Poolside Post-Reunion

It’s been wintery (such as it ever is here on the California Coast) for months, and suddenly today it’s summer. So after much impassioned pleading, I inflated the blow-up pool. Much fun for the under-four-foot-high crowd, but part of the pleasure seems to be fighting with your brother or sister. So I just did the classic Dad shout about “if you don’t have anything nice to say.” Mine is, “If you can’t use your words nicely you’re both out of there!” Sigh.

So yesterday was fun and weird. Lots of people I sort-of-recognized, kind of an altered universe of past-into-now. All my high school friends are old! How did that happen? It was cool to meet them again and discover a bunch of pretty nice people. Some married, some divorced, some wishing they were one or the other. Lots with kids, some without, some wishing they were one or the other…

I started at Head Royce in 4th grade, so several people there I’d known since I was 9 years old. Wow. It’s funny what I remember of them, and what they remember of me. Lots of people asked about our old house above the Cal football stadium — we used to hang out on the roof watching games. One guy, Mike, has been telling his kids about it when they go to games now. He said his kids think I was the luckiest kid in the world ‘cause I got to watch all the practices and games. But I’d kind of forgotten about it. It’s like there these jewels getting dusty in a drawer.

There were some surprises. There was a kid called Jon, my last real memory of him was a fight we had in 5th grade when he bit me through my Tough-Skin jeans. Now he’s this gracious, handsome tall guy, who was great! I remembered “Karpo” as a sort of strange kid who threw his backpack through the window in Ms. Harris’ 7th grade history class. Some friends reminded me that was the day I punched Karpo in the stomach and he lay on the floor the rest of the class — Ms. Harris just ignored him there. Now he’s an incredibly tall attorney. I hope he’s forgiven me.

Geez, it sounds like I was fighting all the time. I don’t really remember that part of myself. Makes me wonder if my whole perception of myself is really different than my behavior. Maybe that’s part of what’s scary about the whole reunion thing — you might end up learning something about yourself you wanted to forget.

JB and David and I were pretty much best friends from 7th grade. They were both there and I was truly glad to connect, even if it was just for two hours.

All through 8th grade we called David “Generalisimo” and he wore a Castro-esque cap and we pretended to be intellectual. I figured we’d be friends forever, but I haven’t talked to JB for 18 years and David for 20. How did that happen? I think it’s one of the biggest regrets of my life — not just JB and David, but so many people who were so important to me for a time, then I moved onto a new place and new passions and lost touch. I know the phone rings on both ends and everything, but I’m wondering what it is about me.

I guess a big part is that Patty and I fell madly in love so young. We met when I was 20, we started dating 2 years later, and were married just after I turned 25. We did so much together — between theater and traveling and learning to be teachers. Teaching is a pretty obsessive job no matter what, but we were (are) really work-a-holics. It’s like between each other and work there wasn’t much room in our lives. Somehow we’ve made room for the kids, and kids’ friends, and the neighborhood… so maybe there really was room but I just didn’t pay attention.

One piece of good news — people really do change. For example, we all knew JB was going to end up in law school, which he did. Then after he started practice, he got interested in teaching. Now he’s a high school history and government teacher in the inner city. Meanwhile his kid brother who didn’t quite make it through school ended up practicing law. I guess people really do change.

The strangest part was at the beginning of the party feeling like I was back in high school — on the outside looking in. There were lots of people who seemed to be having a great time, and I was sort of standing there wondering how to step into the circle. Instead I floated around the outside, and made myself approach these quasi-strangers. The difference is now I know that my sense of worth and identity come from within, and I don’t really need other people’s attention to feel ok. But still, all these years later, I long for it.

A little better…

Well, getting away from my desk this evening was good! Max and I got haircuts then went to Fresh Choice. Fresh Choice is one of my least favorite places to eat and the kids love it. What’s up with that. I think they care more about “choice” than about “fresh.”

Then we went to Max’s accupuncture appointment. I wish I had one too. Our usual Chinese doctor, Dr Lucy, wasn’t available so we saw someone else. He was amazed by how “normally” Max treated the whole thing. Not to say Max likes getting stuck with needles (au contraire), but he’s surprisingly mellow about it.

We started this when Max was 2 and about to go for his 3rd course of antibiotics for the same ear infection. Conversations had started about needed tubes surgically implanted. The treatment didn’t seem to be working, was costing a ton, and none of us was happy. But still we really questioned ourselves — aren’t you supposed to give your baby antibiotics if he has an infection? Aren’t you a bad parent if you do something else? Reasoning that millions of people don’t, we decided to give it 3 days. 3 days later with accupuncture and Chinese herbs, his infection was way better. He went off and on for 18 months and had no more infections.

My pediatrician brother-in-law points out that many children just grow out of ear infections, so maybe that’s it. On the other hand, in the last year we haven’t really being going to Dr Lucy much, and Max has had 2 ear infections. So I think we’ll be going once a month at least during cold season…

So, back to the present, I’m still feeling like I have a cold and by back hurts, but I’m not QUITE so cranky.

Gloomy, Reunion

It’s another gloomy day. Where the hell is Spring??? I have a cold. The day is stretching out unpleasantly in front of me. And I just RSVPd to a party for my 20th high school reunion.

Looking at the list of who’s coming I was hit by all the wonderful and awful memories of middle and high school. The sense of bullet-proof unstopability simultaneous with this total powerlessness and dread. The names include people who I desperately longed to be like, who I desperately longed to like me (“like” being euphamistic, in the second case, for lust), and who I took totally for granted. There are also a lot of blissfully happy memories. On a day like today, I guess, somehow that sense of the totally open road is eclipsed by the memories of loneliness and loss.

