Category Archives: Women

March 8th ~ International Women’s Day

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A modern progressive world needs equality.


From China to Costa Rica, from Mali to Malaysia acclaimed singers and musicians, women and men, have come together to spread a message of unity and solidarity: We are “One Woman”.
Launching on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2013, the song is a rallying cry that inspires listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality. “One Woman” was written for UN Women, the global champion for women and girls worldwide, to celebrate its mission and work to improve women’s lives around the world.
This year, International Women’s Day focuses on ending violence against women — a gross human rights violation that affects up to 7 in 10 women and a top priority for UN Women. As commemorations are underway in all corners of the globe, “One Woman” reminds us that together, we can overcome violence and discrimination: “We Shall Shine!” Join us to help spread the word and enjoy this musical celebration of women worldwide.
Here is the a video of the song One Woman


History of International Women’s Day 

The first International Women’s Day events were run in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911 and attended by over one million people. 100 years on, International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a global mainstream phenomena celebrated across many countries and is an official holiday in approximately 25 countries including Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.


International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. However, activity has not always been on the increase. Australian entrepreneur and women’s campaigner Glenda Stone, who founded the http://www.internationalwomensday.com website, a global hub of events and information, said:

“A decade ago International Women’s Day was disappearing. Activity in Europe, where International Women’s Day actually began, was very low. Providing a global online platform helped sustain and accelerate momentum for this important day. Holding only a handful of events ten years ago, the United Kingdom has now become the global leader for International Women’s Day activity, followed sharply by Canada, United States and Australia. 2011 will see thousands of events globally for the first time.”

More recently, social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have also helped fuel International Women’s Day activity. Generally the day has moved away from its socialist Suffragette beginnings to become more mainstream in celebrating women’s achievements. Annually thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities, networking events, local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

Special Notes About International Women’s Day
• International Women’s Day (March 8th) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

• In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.


• The first IWD was observed on March 19, 1911 in Germany following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.
How will you celebrate International Women’s Day?

Mojo Monday ~ We Are All Meant to Shine!

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Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
 so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.”
~ Marianne Williamson
Come sit down.  Make yourself comfortable.  If it was winter I would tell you to go ahead curl up on the couch, with a soft cuddly blanket to keep you warm, and I would serve you some hot Moroccan mint tea, my favorite.  However in my neck of the woods it is summer and we are in the midst of our annual triple digit days.  So instead I will invite you to sit in a lounge chair in our backyard, and you can put your feet in the cool water of our kiddie pool, while we enjoy some cold ice tea together.   

Now that you are settled in I want to share with you how round these Cosmic Cowgirl parts we have been discussing the topic perspective.  I have two very simple points of view to present about life perspectives:

The first one is: Life’s too short not to wear a red boa.
The second one is: We are all meant to shine!
You may have giggled when I told you that life is too short not to wear a red boa.  Quite a few people do.  You may have even laughed when I surprised you by draping a red boa around your shoulders.  The other possibility is that you looked at me like I wasn’t quite all there, wondering what was up with this red boa thing.
Well, the philosophy of The Red Boa, as I like to refer to it in short, is about having more fun and enjoying life more in the present.  Now this approach to life may come easily to some folks.  There are people with naturally positive, happy and laid back attitudes.  However, I recognize that for some individuals this way of being can be very foreign and it can take some actual effort at first to practice at lightening up.  There are also plenty of people who, like myself, fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.  Of course there are always going to be tough life experiences that come along now and again and can make it tough to see the brighter side to things.  There are a number of things that can help us all to keep perspective about this thing called life.  The first one, while it may seem a bit morbid, it is to remember that this thing called life is not a permanent gig that will last forever.  Every single one of us on this planet has an expiration date, it may be many years from now, or it may arrive sooner than that.  The reality can be uncomfortable to consider, but when taken into consideration can help us keep things in perspective.
Let me assure you that I don’t walk around with rainbows shooting out of my ears, sprinkling happy glitter while I skip through city streets nor do I have birds and friendly animals scampering around me while I sing angelically in a forest.  On occasion I do wear glitter and truth be told I may bust a move while cleaning the house, especially if a band like the Gipsy Kings is playing.  
Sometimes my life feels grand and sometimes I want to scream “get me out of here.” Many wonderful things have occurred in my time here on planet earth.  My life has been full of abundance and I always try to be grateful for all that I have.   My life has also been affected by tragic and deep loss and I have even experienced depression.  A few years ago in fact I went through what I describe as a dark night of the soul.  Yet somehow I have always managed to return to what I call a sunshine spot.  Sometimes the return trip to my sunshine spot is quick and I stay there for an extended period of time.  Sometimes I can’t find my way back there for a long time, and those are the hardest times of course.  I won’t delve into all the details of my soul’s story right now, but I believe there is much we can learn from one another’s life stories.  Especially when brave souls come forth to share how they triumphed over adversity and chose to rise above it all.
Perhaps even after the introduction to The Red Boa philosophy you are still asking yourself “But why a red boa?”  I am here to tell you that wearing a feather red boa can be transformative.  There is something about a feather boa that is sassy, playful, mischievous, sexy and a little bit wild.  If the thought of being “wild” sounds a little intimidating consider what reknowned writer Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D writes about the “wild woman” in her introduction to Women Who Run with the Wolves:
“Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing.  Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species.  Though the gifts of the wildish nature come to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls.  Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped.”

