Tag Archive for: self-expression


Beauty is a Possibility


Beauty is a possibility

Ashley Kuich, Team Los Angeles, T1Q3

Interviewed by Pamela Heath (Team LA – T2Q3) on May 12th, 2013

What is the Name of your Game?

The Beauty Conversation.

What is the Possibility of your Game?

Being Authentic, Inspiring and Empowering

Tell Me More About


The Beauty Conversation is a series of online interviews with women speaking about beauty and about themselves and their own self-worth.  These women share their concept and relationship to beauty and allow us (the audience) to listen in as they distinguish their thoughts about what beauty is and whether they accept themselves as beautiful.  As long as I can remember, I just had a series of questions that I had in my own head about myself and always wondered if other women had the same questions.  Working in the beauty industry I noticed that women are not very happy about their appearance and that even the men are not very happy about their appearance.  Women spend a lot of time trying to convince folks that they are beautiful, yet not really truly convinced that they are beautiful.  I realized that we can be accepting of ourselves AND of other women by inquiring into what it means to be beautiful.  I guess I look at it as something that starts very young.  People tell me they were worried about their looks in the fourth grade!  I want to give women a chance to hear other women say how they feel about ‘beauty.’  How they have dealt with and actually overcome the conversations regarding beauty over the years.  What I intend is that young women can grow up without questioning themselves so much.  That they can grow up in a world understanding that beauty looks a lot of different ways.  I’m committed to impacting the conversation that women have about beauty.

What was your initiative to start?

There were many things I wanted to accomplish when I started Team but I work in the beauty industry and when I joined Team I saw what my commitment to women really was.  Team gave me the access to get clear about what my project or game was and how to go about getting down to it.  I have ALWAYS known I wanted to make this difference in life.  My resources were exactly the same and everything was in place but my structures became solid on Team.  Creating a team and getting started became easy.  I have shot a number of interviews already and we are on target to shoot and edit and have these videos available to view.  This conversation of beauty will rock our conception of what it beauty really is.  It is an intriguing conversation and engaging to watch and participate in.  Many of my subjects report that the questions I ask put them in an inquiry where they are able to distinguish what decisions they made in life about whether they are beautiful or not.  I am moved to hear the feedback and reaction to The Beauty Conversation and the effect it has not just on the women who are interviewed, but the participants who watch the videos.

When did you start?

It came to me over a year ago.  I started the project after I joined the Team Management & Leadership Program.  It was just an idea before that.  So that would be August 2012.

How did you use what you learned in the Team, Management and Leadership Program to contribute to your life?

I would say team is almost everywhere in my life now. It seems like it is becoming second nature to create teams now. Whether with my friends, family or at work ¬– being the source of teamwork makes life is so much easier.  And it’s a lot more fun to play with a team than taking the lone wolf route!

What are your intentions for the future?

The game started as something that I intended would live on the internet.  The interviews provide questions that have the participants actually grapple with the conversation of what it is to be beautiful.  The project has grown with every person I have shared it with, in ways that I did not foresee.  I now have a producer on board who sees the possibility of me traveling the country giving lectures.  It is becoming a much bigger project than I ever anticipated.  With every step that I take to fulfill on what I started to do, I start to see what is available for women globally.  It has turned what was initially a project just for me into a MOVEMENT.

Have You Got Anything Else To Share Regarding The Beauty Conversation?

The flood gates have opened and people have been unbelievably generous and it has been so much fun to be a part of.  The sky is the limit and I can’t wait to do more interviews!

“Sing, Express!”

What would my game in the world be? I knew quickly it would be a singing or musical event among senior citizens and residents from nursing homes and skilled facilities. Their children and grandchildren will be watching their loved ones perform in a “recital”, a great term my committed colleague, Sean Peterson, offered.

Creating milestones was the hardest thing to do, especially starting from the end. I learned that “just doing it” in the face of not knowing whether it made sense, caused several possibilities – unimagined – to come true (miracles, in short). Standing in the possibility of the game of being alive, inspired, whole and complete made sharing the vision easy and clear. Conversation with Grace Lengkeek, Activity Director of Artesia Christian Home, went natural and free flowing. She expressed that she had been thinking of the same game for her residents. When she took it on and owned the game, I was elated. Seeing her fulfilled, fulfilled me! It’s like watching a little girl run off with my toy that I shared, she kept it, and I didn’t cry. This game showed a true leader, obliviously loving, caring, generous, her participants would ask her “what were they singing again?” and she’d whisper…then they sang and sang…who says they have dementia? Some played the piano, accompanied another to sing, a legally blind woman showed her knit work and ceramic pottery.

