Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Magic of Myers-Briggs

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment was developed by a mother-daughter team to apply Jungian concepts to every day life. There are 16 personality types, grouped into four temperaments.  And it works! 

When I started coaching in 2003, the head of HR where I had worked before launching my practice - and who gave me my first clients - suggested I start with the M-B assessment. I was skeptical at first. I have now gone over the results with hundreds of clients, family members and friends. The response at least 95 percent of time is "yes, that's me."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Unreliable Memory

When Wawa started to sprout like mushrooms after the rain throughout the Orlando area, I felt a real connection to my childhood. I told Wawa staff and fellow customers that I loved Wawa growing up in Philadelphia. I could survive in Orlando if I could have Wawa tuna hoagies on a regular basis.

Then Wawa began celebrating its 50th Anniversary, and I realized that I had started Penn State by the time Wawa opened its doors. So much for childhood memories. I'm sure I enjoyed their outstanding tuna hoagies when I returned to the neighborhood for years thereafter - from Washington, DC., Chicago, and New York. 

Gotta Have A Wawa!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Secrets of My Success

Here are the five secrets of my success:
  1. Showing Up. Following the teachings of that great American philosopher Woody Allen, I believe that at least 80 percent of success in life is showing up.
  2. Low Expectations. "The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it." V. S. Naipaul. I try to begin with a realistic view of the present situation - not what I want it to be but what it is.
  3. High Threshold of Pain. I can take a lot of punishment.
  4. Resilience and Resourcefulness. Flanking maneuvers are my specialty. If a direct assault is not working, I look for a way around the obstacle. "The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result." Albert Einstein.
  5. Treating Everyone the Same. With respect. This is not only the right thing to do from a moral perspective, but also the best way to build allies and loyal teams needed to get the job done. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Neutral Zone

Soon after I moved to Orlando, a New York friend sent me Transitions, Making Sense of Life's Changes, by William Bridges. Since I think I know it all, I don't normally read "self-help" books. In deference to my good friend, I skimmed through it. I discovered that Bridges drew on the writings of Mircea Eliade and Carlos Castaneda, two writers I had connected with decades ago and almost forgotten. I then read the book slowly, stopping to think how I had handled the many changes in my life. The lesson I learned was that I almost always skipped the Neutral Zone.

Bridges talked about three stages of change: Endings (Letting Go), Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings. When my life went into a tailspin, I had almost always pulled my Wonder Woman routine and immediately jumped into something new (career, city, whatever). 

That wasn't possible in Orlando. There was nothing to jump into. So I spent time in the Neutral Zone until, magically, new beginnings appeared.

Ninja Turtles

Once Wonder Woman was my name.
I met impossible deadlines.
Turned around companies.
Launched million-dollar deals.

One superhero fades away.
New ones come out to play.
Life is a series of transitions.

I have a different role in the village.

Now, I work for purposes larger than myself.
I connect with a new family generation,
delighting in pottery painting, Play- Doh and
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Physics Humor

A quark, a neutrino, and a Higgs boson walk into a bar ...

I love physics humor. Here is a wonderful example from The Arrogance of Physics, a poem by John Koethe, distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

And on the order of the very small: time passes
As your twin ages, while you remain perpetually young -- 
Though a lot of good it does you, existing as you do
At no place in particular, smeared out everywhere
Until someone sees you and your wave packet collapses.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

To Edith

Edith is my avatar, outgoing and spirited on the campaign trail,

pushing me out of my introvert’s comfort zone.

She chatted up the car service guys, who wept

when told of the sudden death of their coffee-bearing friend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Prayer on Kindling a Yahrzeit Lamp

In hushed reverence, I kindle this memorial lamp in loving
remembrance on this anniversary of my beloved's death.
We have been taught that human souls are Thy candles.
Through them Thou bringest light into the world. For the light
of compassion and tenderness which my loved one
brought into my life. I am everlastingly grateful.
Help me, O G-d, to use the sacred memory of my loved
one as a noble spur to consecrated living. May I perpetuate and
transmit everything that was beautiful and loving about my loved one's
character. Keep firm my faith that we cannot go where You are not,
and where You are all is well.

