March 31, 2011

Sister Sherpa

Marlene, Chetana and I are being so spoiled during our India visit. Doors are opened for us, bags carried, meals cooked, clothes folded and pressed - even towels and baby clothes, and we are driven everywhere by our driver.

This morning I took a totally frivolous bike rickshaw ride and the price was negotiated by three men - Marlene's father-in-law, the cook and our car driver. The rickshaw driver was clearly nervous and cautious about driving around the white lady in the blue hat. To make sure he was on the strait and narrow, our cook's son followed us on his bike for the first few blocks. The ride was actually quite unsettling as you are barely perched on a seat, there is nothing to hold, there are tons of potholes and you are competing with every mode of transport as well as beggars holding on to the rickshaw. I had my fill of the adventure after about 30 minutes.

We are very lucky to have all of these privileges and so many people looking out for us, our every need and indulgence. Marlene and I are always gracious and are careful not to act like Divas. I've now become Sister Sherpa and official Gate Opener - carrying all baby gear and opening the various gates for our driver. It is a lot of fun and everyone is amused by us.

How in the world am I going to return to Oakland to cook for myself, clean my own things and carry my own bags? Leaving here late on Saturday so I have a few more days to feel spoiled.

This is a photo of the staircase in Mandeep's parents' house looking down onto the front door through which all these lovely people enter and exit to make our lives so easy. I hope that someone serves them too but I am not so naïve to really think that is the case.

March 29, 2011

I Am the Tourist Attraction

Marlene, chetana and I are now in many Indian family photo albums. You may think that this amazing rock garden is the tourist attraction but really it is us, two-and-half white girls. So many people have taken our photos and asked us to pose with their family. Do you think it is my fashion-forward hat?

Chandigarh Rock Garden

Shadow of a Self Portrait

Monkey Business

Marlene just yelled out to me, "look Amy, a monkey!" There he is, in the city next to the shopping center.

March 28, 2011

Nike's Newest Store in Mohali

Unsticking Stuck Stories

Yesterday my sister Marlene and I chatted briefly about how people can get stuck on their "stories" and that she herself must have some stuck stories. That got me thinking about my own stuck stories. I would frame these as the running litany of narratives that we've written as our limiting self-beliefs and from which we are afraid to stray. Sometimes these are the stories we tell others, unwittingly, about ourselves when we are getting to know someone - meant to be an introduction but just as often sent as a warning.

I often say that my non-profit clients wear their mission on their sleeves and must relay that tale, in full, to every person they meet. It becomes a monologue that can not be interrupted until finished and once completed the person sits back and closes their mind - often to themselves as well as the person to which they are speaking. Sure, we all have our stories and some are ones we love to tell because they make people laugh, frame us as brave, creative, adventurous. But what happens when a story paints us into a corner and we are only that story, not living in the now but rather the "back when".

This morning, as I laid in bed and listened to the cars with loudspeakers projecting the morning prayers along the streets before sunrise, I started to think about my stuck stories. Even now, I was about to say, "since returning to the US..." which is how I frame one of my stuck narratives. It was a monumental moment in my life, to live in London and then return to the US. Layered within this tale are so many other stuck stories and lately I've been saying that some are not my story but someone else's in which I was a key character or perhaps an accomplice.

Now, as a teacher, I help my students articulate their stories, guiding them in conveying their growing strengths as they articulate their aspirations. This past quarter I revealed more of myself to my students as I shared my war stories of former employers and clients. But afterwards I would often find myself feeling uncomfortable with how the chronicle had been relayed. I came across as a victim - a device of my own telling. This next quarter it is my intention to retell these tales as objective lessons learned instead of plays in which I am a secondary character beholden to the nasty king or queen.

Being on my own...yet the opening for another of my stuck actually an opportunity to examine my running-narratives without being encased in a dance with another person, or people, who require that my steps remain consistent. My girlfriends and I often talk about our self-framing; being clear about the paths we have taken and the new ones we are now forging. As we explore relationships we notice that either we or the other person are carrying "baggage" - preconceived notions, assumptions and fears - that have us admonishing ourselves as we analyze, assess and shed our stuck stories.

Being the most stuck in a story is when you develop thick walls that keep you from connecting with others or even yourself, and blocking your dreams. Perhaps these stories even prevent you from envisioning a possibility, and now you can only regret. The bravest moments are when you examine the narratives, recognizing that they are so old and have become tall tales by which you exist in the present, holding onto a ghost of the past. This is what I frame as "evolving" and often use this wording with my students and clients when we talk about personal and organizational evolution.

