December 31, 2013

Setting an Intention for 2014

In this final 10 week personal practice post I will conclude 2013 as The Year of Connection and contemplate 2014 as The Year of Confidence Calm and Clarity.

2013: I became aware that I was somewhat disconnected from myself in that I had many distractions and noise in my life. I eliminated many of those distractions and streamlined my focus in making a clearer connection to my yoga practice. This year I also made room for more alone time. Adopting Dhalia the cat was a big step towards connection in sharing my space with her but also recognizing that I needed my own room as well. 

2014: I feel that the next step in my personal development is to build self confidence. I have so much to offer but often defer to others or undermine myself by giggling in nervousness when I really want to be clear and calm.

2013: Yoga has been a source of self-regulation in being more connected to what is happening in the moment and having less anxiety by creating fictional stories in my head. Also seeing increments and pieces that make up the whole to recognize many types of evolution in myself and others.

2014: Steps towards confidence come with contemplation, slowing down, breathing, listening, hearing, and then moving and deepening. I really want to feel that I can stop my nervous laughter and instead demonstrate clarity of ideas and actions - not being swayed into giggles out of fear.

2013: I was disconnected from myself in that I was motivated to find something external with which to connect. I nurtured intrinsic motivation.

2014: I have so much intelligence, beauty, strength and ideas - and my motivation is to respect myself and my ability to motivate and lead. 

Creating these annual themes is a practice of personal empathy.

Social Skill
2013: I felt an easier connection with others this year because I was more loving of myself.
2014: Now to believe in sharing my abilities, to have confidence through clarity and calmness: that will improve my capabilities as a friend and teacher.

December 23, 2013

Templo Mayor

I am amazed how this pyramid is amongst the Mexico City Zocalo buildings.

Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral

Beautiful lighting during the Sunday service.

Personal Practice Week 9 of 10: Smile and the world smiles with you

This week I am in Mexico City for my fifth visit. I love This city and always find new ways to deepen my experience. Unfortunately, I do not speak Spanish but on this visit I am finding that I can understand more of what people are saying. I am recognizing that positive attitude is everything when you visit a different culture.

I am aware that I am a foreigner who is demanding a lot from locals because I do not speak Spanish and I expect people to speak to me in English.

I could become frustrated about my lack of Spanish. Instead, I make eye contact wi people and smile at them. Plus, I maintain a light hearted attitude.

My motivation is to one day learn Spanish and maybe even move to Mexico City for a while to teach. The more comfortable i am here, the more I feel like I can assimilate and not stand out.

People here try to communicate with me and understand my needs. They show me empathy. The most generous example is when I was attempting to get to my friend Tesy's yoga class which was in the outskirts. Three taxi drivers in my neighborhood refused to make the journey. The subway allowed me to make a portion of the journey but I missed the class and realized I had to be kind to myself and let go of rushing.

At the destination subway station a taxi driver said he would venture to find our address. He repeatedly viewed the tiny map Tesy drew for me and which I showed him on my iPhone. It was an hour's adventure where he kept stopping the taxi and asking for help. When we finally made it to the area we were surprised by a gated community entrance and the driver had to do his best to explain my needs. However he could only give a general explanation because he and I could not communictate in a common language. When we got passed the guards we drove in circles around this private community and finally I got out and said thank you.

Along the entire journey we laughed at our lack of common language. I think that this positive attitude helped our predicament. I paid him twice the fee for his time and empathy, plus the time it would take him to get back to where he could find a customer. A minute after the driver drove away a guard on a bicycle frantically drove up and said in English, "Americanos, here is the place you are looking for, my name is Fernando, I will get you there." It turns out the yoga studio was a few steps away. How kind of him to help us and thoughtful of our taxi driver to have told the guards of our predicament as he was leaving the compound.

Social Skill
This whole adventure is about developing social skills. The key is listening closely, using hand gestures, making eye contact and being relaxed about the interactions. Also, being comfortable asking for help. Working in as much Spanish as possible is also a plus.

December 10, 2013

Converse Cons are Targeting Convicts?

That is what I always think when I see this advertising campaign plastered over the walls and floor is the Oakland Collesium BART station. I do not understand the lifestyle Converse is promoting or the people they are targeting.

December 8, 2013

GROWS Coaching Tool

For years I have used the GROW coaching tool and this morning I woke up with an advancement by adding an "S" to the end making it GROWS. The S is for success - the indicators that your goal has been met and the impact of reaching your goal.

