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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. 


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. 
  • Experience before Label - Learning happens best when information is experenced before it's labeled (Hey it sounds like great discovery based learning we use at work!)
  • Acknowledge Every effort - Students are acknowledged for stepping out of comfort zones, for both their competence and their confidence.
  • If it's worth learning, it's work celebrating. - Celebration provides feedback regarding progress and increases positive emotional associations with the learning. 


At camp, Zoe learned and integrated 8 keys of excellent, valuable communication skills (to use with friends and parents), relationship and problem solving tools to help resolve all the middle school conflicts, the value of venturing out of her comfort zone and living above the line. 

Since she has returned other than a few hormonal outbursts, she goes back to these skills when she gets stuck with relationships or we (me - mom and her get in a fight). Her confidence in the past two months has soared. 

First, she decided to run for class delegate, put together a poster, a slogan and asked for the kids vote. For three years she has talked about doing this, but never had the confidence. This year she did and won!

Secondly, we went to meet with 3 separate teachers this week. Usually during these meetings teachers state how great she is doing, but wish she would participate and speak up more and that she is timid. This year, 3 separate teachers from French to Science to Latin all said she is a great contributor, participant, and speaks up. We were amazed! Was this Supercamp? We can only think this had a great deal to do with it as that week at Supercamp has given her the confidence to find her voice, be present, and speak up. 

So, what's the challenge ---Growing up at this age with confidence and competence and skills that will last her forever. 


Coming of Age Challenge #7 National Mythology Exams


Zoe-Pascale has a love of Mythology and for a "stretch intellectual" challenge she participated in two National Mythology Exams sponsored by her school. Each exam is given to students from 6-12th grade  with Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Certificate Laureates. 

Rereading all of her mythology books, taking some practice tests and sharing her love of Mythology she won two awards this month. It is a combination of knowing the basics, like the Iliad and Odyssey and some specialities such as this year themes on Malicious Monsters and Monstrous Mortals. 

Medusa Mythology Exam -- Zoe received a Certificate Laureate  which means she received between 29-33 correct out of 50

National Mythology Exam - she received a Silver Medal, meaning she got about 96% correct answers. 

Congratulations to Zoe-Pascale for taking on this extra challenge (but one she actually loved).



Coming of Age Challenge #6 Change and Transition

As William Bridges describes in his various books on Transition. Change is what happens to things and Transitions are what people go through. The three phases start with 


  • Ending the Old
  • Neutral Zone
  • New Beginnings


This month our entire family has gone through a major change by selling our home of 15 years. The home Zoe-Pascale was born and raised in (except when we were in France) and the home that gave us great joy. Our decision, like all changes, was mixed, but overall felt like it was the right thing to do so that we could make some shifts in our life we were looking to do. To help Zoe (and all of us) go through this transition we are moving through the process. A process that you don't have a choice to do or not, but how you do it, is the key. 

Ending the Old

For months we did talk about selling the home and involved her in the decision and our plans both temporarily and for the future. The adventuress she is allowed her to see the possibilities and process what it meant to let go of her small bedroom, gorgeous view (the major loss) and feeling of comfort. Last weekend we went back to the empty home and each talked about what we loved, thanked the house for all that it had given us and did a little dance. A few tears were shed but the ritual of letting go as Bill Bridges speaks about is critical. For anyone to truly move on we celebrate these transitions through rituals and celebrations (i.e. marriage ceremonies, bat mitvahs, retirement dinners, graduation ceremonies). 

Neutral Zone

The neutral zone is interesting as it is a time of creativity, chaos (my kitchen) and possibly depression if you are not watchful. To help us all and especially Zoe move through this period we ended up renting a townhouse for the year that gave her some of things she desired as a growing teen. Her own bathroom, walk in closet and large room with bookshelves lining the walls for all her books. Her desire was to decorate it like Royalty. 

The night we moved in we surprised her with the beginning look of a Royal bedroom -- gold bedspread with Euro pillows and royal green, purple/pink, and gold pillows. Soon there will be a sheer canopy and more royal type accoutrements. 

Organizing the house quickly, her study area and taking time to enjoy the pool and jacuzzi has been key. 

The research says that to get through this phase quickly, put temporary systems in place until it settles in. For us, a dip in the jacuzzi and a walk with the dog through the gorgeous Eucalyptus trees is moving us forward. Organizing ourselves the night before (so we can find everything in the morning) and making the extra bathroom a place to store my files for now reduces someone yelling "Where is my stuff?"

Our goal is to keep the creativity high as she moves through this phase which she is doing miraculously. All she really wants to know is where is she going on vacation!

New Beginnings

She is seeing the possibilities of having friends come to swim and walk to Starbucks in near by Mill Valley. 

Our commute to her bus is now 3 minutes vs. 15 minutes and her room is expansive, fit for a queen.

We have a beautiful (albiet not as grand) view towards Tam Valley, the Richardson Bay inlet, and through the Eucalyptus Trees and the townhouse is shaping up. We've grown from small closets and bathrooms to walkins and double sinks and an attached two car garage. We've cleaned out, simplified, donated, sold, and continue to get rid of clutter.

A sense of new opportunities and choices are in the future.


This story of Transitions is the most critical learning I have ever had both in my professional work with organizations in transition and with my family. It is a simple model but one that does work and a challenge for everyone!