Friday, February 26, 2010

How Do You Find Your Passion and How Do You Pursue It?

I hear this question asked all the time.  Take 4 minutes to listen to this video from Stanford's Entrepreneurship Corner.

By the way, this site is full of free videos from some of the best of Silicon Valley and the world with tips on business and life.  It's an absolute treasure.

Click into Popular Videos at the top left to get started with the top 10.  


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Great Travel Sites

I love to travel, so I am always on the lookout for new sites to compare airfares, hotels, etc.

I use Kayak ( quite a bit which I am sure many of you are familiar with, but here are four more sites that have some great new features:

This site shows you the best airfare and their prediction of whether flight costs will go up in the next 7 days. Click on "Know When to Buy" which  has airfare predictions. They claim to be about 75% accurate and, on average, customers save over $50 on a typical round-trip transaction. This site also has hotels and other deals.

This site is solely for airfare searches, but claims to beat Kayak.

I also love Seat Guru where you can choose any seat on the plane of any flight and it will rate the quality of the seat...too close to the bathroom...extra leg room...etc.

This is a competitor to Kayak, but claims to be even more comprehensive (Kayak and Mobissimo do not show Southwest flights, you need to go to the Southwest site directly).

Let me know if you have favorites that have worked for you.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk

I love this poem.  I think it encapsulates the journey we take through every transition.  Thanks to a kindred soul Oxygen member who sent it to me.


There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk
by Portia Nelson 

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…
I am helpless.
It is not my fault.
It takes forever to find my way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in…It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Come to the First 2010 Oxygen Event - Evening of 3/11

Have you ever met a new person and thought, "WOW", my other friend would love to meet her.  They would love each other.  Well, that's how I have felt that last couple of years.  Unfortunately, it hasn't been easy to find a venue that would be convenient and affordable to get you all together.

Well, I just got lucky and so did you!  A very nice man named Harry runs a family owned cafe in San Mateo (Rendez Vous Cafe)  and he has generously offered to let us hold an event at his cafe.  

On Thursday evening, March 11th, from 7 - 9 PM, you will have an opportunity to meet other Oxygen members. You are really an amazing group of women and many of you only know a small portion of the whole group.

Rendez Vous Cafe is in San Mateo at 106 El Camino Real.  There will be a $5 door charge to attend and Harry will be providing you with a coffee drink or tea and something to nibble on as part of the charge.

All I need from you is a response if you plan to attend.  The cafe is limited in space, so we can only hold a certain number of women.

Please let me know by February 28th if you can attend.

Again, here are the details:

Thursday, March 11th from 7 - 9 PM
Oxygen Networking Event
Rendez Vous Cafe
106 South El Camino Real (cross street Crystal Springs Road)
San Mateo

RSVP by 2/28.

Feel free to bring a friend.  I look forward to seeing all of you!



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How To Communicate With Your Life

This article comes from a great blog called:  Happiness in this World -   

When I read this article, it reminds me of times where I didn't just "think" something, I "completely believed" in something. When I just "think" something, I can feel paralyzed and I am uncertain of what I should do next. When I "know" something, it just works.  It just feels right and easy to follow that path.  I know this sounds touchy-feely, but if you have ever had it happen, you will know what I mean.


