Tag Archives: empowerment

VOD: Stop Buying Your Daughters Dolls and Get Them Into Science

There’s a new girl power anthem, and Beyonce isn’t singing it – it’s your daughter. They are telling you they are tired of being cast as “Princess Maids.” They like colors that aren’t pink or purple. They are telling you they are tired of being typecast by the toys that are marketed to them, and it is time for you to listen.

The commercial is for GoldieBlox, a toy company out to show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. GoldieBlox was founded by Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling who saw a need for girls to have creative toy options outside “the pink aisle” of the toy store. GoldieBlox is a combined book series and construction set starring Goldie – the girl inventor. The idea is to show girls that they aren’t limited to playing house or Disney Princess – they have just as much ability and opportunity to build things and invent like toys geared mainly for boys encourage. When you consider that less than 3 out of 10 graduating science majors are girls or that only 1 in 10 engineers are females – it’s time to start looking at the messages we are sending our daughters, sisters, nieces and friends about what they can achieve in math and science.

The video recruited Brett Doar, who created the epic Rube Goldberg machine for an OKGO music video. Together with three young actresses they recreated a Rube Goldberg using various girly toys and household implements to show just how awesome it is for girls to stop trying on dresses and start using their hands.

Take a look, and please send it along to any possible future inventor who could use some empowerment.

Empower Your Kids for #GivingTuesday

Screen shot 2013-11-12 at 3.41.25 PMIt’s a quiet evening in the Gobes household.  The autumn sun sets early as the rich aroma of Barefoot Contessa’s boeuf bourguignon peaks our appetites.  With a click of the mouse, my cozy, quiet, comfort-food kitchen is suddenly infused with emotion as my family quickly transitions from hunger to contemplation to tears to determination to inspired action.

My children and I are wrapped around the sound of a news story aired by NPR online, brought to living color by Paula Bronstein’s stirring photo of a Filipino expressing his raw suffering after Typhoon Haiyan.

For a long moment we four are suspended in stillness as we connect with his suffering.  His tears flow through our eyes as we watch the computer screen in silence.

I break the hush and spend a few minutes talking about what it means to be human.  This man is a stranger.  He is thousands of miles away, but his pain is as familiar to us as our own breath.

My youngest children are 9, 7, and 5.  They know suffering, or at least they think they do.  Their low points are dredged up by missing sneakers on gym day, by two green brussel sprouts on a dinner plate.  But their imaginations are fertile and their capacity for compassion is immense.  They examine the man’s expression and begin to list emotions he might be feeling.  They, too, feel those things.  They connect the dots.  He’s just like us.

“How can you help him?” I ask.

“We can send him blankets!” suggests one.

“He’s not cold, he’s wearing short sleeves,” says the other.  “How about pillows?”

“How can we get the pillows to him?”

Maybe the best way to help him from so far away is to raise money.  He can use it to import what he needs,” I suggest.

“Can we color him a picture, Mommy?” my little one requests.

“You bet, babe.”

My 9 year-old seems to be experiencing a paradigm shift.  She picks up the house phone and begins to dial with great urgency.  She’s recruiting her besties to lead a fundraising effort – a good old fashioned coin collection.  Empty your piggy banks, fellow third graders!  The people of the Philippines need our pocket change!  She disappears into her bedroom, chittering quickly, hashing out details and coordinating collection locations.

My 7 year-old has settled back into her book Big Nate, but upon absorbing her big sister’s charitable enthusiasm, she ditches the read and picks up a marker.  “How do you spell typhoon?”  She churns out several posters as I type emails to friends soliciting support for the children’s mission.

My 5 year-old is on the edge.  He’s constructing cannons out of Tinker Toys and monitoring the commotion cautiously.  “Mommy,” he ventures, “Can I ask Jack and Billy to give quarters to that man?”  I respond in the affirmative and hear his barely audible, “Yessssss.”  He continues to quietly play with his cannons.

“Can you believe that a 5 year-old boy like you can do something important like this?  You have the power to help a grown man feel better.  You’re like a superhero.  What do you think about that, buddy?”

“Good,” he mutters, not lifting his head.  But I can see past his long bangs that he’s smiling.  The enthusiasm for this project is contagious.

Big sister returns to the kitchen, placing the cordless on my desk.  The plan is a go.  The  primary players are enlisted.  We decide to collect change until Thanksgiving and have a coin counting party on #GivingTuesday.  They’re excited to be part of such a special day.

Dinner is hot and it’s time to eat.  I take a moment to reflect.  In the time it took a pot of stew to boil, my children adopted a cause and took action.  I’m reminded of a quote by Seneca, “It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste of a lot of it.”  No wasted time here.  Giddy-up.

