Goddess Birthday Bash

Remember last week when I told you I had some moments of melancholy about my birthday? Well, I am happy to report that’s over.

As September is my birthday month, I am continuing to have celebrations to ring in my new year.

And I have to tell you that the celebration that I had last Friday was a real filler-upper. Soul fulfilling in such a delicious way. Setting me up in a way that I could not have imagined without having the experience.

It was a co-celebration with Reena Desai, my Goddess Collective co-leader and September 3rd birthday Sister.

Reena put the whole thing together. Even while being over in India on a spiritual dive into Ma, the Divine Feminine and the study of Odissi dance and singing — she pulled off the organization of this party.

I am truly grateful.

 

Guess who? photo by Eva Clay

Guess who? photo by Eva Clay

 

What was so special about this birthday celebration is that it was a celebration to honor the Goddess and Goddesshood in each and every woman who showed up that evening.

We played improv games (led by Reena’s acting teacher), sat in intimate circle, moved, danced, chanted (not your typical Sanskrit chants, but chants with modern feminine sass), and were serenaded with crystals and the most gorgeous sound and resonance of a priestess and her crystal singing bowl.

We even dipped our heads in the crystal singing bowl (something I had never done before).

If you ever get the chance to do that, I highly recommend it. You’ll understand why when you do it.

 

What was also so wonderful about this birthday celebration is that it was grounded in the energy of the Masculine supporting and celebrating the Feminine, as well as the Feminine and Masculine working in partnership.

What do I mean by this?

Well, Reena’s acting teacher happens to be a man. And the singing priestess I mentioned above (with the crystal bowls) is his collaborative partner. And put the two of them together, living their truth and doing their work in the world, as they did at the party, and you get magic!

And so, I found myself feeling super filled up from this experience. Not only was I so deeply honored and nourished by the brilliance of each woman who sat in that circle, I was also charged up by each woman moving, dancing, shaking, and shouting in her own uninhibited way — all in the love and support of the Feminine/Masculine partnership container and the deep power of Mother Nature.

I had forgotten how much I needed this!

And so, I’d like to turn the table to you. Here are some questions I have for you to consider this week:

  • If you could give yourself a mantra, phrase or chant this week to empower you whenever you feel you need a lift, what would it be? (i.e. I am Powerful. I am Mighty. I am Kick-Ass. I am Unstoppable.)
  • What is one of your favorite spots in Mother Nature that you can get to easily this weekend or early next week?
  • What kind of movements is your body longing to do?
  • What kinds of sounds is your body longing to make?

And now here are some assignments:

  1. Make an empowerment mantra or chant for yourself this week, and use it whenever you feel you need a lift.
  2. Make a date with one or a few of your girlfriends and meet at one of your favorite Mother Nature spots that is easy for all of you to get to. Spend at least an hour there connecting with each other and diving into assignments #3 & #4.
  3. Be willing to be daring and move your body in the way it is longing to move. (Preferably you will do this out in Mother Nature with your girlfriends. But if you can’t do assignment #2, then you can do your movement at home.) Spend at least 5 minutes in movement and see what comes. What wants to be expressed through your body?
  4. Either in your Mother Nature spot (if you have some spaciousness to do this) or in the privacy of your home or a friend’s home, allow your body to move as She wants to for a few minutes. After a few minutes, invite any sounds that want to be let free from your body. These may start subtly like a low hum and then grow louder and more distinct as you move, or they could come start out in loud pulses. See what it is for you. Let your voice articulate the sounds that your body is holding onto, whatever they are. Free up space in your body and energize yourself by releasing these sounds aloud. Finish in stillness with a grounding OM and gentle prayer of gratitude for the power of your soul.

See how you feel from doing one, two or all of these assignments, and let me know how it goes.

I’d love to hear from you! (Share your comments and experiences below.)

 

Tabby Biddle is a celebrated women’s leadership coach and well-known voice speaking out for the human rights of women and girls. She is the Co-Director of the Los Angeles Goddess Collective, and is the Creatix of the Goddess Leadership Program, a revolutionary program designed to strengthen and activate the political voices and consciousness of emerging women leaders and amplify their feminine leadership platform for global healing and socio-political change. Over the last seven years, Tabby has written, lectured and given interviews on the topic of the Divine Feminine and the power of a woman’s voice. For inspiration and guidance to strengthen your voice and advance your influence as a feminine leader, visit tabbybiddle.com.

