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.

 

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.

Gabrielle Bernstein is Goddess of the Week!

My Interview with Gabrielle Bernstein

by Tabby Biddle

“I’ve overcome drug addiction, love addiction, food addiction, work addiction, you name it and I’ve recovered. Becoming the happiest person I know didn’t happen overnight. I did a lot of serious self-reflective work to get to this place. Man, was it worth it!”

Gabrielle Bernstein, founder of HerFuture.com

author of Add More ~ing to Your Life


Gabrielle Bernstein

T:  You are coming to LA next week to lead an event called “Know~ing Your Worth.” Tell me about that.

G:  The Know~ing Your Worth lecture focuses on a key principle to manifesting. I don’t teach people the tools for manifestation without getting them into “the know” first. Until you believe you are worthy of your desires you cannot fully receive them. This lecture focuses on amping up your belief system so that you can make your manifestations stick.

T: It’s so true — until we believe we are worthy of our desires we cannot fully receive them. What’s one method you use to help women amp up their belief system?

G:  D.P. & M. Daily prayer and meditation will get you into “the know.” Constant contact with your ~ing guides you to know that the Universe has your back.

T: What exactly is ~ing? I know you recently published a book called Add More ~ing to your life. Tell me more about that.

G:  ~ing stands for ‘inner guidance.’ By adding more ~ing we choose the voice of our inner guide over the voice of our fearful ego. In my book I am teaching that adding more ~ing leads us to happiness by choosing a better way to view our lives.

T: How did you get on this path?

G: Up until the age of twenty-five I was searching for happiness on the outside. I had a bad case of what I call the “when I haves.” For example, “When I have that next boyfriend then I’ll be happy.” Or, “When I have that new client then all be happy.” None of that worked. This outside search led me to hit a bottom at which point (at 25 years old) I chose to turn inward. I became a student of metaphysics and amped up my meditation practice. In addition, I got sober. I released the party girl mentality and became a metaphysics junky. Then I went into self-study mode. I read everything I could get my hands on. I became a student of A Course in Miracles and I began to reposition my fear back to love. I continue this on a daily basis. Most importantly I grew a deep meditation practice. This is what carries me today.

T: You mentioned becoming sober. What have been some of your other personal struggles?

G:  I’ve overcome drug addiction, love addiction, food addiction, work addiction, you name it and I’ve recovered. Becoming the happiest person I know didn’t happen overnight. I did a lot of serious self-reflective work to get to this place. Man, was it worth it!

T: So would you say that your ~ing helped you overcome these things?

G:  Yes, my connection to my ~ing is what has carried me through all of my obstacles. I’ve overcome all of these struggles with my steadfast journey inward. Today I know I am being guided and I can see all obstacles as opportunities.

T: I love that perspective of seeing all obstacles as opportunities. Can you say more about that in your life?

G:  Any time a situation doesn’t work out the way I planned I know it’s always because there’s something better on the way.

T:  What is your life is like today?

photo by sam bassett

G: As a result of turning my life around I have everything I’ve ever desired. I  practice the principles that I teach on a moment-by-moment basis. Therefore my life just flows. When I have difficult obstacles I know they are assignments and I just show up. My life rules today.

Today I am a motivational speaker, life coach and author. My mission is to spread this message to the masses and change lives by igniting one ~ing at a time. That was how I was guided to write Add More ~ing To Your Life.

T: Is there anything you still struggle with?

G:  Fear creeps in from time to time but I am grateful for that. My mini ego meltdowns keep me on my toes and connected to my work.

T: What do you mean by that?

G:  What I mean is that I still struggle with fearful thoughts from time to time. Rather than succumb to the fear, I use it as a road map to look inward and figure out what I still need to work on.

T:  Looking back now at “worth,” what advice can you offer a woman who wants take the first steps to knowing her worth?

G:  The first step towards knowing your worth is willingness. With the slightest willingness you’ll be guided to go deeper and believe in yourself. You’ll become clear on how you’re blocking your greatness and be willing to change.

T: So, how can women get more involved with the work you do?

G:  The best way for women to get more involved with my work is to join my site www.herfuture.com. This site is one of my greatest accomplishments. There are thousands of women helping one another and mentoring each other. The content on this site is based on love. It truly rules!

To learn more about my upcoming lectures you can visit www.addmoreing.com, and to download my guided meditations and lecture podcasts just type my name into iTunes.

T: Wonderful! Thank you Gabby.

* You can join Gabrielle at her event, Know~ing Your Worth, on Wednesday, April 28  in Los Angeles at The Standard Downtown LA, 550 S Flower St. Los Angeles CA, 90071. Get more details here.

