August 31, 2011

My Glass Beads

Here are the beads I made in Sunday's class. I'm quite excited by the colors and shapes.

August 28, 2011

Glass Beadmaking

Nicole, my ceramics buddy, and I are taking a glass beadmaking class at the Stained Glass Garden in Berkeley. This I'd the first time I've felt comfortable playing with fire.

August 27, 2011

Belly Dancing Date

For my friend Rachel's 40th birthday she hosted a belly dancing party for her women friends. We had a wonderful afternoon of feeling fluid and sexy. I would say that this counts as "falling in love with myself." How fun to look in a mirror and watch my hips, shoulders, arms, and legs sway to the music.

Smog Check

Just when Fiona thought that I was treating her well, I took her for a SMOG check and she was surprised by the rude probing.

Fiona Gets Some Love

After months of dirtiness, finally my car is getting some attention with a much needed inside-outside cleaning.

August 25, 2011

Story Corps in Our 40s

Leah, Hisun and I just recorded a Story Corp session about being women in our 40s. It was a love fest. Maybe it will be broadcast on NPR.

Internal Harmony

Earlier this week I was asked by a friend what I could do to fall in love with myself. This interesting question had already been on my mind. Yes, I love myself, but I am continuously looking externally to create harmony. How can an external source fulfill internal peace?

What does it mean to fall in love with me? Is it buying me flowers, making me dinner, saying I love me? Actually, I already do all this - but these continue to be external pursuits of harmony.

Internal harmony, perhaps, is listening to my intuition, respecting my feelings, being kind and gentle when I do not meet my expectations. It is taking time to recharge my energy, meditating. Being in love with myself is allowing me to be flexible, physically and mentally, to explore my body's physicality and my mind's playfulness.

Similarly, it is giving myself permission not to obsess over missteps, like a tongue continuously exploring the hole left by a missing tooth. My mind tends to work that way, playing and replaying a situation until I am avoiding people and objects that trigger the circular thinking.

So, being in love with myself is letting go of trying to make order of everything, the continual pursuit of meaning and analysis of what was not and will not be.

A few nights ago, before going to sleep, I asked myself how I can fall in love with me. In the morning I reflected on my dreams and recognized that I need to find my voice. This may seem ironic for someone who teaches and blogs. But voice is a metaphor for both pursuing my creativity and stating my needs. My career is focused on doing this for everyone else and I love what I do. But what about loving myself with that same enthusiasm?

I have a long-term date with myself. In September I begin the Advanced Studies program at the Yoga Room in Berkeley. My intention is to deepen my yoga practice. This is an opportunity to stretch both my body and mind, gently confronting perceived limitations, linking the physical with the cerebral and spiritual, and evolving my internal harmony as I awaken my voice that says, "now is the time to fall in love with myself."

August 19, 2011

Let Me Eat Cake!

I was so optimistically giving up wheat and sugar this week until our culinary students provided us with sheets of the world's most delicious cake. It is pistachio cake topped with marzipan and filled with strawberry mousse and fresh strawberry slices. I have never tasted a cake so yummy as this one - and I am a non-chocolate cake connoisseur.

The little purple spot in the corner is from a berry that was lovingly plucked and enjoyed by a fellow faculty member.

This is a very bad place for a diet.


That was how my cousin Diana and I felt after our Beach Blanket Babylon experience last night. It certainly got me hyped up. It was like a caffeine high that left me singing, dancing and talking a mile-a-minute. Good, I'm not sure.

August 18, 2011

Teaching Strategy or Tactics

This morning I took my PR and Promotions class to visit a PR agency located in San Francisco's financial district. A VP at the firm was generous enough to give us an hour of her time. In that meeting I had a realization - I am teaching my students a great deal of strategic thinking but am I getting down into the tactics?

When we asked the VP how she selects entry level people she told us that she administers a test. The candidate is asked to interpret an article, write up a short summary for the client, identify key content, and then frame it in a way that is truthful and insightful. Of course, their ability to be successful with this assignment is just one of the factors she considers. When asked if she is interested in their ability to think strategically she said that that would certainly help the candidate move ahead in the company, but that is not one of her hiring considerations.

Now I am rethinking my curriculum to include more skill development around tactic identification and completion. Could my students complete her test? Honestly, week six into an eleven week course and I would say no, they couldn't. Next quarter I am going to build in more writing and research activities, while alluding to strategy as opposed to the other way around.

August 17, 2011

Streamlining My Email

After three years of usage, I have deleted my leading-together email account. What a relief! Now I am back to just being Amy Kweskin. There were over 1,000 unread emails in that account - don't worry, I read your emails.

Simplicity. Now I have just four email addresses. Still too many.

If you need to get in touch with me, post a message and I'll send you my Amy Kweskin email.

Shoe Addiction

I have never owned this many shoes and I just, spontaneously, bought another pair to match today's outfit. What's next, handbag addiction? Please say no.

August 16, 2011

Judging Student Chef Competition

This afternoon four colleagues and I judged a chef competition at my school. The contestants were teams of students getting ready to graduate and make their way into the culinary world. I've had a few of the students in my culinary management classes but this was the first time I was asked to evaluate their cooking.

One of the best parts of the lunch was eating in one of our school's huge industrial kitchens. I wish my mom could have been there too because I know she would have loved seeing the students prepare the dishes, present them to us, explain the ingredients, and then to be part of our judging discussion.

