Queen of Katwe


Just this past week I took my grandson, Trey, to see one of my new favorite movies, Queen of Katwe. The story is set in Uganda and depicts the struggle of a ten year old child, Phiona, and her family. The struggle is to survive, to make ends meet, to take care of family keeping them fed and out of danger. Phiona learned to play chess from Robert, a young missionary,  truly dedicated to serve others well before himself and his own family. Phiona, a child prodigy, becomes a championship player, opening doors to a whole new world for herself and her family.

Please see the movie as you will feel many different emotions:  sadness, joy, excitement, fear. But I am no movie critic so I will say no more and leave the critique up to you. Rather, I want to talk about one simple line that Richard, the missionary, said to Phiona when she felt out of place on a college campus competing against students far more privileged than she. In her frustration she said she didn’t belong there with all the smart, well educated and well dressed “city kids”. She wanted to return to her home. Robert, seeing her tremendous potential wanted her to  consider going to school and he saw her ability to play chess as the way to earn her scholarships. He said in a quiet voice,

“Sometimes where you are is not where you belong.”

Yes, Phiona lived in Uganda, and with all its discomforts Uganda was where she found  comfort, but that wasn’t where she truly belonged.   Phiona belonged someplace else where she could get an education and advance both herself and provide for her family.

I liked what Robert said. It well reminded me that while my life in Florida was wonderful for 16 years, at the beginning of the 17th year, I knew that I needed to be someplace else.  It was a difficult concept to explain to my friends. Surely I was not unhappy, or lonely, or running from any one or any thing.   I just felt that I belonged somewhere else.

“Sometimes where you are is not where you belong”. It is our responsibility to find out where we belong, where we fit, where we can be at our best and make the world better. Where we belong sometimes gets confusing and the lack of clarity often is reason enough for us to just stay put. But if we are open to the idea of being someplace else, we begin to see our journey taking a new direction, and we begin to move in that direction, opening new learning and new experiences.

I hope you are very happy and content right where you are, but I still encourage you to consider, “Where else?” What else might there be out there for you? Continue to open your eyes and ears, to ask questions, to find out the next part of your journey.


Taking Inventory as an Order of Business



Recently in a small local grocery store, I had a flashback of my life as a child. You see, my grandparents, parents, and aunts and uncles owned a grocery story, A. Esposito & Son.  We sold the finest of meats, produce, and canned goods. We even had a liquor license with our own brand of wine and liquor.   Once a child in our family became school age, it was expected that she would work after school and weekends. The youngest kids weighed potatoes and washed produce.  The next group took orders on the phone, packed orders and stocked shelves.  I did it all:  I ran a cash register at 7 years old, took phone orders and packed them, helped customers in the store, and even learned to make a fruit basket.  Working in the store was a perfect fit for me, a high energy child who enjoyed feeling productive.  Every year, I was assigned the jelly bean project at Easter time, even though I had given up candy for lent. I weighed literally hundreds of pounds of jelly beans into one pound bags, without eating so much as one jelly bean until Easter Sunday morning.

Our loyal customers became my extended family and were privy to my quarterly grades in school, the progress of my piano lessons, and as a teenager, the names of my boyfriends.  Looking back, it was an incredible training ground for my social skills as I learned to quickly understand the customers’ expectations and exceed them just about every time.  While I did a variety of jobs in the store, my favorite was running a cash register.  As I stood at the register, I had a clear view of what was happening all around the store.  One morning I happened to see  a customer  carefully slip a bottle of scotch into her purse. I knew immediately that she had little intention of paying for the bottle.  I looked around but my dad and aunt were nowhere around to handle the matter. When the woman arrived at my register, I ran each of her items through the register and then before I rang the total, I whispered, “Mrs. T…., would you also like to pay for the bottle in your purse?”  “Oh, silly me!” She said as she sheepishly pulled the bottle from her purse and put it on the counter.  I remember my Aunt saying later on that I handled Mrs Tyson with the utmost aplomb for a child.  I didn’t know what aplomb meant but I knew it was a good thing.