·      What is your intention for continuing or completing your 10 Week Practice?
·      What is your current reality in relation to your goal?
·      What are your strengths?
·      Where do you need support?      
·      To move from your current reality to your goal, how can you build on your strengths?
·      How you can get support?
·      (Coach: ask your client to think of 3-5 more ideas beyond the obvious.)     
·      What will be your steps to move towards your goal?
·      Do you have the “will” to take these steps?
·      When exactly will you take these steps?
·      (Coach: Write down specific dates/times that your client can put into their calendar)     
·      How will you know that you have reached your goal?
·      What will be the success indicators?
·      What will “reaching your goal” allow you to do? 

I will be using this tool with my students on Monday when we discuss the next steps in their 10-week personal practice.

December 5, 2013

My iPhone 3GS is Crazy

I at the ATT store upgrading my perfectly fine old iPhone to the 5S so that I can have FaceTime and a better camera. The sales girl keeps saying, "wow, it's crazy you still have this phone."

December 3, 2013

Point Reyes Elk

Thought I would post this photo from my hike since I've emailed it to several people and received positive feedback. The area is an elk preserve and we saw dozens of these animals. It was the first time I've seen elk in the wild. They were serene.

December 2, 2013

Personal Practice Week 8 of 10: Post-Thanksgiving Yoga Intensive

On "Black Friday" when so many Americans and many of my students were out shopping, I decided to take the day to practice yoga. I participated in a four-hour intensive at The Yoga Room in Berkeley under the guidance of Mary Lou Weprin.
I realized that a day of shopping or even being on the road would cause me stress. So, instead I committed to a day of yoga.

As soon as I walked into the yoga studio I felt centered, grounded and relaxed. However, I had some advance anxiety about participating in this intensive and the voice in my head said:  Who would be there? What if I can't do the poses? What if I get tired? What if my shoulder and hamstring injuries flare up?

I was motivated to find some flexibility and personal time amongst the go-go-go of the long weekend.

During the intensive I practiced a half handstand and Mary Lou reminded me that I have a shoulder injury and to take it easy. I sometimes push myself too hard and think that I can get past the injury. In fact, it made my shoulder sore. I needed to practice some more self-empathy.

Social Skill
I am a very private person and in the yoga studio, I like to keep to myself when in a big class. We worked in groups of two and threes at some points and it was a real effort for me to find a partner or trio. Part of this was because I had so much garlic at Thanksgiving that I was aware of my garlic breath. It may seem silly but throughout the entire four hours I kept eating Altoids.

November 27, 2013

Pimp My Ride

Dhalia has her own SMART thanks Matt, Rachel, Sam and Ida. She's giving me the I Love You eyes.

November 26, 2013

Personal Practice Week 7 of 10: Social Anxiety

This week I realized that I get social anxiety in anticipation of being in a large group of people who want to know about my personal and professional life. In other words, family.
There were many social events packed into this past weekend and I recognized that I was starting to get anxiety about being "on" for all of them. Anxiety is the advance-concern of what could happen as opposed to being in the moment and experiencing what is really happening.

Recognizing that I was developing anxiety, I used some NLP techniques to identify the mental and physical reaction I was having to my concerns. As a result I was able to release the anxiety and prepare myself for components of the experience instead of feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of it all. It came down to me thinking that I have to be "on" for every interaction. In reality, I could be receptive and not reactive.

My motivation was that I wanted to get past this feeling that I get before socializing with people who I think are expecting me to engage in details about my life that are difficult to summarize in a 10-minute social interaction. I end up shutting down and running away into a quiet corner. This is an old behavior I want to change. 

I think that part of the anxiety is that in these social interactions I have a tremendous amount of empathy for people and I become too sensitive to all the emotions in the scene. So, this time I tried to relax and not worry about what everyone was thinking and feeling. 

Social Skill
Ultimately, I did a better job of releasing the anxiety than I have in the past. However, I also did take a numerous naps each day to unwind and perhaps hide. I feel very conflicted that I missed the final party of the weekend because I preferred to stay with just one person and not join in the social scene. I think it hurt people's feelings and that gets me into the anxiety-empathy loop. Instead I want to have compassion for myself and that I need lots of alone time.

November 18, 2013

Personal Practice Week 6 of 10

This week I attended the San Francisco Make a Wish Foundation's Batkid wish come true event. 

Although I attended this event with my Public Relations and Promotions "hat on" I was still moved by the beauty of the gesture. 

Actually, my regulation was too high in that I felt like crying but would not let myself cry.

I was motivated to see this as a spectacle for pure PR purposes but actually it was motivating to come together as a community.

There was a very drunk guy in the crowd making fun of the entire event. But then he said to his friends, "my brother died from Lukemia" and then I understood that he was working through emotions and not just being a heckler. 

Social Skill
Actually, I demonstrated no social skill in attending this event. I was alone and silent. I suppose in a huge crowd I just wanted to be safe and quiet.