As the light is kindled say:
"Zecher tsaddik leevrachah."
The memory of the upright is a source of blessing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gisela and Me

Yesterday I drove Gisela to her first soccer practice of the fall season. It has been 6 months since I started taking her to practice and games. We have both grown up in that time.

Gisela is much more into the game. She runs to where the ball is and kicks it when she can. She takes a turn in the goal and enjoys the spotlight of that key position. Last night, she also showed the compassionate side of her nature. When one of her teammates had the wind knocked out of him, she called to me from her goalie position. "Give him the wet towel we brought. It will make him feel better." I followed her instructions, and her teammate and his mother were very appreciative. I told Gisela how proud I was of her.

I'm growing up, too. I am more patient when Gisela switches from one radio station to another and back again as we drive home. I showed her how to save her favorite stations so she can reach them with one push of a button. We are bonding more each day. Soccer has brought us closer together. It is a wonderful sport!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ballets Russes

I forget that I loved ballet first. Before jazz. Before opera. It came back to me as I watched Ballets Russes yesterday.

Ballets Russes is a wonderful 2005 documentary about the ballet companies that, in the 30's and 40's, built on the great Russian ballet tradition to create exciting new dance forms. Brought to the United States by the impresario Sam Hurok, the dancers (many of whom were Russian emigres or their daughters) delighted American audiences, paving the way for the major ballet companies in the US today.

The best part of the movie are the interviews with the dancers, most of whom were in their late 80's or early 90's. They are so full of life and wonderful memories. Their joyous stories of being dancers in this pivotal period transcend the hardship they sometimes endured. The human spirit at its best!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Birds

I recently watched Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds from beginning to end on TV. Its power to terrify has not diminished with time or repetition. 

My daily contact with birds is more benign. In New York, your basic Central Park pigeon was my chief exposure to the avian world. In Orlando, new varieties divert me as I run or walk the 1/2-mile jogging path around the man-made pond in my apartment complex.  I especially like the ducks. There is one eccentric bird that perches on the metal rim of a water spout early in the morning, before the water starts to gush up. Facing the rising sun, it spreads its wings and stretches it neck, enjoying the breeze and the warmth.

This changed one summer evening as I walked around the pond after the heat of the day and a late afternoon thunderstorm. Against the background of dark clouds, about a dozen large, black birds (crows, perhaps) flew from east to west, alighting on the roof of the building closest to the pond. Initially, I smiled and thought of Hitchcock. Then another group of birds flew to the roof. Then another. And another. I stopped counting at more than 40 birds sitting still on the roof, looking down at me, alone on the path.

I made it back to the apartment unharmed but haunted by the image of Tippi Hedren, reduced to a catatonic state after Hitchcock finished with her.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sisters and Daughters

I have many sisters and daughters. No, you will not find them on We are bound by shared experiences and shared values, not DNA. 

I met most of my little sisters and daughters through my professional life. Since I have been the first woman or only woman through much of my career, I did not always have the clout to help them up the ladder directly. At first, I was able to bring them in at entry level positions, to provide moral support and to share the survival skills I had learned. 

As my career progressed, I was about to do more. Always, I tried to be a positive role model for women and a successful executive overall. I hope I made it easier for the women following me in an organization to gain respect and recognition.

FYI, my little sisters and daughters are doing just fine! I am very proud of them and grateful for the chance to share in their lives.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tyranny of Calendars

Every day is different. That's a good thing. I like variety.

Every day is different, That's a bad thing. I spend so much time updating my calendar. I have to keep track of client calls, Gisela's soccer matches, lunches with friends, political events, trips to New York and so much more.

