Thursday, April 4, 2024

Improbable Possibilities - Book Tour


Nonfiction / Entrepreneur / Business Memoir

Date Published: October 25, 2023

Publisher: MindStir Media

Observe Possibilities.

Entangle Possibilities.

Create Possibilities.


Throw spaghetti against the wall of life and see what sticks.

Multi-business entrepreneur Linda Rawlings is perhaps best-known as co-creator of California-based Otis Spunkmeyer, Inc. Her debut book "Improbable Possibilities", reveals other entrepreneurial quests through childhood, a business career, a dance career, and three marriages--in twenty episodes of you-can't-make-this-up and you-can't-put-this-down true stories.

Diverse San Francisco entrepreneurial adventures include Robert C. Brown and Company, investment advisors; Triple 888 Manufacturing, the sheet metal company purchased created to manufacture ovens for baking Otis Spunkmeyer cookies; and Sentimental Journeys, the DC3 airline that promoted Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies. Her other entrepreneurial activities include founding and producing New Shoes Old Souls Dance Company, producing Yoga Garden Dancers, and working with Heterodoxy Magazine and George Magazine. Rawlings helped develop MANA!, a food brand in Hong Kong.


Praise for Improbably Possibilities


Reading "Improbable Possibilities", is like catching up with your most adventurous and entertaining friend.

Carolyn Wyman, author: "The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book"


"The author, who describes herself as a baby boomer with an old soul, opens with an account of her youth in Connecticut, and in a series of chapters filled with quotes from rock music . . . these chronological self-portraits unfold with a wonderfully readable combination of inner exploration . . . A lively, colorful memoir of corporate and personal growth."


Read an excerpt below...

About the Author

Linda’s entrepreneurial endeavors include the improbable creations of a start-up investment firm, Robert C. Brown & Co., Inc.; a cookie company, Otis Spunkmeyer, Inc.; a sheet metal company, Triple 888 Manufacturing; a DC3 airline, Sentimental Journeys; two dance companies, Express Dance Company and New Shoes Old Souls Dance Company; and--producing the Yoga Garden Dancers and two daughters.

Linda has a BA in Mathematics and a BFA from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and an MBA and an MA in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Past board memberships include Bates College, Mark Morris Dance Group, UC Berkeley Cal Performances, Yoga Journal, and she has been a member of the Young Presidents' Organization and Dancers' Group in San Francisco. Her writing has appeared in Heterodoxy, the Oakland Tribune and Newport Life Magazine. This is her first book, inspired by theoretical physics.

She believes in "observing, entangling, and creating possibilities, and throwing them against the wall of life to see what sticks". Linda lives life as a quest, not as an algorithm.


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Excerpt from "Improbable Possibilities"


Observe possibilities.

Create possibilities.

Entangle possibilities.

Throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks.



He dropped two daunting opuses on my desk: “Inside the Yield Curve”, and “Security Analysis” by Graham and Dodd.  Stocks and bonds.  Inverse relationships.  Both were entangled in our financial system.  Debt was considered a burden in 1977.  In the 2020s, debt will be embraced and traded for profit, as if it were a product.



Once more, I capitulated to family pressure.  I simply shut down.  My mind began sleepwalking—not observing, not entangling—not able to create or throw anything.  I could only succumb, and be beckoned back into someone else’s dream.




“Do you love me?”

He answered: “Well, I love my life.  You are in my life.  So, I guess I love you, too.”

I reflected on his clever use of the transitive property.



My parents?

For them, my life's quest had been incomprehensible.

I often felt I threw spaghetti, because they preferred I threw rice.


5.  I like this—I can’t decide where to cut it:

Particles of sunlit dust ethereally floated just outside my window seat.  The atmosphere that entangled these sparkling flecks emitted a light, soft, gentle glow—a glow that had never enveloped me in New England.   Feeling suddenly uncomfortable, and somewhat disoriented, I didn’t know whether I was coming down to meet the ground, or the ground was coming up to meet me.  Ascending or descending.  Floating above the Bay.  Mired in the past, anticipating the future, currently in a limbo, floating and suspended in time through a space of—neither.  Neither “then”, or “when”.

Looking out my window—first— I witnessed the flat azure water below, reflecting the sky above.  Dropping closer.  Blues mixing with beiges.  Dropping further.  Water turning into waves.  Waves wearing diaphanous froth.  Seafoam.  For an instant, I am the seafoam.  I could hear the echo of a long-dead Einstein influencer from Ancient Greece—Anaximander, c. 500 BC: 

“That which you see beneath your feet,

 is only the same sky you see above your head.”


