Monday, March 17, 2014

Grandma Knows Best!

My friend, Barbara Raines, whose business card reads “On-Call Grandma,” transforms families. When she shares about the life-changes she initiates with children and their parents, I’m mystified. What does she do? Are there skills she uses that would benefit the rest of us in our lives, our relationships and our careers?
Barbara and I have known each other ever since we car-pooled to the est training over 30 years ago. We turned out to be neighbors and have been friends ever since.  When, as a lark and to generate more income, Barbara put her ad in the paper, she launched her career as a professional Nanna-for-Hire. But what does that mean? She’s more than a baby-sitter – although she does care for infants and toddlers when their parents are at work; and she’s not a nanny – although she becomes part of the family.  Then what IS an “On-Call Grandma?”   

 “The parents who hire me,” Barbara begins, “are usually first-time parents, older, in their 30’s, a professional couple with both working. This is the common thread and either they’re unsure about how a new baby will affect their lives – or now that the baby has been born, they need help.  This is where I come in. “
Barbara explains that, in general, she has observed a lack of physical contact and loving talk between these professional working parents and their children – little if any holding, touching, caressing and cooing.  As I’m reflecting on our texting-tweeting culture, Barbara recounts seeing the German grandmother of a client holding her newborn grandchild very closely and whispering soft, loving words in his face. The child would have heard and felt his nanna’s warm breath and loving presence – and felt connected and secure – experiences often lacking in the children Barbara works with.

“Children need the physical expressions of love to feel secure,” Barbara states, “otherwise they become distressed, extremely irritable;  have poor eating and sleeping habits and there’s a lack of smiling, babbling and eye contact.”
She continues, “As I observe the behavior of my clients, I ask myself, what’s best for the child; what needs to change quickly; what can I do to bring that change about; and how receptive are the parents?” These powerful questions launch Barbara into action, doing what she does so brilliantly.

“I take on the role of being another parent and give consistent loving attention to the child’s needs - including lots of eye contact, talking and listening, music, cuddling, play and fresh air. As a result, well-being, appetite and sleep improve!”
Wyatt was 13 months when Barbara began caring for him. “He exhibited all of the distress signals and his mother, a high powered sales executive, had her home office next to his bedroom.  She was on the phone constantly and did not give him ANY attention while I was there. He could hear her talking and moving about and would writhe and scream as I changed his diaper or dressed him; he was upset when I tried to feed or play with him. It didn’t take long to assess the situation. I needed to put more distance between Wyatt and his executive mom, so – when I arrived in the morning - I would pack his diaper bag and take him outside in his stroller. We walked for blocks in the fresh morning air, then go to a local green leafy park, where several nannies and parents gathered regularly with their little ones. This became our daily routine.”

“By giving him lots of caring attention, listening and responding to him, Wyatt began to mellow out. He learned to walk, talk and interact with the other children; he became more relaxed and laughed more. Around noon, we'd head home; usually he'd fall asleep on the way; I'd put him in his crib at home and he'd take a healthy nap. At age 2-1/2, his parents split up suddenly and dramatically.  Due to his mom’s mental state, Wyatt’s dad would bring him to my home on the days of his custody. Although at first, he reverted to his early tantrums and irritability; over time, he calmed down, smiled, played, and flourished.  I found a new park, new playmates and new activities for him and continued giving lots of caring attention to his needs – including to his developing mind and athletic prowess.”
“Wyatt is now in the 3rd grade!  I continue to see him periodically - meeting his dad and him for lunch, picking him up from school or attending a school function. He told his dad that I am like another grandma to him! He’s a big guy for his age, but a gentle, thoughtful soul who seems to have an understanding of and love for BOTH his parents. The continuity of his father’s and my loving, attentive care; as well as his mother's healthier responses to him have contributed to his security and well-being. Whenever I think of Wyatt, my heart swells with pride!”

