Tara's Thoughts

Leah Zimmerman, Family Conflict Expert, CEPA

Founder of Stepping Stool Coaching

Coaching is a thing. In our society it has become an industry. 

That says a lot about our need for guidance through this very complicated life we humans have created for ourselves.  There are business coaches, fitness coaches, lifestyle coaches, vocal coaches, spiritual coaches, financial coaches and more.  And each category of coaching is individually important for the specific endeavor chosen. All wonderful resources! No shade here.

But think on this:  Across all of those industries and focused goals there is a shared need that often goes unrecognized and unfulfilled. Throughout our lives and careers the one ever-present element we cannot escape is the need to communicate with other people. And sometimes that is not easy to do.

For most of my life when face with difficult conversations all I knew how to do was present the facts as I knew them and hope the evidence would turn animosity into agreement. My record of success was nearly zero.

Understanding how to negotiate difficult conversations is a skill that remains out of reach for many of us.  And yet, if we are to have agency in our own lives, if we hope to achieve our goals, the ability to handle difficult conversations is essential. It is a learned skill we will need to apply in every area of our lives.

I first met Leah Zimmerman, founder of Stepping Stool Coaching, in a group setting outside of her coaching work.  I was intrigued by the calm, centered, courageous way she presented herself.  I was struck by the gentle certainty and inner peace she projected.

At one point she spoke of a difficult conversation she knew she would be having in the near future and then said, “That’s OK. I know how to handle difficult conversations.” 

Even with no information about her background or profession I was compelled to say to her (only half joking!), “Could you teach a class in that?”  Her reply: “Actually, that is what I do.”

 At one point she spoke of a difficult conversation she knew she would be having in the near future. And then she said, “That’s OK. I know how to handle difficult conversations.”  I was compelled to say to her (only half joking!), “Could you teach a class in that?”  Her reply: “Actually, that is what I do.”

Well.  Having lived a life that did not include the opportunity to learn any kind of people skills, I jumped at the chance to attend one of Leah’s free workshops.  In the first few moments of her Masterclass I began to see a world of perspectives, tools, and opportunities that had never before been visible to me.

As I listened to her speak Leah seemed to see the conversation going on in my head and acknowledged my resistance before I could finish speaking my “But what if…..?” reactions. She then offered techniques that allowed me to shift my initial perceptions of a situation, uncovering instead opportunities for positive, effective communication.   

Leah was able to unravel a lifetime of mysteries that had left me believing there could be nothing but brick walls in my way.

My journey to a better understanding of successful communication is just beginning but now I know where to find the insights and the tools I will need to make that skill set a part of my life.

Here’s my takeaway – Every session with Leah is filled with insights. Each time I attend a coaching session with her I end up with dimensions of understanding that I would not have found on my own. Old stories look entirely different to me now. New challenges don’t give me that deer-in-the-headlights moment that used to make me feel powerless. At least not always. I will get better with practice and the gentle, confident guidance of Leah Zimmerman.

And you can, too!

To learn more about Stepping Stool Coaching

Contact Leah at:

Leah at SteppingStoolCoaching dot com

Author & life coach Diana Weynand gets the touchdown
using football strategies to help you reach your goals.

I am likely the only person in the known universe who grew up in the United States and never saw a football game. No one ever explained to me that there is something to be learned about living a successful life built into the game of football.  In her book, Lipstick Football, Ms. Weynand has filled that gap.

 As a former player and manager in the Los Angeles Lasers professional women’s football team Ms. Weynand understands the game from the inside out. As a successful business woman who has reached for and achieved a list of impressive goals she knows how to make intentions into realities.

While she is teaching you the inner workings of the game of football Ms. Weynand is also offering you insights and strategies to get you closer to your life goals. Her descriptions of the physical world of football, the players on and off the field, how the game is played, and even some football history, are filled with action, clarity, color and energy.  

