Author Archives: Harbridge Christina

White out Word out

I can’t seem to find a comfortable pair of stilletos. The girls in my office have the cutest shoes… I walk in them and I am in a tunnel of hurt. Pinched toes and unsupported arch cause me to focus on my feet rather than my world.
Yesterday, I wore my clogs. I couldn’t help but notice how much more I noticed when I was not wincing with each step. Not so pretty- and much more fun. As I raced against the red countdown to get across market street, I stopped. The “Black Skinny Pant” ad annoyed me. I used to be the girl. Before baby, before my love for movies, before cream fraiche. I missed the light- that stupid advertisement caused me to miss that millisecond of opportunity to leap out before the number 7. (or was it the 66?)
I noticed that a lovely human had altered the street advertisement. Written on a sticker on top of the word “Skinny” was the word “Sickly.” I laughed out loud and applauded the person. (A few around me moved away from me slowly… sure I was about to ask for a dollar or something.) I looked again at the advertisement- in the lower left hand corner it read “I Starve for Gap.”
Nice job liberating that advertisement.
I went about my business day and ended up walking down 6th street. not the Happiest place on earth- a wee bit grungy and hostilly interactive. I noticed one of the hotels had a sign out front “Best Rates” is what it said in its hey day. It appears someone decided to liberate the E and send it to Tahitii…(Where all E’s go to rest.) The sign now read, “Best Rats”
Wow! Two in one day. I was feeling great. Communication is going on out there in the world. In a subversive way. I jumped in my car and headed over the Bay Bridge- actually thinking about the written messages I had seen. I get majorly cut off by an SUV- I tried to imagine that the person driving is he mother of 6 and late to pick up her youngest. (I do this often when cut off in traffice, i imagine the person is in the hurry to visit a dying relative or a sick friend.) The traffic on the on ramp is STOPPED DEAD as my husband says. I read her license plate frame.. it says God’s Blessin’ . I wonder,does that mean god IS blessing or God (possessive) blessing. Then I see the rear windown. The owner of the car has used individual letter stickers to match her license plate frame. What she doesn’t realize is someone has altered the letters so they no longer match the license plate frame. it sayd
God’s BS’n
Ok. This is too much. Is this some sort of sign from the univers- all these alterations in just a few hours. What is the message?
don’t take myself too seriously. lighten up.
or
do ‘ ta m e u
oh who knows. all i know is i have a comunication and company and the world seems to be my science project. We must stop worrying about what others think about what we say – let them LET THEM .. no ENCOURAGE them to make our message whatever works for them. Put it out into the world and then let it go.
Rejoice in all of it’s reincarnations…. laugh… love the sublime.
This morning i called one of my dearest friends and asked her to come over. She made a joke that she had to wash her hair and organize her sock drawer.
Funny thing was, at that very moment, I had actually dumped my sock drawer out on the bed.. and ..i …was…reorganizing it.
Life is funny already. Imagine what a screen writer with a pen and some white out could have done with that moment. yes, I encourage improvement to my message. Welcome it.

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Quadruple Bar killed the Romance Star

