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Friday, March 31, 2006

Face the Fears and Learn for Life

A couple of years ago I experienced the first of what as known as panic attacks. At the time it was the scariest thing I have experienced. A big part of the attacks were fears concerning my health. I would lie awake at night fearing I was having a heart attack or something worse. Some of these attacks may have been brought to a boil in my life because of several factors including the poor health of family members and concern I would experience the same thing. This went on and off for a few months as I tried to work it out though various non-medical means. While I don't believe medicine should be the final solution for everything I think it has it's place. I'm not on the medication anymore. I am currently controling the issue through a strong exercise program and knowing the truth concerning my own condition and the deep things of my faith.

What I learned goes beyond the initial relief provided by the anti-anxiety medication to a lifestyle discovery of not only my own fears but the fears of others around me. I'm not talking about fears you would only encounter in movies or "reality shows" but irrational fears that keep us from performing at our best.

This is a situation I have seen in my work and my wife has noticed it as well. She teaches private music lessons (piano and voice) and we both provide web development and technical services among other things. Perhaps you have received a good laugh from "computer stupidies" and other similiar stories of non-technically inclined people do thing consider bizzare by many. I've often heard those in the technical field say that their's no hope for these people but I don't beleive that. At one time I had no desire to learn about computers. In fact I wrote a couple of posting (part 1 and part 2 ) on my own blog concerning the matter. My wife has meet potential clients (adults who have expressed an interest in learning to sing or play the piano) but when presented with the opportunity to take lessons they say they are too old or some other excuse.

I admit I have some fears of my own that have kept me from learning things that could make me a more productive person and have also made a list on my blog and in the future will take on these challenges and report on them.

I could go on and on but I will close by challenging you to think about those areas of difficulty in your life. Are you being held back by an irrational fear? As I was writing this Steve Pavlina also posted a related article called, Silent Approval on his blog. Are you dealing with issues of this kind on a personal level or with people you know? What can you do today to address these fears and promote personal growth?

50 Reasons Why More People Aren't Using Your Website

Via Mark Hurst at Good Experience comes this listing from Scott Heiferman on:

50 Reasons Why More People Aren't Using Your Website

1. Because they don't want to generate content, they want better life
2. Because it solves a problem they don't have
3. Because it won't help them with their problem
4. Because oprah didn't mention it
5. Because everyone they know isn't using it
6. Because it doesn't let them spy on people they care about
7. Because they just don't care about what they see
8. Because nobody at work said they should use it
9. Because it's not fun enough
10. Because it doesn't make them smile

Read more of these, they may make you smile!

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cool photos

The Flying Dutch Jew took this photo off a building in Warsaw, Poland.

Jewish Nation took this photo of East Berlin.

Sushi Kiddush took this photo on 14th Street and 3rd Avenue, NYC.

London In A Day took this photo of St. Martin In the Field, London.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Crystal Candy Dish

Herschel Grynszpan is a name that probably does not ring a bell, but the events that resulted from his actions will go down in history as a key turning point in Nazi policy towards Jews and has been disputed as the spark that started the Holocaust.

Zindel Grynszpan was a Polish Jew living in Germany. Through the thirties, the Nazi Regime, which came to power in 1933, was slowly and systematically restricting the rights of German Jews. In 1935, the Nuremburg Laws where passed, which made German citizenship for Jews very difficult, if not impossible; in 1936 Jews could no longer vote in parliamentary elections; in 1938 Jews began to be deprived of economic and occupational opportunities; and on January 1st, 1939, a law was passed that required all Jews to have identification cards. If you did not have a card, you were deported. Almost 20, 000 Jews were deported to Poland and ended up in “relocation camps” along the Polish border.

Zindel Grynszpan who had a family-owned business in Hanover since 1911, was removed from his home at gunpoint by Nazis, all his possession confiscated, and deported to the Polish border. His son, Herschel, hearing of the news from France decided that he was going to take the matter into his own hands. He went to the Germany Embassy in Paris with the plan to assassinate the German Ambassador to France. He never got to the Ambassador, but he did kill a lower-ranking German official named Ernst Vom Rath.

Herschel Grynszpan

Ernst Vom Rath

Joseph Goebbels’s, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, considered the murder a fortuitous gift. He now had an excuse to order a pogrom against German Jews. Goebbels’ used the assassination to confirm his anti-Semitic beliefs that there was a international Jewish conspiracy to control the world.

On November 9 and 10, the pogrom, which would become infamously known as Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass, was ordered. Nazi gangs roamed the streets breaking the windows of Jewish businesses, synagogues, and homes. It soon escalated to looting and violence. 91 Jews died, 101 synagogues were destroyed,7,500 businesses were destroyed, and 25, 000 Jews were beaten, arrested, and taken to concentration camps.

This event was the beginning of the Holocaust. It was the veritable straw that broke the camels back. Anti-Jewish policy was becoming more restrictive in the years leading up to Kristallnacht, but this event which was ordered by the Nazi government, set the stage for the unfathomable terror that we would all come to know. The passive reaction of the German citizens, in essence, gave the Nazi regime free-reign to conduct such operations. Read Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioner's for a thorough and accurate account of the German culture of acceptance.

Today, my client, Ms. Glueck, shared with me some recent events that have touched her life and gave her some peace. On the first night of Kristallnacht, her father, who owned a Jewish jewelry store, was beaten, his store ransacked and destroyed, and taken to a concentration camp to die. He would never see his family again. Ms. Glueck was able to escape with her mother to France and eventually make her way to the United States in 1941. But, like all survivors, her early experiences have always been with her like a shadow.

She was able to get on with her life. She became a jewelry designer, the profession of her late-father, she got married, and she lead an intellectual and active Jewish life in New York City. In later years, she became very involved with the Leo Baeck Institute and archived the extensive photo collection of the Institute, so future generations would be able to learn about their Jewish forbears. She also organized a weekly soiree, which she titled a"Stumptisch" (German for round table). It was a loose, but dedicated group of survivors who got together to talk about their experiences, their fears, and their dreams, but, most importantly, it was a support group for Jews who were strangers in a new country.

Recently, she has been in contact with a German gentleman from Wetzlar, Germany who was doing research on his family during the war years. It turns out the gentleman found out through his mother that some of the objects that adorned his childhood home were taken from Jewish stores on the Night of Glass. His father had stolen some of the objects and brought them home. His father, like many Germans on Kristallnacht, was doing what the government silently condoned, but had surreptiously plotted. His behavior was legalized crime.

This German gentlemen felt it was his duty to make right with himself and his family. The guilt was too much for him. Through a laborious and circuitous route, he was able to connect a crystal candy dish "of not much value,"in his words, to my client Ms. Glueck. He first contacted her by letter to make sure Ms. Glueck was open to seeing a German whose family had pillaged her murdered father's store. She was. He then came with his wife to New York and handed her the crystal candy dish that for the last 66 years has been sitting on a coffee table in Germany. She cried when she held the dish. She said her father's name. She felt like she had finally reclaimed something for her dead father, the man she would give anything to talk to just one more time.