Lipstick Football opened a world to me that offers, not just a fun and instructive view of a previously unfamiliar sport, but a set of easily accessible tools to use in your personal quest for achievement.

Wynand’s method has proved so valuable that Antioch University has asked her to teach an online course this Fall based on her Lipstick Football Principles.

To get you started Ms. Weynand will be offering a FREE WEBINAR to introduce the course:

“Learn to Win & Achieve Your Dreams,

Using the Lipstick Football Method.”

** FREE WEBINAR:  Monday, October 24th, 4-5pm PT. **

Now is the time to jump in and find out what it takes to go from idea to reality guided by an award-winning entrepreneur, author, teacher, speaker and life coach whose book, Lipstick Football, is emerging as the tool of choice for her ever-growing audience.

Do you have a dream you’d like to pursue?

Take the leap!

REGISTER HERE

Every year The Climate Reality Project hosts 24 Hours of Reality, a day to focus the world’s attention on the climate crisis and the solutions within our grasp. This year will be our twelfth annual 24 Hours of Reality.

Each year we dig deep on a subject critical to the climate movement at the time and travel around the globe, sharing stories and inspiration. This year, as deadlines for action loom and extreme weather and other effects of the climate crisis hit home everywhere in the world, we focus on the powerful progress made by community activists where they live.

Join us and learn how you can make a difference on climate change.

People everywhere are taking the planet’s future into their own hands, working to leave fossil fuels behind and build a more just and sustainable tomorrow for us all.

On October 7, we’re telling that story, with 24 Hours of Reality: Spotlight on Solutions and Hope.

For one day, we’ll be traveling around the world hearing stories from activists about how they created real climate solutions in their communities and step-by-step to help you get involved and make change where you live. We’ll also be hosting Global Dialogues with former US Vice President Al Gore and other changemakers on the topics of:


Join us on October 7 to get inspired, learn more about what you can do, and take action to build the future we all want.


The San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Climate Reality Project has been advocating for nature-based solutions in the Sepulveda Basin, to support The River Project’s Sepulveda Basin Restoration Feasibility Study. That advocacy gained attention within Climate Reality Project at a national level and we have been invited to share our work on the  “Natural Solutions” panel.

Tune in – October 7th, 7am PT – as Diana Weynand, SFV Chapter Chair, joins three other Climate Reality Leaders from around the world to discuss our chapter’s advocacy for natural solutions in the Sepulveda Basin.

Former Vice President Al Gore will moderate the panel.

Me, anxious? Well…. Actually, yes.

I do a lot of research about climate issues, global warming, disappearing wildlife habitat, damage from fossil fuel use, social justice issues related to environmental mismanagement, drought and water issues………..You get the picture. It isn’t hard to feel despair over the state of our biosphere. But there is also reason to hope.

Pick up a copy of A Field Guide To Climate Anxiety and let author Sarah Jaquette Ray talk you down from the ledge; then come meet her on Sep 13, 2022 when the San Fernando Valley, CA Chapter of the Climate Reality Project hosts Ms. Ray for an Author’s Night event at our September chapter meeting!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Drawing on a decade of experience leading and teaching in college environmental studies programs, Sarah Jaquette Ray has created an “existential tool kit” for the climate generation. Combining insights from psychology, sociology, social movements, mindfulness, and the environmental humanities, Ray explains why and how we need to let go of eco-guilt, resist burnout, and cultivate resilience while advocating for climate justice. 


I’m gonna be there. I need all the help I can get to deal with the adjustments the future will demand of us. You can join the Zoom meeting for free from anywhere in the world – because, folks, this affects us all.

Register at bit.ly/SFVCR

This post from Literary Hub should be of interest to any author, for that matter any artist of any kind, who wants to fight back against the current attempts to ban books in the US. The Author’s Guild has created a toolkit to simplify the process of speaking out against this attempt to quash self-expression and rewrite history.