The Cell Phone. The Electronic Leash. Now, we can be found everywhere. Our long quiet drives between appointments are filled with returning calls and scheduling appointments.. or maybe just catching up with some folks we miss. Our driving meditation has been excised from our daily lives. Constant input. We are miraculously surviving in a state of constant input.
I wrote a short story once. (okay, maybe more than once) about a future America when the average mortality rate dropped substantially to an average of 46. Ten-years before a scientific study proved that television watching was indeed a form of meditation. That is was the television, not medicine and science, that was causing folks to live longer. With the high level of stress in the world- folks lived longer because they went home and ‘meditated’ every night to pulsing light for at least 3 or 4 hours. Folks were amazed about this founding and many were excited. Wow, something that is good for you and a habit too.
Things changed, almost dramatically. The parks became busier… the streets full of more people.. stoops had people in the swing after work. There seemed to be a little bit of a buzz in the air. As soon as it was discovered that TV was good for Americans- Americans stopped being interested in it. There were TV studios opening up everywhere to encourge more watching. Folks set their alarms and dragged themselves to the Birkrum TV Station to watch in a hot environment… to a 24-hour TV Station to watch when they got done with their night job and TV Boot Camps to force feed those who really needed it.
Suddenly, the average age at death plunged below 50. With out the TV Crack, that ended up being like Wheat Grass, folks got weird diseases, heart attacks and strokes from the stress of the world.
We do not have television in the house. My sister says I am missing a lot of learning by not having the glowing box. True, when I visit a hotel, i sit glued in front of the tube.
Is technology good for us? I wonder if all of this technology is destroying romance. I know a lot of people who have dialed while drunk (not a good idea) or butt dialed someone (not a good idea if they listen to a conversation you do not wish them to hear) And these examles are not what I mean.
I mean those long romantic chases. Suddenly realizing in your New York 6-story walk-up that you are in love with your husband. Throwing on a brown suede jacket on a brisk February New York day to find him… running all over town ..through the village…calling his name.. Paul… Paul… finding him.. your stuffed shirt, uptight, conservative husband in Washington Square Park, dancing around.. Barefoot in the Park. (What makes this super cute is on a past date he wouldn’t take his shoes off in the park with you. )
You fall in love again. The sunsets on your kisses.
If this were 2006, he would have dialed while drinking and interupted your romantic quest for him.. he would have reminded you why you shouldn’t be looking for him in the first place.. and you would have never known about his naked tootsies. You would have packed up your stuff, slept on the couch of a friend for a few weeks and went about your life.
Video killed the Radio Star? Nah. It never came to pass. Technology has taken a bite out of romance… and caused a few of us to wake up hung over with our head in our hands checking our cell phone call history praying we didn’t actually make that call. Only to find we called our ex 17 times in one-hour with the average call time at least 3 minutes.
There are times when verbal communication is not the right thing to do.

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Blue politics and Red Bumps

I am still getting the hang of this mother’s intuition thing. I can look at my son for a few seconds and just “know” something isn’t right. It isn’t a ‘visual’ thing and it always leaves me feeling like the hypochondriac mom who just likes drama in her life. The last few times it has happened I have been right on target and very glad to have taken him into Kaiser.

Thursday morning Sebastian seemed just a little bit off. I coldn’t pin point what it was and chalked it up to a poor night’s sleep. There was pile driving the night before, really, I am serious, and the clang clang of a Giger – Lovecraftian  machine building a bridge in our town. The pile drive at night so they do not stop the CalTrain during the day.
I am at the office on Thursday and I get this little tickle in the back of my neck. I can’t explain it – I just know I have to go get my son. When I get him home I change his clothes and VOILA little red bumps all over his body. I check his temperature: 101.
I take him into Kaiser and it is not the chicken pops. It is some sort of crazy virus and our doctor had already seen 6 like cases that day. She called it a ‘benign’ virus as it only brings fever and mild discomfort – in fact it is an immune-system building sickness and not to worry. It is highly contagious and we might want to stay away from kids the next 3 days.
We had tons of plans. Crap. Disinvite everyone – stop everything. Started to feel a wee bit bummed… then we remembered of course the dang book we are writing. We got excited.
We decide to make the 2nd weekend of every September “Family Quarantine Weekend” We get some movies, order a turkey and all the trimmings from Safeway delivery, and hunker down for a lovely weekend. (With a very grumpy child) ((not my husband.. the baby!))
One of my candidates has an event I am supposed to attend. I warn everyone ahead of time that I can not touch there kids while i am there. My doctor says the chance of me passing it along to adults is extremely small- yet I refuse to hug everyone. I walk around with a vessel of that germ killing alchol gel stuff and religiously slather my hands with it. (just in case I forget and shake someone hand. I did. it is very hard to not be a touchy feely person when in fact you are a touchy feely person)
It was a successful day for the blue team. The progressive movement has a candidate who has the experience and can rallly the troups. I watched an entire room ignite into a festive community because one person risked convention to do something different. To be himself. The him he was before he was a professional. The him he was before kids. Before politics.
It was cool.
I rush home to find my red-bumped bumpkin sleeping peacefully in a puppy dog suit. his hat with ears flopped over his face leaving him looking like an angel.
Fast forward a decade or so and that little puppy will be rolling his eyes as he tells his friends, “Yeah.. I gotta stay home this weekend. I got some silly rash when I rash when I was a kid and my dorky parents had to make a national holiday out of it. Ugh.”
Naysaying. I am sure there were people in the room yesterday who would have preferred the candidate stick to convention. Give me the dry boring talk.. talk to me about sidewalks and buses and let me get on with my day. As I looked around, I say people smiling at each other.. doing some toe tapping. I still see folks shy away from the weird. Look around the room to make sure everyone else thinks it is okay before enjoying what is happening. A woman stopped me in the restroom and told me how amazing my hair was. (I have no fancy cut- just bright red hair.)
Alas, I think of the White House Correspondents dinner. Have you seen it?
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-869183917758574879
It is a must. Watch the audience. At first folks are having fun- then the little p president starts looking miffed.. slowly the crowd turns into this VERY uncomfortable room. So much in fact it is uncomfortable to watch it AND SO FANTASTIC!
Red Bumps and blue states? This experience indicates to me that risk, discomfort and the sure to follow judgment are the precursors to strength and true change: in our world and with my son’s immune system.
Careful. My sickness is contagious.