Today, the crystal candy dish sits on her table where the Stumptisch meets every Wednesday night at 8pm. They are going on 50 years together.

More on Hershel Grynszpan:

Hershel Grynszpan

The Fate of a Forgotten Assassin

Different deals for different people?

When you pay for something, are you getting the best deal? Chances are that you aren't and you don't even know it!

Everybody knows when purchasing a new car to never take the first offer that the dealership gives you. In fact, to really get a good deal you must be ready to walk away. When you get to the point where the dealership is feeling you are getting "a steal", you have probably gotten to a price point where you are getting a deal and the dealership is getting sufficient margin.

Ok, so we all know that example. But, I would guess that many of you don't know this one. Go to your local McDonald's and ask for a 75 cent large soft drink (which usually costs an additional buck or more). Yours might not do it, but I have found that at least a couple near me do. Why do some do it and others don't? Why don't consumers know about this? Why not just give me the drink at 75 cents?

In talking with my friends, they will give me other examples such as electronics or appliance retail stores that will allow you to name your own price to a certain point. If you know that you can do it, you could save an additional 10-15%.

So, I guess my frustration is knowing that somebody else can get a better deal than I can because they found out about these "hidden" deals. Something about that doesn't seem right, or fair, or honest. I say we either go truly to the barter system (name your own deal) or everybody pay the same price. Anything in-between doesn't seem right to me. Is this really a good business practice?

Dimensions of an organization

It’s widely accepted that every of us needs to develop or at least be conscious of our different dimensions: mental, emotional, corporal and spiritual. All of them become us complete beings. If one of them is missing or if we are not aware of it, we won’t be balanced and we could feel that something is not going properly.

An organization, as far as it is a social system, is alive, changes, suffers, connects with other, exchanges value and richness, growths …etc. In this case, we recognize its mental dimension and due to Daniel Goleman we can assume emotional intelligence importance. Lately spiritual dimension (values, significance, vital objectives even vocation) is taken in high account in lots of organizations.

What I see missing is the corporal approximation. And it is in this way where I am interested. Knowing the principles of corporality in organizations can bring keys to understand which conditions allows organizations growth and wellbeing and which ones could be obstacles. Making a comparison between human corporality (what at least is much more known) and organization’s one can lead to those keys.

This is an exciting field for me, because my corporality has been one of my greatest discover lately. At the moment I only have question (which in some way is better than having only answers):

Being conscious that breath is one of the more important aspects for a human being, how does the organization breathe? What can be made to improve his breathe?

When a muscle is exposed to an excessive stress, it contracts to prevent higher damage. Due to it the contracture avoids flexibility and mobility. Does it make the same sense for a department in organizations?

Normally when we look at a strict or inflexible person, his body and way of moving is rigid. The same could happen with the org.

If someone knows where I could find more information or people working or interested on it, please contact me.

Let’s expand the organizational corporhability!

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blog evolution: Managing change in blog focus

Blogs evolve over time. They change even when we aren't thinking they are changing in any way. The movement toward a different blog focus may also take place by design. In either case, the focus of your blog may be entirely different from its initial goals. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

Let's examine some possible examples of blog evolution and the possible reasons for the changes.

A business blog may have begun as a sales and marketing tool for the company. The early posts on the blog may have been simply to call attention to the industry in general, and the blogging company's products and services in particular. The goal was to sell the company's products and services through the blog.

Over time, the blogger may have noticed that the overall readership was low. The blo owner understood that the posts were not providing what the visitors sought. Over time, the writer began to add posts providing advice and information related to the industry. Instead of continuing along with the failed business blog, the company blogger made some very conscious changes in the posted material presented to the visitors.

The blogger reviewed books, films, and products pertaining to the general industry and its current and potential customer and client base. The blogger started a conversation with the readers that developed into longer term relationships. The company blog became a success.

Not all blog changes are quite so obvious, however. Some changes are more subtle and are often not noticed at all.

The blogger may have started a business blog to enhance their internet search engine optimzation efforts. They had heard correctly that blogs have tremendous SEO power. With an eye to boosting their blog's search engine rankings, and those of its accompanying company website, links were sought aggressively, and keywords placed everywhere and anywhere throughout the posts. While some improvement in the search engine rankings did take place, the overall SEO results were weaker than expected.

The blog owner grew tired of seeking link exchanges with other blogs. Many of the blogs linked provided little or no visitor traffic, and often shared no related topics with the company blog at all. Along with losing interest in the aggressive link seeking strategy, the urge to place keywords here, there, and everywhere on the blog also declined. No conscious effort was made to change the blog's focus. The changes happened because none of the anticipated benefits ever took place.

The blogger simply wrote posts that were interesting for herself and her readership. After all, she thought, the SEO value of the blog was obviously exaggerated completely. Links and keywords all of that other SEO jargon was pointless, it seemed. Posts that were more personal, interesting, and informative began to appear on the company blog.

As if by some magical spell or potion, the blog's readership also increased. Links to specific posts were arriving to the blog, as if from thin air. As a surprising bonus, the blog rose in the search engine rankings on Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search. The blog focus had indeed changed for the better. Interesting and informative posts attract natural inbound links from theme relevant blogs and websites. Search engines give those theme related links the most weight in their ranking calculations. Less focus on the rankings can indeed improve a blog's SEO power.

Blog evolution is a natural part of blogging. Over time, a blog's focus can and does change. Blog changes are more frequent than most bloggers think, or even consider ever taking place. You might notice changes on other people's blogs. As with your own blog's evolution, the alteration of focus might have been intentional, or it may have been the result of unplanned circumstances.

Part of the true power of having a blog is its flexibility. The blog's ability to grow, adapt to changing needs, and to reflect an entirely new focus is a strength of blogging. As with all change, it's inevitable. We can either let the changes roll over us, or we can put the altered times to work for us.

Blog evolution is a prime example of how change can often work to enhance the blogger's goals and reputation.

Embrace the change.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Thanks for the invite!

Thanks to Phil for the invite to 100 bloggers. Great idea and great reading!
I blog at Positive Perspectives (among others).

Wisdom from the past: A guide for living a meaningful life

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) believed in self-improvement and worked to improve his body, mind, and spirit. In his late 20s he listed thirteen values that he attempted to live by for the rest of his life. By all accounts, he was successful and he made a daily commitment to incorporating these virtues into his life.

His thirteen virtues – listed below in his own words (along with the original spelling) - can help us live a life of meaning and purpose.

Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
Industry: Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Moderation: Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
Tranquillity: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Benjamin Franklin made it a point to begin and end his day with these questions:
What good shall I do this day? What good have I done this day?

Important words of wisdom from the past that we can put to good use today.

