Resort Homes – An Opportunity You Can’t Turn Down

 My sister, Karen, and her family live in the North Woods of WI.  Once the children were out of school, they hit the road and the whole tribe took off for a rustic lifestyle amongst the wonders of nature.   My sister sent me a picture yesterday of the front patio on May 7th.   ‘Don’t put the shovels away yet!’ It says.

Karen and her husband live on the shore of Lake Superior, the largest of the 5 Great Lakes of North America.  It is 1,223 feet in places.  If the lake was spread out, it would cover the land mass of all North and South America.

Choosing to live in northern WI, you know that weather conditions will play a major role in your life.  Dressing for the season is critical to survival, particular in the seven-month winter when temperatures drop to -30 degrees and 35 feet of snow fall, often in blizzards that over the  course of the winter.  In the summer, electrical storms come up with great ferocity.  High winds and torrential downpours seem to come out of nowhere.

Why would anyone choose to live in a climate such as this where making a blunder can cost you your life?  Why am I encouraging you to buy a property in Bayfield WI?  First and foremost, they are reasonably priced.  The most costly part of the whole exercise is the heating bills.   The summers hold a special attraction.  A deer walking across your path is a common occurrence.  Birds sing, rust-colored foxes play their games.  Even the snakes enjoy basking in the summer sun.

If you’re a fisherman or fisherwoman, Lake Superior provides a plethora of fish to catch, including Walleye Pike, Lake Trout, Herring, King Salmon and Halibut.   Bring a large net, these guys are big.

Why pick-up sticks and depart from our sunny climate with a multitude of pristine beaches and the challenge of surfing those big breakers?

Sitting in your favorite Starbucks, you may find that more and more of the conversation focuses on the stress and craziness in So CA.  One of my colleagues bragged to me last week about the Statistics indicate that divorce rates to say the least as well as medical costs are on a steep incline.   Children with learning problems, long-term unemployment and being in a State that takes no prisoners with its taxation all contribute to long-term stress.

How can we take charge of our lives and modify these trends?  While living in South Africa, I studied the effects of stress and saw that, with the sociopolitical stresses of the 80s, including violence, social unrest and an uncertain future, South Africans reported an increasing number of health-related incidents.  The emigration rate crept up every year resulting in a brain drain.   Valuable citizens departed to more settled parts of the world such as the UK, Australia and the USA.  Young people, especially, sought refuge in overseas universities.

As an Organization Psychologist at the time, I researched the subject.   I discovered studies done by two Psycholgists at the University of Chicago.  Salvatore Maddi and Susanne Kobasa studied stress in executives.  They found in their research that there were major distinctions between those executives in the way they approached the ‘rough and tumble’ of their business settings.    They found that all the individuals reported encountering challenging, even life-threatening situations or circumstances of extreme adversity.  There were, however,  distinct differences in how these individuals dealt with the challenges they encountered.

Can you describe a time when you felt beaten and bruised by life and that you did not want to ‘play this game any longer’?    The researchers found that a significant number of those studied capitulated to challenges or stresses.  They may have quit their jobs, left their marriages or in some way or another manifested that things were not going well.  Often, there were significant health problems during an elongated period of stress.

On the other hand, there were others in the study that demonstrated a high level of commitment when resolving a difficult situation.  They took control of the situation to the degree possible.  Most importantly, they perceived the demanding situation as one that was a challenge rather than a disaster.  Throughout these studies over many years and in many countries, these ‘Hardy Personalities’ were more likely not to allow circumstances to overwhelm them.   More frequently than the control group, they reported winning their battles.  Most importantly, the results showed that those exhibiting ‘Hardiness’ i.e. seeing change as an opportunity, making a solid effort to problem-solve in the situation and  committing to whatever it took to work through the situation.  When examining their results, Kobasa and Maddi found that those who demonstrated ‘Hardy’ characteristics also showed higher levels of emotional and physical levels of health.

What does this research have to do with living in the North Woods of Northern Wisconsin?  Those individuals who have had a choice and chosen to gravitate to this geographical area, have demonstrated in their choice, a willingness to take on major challenges, either with the weather, the ability to earn a living and to raise healthy families in such a setting demonstrate more frequently the characteristics of what the University of Chicago researchers call, The Hardy Personality.