November 15, 2013

Competition and Avoidance

In my Culinary Management class the students and I were exploring strategies for addressing conflict. There are five strategies according to our textbook. We call them the three c's an two a's to make them easier to remember: collaboration, compromise, competition, accommodation, and avoidance. Each has its advantages and disadvantages - except collaboration, which is a win-win.

I've taught this same topic about a dozen times and a realization settled in this quarter. Competition and avoidance, two of the weakest strategies, when combined are passive aggressiveness. You make a challenging statement or action and then you runaway so that there is no opportunity for discussion. It is like a yapping dog that runs behind he bushes when you get close.

November 11, 2013

Personal Practice Week 5 of 10

This week I attended my friend and colleague Barry Ebner's Open Studio preview party in Bayview Hunter's Point.

As soon as I walked into the main studio building at this former naval shipyard I felt like I was being welcomed home. I have been here for numerous open studios over the years. The sites, sounds and smells of the space remind me of how much I love the visual arts.

Because I attended the preview exhibition the space was quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of the main days. Because of the mellow vibe I was able to stay focused on the few artists who were having previews or were kind enough to let us visit while they were preparing for the next day's rush. 

Being there motivated me to keep visiting visual artists, taking workshops and viewing the pieces of art I have all over my house. Although I work in the arts, it is mostly with performing artists and arts managers. Being at the Open Studio I remembered how much I love visual arts.

While speaking to an artist who was preparing her studio she asked me what I do for a living. I let her know about my work as an arts management consultant and she asked me to give a workshop at the studios. Speaking with her reminded me that I know the language of the arts and have empathy for artists because I studied to be one myself. 

Social Skill
This language of the arts is a vocabulary that includes both the business aspects but also the artistic mediums and methods. This allowed me to immediately connect with the artists on many levels and the conversations were inspiring.

November 6, 2013

Millennial Real-Time Lessons Learned

I was asked to be a guest contributor to my cousin Julie's new blog focused on women sharing their stories about surviving Silicon Valley. I wrote about how Millennials are teaching me as I teach them.

November 5, 2013

Intensity With Intention

I was talking to Brian about how chefs seem to be so intense and focused when in their whites. He said that being a well-trained chef is a practice of intensity. This got me thinking about focus and intention.

It came up again when I was chatting with a colleague about pre-class jitters and that they always seem to be there, regardless of your level of experience. In fact, good teachers should always have that intensity or they lose their focus Then a few hours later these pre-performance jitters occurred for my students when I had them practice job interviewing in front of the class.

Focus and intention mean game-on. I think that the challenge is to keep the intensity positively focused and not let yourself get into the fight or flight mode. It is so easy to step over that line and then intensity turns into aggression from fear.

What I would like to look into is how to keep the body and mind nimble, even when intense. I think that breathing awareness could be one approach Previsualization of success is another. This is the idea of setting an intention and recognizing the indicators of successfuly and effectively moving towards, course correcting and reaching the goal. Otherwise, it is difficult to ride the intensity and you can get lost in the journey.

November 4, 2013

Personal Practice Week 4 of 10

This week, how did you practice the following Emotional Intelligence competencies in relation to teaching, yoga, relationships, and consumption of resources?

This week I noticed a pain in my shoulder. It seemed to develop from carrying my bike on my shoulder and sleeping on my side. For the past four months I have had extreme muscle constriction in my right back shoulder blade and right side of my neck and this new pain seemed to be an extension. By Saturday it had become frozen shoulder.

Five years ago I developed frozen shoulder on my right side. Facing this again is a daunting prospect and I feel frustrated, sad and drained. However, at least this time I know what it is and am able to approach the situation with compassion and intelligence. 

As a "budding" yoga instructor I see this unfortunate injury as an opportunity. I've heard that sufferers are usually women between the ages of 40-60. I would like to discover how to deal with frozen shoulder for myself and then share that knowledge with others who have the injury.

In this situation I have empathy for myself. I am going to move slower, more deliberately and intelligently. The key is to relax, lengthen and strengthen. The rest of my body has to remain strong and flexible - as must my mind.

Social Skill
It is important to me that I move on with my life and not get stuck talking about this situation non-stop as though it is my total focus. Yes, there are moments of pain but I have to be present and not lost in the injury.

October 29, 2013

Releasing The Funk

I've had this funky feeling for a few days - like I was off center and had lost my sense of Amyness. I asked my body and mind what it needed and the answer was yoga and pranayama. I thought about what asanas hay would help me find my strength and balance, and what came to mind were poses to help me connect with my foundation, strength and breath.

After a 60-minute practice I felt a renewed sense of calm, confidence and open-heartedness. Plus, my body felt strong and limber. Plus, my posture was improved and I could breath more easily. The funk was lifted and I was at peace. Once again I realized that a regular home practice is not a nice-to-have for me, it is actually about well-being.