The Fears of Becoming More Visible

Tabby-Biddle-feminine-leader-fears
I struggled for many, many years coming more forward as a feminine leader. Some of the struggle I understood (what will people think of me? can I hold the space? am I ready for this?), and other parts I did not. I kept spinning and spinning in circles – erasing what I knew and all that I had accomplished already in my life. I did not even notice that I was doing this until a very dear friend (my husband) pointed this out to me. And in that pointing out, I began to really dig into what was happening. And it wasn’t pretty.
But then at least I understood.
I was protecting myself from a long line his-tory where women have been abused, raped, beaten, killed and de-legitimized for speaking their truth. And this still happens today. Sooooo, is it any wonder that we women struggle with coming more forward in our leadership? But the time has come for us to heal these wounds together (as women and men) for the greater good of humanity and our planet. Without feminine leadership, we are an aching world soul.
Ladies, we need your wisdom, your voice and your leadership. Wise women friends, do you struggle with becoming more visible and fully owning your authority as a feminine leader? If so, I invite your comments below and to come join me for my FREE 2-Part call series on July 31 & August 5th, “How to Go From Sideline Sitter to Trailblazing Feminine Changemaker.”
Say YES here:
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Tabby Biddle is a celebrated women’s leadership coach and well-known voice speaking out for the human rights of women and girls. She is the Co-Director of the Los Angeles Goddess Collective, and is the Creatix of the Goddess Leadership Program, a revolutionary program designed to strengthen and activate the political voices and consciousness of emerging women leaders and amplify their feminine leadership platform for global healing and socio-political change. Over the last seven years, Tabby has written, lectured and given interviews on the topic of the Divine Feminine and the power of a woman’s voice. For inspiration and guidance to strengthen your voice and advance your influence as a feminine leader, visit tabbybiddle.com.

 

Hey Women, You are Powerful and Mighty

Tabby-Biddle-Goddess-Leadership-Women-Wisdom
I used to be terrified to use my voice as a public speaker. I worried about whether I would sound stupid. If I would freeze up. If people would “get me” and if I would sound like a crazy lady. You remember those witch burnings, right? Tons of FEAR. FEAR. FEAR. But then my dream of trailblazing social and political change for women and girls became much bigger than my fear. It became more POWERFUL. More MIGHTY. More in synch with who I really am.
Do you dream of a world where all women and girls are empowered and ensured their equal human rights? Do you struggle with some of the same fears I did (and at times, still do)? If so, I invite your comments below and to join me for my FREE 2-part call series,“How to Go From Sideline Sitter to Trailblazing Feminine Changemaker,” on July 31st & August 5th. We are makin’ it happen ladies!
Say YES here:

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Tabby Biddle is a celebrated women’s leadership coach and well-known voice speaking out for the human rights of women and girls. She is the Co-Director of the Los Angeles Goddess Collective, and is the Creatix of the Goddess Leadership Program, an revolutionary program designed to strengthen and activate the political voices and consciousness of emerging women leaders and amplify their feminine leadership platform for global healing and socio-political change. Over the last seven years, Tabby has written, lectured and given interviews on the topic of the Divine Feminine and the power of a woman’s voice. For inspiration and guidance to strengthen your voice and advance your influence as a feminine leader, visit tabbybiddle.com.

Get Cozy With Your Inner Feminine Leader

 

Think you don’t have the power to make social and political change? I know so many people right now who are feeling helpless, powerless and desperate in the face of the tragedies in Israel and Gaza, the shooting down of the Malaysian Airline, and the daily acts of gun violence around the world. I know. I feel that sadness too. I feel so sad for the loss of all of those human lives, for the families who lost their loved ones, and for the ongoing pattern of violence and terrorism that plagues our globe. But instead of getting stuck in the depression of this, I believe we need to keep marching forward with LOVE, care for humanity, and the truth of the work that we are being called to do.

 

I know so many women who are being called right now by the Divine Feminine to step forward in their leadership so that they may bring the wisdom of their message into the zeitgeist of our global consciousness. Bit by bit we are doing the healing the planet needs. I know it may not look like that when we see all of this massive tragedy, but it is happening. We can’t give up. We truly do have the power to end war. To end poverty. To end violence. This is not a natural way of living. I believe it is the truth of the Feminine that can help bring balance and peace to our global culture. Ladies, will you join me in stepping off of the sidelines and coming forward as the trailblazing feminine leader you know you are inside?

