Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Forum: April Fool's!

What's your favorite April Fool's Day prank -- either something you did to somebody else or that was done to you?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Map Your Vision

TWM's Visioning Workshops have gotten so popular that even now that they're offered more times throughout the year, they still sell out! Get the details here and save your spot today!

VISIONING WORKSHOP: Using Your Creativity and Intuition to Gain Clarity, Find Focus and Manifest Your Dreams
Saturday, April 21st, 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Feeling a little confused with all that's going on with your career and the economy? Not sure what to do next with your life? Maybe your just a bit unsatisfied overall but can't exactly pinpoint what it is...

Our Visioning Workshop can help you sort it all out!

Come to our popular and powerful semi-annual workshop for a creative, transformative afternoon where you will make a collage to manifest your heart's desire - and you may be surprised as to what that turns out to be.

It's not unusual for participants to start new businesses, relationships, families or career paths as quickly as weeks or months after the workshop. If you are looking for both answers and results to help figure out where you are right now in your life and where you want to go next, this could be thing exact thing you need to push you forward and take you there.

COST: $85 for TWM Members*; $135 for Non-Members
*TWM Members can bring a friend at the member rate!
LOCATION: TRS Professional Suites, 44 East 32nd St, 11th Floor

RSVP by emailing

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

U.S. Healthcare Today

Today is the last day the Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning President Obama’s healthcare plan. After today, the nine justices will determine whether or not the Congress went beyond their constitutional powers by requiring all Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014, or pay penalties. All I know is that something must be done to make insurance more accessible to those who are unemployed or do not have employers who provide health insurance for their part-time or full-time employees. An ideal situation would be that an individual can get their regular check-ups yearly for free, and then if further treatments and medications are needed they can be easily obtained, without causing personal financial ruin.

Doctors and other medical professionals in this country are mostly in league with insurance and pharmaceutical companies, championing allopathic methods and medications all the way; there should be a major overhaul in this complicit, self-serving relationship to include holistic healthcare. In short, the whole concept of healthcare should be about serving patients’ best interests, not just getting rich off of them. I do not begrudge successful medical professionals their fancy cars, nice vacations, and the money spent on all of their other expenses, but I would feel that these perks would be even sweeter when they have been obtained by being advocates for their patients’ preventative care and overall well-being, rather than just helping out after they are sick. I am I idealistic? Perhaps, but I make no apologies about it.

I am not a fan of certain aspects of President Obama’s health care plan. All I do know is that someone has to think about a better alternative and make it happen, because our current system is sorely lacking as well. What I do like about the plan is that it is about all Americans, regardless of their financial status and employment, or lack thereof. I look forward to hearing the Supreme Court’s ruling on the plan, so I will know how to proceed with my healthcare future.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I've recently been watching the television series MAD MEN for the first time. Ever since it debuted, friends have been telling me "Oh, it's so good. You should watch it. You'll enjoy it."

Now, I'm definitely a big t.v. fan--I watch way too much in general. I like dramas, I love history, of course I should be watching MAD MEN. But I never got into it. I caught an episode or two over time, and it always struck me as a lot of work, somehow. Not that the show was difficult to follow, but on a deeper level I found it a little bit hard to watch. From an artistic standpoint, it's a strong show, and one that I actually do want to experience...and yet....

I never gave it much thought, figuring, if I can live without getting hooked on yet another t.v. show, that's all the better for my life. But yesterday I caught an episode of Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC in which she brought up the cultural phenomenon of MAD MEN, and she talked about it in a way that finally made my relationship to the show make sense.

She said: MAD MEN romanticizes an era in which women, people of color, Jews, gays, etc. were treated horribly, yet rather than promoting outrage or even opening people's eyes, the show seems to be inspiring nostalgia for "the good old days" when life was so carefree and days were spent drinking and smoking in the office. Sure, she said, it's nice to think about how much has changed since then, but the more important question is why, at this moment in time, when we're all paying so much lipservice to diversity, are Americans wanting to harken back to "the good old days" of rampant sexism, racism, antisemitism and homophobia? Does a show like MAD MEN prove that these -isms still live closer to the surface than we think they do? Are we really comfortable fantasizing about how mean upper and middle class white men used to be to everyone else?

