Fractures and Fault Zones

The daughter of a geophysicist and a long-time Houston resident (which if you’re not familiar with the city, has a massive fault zone running through it), I’ve always been intrigued by fractures and fault zones; of the seismic shifts that can occur over time and why some foundations can withstand the shifts, perhaps even becoming stronger over time, while others crumble in the wake of a single tremor.

In any team or long-term relationship, whether familial, romantic, professional, etc., there is the almost certain inevitability that at some point, sooner or later, fracture lines will form — cracks that form in the wake of too much pressure or perhaps the revelation of some fact, truth, or behavior that lay hidden just beneath the surface. Sometimes these revelations are the result of unforeseen triggers or unresolved business that may surface in our memory. Sometimes they are the result of people, events, and circumstances that we simply cannot control.

Whatever the trigger; whatever the cause, over time, too many fractures can eventually form fault zones that threaten the very stability of our foundation. Over time, too many fractures can cause us to question the integrity of intention, too, causing us to reactively look outside ourselves for answers (or blame) instead of taking time to look inward at our own role, choices, and behaviors.

So what do we do when we first see them surface? How can we create enough spaces in our togetherness or teams to allow for the natural expansions and contractions that occur over time? How can we practice self-care and cultivate the strength and resiliency needed in the event of a sudden quake or seismic shift? How can we do a better job of communicating our needs, fears, dreams, and hopes, while creating a safe space for others to do the same?

One answer is to take responsibility for our own choices, feelings, and behaviors, while establishing healthy boundaries that both honor the self and others; boundaries that reflect and defend our core values and truths, enabling us to form our own solid foundation even as we live and work in community and relationship with others.

Another strategy is to practice letting go of our need to both know and control outcomes, while allowing Faith to be our guide. So often we assume we know what is ‘best’ in any given situation — whether for ourselves or others, though this need to know or control not only damages others, but prevents us from being fully present in our own lives too. It robs us of the mystery of the moment and erodes our capacity for living from an inquisitive point of view — essential for continual learning and growth.

In the end, we cannot always predict a tremor or quake and we certainly cannot control the outcome. What we can do is take the time to build a solid personal foundation that can withstand the tests of time,  while cultivating the personal readiness and resiliency needed to navigate shifts, expansions, change and disruption, when they inevitably come our way.

Leveraging Limitations

Thought for the day:

So often we seek conformity in the face of limitation; we assume change is neither feasible nor possible, and from that place, seek to fearfully ‘fit in’ to the status quo. But what if instead of accepting our limitations, we leveraged them…allowing them to creatively push us into new ways of thinking and behaving; allowing them to be the catalyst for growth and innovation?

The More We Serve…

Thought for the day:

The more we serve others, the more the Universe opens to us.

The more we seek ways in which to use our gifts for a greater good than just our own self-promotion, the more opportunity arises to share these gifts.

In placing the needs of the whole above the self, we position ourselves as leaders; and through thoughtful leadership, we create openings for others to grow.

The Battle Within

‘They’ say life is less about what happens to us, than how we respond to it, and that our attitude affects outcomes.  I believe in these principles and have often written about the same.

Put a smile on our face, respond with equal parts humility, forgiveness, gratitude and surrender, and all will be fine.

Only sometimes it isn’t.

Sometimes the battles we fight in our life;

Those people, events and circumstances that push us to the brink of our sanity and sense of self-worth;

Those moments that challenge our faith, our courage, and our self-respect, leaving us stripped of our strength and without hope, but for our carefully crafted facade of false smiles and false faith;

Sometimes these moments are about more than what meets the superficial eye.

Sometimes these battles without, are simply reflections or manifestations of a larger battle within.

Struggle with pride, for example, and life will find a way to humiliate you.

Struggle with jealousy and resentment, and you’ll discover little to be grateful for.

Struggle with fear, and life will most assuredly validate your fears, enabling you to stay stuck in the depths of your own shadows.

So how do we grow beyond these struggles?  How do we cultivate an attitude or response that enables us to grow through life’s inevitable challenges, instead of allowing them to defeat us?  How can we create a different outcome — one that enables us to live more fully, allowing love, peace and joy their rightful place in our lives? 

Change Your Perspective_1

We must be willing to fight our battles within if we hope to win the battles without.

We must be willing to slay our own demons before demonizing those who would battle with us.

We must be willing to challenge our own assumptions and question those stories we tell ourselves and others.

