WeWork Debuts All Male Revue, uhm, Board of Directors

Earlier this week it was reported that The We Company, the parent of WeWork, will be going public with an all-male board of directors. I find that troubling, and you should, too.

In their Global Impact Report for 2019, WeWork proclaims that #Women are leading the movement to make an impact on the world: “In the U.S., 44% of senior roles (executives, sr. managers, managers, and sole proprietors) at WeWork member companies are held by women, more than 2x the national average of 21%.”

The same company invested $32M in a funding round for The Wing, a women-only community, and co-working space. And there are several articles toting WeWork’s handful of women working in management positions.

Talking about the impact of women in business is not enough. When a company appoints a diverse Board of Directors, one that equally represented by gender it sends a message to its constituents. It promotes inclusion and acceptance.

Actions speak louder than words.

Selecting qualified women to serve on corporate boards is hardly a challenge, but it is a CHOICE. One that more companies should own up to making.

Hell No, I’m Too Young to be a Cougar

The stories people tell…

In this case, the storyteller was a 25-year-old client service agent at the luxury resort where I am staying. He sat down to chat after I ordered lunch on the beach, to tell me of all the things I should do as a first-time visitor to Barbados: Harrison’s Cave, snorkeling and swimming with turtles, and Bridgetown’s finest fish fry, Oistin.

Looking toward the ocean a father and son cliff dive off Crane Point. My new friend shares a story about how three young men climbed to the cliff to jump and how one friend who was clearly afraid, hesitated.

“He jumped into the wind and then tumbled into a wave filled with sand. We found his body, a floater three days later.”

I blinked.

Next, a love story of sorts.  It seems a regular to the resort, a woman and known multi-millionaire had fallen in love with a male guest. The couple would rendezvous every year at the same time. Except the last time, when the millionaire found the gentleman in bed with another woman. So heartbroken she drowned herself in the pools on the South side of grounds.

Something tells me these are not the stories management is hoping their staff will share with its guests.

Cultural immersion is something of which I have genuine interest, so I ask about Bajan life, where to find local artists and how to experience life on the island as a non-tourist. His eyes light up and subconsciously I understand he is thinking this is a proposition.  Within seconds the conversation turns to questions about why I’m here, the dating life and seemingly innocent inquiries into romance.  He waxes poetic about women on the island and his disbelief as to why so many ladies (unclear of nationality, but I infer that he meant Americans) come to the resort alone. He shared the dating culture and lingo of Barbados, and referred to the Bajan sex addiction—fact or fantasy is anyone’s guess—as if that would be a carrot at the end of a stick.

He continues his monologue, casually mentioning his preference for mature women over the ’young Millennials’ on the island so engrossed in their phones and photos. He boasts showing other lady guests a night on the town at The Gap, a nightlife area with live music and dancing. (For the record, The Gap is known as an unsavory location for female tourists to travel alone and as fellow travel blogger JackieJetsOff notes, is rife with street harassment.) With a conspiratorial glance, perhaps encouraged by my silence, he shares how one lady guest had shown a romantic interest and taken him out for dinner. He then casually drops how he can easily maintain a long-distance relationship. He doesn’t even notice when I #smh

A fool could see where he was going with all the banter and admittedly, I did little to deter the flirtation including sharing my What’s App. So, when he reached out a few hours later I was anything but surprised. The shirtless profile only confirmed just how young he really was. Had I had children he could have easily been my son. I kindly declined and wished him well, having no interest in feeding the the role of cougar in anyone’s fantasy.

Living Your Truth: How to Be Brave

Losing your job can be scary, but it can also be the kick in the ass you need to start living your truth. It certainly offered me a newfound perspective.

By the end of a nearly decade-long tenure at AOL, I had amassed almost 20 years of work experience in media and technology. Mind you I wasn’t entirely surprised by the pink slip, it was AOL, after all. But when I think about all the time I spent in those hallowed halls, it’s accompanied by the sad realization that although I can remember the color of the Ploum couch in our marketing huddle, whole chunks of my life are a complete blur.

    • Truth: The last few years leading up to losing my job had been a personal nightmare.
    • Truth: I had no idea what I wanted to do next.
    • Truth: I desperately needed a reset.

Conscientiously taking a break from your career has the potential to reveal the possibilities and unexpected pathways life has to offer. It takes a moment to decide if you can carve out the time without suffering too much financial hardship, and once you do, the only thing you need is enough bravery for a leap of faith.

