Monthly Archives: February 2014

Pi’ilani’s P’s for Diversity and Inclusion

When I joined my company fifteen years ago to work in a group called “Corporate Diversity,” I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My definition of “diversity” was limited to race and gender. Like most people, I focused on protected classes; I saw this new position as an opportunity to give voice to the underdog. Since I joined the workforce in the mid 90’s, there were very few role models for me to emulate. Where were the Gen X Asian-Pacific American single mothers of biracial children with disabilities that were running companies and calling the shots? Diversity was a concept I connected with immediately and was one of the only ways I thought I could make an impact and leave a legacy.

The word “inclusion” hit me as very fresh and exciting, an opportunity to bring straight white men over 40 into the work and really meant the effort was for everyone. After all, I quickly learned that culture change is not about taking anything away from one group to give to another, it isn’t a “fight the power” theory, it is about creating space for all individuals to fully contribute and thrive. And corporate culture change must be focused on the bottom line, working towards keeping a competitive advantage in these uncertain economic times.

So I write this as an attempt to support my fellow Diversity and Inclusion Champions and share some lessons learned. I suggest that you keep five things in mind, dubbed: “Pi’ilani’s Ps”. These are tips, guidelines; a compass to help direct your work

P1 = Positioning

Who are your greatest advocates for culture change? Who do you need to “woo” early on in the process? If you have a key thought leader in your executive team, pull on their knowledge, experience and reputation to Position your effort. Diversity and Inclusion must be integrated into the business objectives across your organization. Ask yourself, “How does Diversity and Inclusion help us sell cars?” It must be an integrated part of the business strategy. Diversity and inclusion is not “one-off” or a “nice thing to do,” it is about achieving business objectives through people’s inclusive actions.

Be cautioned, Diversity and Inclusion is not about the picking items off a list, “If I give education, establish employee resource groups, celebrate cultural awareness months, create mentoring programs and change my performance management system, we will have an inclusive environment that leverages diversity.” Do not liken corporate culture change to ordering three items from a fast food restaurant to build your own meal. You must have stakeholders across the organization that embrace and communicate the business case for change. Real change occurs when this work is tied to the core of your company’s business. Behaviors, systems and processes must support an inclusive environment and the business case for making these changes must be communicated. And communicated. And communicated again. Employees will assume the initiative has passed if they don’t hear about it more than once every six months. If you think you have communicated the business case for Diversity and Inclusion, I assure you that you have only just begun.

P2 = Passion

As a Champion, you may find your belief and Passion will carry you through the most challenging days. Keep your eye on the vision that positive change will create a windfall of activity. Associates will be free to break the bonds of “corporate think.” Creativity will surface. Communication will be clear, concise, direct and supportive at the same time. Teams will become higher performing, working together to achieve company objectives. Remember this, because you will run into many roadblocks and challenges.

One needs passion to create change, passion for what is possible, passion about seeing results and passion for the prospect of creating lasting change. If a person becomes involved with Diversity and Inclusion for monetary rewards or recognition from others, it is doubtful that he or she will be successful. This work is about service to the company and to others.  The ultimate goal is higher performance, which only comes about when people are feeling valued, supported and respected for their individuality.

Po’okela (Excellence) Ahuwale ka po’okela i kau hana ia ha’i
“It is through the way you serve others that your greatness will be felt.” 

P3 = Patience 

My mom asked me to describe what I do for a living. I answered, I bang my head against the wall of resistance to create change. At times, the wall of resistance actually cracks, which gives me a moment to rest and inspires me to continue. 

Patience is about realizing that change happens when one convinces their constituents to slow down to adjust behaviors so they can speed up the way they do business. That is not an easy feat in a sales environment. Allow yourself to see the signs of change, acknowledge the necessary work you put in and celebrate the victories, no matter how small. Don’t be your toughest critic and minimize your accomplishments, this work takes time, this work takes dedication and this work takes patience. Keep that in perspective when someone tells you that you haven’t been successful.

