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Create Your Own Rite of Passage!

Rituals support shifts in non-linear and almost instantaneous ways.

If you have a story or loop that’s holding you back – perhaps grief or a grievance, or feeling stuck – a brief ritual can help you break through to a new level.

Years ago I was in a workshop with the great Jean Houston. The culmination of three days was an invitation to cross a threshold between who I had been and who I might become. We could do this by stepping over a line marked out on the floor by a string of tea lights.

Who knew that such a simple exercise could be so powerful?

As I come up to the line, all my fears and resistance concentrate in my chest and throat. I stand at the “edge”, gathering myself. I have the distinct experience of energy moving, as though whole complexes and patterns are coming to the surface and breaking up in the face of my intention to transform. With time I feel a readiness – a clarity that I can and should step over the line – and a quiet shift within that I know is a quantum increase in self-authority and self-acceptance. I step over, and instantly there is more space, and more vulnerability. I don’t yet have sea legs in this new ocean of possibility. In a short time though, I stabilize. I am excited. I’ve passed over into a new world.

If you are dogged by a pattern you’d love to shift, I recommend creating a ritual of transformative change for yourself.

Here are the basic elements:

1. Name what you want to transform and listen for the new you that is seeking to emerge.

2. Create a container for yourself  Pick a time and place that has meaning, and ask people from your inner circle to join you in the process, or to bear witness. Decide the format: what will represent your threshold?

3. Prepare yourself.  Before a rite of passage there is an energetic need for a “vigil” – a time for reflection and cleansing to support you to be ready for transformation.

4. Honour your truth at the heart of the ritual: do you commit to what is emerging or not?  Only cross over your symbolic threshold if you are truly letting go of the old and embracing the new. This is not a mental shift, but one that happens at the level of deep inner knowing.

5. If you cross over, celebrate!  There is a reason that marriages and funerals include food. The “nodal” points where we take a different path need to be marked, and celebrating with food is in our DNA.

You can also honour this basic five step architecture any time you do something new or big, since the newness/bigness involves “stepping over a line”.

I recently facilitated a three day planning retreat for a large multi-stakeholder group. In the days before, I allowed myself more quiet time, deepening and gathering myself to hold space for a dynamic group process. Afterwards, I celebrated (a part of the cycle too many of us neglect!).

Creating rituals, and seeing more of what we do through the lens of ritual, are two ways to support transformative change.

EmpowHER Yourself: An Exclusive Interview with Michelle King Robson

If you found out that something was wrong with you, you’d want to fix it immediately, wouldn’t you?

Of course you would.

That’s what Michelle King Robson did, but unfortunately, a quick fix isn’t always the answer.

At 42 Michelle was sick and told that she needed a complete hysterectomy. Desperate to feel better and listening to her doctor’s orders, she of course, got the hysterectomy.

Unfortunately the “solution” was only the beginning of Michelle’s problems.

After her hysterectomy Michelle’s health tanked. She became a shell of who she used to be and with no end in sight, she even contemplated taking her own life. She didn’t stop searching, she just began searching in different places until she found her answers. She found her solution in weaning herself off of her medications and taking Estrogel and Magnesium.

Once she got better, she got mad and vowed to never let this happen to another person. So she started EmpowHER, a women’s health website dedicated to bringing women the best information in health to help improve their well-being and their lives.

EmpowHER brings amazing information to women every single day. “We wantEmpowHER to give relevant and meaningful information around women’s health, gender specific to women,” shared Michelle.

Not only that but it connects readers with real doctors who will answer questions within 24 hours. “That’s a huge opportunity for women to get to where they need to go instead of them heading down a rabbit hole, which happens all the time on the web because there’s so much information being thrown at you,” said Michelle. Whether the information is on her own site or somewhere else on the internet, Michelle wants to guide readers to the best information they can find in order to offer them their best shot at a healthy life.

Most important of all is the community that EmpowHER creates, which Michelle didn’t have when she was fighting for her health. “I was searching for someone like me because women are silent sufferers, we don’t like to talk about it so this gives them the ability to be anonymous if they want, to private message each other if they want, and share their name if they want, privately or publicly, but it’s up to them how they connect,” she said. This turned out to be the most celebrated part of EmpowHER. “This is the one area that I can honestly say no one’s ever said to me ‘Why did you create this company?’ This is the one area where women say ‘Thank you for creating this for us.’ I didn’t do it for me, I did it for women,” said Michelle.

Michelle may share the best health advice she can find online, but she also has some personal tips that she has shared exclusively with Women Who Run It.

1. Schedule Everything “Everything needs to be scheduled, especially in my life. You have to make things a priority,” said Michelle.

When you’re a busy woman you can’t sit around and hope that you can find the time to prepare a meal or fit in that workout. Your health is what makes it possible for you to do everything that you do, so schedule some time to nourish yourself and your body, and it won’t let you down.