Recently I was talking with various friends about how in life you can ride the wave, deny there is a wave or avoid the wave. Riding the wave is intentional, taking time to reflect on old blockages that need flushing, allowing for new possibilities. On occasion we develop friendships, old and new, with people who encourage our bravery, offering their hand or heart in support as we crest the wave and find balance. Recognizing and trusting these people, being open to them, not pushing them away, is the first step in unsticking our stuck stories. In return, they must accept that finding balance takes practice.

More on the Cricket Umpire

I did a little research on the cricket umpire I met at the pool. His name is Billy Bowden and apparently he is well known for his dramatic style of calling people out with his "crooked finger of doom". Marlene's nephew demonstrated it for us this afternoon - he's a cricket fanatic.

Well, Billy also now has the notariety of teaching me the rules of cricket. He even tested me to make sure I got it down. Apparently he is one of the best umpires in the world so I passed the test with some really good coaching.

Royal Taj

Mandeep always knows how to get us into the center of action. Marlene and I have just had massages at the Royal Taj hotel where the India National Cricket team are staying in preparation for their big semi-final match against Pakistan on 30 March.

We had to pass through four layers of security just to get in for our massages. Turns out there are terrorist threats against the teams and the hotel. Good thing I didn't know this until after the massage.

While waiting for Marlene to finish her massage I sat by the pool pictured in this photo. Hard to believe that this beautiful pool is a block away from the Notary in my previous post. Also in this photo is Billy, who will be umpiring the game on TV. He and I chatted and he took the time to explain cricket to me. Now I kind of understand the concept. He has quite a life, traveling the world going from match to match. He only spends about 100 days a year in his native New Zealand.

Notary Pool

Doing business in the great outdoors of Chandigarh. Note the typewriters.

March 27, 2011

My India Outfit (from Old Navy)

Bought this in Alameda before I left California. I was very worried that I would be an oddity in India. Well, clearly I'm white but at least I fit in.

My Bed Ready for My Niece's Nap

Early Impressions of India

Now that I've been in India for, well, I'm not sure how many days. I think it is two full days at this point, I can share some early impressions.

The first is that I am not very jet-lagged, although it is bound to catch up with me later.

The real first impression is the smell of smoke. Walking from the jetway to the Delhi terminal it smelled like fireplace smoke and that has been the case for both Delhi and now Chandigarh.

Next impression is of people everywhere, moving at all kinds of paces on all sorts of modes of transportation. From feet to bikes to scooters, motorcycles, taxis of every shape, donkeys, trucks, buses and cars. Everyone who has a horn uses it to talk with their car to the other drivers, alerting them to their next move. On the roads, everyone is equal including the cows that wander at their own pace and move not always in the direction of the traffic.

My favorite site so far, besides the cows on the road, are the women in sarhis riding on the backs of bikes and motorcycles, balanced on one hip and holding on with one hand. Entire families ride on scooters; a small child on the handlebars, dad steering, another small child behind him and then mom securing the rear. No helmets for anyone but dad - who is probably just wearing one to avoid a fine. Here in Chandigarh, an area highly populated with Sikhs, I've seen men in turbans riding their motorcycles one hand steering and the other stretched across their face holding a cell phone to their opposite ear.

Another impression are the people who work as servants and laborers. This is where you really see the caste system start to play out. My brother-in-law Mandeep met me at the Chandigarh airport, which is under construction by all kinds of unexpected laborers. There is an old terminal which is still fully functional, but quite old-school in terms of every-person-for-themselves. As you exit you are immediately behind the new terminal which is not yet opened. Building it are men and women, dressed in somewhat formal clothing, carrying the materials on their heads. I arrived on Sunday and yet the place was busy with workers, families it seemed, constructing the airport. Women in beautifully colored sarhis were doing most of the work. It was almost impossible to believe that they had built the modern terminal which looked more like a spaceship had dropped it from the sky onto their village.

I am lucky enough to be staying in people's homes and this is a wonderful way to experience India. The first home was a friend of Mandeep's in Delhi who generously picked me up from the airport and put me up in their guest apartment. They have two servants, a young man and woman, who took care of my luggage and made me breakfast. Servants are like family members but not exactly. When I followed one of the servants up to the main apartment he went so quickly ahead that I lost him. I entered the wrong room and it turned out to be the servants' quarters which were so different from the family's living area. It was like peeking into the behind-the-scenes inner-workings of the home. Realizing my mistake I quietly exited and found the family's apartment entrance.

