creativity, inspiration, play, politics, theatre, women

Beautiful: Ann Richards Has Her Day on Broadway Thanks to Holland Taylor

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Buenas noches, mis amigos! I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like. Twelve years ago, Barbara Jordan, another Texas woman, made the keynote address to this convention – and two women in 160 years is about par for the course. But, if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” ~ Ann Richards, then-Governor of Texas, at the 1988 Democratic National Convention

The play Ann, now at Lincoln Center through September 1st, opens with this quote delivered via archival video footage of the late great Ann Richards. And though this about sums up her vibrant, spit-fire, take-no-prisoners, gutsy, straight-shooting, truth-in-comedy personality, it is nothing short of an absolute delight to see the brilliant Holland Taylor portray her on stage for two hours in one of the finest one-person shows I’ve ever seen. I was enthralled from beginning to end. Taylor also conceived of the idea and wrote the play, which I find even more remarkable than her stunning performance.

Within two hours, I learned so much about her life and legacy. I laughed. And laughed and laughed. A lot. And then I cried a little when I realized how wonderful she was, how rare she was, in politics and in the public eye in general, and how I will never get the chance to meet her in person. This play made me believe that I did know her, and that’s how everyone felt about Ann. She was exactly who she was, all the time, in front of everyone. From humble house wife to Governor of Texas, she was someone to be reckoned with and yet everyone had to find her charming, regardless of whether or not they disagreed with her. I wanted to have her over for dinner and I definitely wanted her in my corner.

She was a stronger advocate for women, all women everywhere, than anyone else in the public sphere has ever been. And though I’ll never have the chance to know her, I did take away one great comfort. Madeleine Albright once said that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women. I believe that the converse must also be true. There is a special place in heaven for women who do help other women. Therefore, I’m certain that Ann Richards is looking down on all of us, cheering us on, bolstering us up, and encouraging us to fly higher than even our own dreams dare imagine. Even death can’t stop that kind of indomitable spirit. And for that I am both grateful and inspired.

Go see Ann. Two hours in her company, and Taylor’s, and you’ll walk out of the theatre and into the world a little taller, a little prouder, and a whole lot more determined to do something extraordinary. (If you’d like to read Ann’s convention speech in its entirety, click here.)

inspiration, science, women

Leap: Remembering Sally Ride

Sally Ride aboard the space shuttle Challenger

If ever there was a person who defined Trailblazer, it was Sally Ride. In 1983, she became the first American woman to boldly go where none had gone before. Out there – way out there. I was 7 years old and I distinctly remember watching the lift off and thinking at that moment that if Sally Ride could go into space, then I could do anything. I was only limited by my own drive and my own intentions. Everything was possible.

While her passing after a long and painful illness at far too young an age is a sad and terrible thing, the legacy she left behind cannot be overstated. Sally Ride showed all of us that with graceful courage and strength, the sky was no longer the limit. She didn’t tell people what she was going to do; she showed them. And the best we can do in her memory is follow that same example as we plot the course of our own lives. Get out there and do something amazing!

community, community service, women

Leap: You Can Help One Inspiring Woman Win $35,000 Thanks to GOOD

I’ve been a supporter of GOOD for several years. Fresh out of business school, I moved to New York in 2007 and became intensely interested in social entrepreneurship. Poking around online, I stumbled across a fairly new publication that described itself as “a collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward. Since 2006 we’ve been making a magazine, videos, and events for people who give a damn.” That was GOOD enough for me. I’ve been on their mailing list ever since.

They are teaming up again with L’Oreal to present the Women of Worth Program to “celebrate women for their contributions to their communities.” In a time when our communities have so much need and so many people who want to make a difference, this program shines a light on those who serve as an inspiration for all of us.

This year, ten amazing women will be chosen from your nominations to win $10,000 for their nonprofit organization of choice. One national honoree will be selected from these ten to receive an additional $25,000 towards her cause. We all know amazing women – let’s give them our show of support for everything they do for all of us. Nominations close on May 31. Past nominees have been recognized for their work that includes everything from fostering underserved youth to finding cures for pediatric cancer. Learn more about their stories here and nominate a woman you know today.

creativity, movie, technology, women, work

Leap: Plan B for Technology’s Unsung Hero, Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

“All creative people want to do the unexpected.” ~ Hedy Lamarr

We look down on Plan B, as if its accomplishment is not as worthy of our time and attention as Plan A. I’m glad Hedy Lamarr, a stunning actress of the golden age of Hollywood, had a Plan B, and so are you. Of course Hedy Lamarr didn’t need a Plan B to survive and thrive, but she had one and she worked on it diligently, seeing to it that it was as successful than her movie career.