The faith I had in myself revealed a courageous heart, one strong enough to book a 2-month solo adventure through Southeast Asia. The plan was to discover new and unfamiliar places, specifically Siem Reap, Cambodia; Vietnam; Bali & Java, Indonesia, while reacquainting myself, well, with myself.

It takes a boatload of chutzpah to travel on your own, and, even more, to willingly spend time alone with your thoughts and feelings, absent of everyday distractions and social obligations. My time abroad helped to uncover my childhood dreams and aspirations, to remember who I wanted to be, and to recognize the person I had become.

Every day was a journey and some days were harder than others but it was all possible once I learned these valuable lessons:

    • Look for the beauty in every day. Every Balinese day begins with offerings for the gods in exchange for protection or prosperity. It’s hard to miss the colorful trays on the sidewalks outside storefronts and hotels, temples and waterfalls filled with saffron and jasmine petals, coconut and banana leaves, incense, rice, and sweets.
    • Take things in stride. On every trip, like every project or job, something is bound to go awry. Enchanted by the idea of overnight train travel, I booked a tour in Vietnam on The Reunification Line. Most cars felt like a prison cell block with metal cots, frigid temperatures, and an occasional roach sighting — a far cry from the superliner. Unpleasantries are temporary, an inevitable part of the travel experience that ought not to affect the overall journey.
    • Practice gratitude. Be positive; be thankful. Cambodians are years behind their contemporaries, after suffering unrest and genocide at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime well into the 20th century. Every person I met exhibited poise and respect, warmly welcoming me to their homeland, sharing their stories and circle of friends. Some of my most precious memories were from consciously receiving their kindness with grace.
    • Take the time to listen. Every morning during my yoga retreat I woke to monks chanting in the distance, the wind rustling through bamboo trees. There is a lesson in every moment if you are brave enough to listen carefully: to yourself, to the people around you, to the sounds of nature, even to the silence.
    • Be present in every moment. I spent countless hours exploring the ancient temples and ruins of Angkor Wat, marveling at its architectural magnificence. That first sunrise, I could feel the souls of every being that had come before me as I walked through its passages. When traveling, or working for yourself, as I would find out later, you can experience life at your own pace.

Everything everyone says about time is true, it waits for no one — something we lose sight of in the busy-ness of our lives. Between school, career, and family we acclimate to the life we’re living and sometimes forget to nurture our dreams. Don’t you think it’s about time you rediscover yours?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nineteen years later

It’s 12:03
and as I sit here drinking a steaming cup of chamomile tea,
it dawns on me
how far I have come from that snowy winter’s eve
when the path I was on veered so off-course,
far beyond what I could see.

As tumultuous as the mighty seas,
I circumnavigated an Odyssey
filled with perilous highs and lows
befitting of only the greatest journey:
where one learns their heart, its strength, and bravery.

Every year on this day of Anniversary
I consider all that I could have been
had my mother lived beyond my twenty-somethings–
The moments of bittersweet sorrow,
of missed opportunities and unlived tomorrows,
and pockets of time on furlough.

The comfort comes from deep within
the gratitude and the blessing
for loved ones who stepped right in
to help me become the woman I am:
the daughter my mother would want to see again.

This poem is dedicated to
Lucia “Lucy” Preziotti

my mother and best friend
b. 9.19.28
d. 1.23.00

I really want to sing live, again. Yes this is me admitting to all of you that I sang live once to an audience of 750 co-workers. It was thrilling and nerve-wracking, and almost as scary as my first time performing burlesque (we’ll save that for another day).

Every once in awhile my desire to perform creeps up on me. Singing has always been a part of me, although most days I’m singing to myself on the subway or in the car. Most people I know might not realize that I trained as a vocalist in a performing arts school when I was younger. This was way before The Voice and American Idol were even a thing.

I’ve been holding onto this video for awhile. Now that the company no longer exists, I feel like I can actually share the clip, and the story behind it.

And so here we go ….  

After a night of karaoke, my co-worker and friend @tweedskirtmoran challenged me to perform at our sales conference talent show. I was halfway into a year of facing my fears, and so it seemed like live performing was the next thing to try.