We must be willing to meet ourselves where we are and as we are — with grace, love, compassion, and forgiveness — to stand fully naked in our own truth before we can begin to advance forward.

I’m curious…

How have the events of your life reflected inner truths that you’d rather avoid? How has self-awareness enabled you to grow? What blind spots have you discovered within that when confronted and addressed, enabled you to live more fully without? 

 

 

 

 

Saddle Back Up!

If sometimes we need to do a little Texas two-step to keep moving forward, we also need to learn to saddle back up!

A seasoned rider since the time I was small, I recall with great clarity the ease with which I once rode my proverbial horse wild and free, feeling on top of my game! I had grand vision, relentless drive and an enthusiasm that left little room for doubt. I vacillated between a Western style that afforded me more opportunity for hard-charging freedom, and the more structured and controlled nature of the English saddle.  Always prepared, I rode in environments that encouraged me to explore and expand my limits, while challenging me to step around or jump over obstacles in my way.

But even with the best preparation, things don’t always go as planned. Even with strong skills and experience, we can be knocked off our horse (though the choice to get back up is always our own).

Until the first fall, our courage, strength and resiliency remain untested. Until the first fall, we do not fully understand risk, fear or failure.

I remember my first significant fall.

stamp.phpHer name was Polly. A stubborn, yet beautiful pony. Returning home from an English hack, we stepped out of the woods and into an open field that led to the barn. “Be sure to stay together!” our leader told us. “Always maintain control!” we were again advised, for it was this time above all others that posed the most risk to riders. From the ponies’  perspective, it was a race to the finish where the reward (food) could finally be reaped.

Sandwiched in the middle of the group, Polly broke out ahead of the rest. Unable to restrain her, I was violently thrown off, lying perpendicular on the ground to the remaining ponies who proceeded to jump over me along the way. A single kick to the head could have been fatal, so I held tightly on to my hat, closed my eyes, breathed deeply and waited for the stampede to pass.

Shaken, tired, sore and frightened, I stood up and wandered back to the barn in a dazed and haphazard way. As I approached the gate, Polly looked up at me from her oats as if to say, “What took you so long?”  

In that moment, I had a choice: Walk away or saddle back up.

Never one for quitting, I brushed off the dirt, secured my hat, and climbed back on. I walked slowly at first to regain my footing. I reflected back on my missteps and took measures to refine my technique. Polly would smell no fear from me and I would ride again.

And so we did.

Many times.

Sometimes she would stubbornly stop short of a jump, refusing to budge. At other times, we moved seamlessly in sync. When she taunted me, I learned patience. When I struggled to hold on, I learned to dig in. Over time, I learned that fear would always undermine progress, while courage, confidence, trust and respect could take us both far.

I’m curious…

Have you ever had a time when you fell off your horse and struggled to saddle back up? What lessons did you learn and how have you applied those in your life moving forward? What did the circumstances teach you about others in the process? How did your understanding of courage, strength, resiliency, risk, fear and failure deepen as a consequence of your fall?

 

 

 

From Surviving to Thriving: 16 Principles for Empowered Living

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Before we can effectively lead ourselves or others, we must first feel worthy of the journey itself. We must develop the confidence and courage to step up and into our own voice and to live our own truths with mindful intention and integrity. Whatever the road behind us, if we are to reach the places we’ve chosen to go, we must learn to live in such a way that our outer lives reflect our inner values. This is the essence of empowerment and heart-based living.

Almost any journey toward empowered living can be broken down into three distinct phases: 1. Self-awareness — that moment when we begin to become aware of ourselves — our dreams, our goals and our (self)limiting thoughts and behaviors that often hold us back;  2. Learning — a formative period of insight and exploration, shaped by mentors, role models and other ways we learn; and 3. Application of tools and wisdom that can help propel us out of our limitations and into the fullness of our own voice.

While there is no substitute for the journey itself, these 16 principles can help propel you forward and serve as a guidepost as you embark on your own journey of empowered living and leadership.

1. You must let go of the need for others’ approval if you want to claim your own power. Every time we depend on others to feed our own self-worth, we rob ourselves of our own power. This perpetuates our dependency on the external, for as we disempower ourselves, we become more needy and desperate for the validation of others. Invariably, this increases the likelihood that we will make poor choices — of partners, bosses, friends, etc.

