Archives for the month of: June, 2018

This essay was originally posted on September 27, 2011 as is dedicated today to all children everywhere, especially those separated from their families. To see a color version and special note about what’s been happening click here for the PGG.

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I recently attended the screening of a very cool documentary called Connected: An Autobiography About Love, Death & Technology. An ambitious undertaking, filmmaker Tiffany Shlain has presented some interesting ideas and factoids in a unique visual way about the history of who we are and the connections we have to each other from the past, present and where we might be headed in the future.

One of the best tidbits I learned was that if you hug someone for six seconds or more, a dose of the feel-good hormone oxytocin is released.

Many of you who have worked with me individually, in a group, or have talked to me after one of my workshops or seminars, know that I’m a big hugger.  In addition to hugging my clients and audience members, I tend to hug strangers after a meaningful conversation, and even in more professional situations, say after a meeting, which may or may not be kosher, but I can’t help it!  I often randomly hug friends, family members and co-workers because I somehow sense they need one, and I will occasionally request one myself (especially from a super-good hugger, like my bro!)

Why? I’ve actually never thought about it.  It’s just always been a natural extension of who I am, the work I do and my love of people in general. If I had to intellectualize it, perhaps it’s about sealing an interaction with a Yes, I see and hear you, you see and hear me, and we can show mutual love, respect and care for each other as human beings in the most tangible way.”

And let’s face it, who couldn’t use a hug now and then?  We should be able to give and receive hugs freely, but for those of you who need to justify your request, there’s a scientific explanation, because hey, who wouldn’t want to get a little shot of some naturally feel-good feelings?!  So forget about the economy and the Internet, because the true currency of connection is the HUG, and the good news is that it’s available worldwide and abundant in infinite amounts.

Feeling a little stressed or simply need a boost to brighten your day?  Instead of reaching for that Twix bar or beer, have no fear, don’t you pout, just say hello and hug it out! 

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Check out this very-roughly-edited-not-the-best-quality video of uninterrupted remarks wrapping up the workshop “Lead Yourself to Success (in Work & Life!)In this excerpt covering the final ten minutes, I summarize my thoughts about confidence, being a leader in your own life, maintaining your individuality and humanity in the times we live in, and why the world is relying on you to be successful.

Click here to watch video

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

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Last Friday I found myself devastated by the news of Anthony Bourdain’s passing. In order to process and make sense of my feelings I wrote this essay that night and published it on Medium; I thought I would share it with you here as a PGG.

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This morning I felt like the wind got knocked out of me. I was up unusually early to head out for the day, and as I was getting ready, I heard the breaking news that Anthony Bourdain was dead. Two years ago, my stomach sank and I teared up when I heard about David Bowie, and then months later about Prince. Although I was a fan of those two icons, my appreciation of what they accomplished and contributed to our culture with their art actually grew once they were gone. I’m sure there were other instances of shock and sadness when public figures passed – Robin Williams and Muhammad Ali come to mind – but some hit home in a more deeply emotional way than others, as if you knew them personally, and this was one of them.

The last time I remember feeling this personal kind of loss over someone I’d never met was when King Hussein died in 1999. I was so distraught, I went to the Jordanian store owners in my neighborhood to tearfully express my condolences, not even knowing the exact reasons; I just knew that I felt he was a great soul – but not perfect, as none of us are – and that the world would be missing a bright light and great hope now that he was gone.

But with Anthony Bourdain, it was immediate and visceral and specific as to why this loss was so profound, and I struggled not to go into a full-on heaving cry because I needed to be composed as I walked to the subway en route to a full day of meetings. I knew exactly what he had done for the world, what he had done for me, and what a great example of a human being he was – messy, magical, mischievous, magnanimous and masterful all in one. Although on the surface he was known for his passion for food, writing and travel, I believe his biggest purpose in life, like King Hussein, was to be a peacemaker.

In his own rock ‘n’ roll, tough yet tender, sensitively macho, sarcastic and sincere way, he was able to bring together people of every background. Whether sitting down with them in one of the 80 countries he visited, or more recently highlighting different cities and cultures here at home, he brought the world to millions of living rooms so we could share the experience. In a unique and highly entertaining yet respectful way, he gave us an inside view of mostly ordinary people, especially those we might consider adversaries or outcasts. He allowed us – including those who can’t travel or don’t even have a desire to travel – to observe what life is like for others, and therefore hopefully gain more understanding of each other.