Now, the last time I had any solid vocal training I was attending Mark Twain JHS for the Gifted and Talented. Singing anything takes practice, and it took a lot of preparation to get my voice ready to perform in front of a live audience (my first solo!).

First I chose a song. Mashups were all the rage and I really loved Alan Cummings’ performance of “Someone Like You/Edge of Glory/Firework” at Cyndi Lauper’s Home for the Holidays the previous December.

Then, I found a vocal coach. I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember his name, only that he lived on the Upper West Side and was a traveling Broadway actor.

And finally, a piano player. Many thanks to my co-worker Peter Cherukuri, for his fine accompaniment on stage.

Now, mind you, I had no grand illusion that I could mimic Alan Cummings or the vocal ranges of Adele, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry’s original recordings. So if you’re expecting an America’s Got Talent ringer, this is not it. I put my own spin on it, as any performer would. And sure, if I had more time to rehearse it probably would’ve been a better performance but sometimes the dare to dream is less about thinking and more about just doing it (thank you Nike). I guess you’ll see for yourself if you watch the video.

Truth be told I hadn’t watched the video in its entirety until this morning (1/21/19) … Seven years late and my memory of the live event was totally off, I thought I botched up the song and was boo’ed off stage by Jerry Springer, when in actuality, as the video confirms, he was in my corner. I guess you could say he was one of my champions, awarding me a score of 9 (out of 10). I can’t remember who the other judges were and the emcee’s name totally escapes me as well, although he looks a lot like that excited penguin from Edinburgh Zoo. I have always had a soft spot for i penguini, so there’s that.

All in all, I scored 20/30 points which I think is pretty damn good for a first-time ever solo live performance. I’m making an intention for a repeat in 2019 only to a much smaller audience.

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Shades of Pink

Hmm,
Why…

Why what?

Why is it,
so damn cold in here?

We may have forgot to pay the heat.

Why on earth would we do that? It’s winter, it gets cold,
like every single day until the first day of spring and then, well it gets colder until global warming changes and—

This has nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with the fact that we just don’t have the means to spend money on frivolous things, like those colored pencils and paper.

Oh no, don’t you start in on that again. How else am I supposed to do my work? This project, that by the way pays to put food on the table. Why would you force me to see everything in black and white when absolutely nothing is what it seems amid these shades of pink?

(quiet silence)

Shades of pink. You’re probably thinking you stumbled into a syfy futuristic fantasy novella, right? I’m here to tell you that it’s real, I’ve seen every shade of pink. The shades of roses in winter and spring, the pink of a rolled tongue inside out, the willowy undertones of a newborn’s cheeks, and more. We are all surrounded by shades of pink–not just Millennial pink, but the color of orchids at daybreak, Miss Piggy pink, hot summer nights pink and the pink that you can’t see until you bleed.

I know what they’re thinking when I start talking about the color pink but you have to understand that I know what I’m talking about. I may not have been around when it was born but pink is a legend. And I’ve seen the color’s evolution from a billion-year old rock to a mold of paraffin in a brightly colored box. Pink is more than a brand (especially by today’s standards) and its vibrancy is ten times what the dilution of red and white will lead you to believe. It strives for new heights all on its own without having to lend its name to the latest euphoric synthetic opiate lurking on the street. Pink is everything. Not a who or a when but a whatsit intersecting the space between living and breathing, where your heart beat slows down and you can almost imagine…

Photo Credit: @pixabay

From the mountains to the rice paddies

5 October 2018

A bumpy road north brings us to Shalupangkha, the monastic school where Pasa’s Uncle Choden has been the head monk for the last five years. Upon arrival, the monks share tea for special guests which include: saffron rice with raisins, butter tea, rice puff cakes, and flower-shaped cookies.

There to make a Tshog offering of monk robes on behalf of a yogi who wasn’t able to make the trip, we were honored with a thank you ceremony and blessing. Sixteen monks of all ages chanted from a prayer book filled with scripture. Afterward, the monks serve us lunch, and we take a group photo.

Pasa Ugyel, Uncle Choden
Photo Credit: @bhutantoursandtravels #btt

On the return from the monastery, we make a pit stop in Gasay Shalipangkha, Pasa’s family’s ancestral town. We visit Pasa’s grandmother at her farmstead, exploring another slice of Bhutanese life — in this case, the rustic side. A working farmhouse the pastures abut green rice paddies and are filled with cows, horses, dogs, and cats.