Give what you can, how you can, where you can.  And be sure to give your all on #GivingTuesday.

Celebrate Halloween to De-Stress From Your Scary Reality

fearstairsIt’s a scary world out there. For example, it’s the first year anniversary of the Nor-Easter Hurricane Sandy. Let’s count some of our collective fears: Terrorism, illness and mortality, alien invaders, zombies, vampires, ghosts, science and technology horrors, and any adult or child with a gun who has an ax to grind. Appearing counter-intuitive, Halloween can help you face your true individual fear by wearing a disguise, a mask and costume. Essentially, you can wear your biggest fear inside-out, revealing it to the world without any shame attached in order to help you confront and so, reduce its powerful hold.

In the imagination fear conjures up frightening catastrophic situations. Did you know that when imagining a terrible tragedy from which you believe you will never recover, you will be surprised how much better you can actually face it in reality and truly recover?  Adversity can make you stronger and more resilient. Turn stress into strength.

Here are 10 costumes and how they can help you to transcend your fears. When you dress up for Halloween, you tap into your sense of humor and fun which will reframe what you dread through role playing. Go ahead and get it out of your system.

* If you are afraid that you are merely surviving at work or just going through the motions in your activities of daily living, wear a zombie costume.
* Afraid of people dominating you or draining your energy? Dress up as a vampire.
* If you are worried about global terrorism, dress up as a scary political figure.
* If you believe that you are unattractive and do not like your body, dress up as Frankenstein.
* If you feel inhibited, wear a sexy outfit or dress up like a character in Fifty Shades.
* Afraid of people deceiving you and pretending to be your friends, dress up like a Stephen King clown.
* Feeling like you have lost your inner child, wear a baby costume.
* If you feel powerless, wear a law enforcement outfit.
* Scared of doctors or surgeons?  Wear a white coat with a stethoscope.
* Are you afraid of your dark side, wear a Breaking Bad costume.

And keep in mind all those Halloween goodies like candy bars and candy corn which herald the winter weight gain holiday season – how scary is this candy fest which fuels the sugar lust! Face the sweet treats and indulge a little! All you have to do is limit your allotment and exercise away the excess calories. Try dressing up in exercise clothes.

Are You Playing the Blame game?

Yosemite riverIf you’re listening to the news these days, you’re likely hearing a lot of jabbering on Capitol Hill about the dysfunction of healthcare.gov. Though not surprising, I still find it disheartening to hear grown adults, leaders in their field and leaders in government, pointing fingers and playing the blame game. In politics, whatever is wrong is almost always someone else’s fault, definitely the other party’s fault, and perhaps even another country’s fault.

Imagine, just for one moment, what it would be like to live in a world where, when things are amiss, leaders stood up and said, “I see what’s wrong with this picture, and here is where I am responsible for what’s happening. As a result, here’s what I can do to turn it around. Do you support me on this?” Can you imagine? I believe the support would be mind-boggling.

The chances of this happening any time soon appear dim (though with the announcement of Marianne Williamson running for congress in California, the prospects are looking up!). We can, however, focus on our own sphere of influence.

How often do you play the blame game? When something isn’t going well for you, do you point the finger elsewhere or do you examine where you can take responsibility and step up to the plate?

If something isn’t feeling right in a relationship, whether it’s with a friend, a family member, or a lover, do you look solely at the other person for what they can do to fix it, or do you look within at the part you play? It’s so easy to pick apart how other people are failing you, but perhaps not so enticing to examine how you are failing yourself.

For everything that’s going on in your life, you bear some responsibility, even if it’s only in your perspective and certainly in your response. That may sound harsh, but it’s actually exceptionally empowering as it gives you room to move, change, flow, and evolve.

When I was in my teens, my family went through a rough patch. Honestly, at times it was pretty hellish. Due to the circumstances, I realized I could pretty much do whatever I wanted and blame my behavior on family issues, as though it gave me permission to act crazy and throw my life away. Thankfully, at a young age I knew this was not the answer, and that goofing off would only mess with my own path, no one else’s. Ultimately, regardless of the situation at home, I still had jurisdiction over my actions and reactions. Though I had my ways of rebelling (sorry Mom!), I stayed on top of my academic game and ensured my pathway to University.

The same is true for romantic relationships that haven’t panned out. People always want to know, what happened? Well, I could give the easy answer and say he did this and that, but the truth runs so much deeper than that, and it’s one where we both hold responsibility. How could it be any other way? We were both in the relationship and both contributed to its dissolution. If I can’t look at my participation, how can I expect to grow from the experience and into the healthy relationship I desire?

