ONCE…NOW…ALWAYS…I AM WOMAN!

March 8, 2017 in Article

As we celebrate another International Women’s Day, I came across the following program note I wrote in 1992 for a multi-ethnic visual and performance art show in Sacramento. I share it below:

“I never forget. But making that statement serves to remind, reaffirm and empower. When we, as members of this society, must have a special time allocated to acknowledge our existence, our contributions, our presence, it is a sad confirmation that WOMEN truly are not regarded as an equal part of our community.

I am grateful that Sojourner Truth, despite her illiteracy, was able to walk away from slavery. She had had enough! Rose Parks had had enough. She knew she belonged on the bus, not just the back of the bus; and she too, had the courage and the strength to say – no more!

The Women’s Movement have done a lot, but not nearly enough. There are women of color who are still struggling with very basic issues of mere survival. These issues are not adequately addressed by the “Movement.” in a way that will make the needed difference. We have to be prepared and willing to re-evaluate our priorities – we have to take back our power.

The challenges of the 21st century can be taken to our bosoms, and through our nurturing energies, we can find solutions.

If you and I, as sisters, (and I do mean sisters in the truest sense), have the courage to walk away from injustices…To support each other; to hear each other; to listen to each other; to open our hearts to the freedom that is ours. We too, can say NO MORE!!

When we are ready to say no more, we can provide a better world for our boys to become men, our men to grow to a golden age, our feminine strengths can collectively lead us all to a richer, more fulfilling life.

In putting this show together, I was comforted by the unconscious might of all the women with whom I have come in contact. The camaraderie and willingness to share, comes, I believe, from the similarities of each woman’s personal struggle. We really are more alike than we are different! That commonality is the thread that binds us together. We come from different walks of life, but the name is the same – Mother, Sister, Lover, Friend – W-O-M-A-N!

Thank you one and all for your participation! The creative energy could be our salvation…Creativity is without boundaries.”

The time of the feminine is even more ripe today. Our collective energies are needed to save our Mother Earth, our children, grand and great grand children, and every living being.. In the process of saving, we will, by default, save our men and have them take a look at their masculine energies, and decide how they can use their power in a co-creative dance for the good. The yin and the yang must collaborate within us so outwardly the manifestations will be evident.

We are stronger, more creative, more power-filled when we acknowledge our individual gifts, and use those responsibly for the betterment of ALL.

Now that we’re in 2017 and so much is happening to test our nurturing.

Women have been changing the world. We are now called to step up and step out more boldly!

What are your thoughts? I would be most interested to have your comments.

Listening To Our Own Truths

July 28, 2014 in Article

What Billy Bob Thornton Can Teach Us About Listening to Our Own Truths

by Clara Freeman, author/owner of Authentic Women Networks

It’s not by default, but by design that I’ve been missing in action for the last two months! I found myself regressing in the progress of living and writing from my soul, feeling stagnant and finding myself becoming bored in the process of blogging and reading the blogs of others, in and out of my field of expertise.

I decided it was time for me to take myself out of the constant stream of informational overflow that everyone seemed to share via social media. I became bored reading the sameness of ‘experts’ who weren’t really saying much of anything that I hadn’t heard or practiced before. And then, it dawned on me that my own contributions in the way of growth and personal development under the umbrella of ‘authenticity’ might be sounding/reading just as some of the blogs I was turning away from.

How many times can you rehash old stuff without it sounding stale and “been there done that?” So, the catalyst for stepping away from my blogs and sharing with my readers, was simply boredom—I was bored with how I delivered the messages of my reawakening from a place of my own truths of authentic passion and purpose. I needed to step back and reexamine who I am and whose I am and what my purposeful intent in serving others truly is.

My days have been spent in retrospect of how far I’ve come. I have spent quality time reconnecting to my loved ones, formulating plans on how to make my messages clearer to my readers by sharing the empowering impact, awakening to my soul purpose has created in my own life. I am a creature of habit, in that I awaken early to feel one with the universe and it is in those early morning moments that I’m feeling the presence of The Almighty. These months, I have rested well, meditated on my strengths and embraced my weaknesses. I know that I will have moments of doubts and uncertainty on the path that has been chosen for me. I also know that these things are of a human condition and that God’s grace through my faith in him, will move me out of those places where I’m feeling stuck.

