March 30, 2009

Kweskin is a Cool Name

Yesterday I spent the afternoon and evening with my cousins Ben and Corrina. Three Kweskin cousins in one house was super cool. Corrina has all kinds of Kweskin family photos hanging on her walls and it was spectacular to see cousins I've never met.

Growing up I didn't know Corrina and hearing all her interesting stories and unexpected overlaps in our lives (we both had Louise for a middle name) was fascinating. I had this realization - Kweskin is a cool name and I dig being related to funky folks. We're all a bit creative and live unusual lives.

Search for Greater Meaning

I'm still on this quest for greater meaning in my life. Yes, it is exciting that I'm forging my own path and living out loud and all that jazz but what am I working towards? Ever since returning to the States 10 months ago I've felt unsettled, like I've seen the world and I'm back in the nest.

I look around me and people are raising their kids, working to pay the mortgage, hunkering down to stay employed. That's not interesting to me and I often feel lucky that I'm free from those obligations. I have this inclination to further simplify my already simplified life and travel, teach, consult, and dig-in all over the world. Fly, land, connect, fly, land, connect...

The client projects I'm working on these days are very interesting. They challenge and stretch me to learn and teach. School is pushing me even further - both intellectually and financially (so expensive) yet again I want to be out there in the world, beyond San Francisco. Presenting the leadership course last month in the UK was spectacular. That's the kind of work that revs my engine. Now to figure out with my coach Simone how to secure more of those projects.

I keep envisioning that I have a small house or condo someplace that allows me to have all my favorite things in one place (not in storage in Houston) and that I use this as a home base. But nearly 50% of my time is invested in travel. I think this is possible. After all, this is the Year of Research and Development.

March 28, 2009


Reading this blog and following my adventures one might not believe that I am a cautious person. Cautiousness is a realization I had this week when thinking about my closest friendships. I've been thinking in particular how I am very cautious about touching people and letting them touch me. My friends know that when someone reaches out to me I instinctively pull away. It is a reaction I would like to change and I'm not sure where it comes from but it is not new.

Recently I was sitting very close to my friend Nicole at a jazz club and our knees were just about touching. I was using all my strength to hold my knee back from touching hers. She actually leaned over to me and said, "I feel strange but I'm holding my knee back so that it doesn't touch yours, because I know you aren't comfortable with that kind of touching. Is it OK if my knee touches yours?" This wasn't some kind of come-on it was a friend being sensitive to my sensitivities.

I wonder what is at the root of this cautiousness about touching?

March 27, 2009

Strategic Planning for Individual Artists: From Vision to Reality

Next month I'm presenting a strategic planning workshop for the Center for Cultural Innovation.

Strategic Planning for Individual Artists: From Vision to Reality

Evolving your arts business begins with articulating goals that are ambitious, inspirational and accomplishable. You will learn how to use coaching tools that provide a foundation to the strategic planning process, keeping it grounded and solution-focused.

This workshop will cover:
Strategic planning
Mind-mapping, past, present and future
Articulating goals in your stretch zone
Using the GROW3 coaching tool to create a plan
Thinking partnerships: peer coaching

Date: Monday, April 27, 2009
Time: 6:30-9:30pm
Location: SF State, 835 Market Street, 6th floor, San Francisco, CA 94103 (next to Westfield Shopping Center, Powell Street BART/Muni stop)
Cost: $35 (BOA / CCI Members) / $40 Non-members

March 25, 2009

Living Outside the Box

Reflecting on Amy's Year of Research and Development with my Core Peeps I've realized something monumental about my life choices. I'm living outside the box in so many ways. No marriage/partner/relationship and no job/employer/boss. How to define yourself when you are living on your own and working for yourself? Completely non-conforming and so different from the norm. Definately difficult to explain to folks you're meeting for the first time.

On the other hand, this is what makes me interesting and inspirational!

Blonde Ambition

Here's my new hair look. Took me 100 tries to get this decent self portrait going at this late hour. Went to the salon today and told the beautician - I need blonder hair. Well, she took it to the extreme. So far I've gotten a good response. However, seeing myself in the mirror was shocking.
I'm now seeing hair color as a process of experimentation. You hope for the best but never know what's going to show up. Same with the pricing. Very random. Equate it with ordering a mixed drink at a bar - you hope it tastes the way you like it and flirt a bit with the bartender to get a competitive price.
Took the hair out for a spin this evening to Cafe Trieste to hear cousin Michael Z and the band. Michael said he didn't recognize me when I walked in and that he loves the look. Nicole loves it too and to me that's a true test of taste since she is fashion queen supreme.

