A mixture of mindfulness, poetry and uncategorized musings worthy of sharing.
As I exited the underground parking garage through a dimly lit, grimy back door and entered a brightly lit hotel foyer filled with the humming chatter of beautiful women, I questioned why I had signed up for the Wisdom 2.0 Conference this year for the first time. The tickets cost a pretty penny and, even beyond that, it would take me away from the website I was in the middle of building…the one with a looming deadline. My self inquiry was not allowed to reach a conclusion as I was ushered to sign in and wanted to make sure I found a seat I’d be comfortable with – in other words, one in which I could make an unnoticed escaped if desired.
The founder of Wisdom Women and Advisor of Wisdom 2.0, Michelle Stransky, organized this pre-conference gathering for those interested in exploring Wisdom, Women & Leadership. Her beginning words and whole presence on the stage as she addressed the packed room exuded such humility and grace that careful attention was immediately commanded.
Nuggets So Worth Repeating
I pulled out my computer, as my original intention was to capture every word the presenters spoke, clean it up a bit and then post it as a synopsis of all that occurred in the session. And I did type almost every word spoken by the women who took the stage. But upon waking to a most amazing sunrise the following morning, a new vision came to me to instead highlight the memorable nuggets of wisdom embedded in the powerful messages each person spoke – the ones that hit you on the face, catch your breath, remind you of what you already knew but needed to hear it fall on your ears again to come more forcefully alive in your professional and personal life.
Here are a few:
Rochelle Schieck, creator of Qoya, a form of movement as a path to conscious embodiment, started us off with some shaking and dancing to help us get present in the room and to gain clarity to finish the sentence: “Today I am here for…”
Think about this one question – what are you really here for? What are you doing today that reflects that? What are you here to bring into your work place, your home, your world? Besides the movement, the songs she played last night are worth noting and listening to. If you’re a fan of Spotify, listen here.
Michelle Stansky, a woman of slight stature, tells a bit of the story behind the creation of Wisdom Women, and then warns:
“I may be small (in size) but don’t be fooled – there’s a lot of fire in me and in this room. With this community, and not because of our numbers, but by our collective courage, power and deep grounded love, we will find ways to create thriving cultures and a world that works for all.“
With more than a bit of vulnerability, she shared about switching from doing things the “old way” to a “new way” – how a desire in her was born to serve the world in a much larger, more conscious way, one that would lead to all systems and individuals thriving. What would it be like to live in the kind of world where we are all caring for one another and all types of government and business and financial institutions support collective thriving? Anything could happen.
Lynn Twist, co- founder of the Pachamama Alliance and President of the Soul of Money Institute, is a global activist whom I had had the pleasure of meeting several times over a decade ago while translating for an Ecuadorian Shaman. Lynn had us frequently laughing while listening to her vast experience and pellets of eloquent wisdom woven through her often-humorous stories. She started off with a powerful message:
“Pain pushes until vision pulls.”
She then ended with sharing a story passed on to her from some of the indigenous tribes she has had the deep pleasure and honor to work with:
“Up until this time in history, Native American people believe that the bird of humanity has been flying with just one wing and that the other wing has not been fully extended, causing the one wing to carry all of humanity. They believe this is the century that the other wing will fully extend. Until now, with only one wing, humanity has been flying in circles, but when the other wing extends fully, then the bird will fly naturally, gracefully, with ease and the bird of humanity can soar freely, instead of fly in circles. Just remember, you as yourself, you are an expression of that humanity. If you act small, that pettiness is holding back the wing from extending and you are playing part in holding back the wholeness of humanity – so I ask you to ennoble your life, your role and to help empower and awaken other women so that bird of humanity may soar.”
Rachel Bagby was up next, and truly there are no words to adequately describe this beautiful creature, much in the same way that the word ‘love’ often fails – there just is not a way to describe when you come face-to-face with the Mystery.
The best I can do is to share this collection of verses I curated from the evening when Rachel invited everyone in the room to create a Dekaaz – a 10-syllable poem written in 3 lines, with a 2|3|5 rhythm. The Dekaaz is a poetic form originated by Rachel as a vehicle for sharing wisdom. Rachel started us all off with her first ever created Dekaaz:
the mountain writes me.”
