Experiences & Anecdotes

I am fortunate in that I have had an amazing range of experiences in life; all of which make me ideal to work with people from all walks of life and especially if they are looking to learn to bridge across groups. I have an innate capacity to build strong teams, which is interesting to me given I was never raised playing any team sports (skiing, bowling, and horseback riding for me). Nor was I raised with much team experience. For most of my life even, I’ve been a self-described “lone wolf”. Yet creating teams is a joy to me.

I’ve often commented, not in a bragging way, that my life experiences are what is on some people’s “bucket list”. Here’s a smattering of my life experiences:

  • My dad was a Navy officer; most of our family friends were in the Navy or some military and officers. They continued their close social network, and my mom has had some friends for over 50 years.  Hence, I grew up around adults and as such, have always been comfortable with people at all levels of a hierarchy.
  • I grew up as a Brownie and Girl Scout, I took piano lessons, horseback lessons, tap and ballet dancing, and swimming (still didn’t help with my fear of water).
  • I had a three-octave untrained voice when I was young.  I played one solo as Mabel in “Pirates of Penzance” in grammar school; I was so nervous my voice cracked throughout it all.  I’ve never sang in public again; with one exception in the fall of 2012.  I ruined my voice in grammar school cheerleading and screaming so much.
  • I lived on my roller skates when I was young; constantly getting in trouble by not taking off my skates to just “run inside for a minute”. I rollerblade to this day, and LOVE it.  I got my first pair of rollerblades in 1991 when I lived in Key West for 3 years.  I couldn’t keep them together with duct tape anymore, so finally broke down and got a new pair just a few years ago.
  • From the time I was ten years old, we had a beach house on the ocean at Rio Del Mar. I spent a fair amount of my summers and holidays there; it’s one of my favorite places ever with wonderful memories of body surfing, long walks on the beach, searching for seashells, etc.  Some of my favorite times were in the colder months, sleeping in the floor-to-ceiling windows, listening to the waves crash during a storm.
  • It was also around this age that I learned various card games from poker to blackjack to canasta to hearts.  My best friend Lynn and I so excelled at poker and black jack, the adults used to talk about how they could dress us up as old woman and sneak us into the Tahoe casinos.  When I lived in Key West in the early-90s, my friends and I would always have a deck of cards with us, and would often play when we would go out to dinner.  I love cards to this day, and would enjoy having friends who’d like to do this, as well.
  • We would travel to Canada to visit my mom’s relatives, to Mexico with family friends; I went to Disneyland on a regular basis. When I was 14, we took a trip to Memphis (to see where I was born and adopted from), to New Orleans (to visit my godparents).  Then we went to DC, New York, and Boston. I still remember my mom insisting my dad drive down the Kennedys private drive and my brother and I hiding on the floor in the back seat we were uncomfortable with going down anyone’s private drive.  LOL, nowadays, we’d never be able to do that.
  • I was a cheerleader, in student government, and then learned and played flute in my high school band. I had friends across all “groups” and cliques.
  • My dad taught me to drive a car on a stick shift, which is what I drove for twenty years;  The “fun” part … he taught me driving in the Santa Cruz mountains behind us; which means I can drive the curves without ever using a brake.  To this day, driving in the mountains is one of my most enjoyable and relaxing activities.
  • I read … all the time; and love reading to this day. Nothing like curling up with a great book and reading through the night or on a cold rainy day.
  • I learned how to ski from family friends but it was while skiing with a high school boyfriend that I learned to just ski the advanced slopes because the lines were shorter. Same goes for skiing during a storm.
  • In spite of my being “shy”, I was often asked to be a speaker for a class, or my class in grammar school, etc. There is something magical which happens when I get in front of others; it’s a natural skill which takes over.  I took modeling classes in high school. I was very shy; yet was drawn to it. I wasn’t tall enough to ever become commercially successful yet I did mannequin modeling and local choreographed runway shows for JC Pennys.  For the four years of college I did lunchtime modeling at restaurants.
  • I lived in a frat house at UC Berkeley for two months of the 1st quarter of my senior year. I was doing an internship with Liberty House; their corporate office was nearby and my boyfriend had seniority at his frat house so he had the one bedroom with its own bathroom.
  • I’ve driven various routes across the country ….  From the San Francisco Bay Area via I-80 to the Grand Tetons, then I-90 to my first job out of college in Chicago.  The Grand Tetons were amazing .. I remember thinking they looked like someone poked a pencil up under the ground.  I’ve driven the length of I-10 a few times plus I-40 to I-20 from coast-to-coast as well as along much of the length of I-95 and other roads north from Florida.
  • I’ve experienced Chinese New Year in San Francisco (1982) and Mardi Gras in New Orleans (2006 following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita). I’d love to see the ball drop in Madison Square Garden from a prominent place such as a balcony; same thing for Mardi Gras in NOLA. I’d like to attend the Rose Bowl parade and Macy Thanksgiving Day parade sitting at the start in the bleachers, or from a balcony.  50 yard line seats for a Superbowl; and great seats for a World Series are also on my list.
  • I’ve attended 18 years of Catholic school and very much value my excellent education especially all of my upper class work from the Jesuits; even if I don’t share the same beliefs of my upbringing. I have two memorable stories of when I asked the nuns about something that happened while we were practicing choir in the church, and managed to get us all a great big lecture. Ask me about this if you’re interested.
  • I traveled between Chicago and NYC for about 40 weeks ago for 4 years in the 1980s. I came to know the gate agents, flight attendants, Red Carpet Club personnel as they did me, especially since I flew first class through my employer.  When I stayed at either The Plaza or The Grand Hyatt, I’d walk in the door and be greeted by name, and given the key to my room with a blow dryer and iron sent up without even asking.  When they started having the kiosks in the airports where you could buy nuts, I’d buy a big bag and bring them for the flight attendants. They used to tell me they weren’t going to let me on the plane if I didn’t bring them treats.