Positive Perspectives Blog

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Looking to Succeed? Here's 3 Quotes to Help You

What are you waiting for in order to achieve the success you know you have inside of you? Today is the day that you can, you WILL succeed, if you step out of your comfort zone and try something, anything, that you think can make a difference.

I shared a few quotes over at Orbit Now! and I challenge you to make it great!

Don't wait another minute. Do...something...NOW!

Phil Gerbyshak

Past, present and future

Something to think about this weekend:

“Not to alibi”

I’ve jumped ahead this March morning in my reading of The Daily Drucker, because this entry for April 11th caught my eye: The Four Competencies of a Leader.

“As the first basic competence, I would put the willingness, ability, and self-discipline to listen. Listening is not a skill; it is a discipline. Anyone can do it. All you have to do is keep your mouth shut.

The second essential competence is the willingness to communicate, to make yourself understood. That requires infinite patience.

The next important competence is not to alibi. Say: “This doesn’t work as well as it should. Let’s take it back and reengineer it.”

The last basic competence is the willingness to realize how unimportant you are compared to the task. Leaders subordinate themselves to the task. When effective leaders have the capacity to maintain their personality and individuality, even though they are totally dedicated, the task will go on after them.”

What do you think?
[The entry is found on page 113 if you have the book.]

I like the book editor’s Action Point: something to incorporate for those who practice David Allen’s Weekly Review?

“Set aside ten minutes every Friday afternoon to give yourself a weekly report card on all four skills: listening, communicating, reengineering mistakes, and subordinating your ego to the task at hand.”

Related post: “Great Leading” means what, exactly?

New Orleans Election Follies: The Winner Take All Web Poll

Thanks to Phil and Troy for giving me this platform. From it, I am going to draw your attention to the City of New Orleans, it's people, it's politics, and it's reconstruction.

My blog is Alan's Blogometer.

Rig The Vote

How would you like to influence the outcome of the city elections in New Orleans on April 22nd? You don't have to be a registered voter in Orleans Parish. You don't have to visit Louisiana.

Heck, you don't have to do anything but click a link. Go ahead and Click for Nick, I'll wait here.


You see, WDSU Channel 6, is hosting candidate debates. They hold a debate with all candidates, but then they hold final debates with a few chosen candidates. These few chosen candidates benefit from the valuable TV time, but with the added prestige that the exclusivity bestows.

How do they choose the final candidates?

With an online poll.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk for Mayor of New Orleans

Anyone can vote in this mock election. You can vote multiple times, if you wait a few minutes.

Does anyone recalls how proud Turks nominated Mustafa Kemal Ataturk for Time's man of the century? It is an example of how how these polls are so easily manipulated.

That the outcome of this poll can profoundly influence the lesser contests is staggering.

Click for Nick

I'm encouraging everyone I know to Click for Nick Varrecchio for Clerk of Court, by the way. He's my candidate. I'm workin on his campaign. Nick Varrecchio has a bunch of solid endorsments, a strong campaign. He can make it without the debate, but he really ought one of the two up there.

I want to make sure Nick does well in this poll, but I also think it's a big mistake.

My good friend Paul Christman had this to say over at my blog...

It seems like a horrible (if well-intentioned) abuse of the power of media to influence an election.

Knowing that its happening, and that the system is broken, I think you should do whatever is in your power to take advantage of the system *AND* highlight its injustice. What would WDSU say if one candidate has a million votes, while the next candidate has a thousand?

I'm not sure I can convince WDSU that the disclaimer that they themselves attach to their web polls should be taken seriously.
Please keep in mind that our polls are for entertainment and are not conducted in a scientific fashion.

We make no guarantees about the accuracy of the results other than that they reflect the choices of the users who participated.
Maybe a whole bunch of blogger participation would draw attention to the flaws in this system.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Let me introduce myself

Thanks to both Phil and Troy for providing this opportunity to participate with these other bloggers. I already know many of you, and am exciting to work on this project with you. For others that don't know me, I have a blog called Random Thoughts from a CTO that has been out there a little over a year. If you have a chance, check it out and let me know what you think.

I'll try my best to keep up the quality of this blog by sharing some of my Random Thoughts along the way. It's a pleasure to be a part of this collaboration!

Writing is like...

A while back, I wrote something in one of my blogs about how writers are a lot like actors. I had just listened to an interview with a voice actor who said something about one of the great challenges of his job is to deliver interrupted lines like the rest of that sentence actually existed.

I sat there and thought about that for a bit. I used to do all manner of performing arts, including drama and ballet. I think it's not just a need to understand that the line you only have a portion of at one point in time also had a rest of itself, but also understanding the comings and goings of your character. The character came from somewhere into the scene we see on the stage. The character is going somewhere when they leave the stage. The stage is just as focal point.

It's much the same way with a well-written story. The writer has to know and understand what isn't seen "on stage" and tell the story with this certainty that something does happen to the character before they appear or after they disappear. This is what leads to beloved characters, favorite worlds, and adoring fans. It creates a believable world.

I thought myself pretty happy with that comparison until a writer friend last week listed things her dance teacher used to say that she felt apply to dancing. While writing and the performing arts share a great deal in common "on stage", they share things off stage in common, too.

It was simple things like, "Practice", "If you can see the audience, they can see you", etc. Writing, like the performing arts, has this technical side that must be worked on and honed to a fine craft. I knew this already, but for some reason reading this list just made it stand out for me.

I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to make this work for me, but something tells me it'll stay with me for a long while.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What to do about what to do?

Today's thought:

It's troubling to think about how much time I waste looking for ways to waste less time.

NW Corner, 36th & 8th, NYC

The Power of Story Telling - Trevor Gay

Sometimes I have been glued to a story told by someone – my concentration has been total. In more reflective moments I think about the process I have been through. How is it that:

I am not suggesting everyone learns through stories, or that stories are the best, or only way of learning. Stories are simply one of many methods of teaching and learning - but it is interesting to muse that before the written word was invented, all information was passed on orally. Arguably, the oldest skill in the communications book of tricks is the spoken word. With the words we speak there is no electronic spell check or grammar check. When we are talking we don’t think about left or right justified so maybe we are more ‘on the spot’ with our spoken word. Little wonder many like to think carefully before opening their mouth to speak – little wonder equally, that many regret speaking without thinking first. The power of the spoken word is immense.

Some have the ability to deliver the story in such a compelling way that we never forget it. I cannot recall a page of A4 text from my Physics lessons at school - but I can probably recall almost word for word, some of the stories I have been told – twenty or thirty years ago.

In the world of organisations, management and leadership I believe we are beginning to appreciate the value of story telling.

I think we should not under-estimate the power of story telling in management and bisiness. It is one of the most potent weapons in the arsenal of any manager and if used sensibly, wisely and sparingly it can prove a most effective way of:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Walmart, Monticello, NY

Monday, March 20, 2006

Hey, look where we are!