Rocking out on Wheels

This is a random observation I've had each time I've rented a City Car Share vehicle - I miss rock radio. Yes, I can listen at home but it just isn't the same as when you can blast your favorite tunes and sing along while driving. Actually, perhaps bringing a radio into the shower could substitute. Maybe singing while I ride my bike in the rain. Nah, blaring Peter Gabriel and bringing yourself close to tears while singing Red Rain is so much more real.

Watching Paint Dry

My laptop is so slow that watching paint dry would be faster and more exciting. I've had this old beast for five years and it has worked so very hard to stay updated. Thankfully I am getting a tax rebate and will be investing a portion of it in a new computer.

As I sit and wait for it to process....everything....I can feel my stomach turn in knots and my teeth clench.

Sorry old boy, but you're on your way out. And, I've got you backed up so no funny moves before your replaced.

March 22, 2009

Do You Know the Way To San Jose?

Yesterday I ventured down to San Jose to meet up with Rachel-Anne Palacios and then Julie to check out the arts scene. I loved it down there and it only took 45 minutes in the snappy City Car Share Prius. These are photos from my day. Images taken with my "real" camera now that crackberry-and-blog aren't talking.

Read about my visit to the the San Jose Museum of Art Frida Kahlo exhibition with Rachel and see some photos of Rachel's work on my other blog Frida in SF.

Little World Just Got a Bit Bigger

Yesterday morning, while getting ready for yoga class, I left the baby-gate at the foot of my staircase unlocked. Like little kittens my two housemates, ages 2.5 and 4.9, found their way up to my room. I often hear them playing downstairs but suddenly I noticed that their voices were getting louder. I looked out my door and the little one nearly had a heart attack. He honestly didn't know that there was an upstairs and that I lived there. First words out of his mouth were, "sorry".

I invited them in to check out my room and they were very respectful of my stuff, and curious as well. The best part was that the little one said and did everything the bigger one was doing. I pointed that out to the older brother and he said, "yeah, I know..." Funny how I noticed this for the first time when they were in my space as opposed to me being in theirs.

Our little visit ended when their mom called them back downstairs. Several times during the day I reflected on the look of shock on the little one's face as I came around the corner. It cracked me up each time. His tiny world just got a little bigger.

Year of Research and Development

Over the past few weeks I've been checking in with my core peeps. These are my women friends who are eager to hear what I'm doing and how I'm feeling. Each offers honest feedback and helps me reflect on my past, present and future - without judging my various twists and turns.

The big revelation: I've accomplished the Year of Amy I am now in the Year of Research and Development. Through these various conversations with the Core Peeps (notice, this is now a title) I've recognized that I am on the road to something quite fantastic both personally and professionally.

March 19, 2009

Signs of Spring

You know Spring has arrived when you can...
  • Smell the flowers, even at night
  • Sleep with far fewer blankets
  • Keep the windows open during the day
  • Go with bare legs
  • Hear the birds chirping
  • Days are longer
  • Legitimately use suntan lotion!

Fat Chance Belly Dance

For the past three months I've had the pleasure of working with Carolena Nerricio, founder and director or Fat Chance Belly Dance. We've been working on a strategic business plan. Carolena is a true entrepreneur and her business plan has to inspire her, continuously. This has been such a fun challenge compared to my non-profit clients who want lots of narrative. With Carolena I am creating lots of visual.

This month she is the cover model for Zaghareet magazine.

March 17, 2009

The Rubber Room

Writing about breathing room made me reflect on a radio-documentary I heard this weekend on Chicago Public Radio's This American Life called The Rubber Room. It is about New York City teachers who are put on probation and spend months or sometimes even years in "the rubber room". The full program was about Human Resources and this was one of the segments. Quite

The program was inspired by the still-in-production film The Rubber Room.

Here's an overview of the radio program from the This American Life blog:

"The true story of little-known rooms in the New York City Board of Education building. Teachers are told to report there instead of their classrooms. No reason is usually given. When they arrive, they find they've been put on some kind of probationary status, and they must report every day until the matter is cleared up. They call it the Rubber Room. Average length of stay? Months, sometimes years."