These individuals are less likely to succumb to challenges.   Those studied in the North Woods were found to have demonstrated a  higher level of commitment dealing to finding a way to make a living, have families, and to learn and to grow from experiences.  They are also dedicated to finding ways to interface with their demanding and colorful environment.

As I show you a variety of real estate properties that come, for Californians, at fire-sale prices, make a note of those that you would like more information on.  We can then set up one-on-one meetings to learn more about purchasing a property and relocating to this world of natural wonders.

Toastmasters Speech No 9  May 8, 2013

South Africa – A Complex Tale

My son, his wife, their 10-month old daughter and her parents leave Washington on Saturday for South Africa for a month.  They will visit my son’s father and family in the ‘bundu’ (otherwise known as ‘the bush’), 2 hours outside Johannesburg in the rugged Magaliesburg  Mountains.   Personal safety continues to be an ever-present issue throughout South Africa.

South Africa is a complex part of the world which has undergone continuous change for centuries.

In 1970 my husband, a native Rhodesian, our two-year-old daughter and I immigrated from NYC to Salisbury, Rhodesia, a British colony at that time.

Although I had a Master of Arts and Teaching degree, the educators in Salisbury, the capital city, turned down my application to teach saying that I didn’t speak the English language.  There were close to no professional women in Rhodesia at that time, other than teachers and nurses.

Women were supposed to be content at home.  I wasn’t.  My three-year-old daughter and I drove 1000 miles to Johannesburg, South Africa in 1972 to seek our fortune in a larger setting with more opportunity.   I was successful finding a position as a trainer for a large retail firm.  First foot in the door.

My impressions of Johannesburg (population 1 million) were positive.  It has a mild climate for 10 months of the year with about a 40 inch rainfall.  My daughter and I swam every day during the warm months.

I joined the Johannesburg Hiking Club and we enjoyed extended hiking trips in the Drakensburg Mountains which rise to 11, 400 ft.  The steep slopes are the highest in Southern Africa.  Through the Hiking Club, I formed friendships.   I sang in the 80 member, Johannesburg Chorale Society.  In conjunction with the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra we sang major chorale works which deepened my love of music and singing.  I enjoyed it a great deal and made friends there as well.

Initially, I found employment at a national retail chain.  A year after our arrival, I was hired by ICI Pty Ltd., a global chemicals and engineering company.  I was a team member conducting 5-day residential management development courses in a huge old wood-paneled mansion poised on a cliff overlooking Johannesburg.  I am friends to this day with my boss, a Scotsman by the name of Calvin Mackay.

In time, I remarried and in 1979 my husband and I had a son.  My daughter, Karen, was then eleven.  There were enormous tensions in the country.  The Afrikaans government in power was not open to a multi-racial power base.  Because of the on-going turmoil in the country, including a 25% unemployment rate,  the economy was in flux.  We did not feel safe or secure.  Emigration figures continued to rise as the tensions grew.  Families were split as some left and others stayed.  The government penalized the monetary exchange rate for those leaving the country.  They reduced it from what had been equity with the American dollar for each Rand, to $.17 cents for every Rand.  You had to be willing to take a severe financial hit if you chose to leave.

Business and personal conversations focused upon what would happen, how it would happen and when it would happen.  Crime was at an all-time high.  At that time, the government was one of Apartheid.   An official policy of racial segregation practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against Nonwhites.

At that point, the likelihood of a bloody revolution appeared to be high.  It was a dangerous place to live with a highly stressful environment and an unstable economy, government and divided society.

Amidst this turmoil, our 29-year old neighbor was brutally stabbed to death, leaving a husband and two 7-year old twins.  That was the final straw.  My husband and I decided to emigrate in 1986.  My daughter, now seventeen and in her final 18 months of boarding school, chose to remain to finish her schooling and retain her friendships.  We accepted the physical risk she was at.

At the time we made the decision to leave, I had a successful Executive Coaching and Business Psychology practice.  I was coaching the top leadership team of Barclays Bank Limited.  The executive team had suffered nine heart attacks in one year, contributed to by personal and business strains.

My husband and I closed our businesses, sold our home, said good-bye to family and friends and left.  It was a traumatic experience for those who stayed and for those who left.  We settled in Los Angeles, CA, where my husband had located employment.   The difference in cultures and life-styles could not have been farther apart.  (3 min)

The marriage could not sustain the strain of the transition.  Oliver and I were divorced in 1987 and Oliver returned to South Africa shortly thereafter and re-opened his former business.    Jason, now 8 years old, suffered at the loss of his father.  I was under an even a greater economic strain than I had been under before.