In good company:

No, we are not done yet.

There is still room on the upside.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

You Can Go Home Again ... With Your Memories

The year is 1959 and the location is Shamrock, Texas. I am in the first grade and it is Tuesday, March 17th and this is the first St Patrick's day I really remember. I am so excited because we are heading to downtown for the parade.

The parade is massive, with bands from all the high schools from hundreds of miles around. They march in that stiff, six to five, style that is popular in parades and play Sousa marches. Their uniforms are full of cords and colors and I think they are the coolest folks around with their hats and feathered tops.

I was born in Houston, but did most of my growing up in the Panhandle of Texas. We lived in Shamrock for a couple of years, but my great grandmother was a resident for more than 70 years, and when we didn't live there, we made our annual pilgrimage on March 17th. Back then, they didn't move the celebration to the nearest weekend, it was held on the real date. Nowadays, that almost seems foreign.

Right after the parade, which began at about 10 AM, the beard contest starts. I am still amazed that all these men will grow a beard for three months, just for this contest. That's the rules, you see, you have to start off fresh on January 1st and grow the beard until March 17th. I think the judges are giving style points for the men that have dyed theirs green. This is so much fun watching the men strut and having fun showing off for the crowd.

Now it's time for the Miss Irish Rose beauty pageant and the girls are coming on stage. They are all dressed up in their best gowns and walk the stage for the judges. A little later, here they come for the talent portion and there sure are a lot of twirlers while the rest sing. After deliberating, the judges award 1st place to a pretty girl that twirled, I believe.

It's about 3 o'clock and the fiddle contest is starting. This is my Dad's favorite part and he and his dad are extremely excited, though neither are participating. This is THE contest and fiddlers from all over the United States arrive to play for the expert judges. This competition will go into darkness, and all the tunes are familiar to me, because Dad plays recordings of them all the time. He and his dad are two of the biggest fans here and they won't leave for the entire thing. Hours later in the hazy brightness of streetlights at night, in downtown Shamrock, the fiddle contest winner is crowned, to be revered for the next year. This is quite an honor for such a young man.

Time for young boys to go home and head off to bed, but the grownups head to the bull barn for the dance. One of the local western swing bands is playing and the dance will go late into the night. This is almost as much fun as Christmas, but without all the presents.

Things sure were fun back then, especially to a seven year old boy as he dreamed of all the colors of the day and of the men with the funny green beards. These are very fond memories of days spent in Shamrock, Texas with the extended family.

Happy belated Saint Patrick's day to all.

Emotion + Style = Passion with a WOW

"Whenever emotion and style meet, a kind of passion is kindled." - Garth Fagan, Choreographer - The Lion King

Emotion. Style. When they come together, the passion produced is of the contagious kind. It pricks at our imaginative consciousness and compels us to create a "WOW" of our own.

We witness messages filled with emotion and no style - and the message gets lost in the delivery. We see deliveries filled with style and no emotion - and yawn.

Craft your message (or brand/project/day/life) as if it's a cause. Be generous with an abundance of emotion. Be creative with style. As my friend Phil says, "Make it Great!"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Life's a journey...drink it up!

A quote crossed my plate that made me remember that we're on a journey, not a race to a particular destination.

"Our life's journey of self-discovery is not a straight-line rise from one level of consciousness to another. Instead, it is a series of steep climbs and flat plateaus, then further climbs. Even though we all approach the journey from different directions, certain of the journey's characteristics are common to all of us." - Stuart Wilde

Just what I needed to fuel me as I embark on down a new path in my life.

Drink it up!
Phil Gerbyshak

100 Bloggers Gets Play at Gaping Void

Possibly the coolest blog ever, Gaping Void, has served 100 Bloggers some weird link love, but the comments are creepy.

BTW, if you haven't read Hugh MacLeod's How To Be Creative manifesto at ChangeThis, do. "If you've ever felt the draw to do something creative but just haven't been able to pull it together, you'll love this manifesto."

I did.

What is “walking the talk” of Great Leading?

Question 3 of Rosa Say’s five questions on leadership at the blog Synergy is: What is “walking the talk” of Great Leading?

Rosa writes, “Perhaps I’m the one you don’t quite believe … Do you buy that everyone can lead? What do you think I have to coach would-be leaders in? What is “walking the talk” of Great Leading?


Anyone can be a leader. I think the most important thing to teach would-be-leaders is to embrace their uniqueness, to be genuine, and to have integrity. I believe anyone who does these three things can effectively lead by example, can affect change, and can be an inspiration to others

Black & White Fraternal Twins?

Experts say there is a million to one shot that a woman can give birth to one black and one white fraternal twins. Is this an urban legend or true? According to Snopes, a website dedicated to debunking urban legends, a couple in the UK hit the lottery.

Fan letters: Are they for bloggers too?

Authors, newspaper and magazine writers, and columnists of all types receive fan mail. Many readers admire the creative and journalistic talents of the writers and want to praise the published works. As writers, bloggers might be a new group of fan mail recipients.

My friend Vikk Simmons (pictured above left) of Down The Writer's Path provides some thoughts on fan mail for book authors. Vikk considers fan letters to be something that brightens a writer's day like little else.

Vikk Simmons writes:

There are days when it's downright nice to be an author and today was one of them. When I finally powered up the laptop and checked my email after almost two weeks absence, I found a wonderful note...

Notice Vikk's joy at receiving some positive feedback about her books and her blog. The recognition of the writer's craft, in the form offan letters to authors is appreciated. Often writers toil away at their creative work, not hearing anything about the quality of their finished product. For everyone who puts pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, it's nice to be noticed. In this case, the appreciation was for Vikk's young adult novel Divided Loyalties (shown left).

Bloggers appreciate feedback for their work as well. Thanks to the wonder of blog commenting systems, thoughts on various blog posts are fast and easy to provide. When visiting your favourite blogs, it's nice to leave a few comments; at least once in awhile. Let the blog owner know that you have paid a visit, read the post, and found it thought provoking enough to require a comment. From little things like comments, blogging relationships can be formed.

E-mail provides another way to express your thoughts on a blogger's work. Like Vikk Simmons' delightful e-mail, a fan letter to a blogger can work wonders for everyone. The sender has expressed appreciation for the time and effort taken by the writer to provide an interesting an informative post. The blogger is pleased to discover that the work of posting has helped, informed, or entertained someone else.

Linking to favourite posts, on your regular blog reads, is another way to share your appreciation of the blogger and the resulting blog. Not only does the linked blogger discover that postings are being read, they are also being shared with others. More readers exchanged between two or more bloggers helps everyone; bloggers and readers alike.

Send a blogger a fan letter today.

Brighten a writer's day with your words of appreciation.

Originally posted on Blog Business World

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Wake up.

There are those of us who are rich beyond belief. There are people that walk this planet that cannot imagine the plight of the poor. The long tail.

Some of those people are us.