Sometimes Barbara’s caring attention takes the form of straight talk. I was astonished when she shared about looking directly into the eyes of a 5 month old infant, who had shrieked to be picked up NOW. “It wasn’t the plaintive wail of a hungry baby asking to be fed,” she distinguishes. “She was demanding that I pick her up. I said to her, ‘My dear, I know what you’re doing. You and I need to get off to a good start and you need to know that you’re not going to get away with that shrieking.’“ Barbara speaks in a soft tone, with no angry edge.  “The baby stopped shrieking, her eyes widened and a smile slowly appeared.  Now, when she tries those Diva demands, I remind her, ‘Hey, we’ve had this talk,’ and she gets it. I’m being the wall for her and shaping her behavior – not in a suppressive way, or with any anger; but realistically, so she gets how the world works. Better now, while she’s young, than later. ” Temper Tantrums, beware!  
“I’m an old-style parent” Barbara elaborates. “I set limits, which actually provide security for the child; I’m consistent and I teach. I don’t lecture, but I guide parents into the practical realities, so they’ll understand that a child’s self-esteem is not damaged by setting boundaries.”

I flashback to my child-rearing days, wishing I could do them over again, then ask her how she learned to be so effective.  Was it being a parent yourself? The est training?  Barbara acknowledges that, as the child of alcoholic parents, the est training “blasted an opening to my inner child and started my healing process.” Est was followed by therapy and AA programs – Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and Al-Anon, for spouses of alcoholics. Eventually she became a sponsor and continues to coach AA members through their sometimes years’ long recovery. 
This process of healing from the inner child out, led Barbara to completely open her heart to children, gain psychic-level sensory acuity and become the “child whisperer” she now is.  When Barbara first meets clients, she quickly assesses what’s needed and wanted.  She shares about her very first client, another high-powered executive mother, who had her cell phone tucked between chin and shoulder, and was carrying on a 3-way conversation among Barbara, the phone and her daughter. The mother gave the little girl, a first child, 90 seconds to eat her oatmeal. The little girl had hives. “Children that age don’t get hives,” Barbara asserts firmly. Obviously the mother’s frantic energy was stressing the child out and put Barbara on alert to check out the cupboards and refrigerator for any foods that might be contributing. Were there ever! She later discovered giant-sized cartons of packaged toddler snacks and other “add water” white-flour foods, loaded with empty calories and allergyns.  Barbara also noticed that the little girl had lots of toys, but no interest in playing with them. Small wonder.

In est-speak, Barbara is the stand for “Loving Parents and Secure Children” and her antennae are set to pick up on  everything that’s inconsistent with that.  This first job as an On-Call Grandma was one of her toughest and helped Barbara develop her result-producing communication style. “There has to be an opening to speak into and I could see that this first visit was not the time to speak up. Everyone was too stressed out. When that opening showed up at a later time, I started out by expressing concern and keeping any lecturing tone out of my voice and words.  Later, as I gained more experience, I learned to share what I had observed while tracking children from infancy to toddlerhood. This then leads to my offering helpful suggestions. All the while, I’m looking for common ground in the conversation, to maintain a connection and lack of threat. Usually the common ground is what’s going to be best for the child.”  
1.       Wait for an opening
2.       Express concern
3.       Share from experience
4.       Offer suggestions
5.       Find common ground

To wrap up our interview, Barbara focuses on some of her guiding principles.  “My children and grandchildren have taught me to let go of my expectations that things have to be a certain way and to practice compassion. We’ve all messed up, from time to time, fallen down, gotten back up and done it all over again.  Acknowledging this has helped me let go of my pride and my need to be in control; to see the dignity and humanity in others and to stay fluid, go with the flow and hold my tongue when my buttons get pushed. This allows me to stay in the process of organic, natural change instead of trying to force it.“
Other guiding principles: “Children have taught me to bring all my heart, fully and totally, to my work.  I’m IN IT, without reservation.  And last but not least, I stay connected to my joy. With my heart and joy fully engaged, success shows up naturally in each family."

·       Release pride, expectations of perfection and needing  to be in control
·       Stay fluid and hold your tongue when your buttons get pushed
·       Fully engage your heart and joy

 Barbara’s success as an “On-Call Grandma” reflects every requirement that I teach about extraordinary communicators and speakers:
·       She sets outcomes – Having what’s best for the child show up
·       Has sensory acuity – Responsive to openness and receptivity, maintaining connection and lack of threat, observing what’s inconsistent with the outcome
·       Uses flexibility – Adjusting to the children and parents, staying fluid as needed or being firm as needed, speaking up or being silent
·       Is congruent – Communicating consistently with the outcome
·       Is fully associated – Giving her heart and joy completely to the task
·       Establishes rapport – Uniting with the families and maintaining their trust

