Best Books (aka What's on My Nightstand): Grow Wherever You Work and Stay With Me

When I want to raise my game I read self help non-fiction. If you need that this month, check out Joanna Barsh's Grow Wherever You Work: Straight Talk to Help With Your Toughest Challenges. Joanna has mentored me and I can personally tell you that she is a research-backed straight talker that delivers.

 

When I need to escape, I read novels. And this month Ayobami Adebayo's debut, Stay With Me, did not disappoint. With every page I was transported away from the 24-hour barrage of Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein to the home of a Nigerian couple struggling with how far to bend truth for love. 

Yejide and Akin marry after meeting at their University and embark on their life together with enormous optimism. So Yejide is blindsided when, after she does not become pregnant, their family shows up with a young woman who they introduce as Akin's second wife. This book was such a powerful demonstration of how relentless culture is in shaping our expectations about who we are and how obsessed we subsequently become with carrying out the roles society assigns to each of us. Stay With Me is also a breathtaking tribute to the female spirit and our fortitude in manifesting our worst fears...and hopes. I can't wait to read more from this emerging artist. I will go wherever Ayobami Adebayo takes me.

A Peek Inside My Village: Claudia Chan

Claudia Chan is persistent—and she's got the network to prove it. As founder of the global leadership conference, S.H.E. Summit, she's got everyone from Deepak Chopra to Kelly Clarkson on speed dial. What I respect most about Claudia is that she incessantly pursues gender equality and empowerment for every woman. Her new book, This Is How We Rise, is her latest effort to support women in reaching their highest potential.

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When I asked Claudia what she's dropped the ball on in order to reach her own potential, she mentioned the first thing that usually goes out the window for new moms: exercise. "I've had 2 babies in 2+ years and I think I have done real sweat-producing exercise less than 24 times in that whole period."

Whether a parent or not, most women are in this same boat. The most important strategy to get out of it is to stop beating ourselves up over this common experience and to start moving our bodies, one little step at a time. Take a work call while walking around the block. Dance to Beyonce while the pasta is boiling. Challenge your 11 year old to see who can do more push ups. As I've learned from Claudia, tiny acts of relentlessness pay off big.

Tiffany's Epiphanies: It's More Important to Be Fresh Than Original

There is no such thing as a new idea, only new writers, Mark Twain famously said. My dear friend and fellow author Veronica Chambers reminded me of this when I was particularly panicked about the "originality" of my book. You see, people have been talking about women, work, relationships, and the ability to "do it all" for decades. The Second Shift first broke the ground. But Veronica reminded me that you can't compare yourself to other works or other people -- what you bring to the concept is what makes it fresh and unique. 

A New Face at the Feminist Press

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 EnslerJenny 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.

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Tiffany's Epiphanies: Guilt Turns Your Ground Into Quicksand

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.

Good News Alert: Shonda Rhimes Makes Hollywood History

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. 

A Peek Inside My Village: Lauren Maillian

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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.

Best Books (aka What's on my Nightstand): Own Your Glow

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.