By Alex Lickerman, M.D.
Created Jan 28 2010 

When my wife and I were first learning to ballroom dance (much fun!) I was amazed at how effortlessly our teacher was able to lead her when demonstrating a technique to me. She always seemed to know where he wanted her to go and how he wanted her to move, despite being as inexperienced as I. When I danced with her, she mostly found herself confused about what I wanted her to do. "That's because you're confused yourself," our teacher explained to me. "Don't move her with your arms. Move her with your torso, your dance frame. Don't worry about where you want her to go. Worry about where you want to go yourself."
In other words, he was telling me, don't focus on her. Focus on your own technique and trust that she'll follow if you lead with confidence. Once I learned how to lead her with my torso the difference became obvious. Becoming a good dance leader required me to not focus on leading per se but on developing a real ability to dance well. Whenever I tried to focus on getting my wife where I wanted her to go rather than on going there myself, she became confused.
It struck me at the time that the relationship between dancers is a wonderful metaphor for how people interact in relationships in general. When we try to lead with our arms-that is, force things by focusing on how we want others to behave-we often end up meeting resistance and failure. When we lead with our torso, our dance frame-that is, with our lives-the results seem almost effortlessly achieved. What accounts for the difference and how can we ensure we consistently lead with our lives?
One of the great mysteries in psychology is the epiphany. An epiphany is defined as "a moment of sudden revelation or insight." But how such revelations happen, why they happen, no one knows. But that people report experiencing epiphanies all the time implies that understanding occurs at different levels, the truth of which most of us, if we stop to self-reflect for a moment, probably already recognize. For example, we may "know" at one level we should stop smoking (as I wrote about in a previous post, Cigarette Smoking Is Caused By A Delusion) or drinking or start exercising or eating better, but we often don't. It's as if sometimes our understanding remains theoretical only, lacking the power to change how we feel or to motivate us to actually change our behavior.
To understand something with your head means to understand it on an intellectual level only. You may or may not be able to act on such an understanding. At times, when no obstacles stand in your way, taking action may be easy. At other times, when even a minor obstacle confronts you, your ability to act in accord with your understanding may fall far short.
In contrast, Buddhism talks about understanding "with your life," which in essence means fully believing what you understand-even more, finding yourself incapable of disbelieving it. To return to an example I used in an early post, Overcoming The Fear Of Death: none of us believe if we jump off a tall building we're going to do anything but fall to our death. Our belief in gravity isn't merely an intellectual construct. We fully believe it with our lives.
Imagine now the difference between believing with your head and believing with your life in your ability to lead. The person who only believes with their head they can lead others may appear on the surface to be capable when things are going well, but of course things never go well all the time (otherwise we wouldn't need leaders in the first place). When such a person's decisions are challenged, lacking a firm belief with their life in their ability to lead, they're likely to doubt not only their specific choices but their ability to make choices at all. When dissent arises among the ranks, their need to please might come out (as I discussed in an earlier post, The Good Guy Contract) and they may find themselves granting concessions to people or groups with no good principle to justify it. Over time, their genuine lack of confidence in their ability to lead always becomes apparent to those around them from their actions. We're all experts at reading one another.
Contrast that example with someone who genuinely believes themselves to be a capable leader. Such a person can acknowledge their mistakes without succumbing to self-doubt. They can resist pleas for inappropriate special treatment lacking fair justification because to give in wouldn't fit with their vision of good leadership and because they can withstand being disliked. Others may disagree with their decisions, disapprove of their vision, but rarely question their skills as a leader. The reason? Because such a person is able to show others they can lead because they believe with their lives they can.
We tend to react to these two types of people quite differently. When a person shows us they possess certain qualities with their actions (that is, with their lives) rather than tells us-for example, shows us they're a leader unwilling to be manipulated or victimized-we tend not to try. When they tell us these things in various ways, wanting to be what they argue they are without having yet actually become it, invariably we react to the truth rather than to the fiction they're trying to promulgate.
If we want to be respected and not victimized, to be attractive rather than repulsive, we must believe with our lives we are those good things. "Fake it till you make it" may have some degree of utility in certain circumstances, but unless you actually "make it" your struggle will mostly remain convincing others of your qualities rather than employing those qualities toward their appropriate ends.
For example, not until I had an epiphany that I used victimization as a strategy to get others to like me, as I wrote about in Breaking Free Of The Past, did I actually stop being a victim. When that happened, people stopped trying to victimize me. I didn't need to tell them to stop. My actions, my demeanor, my life showed them they couldn't. Of course, some people still do try. But now because I genuinely and deeply conceive of myself as a non-victim-in fact, have no interest whatsoever in playing the role of a victim at all-my ability to prevent myself from being victimized is far greater than it used to be. Now my first reaction when someone attempts to victimize me is to confront my would-be persecutor (hopefully in a compassionate way). It's not a strategy I must summon up. It's a strategy that naturally arises out of me before my conscious mind even has a chance to formulate a response, all due to genuine changes I've wrought in the way I believe, think, and feel.
So if you genuinely want to change something about yourself, to change the way others react to you, you must view your intellectual understanding of what needs to change as a first step only. Strive to make that intellectual understanding penetrate so that you understand it with your life. Rather than focus on a more effective way to confront your abusive boss, for example, focus on becoming someone whose life rejects abuse. When you acquire that kind of life, the right strategy will become obvious and your action almost unconscious.
How can you accomplish this? Through epiphany, that mysterious muse, whether occurring in one grand moment or as a series of small discoveries. How to generate more epiphanies, or, more importantly, the kind of epiphanies we need? Therapy works for some. I practice Nichiren Buddhism, the only religion I've ever even encountered that names as it's purpose the eruption of epiphany-wisdom-in the lives of its practitioners. Others spend considerable time in meditation. The best advice I can think to give here would be to try various practices until you find the one that works best for you.
You never know what experiences you need to have that will cause intellectual knowledge to penetrate into wisdom that you understand with your life. It's hard, breaking through delusion, genuinely becoming what you most want to be. But it's always possible. And when it happens, you'll no longer have to fight to be what you want to be. You'll simply be it. And when that happens, others will believe it, too.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nourishing Your Soul in the San Francisco Bay Area