October 27, 2013

Personal Practice Post 3 of 10

This week, how did you practice the following Emotional Intelligence competencies in relation to teaching, yoga, relationships, and consumption of resources?

This weekend in particular I had a difficult time with self-awareness. It began on Friday when I was out with a couple of friends and felt like I was not part of the conversation and was actually being ignored. This made me feel invisible. Although they had invited me to go out with them, I think that they needed the time to hang out together and not with me. I should have connected later with one of them and not with both.

In this situation I became sad and confused. Were my feelings valid? Was I misreading the situation?

Because of my feelings I became demotivated and wanted to check out. It was difficult to be happy sitting there with my friends because they seemed not to hear what I was saying and there was little eye contact.

The only empathy I had was for myself. I suppose that my recognition that they probably needed catch-up time without me demonstrates empathy. However, I did not act on it by leaving, which would have been passive aggressive in my summation.
Social Skill
Although I hung in there and kept socializing with them, the situation did not feel good. I am not sure how to handle it in the future. I talked to one of my friends about it and he said I should have asked to speak to him alone and said how I was feeling. This is difficult for me because I do not like confrontation. In fact, I couldn't even figure out my feelings as it was happening. I wish I was quicker at recognizing how I feel.

October 22, 2013

The passing of Passive Aggressiveness

This morning I had a realization that I no longer practice passive aggressiveness. This was something I use to do - get frustrated, angry and then take it out on the person by punishing them. Sometimes they didn't even know they were being punished. But really I was punishing myself because it hurt my heart and soul to be mean.

I think that bad practice ended for a few reasons. First and foremost it is because I love myself and don't feel angry or like a victim who has no control over my life. I take accountability for my choices, even if I am not always happy with the situation or the results. This comes with maturity.

The passing is also a result of yoga. This is a practice of releasing to find extension, flexibility and relief. With that there is no room for aggressiveness because it causes mental and physical stress in an asana. Plus, as a budding yoga instructor your heart has to be open to feel compassion. I would also say that this 10-week personal practice of developing Emotional Intelligence is helping me recognize the absence of a bad habit by becoming more self-aware.

I think that passive aggressiveness, for me, was the result of feeling as though I had no voice. It was the sense that others were not hearing me and of me not expressing my needs and not hearing myself. With self-love comes self-recognition. I have no need to send secret, angry messages to myself or others.

It is like a veil has been lifted. I can see and feel more clearly. Plus, I can see passive aggressive behavior in others. It is in their choice of hurtful or victim words, perspectives on situations, body language, and choice of behaviors. When I see this in people I don't get mad, I feel compassion and empathize with their situation because it is so familiar - I was there too. I want to help them find relief. Perhaps this is my path as a college professor and as a yoga instructor. Knowledge and self-awareness are that relief because through them you have choices.

When someone is passive aggressive with me, I try to talk with them about it. This is the next step in my practice because I don't love confrontation. However, their pain becomes an attack to try and hurt me or someone else. This results in a circle of violence which can be stopped. Gandhi's quote comes to mind, "be the change you want to see in the world." Let's hug it out, not thug it out.

October 21, 2013

Back on the Ferry

Actually got seveb very good hours of sleep and up at 5am for the mystery commute. My bike was the main challenge. I believe I found a decent place to park it in Oakland.

I'm very impressed with the giant Golden Gate Ferry that has stepped in and is taking us to San Francisco. It managed to get the lot of us on and set off to sea at only 3 minutes behind schedule. Plus, plenty of empty seats.

October 20, 2013

Personal Practice: Post 2 of 10

This week, how did you practice the following Emotional Intelligence competencies in relation to teaching, yoga, relationships, and consumption of resources?

This week I taught my first 90-minute yoga class when I subbed for the Director of our studio. She asked me to sub about a month ago and for the last four weeks I have been trying to not hold on to my fear and instead release it and focus on the sequence itself. In advance of the class I gave my self a pep talk and only a few times during the session did I find myself worrying that I wouldn't know what to say next.

To set the tone of the class I was in the room when most of the students arrived and I sat smiling as each entered the studio. The first student arrived 20 minutes early and I was not at all ready because I wanted to practice a bit of yoga before the students arrived. So, I went into one of the smaller studios and practiced some deep breathing. I was worried that perhaps she would leave, seeing that I was a sub and not her regular instructor. When I returned to the studio she was there and nine more students arrived to join us.

This is a good question. For the past two years of this teacher training program I have asked why I am training. The answer became clearer as I was teaching this class. The participants were engaged in what I was saying and I was sensitive to their needs. As I guided them through the asanas I recognized their attempts to find the connections I was suggesting. During the restorative poses I presented at the end of the session I could see that they were relaxed after the more challenging poses. I would say that in the end I was motivated by compassion...which leads me to empathy.