Correction always starts with awareness.

Wallace on Wine

Briefinterview_1Wallace on Wine

(originally published on Basic Juice)

I find it difficult to write about wine in a consistently engaging manner. Let me explain. If I were to simply write a few sentences each week about the wines I’ve recently sampled, the column would be about as interesting as reading the rules of Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. So how on earth can I keep this column interesting to me and the five of you who read it? In the past, I’ve tried writing wine reviews in the form of Haiku and Limericks. This led me to ponder how some of my favorite poets and authors would approach wine writing. David Foster Wallace is a favorite author of mine. He’s “playfully erudite.” He writes in a nonconformist style. His writing also aggravates some readers. However, I find his writing engaging, challenging, and humorous. With sincere apologies to Mr. Wallace, to those who enjoy his work, and to those who become cross-eyed with frustration and/or rage at the mere mention of his name, I present a wine review in the David Foster Wallace style.

Lustau(1) “Los Arcos”(2) Dry(3) Amontillado Sherry ($10) – Very bright(4) caramel/copper in color. This Sherry offers dizzying(5) scents of roasted almond(6), salt(7), date(8), and wood.(9) In the mouth, The Arcs(10) tastes like a dry Tawny Port.(11) This is a tasty wine(12), wrapped up(13) in a tangy, food-friendly(14) package.(15) Sip(16) Los Arcos alongside your favorite Tapa. (17) It is the perfect accompaniment to Gazpacho.(18)


(1) Lustau was actually established in 1896(a) by Don Jose Ruiz-Berdejo y Veyan. I’ve no idea why the brand isn’t named “Ruiz-Berdejo y Veyan,” unless it simply costs too much in terms of label real estate or ink outlay.

(2) Or “The Arcs” if you have limited or no command(b) of the Spanish language.

(3) And when the Spanish designate Sherry as “dry,” they aren’t whistling Dixie.(c) There will be precisely zero fruit scents, aromas or flavors to be pried(d) out of the glass.

(4) I’m not implying the wine actually glows in the dark. Rather it shimmers in the glass. Perhaps the description should have read, “Shiny, shimmering(e) caramel and/or copper in color.”

(5) When sniffed or drunk in moderation, Sherry does not cause dizziness. It is dizzying in the sense that the mind struggles to conjure up adjectives for all the volatile molecules ascending the nasal passages and making contact with cilia-equipped neurons.

(6) Preheat oven to 350F(f). Spread almonds over baking sheet. Roast for twenty minutes or until almond skin begins to crack.

(7) Many Sherry producers and enthusiasts claim that Sherry grapevines are imbued with salt from ocean spray carried on the breeze.(g)

(8) Fruit of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), which is mentioned in both the Koran and Bible.(h)

(9) This is one of those annoying adjectives used by wine writers the world over. I don’t mean that the wine smells like a plank of wood. Rather, it smells like the inside of a toasted barrel(i). Of course, not many folks have actually sniffed the inside of a barrel; let alone a toasted barrel.

(10) On-demand Spanish translation!

(11) To my knowledge, there is no such thing as a dry Tawny Port.

(j) Tawny Ports are actually quite sweet. Their unique flavors can be partially attributed to wood (see (9)).

(12) One of the major struggles in wine writing is avoiding repetition when referring to the wine under review. I’m tapped out after, “this wine,” “the wine” “this Sherry,” and “Los Arcos.” I now must resort to inserting adjectives such as “this tasty wine.” Redundancy is a killer.

(13) The reader is being set up here for a whopper(k) of a metaphor. I am attempting to paint a mental image of the Sherry as a gift - wrapping paper and all.

(14) Another all-too-commonplace wine adjective.

(15) Metaphor delivered.(l)

(16) While sipping isn’t required, it is recommended. Los Arcos tastes deceptively light in the alcohol department. However, it packs an alcohol-punch of 18.5%.(m)

(17) Tapa literally means cover or lid. (n)

(18) A cold(o), tomato-based Spanish soup that is popular in warmer areas and during the summer. It is usually spicy, but a milder variant has also become popular.

(a) Also the year in which Utah was granted statehood

(b) And really, shouldn’t we all learn Spanish as a sign of friendship to our southern (as in Mexico) neighbors?

(c) Or whatever ditty your typical Spaniard might whistle

(d)pry tr.v. pried, prying, pries

(e) Thus I would have been able to employ the timeless literary device of alliteration, which is clearly illustrated by the phrase, “Sally sells seashells by the seashore”

(f) Tc = (5/9)*(Tf-32); Tc = temperature in degrees Celsius, Tf = temperature in degrees Fahrenheit

(g) This needn’t be a Wizard of Oz-type breeze. The Sherry region is, in fact, on the southern coast of Spain. So there is close proximity to ocean spray; although I’m not sure if I buy the whole salt-imbued-vineyard thing

(h) And, I assume, the Torah

(i) Barrels are often toasted on the inside for purposes of adding complexity to ageing wine. The toasted wood imparts buttery, spicy-sweet, scents to said wine

(j) Tawny port is aged in wooden barrels, exposing it to gradual oxidation and evaporation, causing its color to mellow to a golden-brown after roughly ten years "in wood"

(k) As in a large-sized, heavy-duty metaphor – not a big hamburger or malted chocolate candy

(l) !!

(m) A higher alcohol percentage than even most hefty California Cabernet or Zinfandel wines

(n) "The association with appetizers is thought to have come from the old habit of placing a slice of bread or a piece of ham on top of one's wine glass, perhaps to keep out insects. This edible lid was the precursor of modern-day tapas

(o) In both fiction and real life, there have occurred embarrassing situations in which a Gazpacho-ignorant diner insists that his or her cold soup be heated up

Dear reader, if you have made it this far, I raise my glass(aa) to you. If you wish to rant or rave about the Wallace style used in this wine review, please leave a comment.

(aa) Cheers!

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Happy St. Patrick's Day

To all the Irish and friends of the Irish on this wonderful day, a Friday no less, you have an excuse to toss a pint of Guiness down.
Drink responsibly!
Love fully!
Live joyously!
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BlogHer is On Fire!

I know you know who they are, but have you actually visited their site? These women have their act together.

BLOGHER'S MISSION: to create opportunities for women bloggers to pursue exposure, education, and community.

Clearly, BlogHer sets the standard for blogging communities.

It's good to have something to aspire to.

100 Bloggers Rattle the Cage!

Spread the word! Here 100 Bloggers Rattle The Cage!

What does great leading look like?

Question 5 of Rosa Say’s five questions on leadership at the blog Synergy is: What does great leading look like in the blogosphere?

WHAT DOES GREAT LEADING LOOK LIKE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE? This is a great question. When I think of leaders in the blogosphere, the following names come to mind: Jory Des Jardins, Lisa Stone, Rosa Say, Lisa Haneberg, and Elisa Camahort. What do these people have in common? They are all wonderful writers. They are all community builders. They are all women.