"Nourishing Your Soul"

I have heard this phrase many times.  I have never really thought that hard about it, but it means more to me now.  It means filling that ineffable void that you feel.  You don't know what is missing.  You just know something is missing.  There are different ways to nourish your soul and I imagine it's different for every "soul".  But, one of the great things about getting to know yourself better is that you begin to learn more about what nourishes your own soul.

When it happens, you are in the present and just enjoying where you are and who you are with because it's just where you want to be.

Last week, I was definitely "nourishing my soul".  If you haven't been there and you love food, please go see the "New" Berkeley Bowl (there are two and I recommend the new one).  This is a market that touches all my senses.  For me, 25 kinds of apples, 7 kinds of avocados, cheeses galore, bread fresh out of the oven, fresh fish and poultry, this is what makes my heart beat.  This is an extraordinary market with so many choices of so many wonderful tastes that it can be overwhelming, but take your chances.  There is also a cafe next door.  There is plenty of parking and it is easy to get to from the freeway.

Next, is a suggestion from an Oxygen member who I highly respect.  She suggests not missing the Cartier Exhibit at the Legion of Honor.  She says she has been to many exhibits, but this one is truly outstanding.  It's now on my list.  She also suggested using the headsets on this exhibit.

I hope you will find some wonderful things to do this week that will nourish your soul.   I know one thing:  when my soul is starving, it needs to be fed.

Happy Valentine's Day.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

6 Personality Traits to Admire and Acquire

Ever since I can remember I have put great emphasis on two qualities:  loyalty and dependability.  For both my family and friends, I have always felt the need to let a person know that I will always be there for them through thick and thin.  I think it's part of the concept of caring about another person unconditionally.  It was always important for me to know that I could count on people I cared for and so I have tried to make that a commitment in return.

I still believe strongly in those characteristics, but I read the following article and enjoyed the author's descriptions of other traits that are important.  As I read through the list, it made me think about both the person I want to be and the kind of people that I want in my life.


I’ve written numerous articles and posts on difficult people, personalities and relationships: everything from Manipulative Marys to Bullies in the workplace to people who break boundaries to toxic relationships.  Let’s face it:  in life, we come across all kinds!  As humans, we often focus on those who are negative or toxic leaving it difficult to appreciate those who are positive and healthy.  Seeking out individuals with healthy, positive traits, however, may do a lot of good.  The more we can surround ourselves with those who are positive and healthy, the more we may model those positive behaviors.