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A groove on a record makes a sound

I can remember the first time I encountered a CD. I was enchanted by the pretty rainbow colors on the play side of the disc. I salivated at the absolute ease in which I could play my favorite song over and over again without toil.
Yes, I had my humble music beginnings in he 8-track tape. Sitting in a 66 Dodge Dart i would dread the end of my favorite song realizing I would have to sit through 4 so-so songs to hear it again. After a summer of too hot vinyl seats and Cola-Cherry Icees, I would start to enjoy the latter songs. I can remember hearing “Hey Tonight” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (Creedence to those in the know) ((CCR to the tragically hip)) and immediately singing the opening bars of “It’s Just a Thought” (A song I acutally didn’t come to love.. just got used to) and feeling shortchanged .. incomplete.. as the DJ shifted to some other song from another band. I remember popping a Zot (remember those candies that fizzed in the middle) into my mouth and asking my brother to pop in the 8-track CCR. He smiled knowingly and we both signed as we heard the last few chords of “Hey Tonight.”
Back at the homestead I spent many an evening with my ‘portable’ pink record player playing my 45’s. Begging my brother to let me borrow the orange die cut inset that kept the 45 from wobbling around. I was always losing those darn things and my player didn’t have a permanent one. One scratch on one of my records and it was the end of the fun. The diamond needle of my player carefully navigating the groove to emit a sound… ‘oh oh big old jet airliner.. don’t carry me too far away… oh oh big old jet airliner.. cuz its here that i got to stay.” Steve Miller was god to me then.
I had a deadline today. I am a wee bit late in producing some proposals for a couple of big hitters. I just haven’t been able to figure out why I am dragging my feet in creating the pre-game that will get me in the field doing what I do. I had a glorious lunch with a couple of friends teaching them some communication techniques to sell folks on the idea of their organization. In the middle of training, I realized that we all have grooves in our communication style- not necessarily ruts – just comfortable places where we go.
I was i the same industry for nearly 23 years. Today, as my friends left my office to take what we learned back to their organizatons.. I realized that my groove is not creating the right music for me right now. The groove I am in is belching out “I can feel your heartbeat” by David Cassidy instead of “Sweet Home Alabama” by LS. Huh?
My bio years ago said that for fun I enjoyed teaching classes. It seems that perhaps I have not caught up with myself yet. Um, Christina, you are doing the training now as your day job. You get to do this for fun – yes… and now you must do the work during the day. Not after hours when you used to do it.
I used to come home and work on the training stuff – it was fun. Now I have this sweet little boy waiting for me at home.. waiting for me to pop in some music (not by 8-track, record, or even CD … by On-line Internet Radio) Tonight as we danced to “BustAMove” by Young MC I promised myself i would never bring work home again. It doesn’t belong here anymore. The fun for me is watching this little boy learn the white man’s overbite dance. Who teaches them this anyway?? He is naturally doing that weird dance.. all on his own.
A new groove- a new tune. Yum.

