Tuesday, October 6, 2015

You Say You Want a Revolution

grace lee boggs
In memory of
Grace Lee Boggs
June 27, 1915 - October 5, 2015

One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others .~ Nelson Mandela

Revolution is the evolution of humans into a higher humanity . ~ Grace Lee Boggs
Those of you who know me or have been reading PGG for a while are aware that my passion and mission in life has always been to contribute to world peace, mostly through my work best expressed in my mantra that personal transformation is the key to social transformation.

So it should come as no surprise that I profoundly relate to and revere the lives of these two nonagenarians, Nelson Mandela who died last week at age 95, and the 98-year-old activist and author Grace Lee Boggs.  They literally embody this philosophy in every cell of their beings; they have demonstrated it externally with their activism and sacrifice for racial equality and social justice, and internally by the wisdom they have gained and generously share from nearly a century of experience, observation, and, most importantly, reflection.
Both started out as 'radicals', and were branded as terrorists with the requisite FBI/CIA files (Mandela was even on the US terrorism watch list until 2008!) because they initially saw the only way to overthrow the entrenched power structure was by employing the more literal and sometimes violent tactics of revolution through organized movements and a spirit of rebellion. But through trial and error, incarceration, and maturity, they eventually evolved; they gave themselves permission to change their minds, learn and grow in light of new information, experimentation and once again, reflection - ultimately coming to the conclusion that in order to change the world, they would have to change themselves.

They came to understand that indeed humanity is made up of humans and that humans were going to have to deal with other humans in order to get anything done. So we'd better be the best we can be as individuals and try to get along and get past our differences and disagreements, because the reality is that we must co-exist harmoniously - whether in a racially divided African country, a rundown bankrupt American city, or in your very own household.

We are living in extraordinary times, and it is no accident that you are who you are at this moment in history.

What does your humanity mean to you?  As our world continues to go through turbulent changes and upheavals, it will be up to us individually and collectively to do our part to 'tear down' where necessary and rebuild a more enlightened society that reflects our evolved humanity.  But we have to start with ourselves and do what we can in our immediate environments to demonstrate our own revolution - which, by the way, does not happen overnight or with a magic pill, silver bullet, or special app.

Only through keen observation, deep reflection, and inner and outer sweating effort and energy over a long period of time directed towards improving ourselves and serving others that true transformation can take place. Then, if we're lucky, by the time we reach our 90's we can look back and see how our journey has positively and productively unfolded in both a personal and political way, and be proud of what we accomplished and the legacy we will leave behind.

Wondering how it will all go down if you take up the cause? Give me a buzz and I will incite a riot in your heart to make the most of what you got, so at the end of the day you know it's gonna be alright!

I am so grateful to have learned about and met Grace Lee Boggs just two years ago. 
She passed away yesterday at the age of 100. 
 Everyone should experience her wisdom and humanity so be sure 
of her that can be found online. She is a national treasure who will be greatly missed, but whose legacy will live on in all the lives she touched.
me and grace lee boggs

Thursday, April 23, 2015

PGG: The Book! A great read from TWM's Founder Kristina Leonardi

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to announce that Kristina Leonardi,  founder of The Women’s Mosaic just published her first book!  Be sure to check out: PersonalGrowth Gab (PGG), Volume One: Thought-provoking, inspirational and entertainingessays to keep you connected with yourself and make sense of this journeycalled Life  on Amazon!

Kristina is a career/life/executive coach and motivational speaker in the areas of career development, work/life wellness and personal growth.   You can follow her @clearlykristina and like her Personal Growth Gab (PGG) page on Facebook to learn more or click on her name on the tags from this blog to read several of her posts!


If you are on my mailing list you've being finding a PGG in your inbox every week for a while now, and have stuck with me this far as I've discovered my voice and put my thoughts and observations out there in a creative way. My intention has always been to provide a unique perspective about life and bring some reflection, hope and meaning to your day. Thank you for reading them! 

