Doodler and Schedulers Take Note

doodle-final-option4Ever try to schedule a get together with a group of friends and then embark on an endless stream of back and forth emails, each offering up a handful of dates, and then you’re left with creating a complex grid of names and dates to find where the commonalities are?

Well, life just got easier.  Check out Doodle.com.  It’s a very simple tool that gets sent out to a defined group of people with a list of dates, and each person checks their availability, and automatically it’s obvious which dates work for all.  It’s a very useful planning tool.

Give it a try next time you’re organizing an event!

Negotiation Skills – Raising the Bar

27551_119496621429404_9295_n

SEE BELOW FOR DISCOUNT ON WORKSHOP!

Most of the time, we do not find time to do things for ourselves.  There are always so many competing priorities at hand – related to our own day time job, raising our children, and managing the logistics of running a household.

So when opportunities present themselves, try to take advantage of them – especially if it is an opportunity that’s going to get you to a different place, make you think a little differently and challenge the way you currently go about doing things. A very dear and extremely talented friend is teaching a course on Neogiation Skills – entitled “Bringing you to the Negotiating Table” at Barnard’s Athena Leadership Lab in New York.  The class is taking place on Saturday, March 5th from 9AM to 12pm.  For more details, go to http://athenacenter.barnard.edu/leadership-lab/course-catalog/negotiation/neg21.

Depending on where you are in life, you may think that you’re past the point where you need to hone your negotiating skills.  But if you truly think about it, there is probably not a day that goes by that you’re not employing some level of negotiation – whether it is with your boss or co-worker, your contractor or electrician, or even your children.

The Athena Leadership Lab at Barnard is dedicated to the theory and practice of women’s leadership.  And if you elect to sign up for this course with Cathy Bonzcek, the instructor, an in demand communications consultant, you will be in for a treat. Cathy’s personal style and keen observation of human communication dynamics – which to a certain extent is a lost art – will certainly benefit anyone who is able to participate in this workshop.  Currently, she is a communications coach to many Wall Street CEOs and executives, preparing them for speaking assignments and relationship selling.  She helped me with a couple of speeches I gave in the past couple years, and her ability to not only fine tune the message but also help with my delivery was invaluable.  Check out her website at www.ccb-communications.com.  And if you can pull off a trip to New York on March 5th, it will be worth your while.

DISCOUNT OPPORTUNITY:

To receive your discount, please enter the following information as you complete the online registration form:

At Step 2, Personal Information: when prompted, identify wisewomencoffeechat as the source from which you received a discount code.

At Step 3, as you choose your workshop(s), enter discount code Athena15 when prompted.

Let’s All Be Coffee in the New Year

3083584491_92429932ea1Happy New Year to everyone! Hope all had a peaceful and relaxing holiday, and while I know most can acknowledge a wonderful few days with family and friends, I’m sure there are a few exhausted souls out there.  I’ve been secretly waiting for this first week in January to arrive, a week that signifies new beginnings. And like many people I’ve talked to, there’s a good feeling about the year 2011.

I haven’t quite figured out what my goals are for this year.  Like everyone, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to establish a regular work out routine.  But I almost don’t want to mention it – seems a bit boring and trite… and since this is on my list every year, I obviously haven’t mastered this one.

I caught a snippet of the Today Show this morning.  Ann Curry’s resolution is to wake up every morning and be thankful for all that she has been blessed with.  Matt Lauer’s resolution is to become more involved with his children’s school work.  If any of you have anything to share, please do, as I continue to create my own list.

In the meantime, I came across this passage about Carrots, Eggs and Coffee.  I thought this provided a nice foundation of inspiration to kick the year off right.  For those of us who have faced and struggled with adversity this past year, take these words to heart.  It may get your 2011 off to a great start.


A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee….You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen.. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word…

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘ Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardboiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.  The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.