All four responded to my original post at Orbit Now! and dished major props to a lot of dudes.

Don't wait for permission to succeed (from a slightly different perspective)

Are you looking for a different perspective on your career? David St. Lawrence offers one which might be slightly different from your own.

I became a fan of David when I started reading his writing last year. His unassuming and candid style is a refreshing change from so much of the overbearing flogging of the blogosphere.

David writes “to stimulate thought and possible action, not to prescribe to others what they should believe.” His blog is called Ripples. If you are employeed, I am writing from your future and Life strategies are two recent examples of his writing.

Read David St. Lawrence.

Your Money or Your Life

Everyone gets emotional about money. Most of us link it to happiness and/or success. It almost certainly results in anger and frustration at some point in our lives. It appears as if money has some power over us – the power to make a difference in our lives. The truth is that money only has the power we assign to it.

The cornerstone of personal finance is your ability to manage your cash flow. Taking in more than you spend is essential to growth and prosperity. Most people rely upon their job as their sole source of income. All too often we become emotionally connected to the income our jobs provide. This connection can prevent us from making sound decisions when it comes to our lives. It is this emotional connection that forces good people to stay in bad jobs.

The emotional connection makes our present job seem larger than life. No matter how hard we try we just can’t break free from the bonds of this terrible situation. “I hate the job but I need the money” becomes our mantra. In essence we become addicted to the income that the horrible job provides and we don’t see a way to break free.

Here are three things you can do to help break your addiction to your horrible job and take back control of your life:

Admit you have a problem. Admit that you are miserable in your current job. Admit it to yourself and to your family. You will be amazed at how good you feel when you get the burden of denial off of your chest.

This admission will allow you to begin welcoming help and support into your life. You will suddenly feel free to consider other options. A solution will not magically present itself, however your eyes will be open to some possibilities that you may not have previously noticed.

Develop some form of secondary income. This does not need to be an income stream that rivals your current role. Even something that provides a limited amount of cash will help. The object here is to build your confidence in earning some money in a situation outside your traditional comfort zone.

The occupation for your secondary income is totally up to you. The one nonnegotiable factor is that it must be in an area that you enjoy. The idea is that once you see you can make some money – any money – from something you enjoy, your mind will be open to leaving a job you hate, but feel you need.

Put limits on your unhappiness. In order to get your life back and take control of your career you must set an end date with yourself. Give yourself ample time to explore new opportunities and learn about your hidden talents. Set a date for when you will have a job that is rewarding both emotionally and financially

Setting a date does a few important things for you psychologically. First it shows that you have control. If you can set a date, then you can walk away. Second, it removes any anticipatory anxiety. Sometimes the dread that comes from going to work everyday is about not seeing an end. Setting a date changes that. Finally, when you set a date you give yourself the ultimate motivation. Your mind will drive your actions to become consistent with your thoughts. If you set a firm date and stick with it, you will find a better job because of your internal motivation.

Too many people today are forced to choose between making money and being happy. If you take control of your career you will no longer have to make that choice.

Originally posted on The Career Intensity Blog

You Can Shortcut Evolution!

Are you ready to be one of the most popular bloggers on the planet?


Then add 100 Bloggers to your Technorati Favorites.

It's a numbers game. If we ALL participate, we will break into Technorati's Top 40 Favorites by the end of the week-end.

Technorati is currently tracking more than 30 million blogs. The Corner on National Review Online, No.100 on Technorati's Top 100 (by links), has more than 12,700 links from 2,400 sites. Generating these kinds numbers takes time. This is your opportunity to shortcut evolution.


Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day. I converted to Judaism two years ago. I was doing some research and was surprised to find out that there are still small communities of Jews living in Ireland. Unfortunately, the communities has been diminishing since the second World War. Many Irish Jews have emigrated to Israel or the United States where a Jewish life is easier and there are more economic opportunities. Because of our inter-connected world and technology, geography is no longer a barrier. The good news is that there is great religious and economic opportunities for creative and pioneering Jews. I hope more Jews will return to Ireland and make a once thriving Jewish community active again.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

No More Mommies?

Tricia Smith Vaughan calls herself the Comic Mom, though I didn't find the two columns I read this morning particular funny. I haven't read them all yet, perhaps I missed the comic part.

But I did find the two columns I read this morning thought-provoking - No More Mommies? and Too Busy to Reproduce? While I would not want to side with some of her politically-incorrect opinions - she does remind me of some of my own concerns.

Too Busy to Reproduce? reminds me of the post I did on about how If You Wanna Make a Baby, You Gotta Do the Dance. Several people responded to tell me why they just didn't have time for sex. I understand that life is busy, but if twice a month just isn't getting you pregnant after several months of trying, perhaps it's time to step up the frequency a bit?

Now No More Mommies? - I have spend a great deal of my life reading, researching and thinking about the effect of conception, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early childhood on children. I had books like Immaculate Deception, Spiritual Midwifery, Birth Without Violence, The Secret Life of the Unborn, The Continuum Concept and Breastfeeding Matters (and many more!) in my own personal library.

All of this is a big part of who I am, though I don't say very much about it. I am aware that my ideas are not popular in the mainstream world. And that is OK. But I really believe it matters, that it makes a difference, and that it has long-reaching effects on a person's life. I know this is not a popular belief in today's world, but since everyone is allowed to have their opinion, I think I can have mine as long as I don't force it on someone else.

However, I already have 3 children, I am not in the position of a woman who is unable to get pregnant unassisted. I can't say how I would decide if I were in that position. Probably it wouldn't bother me as much, because I never would have done all the reading and research that I did after having my children.

My perspective would be totally different. But I still don't believe anyone should be denied a child because of my beliefs. It's not any of my business how a child comes into your life, as long as it is a much wanted, much loved child.

My favourite aunt was adopted, and I wouldn't wanted to miss having her in my life. My step brother and his wife adopted after many heart-breaking years of infertility, and I know he is the light of their lives.

Yes, there are many children whose lives are made much better by adoption. However, the reality of our world is the children who would most benefit from being adopted into a loving family, are left with their abusive parents. It is a sad world, and I have no answers for any of this...

I have several friends who suffered devastating losses, before they moved on to adopt their children. I know many online who have suffered years of infertility and loss and have moved on to donor egg, and I honestly do believe that it is a wonderful option for them.

I have seen the heartache they have suffered. These are not uncaring career women who scheduled time for a baby late in life, as Tricia says. They didn't simply wait till a convenient time, then realize it was too late. They are usually women devastated at years of trying, either unable to conceive or unable to maintain a pregnancy. I truly want them to have the baby they so much desired.

But it does worry me where Tricia says it is all desensitizes us. I do see what she means. I don't know know what the answer is though. I am able to see both sides, feel for each side.