Currently I am an apprentice for Nancy Leigh-Smith's yoga class. Providing assistance and adjustments has been very challenging for me in that I feel hesitant and shy. I was starting to wonder if maybe I lacked empathy and was too focused on me and my hesitation to be a yoga instructor. But when I taught my class I was alert to the participants' needs and moved quickly to give each person support if they looked hesitant or uncomfortable. Although I teach every day, this physical assistance was so different than the intellectual guidance I offer my college students. Of course I have empathy for them but with physical assistance in yoga I felt like I was offering opening and relief.

Social Skill
How did social skill play into this teaching experience? I would say it was in that I focused on being the leader in the yoga studio. In this instructor role you cannot be hesitant or doubtful. Confidence and calm are essential and I believe I did a good job. Plus, I did not talk about myself. Rather I was 100% focused on the participants. That is what really motivated me and sparked a deep sense of empathy and compassion.

October 18, 2013

BART Strike = Ferry Ride

Brian drove me to school this morning at 4:52am and we arrived at 5:15 in time for his 6am class and my 8am one. I can't keep gettin up that early. Taking the ferry back home tonight to Oakland's Jack London Square. Beautiful views - this I can do. However, next week i'm not sure how to transport and store my bike each morning. Hopefully the strike will be resolved quickly.

October 15, 2013

Less Posessions = More Kindness

This morning I decided to ride my bike to BART. I prepared my bag with all the necessary stuff I would need during the day. It was laden with bike locks, a change of clothes for yoga, food, toiletries, cell phone, and keys. As I started my brief bike ride to the BART station I had this wonderful feeling of lightness which immediately turned into panic - I had left my bag at home. The only possessions I had with me were the bike, helmet, Clipper Card and my school ID.

Instead of panicking I came up with a plan. I continued on to BART and took my bike with me to the station closest to my school. Should I leave my bike in there with no lock? I asked a BART worker if she thought it would be stolen? "Oh yes, I can pretty much guarantee that it will be." So she generously locked the bike up for me. Then I went up to my school and talked to one of my friends who works security, telling him about my lack of food. He offered to buy me breakfast but I declined. As I passed him again a few minutes later he said, "you dropped this" and handed me some money. I was so thankful that this loan would allow me to get some breakfast. As for lunch, a colleague shared a meal with me and I was well nourished for the day. After school, when I arrived at Castro Valley Yoga where I am an apprentice, my yoga mentor Nancy Leigh-Smith offered to keep my bike in a safe place instead of outside unlocked.

My boyfriend has an extra set of my house keys and after yoga I BARTed and rode my bike over to his house. I felt so easy and light without my bag and all the stress of constantly checking my phone for messages. The day made me realize how lucky I am to have great friends, colleagues, a mentor and a community that offers me support. Less possessions resulted in more kindness. It also gave me more empathy for the BART workers.

October 13, 2013

Personal Practice Post 1 of 10

This week, how did you practice the following Emotional Intelligence competencies in relation to teaching, yoga, relationships, and consumption of resources?

This weekend I was told that I can be hyper and have too much energy. This is especially the case when I have caffeine, which I usually avoid. In the hyper moment it is difficult for me to calm down. To deal with the situation this weekend I practiced deep breathing as I was walked and talked with my friend. I tried to be present with what he was saying and be aware of where my energy was pouring out of my body. I felt like the energy was sprouting uncontrollably from every pore.  It was very difficult to calm down. Really what I need to do is avoid caffeine and also to practice more breathing exercises throughout the day.

When my friend told me that I can be hyper I felt sad that I wasn't the "ideal person". But who is perfect? I tried to let go of the comment and instead see the intention behind him giving me this information. Clearly my hyperness impacts other people and he was letting me know. Feedback is a point of information that is an opportunity for me to correct my path.

This week I wrote two papers on motivation for a course that I am taking. What I learned about myself is that I am motivated by affiliation and am willing to say "yes" to do something if it means that I can spend time with people and feel recognized and appreciated. However, I also have a tendency to say yes too much and then I feel over-extended and then frustrated. So, I made a list of questions I can ask myself prior to saying yes.

Because of the looming BART strike I have had many students and colleagues say that they felt anxiety this week. I would say the emotions are related to the stress of not knowing if we have to get up at 5am to deal with the mystery of a BART-less commute. As I listened to the concerns of friends, colleagues and students I empathized with them. I also talked about these feelings at the start of class - so that students could express their concerns. It was an opportunity for connection. 