 

I’m offering a 2-part FREE training series to help you do just that! “How to Go from Sideline Sitter to Trailblazing Feminine Changemaker of the 21st Century.” If you know you are being called to do bigger things in the world, please don’t miss this. It’s all happening on July 31st and August 5th at 12noon PDT/3pm EDT. I hope to see you there!

 

Say YES at:

www.goddessleadership.com

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Tabby Biddle is a celebrated women’s leadership coach and well-known voice speaking out for the human rights of women and girls. She is the Co-Director of the Los Angeles Goddess Collective, and is the Creatix of the Goddess Leadership Program, a revolutionary program designed to strengthen and activate the political voices and consciousness of emerging women leaders and amplify their feminine leadership platform for global healing and socio-political change. Over the last seven years, Tabby has written, lectured and given interviews on the topic of the Divine Feminine and the power of a woman’s voice. For inspiration and guidance to strengthen your voice and advance your influence as a feminine leader, visit tabbybiddle.com.

What if You Let Your Inner Feminine Leader Out to Play?

Tabby-Biddle-Feminine-Leader

I’ve got something exciting to announce! Come and see … www.goddessleadership.com.

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Tabby Biddle is a celebrated women’s leadership coach and well-known voice speaking out for the human rights of women and girls. She is the Co-Director of the Los Angeles Goddess Collective, and is the Creatix of the Goddess Leadership Program, a revolutionary program designed to strengthen and activate the political voices and consciousness of emerging women leaders and amplify their feminine leadership platform for global healing and socio-political change. Over the last seven years, Tabby has written, lectured and given interviews on the topic of the Divine Feminine and the power of a woman’s voice. For inspiration and guidance to strengthen your voice and advance your influence as a feminine leader, visit tabbybiddle.com.

The Grand Fears of a Tortured Heretic

The Grand Fears of the Tortured Heretic.

This is a big deal for me to talk about. I’ve been kind of putting this off over the last couple of weeks because it has felt scary for me to come forward with this, but as usual, my bigger mission pushes me through the fears so I can be of service to you.

The reason why I want to talk to you about this is because I think this is one of those invisible conversations that needs to come out more in the “seen” world.

I know a lot of women — clients, colleagues, friends and myself included — who have suffered in one way or another from trying to come out or come more forward in their visibility and leadership, but for some reason they keep tripping up on it. They come forward. Then they go back. They come forward. Then they go back. Forward. Back. Forward. Back. Like a little turtle going into her shell for safety and retreat. Sound familiar?

I notice for these women that there can be a lot of confusion around what’s going on, and also massive self-judgment. Why do I keep getting stuck? What is wrong with me? Why is this taking me so long? Why am I so scared to become visible and be that feminine leader I know I am meant to be?

If this is all too familiar to you, I invite you to watch the video up top to learn about the truth of what may actually be going on for you, hear about some of my own experience with this, and learn some ways you can move through this so you can come forward in your leadership with more ease and grace … because we are waiting for you!


Tabby-BiddleTabby Biddle is a celebrated women’s leadership coach and well-known voice speaking out for the human rights of women and girls. She is the Co-Director of the Los Angeles Goddess Collective, and is the Founder & Creatix of the Goddess Leadership Program, a cutting-edge program designed to help emerging women leaders activate their political voice and develop their leadership platform for global healing and socio-political change. Over the last seven years, Tabby has written, lectured and given interviews on the topic of the Divine Feminine and the power of a woman’s voice. For tips, inspiration and guidance to strengthen your voice and advance your influence as a feminine leader, sign up here.

Kamala Lopez is Goddess of the Week!

“I have always been motivated by the desire to improve the world for women, in particular in the media — because the media is the “face” of the collective philosophy; watching media tells you what we think of ourselves and our “ideal” images and states of being. Right now women’s place within that context is deeply troubling on a symbolic level and this translates to trouble for women in society and all over the world, as media is our most powerful export.”

– Kamala Lopez

Kamala Lopez, U.S. National Program Director for Global Girl Media

Kamala Lopez, U.S. Program Director for Global Girl Media, is on a mission to nurture the voices and self-expression of young women in underserved communities and developing nations to speak out about the issues that affect them most. Global Girl Media is a non-profit organization that links young women, ages 14 – 20, with seasoned broadcast and print journalists, documentary filmmakers, and digital media professionals with the bigger goal of  inspiring the future generation of female citizen broadcast journalists. Currently, Global Girl Media is training 20 girls in Soweto, South Africa and 10 girls in Los Angeles.