Money, Money, Money

Written by Tabby Biddle

It’s April 15th (maybe the 16th by the time you are reading this). It’s no secret that this date is loaded with all sorts of feelings for people around the country.

This year I had my first experience of being audited. The woman at the Internal Revenue Service told me, “You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that Uncle Sam wants a small piece of the pie.” She said this as she drew me a yummy looking pie with her black ballpoint pen.

Taxes were very easy back in the day when I had one job at one company. Add to this, I had unlimited access to a financial advisor on the job (thank you National Geographic Society). This very nice woman taught me about 403bs (the non-profit’s version of a 401k), and she taught me the basics of investing and the great benefits of saving.

I felt so happy and responsible – like a big lady out in the world making money, saving, investing, and putting away for my retirement. The perfect money manager.

Things changed a bit later on when I left my job and headed out into the world in a different way – this time as a backpack traveler, yogi, and student of Buddhism. My entire view of money and how to manage money CHANGED.

Heck, if all life is always changing and we could die at any moment, what’s the use in socking away the money for the future if there might not be a future?

DANGER. DANGER. Don’t go on a Buddhist meditation retreat if you want to keep your savings. (Slightly joking.)

Look at how happy these families are in Vietnam, Thailand, and India living on so little!

Boy was I naïve.

Well, not completely. But I did certainly have some of the picture skewed.

I returned to the US full-time a few years later with the idea that sustainable living was best. This meant that I needed just the basics – clean, safe apartment, healthy foods, yoga classes, good friends and family. Moderate living, you know?

The problem with this is that my idea of moderate living was having an apartment on the Upper West Side in New York a couple of blocks from Central Park, taking $3000 yoga teacher trainings (multiple ones I will confess), and food shopping at Fairway and Citarella. Add to this, I still loved to travel to faraway places like India and South America.

In order to live my “moderate” life on my teacher’s salary, and the fact that I now had the idea that saving for the future was just a trap in the rat race, I wasn’t saving, investing, or putting anything into my retirement anymore.

Fast forward seven years to starting a business. How do I do the books? Oh, it will just work out. It always has in the past.

Let’s just say that learning the ropes of managing the money for a business was a big task for me. I insisted on doing it mostly on my own. Yes, I took classes at the Small Business Development Center in Santa Monica. Yes, I hired the occasional bookkeeper. And yes, I had an accountant at tax time. But it always seemed like there was more to learn.

As strange as it might sound, the audit experience has become a teachable moment for me. Instead of fearing the IRS, I actually feel quite supported by them because I am learning. The woman who is doing my audit is teaching me about what they look for, what raises red flags, what counts, what doesn’t, etc. In other words, I am getting front line training.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get front line training, but not wait for the IRS to call us in to get it? Financial training from an early age is a very useful thing – so why don’t we get this in school?

I’ve written recently to promote the implementation of healthy lunches in schools. Now I would like to propose the implementation of healthy money training in schools. If more people knew their way around the books by the time they were adults, it seems that we wouldn’t have so many people in tremendous debt.

I’m advocating for early childhood training in money management (making it fun of course), but who should the teachers be? How do we start fresh and not re-build a broken system?

Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed. is a writer and editor specializing in women’s issues, health and wellness, personal growth and empowerment. 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 with her husband.

Woman vs. Girl

Written by Tabby Biddle

I’ve noticed lately that I have been calling a number of women … girls. It was my husband actually who first pointed this out to me. One day we were jogging past a woman pushing a double stroller on the sidewalk, and I called back to my husband, “Watch out for the girl.” My husband quickly replied, “She’s not a girl, she’s a woman.”

A week after this incident, I received a Facebook message from a male friend with the subject line: Woman vs. Girl. He (I’m going to call him Dan) wanted to know my opinion about whether it was ever appropriate to address women as “girls.” The irony here is that I had not been in touch with Dan for months, so he would not have known that I was currently in a phase of calling women “girls.” I figured this was life’s way of getting me to look deeper into the issue.

The feminist movement worked hard for women to be called “women,” and never girls. The term “girl” was considered diminutive and disempowering – a term associated with being a victim. The use of “woman,” on the other hand, was associated with confidence and power. In fact, as I understand it from those who were a little older than I was in the 70s, calling a woman a girl was like spitting in her face.

While I understand the argument of the feminist movement, I am wondering if today we actually give something up if we insist on being called a “woman” all of the time? Could we be abandoning our girlish playfulness and sensibilities? Could we be disenfranchising an important part of us that actually holds the key to our ultimate power as women?

The other question that comes to mind is: Is it okay for a woman to call other women girls and not okay for men to do this?