Description of South Africa 12/10/12

Now I will focus upon South Africa itself and why we all continue to love it so deeply.  A land of magnificent natural resources and beauty, it is accompanied by a highly complex socio-economic and political history.   The underlying history is one of inequity between the minority White population and the majority Black population (80%).    The Dutch, also known as the Boers, claimed ownership of the large agricultural province, the Orange Free State.  The British claimed ownership of the Cape and the Transvaal Provinces.  The Natal Province, on the Indian Ocean, was also a ‘White’ (English-speaking) province.

South Africa is at the southern-most tip of Africa between the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.   It has over 1500 miles of Coastline.

According to the World Bank, the South African population reached an all-time high of 50.6 million in 2011.  It was at a record low of 17.4 million in 1960.   It is currently the 25th largest country in the world, 24th in population.

It is the largest economy in Africa and 7th largest in the world.   There is 25% unemployment .

It is multi-ethnic  –11 official languages.   80% of the population is Black.  There is a significant Indian population, largely located in the Province of Natal.

For many of us, when we imagine South Africa we think ‘Wildlife’.  There are large tracts of land that are designated as Natural Reserves or Game Parks.  Here elephants, lions, leopards, white rhino, wildebeest, kudus, impalas, hyenas, hippopotamuses & giraffe; game reserves are but a few of the mammals that can be viewed in their own habitat.   The bird life and the reptilian world are also in abundance.  Tourism is a major industry.

Jhb in the Transvaal supports the mining industry on the Rand or Witwatersrand where there are large seams of precious and non-precious metals being mined, including platinum, uranium and gold.  The area is famous for being the source of 40% of the gold ever mined from the earth.  The Witwatersrand also has some of the largest seams of coal in the world.

Johannesburg, with a current population of 3, 2 million is characterized by its youthful residents, with 42 percent of the population under the age of 24 and 49 percent under the age of 34.   It is the economic powerhouse of South Africa.  It is home of 70% of corporate headquarters.

Rainfall: 40 inches a year; 6000 ft. in altitude –mile high and has a temperate climate for 10 months of the year.

The ‘veldt’ is a generic term used to define wide open rural spaces of Southern Africa. The Lowveld (interior) can range from lush subtropical forest and wildlife to extreme desert, where there is one of the least-densely populated countries in the world. Approximately half the population lives below the international poverty line, and the nation has suffered heavily from the effects of HIV/AIDS, with 15% of the adult population infected with HIV in 2007.

Climate – big variance:

  • Namib extreme desert
  • Mozambique –sub-tropics
  • SW –Cape Province – Table Mountain-3500 feet –most epic view of the ocean in South Africa with a 2 mile plateau with steep cliffs surrounding it. 
  • Healthy economic growth; stronger economically than other provinces
  • Vineyards –wines have international reputation

Parliamentary government

  • All ethnic and language groups have recognition in government
  • Parliament is in Cape Town
  • Head of State – President – Pretoria
  • Judiciary – Bloemfontein

The President is elected by members of the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, and is usually the leader of the largest party, which has been the African National Congress since the first non-racial elections were held on 27 April 1994. The role was originally founded to be distinct from the now defunct role of prime minister, but the two roles were merged in the 1983 constitution which specified a four-year term of office. The 1993 and later constitutions limits the president’s time in office to two five-year terms.[1] The first President to be elected under the new constitution was Nelson Mandela, and the incumbent president is Jacob Zuma.

In South Africa, much economic uncertainty has been associated with the 1994 shift to black majority rule. Political instability and particularly political violence ? and fear of such in the future ?is another important determinant of migration. In South Africa, surges of political violence were marked by the 1976 Soweto uprising and the 1985 State of Emergency declared in 36 magisterial districts.  Renewed political violence was feared in the run up to the 1994 elections. Whites also fear  that race-based hiring quotas are becoming a significant obstacle to economic advancement. Since the early 1990s, there has also been a dramatic surge both in general violent crime rates, and in the proportionate exposure of the wealthier white population to violent crime.

Variation in the timing and rate of change of net emigration during the 1990s is best accounted for by changes in exposure to violent crime.

Human Rights

  •  500,000 rapes/year –average woman more likely to be raped than to finish high school.
  • The enigma of South Africa is the extremes:  without a doubt one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with an overabundance of natural resources.
  • Growing population but also exodus. 