In fact, I think I could comfortably debate either side of most arguments - despite my strong feelings on a topic. Because there is no absolute right or wrong, no good or bad with most decisions. But the dark side that Tricia mentions may have implications in the future that we, as a society, had never considered.

I know I am weird, but I tend to worry about stuff like that...

Copyright © Catherine Anne ... All Rights Reserved 2006
Originally posted on Life Begins... blog

A Call for Bloggers

The Carnival of 100 Bloggers, Issue 4 will be posted on March 19. Send me your links! Now. This carnival is open to all. No themes. No guidelines.

If you are interested in joining 100 Bloggers or know someone who might be, write me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Success is attracted

I just finished up the basketball season with my sons youth league team. We had a really good season. We had a great group of kids that did not understand the meaning of quit. Each and every kid on the team showed an incredible amount of leadership skills. I was most impressed with their courage and determination. We were a very small team. Every other team in the league towered over us. However, no team fought harder or outworked us.

There are so many things that go into the makeup of a leader. These little guys have what it takes to be leaders and winners. We lost our playoff game in a really hard fought contest. Our team was really outmanned, but put on an incredible performance. Afterwards, the guys were really down, but I was really upbeat. No one likes to lose, especially me. But I did not have the sense that we lost. I was so taken by their grit and determination that I realized how special this group of little guys is. It struck me that success is never given. It is not even earned. Success is attracted. These little guys do everything to attract success.

How did this team teach me that success is attracted? By working hard everysingle second, understanding the power of teamwork, self sacrifice, never giving up, believing that they can be (and should be) successful in everything they do, never giving up, believing in each other, being persistent, being passionate, caring, being honest, counting on each other, being accountable to the team, being humble, and being tenacious. They did not lose anything. They gained my admiration and respect. They taught me the true meaning of leadership.

Rosa Say asked at the blog synergy "What is great leadership?" The answer is a group of 9 and 10 year olds that will not quit. I hope to grow up and be just like them some day. They did not win their championship. (They will win many throughout life.) What they did win is my respect. They won the right to be teachers and leaders. They taught me that success is attracted. It is attracted by your actions, your attitude, and your willingness to live life with the enthusiasm, persitence, and humility of a child.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My Conversion Essay

This post appeared on my other blog, Sushi Kiddush, about a month ago, but I felt it was a great way to introduce myself to 100.bloggers. I think this blog is an amazing idea and I hope it facilitates democratic discourse that breeds understanding and tolerance. I look forward to being part of something very special. Thanks Troy.


Spiritual Biography

I grew up in a secular family. My mother came from an Irish Catholic background and my father, being Japanese, came from a Shinto/Buddhist background. However, both my parents, like most children, drifted from their religious backgrounds as they moved into adulthood. As a child, we celebrated Christmas and Easter, and even celebrated some Japanese religious holidays like Boy’s Day, but they were not filled with much religious meaning. In fact, I never connected Christmas to any religious meaning until my mother enrolled me in confirmation classes at the local Methodist Church at the age of thirteen. Christmas, until that time, was a holiday to receive presents and to have a big roast beef dinner. I enjoyed it very much, but I never thought of Christ when I voraciously opened up a Star Wars figure or zoomed down my block on a new dirt bike.

From about the age of eight my mother was taking my sister and I to the local Methodist Church for Sunday school and to attend services. My father stayed home and watched football. He had no time for religion and made no bones about not going. What I realized later in my adult life was that my father would not have gone to a football game either. He became more distanced from the family emotionally and slipped into a deep depression. He still, to this day, has not adequately treated his depression, and I, as a social work student, think he suffers from some sort of social anxiety disorder.

So my mother took us to church on Sundays, and helped at the church fairs, and became friends with the congregation, not for the religion, but for the support and community. In hindsight, I think she did it because she knew my father was drifting farther and farther into himself and his private world. She needed the social outlet.

For my sister and I, it was great – we made friends and went to church outings. We played, laughed, sang and danced. It was fun. It was a childhood experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life and it has made me who I am today. But then my life changed the day I walked into my first confirmation class. Jesus was brought into this world from a virgin birth. We are born with original sin. We must repent for our sins in this world so that we can have a better world in the after life. These tenets just did not make sense to me. Why pray to some abstract guy with thorns in his hair because he tried to do some good in the world? I knew plenty of people trying to do good in the world and there was no religion called Mom. Why should I repent for something I did not do? Why repent in this life when I could live in this life?

I eventually finished the class to please my parents, and stood up on the altar and ate the body of Christ. The congregation clapped, cameras flashed, the choir sang, and I stood on the altar facing a sea of smiling Christians saying to myself, “I will never go to church again.” Well, it was not this revelatory and deliberate. Months earlier, I heard my mother saying that once you are confirmed, sign the church book, and you become a member of the church, you can do anything you want. I made a choice not to go to church once I got confirmed. And I didn’t.

Through high school and into my earlier twenties, I dabbled in different religious ideas. I liked the solitary meditative approach of Buddhism, I liked the practical-I’ll-see-it-when-I-believe-it approach of agnosticism, I liked the cathartic rebelliousness of nihilism (don’t worry I only joined a rock band and sang about rebellion, I didn’t actually do it), and I liked the community of Judaism. I always saw my Jewish friends surrounded by family and friends and celebrations. Even in sad times there was community, support, and bagels and lox (just kidding). But, there was this sense of togetherness despite it all and I liked the comfort of that.

I played in a rock band until my late twenties using creativity as spiritual experience. And it is a spiritual experience. There is a oneness and nowness to creativity that takes you outside of your selfish needs and connects you to a higher state of reality. You just trust enough to let whatever comes out of you be what it is and that is cathartic, exhilarating, introspective, and evolutionary. You evolve and understand yourself better. This is what I am currently trying to experience in prayer - to think of prayer as a gift you are giving to God, instead of some ritual act that you must complete because the Torah says to. When you think of prayer as a gift to God it takes the pressure off yourself. You are not concerned with yourself anymore, but for something outside yourself. I don’t want prayer to be expediency. I want that oneness and nowness that I experience in my creative pursuits. I want Kavannah.

I went back to school to complete an art degree and in the process met my soul mate Ellie. She grew up in a Modern Orthodox family and, as you know, it was rather tough on our relationship. Here is a joke to explain what I thought the situation was like; A nice Jewish boy meets a Native American girl at college named Dancing Cloud. They fall in love and the boy works up the courage to bring his girlfriend home to meet the parents. He says to his mother, “Mom, I would like you to meet my girlfriend Dancing Cloud.” His Jewish mother says, “Nice to meet I'm sitting shiva.” Very funny, but true in many cases. And Ellie was more terrified than I was. So there was not a lot of confidence that we could make the relationship work, unless I converted to Judaism.