I had a hunch that singing causes relaxation, who disagrees? But my bigger hunch was it relaxes the mind of the elderly to a degree that they start sharing their life stories. During the enrollment stage of this game, I shared this vision with Salermo. He left the room quickly when I asked if he sang. He came back with a dusty guitar and started serenading me, then told of courtship days with beautiful Nellie. In the week prior to the event, Salermo was admitted to an emergency room (he was a frequent visitor). On his first day back at home, coming from nothing, I invited him again…he said he would take the bus if he had to. I proposed that his children give him a ride (Unity among family was my underlying commitment).

That didn’t happen (I meant the ride), but, I know opportunity had opened for this family. I, Carmelita, learned generosity quickly and provided the ride. Salermo was an astounding entertainer. He sang three serenade songs in his own language and entertained us with his life stories. Stories we would not hear of if he did not participate.

At the break, I have witnessed what Power to Create did. I was clueless, but, I declared that this Game will show the three generations honoring and celebrating each other, there’s magic in singing, the family experience of love, contribution, fun, relatedness, generosity. They were singing — Row, Row, Row Your Boat, or whatever. This one mom was singing an unfamiliar song with her operatic voice, and her son was lip syncing, enjoying her.

I hid when confronted by something “gigantic” which was not so big after all. I was about to quit when the other home could not deliver one day before the event, and Meg, my coach, supported me to be with what is so…no matter how small the crowd could be, it still made a big difference to the lives of who were there last night, and those who were there spiritually. Thank you for your stand. My report came in late, I chose to sit, watch an old favorite movie, instead of sharing my experience and excitement with you – and that’s what I give up, being stingy in sharing my wins!

I have not experienced so much love and generosity. It’s like a miracle for me! Giving up being right created the miracle of partnership – people took care of themselves and came up with other ideas. (Arlin, the back-up lady, will give this idea to a lot of homes to have more people invited.)

I have seen three generations singing to each other, honoring each other through music. One guest couple said, “This is a great idea!” when I declared this is going to be statewide. I am waiting to have an appointment with a congresswoman, Linda Sanchez. I say it will be a contest in different categories, one resident said “That’s silly!’ and her children said “Nope!”

I think the win is: the message was delivered – HOLDING THE SPACE FOR LOVE IN THE WORLD, LOVE COME HOME!

— Carmelita Tiongson-Manzanares, Team 1, Quarter 2, Team Los Angeles

Sharing Freedom – Operation Amped

It started with surfing and a guy named Trevor.

He had no legs below his knees and asked me to carry his surfboard at the beach one day. I walked across the sand carrying our boards to the water. He crawled beside me on all fours. We had a great conversation.

As we talked, I was moved by the normality of it all. So often, those with disabilities are held up as “inspirational” and “special.” What Trevor’s listening gave me was a profound feeling of normalcy; we were just two guys going surfing. We talked about the waves, the water, his job, mine. By the time we got to the surf I felt comfortable enough to ask him about his legs. “I was born without a tibia or fibula,” he said, referring to the bones in the leg. And with that, we hit the waves. That was the only time I met him, but our conversation made a lasting impression.

A few days later I was watching the news and saw a report about Iraq War vets coming home with disabilities. After war and injury and now with civilian life, it struck me that these men and women must be feeling anything but “normal.” From that, Operation Amped was born. Catching a wave

Now in its second year, Operation Amped kicked off with a three day event (August 10-12) in Southern California where surfers share their love of the ocean with Iraq War vets who are now missing limbs as a result of their service. Twenty soldiers, sailors and Marines will be coming from Palo Alto, Texas and San Diego for a weekend-long surf camp sponsored by Billabong, Universal Pictures and Chipotle.
The possibilities of the event are freedom, transformation and fun. In Iraq, these vets were told they were fighting for our freedom.

As surfers, we can’t think of any greater expression of what they fought for than the freedom of surfing itself. If they are feeling somehow constrained by public opinion, their circumstances or the challenges of life, this event will give amputees the opportunity to enter a totally alien environment and see that anything is possible.

This year, Operation Amped is going national… and international.

But a few weeks ago, our milestones weren’t being met and we were struggling to find funding, food and leaders. I was distraught and worried. Then I got some advice from my coach, Gail. She told me my game didn’t have to look a certain way. What I got was I was trying to do it “right,” the “normal” way. Once I gave that up, things started to happen.

One of our leaders, Dave, announced that Operation Wounded Warrior, a co-sponsor, is looking at our project as a trial run. If it goes well, OWW will take Amped to other cities. It’s also looking at taking vets to Costa Rica to surf!

On other fronts, my foodie friend Michael decided to round up the chefs he knows to donate meals. And my friend, David (you know, the one who has declined ALL my Landmark invitations), has raised $6000 to help us meet our goals.

Now Operation Amped is right on track, already providing freedom, transformation and fun even before the first vet rides the first wave. And no one has benefited more than me.
By sharing freedom, I got freedom myself.
— Tom Tapp, Team Los Angeles