Social Skill
Over the weekend I went to a party where there were was only one person that I knew. At first I felt like a puppy following around my friend. What I realized was that I like to find a place to sit and then have a deeper conversation with whomever is around. There were no chairs at this party so I sat on a table near where a few people were socializing. After about 2 minutes I was in a deep conversation with the artist whose work was being shown at the space. She revealed so much to me about her life and her art. What I learned is that I like to feel physically comfortable and then I can connect with others.

October 12, 2013

The Virgin Sturgeon

Visiting Sacramento with Brian and checking out his crazy floating restaurant and bar.

October 7, 2013

Creating a 10-Week Personal Practice with Kismet Kweskin

In my Executive Leadership class this quarter I have asked my students to create a blog (public or private) that explores a personal practice they will be implementing for ten weeks. I will be doing the same by answering this question every week:

This week, how did you practice the following Emotional Intelligence competencies in relation to teaching, yoga, relationships, and consumption of resources?





Social Skill

Ironically, in today's New York Times there is an opinion piece by Daniel Goleman from whom my personal practice questions are derived - and we are studying his lessons in class today. Kismet Kweskin.

October 4, 2013

All Dressed Up and No Place To Go

I love that the city bikes are the new benches for folks loitering at Civic Center. This is a good use of street furnishings.

October 3, 2013

Sharing a Drink

With my cat who likes to drink out of my water glass. I think we're actually housemates.

October 2, 2013

Welcome to San Francisco

My new bike'a first trip to San Francisco and it is parked at my former graduate school GGU. We even took BART together.

September 28, 2013

September 25, 2013

Subtle Changes

Tonight in my Learning to Assist yoga teacher training course, I finally recognized how subtle touches can encourage movements within the body. By simply placing your palm on a portion of the body, perhaps the shoulder blade or the side ribs, you bring awareness to that area. There is no need to push, pull or even to talk.

I have a wonderul trust wih Christine, my yoga classmate, and we were able to try these subtle assists on each other. Because of the strong rapport between us I felt comfortable to experiment and was not at all self-conscious. I simply placed my hand on her upper back and she breathed into that area and released deeper ino the pose.

Small movements can mean big changes in your body. We have to relax into these changes and not force ourselves.

September 20, 2013

Kickig Back at the DFVP Film Screening

Excited that my school's film department has taken over the New Parkway Theatre for the senior film screening. This is my first time in this particular theatre - loving the living room/dining room decor.

September 11, 2013

Mortar Between the Bricks

Let's get down to business and jump into the agenda. That is the way I run my classes and my meetings. Seems practical and tactical, but what about building connections with and between the participants? Funny that this is what I teach and yet I do not put it into practice.

Today I had a Skype meeting with my colleagues located in London and Oakland. I volunteered to be the facilitator and immediately jumped into discussing the website we are designing. Martin gently said, "I was hoping to have a check-in before we started, but if you want to skip that, OK." He was right, I skipped over the very important mortar of human connections, instead plowing straight through to the bricks of the business.

Why do I do this? My first reaction is shyness, even at 44. On a deeper level I think it is an avoidance tactic: stick to the business and we don't have to take on the responsibility of connecting and caring. But why would this be something I would want to avoid? The reason I partner with this team is because of the love we share - for each other and the intention of our work together in enabling people and organizations to reach their fullest potential. 

Imagine if I took time to build rapport at the start of each class I teach and each meeting I facilitate? Participants would be heard, their voices would matter. In turn, they would be attentive to each other and engaged in the content being discussed.

As a practice during these final two weeks of our Summer 2013 quarter I am going to start each class with a check-in. Everyone is stressed as finals approach and bringing a human element to the classroom will be much needed. Developing deeper connections is the foundation for creating a true community of practice and I can set that intention into action.

August 30, 2013

The Awkward Door Dance

At school lately students of all genders and male faculty have been opening the door for me - be it a building, classroom or elevator door - and are letting me walk through first. Today, this turned into an awkward dance as I was walking through many doors with two male colleagues and then we took an elevator together. I kept waiting and they kept waiting and then finally I would step through and say, sheepishly, "thanks".

I recall how there were times in my life when I thought that a door should have been opened for me - by a date or even a not-yet-ex-husband. To myself I thought, as they rudely stepped in front of me, "shouldn't they hold that open and let me go first?" Now here it is and I wonder why the door situation has suddenly opened for me?

Is this because I am becoming a woman of a certain age? You know, 44. Or, is it because I am dressing more stylishly which means that I am wearing impractical shoes so they want to make sure I make it through the door? Do I look more door-opening worthy or needy? Perhaps there is a new trend in chivalry? Maybe at educational institutions people are more traditional? Do they like watching me walk past them? Does it give them a feeling of satisfaction that they were kind or chivalrous?

