are also sensitive to those who create noise, acting as obstacles instead of partners in the flow of openness. Our senses are open and alive.

As an open-hearted person I have had to learn to differentiate between people who are trying to consume me and those who are reaching out with their hearts, attempting to connect at a deeper, more loving level. Sometimes I have mistaken one for the other and have let in hurtful people and pushed away loving ones.

It is my intention to listen to my intuition and practice bravery as I continue on my path of open-heartedness. This means embracing those who are loving, being a muse for those who are opening their hearts and compassionately walking away from those who blindly consume.

September 10, 2010

Matzoh Ball Fingers

My childhood friend Hal prepare Matzoh Balls in my kitchen as he cooks a Jewish Comfort Food feast for Rosh Hashanah.

September 9, 2010

Full Frontal Push

The long weekend seemed like such a good idea. But now that we've hit Thursday, I and many of my friends and colleagues are rushing to get work done because we "lost a day".

Thursdays I teach Business Ownership and the eleven students, many close to graduation, are each writing a business plan. They have two weeks to finish their work and present the final plan, but it just isn't enough time - for them or me. My brain is on overdrive as I push through reading each of their 20+ page plans, analyze their business proposition, review the numbers, edit the spelling and grammar, and at the same time try and answer random questions.

I am blown away by the quality of the work they are doing. Each plan has so much thought, detail and creativity. I have to be on top of my game and their's too. Teaching these upper level students is thrilling and I am inspired every day by their achievements. Now to figure out how to keep my brain working at the speed of creative venture development which is somewhere near warp speed x 200.

September 7, 2010

Noh Space for Premonitions

Sometimes I believe I have premonitions. In the past I thought it was just coincidence, or maybe intuition, but there has to be something deeper going on. That has been the case with my former client Carolena, my lunch date today. Here's how the premonition unfolded...

About six weeks ago I was in the store Five and Diamond in the Mission which features steampunk fashion. Being there brought to mind Carolena and her dance troupe FatChanceBellyDance since they have modeled for the store's print ads. Later that evening I went to see my cousin Michael play gypsy jazz at a bar and who was featured but some of the dancers from Fat Chance. That night I dreamt about Carolena. The next day she happened to email me to set a lunch date to catch up. We hadn't been in touch for over a year.

About three weeks later, two weeks before our scheduled lunch date, I had the same dream about Carolena. Rarely do I have the same dream twice. Now today, when we were scheduled to have lunch, I was at the Art Institute for a teacher training and started chatting with another Instructor. She teaches film and we realized that our worlds overlap. I asked if she films dance troups and she said yes. The first one she mentioned was FatChance. Amazing as I was about to have lunch with Carolena in 30 minutes. Then the Instructor mentioned Noh Space theatre which was another of my recent clients. That mention comes into play at the "end" of this story.

Before heading over to the Mission to meet for lunch, I stopped into the school library to take out some more fashion films. I picked up one called Valentino the Last Emperor and two films on fashion retailing. Again, theses come into play at the end of my story.

As I approached the restaurant there was Carolena and we walked the last block together. I told her about meeting the film maker just a few minutes earlier and how we were destined to get together for lunch.

As we caught up on our various projects Carolena started telling me how she is getting back into fashion. Turns out she watched The September Issue film the same day I did and then she recommended Valentino the Last Emperor which I immediately took out of my bag to show her. The fashion retail films also caught her interest since this is another area she is pursuing. We then talked about leadership coaching and mediation which she is now offering as a service. Sound familiar?

As we exited the restaurant I asked how her annual Devotion show went this year. We started talking about her show for next year and she said, "we're looking at doing it in Noh Space".

I suppose that this may just seem like a series of coincidences, or perhaps I surround myself with amazing women who are tuned into the same interests as me. But really, I think that I have premonitions and these story doesn't end here.

ChaYa Yum

Lunch at a vegan Japanese restaurant in the Mission called ChaYa. This dish was pillows of eggplant, tofu and mushroom with a miso gaze. Scrumptious.

September 5, 2010

Girl, You're Going to Make it After All

 Now that I'm teaching Fashion Marketing and Management courses I am getting up to speed on the designers. First I watched The September Issue about Editor in Chief of American Vogue, Anna Wintour. She is all about visionary and commanding leadership. 


Just now I watched Unzipped, about Isaac Mizrahi, to get a taste of runway fashion extravagance. Isaac is also visionary, as well as pacesetting in his leadership style. What I loved most about the film, besides his dayglow fake fur styling (oh so cozy), is the theme song from the Mary Tyler Moore show which seemed to be part of his inspiration for this collection. It struck a chord with me - perhaps my theme song. Plus, I seem to have Mary's fashion sense in my current wardrobe.

"Love is All Around" by Paul Williams - Mary Tyler Moore Show Lyrics


Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it's you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all

How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you're all alone
But it's time you started living
It's time you let someone else do some giving

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all

September 3, 2010

One Year in My Own Place

A year ago I moved into this apartment after having lived for 14 months in an attic in Alameda. It was a beautiful attic but I was certainly in duck and cover mode as I lived the Year of Amy. now that I am in the Year of Living my Dreams, I am doing just that, nestled in my lovely home.

Sometimes I am lonely here but then I look around me at all the art or out the window at the trees and feel more settled. Our little, private apartment complex is like a secret neighborhood and we all know each other.

When I have friends over for a visit, which should really be more often, I am reminded of how sweet my place really is. How lucky that I have my own pad in a fantastic city, Oakland, just steps away from fun ad adventure in every direction.

September 2, 2010

Giddyliscious

That's how I'm feeling having finished teaching my classes this week and heading into a four day weekend. My Fashion Marketing and Management students in San Francisco and Sunnyvale are absolutely inspirational. Now that I've been teaching at the Art Institute of CA for a year, I can see their evolutionary growth in maturity and professionalism.

In this morning's Business Ownership class, which I started teaching today, I knew the names of the majority of the students as they are my current or former students. It is so nice to have mutual trust and respect. The business plans they are developing are astonishingly good. That I could add input, advice and guidance made me feel valuable. I love working with these soon-to-emerge arts managers who are motivated to be successful.

Now to kick back and enjoy my weekend, while catching up on my client projects. Does that really count as a holiday?

Excused Absence

This week I took over teaching two more courses at the Art Institute of CA for a colleague. We are eight weeks into an eleven week quarter and I am now up to five classes. The teaching load is equivalent to full time and I am striving to ensure that the students are receiving the best possible information and learning-centered activities.

So, this is why I have been absent on my blog as I have been very present in the classroom. Very much anticipating the long holiday weekend, of which I have four days, to catch my breath and some kayaking waves!