In 1942, with the world immersed in war, Hedy did her part to help the efforts of the Allies. Along with her friend and collaborator, composer George Antheil, she developed and patented frequency-hopping spread-spectrum. In short, it was meant to encrypt communication messages to prevent them from slipping into enemy hands. The technology of the time was not sophisticated enough to take full advantage of Hedy’s invention, but she pushed on. Today, this technology is still hard at work within Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. We use it every day.

Not bad for a Hollywood actress – shaping and transforming the entirety of the tech industry. We need more Plan B’s like that, and more people like Hedy Lamarr.

books, gratitude, women, work

Beginning: The Prize of Honesty

“It pays to be honest, but it’s slow pay.” ~ Proverb via Tiny Buddha

I recently met a new colleague who shares a lot of the sentiments I have about yoga, meditation, and what really matters in life. It was a refreshing introduction and a reminder that wherever you are, there are like minds. You may need to draw them out by trumpeting your own beliefs. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes said so beautifully, “She who does not howl will never find her pack.

This path of finding your pack is not easy. It requires courage and faith. You will be asked to think and act like every one around you. You will have to be brave to be authentic. You will be told that thinking and acting like everyone around you is what you need to do to get ahead when the truth is a that thinking and acting like everyone else is a farce. That group persona doesn’t represent the persona of any individual member. It’s a vague meet-in-the-middle, mediocre compromise. And it doesn’t serve anyone well.

My advice, as I’ve given before, is to Be on Record. Be respectful of your environment while also being who you are. Listen and then speak up. Yes, honesty yields slow pay, but it carries a greater guarantee of a purposeful life in the long run. Steady, and authentic, wins the race.

comedy, film, friendship, women

Beginning: Women in Comedy Shine in Bridesmaids

My friend, Amanda, and I went to see Bridesmaids on its opening night. A group outing was promoted by G.L.O.C., Gorgeous Ladies of Comedy. Amanda, being a comedic actress and one of the funniest people I know, asked if I’d like to join her in supporting the movie and I didn’t hesitate to switch my plans and happily join her. The film is laugh out-loud funny with a whole host of stand-out performances and brilliant writing. It also felt great to be in a theater of women supporting other women in their creative endeavors, an activity that just doesn’t happen often enough. We need more of it.

It reminded me of the competitive streak that runs through us all, and yet seems to most prominently rear its ugly head as women duke it out with one another. There’s some of that tension in Bridesmaids as well, though I loved the twists and turns that the movie takes on this theme. Two of the bridesmaids go head-to-head right from the get-go but the incredibly talented Kristen Wiig, writer and leading lady of the movie, doesn’t let the stereotype go stale. She reminds us that every outward feeling we have toward another person, no matter the reason, is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and the direction of our own lives. It’s a tough fact to accept though Wiig has a way of making this difficult and prickly subject feel fresh, vibrant, and something we can own.

The film also illustrates a story of regret, forgiveness, and redemption. It stands as an example of the magic that comes from brutally honesty with ourselves and others. That honesty is the foundation for the heartfelt, meaningful relationships that gives us the opportunity to learn a little more about ourselves everyday. Bridemaids is a perfect example of truth in comedy at its finest.

Now playing in theaters everywhere.

women, youth

Beginning: What It Means to be Young at Heart

“Everyone is the age of their heart.” ~ Guatemalan Proverb via Daily Good

“You look really good for 35.” One of my co-workers said that to me this week. I adore her and I know she meant it as a compliment though it struck me as such an odd thing to say. Exactly what does 35 look like? I turned 35 in March and detailed out 35 things I’ve learned along the way in this lifetime. As I wrote the post, I was continually surprised by how un-35 I felt.

The other day I was brushing my teeth and it happened. One little lone white hair. I immediately ran to Google and found that stray white hairs can happen at any age and one really doesn’t signify anything. I looked a little closer at the mirror. No wrinkles yet. “Good,” I thought. “This oily skin of mine has some upside.” I promptly started to see a dermatologist for the first time in my life to make sure I keep this skin as long as possible. No matter what Google says, that little white hair was a wake-up call. Time is passing by, like it or not. I was surprised by my reaction. Maybe I am not as okay with aging as I thought I was.

And then I saw this Guatemalan proverb on Daily Good’s email. It made me laugh at all my determination to not get older, or at least not to look like I’m getting older. In my heart, I’m still sorting it all out, still experimenting, and still beginning. Now I’m starting to realize that perhaps this sorting is a lifelong process, for the young and the young at heart.

I’m reminded of Sandra Cisnero‘s writing that says we are always all the ages we’ve ever been. We carry that experience, that memory, that outlook with us. Whether or not we have white hair and wrinkles, there’s a part of our heart that is always young. And that is a comfort at any age.

adventure, books, inspiration, intelligence, karma, learning, travel, women

Beginning: Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan

“The only way to pass any test is to take the test. It is inevitable.” ~ Elder Regal Black Swan, leader of “the Real People”

My friend, Pam, was a private yoga client of mine. For her Christmas present she wanted more yoga in her life and her lovely mom graciously made that possible. Pam and I have known each other since we were in elementary school and reconnecting with her through yoga was a wonderful treat!