Because change is slow and sometimes painful, an internal practitioner must spend a great deal of time explaining and re-explaining why change is necessary. Communication is key and one can never over-communicate these three things 1) why change is necessary 2) what progress is being made and 3) the successes to date. When change is occurring slowly, it is easy to overlook the small wins along the way. These celebrations will keep an internal practitioner sustained and provide case studies to prove that Diversity and Inclusion has impact. Whatever metrics one uses for success, movement on a large scale takes years.

Have Ho’omanawanui (patience) – patience with change, patience with your leaders, patience with your fellow Champions/associates/team members and most of all, patience with yourself.

P4 = Partnership

Partnership is a critical step in positioning an organization for change. Who are your key stakeholders? Change does not happen in a vacuum, change does not happen because the D&I Department says we have to change and change does not happen through even the best laid plans. Change begins at a local level, through people working together.

Keep your eye on all three levels: organization/system, department/division, and individual. Which partners do you need at each level to influence change? What key executive must “have your back”? Which thought leaders within each division will take the baton and direct, lead and support the change? Spread the change by encouraging ownership and accountability in each business unit.

Partnership is about being deliberate and strategic about who you align yourself with to create change. A company is better off having a small core department that reaches out and creates ambassadors – Diversity and Inclusion Champions, advocates, partners – who can be the arms and legs and customize the work to each division. One size does not fit all in diversity and inclusion. The Diversity and Inclusion strategy must be over-arching for the company and flexible for each business unit as well.

P5 = Pay-off

What gets measured, gets done. We have heard it time and time again. What is the burning platform for your organization to change? How will Diversity and Inclusion help sell more cars? Or move more parts?  Or bring more customers back to the service department? Or better serve my customers? How will Diversity and Inclusion help retain top talent, saving dollars and time? Answer the WIIFM for your audience and your audience will be more likely to come around and support this change.

Pay-off is the key to impacting the middle manager. These are the supervisors and managers who are called upon to implement the big projects, the same supervisors and managers who are striving to become the next executive in the corner office. These individuals are integral to your success as a Champion. A large challenge is the balance between leading strategy through design and recommendations and allowing business units to own and operationalize their own change work. These Ps may help you convince your stakeholders and larger organization that they are accountable and responsible for creating lasting change.

After over 15 years of work, our company is at various stages of growth and progress. Some groups live the change, others dance around the level of commitment necessary and some hold their breaths, waiting for Diversity and Inclusion to fizzle out, like many business initiatives relating to culture change. I often wonder how long it takes for people to understand that this work is not a flavor of the month, my company a is truly committed to higher performance through Diversity and Inclusion. We have been recognized for our Diversity and Inclusion work by external organizations such as DiversityInc., Black Enterprise, Hispanic Magazine, Billion Dollar Roundtable, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and others. This recognition forces us to continue to raise the bar on Diversity and Inclusion and to strive for continuous improvement.

Finally, a few other “Ps” that come to mind are: People. Culture change is all about people, customers, associates, executive and you. Remember supporting your company’s culture change effort is about creating a space where all associates can thrive and find a healthy and supportive work environment for their mind, body and spirit. Happy people lead to another P, Profit, which we are all working towards today. For you, don’t forget to set aside time to Play and take care of yourself.

Creating change is often a lonely place. Always remember that the objective is to find a win-win-win pay-off: the company, the associates and You – all benefit from Diversity and Inclusion.

Yinzers! My Experience Speaking on Diversity and Inclusion at “Vibrant Pittsburgh”

Thank you, Word Press, for reminding me that I was late in posting a blog entry for last week. I’d been in three time zones in two days, got a bit distracted and felt very jetlagged.
Last week, I travelled from 70 degree weather in Los Angeles to 30 degree weather (with snow on the ground) to Pittsburgh, PA. If there was ever a doubt about how much I love the work that I do, making this trip in a 23 hour timeframe must be proof.

I was invited to speak at an event, the Inclusion Best Practices Series, hosted by a wonderful organization called, Vibrant Pittsburgh. Vibrant Pittsburgh’s mission is “to embrace inclusion, ensure the Pittsburgh region’s growth by attracting, retaining and elevating a diversity of talent and promote the region nationally and internationally as a diverse, welcoming region of opportunities.”