“I see many of my friends and acquaintances still using ‘girl’ when speaking of women, and sometimes when talking to a woman directly. I feel it’s disrespectful … Now, when I catch my friends speaking in this manner, if it’s an appropriate environment, I will call them on it. I try to be humble and considerate with this suggestion,” said Dan in his email.

How we address each other is important. There is no doubt about that.

I think my occasional turn toward calling other women (myself included) “girl” is a way to reclaim some of my own girl power. To me, this means a person who is fun, adventurous, exploratory and bold. A woman to me is strong, confident, responsible, nurturing and global in her thinking. Probably the most important piece to all of this is the integration of girl power with woman power in each woman herself, allowing a dance between the two.

While feminists made “woman” a hard and fast rule, could it be time to reopen the case? Could we be coming to a time when we need to reclaim “girl” to embrace all of the woman that we are?

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Tabby Biddle is a writer and editor living in Santa Monica, CA. She specializes in helping women entrepreneurs and first-time authors get their message out. Additionally, she is the founder of Lotus Blossom Style, a yoga lifestyle company created to support women in their journey of personal transformation.

Sitting on the Sidelines is SO Yesterday

from 2006 Women's Conference

Maria and the Dalai Lama at the 2006 Women's Conference

Maria Shriver, Madeleine Albright, Christiane Amanpour, Jennifer Lopez, Condoleezza Rice, Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King, Rachel Ray, Bonnie Raitt, Louise Hay, Indra Nooyi and many more renowned and inspiring women revealed their personal stories and life challenges on a wake-up call day in Long Beach, CA on Wednesday.

I took a traffic-filled drive on Wednesday morning from Santa Monica down to Long Beach to attend the annual Women’s Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center. Although I try to drive as little as possible for eco-reasons and the fact that I can’t stand being stuck in highway traffic, the pull of this conference was too much to stop me.

I arrived (a little late) at the conference to a conversation not between three women – but between three men! They were talking about how incredible women are – like giant computers – with an incomprehensible ability to multi-task and to think about things from the deepest and broadest perspectives. These three men were California Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger, political pundit and tv host Chris Mathews and investment guru Warren Buffet. Warren Buffet, having grown up with two sisters, acknowledged how terrible it was that they were given the message that they did not have the same destiny as their brother. I thought Chris Mathews put it best when he said, “It’s not new the capability (of women). It’s new the recognition.” It was so refreshing to hear men talk with respect and admiration for women’s capabilities.

It was Maria Shriver who expanded this annual California-based conference (founded in 1985) five years ago with her husband Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to inspire, educate and empower women to be their best and become architects of positive change for the world! Since that time, it has become a life-changing event for thousands and thousands of women. In fact, the conference has become so popular that this year the 14,000 tickets sold out in two hours. Maria, quick to think about how to include and inspire more women, added an additional event the evening before where those who couldn’t attend on the BIG DAY could at least have a hit of inspiration and connect to the life force of the main gig.

Although there were thousands of women (and some men) at the event, I felt like I was having multiple café conversations with international journalists, CEOs, Secretaries of State, national sports champions, rock stars, renowned social activists, financial gurus, health gurus, celeb entertainers, First Ladies, and more! Where else can something like that happen? As U2’s Bono (who was also at the conference) put it – “California is the frontier of what is possible.”

One of the most exciting women for me to hear speak was legendary international journalist Christiane Amanpour. Since college, I wanted to be a journalist – to tell the stories of people from around the world so that we would in the end discover and come to understand our connection to one another. Christiane, having grown up in Iran with a privileged background said her mom showed her there was nothing a woman couldn’t do. But then the Islamic Revolution came and her world turned upside down. Her family and many she knew fled the country. She told us that her main inspiration to become a journalist was to tell the stories of the people whose stories might otherwise not be told, and in particularly – the stories of women and children. “My loss became my driving force,” said Christiana. “I wanted to use my voice in service of the truth.”

Christiane’s story was one of many moving stories from a rich lineup of women from all arenas of life. Whether a cooking show host, a secretary of state, or a medical intuitive, throughout the day women imparted their wisdom from their life experiences and empowered one another through their stories of achievement, generosity, passion and courage. They showed us that it doesn’t matter what direction you are coming from, but by taking responsibility for being awake and expressing oneself with passion and truth — we can make positive change in the world. Coming together as we did at the conference felt like a call to action. As Christiane put it, “Change will come when people decide it’s more important to be a citizen than just inhabiting our planet.” She said with a smile, “Sitting on the sidelines is SO yesterday.”

Are you sitting on the sidelines? And if so, what is keeping you from living your passions? Fear probably, right? Did you ever consider that stepping into your fears will help them fall away? How about naming them and then stepping into them one by one? I’m going to try!

At Last!