Now it’s crystal clear why parents hire Barbara and why she’s so effective. In our "More, Bigger and Faster" culture, her  skill sets, attitudes and wisdom offer deeper, richer, more empowering choices for our lives, relationships and  careers.
Contact Barbara Raines at  

Pamela Kelly Communications -  


Monday, September 2, 2013

J.E. Brockman: Leadership in Art and Activism

"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole communityŠ" - G. B. Shaw

Beethoven, Shaw and Picasso are three of the greats who have married their art to political and social activism. J.E. (Jane) Brockman hopes to follow in their footsteps. I first met Jane, a classical music composer, when she asked me to coach her Culver City anti-fracking group, or "Fractivists," as she calls them. Tall and slender, an avid swimmer and yoga practitioner, Jane is humble, joyous and gracious. I liked her immediately and the more I learned about her and fracking, the more I wanted to know: What led her into musical composition and then into "Fractivism" and was there a connection?

"What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" - Professor

Thinking Jane had inherited her musical abilities, her response surprised me. "No one in my family played an instrument. But my mother had wanted to play the piano and so encouraged me to take lessons. I could never practice for more than an hour, yet I could compose for hours on end!" When Jane anonymously won a national competition with her Master's Thesis, at the age of 24, the judges were shocked when they called to notify her that she had won the prize. At that time, women composers were vitually unknown and they, assuming the name "Jane" was a misspelling of "James," expected her to be a man. Not only had she correctly spelled her name, Jane really was one-of-a-kind!

This was one of many rewards for her prodigious work ethic. "Music taught me how to learn," she shares. "I never felt like I knew enough and would compose from early in the morning till midnight." Today, Jane continues to apply these study habits to composing, learning about fracking and educating others. She picked up this trait from her father, an electrical engineer, who worked on hydroelectric generators and the electric car, in the 60's. "My dad was always studying about his field and also about patent law, which he loved. He was the best man I've ever known, with so much integrity, in big and small things. He would study and work through the week, then play with his daughters on weekends and teach us life lessons. He valued his integrity, took pride in providing for his family and, years later, when our mother developed Alzheimers, he kept it from my sister and me so our lives wouldn't be disrupted. He always did the honorable thing and I wanted to be like him."

Trained to push herself harder and farther, Jane studied for a year in France on an Alliance Francaise fellowship and for another year in Vienna on another fellowship, developing her own personal composition style. Then, after achieving her Doctorate, she beat out 278 applicants to eventually become a tenured professor at the University of Connecticut, teaching music theory, composition and orchestration, grad and undergrad. After 9 years as a professor, however, Jane became restless for more creative challenges. She won a Sundance Fellowship in 1988 and fulfilled her desires to study with great film composers, score film clips, and work with the Utah Symphony. With dreams of composing for orchestras, the obvious next step was a move to Los Angeles. "At first, instead of composing," Jane emotes joyfully, "I ate humble pie. After all those years of developing my personal style, in Hollywood, I was told to sound like John Williams!"

But Jane did score films, including "Conquering Space." She began producing the on-going "Music and Conversation" Chamber Series Concerts, is currently working on a commissioned composition for a poem of analogies about aging and envisions a serious operatic composition in her future. She also applies her powerful study habits to learning the ins and outs of fracking, educating and expanding her leadership.

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country" -    Thomas Jefferson

After moving to Culver City, Jane attended a 2012 Town Hall meeting about fracking. A line of concerned citizens was out the door. "Culver City is on an oil field and PXP (now Freeport McMoRan) had recently bought out Chevron's mineral rights and started fracking. People were mad as hell about the risks to public health and safety. Some had seen Gasland 1, documenting Pennsylvania's fracking horrors. Many were aware of the devastating effects to health and homes occurring in nearby Windsor and Baldwin Hills; so the State Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources had organized the meeting. As citizens spoke, I became more and more appalled that the government was not only allowing fracking to take place, but was touting it as a good thing!"

"Whoever Pays Is What You Get" - J.E. Brockman

The idea of a speech coach was planted during the Culver City meeting, as Jane listened to Pittsburg's former City Councilman, Doug Shields, speak. Pennsylvania had been ground zero for fracking and, having witnessed first-hand the horrendous health ravages and risks to air and water, Shields was instrumental in getting fracking banned in his city. Avoiding the technical jargon used by industry-paid think tanks to obfuscate and mislead, Shields spoke with simplicity and humility, cutting to the heart of the matter - public health, welfare and safety were more important than corporate profits. As she listened, Jane remembered how her great aunt, a speech teacher, had influenced her father to speak well. She tucked that idea away for the future. Now, being her father's daughter, she got to work, boning up on the facts about fracking.