2. Put Yourself First “You need to advocate for yourself first, for your own health and wellness, or else you can’t take care of anybody else,” Michelle said.

Women are natural caretakers, but they can’t fulfill this role when they are sick in bed. By putting yourself first you’ll be able to do all of those things for others that you love to do. It’s not selfish, it’s just common sense.

3. Know Your Numbers Do you know your cholesterol number? Your estrogen number? Your thyroid number?

If you don’t know a baseline number for these how will you be able to tell if something is wrong?

If things were ever to go South you should know your baseline numbers so that you can immediately figure out what’s wrong. As Michelle found out, not knowing what’s wrong is worse than finding out the truth.

4. Know Your Body Parts It’s important to know exactly what each piece of your body does for you. Michelle didn’t understand what having a hysterectomy would mean before she got one and it quickly became clear to her how important her uterus was to her body.

“You have to understand what you’re doing and how it’s going to effect the rest of the body because there’s a reason why every body part is there… especially for women, they don’t know their bodies and they don’t really pay attention to all the reproductive parts,” Michelle shared.

5. Find Your Motivation “My biggest motivator to be healthy each day is to set an example for all the women who either are on EmpowHER, or will be coming to EmpowHER, or who I may run into, whether it’s on an airplane, a train, a bus,or if I’m speaking somewhere, so I need to live the brand. I am the brand and I want people to look at me as an example of ‘Hey look, you too can get past this, you too can get well, and you too can live a happy, healthy life,’” Michelle said.

What’s your motivation?

6. Advocate for Yourself Michelle said that if she had advocated for herself that she may never have had to go through such an ordeal. “I didn’t advocate for myself. I didn’t quite care. If they said ‘We want to cut your arm off’ I would have said ‘Okay’ if it would have made me feel better. So, I didn’t advocate for myself and I didn’t push back on doctors because they’d think that I was bitchy or a know-it-all.”

You’re the only one who knows how you feel and what is best for you, be your best and biggest advocate. Ask questions. Push back. Be considered bitchy or a know-it-all. Do everything you have to do to make sure that you’re receiving everything you need.

7. Listen to Your Gut “We were born with this intuition as women and we tend to ignore it and we can’t ignore it because it’s usually right. If there’s something wrong, if you don’t feel well, then there’s something wrong and you need to figure out what it is. If you have to go to ten different doctors until you get to the right answer then so be it. But you can’t let things go. At any age, at any stage, you should feel fabulous,” Michelle explained.

There’s no reason for you to feel anything but amazing, no matter what age you are. Remember that and you’ll be sure to always advocate for yourself, you health, and your body.

Michelle’s perseverance led her on the road to better health and on the path to creating EmpowHER. Not only did she save her own life, but she’s moved on to saving others’ as well. She’s a woman who runs her life, her health, and an amazing company that brings health and wellness to millions of women daily. Today’s your day to “EmpowHER” yourself too!

Can Women Command A Screen?: A Night with WIFT-Toronto

This past year we’ve seen an amazing group of women grace the silver screen and that showed at this year’s Oscars.

While Ellen’s twitter crashing selfie was the talk of the night, something else seemed to catch my attention: Cate Blanchett’s acceptance speech for her role in Blue Jasmine.

“Those in the industry who are foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women in the centre, are niche experiences, they are not,” she said.

“Audiences want to see them. In fact they earn money. The world is round people!” she continued.

Cate was absolutely right. Women in film and television can and do hold the show.

Women Who Run It believes in this so much that they have been working with Women in Film and Television – Toronto (WIFT-T), a member-based organization of women and men working in screen-based media that supports the development and advancement of women in the industry.

Women Who Run It recently attended their advanced screening of The Grand Seduction and their networking event afterward where we learned a few things about women in film and television with the help of WIFT-T’s Executive Director, Heather Webb.

Give us a chance, and we’ll run with it For some reason people have come to believe that women can’t carry a movie, but WIFT-T has different ideas.

“Women are one of the largest consumers of onscreen material and we’re half the population. It’s really important that we see ourselves on-screen as well as behind the camera… I think if we can just give them a chance, and often that’s all it takes, you just give them a chance they’ll run with it and they’ll make a really successful product commercially,” Heather shared.

But we’re still struggling for that chance While we may be the main consumers of on-screen material, we’re still struggling to be seen as the powerhouses that we are.

WIFT-T tries to combat the lack of opportunities by bringing women together to help each other.

“In the entertainment industry it’s very much who you know. Women are notoriously not good at networking and promoting themselves so that’s part of what WIFT-T does. We always have a networking component to every program we run because it is really important for women to make those industry connections,” said Heather.

In the end it’s all about diversity “If you want to be very successful in the entertainment business in Canada you want to have as diverse a workforce as possible. You want to have as many people telling different stories, whether it’s women, or Aboriginal people, or people from other minorities… I think you want to have as diverse a population making your film to reflect our population and to set up role models for people,” shared Heather.