One fateful morning I woke from being in a state of half slumber and half awaken to trace the lesson of my dreams and turned to the keyboard. The word “guideposts” had disturbed my sleep and so, I typed it into the search engine. Guideposts were short inspirational pamphlets started by Norman Vincent Peale around the 70s and 80s and is carried on by his granddaughter via the guideposts website. Guideposts were of significance to me because I often read the pamphlets when I needed inspiration and motivation as a young wife and mother, coping with everyday life situations. Today, I continue to read this minister of positive thinking to awaken any thoughts of inspiration that I want to convey in my messages for women on their journey to “becoming.”

After a recent evening of nature relaxation and introspection,I turned to Oprah’s Own Super Soul Sunday to find a soft spoken actor as the guest. My first thought was, “why in the world is this person on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday?”

How quickly we humans judge what we don’t understand! The actor/ musician/screenwriter/ former husband of Angelina Jolie, Billy Bob Thorton probably stands out because of his and Angelina Jolie wearing each others blood in a locket worn around their necks and his acting in the movies ‘Sling blade’ , ‘Monster’s Ball’ and ‘Bad Santa.’ (roster of films to his credit)

 

This man reflected on his beginnings, his father’s obsession about death and how the two of them bonded by going to view fatal fatalities, such as drownings and car accidents. He admitted that he thought it was his father’s way of trying to understand death. He shared how he was once so poor , in the beginning of his passion, all he ate was potatoes and took odd jobs to follow his dream of becoming an actor and writer… He even told how in school, instead of listening to the teacher, he’d be writing short stories, until one day his teacher confronted him, suggesting he write a class play to be performed in the school- Billy Bob Thorton wrote the play in 14 minutes!

 

Sometimes, the least likely person can motivate us to continue to follow our passions. There will be times of struggle. You might even come from a dysfunctional household. Your family might live in poverty or some adult might have told you that you’re not capable of achieving your dreams.  Don’t listen to them!

One of Billy Bob Thorton’s many odd jobs was that of a waiter, where, unbeknownst to him,the man he served food to was Billy Wilder, a film director and screenwriter, who advised him to write. The actor went on to grace Forbes 2007 estimated earnings for the year of $20 million. After 5 marriages, he admits that “marriage doesn’t work” for him. He has been called an atheist and admits that he’s not fanatical about anything (religion).

My advice would be in regards to other people success is to take what matters to you and apply that to your goals. What I took from Billy Bob Thorton’s appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is this:

1. You’re not your environment or situation

2. Follow Your dreams even when others doubt

3. Start somewhere; anywhere

4. Enlist a mentor or someone who will keep you accountable and

believes in your talents and gifts.

And as Norman Vincent Peale would say, ” Have a God Mind.”

Peace and blessings,

 

You’re A Parent. You’re A Leader

July 3, 2014 in Article

You’re a Parent. You’re A Leader.

When I thought of leadership in the past, and today to some extent, I think of its three primary forms.  Power, authority and influence.  Power is the ability to make things go the way you want them to go, regardless of what anyone else has to say.  It really only exists in a brief moment, because after a time followers begin to recognize that they can go against you should they want a different path.  Authority is legitimized power.  Essentially, the group or followers gives up some of their power to a leader, willingly, so that the leader can guide the group as a whole.  Democratic societies are a good example of this.  But the strongest form of leadership and the form that we often times don’t fully recognize is influence.  Leadership by influence is when the leader thinks, acts and behaves in a way that others find value in and then begin to govern themselves off of the leaders example.  Based on this definition we all can begin to see and recognize the myriad of leaders we have had in our own lives.  But also, we can see ways we may not have even recognized that we were leaders.  And greatest of all of these examples is our leadership as a parent.

The greatest understanding of what it means to be a parent/leader I gained, from all places, was when I worked in a juvenile lockup facility.  One of my jobs that I have had in my career was that of a juvenile supervision officer in a juvenile detention facility when I was in my mid to late twenties.  Worded differently:  I was a correctional officer for kids jail.  Now working in that environment we where always cautioned and held accountable for what we would say and do by our supervisors.  I never questioned this rule, but I did assume it was for our safety and that of our clients.  But one day while working in a unit with a colleague with far more experience, he asked why I believed we were trained to be so careful with our actions around detainees.  I gave him the standard answer of “safety & security.”  He agreed, but said that it was more than that.  He explained that a lot of our kids came from environments that didn’t raise up their self worth and encourage them to be all that they could possibly be.  And when they came to our facility, for whatever reason,  what did they have to do all day?  He paused.  I waited.  Then he said, “All they have to do all day is watch you.  They know things about you and your habits that you aren’t even aware of.  They are learning lessons from your behavior that you aren’t even intending to teach.”  Wow!  What did I get from that.  Be impeccable with your word and honest, open and deliberate with your behavior.