"We have to leave our children a world to live in" - J.E. Brockman

Jane's study habits include a tool she learned in a memory course - to connect facts with emotions. "Just as I'd always brought passion to my composing, now I was outraged about fracking. Corporate personhood has put the health and safety of the public at risk!" she asserts. Then her tone changes. "But thanks to the internet, we can at least educate ourselves and others." For Jane, that meant applying her highly developed study habits to categorizing and filing, for easy access, the hundreds (over 800 now!) of articles, news casts, documentaries, scientists, politicians, corporations and corporate heads she studied.

She began networking, on-line and in person, to form alliances . Jane and her group of Fractivists are a storehouse of facts and figures, not just about fracking, but also about the democratic process of activism, consensus and public policy. They have connections to citizens groups at the local, state and national levels. One of these includes the Food and Water Watch (FWW), which, inspired by Jane's pioneering efforts, now plans to establish a speakers' bureau.

"Two paths diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one less traveled by" ~ -Robert Frost

Knowing how "way leads on to way," I asked Jane if she saw herself bringing together musical composition with "fractivism" in some way. With characteristic enthusiasm, Jane affirmed her vision of writing an opera loosely based on an investigative report about the Exxon Valdiz oil spill. "But first," she exclaims, "we've got to get fracking banned in Culver City!"

I'm confident that, as her father's child, Jane's word is law. The inevitability of time and study, together with art and activism, will bring forth her vision. Thanks to Jane and other "Fractivists", people are learning, at an exponential rate, about fracking's threats to the public health, welfare and safety of their families.  Fracking will be banned and, while Beethoven's, Shaw's and Picasso's activist masterpieces thrill, count me in as one of the fans who can't wait to sit in the presence of Jane's opera!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Barbara Goldberg, Founder of Wells Bring Hope : The Power of Renewal and Responsiveness

"Life is shot at us point blank" Ortega y Gassett

Powerful leadership begins with powerful self-talk - the interior monologue within our minds. Whether or not we lead others, we are a leader in our own lives. The people and events we encounter provide us with opportunities to transform our inner conversations and become more effective - or to stay embedded in the past.

When Barbara Goldberg, a marketing consultant for Fortune 500 companies, heard Gil Garcetti speak about the plight of girls and women in Niger, Africa, she responded. She could do something; it was simple. There was a problem - girls and women had to carry heavy containers of unclean water for miles to their villages every day; and there was a solution - drill wells in the villages. She could raise money for the wells! After all, she headed the Salon Forum, a popular women's group and Garcetti's audience at this 2008 presentation. Barbara had founded the group in 1993, thinking, "When women come together, they make magic!" Little did she realize that, 15 years later, she would be spear-heading Wells Bring Hope, which has donated the money for 129 wells to be drilled so far and has targeted 100 more wells for 2012.

Barbara met me near UCLA for our interview. "I never stopped to think how this decision would impact my life. The last thing in the world I wanted was to run my own company. I always worked on my own and never thought about building an empire. I loved my freedom too much!" Barbara not only exchanged her freedom for a full-time enterprise, but she also confronted having to ask people for money. "As a marketing consultant, I had been traveling all over, moderating focus groups, making presentations to large companies, but speaking to raise mony? That felt totally different and a little frightening. I had friends in the non-profit world who had shared how tough fundraising was. On the other hand, I had lots of inspiration and support from Gil and a core group of Salon Forum women who were as possionate as I was about helping the women and girls in Africa!"

Today, just four years later, Barbara has a paid pull-time Operations Manager and 70 volunteers, including teams for grant-writing, social networking, blog writing and donor development; a brand-new website, with "Water Circles," for fundraising campaigns that individuals can set up; and an outreach program to get schools involved.

When I asked Barbara who had influenced her the most in her life, her response was immediate. Her father, an entrepreneur in New York City, had instilled in Barbara her "Can do!" spirit. She also acknowledged an organization called Project Renewment (instead of "retirement"), which supports women in transforming their "golden years" into golden opportunities. Today, the girls and women of Niger are the beneficiaries of this support.