Tabby: What inspires you to do this work?

Kamala: I am inspired by the reality that actions we take in the real world, no matter how seemingly small, can have impact on people’s lives in a positive way. I have always been motivated by the desire to improve the world for women, in particular in the media — because the media is the “face” of the collective philosophy; watching media tells you what we think of ourselves and our “ideal” images and states of being. Right now women’s place within that context is deeply troubling on a symbolic level and this translates to trouble for women in society and all over the world, as media is our most powerful export.

Tabby: Is there anything else that motivates you?

Kamala: I also love the spirit of young girls and women and try to keep that spirit alive in my life and in my own personality as well as facilitate that spirit to have a place of respect and honor in our society. I am a firm believer that if we turned the running of the world over to the women things would improve markedly in many of the areas in which we find ourselves in trouble:  war, poverty, hunger, illiteracy, sexual violence, prejudice, etc.  I am not suggesting that there wouldn’t be other problems that would arise, perhaps even female-centric weaknesses that would be negative when given free reign. However, it is clear to me that the imbalance of power between the genders is a major part of the world’s problems right now. Anything out of balance is going to eventually be bad for us and presently the male energy and the worship of maleness is in fact a major contributor to the decaying state the world finds itself in. I could give you more analysis on this if needed but I think it’s pretty clear.

Tabby: Can you say more about women’s place in the media being deeply troubling on a symbolic level?

Kamala: First of all, if you look at the media landscape — what kind of women are being given the opportunity to be in media?

If you look at it, I would say in the world of narrative media there are certain female stereotypes that are always present. There’s usually the young girl who is very beautiful and somewhat innocent and then comes along a love interest; then maybe they’ll be a villainous who is overtly sexualized and uses her sexuality to manipulate men in some way or to achieve her agenda; and then there’s the crone. The portrayals of women really haven’t changed much in thousands of years.

I think just being out in the world as we are, we know so many more complex female characters — women whose interests extend beyond men and clothing and how they look – but these women are very rarely seen.

Tabby: How is the mission of Global Girl Media addressing this?

Kamala: The beauty of Global Girl Media is that the voice of the young woman — the 14 to 20-year old woman — is pretty much entirely absent in the social discourse. You do have some characters in bad television shows that are in that age range, but to actually hear the voices of these young women and what is concerning to them is extremely valuable to us in the society. Global Girl Media’s entire purpose is to provide guidance and give a forum to that absent voice worldwide — and to see whether giving that voice a platform will have an effect.

Tabby: Do you think it will?

Kamala: Yes. What’s been remarkable as we’ve been training our Global Girls is to hear the types of things these young women care about. For example, sexual violence, trafficking, peer pressure, eating disorders, immigration, the class wars, and race wars. You would never, ever guess this if you read Seventeen. You would think that what they care about is lip gloss, sandals, boys, and so forth – which I am sure they do on some level — but if you ask them what kinds of stories they want to tell, or what kinds of things are happening that they want to address, it’s extremely profound stuff.

Tabby: Much deeper than the current media would have us believe.

Kamala: We’ve been led to believe that we have a very dumbed-down society – and that people are not thinking and are just sort of interested in escapism. However, if you look at this young generation, what I’ve been noticing is that they are extremely compassionate. They are extremely globally aware and interested, and they want to participate in making the world a better place — but they don’t know how. As adults we are failing them by not providing them with any sort of guidance, any map, or any blueprint to do this stuff. That’s precisely what Global Girl is about.

Tabby: So the idea is that as the voices of these young women are heard more, there will be more of an acceptance and understanding of their true concerns and values?

Kamala: Right now we are operating on the advertising industry’s picture of a young teenage girl. The way we see teenage girls is based essentially on what products we are selling to them. But we are not really hearing from them at all. So when you do actually hear from them, you think, “Wow, that’s a completely different picture than I am looking at.” This is someone who is concerned about her mother, and how much her mother works every day. Concerned about her father who is drinking all of the time. Concerned about her older brother who dropped out of school and now he is a gangster. These are serious things.

