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Coming of Age Challenge #10: Finding a Voice of her Own

What else could you want for your daughter than for her to find a voice of her own. This past year, Zoe-Pascale has been studying for her Bat Mitzvah with a wonderful teacher. Through their philosophical discussions, debates and the study of Judiasm, she has begun to find a voice of her own. Unbeknown to us, this study has allowed her to begin to find her own beliefs, spirituality, and integration of all that she finds meaningful. The ability to integrate Greek mythology, history, philosophy, and Judiasm into something of purpose is byproduct we didn't expect.  


What this makes me wonder is maybe these rituals of study and learning are about the discussion, the debate, the learning, and the understanding. We were lucky enough to find a great teacher who directed her and listened to her; who debated with her and opened her mind; who let her believe and guided her. 

This challenges came slowly and as we see our daughter become a young lady we couldn't be more proud as she comes into ther own.


Coming of Age Challenge #9: Careers

The research says that today's student will have at least 7 different careers in their lives. Half those careers probably haven't even been invented yet (think social media, web marketing that didn't exist 5 years ago). 

Determining what is "Out" as well as "IN" is just as important. This summer Zoe volunteered as a Youth Naturalist at Audubon and even though she loves Audubon she realized that running after 5 and 6 year olds was not something she aspired to -- cross of elementary school teacher from the list. 

Her ninth challenge focused on stretching herself to learn about other careers. Her initial impression of hospital work when she went to visit a hospital  with her dad, was that it left her with the feeling that being a doctor, nurse, or hospital worker, was "too depressing."  

Then she hung out with me at work for a day and came away with the conclusion that people who work in my office talk a lot to each other.  Not exactly a true representation of what they do, but an interesting observation.

This week, Zoe took on the challenge to join teens at the World Affairs Council International Career Week to listen to professionals who are engaged in International Careers. Approximately 60 plus teens from the bay area came together to talk to panelists such as an International Journalist, two professionals focusing on Sustainable Development, a doctor involved in infectious diseases around the world, economists, educators, CiA, retired Ambassadors and the Foregin service and more. 

Her favorite was the retired Ambassador who spoke of the Foreign Service and talked about watching the Berlin wall come down and the Egyptian protests. He spoke 7 plus languages and spoke of the joys and tribulations. Then there was the woman was was a CIA agent for 15 years and explained the job both analyzing data and recruiting assets. Her present career was working in Silicon Valley in security. Zoe thinks she was doing corporate espionage... who knows for sure. 

This career challenge was just as much about having the confidence to talk to people about their careers as expanding her awareness of the choices in front of her. 

Read the first 8 Coming of Age Challenges



Coming of Age Challenge #8 Supercamp

"The best week of my life" was how Zoe-Pascale described her week at Supercamp. "What is Supercamp," you might ask. In a nutshell it appears (since we didn't go ourselves) to be lots of "success moments" over and over and over again that occur in one week developing higher levels of competence and greater levels of confidence. The Tenents of the "Quantum Learning" method they use are:

  • Everything Speaks - What you say and how you say it sends a message.
  • Everything is on Purpose - Everything has an intendended purpose - everything. 

Continue reading 


Sometimes we forget the beauty of .....

Sometimes we forget the beauty of the nature that surrounds us. 

Sometimes we fly far away to stimulate our senses and expore new cultures

Sometimes the crowds and traffic take away from the beauty of a place that sometimes is quiet and serene

Sometimes the weather suppresses the beauty or makes it shine.

Our past times at Lake Tahoe were for long weekends skiing in the winter or a holiday weekend in the summer. What that often led to was more traffic than we could bare. If you need proof that California has grown and gotten overcrowded just drive up to Tahoe on a Friday night or back on Sunday. As  a result we found ourselves driving up there less and less just for a weekend. 

And yet, we hadn't thought or given ourselves a week to enjoy it. A week when the summer vacationers started to return to school and the resorts, restaurants and swimming pools were full of empty lounge chairs and the hiking trails felt like nature should, quiet and peaceful. 

Our week in Lake Tahoe reminded us of our love of the summers hiking in the Alps and the mountain air. The long hiking and beauitful mountain lakes and the smell of the pines. Lake Tahoe in late August truly was representative of the world's most beautiful Mountain Lakes and scenery. Our hikes took us from the new Tahoe Rim Trail to Emerald Bay where in 1929 a wealthy woman built a grand home on the Lake where she lived for 15 summers entertaining friends. Our stay at a Condo in Northstar gave us access to the grand Recreation area with a huge pool, an adult pool, 6 tennis courts, a gym, and 3 jacuzzis. It was a perfect way to spend the late afternoon after a hike. The unique part was the week we picked (again helping to contribute to the tranquility was that most schools had started and the Recreation area was free the usual crowds at a pool). The new Northstar resort had restauarants and a rolling rink with cushioned chairs to relax and enjoy the scenery. In between we took a raft ride down the Truckee river, swam in Lake Tahoe, went to a jazz concert, met friends for dinner, and read a few books.