“I think it’s really the leaders of every company, the CEOs, the board, they need to set diversity as a priority at the top level because it really is where the decisions are being made. I encourage everyone to look at their writing rooms, look at their production set, and make sure there is as much diversity as possible reflected there and it will pay off. It will pay off in the long run with really successful, engaging, relevant stories,” she continued.

WIFT-T’s message is one of diversity, acceptance and community. This is a message that needs to be heard.

Unfortunately there are countless myths surrounding women in the entertainment industry. People believe that women can’t carry films, they are constantly trying to pit women in the industry against each other, and constantly taking the focus off of women’s achievements and onto their personal lives.

While women are more outspoken than ever, there is still a need for an organization that uplifts them, brings them together, and promotes them.

“I just think a lot of people ask is there still a need for WIFT? There’s 45 WIFT’s worldwide, so obviously we’re relevant, we’re needed. I don’t think we have seen the full potential of women in the industry yet. I’m really excited to see when that happens because I think we’re going to have some really high quality storytelling coming from that,” Heather said.

WIFT-T isn’t just for people within the industry. They host advanced screenings that anyone can attend and their networking events afterward are great opportunities to meet new people, see new perspectives and support a great organization.

To learn more about WIFT-T go to www.wift.com.

Being a Female Breadwinner: What This Rise Means for Relationships

When it comes to money, the more the merrier, right?

Well believe it or not, this is not always the case.

The last half century has seen the rise of a new kind of woman, the female breadwinner, a mystical creature once unknown to society at large. Although this is a total win for women and feminism, it can create a strain on relationships and gender roles.

To set up the situation, it is important to take a little walk down memory lane and see where the root of this problem is:

  • It has only been within the last 60 years or so that women have been getting equal pay to men (and this is still not always the case).

  • It was only in 1999 that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that job standards and tests couldn’t be solely based on capabilities that would favour men.

What these facts prove is that for a very long time the workplace favored the man. It is only in very recent times that women have been able to work, especially in high-powered positions.

So what does this all mean?

Well it means that men have been the breadwinners pretty much since the beginning of time. Because of this society has created a sort of unwritten binary system where the big strong man goes to work and provides for his family, while the dutiful woman stays home to attend to her “womanly” duties (i.e. cooking and cleaning).

Attention Readers: This SHOULD sound old-fashioned and archaic, it is. But it is also a reality and it is the reason people are struggling with the idea of the female breadwinner. To put it frankly, they are just not used to it.

Of course there are some men out there who are totally cool with the idea of their significant other bringing home the bacon, but there are also some men who feel emasculated by this notion. It is okay for them to feel this way, they are not sexist monsters trying to bring down the feminist movement, they are just human.

If you are a female breadwinner here are some tips on how to manage your relationship (and your life too):

Money ≠ Power

Probably one of the biggest strains money can have on any relationship is the belief that it equates to power. This would mean that the person who makes more money would be dominant when it comes to decision-making.  Always remember that any good relationship is an equal partnership and no matter how big your pay difference you  are always in this together.

Redefine Success

Always keep in mind that money and success are not exclusive. The most incredible elementary school teacher in the world simply cannot not make as much as a mediocre NBA player, these are just facets of these jobs. So always show your partner that you still see all of their hard work and dedication, no matter how much money they make.

Show Your Appreciation

Always make sure that your partner feels noticed and appreciated. There are a lot more ways that a person can contribute to a relationship and family that go far beyond finances. Make sure you take note of these things.

Let the Man be the Man

Now, I know what you’re thinking and I understand that this is a controversial tip, but hear me out. Men like to feel needed and they like to feel important, so sometimes you just have to let them. So if you are out to dinner with a group of friends let your partner pick up the cheque, he will feel better and so will you.

Balance the Chores

If you work a long, hard day the last thing you need to do is come home clean the toilets and then cook up a gourmet meal. Some female breadwinners may feel the need to take on extra chores to compensate for the fact that they worked all day, but this unnecessary and quite frankly, it’s exhausting. Balance out the chores with your partner in order prevent overexertion and also to bring equality into the relationship.

Let Go of the Past

In the same way that a man might feel emasculated by his significant other making more money than him, a women may be conditioned to feel guilty if she is making more money and consequently spending less time at home.  Let go of this guilt and feel proud of your accomplishments! Think back to the long lineage of women who have worked hard to allow you to be in this position. Also, remember that guilt will also bring negativity into your relationship.

Take Care of Financial Matters Together

Just because you make more money does not mean you have take care of all the bills, and it certainly does not mean you’re in charge of all the financial decisions. Money is an important factor in any relationship, which means that all of the important financial decisions should take both people’s opinions into consideration.

Things Can Change

No matter what, keep in mind that we are living in unsteady financial times and that your situation may change in the future. So treat your partner the way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

Female breadwinners rejoice! We are living in an exciting time when women are able to advance further in the workforce than ever before, but just remember to take care of your relationships just as much as you do your career.