It has a turbulent early history of Apartheid (80% of the population  is Black) – and until  fairly recently unrepresented in the government.  The Dutch or Afrikaaners held strong religious  convictions that were at the foundation of the Apartheid policy.  The British Colonialists did little to influence this policy.

Nelson Mandela came into power in 1994.  Jacob Zuma came into power in 2009 elected by Parliament when his Party won the election.

For many, there is a magnetic attraction to the country.  They choose to remain come what may.  For others, the strains outweigh the positive aspects of the life.  They accept the penalties to be endured when leaving a country you love and taking the hits that occur when doing so.

There is no ‘right way’.  If you have the capacity to leave, as it is extremely expensive, you try and weigh the risks and rewards as best you can.  The outcome is an uncertain one, as it is if you stay.

South Africa is deep in my blood as well as in the blood of my family.  Following our exodus in the 80s, our family has been separated ever since.   My daughter’s children are English, my son’s daughter is American.  I have returned from eight years in Australia.  Jason’s father’s family are in South Africa.  We have all done the best we can to retain our ties.  We have all learned to live with the pain of separation.

12/12/12 Toastmasters – Project 7
Research Your Topic

 

 

Resources Entertainment

Frustration and Assertiveness – Where do they meet?

  • How many of you have had a frustrating experience this week?
  • How many of you have experienced an intense level of frustration something in the last year?
  • How many of you ‘Just Got On With It’?
  • How many of you were able to decrease the level of frustration through problem-solving?

In psychology, frustration is defined as a common emotional response to opposition. Related to anger and disappointment, it arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of individual will. The greater the obstruction, and the greater the will, the more the frustration is likely to be. Causes of frustration may be internal or external. In people, internal frustration may arise from challenges in fulfilling personal goals and desires, instinctual drives and needs, or dealing with perceived deficiencies, such as a lack of confidence or fear of social situations. Conflict can also be an internal source of frustration; when one has competing goals that interfere with one another.

When does frustration result in a dead end? When does frustration lead to responses that you would prefer not to have? When does frustration lead you to problem-solving and, thus, lower the level of frustration?
Internal frustration may arise from challenges in fulfilling personal goals and desires, instinctual drives and needs, or dealing with perceived deficiencies, such as a lack of confidence or fear of social situations. Conflict can also be an internal source of frustration; when one has competing goals that interfere with one another.

A sailing buddy of mine spent the first 12 years of his early years in the Marine Corps as a Sapper. Sappers are trained to handle demolitions and explosive devices, according to Sgt Shaun Anderson, Chief Instructor of the Sapper School in San Diego.

Merlyn shared with me recently that he had been disappointed with the progression of his marine career. He said the reason he joined the Marines His goal was to blow things up, as he demonstrated to me with his sound effects and arms waving in the air.

As such, he went through the Sapper School.”Sapper school’s purpose is to push the junior combat engineer Marines through the course to understand the concepts of demolition handling and dealing with improvised explosive devices,” said Staff Sgt. Shaun A. Anderson, chief instructor of Sapper school.

He then said, ‘I was promoted and ended up behind a desk, not what I had signed up for so I left the Marine Corps. He had felt an increasing sense of frustration. What did he do? Remain in the Marines and put his own needs on hold?

No, he demonstrated assertiveness. He resigned from the Service and went into banking. As an Investment Advisor, he now deals with other kinds of explosions, those in the Stock Market and other investment choices, the economy and dealing with the life changes his customers experience. He has a high risk profile and, as such, this setting is a good fit. Despite the frustrations in the job, he has developed ways in which his underlying needs for adventure are met.

How does he get his needs for adventure to be met? We race together on a 38 foot CNC. This weekend we raced 35 miles Sat and Sun and won 2 first prizes. We hoot and hollered as we walked forward to accept the trophy we had won.

Amy Gallo Contributing editor at HBR, writes about, How to be assertive without losing yourself. (HBR Amy Gallo 8;21;12)

Managers need some degree of self-confidence to be effective. “The right amount of assertiveness, respect for others, and intelligence is what makes a great leader,” says Lauren Zander, , an executive coaching firm in New York City, and author of “Designing Your Life,” a course taught through MIT. Yet, there needs to be a balance. “There’s a sweet spot for assertiveness. If you’re below the range, you’re not going to get your way. If you’re above it, you’re not getting along with others,” says Daniel Ames, a professor of management at Columbia Business School and author of “Pushing Up to a Point: Assertiveness and Effectiveness in Leadership and Interpersonal Dynamics.” The good news is, “Being shy is not a permanent condition. Assertiveness can be learned,” says Zander. The key is to understand the context, assess your behavior, and then make the appropriate adjustments.