I was clutching my past and emerging into my future.   Ready to leave my limbo, shimmying through a space between.  Rather like that seafoam.  Not completely water, not completely air—just a unity of bubbles.  Floating in a netherworld.   Neither and either.  Aether.  My thoughts were propagating through Einstein’s aether. 

My anxiety detached.  I kept watching the waves as the jet’s wheels dropped.  They would soon touch the tarmac, and—the waves would be behind me.  I knew those waves would still be there, although I wouldn’t be able to see them.  But I could not shake my mental image of that seafoam.

I still can’t.




My decision had not been fast, but it was final.  I fled everything I had ever known to embrace whatever improbable possibilities might be waiting for me in the future.  The extraction was quick.  I took all the blame.  I wanted nothing more than freedom.  I was tearing off an unyielding, protective band aid.  Ripping out the deep roots of an old steadfast tree.  It was heartbreaking.  But I knew:

“I can’t do this anymore.  I have to go.”

I never went back to the marriage.



To have “fun”.  Learning and loving to play hard, to have “fun”, would become vital skills for me to acquire.   I knew I could work hard.  I would merely have to work hard at learning how to have fun—to appreciate fun


This skill set was not in my 1980’s wheelhouse.  It still isn’t.  “Fun” remains an elusive variable in my life’s equation. 




My hope was that my financial involvement in JFK Jr.’s George Magazine might allow my editorial insight and influence to help achieve understanding and respect for opposing opinions on any subject.  If celebrities attracted attention and allowed “George” to be financially viable—so be it.

If celebrity was required, John provided it effortlessly.  Intoxicatingly charismatic, and genuinely . . . ingenuine.  Expectedly handsome, confident, broad smile, perfect diction—immediately presenting me with his version of a Clinton handshake, pre-Clinton.  He asked me the standard questions regarding my trip East, work, family, and education.  I did not ask him anything.   He made me feel as if I didn’t need to.  Comfortable and natural dialogue took its course.


Logan’s father desperately wanted her to be a basketball star—just as he was in his day.  Logan wanted to live, breathe, and compete—riding horses.  While I never understood her love for horses, I understood her love for what she loved.  That was enough for me.  Logan would need to become accomplished in both orbits—those containing basketballs and horses.  I provided a successful example of superpositioning.


When you aren’t sure of what decision to make, don’t rush to make one.

  For now, consider keeping two balls in the air.

Dribble balls down a basketball court, but never stop riding your horses.


Like mother, Like Daughter.



The Yoga Garden Dancers just lost their hard-won Jivamukti performance in Manhattan.  I wanted them to regroup.  And, I was trying to hold out a losing hope for a New Shoes, Old Souls January 2000 season.


So much for throwing my own spaghetti.

Now I would be throwing his, again.


The Little Engine That Could.  


Chugga, chugga . . .


I was desperate to stop this potentially disastrous trip.  I went out on a limb, and I told Ken that his heart doctors wouldn't let him go.


"Yeah, right!  What are they going to tell me, that I can't?

I'll tell them that you will make sure I get the right medicines at the right time,

 and that you will make sure that I won't overdo."


Oh God.  I knew he was going to tell them that.




I had made it clear his Castle was indeed a gorgeous, important Piedmont property: “it’s lovely, but I can’t imagine living there, and we can’t afford it”.  The move would have been further complicated because we didn’t have any furniture worthy of moving into it.


I received word of our new ownership while in Boston.




"Everything is going to be fine.

That’s why he’s seeing you alone, by yourself. 

The therapist told me that all our problems are your problems, and

once those are fixed, then we will be happy."


I knew that I was not “happy”, even if others thought that I must be happy.  I was being told that if I had a problem being happy, I should “fix” myself, and make myself happy.


I never went back for personal counseling when I discovered the therapist was an old family friend. 




It had been five years since I wrote my journalism thesis, in which I explored Mark Morris’s piece called “Home”.  At the time, Otis Inc. was in chaos.  I hadn’t found a home within any of its houses. Now I was forty-five years old, and I was hoping to feel and find a true “Home”. 



4-3-2-1.  I surprised myself, by going to “nowhere I had gone before”. 