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No one names their child Benedict

There is actually a law in the United States that the name Benedict may not be engraved upon stone or metal. The result of a traitor, Benedict Arnold, who turned on our beloved George Washington at a pivotal military outpost : West Point.
I recently hired a graphic designer to help me create my corporate identity for my training company: Allegory. She noticed on my website our belief system surrounding management and the way people are treated. We both agreed that the way people are treated has a direct impact on how they treat others, their organization, their family and the folks driving in the lane next to them.
Benedict Arnold. Most folks do not realize this man was a highly decorated and loved military favorite of George Washington. He performed grand feats in our war against the British. The Continental Congress slighted him for some reason when it came time for a promotion. He resigned his commission basically taking his ball and going home. George Washington convinced him to stay in and help him fight. His feathers remained ruffled by his superiors.
At the next battle, he was badly wounded in the leg and he was placed under arrest. As the story goes, his superior commanded he stay in his tent during the scrimage and he instead jumped on his horse and lead the team to victory. By all accounts, he was the turning point in the battle… winning an important key moment in the America’s battle for freedom. (ugh, that sounded like a bushism)
His superior arrested him and shamed him. He was not acknowledged for his grand victory. Is this managerial slight why he turned coat? Or was it perhaps the love of an 18-year old loyalist woman. I vote managers.
How we treat people matters. We have no idea the ripple effect our actions have on those around us.
I am reminded to be gentle out there in the world. It is funny – one little managerial slight and an entire nation can cast away a name.

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Just add water….

A lovely gray San Francisco day at Ocean Beach. A slight breeze.. the sun hiding behind a curtain of cloud formations. The kind of clouds that do not even allow a game of ‘what do they look like.’ One giant blanket of dark hue over our head.
Standing at Louies, it is interesting to note the presentation of past and present in my view. Sutro Baths, a marvel in the late 1800’s… turned into an ice rink in its sunset years and finally burned to the ground in 1966. The Cliff House, new and shiny. (it has a few fires too.) A friend mentioned there is an inverse relationship between the quality of the food and the quality of the view. True.
Playland used to be here. Until the 70’s when a developer decided more cash could be made with some condo’s. Ugly condos most agree. A bulldozing of smiles and laughter on this seashore funtacular that once was.
I walked with a friend of mine who is running for office. An incredible person who is earnest and honest. A very high intellect- an incredible ability to use analogies and picturesque speech to cement understanding.
I dared him to build a sand sculpture with me. I had brough the equipment to this working breakfast. My goal, to see if he knew how to build one. To use this exercise as an example of what we think we know… what happens when we have someone teach us (me)… then what happens when we have the tools (pail, etc in my bag)… then what happens when we practice. I even had a flag to put on top that had his name and the office he was running for.
Asked him if he knew how to build one. Turns out he did. He told me this great story of sand castles and little boys. I asked him the key ingredient.
No answer really.
Water.
Without water there is no sand castle. Once can either build the castle near the shore and get the water underneath.. or one needs a bucket to add to the top. Bottomline: without water there is no sandcastle.
Relationships are water. I have often said the “true currency is the human relationship.” it is what we are all orbiting around in our daily lives. With out the relationship (water) no political campaign (sand castle), no home, no business…. none of it will work.
So often folks come to me to teach them how to speak in public. I can not teach what isn’t there. My role is to either remind folks of what they have been or point out what I notice that they may want to bring into the forefront. Today reminded me the why rather than the how. With out relationships it is all just another pile of dirt.
Here is what is funny about my scheme. I am a metal artist. i know how to build sculpture. I also know how to turn a phrase and give a great speech. I have never, in my life, built a sand castle. This morning I actuallly researched on-line so I could use this exercise to help my client have a breakthrough in communication.
As he drove away, I trodded down to the playa. Built a stunning rendition of Playland with out condo’s. As I added the crowning glory, his campaign flag attached to a Blue number 2 pencil, I realized how much of my work is a reminder to me. Each session with a client is a full technicolor neon sign reminding Christina to PLAY.
I wonder how many days I will be picking sand out from beneath my french manicure I got last week so I would look more like an adult.