Barbara wants us to be clear the Niger (Nee-ZHERE) is not Nigeria. When I asked "Why Africa? Why not here in the US?," again she was quick to respond. "The needs here are well know. But Niger is the 2nd poorest country in the world; when we started, it was number 1! And we have a powerful partnership with WORLD VISION, one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world - bigger than CARE or SAVE THE CHILDREN combined. They drill each well with the $5,600 we provide; and then, through their local staff, they continue working with the villagers for 15 years, which ends up multiplying our original donation by five times!"

Tall, slender and beautiful at 70, Barbara attributes her success to "an action-oriented work mode, continually looking for new opportunities and better ways to implement them. Learning how to be a more sensitive, responsive leader has been one of my greatest challenges," she reveals. When she interviews volunteers, Barbara listens for what they want and tries to tailor assignments to fit their needs and interests.

In a recent trip to Niger, their team interviewed 87 village women. "They are our sisters. They're just like us in terms of goals and needs. They want their children to be healthy and strong, to get the best education - not just to survive!" Barbara is proud that the wells free up the girls to go to school and the women to develop businesses with the micro-loans they are given as part of every well-drilling project.

Barbara noted that, since Wells Bring Hope started four years ago, awreness of the water crisis has grown tremendously. With the recent acquisition of Panda Express as a corporate sponsor at the end of last year and national coverage in Glamour magazine, Wells Bring Hope has moved to a new level of success. "We're an example of how a few people can come together and make a dent in helping to solve a growing world problem. For me, it's a major life accomplishinment!"

"Do not be conformed to this world,

But be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

Romans 12:2

Monday, January 30, 2012

Former D.A. Gil Garcetti: Creating Opportunities

"Never, never, never, never give up!" ~ Winston Churchill

Been keeping up with the GOP primaries? If so, you've probably noticed that the race to the White House is a marathon with many laps and hurdles. Contestants soar, trip, fall, pull out or bounce back - proving that the elder statesman, Winston Churchill, hit the nail on the head in his response to "What is the secret to your success?" Never give up.

Former District Attorney of Los Angeles from 1992 to 2000, during some highly publicized murder trials, Gil Garcetti has run his share of races, cleared some hurdles, tripped over others and bounced back. Although he still continues to occupy the spotlight, it's now as a world-renown photographer and humanitarian. When Gil speaks about his pet cause, Wells Bring Hope, everyone gets it. It's about the water. Water is life. When wells are drilled in poor West African villages, girls and women are released from their long daily treks of carrying heavy containers of contaminated water to their communities. Wells transform their lives, by providing clean water and the freedom to go to school, become teachers and nurses, run businesses. Having undergone a sea change of his own, it makes sense that Gil Garcetti now brings the hope of clean water to these villages.

I met Gil last year when Spirited Woman founder, Nancy Mills, invited me to her series of conversations with Los Angeles artists. I saw his powerful photographic collections and heard about the cause to which he is passionately dedicated. Photographer, inspiring speaker and humani-

tarian seemed a far cry from my memories of the 90's and I wondered - What led to his shift? And what connects him to the girls and women of West Africa?

Later, speaking to students at Loyola High School, Gil shared about his life. He was born and raised in Downtown Los Angeles, to poor, immigrant Mexican parents. His father had been a non-violent gang member, but after getting married and in response to his wife's wishes,he became a barber. Gil remembered, as a boy, admiring the skills and grace of garbage collectors in his neighbor-hood. This was the seed, I thought, to his powerful photographs of the iron workers constructing Disney Concert Hall.

Another seed was planted when Gil was in the sixth grade, during career day. He met his first lawyer, learned about the "rule of law" and his eyes lit up. "I wasn't sure what I would do as a lawyer, but for the first time, I heard about college-level education and the growing possibilities that came with it!"

Throwing his hat over the wall, Gil graduated from UCLA's Law School, worked for Senator Eugene McCarthy and eventually was hired by the Los Angeles DA's office. Later, as a husband and father of two, with a fire in his belly and some experience under his belt, Gil decided to run for DA against the incumbant, who had fired him... and won!
Then came the murder trials of the Menendez Brothers, OJ Simpson and the feeding frenzy of gawkers, detectives, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, reporters, photographers (with the rest of us glued to our television sets and car radios). Gil was re-elected to office shortly after the OJ "not guilty" verdict, but - as anger about the verdict and related LAPD prosecution grew - when he ran for office a third time, he was defeated.
"It was embarrassing," Gil admitted to his teen audience at Loyola High. "I was kicked out of office, in front of everyone. But that's life and you've got to deal with it." At this point in his story, I recalled when he was speaking at an elegant fundraiser to a group of 200 community leaders. He cheerfully greeted us with "I have many of you to thank for booting me out of office so I could be here tonight sharing about Wells Bring Hope!" We laughed and he was off and running. Being voted out of office turned out to be a blessing, clearing out the old and leaving room for Gil's love of photography to take off.