What Are You Afraid Of?

Type, type, type… backspace, delete, backspace and type again.

Sigh… It is a pattern.

The page is still empty and as I select word count from the menu bar. I still haven’t hit the marker that will make this article complete.

What is the problem?

I know the topic I wish to discuss but there is something that is making me hesitate. What is making me hesitate? I cannot seem to put my finger on it.

Hmmm, perhaps it is the way society has socialized women to believe that they must be perfect.

This is an unrealistic expectation.

I constantly feel the need to prove my competence, intelligence, and value. When I am provided feedback (criticism), I think about what I could’ve and should’ve done, and will do next time. That one critical comment or comments will make me question my capabilities but it will only last a moment. However, that moment will feel like a lifetime. Yet, in reality, it is ever so brief and I will eventually get over it.

Research points to the value of women negotiating and how that plays a role in the wage and leadership gap between men and women (“Women Don’t Ask”, Babcock & Laschever). Women will speak out about things they believe in but when it comes to advocating on behalf of themselves, they are reluctant to do so.  Although, encouraging women to negotiate can be mutually beneficial for all parties involved, women are hesitant to make the ask.

Keep in mind that there are a number of women who negotiate daily. These women are unabashed to talk about their qualifications and to take risks. This article is intended for the large number of women who have something valuable to share but are afraid to speak up about it.

So for the women who are reading this article and do not negotiate on their own behalf, I would like you to think about why you don’t negotiate.

There are a number of studies that report on the differences between the way we socialize our girls and boys. These differences play a role on why women are reluctant to advocate on behalf of themselves.  Women who are well-versed in the art of negotiation and self-identify as leaders may even hesitate to negotiate or be in the spotlight. I would like you to think about what makes you fearful from negotiating, speaking up, or taking on a leadership role.  Is it the fear of hearing “no,” making mistakes, being criticized, or is it the fear that people will perceive you negatively?

There are a few basic steps one must take prior to entering a negotiation:

1. Make a plan. 
As you create your plan, think about your goals, interests, the other side’s goals and interests, what you will do if you don’t negotiate, your options (their options), and tactics.   

It’s to my contention that it is not only important to harness your negotiation skills but also build your confidence. There are a number of ways confidence is defined. For the purpose of this piece, let’s summarize confidence as having a thought and then acting on it. To take action is to become fearless.

2. Be comfortable with hearing “no.” You tested the boundaries. Your next step is to find out what you need to do to receive “yes” (education, management experience, increased time in the field of study, etc.).  Be aware that there may be nothing you can do to change the no to a yes but at least you know your position within the company. This will help you take steps towards making a new plan to reach your goal.

3. Learn to welcome criticism. Your work is being acknowledged and you should feel pleased that you took to time to share your perspective. In addition, you may learn something from the critique. See this as an opportunity to learn how to grow and do better.

4. Take risks.
Success is how you define it. Allow yourself room to alter your path to success from time to time. Keep in mind that opportunities may open up when you take risks. 

5. Practice. The more that you put yourself in the spotlight will shorten your recovery time when mistakes do happen.

6. Share. Women (and men) need to share more stories about their life’s glitches (getting fired from a job, an unsuccessful promotion, a botched team project that they led, etc.) and how they overcame them to redefine success. Together, we can dismantle the myth of perfection.

Effective negotiation skills can be learned. A fearless negotiator involves practice and building confidence. Take a proactive approach towards your goals and challenge yourself to push through the hesitations. Practice will help you become a confident negotiator, but it is also important to identify your fears so you can overcome them.

Blood: The River of Health

Blood is the ultimate vehicle for our life force, but we all take it for granted.

Your blood travels from your head to your toe in less than 10 seconds.

Approximately 2.4 million red blood cells are created in our body every second.

These cells live for 120 days and travel 300 miles in their lifetime.

What we eat has a dramatic effect on our cells and the state of our health. We live in a world where burger is the king and dairy is the queen, and it’s no wonder that so many people today are tired, overweight and looking for a magic bullet.

You wouldn’t feed your pets the wrong food, or put the wrong fuel in your car – but we continually put the wrong food into our bodies. Your body requires 40 different nutrients a day and your cells can die prematurely from deficiency or toxicity. Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 are required for the production of hemoglobin – a protein which carries oxygen throughout your body, and carbon dioxide out. Minerals iron and copper are needed daily to generate the necessary chemicals in your hemoglobin. Your blood cells originate from the stem cells in your bone marrow; Vitamin A helps this process. Eating the right foods may just be that magic bullet.

With today’s five new food groups – Frozen, Fast, Fried, Junk and Processed – we’ve shifted our diets away from what our bodies truly need because of marketing, convenience, and taste. Making healthy foods today is actually easier than we think, and often times cheaper. Putting a salad together, steaming vegetables, and putting a piece of chicken in the oven does not require extreme culinary skills nor a lot of time. So what do we need?
Eating three to five pieces of fruit and five to seven servings of vegetables a day provides your body with nutrients like fibre, water, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes – all necessary for optimal body chemistry. Not to mention, they help keep our bodies at an alkaline state.