I have been a huge fan since his No Reservations show on the Travel Channel, and then of course Parts Unknown on CNN – and must have seen at least 80 percent of his programs, always being so intrigued and inspired by the journeys he made and people he met. I gain new knowledge and perspectives each time I watch, often accompanied by a good laugh. Sure I love food and like to learn about different cuisines, and I enjoyed watching him eat things – often in honor of the culture that had invited him in, and many things I don’t think I ever could. But I also learn so much about these cultures in the process (one of the most powerful episodes that comes to mind is when an Inuit family allowed him to participate in the meal of a seal, which they eat raw, and every part).

I’ve always been passionate about and have committed my life to promoting peace and the upliftment of humanity through various vehicles and forms (you can read my essay “All Roads: Same Place” for some insight): From wanting to work for the UN, having a career in the travel industry, founding a nonprofit organization focused on intercultural understanding with the tagline Recognizing Our Unity; Celebrating Our Diversity, then later writing, coaching and speaking about how people can make their lives more peaceful and fulfill their role personally or professionally in making the world a better place. It’s my underlying m.o. and I can often sniff it out in others, whether it is obvious/conscious to them or others or not.

Anthony Bourdain, like me, didn’t define himself (or his show) in any particular category (chef, journalist, writer), because he is really about all aspects of being a human and showing the condition of humanity no matter who you are or where you are from. He most often did it through the medium of food because, as my dear friend Dan (who also tragically died as a result of mental illness) used to quote his Jewish grandmother as saying in a Yiddish accent, “You have to eat!” – so what better way to get to know each other than through a meal? This was the original concept and initial execution of The Women’s Mosaic’s programs. And when it wasn’t through food, Bourdain did it through his essays, which is also the only form of writing I do (see my book, these newsletters etc.).

I relate to and also seem to possess his ability to connect with anyone he meets, and he was known as being the same person on camera as he was off – he just brought his authentic, unique self to wherever he was and whomever he was talking to, from busboys to Obama. He told it like it is and wanted to show people our common humanity, and teach a bit of history and politics along the way. He shed light on whatever he felt merited attention and was recently a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement and immigrant rights – similar to topics and issues we tackled in small and big ways with The Women’s Mosaic.

He had no facade and could see through BS. He was a people and life expert; he was a natural introvert but could talk to anybody; he was a writer who wrote the way he spoke; he did not put up with pretentiousness and searched for the truth in any situation. I have not struggled with drugs or depression, but I have lived through my own tragedies and, like all of us, struggle with my own limitations and dis-ease, and have had glimpses of what it might be like to not want to be here. Although I’m not a foodie per se, I would definitely name food as one of my main physical pleasures in life, if not the main one. We are both tall.

In other words, as I write this, it seems the connection might not be not from viewing him as a separate celebrity stranger out there who did great things that are in alignment with my vision and values, but instead I am seeing the many ways in which we are more closely part of the same tribe, however differently we might have played our parts within it.

Perhaps, then, this is hitting me so hard because I feel I lost someone who is more like me than I ever realized, someone who was doing what I am trying to do, so it’s like a little piece of myself is now gone. From the outside, looking at each of our lives this way seems ridiculous, but you (especially if you know me) and now I can see the many ways in which we are cut from the same cloth. So in his death I am seeing my life, which seems like a very self-centered way to talk about his passing, but isn’t that perfectly fitting as part of what he was here to do? It’s about seeing yourself in another and finding your commonalities and shared humanity, no matter how disparate we may be on the surface or in the lives we lead.

Well, I guess I answered my own question about why this one hurts so much, and now I appreciate him even more.

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Click here to here me speak about asking for help
Click image for video about asking for help

   Please be sure to reach out to loved ones and/or seek professional counseling should you be suffering in any way…. There is always help available  ❤ ❤ ❤

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Follow me on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter for up to date posts, helpful articles and inspirational thoughts.

Text CLEARLYKRISTINA to 22828 to be added to my mailing list and be in the loop with my coaching and workshops as well as have these essays delivered to your inbox!

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Check out this very-roughly-edited-not-the-best-quality video of uninterrupted remarks wrapping up the workshop “Lead Yourself to Success (in Work & Life!)In this excerpt covering the final ten minutes, I summarize my thoughts about confidence, being a leader in your own life, maintaining your individuality and humanity in the times we live in, and why the world is relying on you to be successful.

Click here to watch video

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

Read over fifty 5-star “Yelp” style reviews here

Join Mailing List

 Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn  View on Instagram                 

Read more about me and my work in these past PGG’s:

All Roads, Same Place | And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor | Strong Medicine | 10,000 Hours | A Decade of Doing What I Do | Express Yourself

As someone who is pretty dyslexic, I often switch prefixes and mash up my words when writing and speaking. When talking to a good friend who was feeling very scattered and exhausted, I somehow came out with the word “mentical” when observing how she was mentally disconnected from her physical body. It seemed to be a perfect way to describe the “dis-ease” that a lot of 21st century urbanites suffer from, and we immediately adopted it into our vocabulary. And then I told her: A walk in the woods is a way to mitigate the mentical.