We arrive at Paro, our final stop the Janka Resort — a trekker’s inn located amid golden fields and rice paddies at the base of a lush forest of blue pines.

Our evening yoga session is held in a windowed triangular building between the two vistas.

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Maile, Claudia, Yuki & Maureen

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No other country can be like Bhutan

3 October 2018

One of our guides said that “No other country can be like Bhutan,” and the more I learn about this small monarchy (on the verge of democracy) the more I find myself in agreement.

We started our day super early—so early we literally had to jump the fence to gain entry to Buddha Dordenma. The locals refer to the site as Buddha Point and many of them were exercising on our route. Maile guided us on a walking and sitting meditation just as the sun rose over the magnanimous statue glinting in the light.

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Cyndi, B, Maile, Maureen, Candace, Yuki, Claudia, Yas & Andrea

I was especially fond of the peacock carving and Yuki, a fellow yogi pointed out seemed, to be channeling Lady Gaga in this photo:

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We visit Simtokha Dzong next, the first dzong built in Bhutan. Men entering the dzong must add a sash to their traditional go — there are four colors used: Yellow for the King and Chief Abbot; Orange for Ministers and members of Parliament; Blue for District Heads and white for commoners, as Pasa and Dangspa model for us here:

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Pasa and Dangsa white sashes

On our way to Punakha, we stop for lunch at the Dochu La Pass hoping for a clear view of the snow-capped peaks of the Bhutan Himalaya. The hills are covered with a light mist while Dangspa spins the tale of the Divine Madman’s journey through the pass, confronting three ogresses and saving a young boy and his yak. The pass is home to 108 chortens (also known as stupas).

Even on our return to the pass later in the week, we find the hills covered in mist. We stop for a washroom break, and one of our fellow travelers Maureen channels her inner dog whisperer, attracting strays with handfuls of granola.

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Maureen aka Dog Whisperer

Stories about the Divine Madman, one of Bhutan’s famous saints, paint an outrageous and salacious character, renowned for his crazy sexual antics as a way to provoke the Bhutanese to discard their preconceptions. We hike to Chimi Lhakhang dzong, built in his honor after subduing the ogress on Dochu La with his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom.” This is represented by the extensive phallic artwork on buildings at the complex as well as in the surrounding village.

Monks are performing a blessing ceremony when we enter the temple, after making a modest offering the monk blesses us with the lama’s wooden and bone phalluses and archery set to protect us on our journey.

We end the evening with yoga and dinner at our riverside retreat, Punatsangchhu Cottages.

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Bridges across mighty rivers

The longest suspension bridge in Bhutan crosses the confluence of the Mo and Pa Chhu rivers to the trail that leads to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten.

We hike to the temple (2300m) and then view its interior murals, stopping to hear the powerful legend of the magical dagger— where Buddha and his lover join in a sexual union merging powers to suppress demons and negative energies.

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Golden temple in the trees

We climb to the top of the temple to admire the expansive views of the Punakha valley.

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It begins to rain as we make our way back to the bus. The skies clear as Pasa and his team drive up to a riverside encampment where a picnic lunch, prepared by Kinga, a local restaurant awaits. Another fabulous surprise from Bhutan Tours & Travels.

The Punakha Dzong, a formidable fortress is considered the mother of all Dzongs. Accessible via a covered bridge, two large brass prayer wheels flank the entrance where a man sits nearby praying on his mala.

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Inside the complex, detailed murals depict Buddha’s birth and ascension as a spiritual leader. Monks crisscross the courtyard, home to meticulously detailed painted buildings and a large bodhi tree at its center. The paths lead to golden doorways, vast windows with landscape views, and stairways unknown.

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A little spice goes a long way

The farmer’s market is alight with colorful produce hidden under gray awnings that Claudia and I must be mindful. At 5’ 9”, we have almost 4” on most Bhutanese we have met or seen. We spy a gray kitten darting between the wood cabinets, as dogs lay about in the streets and the random cow crosses the street without looking.

The stalls overflow with peppercorns and coriander, assorted shades of red hot chilis, strings of dried Yak cheese, string beans, organic bananas, bitter melon. A neighboring stall offers spices and tea, packets of saffron ($.75 each!), incense sticks and powder prepared by neighboring monasteries, and Himalayan salt. And did I mention peppers?

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