October 31, 2009

Words of Truth

National Arts Marketing project confetence tidbit: To be successful as an arts manager and move change forward you need to have to have a gut of steel surrounded by soft, downy feathers as you push forward.


October 30, 2009

Rhode Island Here I Come

Heading out to Rhode Island for the National Arts Marketing Project conference and then on to DC to visit with the sibs. So good to be out again. I'm meeting great people and I'm only in the Oakland airport. It helps to be friendly and have a good attitude.

October 29, 2009

Tao of Consulting

I'm having all kinds of realizations about life as a consultant.

  • You never know from where you will derive your next project, therefore keep your mind, heart and email in-box open.
  • Making money as a consultant is more than success it is the opportunity to pay quarterly taxes. Prepare by saving each month.
  • Every project takes at least an extra two months longer than you and the client estimate. This is because living in the now takes priority over planning for the future, regardless of your focus on strategy.
  • Pre-plan every client interaction and in advance of group meetings walk through the agenda at least twice with the client. No surprise is a good surprise.
  • Find a partner and work in consulting teams for this will help you stay sane.

October 27, 2009

No Longer a Hermit Crab

For the second time this week I've been told that I am no longer living like a hermit. Was I really being a hermit over the past 18 months? I suppose so. Well, I'm coming out of my shell, have a grand new place to live and am hosting lots of gatherings with my friends. No more hermit crab lifestyle for me.

October 26, 2009

Squash Cornbread

I made a fantastic squash cornbread inspired by this recipe One Perfect Bite: Zucchini Cornbread.

Squash Cornbread

5 cups grated squash
1/4 chopped onion
2 cups coarse yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup Gluten Free Flour
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 x 2-inch pan. Grease pan. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, whisk or sift together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.

3) In a small bowl, beat eggs, yogurt, water and cilantro together. Add to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in squash and onion. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

4) Bake uncovered about 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in pan. slice and serve. This is best served warm. Yield: 12 servings.

October 24, 2009

Unraveling the Muscle

For the past couple of months I've had a difficult time being inspired to do yoga. Yes, I go to my favorite Saturday morning class at Alameda Yoga Station with Nancy but my heart hasn't been 100% into it like before. Then today I had a realization during class - yoga is about unraveling the muscles that we tense all day long.

Because I've been practicing yoga less frequently I could tell that my posture has been getting a little less vertical and a little more scrunched. Today I focused on extending and expanding muscles from their center points to the tips of my fingers, toes and head. Suddenly I was longer, taller and stronger. Perhaps some of this scrunching has to do with the bike injuries I sustained this summer. I've been avoiding my knees and today I gently regained confidence in them.

Further into today's practice I recognized that your mind is also holding on to tension and gets all scrunched up as well. So I allowed my brain to let go - release. Nancy said, "in each pose, pay attention to what needs to be working and what should be relaxing or off-duty." I'm carrying that premise into my day.

October 23, 2009

Mystery Garlic Breath

Do you ever have that moment when you are in a room and there is the deep dark garlic breath odor and you slowly inch away from the person next to you, thinking they are the one? That was me yesterday on BART, as I sat next to an odor offender.

But then an hour later, whilst I was sitting in the theater, the smell hit me again and I had the stunning realization that it could be me giving off that smell. I became obsessed and started subtly, I hope, smelling my breath. This is no easy task. You have to either fake a yawn and see if it is you or breath out in a huff and then take a deep breath in through your nose.

Is it really possible to smell yor own breath? Isn't your nose and perhaps even your bloodstream filled with garlic. Suddenly garlic is your breath of life.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any altoids and two hours into the performance I just wanted to lick the bottom of my shoe to get the taste out of my mouth. I made a huge yawn, which was actualy quite loud, and my friend Brechin looked at me over the rim of her glasses. Oops, I forgot I wasn't home watching Hulu. Thus from an arts management consultant no less.

After the performance Brechin invited me out for a drink. It was already late and I had to be home early to get some decent sleep for my early morning class. Heck, why not. We headed off to Chevy's for Mexican and I got home at 11:30, barely slept, and am now feeling like a college student heading off to class with giant circles under my eyes, instead of the instructor I am supposed to be.