Global Girls in South Africa

This isn’t only endemic to girls in the United States. These are issues that are affecting girls all over the world. Once these girls understand that they have these commonalities, and we can forge these alliances and build these bridges … can you imagine in 10 years if we were to have 50 Global Girl Media News Bureaus operating in the most economically disadvantaged places in the world, and those girls connect and form almost a network of support, education, and power? Well suddenly we really are affecting change.

Tabby: Yes, that would make real change.

Kamala: Amie Williams, who is the executive director of Global Girl Media, said when she was traveling and seeing news bureaus closing down everywhere, she thought to herself, Well, Global Girl Media is going to be opening up. We are going to be taking their place. Maybe CNN or ABC have to get out of Ramala, but we are going to go in.

We’ve left it in the hands of men for entirely to long. I love and adore men. I think their energy is so sexy, and fabulous, and active. But the imbalance in the male and female power is deadly. It is literally taking us to extinction.

Tabby: Tell me a little more about this.

Kamala: It’s really about the immediate rush to action versus deliberation. For example, if we look at 9/11, some hideous people come and destroy the lives of thousands of people. What other response could we have had in that moment that would have kept the world on our side? What other response could we have had that would have built empathy and compassion and would have supported another way to go that wasn’t about retaliation, revenge, and violence? There is another response. I believe if the female energy were more valued, that response would have been at least up for debate. Now any response that is not immediately aggressive is considered weak and a failure, and this is the shift we need to make.

Tabby: Do you think its important for adult women to be mentors to this younger generation?

Kamala: As conscious adult women, if we really do care about the state of girls and women worldwide, we need to train this next generation of girls because they are going to be the ones taking over and they are going to be the ones that shift this paradigm. Unfortunately for our generation, we’ve been raised in a society where greed trumps all. In other words, where the bottom line is money … where money affects how we perceive each other, and how we perceive ourselves and our value. We need to break that now with this younger generation.

I feel very strongly that it is that mentality that has led to the sort of breakdown that we are experiencing right now. If you make the measure of every single thing money, you end up with an extremely vacuous, and extremely dangerous place for human beings to live in because it doesn’t allow for any other value system.

As conscious adult women, we need to instill a different value system. Actually, it is an innate value system. We need to tell the world that being compassionate about other people does not make you weak, and it is not intrinsically a female trait. It is a trait of the evolved human being, and it is a trait that we need to hold up as something of great worth. As women, we need to promote that, emphasize that, and nurture that. This is part of what we are doing with Global Girl Media.

Tabby: What have been some of the major challenges in building Global Girl Media?

Kamala: Our major challenge is funding.  Everything else, no matter how impossible, I seem to be able to do pretty easily and I have a lot of fun doing it. For example, three weeks ago we didn’t even have a space to work out of. Now we not only have a beautiful space, but we have the girls, the instructors, and I have a wonderful young woman, Daniela Choclan, helping me.

Tabby: Tell me more about the funding that you need.

Kamala: Right now we need about 80K for the Los Angeles program to pay for cameras and other film and sound equipment, internet, editing, meals, transportation, other staff, utilities, and other hard goods such as paper, pens, etc.

Tabby: How can people contribute?

Kamala: People can donate on the website at www.globalgirlmedia.org. All of the donations right now will go to the Los Angeles-based program, since the South Africa program is already funded. Anything from a dollar to a million, we’ll take it gratefully and give you a sweet tax deduction. Equipment donations are also very needed and welcome. We need computers, cameras, microphones, tripods, and a van or some sort of vehicle where I can move a team of girls around to do stories. The goal is sustainability so that we can continue to train girls in Los Angeles at the rate of maybe 10 girls every six months.

Tabby: What are some important leadership lessons you’ve learned in doing this work and what advice can you share with other women?

Kamala: As far as leadership goes, it’s important to know that we don’t have to act like men to be leaders. Since men have been all we have had to look to as examples of leaders, that’s how we think we have to act. But generally that’s not how we have to act. We just have to act like ourselves. We do have to maintain a collaborative spirit. Also, at the end of the day you do have to step into your own power and say, “Okay, I’ve listened to all of these different opinions, advice, and so forth, but I am deciding this and this is how we are going to go.” You have to get comfortable with that. Ultimately women have to start to trust themselves more and believe that they know what they are doing, and do it.

Tabby: So true. How can we as women help each other?