Television is about escapism, at least for me. I feel the same way about books and movies. Sure, non-fiction is great and sometimes I read or watch to be informed and to learn, but my preference is to be swept away into another world, lifted right out of my overly analytical brain and plopped into some fantasy. I can't do that with MAD MEN, because the world it projects is not a fantasy world to me. It's not a place to lose myself, it's a place where I feel guarded and on edge, and maybe that works for some viewers, but I use t.v. to relax and unwind. What scares me about Melissa Harris-Perry's perspective is that maybe others are using this show as escapism, too, and I don't like the feeling that we as a culture may still be fantasizing about this kind of lifestyle.

Now that I know how I feel about MAD MEN and why, I can put the show where it belongs in my own mind, a watch and enjoy it as such. But when I think about some of the political conversations that are going on right now in the real world (how much control should women really be allowed to have over their reproductive rights? is it okay to shoot an unarmed black teenager, no real reason need be given?) I think the question about what kind of society we are pushing toward is pretty valid.

What do you think? Do you watch MAD MEN? What makes it enjoyable for you?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Forum: Spring In Your Step

Spring has officially arrived! What are you most looking forward to this season?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

WE.aRe – Women Entrepreneurship Retreat

CHICKS ROCK! welcomes Kelly back as a guest blogger this week:

Kelly launched her growing online/business services company, Owl’s Head Business Services, in 2011. She lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, baby Jack, and their dog, Pearl.

Several months ago, I was targeted by a Facebook ad for the Women Entrepreneur Retreat in Monterey, CA. I think that’s funny since I ended up speaking at the retreat on online presence, but before I knew that leading a workshop was possible, I had to decide if attending was worth the time, effort, and money.

I’m a veteran of TWM’s Visioning Workshops and I attended February's workshop. Kristina asked us to focus on our blockages. What was stopping me? And stopping me from what?

I focused on what was stopping me from losing weight and wrote down four words: health, garden, roots, and (in all caps) WHERE? For some years now, my family has been planning to move to the west coast, but we haven’t made the leap. That last word that I wrote down – WHERE? – is part of our dilemma. We have different reasons for wanting to live in two or three cities and haven't made a final decision.

Through my collage, it became clear that San Francisco (where I am ostensibly “from”) is where I want to be. The headline, “Discover your natural state” was pasted over a huge picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. This was obvious!

Turning back to my decision about the women’s retreat … I decided to ask some questions. This could be a lot of effort for naught or a way to start expanding my business into the Bay Area. When I explained my work to the woman on the other end of the line, she asked if I'd be willing to lead a workshop. WOW! Yes, absolutely!

I went to the retreat and met a lot of amazing women. When I returned home, I tried to see if there was anything related to the event on my collage. One of the things I had been looking forward to was a bonfire on the beach. Right in the middle of my collage was a hand holding a fire - an image that absolutely HAD to be there, although I didn’t know why.

Sometimes obvious things pop up on my collage; other times there are images that evoke a memory or emotion and it means something to me even if no one else would get it. I think that fire may have been a subconscious motivator for me. In any case, I’m glad I went and I'm looking forward to the next Visioning Workshop!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Baking Therapy

Baking has always been therapeutic for me, especially when I feel like I am in a creative rut. Making something delicious out of flour, eggs, sugar (or agave or honey) and other ingredients makes me feel like I have achieved a minor yet tasty victory. I bake cakes when I feel particularly creative; I feel more challenged making these desserts over cookies, cupcakes, or brownies. When my efforts don’t turn out the way I want, I do get discouraged, but the feeling is only fleeting. I never think after an unsuccessful effort that I do not want to bake something else, which will hopefully exceed my previous creations.

I have been avoiding sweets during the Lenten season, but I still manage to bake and share what I have made with family and friends without breaking my ban. I luckily have taste testers to help me out, so I never give out anything that would make me feel ashamed. I will never be Martha Stewart when it comes to baking, but I am proud of some of the recipes I have successfully created from scratch. While some people I know feel constricted by the measurements required to create baked goods, or the waiting it takes until they are finished in the oven, I actually like the parameters given. I enjoy cooking meals and being creative by adding spices and other touches that are unique to me as well, but sometimes having the measurements required for baking fixed and ready to go is a comfort to me.

Even after my sweets ban is over, I am not going to indulge in them as often I have been before. If anything, I am moving more toward healthier alternatives to baking, such as gluten-free and wheat-free cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and cakes. I look forward to the possibilities, as do those who offer to be my taste testers. The compliments I do get on my baking prowess make me want to continue to improve my skills, and never give up. It is the way we should approach most things in our lives.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Finding Friends... Again

Hey everyone! I've made some new friends!