As an order of business, every year on New Year’s Day, all my aunts, uncles and cousins gathered in the store to manually take inventory.  That meant we would count every item on the shelves in the entire store—every bottle of wine, every can of peaches, and every bar of soap. Today, of course, the task is done moment to moment electronically but back then we counted every last item.  The soaps were the least expensive item, and there were hundreds of them, so the youngest of the cousins had the job of counting the bars of soap and calling in the numbers to our Uncle Anthony who recorded them on a large calculator. The job took all day long.  By taking inventory, we learned about our business:  the dollar value of the goods on the shelf, what items sold, and what items were not customer favorites and should be eliminated from the shelves.

The flashback of taking inventory year over year got me thinking.  Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN take stock of who they are and they make changes accordingly. They determine who they want to be and continually assess and reassess themselves to ensure they are headed in the right direction.

Perhaps the idea of taking inventory is one I should consider regarding my personal management.  Just like taking stock of everything on the shelves in the store years ago, I can determine the value of my current behavior, making sure it is as it should be.  I could determine what behaviors are my top items, that is, those that serve me and others well. I could also determine the behaviors that are time wasters and do not add value to my life or that of others and eliminate them.  I will consider taking my personal inventory as an order of doing business and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did taking inventory in the market so many years ago.










For years when I was a little girl and twirling around and around fast and furiously with my arms outstretched, I remember my mom saying “Enough!” Then as I continued what was deemed to be an unruly behavior, she would sternly offer, “Enough is enough!”  Unfortunately my mom and I did not share the same definition of the word enough. Mom really just didn’t like my ongoing twirling at all, feeling one twirl was enough.  I wanted to twirl enough times so that when I stopped I would feel like the world was still spinning and taking me someplace special. Clearly,  my mothers “enough” was not my “enough”.

Twirling till I was dizzy was just the beginning of a behavior that would both delight me and haunt me as I grew older.  As an adult,  always searching for another great pair of shoes, or another Santa for my collection, I never seemed to have enough. I remember far too often returning from grocery shopping and while putting away four large cans of crushed tomatoes I would discover I already had 5 large cans in the pantry. I could almost hear my mother say “Enough is enough”.  When  I was moving to a smaller condo a few years ago I knew I had to give away my  20 pairs of tennis sneakers, again, I heard my mother loud and clear, “Enough is enough”.

Once again, I have moved and downsized and rid myself of the clothes I did not wear, the basket full of flip-flops, and kept only one of the 18 brightly colored spatulas.  This time I heard myself say,”enough is enough.” I supposed I always knew that happiness isn’t in the accumulated things, and that less is more, but somehow today I am more aware than every before of the beauty of “enough”. Having just enough of what I need is freeing.  I have the absence of clutter, no more collections and 1 can of crushed tomatoes in my pantry. I feel blessed that I “have enough”.

High SUCCESSTROGEN women know the concept of enough well, they know where their happiness comes from, and they need not surround themselves with more than enough of any one thing. The lack of clutter becomes order, both physically and mentally.

So if I see you on the street and I am wishing you well, you will now hear me say, “I wish you enough” because that is truly what I want for everyone I care  about, enough, no more, no less.  I wish you enough so that you realize more quickly than I did, that enough is truly enough.




Recently  I attended the taping of the Rachel Ray show.  Prior to the taping of various segments, we were coached on how to be a good audience, on how to show we were having a good time.  “Interesting,” I thought. ”  I have consulted UTube on many occasions to learn how to repair tile grout or make a French braid, but I never watched a UTube to learn how to look like I am having fun.   Did others really need instruction on applauding and laughing?  Laughing and clapping come easily to me.  And I proudly state that I never needed coaching on how to show I was having fun before!

I am an “applauder” by nature if there is such a word… it is who I am. I “applaud” friends for their good deeds, a new outfit, or the help they have provided me.  Further,  without being cued I applaud after a live theater performance, the ballet, and the opera.  As a matter of fact I applaud not only those who entertain, but those who design the set, sell tickets, or hand out the programs. I applaud my grandchildren for everything from using the potty to scoring the winning basket. I applaud my students after their presentations or when I hear they have secured the job of their dreams.

Applause is a form of recognition for a “job well done.” It comes spontaneously from the heart. It requires no cueing or practice! Perhaps the audience coach didn’t  think the show deserved a lot of applause on its own, and therefore he “saved it” by exaggerating the laughter and applause.