If you really think about it, once in awhile you come across a person who knocks you off your socks…legitimately.  Maybe they have a fantastic outlook on life, even during difficult times.  Maybe they are really humble, although they are extremely gifted.  Maybe they make you feel special.  All of these are good.

Below, I've listed some of the traits I admire most in people.  Although I could probably list a dozen characteristics, I thought I’d list those that seem to be the rarest or most difficult to find.
  1. Selflessness: In a world where many people don’t have the time or the interest in others, selflessness is a quality that seems to be less and less common.  People can be selfless in the time they give, the ability to listen, their level of patience and the love that they give.  Those who are giving and generous in nature have the power to make others feel loved, appreciated and special.  While those who are self-absorbed tend to do the exact opposite.
  2. Tolerance: Those people who are tolerant make us feel comfortable with who we are and special as individuals.  All of us are different, and many of us have quirks and idiosyncrasies.  After all, these differences make the world go round.  Having the ability to accept people for who they are and not expect them to be who we want them to be is important in life, happiness and in the health of our relationships.
  3. Genuineness: Having the ability to be real, authentic and honest is unique in a world where we put so much emphasis on the superficial.  Feeling comfortable in one’s skin and being true to one’s self is one of the most beautiful traits one can possess.  To have a REAL relationship with someone requires honesty…it requires hearing and giving input or feedback that may not always be popular…it means having the strength to tell it like it is and to not be afraid to face the consequences for doing so…it means loving people for who they really are…deep down…and not for what they appear to be.
  4. Sensitivity: So often we are focused on what is important to ourselves that we can forget about those around us.  Those who are sensitive are often thoughtful, appreciative and loving, in a way that makes you feel understood, valued and respected.  Often, sensitive people are also self-aware, making them mindful of how they impact others with what they do and say.
  5. Integrity: Call me cynical, but I think this characteristic is especially difficult to find.  In a time when people will do things that are underhanded to make an extra buck (Bernie Madoff…can you hear me?), expose their personal lives to the public so they can be famous (balloon boy’s dad and any other reality TV mongers) and do what feels good in the moment without necessarily thinking of the consequences (Tiger Woods), integrity is a characteristic that is especially unique today.
  6. Humility: Whether someone is super-smart, extremely talented or drop-dead gorgeous, there is something extra special about them if they don’t come across as though they know it all the time.  Humility in those that possess extraordinary traits make others feel special too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Websites for Those Making Career Transitions or Starting a Business

I know many of you in our network are currently working, but for those who may be re-entering the workforce, starting your own business, or thinking about changing careers, here are some interesting sites to consider.  In addition, I have added the Transition Network which covers just about everything.

I know there are many sites out there, so if you have discovered one that you think would be of interest to other members, please let me know so I can do a follow-up post.

Thanks, Denise   -    resources and connections for women entrepreneurs -    resources and connections for re-entering the workforce   -    community of women over 50, who join forces as they navigate the transition from one career to another -- or whatever is next

In addition, I would highly recommend contacting the Alumni Association or Career Center of the college, university, or graduate school that you might have attended.  Many of them have programs in place to help alums.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Johanna Beyer, a life coach who led our vision board workshop and an Oxygen member, suggested that I start a gratitude journal.  I have to admit at first it seemed like such a small thing to do. I couldn't understand how just writing down three things a day that I was grateful for would make much of a difference.  She said I could write about anything.  It didn't matter whether it was large or small.

So, I started writing each day. I was so surprised at how something which seemed so insignificant could be so telling. First, it forced me to look at the bright side of my day.  I never had any problem finding three things for which to be grateful. Second, I could see a pattern which made me think much more about what I really value.  But, the most important thing is that it made me much more "present" in my day.  For example, my son called me from college and just wanted to chat.  It was so nice to hear his voice and I loved hearing what he was up to.  Normally, I would have just enjoyed the call and moved on, but after I started keeping a gratitude journal, I really appreciated and felt grateful for that call.  I knew it would be one of my big three for the day.

