OUR LAGUNA:Taking charge in the new year

The feminist program presented Jan. 18 attracted many newcomers to the Woman's Club of Laguna Beach.

At least half of the 50 women in the audience who came to hear author and clinical psychologist Marion Jacobs speak on "Choices and Changes" were not members of the club.

"It just sounded like an interesting way to start the New Year," said Claudia Mellin.

Three of the newcomers tucked $35 into the envelopes provided for membership dues that night. Others took the envelopes when they left the clubhouse.

Some of them didn't even live in Laguna.

Peggy Carey, whose husband owned the Chevron service station on Legion Street, lives in Irvine. JoAnn Leuck lives in Laguna Woods. Both heard about the program from Berta San Miguel.

"I read the article ["Female bonding," Coastline Pilot, Jan. 12] and just started calling around to get people interested," San Miguel said.

Anne Johnson, chair of the annual program of special interest to women, welcomed guests and introduced Jacobs.

Jacobs' talk was based on her book: "Take Charge Living — How to Recast Your Role in Life in Six Acts."

The book is about choosing to change and the tools one needs to overcome one's resistance to change, even when change is desired.

It was all about us.

One member of the audience asked what people can do about family members who need to make changes.

"This is not about changing anyone else," Jacobs said. "But if what they are doing is frustrating you, you should be doing something different."

What about the reluctance to express emotions instead of just being a good listener, another asked.

Decide what you want to say, advised Jacobs, then announce that you have something you'd like to say. But first you have to get the floor.

"Everybody wants to make some changes, so why do New Year's resolutions fizzle so quickly?" Jacobs asked rhetorically.

"The problem is that everyone wants change to happen quickly. When that doesn't happen, we get discouraged and say I can't do it.

"Most, in fact all the self-help books I have read have a lot of good advice: go do it. If it was that easy, you already would have done it."

Jacobs distributed a self-survey taken from her book to help members of the audience analyze their relationships, openness and independence, understanding of others, ability to communicate, effectiveness in expressing emotions and thinking constructively, faith in their abilities, and then how to analyze the results. A personal checklist also included how each one managed health, possessions, finances and time.

The process of change almost always starts with resistance, Jacobs said. Resistance can be caused by conscious or unconscious fears, perhaps of failure.

"If I can sell you on anything, it is to take actions in the face of resistance," Jacobs said. "If you change your behavior, the brain observes the change and says, 'Hey, the sky didn't fall'."

Taking charge of your choices will lead to a happier, healthier you, according to studies cited by Jacobs.

"Humans are hard-wired for change," Jacobs said. "We have to change to survive. The issue is not change; it is who gets to choose how you change.

"The more control people have over their lives the better they feel and the physically healthier they are," Jacobs said.

She presented the example of two women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of them gets additional medical opinions, goes on the Internet to get as much information as possible. The other just gives up — feeling nothing can be done. Guess who does better?

At the conclusion of the program, Jacobs signed copies of her books brought or bought (17 of them) that evening.

In the audience: club President Peggy Ford and board members Gayle Waite, Anne Wood, Lee Winocur Field and Veronica Nice; original Feminist Forum member Bobbi Cox, City Clerk Martha Anderson, Patricia Phillips (not Whiteside), Jane Golden and Marcia Broward.

"Everyone seemed to enjoy the program," Johnson said. "I wish we could do more of them."

Next up for the club: The annual Mayors Lunch on Feb. 2, honoring Steven Dicterow and Elizabeth Schneider, who shared the duties in 2006, and the homemade Dessert Contest. Prizes will be awarded.

Tickets are $20. Reservations are essential. Mail checks to the club, 286 St. Ann's Drive, Laguna Beach, 92651.

For more information about the luncheon or club membership, call (949) 497-1200.


A gourmet dinner was the tasty prelude to a performance on Friday by the Ahn Trio in the Artists Theatre for the opening concert of the 2007 Laguna Beach Music Festival.

The dinner was hosted by Laguna Beach Hotelier Claes Andersen in the restaurant that bears his name. Laguna Beach Live! and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County co-sponsored the week-long music festival, which ended Sunday.

More than 80 people attended the dinner, including Laguna Beach Live! board members Councilwoman Schneider, Sam Goldstein, Joe Hanauer, Judith Jelinek, Larry Ulvestad and President Lucinda (Cindy) Prewitt.

Prewitt and Goldstein founded Laguna Beach Live!

"We put it together and then I coerced Larry and we dragged in Joe," said Goldstein.

Ulvestad said he figured he would just put in a couple of appearances to appease Goldstein, but he got hooked.

"The musical groups Cindy and Sam have brought in are just amazing," Ulvestad said.

Goldstein attended the dinner solo. His wife, Pam, was home with the flu.

Grammy-nominated composer and pianist David Benoit, whose work was to be premiered by the Ahns, was an honored guest at the dinner.

"David was at the master class this afternoon at Laguna Beach High School for new composers and then jammed with the school jazz band, playing piano," said Lauren Packard, co-chair with Jelinek of the festival. "It was really fun."

Student outreach was a highlight for the Ahns.

"About 30 music students at Thurston Middle School were supposed to participate, but the principal [JoAnne Culverhouse] arranged for about 200 students to attend," Prewitt said. "The Anhs said it was their favorite part of the week."

The exquisite menu for the dinner included an appetizer; velouté of white asparagus; wild striped bass with braised mustard greens, celery root bisque and lemon oil; filet of beef covering an oxtail-pearl onion fricassee sauced with sherry; and assorted bite-sized desserts.

Following coffee and dessert, dinner guests were ferried to the Ahn concert by chartered city trolleys.

The guest list for the dinner included Laguna Beach Concert Band founder Carol Reynolds; book publicist Anita Halton; Joan Halvajian; Laguna Beach Book Store owner Jane Hanauer; South Lagunans Ellen and Ron Harris; Dr. Gary Jenkins (whose wife, School Board Chair Betsy Jenkins, had a prior commitment); Richard Packard; Leslie and Dennis Power, president of Laguna College of Art & Design; Council spouse Ernie Schneider; Morris and Stephany Skendarian; Rosaura Ulvestad; Howard Jelenek and Vera Martinez.


  • OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; hand-deliver to Suite 22 in the Lumberyard, 384 Forest Ave.; call (949) 494-4321 or fax (949) 494-8979.


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