Understand the context
Assertiveness is not universally understood to be a positive trait. Before you make changes to your behavior, know the context you are working in. Does the culture — national, regional, or organizational — truly value forcefulness? Or do you work in a situation where a persuasive, quiet approach is sometimes more esteemed.
Zander suggests you ask yourself: “Are you willing to talk to anyone about what you want?” Most people will answer this question with some qualifications, which indicates the need to overcome fear and express your opinion more often. Ames suggests you complete “a success inventory” to understand whether your style is effective. Over a defined period of time — a few weeks or a month — before entering a discussion or meeting, ask yourself, “What do I want from this situation?” Then, afterwards, evaluate the results: “Did I get what I wanted?” This will create a track record of your success and indicate whether you need to adjust your style.
Objectively rating your own behavior can be difficult. “The connection between what we think we’re doing and what others see is very weak. Often it’s not greater than chance,” says Ames. Therefore, it might help to get feedback from trusted colleagues or to conduct a 360-degree review.

Set goals and stick to them
If you find in your assessment that you are holding back in situations where you shouldn’t, ask yourself what you aren’t saying and why you’re keeping quiet. Next time you enter a similar situation, rehearse what you are going to say and how you will say it beforehand. Ames and Zander both suggest you challenge yourself with a specific time-bounded behavioral goal. For example, give yourself a week to initiate three difficult conversations with colleagues. Or tell yourself that for the next two weeks, whenever you’re in a group discussion, you’ll speak up within the first two minutes. “Focused incremental changes add up to real change,” Ames says. If you’re successful, set another goal and stick to it. If it doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up. Try a different one. “Approach it with an attitude of playfulness,” he says.

Build relationships
Often times people hold back because they are uncomfortable in a situation, either because they don’t know people or they’re afraid of what others might think. “My experience with reserved, shy people is that the relational context matters to them,” says Ames. Therefore, it can help to get to know people outside of work. “Connect with work colleagues who are only casual acquaintances. Socialize with colleagues in a way that breaks down barriers,” Ames recommends. You may be less cautious about speaking up if you’re at ease socially.

Stay true to yourself
Altering your style to be more assertive can feel inauthentic, but it doesn’t have to be. You’re not changing your character; you are making deliberate choices about how you behave. “Don’t feel you have to muster interpersonal coldness to accompany your assertion. Feel free to be friendly and empathic while asking for your needs to be met,” says Ames. Find your own style instead of trying to imitate others. This is especially true for women. “Women need to be aware that becoming more like men is not sustainable,” says Cox. Nor do you need to be more assertive in every context every day. “You can bring out your competitive side when it’s useful and you can dial back and be accommodating when it’s helpful,” says Ames.

There’s a line — know when you’ve crossed it
Be careful that in your quest, you don’t become a bully or a nuisance. Zander warns that being overly assertive is often interpreted as self-promotional or arrogant. Monitor the impact you have on others. “The costs of being overly assertive are not immediately apparent to us. If you yell at a subordinate, she may do what you asked but she may also go home and update her resume,” says Ames. Be sure your efforts to push more are well intended. “Assertiveness is most appreciated when it’s in the service of the team,” says Zander.

Principles to Remember
Do:
Assess your own degree of assertiveness and ask others for feedback
Set realistic goals to make small changes in your behavior.
Forge relationships with colleagues outside of work so that you feel more comfortable speaking up.
DONT
Assume that assertiveness is always a good thing — the context you work in and your gender both matter
Try to imitate someone else’s behavior — you can change while still being true to who you are
Overcompensate and become aggressive — balance assertiveness with consideration of others