We have to be on the alert because, if the attempt is successful, they won’t stop with books.

Read the post here: Want to stop Book Bans?

Written by Tara Sitser

(c) Feb 2022

There is, in WordPress Land, a marvelous source of inspiration for writers, authors and poets. Her name is D. Wallace Peach. I offer this entry into her fantastically wonderful stories and to the opportunities she creates for the community of writers who connect with her through her blog called Myths of the Mirror.

To move us forward into the New Year she presents this challenge:

Write a story or poem about your TBR pile.

This is familiar territory for book lovers: TBR = “To Be Read”. The books that sit on your shelf waiting for you to get around to reading them. I have many such stacks and collections. So, even though I have never attempted a writing challenge, I felt compelled to jump in and add my voice. Thank you, Ms. Peach for providing the diving board!

A Reader’s Dilemma (with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Books in baskets, Books on shelves, Books in stacks of tens and twelves

Books piled high in every room. Books that shimmer in the gloom

Enticing me with cover art just begging me to make a start

Books around me everywhere! Books are waiting here and there

Books of interest, Books of stories, Books of many categories

Offering a chance to learn. A chance, I fear, I’ll have to spurn

Books recalling ancient times. Books of prose and books of rhymes

Books I’ve owned for many years, highly touted by my peers

Alas, I cannot find the time to launch this effort’s mountainous climb

As I lay me down to sleep this couplet in my brain does creep:

Books behind me, Books ahead.  Books are calling To Be Read

Books are calling To Be Read

Books are calling To Be Read

Books are calling To Be Read…….

Books are calling To Be Read………….

The Winter Solstice is sometimes called a Tipping Point. The climb from lengthening nights and shortening days flips into a gradual progression of shorter and shorter nights offering longer and longer days as we go forward.  I see it as a Transition into the journey that becomes the New Year.

Transitions are inevitable. We grow and change. People come into our lives and also leave us. We change our living spaces. We take on new responsibilities and close the door on others. Transitions happen. Often without our permission. Sometimes bringing wonderful surprises. Sometimes bringing pain.

Transitions can be joyous and exciting. But also, uncertain and frightening. Some will cause us to grow in ways we could not have anticipated. Others will feel as if you are swimming across a river and, having finally reached the center, leave us lost in that place where you can no longer see the bank of the river you left behind and have yet to find the new riverbank you are swimming toward.

It’s OK to tread water for a while.

The Winter Solstice gives us the space to rest in that uncertainty knowing that the way forward, whatever that is, will always continue. It’s OK to tread water for a while.

This moment in time – the Winter Solstice that has been approaching, that, starting tomorrow, will just as smoothly, move away from us – can be your invitation to acknowledge where you are and to make space to welcome what is waiting for you down the path.  Your destination will reveal itself in time.

Celebrate the uncertainty and know that this, too, is part of that journey.

In 2009 my husband Art and I were invited to attend the wedding of Aaron & Helen Glass in Dunedin, New Zealand.  Aaron’s parents, John & Judy Glass, have been extended family since I was 18 years old.  So we were honored to be included and made our plans to travel to New Zealand with John and Judy.  After the 14 hour flight from Los Angeles, CA we landed in Auckland.  Our itinerary was designed around a plan to drive through as many cities as we could, spending 2 or 3 days in each, as we traveled to Dunedin to attend the wedding.

It was a spectacular adventure!  Naturally, I took lots of pictures.  We saw many sites, met wonderful people, stayed in wonderful places (including a sheep farm – quite a departure for a city girl from Los Angeles)  and found, what I still believe to this day, is the best cup of hot chocolate I have ever tasted! 

The wedding night was everything you’d want a wedding to be. But one night stands out even more in my memory. Our last night on the Northern Island was spent in Wellington with Gillian Bibby & Roger Wilson, family members of the bride. They welcomed us into their home and shared a meal with us.