Plus, now I can officially say I am the one with the garlic breath. Thank goodness for altoids.

October 22, 2009

Surprising Myself

I'm sitting here figuring out my income and expenses for my accountant and it turns out I made a decent living this year as a consultant. I suppose this isn't something you want to advertise to the world but the good news is that I actually have a sustainable lifestyle.

Wouldn't it be good if I followed my own consulting advice and kept my expenses tracked in QuickBooks in real-time? Now that I have a university faculty ID I can purchase it at academic pricing. My old QuickBooks for PC doesn't work on my new fabby Mac. Sounds like a student dog-ate-my-homework kind of excuse.

Now to put more money away for savings and taxes.

October 20, 2009

New Paths Forged

Just now doing the dishes I had a realization - it is a challenge being brave. I keep realizing that I am 40, single once again, living on my own, running my own consulting practice, working from home, and am somehow making it all work while being strong. Plus, I'm reaching my professional goals with all kinds of new projects and teaching opportunities.

But my life isn't the norm. All around me people are married/coupled, have houses, kids, pets, cars, and jobs. I see these relationships and wonder if those paths should or could have been mine. I have so much freedom but also not many role models. Certainly I am not alone, especially in a major metropolitan area with tons of creative, intelligent and motivated people. Many of my friends have evolved into the same life path. We look to each other for support, connection and family. I am curious to see if we are actually leaders of a trend - a new choice of lifestyle.

The new term Cougar has been mentioned - fierce, older, single women on the prowl. I take offense to this statement. I am certainly not on the prowl, nor am I desperate. Frankly, I've realized that life doesn't have to be filled with compromises; difficult situations can be changed and new paths forged. This isn't easy but it does allow me to live free and strong.

AT&T Bate and Switch Rebate

AT&T did a lovely job of a bate and switch rebate on me. Actually, it was bate and no fish. Over the phone they said that I would get a $25 rebate on my modem. I called to follow-up and they said that I had to wait another month and something would arrive in the mail. Now I've called and they said that they don't offer rebates on my service. You know what, they win. I don't have the energy to chase this non-existent rebate. Game over.

October 19, 2009

21 Seasoning Salute

I have discovered the secret to making my house smell like my Grammie is cooking - make barley-vegetable soup using Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Solute mix. This mix has 21 of Grammie's favorite seasonings and doesn't have salt - another key non-ingredient Grammie doesn't use. I left my apartment for 20 minutes and returned to a warm, delicious environment that smells like Grammie is here. Sadly, she's in Connecticut cooking for my folks and not here cooking with me.

October 17, 2009

All About Alameda

Today was Customer Appreciation Day along Alameda's Park Street. I was feeling the love on Park Avenue, the next street over and the one on which I lived up until six weeks ago. The day started with Yoga with Nancy at Alameda Yoga Station. She brought in a harmonium and we started and ended the class with chanting. I want to do more chanting - it clears your mind and creates a lasting vibration in your heart. My sister Marlene and brother-in-law Mandeep had two harmonium players at their US wedding and I will never forget the sound.

The day continued with a birthday party with my former housemates. Little Asher, has turned three. There were about 15 kids under the age of 8 running around and having fun. I so enjoyed picking apples with them and creating chalk art on the driveway. One mom said to me, "are any of these kids yours?" I told her no and she said that she could tell because I was having fun.

Next I partied with Theron and Elizabeth about 12 houses up the street from my old house. Theron and I use to work together and we both have similar Ike the Bikes. Today we celebrated Theron and Elizabeth's wedding which took place a month ago high up in the mountains of Colorado. The wedding was reenacted and we were in hysterics as they gave us the abridged version thanks to the picnic hostess Cynthia Winton-Henry, co-founder of Interplay. I caught up with friends and colleagues.

From there I biked back to Oakland in the warm, sunny, humid weather we are having this weekend. How lovely to have an extended summer.

First Day of Class

Friday was my first day teaching the Career Development course at the Art Institute of California. The students are amazing. Totally inspirational to meet these emerging artists who are pursuing fantastic careers and have so much talent. Students in my class are pursuing degrees in Interior Design, Game Design, Computer Animation... how cool does that sound?