I even schedule time to update my schedule.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Naturally Curly Hair

People always expect more of you when you have naturally curly hair. This oft-repeated remark did not win Frieda many friends among the Peanuts regulars, and her tenure on the comic strip was cut short. 

My history with naturally curly hair has also been fraught. Adorable curls on a toddler soon turned into adolescent frizz. There followed years with large rollers under the hair dryer, hot rollers and other attempts to bring a smooth line to hair that resisted. 

Edward opened new possibilities about 15 years ago when he styled my hair to exploit the curls, not fight them. Now, with the aid of better hair products, I flaunt my naturally curly hair. I don't know what other people expect. I expect more of myself, and I deliver!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pumping Iron

It all started with Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to Jack, my brother and personal trainer. Before Arnold, gyms and weights were for sweaty Neanderthal types. Arnold added sex, and sex sells.

I started lifting weights about 25 years ago, soon after I started running. Jack said I had to strengthen my upper body to balance the effects of running. While running clears my mind and calms me down, pumping iron increases my concentration. I stay focused to prevent injury.

It has another benefit. When a chivalrous man offers to lift my take-on bag into the overhead rack, I graciously decline the gesture. Drawing on all those sets and reps, I hoist the bag overhead and take my seat. "This is just part of my weight-training routine, I say with a smile." 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Minions Rule!

Movie reviews for adults accompanying kids who actually want to see these movies:

Cinderella: In this live action feature, Prince Charming rescues the virginal Cinderella from her greedy stepmother and "mean girl" stepsisters with the aid of the supernatural Fairy Godmother. Not exactly a feminist theme. Sheryl Sandberg would not approve.

Tomorrowland: George Clooney seemed as bewildered as I was by the plot of this futuristic movie with a combination of live action and CGI. On the bright side, the protagonist was a young girl who saved the world from destruction. Good job!

Inside Out: Pixar production values are outstanding in this sweet story about a young girl learning to cope with life's challenges. Louis Black, as Anger, is my favorite emotion inside our heroine's head. Some of the jokes are aimed at the adults, to keep us amused along with our younger companions.

The Minions: This prequel to the Despicable Me movies shows how the Minions traveled from the dawn of time to find their favorite villain. Totally silly! Totally hilarious! Much of the action takes place in Swinging 60's London (catch the Beatles crossing Abbey Road), where the Minions save Queen Elizabeth II from a potential and mean usurper of her crown. Without the bravery of Kevin, Stuart and Bob, QE II would not have just broken Queen Victoria' record for longevity on the throne. Good job, Minions!

Shaun the Sheep Movie: This charming movie uses a different animation technique and no real dialogue. It is a "quest" movie, with Shaun and his sheep colleagues traveling to the big city in order to save their farm. The scene in the fancy restaurant should become a classic! A lovely movie for all ages.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Starting from the Back of the Book

When I was struggling to print my poetry book on The Book Patch site, I had to decide whether the book should be bound on the right or on the left side. I had to pause to find the correct answer because I often open magazines as if they were bound on the right. That is the way I start my weekly editions of The New Yorker and The Economist

I start with the back of the book in The New Yorker for the movie and book reviews. For The Economist, it is the obituary that pulls me in first. A particular favorite was an obituary of a Japanese cat. It was so beautifully written and such an emotional surprise. I had the issue with me when I arrived in Chicago to visit friends, and it was an instant hit. 

The front of the book feeds the intellect with hard news and information. The back of the book feeds the spirit. Especially in today's world, I start with the back of the book.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

416 Hoffman Street

416 Hoffman Street, South Philadelphia. A small, 2-story, row-house with white marble steps, where Bubbie and Zaide lived and Mommy and Aunt Lillian grew up. I spent the first two years of my life there, while Daddy was stationed in Hawaii during WWII. Throughout childhood, I came back for the Jewish Holidays.

Bubbie would buy live carp at the local fish market and keep them in the bathtub until it was time to make gefilte fish. I would help Aunt Lillian make the best cheese blintzes in the world. I've been searching for some almost as good my whole life. Zaide and Daddy would down shots of Four Roses. 