Pointing fingers and placing blame only serves to disempower you. You’re basically saying it has nothing to do with you and therefore you can’t do anything about it. On the flip side, reflecting on where you can take responsibility creates an empowered stance. This leads to choice and action. This leads to forgiveness and gratitude. Isn’t that preferable to hopelessness, self-pity, and anger?

I’m not saying the answer is to let people off the hook. People do shady things, and sometimes that crosses a boundary that cannot be repaired in the context of the relationship. Yet even knowing when it’s time to walk away from an unhealthy situation is a form of personal empowerment. You are responsible for you, and if you find yourself in a situation where most of your energy is going toward what the other person or people are doing to wrong you, it’s time to focus your attention inward on where your power lies to make change for the better.

Yosemite View

Take action now:

1)    In the comments below, share an experience you are dealing with, or have dealt with, where you can take responsibility for your role.

2)    Share this article far and wide, with your friends, family, and social network. The ripple effect of people taking personal responsibility for themselves is profound!

Namaste,

Sasha

You can find Sasha over at her Empowering Wellness blog.

VOD: 4 Young Poets Speak the Truth About Costume Sexualization

Have you noticed when you go to buy a Halloween costume that the outfits get skimpier and skimpier? Or that it’s impossible to be something like a nurse or a police officer or firefighter without the word “sexy” on the front of the package? It’s a phenomenon that has been going on for years, but what is the message we are sending to our children?

These four girls teamed up to recite a poem called “Monster” where they discuss the problematic nature of store-bought costumes for women these days. They stand up for their own image, the right to own Halloween without showing all of their parts to the world – to decide for themselves what is sexy based on what they think is cool rather than how naked they are. They are monsters and they are heroes. Cheers, ladies.

What do you think of the girls’ performance? Do you have a suggestion for our Video of the Day column? Tell us in the comments below!

VOD: College Poet Tells the Sad Truth About Growing Up Female

“You were taught to grow out, I was taught to grow in,” Lily Myers recites at the Wesleyan University at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. Her haunting poem chronicles the lessons and habits she’s picked up from her mother, passed down from the generations. Mentally she’s been conditioned to think of her self as small and that all efforts should be made to make herself smaller.

Is this a subconscious message we are sending to all young girls growing up? Is that why there’s a need for books like Lean InIt makes you take a step back and look at the messages we observe and regurgitate back out as the norm. How many times have you asked a question that started with the word sorry? More importantly, how do we empower ourselves, our sisters, our daughters and our friends to grow out instead of in?

If you have a video that you think should be featured in our Video of the Day column tell us in the comments below! 

6 House Cleaning Tips to Reduce Stress

springcleaningFor most people stress and mess are unremitting realities in daily life. In fact, the various stressors and disarrays share a common denominator – clutter – both the physical and mental kind.  Why not then kill two birds with one stone? As long as you have to clean your place, why not use it as a targeted method for coping with stress?

Cleaning carries emotional benefits: Catharsis, clarity, control and change. These good feelings lead directly to self-improvement and empowerment. For example, when you clean out your space, you can distinguish between what inspires you and what no longer serves you.  Getting rid of what you no longer need, makes room for positivism and invites good things into your home, including friends, as you are no longer embarrassed by the mess.

Here are 6 cleaning tasks and their emotional/intellectual/spiritual rewards:

* Washing the dishes helps you to wash away the grief. Circular motions correspond to the circle of life.
* Vacuuming gets rid of the dust and the cobwebs, the regrets which cling and keep you stuck, as you inhale stale air and allergens. Vacuuming helps you to move forward and breathe a purer air, a more authentic version of yourself.
* Cleaning the windows lets in the light when you feel sad, unable to step outside. Afterwards, you can sit or stand by the window, relax and watch others. Moreover, when you open a window, you get ready to step outside and join the good energy – first you rehearse it in your mind and then you do it.
* Cleaning the bathroom helps you to get the crap out of your life or neutralize what pisses you off.  You need to move toxins out of your body and your mind.
* Mopping the floor keeps you in the moment, an opportunity not to think about your worries; otherwise, if you are not fully present to what you are doing, you can slip and slide and fall back into an old issue.
* Overall, housecleaning is great exercise to be envied by gym goers. And exercise efficiently alleviates anxiety and moves stress hormones out of the body.

The next time you clean your space, create a specific intention, a stress-reducing mental component corresponding to the physical act. For example, when you are clearing out spoiled fruit in your refrigerator to make room for fresh, new fruit consider if there might be some spoiled, toxic relationship you need to throw away? Or when you are dusting, polishing your furniture to a brilliant shine, consider what might be holding you back from shining?