We've written on the blog before about the challenges of making new friends as an adult. The office is a great place to make some connections, but it's hard to keep it up once you've moved on to another job. And if you're a freelancer or have an unconventional job, you may not even interact with people enough to build anything substantial. I myself have complained about it before, but I've come to realize that even though I hit some plateaus here and there, I'm actually quite lucky in the friend department.

My main source of friendship is still work, and I've gotten really good at relying on first impressions to see who I'll get along with. I find a few things we have in common and, bam!, instant friendship! Even now that I've gotten some freelance gigs, I've discovered the beauty of the work date. If you aren't familiar with this, it's basically just meeting up with one or two other freelancers or folks who work from home (whether you work together or not), heading to a coffee shop or some such place, and doing your work together. You inevitably spend most of the time with your head behind your screen, but you also end up talking about whatever comes up throughout the day when you take breaks to check Facebook or Twitter, when you get a random phone call from your crazy mother, or some other happening. It's a great way to be social while still staying focused on your work. Then when you're done with work, you can walk down the block to a bar, share a glass of wine, and get to know each other a little better.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I've finally gotten the hang of the whole making new friends thing, even with my general shyness and somewhat anti-social ways.

How do you make new friends?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Project Unbreakable

We recently celebrated International Women's Day, which in my mind brings forth lots of positive thoughts, about equality and progress, change and growth, and the increasingly celebrated presence of women's voices in the world. Today I am reminded that regardless of how far we've come, there are still miles left to travel.

I stumbled upon an indiegogo campaign for photographer Grace Brown's project Unbreakable, which sheds light on and gives voice to some of the silence associated with sexual assault. The project started when she began photographing survivors of sexual assault holding up signs bearing quotes from their attackers. Some chose to hold the signs in front of their faces, others chose to hold it across their chest, but regardless, it is chilling to watch them display the words of their attackers--words these women will likely never forget. The video about the project (WATCH IT HERE) is visually powerful, sometimes shocking, and very moving.

This is, of course, not exclusively a women's issue--many men experience sexual assault and are survivors too, and in fact there is an even greater silence around those crimes. part of what intrigues me about this project is the specific focus on words of the attackers. It lends a new layer of humanity to discussions of what it means to be a "victim" or a "survivor" and what you really have to carry and what it takes to heal. It makes me simultaneously upset and inspired--proud, too, of people who can take words of shame and turn them into a banner for survival.

Thinking and talking about these issues saddens me deeply, but I am far more saddened by the knowledge that there are hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of survivors out there who are still afraid to speak. I feel inspired by project Unbreakable, and by the millions of survivors who ARE speaking out and finding healing on the process.

Will you watch the video? What do you think about this project?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Forum: St. Patrick's Day

Tomorrow is St. Paddy's Day! What are your plans and what will you wear that's green?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ready for a Vacation?

If you've been dreaming of taking a tropical vacation with your partner, friend, sibling, whoever, TWM wants to help you make that happen.

TWM has a great Caribbean vacation up for grabs on ebay: 7 nights at the Palm Island Resort in the Grenadines. Check out all the details and buy it now or make an offer!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thoughts on Parenthood

My cousin and his wife just welcomed their first child into the world, and my family and I are sending good wishes their way during this happy time. They are a sweet and loving couple, and their new son is a well-deserved blessing in their lives. No matter how bad things can get in the world, a baby’s birth always evokes warm and fuzzy feelings and hopes for the future in me, even if these moments are fleeting. After all, babies do not stay babies for long, and the love between parents and children is tested for a lifetime.

As precious as each baby’s birth is, I know those who should never have children. It sounds severe, but I think everyone knows someone who is completely incapable of being a good parent for a variety of reasons. I know quite a few people who had children because they wanted someone to always love them, or because it was a last ditch effort to hold on to their marriage or relationship, or because it was what they were told was the normal next step in their lives, regardless of their inclinations. I have observed that none of these reasons are the right ones, and these parents tend to pay for their faulty logic later on. Not all of them are villains; they just have to grow up with their children to learn what parenthood is really all about.

To be a positive parent with the right amount of strictness, humor, and ease is an extremely difficult balance to achieve, especially when there can be more bad days then good. Single parents who do it on their own and succeed amaze me; of course I know that having a support system within the family and/or community is the key to raising a functional and productive child no matter what. I also believe that successful parents should be idolized far more than movie stars or famous athletes; they are the everyday heroes who make all the difference in our world.