It is also worth sharing the Vibrant Pittsburgh Statement of Values with all of you, (pulled directly from their website.) “Vibrant Pittsburgh believes that a diverse workforce is essential to the ongoing economic vitality of the Greater Pittsburgh region. We must attract, retain, elevate and educate people of all backgrounds, including New Americans, and create an environment that is inclusive and welcoming.
It is critical that the regional workforce be prepared for the job requirements of today and tomorrow, and that we attract qualified and diverse talent from across the country and around the globe.
Through the Inclusion Best Practices Series, Vibrant Pittsburgh features high-profile Chief Diversity Officers who will share their stories and best practices on a range of diversity and inclusion topics. Employers of all sizes will have the opportunity to learn from and interact with industry leaders on diversity and inclusion practices key to their business success.”

The topic of my session was – Mentoring as a Diversity and Inclusion and Elevation Strategy.
My friend and colleague, Melanie Harrington, is the CEO of “Vibrant Pittsburgh.” This woman is sharp and I respect her drive and intelligence very much. She served as General Counsel for D.J. Miller & Associates, Inc., a national management consulting firm. When I first met Melanie, she was President of the American Institute for Managing Diversity, Inc. (AIMD), a national nonprofit diversity think tank based in Atlanta, Georgia. AIMD conducts research, education and public outreach programs on the issue of diversity. I was invited to speak to the Diversity Collegium in Atlanta on the topic Generational Diversity and the event was hosted by AIMD. Based on that experience, Melanie and I remained connected through social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. For those of you who scoff at the value of LinkedIn, scoff no more. Professional networks can help you gain employment or allow you to communicate with potential employers. In addition, leveraging those connections may help you in more ways than one. Melanie had seen articles about my company’s mentoring initiatives and diversity and inclusion strategy. So she reached out to invite me to speak at “Vibrant Pittsburgh.”

In preparation for this session, I looked up some facts about Pittsburgh, to supplement the input I received from my colleagues. From 2000 to 2010, there was an overall population decrease in Pittsburgh of almost 9%, according to the 2010 Census. In looking at the demographic mix: 64.8% of the population was White, 25.8% Black or African American, 0.2% American Indian and Alaska Native, 4.4% Asian, 0.3% Other and 2.3% mixed. 2.3% of Pittsburgh’s population was of Hispanic or Latino origin of any race. This city looks very different from any place I have ever lived. With a complexion as such, my instincts told me that the word “diversity” probably carried a lot of baggage associated with affirmative action and racial issues. I elected to NOT focus on this aspect of diversity but rather, to talk about all the dimensions of diversity that I bring to the work, as an individual change agent. I introduced the diversity in my household:

Me:
• Gen X
• Asian-American
• Single Mom
• Youngest child of immigrants
• Straight LGBT Ally
• UCLA Bruin
• Introvert
My Daughter:
• Gen C
• Bi-racial (Filipina & African American)
• Multiple Learning Disabilities
• High school freshman
• Extrovert
• Steelers fan

(By the way, regardless of who in Pittsburgh heard that my daughter was a Steelers fan, each person immediately responded with, “Steelers Nation!!!” The shuttle driver told me that there is a Steelers bar in Sochi, Russia. My cab driver and I chatted about the Steelers upcoming NFL draft prospects. It was great way for me to connect with the locals. I respect what this city has done with their professional sports teams’ branding. Football, hockey and baseball all share the same colors – black and gold. This creates a sense of unity and pride that I found tangible but somewhat indescribable, it just “is”. I have mad respect for the loyalty that the people of Pittsburgh show for their professional sports teams. The black-and-gold color scheme has since become completely associated with the city and I liked it.)

And after the resounding applause that my daughter is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I lef
t all that talk about defining “diversity.” I didn’t come back to race at all during my presentation. Regardless of that, I heard a lot of questions in the large session and afterwards that danced around the issue of “diversity” and the baggage associated with the word. I had joked that 25 years ago, some companies took correction fluid to the business cards of people who worked in Affirmative Action and typed “Diversity Department.” However, I know that people all over the world, especially in the US, think that Diversity only means race and gender.