2. Boundaries are not nice-to-haves; they are must-haves. If you are to live and lead from an empowered place; if you are to quit giving your power away to others, boundaries are essential. Boundaries let others know where you stand — with yourself and with them — exuding self-love and respect as you honor your own needs and values. Without boundaries, you not only create confusion for yourself and others, but open the door to needy, controlling and/or predatory personalities — those who feed themselves by robbing others: of their time, energy, ideas; dignity, innocence or worth.

3. As you begin to claim your own power, your relationships with others will begin to shift. You will gain the respect and support of some, but lose others along the way. Not everyone welcomes change and growth in others, especially those who have come to depend on our neediness for their own sense of worth and value. Don’t fight it. These shifts in relationships are a natural and evolutionary process, and the people you attract into your life from a newfound place of strength will result in healthier, happier, more productive relationships.

4. You must face your fears. When we bury our fears, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn about ourselves and grow in the process. When we bury our fears, we are essentially telling ourselves, “you can’t handle this,” re-enforcing our own self-limiting beliefs while missing opportunities for growth. Worse still, when left unresolved, we can count on our fears to manifest themselves — in our relationships with people, money, work and health — further undermining our capacity to overcome and build resiliency in our lives. The pain that we fear in facing our problems will not kill us, but holding on to our pain surely will.

5. You must learn to work through conflict. Few people like conflict, myself included. But in our idyllic pursuit of peace, we often forget that peace, courage, self-confidence and esteem do not arise from passive avoidance, but from working through. It comes from courageously facing ourselves and others, seeking as much to understand our triggers from within as the conflict from without. When we avoid conflict, we not only internalize our pain and potentially damage ourselves, but relieve others of their own accountability in the process.

6. Trust your gut. This truth applies as equally to opportunity as it does to people and situations we would rather avoid. Trusting your gut is not the same thing as giving yourself unbridled permission to ‘do whatever feels right’. It is, however, about learning to trust yourself and your instincts, without which we remain hopelessly vulnerable to and dependent on the agendas of others’, whether honorable or not.

7. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Learn what triggers you — your fears, your insecurities, your jealousy, anger or judgment. Once you know what triggers you; what threatens to pull you off-center, you are better equipped to respond proactively instead of reactively, a core element of living an empowered, intentional life. If, for example, a certain personality type consistently wreaks havoc in your life, learn to recognize it early and set boundaries accordingly. If you know in advance that a certain situation leaves you feeling vulnerable or insecure, you can buffer and diffuse your fears by envisioning a positive outcome in advance.

8. Victimhood is not a badge of honor. When you feel powerless in your life, it’s usually because of a painful event or series of events that happened in your past and/or is occurring in your present. Perhaps you feel you are a victim of difficult circumstances outside of your control or have been victimized by others. Life can be hard, tragic and painful, and as much as we may hate to admit it, there’s no escaping this difficult truth. By definition, people are human, and from that place of humanness, people often project their own wounds, hurt and dysfunction onto others, whether consciously or not. Sometimes we become ensnared in their pain. Sometimes we get hurt. Still, when we consistently hold on to our pain; when we wear it on our sleeve as if a badge of honor, it only serves to keep us trapped in our own victimhood.

Consider these words from ‘The Boss’, Bruce Springsteen:

You can find your identity in the damage that’s been done to you. You find your identity in your wounds, in your scars, in the places where you’ve been beat up and you turn them into a medal. We all wear the things we’ve survived with some honor, but the real honor is in also transcending them. -Bruce Springsteen

9. The stories we tell ourselves and others have the power to shape our future. If we are to live fully empowered lives, part of giving up our victimhood badge requires being intentional in our thoughts, words and deeds, for while we are not always in control of what happens to us, we can choose how to wisely respond. Just as our thoughts become words and our words become actions, the stories we tell ourselves and others have the power to shape our future, for better or worse. If we want to change the outcome, we need to change the script. We need to reframe our story, shifting our perspective from victim to victor. Instead of emphasizing what was done to you, focus instead on what you are doing. Instead of being absorbed with yourself, shift your focus on to others. Instead of dwelling on the past, share your vision for a better future.

10. Let it go. Whatever pain you’re holding on to; whatever experiences define your badge of disempowerment, let them go. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. When we hold on to or focus on the pain of the past, it robs us of the capacity to live fully in the present. Hold onto our pain for too long, and we end up allowing it to define us, blocking our true essence and the light of our soul. When we hold on to our fear, we lose our capacity to love. When we hold onto bitterness, we lose our capacity for joy. When we act from a fearful, self-protective place, we lose our capacity for authentic connection with others. Whatever you’re holding onto, give yourself permission to let it go, for by losing our baggage, we create space for new growth.

11. Our circumstances do not have to define us. You are not your circumstances. You are not your poverty, your unemployment, your divorce, your disability or your health issues. While your choices in the present may be influenced by the events of your past, you need not be defined by them. Moreover, while you may not be able to change others’ perceptions and biases, you need not be limited by them, either. Just as significantly, though our culture, profession, ancestry, religion, geography, socio-economic status, education, etc. are all factors that influence our identity, at any given moment, we are each free to step out of the proverbial box of pre-defined limitations and into the total truth of who we are.

12. You must be willing to take a risk. Growth is risky. There are no guarantees. There is no certain, predictable outcome.  The only guarantee is that by embracing growth and the inevitable change that accompanies it, you will embark on a journey that will both challenge and ultimately enrich your life beyond measure.

13. There is power in vulnerability. The very act of taking a risk; of extending ourselves beyond the comfort of the familiar and into the unknown requires a willingness to embrace vulnerability. It requires a willingness to let down walls built to protect; to dissolve layers of ego so that we can see beyond our defenses and into the essence of our heart, for it is there that we will find our true strength and power.

14. No pain, no gain. Growth is not only risky, it’s hard work, too, often (usually) accompanied by pain. By its very nature, growth and change require we be willing to leave the comfort of the known for the discomfort of the unknown. Just as in physical exercise, when we’re building our resiliency and courage muscles, there’s a painful tearing down process that must first occur, essential to building a stronger heart and foundation for our lives. There’s no escaping this fact, though it is usually the pain and discomfort of the status quo that ultimately challenges us to confront our deepest fears and surrender to this process.

15. Start with where you are. So often we put off until later what we can do right now. We hold on to the (false) idea that anytime must be better than the present time to confront our problems, face our fears, and embark on this journey of growth. “When this, then that,” we say to ourselves. ‘This’ may range from “when my children are grown” to “when I get that promotion” to “when I recover from my illness.” But putting off the steps we need to take to live our own voice out loud, robs us of both joy in the present and hope for the future.

16. You are enough. Each one of us is unique with our own set of gifts to share with the world. Each one of us has within us the capacity to love and be loved, to serve with humility and to act with compassion. We do not need to wait for someone else to tell us we are enough — good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, successful enough or lovable enough, for we are each a precious gift of God. Our worth is not found in or measured by the external, but resides within, if only we will dare to uncover the truth of who we are.

 

 

 

 

The Space In Between

In the weeks leading up to the recent launch of a personal initiative I’ve spent years preparing for and months developing, I found myself standing in that awkward space in between.  You know the one. It’s the no man’s land between advancement and retreat; between pushing forward and playing to win, or playing it safe, if only to assuage our fears of losing.  An internal battle between heart and ego; between being liberated and stuck; I seesawed between moments of hope, encouragement and possibility, and moments of fear that most surely would rather see me wither, withdraw and fail.

Photo courtesy of Oklanica via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Oklanica via Flickr

In a moment of honest reflection, I find this battle ironic, relevant and remarkable.  Ironic, because this new initiative, the Global Girls Project, is centrally about women’s empowerment and encouraging others to live and lead their own voice out loud; Relevant, because in order to inspire women to share their story of empowerment and advice they might pass on to others, I’ve had to own my own journey along the way, imperfections, struggles, learnings and all.

As I continue to step closer to my dreams, I also find this moment remarkable.  Remarkable, because quite frankly, when I started this personal blogging adventure called Heart Path almost 4 years ago, I never imagined that my own story and journey would lead and connect me with so many wonderful others whose collective wisdom and insights have helped shaped my own.

And so it goes.

We advance.  We retreat.  We learn.  We stumble.  We fall.  We grow.

And in that space in between; in that space of uncertainty that threatens to become our undoing; we allow faith to replace our fear, a spirit of service to replace our ‘self’, and we begin to pay it forward for others.

Whether you’ve been following from the start or just happened to drop by, thank you for sharing this journey.

Note:  The Global Girls Project, a collaborative multimedia writing initiative, is in the early stages of development.  To catch a first glimpse and learn what the project is all about, I encourage you to visit the website at www.globalgirlsproject.org.   