Worth a listen.

Breathing Room

After cramming for the grant panel, reading 30+ grants over five days (each taking about 30 minutes to review) I actually have some breathing room. That means time to answer emails, blog, figure out my health care expenses (very expensive), and plan trips to visit my family back East (what a California term).

I'm actually blogging from my computer again instead of from the crackberry. Now that the crackberry is no longer talking to my blog it has forced me to really think about my posts before I write them. Previously I was just shooting off posts as they came to mind. It is a different pace and as you can see offers less personal photos, but I like that I can put in links and web images.

Although I am taking time to catch up it means that I am now behind on my statistics homework. That just never ends.

Oakland Arts Thrive

Over the past two days I had the pleasure of participating on a City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program grant panel. Sitting on a grant panel is the best possible way to create a community of practice and really get to know some amazing folks. This is the third or fourth time I've sat on this panel over the years. In past years funding was limited but we knew it was there. This year the City of Oakland has cut funding and reduced the already meager program staff, so we were really doing this process to prove that Oakland arts needs to be supported.

After months and perhaps even years of hearing only bad news about Oakland I spent the past two days celebrating Oakland's diverse arts and cultures. Over thirty organizations submitted proposals and nearly every one of them is promoting excellence and pride in the community. Ranging from professional music ensembles to inner-city youth arts programs, these organizations are keeping Oakland healthy despite the odds. The city funding being cut is like shooting Oakland in the foot.

I also had the opportunity to get to know my fellow panelists and the passionate and highly-qualified staff of the funding program. It is like being on a jury for two days. You start to know each other's strengths, weaknesses, preferences and can even predict their thoughts. To reflect Oakland's diversity the panel itself was highly diverse in so many ways. In discussing these arts organizations that promote harmony and understanding we built resonance amongst panelists. There were times when we cried, laughed and sighed together and with the applicants who were invited to respond to our questions.

Oakland rocks. City council members - please fund the arts and keep Oakland rocking.

March 16, 2009

Parties and Transitions

This past weekend I went to a Saturday night party which prompted me to make some observations and realizations.

  • I'm not into loud parties with people getting drunk
  • I would rather spend time in small groups or one-on-one really getting to know someone or making a deeper connection with a friend
  • By 11pm I'm ready to be in my cozy bed


  • So many people are in career transition - unique to the San Francisco Bay Area?
  • Ask people what they do and they act confused and ashamed - and I'm not talking about bankers
  • People would rather talk about 30 Rock than real life (I've never seen 30 Rock so that puts me out of the conversation)
  • I'm making better connections with rocking cool amazing women than any men I've met in the past year - hum.

In contrast to this Saturday night party I had a lovely lunch earlier in the day with two mature women friends. We had flowing conversation on a variety of very interesting topics, ate unbelievable decadent food and made future plans to trek out on an arts venture. So inspiring. Why is this so much more appealing than scoping out men at depressing parties?

March 14, 2009

Moving Towards vs Moving Away Goals

Goals can be broken down into two categories - those that you set to move towards something and those that you set to move away from something. Often it is just in the envisioning of the goal and then the phrasing.

Example of a moving away from goal:
I need to lose twenty pounds so that I don't have a heart attack.

This may be true but it certainly is a negative motivation. You need to lose the 20 pounds so that you don't suffer. Perhaps your doctor told you that you have to set this goal - it is deal or no deal. Can you think about what the benefits will be for achieving this goal - other than not having a heart attack?

Example of a moving towards goal:
I want to climb that hill and reach the top feeling refreshed, invigorated and ready to take photos of the amazing view. My intention is to do this on the first day of summer.

Using the GROW3 model (Goal, Reality, Options, What, When, Where) you would then explore how you would reach that goal.

G = Goal - stated above
R = Reality - Climbing that mountain at this point would be very physically challenging and I would not reach the top ready to take photos and enjoy the view.
O= Options - I could start practicing by walking every day. Then I could start making short ascents up the path. I could begin taking photos more often in preparation for the experience I have at the top.
W = When, What, Where - I am going to start this weekend by walking around the neighborhood at twilight on Sunday which is my favorite time of day. Next week I am going to do this walk twice and on the third day take my camera and get some photos of spring flowers...