Case Study #1: Make promises and keep them
Katie Torpey is a filmmaker and screenwriter. Assertive executives and insistent dealmakers dominate the industry she works in. Katie was successful, making several movies and television episodes, but she often held back in meetings, rarely saying what was on her mind. Instead she said what she thought others wanted to hear. “I was a people pleaser. I didn’t want to piss anyone off or hurt anyone’s feelings,” she says.
When Katie pitched work to producers they often lowballed her. “I was getting work, but I was not getting what I was worth.” She blames no one but herself. “I would take what they offered because I was afraid to demand my asking price,” she says. She was worried the project would fall through or they’d find another director. It became clear to Katie that this was hindering her career.
To change, she made a promise to herself: if she left a situation without saying what she really wanted, she would have to remedy it within 24 hours. For example, when she walked away from a meeting without telling her boss that a product wasn’t actually ready, she forced herself to contact him within 24 hours to fess up. This practice paid off. After cleaning up several of her messes, she realized it was much easier to be assertive from the outset. “Living a life where you speak what you think and feel is so much more freeing than holding everything in,” she says.
This has changed her career for the better. “People respect me. I still have the same abilities but I now have more confidence. People know that I won’t take a job unless my heart’s in it and I’m paid well,” she says. And if producers ask her to take a lower price, she stands up for herself, saying, “I will do an excellent job for you, but you have to pay me my asking price.”

Case Study #2: Put yourself out there
Jigar Parikh was working as an attorney at a New York law firm, and hated his job so he hired a personal coach to help him find a new profession. He soon, however, realized that the problem wasn’t his field; it was his firm. His coach encouraged him to build his network and secure enough clients to quit his job and start his own law practice. But Jigar was shy and uncomfortable reaching out to people he didn’t know. “I was someone who really held back,” he says.

So Jigar started small. He made a commitment to talk about his budding law practice with one or two people each day. This proved to be harder than he thought. “I didn’t want my current employer to find out, so I had to be especially careful,” he says. And he struggled at the networking events he attended three or four times a week. But he didn’t want to fall down on his pledge so he soon found himself talking to strangers on the subway or in a restaurant. “I once talked to a doctor who was an entrepreneur himself and he gave me some great advice,” he says. “I had some amazing conversations.”
This all gave him the confidence he needed to leave the firm. “When you’re not assertive, you settle for things and I had a high tolerance for being in places where I was unhappy,” he says. Now he feels like a very different person. “Anyone who knows me now is shocked to find out that I was shy. But it’s not always easy. I still have to remind myself to get out there,” he says.

Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review. Follow her on Twitter at @amyegallo.

8/6/13

The Art and Science of Friendship

“Make New Friends, But Keep the Old,
Some are silver, but the others are Gold.”

As our lives unfold, many of us may find our circle of friendship stagnates or even shrinks. Especially at holiday times, families may take up more time and energy than usual. Especially for those of us who have been living in the same location for many years. For those of us who don’t live near families, we have to make more of an effort to build new friendships and reach out at holiday times.

What is a snapshot of your approach to friendship? Do you reach out to speak to strangers? Do you gravitate to new activities to broaden your circle of friends? Are your closest friends those that you went to university or even high school with long ago? What clubs do you belong to?

Have you developed friendships with those you work with, play with or with the parents of your children’s friends? On the other hand, your best friends could be from the extreme sports you do or used to do.

You may not think of the significance friendship plays in your life. Hopefully, it’s always been there when you needed it. On the other hand, for some of us, we may not have had the caring and concern we may have benefited from.

I am one of those people who never stop reaching out to meet and make friends with new people from different backgrounds. It is in my nature, it has been a very important survival mechanism for me. New friends are stimulating and have opened up facets in myself that haven’t been tapped before. New and old friendships continue to be a source of stimulus, energy, and emotional support for me.

Recently, I was in the UK to visit my 6 and 8 year old grandchildren who live with their dad in Cambridge. My son, his wife and their toddler met us there. Walking my grandchildren home from school every day enabled me to get to know them better. My grandson, Henry, flies along the walk shouting, ‘I love running in the rain’. Upon reaching their house, my granddaughter, Alicia, says, ‘Granny, would you like to come up to look at my room? We can have a chat up there.’

I stayed with my dear friends Tom and Judy, as usual. We know each other from 1971 when we lived in Southern Rhodesia and did adventurous things togetether. They are conservative Brits who have provided enormous love and support to our family during difficult times. Walking into their house, I feel swept up by the love. I relax in their ‘nest’ in a way that I do not relax anywhere else. It is a very precious feeling.