And onward we march into 2011…



Dining in the Dark….

klick1We know about Dancing in the Dark.  Well, what about dining?  I recently became aware of a most unusual way to dine  - totally in the dark.  If you eat at Pod Kridlemnoci in Prague, you’ll have to swap your sense of light for a sense of adventure.  Kridlemnoci translates to “Under the Wing of Night” and through this experience of dining in the dark, you are forced to let your other sources of smell, touch, taste and hearing take over.

After selecting your meal in the “world of light,” you are led to the “world of darkness” where all visual stimuli disappears, leaving you to focus solely on the taste of your food, and the voice of your dining partner.  There’s something about this type of experience that really intrigues me.  If it’s true that when one sense isn’t usable, the others are heightened, the gustatory pleasures of dining in the dark may be unparalleled.   Plus, think of all the great faces that you can make at your dining partner and you can even pick the food out of your teeth without a care (sorry I had to bring it down a notch).  Might even be the perfect type of venue for a blind date.

Apparently this idea originated through an organization in Zurich called Blindehuh (Blind Cow), which creates jobs for the blind and visually impaired. Today dark dining spots can be found in many metropolitan cities across the globe, including New York, Beijing, Montreal and Sydney.

This whole idea was presented at a marketing offsite I attended.  It was presented to enable us to think about breaking away from the structure that typically frames our life, and to think about how we react to it.  If you can break away from this structure, often your mind becomes awakened to different patterns of observation and thinking. Typically when you’re in the dark, you are in a passive frame of mind – and most likely trying to drift into sleep.   Can you imagine sitting in the dark for a couple hours, carrying on a conversation and enjoying a meal?  I imagine every element of the experience is heightened.

I for one am anxious to experience this.  I’d love to know what you think!

Politics: From the Declaration of Independence to Witchcraft

DOI-Hancocks-DefianceI took my two teenagers to see the musical 1776 last weekend.  While I had seen this show many years ago, watching it this time struck a whole new chord with me.  As it opens up with the Second Continental Congress in session with President John Hancock presiding, the first point made very clear is that decision making doesn’t come easily to this group of men.  Bickering, discourse and stubbornness prevail; some are motivated by doing things for the greater good, and others motivated by doing things that will drive personal prosperity … there really seemed to be little difference between today’s Congress and the initial Congress that guided the birth of America 234 years ago – at least on a macro level.

John Adams was not a popular man – but without him, July 4th would have never happened.  Starting with a divided split among the Congress (half voting for the Declaration, the other half not understanding why we would ever want to be divided from the great country of Britain), Adams, Franklin and ultimately Jefferson were the leaders that guided the very painful process of getting to a signed Declaration of Independence.  The curtains dropped, with an illuminated stage sized Declaration in view, and I was touched at witnessing all the work and effort that went into giving birth to our great nation.  As I was driving out of the parking lot, I turned to the kids and said “did that give you the chills at the end?”  They both looked at me like I was crazy and replied no.

That brings me to the present and the climate before the mid-term elections.  Witnessing what is going on in the political world, you either want to explode, or just sit down and laugh in disbelief.  Divisive is almost too nice a word to describe it – it’s downright domestic warfare.  Sometimes I wish we could blow up the political ideologies associated with the Democratic, Republican, and Tea Parties, and discuss the common goals for the country – as one.  Aren’t we all in this together?

I do feel sorry for Obama.  He inherited quite a mess, and we can all argue ‘til the cows come home about whether his policies and actions have been the right ones or the wrong ones.  He still has a 91% approval rating among African Americans, but across the rest of America, he’s languishing in the mid forties.  This of course spells trouble during the mid term elections, where historically, a President who has under 50% approval at mid-terms looses on average 36 seats.  The Republicans would need to take 40 seats to gain majority.  We are a country of discontent – and I really think at this present time, any President, whether Democrat or Republican would be struggling.

For all the public lashings that Obama is receiving, I do feel a little better when I look back at history.  First, the President’s party almost always looses seats in the mid term elections, regardless of how he is rated by the public.  And there are some pretty heavy hitters that have had low approval ratings at mid term, and in fact lower than where Obama’s rating stands today.  Reagan’s first term mid-term approval rating was only 42%; Clinton’s first term mid-term approval rating was 45%; and George W. Bush’s second term mid-term approval was 38% (the lowest ever mid-term approval rating, followed by Truman at 40% in 1950).