The bulk of my presentation was on creating a culture of mentoring and that any culture change takes time. An organization needs to make systemic adjustments in rewards and recognition programs, and have on-going education for employees to develop and practice new skills. A “mentoring program” won’t change a culture, it isn’t like flipping on a light switch. Culture change takes leaders at every level of the organization working on the same strategy. There is no magic bullet.

From what I gathered, the city has a long legacy of families staying within Pittsburgh. People are born, educated, employed and die within a few miles of their families. This culture of cradle to the grave existence must play out in the workplace. And not in an intentional exclusionary way but I imagine that it is hard for new people to break into the inner circle in Pittsburgh. Consider a time when you were “the new kid”, perhaps at a new middle school or transferring to a new department at work. Remember how hard it is to make friends and build a network of people to support your development? Imagine being new to Pittsburgh and trying to find a mentor. It must be harder for people who are different from the mainstream population, any outsider probably struggles to connect to the culture of Pittsburgh. I imagine that plays out in specific workplaces, as well.

I hope that the work that “Vibrant Pittsburgh” continues to grow and feels support from leadership within the region. If Pittsburgh wants its population to grow, attracting and retaining more generational diversity, people of color and immigrants must happen. Other large metro areas are experiencing booms in population growth via ethnic minorities and immigrants. From the 2010 Census numbers, Pittsburgh has fewer minorities than most other major regions in the country. Hopefully, my presentation added value to impact the mindset of the participants in the room and to Vibrant Pittsburgh overall. The notion of ensuring growth and development in any region of the US is critical to the on-going success in our country. Being “Team USA” also means being “Team Pittsburgh”, even if I am an Island Girl living in California, who writes a blog called “DiversityNerd”.

Juice Cleanses Aren’t For Everyone

Many of my friends were trying juice cleanses for a variety of reasons:  some were feeling sluggish, others experienced bloating, many were dependent on caffeine and addicted to junk food or they found their skin breaking out as adults.  Article after article reported that juice cleanses would eliminate toxins from your system and your entire body would feel better.  I wasn’t trying to lose weight or shake caffeine.  My thought process was, I don’t eat enough green veggies on a regular basis, maybe I can drink them instead.

There were multiple brands and options of fresh juice cleanses:  Blueprint Cleanse, Pressed Juicery and Suja.  And of course, there was the infamous Master Cleanse (Lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper in pure water) which was actually a juice fast.  I elected to try the Suja brand 3-day juice cleanse, partially because they had the most coverage in personal blogs and also because I could purchase them very easily at Whole Foods. 

A juice cleanse system that comes pre-bottled was very convenient for me.  I didn’t own a juicer, I didn’t frequent my local Farmer’s Market regularly and I wasn’t ready to commit that much time and energy to making my own juice at home.  I’ve heard horror stories about how messy in-home juice appliances are and how much space they take up on a kitchen counter.  Suja sounded like a great option, despite the hefty price tag per bottle.  I took baby steps and tried a one-day cleanse at the end of May 2013 and then jumped into a three-day cleanse two weeks later.  Here are the notes I took on my iPhone:

Suja Cleanse. One Day May 30, 2013 & Three Day June 12 -14, 2013.

May 30, 2013
Up at 5:50 am, excited to start my cleanse.

My body is a bit sore from a good outrigger workout last night. I got to stroke the  unlimited canoe with a slightly mixed crew. I have to remember my form and not use my arms so much. That boat is so much lighter than the others!  And it doesn’t turn very easily.  Anyhow, I’m  going to be drinking a lot today so I’m thinking I will be hydrated.

8:06am. Dropped off Kanoe. My first thought was “man, I can’t wait to go eat something!”  Then I laughed and said, “oh no, I have to drink that ugly green cleanse drink”. I will start with “Glow” as soon as I get to work. This ought to be an interesting day and I hope that my pee doesn’t start to glow. Head is definitely hurting a bit.

8:19. Stomach growling.  Almost to my office.