Now in Chandigarh my sister Marlene, her baby Chetana and Mandeep are staying with his family in this beautiful home. It looks very modern from the outside and inside it is incredibly comfortable, cool and relaxed. What I love most about this home and its neighborhood is the social ecosystem that exists all around it. Yesterday Marlene and I went for a walk and just outside the door there are families that supply services such as ironing and construction. It may seem so un-American that there are people in these comfortable, modern homes and then a few feet away people living in cement blocks and working in make-shift shacks. It is very non-American. There would be much expressed frustration and anger between these contrasts of rich and poor it this were America. Here people depend upon each other from every class. The working class intermingle with the more wealth class providing daily services. If I had read a sentence like that two days ago I would have scoffed at the naivete but it really does make sense here - that is as long as everyone is able to have the food, shelter, clothing, and health support needed to co-exist.

Last night, as I lay in bed, I listened to the quiet and its disruptions. There are people sleeping above you in the house and a few feet away from you on the street. Everyone slept soundly until the neighbors rottweiler, which earlier in the day my sister had alluded to disdainfully, began to bark, endlessly. People generally do not keep dogs as pets here, dogs are usually feral living in parks and along the streets, practically comatose. Not this healthy beast which barked furiously all night. Finally, another neighbor started screaming to demand the owner take control the dog. Then someone living in a hut nearby said, "shut up!" I found the interaction very amusing. Above is a photo of the garden outside my window and behind it the rottweiler's palatial home.

Now I'm sitting behind a screened door in my marble-floored bedroom as the breeze blows through the house. Mandeep's mom is straitening my bedroom and a servant has just moved my camera from the bed to the dressing table so that he can put the comforter back on my king sized bed. It is now made-up for Chetana to enjoy her frequent naps. Next I will venture into the bath/shower which Mandeep took the time to explain to me yesterday. It will be a hot day but it is not very humid - just breezy and beautiful. Hopefully Marlene and I will venture out for some shopping. Yesterday was quite amusing as we stared at the people and they stared at us. A small child yelled, "I love you" at us as we walked by a dusty cricket match of kids in all types and colors of clothing. People are so colorful here in Incredible India!

Passage to India by Way of the Artice Circle

I flew Jet Airways, aka United from San Francisco to Hong Kong and then on to Delhi on the real Jet Airways. The first leg of the trip, 13 hours and 30 minutes in the air, took us over Alaska, Russia, Japan and then to China. Passing over the artic circle I was able to get this shot of the ice. The image looks like a Magritte painting. I don't know if these cracks are due to global warming or are just the natural formations in the ice. Regardless, it was a view of the Earth I've never before seen.

Sleeping Street Dogs

Balance on the Scooter

Relaxing in Delhi Airport

They've got padded lounge chairs. I'm happy, especially after the chaos of the ticket counter. I had to practically smack people to keep my place in line.

Getting Felt Up at the Airport

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really do prefer the hand/wand search at the airport over the full body scan. There is something calming and even goofy about the human touch in a stressful environment, especially when traveling alone.

Today the Delhi security woman jumped back when I giggled as she wanded me. Can I help it if I am ticklish? I made her smile. I think we had a real moment. Does this count as an international date?

March 26, 2011

Cows Walk the Road!

Self Portrait in Delhi

Sunny Sunday in Delhi

The gate outside the beautiful apartment in which I am a guest. So many people live under one roof.

Delhi Bedroom

I am so lucky that my brother-in-law Mandeep has a friend in Delhi who picked me up from the airport and took me to his house and then back I'll go to the airport tomorrow for my flight up to Chandigarh.

So much is different here - guards and servants. they are fetching me biscuits for a midnight snack.

First Image of India

Greets me in the airport bathroom.

Need a Vision

This week I have been exploring vision. It came up in a client coaching session - having a vision so that you can move towards it; in my Executive Leadership class when our school President talked to my students - you need a vision to move yourself and your team forward; and in the two films I watched on my San Francisco to Hong Kong flight - Conviction and Secreteriat.

In the two films, both dramatized documentaries, the stories center around a strong women with a vision. That vision is about family, in these cases, how they save a family from ruin. What I reflected on when watching these films is that I need a vision. As I thought about it more, I do have one - teaching the business of art. However, in my personal life it is about partnership, equality, passion, and adventure. Still working out that vision.