 

Poisoned Fruit

Most mornings I rise around 5:30 a.m.  It’s always quiet, usually dark, and the time of day when my heart and mind are most open to spiritual matters.  It is a time of reading, reflection and prayer; moments of mindful meditation before the noise of the world comes crashing in.

A few days ago, I began my day (re)reading James Every White’s book, Serious Times.  It’s written from the perspective of a theology professor and pastor who writes on Christian themes from an intellectual point of view and dares to ask the questions: “How can we make a difference in the world around us?  How can we make our lives matter?”  In essence, he asks how can we walk our talk and become living models (of our values) in a world that does not value the same?

One of the passages that stood out above the rest was on the subject of ‘fruits of the Spirit’: things such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control — values that are universal in nature, regardless of your particular religious affiliation, if any.  It’s a fitting analogy for me, having just planted a small apple tree in my back yard which is just now beginning to bear fruit, albeit still small in size and sour in taste.Apple

In his book he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is just that.  Fruit.  Fruit does not exist in and of itself.  It is something that is produced.  It comes from a life source — a branch or a vine.  A person does not decide to be patient, much less will to be patient.  Patience must be cultivated from its source.”  To which I would add:  Just like my apple tree, whose fruit will mature and ripen over the course of time, withstanding the elements of stormy weather and the threat of disease, our ‘fruits’ or values must be practiced — the refinement and maturation occurring amidst resistance, not ease.

It is easy to love when another is loving towards us.  It is easy to give when we are among others who are equally generous with their time, talents and resources.  It is easier to extend trust to others, too, when we do not fear their betrayal.  In leadership, we are more inclined to empower others when we feel secure in our own influence and advocate for what is right when there is nothing we stand to lose.

But what happens when we find ourselves moving amidst resistance?  What do we do when the stakes are high?  What happens when values clash or the ‘fruits’  become poisoned, producing instead seeds of disappointment, envy, pride, ego, hatred, bitterness, or selfishness that have taken root in another or perhaps even ourselves?  Do we meet them with more of the same, or can we counter with a hefty dose of compassion and forgiveness instead?  In the wake of disappointment, hurt or betrayal, is the answer more walls or can we first seek and open ourselves to understanding?

These days it’s harder than ever to avoid poisoned fruit, whether of our own making or another’s.  As humans, we are all flawed to varying degrees.  At some point or another, we have all messed up, screwed up or screwed off.  We have all been tempted and tested, too.  Yet just as our imperfection and differences have the power to divide us, so, too, can they be leveraged to unite us, for when we allow ourselves to see our own good in others or others’ shortcomings in ourselves, our perspective begins to change and the chance to make a different choice emerges.

I’m curious…

From the perspective of heart and values-aligned living and leadership, do you believe that if you can’t fight ’em, you might as well join ’em, or is there a better way?  Do you see yourself as a role model for others or are you just trying to get by in a difficult world?  How do you deal with ‘poisoned fruit’ (your own or others’) in your life?  What difference do you believe you can make?  As you extend yourself in the world, is there such a thing as ‘too high a price’ to live your values when the stakes are high?  

The Gift of the Struggle

As we journey through life, sometimes we have to struggle to uncover the gifts along the way.

Sometimes we must step away from the known, the familiar and the comfortable, before we can finally make our way back home.

Sometimes we must face fear or the temptation to quit, that we might learn to overcome and persevere, and in doing so, develop the courage to live our convictions out loud.

Sometimes we need to be challenged to finally know our value, stretched to learn our limits, and tested to understand our strength.

Sometimes we must climb hills to develop endurance or visit the valley of tears to know true compassion, for how can we offer to others what we have never experienced for ourselves?

Sometimes we must endure the disrespect of others on our own journey towards self-respect, or have our egos shattered and dismantled before we can learn to see the true light of humility in leadership and service to others.

Sometimes we must suffer pain to know healing or deep sorrow to know joy.

Sometimes we must endure the sting of betrayal to know the honor of truth, or suffer the pain of false masks, that we might finally learn to walk in the truth of who we authentically are.

Sometimes we must experience painful loss that we might know gratitude, uncertainty that we might know Faith, and disappointment that we might know hope.

Sometimes, we must simply journey through the dark forest of our lives to reach the clearing on the other side — for in every darkness there is light, in every failure there are learnings, and in every struggle the gift of growth and invitation to journey on.

I’m curious…In what ways have you been tested, challenged or stretched on your own journey called life?  Do you view these challenges as gifts of growth or another burden to bear?  How have your struggles strengthened you, enabling you to become a wiser learner and leader in your own life?  What are the lessons of your own journey?