"There is a natural law, a Divine law, that obliges you and me to relieve the suffering, the distressed and the destitute." ~ Conrad Hilton

In early 2001, at the invitation of the Conrad Hilton Foundation, Gil and his wife visited several poor countries in West Africa, including Niger. Gil was struck by the "joyous beauty of the people" and by the fact that 70% of them did not have clean, safe water. He photographed what he found, but it wasn't until after 9/11, that Gil saw the possibility of using these photographs to bring wells and clean water to these poor countries - poor Muslim countries - and demonstrate that the industrialized world cares about them. This was the turning point for Gil, a global cause he could devote himself to.

I'm confident Gil was a wonderful speaker before Wells Bring Hope - he's warm, funny, natural - but he's also a magnetic fundraiser and caring mentor. The November 2011 fundraiser at the elegant Lladro Gallery in Beverly Hills honored 15 year old Kevin Kilroy, who had raised money for 5 wells in Niger. She did this after learning about the staggering water-related mortality rate among African children and comparing her opportunities to those of the teen girls in Niger. Although afraid of public speaking, Kevin felt so personally connected to the cause and compelled to help that she spoke during 5 masses at St. Paul's cathedral and at her school. Her voice trembled, but people pitched in and she raised the money (matched by World Vision). Her father and brother traveled with Gil to witness the wells being drilled. When Kevin shared at the fundraiser, she was poised, purposeful and seemed completely at ease - there was no hint of the fear she had felt earlier! The results of the trip were captured in a brief, stirring video shown at the fundraiser and also at Loyola High, where Kevin's brother, Ross, joined Gil in his presentation.

This was Ross's first time to speak publicly about Wells Bring Hope. A young man, recently out of school and at the beginning of his career, Ross was marvelous - passionate, in charge of the facts and in touch with his personal experience in Africa, as a witness to the villagers when clean water shot up from deep underground and splattered onto their ecstatic faces.

Wells Bring Hope gained another moving speaker that day at Loyola High and we have Gil to thank for creating the opportunities for Kevin, Ross and other future speakers who will leap beyond their fear to follow their hearts and contribute to the people of Niger; and for reminding us that - if he and Churchill can trip and fall over hurdles, pick themselves up and throw themselves back into the race, so can we.

"For to the man who pleases him, God gives widom and knowledge and joy." ~ Ecclesiastes 2:25

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Deborah Blohm: Jewelry Designer, Gem Healer, Miracle Worker!

Before Deborah Blohm, a former public speaking student, gave me her gem healing, I was stressed and ready to chuck commitments and relationships that felt dead. After the two-hour healing process, in which she placed specific gems on different parts of my body, and asked me questions about my experience, I slept for 12 hours. When I awoke, life had shifted 180 degrees and, instead of being at the end of a cycle, I felt in the middle of life itself - fully here and now, totally renewed, facing a 360 degree future!
So who is Deborah Blohm? In her brochure and website, Deborah shares "My passion for gems began at age 5, in the back yard, breaking open rocks to find the hidden gems inside." Today, Deborah opens people up and their inner essense shines through. Since childhood, she pursued the family business of gemstones and jewelry - receiving advanced degrees in Gemology and Design; traveling the world to explore gem mines, cultures and ancient sites; and eventually developing her healing arts. As Deborah learned more about the hidden power of gems, she became a certified Advanced Crystal Healer and Jikiden Reiki practitioner. Along the way, she immersed herself in NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), Tony Robbins, T Harv Eker and Landmark Education - In other words, completing the past, clearing limiting beliefs and developing her generative and healing powers.

As you can imagine, her intention. sustained over her lifetime, generates a powerful presence. When Deborah took my public speaking class, it was this presence and tall, flaxen-haired beauty that first amazed me. Yet when she spoke about the children's book she had written for her daughter, "The Adventures of Julia, the Generosity Genie," it was her gentleness.