8:38. Here goes my breakfast “Glow”.  It is very green. Taste isn’t bad. It tastes like green veggies. I don’t like celery, which is in this, but it tastes more like kale and spinach and collards and cucumber. A tiny but of apple but not much. And an after taste of mint and celery. Not awful. This is a good start!  Stomach still growling. Pau at 9:35

10:03 I’m not feeling hungry but I found myself wanting to snack out of habit. Hmmm

10:47. Time for a snack. “Fuel”  This is very orange in color.  Very, very orange.  Annoying orange.  Carrot Orange Apple Pineapple Lemon Tumeric.  The Tumeric worried me, it isn’t my favorite spice, but I liked the taste just fine.

11:00 Headed downstairs to see the Asian Pacific American heritage month celebration. They have food booths from Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and Korea.  It all smells delicious but I don’t feel hungry at the moment.  Thank goodness.  It would have been hard to eat clean during lunch today.

11:53 Running an errand now. Not hungry.  Keeping busy is a good distraction from hunger.

12:30. Lunchtime already??? “Purify”.  Carrot Apple Celery Cucumber Beet Lemon.  Blech!  Not celery again!!!  Guess I am going to open it in a few.  My stomach just growled.

It took me an hour to finish “Purify”.  My headache was gone and now it is sort of back.  But I’m not dying of hunger at all.

3:35  This damn headache is getting worse

4:25 starting “Fiji”. Another green one. Not crazy about the celery aftertaste but it isn’t as bad as “Purify”.  I’m feeling good and not starving.

7:28  I had a massage at 6:00.   Now I’m starving with a slight headache.  I need a lot of water and my dinner juice, “Green Supreme”.

Didn’t get to drink it until after 8:30 because I had to cook dinner for Kanoe.  They had yummy ground turkey spaghetti sauce with pasta and soft garlic bread  It smelled great but I really wasn’t hungry, once I started sipping on my “Green Supreme”.  When I was almost done with the juice I made some hot decaf tea.

Unfortunately, it is already 9:19 and I still need to have my “dessert”.  Everyone says this one is delicious.  Hopefully, they are right.  Vanilla Cloud was rich and comforting.  It tasted and felt like a reward after a day of cleansing.  Today was a success.  I never wanted to eat my arm.  I didn’t cave into eating the yummy food of my people at lunch.  Nor did I succumb to the desserts or fruit at the training.  Three days will be possible for me, when the time is right.

June 13, 2013
Been stressed over my Miami trip and Kanoe’s graduation from 8th grade next week.  But I haven’t been eating too much CRAP, (carbs, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners/colors and processed foods) thankfully.

7:30am. Starting my cleanse with Glow.  I like this one a lot.  It is sweet and the celery isn’t that strong of a taste.  I hope I’m not running to the restroom all day today!   9:23 so busy with phone calls I haven’t had a chance to pee yet or finish my Glow bottle.

10:00am. Fuel.  This is super tasty.  It is fresh and a tiny bit citrus.  This time around, I feel like my taste buds are really embracing the juices.  They are much more flavorful than last time.   Had two meetings so it took me longer to finish the Fuel.

12:00. Just noticed that I don’t have a headache.  This Purify doesn’t taste awful but it is my least favorite one so far.  It tastes salty to me. Salty fruit.  Weird.

2:37 Time to drink my Fiji juice.  Thank goodness it had Fuji apple in it.  So much better than Purify!

5:50. I’ve noticed that eating clean the day before really alleviated any bad side effects so far.   No headaches but my body is so cold.  Not only because it is chilly outside, I feel cold from the inside out, like my bones are icy.

I was freezing so I had a blanket put on for my massage.  Afterward, I decided to eat 1/2 an avocado and the stir fried mushrooms and zucchini and a cup of tea.   That is helping my Fiji juice go down.

June 14, 2013

I woke up this morning with lots of energy.  I felt like I slept really, really well for the first time in a long time.  And I didn’t have to take any melatonin

It’s 8:00 AM and I have a little bit of a headache and I’m definitely hungry.  I’m going to open up my first use of the day which is Glow.  Today will be very busy because I have to work, go to the eye doctor, take Kanoe to get her nails done and then help chaperone her eighth-grade graduation dance.  Juice on the go, juice on the go!   8:45 finished Glow and I have a cup of decaf green tea on the side 😉

9:30 I started my Fuel.  I haven’t pooped yet today, which is weird.  Fuel still tastes really yummers to me.  The Tumeric isn’t bugging me as much as last time. Yay.