My best friends in high school were the theater geeks. We spelled it “theatre” because that was more sophisticated. I don’t know if we really thought we were cool, or if it was a booby prize because we weren’t as cool as the actually cool kids (all jocks, of course). Of course they were as busy working at being cool as we were working at being anticool. We were all furiously chasing after some image or other. What a colassal waste. I’m sure the institutions and cultures of American high schools has made the fortune of many a therapist. Maybe many an EQ consultant too.
One surprise was seeing how many people are bringing their kids. My high school classmates are still frozen in my head as 18 year olds. How can they all have kids??? Oh. It’s 20 years later. Where did that all go?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing if I can see these people as humans instead of as icons of what we wished to be. I suspect for all of us (well, most of us) we came to see those paper-doll cut-out figures were ultimately pretty empty.

Is Gossip All Bad?

We has a great conversation last night about gossip (at Mount Madonna School – amazing place). On our school climate survey the lowest scoring question was, “People here don’t gossip much.”

One of the parents pointed out that gossip isn’t necessarily done with harmful intent — people could say they “gossip” because they are concerned and sharing important information. Personally I wouldn’t call that gossip. Princeton WordNet says:

n 1: light informal conversation for social occasions
2: a report (often malicious) about the behavior of other people; “the divorce caused much gossip”
3: a person given to gossiping and divulging personal information about others

So there is a dimension that’s just “chit-chat,” but there’s that “often malicious” in there. What do you think? Is there something inherently malicious or undermining in gossip?

Anyway, one of my favorite questions: How do we use the tendency to gossip in a positive way?
What’s so good about this is that it acknowledges people are as they are — and we still have choice… and we still have the opportunity to influence others. It’s a very strengths-oriented approach: What do people do well, and how can that come into service of a larger purpose?

Sopa de Limon

The 2nd best remedy for feeling yucky.

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 avocado cut into cubes
  • 1/4 c salsa, chunky
  • 2 tortillas, crisp over flame (on gas stove) or in pan, tear into pieces
  • 1/2 lime.

Put all the stuff into 2 bowls, eat with your true love who also has a bit of a cold and comisserate.


Just came home from some errands, feeling a little sorry for myself (too much work, not enough $), and saw our roses are blooming.

YAY. So brave w all this rain.
Also saw there is a gopher running amok. Gotta kill it.

Life in the garden is much simpler than “real” life.

Take it serious?

Well I just finished Julie/Julie by Julia Powell and I loved it (enough to write a review which I don’t really do), and now I’m inspired about this whole blogging thing. (By the way, her blog is cool: What Could Happen?)

Really the first few posts I did we just ads for what I was working on, which is cool if anyone cares, but I think maybe I’ll try actually blogging.

So I can’t believe it’s actually noon already. The day goes by in no time, it’s scary. I still haven’t eaten breakfast – again! I wish that would help my diet. Shit. But I did nordic track this morning, so 1 step ahead, 1 back… maybe that’s why this morning sitting down to work seemed kind of overwhelming.

I love working at home, but sometimes it would be great to have a bunch of people just to bs with and not really work… I think it’s an under-appreciated part of “work” — kind of a recovery time. Because people are herd animals, maybe we need to herd around sometimes? Maybe that’s why gossip is so insidious.

Today I’m going to my kids’ school to present the data on the school climate — gossip is a problem. That’s been true in just about every school I’ve measured, but we don’t have that question on our corporate survey. Maybe I’ll just stick it on there to see what happens.

EQ Certification

For the 6th year in a row, the July EQ Trainer Certification boasts a remarkable group of change agents. It’s reassuring to know that, amidst the strife and consumption, there is a large group of people deeply committed to bringing heart and wisdom into the world.

For the first time since 9-11, we have a highly international group — EQ allies from India, Nigeria, Singapore, Dubai, and the US. It’s been a sadness to me that our global allies have stayed away for these years (and no surprise – nor blame to them), so I’m especially glad to see people traveling here again.

What happens when you take 26 people committed to learning about emotional intelligence and bring them through a series of powerful learning tools? There’s something nearly magical in the intensity of awareness, connection, optimism, and purpose. I feel priviledged to be a part of it, and humbled to be helping to lead it.

Curriculum Factory

The last few days have been a whirlwind of curriculum. Still part of the Emotional Intelligence Toolkit, been working on new modules for the EQ Leadership program and the Selling with EQ program. Next week we’re focusing on the EQ Change Management program. Gasping for air!

We’ve had over 400 people take the new English version of the SEI (Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Test) so we’ll be revising the norms and we’ll begin selling the English version in a few weeks (the test was develop in Italy, in Italian, so now we’re adapting it).

I’m a little overwhelmed by the zillion projects on my desk, but glad too. It’s an emotional intelligence training camp here! Got to keep my own emotions in synch so I can do the work I’ve set out.

Medicine Wheel

I’m tired! Traveling sucks something from me. But is was a great – brief – trip to Calgary.

The Youth Solvent Addiction Centers (YSAC) are doing incredible work with 1st Canadian teens. This is an incredibly resilient, caring group of people with real courage and depth. They face an impossible challenge and do it anyway.

The YSAC treatment programs are based on the medicine wheel. Four quadrants:





Of course emotional intelligence comes into that fourth one. And it pervades the way they operate. For example one of the executive directors was talking about knowing what was true with kids because we can FEEL what’s true. This attention to “deeper knowing” is probably a turn-off for some people, but it rings so true for me – even with my rather scientific world-view.

Today I’m working on our new EQ Leadership curriculum.

I’ve also been working on revising the materials around our Organizational Climate Index. Currently working on a new version of the report. Much fun!