Roger, a celebrity of the opera world who has been a soloist with New Zealand’s major opera companies, orchestras and choirs, sang for us and told us of his creation of an album of songs, poems and music composed by his maternal grandfather aboard the ‘Morning’ which sailed to the Antarctic in 1902.   Gillian, a renowned musician and award-winning composer, teacher and lecturer, played some of her original music for us and showed a genuine interest in the local folk/rock band I am a member of in Los Angeles. Upon learning that I had just begun, at this very late stage of my life, to learn to play the piano, she grabbed a copy of a book of piano exercises she had written and gave me that gift with the enthusiasm of a passionate, open heart.

After returning to Los Angeles I was organizing the photos of our trip and, of the many splendid sites we encountered, I stopped at the image of the Bibby/Wilson house in Wellington where I had felt so welcome.

The photo, and the memories that it brought back, inspired me, right at that moment, to write a short essay about the home on the cliff  in Wellington. My story is nothing to speak of from a literary standpoint, but it is a night and a family that stands out as a cherished memory.

Now, 12 years later, in honor of Gillian and Roger’s Anniversary, I share that essay with you with thanks for a heart-warming memory that has lasted all these years.

They live on the edge of a cliff overlooking Wellington harbor.

Green hills reflect back from the still, blue water. The path up to their house is steep, a fifty foot climb up to a set of cement stairs that take you another thirty feet up the side of the hill.

Inside the dark wood house three pairs of rain boots, “Wellies” they call them, sit by a small, carved wooden bench by the front door.  Across the hall Gillian Bibby sits at her grand piano using the songs of native New Zealand birds to compose new music. Roger Wilson, her husband of thirty years putters about in the kitchen preparing lamb stew, kumara and warm, dark rolls for the dinner party that will fill the dining room with warmth and laughter later this evening. His operatic voice sounds clearly as he sings along with the music coming from the CD player – a recording that features his voice telling the tale of family ancestors who crossed the sea by sailing ship a hundred years ago from England looking for the shores of New Zealand.

Gillian is one of New Zealand most well-known composers and Roger one of the country’s most famous opera singers. But their happiest moments are not in the concert hall.  Their spirits soar when their son, Charles, comes home from work and tells them stories about his day teaching Spanish to high school students.

A few minutes away from their portion of the city is a narrow peninsula that winds forty minutes out into the cold water. No fence protects drivers from the edges of the road that lies at sea level.  It is a wild, dangerous, beautiful place that they live in.

And the best moments are all about family.

Written by Tara Sitser

Los Angeles, CA 

2009

The ongoing climate crisis has already impacted our lives in serious ways. Extreme weather events. Earthquakes and tornados in places that have never had them before. Wildfires greater and more frequent than ever that have devasted entire towns. Rising seas levels that threaten coastal communities. And so much more.

Many people all over the world are working to reduce the effects of climate change and save our biosphere. But unless we human beings change the way we perceive our world, and find ways to respect rather than exploit the earth and its many non-human inhabitants we will always be in danger of destroying the very environment that keeps us alive.

This  change in our belief system starts with understanding and accepting the concepts behind the Rights of Nature movement.  It starts with realizing that everything on this planet, the oceans, the forests, the animals, the land itself, has a right to its own existence. Which means the right to be unencumbered by human notions of “ownership” and “property”.  The right to thrive.

On Thursday, November 9, 2021 at 7:00 pm PST the San Fernando Valley chapter of the Climate Reality Project will be hosting a panel of creative artists and activist at the forefront of the Rights of Nature Movement.  Our guests will be two of the producers of the documentary film “The Rights of Nature: A Global Movement” and two of the principal activists who appear in the film. 

You can view the film on YouTube for free whenever you like and then join us on November 9th for our discussion to learn more about the history of the Rights of Nature movement and find out what is being done to make sure your children grow up in a world where there is air to breathe and a chance that your grandchildren will know, first hand, what a tree looks like.