What came to me during the following sunrise, was to combine the poems shared the previous evening into one. The result? A pretty damn incredible Dekaaz collection (even in written and not spoken form), but boy-oh-boy (okay, girl-oh-girl,) if you could hear how the words rolled off Rachel’s tongue in spoken word and song, you’d be transported. The first in this collection of verses were words spoken by Lynn Twist addressing us from the podium, which Rachel immediately recognized fit the poetic form. The last verse were words spoken by Yasmina Porter, unintentionally resulting in the perfect punchline. If you were at the event, you could hear the whole room singing this last line in harmony. I gave this collection the title Verbal Pressure because that’s exactly what a Dekaaz is – a combination of force, direction and balance imbued with wisdom transferred to the language of verse.
we call Earth “Mother”
she calls so deeply
pushing us forward
until dreams come forth
Love is so simple
Come, sit down
on life’s throne and lead
The last to take the stage was Christine Barrington, who led us with the line: “Let a question become the cup into which life can pour the nectar that you most long to drink.”
She asked us to complete the thought, in groups of 4, “A community of women is…” What remains with me even more so than the group’s answers, was the recollection of the lines of a poem I had memorized in earlier years by Rainer Maria Rilke, “Go to the Limits of Your Longing,” which seemed like the perfect message to end us on for the evening:
God speaks to each of us as she makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
By the end of the evening, I knew why I had signed up for the Wisdom 2.0 Conference. With renewed fervor, I realized what role I play in helping extend that bird of humanity’s wing so it may soar. Whether through my being and/or through my writing, storytelling, teaching and designing, the deeper intention is and always has been to help that which is meaningful and true to flare up, wake up and spread its goodness.
***Special request to my readers: The article is mine but contains so much of others voices. I request that if you should decide to share any or all of this article, please give credit to the authors. Thank you!
I was recently invited by my dear friend and accomplished financial advisor, Leigh Wasson, to attend the Be Your Own Hero Conference , organized by the YetiZen team and Girls in Tech, hosted by Sana Choudary and sponsored by many organizations that support women entrepreneurs and leadership, particularly in the technology industries.
That lively day of discussions and presentations is what prompted me to shine the spotlight here on how technology holds transformative power for women and communities. In particular, smartphones and broadband Internet access is providing unimagined opportunities for disadvantaged populations around the globe and serving to bring women together in ways that are redefining their futures.
A Powerful Change Agent for Women
In the United States, Information & Communication Technology (ICT) defines almost every aspect of our lives; from the way we communicate, socialize, connect, learn, campaign and conduct business. According to Pew Internet Research, 91% of the adult US population owns a cell phone and 60% of women use smart phones. Most women in the United States take access to a phone or the Internet for granted, but in other parts of the world where gender inequality is grave, such a device holds a much greater value and appreciation.
ICT in emerging and developing nations, such as India, Africa, the Philippines, Chile, China and Russia, are giving women the ability to communicate more freely, access educational opportunities and play greater roles as income earners within their families and communities. Not only are ICTs opening up entrepreneurial and economic opportunities, they are also serving directly and indirectly as change agents of whole communities and breaking traditional barriers to women, both at home and in the marketplace.
Women now have access to information, to banking institutions and to collective communication and training such as never allowed before. With more and more younger women using ICTs, working and educating themselves away from home, their abilities to enhance their social mobility and challenge traditional power relations are much greater.
Take a Deeper Dive
If you want to dive deeper into this topic and find out ways to help empower women across the globe, I invite you to watch this Google+ Hangout hosted by an inspiring lineup and organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). It’s not as exciting and fun as the Be Your Own Conference was, but it’s packed with information and introduces people who working hard to support women in business.
One Simple Act You Can Take Now
If you feel aligned with supporting women here in the United States and around the world, one super easy act you can take now is to share this video (and this article!) on your social networks. Short and direct, yet it will make all who see it think twice about using a commonly thrown-around phrase and perhaps chip away at one of our culture’s most pervasive stereotypes. May you do it “like a girl” with pride! Enjoy.