What amazed us was how Lake Tahoe is fantastic when we could see and feel the beauty of the area, when the sun shines brightly, the green trees glisten, the ride up without traffic was easy, you could easily get a swiming lane for as long as you wanted and the area was free of crowds.  This insight and glimpse of what we remembered and loved was renewed and at the same time the recognition that we hit accidentally the right time makes us sad that it can't always be that way -- the freedom to get away for an easy weekend (sans traffic)  like we used to when we first moved to the Bay Area.  

Final lesson - a weekend just doesn't make it anymore!










The Years Fly By

Two weeks ago I finally committed to flying to LA to attend my High School Reunion. It was more about seeing some old girlfriends I just don't get to see enough that spurred me into action. Well, that and the fact we could get dressed up and see how everyone fared (big, small, tall, short, great hair, no hair, long hair, short hair). One person commented, "You're brave." Maybe...and well yes.

Enough years have passed that we are all beyond "proving ourselves" and more about "sharing ourselves." The day started with a perfect long lunch with one of my best friends from High School who I see every 2 years or so. We picked up like it was yesterday and caught up over bloody mary's and cobb salads facing the Santa Monica boardwalk. Her pink tinted glasses and blue dior mascara inspired me to relook at my eyeglass fashion, but mostly our conversation felt like we were 16 again with a twist (a bit wiser twist).

We laughed as we dressed in our swanky and sexy black outifts at the now very unattactive long sleeve flowery prom dresses down to the floor. What were we thinking (or our parents) as not a drop of skin showed except our faces and hands. 

Arriving fashionably fit we giggled or way into the room wondering what was in store 

The rest of the evening continued to be a wandering of coctail party reintroductions, hugs from those who recognized your name (or face from the high school yearbook) and a few minutes of chitchat.  The cacophony of "You look great!" "Your so blond." " Yeh, i've lost some hair." were uttered as people moved from group to group. Since everyone had name tags taped to  their upper left chest, photos in black and white, and names the size of a 18 font, one tended to  lean in.. pause.. and say either  "Oh my God... it's you." or sometimes, " I don't think I knew you, but it's nice to meet you."

Seeing people I knew from elementary school, junior high school, and high school was just plain old fun and well nice... a word that explains it all -- We all had seemed to have gotten above and beyond our high school days and were complimentary, happy to see each other, and were just plain old nice.

 On the other hand, how often, do you get to hear over and over "You look great." That alone was worth the night.



My parents secret to living a long and happy life.

If there were a posterchild for the aging couple it would be my parents. After 67 years of marriage they are as happy as ever. Yes, they are aging and slowing a bit and yes my Dad has had some health scares this year (at age 90 for the first time), and yes they take little naps in a darkened movie theater, and yes they spend time at the doctors, and yes for walks longer than 10 minutes my dad takes his walker so he can keep up, but inspite of it all they live life to the fullest. 

Picking us up at the airport we went to dinner at the Prado restaurant in Balboa Park and then on to a new play Divine Reality about Machiavelli, Da Vinci and Michaelangelo. Zoe, a fan of Machieavelli loved his cunning political viewpoints and erudite manner. 

The next day we head off for a boat tour on Hornblower yachts cruising the San Diego Bay. Skipping over to Mission Bay, Zoe and I went boogey boarding while they sat in beach chairs on the grass nearby reading and enjoying the view. The week has continued with BBQ at my sisters, a morning at the Del Mar park and beach playing with the little nephews and more. Giving them a respite, I took Zoe alone to Sea World where we had a fantastic time seeing all the great new shows. Not having been there in a few years, (she always went with my parents alone) I was totally impressed by their new shows which featured cirque de soleil like acrobats in two different shows. This alone was worth the price of admission. 

Today we head off to the horse races where Zoe will learn the mathematics of "odds" and how to either "win big" or "throw money away as entertainment." Part of her money management learning this year. 

Now, you might say, this sounds like they are extra active because you were there. My answer, is not really, this is a typical week for them and if there is anything I've seen the two keys to growing old with happiness is

1. Have a great partner to enjoy it with

2. Keep on going and don't stop except to take a few naps along the way. 



"You need to teach me to vacuum mom!" 