They are like sponges and really pay attention to what I'm saying, at least in this first class. Hopefully I can keep their attention for the whole semester. They certainly have mine.

October 15, 2009

Back to the Classroom

Tomorrow I start teaching a career development course at the Art Institute of California. Ever since teaching Arts Administration at the University of Houston Downtown in 2006 I have wanted to get back into the classroom as an instructor. Amazing, as I've reached yet another one of my goals.

The course actually started last week but I was hired so close to the start time that I had to wait until this week to go through all the vetting, training and then be ready for teaching. Students are arts career professionals heading out (or back out) into the workforce. I'll be getting them ready.

October 13, 2009

Tina Fey is Feyntastic

It's true, I'm in love with Tina Fey from 30 Rock. She is smart, goofy, pretty and clever. Now here's a woman I want to emulate.

NorCal Softie

It has only taken 16 months to turn me back into a Northern California Softie. The rain hit today and it is as though we are having a snowstorm for which we are unprepared.

My wimpy umbrella turned inside-out as soon as I stepped out the door. Why is it that once they do that they can't stop, as though they have learned a new trick?

Of course I dropped off my waterproof boots to get new zippers, yesterday. Instead I'm wearing my super sexy high heel black boots that look waterproof but are now hosting puddles in which my socks and feet are marinating.

My lovely raincoat, on which I sprayed waterproofing, is drenched and Now so is my wool sweater. Trying to outsmart the rain I am wearing my short pants which are also now soaked.

But you know what? I'm smiling today because I enjoy unusual, funny experiences that make us behave differently. I love jumping around the puddles and swirling my broken umbrella. After all, it is only water.

October 12, 2009

Facebook Measures Happiness Factor

One of my favorite topics - Gross National Happiness (Thank you Bhutan) - is now being measured by Facebook based on the happy and unhappy words used in status updates. Read today's New York Times article Is It a Day to be Happy? Check the Index by Noam Cohen.

October 11, 2009

Photos from October

I can't believe that we're 10 days into October. Here are some images I've taken this month.

Coffee with Alison in The Mission - she's smiling now but was soon to find out she got a $53 parking ticket.

Lake Merritt at Sunset when I went walking with Hisun and Pat for the Koren Harvest Moon celebration.

Sashimi with Megan and then homemade donuts with vanilla ice cream - food porn as my friend Leigh would say.

Me after getting my hair colored and cut.

A view of the sky while having lunch with Kal at Barney's Burgers. I had chili fries with cheese and he had the world's greasiest fried vegetables.

A beautifully painted front porch of a house I passed on my morning walk in Piedmont.

Potato Puffs (deep fried mashed potatoes) with Hal at Gregoire's. We had a fantastic free meal because Hal found the paycheck of one of the employees while walking from MacArthur BART to my place. Nice guy's get to eat well. Me and Hal.

My cousin Diana with her girlfriend Lauren getting cozy on my papason chair.

Mountain View Cemetery has a free Halloween Pumpkin Festival - how's that for unexpected? This cemetery is a ten minute walk from my place and it is the exercise, dog-walking, kid biking destination with the best views of the Bay.

More decorating at my place - now I have a heart rug, matching chairs and lots of art on the walls.

Gluten Free Pie Crust

This weekend I had a gathering of women at my apartment to celebrate new beginnings. In honor of this occasion I made a quiche called I'm-Having-It-My-Way and it had all my most favorite quiche ingredients AND a gluten free crust.

Gluten Free Crust Recipe

My quiche ingredients:
Whipping cream
Gouda cheese
Parmesan cheese

I loosely followed the Quiche Lorraine recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

October 9, 2009

Obama's Call to Action

President Obama has framed his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize as a call to action. There is so much hope.

October 8, 2009

Recommitting to My Career

Over the past few weeks I've questioned my career choices - consulting vs. being inside a company. What I've recognized is that I love my career.

Earlier this week Leah and I presented a workshop for the Center for Cultural Innovation helping artists write their personal vision and mission, identify their core values and set goals for moving forward. While Leah was presenting the values and mission components of the course I followed along with the participants and had several "aha!" moments. I shared these with the students when I presented the goal setting section. Instructors make visioning sound so easy but when you put yourself in the student role you realize - it is hard when you do it for yourself.