What is a Gem Healing? Before we began, Deborah explained how the gem healing works. Gems emit vibrations that are related to their colors (which is why sapphires are used to move the gears of watches). Then she asked me questions about my health and history to determine which gems to use and where to direct their healing energies. She prepared the space with burning sage, calming meditational music and laid out several trays of gemstones. I lay on a massage table and wore a kimono. Everything about her actions and voice was gentle as she tied gems beneath my feet and lay them over my body. Deborah worked with 12 chakras instead of only the 7 that I'm familiar with. These 12 included 3 chakras above my crown. This makes sense when I consider that we only use 10% of our brain. The healing she brings about is related to generating a shift in the brain and the body.

As she moved through the process, she asked me specific questions that prompted me to visualize and share what I was seeing. Sometimes my responses were related to events and turning points in my life; sometimes they were related to colors I was seeing. Occasionally she would exchange one gem for another. If a gem rolled off me, she said it was because that chakra didn't require healing. Throughout, her arms were circulating the energy above me. I felt deeply relaxed and apparently, my cat, Louie, did too, because he fell asleep next to my head.

Afterwards, Deborah and I discussed her prescriptions for my well-being, based on our session. I also asked her what 2012 holds in store for us. She was very clear and confident in her response." Together with continued natural disasters and societal upheavals, there's going to be a new begining, as we open up and become aware of what we didn't know that we didn't know." Later, well before bedtime, Louie and I were sound asleep.

A new beginning? Powerful presence, breath-taking beauty and serene gentleness - what an unforgettable combination and how perfect for generating healing. Deborah shared that, years ago in New York City, Tony Robbins brought her up on stage in front of thousands who were at his seminar, at the same time that her brochure was being shown on multiple screens. This image, together with her childhood treasure digs and my experience of her potent gem healing, say to me that Deborah Blohm is destined to present mass healings - in which the inner essence of thousands of participants shines forth. Perhaps this is the new beginning in 2012 that she speaks of?

Take advantage of Deborah's holiday discounts -


By Pamela Kelly Communications

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Butterfly Effect and My Best Student EVER!

The January 8 shootings in Tucson sparked a national debate about the relationship between words and actions. This debate has inspired me to share about my Best Speaker EVER!
It was Fall Quarter 2010, I was teaching Public Speaking for Professionals and, after 25 years of teaching, my syllabus was moving along smoothly. There were over 20 students in the course and it was time for Firouzeh (fih-roo-say) Banki to give her first speech.

"In quantum physics, there's a phenomenon called 'the butterfly effect.' When a butterfly flaps its wings in Tokyo, it may cause a hurricane in Brazil a month later. A single small change in one part of the world can be the trigger for huge alterations in another place and time. "

Her opening words snapped me to attention.

"Last year at this time, I was going through a very rough time in my life... and my heart was broken."

I hadn't expected to hear such a personal revelation and her words struck a chord. Firouzeh began weaving a story about the miraculous healing of her broken heart. She spoke slowly and with feeling - describing the entrance of an orange and black butterfly into her life, its injured wing and their growing relationship.

"I get the courage to put my finger underneath her body. Amazingly, she wraps her little legs (like hairs) around it. I start talking to her and she starts shaking... I bring her close to my face and start whispering. I notice her big eyes and we have eye contact. I tell her I am not here to hurt her. I will help her as long as she trusts me. Believe it or not, in that moment, she stopped shaking!"

Then Firouzeh's observations shift into a question, with startling revelations.

"How did this butterfly end up in my house? All of a sudden, it dawns on me, she is a reflection of me! Her wing is broken and so is my heart. She is afraid of not being able to fly and I am afraid of not being able to love again."

In that moment, Firouzeh vows to keep the butterfly alive and learns - if it is to survive - she must get it to fly. After 48 hours of feeding nectar to her multi-colored guest and throwing it into the air, Firouzeh's butterfly is strong enough to fly away.

"I don't know if the flapping of her wings caused a hurricane in Brazil, but I know she changed my life. She made me look at Mother Nature from a different perspective - to see how we take this planet and its beauty for granted. That butterfly was not just an insect; she came into my life for a reason... She gave me courage... If she can fly with a broken wing, then I can do anything! She made me believe in love again. Love comes from the most unexpected places and when it does, it conquers everything, including broken wings and broken hearts."