After our last session, Pam sent me the book Mutant Message Down Under, the story of an American woman who travels barefoot on 1,400 mile walk-about through the Australian Outback accompanied by “the Real People”. They are an aboriginal tribe who live off the land for all of their vital needs. Whether the story is true or mythical is one of the most fascinating parts of the book. Marlo Morgan describes the story as truth, though fully acknowledges that the Australian government does not believe the events ever happened because they have no record of “the Real People” and Marlo Morgan refuses to introduce the two parties in an effort to protect “the Real People” and their way of life. The result is an incredibly wise tale so mythical that we also wonder if it is really possible.

To begin the adventure, “the Real People” explain that they have decided to remove themselves and their 50,000-year history from this planet. They believe they have done what they can do to help this world along, and that the time has come for them to leave. They will not create any more offspring so that when the last of their tribe passes away, they will all be gone. They have invited Marlo Morgan to Australia so that she will share their story and their belief system with a wider audience.

Their lessons are so simple and yet so powerful. They show Marlo how there is no separation between their souls – they regularly speak via telepathy. They show her the balance they obtain on a daily basis between courage and compassion, challenge and empathy. They are not beings living on the Earth, but rather a part of a cohesive whole. The wisdom within their own minds and hearts is an extension of the wisdom offered to all of us every day by our natural world. There is no need for them to ask for guidance on anything because guidance is always with them, within them. They teach us that it’s within us, too.

The part of the book that resonates with me most is the quest and fulfillment of purpose. Not what job you’re meant to have, or place you’re meant to live, but real purpose. When you crossover from this existence in this body to the next plane, what handful of words will be used to describe who you are. This is the only work of “the Real People” – to find and live their purpose, to know, understand, and experience their one true gift. To solidify this purpose, they give themselves a new name once their purpose is discovered. Marlo Morgan, in honor of “the Real People”, gives herself the name Traveling Tongue.

It’s a notion worthy of everyone’s contemplation. When we peel away our titles, our belongings, and our accomplishments, who are we? What name would we give ourselves? What is the singular purpose that threads through our existence this time around?

social change, social entrepreneurship, women

Beginning: How to Affect Large Scale Social Change

Last week The Skoll Centre conducted their annual event, Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, to bring together thought leaders in the social innovation space. I followed the action on Twitter through #skollwf and read a post regarding 3 vital reminders that woman should be especially mindful of when seeking to affect large-scale social change. Though the talk was geared toward women, these reminders are useful for anyone looking to create social change regardless of their gender.

In full disclosure, I am particularly drawn to this post because it recaps a session co-led by Dr. Judith Rodin, who was the President of UPenn while I was an undergraduate there. She has since moved on from Penn and I’m proud that her intelligence, grace, and experience continues to impact broad social change initiatives. As Penn’s President she built the foundation that has transformed West Philadelphia from a very dangerous inner city to a thriving, diverse urban destination.

How to affect large-scale change: three vital reminders for women

A session of inspiring stories and conversations of large-scale change affected by women, facilitated by Pat Mitchell with contribution from Judith Rodin, gave rise to identification of three vital reminders:

1. Systems Thinking: Wide understanding of the cultural context and general ecosystem is necessary: draw a systems map that identifies all stakeholders and variables.

2. Collaboration: Networks are vital. Carefully consider how to leverage your partners and connections, especially “non obvious partners”. Create and sustain supportive communities.

3. Innovation: Technology is transformational when it gets into the hands of women. Identify the innovation, more likely to be on the ground than in halls of headquarters.

blogging, women, writing

Beginning: Christa In New York Partners with Jane Nation Through Syndication

I’ve been following the site Jane Nation and its associated Twitter feed for a few months. I found Jane through a Google search for a project I’m conducting at work. I was looking around for online communities that focus on women at various life stages, and Jane surfaced high on the ladder of my search.

A few weeks ago, I sent Lisa Beatty, the mastermind behind Jane, a note to see if I could guest blog for the site. Lisa was so encouraging of my writing and this blog that she made me an even better offer. She wanted to know if I would syndicate my content from this blog onto Jane Nation in the various Sisterhoods (lifestyle groups) that comprise the site. My answer was an enthusiastic “yes” followed by an equally-enthusiastic “thank you”. And so, our partnership and mutual adoration began.

My thanks to Lisa and her Jane-In-Crime, Karen Moran, for making this opportunity possible. Going forward, you can find a lot of this blog’s content in the following Sisterhoods on Jane Nation: Flying Solo (for the single ladies), Reclaiming Your Health, Reinventing At Any Age, and Passion Pursuer. I hope you’ll join the 2,500+ women who comprise Jane Nation – welcome to the sisterhood!

For the Love of Jane,