[Three years ago] after spending many hours in a hospital with my mom over a two-month period, I knew what I needed to do to get rid of the accumulated “ick” from such an environment, and headed to a nearby nature preserve. I felt the benefits in five minutes! It was as if I had dipped myself in some magic potion; I came out refreshed, healed and cleansed.

Several years ago, I gave as homework to one of my clients, an African-American woman, to go spend some time exploring and journaling deep in a woodsy park. She looked at me as if I had two heads and said, “You know Black folk don’t hike…?!” I laughed and of course didn’t care, and she wisely heeded the assignment. She is now an avid fan of the activity, and has even influenced many in her circle to try it as well.

However this is not about hiking per se, in the very athletic sense of climb difficulty and the views as a reward, etc. It’s about letting the energy of those deep-green leaves absorb any negative mental, emotional, physical and spiritual vibes within and around us, and letting us take in some good ones from them. It’s purely alchemical.

Most people flock to the beach in the summer. I’ve always headed for the trees. At least in the Northeast, this is the time of the year when they are the most lush and verdant. They are at their peak of healing juiciness, and they call out to me big time!

As usual, science finally caught up with and has now “proved” what I and others have known intuitively and have been doing for eons; I was thrilled to come across this article, which justified my cure to me and others of spending time in the woods. Apparently the Japanese have coined the term “forest bathing,” and put some explanation and studies behind what I simply considered common sense and what made me feel good; now it is being used as preventive medicine as well as treatment for asthma, depression and other ailments! I bow and thank you for affirming my “homework,” Japan.

I have come to find the practice even more necessary these days with our increasing dependence on electronic devices – who knows what stuff they are emitting and what WiFi is really doing to us mentally and physically. Remember that plants and trees suck the carbon dioxide out of the air and increase the oxygen – for us city folk we need as much clean fresh air as we can get. Especially if you have been spending a lot of time in hospitals, airports, and/or inhabit the concrete jungle, it’s the perfect antidote to erratic energy, as well as recycled, conditioned and even toxic air. 

Once you get yourself to a park, preserve or forest, the first thing to do is express gratitude. Think about how the trees and plants are always there, evolving, growing, moving toward life, no matter what they’re handed or how much they suffer – they remain steadfast in supporting and healing us. By giving thanks, perhaps we can counteract some of the abuse we humans have doled out! I generally recommend going alone, or with just a few close friends/partners who “get it.” Take deep breaths and move slowly. Be grateful for the miracle that is Mother Earth. Visualize and feel the trees like a filter absorbing all the guck in us at that moment. Let yourself be grounded and feel any stress, worry or disease be released from your mental, physical and emotional bodies.

If you can’t get to an actual forest, perhaps your gym’s tread mills have one of those virtual videos courses so you can feel as if you are – now this does not give you any of the alchemical benefits I’ve mentioned above, however it is still good for meditation purposes so hey it’s better than nothing!

The beach can be the bomb in a different way when it comes to healing too so listen to your body and hear what it’s asking for. You probably don’t need to go to the extreme like Reese/Cheryl  in order to your reclaim your soul and sanity, but if you’re not sure about the who, what, why and where of your personal Nature Rx, give me a buzz. I’ll be the forest ranger in the Pharrell hat  that points you in the right direction, reminds you to take it all in, and will be there should you get lost on the trail. 

(Today’s PGG originally published on June 9, 2015)

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Follow me on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter for up to date posts, helpful articles and inspirational thoughts.

Text CLEARLYKRISTINA to 22828 to be added to my mailing list and be in the loop with my coaching and workshops as well as have these essays delivered to your inbox!

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Check out this very-roughly-edited-not-the-best-quality video of uninterrupted remarks wrapping up the workshop “Lead Yourself to Success (in Work & Life!)In this excerpt covering the final ten minutes, I summarize my thoughts about confidence, being a leader in your own life, maintaining your individuality and humanity in the times we live in, and why the world is relying on you to be successful.

Click here to watch video

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If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

Read over fifty 5-star “Yelp” style reviews here

Join Mailing List

 Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn  View on Instagram                 

Read more about me and my work in these past PGG’s:

All Roads, Same Place | And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor | Strong Medicine | 10,000 Hours | A Decade of Doing What I Do | Express Yourself

When traveling by myself in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2001 — just seven years after the end of apartheid — I had a major aha moment while having tea in the lobby of the historic, old-world-luxury Mount Nelson Hotel.