Kamala: I think we have to fight the idea — that I think a lot of us have internalized — that it is difficult to work with other women. We really need to embrace collaboration with other women. We need to seek out other women to promote. Just like you are doing with this column. It’s exactly what we need to be doing because if we wait for men to do that for us, it’s not going to happen. We have to work together. We have to support each other. When we hear about a wonderful woman, we have to tell other women about her. Help her, prop her up. Give her what she needs. That’s a big lesson.

To learn more about Global Girl Media, you can visit the website at www.globalgirlmedia.org.

Why Mentoring Young Women and Girls is Important

Written by Tabby Biddle

photo by Amy Tierney/f8f11 Images

You’ve been hearing it everywhere from the United Nations to The New York Times:  when we support the growth and empowerment of women and girls, we raise the quality of life for everyone. This is because when women lead, they not only lead businesses, but they lead in their community, they fight for their children, and they give voice to issues that are important to our collective future – like education and health care. Makes sense to me.

But how do we get there?

There are a couple of organizations that I have learned about recently that are going in at the ground level and supporting girls and young women in underserved communities through the practice of mentorship.

The first is Step Up Women’s Network.

Through Step Up young women are given mentors who encourage their ambition, empower their confidence, and keep them on track by helping them set goals and work toward achieving them.

Step Up Women's Network Executive Director, Jenni Luke photo by Maya Meyers

“These girls are smart – they are capable – and what they need is you. You are their role models, you are their mentors, you are their inspiration,” said Jenni Luke, executive director of Step Up, to a ballroom full of Step Up supporters last week at the 7th Annual Step Up Inspiration Awards in Los Angeles.

Many of the young women who Step Up supports come from gang neighborhoods and families torn apart by drugs, alcohol, and abuse. Kara Isreal, this year’s Step Up Teen scholarship recipient, is one such student. “I looked forward to Tuesdays because I knew I was going to be in a stable environment for an extra two hours after my school day. Step Up offered me refuge in programs such as Spoken Word and Poetry where I was able to write down all my feelings, kept in a place no one could criticize, grade or comment about,” she wrote in a personal essay.

With the help of Step Up, Kara is beating the horrifying statistic: one in three

Kara Isreal, photo by Maya Meyers

Los Angeles high school students is dropping out of school. She won’t be one of them. In the fall Kara will be attending Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. “I have escaped the dark place that they call the jungle, survived abuse, and am optimistic about all of the brighter birthdays I will celebrate in the future,” says Kara.

Another organization mentoring young women that I want to talk about is Global Girl Media.

Global Girl Media is training young women to become the future generation of female citizen broadcast journalists.  Their focus is, like Step Up, on girls in underserved communities – but they are global as they name suggests.

Global Girls, South Africa

Right now they are training 20 girls in Soweto, South Africa to be broadcast journalists to speak out about the issues that affect them most. As they report on the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in June, being hosted by South Africa, the girls will be telling the stories that never get told. Some of the topics they will be covering include: gender justice and reproductive rights, girls and leadership, HIV/AIDS, health, educational and career opportunities for women and girls.

“Can you imagine in 10 years if we were to have 50 Global Girl Media news bureaus operating in the most economically disadvantaged places in the world, and those girls connect and form a network of support, education, and power? Well, suddenly we really are affecting change,” said Global Girl Media program director Kamala Lopez in an interview on Thursday.

There are many young women and men in this upcoming generation who are extremely compassionate, extremely globally aware, and who want to participate in making the world a better place. However, for the youth in countries and communities affected by war, disease and poverty who have been unable to take part in the new media revolution, this has made it virtually impossible for their voices to be heard. Global Girl Media is on a mission to change this.

Organizations like Step Up and Global Girl Media are leading the way in empowering and inspiring our next generation of leaders.

“With my success I hope to reach down and help the women behind me. We have the power to rise above our circumstances. We have the power to break down barriers and crush all statistics that rise against us. We are women of manner and nobility,” says Kara Isreal.

By reaching out to mentor a girl or young woman, you can change her life and put everyone’s future in good hands.

To learn more, visit:

Step Up,  www.suwn.org

Global Girl Media, www.globalgirlmedia.org

Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a writer and editor dedicated empowering the voices of women and girls. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and other national media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband.

Kara Isreal is Goddess of the Week!

“Despite surviving the misfortunes that my family and I had to endure, I know that this world will throw more adversities and challenges not only at minority women but women in general. But now I also know that I have a solid foundation of confidence and strength that will allow me to overcome anything that gets in my way on my journey to success.”