If you do not yet own a feathered boa add it to your shopping list right now.    Then make up reasons to wear it.  For example, on my 30th birthday (which unbelievably was 13 years ago) I had my birthday party at a roller skating rink.  My family and friends requested lots of disco music (think Michael Jackson Off The Wall) and a few of us even wore feathered boas while skating.  I for one, am the owner of a rather fabulous collection of feather boas.  I often incorporate them into Halloween costumes too.  There is the flamingo pink boa, the fire red and orange boa, the parrot rainbow boa, as well as boas in simple black, red, green and blue. The photo collage (top left and then counter clockwise) above features me as “Fire,” a rainbow parrot with my twin kittens, a pink flamingo, and then see how I use the rainbow one for decoration by framing a mirror in my art room.  

The reality is that I am a regular run-of-the-mill woman.  I have my low melancholy times, I get angry and feel impatient.  My figure will never walk a fashion show runway and from time to time I even have (gasp) bad hair days.  Yet, underneath there is also my wild woman, who occasionally howls at the moon, has danced in a bar cage and in the rain in Paris, and will when needed (or just for the hell of it) break out the glitter and feathers to help me keep that Red Boa perspective.
Put on
that red boa,
fling it round
your shoulders,
shimmy shake
those full
feminine hips
take pride
 in your stride
delight
 in the tickle
the caress
 of the feathers
feel your skin
oh how good
 it is to be you
one of a kind
a singular creation
of love


What do you do or could you do to stay in touch with your wild woman?

How do you keep perspective (or your cool), if you even do, when the shit hits the fan?

Do you own a feathered boa?  If not, what are you waiting for??

Mojo Monday ~ Fierce Women

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Fierce Women

Some years ago at a work training about self defense for women, the instructor asked the group what they would do if they were attacked.  A couple of the women in the room, shook their heads and audibly said things like “I don’t think so” and “He’d get a face full of my fists,” but more comments were about screaming for help.  The instructor listened to these comments and then said “Now what if you had your children with you and this person was going to attack you and your children?”  My, oh my, the room erupted in a cacophony of women stating very firmly what they would do to protect their children. When they quieted down, the instructor then asked “Why would you scream for help and not take any actions to defend yourself if it was just you, and yet fight to the death to defend your children?”  


Now of course it is hard to really know how we will react in such an extreme, adrenaline rush of a situation where we actually believe our life is being threatened, but it was a fascinating question.  Why would some women turn into a big mean mama bear to protect their children, yet not do the same to protect themselves?


Personally, I am a peace loving person.  I don’t support war.  I cannot watch flagrantly gorey and violent movies.  Just watching pretend situations where people are cruel, hurtful or inflicting pain on other people disturbs me.  I also don’t think that revenge or retribution is productive, but rather only leads to more human misery.  When I read stories of people who rise above and forgive others I am deeply moved.  (You can find some amazing stories of forgiveness on the web site called The Forgiveness ProjectHowever, if you give me a scenario where someone is intending to inflict violence upon a loved one, I know without a doubt, that I would turn into a fierce fighting warrior.  I have had a few experiences in my life where I acted to protect others, without even considering the consequences.  My instinctual nature was that strong.  

Juana Galan, fighter in the Peninsular War in Spain 

There is something fierce about a painting of a woman holding a club.  The story about the woman featured in this painting is also quite dramatic.  Juana Galan is her name and here is a version of Juana’s story as reported by Wikipedia: “At twenty years old, she was considered the best informed woman of the village, because she worked in a strategic location, the first tavern in the village.  On June 6, 1808, in the battle in Valdepeñas against Napoleon‘s troops, there was a lack of sufficient men to defend the village, so she encouraged women to go out and fight. The other women poured hot water through the windows and boiling hot oil on the road, while Galán was armed with a baton. She took to the street to fight against the French cavalry. Through this battle, the French army abandoned the province of La Mancha and was delayed at the Battle of Bailén, which ended in victory for the Spaniards.”