Why is that? Global economic situations have an impact on where we go and how we end up. My husband and I and our 1-year old daughter were enjoying living the life of Young Professional New Yorkers (Brooklyn Heights) when the economy took a nose dive. My husband knew he would lose his job. My father-in-law from what was then Southern Rhodesia encouraged us to relocate to Central Africa. It was a fairy-tale world with lots of ‘perks’ but no jobs for women who had just completed their Masters Degree. Trying to find a way to feel professionally engaged in my new world didn’t appear to be possible.

I also have a reputation for being an adventurer and a risk taker. Karen (now aged 3) and I got into our yellow Toyota and drove 1000 miles south to Johannesburg, South Africa. I was successful in obtaining a job and immediately made friends with my boss and his wife.

Although he has been living in London for many years, Calvin and I are still in touch. We had a blast giving 5.5 day Leadership Development workshops in a giant mansion to Chemicals and Explosives Engineers working for a Global organization. We had an oak-paneled-bar and used it freely.

I joined the Johannesburg Hiking Club and that resulted in more friendships with outdoor adventurers. I also joined the Johannesburg Bach Chorale, an 80-member choir that, in conjunction with the Johannesburg Symphony, sang major chorale works.

Circumstances changed and through my hiking/mountaineering adventures, I met many new friends who had similar interests.

An English friend I met soon after he emigrated from the Northern U.K. to Zimbabwe and I have kept up a strong friendship throughout the many phases of our life. He settled permanently in Tanzania , an island off the Coast of New Zealand. He has just returned from his umpteenth solo circum-navigation of the world.

Not everyone is suited to hanging out around the world for most of their life. We would never have left South Africa except that in the mid-eighties it was an explosive setting. There was a diaspora as many very valuable citizens fled to safer countries with more equitable values. . Vast numbers of people emigrated because they disagreed with Apartheid, a two-tiered policy of keeping the minority Whites in control of the government with the Nie-Blanks as a subservient nation with limited power and opportunities.

My husband, one of three children and I emigrated to Southern California to escape the dangers and the very high risk of not knowing whether the transition of government from a White state to a Black State would be peaceful or violent. An international move creates enormous stress. Two of our children stayed behind to complete their education. My seven-year old son left his private elementary school and completed his education in American public schools.
It was not my intention to emigrate from Brisbane, AU, where I lived for eight years from 2002-2010. In both South Africa and Australia I was a Registered Psychologist and worked with Senior Leaders in corporations and government entities.

I enjoy most meeting people who are out of my spectrum. One of the primary benefits of Toastmasters is that we have a diverse membership. We learn about each other through the roles we play, speeches we give and just by reaching out to get to know each other.

Not everyone is suited to hanging out around the world for most of their life. We would never have left South Africa except that in the mid-eighties it was an explosive setting. Their was a diaspora. Vast numbers of people emigrated to escape the dangers and the very high risk of not knowing whether the transition of government from a White state to a Black State would be peaceful or violent.

When our 29-year old neighbor was brutally murdered in front of her children, that was it. We left as soon as we could and came to Los Angeles for sixteen years. Friendships during those years came primarily from work settings.

Fate often plays a major role in our lives. Southern Africa had abundant natural beauty, chemical and mineral resources and an endless supply of un-skilled labor. The toll of leaving was significant. The government penalized us by creating a two-tiered exchange rate. Instead of giving us an even exchange (Rands that we turned into dollars was determined by the International Exchange Board). For every Rand we took out, we received only $.17 cents at the other end.

In our new world in Los Angeles, I ratcheted up my campaign to join new professional organizations and develop friendships from that. My leadership consulting business was increasingly successful and I obtained a long-term leadership development program for The J. Paul Getty Museum. While there, I met an Australian man, we soon developed a relationship and after 9/11 we agreed to relocate to Brisbane Australia where I lived and worked for 8 years as a Leadership Psychologist.

Due to a personal tragedy, I returned to the Northwestern States near Seattle WA, a fishing village called Gig Harbor. Toastmasters was the key to meeting new people who would become friends. I am still in touch with my Webmaster who subsequently also found the climate unbearable and moved South.

Believing that I needed a current US credential, I signed up for a nine-month Executive Coaching program that had three residential workshops on the East Coast. Over that time period, it became apparent to a gentleman I became friendly with that I was miserable in the NW despite being near family.