What are your thoughts on parenthood today?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lessons in Control

We're two and a half months into 2012, and so far it's been a hell of a ride. There have been shifts in pretty much every area of my life -- some bigger than others, but all significant. Things haven't fully settled and might not for at least another few weeks, but I've been trying to enjoy it all and take it one day at a time, which is no easy thing for me.

Anybody who's read CHICKS ROCK! for a while knows that I've struggled between being an anal planner and trying to be casual and easygoing about things, sometimes even relinquishing all control to other people. While I'm still figuring out what feels the best and keeps me the most sane, I think I'm at least starting to feel better about not having all the answers, not planning everything out, and trusting that things will fall into place in the end.

Well ... kinda ...

Most days, I still want to know that any effort I make will have some sort of reward. Some of this is simple: if I put in more hours at work or on a project, I want to be recognized for that effort in some way. Others are a bit more complicated, like any relationship I place a significant value on. I don't think relationships are about give and take, but I do think that if things aren't balanced somehow, it's harder to feel comfortable letting go of any control.

So I'm still working on all of this, obviously, but I'm thinking 2012 has a lot of these lessons waiting for me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Moment for Whimsy

I'm feeling a bit whimsical today, so I have no choice but to blog in that spirit. On my recent trip to Chicago, I found myself getting a little camera-happy. I kept running into things that struck me as interesting. So, let this post be a photo essay of my recent wanderings:

I'm pretty fond of these little stone wolves. Especially the reader! I walked through a small park and spotted these guys just hanging out.

You've gotta love a hotel room that comes without a Bible in the top drawer, but with a paperback Oxford English Dictionary on the shelf. A writer's dream.

The height of decadence: red velvet french toast. I am not kidding. It is some sort of madness: slices of red velvet cake, batter-dipped and grilled like french toast. So wrong, but so delicious.

Who knew you could recycle your flag? This cracked me up. Seriously--if you have a flag, why wouldn't you want to keep it? If you don't like it, why do you even have it the first place? And if you've abused your flag to the point it needs to be replaced, are you really going to remember to bring it to the library for proper disposal?

A cocktail called a "treetini." Apparently, for each one of these sold, the restaurant/hotel donates money to plant a tree in some rainforest. I'm all for having a drink for a good cause!

I wasn't sure I could come up with a nice, cohesive way to wrap up this morning's randomness, but how's this: I'm grateful to have taken the time to slow down and pay attention to small details in the world around me. I got a lot of pleasure this week from things I don't always do, like studying public art and reading a whole menu before jumping to my old standby choices.

What small things have you noticed lately?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Forum: Take a Mini-Leap

Last week, we wanted to know what you did with your extra day, and now that Daylight Savings is this weekend, we want to know what you'd do if you had an extra hour. Stay out and party? Watch another movie? Get an extra hour of sleep?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy 101st International Women's Day!

To celebrate this day, here's TWM's International Women's Day email:

Our voices, talents and power have lied dormant far too long.  Every woman must search within herself, discover her unique gift, and then share it.  If we cannot do that in this country, how can we expect it of women in the rest of the world?

~ TWM Founder Kristina Leonardi, March 2005

Who are you?

We are ever grateful to all the brave and courageous women, both known and unknown, who have advanced women's rights and equality and continue to do so around the globe.

With March being Women's History Month, TWM wants to encourage everyone out there to reflect on what YOUR history and legacy will be. 

TWM believes that personal transformation is the key to social transformation.  

You don't have to be an Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, or Rosa Parks to leave your mark on the world.  By becoming the best you can be and expressing your true power and potential, others will automatically benefit. Use this day and month to think about how you can improve your life and take one small action in that direction!

The Women's Mosaic® (TWM) is proud to be a part of the women's empowerment movement for over a decade. Since January 2001 we have offered more than 100 unique opportunities for women of every background to connect to themselves, each other and the world around them.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Investing In The Future

I have always known that saving for the future is important, but I have only recently started to understand what it takes to do it right. As we slowly move out of the Great Recession, I am aware more than ever than making sound and stable investments are the best way to go. Does anyone really stash cash under their mattresses anymore? More power to those who do, but I would rather not worry about the potential for burglary, fire, or worse. Sure, the world of stocks and trading can be compared to the “Wild West,” but with self-education and the right guides, I have discovered people who have survived and even flourished during the worst of economic times.