How much more inspiring is the second goal? Plus, using grow allows you to break it down into manageable parts. Losing 20 pounds is daunting. Doing something inspirational is motivating!

March 13, 2009

Reflections on the Year of Amy

Tonight over dinner my friend Hisun said she often thinks about my statement that this is the Year of Amy. Officially that year came to a close on March 8. That was essentially the anniversary of me being out of my marriage for a year. I promised myself that I would take that year to reflect on me, what I want, my values, my friends and family, and my personal development.

I am in a happy place. No challenge is too big. Panic goals are pulled into stretch goals.

Recognizing that the marriage was not working for me was a giant step. Bringing it to a close was so disappointing as it felt like failure. In comparison to these major life choices little things like presenting a training session on the 33rd floor of a London skyscraper was peanuts (although looking at the photo on this blog link does get me a bit woozy). Applying and being accepted into a a Doctoral program was another huge step...which resulted in me being in Statistics which is even more surprising. But I'm doing it.

Now I've hired my friend Simone to help me build my consulting biz plan. She is an amazing coach. In just one session I've gained so much more clarity on what where I've come from and where I'm going. Strategic planning for a strategic planning consultant.

More to the point - I've learned to love and value ME over the past year. As Drew Barrymore says in the Feb/March issue of BUST magazine quoted from Harper's Bazaar, "I've been single for months now, and I've turned my attention toward my passions, my friends, and the causes I believe in. It's about learning who I am, not through a man but for myself." Notice she has set a moving-towards as opposed to moving-away from goal. Digging it Drew.

iCrack Addiction

I may have a crackberry addiction but it does not compare to the iPod addiction of my two little housemates who are 2 and 5 years old. These little guys are absolutely addicted to playing games on the iPhone. They just get how to use it instinctively. Is it a guy thing?

March 12, 2009

Cold Stone Creamery Birthday Club

I scream for ice cream and no better place to get it than free from Cold Stone Creamery on your birthday! Dangerously delicious.

March 11, 2009

Hillary is Hope

I have to say that I'm increasingly impressed with Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State. She is a perfect pairing to Obama. At this point he seems to be focused on domestic issues and she on international. What I really like is their paired messaging of transparency, solutions, diplomacy and hope.

Good Nytol

Whilst in the UK I picked up a homeopathic sleeping "aid" that is outrageously strong - Nytol. Last night I took a couple about 30 minutes before going to bed. Twenty minutes later it was like I was hit by a ton of bricks. It actually impacted my ability to take in a full breath. Previous times I used it I was already laying in bed relaxing. This was the first time I was still moving around - doing homework and reading grant applications. Really stimulating stuff.

Images from Nytol website.

Blackberry vs Diary

My crackberry is conspiring. First it stopped talking to my blog and now it has hidden my new diary. Very clever little fellow. I thought I would convert my planning diary back to paper instead of being electronic. Trying to talk on the phone and check your availability is quite a task when you are talking on your calendar device. Well, thankfully I only had a few dates in the written diary and I think I've managed to remember what I've scheduled.

March 10, 2009

Technology Meltdown

All birthday weekend I thought I was sending posts to this here blog but in reality they were going to lala land. Now my crackberry and blog are arguing and neither is speaking to the other. Really amazing how dependent I've become on being able to speak my mind at any time.

Working on fixing the problem.

Best Birthday Gift

My 40th birthday will always be remembered as the day that my nephew Sam was born. How amazing is it to share your birthday with the first child of your family's next generation?

Congratulations to Matt and Rachel on the birth of little Sam. Actually big Sam as he was 9 lbs 9 oz!

Birthday Weekend

[Note: This is the first of several posts I sent last weekend in the build up to my 40th birthday. Several more posts will follow until we are back to the present!]

This morning my yoga class at Alameda Yoga Station sang me happy birthday. So sweet. Finally getting in the mood.

Technical Difficulties

I thought that my blog posts were being posted over the past week but the connection between my mobile device and blogger is not working. So, there are many birthday weekend posts that are missing. I am working with ATT to figure out the problem and will back post as soon as these technologies can again see each other.

March 4, 2009

Not Alone on Rump Kicking

We all did so poorly on the Statistics exam that our professor is letting us fix the problems and get 1/2 the points. Thank the statistics gods.

Statistics Kicked my Rump

I may have aced the statistics homework and quizes but the midterm chewed me up and spit me out.

