Oh, Your Listening Ways…


I’ve been thinking a lot about listening lately. It’s an art I used to do much better. Now that I’m older and wiser, it’s hard to listen to someone without the filters of experience and ‘been there, done that’, not to mention keeping my mouth shut and not sharing my self-perceived most-valuable wisdom.


But I know listening well can take me past the limits of my own wisdom, a wisdom defined by my own limited life, and spark new life through connection to others. So I’m thinking about ways to listen, and the ways in which we don’t listen.

The look on your face: you don’t just listen with your ears, you listen with your mind and eyes — and the look on your face. A listening face isn’t scowling or distracted. It’s focused and interested. Continue reading

2016 Rising Stars Awards


Despite an electrical outage, this year’s event was fantastic. In fact, the dim lights during the first half of the show created the perfect ambiance for the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, our spoken word performer, Jada Imani, and our Alumna speaker, Lia Lacy at the 3rd Annual Rising Stars Youth Awards. This is a BOSS Program you should know about — the full event video tells the story…

We had several surprise cash gifts for our Youth Awardees, a trend set off by our keynote speaker, Peralta Community College District Chancellor, Dr. Jowel C. Laquerre, who pledged $500 on the spot for whoever raised their hand first to attend his college. And of course, there was plenty of love and recognition. Continue reading

Do we need Giving? Or Sacrifice?


It’s easier to ask people to give, share, and be a part of something than it is to sacrifice.

When we sacrifice, we don’t take it lightly, because we are losing something in hopes of a good result. It requires thought and commitment. Giving is easier. We give so all can benefit. We help our neighbors by giving what we have an abundance of, knowing that they will do the same. This is life. This is community.


Keep this in mind in making charitable requests, or really any request of others. Life is ALWAYS a circle, and never a straight line.

So, rather than ask people to give something up, ask them to move in your direction with their giving, and remember to close the circle by appreciating, thanking, and truly respecting the giver, the decision to give, and the gift.

And then give back.

I love the way you Work It.


workloveI really enjoy my work, actually.

But I can’t take the label ‘work’ away from it.

Loving your work doesn’t mean that you are at a party when you go to work. Work is still work. It’s a striving for something, and often a very serious undertaking that means much personal sacrifice.

That’s a good thing for someone who was born when I was — when loving work itself was something that could help you through the pearly gates. Not so good, though, for the new generations who require a job to fulfill a destiny and all earthly and heavenly desires. Maybe that’s a heavy burden to put on one’s job.

I’m still hoping my work counts towards something meaningful, if not to fulfill my destiny, then to help someone else fulfill theirs. Anything to move the planet in the right direction, even if it’s just a fraction of an inch. After all I’m one in billions of people, and a little trickle of a stream probably has more significance than I do. But it’s nice to have those moments of pure enjoyment at work, just because. Wishing you the same.

Rising Stars 2015 Presents the All Stars Cohort June 4th


You’re invited, so come on out and join the celebration on June 4th at 6pm at the Northbrae Community Church in Berkeley. Tickets at BOSS at https://self-sufficiency.org

The Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble will perform, along with other entertainment, Leslie Stoval, from KPFA will MC, BETV, Berkeley’s local TV station will cover the event, Mayor Bates and Kyle Evans of the 2014 Rising Stars Cohort are expected to speak, and Café Rouge, Cake4kids.org and other great local eateries will keep you happy all evening long. And some great items have been rounded up for our silent auction. Thanks to everyone who has donated to the event and Awardee gifts, and to our wonderful sponsors, The Tileshop, Mechanics Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Comerica Bank, Jonathan K. DeYoe, and many others who make the event and scholarships possible.


Each year BOSS, through the Rising Stars program, provides scholarships to selected awardees at the Annual Rising Stars Celebration event. Scholarships are announced at the event.

It’s tough enough to get through the teenage years and graduate high school. Doing it while you’re dealing with homelessness, caring for family members, or other major difficulties seems impossible. Yet these 20 youth have made it and they deserve our appreciation and support as they move on toward college or career.

As we know, some of the most famous and successful people in the world had rough starts. The traits that got them through the rough patches are the same traits that took them to the stars. If you’re a business leader, hire or mentor a young person who has met the challenge. They are likely to do it again. And again.

If you don’t know about BOSS, find out more about the organization, and all the programs you can support, county-wide (Alameda County).

Thank you! See you among the stars on June 4th! -Malaga Smith, BOSS Board Member and proud sponsor