First words out of my daughter's mouth as I walk in the door, "You need to teach me to vacuum mom!"

"Excuse me," I said, "Where's my daughter?" 

"Seriously, its my turn to vacuum at Audubon camp (where she is a Youth Naturalist). It's a big old broken down vacuum that smokes at one end and its my turn tomorrow." 

Wow, I thought this is the second greatest thing I heard her tell me she was learning this summer... how to vacuum. She went on to tell us (by this time Jean had joined in the banter about the vacuum) how the vacuum smokes at one end and no one knows why and you have to carry it on your back because the wheel is broken and the hose has to be held by two people because there is a split in it. (My first thought was, I need to buy Audubon a new vacuum). Her eagerness to do her job and learn moved into the fact that she knows I know how as she saw me do it one day, but not very often. This led into a mini narrative on how every working woman needs a cleaning woman and yet it was important to know how to vacuum. 

I'm impressed,  Audubon surpassed my expectations -- getting my daughter to learn how to vacuum.

But more impressed, yesterday she came home and said, "I'm so tired of smiling."  


"Yes, they taught us with the little kids we have to smile for 7 hours a day, smile, smile, smile. We have to be positive." We laughed so hard at her exhausted face and her seriousness of how important it was.  Again, we applauded Audubon for the great training she was getting as a Youth naturalist-- something to last for a lifetime. 

And not last, but very important, the skills she is learning at being a leader and organzing, planning, and leading activities is awe inspiring as she figures out how to teach the 5 year olds about migration (Her assignment this week) or the food life chain (last week).  Her creativity and innovative thinking on how to present the ideas and a game in which they got to pretend they are migrating periods who stop in habitats (hulahoops) and try not to get caught by the predator (another counselor dressed like an deer).

Three lifelong skills learned in a couple short weeks:

- how to vacuum
- smiling is critically important when working with people
- leadership, creativity, and innovation 

Overall, I vote for teaching her to smile for 7 hours to show positivity.   

When is the latest time you smiled for 7 hours in a row at work?


Rebalancing life

Rebalance:  To restore equilibrium.

The question is --- Do we ever achieve equilibrium... or at least for very long. Like walking a tightrope it seems that restoring our balance is a constant in our lives whether it is getting back into the rhythm of a new season, an exercise routine, children's ups and downs or life in general. Is it more about our attention to rebalance our lives ... often and sometimes with a major thrust. 

I've been working with, talking to people, and thinking through what it means to truly have balance in ones life. More often than not it revolves around work life balance with the idea that the more flexibility you have the more balance you have. This could very well be true. On the other hand, to achieve balance in ones life you have to consider the amount of responsibility, autonomy, mastery, purpose, as well as flexibilty that will bring you happiness. 

Rebalancing also comes in the form of big decisions (like selling and buying homes or Not, job changes, career changes, moves, having children or helping them to leave the home and more). It also takes the form of finding balance everyday in the form of flexibility to get other things done inyour life (i.e. take kids to camp laer in the morning in the summer) picking up the dry cleaning and taking walks when the sun is shining if that is your preference.

Rebalancing is also looking at what you want to give up that gives you more freedom --- freedom from worry, anxiety and administrative trivia. 

Rebalancing is a good thing to think about when life seems not to be working exactly as you like it.



How 5 miles can make a difference

How moving 5 miles has made a difference


  1. We sleep much better with only the sound of the trees
  2. We smell the pine trees and eucalyptus
  3. We feel like we are a bit on vacation
  4. We have not just one but three grocery stores in equal distance
  5. We now have south sun, but miss the west sun too
  6. Zoe has a neighbor girl come ring our bell to come play
  7. We love the pool and jacuzzi - a real treat
  8. We love the two car attached garage (attached is the operative word)
  9. We love big closets and two bathroom sinks
  10. Our commute is easier
  11. We can walk to yoga, the dog path, and the park without crossing a street.
  12. We feel more connected to the town which is truly a community


Overall, we feel pretty good about shaking things up


Zoe-Pascale's Royal Bedroom

Our daughter, Zoe-Pascale is a lover of all things royal. Her favorite era is King nry VIII along with Louis IV. To assist in the transition to a new home we decorated her bedroom in a royal way.  The bedroom is 2 x the size of her old one and therefore had some more room for creativity and in fact has her double bed and a twin bed that serves as a window seat- reading seat and a guest bed. 

We started out by purchasing a new gold spread with accenting pink, green, and gold pillows. Her desire for a four poster bed with curtains all around lead to creativity by hanging 4 sheer green curtains from the ceiling. 

When you see Zoe next, you can just curtsy to the princess.


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