Had my Purify for lunch again.  It really is my least favorite.

1:00pm now.

1:50pm. Starting my Fiji and finishing my Fuji apple with it.  My stomach feels hunger and the chewing of a few pieces of an actual apple is really helping.

5:30 I warmed up veggies and had the other half of my avocado from last night.

7:15 I started drinking my Green Supreme while checking in kids for the dance.  It was delicious when I was distracted while drinking it.

9:10 I started my dessert.  Yum.  Dance is over in 43 minutes

Day 3
6:14am. Woke up naturally, I feel more rested than usual but I had a cramp in my calf muscle (right side).  So I will eat a banana this morning before paddling.   The strangest thing is I woke up completely parched.  My tongue feels dry and my head feels like I’m dehydrated.   I need to rest up this weekend.

7:07 after my lemon water, I powered down my Glow.  It tastes really fresh and a little sweet.  I could see having one of these more often, just for the green stuff and nutrients.  I’m going to eat my banana on the way to paddling and drink more water.  During practice I plan to drink my Fuel and I have another bottle of water for the boat.

One side effect I did not anticipate with the Suja juice cleanse is sleeping really really well.  I feel like I wake up more refreshed.  I definitely don’t feel like I need my melatonin or Lunesta.

Had a nice hard outrigger practice.  I ate one piece of bread and 1 tablespoon of coconut peanut butter.  And that was all while drinking my Fuel and another bottle of water

I tried to nap but didn’t really sleep much.  We went to church and decided to go out for dinner afterward.  I had ahi tuna and avocado as an appetizer with sea bass and steamed spinach.   It was delicious but I could taste all the salt in the shoyu.  It was still good but my taste buds are extra sensitive right now.

At the end of three days, I didn’t lose any weight.  My digestive system did receive a rest, for sure.  My skin was fine, thank goodness.   Sometimes people experience breakouts from a cleanse.  The toxins can cause acne.  I definitely slept well for three nights.

Keep in mind:  Juicing isn’t for everyone.  It is probably obvious that pregnant women should not deprive their bodies of solid food.  Also, individuals who have diabetes, heart disease or low blood pressure, should stay away from strict juice cleanses.  For those of us without existing health issues can decide for ourselves whether a 3-day, 5-day or 30-day juice cleanse is a good option. 

For me, living healthy is a deliberate choice one has to make.  It doesn’t happen three days at a time.  The Suja juice cleanse was a great jump start for me, especially because I consumed more green leafies and now, I own a juicer so I can make fresh juice at home any time I want to do so.  Honestly, I enjoy vegetables a lot more than I did pre-cleanse.  However, I am not giving up my wine and whiskey.  I will eat less processed foods and refined sugars.  My body will stay in motion and my heart will stay open to endless possibilities. 

 

“Your Legacy is Bigger Than That Relationship”

imageNovember 2013 was a time of transition. Prior to that, my heart was locked up in Stillness, I kept myself busy moving and shaking and yet, I felt like my life had become a made for TV movie that I was passively viewing in the background. No, worse, one of those After School Specials that always had a sanitized moral ending that fit into the Judeo Christian view of “the right thing to do.”

My life affords me opportunities to meet powerful individuals: politicians, activists, community leaders, actors, musicians, podcasters, bloggers and more. People who are creating change in this world that can be so cruel. They change systems and policies and practices to create space for more inclusion. I do my tiny part to support this sort of change at my company. But in November, I felt like it was time to make a few changes in my personal life, including ending my very short lived marriage. Fortunately for me, my soon to be ex-husband felt the same. We had a serious talk about our relationship and the opportunities for improvement and the result was that we would end it, we would end the Stillness in my heart.