I've sent out more than 131 original essays over the past five years (oh yes, there were more but they were re-runs!) and because I've received such positive feedback about how they help motivate, inspire and make you think, I thought why not put them together in a beautiful book for you to access at any time?

It took a while to get it all together but I'm proud to announce it's finally here!  I'll be promoting this baby in multiple ways these next couple weeks (well, forever), but for now I just wanted to let you know you can get a copy of Personal Growth Gab (PGG) Volume One: Thought-provoking, inspirational, entertaining essays to keep you connected with yourself and make sense of this journey called Life in your hot little hands today!

I sincerely hope you enjoy the book - please let me know what you think by sending me an email, posting on Facebook, tweeting about itand/or writing an Amazon Review.


P.S.  If you're a fan, I would love if you could let your friends know about the book using the social media icons on the top of this email or from the Amazon pageThank you thank you!

PGG cover
If you are seeking how to get centered in who you are and what you want, read this book!
Brimming with insight, compassion, and humor, this collection of essays offers encouragement to anyone seeking to grow in harmony with their true nature, and to discover a genuine path toward positive change in the world, starting with themselves.
A great way to go to bed on a positive note and wake up with a refreshing message. Definitely one I’m keeping on my night stand!
Each essay is punchy and profound.

Personal Growth Gab (PGG), Volume One: Thought-provoking, inspirational and entertaining essays to keep you connected with yourself and make sense of this journey called Life is a compilation of nearly five years of essays that both stimulate and address the questions of who we are, where we are going and how we can get there in today’s rapidly changing, fast-paced world.

Kristina began PGG as a weekly email and blog in January 2010, but an avid, faithful and growing group of readers led her to compile these 131 nuggets of wisdom and advice into a beautifully designed and practically organized book. (You can visit the home page of this website for sample essays and click here to get the emails delivered directly to your inbox!)

Drawing from personal and professional experiences, current events and pop culture—with a healthy dose of music and movie references and often a clever or humorous twist—Kristina uses her unique, down-to-earth style to delve into universal themes and offer fresh perspectives on what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Relatable to any gender, age or background, Personal Growth Gab is a book to pick up when you need a little clarity, motivation or deeper connection to yourself on this journey called Life.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Paradigm Shift NYC Presents “No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power” with Gloria Feldt, Feminist Icon

TWM is proud to be a Co-Sponsor of this Women's History Month event and honored that our founder, Kristina Leonardi will be one of the panelists.  Hope to see you on March 19th! 

3:19 No Excuses with Gloria Feldt, Paradigm Shift NYC Presents

Monday, January 19, 2015

At Your Service

“Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of the most common desires I hear from clients when embarking on a new career or making a transition is that they want to be doing something with meaning, something that helps people.
My approach is to ask them,  “What is the thing that makes you, you? What you are passionate about; when do you lose track of time?” I inquire as to what their fantasy job would be, and very rarely does that answer have to do with becoming a social worker or joining the Peace Corps.

You don’t have to become the next Mother Teresa, Gandhi or MLK to make a difference and live your life in service to others. Perhaps that may be your path, but as Dr. King also said, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” Running for public office or volunteering on a regular basis can certainly fill that role, but service can be expressed in a myriad of forms that aren’t always so obvious or grandiose. Just being yourself and doing your best at YOU allows us to benefit from whatever unique gifts and talents you possess.

When one’s work is done with love and integrity, every job is one of service. MLK day is also about celebrating diversity, which can refer to many things including occupation.  We all have jobs that make the world go round. Whether it’s the super taking care of your building, the bus driver making sure you get to your destination safely, the guy who makes your coffee and bagel every morning, the janitor that cleans the public restrooms you use, the designer of the clothes you are wearing, the comedian that made you laugh last night, the singer whose song you enjoyed on your Ipod, writer whose novel you devoured over the weekend – no occupation is too insignificant, as long as it is done to the best of one’s ability, you can see how any of those people have served you on some level.

And regardless of your job, there is also the service you can provide by smiling at someone when you’re walking down the street, or showing a kindness to a stranger, and notice how for moment you made someone happy or uplifted them in some way.