Unlike the cued kind of applause, spontaneous clapping is celebrative! It feels good to the one clapping  as well as for those receiving the recognition of a job well done. As parents and grandparents, we know that our children need praise and recognition to help guide them toward making good decisions.  As business leaders, we recognize the need to acknowledge the contributions of others because without them we could not accomplish our organizational goals.  As teachers and professors, it is our responsibility to positively impact our students and what better way than to recognize their achievements.

High SUCCESSTROGEN women spontaneously and publicly applaud others for their accomplishments and good fortune.  They feel joy for what others do well and easily applaud and cheer, often creating a groundswell of cheer from others who may need a cue.

Don’t wait for a cue! Clap when the spirit moves you!

Bowl of Friends

Bowl of clear chicken soup with noodle and vegetables

A few weeks ago, I answered the phone with a scratchy, nasally tone noting the soreness in the back of my throat.   “Got a cold?”, my girlfriend asked. “Yup” I answered as I sneezed and blew my nose for the umpteenth time. “I sat next to a woman on the flight yesterday who was coughing her head off and it was inevitable that I would wake up this morning with her cold!” While I rambled about how I thought there should be a medical check point right before the security check at airports there was a knock on my door.  I opened the door only to find my girlfriend with her phone pressed tightly between her left ear and her shoulder as she retorted “…Just what we need, a medical check point, another delay to get to our gate!” She had a container of hot chicken soup in her right hand! How did she do that without skipping a beat?

Chicken Soup, exactly what I needed!!! After all, this was no “common cold”. Incidentally, I detest the term “common cold” as whenever I have a cold there is nothing common about it. Mine is always the worst!  It didn’t matter that it was only 8:30 am,  chicken soup was the only thing that would knock this cold out of me. I remember well a 2007 NY Times article by a pediatrician claiming that chicken soup may be a better choice than any over-the-counter cold medicine. And to think this chicken soup was home-made, hand delivered, and arrived before I even thought of it! What a world!  Three bowls later, I was well again!

Lately with the stress of trying to sell my Condo, I was feeling down and out just like a few weeks ago when I had the actual cold. I was in need  of a kind of “cure” that the bowl of chicken soup provided.  As a result, I took the 4 tickets I won for the New York  taping of the Rachel Ray Show, researched Broadway shows, some current restaurants, and made some phone calls.  My four-day excursion with a “Bowl of Friends” took on a life of its own, eliminating any pre-trip stress, encouraging a ton of laughter, and sharing. The  TV Show taping was fun and easy as we laughed and clapped on cue and took home over $400 worth of prizes. “Hamilton” on Broadway is a must see for anyone wishing to be blown away by a rap/hip hop history lesson.  We walked the High Line for incredible sites, went to the Observation Tower at the 911 Memorial for an awesome panoramic view of Manhattan,and  ate far too much at two incredible restaurants, Santina and Modern.  We walked and talked, shared stories from our past, and just enjoyed hanging out together.  And, in lieu of a hotel,  we stayed in a century old home in Rumson, NJ. The “bowl of friends”, like the bowl of chicken soup, was a mixture of several different things blending together to become something uniquely wonderful. This excursion was all I needed to feel good again.

Women with with high SUCCESSTROGEN have stress, of course they do, but they know how to manage it. They know when it has taken over too much of their lives, they have to  tone it down….for me, toning down the stress meant gathering  a “Bowl of friends!”

Who are You?

1159529-blake-shelton_Russ-Harrington-617-409As I am settling into my new condo in Bethesda, MD, I think it is time to put myself out there on match.com again. I keep hearing about someone’s friend who met an  awesome man she met on Match.com.  Many women have met the right guy on Match.com, I know that, but it hasn’t happened that way for me. (Yes, you have my permission to read anything you like into that…it just hasn’t happened).  My ultra independent female friends would say “f-em all, you don’t need anyone!” My softer, gentler friends would pause and position a question not really looking for an answer but rather just putting it out there for me to ponder.  They would ask in a slow, quiet voice,  “Do you feel the need for someone in your life?”

My life is full with adult children and 12 grandchildren, friends and students, and a multitude of activities that I can certainly do alone or with my women friends. So I probably don’t need someone, but  finding  someone would be fun.