How to Choose Real and Lasting Happiness

shutterstock_93400051Have you ever wondered why lasting happiness seems to elude so many of us? At times it can seem like we’re trying to find a brass ring in a field of hay. We try so very hard at being the best we can and still it seems to be so elusive. What’s missing here? I think that it’s safe to say that it won’t be found in materialism, at least not the enduring type of happiness we’re in search of. And according to divorce rates it isn’t to be found in someone else.

Where does that leave us folks? Yup, you got it. Happiness begins with us. Each and every one of us is the source for our emotions. Happiness is truly a responsibility and only we can ultimately be held accountable for our own.

So how can we begin to create lasting happiness? Well let’s start by talking about what takes it away. Are you ready for this? Here’s the culprit: attachment. And what is attachment? It’s a belief or idea that we hold in our minds about how things should be, and we base these ideas on past experiences. The great news though is that we can change any belief by making a conscious decision. It’s the most empowering thing you can do for yourself! Let’s look at an example.

How many times have we gone to a department store or mall only to encounter a surly employee? Now most of us go into these places expecting a certain level of service. But guess what? Not every person you encounter is going to be able to uphold your standard of expectation. So when our expectations aren’t met, we react. Reaction is the thief that attempts to steal away our happiness! You can decide to release expectation in any circumstance. Now that’s empowerment! Because the moment you do that, you now have relinquished the authority from anyone else to take it (happiness) away from you.

The other thing about happiness is this: it’s a choice. We don’t have to wait until some future event to happen or to get the dream car to be happy. It can be chosen moment by moment. It begins with a thought. You can choose happiness. When you begin to choose it for yourself, you’ll discover that life will start sending you more and more reasons to be happy. It has a domino effect. Like attracts like. Just some food for thought. Be happy.

Here is a video from Deepak Chopra on the key to lasting happiness:

 

Originally published May 2011

6 Strategies to Develop More Self-Control

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 1.19.45 PMIt’s harder than ever to exert self-control, as gratification is just a click away. Moreover, in a world of selfies, Twitter, and Facebook the spotlight is on you. Becoming a celebrity online, you want to live like one. Entitlement gets in the way of reigning in impulses for simple pleasures like: Eating, drinking, shopping and skipping work. Then after the excess, the many shades of conscience set in. Packing on the pounds or being steeped in debt is no fun even for celebrities.

Self-control means understanding the difference between reacting and responding. However, how do you get more self-control when confronted with habitual temptation-gratification during moments of stress?

Ask yourself the basic question: What emotion is the trigger for this self-indulgence? Am I angry, dissatisfied, sad, or resentful? Once you are aware of the emotion behind the lack of self-control, you can address it at the root level to change dissatisfaction into satisfaction. Don’t swallow your feelings or they will swallow you up. Communicate your hurt or stressor – first to yourself by naming and delineating it and then when appropriate to others.

Here are 6 strategies to stabilize your impulses:

1. Keep your eye on the big prize – what will you get from all this self-control? Think about the long range goal: Is it losing weight because you want to be healthier? Is it doing better in school to get a good job? Is it getting out of debt and improving your credit rating to buy a home?

2. See the positive side of your impulse-gratification and strengthen the good – it’s always easier to build on a strength. For example, if you are overeating, you might be hungry for love and acceptance or yearning for spirituality to try to reduce the stress of loneliness. Brainstorm ways to reduce stress and start volunteering to help others in a cause you believe in. You will see yourself benevolently reflected in the eyes of the people you help.

3. Get educated regarding your strategy. If it is weight loss, then read about nutrition and portion control. You might get an “Aha” moment regarding your eating habits.

4. Get structured, so you don’t let your mind romp around aimlessly until it lands on an impulse. Schedule your day.

5. Don’t suppress the impulse. Confront the temptation and remind yourself that the discomfort of not acting on it will pass. Each time you do not act on impulse gratification, the discomfort time will shorten.

6. Exercise! Exercising self-control is effectively reinforced with physical activity. Exercise makes you feel empowered, self-confident and happy. Exercise releases healthy endorphins which will lift you up and move you past your impulse.

Deepak Chopra: Can We Create Peace in Egypt?

If you’ve been following the news in the past few weeks then you’re undoubtedly aware of the troubling political violence erupting in Egypt. In one week, alone, more than 900 people died, prompting EU-affiliated countries to suspend arms sales to the country.

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak is joined by two young Arab women leaders to discuss the current situation in Egypt and the steps to creating peace and resolving conflict.

Does taking sides, as Deepak says, perpetuate conflict? Or is there ever a line at which we should take one side to help overcome another? Do you believe we can change the world by shifting our own consciousness? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thumbnail credit: Mosa’ab Elshamy / Flickr: mosaaberising

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