They are all gone, and the holidays are not the same. Everything good, kind and caring in me comes from the love they gave me. I light Yahrzeit candles to honor their memory and keep their light in the world.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tech Support

I operate the Tia Eileen Career Coach and Suicide Prevention Hotline. This is a free service for family and friends. The hotline has been in operation in one form or another for decades although I only recently branded it. I get many repeat callers.

Since Juancarlos and Sam moved to Santa Barbara two years ago, I have had the only fully functioning PC (with printing, scanning, and other capabilities) in the Orlando branch of the family. I have started Tia Eileen Tech Support to meet the needs of my customers.

Customer satisfaction is Job 1!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sunday After 9/11

It was the Sunday after 9/11/2001. I lived on West 57th Street, near Central Park. The neighborhood was unnaturally quiet for a beautiful, sunny September day. People were subdued on the elevators and the streets.

Late afternoon, I decided to get something to eat from a nearby carryout restaurant. As I was about to cross Broadway at 57th, I saw a huge flatbed truck carrying earth-moving equipment traveling at a funereal pace toward the desolation where the Twin Towers once stood. 

Suddenly, I started to sob, releasing pain that I had kept controlled for days. The license plate on the truck said "Pennsylvania." The state of my birth was sending help to the city I had come to love.

My heart still hurts.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sunshine State

Florida, the Sunshine State, ranks near the bottom in generating solar energy. State legislators, bought and paid for by investor-owned utilities, block programs to use the power of the sun to generate electricity.

I learned all about this ironic problem at the League of Women Voters ("LWV") luncheon yesterday. In Florida, LWV are the good guys. They supported a constitutional amendment to stop gerrymandering. The legislators ignored the mandate, and LWV took them to court, which sent the maps back to the legislators, who can't agree on new maps. Redistricting is back in the courts.

LWV also supported a constitutional amendment to restore dedicated funding to protect Florida's water supply, wildlife and natural beauty. More than 70 percent of the voters said "yes" to the amendment. The legislators ignored the will of the people and used the funding for ongoing operations, not the purchase of land in environmentally fragile areas as intended. It will probably be back to the courts.

When I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I was a moderate Democratic. In Florida, I am a wild-eyed radical. I haven't changed. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Blog About Nothing

This blog is about nothing. Like the Seinfeld show. But not as funny.

As I write this, I am admiring my shiny apple green nail polish. This is a new look for me. I would never have worn such a daring color as an investment banker in the late 70's, early 80's. That was the era of "Dress for Success," a guide for professional women who wanted to climb the corporate ladder. The recommended uniform consisted of a tailored dark suit, white shirt and floppy bow-tie meant to emulate the standard masculine neck wear. No one was fooled. They were still seen as women, just unattractively dressed members of their sex.

With the help of my fashionista friend, I shopped at off-priced shops for clothes with a bit more style. One of my favorite outfits was a purple suit (traditionally cut) with a red silk blouse. I thought I looked great, and the deals got done. The lesson is you have to play your own game if you want to succeed. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


According to my favorite Time Lord, time is a "big ball of wibbily wobbily timey wimey ...stuff." Einstein said time was relative; it depended on whether you were standing on the station platform or sitting on the moving train. The best anti-aging treatment is traveling near the speed of light.

We are fascinated by time. There is never enough. It goes so slowly. It goes too fast. It heals all things. The past is never dead. It's not even past. According to quantum mechanics, it may move in two directions. Who knows what time does in those parallel universes? 

I try to live in the moment. I have no idea what that means.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Existential Problem

When you can do whatever you want, each day is an existential problem.

I was fully occupied the first few years learning to walk and talk and to control certain bodily functions and impulses. Then school provided structure for about 17 years. I went to class, did my homework, and discovered I loved to learn. Earning a living focused me for decades. It wasn't about the money. I wanted to assert myself in the world, prove that having two "X" chromosomes was not a barrier to success. I did okay.

