July, 2013

the art of finding your passion in your woundedness ( + discovering the work of your soul)

“You can, you should, + if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” — Stephen King

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At the age of 12, Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery.

She survived a decade of rape and torture. She saw her best friend killed in front of her.

Eventually she managed to escape.

She became an anti-trafficking activist.

Since then, she has orchestrated raids on brothels. She has rescued sex workers as young as five and six. Through her organization, The Somaly Mam Foundation, she has built shelters, started schools and saved more than four thousand women and children in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. She has been honored as a CNN hero. She was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2009. She has a book out called THE ROAD OF LOST INNOCENCE (and you should totally read it). click here

Jul 27, 2013 · 8 Comments / ADD YOURS

the epic feminine: welcome to the epic story of your life ( + how to make it a good one)

“I haven’t a clue as to how my story will end. But that’s all right. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, you don’t conclude that the road has vanished. And how else could we discover the stars?” — Nancy Willard

I wrote a personal essay that was published in Marie Claire magazine a couple of years ago (an editor there discovered me through my Livejournal and commissioned the piece). It was about, very roughly speaking, the fall of my marriage and the rise of my sense of self.

The night after I submitted it, I got up at 3 a.m. to email the editor and ask if I could take it back. Before the magazine came out, I remember being so terrified that I curled up against my boyfriend in the middle of the afternoon and asked him what the hell did I do (as if he could answer that) and cried.

What I hadn’t realized is how many women would read that story and see themselves reflected in it; if it was about me, it was also about them.

I know this, because some of them sent me emails that would start to transform my approach to writing and storytelling. As they related their experience to my experience, and we saw the commonality, my perspective opened up. I could see some of the forces at work — of culture and history and economics — influencing the dynamic that formed between my ex-husband and me. Although we were responsible for that dynamic, it was also about something bigger than us. A woman approached me who said she had worked as a personal assistant for a famous actor and gotten a close look at the kind of power imbalance that can end up sacrificing the needs and identity of the weaker partner.

“I’m glad someone finally told it like it is,” she said.

That had never been my intention.

I thought my experience was mine alone. Through the act of putting it into story, and then putting it out there, I had tapped into something much more universal, and my eyes opened wider as a result.

To live an epic life is to find ways to connect your click here

Jul 18, 2013 · 4 Comments / ADD YOURS

the secret power of receiving, connecting + being authentic

The other day I complimented a man on his ass. He is a close friend, we’d been talking about objectifying women versus objectifying men, I was feeling cheeky (no pun intended), and so as he turned away I said, sincerely, “You have a nice ass.”

“I know,” he said, without missing a beat.

I was surprised. I’d expected him to deflect the remark in some way, either by questioning (“You really think so?”) or negating (“You must be looking at somebody else”) or minimizing (“This silly old ass? I just grabbed it from the closet this morning”).

Then I realized – putting aside the, ahem, possible inappropriateness of my comment – that I’d been expecting him to react the way women react to compliments in general.

We’re so awkward with praise that popular spiritual guru Gabrielle Bernstein did a HuffPo vlog on how to take a compliment.

Then again, a lot of compliments deserve to be negated or deflected or otherwise dismissed as empty, manipulative flattery. We sense when someone is trying to maneuver us, even if we pretend to play along. We can seem accommodating even as our guard goes up. But does it have to be up all the time? Has it become that much of a kneejerk reaction, especially if we know the compliment is deserved?

When we practice false modesty, we’re not being authentic. And when we’re not being authentic (as men or as women), we’re disconnecting from other people and ourselves. click here

Jul 9, 2013 · 6 Comments / ADD YOURS

an empire of her own: the heroine’s journey ( + a woman’s quest for her own thing)

Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

I’m at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon, an annual conference for creatives, the brainchild of Chris Guillebeau.

I got up this morning to a newsletter from Chris Brogan about building online empires.

Dominating the world.

Building empires.

Both Chris and Chris are using these terms in a playful way. Still, what would the world look like, I wonder, what kind of world could we make, if girls grew up talking with this level of confidence and ambition? Shoot for the moon, you might catch the stars. Girls and women achieve, no question, but we have this habit of doing it in a good-girl kind of way: we try to be perfect instead of truly great. click here

Jul 7, 2013 · 16 Comments / ADD YOURS

the art of thinking highly of yourself (without being a totally obnoxious narcissist or something)

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Confession. When I was a little girl, (age 8) I would write obnoxious things in my diary. Things like:

Life is so great and exciting, especially when you’re someone like me, good at writing and school and sports!!!!!

One day (age 13) I came across that diary when I was cleaning out my bedroom, and felt mortified by my egocentric and deluded younger self. I threw the diary into a big black garbage bag along with the other junk and never saw it again.

Recently (age 40) I came across a quote by singer Edith Piaf (1915-1963):

I had a very high opinion of myself. Perhaps with good reason.

That kind of blew me away. For a woman to not just think and believe such a thing, but to say it out loud? Dude. That takes ladyballs.

One thing I’ve noticed lately in my conversations about women, reading books and magazines about women, listening to other people talk about women, is that everybody seems to take it as a given that women as a group have low self-esteem. A lot of this seems to be attributed to the fact that, bombarded as we are by an insane beauty standard, most of us don’t look like supermodels – a.k.a. ‘genetic freaks’ – and don’t consider ourselves beautiful. Boo hoo. click here

Jul 3, 2013 · 52 Comments / ADD YOURS
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