Find Your Potential of Health pH represents potential hydrogen. From a holistic perspective, we can say that it stands for potential of health. It is the value given to indicate the alkalinity or acidity of a substance, with complete acid at the low end of the scale – neutral at 7.0 – and pure alkaline at 14. Your body functions best when the pH of most of its fluids are in a range of 6.5 to 7.0.

Our diets play a major role in the amount of acid produced in our body; if one has too much acid, we begin depleting our minerals – sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium – in order to buffer out the excess. If we don’t have an abundance of these alkaline minerals found in fruits and vegetables we open ourselves to a host of issues. Calcium loss results in bone density loss, and magnesium loss results in nervous dysfunction, muscle cramping and irregular heartbeat. Sustained exhaustion of this nature can lead to the diseases we see so prevalent in North America today. All meats, fish, wheat, alcohol, colas, sweeteners and condiments are acid forming in the body.

Life is about balance  We can certainly enjoy treats here and there. It is our overall diet and lifestyle that has the largest effect. It’s what we do 80 percent of the time that matters, and your diet should be 80 percent alkaline. However, most people are only at five percent. Lemons are a naturally acidic food – however, the body does not need to buffer the natural acids. The naturally occurring citric acid is a “weak” acid; once it’s done providing energy to metabolism, the remaining nutrients are alkaline. Along with almost all fruits and vegetables – a diet containing beans, flax, eggs, nuts, quinoa, garlic, and cold pressed oils will help our body remain in its ideal alkaline state.

All of those red blood cells you make each day want to live in a healthy environment. Taking responsibility of your own health can provide you with long lasting energy and vitality, and reduce your risk of the health issues that are plaguing our society today and costing our health care system billions of dollars a year. Keep nutrition simple; eat foods that grow toward the sunshine, are not found at a pickup window, and don’t have to pass a chemistry lab on the way to your mouth.

Confessions of a Gatsby Wife:Lessons Learned From Losing It All

Do you remember the first time you read The Great Gatsby? Probably in high school before you could ever truly appreciate an American classic, but like many other readers you were probably enamoured by the luxurious lifestyles, intrigued by the social bonds that were made and broken throughout out the novel, and if nothing else, you were wishing you could find a Gatsby party of your own to attend.

Some people are actually living the Gatsby lifestyle, for better or worse.

“I just wanted to have the dinner parties and to have the life! And I didn’t want to know about the details or how he was funding this. I didn’t want to hear about his problems, if he didn’t have enough money. That maybe pushed him to have riskier behavior. I wasn’t a total innocent bystander,” Daisy (not her real name).

In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby’s mansion effervesces with fair-weather friends as long as the free champagne flows. When scandal erupts, however, no one is to be found. Gatsby, who was once the toast and talk of the town — the mysterious millionaire — died alone, with no one in attendance at his funeral.
Almost a century after Fitzgerald penned his iconic American novel, the scene still plays itself out. Sometimes the tragedy ends in death, like the many suicides that occurred in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal. Sometimes you are simply exiled from the Gatsby lifestyle, as happened in the case of “Daisy”, who sat down with me last week to tell her story.

Ten years ago, Daisy was living the high life. Her husband was a jetsetter with a fancy lifestyle and a flashy career in commodities. Daisy — her jewelry, her parties, her circle of friends, her figure! — was the envy of the Hamptons crowd. Socialites flowed like a cool breeze in and out of beach and country homes. Just like The Great Gatsby, Daisy’s toddler tumbled about, adding frolic and comic relief.

Daisy worried for nothing. She can’t even remember how she spent her money — the good income she earned on her own, working as an executive assistant for a venture capital group. She didn’t save a dime, and her husband handled all of the bills.
Weekdays were worker bee busy, but on weekends Daisy became the social butterfly, fluttering about among friends. That is until one fateful day, when her husband called with a horrible confession. He had collateralized their home against a hard money loan, and they were in danger of losing everything.
The years that followed were a flurry of anger, arguments and attorneys — none of which saved the home, or the Gatsby friends. As Daisy describes it, “We lost a lot of friends. People don’t hang around when you’re not having the big dinner parties that we used to have.”
And yet, Daisy looks better than I’ve ever seen her. She and her husband have reinvented themselves — something that took serious self-examination and brutal honesty over who was really to blame for losing almost all of their worldly possessions. Her husband went from dealing in bling and jet setting around the world, to dealing with high school students and commuting by train. His teaching job pays pennies on the dollar from his prior career, but he burned too many bridges to stay in his former business. Daisy went from lavish living to modest budgeting — where she controls the money and pays the bills.
In order to stay married to the father of her children, Daisy had to ask and answer the question, “Is my husband evil, or did he just make a terrible mistake?” She admits that he gambled their future on a bad business deal — one that he genuinely thought would pay off and save the day. But she also had to acknowledge her own role in the mess.
As she describes it, “I just wanted to have the dinner parties and to have the life! And I didn’t want to know about the details or how he was funding this. I didn’t want to hear about his problems, if he didn’t have enough money. That maybe pushed him to have riskier behavior. I wasn’t a total innocent bystander.”
Today, Daisy is financially, though not legally, divorced from her husband. Shepays the bills. She owns the home, and a 401K and life insurance. Her child has a trust fund and a college fund. And her next goal is to get back to earning passive income, through smart investing.
The champagne life may be gone forever (or not), but Daisy is happy and optimistic about what lies ahead, mainly because she’s driving the car now, sober and with a good plan. And she encourages you to consider the 10 Tips below, so that you never have to lose it all, like she did.