In the meantime, Ellie had been bringing me the Chumash, canonical Hasidic stories, Jewish folklore, tractates of the Talmud, and anything that might interest me, depending on what holiday was occurring at that time. We ate at kosher restaurants around Queens College, I attended events at the Hillel, and I even started talking to different Rabbis to see if Judaism might be right for me. It felt right, but I just wasn’t sure. It took awhile to work up the courage to attend a Sabbath service, but I eventually did. I loved the sound of Hebrew, I loved the singing of the cantor, I loved the movements of the men davening. I wanted to know more, to be able to contribute to these mystical foreign words, to be able to say these words with Kavannah.

I felt like this was right for me and when I found out from my mother that my great-grandfather was a Russian Jew I knew I had a Jewish soul. She showed me a kiddush cup she found in her basement as a child and I immediately connected to the pogroms of Tsarist Russia, the persecuted people of the thinning Diaspora, the Holocaust, Theodore Hertzl, everything Jewish. I cried for people I once only had a distant connection to.

I know I have family now that was persecuted by anti-Semitism and I know I am a Jew. Not by law, but by soul. I want to become a Jew by law. Ellie has since told her parents and they support us in our journey together through this program and beyond. My parents have always supported us because religion was never an issue. I originally had a problem with religion dictating a person’s choice of partners - how could religion dictate love? I still feel that love should not be dictated, but I also understand why the Jewish people preserve such a unique and tested religion. They have been dictated to disappear for millennia, but they are still here based on survival and halacha.

I want to join the Jewish community and live a Jewish life. I am eating kosher, I have mezuzahs on my doors, Ellie and I celebrate Shabbos, and I am wearing a kippah more regularly now. It takes time, but I am getting there. I learn something new each day about Judaism and I strive to fulfill the mitzvot. I love the structure of a Jewish life because it reminds me of a higher purpose in even the simple things. People always say things like, “How can you follow all those rules?” or “That lifestyle is so oppressive.” I was one of those people before I gave it a try. It has its moments of frustration and tedium, but so does life. Everybody has to set limits on their life and I choose to set these limits. If not, we’d be a disordered chaotic wasteland of self-interest. Only when I began to follow these rules and set limits did I feel freer. And for that, Omayn.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I am a dead bunny

That's how one of the younger writing students remembers me now.

Last week, I was working with this student on prepositions. I don't know how anybody else learned prepositions, but I had to watch this dorky video about a rabbit and a box. At least, the rabbit was cute! So, I was using the idea of a rabbit and a box to teach the student. I made a little bunny with one hand and a box with the other (It was a fist, but she got the point).

I kept making the rabbit hand do things in relation to the box hand, trying to help her see diffferent prepositions. At one point, my little rabbit was jumping off the the box, and the student kept saying "over". Trying to get her to say "off", I had the bunny fall sideways off the box. The student gleefully said, "The bunny falls off the box and dies!" She even drew a picture of it on her worksheet.

We finally managed to get to an understanding that the preposition was "off", but when she saw me earlier this week, she pointed at me and said, "Dead bunny!" I just walked past and said, "Yep, that's me. I'm a dead bunny." I don't think the teacher was particularly amused. I was. After all, I am a Rabbit.

A Rabbit who will forever be "Dead Bunny" to one of her students...

...and that student will never forget prepositions again!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A baby lost, a baby grieved

My world is spinning, and I don't know how to respond???

How does one respond when someone who was so very cruel to you during your miscarriage, loses her baby???

Not just thoughtless words, not just careless actions - but deliberate cruelty. Spreading lies that turned people you thought of as friends, against you. That left you with little support, and few to turn to for answers and comfort? Who, when confronted by her behaviour by others, said that just proved that her lies were truth. Hardening hearts that use to care about you???

My heart was pierced through when I read the news of her loss! OMG, I would NEVER wish this on anyone, NEVER want another to lose her baby. NEVER wish anyone to feel this pain, to have her heart ripped out.

Every baby that is wanted, every baby that is loved, every baby that is longed for - should NEVER be lost. Every baby that is awaited with joy, should grow securely under the mother's heart, until ready to be placed in the mother's arms. The world is such an unjust place...

I fear that my expression of sorrow at her loss, my participation in a gift of flowers - would be unwelcome, unwanted. So I will grieve quietly here for her, and for her husband. Wishing her peace and comfort.

And most of all, I grieve for her little baby. Never to be held, never to be known.

Goodbye little one...

Copyright © Catherine Anne ... All Rights Reserved 2006
Originally posted on
Life Begins... blog

Friday, March 03, 2006

Uncle Sam Wants YOU!

Vote for Troy Worman's manifesto NOW! Don't wait for permission to succeed! What does Uncle Sam want you to do?

Make it a great day!
Phil Gerbyshak

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A Call for Links!

The Carnival of 100 Bloggers, Issue 4 will be posted on March 19. Send me your links!

Also, I have compiled a list of 50 bloggers to whom I will send invites to join us. Please advise if there is anyone you would like to ensure is on my list. Currenlty, we are 51, but almost half are inactive. "Inactive" means they have not posted in the last 90 days.

How do you feel about removing members who cannot fulfill a commitment to post once every 90 days?

Clear communication: a leader’s asset

In a time span of a couple of days, I came across a number of posts that talked aboutthe need for communication, clear communication specifically. For a leader, clear communication can help get a project finished, build team confidence, and head off misunderstandings before they become full-blown problems.

Let's start with this quote found at Fast Company: "If you expect those below to support your leadership and step into the breach when needed, they will need to understand your strategy, your methods, and your rules." --Michael Useem I've often found with the teams I lead that a little communication goes a long way in promoting trust and loyalty. When they can see where I'm coming from and where I'm heading, then they feel empowered to strike out and go above and beyond my expectations for them as they work toward helping me reach the end goal. They feel a part of things because they undertand what is going on. I also try to communicate when something has changed as soon as I'm aware of changes.

This post started by asking what one quality people looked for in a leader. The following gem showed up in the comments: Clarity is key. Clarity is the key component, because you need to have clarity in your communication to the people you lead, and to the people you serve, you need to have clarity of mission, purpose and passion so people want to follow you, and you need clarity of purpose to wade through all the information that will come your way to find the truth, or at least the most relevant information. Again, people respond well to someone who doesn't feel the need to be mysterious in passing along information. When they can see that you are clearly on a set path, and they can clearly see the path themselves, then they are more likely to follow willingly and do what it takes to get to that ending. Mysterious directions and unclear goals are best left to guided discovery teaching moments and scavenger hunts!

This post illustratres a few ways to not communicate clearly and links to a post on how not to have a conversation. I always like to assume my teams are composed of intelligent people who will understand me, or will ask for clarification if they're unsure. As I tend to surround myself with independent thinkers for the most part, this method works well for me. Occassionally, I get someone who needs to be directed or coached through every tiny thing, and even then I refuse to belittle them. I like questions.

The moral of the story: Communicate. Communicate clearly. Be willing to clarify when there is confusion.

Cross-posted to CareerNiche.

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