Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Forum: Down With Debt

If you pay any attention to the headlines, you know that America's debt has become quite the issue. There isn't much we can do as individuals to affect the national debt, but it does serve as a reminder to take a look at our own debt.

How much do you stay on top of your finances? What do you do to manage your debt and get it down?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

TWM Top 10 Fun Facts & Highlights

Since we are celebrating TWM's 10th Anniversary, we thought we'd look back and remember some fun facts and highlights throughout the years!

On January 24, 2001, 30 diverse women gathered at TaiPei Noodle House to celebrate the Lunar New Year and launching of The Women's Mosaic®. Since then we've offered over 95 unique activities and events to over 5000 women enabling them to connect to themselves, each other and the world around them!

Countries, cultures and topics include: Haiti, India, Zimbabwe, Iraq, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Greece, Japan, Israel/Palestine, Tibet, Sweden, Spain, Body Image, Books, Health & Wellness, Religion, Politics and Personal Growth.

One year after 9/11, TWM's My Life as a Muslim Woman gathered nine ethnically diverse Muslim women to talk about who they are and how their religion influences their everyday lives. The event dispelled myths and stereotypes about Islam and united the NYC Muslim community in the process. One of those panelists was Daisy Khan, who, along with her husband Imam Feisal, has since become a national leader and voice for American-Muslim relations.

Some notable women who have contributed to the world of TWM: Terrie Williams, Adaora Udoji, and Sandra Endo moderated our panels; Sarah Jones and cast members from PBS' Colonial House spoke to us; Kekla Magoon started out right out of college with us as a volunteer grant writer and is now an award-winning Young Adult Author; Politics Schmolitics panelist Regina Calcaterra first talked publicly about her experience in the foster care system that night and ran for State Senate six years later using her story as part of her platform; Randi Zuckerberg interned with TWM working on our Spotlight on Sri Lanka event and One Hot Havana Night Fundraiser, and is now part of her brother's empire!

Hopping on the "Kill Bill" and "Last Samurai" bandwagon, CNN's Jeanne Moos covers TWM's Unleash the Woman Warrior in You workshop, giving us national television exposure.

TWM's Founder, Kristina Leonardi is listed as one of Hispanic Magazine's 2004 Top Latinas, receives Tango Diva's 2007 Visionary Award and honored as one of the WNBA's NY Liberty 2009 Inspiring Women and was shown on the jumbotron at MSG!

TWM's panelists for My Life as a Female Soldier in Iraq were scheduled to be featured on WB11's Morning News but were bumped at the last minute due to breaking news of the Eliot Spitzer scandal!

TWM launches CHICKS ROCK! our blog for women to express their experiences related to diversity and personal growth on September 18, 2008, the same day as the Black Monday stock market crash. But we have not missed a week since then with over 750 posts to date!

In 2004 TWM prints its first issue of INSPIRER, a more detailed look at our events, with two more editions to follow. Our second edition features testimonials from then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Cosmo Magazine founder Helen Gurley Brown

TWM grew out of a Visioning Workshop, that we have since offered every year for the past 10 years: 22 workshops to date with businesses, babies, makeovers, moves and more all manifesting as a result! Women have traveled from Indiana, Michigan and DC just to attend!

TWM's 10th Anniversary Moroccan Magic Fundraiser took place on Tuesday, July 26th to celebrate all this and more! There was a Bellydance lesson and performance, live magician, silent auction and fun with friends old and new!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Grandmaternal Inspiration

For me, yesterday was not only the 10th Anniversary of The Women’s Mosaic; it was also the day my maternal grandmother passed away in the 1980s. I have been thinking about how grateful I am to have what I have, since my grandmother was not as fortunate. One of many things she did not have was access to a thriving community of women like The Women’s Mosaic. She is an inspiration to me, and I am proud to be a part of her family tree.

My siblings and I never had a chance to meet my grandmother. My Mother received news that she was gravely ill and had to get enough money together so that the whole family could fly back to India. My family struggled financially for years because my parents financially supported many family members in India, so things like family trips were out of the question. When we were on the plane flying over Europe, she passed away. I have flashes of memory from my first time in India; my Mother weeping in the courtyard of her parents’ home, and me looking up at her and hugging her waist; mosquito bites all over my legs and arms, tall trees laden with tropical fruits, lots of rain, and blurry images of family members I barely knew then, and even now. Later, I started asking my Mother about the woman she was so desperate to see again before her death, but couldn’t. She told me about how difficult village life in Southern India was for her mother, including how she never learned to read and write. Even with the lack of education, she used to help my Mother with her homework, especially mathematics. Apparently she was a natural when it came to figuring out solutions to equations in her head. I wish I had that gift!

My grandmother supported her family in an often socially hostile environment, with very little money. Still, she did an amazing job, and her children and children’s children are proof of this. I honor her life as I celebrate TWM’s 10th Anniversary.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reconnecting With Friends

When my friend told me about her upcoming trip to California and asked if I wanted to come, I didn't have to think very long before saying yes. Driving along the California coast from LA to San Francisco in the summer? I was in. 

We planned the cities we'd stop at, some of the restaurants we'd try, and the touristy things we'd want to capture pictures of.

The moment of hesitation came later when I realized I hadn't traveled with her since our junior high school trip to Europe. What if she was one of those people who lugged around half their worldly possessions on a trip? What if she was a terrible driver? What if we ran out of things to Talk about? What if we drove each other crazy?

I didn't have anything to worry about, of course. She does carry a whole lot in her luggage, but that wasn't ever a problem. Our eating and sight-seeing preferences were very much in sync and we had a great time along our drive and in the cities. We reminisced on old times, caught up on our current lives, and got to know each other a lot better. In fact, we never really ran out of things to talk about.

We get so caught up in our lives that it's so easy to get disconnected from our friends. We meet up for drinks or grab lunch, but we don't always get to appreciate their friendship. I love when I'm reminded of why I'm friends with someone in the first place.

Monday, July 25, 2011

TWM's Ready to Celebrate

Don't forget that tomorrow is TWM's 10th Anniversary Moroccan Magic Fundraiser! There'll be drinks, food, music, entertainment, and so much more. Check out the latest invite for more details -- can't wait to see you there!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Forum: Summer To Do List

It's hard to believe, but summer is almost halfway over! We start out with a whole list of things we want to do or see -- that outdoor concert, those patio happy hours -- but summer often slips away before we can get to them.

What's on your summer to do list? When will you make the time to get it done?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We've Got You Covered

This post is a bit different from what you might normally find on CHICKS ROCK!, but when we were asked to join "We've Got You Covered," the birth control blog carnival co-hosted by National Women's Law Center and Planned Parenthood, we couldn't say no.

You see, the Department of Health and Human Services will soon be deciding what types of "preventive services" will be made available through the new health insurance plans without a co-pay. That alone is pretty exciting -- but how much better would it be if birth control were one of the preventive services?

Birth control is an integral part of a lot of women's lives. It gives us the power to decide when to start a family, how many children we want to have (if any), and when we want to stop with the family we have. This power never stops being important, whether you're single or married with five children, yet the cost that comes along with this power really adds up. Even those of us who choose other methods of birth control, such as fertility awareness, respect the decision of those who choose other forms. And most of us can agree that the reason better access to birth control isn't a priority in health agendas is because of the stigma that still surrounds birth control and women's sexual health. Well, that needs to change, and this would be a great way to start.

So what can you do to make it easier for women to stay proactive in their sexual health? For them to not have high costs deter them from their right to decide when and how to start a family? You can take action today.

There's a petition you can sign to ask HHS to get rid of co-pays for birth control. Share this post with your friends and urge them to get involved as well, by signing the petition and spreading the word.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Major Misinterpreter

Have you ever been shocked by someone else’s words? So much so that you initially believed that they mistook you for someone else? Thankfully this is not a common occurrence in my life, but it did happen to me last week. I am luckier than most, because after one more meeting with her later this summer, I will never have to see or deal with this particular individual again. But I have been in long term situations in office environments where difficult people have come at me in different ways. I empathize with any of who have to endure this on a daily basis.

My situation really illustrates how mountains can be made out of molehills. I have been working on a project for a client for several months, and recommended an associate I had previously worked with to be a part of it. Even before the verbal altercation, I picked up an aloofness I had not previously detected. After meeting and exchanging emails this time around, she called to reprimand me for what really was a minor oversight on my part. Without yelling, she threatened to call my supervisor. When I got over the initial shock, which really took just a second, I calmly told her that no offense was meant and I apologized for the misunderstanding.

She then proceeded to tell me that she did not like my perceived “preference” for emails over phone conversations, and actually criticized me for my clients’ actions, which I had no previous knowledge of. I did not apologize for these “offenses,” because she completely misinterpreted them for her own reasons. I only told her where I was coming from and how my clients’ actions in these cases were their own. I think the way I was firm but not argumentative put her at ease; she even made small talk with me after I appeased her. I was pleased with myself after the phone call; it could have gone from bad to worse if I had lost my cool.

How have you dealt with the “major misinterpreters” in your lives?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mourning More Than Harry Potter

For a lot of us, the last Harry Potter movie marks the end of an era. We grew up with the books and looked forward to each movie, even if it was just to complain that it was nothing like the book. So while saying goodbye to the books was hard enough, knowing that the movies are also behind us now makes it even more final. And, of course, I was right there with a front-row seat (so to speak) at a midnight showing.

The movie itself was entertaining and even though sometimes it felt like they were trying really hard to tie up loose ends, I thought it did the book justice. It did such a good job at that, that I found myself mourning the series in a way I didn't fully do when I finished reading the books. The deaths in the last book were some of the most intense in the series. Add to that a couple of gut-wrenching storylines and you have an emotionally exhausting experience. But because I read the book so quickly, there were things I missed or things I wasn't able to fully take in until later.

But the truth is, it wasn't just about the books or the movies, it was about everything they represented for me and everything that has changed in my life since finishing the books. I moved out of my parents' home soon after finishing the series, got engaged a few months after that, and have since moved four times and broken up with my fiance. I've lost and gained friends, pounds, and incredible memories. And, yes, a lot of those things were running through my head as I watched the final movie and cried my eyes out. (No, really, it was rather embarrassing for my sisters, who had to deal with my best friend and I sobbing.)

I can't help but appreciate everything the series meant to me and how it's still able to touch me in ways I'd never expect it to. It's rather incredible for "some books about a boy wizard," no?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Road Tripping

I'm in Vermont, writing from the road. I'm sure I've posted about this before, but I love traveling by car. I love to drive, love to ride, anything that gets me on the road is good in my book. It's one of my small, weird dreams to finally own a car someday. You really don't need one in New York, so it'll be a long time coming, but when I go out of the city and get to drive, it makes me genuinely hunger for the ability to do it more often.

It's expensive and silly to own a car while I'm living in the city. So, is the idea of owning a car a good enough reason to move my whole life to a place where a personal vehicle is more necessary and practical? Intellectually, I suppose not, but every time I get behind the wheel, I think to myself, YES! IT IS. But there's a little thought in the back of my mind: what if I get sick of it? What if easy access to a car bursts the bubble of my vehicular fantasies? Why do I want this so badly?

As a teen in the Midwest, I wanted a car because driving represented independence, self-sufficiency and freedom from the whims and clutches of my parents. Now, I have all those things in spades. Do I really need a car? No. "But I want one," says the petulant teenager within.

I joke about this desire so often that over time, I've realized it's a genuine dream that I hold. I want a car, despite its impracticality in my current life. How do I deal with something like this? I certainly don't allow myself to indulge every expensive desire I ever have. In fact, I've given up a variety of economically-satisfying and practical trajectories in favor of other, bigger dreams. Should I go after the small ones, too?

How much does the size of your dreams matter when you decide which ones you're going to pursue?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Forum: Do You Believe in Magic?

It's officially over. With the release of the final film, the magical series that captivated millions around the world is now really over. Whether or not you became a fan, the series left its mark on pop culture.

Did you get caught up in the magic of Harry Potter? Are you watching the movie this weekend to say goodbye to the series?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

TWM Turns 10... in Style!

We're going from one event to another here at CHICKS ROCK! Thanks so much for supporting TWM's World of Wellness -- we hope you got a lot out of it. Now we're moving on to the major event of the summer: TWM's 10th Anniversary Fundraiser! Check out the details below and be sure to RSVP today.

TWM's 10th Anniversary Moroccan Magic Fundraiser!
Tuesday, July 26 · 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Come on out for an evening to celebrate a decade of TWM's work to educate, inspire and motivate women of every background to rise up and rock the world!

Mix and mingle with friends old and new while honoring the opportunities we've provided throughout the years for women to connect to themselves, each other and the world around them with programs that promote intercultural understanding and personal growth.

Held in a private room at the exotic Katra Lounge, the event includes your first drink, authentic cuisine and music, a belly dance lesson, silent auction and more! Moroccan or Middle Eastern-inspired/Festive attire suggested.

Cost: $65.00 in advance; $75.00 at the door (cash or check only)

Location: Katra Lounge, 217 Bowery Street (at Rivington)

RSVP on Facebook, Meetup, or email

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Goodbye Harry

Now that the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is approaching, I think back to when the first movie came out. I already loved the books before learning about the initial film, and was slightly skeptical about how the books would come to life in film. Many have never recovered from the Star Wars prequel films (me included) and I went to the movie theater, sat down in a musty chair, and watched “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” with a certain degree of bias. I walked out of the theater realizing that I had just seen a very good movie. Each film got better after that initial release, and all of the same actors stayed with their roles over the years. And now, it has all come to the final film. I just had to mark the occasion with my latest post.

I will always remember the first film, but my absolute favorite has to be “The Goblet of Fire,” which is due to many reasons, one of them being the villain’s depiction for the first time in human (or semi-human) form. As for the books, I have several favorites. For now, “The Deathly Hallows” is the one that I keep going back to. I remember pre-ordering the book months in advance, and choosing the edition with more of the artwork on the cover and a special case. It was only a few dollars extra, but to me it was worth it. When the book was finally released, I got it first thing in the morning on my doorstep and proceeded to devour every word, which took me three days. I dreaded the inevitable last page, but when it came, I found myself thinking how fitting an ending it was for Harry Potter, and wondering how it would work on screen. Soon anyone who wants to know will know on screen.

There are other books I love more of course, but I will always have a special place in my heart for this series. All good things must come to an end.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Internet Woes

Due to some technical difficulties and internet issues, Sally can't post today. Instead, you're welcome to check out her past posts.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

I spent several hours last weekend watching YouTube videos of black women dealing with natural hair. They offered style tutorials, product reviews, and general advice and support for one another other. I studied their advice closely because I've been wanting to try new things with my hair lately. I stumbled upon a New York Times article that sparked a renewed interest for me.

It was a relief to find these videos, because it demonstrated that I'm not alone in my various hair woes, wondering how to manage the texture, the volume, the unruliness of these locks, which I'm convinced could be quite pretty if I could just get a handle on things. It's been a lifelong struggle to get my hair to behave in the way I would like it to, and I haven't really figured it out yet.

Growing up, no one was able to give me adequate advice, because I was raised in a predominantly white community. I had access to a few African women, but it seemed they always wanted to slap in some braids, and while that was always nice and manageable, I wanted more variety. I dreamed of wearing my hair "down." (The caveat there being that my hair doesn't really stay "down.")

I suppose the word I should have been looking toward back then was not "down," but "loose." I wanted to wear my hair loose. Which usually meant, no matter how ideal it looked in the ten minutes after my shower, it would swell as it dried into a virtual 'fro. Granted, some women are very comfortable wearing a cloud of hair bigger than their head. I'm not one of them. I vacillate between thinking it's a matter of comfort and a matter of preference. It bothers me to think I’m so uncomfortable with my hair in its natural state, but when I gear myself up to try it, I realize there are other factors, like not wanting to constantly be pushing it out of my face. So….what’s a girl to do?

Any natural hair ladies out there with brilliant solutions or even just suggestions?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Forum: Change of Plans

You know that feeling when everything's going wrong? You're heading into work and the train breaks down... You get lost for 12 hours on your 10-hour road trip... You're running late for an interview and realize there's a run in your pantyhose.

What do you when suddenly faced with a scenario like this? How do you think quickly and come up with a change of plans?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Little Help From Non-Friends

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to welcome Elaine as a first-time guest blogger this week as part of TWM's World of Wellness.

Elaine Hamnett worked for years as a public relations executive before seeking a more fulfilling and meaningful path as a coach. She’s now dedicated to empowering people to get the life of their dreams.

I discovered coaching by watching television -- something I do perhaps more than I should, but who knew it could change your life?