Sliced Beef = Tripe

I think that this is tripe Congee. Trying to swallow with a smile.

Congee in Hong Kong Airport

Hong Kong Gate 47

Figured it out myself. First time in Asia!

March 25, 2011

Frugality of Time and Money

I foolishly parked in a metered spot outside my apartment last night. But I got out there at 8am and bought a 35 minute parking pass and put it on my dashboard. I was too cheap with time and money to spend the extra dollar and buy a full hour. Sure enough, I got back to my car 2 minutes late, with all my luggage for the airport, and there was the meter "maid" giving me a ticket for $58. I literally begged her to not give me a ticket and she said, "I don't understand why people get so upset."

I've now driven to San Bruno to use BART's long term parking for the airport. It really is a good deal $60 for almost 10 days. However, the BART ticket for the one mile ride to the airport is $6.90. It should really be $1.75 considering that is their lowest fee. Ah yes, am expensive driving day.

I think I need to get new attitude about time and money frugality.

March 24, 2011

India Tomorrow!

School is over, finals are graded, portfolio show attended, students graduated, shopping shopped and now off to India tomorrow. My nerves are a bit calmer than they were earlier in the week. For some reason I'm finding this trip a bit scary. So many unknowns.

My students were spectacular this week in every class. As my Academic Director said last quarter, "don't over teach" and I didn't. This last week I had my students work in teams to practice what they learned and the outcomes were phenomenal. I was blown away by how well they worked together and were totally engaged in their projects. It felt a bit like a trick that I had them synthesize a quarter's worth of learning into a final class as a case study project. They had learned so much and mastered the subjects.

In a couple of classes I had the students take a "competency quiz" the first week so that we could assess their knowledge and assumptions going into the courses. In this week's final classes I handed back these same quizzes so that they could reflect on their original responses. For some students their answers were surprisingly different and for others their assumptions were affirmed. It was a great way to end the courses.

I feel quite attached to my graduating students since I've known some of them for 18 months. It is like sending friends off into the world and hoping that they send you letters - other than A-F. Bon Voyage brave students!

March 23, 2011

Ceramic Bowl

I'm slowly revealing my ceramic creations. This one came out surprisingly well. It is actually paper thin. Ok, maybe closer to cardboard thin.

March 22, 2011

Handcrafted Vase

Here's the vase I made in ceramics. I love that it holds daffodils so beautifully.

March 21, 2011

Final Musical Excursion

This morning I took my students to an open rehearsal of my former strategic planning client New Century Chamber Orchestra at Herbst Theater in San Francisco. This was a surprise excursion for the students on their last day of class.

The students loved it! I prepped them by showing videos of NCCO and Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg, the inspirational music director. Prior to the rehearsal I asked the students to notice the shared leadership style of the orchestra. Afterwards we talked about the different leadership and communications styles of the players. I was so impressed with the students' observations.

What also blew me away was that during the rehearsal my students were totally engaged. In the classroom there are so many distractions like texting and facebooking. In the rehearsal they sat forward, hands on knees, eyes and ears focused on the musicians.

One student said she had never been to "anything like that before". And when I asked if she meant an open rehearsal, she said, "no, a classical music performance." Another said that she really appreciates when Instructors engage the class in cultural experiences.

Last week I took them to the Opera, this week classical music, next quarter I'm striving for dance and visual arts!

March 20, 2011

Musically Inclined

Now that I've been watching Glee I'm far more into music. Today I purchased several pieces that break my heart. Barbar's Adagio for Strings conducted by Leonard Bernstein and performed by the NY Philharmonic, Landslide by Stevie Nicks (Glee version) performed by the cast (and Gwyneth Paltrow) and Blackbird by the Beatles performed by Glee's Kurt Hummel.

March 19, 2011

California is Stressed

Today I've encountered people screaming, swearing and aggressively driving. Is it the rain, radiation threats, economics, or what?

March 18, 2011

San Jose Museum of Art

Julie and I attended the SF International Asian American Film Festival in San Jose and are now at a huge gala at the museum.

Johnny Rocket's Chili Fries and Cheese

Birthday celebration continues.

March 16, 2011

Boy Love

Episode 16, Season 4 of Glee, "Original Song" has the most beautiful moment of boy love. Nothing beats a first kiss, especially when it is between Chris Colfer and Darren Chris - gay, straight, bi, whatever floats their boats.

Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now

A week into my 42nd birthday and I feel so much younger. Could it be that I'm aging backwards? I am light, free, happy, and vibrant. The final stanza of Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages" captures the feeling so well:

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Copyright © 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music

March 12, 2011

India Bound

I haven't mentioned my trip to India, as of yet, because I wanted to make sure the visa was approved. The good news is that I'm heading to India with my sister Marlene, brother-in-law Mandeep and niece Chetana at the end of March. We're going to Chandigarh. I have yet to research the details of the trip. Stay tune for more info.

Nancy's Birthday!

Three of my peeps; Nancy, Leah and Anna are at Nancy's indulgent birthday extravaganza in San Francisco. We're having a blast drinking quality wine, eating quality Italian cuisine and kibbitzing.

March 9, 2011

Lessons Learned and Applied

Today I was anticipating a difficult interaction that had me in a bit of a panic. It was on my mind during class when I was giving my students some goal-setting tools. In just talking it out, although they didn't know my goal example was real, I was able to find a solution.

When I entered the meeting, instead of having anxiety and coming from a position of weakness, I entered with a solution. How empowering to be able to present an alternative scenario and come to a mutually-beneficial understanding. We did have the difficult interaction but I was well grounded and not overwhelmed by the confrontation.

Being an ENFJ in the Myers-Briggs personality types, I do not love confrontation. On top of this, I am very much about helping others' reach their goals. This combination is a recipe for potential anxiety when dealing with difficult situations. However, I navigated it well. Plus, I turned to some colleagues to get input on solutions - getting the situation out of my head and making it less emotional.

Maybe I am more mature at 42.

March 8, 2011

Beach Walk

Spending the morning at my favorite East Bay get-away, Alameda. Next, Julie's Cafe and then back to Oakland for a walk around Jack London Square.

Birthday Indulgance

It's my 42nd birthday and I can't get out of bed because I'm having so much fun reading the New York Times online and receiving Facebook birthday greetings! Loving my virtual birthday.

March 7, 2011

Countdown to 42!

In less than 24 hours I will be 42. The great news is that I still love my birthday, even at 42!

March 6, 2011

Quick CT Visit

My weekend visit to Connecticut was quick but packed with great family and friends visits. Today I went to the first Bat Mitzvah in about 20+ years. Actually, I went to synagogue twice this weekend and that pretty much has me set for the next 20+ years.

Sarah's Bat Mitzvah was amazing. She lead the entire service and read from the Torah like a pro. I was so proud of her. What was really emotional was that her mom, Lori, and I have known each other since we were wee kids. Seeing Sarah up there was very emotional - my friend's daughter is old enough to be Bat Mitzvah-ed.

The party was a blast, seeing long lost friends and family. I keep being surprised that my childhood friends have kids. My life feels so different from their's. I live in an urban, single-gal bubble.

March 5, 2011

March 4, 2011

CT for the Weekend

I'm in Connecticut for the weekend to visit family and friends. Plus, to attend a Bat Mitzvah. I think the last one I went to was probably when I was 13.

The JetBlue terminal art JFK is so nice that I just want to keep hanging out here to shop and have a massage. I already had a Jamba Juice - just like home.

March 3, 2011

Financial Reality Check in the Classroom

My Advertising Sales and Ratings students have been working on developing advertising plans. This week we grounded their ideas in real numbers and it was a huge reality check. Suddenly Facebook and Google Adwords seem like the most affordable choices.


Food Trucks at UN Plaza

I'm trying El Tonayense. If only they had prices displayed.

March 2, 2011

My Career Posse

Today I sat on a panel at school to explore the issues facing women in industry as we develop our careers. On this totem pole I was the least experienced and two of my bosses were at the table. However, I felt like an equal as we discussed our career challenges and opportunities - highs and lows. One of my colleagues said, "you need to develop your career posse." We all agreed that this was fantastic advice.

Here's how I'm framing the advice in the context of setting career intentions:

Successfully navigating your way through career choices - highs, lows, challenges, and opportunities requires two key steps - setting your intentions and developing your career posse.

Intentions are the end goals you set for yourself. These intentions can be immediate, short term or long term. They are the vision you have for where you want to be and even the values you will employ to move forward.

Career Posse are the people who you trust with your intentions. These are friends, associates and colleagues who believe that you can reach your fullest potential. Your posse are there to be a sounding boards, to provide advice and to be a beacon of light when you may unintentionally waive from your intentions.

In setting clear intentions and having a posse of supporters you have the key ingredients needed for reaching your fullest potential.

I have a tremendous career posse and maybe that's why I am always able reach my intentions.