When Firouzeh ended, I was practically speechless - the deep unison of word, thought and feeling, as if her soul was speaking - had shaken me loose from my comfortabale expectations of the familiar, taken us through a metamorphosis and raised the bar for everyone.

After that first speech, each time she stood before us, Firouzeh astonished. During our final session, when everyone receives an award that has been voted on by the class, she of course received a Best Speaker award. But I also created a Best Speaker EVER! award for her, which had never before occurred to me to do. This was a new moment.

Later, I wanted to learn more - what was there in Firouzeh's process and background that I could pass on to others? When I interviewed her, she revealed how she prepared for class and some of the mystery began to clear.

To overcome her "heart in the throat, knees shaking, voice trembling" fear of English and of public speaking, here are the steps she took -
  • First, she only speaks on what she feels passionate about
  • Then, she writes out every word and tapes herself reading it 10 to 20 times
  • Each time she tapes, she listens and makes changes in her writing
  • She also practices in the mirror
  • Next, she comes early to class and does 3 or 4 runthroughs in the empty room
  • Then she sits silently and focuses on her breathing, until the other students begin arriving
  • Finally, during the class, she practices with other students

After I shared this process with my current class, a student copied it and had immediate results. Also, this rigorous process reminds me of the heroine of my SPEAK WITH PASSION, SPEAK WITH POWER!, Anne Reeves, who also developed herself into an award-winning speaker by transforming her acute anxiety through hard work into mastery.

I wanted to know more. What were the connections between the little girl who was born in Iran and the Best Speaker EVER! in my classroom? Firouzeh's background offers some insights. Until she was 15, she lived with her family in Iran. Although surrounded by religious extremism, there was religious freedom in her home. She and her 2 sisters were expected to excel in school and in life. When revolution erupted, her family escaped to Spain and eventually Firouzeh relocated to Montreal, where she became fluent in French and completed university, then dental school. She shared that her education in Iran and in dental school involved much memorization - which, together with her lack of confidence in her self-taught English - explained why she wrote out her speeches first and then, through drilling, became one with her words (By the way, her English pronunciation and grammar are almost perfect and completely unobtrusive).

Other events - marriage, motherhood, divorce - brought her to Los Angeles and a path of deepening self-discovery and greater self-expression. As the black and orange butterfly had been led to Firouzeh, so she was led to my classroom and into a new future. Unpredictably, she is now taking a creative writing course and has volunteered to speak to my classes, which I intend to take her up on.

Shakespeare wrote, "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature." Speaking IS action... which brings me back to the Tucson debate and points to another question:

When Firouzeh flapped her wings in Los Angeles, did it cause a hurricane in Egypt?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Women in Theater Present!

For their monthly Let's Do Lunch monthly meeting, Los Angeles' Women in Theatre features Pamela Kelly, a former New York stage actress, and now an author, corporate consultant and UCLA Extension Master Teacher. The event is Saturday Apr 17, 11:30 to 1 pm, at the famed Farmers Market in Los Angeles, at 3rd and Fairfax in the Hollywood Community Room, Second Floor

Pamela Kelly will be talking about "Being the Right Person in the Right Place at the Right Time" and presenting the stagecraft techniques she uses in her trainings to make public speaking fun and easy.

A former stage actress and voice-speech coach for actors, Pamela has trained thousands of business professionals in the US and abroad and has based her numerous public speaking and accent reduction courses and corporate trainings on her stage experience in Chicago and New York City.

“When I was acting, I did 33 productions in stock, repertory, Off-Broadway and on tour. Between jobs, I studied acting, voice and speech, singing and dance. In Los Angeles, I fell into teaching, loved it and haven’t looked back. The acting, voice and performance skills became the foundation of my courses. This WIT workshop will showcase several of these techniques, presented as simple steps that will have you replacing the fear of public speaking with fun, freedom and ease!”

Drawings will be held for copies of Pamela's workbook, "Speak with Passion, Speak with Power!" and other of her publications. All will also be available for purchase.

WIT’s Let’s DO Lunch series is held on the 3rd Saturday of every month (except Oct and Dec) in the Community Room, 2nd Floor. Enter by the clock and the room is just up the stairs. The workshop, free for members, will start promptly at 11:30am and wrap by 1pm. Non-members may apply the $5 fee to membership if they join within a week.

Networking and a wide choice of wonderful food await.Convenient public transportation and tons of parking either at Farmers Market or Grove. Two Hours free parking at Farmers Market with vendor validation.