My friend Susan Apolonio shared this painting and a brief introduction to Juana’s story.  Susan had gone on a little road trip with me and my sister Wendy and during our adventure she also met one of my sister Cosmic Cowgirls, Ti Klingler.  Ti regaled us with the amazing experiences she had been having in courses she is taking with Mama Gena and her School of Womanly Arts.  When Susan sent me this image she shared that there was something in the eyes that reminded her of Ti and that I could pass it along to her.  After forwarding it to Ti, who I might add, works as a church secretary, yet is also adorned with body art and has the sassy Cosmic Cowgirl handle “Sugar Bitch,” responded that she actually keeps a baseball bat behind her desk and calls it the security system.  


This story and the image led me to reflect on our identities and how we are more than what meets the eye.  It is both an exciting prospect and yet can also be disconcerting.  In the “disconcerting and disturbing” column you might find the example of the neighbor being interviewed by a camera crew because the house next door was discovered to have harbored a serial killer or a gangster.  The neighbor shakes his or her head in disbelief and stammers, “But he was such a quiet and pleasant man.”  In the “exciting and interesting to discover” column you perhaps learn that a mother that you befriended on your children’s kindergarten trip is also a novelist and that you share many fun interests in common.  


People who know me are shocked to hear my story of how at the age of ten years old I watched as a man walked up to my father at an outdoor wedding and proceeded to punch him in the face with a fistful of quarters.  A brawl broke out and in the midst of seeing my father covered in blood and fighting to defend himself, I then spotted an older brother of mine about to be attacked and have his broken leg kicked by someone.  I  blacked out and went on the attack myself and punched the adult male who was about to injure my brother.  I punched him so hard in the face with my hand that was encased in a very hard cast, (I happened to have a broken hand), that I not only knocked him down, but also broke his nose.  Who knows what might have happened to me if other adults hadn’t some to my defense when the guy got up back up holding his nose, but threatening to harm me.  Later on I had no recollection of my actions and only knew what happened from stories of my fierce defensive reaction.    


Later in my teen years my dad confronted two teenagers trying to break into my sister’s car at about 4 am.  The two young men were mouthy but took off.  They returned though in about 10 minutes with a larger group from an all-night party.  My dad, not one to take lip from some teens, went back outside to talk to them.  What he didn’t realize at the time was that some of them were hiding bats and pipes behind their backs.  I looked out the window, took inventory of the situation, and yelled for my mom and sister to call 911 and grabbed our well-trained doberman pinscher and headed out the door to back my father up.  Our fierce dog immediately had an impact.  Most of the teens backed up and made comments about the dog who was snarling and barking at them.  I could also tell they were having second thoughts about their actions when I started commenting that I recognized some of them from my high school.  I really don’t know what would have happened if my dad had remained outside by himself.  He could have been beaten, or worse.  Fortunately, some of the teens were probably already nervous about the situation, and between the threat of the dog and being told the police were on the way they all departed.  About a month later though we learned that the ring leader of the group in front of our house had been arrested for murder. 

My last tale of fierceness occurred when the abusive ex-boyfriend of a roommate came to our house.  He had actually come into the house and was upstairs.  He became verbally abusive to another roommate and I thought he was going to hit her.  Without thinking I threw my arm in front of the roommate to protect her and closed the gap between the abusive boyfriend and myself, so that I was in his face and poking my finger into his chest.  I was livid and I backed him down the staircase, my finger continuing to hit him in the chest as I told him in a loud and threatening voice to get the fuck out of my house.  I think he was in shock at having a woman be so aggressive with him that he started blabbering about it being his ex-girlfriends house too and that he was there to see her.   I told him that she only rented a room, and that I and my parents owned the house and that he needed to get the fuck off my property right then and there.  As he backed out the front door and down the porch steps and tossed out a few more expletives and yelled that was  never, never return to my house again.  Later on after the adrenaline had worn off, and we had reported the incident to the police, I shivered and considered what could have happened.   In the heat of the moment though my fierce warrior self had risen to the occasion.  


There is both darkness and light in all of us humans.  We can be complex creatures and our emotions sometimes get the best of us.  I know from experience that when push comes to shove I too have the ability to be a bad ass.  I prefer the peaceful path and using reason and understanding to deal with situations.  I certainly hope that I am never again put in the position where I have to physically defend myself or a loved one.  Yet I must admit that I stand a little taller knowing I didn’t play the victim role and that when necessary I stood my ground and called upon my inner fierceness.


There are other times, much less dangerous, where I have also felt fierce.  I definitely felt fierce when I went skydiving.  There have been times when playing sports that I have felt tough and strong.  Sometimes I equate my resilience through difficult personal challenges with an inner fierceness too.  