Smart Girl’s Guide to the Rich Life

  1. Pay yourself first always.  Deposit 10% of your income into a tax-protection retirement account, and learn how to compound your gains.

  2. Always have money of your own — even if he’s the mega-bread winner.

  3. Have your own credit card.

  4. Verify that you are on the deed of the home (not just the mortgage).  This is how Daisy lost her home — by not having her name on the deed.

  5. Know what and where your assets are Including how much is owed and whether your money or estate is being leveraged to pay Paul.

  6. Establish a Thrive Budget You can either survive or you can thrive. A Thrive Budget is a way to budget your money in order to help you thrive in your life. You may have a retirement fund but maybe it should be called your Private Island Fund. What do you want from your money? Save for the things you want, let it build up and never worry about surviving, just focus on thriving.

  7. Have your own retirement fund And never allow anyone to touch it. This is your lifeboat!

  8. Read the fine print of all legal documents Particularly big asset purchases.

  9. Demand transparency from your partner in all things financial  Even if you have separate bank accounts.

  10. Take ownership of your investments  Even if you have a “financial planner”.

  11. Learn The ABCs of Money  These are things that we all should have received in high school. It’s far more important than knowing how fast a train can get between Omaha and Chicago.

Sure the Gatsby lifestyle is seductive and alluring, but it’s also an uncertain lifestyle that is built on unsteady ground. Instead of being drawn to the glamour of dinner parties and fancy material possessions that could all be lost tomorrow, let yourself be drawn to the security to smart financial decisions. These are decisions that you should be making with your partner, because they’re your teammate and they’ll be the one down in the dirt with you if it all falls apart.

**Edited for repurpose by Taylor Brown, Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publicationWomen Who Run It.

7 Reasons Why Your Team May Hate You

We’ve all had a boss we hated before. That’s never fun.

A bad boss makes your work suffer, your happiness suffer, and the company suffer.

Sometimes, that bad boss… is you.

Let’s face it–leadership is not easy and not for everyone. It may be what many people aspire to, but, often, it is not a good fit.

So—how can you tell if you’re a good leader or not? Well, your performance is reflected in your team. The business world has changed a great deal over the years, but one thing hasn’t: employees still want to have confidence in their leaders’ capabilities and to know that leaders will respond to their needs. That’s not fundamental in much of the corporate world today, and it should be.

Here are 7 reasons that affect your assessment, and why your team may hate you:

1. You tell instead of sell.  I have written about marketing from the inside out to win employees, the same way you do to win customers. A company’s success is largely based on what its employees do (or don’t do), just as much as what their customers do (or don’t do).

So, where’s the marketing to employees? How are they being influenced? Today’s tactics of “do this and do that” and “you’re lucky to have a job” may be two sources of motivation. However, intimidation is not the answer to leading and winning in the workplace–and the marketplace–inclusion is.

As a leader, you have the potential to influence people every day, to effect change through exchange. So, take every opportunity to engage employees because, after all, they’re customers too. Begin the dialogue, open doors, get people involved. Share marketing ideas, do internal market research, get product feedback. Create a culture that is customer responsive by being employee responsive too.

2. You don’t fight for your people.  Rewards need to be linked to performance—that’s how you set the bar for behavior and create a culture of execution. But, how can you do that if you don’t fight for promotions and raises for your A-players? Good leaders show loyalty to their teams. How can you expect employees to care about you when you don’t care about them? Leaders also deal with underachievers—either by improving them, or firing them for the good of the team.

3. You don’t trust your team to do what they do best.  This means you don’t know your employees—their strengths, weaknesses and capabilities—and it’s your job to know. Just think of any sport—why certain players are in certain positions—it’s to the best advantage for the team to win.  It’s one thing to follow up and monitor progress with your people. It’s another to micromanage them. I learned this from a former boss who meddled in every single thing I handled. The upshot: I never rose to my full potential. Once I reported to someone who trusted me, I got stronger, because it made me trust myself.

4. You can’t make up your mind, so you don’t inspire confidence. In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s common for companies to zig and zag. However, there has to be clear goals and priorities, otherwise, it’s total pandemonium on the playing field. If you’re too insecure, confused or indecisive, how do you expect your team to know what to do? How do you expect them to trust you if you don’t trust yourself? Your job is to solve problems, so gain clarity by asking questions, and encouraging others to do the same. Yes—skillful leaders always ask questions, and then make decisions accordingly.

5. You don’t listen or encourage questions and feedback. Today’s workplace is all about change, and change is much more successful when you respect and engage the people who will actually execute it. Lay it all out for your team — everything you know and don’t know, and what your concerns are. Provide the view from the top: the priorities, goals, and expectations. Never operate under the assumption that employees know what they need to know. Get feedback. Ask questions. Ask for help. Get your peoples’ concerns out in the open. This reveals important information that helps you plan and anticipate problems. This is not only a great team-building exercise, but it gives everyone ownership. Change is much more successful when you engage the people who will execute it.

6. You are not an exemplary team player.  In some of the talks I’ve given, we’ve discussed great attributes of team players, and how to assess ourselves. The top descriptions are: reliable, supportive, positive, adaptable, and accessible. Does this describe you? If it doesn’t, then remember: the only person you really control is you. Your thoughts. Your actions. So—fix them. That’s how you become a better you, a better teammate, a better leader. How can you expect your team to have these attributes when you don’t set the example?

7. You don’t like people.  Believe it or not–many executives are put in leadership positions that don’t belong there. They may be terrific at their specialties–technology, finance, design—but they absolutely have no people skills. Management is all about process. Leadership is all about people. You have to love working with people to be in this role. If you don’t, then either get a coach or mentor, or, have the courage to step aside.

True leadership and teamwork give meaning to business. It’s why we sign on and stay. It has the power to ignite high performance and productivity, and is the fuel that carries companies to success.

If it turns out that you’re the kind of boss that you’ve hated in the past, then it’s not too late to change. Your team doesn’t want to hate you, they want to work in a productive and happy environment. If you use these tips to change the way you lead then you can change the way your employees see you. Make your environment the best it can be and make some great connections with your employees along the way!

**Repurposed for edit by Taylor Brown Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publicationWomen Who Run It.

Balance Your Body

A working woman knows all about balance.

From juggling appointments, to taking care of kids, to taking care of herself, she’s always walking a tightrope. Of course she needs to know all about balance.

A great way to find your center of gravity? Yoga.

Balancing Ourselves The practice of yoga can help us stay connected with ourselves emotionally.

If we’re paying attention to our breathing and to sensation in the body as we practice, yoga becomes a portal into what we are truly feeling. The practice allows us to witness what is arising in the body-mind, with less reactivity, so we are able to respond to life’s challenges without reacting to them.
Balancing Our Emotions Yoga helps support overall emotional health.

First, there’s the cultivation of what the yogi’s call “witness consciousness.” This sense of witnessing helps us realize that yes, we have emotions, but we are so much more than the current mood, so much more than the self-limiting beliefs we may have about ourselves or the world.

Yoga, including yogic breathing called pranayama, begins to clear the constrictions we may have around the everyday challenges we face. We feel more expansive and spacious within, and more connected to others without.  It’s not surprising that we have this subjective experience of reconnecting with ourselves and with others, because that’s exactly what’s happening biochemically.

Research has shown that we are lowering the stress hormone cortisol when we practice yoga, and we are raising GABA levels, a neurotransmitter that protects us from anxiety and depression.  We are also raising oxytocin levels, the ”bonding” hormone that allows us to feel more connected to others.

Balancing Our Bodies Although there are specific poses that a beginner can do that can help us keep emotionally balanced and connected it’s hard to isolate poses out of the context of a breathing and centering practice.  I would recommend a class or an instructional DVD—some type of formal instruction for a beginner.

In general, a simple forward bend is calming.  Back-bending poses are more energizing.  A simple supported backbend, combined with deep yogic diaphragmatic breathing through the nostrils, extending the exhalation longer than the inhalation can both lift the mood and calm the central nervous system. Balancing Our Life In my own life, to stay balanced, wherever I am (and I travel quite a bit!) I practice every morning, usually at sunrise, and wherever I am, I try to be outside as the sun rises to practice some pranayama breathing and some standing, strengthening poses. Throughout the day, I may stop for a moment to shift the energy with a smile breath.

I begin by closing my eyes and breathing deeply into the bottom of the lungs. Next, I drop my chin to my chest as I exhale. Then I lift the corners of my mouth, lift my head, inhale and open my eyes.  It’s a five-second lightening-up mood elevator. Smile breath creates a real paradigm shift in my mood.

Before I get out of bed, I start my morning with yoga nidra, which means Yogic sleep. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that reminds me of who I truly am, beneath the current mood or the morning stiffness in my body.
So use yoga to find balance in your life!

Where You Should Be vs. Where You Are

We spend our entire lives focused on achievement.