So if these teenagers were getting this from me when I was with them for only eight hours a day,  five days a week, what leadership lessons are my children getting from me?  They are with me, pretty much, always.  So what are some of the keys to being a leader of influence with your kids in your own home?

1.  Remember that you are the parent and they are the child.  Sounds easy enough to remember, but there is a piece that we often forget or do not know.  Your child’s brain development is not complete until they are about 25-27 years old.  And the part of the brain that is last to develop to maturity is the pre-frontal cortex.  This is the part of the brain that makes executive decisions and where moral reasoning takes place.  What does the pre-frontal cortex manage and control?  Well…

  • Organization of multiple tasks
  • Impulse inhibition
  • Self control
  • Setting goals and priorities
  • Empathizing with others
  • Initiating appropriate behavior
  • Making sound judgments
  • Forming Strategies
  • Planning ahead
  • Adjusting behavior when situations change
  • Stopping an activity upon completion
  • Insight


So when I say that they are not “grown up yet”,  all I am saying is that they are not grown up yet.  The patience you showed your two year old also needs to be extended to you young adult.  Sure the circumstances are different and their ability to interact with you looks more adult that child-like, but the truth is the ability to self-regulate and make moral and ethical decisions is still developing.

2.  It’s all about deeds not words.  Children, tweens, teens, young adults do not pay attention to what you say.  They pay attention to what you do and model themselves after it.  When your deeds and words matchup,  the next go around they may be a bit more likely to take you at your word.  But only if you have been true to it in the past.  Remember, all they do when around you is observe your behavior.

3.  Hold yourself accountable, but also be gentle with yourself.  When you say you are going to do something, if you are invested in it, do it.  Follow through.  If you blow off a commitment or fall short, hold yourself accountable.  Figure out how you fell short, ways you can improve and if you want to, take on that challenge again.  Once you have done that, no more scolding or beating up on yourself.  Acknowledge you did the best you were able to do in that moment and move on.  Be gentle with yourself.  There are more than enough people in the world who will be harsh with you over a mistake or misstep.  This tip is important because you are able to show your resilience and love that you have for yourself.  Model it and you will begin to see your child being just as tender and caring of themselves as you are to yourself.  Remember, your the leader and they are modeling themselves after your behaviors.  You may tell them to be good to themselves after an unintended mistake, but if they see you beating yourself up over a mistake, that is where they take their cues.

3.  Hold yourself accountable, but also be gentle with yourself.  When you say you are going to do something, if you are invested in it, do it.  Follow through.  If you blow off a commitment or fall short, hold yourself accountable.  Figure out how you fell short, ways you can improve and if you want to, take on that challenge again.  Once you have done that, no more scolding or beating up on yourself.  Acknowledge you did the best you were able to do in that moment and move on.  Be gentle with yourself.  There are more than enough people in the world who will be harsh with you over a mistake or misstep.  This tip is important because you are able to show your resilience and love that you have for yourself.  Model it and you will begin to see your child being just as tender and caring of themselves as you are to yourself.  Remember, your the leader and they are modeling themselves after your behaviors.  You may tell them to be good to themselves after an unintended mistake, but if they see you beating yourself up over a mistake, that is where they take their cues.

4.  Allow them to lead.  So as I said before, I am coming from the idea of leadership being influence.  So allow your child to see and experience that they influence you.  Let them see that they lead you.  In truth, they do this more often than they are aware.  As parents a large majority of our decisions are based on the direction we are leading are family.  But a lot of the deep thought and planning that goes on here typically takes place behind “closed doors”.  But when an opportunity arises to let you child lead you, allow them too.  You can allow them to choose where the family is going for dinner by encouraging them to not only choose the restaurant but by explaining their rationale.  Encourage them to come up with a plan of attack for the entire family on spring cleaning day or you may encourage them to come up with a family outing and work out the planning and responsibilities of the trip.  You be the one to give your child experiences where they can lead.  And the great thing about allowing them to lead their family is that should a mistake happen or plans go awry, they are with a loving and caring group who wants the best for them.

5.  Apologize when you are wrong.  One of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave to me (and there were many) was when they apologized to me when they made a mistake with me.  Each time it happened it blew my mind.  It wasn’t that they made any kind of large mistake.  It was that their apology acknowledged that they were human and not infallible.  And it acknowledged me as an important member of the team, our family.  It said that my worth and opinion of them was important to them.  It was important enough to them that they didn’t want to damage our relationship  by not acknowledging when they may have been wrong.  What that did for my self-esteem resonates to this day and it is a gift that I passed along to every child I have worked with professionally.  And most importantly, it is something that I do with my sons today.  It allows me to be fallible, make mistakes, carry-on and continue to lead them and myself forward in our lives.

