Sunday, September 23, 2007


“What’s the secret to greater success and fulfillment for individuals and teams? Appreciation!” This is the attention-grabbing headline of Mike Robbins’ website and the central organizing thought for his work as a speaker, trainer, coach and author.

Every month, I receive Mike’s Appreciation in Action newsletter. In the newsletter, he shares a concrete way to make appreciation part of our work and personal lives and relationships. So I was excited when I heard that Mike was coming out with a book. He was kind enough to send me a copy of Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation.

I was curious about the book, because, to be honest, I wondered “What else is there to appreciation besides being grateful and expressing this sentiment to others? How can there be a whole book out about this topic?” Mike shows that there’s plenty to be explored here. The piece of the book that most caught my attention was the chapter entitled Appreciate Yourself. In it, Mike explores why self-appreciation can be challenging; the difference between self-appreciation and arrogance; what self-appreciation is; and how to appreciate yourself. Here’s a couple of thoughts I liked a lot:

“Without appreciating ourselves, we will find it difficult, if not impossible, to feel, think, and express gratitude bout life and toward others.” Why? “Because […] we live our lives and perceive the world primarily through the lens of our opinion of ourselves – our relationship to ourselves.”
“Once we discover and own our own unique strengths […] we learn that it’s more productive, enjoyable, and beneficial to relate to others through their strengths, rather than with a focus on their perceived weaknesses.”

Mike recommended the implementation of some “Positive Practices” for putting self-appreciation in our lives on a regular basis. These included creating a “sunshine file” – a folder with expressions of gratitude we receive (thank-you cards, photos, notes); regular “me” time; and picking something we appreciate about ourselves each morning and focusing on it all day.

I’ll tell you what makes Mike credible to me: his ideas don’t just come from being in the business world. Before becoming a speaker, author, and coach, Mike was a top-notch pitcher for Stanford University and helped lead his team to championships. He was voted “Most Inspirational” by his teammates. He was also drafted by the Kansas City Royals and played with them until an injury got in the way. Mike uses a lot of what he learned as a leader in the athletic domain in his work with companies today. Plus, you don’t get voted “Most Inspirational” for nothing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Today, I jumped out of bed, cleared some children's books off of my shelf, ate breakfast, and walked out to Smith Street. What a glorious, sunny day - bright and clear with no humidity. The crossing guard and I exchanged smiles as I walked into Carroll Garden Park to drop off the books. My hope is that parents will find them and bring them home for their families to enjoy.

At the F stop news stand, I grabbed The New York Sun and was delighted to find a special section entitled "Autumn in New York." This gem includes listings in a variety of categories - books, museums, galleries, family field trips, cabaret, jazz. Okay, you won't find as many choices as, say, in Time Out New York or The Village Voice. However, what makes this section truly wonderful are illustrations like the one pictured above. This one was on the Food and Drink page. (There were no credits for the art that I could see, but I will investigate.)

One thing I love about this season is all the Fall Preview editions of newpapers and magazines. The anticipation of what's to come, the idea of having so many possibilities, is so satisfying. I feel blessed to live in a city so rich in culture, art and street life.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


For a while, I was using a small, red, zip-up Paul Frank wallet with the signature Julius the Monkey face on it. It was cute, but I had to cram about 12 different ATM, membership, and ID cards into two plastic pockets. Every time I went to get one card, I'd have to pull the whole lot out and sift through them. Not fun for the person standing behind me in a line.

I had a store credit at this great neighborhood place called Handmade. I ventured in and fell in love with the wallet pictured here. I think it's a French dog: it's wearing a scarf around its neck and is holding a flower in its mouth. The clasp is a bone.

The wallet is lightweight and has lots of slots for cards. Most importantly, I feel joyful everytime I pull it out and see the French dog.

The wallet is made by a group of Canadian designers who call themselves espe. I ordered one of their cosmetic cases for my friend's birthday.

We use our wallets so much, why not make sure they are tiny works of art that bring us happiness each time we look at them?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I started the last day of summer vacation by (a) eating a popsicle for breakfast (b) skimming books and magazines laying around my home office and (c) writing out September birthday and anniversary cards and getting them ready to mail out. (Any excuse to use the new CELBERATE! postage stamps.) In the cards, I shared highlights from the summer. Here are some of those sweet memories from the last two months:

Interviewing muppeteers and the cameraman from Sesame Street

Celebrating five years of together with my sweetie

Going on fairground rides with my brother and nephew on our last day of the family vacation in Seattle (see pic at left, taken at fairground photo booth)

Discovering the gorgeous Chinatown YMCA (it’s actually in SoHo) and enjoying swims in the Olympic-sized pool (they generously let me in for free since my Y's pool was shut during the last week of summer vacation)

Hanging out in the spacious and welcoming second floor lounge of the new Whole Foods, which is just steps from the Chinatown YMCA. (When I say lounge, I do mean lounge: people make jewelry, play boardgames, browse the internet, chat with friends for hours.)

Enjoying the end of the summer in the garden of Le Jardin Bistro with my sweetie. Nothin' like soft shelled crabs in the not-too-hot summer breezes while sitting under a canopy of ivy

Seeing the movie Hairspray with my friends Cecilia, Lizzy and Marjorie, then hanging out in the garden of Café La Fortuna (the west side’s oldest café) and catching up on summer adventures

Spending time with my teacher from second grade and her new poodle puppy

Re-organizing the home office in a way that showcases my boyfriend Mike’s paintings

So, what are some of your top summer memories? Email me: