Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Forum: New Year's Eve

The new year is so close, we can start the countdown soon! What are your plans for New Year's Eve? Do you have a tradition or are you winging it?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Special Message from TWM


The Women's Mosaic® has offered over 100 unique programs since January 2001 to educate, inspire and motivate women to rise up and rock the world!

Because we are a small grass-roots 501c3 nonprofit organization, we very much rely your support in raising the funds needed to sustain us and all that we do.

If you enjoy reading our eNewsletters, attending our events, visiting our blog , following us on Facebook and Twitter, or just love what we're about, please show your support for TWM through our Membership or Donate pages to make your gift inwhatever amount is right for you, knowing that every penny counts.

Anyone who joins/renews or donates at the $50 level or higher by 12/31/11 will be entered to win a 7-night luxury stay in the Caribbean! See box below for details. You can also make an offer on another resort to guarantee your luxury vacation today! :)

And of course, as always, THANK YOU to everyone who has already become a member or donated to us in the past! We value and appreciate your continued support to keep us going and growing!

Wishing you a Peaceful & Prosperous New Year!
We look forward to seeing you in 2012 both online and off!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My TWM Experience*

The following was originally posted on January 26, 2011. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series.

I first learned about The Women’s Mosaic back in 2007. My sister and I attended a conference where we heard Kristina Leonardi speak about her journey to the creation of the non-profit organization, which I remember being impressed by. I talked to Kristina afterwards to ask more questions about TWM and her experiences. After a year in Indonesia, I was wondering about my own journey; I still am of course. I find myself enriched by the opportunities and experiences I have had through TWM.

Before teaching abroad in Indonesia, I was convinced that I would never be much of a public speaker. I challenged myself when I went abroad to teach, because having command of a classroom is no easy feat. I learned to speak with conviction to help my students understand their lessons, which I treasure to this day. When I returned to the U.S. and got involved with The Women’s Mosaic, I continued to use my voice in different ways. I attended a few college career fairs as a TWM representative and talked to those interested in internships for college credit. I think I did a good job promoting the organization and its many cultural and educational benefits. I enjoyed talking about something I believed in, and I think it showed; it still shows today.

There have been various TWM events and programs I have enjoyed being a part of, but being a CHICKS ROCK! Blogger has definitely been the most significant. Every week, Kekla, Sally, and I share our thoughts and experiences, as do our guest bloggers and Kristina herself on occasion. I enjoy connecting with TWM and non-TWM members on the blog most of all.

It has been quite a decade for The Women’s Mosaic! I look forward to what the future will bring to the organization.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Life Lessons at a Media Conference*

The following was originally posted on March 29, 2011. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series.

This past weekend was a great one for media-making and activist women as it was the WAM! It Yourself mini-conference in select cities around the world. Here in New York, it was a fun-filled weekend with a happy hour Friday night, a conference Saturday, and a brunch on Sunday. For the second year in a row, I spoke on a panel for the Saturday conference and it was great to be back in a space with women (and a few men) committed to learning from each other and helping each other out.

The panels were about writing, media, and activism, but there were a few lessons that came out of the day and that still echo in my mind days later.

The first lesson came up a few times on the social media and activism panel I was on, and was repeated by several others (who weren't even at that workshop): use your authentic voice. Whether it's in the way you use social media or in your writing, being yourself and being authentic makes it easier to stand up for your feelings and beliefs when they're challenged, as they inevitably will be, and puts your real truth out there. It's harder to back up what you don't believe in, so why bother?

Another lesson is in the power of social media. As Deanna Zandt said in her closing keynote "technology will not solve our problems, we will solve our problems but we can use technology to do that." People are using social media every day to spark movements, stand up for their rights and the rights of others, and make people's lives just a bit better.

And the last lesson is that we can all be leaders and change-makers. In many ways, a lot of us are doing it already, we just don't give ourselves the credit.

Okay, so the lessons are not new, but it doesn't make them any less meaningful.

What lessons have you learned or been reminded of recently?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Two Roads Diverged*

The following was originally posted on March 23, 2011. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Holiday series.

Riding on the bus, this week and looking out the window at the wide world going by, I found myself thinking about the Robert Frost poem that ends with a stanza about roads diverging in a wood. Travel makes me meditative anyway, and I started thinking about times in the past when I’ve had to choose a path—and what might have happened if I’d gone a different route.

Everyone faces forks in the road, in big and small ways, over and over in life. It’s inevitable. We could talk about it on the level of major life decisions (law school or art school?), minor life decisions (pizza or Thai?), or even the day-to-day minutia of functioning in the world (speed through the yellow light or stop?). Today I find myself looking back and wondering…what if?

I think often in my own experience I’ve chosen the less traveled path, as Frost does in his poem. I’m both happy about and proud of that, but sometimes it leaves me curious—what if I had done the expected thing? What if I had followed the path that seemed easiest, or most clear? Would I be less than I am today? Would I be fabulously successful? Would I be miserable? Would I be happy?

I’m not living a life of regrets, or anything. I don’t particularly long for do-overs in any major aspect of my past. That’s not the purpose of my pondering, but simply to wonder…what if?

What are the big “what ifs” in your life?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Forum: Happy Holidays

No matter what you celebrate, we hope you've enjoyed your holidays so far and make the most of this weekend. What holiday plans did you make this year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shop 'til You Drop

As you're finishing up your holiday shopping, or adding yourself to your gift list (as everyone should!), be sure to check out everything the 2011 TWM Holiday Bazaar and Silent Auction have to offer. This online shopping event is just what you've been looking for.

The vendors TWM lined up offer a great variety of products. Browse through their sites and start shopping.

sweetriot makes all-natural chocolate treats called "peaces," and works to create a more just and celebrated multicultural world for our next generation.

Style Your Life with Stella & Dot! Shop the collection; Host a Trunk Show; Run your own Social Selling Business.

Goods of Conscience is an apparel and accessories line made of handwoven cotton that uniquely benefits women both in the US and Guatemala.

Innovation. Convenience. High quality. Affordability. This is what Avon brings to its customers. And it's not just beauty -- it's clothing, products for baby, kitchen necessities, and more!

Shop Indego Africa: Purchase a gift that supports women artisans in Rwanda.

USAdopt, LLC is a domestic adoption consultancy that helps people navigate the complex world of domestic adoption. As a bonus, TWM members receive 10% off a custom consulting program.

Mary Shackelford of Wellness Solutions is a Wellness Strategist who transforms the lives of busy women by helping them lose that unwanted weight and ignite a passion for healthy living.

Kerry Cunniffe is a Professional Organizer who believes a healthy life includes a clutter-free home! She offers organizing services (paper, clothes, possessions, etc.) and is a member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers).

Essential Self Consultation with TWM Founder & Career/Life Coach Kristina Leonardi. Gift the gift of clarity, balance and direction to yourself or a loved one! Save $80 now until 12/31/11

Be a part of women's professional sports as a fan of the WNBA's NY Liberty! Buy one full season ticket plan and receive a set of pint glasses signed by Kym Hampton.

Forget the mall. This year, give your friends and family a world without street harassment by shopping Hollaback!

And get something for every feminist in your life to support the Feminist Majority Foundation.

BONUS: Join/Renew or Donate to TWM at the $50 level or higher between now and December 31,2011 and be entered to win a 7-night luxury stay at the Verandah Resort & Spa, Antigua! ($4200 VALUE)

Don't forget to check out another trip you can win, this one a romantic 7-night stay at Palm Island, The Grenadines. Make an offer or buy it now!

Like A Child

Sometimes I miss being a child, especially during the holiday season. I would not say I had spectacular Christmases and New Years when I was younger, but I did have more genuine excitement about those and other holidays throughout the year. I would not want to be a child now; I liked the television shows and toys of my youth far more than I usually care to admit. I also liked how playing outside was quite common for me, much more than it is for children now. Still, there are moments of pure contentment children have, and regardless of the generation gap, I do miss them.

I was reminded of these moments this past weekend, when I met two children at a local store I go to occasionally. I met them once before, and found them to be adorable and a bit shy. This last time I saw them, they were playing with their Pokémon cards and chasing each other around the store when they felt like it. Then they overheard me talk to their parents about how my cousins used to trade Pokémon cards as children, and that broke the ice. The boys approached me to show off their cards with great pride, asking me if I recognized the characters shown on them, which strangely enough I did at times. They enjoyed talking about how they trade the cards at school with friends and each other, but not in a spoiled, overindulged way. I liked talking to them about their world, which is full of fun and curiosity.

Maintaining a similar sense of fun and curiosity as an adult is hard, but I find I can savor the moments when I have them now, and appreciate those I had as a child. Christmas was never really about Santa Claus for me; it was about the Nativity story, the tree and decorations, Christmas carols, and of course, presents. Now I add retrospection of the year that has passed, and think about the year to come. I am an adult, but the inner child remains within me.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home for the Holidays?

A month or so ago, when I was still finalizing plans for Thanksgiving, one of my sisters let us know her plans all three holidays. I had already decided I wasn't going to my parents' for Thanksgiving, but I agreed to spend Christmas Eve with my sisters  (we don't celebrate Christmas Day) and to get dolled up with them and go out for New Year's Eve, even if that isn't how I normally like to spend that night.

Well, it's now weeks later, and we have no idea what we're doing for either event.

My youngest sister decided she didn't want to leave our parents for Christmas and they have since tried to guilt my other sister to change her plans. I told her I'd do whatever she decided, but it's days away and she's yet to make any decision at all. 

Then there's New Year's, for which it's practically impossible to find something affordable to do. (I'm all-too-conscious of the fact that a mere two days later, I'll no longer be making any money.) So with this as well, we can't seem to figure out exactly how the night will go.

The whole time, I've been saying that I have no problem sitting at home, by myself, with nothing but movies and mac & cheese to celebrate the holidays, and I'm starting to wonder if that's what I'll end up doing. I have to say, I don't think I'd be disappointed with that.

Ok, it probably won't end up happening that way, but being home for the holidays would be kinda great.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Cheer

Every year it seems to take me longer and longer to get into the holiday spirit. I'm always surprised when my favorite television shows start doing their Christmas episodes, because it seems like they always come too soon, before I'm really in the mood to hear Christmas carols and start feeling schmaltzy.

Seeing decorated trees going up around town, and shop windows tingeing everything red or green doesn't even do it for me. I'm not all that into seasonal shopping. I buy things through the year that I think will make good gifts for my family, and if I don't get done early, I'm very last minute about the rest.

Admittedly, even when they seem early, I do enjoy the trappings of the encroaching holidays. I received cookies in the mail. That was nice. I extracted the cute penguin wrapping paper from my closet. It's super cute. But with lots of work ahead of me still, it was hard to relax and get into the spirit of things.

This year, it occurred to me that it's never been the Christmas atmosphere alone that makes me feel Christmasy. It's being with the people that remind me of Christmas--namely my family. Friends, too. I went to a caroling event and holiday parties this weekend, and it finally started feeling like Christmas in my bones.

Only one week to go, and by the time the weekend comes around I'm sure I'll be full of Christmas cheer. And then it'll be time to think about the new year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Forum: Giving Back

Tis the season of giving, and that includes giving back.

What are some of your favorite causes to support during the holiday season?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Shopping

The shopping season is nearly over, but TWM is here to help. Check out the latest edition of the Holiday Bazaar, which includes a few great Caribbean trip opportunities that you've got an entire year to use! Go get your shop on now!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Politics Schmolitics 2012

Like many other Americans, I want to be more enthusiastic about the upcoming 2012 U.S. presidential election. I cannot muster enough enthusiasm at this time, because I am not happy with those who are currently taking the lead. Politics has always frustrated me, but I think I feel it now more than ever because of how our economy continues to suffer, and will apparently continue to do so for a few more years, at least. Major reforms, from global to local private and public entities to prevent similar economic downfalls, have yet to be implemented in most cases. Apparently the recession is over, but I have heard and can feel for myself that we as a country are still struggling, and may never be the same again. How do I get myself excited for the national race if both candidates leave a less than stellar impression on me?

I think one way to start is to look beyond the two candidates from the two main political parties to recognize and research those lesser known or completely unknown people who are running for public office. I would like to think that one day, we as a nation would elect someone as president who is not a Democrat or a Republican in our lifetimes. I wish it could be easier to learn more about lesser known candidates, so we can know as much as we can about those running for office from their records, apart from meeting them in person. All of my other suggestions have to do with taking initiative, and for it not to be overwhelming to do so.

I hope The Women’s Mosaic will host another Politics Schmolitics event to mark the 2012 races. It would be a great way to engage those interested in learning more and to possibly be more active in public life themselves. I also love the name "Politics Schmolitics," and would love to be a part of a new TWM event with that same name again.

What are your thoughts on politics?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's 2012 Got for Us?

As 2011 comes to a close, most of us are reflecting on how it went and wondering what 2012 might hold for us. My best friend and I were so emotionally and mentally drained from 2010, we just wanted it to be over and couldn't wait for 2011 to begin. We figured, hey, it can't get much worse!

We were right to expect great things in 2011: we both found jobs we loved, apartments in neighborhoods near each other, roommates we not only tolerated but actually liked, new friends, new lovers, and a lot more. I'm sure there are other people out there who had even better, more eventful 2011s, but we've got reason to be happy with what we got.

Now that 2012 is nearly upon us, I'm starting to worry about what it has in store for us. One thing we know for sure is that we're going on a week-long trip to Antigua in February, and something tells me we'll definitely need it. By then, we'll each have new roommates that we hope we like as much as the ones we have now, as one of my roommates and her only roommate are both moving to the West Coast (not together, just a coincidence). Oh, and then there's the little thing of having to look for a new source of income because I'll be unemployed as of December 30th.

I guess you can say the year is ending with as much newness and uncertainty as it brought throughout the year. I just hope this rocky end to 2011 doesn't bleed too much into 2012 so we can both start fresh as quickly as possible and recharge our batteries on a warm beach in the Caribbean.

What do you think 2012 holds for you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Flashing Back

I've been doing some historical research lately, and I've spent time looking at archived popular news magazines, like TIME, in the library. I'm looking now at 1968, because that is when my upcoming book is set, and a time I need to get more familiar with, seeing as it's a bit before my time.

The process is really intriguing, not just because of the information my research is uncovering--I expected to learn that stuff--but also because of some unexpected results. The best part of flipping through these old mags is the classic advertisements!

Wow, times have changed. Never has it been clearer to me than when I'm looking at these old ads. Looking at what is considered beautiful (women who aren't stick thin), what is considered fancy (really nice Scotch), what is considered risque (long distance driving) and what is considered cool (great cigarettes) has really transformed in the last forty to fifty years.

Needless to say, some of these changes are for better, and others for worse. It's all subjective. There are lot more drawings in the old ads, in addition to glossy photographs. There's a lot more text to read and absorb. There are a lot more families represented, and a lot fewer celebrity endorsements. Alcohol and cigarette and car ads dominate. It's striking, because booze and smoking have become so taboo in ads in recent years.

The research started out as drudgery, but now I'm loving this project. They say a picture is worth a thousand words...well, the thousand or so pictures I've looked at tell an entire story of a moment in time, and the way the country thought and reacted in those days. It's the closest I've come to feeling like I know what the world "looked" like in 1968. Pretty intriguing!

Is there a time period from the past that you'd like to visit?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Forum: Pet Peeves

We all have pet peeves and sticking points that people seem to constantly trigger, whether it's grammar, a certain phrase people use incorrectly, people who complain all the time, etc. What are some of your pet peeves and things that really get under your skin?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Write Resolutions

While you're all starting to think of resolutions for the new year, consider tapping into your inner voice and letting your thoughts and experiences out by writing. Lucky for you, you have a great platform to do that right here! Check out our guest blogger guidelines or past posts if you need some guidance or direction, and then write down whatever it is you want to. (And hey, no need to wait for the new year if you feel up to it now.) Can't wait to read what you've got.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Technology Withdrawal

I am thinking ahead about changes I want to make in 2012, such as possibly cancelling my Facebook account and travelling more. Both of these changes have to do with me wanting more face-to-face contact with people. The world is so much bigger than the Internet and technology, even though it does not feel like that sometimes. I just want to get back to basics.