I guess only time will tell.  Maybe Christine O’Donnell truly is the magic bullet.  Witchcraft may be the only way to accomplish anything in politics moving forward.

The Official Scoop On Coffee Drinkers

mug-with-flowerWise Women, let’s raise our mugs in honor of National Coffee Day.

According to a recent survey, I discovered that I’m in the minute minority as my daily wake-up beverage is a soda, not coffee. However, I love drinking coffee with friends (as do 45% of you) and would NEVER tell someone that s/he had “coffee breath” (although 32% of you would).

Here are the results from the survey conducted by Filterfresh Coffee Service.

How do you get your daily shot of caffeine?

  • Coffee   95.4%
  • Soda     1.5%
  • Tea      2.3%
  • Energy Drink 0.0%
  • Other    0.8%

How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?

  • One cup: Exactly what I need to get me started      23.6%
  • Two to three cups: Almost awake…       58.7%
  • Four of more cups: Admittedly, I have a problem     17.8%

When do you drink coffee?  Please check all that apply

  • Morning          89.6%
  • Day              34.2%
  • Evening          13.8%
  • All day, every day        10.8%
  • When my children whine    3.1%
  • When I am stressed        8.8%
  • When I want to relax      16.9%

Who do you drink coffee with?

  • My dog and/or cat     23.7%
  • The newspaper/good book   37.5%
  • My SO                 40.7%
  • Co-workers            71.5%
  • Friends               45.1%

Does coffee improve your mental focus?

  • Yes          72.3%
  • No           19.6%
  • What was the question again?  I didn’t have my coffee yet!     8.1%

Would you tell someone if they have coffee breath?

  • Yes   31.9%
  • No    68.1%

At what age would you let your child(ren) drink coffee?

  • Over 18      31.7%
  • Over 16      41.7%
  • Over 12      12.4%
  • Over 10      2.3%
  • Whenever they want    12.0%

Would you have a meeting with your boss before your morning cup of coffee?

  • Sure, why not?             34.7%
  • Absolutely not!  Dealing with my boss in the morning requires a lot of caffeine beforehand.    29.7%
  • Depends on the day            35.5%

Do you order “frou-frou” drinks when no one is looking? (whipped cream hazelnut banana frappuccino, etc.)

  • Yes      34.0%
  • No way!    66.0%

What would you give up first?

  • Cell Phone   53.9%
  • Coffee       46.1%

Does drinking coffee improve your libido?

  • Yes      9.2%
  • No       39.2%
  • Couldn’t hurt    51.6%

What does your daily coffee cup look like?

  • Ceramic mug    55.8%
  • Styrofoam cup      10.5%
  • Reusable mug    17.4%
  • Anything    15.9%

Do you make the next pot of coffee when you find it empty at work?

  • Yes, always. If I didn’t, that would be rude        69.5%
  • Yes, if some if someone is watching             6.0%
  • No, not my job.                    24.5%

Sesame Street Goes Hot And Then Cold

katy-perry-sesame-streetHow low is too low?

Women throughout the ages have wrestled with this question while getting dressed. What (if any) is the appropriate amount of cleavage that we can/should show? And under what circumstances?

Most of us fall into one of two camps – Concealers or Revealers – and rarely cross over into the opposing fashion camp. (And, when I reference “revealing,” I mean tastefully revealing, not J.Lo-Grammy-dress-revealing.) Jennifer Lopez

The fashion dispute (or, is it more of a gender or cultural debate?) heated up recently when it was made public that Sesame Street has pulled a clip of singer Katy Perry performing with Elmo. The offense? Perry’s low-cut dress.

I was curious about Perry’s interaction with Elmo (Was she acting seductively in her bustier dress? Yuck!), so I watched the Sesame Street clip on YouTube.