We get gold stars in elementary school, trophies in high school, a spot on the dean’s list in college, and promotions at work.

It’s all about achievement and we’re all grappling for it.

If you work hard you should expect success, right?

But what if success doesn’t come fast enough?

I mean, what if you’re burning the candle at both ends and STILL feel lapped by others? This describes the first 13 years of my career – and let me tell you – it was brutal.

See the problem was I had a v-e-r-y bad case of “if onlys.”

  • If only I lived in New York, I would have a full life of endless opportunities.
  • If only I had been born to more connected parents, I would have a network of people who can help me.
  • If only I had a bestseller, my career would take off.
Sound familiar?

The list went on and on – not only crowding my head and causing me to judge others who had “more”, but robbing me of the ability to see the abundance in my life already. After all, I had a wonderful husband, two incredible little boys, family nearby, a comfortable lifestyle, freedom to do work I love, and everyone was healthy.

That’s success, right? And yet…the anxiety was crippling.

Specifically, I remember waking up each morning and – before I’d even gotten out of bed – I was already spinning in lack.

  • How am I going to get ahead today?
  • Why have I been working so hard and have so little to show for it?
  • Why does it look so easy for her?
To be clear, I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t medicated. And I wasn’t unhappy all the time.

Still, something had to give. The turning point happened one morning when – as usual – I was hurrying my kids out the door for school. We were running late that day and I remember yelling at my five-year-old to put on his shoes.

Then, I yelled at my six-year-old to find his backpack.

Then, I yelled at both of them to get in the car.

And as I slammed the door, jerked the gear into reverse, and turned around to pull out of the driveway, I noticed my oldest son silently crying. His face was red and his body was clenched tight as he stared at the ground, tears streaming down his cheeks.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Mommy,” he said. “You make me sad.”

That was it.

No screaming. No tantrum. Just a child who felt defeated and was clearly hurting.

Oy vey.

The tantrums I was prepared for, but this – this – was something else entirely. I looked over at his brother who met my eyes briefly – and then also stared coldly at the ground. Without a word I put the car in park, grabbed the steering wheel with both hands, and sat there in shocked silence.

Good God, what am I doing?

In that moment a wave of guilt and shame crashed over me and…. I lost it. I buried my face in my hands and had a good old-fashioned, red-eyed, runny nose, can’t-catch-your-breath, u-g-l-y cry. Eventually I figured I should pull myself together – if only to prevent scarring the poor kids any further. I took a couple of deep breaths, turned completely around in the seat and reached out to both of them.

“Take my hands,” I said. They grabbed the tips of my fingers. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I promise I’m going to figure it out and get better, okay?”

They nodded, but it was still an awkwardly silent ride to school.

That was a few years ago – the tipping point of my journey into mindfulness – but I’d been studying enough to know the first step was to get honest about what was REALLY going on.

And it had nothing to do with missing backpacks.

It was the fact that I had faaaar too much self-worth wrapped in my career and – when that didn’t measure up – I allowed my disappointment to bleed into every area of my life.

There you go folks. Brutal honesty.

Of course, the benefit of being honest is that it puts you in a position to make informed decisions.

In my case, waking up to emails from amazing leaders doing cool stuff was triggering me into a dark place that affected how I treated own family.

Ah, yes. More honesty – but that’s the beauty of this practice. It doesn’t let you hide.

And so the next step was to figure out what, specifically, I was jealous of.

I mean, what exactly do these people have that I want?

I sat with that question for months. I carved out a lot of thinking time. I made lists.

And through the process of staying honest, digging deep, and being mindful, I had a tremendous number of breakthroughs.

I learned goals can be dangerouscontrol is an illusion, and service is the real key to fulfillment. I also learned our greatest problems are often our greatest teachers. In my case, I thought I was jealous of marquee speaking engagements, bestselling status, and national media coverage. And while that’s all well and good, upon closer inspection, the only quality everyone I analyzed had in common is that they had each created a community around their message.


Turns out, I wasn’t seeking status – I was seeking connection. This is what happens when we stop turning away from our problems and turntowards them. We find the truth – and in that truth we find choice.

Once I “woke up” to the fact that it was my perception – not my circumstances – holding me back, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started seeking like minds.


  • I’m still not a mega-bestselling author.
  • I still don’t live in New York.
  • I’m still not rich and I don’t headline conferences.
But as I pulled out of the driveway this morning to take my boys to school, I looked at their smiling faces and realized I didn’t care anymore where I “should” be.

I’m here now. And now is what matters most.

So instead of spending your life searching for the next big achievement, why not try looking in your own back yard. Examine what you have, what you have achieved, and feel grateful for those small, or big blessings. If that still leaves you longingly dreaming for the accolades of your peers, examine where that desire comes from, you may be surprised what the real reason is behind your envy.

Above all, don’t forget that one day, you’ll be looking back on this moment and appreciating your life as it was. Why not cut out the middle man and start that process today?