May 28, 2013

How to Save Your Furniture

Ikea deck furniture covers keeps the cat hair off the furniture. Next I'm trying retro plastic covers.

Aligning your Actions With Your Values

I am nearly three weeks behind in the news, just now learning that one of my favorite shows of the season, Smash, has been cancelled. Last night I watched the final episode and it did seem a little too conclusive with nearly every story arch being resolved. Perhaps that is what makes me more disappointed as this rarely happens in real life and I very much enjoyed the fantasy. the final hour was about people pursuing their talents, reflecting on their choices, facing the consequences of their actions, and finding personal and professional resolution, as well as love.

Earlier in the day I read my students' papers in which they reflected on lessons learned about themselves from a challenging team project. Their observations and conclusions were extremely open and honest as they used Myers-Briggs, Goleman and Drucker as their points of reference. While reading their papers I frequently stopped and reflected on their ideas and in the process learned more about myself.

Additionally, I practiced restorative yoga in the evening with Nancy Leigh-Smith. This was yet another opportunity to reflect and then release. These "activities" made Memorial Day an opportunity for introspection. The stage was set on Thursday when I articulated the intention of deriving self-worth internally and not externally for the next 5 days. This is why Smash resonated with me so strongly - the characters changed their focus from needing the accolades of the Tony Awards to exploring their personal values and realigning their actions in order to be better individuals, lovers and community members.

May 24, 2013

Students Create Exercise for Meditation in the Classroom

This week I was teaching my culinary students about the elevator pitch in preparation for practicing job interviews. One person asked, "how do you know when a minute has passed?" And another suggested, "let's close our eyes and when we think a minute has passed, let's each raise a hand." I loved the idea, especially since it came from the students.

I waited for the second hand to reach 12 on the classroom clock and they started. What became quite beautiful was watching 15 students sit in complete silence, their faces at peace and bodies unmoving. I was surprised to see them all reach 30 seconds and still they sat with an internal focus. Only at 40 seconds did hands start to go up and a couple of students made it to 60.

As we resumed our discussion, the energy in the room had completely changed. There was a calmness that they conveyed and it was as though the quality of the air had shifted and settled. They were speaking calmly, from their body centers as opposed to the nervous chatter that usually spilled from their mouths.

I realized that they had just meditated. It was profound to witness the dramatic change 60 seconds had on them individually and as a group. As I told them how peaceful they all looked during their self-prescribed exercise, I recognized the impact of meditation in working with students and with teams. Plus, as a facilitator I now understood that I if I could take 60 seconds to meditate before a session, I too could find that grounding. What was most interesting was that this had been their idea, not imposed. They had recognized a need, came up with a solution, and I recognized the opportunity and facilitated the exercise.

How can I bring this to every class? When planning an agenda I do consider the flow of energy in the three and four hour class sessions. Moving from listening to discussing and then implementing, I craft classes that have energy highs and lows. However, I now see opportunity for meditation and perhaps even a few gentle yoga stretches to have a deeper impact on the internal and external environment.

May 20, 2013

Life as a Non-Adrenaline Junky

Rush, rush, rush - that's how life use to be. My street-cred and self-worth were metered on how much I was doing, where and with whom. But over the past year I've been releasing layers of projects and commitments and I am finally down to the essentials - teaching, learning, adventuring.

What's left is unfamiliar - time, calm and spaciousness. Am I getting lazy? Have I lost my ambition? Have I quited my competitive edge? Is there life without drama? The change makes me think about the class lessons I teach on introversion and extroversion and how it ties to intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

All the yoga I practice, five to six days a week, builds body, mind and breath awareness. I'm more attuned to "what is going on within me" and also more sensitized to what is going on for others. The intensity of teaching, managing the classroom, engaging the participants - is balanced with time on my own. For every hour I teach, it seems I thrive on just as much time to myself.

Interestingly, I do not savor all of this quietness - it is too new. With this spaciousness I crave community, my "third place". My inclination is to join a Board of Directors but I really do not desire more work. For me community has always been around projects where we "get things done" and have meetings were we convey our urgency.

Are there other ways to build community? That seems to be the question in this my Year of Connection

Photo from Tent Rocks in Santa Fe.

May 18, 2013


With a few of my yoga peeps at the Asian Health Services in a park in Oakland.

May 17, 2013

New Wheels

Scott at Alameda Bicycle helped me select a new wonderful get-around-town bike. Thanks to my dad for convincing me to replace Ike the Bike.

This one will have no name - don't want to get too attached.

May 16, 2013

May 12, 2013

Tent Rocks

One of my favorite national monuments. Our last few hours in New Mexico.

May 5, 2013

My Dad Wins Man of the Year!

Every situation is an opportunity for David Kweskin. Retire? No way! He has career changed from Marketing Research Executive to Fundraising Professional - previously one of his favorite hobbies. Yesterday he won Connecticut Man of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We are so proud of him. Of course, he has the Woman of the Year by his side, my mom, Lorraine Kweskin.