In all of this I am not getting the sense they are opening the door for me because they see me as incapable. Ironically, I think they see me, at this point in my career, as more capable. But the door opening protocol is actually making me feel confused at the formality. Really, I prefer going through in whatever order I approach the door - perhaps even last.

Thankfully, I ended my day at school on the Culinary floor where one of the chef's keeps me well supplied with sugary snacks. As she stepped out of the room for a minute, she looked back and asked, "will you guard the door? Don't let anyone into the room." I took this assignment very seriously and stood in my best police officer stance to guard the opening. No one got through, then again, no one tried.

August 23, 2013

Oakland Cathedral

On a photo expedition with Rachel. I love discovering amazing places in my own backyard.

August 22, 2013

Love is All You Need

In the documentary film I Am by Tom Shadyac he asks, "What is wrong with the world?" and the answer begins as "I am". But by the end of his exploration he has reversed the question to "What is right with the world?" and the answer is "I am". 

"Food for thought - nothing in nature takes more than what it needs."

Love is all you need.

August 17, 2013

Lover's Leap

On an amazing hike with Brian, Kevin, Nu, and John. We're sleeping outside under the stars next to the American River.

August 16, 2013

London Fashion Luminary Joins Art Institute of California - San Francisco Faculty

A wonderful article about my colleague Michael Rosen in the San Francisco Chronicle.

fashion force is not to be missed, and during the recent student show at the Art Institute of California-San Francisco, something exciting swept through. The student designers displayed intense individuality on the runway with a range of inspiration from "The Great Gatsby" to drag queens. Other students contributed their talents in marketing, graphics, video and the culinary arts, but the show's creative vision came from the school's new visiting professor and show producer, Michael Rosen.

Read the rest of the story here...

August 14, 2013

Crissy Field Boating

Took this photo when I was with Lucy on Sunday. Looks like we are on some kind of Pacific holiday but really this is on the beach of San Francisco. I suppose for some, that is a Pacific holiday.

August 13, 2013

Holding Hands All Day

Day 33 of Forty Days of Dating and at this point I am completely absorbed in Jessie and Tim. This video is a documentary about them holding hands for 8 hours. It was sweet, endearing and for some reason heart breaking. I think that because they are so young, even though they have a ton of relationship baggage, there still seems to be so much possibility for them. It reminded me of being in love - being vulnerable - taking a chance.

August 12, 2013

Where Am I?

My friend Anna, who is coaching me on rekindling my photographer spark, gave me an assignment to photographically convey a dream. This image, titled Where Am I, represents what I dream about most often - mysterious apartments in which I have never lived.
In these dreams I am in an apartment, sometimes alone, sometimes with an ex-lover or a family member, and keep discovering new rooms. There is usually a danger associated with water as a theme to the dream - like a giant wave. This image reminds me of those dreams - where the place is familiar, unfamiliar, safe, and dangerous.

August 3, 2013

My Baseball Crew

Here's the zoo crew of guys I took to the game on Friday night. Jeff (left) brought an '89 World Series ball and managed to got it signed. He has a way of setting a goal and achieving it - when it comes to meeting people and being places.

My "oldest friend" meaning that we've been friends for decades is Hal, wearing the fashionable black cap. He and Jeff talked baseball history all night long. It was a trip to see Hal and Jeff chatting - two worlds colliding.

Louie, on the right, is Jeff's childhood friend and filled the evening with funny wise cracks. His topic of focus was how I had "balked my chance to ask Balfour out on a date". Really? Would that beautiful baseball player, who has women, and probably men, falling at his feet, really want to go on a date with me? What would we talk about? The Balfour Rage

While signing my glove Balfour looked none-too-impressed when I told him it was the glove I used playing baseball when I was a little girl. Louie said I should have showed him my tattoo instead. What tattoo? Louie was living his own baseball fantasy. Or, maybe he wanted Balfour's arm around his shoulder.

August 2, 2013

Me and Balfour!

Lucky me, won a custom jersey and got to attend A's batting practice. Took along Hal, Jeff and Louie.

July 31, 2013

America's Cup

The first time I've walked along San Francisco's Embarcadero all summer. We have no sense that the event is going on in our Bay Area.

July 27, 2013

Have I Arrived?

The bouncer at Prizefighter in Emeryville stopped me as I was leaving and asked what I do for a living. "Why?"  I asked. "Because you dress cool and have a cool car." Well, teaching Fashion Marketing and Management is paying off - the students are my fashion wardrobe mentors.

Turns out the bouncer is the founder of and he was 
intersted in discussing his business. I love meeting
aspiring entrepreneurs.

Love living in Oakland!