Stillness
All around me the world is moving
a blur of motion
in every direction
Frenetic
Schizophrenic
with no destination
My life moves sways ebbs flows
and my heart is locked inside
protected by a fortress of solitude
cold steel walls
alone
never moving
only beating for existence
not pounding for life
Stillness

With that decision made and papers being filed in court, I selectively told people that my marriage was over. A few good friends heard the news directly from me I sure didn’t wave a flag that said, “Hey biatches, my marriage failed and I’m getting divorced!” If someone asked me directly, “How’s married life?” I felt obligated to be honest. The story was repeated over and over. People were shocked and concerned for me but I never shed a tear. When I told people, I almost expected people to look at me with disgust and wonder how I could have failed so badly and made such a bad decision to commit to something that didn’t last. It became clear to me that my true friends only showed me love and I had to forgive myself for making a mistake.

For example, one person from work said to me: “I am a little puzzled though, why someone would walk away from a girl like you. You have many great attributes… intelligent, elegant, great personality, big heart and (with all respect) beautiful!! Well, I have faith there is someone that WILL appreciate and compliment you. Just keep being ‘Pi’i’ and continue to shine your light! Your legacy is bigger than that relationship.”

Muchas gracias, work colleague who was so kind to email me this little note, it lifted my spirit like a virtual hug.

And it was a reminder of the concept of POWER en espanol, PODER. The word itself has strength in the way it sounds, say it out loud in Spanish or English and the word just has juice. POWER is staying true to one’s personal beliefs and values by living one’s purpose. It is critical to leave negative experiences in the past to start with a clean slate. One must also to not forget to always take care of oneself (I always take care of others first) and to laugh often. My intention became to move out of STILLNESS and back towards POWER.

There is power in being vulnerable. My heart is open to accepting what is to come. I don’t want to ignore when I feel a tug or am compelled towards a person. If I get hurt, I get hurt. That notion no longer scares me. Most importantly, let me be clear that I don’t think relationships are about “completing me” I prefer the notion of someone “complimenting me.” Think of an infinity symbol looped around two whole individuals vs. the yin yang/two halves becoming one whole. He needs to have his stuff together: focus, drive, command, strength, sensitivity, athleticism, and more. A tall order, I know, but I know he is out there. That is what I want and I am a patient woman because I am confident that it will all be worth the wait. So I live my life all in patiently waiting for that lightning bolt to ignite a slow burning fire that heats up over time. PD!

And I have to recall my list of Fifteen Things to build a powerful connection.

1) Don’t get involved with someone relying on their potential to improve, complacency may be close behind and you can’t force someone to become who YOU want them to be, you can only love and support who they are and love them, warts and all. (Um, maybe not genital warts.)

2) Be madly and passionately in love with your partner, their happiness should be priority and making them happy should make YOU happy. This does not mean sacrifice, suffer and bend over backwards for him, it means true love is about giving and true love gives back in return.

3) Sex is important in a relationship.

4) Communication styles are as important to understand as communicating. Introvert/extrovert; dialogue/debate; private/public; phone calls/text; in person/FaceTime. Figuring out communication styles goes hand in hand with figuring out personality styles. That is critical to understanding each other, especially how your partner deals with stress.

5) Similar values are critical as a strong foundation to any relationship. Is education important? traveling? life experience? meeting people? culture? art? music? politics? money? family? what is romantic to YOU? Work that out ahead of time, don’t assume your partner will be convinced that your way is best.

6) Sex IS important in a relationship.

7) It is ok to take care of yourself while in a relationship. Martyrdom sucks.

8) Stitch said it best, OHANA MEANS FAMILY family means you are legally obligated to these new people related to your spouse/significant other/life partner. Keep that in mind during the courting phase.

9) Sex is REALLY important in a relationship.

10) Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, it’s what you are expected to give — which is everything.

11) Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have at that moment. Sometimes you have to just shut the f*ck up and accept what your partner is giving you because they are giving you all that they have. Get it?

12) Just to clarify sex TOGETHER is really important in a relationship.

13) Make yourself a better person and know who you are before you try and know someone else and expect them to know you.

14) No man is worth your tears, and the one who is won’t make you cry unless they are tears of joy.

15) Did I mention that sex is important in a relationship?