Then I moved to Orlando. My family, used to my independent life in other cities, didn't rush to fill my days. Professional opportunities? Fuhgeddaboutit! I networked diligently for about nine months, then lucked into the assignment as Interim Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; I was a one-woman turnaround team.

Since January 2010, I've been improvising my responses to the existential challenge. Executive coaching is gratifying but takes up time only in spurts. Grassroots political organizing has brought wonderful new friendships. Writing poetry has proved an outlet for feelings and thoughts not readily expressed. Family has come into play. It is never too late to become a soccer mom.

I don't want the tight restraints of a full-time job, but creating new challenges takes a lot of energy. Let's see what I get myself into next.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Low Tech Running

I sing to myself when I run, mostly old show tunes to which I know most of the words. I don't wear earbuds, carry a smartphone, or strap a monitor on my wrist to count my steps or heart rate. I am a low tech runner. I don't run far or fast, but with great joy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

We Don't Get To Choose

For the past few days, I have been quickly averting my eyes from the newspaper and my Facebook news feed as a photo of a little boy on the beach came into view. The first time I saw it, my heart almost stopped. He looked like Sebastian. Three years old. Short dark hair. Tender little legs sticking out from shorts that seemed too big.

Sebastian had the good fortune to be born in the relatively safe United States. The little boy on the beach was born in a country being torn apart by violence, hate, and cynical power grabs.

We don't get to choose where or when we are born. But it can make all the difference.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Known Traveler

TSA knows who I am. In the language of post-9/11 security, I am a Known Traveler. My vital statistics have been reviewed; my fingerprints checked against various databases. (Yes, I watch NCIS.)

I have my very own, unique Known Traveler Number (KTN). This morning, I updated my recent JetBlue reservation to New York and my profile to include my KTN. Although I am a very private person, who prefers to maintain an aura of mystery, I am strangely happy to be known in such an intimate way by TSA.

Now I can enjoy expedited screening at major US airports. My Pumas still securely laced, my quart-sized plastic bag of liquids and creams stashed in my tote, I will walk through the process in record time.

Something gained; something lost. With my quart-sized bag hidden from the naked eye, how will the TSA guards see what a great job I've done filling it with my Lilliputian jars and bottles? I will never forget the frisson when, early one morning at OIA, the guard lifted my little bag high over his head and said to the inpatient travelers in line behind me: "See folks. This is how it's done!"

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On Becoming a Writer

My poetry book arrived Monday. I keep looking at the copy near my PC, amazed that it exists. It has a striking cover photo by Leslie Yerman, with the title and my name superimposed. Pictured are long, thin candles, with the flames blowing like white banners in the air, against a dark background. Leslie thought the candles echoed the title of my collection, 30th Anniversary Celebration Tour. To me the candles are Yahrzeit, memorial, candles for all the loved ones - parents, aunt, infant, friends - I write about in the poems and the memories they inspire. 

It started as a modest project - to write a few poems as I traveled to see family and friends in 2015, the 30th anniversary of being diagnosed with breast cancer. With the exception of three brief poems about the 2014 political campaign and an even shorter poem scrawled in my little notebook in the Orlando airport waiting for my plane to New York, these would be the first poems I had ever written. 

The focus changed when I read a review in The New Yorker of Louise Gl├╝ck's latest book of poetry. She is the only poet I have ever connected with. We are the same age, and her mother recently died. Her father had died years before. Here are the lines quoted in the article that set the direction for my writing:

My mother and father stood in the cold
on the front steps. My mother stared at
a daughter, a fellow female.
You never think of us, she said.

We read your books when they reach
Hardly a mention of us anymore, hardly
     a mention of your sister.
And they pointed to my dead sister, a
     complete stranger,
tightly wrapped in my mother's arms.
But for us, she said, you wouldn't exist.
And your sister --- you have your sister's
After which they vanished, like Mormon