– Kara Isreal, 2010 Step Up Teen Scholarship Recipient

Kara Isreal, 2010 Step Up Los Angeles Teen Scholarship Recipient

Kara Isreal is the recipient of the 2010 Step Up Women’s Network Los Angeles Teen Scholarship. Step Up is dedicated to connecting underserved teen girls with professional women mentors and enrichment programs to empower the girls to become confident, college-bound and career-ready. I had the great pleasure of hearing Kara speak at the Step Up Inspiration Awards last week in Beverly Hills. As Kara presented her winning essay, there was barely at dry eye in the room. She is truly a goddess of strength, determination, and grace.

The following is Kara’s winning essay that she shared with all of us last week at the 7th Annual Step Up Inspiration Awards.

Written by Kara Isreal

I wake up on the morning of October 4, 2008 feeling so excited – it’s my sweet sixteen! But then the reality of where I am kicks in. I’m in an unknown territory. I hear more sirens outside than normal, I hear the neighbors arguing about where the last drop off of drugs was and who was going to change the baby’s diaper. I look out of the window and see the transactions of narcotics and money from one hand to the next. I think to myself, this is why this neighborhood is called “the jungle” – people make up the animals in a jungle fighting over drugs, property, women and even parking spots. And this was supposed to be the start of a good day.

I close the blinds, having seen enough. I start to reminisce about birthdays of the past and think about how much I always love the annual call from my granddad who enthusiastically congratulates me on making it through another year in life. I sigh, knowing that I won’t get the call this year because he doesn’t have my number….NO ONE does because one month earlier, my family was evicted, and we have been bouncing from place to place, eating dinner in our car in McDonalds parking lots and on this morning, my 16th birthday, my family and I are staying in a two-bedroom bedroom apartment making room for 7 people. It was supposed to be my sweet 16 but it was more like salty tears and a super wet pillow. This was the beginning of the most challenging time in my life. Things got worse from there and I experienced the unimaginable, including being raped………more than once.

But through my pain and innumerable tears I found a way to walk with my head up and not have it hung in constant shame. In between the unpredictable travels between school and maybe a hotel room. I began to appreciate school and a new found safe haven in an organization called Step Up and the support system and stability it provided.  On a weekly basis I looked forward to Tuesdays because I knew I was going to be in a stable environment for an extra two hours after my school day. Step Up offered me refuge in programs such as Spoken Word and Poetry where I was able to write down all my feelings, kept in a place no one could criticize, grade or comment about. Step Up gave me the microphone I needed to either reach out for help or encourage my fellow Step Up sisters; which includes my younger sister who also found a safe space in Step Up.

Through Step Up I have gained mentors that have shaped my ambition, built my confidence and who I will never forget. Powerful Step Up women like Shannon Gabor; who I worked for last summer in Step Up’s internship program. Her achievements taught me no obstacle is too big and she pushed me to be a strong writer by having the confidence in me to give me important projects. Powerful Step Up women like Michelle Centeno, my Step Up SAT Prep and college applications instructor who guided me through the stressful processes. She is the first in her family to graduate from college and as I saw her walk across the stage at her UCLA graduation I was reminded that I have to set the standard for my younger siblings as she did for her own. Powerful Step Up women like my Step Up young luminaries mentor Reese Alexander who always keeps me on track with setting my goals and making sure they are realistic.

The most impactful thing Step Up has given me is the key out of Los Angeles. On our spring break Bay Area college tour during my junior year I finally realized that it was totally okay to leave the only place I had ever known. I wasn’t scared to step out of my boundaries and I placed myself in a picture without Downtown L.A. as the backdrop for my college home.

2009 Step Up Teen Scholarship recipient, Shalisa Craig, hugging Kara. Shalissa is currently attending Cal State Northridge & received a 4.0 GPA during her first semester of classes!

My goal in life is either to become a child psychologist with a private practice helping sexual, mentally and physically abused kids; or be a part of a marketing and advertising company. I set my sights high! Thanks to Step Up I am already on my way and can clearly see myself achieving these goals because I am proud to announce that this fall I will be attending Bethune-Cookman University a Historically Black College in Daytona Beach, Florida founded by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune a civil rights leader and an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dr. Bethune is the educated, influential black woman I strive to become.