I know this sounds crazy that such a small exercise could improve my outlook, but it does.  I see things that I didn't see before.  I overlooked them because I was so busy or just not paying attention.  Now, I really am grateful.  It's not just lip service.  

if you get a chance, give it a try.


Johanna ran a Vision Board workshop for the Oxygen Group in November and then followed up with another session in January.  She will be running another session in San Francisco on Sunday, February 28th, from 4 - 7.  Below you will see a description of the workshop and more details.  This workshop will include what was presented in our two sessions.  I really enjoyed her workshop and I think you will too.  If you missed the Oxygen workshop, you may want to try this one.


Are you ready to take the time to think deeply about what you want to create in your life? Take it to the next level by capturing your ideas and creating your own vision board. The clearer you are about what you want to attract into your life, the more possibility there is to manifest it.

Life Coach, Johanna Beyer, will guide you through a hands-on process of creating your very own Vision Board - one that will help you clarify your dreams and inspire you to manifest your most heartfelt goals. You will also learn ways to bring your dreams into your daily life.

A Vision Board is a collage of photographs, pictures and words (on a large sheet of card) representing people, events and things you want to bring into your life. It acts as a reminder about the life you dream of and enables you to focus on starting to make that Dream happen right now.

Sunday, February 28th, 4 - 7.  The cost is $40.

1996 Union St. San Francisco, 3rd Floor

RSVP to Johanna Beyer
More info can be found at:

Friday, February 05, 2010

Finding Your Tribe - Your Allies On Life’s Journey

If mid-life is about transitions, then the silver lining is the friendships that help you through it.  I love this article because it talks about how your tribe consists of those friends you have known forever and those you are now meeting along the way.  Honestly, I think we all know that without these amazing friendships, it would be very difficult to make any transition.  


Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution.

Part of being human is the search for an individual identity. Bound to this strong need to establish a unique persona, however, is an equally intense desire for acceptance. It is when we find our individual tribes that both are satisfied. Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are without reservation and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution. Among them, we feel free to be our imperfect selves, to engage unabashedly in the activities we enjoy, and to express our vulnerabilities by relying on our tribe for support. We feel comfortable investing our time and energy in the members of our tribe, and are equally comfortable allowing them to invest their resources in our development. 

The individuals who eventually become members of your unique tribe are out there in the wide world waiting for you. You are destined to find them, one by one, as you move through life. Sometimes your own efforts will put you in contact with your future tribe members. At other times, circumstances beyond your control will play a role in helping you connect with your tribe. If you look about you and discover that you are already allied with a wonderful and supportive tribe, remember that there are likely many members of your tribe you have not yet met. On the other hand, if you feel you are still living outside of your tribe, broadening your horizons can help you find your tribe members. 

However your life develops after you come together with your tribe, you can be assured that its members will stand at your side. On the surface, your tribe may seem to be nothing more than a loose-knit group of friends and acquaintances to whom you ally yourself. Yet when you look deeper, you will discover that your tribe grounds you and provides you with a sense of community that ultimately fulfills many of your most basic human needs. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Inventing The Rest of Our Lives

Two years ago, I felt that I was entering a huge transition.  I knew that much of what I had believed in and the way I had led my life was not going to be enough for the next stage of my life.

I had read a book called, "Inventing The Rest of Our Lives:  Women in Second Adulthood" by Suzanne Braun Levine.  I liked the book so much and what was in it that it inspired me to start an email list and a group for women who might be going through all types of transitions.  At the time, there were 50 women who joined me and I recommended that they read this book.  Now, there are 250 women, so I thought I might suggest it again as there are those of you who have never read it.

Two things Suzanne talks about are learning to let go and learning to say no. These are important skills for women who want to take care of everyone. There are three main issues she addresses:  what matters, what works, and what's next.

Anyway, I really love this book and if you are going through any kind of a transition, I think you will find it very interesting.