One thing I learned is that I'm a hard judge to please. It surprised me how seriously I took my assignment and how firm I was with my scores. I suppose this comes from having high expectations as a restaurant patron. Interestingly, in class, I think I grade a lot easier. Perhaps it is because I have a quarter-long relationship with those students.

As the judges were leaving one of the students said, "thank you Ms. Kweskin." So sweet! Students usually just call me Amy but in the kitchen greetings are much more formal. Thankfully I had already handed in my score cards.

August 14, 2011

Keb Mo in Oakland

Hisun, Leah, Jack, Alec and I are up in the Oakland Hills at a free Oakland Schools fundraiser. I like being the fifth wheel with these guys.

August 13, 2011

Now I Get Me!

I am at the Personality Type conference in San Francisco and just had a huge aha! moment. The session I attended, presented by Susan Blair of New Zealand, was on the topic of "if you can teach them, you can reach them". She asked, "what did you enjoy most when you were in school and what got you into trouble the most in school?"

I enjoyed thinking outside the box, questioning authority and getting my friends excited and engaged in breaking the rules. Guess what I also got in trouble for doing? Yes, all of that. This perfectly explains my personality type, ENFJ. It also explains why I had so many difficulties in jobs where my boss "set the rules and told me to follow them or else."

These affirmations actually brought tears to my eyes.

August 9, 2011

Type Talk

This week I am attending the Association of Psychological Type International conference hosted here in San Francisco. My intention is to learn more about Myers-Briggs and share the knowledge with my students.

To get to know some of the people in advance of the conference I volunteered today to stuff registration bags. The conversation amongst the bag stuffers gave me a taste of what Type Professionals talk about - analyzing their spouses and children. It was fun to listen in as the volunteers discussed how they were an INFJ raising and ESTP and married to a ENTJ. This is going to be an interesting conference for an ENFJ.

August 8, 2011


As you can guess from following my adventures, I have a wanderlust which kicks in about every two years. This desire to travel, and sometimes relocate, doesn't have to take me across the world, although it certainly has. It can take me to a new apartment across a city. That two year mark is coming up for  in September - twenty four months into living at this current apartment.

But, as I look around my place, I am realizing that everything fits so beautifully. Every nook and cranny is filled with my favorite things. And it doesn't feel too crowded or too empty. Somehow I've also managed on occasion to sleep four people in my little one bedroom apartment and it feels snug but not too overcrowded. Honestly, I can't figure out a better location to live than the one I occupy here in the Bay Area.

The realization that everything around me is sustained, 100%, because of my own doing, kind of blows my mind. I'm completely independent (although sometimes getting a little bridge loan from my parents, quickly repaid) and take care of myself. That's quite an achievement for a woman of 42 living in an expensive metropolitan area. I'm loving every minute of this adventure.

August 5, 2011

Developing a Ripple Effect of Compassionate Instinct

Over the past month I have been savoring a collection of essays from Greater Good magazine published in the book The Compassionate Instinct. Featuring educational, scientific, political, and spiritual leaders, each author promotes an individual call to action as a pathway for developing a societal compassionate instinct.

In the final article, "The Banality of Heroism" by psychology researchers Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo, the following paragraph encapsulates the concept of developing this compassionate instinct:

" is important not to fear interpersonal conflict and to develop the personal hardiness necessary to stand firm for principles we cherish. In fact, we shouldn't think of difficult interactions as conflicts but rather as attempts to challenge other people to support their own principles and ideology."

This statement resonates with me as it encourages meaningful interaction that advances societal compassion. In fact, it is what I work on helping my students develop in the classes I teach. In my courses we continuously explore our own values and beliefs and then apply these to how we develop our organizational and leadership practices. I've heard from students that my classes have the reputation of "being deep".

As an instructor and a strategic planning consultant I am becoming ever more comfortable encouraging this type of discussion, one that develops a social compassion. However, I am still learning to express my voice in personal relationships. As an intuitive and feeling person (Myers-Briggs Type ENFJ) I am drawn into observing how people behave and interact. But when I am conflicted by the discontinuity of their actions, or observe that they are unable to pinpoint the source of their feelings of disconnection, I do not move towards interpersonal conflict. Instead, I remain silent. It may take days, months or even years for me to process the conflict of principles and ideologies that were off-kilter with their actions and behaviors. By that point a discussion feels pointless as I have either continued allowing this person treat myself or others without compassion, or I have passively ended our relationship. This approach is a missed opportunity for personal and societal evolution.

What if I were to initiate a dialogue in the moment, instead of locking my thoughts away for future contemplation? To do this I need to practice separating the fear of rejection that I harbor with the opportunity to develop a deeper connection. Perhaps the end result would still be a parting of ways, but at least we would both have exercised an exploration of values that results in a better understanding of ourselves and each other. I predict that this approach will result in clarity of personal values, for each of us, and have a ripple effect of developing a compassionate instinct in all our interactions.

August 3, 2011

Fantasy Kayak Vacation

Just putting it out there that I want to go to the Sea of Cortez on a Kayak trip. If you speak it, it will come.

August 1, 2011

Best/Worst Resume Typo

Costco Morning Meat Stalker which I believe should read Meat Stocker.

Shoes Not Made for Walking

Note to self: fashion shoes are not made for walking to BART or for teaching a class.