Here's what I articulated:

Vision: I believe that people need to lead-together to reach community goals.

Mission: I support people in reaching their goals by guiding team building so that they can lead-together.

Values: My core values are the ability to pursue new ideas, practice self-expression, be creative, build a sense of community, work in teams and always have variety in my projects.

Make enough money to cover all my expenses, save some money for the future, and not incur debt.
To have excellent life-work balance.
To travel, teach and facilitate nationally and internationally.

This last goal got a huge response from the group and one woman said it gave her chills. How's that for accountability - sharing your goals in front of 25 people.

October 7, 2009

Artist Lights My Fire

As the weather turns to autumn here in Oakland my lovely little apartment is getting cold. Turns out that my heater's pilot light is out, which means no heat. So, I called Pacific Gas and Electric. They said they could send someone over in 10 days. What? Is this British Gas all over again?

While at lunch today with Kal, the co-founder of the Oakland Underground Film Festival, I mentioned that my heater isn't working. Kal, an accomplished electrician, said, "no problem, I'll light your fire." Now that's what I like to here. So, I offered Kal some pro bono arts management advice and he re-light my pilot light. Bartering all the way.

October 5, 2009

Only the Best

As this monumental day is progressing I've had another revelation - Only the Best! No compromises and no settling for less. Today is the first page of a new chapter. I'm building on my past learnings and will invest my heart, soul and energy only in friendships, relationships and projects that are fully in alignment with my values. To make sure I can do this, I am going to spend more time reflecting and contemplating rather than acting and responding immediately. I'll ask myself the question, "does this work for me and is it worth my time?" Believe me, I'll still take chances, but calculated risks instead of the hope of making something that is inherently broken somehow better through pouring myself into it.

Unexpected Lightness

This morning at 9:17am my divorce was finalized. I didn't know what I would feel and it turned out to be lightness. I am free, no longer tied to someone.

Now I'm at the Social Security Administration office changing my name back to being me. This will be the final legal and symbolic remnant to shed. Breathing much easier now.

October 4, 2009

Many Distractions, Such as Work

I've been quite quiet with my posts as work has been taking up so much of my time. How discourteous of work to get in the way. Highlights from the past couple of days have been facilitating a strategic planning retreat for one client whilst also writing their strategic plan. Also lots of consulting collaborations with my fantastic cohorts. Taught a course in San Jose last week on the Business of Arts and present session two with Leah this Tuesday.

In between all this I've had quality dates with many friends. My new place is such a lovely pad to host people. This morning I've made breakfast for me and Leah and this afternoon Rachel and baby Chloe will be visiting. Last night Hisun and I celebrated the harvest moon with homemade Korean picnic at Lake Merritt. She also introduced me to Pandora Radio which is quite a find.

October 1, 2009

Amy Louise Kweskin to be Born Again

In just four days I will again officially be Amy Louise Kweskin. Yet another stage in the Year of Research and Development or is it more appropriately Research and Re-Development.

LunaFest Films By, For and About Women

Tonight I attended the LunaFest film festival of short films by, for and about women. Each of the films touched me deeply and together they made me feel strong and proud to be who I am. Lately I've been feeling that life is passing me by because I am not living the standard protocol of being married, having a family, buying a house. Tonight I recognized that I'm living a unique life and every day is experienced to the fullest - with each choice my own. Plus, my friends are my extended family and what a tremendous network of women I have in my life.

Although I attended the film festival alone I met some wonderful women this evening who were eager to pull me into their circle. Some of the best vibes I've had in a San Francisco arts experience, ever.

The Joy of Cooking

Now that I have my own kitchen again I am rekindling the joy of cooking. How wonderful to have home-cooked meals and the fragrance of my favorite herbs and spices filling the apartment. Over the weekend I roasted veg and cooked up some chicken that I've been eating all week. This morning I made some lentil vegetable soup that tastes oh so good. Every time I look at a meal being cooked in my favorite pots and pans I feel so much joy. So long tortilla diet.