I listen to music and dance with reckless abandon pretty much every night. It makes me happy--the truth is, it has since I was a little girl. Stress is everywhere. Find what makes you happy and remember to do it, even for a moment, every single day.
The highlight of my week was attending the 2017 Feminist Power Awards, hosted by the Feminist Press. Since 1970, the Feminist Press has published works that advance women's rights and has given a platform to the voices that many others have tried to silence. This year's honorees included Riane Ensler, Jenny Lumet, and Sheri Salata, who reminded us that, "The most important story I can tell is the one about myself to myself."
What was most exciting to me about the event was the opportunity to support their new Executive Director and Publisher, Jamia Wilson. She is the first woman of color and the youngest person to serve in this role, and her ascension represents a refreshing new era in the movement. All of us are the cumulative investment of others and I was beaming with pride to know that the world is receiving an extraordinary return on the investment so many have made in her talent. Congratulations, Jamia.
As a working mom, I cannot attend my daughter's piano lessons, much to the chagrin of her teacher. When he stressed the importance of being there, I had to gently remind him that he wouldn't get paid if I wasn't working. Yet, even though I stood my ground, the guilt crept in. What if I could be there, would it make a difference? Managing guilt is one of the hardest things we have to do. Here's how to help.
It seems that all people are talking about these days is the landslide of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. One of the most important pieces on the matter was written by Emily Peck in HuffPost, who reminds us that men's invocation of their daughters, sisters, and mothers when denouncing sexual assault actually dehumanizes survivors.
This week I'd like to draw attention to some happy Hollywood news that unfortunately is getting overshadowed. Shonda Rhimes has become only the third black woman to be inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. The other two were Oprah Winfrey (1993) and Diahann Carroll (2011). This is huge, particularly since she is receiving the honor so early in her career.
The solution to the cultural subjugation of women is the recognition of the indelible contributions we make, not just at home or in the bedroom, but in the boardroom. And the more we are the ones writing our stories, the more our TV screens will reflect women's strength and power. History has its eyes on you, Shonda.
"What's your story?" That's the question I ask every woman I meet with. The ones who answer with a story about what matters most to them and how it informs where they've been and where they're going are the ones I remember. A compelling story trumps everything.
Lauren Maillian doesn't just take up her own space, she makes room for others. I benefitted from her generosity earlier this year when she made it possible for me to speak at the Apollo's Dining with Divas luncheon just days before my book release. Lauren is an entrepreneur, investor, #rockmom, and author who has blazed The Path Redefined. But despite her gorgeous Instagram feed, her life isn't flawless.
Recently, when she posted images of her son going back to school and a few folks commented on his extraordinarily long tie, Lauren kindly pointed out to the naysayers how proud she was that he had tied it himself. When I asked her what she's had to let go of in order to live a life she's passionate about, that tie was the first thing she mentioned: "I've dropped the ball on forcing my children to get perfectly ready for school to meet my expectations. Eventually, they started to care and figured it out themselves! Viola!"
As a single working mom, Lauren admits she's struggled with putting herself first, but she's managed to get expansive with her time and do small things that keep her feeling vibrant. "I've built them into my calendar because it's that important to my happiness," she says. Amen to happiness.
When I was in college I read a book called Sacred Pampering Principles: An African-American Woman's Guide to Self-Care and Inner Renewal. As an eldest daughter who felt enormous responsibility to put everyone else first, the whole concept of prioritizing myself was mind blowing. I devoured the book and still engage in one of its practices: uninterrupted baths.
Reading Latham Thomas' Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within was like a flashback to my first expanding consciousness, except broader and deeper as twenty years have gone by. This book is both mesmerizing and practical, packed with rituals, meditations, and tips that are simple to implement.
If you ever get to experience the soulfulness of Latham in person you'll appreciate what I wrote to her after reading an early copy: "It's a stunning read. It's so YOU. The book is truly an embodiment of your essence. Somehow you've found a way to bottle it, share it with all of us, then take us through a process of tapping into our own GLOW. What a gift!" My bottom line thoughts are summed up in my proud blurb: Own Your Glow is the most important read for any woman courageous enough to uncover, capture, and leverage her feminine power to make a dent in the world.
I always take the window seat on the plane, even though I would prefer the aisle. Why? Because I don't want to have to ask my seat mates to get up when I need to go to the bathroom. As an empowered woman, it hit me: Why am I sacrificing what I want as to not inconvenience someone else? If you can't give yourself what you want, why should anybody else? Watch and learn.
In 2004, my husband and I moved from Seattle to Boston and I joined Simmons College as a Major Gift Officer. I was drawn to the college's track record in advancing women and immediately felt enveloped by the community. Two of my current mentees are young women I met when they were leaders in the Black Student Organization at that time. Leaving Simmons two years later was bittersweet. I wanted to support my husband's career with our move to New York, but I knew I would miss the friendships and the encouragement I received at Simmons. This week it all came full circle as I joined the college again—this time as a Trustee. As I walked through the halls during my orientation, I reconnected with a few of my former colleagues who had taken me under their wing thirteen years ago. I thanked them for their mentorship and counsel. I consider my board service Simmons' return on the investment they made in me. I'm committed to paying it forward.
Here's the question I get asked all the time: "How can I get other people to pick up the ball when they just won't do it?" No amount of delegating (even with joy), will work unless you actually drop the ball. Watch and learn.