Nope. No icky seduction here. Personally, I wasn’t upset by the dress or Perry’s demeanor. In fact, the skit was pretty cute, and I found myself tapping my toe to Perry’s modified (and now G-rated) song “Hot and Cold.”

What about you? Does Perry’s outfit leave you hot or cold? And what do you think of Sesame Street’s response to the controversy?

Thursday’s Wise Thought

“We’re not as great as we think we are.

We’re also not as terrible.”

Those words, uttered to me when I was in my 30′s, are permanently hard-wired into my brain. I often remind myself of the wise advice, usually when I’m brooding over my latest foot-in-mouth moment.

Interestingly, I’ve always thought my friend who uttered these words was repeating a famous quote. Then this morning, when I googled it in preparation for sharing them with you, I discovered there is no author on record, and my friend likely came up with that pearl of wisdom on her own. Most impressive!

Why was this thought floating around my unconscious when I woke up this morning (and, thus, was inspired to share them in a blog post)? I’m not quite sure. No specific screw-up incident stands out.

Maybe, I’m replaying the words of comfort more regularly these days as I walk (and occasionally slip off) the tight-rope of ramping up my private practice.

And/or, perhaps I woke up with those words in my head because one of you Wise Women also needs to hear those words at this juncture of your life, as well. The reminder that extreme thinking (especially about ourselves) is neither accurate nor useful.

Just a thought for a Thursday.

Enjoy your day!

Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone

rockwell-norman-high-dive-2105383-797861My favorite thing about getting the car washed is shopping for cards.  My experience with car washes (and this is true of a handful I’ve frequented over the years) is that they have wonderful cards – the most humorous, the most meaningful, and not your typical Hallmark variety.

My car wash carries a selection of square cards (I love square cards!) that have great quotes, proverbs and phrases on them – I’m now in the habit of buying and taping them to my fridge.  As I was pulling out a couple more today – my daughter caught me off guard as she was very excited that I was posting these to the fridge rather than posting them in the mail.  She too has caught the quote bug.

One quote that I particularly like is:

“Life Begins at the End of your Comfort Zone” - Neale Donald Walsch

I think about the great experiences my daughter Eliza has had this year, culminating this week at National History Day (which I wrote about earlier this week) – which is one of her best achievements.  I know she wouldn’t have gotten there without some pushing, prodding, a bit of angst and sticking her neck out.

I also think this is a quote for me to take to heart as it relates to my own career (or at this point I should say job) as I’ve purposely chosen work over the past 5 years which is controllable, predictable … and honestly a bit boring at times.  BUT, it enables me to maintain my sanity as I try to keep my finger on the pulse of those dear ones around me, and unfortunately I don’t think I could embrace much more excitement in my career at this time… But my time will come.

So I challenge you all – take this quote to heart, and discover something new that puts you on the edge.  Figure out how to step out of your comfort zone.

Wishing On A Starfish

starfishLast night I was cruising around the Internet to find something that would get my blogging juices flowing. Unfortunately, every item I clicked on was either a depressing news story or a sensationalistic account of something that isn’t newsworthy in the first place. (A controversy over basketball great Michael Jordan growing a Hitler mustache? Really?!?!)

Needing to center myself and remember that there’s good in the world if I only look in the right places, I went to Values.com to read a few inspiring quotes. This one in particular caught my eye.

“A little kindness from person to person is better than a vast love for all humankind.”

~ Richard Dehmel, (1863-1920); Poet, Playwright

The words made me recall a favorite story:

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

Here’s to all you Wise Women whose kindness (big and small) makes a difference – one person at a time.

And for those of you who aren’t feeling overly kind this week (and, Lord knows, we’ve ALL had those days), I wish that some one’s small act of kindness brings a smile to your face and to your heart.

Don’t be afraid to see what you see.
Ronald Reagan

Subscribe to the Coffee Chat

Join the conversation and savor your connection with other women ...
Life happens when you share

Subscribe via e-mail:

RSS Subscribe via RSS