Remember that leadership in its strongest form is influence.  And that when it comes to your child, your influence is the most powerful in their lives, bar none.  Model for them the example of living you want for them.  And then when they are grown adults with kids of their they just might thank you for it.  But even if they don’t you will know that you tried to give the best of you to them.

This article is reprinted with kind permission from Mr. Bill Mayes, a Parent/Family Coach. His website is: http://www.billmayeslifecoach.com/

Self Love and Forgiveness – A Resolution!

January 31, 2014 in Article

Self Love and Forgiveness–A Resolution!

Well, it is, after all, the beginning of another year. A time when it seems appropriate and fitting (for some folks) to begin something new. I know it’s not the eve of the new year, but it is the beginning of the very first day of the best of your life. So, how’s that resolution you made going? Or has it…gone? It is the last day of January. You still have a few hours to recapture what you resolved, or maybe you’ve changed your mind.

Another chance. Another bright, new shiny “thing.” Is there always another…? Or is this all there is?

I was having a conversation with a colleague, and the question of resolutions came up. Is there a right and a wrong way to delve into your resolve? Who is the decider? Why are you interested in change? What changes do you want to experience? In which areas of your life? The perfect body (oh, the societal obsession with our bodies). Too fat, too thin, hair too curly, too straight…How about gratitude for the workings of the body you do have? Maybe your job or career is not fulfilling; your home is not the ideal; your kids are not behaving or performing the way you’d like them to; your spouse or significant other is not exciting, and you want adventure.So much discontent. If you’re single, perhaps it’s a relationship you seek… Forget Prince Charming. He does not exist, AND he’s NOT COMING. Get over it! Barbie has been taken. Besides, she’s also aging, and desperately hanging on to her youth! What a quandary! Maybe you just want to fall in love.  Being in love is a good thing. Simply loving is even better.

How about beginning with the single most important person in your world – YOU.

In digging deeper, it became obvious to both of us that what seem to be needed is a huge heaping of self love, and that begins with forgiveness. All around there’s the evidence of the pain, the hurt, the agony, the anger, the stress. So I asked my colleague, what does “Self-love mean to you?” Here’s what I got: “strength, patience, confidence, vulnerability, beauty, support, sisterhood, discipline, rituals.”

“And forgiveness,” I asked? “Open mind, open heart, softness, humour, graciousness, awareness, growth, mirroring each other, blossoming, being witness to their dance.”

Wow! Those are some powerful words, which conjure up some intense introspection. For many people, forgiving others is liberation from anger and grievance that leads to a richer and happier life. There is an even deeper peace to be found through what might be the hardest act of all – self-forgiveness. A friend forgives another friend for gossiping about her. A husband/wife forgives him/her for lying about an intimate relationship with another man/woman. A parent forgives someone for murdering their child.

*Immaculee Ilibagiza’s family were murdered during the Rwandan Holocaust. Years later when she confronted the man responsible for the murder of her entire family, she said “I forgive you.” When she was asked “how could you do that?” she replied: “Forgiveness is all I have to offer.” The human capacity to forgive even the deepest wrongs is, indeed, awe-inspiring. So too, is our capacity to inflict pain, and the flip side of that is simply to love.

Philosophers, religious leaders and others have known for thousand of years, one of the basic tenets of humanity is to love others as we love ourselves. Which naturally leads to forgiving ourselves as we forgive others.

Forgiveness is not about condoning bad behavior.  It’s not about pretending that something bad happened. It’s definitely not forgetting.

There are no simple answers. I believe forgiveness is an individual and very personal process. Forgiveness is about letting go of negative thoughts, bitterness, resentments. It’s about acknowledging the inner pain, and freeing ourselves in a way that allows us to heal, carry on and move forward.

Forgiveness is not easy. It is necessary for our peace of mind. It is not a quick-fix effort, nor is it for someone else. It takes work. That work is for you. It is for your survival – no, your thrival! As the year progresses, may we resolve to be mindful of how we treat ourselves. When we are mindful of me/we, we will be mindful of how we treat others.

Here’s to a Healthy, Healed and Happy Audacious New You!

I  welcome your comments.

 

* (“Left to Tell – Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust” by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin – a Hay House publication)