Through his enthusiasm and collegial support, I flew down to Long Beach (where he lived) and he introduced me to a port city with an ideal climate. 48-hours later I had signed a lease for an apartment on the 24th floor of International Towers, the round building on the corner of Ocean Blvd. and Shoreline Drive. My view was overlooking the Harbor and the Queen Mary. I flew back to the NW, broke my lease, got the movers in, packed the car and headed South to Long Beach CA. The only thing I remember is getting a speeding ticket.

I returned to WA and announced my plan to my son. He was not in favor of the steps I had taken. I felt the relocation would save my life.

In March last year, I purchased a condo in Aqua Park Towers, 488 E. Ocean Blvd., this time over-looking the city. Another opportunity for establishing new friendships.

Having resided in six different countries, I have answered the question numerous times, ‘What is my relationship to myself? How would you describe your relationship with yourself? Have we learned to accept who we are? Alternatively, are we often down on ourselves and berating ourselves for not ‘doing better’. This approach can result in a diminished level of self-esteem. Especially if we are not in a loving relationship with ourselves, it can be hazardous to our life structure and certainly to the pleasure we experience from life and our relationships with family and friends.

What have I personally drawn from my global wondering and broad array of friends in various countries and in various stages of life?

12/13/13

Chutzpah

As a means of entertaining you this morning, I have chosen to speak about the two attributes that I believe have been the most valuable in enabling me to manage successfully challenging situations as I’ve traveled and lived on 4 continents around the world. In thinking them over, I thought sharing them with you may be beneficial for you to hear about for when you are marching forward to your own drummer.

What is the relationship between me being born on a muggy May 10th some decades ago in Chicago and me jumping off a 20- foot cliff into cold mountain water in Australia three years ago? They both take Chutzpah.

  • Merriam-Webster defines chutzpah as supreme self-confidence.
  • Wikipedia describes it as having audacity or having nerve.

Where did this Chutzpah come from?
Since my father strapped up my ski boots and fitted my skis to them when I was three years old, I was encouraged to build skills that have enabled me to pursue and enjoy extreme sports. Wherever I have lived in the world, I have maintained a sense of fearlessness in the face of physical as well as other kinds of danger.

What difference does it make that I have developed and manifested these characteristics and competencies as I have moved around the world? What can I share with you about how and why it has been valuable to develop these characteristics that have enabled me to ski down double-black diamond slopes in Switzerland, climb back-pack at 4000 feet in the Magaliesburg Mountains in South Africa, swim in croc-infested waters in Botswana, body-board surf in open seas and jump off cliffs in Australia?

Preparing ourselves to be able to field the hazards that the world throws at us Is critical.
The more practice we get taking risks and recovering from them successfully in a physical environment, the more confidence we will gain when recovering from other challenging events that occur as our lives unfold.

I was fortunate growing up in a family where my father demonstrated a strong role model. As a trauma surgeon, he undertook surgeries on people who had been hurt in industrial accidents. He showed artistry, creativity and determination in addition to his medical skills as he replaced limbs, and putting body parts back together again, in addition to always taking into consideration how the overall patient was doing.

Not only a doctor but as a parent, he had the patience, love and skills to stand alongside us as we tried snow-skiing down an icy mountain slope when the thermometer hit -30 degrees below zero in Utah. He taught us to endure that kind of hazard, coming back into the hut to warm up our ski boots and feet for 45 minutes before we could go out again.

In the summer, we spent our lives having fun in the water of a lake in central Wisconsin where he had built a cottage. I recall my first independent swimming strokes when I was four years old. I was at liberty!

As an adolescent, I enjoyed skiing up a long wooden ramp and off an 8 feet high jump, landing with a thud in the water. The skis would plunge down into the water and you had to hang on really tight to not have the rope pulled out of your hands. I loved the challenge of climbing up my friend’s body to sit astride his shoulders as we clipped along the surface of the water on his ski.

When the situation called for it, my father could be exceptionally tender, for example during and after my giving birth to a baby. He was there as well, reinforcing my efforts, courage and achievements.

These experiences resulted in my developing a ‘Hardy Personality’, a person who reaches out to lead an adventurous life, at the same time as creating an environment in which my children would reach out to take on similar challenges. I was grateful for my father’s presence in my life, which continued no matter what continent I may have been living upon.

I have been able to emulate similar interests, skills, characteristics and achievements, creating yet another generation of hardy personalities.

On a closing note, my son, who is a chip off the old block, for his Christmas present requested donations so that he could purchase an Avalanche Flotation Pack for his Back-Country Skiing on Mount Rainier this winter.

Just what we all need.