Several years ago, coaching guru Rhonda Britten launched the show “Starting Over” on a major network and five days a week viewers were privy to the inner lives, thoughts, troubles and ultimate growth of six women dedicated to being better. I was addicted instantly and set the DVR (or was it video?) every day. In fact, it was so inspiring to see these women work through their personal blocks, doubts and self-sabotage to get what they really wanted in life that I decided I wanted to be a coach myself. So I got certified and today I am happily helping others be their best.

Coaches believe in the process so strongly that most of us have our own coaches! I have to admit that my relationship with my coach is one of the most rewarding and productive relationships I have. Unlike therapy, coaching doesn’t typically dwell in the past or concentrate on healing wounds. Instead, it is really about forward motion. It allows me to spend 45 minutes a week thinking about what I want and how to get there. That sounds a little odd, but how often do you really think about that and then put a plan in action to achieve your dreams?

And while I can turn to friends when I need advice and comfort, it’s not always ideal. They may be coming from a place of total love, but they might have their own agenda or thoughts on what I should or shouldn’t do, unlike my coach who has nothing at stake when I make a decision. My time there is all about what I want for myself.

If this sounds like what you’re looking for, feel free to check out my website for more information, I’d be happy to speak with you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Post 911 America, Warts And All

The United States of America has always had its critics. After the second Iraq War began in 2002, global criticism of the country grew considerably. It was a tricky time; if an American criticized the war, that person was considered unpatriotic. I even heard some people in the media saying that anyone critical against the military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan should leave the country for good. I was critical of the second Iraq War, but as a sister of a U.S. army officer, I am completely on the side of the troops who were and still are deployed overseas. I found the attacks on people who openly criticized the war to be similar to witch hunts, only there would be no literal burnings at the stake.

Even though I am not a Muslim or an Arab, I was told by a family member that our last name implies that we could be one or both. He also claimed that we were facing bias because of it in the workplace. I personally never felt this, and refused to succumb to pressure to change my last name in the new Post-9/11 America. After all, Sikhs were being attacked because of their turbans, and they are not Arabs or connected to the Muslim religion. These attacks really had to do with xenophobia, which is an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners and anything foreign. When I heard about the murder of a Sikh man mistaken for an Arab on September 15, 2001, I remembered reading that the murderer was ignorant and xenophobic to begin with. After 9/11, he decided to unleash his hatred as a form of vigilante justice on those who did not look right to him.

As I celebrate the America’s birthday this week, I am reminded of our continuing struggles for freedom and against bigotry. I am proud that as an American, I can openly support and criticize my country without fear of imprisonment. Difficult times, such as those faced after 9/11, remind me that we should NEVER take our freedoms for granted.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Home Sweet Home

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting in my new apartment, surrounded by boxes and bags full of everything I own. I realize that doesn't sound particularly note-worthy to anybody else, but I've spent the last several months either traveling or living with my things scattered across New York. I had furniture, and clothes in Manhattan. I had pots, pans, dishes, and a really heavy cutting board in Brooklyn. I had clothes, toiletries, makeup, and jewelry with me in Astoria. Oh, and there were enough shoes and books spread across all three of these places to fill up several boxes and bags, and even then I had to leave a ton behind.

So now that I'm sitting on my new bed in my new apartment with everything in one place, I'm feeling like it should be documented somehow because it feels strange to say: I'm home now. 

When I say to people that I'm home, they'll no longer need to ask which place I mean. When they want to borrow something from me, I can say yes without needing to add "well, I need to see which apartment it's in first..." When I need something mailed, I'll be able to give one address rather than saying "well, it depends on what it is and when you send it..."

I got so caught up in the stress of organizing this move, I hadn't taken any real time to reflect on what it would mean, that I now have a home.

Home. Weird.

Have you ever lived a bit like a nomad? How did it feel when you were all in one place again?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Forum: Flags & Fireworks

Time seems to be flying by! It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating Memorial Day, and we're already finalizing plans for Independence Day.

What do you have planned for this holiday weekend?

Disclaimer: Blog entries express the opinions of the respective Bloggers/Contributors/Authors/Commenters solely, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Women's Mosaic. As host and manager of CHICKS ROCK!, TWM acts solely as a provider of access to the internet and not as publisher of the content contained in bloggers' posts and cannot confirm the accuracy or reliability of individual entries. Each participant is solely responsible for the information, analysis and/or recommendations contained in her blog posts.
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