July 15, 2013

Drinks at the Commonwealth

Yes, having a drink after workoin a Monday. I was in class all weekend and my brain went numb at 3pm today while teaching Business Management.

July 5, 2013

July 2, 2013

Bedtime for Dhalia

Finally letting her have access to my bedroom. I think she's in cat heaven.

June 25, 2013

Chincoteague Beach House

View from our second floor porch on our family vacation in Maryland.

June 20, 2013

Kayaking with CCK

California Canoe and Kayak has begun a Meetup group CCK offering Sunday and Wednesday social paddles in the Oakland Estuary. Last night I attended with 12 other happy yakkers. The evening was warm, sunny and only a bit windy. I've been working on my stroke and found a new rhythm on the water last night.

Cousins Reunion at StyleWOW! Fashion Show

Last week was my school's student fashion show StyleWOW! To my surprise, one of the photographers covering the show is my cousin Stephen. We haven't seen in each other in about 10 years so it was an amazing reunion-moment.

The evening was wonderful - I was impressed with the production, the collections, the students and the overall energy of the show. Plus, I found this dress at a second hand shop in Marin for $28. Now that's StyleWOW!

June 14, 2013


Me and Geetika - my first time walking as a faculty member.

June 13, 2013

Photo Assignment: Seeing the Ordinary in an Unusual Way

I am working with my friend Anna to rekindle my photography spark. The first assignment had two parts: 1) to photograph things I see in my every day life in the way I see them every day, and then 2) to photograph them in a way that I don't ordinarily see them.

Here are the most successful images - using a iPhoto to edit so the contrast, color balance and saturation are not ideal. I loved this assignment because it started to get me out of my comfort zone and to move around a bit. In fact, for several shots I was under the bed or laying on my kitchen counter.

My every day life as I see it every day:

Out of the ordinary views:

June 9, 2013

Learning to Navigate the Ebb and Flow

When Simone and Skype between London and Oakland the conversations are always deep. Often we talk about finding balance in our lives. But in our most recent discussion Simone said, "I don't believe in balance, life is about being able to navigate the ebbs and flows." This struck me as profound, especially because lately I've felt that unexpected twists and turns so easily throw me off balance, despite the centering strength I derive from yoga.

Reflecting on yesterday's see kayaking class, I very much felt frustrated and off balance. Usually I use a kayak with a rudder, which allows me to a tremendous amount of control - to go straight and fast. With the rudder I can concentrate on the basic stroke regardless of the wind and tide. Yesterday, I deliberately went without a rudder - by choice and by requirement of the course. From the moment I got into my kayak and to my final exit five hours later, I was in a constant, frustrating struggle with the boat. No rudder meant I had to learn to control the boat with strokes and edging - leaning to the left or right. It was like being a novice again and I did not like that at all.

After the water portion of the course, Benton sat with us to discuss if we were happy and had fun. I replied that it was not a matter of having fun, but an opportunity to be pushed out of my comfort zone. "I'm always going to use a rudder" I proclaimed. His response was that you can certainly use a rudder but your navigation of the boat, through strokes that respond to the conditions, may never improve. I was taken aback. He was correct, I was using a helpful crutch but was not developing my skills.

During the course I watched how Benton delicately held his paddle. He never gripped it. He did not struggle and forcefully push against the water. Rather, he read the water, played with it, moved with it, and used simple, intuitive strokes to go in his intended direction. Practicing yoga today I tried to use the same approach - flowing, moving into the pose, relaxing, not struggling, pushing and forcing to find strength and balance.

As an Instructor, this teaching quarter I have let go of trying to direct my classes using brute force and strength. Instead, I stepped back, quite far, and let the tide of the students move the course forward. I offered a bit of guidance and assistance, but mostly gave them the opportunity to find their own stroke. It was a very different teaching experience. Next quarter I will step closer to the middle and give them clearer directives and feedback while still allowing room for each student, and team, to learn to navigate the ebb and flow of the coursework. I see their frustration and lack of focus - so easily distracted by the scenery of cell phones and Facebook, but they have to learn without me as their rudder.

June 8, 2013

Sea Kayaking Is Fun and Exhausting

Took the course See Kayaking II today with Benton at California Canoe and Kayak and it kicked me. I was the first to capsize - about 30 minutes into the course. Thankfully, the water in Oakland's Estuary was warm today. At the end of the course we all practiced falling out of and getting back into our boats, in choppy waters. I felt like a waterlogged walrus with my wetsuit.

I'm ready for whatever the sea brings me. But for now I'm at Julei's Cafe in Alameda having my favorite comfort beverage - roobios chai latte.

June 2, 2013

Go Coco Crisp!

Awesome seats at today's A's game with Christine. Stayed after to see the players leave and to watch kids run the bases. Fantastic day at the