“So why not make it happen?”, I ask myself.  I have certainly had a multitude of interested match.com possibilities and yet after one cup of coffee, I get “aegeda” (Italian word, meaning itch) to close it out and go home. The few times I allowed “it” to happen since my divorce, I found that my screening process isn’t without loopholes and for the most part the new man of my dreams is not at all as I thought—clearly not as he presented himself. He was either dishonest and unfaithful, or the anger he said he didn’t have reared its ugly head one time too many.

While walking this morning I heard one of my favorite Blake Shelton tunes that begins with

“My oh my, you’re so good-looking…” and I smiled romanticizing that he is saying that to me.  But then he begged the question, “…Who are you when I’m not looking?”

And that brings me to you and me on a far more important level than dating. Parents, this song refers to you. While you are telling your children to tell the truth, be kind, and help others, is that truly what you do when they are not looking, when no one is looking? Students, while you are studying about how to lead effectively in the industry for which you are preparing yourself, are you applying what you are learning and leading now? And those of you who lead and manage others, I know you are teaching the way, but are you modeling the way as well?

I do not believe we have a work and a personal life. I believe we are one person with a set of values that is obvious whether we are at work, on the tennis court, or at home with our kids, obvious whether we are relaxed or stressed, happy or mad. We are one person. Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN are who they are, 24/7. Their consistent value based behavior defines them.

So thanks to Blake Shelton for a great thought provoking song. I know who I am when no was is looking. Maybe in my Match.com profile I will just put the words to his song. Being realistic, I suspect my experience this time on match will be much like any other time. I will have a few good stories to tell and I will meet some really “nice but not for me” kind of men. But just maybe this time I will meet that fun, smart guy  who can honestly answer the question “…Who are you when I’m not looking?”



As  I was walking downtown this morning a woman passed me sporting a tee shirt that read “More Issues than Vogue.” I laughed out loud, and then just out of curiosity (and I guess, far too much free time on my hands) I grabbed a Starbucks and googled Vogue magazine–just how many issues have they published?  “Yikes! 12,995!!!!!  “.  That gal has a lot of issues.

As these simple daily observations seem to do, the woman with the tee shirt forced me to consider  my very own issues.  Much to my relief, I was unable to come up with anything near 12,995! But two struck me as unresolved issues worth noting.

For example, one issue is my inability to give up sugar!  Every now and then I make an effort to do so by first and foremost throwing out and giving away any sugar product in my refrigerator and pantry.  Last month I was on that kick and got rid of : four chocolate covered cherries, three Klondike ice cream bars, and a box of Auntie Mae’s Toffee Crunch. “What did you say?” You never heard about Aunty Mae’s toffee crunch? Oh honey, you have to try it. You can get it on Amazon. I have tried every brand on the market, and Auntie Mae’s toffee has the best chocolate and crushed nuts all—oh my goodness, see what I mean?? Sugar is an issue.

Another issue is my obvious restlessness.  My life is great here in Sarasota, yet I  decided to move North, searched/found my next home, and listed my condo. NORTH of all places where lips get chapped, cold winter winds blow right through you, and flip flops are out of place several months a year. I can easily defend my decision to move but the underlying issue is my need for change….I have moved five times in the last 17 years of my Florida life. I seem to love where I am living when I am there but after a few short years, I begin seeing myself living someplace new, not necessarily bigger or better, just different.

Nevertheless, I have issues, you have issues, and so do our friends who claim they don’t.  What is important is that  we acknowledge them and deal with them to effectively manage our lives. Yes, I probably still eat too much sugar but otherwise I eat healthy, 5 fruits/5 vegetables, almost no meat, no alcohol, no smoking. My sugar count is low and all is well.  (ah, another issue is how I justify my sugar intake).  While my issue of constantly moving becomes financially costly, I always seem to get fully engrossed into my new location, get to know people quickly, and enthusiastically find my way.

I will miss this incredible happy space I have created, my friends and connections here with different business owners, agencies,  and the arts. I will of course miss my students. As a matter of fact, one thing that is different about this move is I am deliberately hanging on to my connection with my students at USF. I have agreed to do some special projectets for the Business School and set up a Linked In Leadership Discussion Group to keep in touch with them so I can follow their exciting careers. Students, you are the toughest part of my goodbye!

Women with High Successtrogen  have issues. They are aware of them,  tend to them from time to time, and sometimes just let them be knowing they are what makes them unique. Here’s to your issues and mine and who we are because of them.