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The Great Sisterhood of Women

women-holding-hands1Prelude:  This evening I attended a program in support of a new friend, Sharon Lachow-Blumberg, Founder of I’m Not Done Yet – a consulting, coaching and training firm focused on helping women create purpose, power, and profit in their lives.  I was touched by the stories shared and by the degree of camaraderie Sharon and the participating women offered to one another, each seekers of joy, purpose and fulfillment on their own journey called life.

In honor of International Womens’ Day, Sharon, Whitney Johnson, and all of the other women who are working to inspire, encourage and empower women to live their voices out loud, I am reposting an oldie, but goodie.  Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing – helping women dare to achieve their dreams!

I love men.

Surprised you with that opener, didn’t I?  Admit it.  Weren’t at least some of you expecting me to start off this post with some anti-male feminist tirade about the wrong-doings of men, necessitating the need for the great allegiance of women?

Truth is, for as long as I can remember, despite the occasional rotten apple, I’ve loved men.  I like their company and I appreciate their charms.  I’m also woman enough to admit that I still like a man’s attention – to know that in a man’s eyes (as well as my own) I’m beautiful, articulate, intelligent, sexy and funny.  Who among us heterosexual women doesn’t feel that way?  Let’s at least be honest with ourselves.  After all, aren’t men the creatures we often give the full force of our heart to, at least before we become mothers?  We love them, honor them, cherish them, and sometimes even give our lives up for them.  Many of us blindly trust and follow them, sacrificing what we must for those men who capture our hearts.  Unfortunately, sometimes we go too far, often losing ourselves in the process.

That said, in recent months there has been a shift in my focus – away from men and their charms (as well as their complications), towards the great force and beauty of my fellow females.  No, I’m not switching teams, but I do have a growing appreciation for what is often referred to as ‘the great sisterhood of women’.  If the men in my life have been catalytic and occasionally heartbreaking forces that pushed me towards growth, it has largely been the women in my life who have journeyed with me through that growth and beyond — who have pushed, challenged, sympathized, empathized, offered an ear, shared a burden, wiped tears, set me straight, cried with me, and stood by my side.  They have not done so because they always agreed with me and my decisions, but because there is a common bond among us; because ultimately, we all want to see our fellow sisters succeed at this game called life.

As I have traveled across much of the world these last couple of years, women across cultures have reached out, opened up, and shared their own journeys with me.  I have even heard from many of you via this blog or through common virtual alliances.

All of you, like me, have your own story.  Heartbreaking stories of fear, pain, heartache and loss; but also beautiful stories of courage, love, and triumph.

Some of you, like me, have just gone through a major life transition…a painful, heart-splitting, oftentimes scary, lonely and difficult journey, but have come out the other side stronger, wiser, and more compassionate than ever.

Some of you have felt victimized by your circumstances, stuck in your anger and blame; but others of you have found strength and confidence in the journey, honoring your own voice, despite the pain along the way.

I’ve heard from women who have silenced their voices, afraid to be alone or to follow their dreams, yet courageous enough to at least admit it.

I’ve heard from other women who made the choice to turn personal tragedy into life-changing victory and who now inspire others by the force of their own example.

Some of you, like the brave women of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, have even assumed great risks to reach out to other women to be heard and understood, even if only virtually;

I’ve met women who, after years of being lost, finally found themselves – whether at 30, 50, or even 70 in the case of at least one woman I know.  Women who dared to journey within; who dared to dream, and in doing so, found their heart place.

My feminism is not of the Gloria Steinem variety, although I once took inspiration from her.  My brand of feminism is not about what is being done to us by others (though I am a strong advocate of gender equality), but about harnessing the power within; about listening to our hearts and honoring who we most authentically are.

I believe in the gifts women have to offer the world and each other.  I believe in the strength of our will, the courage of our convictions, and the beauty of our hearts.  I believe in our power to create lasting change for good in this world, starting with our own families.

We are many things to many people:  mother, sister, wife, lover, worker, leader, caretaker, survivor, daughter, friend; but most importantly, we are women.  In honor of International Women’s Day this week, I am indeed proud to be a part of the great sisterhood of women.

Note: This post is dedicated to my mother, an incredibly beautiful, smart, strong, and courageous force of nature; my first and most important example of what it means to be a woman in this world.  Through her example, I have learned to become the same.