The thing that I enjoy most and lose track of time doing is talking to folks about their life’s work and helping them make their everyday existence as meaningful and peaceful as possible. I would love the opportunity to help you connect the dots of your life, create more work/life balance and recognize the value in whatever you do,  so just give me a buzz as I am always here, at your service!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Carte Blanche


When traveling by myself in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001, just seven years after the end of apartheid, I had a major aha moment while having tea in the lobby of the historic, old-world luxury Mount Nelson Hotel.

Feeling somewhat awkward in my solo budget travel state, I was in the midst of sipping Earl Grey when something clicked within me on the most profound of levels. It occurred to me that due to the mere fact my skin was white - with the bonus of having blonde hair at the time - I was essentially given free rein to go wherever I desired and do whatever I wanted, and no one would ever question me, look at me strangely, or think I didn't belong. 
Yes, I was in one of the most segregated countries on the planet, but it really struck me that this applied in a broader context - no matter where I go, simply because of the color of my skin, along with being tall and dressing reasonably well, in addition to being educated and American, I enjoy a certain level of trust, respect (well, this was just before 9/11) and service, and almost always inadvertently avoid outright discrimination and bodily harm, even as a woman (which itself is topic for another discussion, since that is only a very recent phenomena and may apply to less places, but I digress...).
Suddenly the phrase "carte blanche," which literally translates as "white card," came into my head and I immediately made the connection to the District Six Museum's display of various ID cards for citizens under that classified system:  White, Coloured, Black, and Indian.  In the United States, and in a global sense, it is an invisible card I carry that gives me entree, ease and yes, a certain unearned privilege, to live a life free of so many stresses, layers of misperceptions, institutionalized prejudice, fear, bias and/or hatred the majority of those of darker shades must endure, and are too often endangered by.
I realize in telling you this story I may sound naive, but you have to know this came at a time to someone who from childhood in theory, and more than ten years prior to that moment in practice, was not only quite aware of, but particularly passionate about, the issue of racial inequality and had many interpersonal experiences, observations and relationships informing a significant understanding of the complexities all that entails - earlier that year I had even started a non-profit organization to dispel stereotypes and bigotry in order to bring women together to "Recognize Our Unity" and "Celebrate Our Diversity". 

But being in a place where racism had so recently been explicitly acknowledged and addressed in such a direct manner brought this concept home to me in a way that up until that point in my life, because I am White, had only been subtly perceptible, and even then, only because I was sensitive to the issue.

A couple of years later while waiting in the cold for an MTA bus on First Avenue in the East Village I got to experience this overtness in reverse. Two Black women chose to ditch the delayed public transportation, and I watched in disbelief as two, three, five, six open taxis passed by as they tried to hail them; disgusted, I asked if they needed help, and of course the next cab stopped for me but when the driver realized the Black women, not me, were getting in, he drove away.  Finally I asked where they were going; I was so appalled I decided I would just get in and share it with them. Of course the irony was that they were only going to 78th between First and Second, probably one of the whitest blocks in the city...It was perhaps the closest I will come to know what it must feel like to deal with race on a daily basis, simply trying to accomplish the most mundane of tasks.

Fast forward to February 2012. After my talk at the NY Science, Industry and Business Library a young Black man came up to thank me for what I had shared, how it made him think differently about his life, and pointed out to me what he had written down so he could make positive change going forward. He then said he had recently been released from federal prison, would I be willing to work with people like him?  Well, this began a journey in which I learned more specifically about the consequences of race and the criminal justice system, the roots of mass incarceration and the many barriers to re-entry. It has since widened and deepened my understanding of the unhealed wounds, scars and repercussions of our country's history of slavery.

What we are dealing with in the aftermath of injustice after injustice against people of color are symptoms of a very sick system that is made up of people, and people are crying out for transformation and healing. It is not a Black problem; it is not a White problem. It is a human problem. No matter what card-carrying member of our race you proclaim (or are deemed) to be, we're all in this man-made mess together - and we will only solve it one story, one interaction, one aha moment at a time.  

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