In a nanosecond, I decided to continue along the great westward trajectory that began on Bradley Field.  My blastoff might shake the ground below.  It might crater the surrounding landscape.  My two independent, well-cared-for teenage daughters were immersed in their own worlds, as they should be.  Dedicated dancers always end up finding their own platforms.  I was convinced my departure wouldn’t upheave anything.  All systems would stay “go”.


I was keen to enter another orbit.  An orbit, continuing west, to the unfamiliar and exotic Far East.  I would throw my fate, and cast Tinkerbell’s Fairy Dust, into the air.  I would sing a Donovan song, and “try to catch the wind”.


I flew with Gordon to Singapore.




Part of me was slipping away from me.  I was isolated and alone much of the time.  I didn’t mind being alone, but I did mind not being able to gather any of my own traction.  Often, I was not allowed to go running, or even to visit gyms by myself.  When travelling in Manila during a visit to the Philippines, I was not allowed, ever, to be left alone because of security issues.  An armed Indian Gurka was assigned to guard me, and he never left my side.  He silently posted outside every Ladies Room, and he stood stoically beside every elliptical bicycle.

My life to date had been all about “doing”, and about “doing a lot”.  Doing many things, many diverse things, at the same time, being in control.  I was losing touch with myself, my raison d’etre.   I was moving so far and so fast, and being exposed to so much, that was so foreign, I felt overwhelmed by opportunities to observe.  I was unable to entangle them, and therefore stymied in attempts to create.   If I couldn’t accomplish creation, I wouldn’t be able to “throw” what I had created.  I wouldn’t be able to spaghetti-wall, anything.

Like Major Tom, I wasn’t grounded.  I had no pitcher’s mound, and I had no home base.  I would not survive in a world that would not allow me to throw.  My survival depended on my ability to realize—or not—the improbableness of possibilities.  I needed to find a way to release a throw.  Once I would be able to make a throw, I would be able to stream along, guiding its ensuing trajectory.  I would ride along its path, orchestrating a delicate balance of letting its action happen, and making it happen.   



As I stood above the USS Arizona; looking down though the opening; through the water, and onto the decks below me; I became transported.  My spirit lifted off, into the air above the island.  I was looking down at the Arizona from above, and I was reminded how I felt in my long-ago flight from Bradley Field, passing above America, flying for the first time to San Francisco.  I was similarly suspended, standing above the USS Arizona’s grave.  Pearl Harbor happened in 1941, but—as I stood there—it could have happened yesterday, today, or tomorrow. 



Lamma Island had become a popular destination for Hong Kong hikers. The Bookworm was a favorite stopping point along the Lamma Island trail, and Bobsy was always approachable and informative.  I was quite pleased to learn that Bobsy himself was a dedicated spaghetti-waller.  Although I know he would be laughing at my “catch-words”, using spaghetti-walling for describing my raison d-etre, he deeply understood, and related to, the value of having a mantra.  Of all the people I have met in my life thus far, Bobsy has come the closest to living and breathing my lifeline:


Observe possibilities.

Entangle possibilities.

Create possibilities.


Throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks.


I knew Bobsy spoke inspiring English and had been well educated. I had witnessed those skills while observing him in the Bookworm Cafe.  Yet there was much about Bobsy that I didn’t know.  He was tall, confident, and sturdily built.  He could have been Irish, with his mane of curly, brownish/blondish hair tinged with red, and his rather brogue-ish voice—but I heard Bobsy was Lebanese.  His travels had taken him through the Mideast and India, and into the Himalayas and Indonesia.  Bobsy meditated, was well-acquainted with yoga and its attendant philosophies, and was a charismatic, natural-born entertainer.




Lamma Island’s Bookworm was Bobsy’s inspirational brainchild.  The Bookworm was an organized clutter comprised of an organic restaurant, a bookstore, a community calendar posting board, and a reading room.  Bobsy opened the Bookworm in 1997, when Hong Kong’s governance changed from British to Chinese.  Hand drawn, rainbowed lettering crowned an inviting sliding glass doored entryway that was speckled with local artwork, performance announcements and café menu offerings.  The Bookworm was a welcoming place that anyone of any persuasion could drift into—and find an appreciative audience for singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument.  Interior bookcases featured mainly paperbacks, pamphlets and magazines in various languages covering subjects from Aardvark behavior to Zydeco music.