I find stories of fierce women to be inspiring.  In college one of the papers I loved researching and writing was about Native American women warriors.  When I heard stories about Cosmic Cowgirl and artist Sue Hoya Sellars and how she rode a motorcycle through the streets of San Franciso decades ago I was incredibly impressed by her fierceness.  How about women like Amelia Earhart who dared to do things no other woman had ever done before?  


Consider ways to get in touch with your own inner fierceness.  What might you dare to do that scares you a little, or a lot?


What are some ways your fierceness has expressed itself?


Have you ever had to stand your ground in a difficult situation or confrontation?  How did you handle it?


Come on, tell the truth, are you a bad ass?


What is the most fierce thing you could think of doing right now?



Mojo Monday ~ VoluptuArt

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“Every object, every being, is a jar full of delight. 
Be a connoisseur.” 
~ Rumi
Do you have any favorite web stores?  Have you found some that are more than just stores, rather they are places where you can browse for inspiration, perhaps for a few giggles and for that ever important visual stimulation that actually delights your soul?
I have a few favorite web sites that represent what I would create if I was going to open up my own virtual gift shop.  One that tops the list is called VoluptuArt.  If you have never experienced this treasure trove, than you are in for a super duper treat (picture a large ice cream sundae with all the trimmings.)
VoluptuArt’s Mission speaks volumes:
“VoluptuArt has been created to bring you art that will inspire you to celebrate the fullness of your life! 
Our art and gift items portray bodies of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, ages and genders. We strive to find images that ’embody’ a sense of aliveness, self-love and body esteem. We’ve also chosen items that we hope will encourage you to stop, take a breath and remember what is important in your life and to be grateful for your amazing body!VoluptuArt is packed with: sculptures, jewelry, functional art, wall art, journals, cards, magnets, candles, t-shirts, Yay! Scales and more!”
They also invite visitors to let them know about artwork or artists they believe would be a good match for VoluptuArt. 
Some of my favorite artists have art work available on the web site: Shiloh Sophia McCloud, Mara Friedman, Anahata Katkin (PaPaYa), Krista Lynn Brown, Kristine Paton, K Robins Designs and SARK. It is a wonderful place to discover new artists too. 
Here are some of my favorite creations by Kristine Paton.  Many of her images are available on bookmarks too and she pairs each one with an empowering quote.  They make wonderful bonus gifts if you happen to be giving someone a book.
Red Boa
This image is called Red Boa.  The book mark has the following quote:
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde
Flamenco
This image is called Flamenco.  The book mark has the following quote:
“Be Yourself  The world worships the original.” ~ Ingrid Bergman
VoluptuArt has quirky and unusual one-of-a-kind items.  Take for example the YAY! 
Scale.  How would you feel if you stepped on the scale in the morning and it always gave you a compliment? “you’re perfect”, “you’re gorgeous”, “you’re hot!” You’ll never have another bad scale day with a Yay! Scale. Thanks to the principles of quantum physics – a Yay! Scale never lies! Conceived, designed, handmade, and signed by Marilyn Wann of Fat!So? fame.  Note this is the silver version, another version comes in purple sparkle and one even comes in a plush hot pink carpet.
There are also amazing sculptures to feast ones eyes on.  Here are some of my favorites. These two are by Shelley and Michael Buonaiuto called Gladys and Wind.
Wind
Gladys

Looking through the various themes can lead one to fun new discoveries as well.  Some of the themes include: Goddesses, Divas, Funseekers, Frida Kahlo, Woman of Valor, Relationships, Rumi, Bellies, Breast Health and Ahhs and Giggles.
Another treasure that I enjoyed discovering is this petite earring Goddess holder shown to the left.
If you visit the VoluptuArt you may also want to visit their Resource page. They list articles, poetry, films and link to other inspirational web sites.
If you visit and find something that strikes your fancy come back and share.
If you have some favorite web sites please share links here too.

Zainab Salbi ~ Powerful Insight About War

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In war we often see only the frontline stories of soldiers and combat. At TEDGlobal 2010, Zainab Salbi tells powerful “backline” stories of women who keep everyday life going during conflicts, and calls for women to have a place at the negotiating table once fighting is over.

About Zainab Salbi
Iraqi-born Zainab Salbi founded and runs Women for Women International, and has dedicated her life to helping women in war-torn regions rebuild their lives and communities.

This is a MUST-SEE video.

Some of the powerful moments that hit me is when she describes how a woman who was raped and mutilated in front of her children and also had to watch as her husband and her 9-year-old son were killed worries that her surviving children will have hate in their hearts and that they will grow up and want to fight the killers of their father and brother.

The tears flowed when Zainab shared how these women who have survived horrible wars are still dancing and singing everyday.  They are women standing on their feet in spite of their circumstances. 

She ends with a beautiful quote from Rumi “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” 

She then asks us all to meet one another there.