Below, Judy Glass, Chair of the Environmental Justice and Rights of Nature Committee and a Climate Reality Project Leadership Team Member, offers an introduction to the subject of Rights of Nature as a lead in to what we anticipate will be an eye-opening conversation.

To introduce our discussion of Rights of Nature, I’d like to begin with the  highlights of the evolution of the rights of humans—which we know is part of the rights  of nature, though too often not thought of that way.

The evolution of human rights has both a political and an economic dimension, both relevant to thinking about Rights of Nature. To provide context for our program tonight, I want to acknowledge the work of Christopher Stone, recently deceased, who more than 50 years ago authored a pioneering work on Rights of Nature called “Do Trees Have Standing?   Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects”. 

In his introduction, Stone quotes from a 19th C court decision refusing women the right to practice law in Wisconsin.  The court comments that the nature of woman—purity, delicacy, subordination of hard reason to sympathetic feeling—disqualify her for the battle field of forensic strife.  Stone editorializes that the movement to confer new rights  is “bound to sound odd or frightening or laughable…because until the rightless thing receives its rights, we cannot see it as anything but a thing for the use of “us” –those who are holding rights at the time….”

Here are some significant dates in the history of increasing political rights for human beings:

1215:

English Barons forced the king to renounce certain of his rights, particularly habeas corpus

1688-89:

Parliament shares governing rights with the King.  English Bill  of Rights-includes end to cruel punishments

1776:

US born into age of Enlightenment;  Declaration of Independence—all men are equal; have inalienable rights from God;  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

1789:

France – Decl. of the Rights of Man

1791:

US Constitution:  Freedom of speech, religion, assembly; right not to incriminate oneself

19th Century in America:

No property qualification for voting;  Women can enter professions, can divorce; inherit property; Get custody of children

1860s:

Blacks freed from slavery; black men get the vote.  But reconstruction denies to blacks the freedoms promised by the 13,14,15 Amendments

1920:

Women get the vote after 75 years of agitation;  Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s finally delivers, at least on paper, on many promises of the Constitution

21st Century:

Significant Constitutional protection of economic and social rights for LGBTQIA+   individuals & communities

I separated the human struggle for economic rights because here the analogy with the rights of nature movement is so compelling.   The building blocks—the resources– of any economy are land, labor and capital.  From the point of view of the economy, labor is a cost, a commodity.  But labor is human life, and the struggle for economic rights for workers  and consumers is ongoing. The struggle to reduce hours of work or to gain legal rights to organize unions took all of the 19th C and half of the 20th. Reducing child labor, requiring minimum years of schooling, minimum wages, paid vacations,  pensions, social security—none of that happened before the mid 20th century; recognizing health care as a right still is not established in the US, nor are economic protections for LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities  guaranteed in their implementation.   

These are rights of nature, rights of human nature.  All hard fought, over many years.

Similarly to labor,  land was seen as a cost, as commodities, as resources to be used to create wealth. In the late 20th century, though, another quantum leap occurred when  new laws like the Endangered Species Act, and the Environmental Protection Act morphed into a discussion with a Rights of Nature emphasis.  Enter Christopher Stone, and nations like Ecuador and New Zealand, and local communities  like Santa Monica, and film makers like our guests tonight whose consciousness mirrors that of indigenous peoples around the world, arguing for giving “standing” to trees, rivers, and other natural entities,  to sue for protection, for life and their right to thrive, their right to be other than resources.

Judy Glass

Chair, Environmental Justice and Rights of Nature Committee

Climate Reality Project Leadership Team Member

San Fernando Valley Chapter

November 2021

Please join us at our November Chapter meeting by registering at bit.ly/SFVCR

And join in wherever you can in establishing and protecting the Rights of Nature so that you don’t have to worry about what you will say when your grandchildren look up at you and ask, “What is a tree?”

Tara Sitser - Leadership Member of Al Gore's Climate Reality Project

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