Feeling somewhat awkward in my solo budget-travel state, I was in the midst of sipping Earl Grey when something clicked within me on the most profound of levels. It occurred to me that due to the mere fact my skin is white — with the bonus of having very blond hair at the time — I was essentially given free rein to go wherever I desired and do whatever I wanted, and no one would ever question me, look at me strangely, or think I didn’t belong.

Yes, I was in one of the most segregated countries on the planet, but it really struck me that this applied in a broader context: No matter where I go, simply because of the color of my skin — along with being tall and reasonably well-dressed, in addition to being educated and American — I enjoy a certain level of trust, respect (this was just before 9/11) and service, and almost always inherently avoid outright discrimination and bodily harm, even as a woman (which itself is topic for another discussion, since that is only a very recent phenomenon and may apply to fewer places, but I digress…).

Suddenly the phrase “carte blanche,” which literally translates as “white card,” came into my head and I immediately made the connection to the District Six Museum’s display of various ID cards for citizens under that classified system: White, Coloured, Black, and Indian. In the United States, and in a global sense, it is an invisible card I carry that gives me entree, ease and yes, a certain unearned privilege, to live a life free of so many stresses, layers of misperceptions, institutionalized prejudice, fear, bias and/or hatred that the majority of those of darker shades must endure and are too often endangered by.

I realize that in telling this story I may sound naive, but this came at a crucial point for me. At that time, I was not only quite aware of, but particularly passionate about the issue of racial inequality, in theory since childhood, but in practice for more than 10 years. I had many interpersonal experiences, observations and relationships informing a significant understanding of the complexities all that entails, and earlier that year I had started a nonprofit organization to dispel stereotypes and bigotry in order to bring women together, with the motto Recognizing Our Unity; Celebrating Our Diversity.

But being in a place where racism had so recently been explicitly acknowledged and addressed in such a direct manner brought this concept home to me in a way that until that point in my life, because I am White, had been onlysubtly perceptible, and even then, only because I was sensitive to the issue.

A couple of years later, while waiting in the cold for an MTA bus on First Avenue in the East Village, I experienced this overtness in reverse. Two Black women chose to ditch the delayed public transportation, and I watched in disbelief as two, three, five, six open taxis passed by as they tried to hail one. Disgusted, I asked if they needed help, and of course the next cab stopped for me, but when the driver realized the Black women, not me, were getting in, he drove away. Finally I asked where they were going; I was so appalled I decided I would just get in and share it with them. The irony was that they were going to 78th Street between First and Second, probably one of the Whitest blocks in the city. It was perhaps the closest I will come to knowing what it must feel like to deal with race on a daily basis, simply trying to accomplish the most mundane of tasks.

Fast-forward to February 2012. After giving a talk at the Science, Industry and Business Library, a young Black man came up to thank me for what I had shared, how it made him think differently about his life; he pointed out what he had written down so he could make positive change. He then said he had recently been released from federal prison and asked if I would be willing to work with someone like him. Well, this began a journey in which I learned more specifically about the consequences of race and the criminal justice system, the roots of mass incarceration and the many barriers to re-entry. It has since widened and deepened my understanding of the unhealed wounds, scars and repercussions of our country’s history of slavery.

In the aftermath of injustice after injustice against people of color, we are dealing with symptoms of a very sick system that is made up of people, and people are crying out for transformation and healing. It is not a Black problem; it is not a White problem. It is a human problem. No matter what card-carrying member of our race you proclaim (or are deemed) to be, we’re all in this man-made mess together — and we will only solve it one story, one interaction, one aha moment at a time.

(Today’s PGG originally published on December 5, 2014)

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Follow me on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter for up to date posts, helpful articles and inspirational thoughts.

Text CLEARLYKRISTINA to 22828 to be added to my mailing list and be in the loop with my coaching and workshops as well as have these essays delivered to your inbox!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Check out this very-roughly-edited-not-the-best-quality video of uninterrupted remarks wrapping up the workshop “Lead Yourself to Success (in Work & Life!)In this excerpt covering the final ten minutes, I summarize my thoughts about confidence, being a leader in your own life, maintaining your individuality and humanity in the times we live in, and why the world is relying on you to be successful.

Click here to watch video

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you like what I write, you’ll love what I have to say in person!   Click on above links for info about my coaching and speaking services and contact me today. 

Read over fifty 5-star “Yelp” style reviews here

Join Mailing List

 Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn  View on Instagram                 

Read more about me and my work in these past PGG’s:

All Roads, Same Place | And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor | Strong Medicine | 10,000 Hours | A Decade of Doing What I Do | Express Yourself

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