I am no gambler. Sure, I would not mind striking it rich someday, but with dizzying highs come incredible lows, so if I ever do, I will want to maintain financial security more than anything else. A hot company now will not necessarily be so in a few years. I am more interested in companies that have proven longevity, and I would also like to believe in their practices and overall business model. I have lost some respect in Apple these days, as I suspect have many others, due to its poor and even scandalous working conditions in China. It may sound unrealistic, but I do not care: I would love to see a number of American companies with significant numbers of American workers with ethical business practices make positive impacts in the global economy, and have many more Americans invest in them. It could happen, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

All I know is that I refuse to shy away from money and remaining financially ignorant any more. I will never be an expert, but I will also not be accused of criticizing a system I know little about. Knowledge is power, and I just want more of it. I look forward to improving my financial education, so I will be more prepared for an uncertain future.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hating What You Love

Today is the 85th birthday of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Nobel Prize winner wrote Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, among other works. He's thought to be one of the great writers of our time, a stellar example of magical realism, and one of the best Latino authors of all time.

And it occurred to me today that I've never read anything he's written. How is that possible?

I love reading and have a particular appreciation for Latino writers, so this realization bugged me. I pondered it for a while and have reached two conclusions:

1) I should change my statement to "a particular appreciation for Latina writers." Taking a look at my bookshelves, the only Latino authors on there -- Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Junot Diaz -- I've never actually read. But Julia Alvarez, Gloria Anzaldua, Ana Castillo, Isabel Allende, Cristina Garcia, and many others are not at all foreign to me.

2) I am very intimidated to read the works of writers who are thought to be the best in any way, if I haven't already read something by them. There are a lot of classics that I've avoided reading over the years and I've recently noticed that it's because I'm afraid the writing will be too good.

Now, as a reader, finding a book with writing that's "too good" is not a problem. But for somebody who wants to be a writer, even if it isn't a writer of fiction, it can be incredibly intimidating and you end up hating the very thing you love. This has come up a bit with other writer friends of mine and in a writing class I took a few months back, but I am only just fully taking it in now.

"How could I ever be this good?"

It's the question I find myself asking at the end of a great chapter or a particularly delicious sentence. And because I've been reading a lot lately, I'm asking it more and more.

So I've decided that one of the next books I read will be One Hundred Years of Solitude. I've had it for almost 10 years now and have never even opened it. I will push myself past this feeling of intimidation no matter what.

Monday, March 5, 2012

U Boat, Me Boat

I'm currently in Chicago, and I went to visit the Museum of Science and Industry this weekend, which is a great museum overall, but one I haven't been to in many years. I went there with a small boy who is obsessed with one of the exhibits--the U-505 submarine that is on display in a special wing of the museum.

The U-505 was captured from the German navy (Kriegsmarine) in 1944 by the U.S. navy, and is one of only five U-boats from the era that exist in the world today (above water, that is--many were sunk by Allied ships and submarines). It is on display in tact, and you can even take a tour of the inside of it, complete with lights and sound effects that make you feel like you're in a real submarine in wartime. It was pretty cool.

I was personally fascinated by the sub--I'm a sucker for WWII history, and submarine movies in particular are among my faves in the suspense genre. But, the best part was touring the sub with a kid. It was so much fun to watch him growing excited about the exhibit, and to get to play along. As an adult, it seems like you're supposed to nod thoughtfully and stroke your chin and walk steadily, taking in all the sights in a calm grown up fashion, rather than racing through the exhibit making submarine churning noises and acting out dramatic explosions. The kid way is better.

I've learned I can use the excuse of being a children's writer to get away with doing fun, silly things like getting my picture taken with the U-505's anchor. Lots of kids were doing it, but no adults. Some people looked at me strangely when I made my way through the flock of children to get my turn. Well, fine. Be that way. I don't mind being thought of as childlike, and I hope that I can always keep that fun, silly spirit alive in myself. It makes the whole world seems like a better adventure!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Forum: Take a Leap

What did you do with your extra day this year?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We Want YOU!

As much as we love to write, spread around the link love, and ponder over our Friday Forum questions, the thing we love most is hearing from YOU! Whether it's through a comment on one of our posts or a submission to be a guest blogger, this space wouldn't be the same without your participation.

So today, why don't you look through our archive and comment on something that grabs you? And if you're feeling extra motivated, submit a guest post! We can't wait to hear from you!

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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