  • I have what some term “old-fashioned” values, mostly due to my dad … as both of my parents grew up in financially struggling households and then provided a different opportunity to their children. Yet, I hold no airs and am just as likely to be helping out in any way I can.  I used to help the “secretaries” at the ad agency when we needed to get stuff done on a quick timetable. When they first learned “word processors”, even though most executives would not do so, I learned as well as I wanted to be able to pitch in when needed, and could now do my own memos without them having to be retyped from scratch.
  • While working at a top ten advertising agency, I hung out as punk bars at night and on the weekends.  The owners of my “regular hangout” used to to show me off during the week as “see, even normal people come here”.  However, when I wasn’t stopping by on my way home from work, I could punk it out with the best of them.  Oh, and all of this was without really drinking alcohol much and/or doing drugs. I learned to love dancing and could spend hours dancing by myself.
  • I co-created a disaster response program for a major pet supply retailed, developed the training program for volunteers and then Team Leaders, trained everyone myself … and set a standard in the disaster response efforts for the animal welfare field.  This came on the heels of and concurrent with volunteering 1 2/2 years of my time with the State of Louisiana in assisting them in developing and expanding their “SART” (State Animal Response Program) following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • I love learning and I love teaching. I started tutoring younger students when i was in grammar school.  I often am asked if I’m a “teacher” nowadays as I find myself educating folks on a range of topics.
  • Some of the sweetest moments of my life are in the “small things”. I still remember a “skycap” at the Baltimore airport I believe it was where I made some “kind” comment; and the gentleman who was upbeat himself commented that I had just made his day. Those experiences are so wonderful in life, aren’t they?
  • I’ve fostered a number of Dachshunds since 2001 (and one terrier from Louisiana following my time there related to Hurricane Katrina); I’ve helped out with leg-to-leg transports mostly along I-95; I’ve done home visits in my local area and in areas while traveling. I particularly tend to work with dogs that have “behavioral” issues such as they need to learn how to interact with people or other dogs, have abandonment issues, have biting issues.  I imagine I can relate to their own fears; or could.
  • I used to have a fear of living in one room until I found myself in that situation while living in Key West. Turns out, if was one of the nicest times of my life … how simplified everything became. Plus, I’m an expert at organizing things so boy can I create a space, even when small.  In fact, I spent weeks living in a trailer in Metarie, LA in the winter following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I was donating my time to one of the bigger animal welfare groups and coordinated the transport of about 2,200 animals across multiple states over a 9-week period.  My trailer became a favorite hang-out place for people as it was homey and comfortable, even though I was working long long hours, always in constant touch with transports.
  • A couple of times I’ve cut my hair and donated to some non-profit group. I’ve learned through a friend to make sure what the organizations are doing with the hair, and how much money is being made to help others, and actually being used to do so.
  • I got my first laptop in 1993 when I lived in Key West.  For the two years prior, I had periodically used a close friend’s desktop.  I’ve probably made every mistake possible, and that’s how I  encourage people to approach learning technology .. dive in, don’t be afraid .. and the more you interact with it, the more you’ll become comfortable.
  • I generally consider myself a night person; although I do enjoy the utter peace of early morning. Plus, in my various business roles, I’ve often been at the office early or working early.  At the ad agency, everyone mostly knew to let me “create” until about 10 or so. One morning around 7 my phone rings and I answered it with something like, “What the hell do you want”.  ROTFL … it was Rob Nolan, maybe number 5 person in the international, multi-billion dollar company. He responds with something like, “Well, that’s a fine way to answer the phone.”  My response was along the lines of, “I’m here at the office 7 blankety-blank in the morning, working, getting stuff done, and now you want me to be sociable?”  Rob knew me well, and had a lot of respect for me .. so he laughed, I laughed, and then we kevetched over whatever it was he called about.
  • I’m a “logistics” person … love it, live it, dream it, breath it, see it .. did I mention that I LOVE logistics .. and I’m pretty darned good at them? I’ve probably always been that way. At the ad agency, especially thanks to Rob, I had the reputation that if I said something could or couldn’t be done .. then I was the one to trust, versus the “smiling, nodding heads” who knew nothing about if something could feasibly be done. I once had a Creative Executive Director upset with me, and what I had said until Rob let him know that he respected my insights.
  • Research is another hobby of mine which developed from my time at the ad agency. Most people started in media; I was advised by a mentor (who also was key in my getting hired) to ask for a research position. Nowadays with the internet, boy do I have fun.
  • I never used to think of myself as “creative” even though I was told I was by various “creatives” at the ad agency; I mean I don’t draw or paint or anything like that.. I sure dressed more like a creative than a “suit”. Remember, in the 80s, no “suit” wore jeans to work. Of course, I’d have on a nice silk shirt and high heels. Or, I’d wear flowing outfits. I had the best shopper I’d use at Carson Pirie Scott, and other places such as I. Magnins and Marshall Fields.  I love decorating and creating spaces.  That’s really when I began to see the depth of my creative skills.  I have come to realize my ideas are “creative”. I tend to think equally with my right and left sides of my brain. In fact, Robert Fritz once described me as “creativity on steroids”.  With what he’s accomplished in life, I took this as it was meant, a very high compliment.
  • I love love love the ocean, and particularly the Pacific Ocean. There really is nothing like it, and i hope to be fortunate enough to have a home near or on it again. I often joke that I’m like a mermaid who has to be in “her” ocean.