I watched a few television clips from the 1980s (one of the great things about the Internet is that you can find almost anything) and noticed that the comedy, drama, and suspense sometimes increased when a person tried calling someone at their home and office, with no answer. The message was usually conveyed in person, with varying results. Now most of us have our cell phones, with texting and email included, so we are almost always reachable. I just can’t have my phone on all the time and I try to shut it off when I am out with someone or in a group, unless I am expecting an important call. I just want to focus on the people around me more than the device in my hands. I am by no means addicted to my phone, but I find that it has much more power over me than I care to admit.

Not too long ago, I accidentally dropped my cell phone with a piece of mail in a mailbox in front of a post office in a neighboring town. Panicked, I ran into the post office thinking that the postal official would have the keys to open said box. I had to wait for more than an hour in front of the mail box until it was opened, and during that time, I picked up the pay phone in the post office to make calls and went through technology withdrawal. As relieved as I was to have my phone in my hands again, I decided to limit my dependency of it, for my own peace of mind.

Do you think you are too dependent on technology?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo No-Go

Last month I made a pathetic attempt at participating in NaNoWriMo. I wrote maybe a couple thousand words before getting sidetracked by procrastination and, eventually, life. But I'm proud of myself for the creative work I've done beyond that: my Creative Writing 101 class.

Having never taken a real writing class before, I was worried. Having never considered myself particularly creative before, I was terrified.

The first week, it was a challenge just to sign in to the class and read through the lecture. It took me days to get the nerve to do that, but once I did, I realized it wasn't so bad. The exercises were interesting, though some more than others and while I wasn't all that confident reading back on my first assignment, the feedback I got was good.

Since then, I've worked harder on my assignments and implementing the lessons learned that week. I've even started to *gasp* look forward to the next lecture, exercises and assignment. 

The thing I love most about the class is the way it's making me think about my writing. I've often sought perfection, and worked on things I cared about an awful lot. But from day one, our instructor stressed that the process and the output both had to be fun. Even though I'm considering nearly every other word much more carefully than I have before, it actually has been fun.

So maybe I didn't come out of November with a novel, but I did come out inspired and ready to take on more writing. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hopping on the e-Train

No, I am not talking about getting on a subway train. I am quite comfortable hopping on a subway of any letter, A to Z. By the "e-train," I mean the express route to all things that are prefaced by the tiny but powerful "e": e-book, e-reader, etc.

I do not own a Kindle. Or an iPad. Or any of the many book-powering apps available for smart phones. I resist these things not on principle, but because I am a book lover. I like the feel of a cozy paperback, the hefty importance of a hardcover.

So it is strange to find myself suddenly dealing in e-books, which I have learned I can access on my computer without an extra device. I recently downloaded a program that will allow me to buy and read e-books, and borrow them from the library. I've acquired a few books for research purposes, and it's working out for me okay.

For all of you who are already devotees of the e-revolution (or passengers on the e-train, if you prefer), I trust you will bid me a hearty welcome to your ranks. BUT, I confess: I am not converted. My bookcases shall remain full. I can definitely see the advantage of the speed and accessibility of books online. It is exciting, to know that so much is at our fingertips at any given moment. But it doesn't make me feel like things are easier or better.

I don't want to forget what it feels like to curl up with a book. People tell me you can get used to curling up with a Kindle, but something about that idea leaves me a little on edge. I work at the computer. For fun, I often watch TV. Must I turn to a screen for my pleasure reading, too?

For the moment, I'm trying to become hip and tech-fancy. I would prefer to be the sort of gal who changes willingly with the times. I do not want to become a crotchety person who constantly whines about how great things used to be in the old days. But they were so great! (Yeah, yeah. I'm working on it...)

Are you on the e-train?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gift Giving

The holiday season has begun! Who are you shopping for this season? Do you find it a pain or do you look forward to it?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Cheer ... And Shopping!

The holiday season is upon us and that means it's time for another great TWM Holiday Bazaar!

TWM's Virtual Holiday Bazaar is a great way to find out about local, women-owned, conscious/green, and other small businesses that support TWM now and all year long!

This is the first blast of the bazaar so please let us know if you or someone you know has a fabulous product or service that should be included to share with our targeted audience throughout the month of December!

Contact us for more info on how to participate!

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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