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I went to a nursery school that was under the FDR Drive elevated highway in lower Manhattan. I was living in an apartment complex just across the street and it did not seem unusual at all. It was in a small “park” – New York City style. My memories are spare, but I do remember that I loved the school, had a great teacher and we had a graduation ceremony where I played a squirrel. I lived my first seven years in Manhattan. As our family grew, we soon had my parents and three children in a one- bedroom apartment. When I was seven, we moved to a seven-bedroom house in the borough of Staten Island – “the country” as far as we were concerned. My mother, who grew up in the Midwest (my Dad was a native New Yorker) said she knew we had to move when she had three crying kids in the back of a station wagon shouting “Mommy, Mommy fly on me”!
In college at the State University of New York, I was President of the student environmental club. As Earth Day approached, we needed a program and it had to be good. Previous years, under other Presidents, we had David Brower, Founder of The Sierra Club and Ralph Nader. When Ralph Nader came, I and other students got to spend quality time with him. We had a late night meal together (he had just a grapefruit) and talked about environmental activism. He came without a speaking fee because he liked what we were doing as activists. Anyway, I had to find a speaker. I had heard of a Native American activist group named The White Roots of Peace. I had always admired the love of our natural world by indigenous cultures and thought they might come for our Earth Day program. Not only did they come, but they set up on campus for several days, teepees and all and ended their visit with a beautiful ceremony for Mother Earth!
I ran New York City’s Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team. I managed a Division that included a team of 8 chemists and chemical engineers who responded with New York City’s police and fire departments to over 600 incidents a year. The first responders were heroes. Managing the team, I was involved in incidents involving chemical explosions and fires, leaking electrical transformers that had hazardous chemicals in their oil, expired chemicals dumped in public spaces or found in illegal drug labs that were oxidized and highly explosive and transportation accidents involving hazardous chemicals.
The reason I am a coach goes back to waiting in line for a pay phone (yes, in ancient times!). I was at a personal development workshop in the Joshua Tree Desert waiting to make a phone call and had a conversation with a woman who told me she was studying to become a coach. I asked, “what is a coach?” and soon became intrigued. I actually could not believe there was such a professional where I could help people create fulfilling lives and make a living from it! The rest is history, I went on to train as a coach and since 1996, have a coaching practice that is now focusing on career and new direction coaching.
I am serving as a volunteer and helping to coordinate a wonderful public art installation being created for the Republican and Democratic Party Political Conventions in the United States. It is titled: Our Common Ground: Vote For the Good Life. Its purpose is to provide a space for respectful dialogue on the issues of our day. The installation will have “Dialogue Dens” every hour where participants will discuss topics such as “Security or Freedom?” “Open or Closed?” (society and borders). It will be non-partisan and use paint, sculpture and light to engage convention-goers and citizens in dialogue and conversation. The creator of the installation is public mural artist, Meg Saligman, whose inspiration is that art and beauty can inspire us to move out of the political polarity we are now experiencing to find our common ground.
Chrysalis: Personal Transformation From The Inside Out uses nature’s process of Chrysalis- a caterpillar transforming to a butterfly – as a guide for our own personal transformation. Each stage of Chrysalis provides a jumping-off point, upon which to reflect about our own experiences as we each transform.
Enjoy an excerpt:
On a beautiful, open hill, there stood a tree. Day after day it experienced the rain, the sun, the wind, the heat, and the cold. In spring it blossomed; in winter it was bare. Always, it was content with life and was silent and still. This did not mean that nothing was going on. The tree had sprouted from a seed into a sapling, grown to full size and changed with the seasons. But to travelers walking by the tree, it seemed that nothing was going on. The tree was something to look at and then move beyond.
One day, a young girl named Sara sat by the tree to take a rest. As she sat, her eyelids became heavy. She hadn’t realized how tired she was, and she lay down for a short nap. During her nap, she had a dream. The tree had a face and began to speak to her. The tree said, “Sara, there are many languages and nature has one of its own. There are wonderful things to learn from nature, if you can be still and listen.”
Sara awoke with a start! What had just happened? Did the tree speak to her? Oh, she thought, I was just dreaming. She picked up her things and began walking home.
In the following days, Sara could not get the tree out of her mind. It was as if the tree was calling her.
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