I think the problem is a combination of a few factors:
-statistics is hard
-for homework and quizes I could use my book, find the formula - based on the current chapter, and take hours to figure out the answer
-i didn't study enough, but am not sure how much more I could have studied before my brain exploded
-self-doubt around ability to do math
-voice in my head reminding me that if I fail the midterm I am wasting money and also won't be able to continue in the doctoral program

I suppose that this is the reason why not everyone earns a Doctorate. Although it is a bummer because it is the actual Doctoral courses that are related to my ambitions as opposed to this statistics course.

Maybe I can beg the teacher for extra credit assignments. Oh I am very bummed. Perhaps lots of people failed and the grades will be curved...

March 3, 2009

Back in SF

Landed and now on BART back to Oakland. Our flight left 5 hours late so good thing I upgraded and had lots of space. Now just need to detox from the flight food.

Good to be home in San Francisco. I feel equally happy here as I did in the UK. My next goal is to figure out how to split my time between the two countries.

March 2, 2009

Famous 207

Well, there was a last hurrah this morning as I prepared to leave for the airport. My hotel shower was so lovely and warm, a rare treat in the UK. Unfortunately it was so warm that it set off the fire alarm. As I was in the shower as it was going off I just hoped for the best and kept on showering.

When I finally emerged from the bathroom the alarm seemed to have reset, so no worries. But that was not the case. As I was checking out the desk manager said, "Ah, room 207, you set off the fire alarm this morning. You forgot to shut the bathroom door when you warmed the shower." Resisting the urge to comment on his comment, I simply smiled and said, "oops, sorry."

hopefully I didn't awaken any of the other guests. The final departing words from the manager were, "have a lovely day famous 207."

March 1, 2009

Reflections on UK Trip

Although I still have a final night in London (in a hotel outside of Heathrow, an area called Hounslow) I am going to take some time now to reflect on what worked really well about this trip to the UK. This reminds me of what Martin said to us as we came close tot the end of the first leadership programme session in London, "we still have to keep the egg balanced on the spoon until we finish the race". So, with that said here are my reflections:

-I reached numerous goals including continuing to consult internationally, teaching and presenting, collaborating, and continuously learning.
-I brought together my UK and US colleagues and it worked!
-I presented a programme on the 33rd floor in a room that had floor to ceiling windows and I excelled.
-Simone presented and excelled in her work.
-i travel led with Leah and learned so much about being a good friend and colleague - trusting in building a new friendship.
-I met up with friends a d colleagues and had wonderful conversations about life and work.
-I organized trains, flights, buses and hotels with minimal challenges.
-I reconnected with family and made new memories.
-I meditated regularly (but would have liked to have done more yoga.)
-I navigated London.
-I remained relaxed and patient.
-I blogged a lot!

Thoughts on what I want to "learn" from this experience.

-I have skills that are valuable both in the US and UK.
-I have dear friends in the UK that I want to continue to keep close to my heart.
-I want to keep travelling to the UK and perhaps set up a base of operations here.

Beautiful Ladies

Connected with my yoga friends in Notting Hill and was once again warmed by their inner and outer beauty. So easy to catch up, as though we had seen each other yesterday.

To finish my last day in the UK I have just purchased a replacement black cap from H+M as I lost the previous one on the train from Leeds to Cardiff.

Final, final is a refelxology treatment at my most favorite spa in Whitely's mall. Oh heaven. I am waiting in anticipation for my appointment. Then off to Hounslow for a stay at a hotel close to Heathrow. I couldn't have imagined a more lovely return. Now to plan my next UK business venture.

Pisces Fortune

How appropriate is my astrological week ahead as I sit in my old London neighborhood of Notting Hill waiting for my yoga pals:

Success gained the hard way has been the story of the last year, which, nonetheless, has surely been studded with landmark decisions and occasional triumphs. Wednesday's new moon opens a less pressured three months. Sticking with your odder ideas works in your favour.

Oh good!

Country Rags

This miniature horse named Rags lives in the barn next to Simone and Iain's house in the countryside. How would you like to wake up to this scene every morning? Peaceful bliss.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Simone and I are at The Plough in Radwinter, deep in the heart of Essex, England. Jack and Nathan have made me some sticky toffee pudding after I practically begged for my fifth dessert for the day.