Bobsy had observed, entangled, created, and thrown possibilities that stuck on Lamma Island and became The Bookworm.  I recognized this.  Bobsy knew I recognized this.  I believe both of us harbored thoughts of “going big time”:  Taking the concept “on the road” and bringing the Bookworm to Hong Kong.




I began the day in Borneo. 


I spent a few midday minutes in Hong Kong’s airport at Chek Lap Kok. 


I ended the day in Toronto.


My day’s departures, and my evening’s arrivals represented improbable possibilities.   That morning I had been in Borneo—ogling orangutans—and listening to my ill-defined legal life, post-Otis. And now, during one February day, I had been airlifted out of tropical Borneo, and dropped into the dead of a Canadian winter. 


For dinner.




Gaia, meaning 'happy' or 'positive' in Italian, was located on the Italian-inspired piazza at the Grand Millennium Plaza in Central, making this ultra-glamorous restaurant one of only a few places where it’s possible to dine al fresco in the heart of Hong Kong.  


Stylish and elegant.  It should have been momentously romantic.


He finished off his last Macallan.


Suddenly he leaned in, looking at me.  Giving me a vacant stare.  His lips were slack—they were trying to mouth something.  His words finally surfaced:


"Will you marry me?"


Seconds passed while we continued to stare blankly at each other through a silent void of air, neither of us able to speak.


Then—without warning—he blew all those Scotches back at me, skidding vomit across the table.




Curtain up:  I descended the imposing staircase with the groom’s father, dropping down with a reverse stepping of Gershwin’s “I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise”.  Stepping down—or—stepping up.  I felt floating, ungrounded on the stairs.  I couldn’t distinguish between ascension or descension.


There were no attendants.  I can’t remember a thing about my costume, except that it came in two days before from London and had a matching coat.  I gave it away.




I was riding the wave—the wave of a sold-out, fabulous, and what should-have-been joyful, 50th birthday celebration.  Waves:  waves may be particles, or particles may be waves—or—maybe they are both.  Whatever wave I had been riding, I was riding a crest, hoping to escape my black hole’s gravity, risking a “collapse”.  I might have to travel faster than the speed of light.  Improbable.  But impossible?


Right now, it didn’t matter.  A return to Hong Kong was planned, and when I travelled back there, I knew I wouldn’t be traveling faster-than-the-speed-of-light.  Time—time itself—would tell.




Our next “Cue Ball” would have to stay bracketed, for now.  I had my left hip replaced in January 2010, and the right one in April 2010.   

No doubt about it.  Successful hip replacements gave me almost immediate pain-free movement, but they robbed me of my famous Gumby-like hip joint flexibility.   Each surgery involved a meticulous six-week rehabilitation process that I followed to the letter, but the writing was on the wall.  No more kicking my legs in any direction, except directly forward in a parallel plane.  No more rotational fan kicks.  Although my loose, long hamstrings were not impacted, I would never be able to even approach a split on the floor, or to sit cross-legged.  I would never be able to sit in a lotus position again.

This was extremely difficult for me to accept.




I remembered being suspended within the MRI tube’s dislocating bongs of sound, which provoked oscillating waves of remembrance.  I recalled youthful crescendos behind me, and projected aging diminuendos confronting me.  “Being There”—in that cannister—had made me immediately realize it would no longer matter where I lived, or wherever I would decide to go.  I could live anywhere, and I could exist anywhere.  I dwelled—would dwell—would always dwell, in waves of events.

Superpositioned and entangled waves.



This was perfect!  Someone wanted to throw spaghetti, and someone else wanted to block the throw.  I observed, entangled, and wrote an opinion piece for the Newport Daily News, and sent a copy to Newport’s Audrain Auto Museum.  Years before, I owned a house in Carmel, California.  Fellow resident Clint Eastwood bought Carmel’s Mission Ranch property to save it from development.  I considered a similar improbable possibility.  Perhaps Newport resident and classic car enthusiast Jay Leno might consider stepping in to save this endangered waterfront real estate.

I have no idea if my thoughts will make a difference, but I am content with my throw, and will let the chips land where they may.


Waves travel through time and space, from the past to the future.  Water turns into waves.  Waves wearing a diaphanous frosting of fairy dust.  Cresting between what came before and what comes after, that singular sensation of “being there”, suspended in time.  In a limbo—a bardo—shimmying between events like seafoam, riding waves.  Not completely water, not completely air—just a unity of bubbles.  A unity, floating in a continuous, non-quantized netherworld.   Neither and/or either.  Einstein’s Aether?


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