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Remain Lofty

Remain Lofty,
I have never heard this sentiment before. My tendonitus fingers, even when in their healthiest form, would under perform in my attempt to describe the wave of understanding that preceded the goose bumps.
My friend Andrea is a brilliant woman. She is responsible for a movement. She heard a deafening silence in the progressive movement and has strived the past 4 years to beat a verbal drum.
There is a low rumble on the hills… and with any sound creating an echo.. the pitch is a tiny bit less resonant… and on the horizon .. marching in syncopated rhythm.. the detail brigade.
In the middle of an important meeting that will launch her vision into reality, Andrea met with all the details and contract rigmorale. As a true visionary would, she is able to in the moment connect back in to exactly what the progressive movement needs to remember.
Amid all that quagmire of i’s to dot and t’s to cross, she said “We must remain lofty.”
More than a bumper sticker, these words speak to our stumbles, no more than that, our hesitating the past few years. Most of us – in our vision- whatever that may be.
I am reminded today to dream.. dream ahead of my task list.. despite of my task list.
As I considered for a moment where my digits would lead me as I closed this record of my day, my son did his nightly search for me. Each night, about an hour after he falls asleep, he wakes up, actually rolls over into the crawl position and pecks around looking for his mommy to nurse. I do not think he is awake – he is sleep pecking… eyes closed.. in search of a warm breast to nourish and cuddle. He is dreaming. He has no fear – there is blind faith that I am there waiting for him. I am.

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The pillowcase method

If you live in the Bay Area, you are familar with the Hotel Workers strike against the Hyatt and various properties in San Francisco. I have studied this battle and after a ton of input, continued to conclude that the Unions were using a media manipulation tactic to gain an unfair advantage in mediation. Basically, the hotels conceded with every measure, except the contract date. The unions want all contracts nationally to end on the same day – the Hotels will not agree to this as it gives up too much bargaining power.
I could go a lot of places with this post – here we go. Gavin Newsom, our Mayor, received a lot of support and funding from the Hotel Council in San Francisco. Yet, our gutsy Mayor, woke up one morning, plastered some gel in his hair, and walked a picket line with the union workers. Whether I agree with him or not- damn, that is someone who is NOT a politician. Made me really respect the guy.
Last week, I was sitting in a board meeting for Emerge California. www.emergeca.org
At the beginning of the meeting, we provided time for the local Union to come in and talk to us about their fight. As the young representative talked about the situation, I must admit I looked at my fingernails once or twice. Then….
A woman in her 50’s stood up and introduced herself. She paused and looked around the room. She asked us, “Think about the last time you changed a pillowcase. She stopped for a moment and asked the question again. She then asked, “Imagine changing pillowcases all day. Can you imagine it? All day long. This is not easy labor.”
I hate changing pillowcases. It is not easy work. Why do we pay hotel workers, primarily women, at such a low wage. is it because this is a traditionally female dominated position? Do we not consider it hard work.
I realized I was sitting in a room getting ready to talk about politics and women. I am also in a city where our Mayor is putting women in traditionally male roles.. police fire…
This woman changed the way I feel about this hotel strike.
How? She didn’t talk ‘about’ things.. no charts… no graphs… just shared a human experience. In such a powerful way. To make it more powerful, next time she can bring a couple of pillows and have folks actually do it.
Now that, the pillowcase method, is great communication. To change a mind, we must first be heard. I heard you dear.