I have been watching the Democratic National Convention in Denver on television for the past four nights and have found myself completely renewed and excited about politics in America. The last time I was this excited was in 1992 when I was working for the Women’s Campaign Fund in Washington D.C. helping more women to get elected into office and supporting Bill Clinton into Presidency. At that time – Washington, and in effect our country — was a place of hope and possibility. Sixteen years later I feel we are at that doorstep once again.

Although I found myself getting teary in many parts of Michelle’s, Hillary’s, Bill’s, Joe’s and Barack’s speeches, in all honesty the most exciting part for me – the one where I felt most moved by an exhilarating feeling of “AT LAST!” — is when each speaker talked about finally bringing our country to a point where women receive equal pay!

As a preschool teacher for many years, I was in a job that was heavily represented by women who were underpaid. As a full-time employee in a New York school renowned for its early childhood education, I was making just over $20,000 at the start in 1999 and topped out at just under $30,000. On this salary I was trying to live in New York City as a single woman and pay back graduate school loans to a private college that tallied toward $60,000. I chose that school because it ranks among the top in early childhood education. I wanted the best education to help me be the best teacher.

The school, Bank Street College of Education, gave me an outstanding education – but unfortunately I did not last in the preschool classroom. I wanted the best for the children, but also wanted the best for myself. I wanted a life where I did not have to worry about how I was going to pay my rent, pay my bills, pay for the continuing education that I knew as an individual committed to personal growth would be wanting as time moved on.

I left my job as a preschool teacher just one year ago and started my own company, Lotus Blossom Style. Starting this company was my way to continue to give voice to the messages that I put out in the classroom — peace, collaboration, creative expression, and a rightful respect for every individual – and at least have a fighting chance as an entrepreneur (in many ways the American Dream) to move beyond the underpaid status of an early childhood educator.

Just over a year ago, right before I started the company, it dawned on me that maybe we have been in a patriarchal paradigm for too long and that this paradigm was what was throwing ourselves, our environment, our country and our world out of balance. I wondered if war could be decreased if we started to identify and give more time, space, and money to issues that have traditionally been considered more the feminine domain – healthcare, education and family values. I thought about what would happen if more and more women were in power and leadership positions and we turned to a time where women and men were respected and rewarded equally in the workplace. What would this look like?

Michelle, Hillary, Joe, Bill and Barack have restarted my clock of hope. I believe in their ability to walk us forward as leaders into a time where women and men can renew their self-respect and respect for one other as we rebuild our country in partnership, collaboration and unity.

Although Hillary, who was and still is a sign of hope and inspiration for many women, is not our Presidential Candidate – can we walk forward believing that we are at the dawn of a new era where many good possibilities are waiting for us?

Kali: She Transforms the Lives of Those Who Honor Her

One of the comments that I received in response to my last blog was about the Hindu Goddess Kali. Kali, known as the Goddess of Destruction, has always been a bit intimidating to me. With a big sword, skulls as her jewelry adornment, and a dominating position over what looks like a deceased body, you can you imagine why, right?

Kali has often been depicted as destructive, ugly, and violent — almost exactly the opposite of what you might picture for a goddess. However, ever since I started the Goddess Collection of Lotus Blossom Style, women have been asking me to make a Kali design.

Kali is one of those goddesses that I have feared, but have also been completely fascinated by. You know that feeling when something seems dangerous, but you are still drawn to it. A little bit like the feeling one might get when they are ready to jump out of a plane (which I have never done) or off of a cliff (which I have in fact done multiple times.)

So what is appealing about a Goddess of Destruction? Why would one worship her, honor her or want to wear a shirt with her image? For a long time I have asked myself these questions.

Felice, the blogger who wrote about Kali, described her as the “vibrating, motivating energy of the Universe!” and said, “with her sword she cuts off all that separates us from our true nature.” And with that one single comment from Felice, I finally GOT Kali!

People had told me that Kali is nurturing, loving, and compassionate, but I did not understand. With a big sword and a skull necklace, she did not look nurturing and loving to me. But from Felice’s comment I finally understood that Kali is helping us to see our true nature by cutting down the blinds that our ego can sometimes create. Thank you Felice for describing Kali’s actions in this way! It is amazing to me how one person’s way of describing their experience can completely awaken you to a new understanding of your own experience.

When I launched the Goddess Collection and women were asking me to make a Kali design, I felt scared, unprepared, overwhelmed, you name it. In some ways I was tempted because I knew what power and message she holds, but on the other hand I was not ready to take responsibility for the grandness of my own true nature that Kali could evoke.

After a year of learning more about Kali from other women who have welcomed her with bravery, I feel ready to welcome her too. Kali as the destroyer is also the Creatrix. I am happy to report that a Kali design is in the works to be released through Lotus Blossom Style’s Goddess Collection in September.