Despite surviving the misfortunes that my family and I had to endure, I know that this world will throw more adversities and challenges not only at minority women but women in general. But now I also know that I have a solid foundation of confidence and strength that will allow me to overcome anything that gets in my way on my journey to success. I have escaped the dark place that they call the jungle, survived abuse, am optimistic about all of the brighter birthdays I will celebrate in the future. With my success I hope to reach down and help the women behind me. We have the power to rise above our circumstances. We have the power break down barriers. We have the power to break down barriers and crush all statistics that rise against us. We are women of manner and nobility. And I thank you all for your support along the way.

To learn more about Step Up Women’s Network, please visit www.suwn.org.

All photos by Maya Meyers.

Girls on the Wall: The Power of a Girl’s Story

Written by Tabby Biddle

Meet Whitney. She is 17 years old, intimidating, tough, and infamous among her peers at Warrenville Correctional Facility in Illinois for a crime she won’t talk about. Whitney is one of Warrenville’s longest-term inmates and the secret she holds not only keeps her locked up in prison, but also locked up and unable to heal on the inside.

Whitney is one of a group of incarcerated teenage girls whose journey is documented in “Girls on the Wall,” a film directed and produced by Heather Ross & Sincerely Films. The documentary captures an 8-month journey of the girls of Warrenville as they participate in a theatre workshop.

The workshop is led by Meade Palidofsky, known as “Ms. P.” to the girls. Meade is the artistic director of Storycatchers Theatre. She is a playwright and lyricist who has been working for more than 30 years helping young people find their voice and tell their stories through performance art. “It’s a real gift to be able to use what you love to do to get other people to not only learn playwriting and songwriting, but to actually use that process to heal themselves,” she told me in a recent interview.

Healing is exactly what takes place. As the girls of Warrenville go through the process of creating a musical based on their lives — journaling about their past, sharing with their peers what feel like shameful secrets, re-living and dramatizing their crimes – a transformation takes place. As these young women begin to open up about their stories, they begin to release their wounds and restore their self-dignity. Furthermore, when they hit the stage in front of their families and prison staff, a profound healing happens for everyone.

Watching the documentary at a recent screening in Los Angeles, what affected me the most was experiencing the immense talent and sheer beauty within each one of these young women. That’s not the usual perception of prison inmates.  “I think when people think of kids that are locked up they think of them as bad kids, evil kids, or dysfunctional kids. They think that for anyone who is locked up, there is something wrong with them.” Even though I might not have wanted to admit it, before I saw “Girls on the Wall” I was carrying around some of those misperceptions.

From the film, I quickly learned that these girls are smart, talented, kind, compassionate, funny and incredible young women – all that locked inside the toughness of prison life. Each one of them in their own way was hurt badly through early experiences (usually related to family) and never received the appropriate support to recover. Drug-addicted parents, sexually abusive family members, physical and emotional assault were all common themes for these young women. One young woman’s only crime was running away from foster placements because she wanted to be with her mom who was a crack addict.

“When the girls tell their stories it becomes so clear why they are locked up. It usually starts from a trauma they have experienced causing them to be angry and depressed, which causes them to drop out of school, do drugs, join gangs, and eventually become incarcerated. It’s a pretty clear cycle,” says Meade.

“I think what people learn when they come in to work with the girls is that what’s dysfunctional is our system. What’s dysfunctional is that we don’t have a lot of systems that work for kids on the outside,” she adds.

I decided to ask Heather, the director and producer of the film, why she thought a girl telling her story was so healing. She told me: “I think a lot of the time girls may feel on some level that their story has been deemed unimportant, especially to the outside world. All kids, and I think especially girls, get used to adults ignoring them. And for these girls in particular, I think the situation is magnified because their marginalized for other reasons — they’re in trouble with the law, most come from families that are barely making it (if at all), and I don’t think stories like theirs make it into the media much.  I think just realizing that they have a unique story, and that other people might want to hear it, is enough to turn their heads.”

“Once you tell the story, then you let it go.” – Meade P.

“Girls on the Wall” illustrates that storytelling can help each one of us make sense of our past – and heal even the darkest parts.

For Girls on the Wall screenings and air dates, click here. To learn more about Storycatchers Theatre, click here.

Tabby Biddle, M.S.Ed., is a writer/editor dedicated to amplifying the voices of women making a positive difference in the world. Her work has been featured by The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and other national media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.