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Wow, this stuff actually works

I am having fun writing a book. I should say completing a book as it has been a project in my life for quite awhile.
Last week I was writing in my chapter about some advice Dr. Richard Allen gave to me about communication. Actually, he wasn’t directing the advice to me.. we were just chatting about how folks can sometimes go into drama and the appropriate responses to this drama.
I added this idea to my book realizing I was going to need to test it out at least 10 times to prove it is a sound theory.
Today was the day. I still do some sales work for the company I recently sold. It is a wonderful sound business; yet folks calling in are sometimes quite rude and dramatic. So this guy Jack calls me and leaves a message. Sounds like a nice man on the message so I give him a call back. He answers the phone and will not acknowledge who he is until I go through 20 questions. Once I convince him I am actually returning his call, he chastises me for not being clear that he had called me.
No worries. We are all busy and we are all plagued by sales people cold calling. He starts asking me about my business. I let him know what my experience has shown and my opinion on a few questions he has.
The man flips out. It is difficult to describe the next 3 minutes. He is attacking me and being so incredibly rude I just couldn’t believe it. He yells over and over again that I my opinion is wrong and that I should never say what I said again. Over and over he says the same thing. A new volume each time.
I thought about letting him know that we likely were not a good fit for him. Instead, I said over and over again, “You are exactly right Jack.” After my third time saying you are exactly right, he paused… stuttered and said, Um, hold on.
After sitting on hold for 2 minutes I quietly hung up the phone.
What I think happened: He realized in the middle of his tirade that he was in a tirade. I suspect if I called him today he would be a super nice man.
I won’t be calling him. It is just nice to know the technique works.
Wow. This stuff reallly works.

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They aren’t pimping tapes

All day I had been looking forward to going to The Lab (www.thelab.org) and seeing some friends with their kinetic sculputer and metal fire fun. Brett, our nephew, needed to see some visual feasts not found in Austin Texas. Right before it became time to saddle up, my little precious pitter patter, Sebastian, made it clear he was not going.
John encouraged me to go ahead and take the kid and he would stay home with the baby. I considered this option for a moment and realized Brett is surrounded by women: his mom, aunt Jean and Grandmother Lillian. This boy needs some guy time.
The baby fell asleep quite easily. My MAC was temporarily broken, (Thank you Eric for fixing it) so I was unable to sit next to the baby and write in my book. Thumb twiddle thumb twiddle.
So I get up and start doing what I do when I am bored …. cleaning up my e-mail in-box. (We do not have television. My husband doesn’t have TV for philosophical reasons. I share his reasons. I must say though, I got rid of my television over a decade ago when I realized it was crack for me and I did not have will power. We don’t miss it.. really. My sister TIVO’s shows so when I go to visit she can keep me culurally up to date.)
I digress….again. I see an e-mail from Verne Harnish (www.gazelles.com) .. he is a business guru who facilitates the Birthing of Giants (http://www.inc.com/events/birthingofgiants/) program I was in. In this e-mail, he reminds me that my friend Jason Abernathy, someone I respect and admire, suggested we watch www.thesecret.tv
I am about to trash it when I realize Jason is someone I should listen to. I am hovering over the delete button as my little boy wakes up. I move some blankets and pillows into my office, cuddle little Sebastian up so he will fall back asleep, and pay my 5.00 to watch thesecret.tv
I must be blunt. The first 5-minutes of this program made me gag. I can not think of anyone who I trust enough to continue watching this thing. I continue watching – I trust Jason that much.
It is quite incredible. A concept I have lived most of my life. A concept I lost touch with in the past few years. I am so thankful to be reminded of it.
It views like an info-mmercial. It will make you gag. They do not try to sell you anything at the end. Watch it.

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