Creating Community by Reaching Out

By Angela Noel

April 13, 2017

I practice hot, sweaty yoga. I love the quiet, dark room filled with other people. We start and end each session in savasana, or corpse pose. The yogi leading the practice provides an intention, the only voice in the room, as we begin. He or she might share a quote, a song lyric, a poem, or a riddle. I’ve both giggled, and allowed tears to flow. There’s something about yoga that opens up possibilities in me.

No competition. No expectations.

Akin to a spiritual revival, the bunch of us sweat together, breathe together, slurp quantities of water after six sets of chaturanga dandasana (four-limbed staff pose) together. But this feeling of community doesn’t happen by accident. Continue reading “Creating Community by Reaching Out”

Speaking and Listening: The Power of Truth

By Angela Noel

April 6, 2017

“You know,” my dad said from his living room in California, “for that You are Awesome thingy you do . . . maybe you could ask people about speaking truth to power.”

“Tell me more.” I held my phone to my ear, enjoying a peek of springtime sun three-thousand miles away.

“Well, in my career (he’s retired) I never really gave much thought to whether I should say something, I just said it. And it got me in trouble, even fired. But, it’s really important. Especially now. So, I want to know how people do it, and do it well.”

Separated both by geography and sometimes ideology, my dad and I do agree on many things. We both, for example, believe societies big and small–families, workplaces, neighborhoods, countries–need healthy, well-informed debate by people that care. We believe respectful discourse among equals brings clarity, if not agreement.

But, there’s that whole power thing that mucks things up.

Continue reading “Speaking and Listening: The Power of Truth”

A Creative Career in Four Acts . . . and Counting

Guest Post by Pamela Asbury-Smith

March 30, 2017

Act One: Motherhood to Quantico

High school and jobs, college and career choices. Perhaps it’s the era into which I was born but I wasn’t expected to go to college. In fact, I was told I wouldn’t need it because I’d just get married and have children, whereas my brother would need a college degree to support the family he would one day have. I did get my MRS degree–I also got a divorce after two children and had to go to work.

My brother never married, never had children. Irony of ironies.

Without any marketable skills aside from typing and ambition, I was able to land an exciting job as a clerk-matron in a small police department. My sagging ego needed that infusion of power. Continue reading “A Creative Career in Four Acts . . . and Counting”

Where are all the Wonder Women in History?

By Angela Noel

March 23, 2017

Late one night, as I sat around a high-top table for a snack after a long flight, a co-worker told me about his relative, a history teacher in Russia. “He’s had to re-learn history a few times,” he said.

“Huh?” I replied. “What do you mean “re-learn history?”

“Well, each time some new guy comes to power, they change the history books.”

Mind. Blown.

Don’t be naive, Angela, I hear you saying. This can’t possibly be all that surprising, can it?

On the one hand, it’s not.

When I was a kid, Pluto was a planet. Now? Not so much. But whole swaths of history revised? Good guys become bad guys and vice versa. History books, I’d always thought, were supposed to be agnostic of politics. Just the facts, right? Continue reading “Where are all the Wonder Women in History?”

Why We Should Stop Being Polite

By Angela Noel

March 16, 2017

I was in college when the first Real World by MTV crashed into our living rooms.  What happens “. . . when people stop being polite and start getting real?” the show asked.

Interesting question . . . only I don’t think they ever answered it. In thirty-two (and counting) seasons, have we seen a whole lot of “real?”

Drama. Yes. But, real? Continue reading “Why We Should Stop Being Polite”

Simple Lessons in a Complex World

By Angela Noel

March 9, 2017

“It’s like raisin bread,” Ryan Allshouse explained, drawing a blue rectangle on his white board studded with blue dots, “As the bread bakes, it expands and the raisins get farther away from each other.”

“I still don’t get it,” I said. “How can the universe be expanding? Expanding into what? The bread expands into the air. Where there was air, the bread is now taking up the space. When the universe expands what gives way?” I cross my arms and tap my foot, brow furrowed, unhappy with the raisin bread explanation.

Ryan laughs. “I don’t know.”

Years ago, Ryan might have kept this conversation going. He might have argued with me and showed me the research on the expanding universe and why, from a space/physics/science-y perspective, my question was silly. But this Ryan, older, wiser, and passionate about knowledge and deep thoughts, has learned the importance of not-knowing. He’s learned the immeasurable value of the one statement every human can (and should) make, regardless of years of study and expertise.  Continue reading “Simple Lessons in a Complex World”

The Big Bang of Self-Awareness

By Angela Noel

February 16, 2017

Twenty-three and recently single after a painful break up, graduated from college but still waiting tables, I pretended to myself that I was already both confident and self-aware. I needed neither parents nor boyfriend, my ego told me, I could figure this “being an adult” thing out on my own.

One night, I finished my shift and decided to meet my friend Reggie at the little bar he managed. Littered with mismatched throw rugs and comfy couches, Kingman’s Lucky Lounge on Grand Avenue in Oakland, California seemed as good a place as any for me to spend my time and a few of the dollars stashed in my apron pocket.

My own personal Big Bang awaited me inside the mirrored walls of the Lucky Lounge.  Continue reading “The Big Bang of Self-Awareness”

Technology, Leadership, and Life

By Angela Noel

February 9, 2017

“If this program succeeds, you’ll all be proud of it,” Komal Solanki told her team. The long days and constant pressures to meet the deadline took a toll on everyone involved in the huge program. Engineers, business teams, consultants, vendors, project managers, and leaders hunkered down for two years to implement an important technology project. Teamwork was critical to its success.

Laptop always in hand, Komal had to ask her team for more effort and more hours. With grace and poise, she advocated for her people while working closely with the project managers and senior leaders in charge of setting the direction and timeline. When the members of her team felt low, she reminded them of the pride they would feel when the work was done, and done well. Neither she nor her team are superhuman, but they seemed that way at times–and still do.

Cultivating a successful team requires clear vision and the ability to focus on results, no matter what the circumstances of the present moment may be. In work, as in life, the way things have always been done may not be the way things should always be. Komal, balancing tradition and innovation, knows this better than most. Continue reading “Technology, Leadership, and Life”

Fighting the Body Image War

By Angela Noel

February 2, 2017

Simone de Beauvoir, French author and philosopher, wrote, “To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.” Put another way, to have confidence in one’s body is to have confidence in oneself. Like many American women, I have some body issues. When I’m not mad at it for its pimples, wrinkles, or saddle bags, I’m disappointed in it for not being healthy enough. In 2016 I struggled with my body. My confidence wobbled. Clearly, something was wrong.

If your read my post A Resolution Resolution you’re familiar with my annual commitment to creating Intentions, statements that encompass an idea or way of being, to live into. This year, one of my Intentions is to honor my body. To do that, I’ll need to address years of negative influences, both outside and inside my own head.

Continue reading “Fighting the Body Image War”

Becoming Invincible

By Angela Noel

January 26, 2017

One dark December night in the late 1980s, I pulled a pair of rollerblades on and slipped out the front door of my childhood home in Southern California. Not typically the fearless type, the notion of racing around my block in the middle of the night thrilled me, even as I worried I might come home bruised and bloody. The moment the wheels hit asphalt and I gained speed down the gentle hill not far from my house, I reveled in the speed. I was invincible, pure motion and spirit in that moment.

That’s how it feels to talk to Hadley Barrows, children’s book author, publisher, and changemaker. To know her, is to feel as if all things are possible. Continue reading “Becoming Invincible”