Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shake Your Groove Thing

The following was originally posted on November 28, 2012 on Kristina's blog.

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to have Kristina back as a guest blogger this week.
Kristina Leonardi is the founder of The Women’s Mosaic. She is a career/life coach, speaker, seminar leader and expert in the areas of career development, work/life wellness and personal growth
Do you have the discipline to be a free spirit? ~ Gabrielle Roth

 In the movie Silver Linings Playbook, the main characters Pat and Tiffany are in training for a big dance competition that turns out to be much more than a fancy booty shaking contest.  A unique romantic dramedy, it’s a film that shows there is a fine line between sanity and insanity, acceptable versus unacceptable behavior, and the beauty of living life to the beat of your own drum.

In the movie The Sessions, Mark O’Brien is confined to an iron lung 20 hours a day, existing on a gurney unable to move from the neck down, and yet he writes poetry, is a professional journalist and decides to hire a sex surrogate so he can experience the most human of experiences. We go along on his journey (based on a true story!) and find him to be one of the most alive, loving and liberated individuals to have ever lived despite such extreme physical limitations.

And as seen in the movie Lincoln, our 16th president is clearly not your Average Joe.  He was always thinking out of the box, used his quirky sense of humor to diffuse or illuminate situations, and took numerous risks throughout the most heart-wrenching circumstances our country has endured.  He stretched the Constitution to its limit, working within an established framework while implementing his own interpretation and/or bending the rules based on his hard-earned wisdom, keen observations and superior judgement as unprecedented needs arose and critical decisions had to be made in order for progress to occur.

In the conscious movement class I take, we are told to  ‘dance it your way’ and have breaks of  ‘free dance’  where we boogie as we see fit; it’s not chaotic because there is an organized structure and unity contained within the flow as we come back together intermittently as a group throughout the hour.  It’s a super-small class because for many people, when given the opportunity to move and think for themselves, even for just a few moments, is a daunting and uncomfortable feeling; it’s an empowering exercise that requires more effort and less inhibition, and many simply don’t know what to do if they are not following the instructor. And that, my friends, is indicative of a larger problem with implications reaching much farther than a gym studio.

Spielberg’s Lincoln asks, “Do you think we choose to be born? Or are we fitted to the times we’re born into?”  As citizens of the 21st century, we are certainly living in extraordinary times that will require us to become the fullest and most unique beings we are meant to be.  We each have something that needs to be expressed, something that no other person on this planet, no one who has come before or will come after can express. Right now we need new ways of looking at old problems and to change old ways in order deal with new problems, so it’s more important than ever for you to do your own thang, because there is no other way to generate inspiration and birth innovation.

In any era it’s easy to get stuck in past habits and sucked into the zeitgeist of the day.  Resist the urge to follow the herd, fight to honor yourself, think and speak your own thoughts and begin to know and create yourself anew every moment of every day instead of getting swept up by social media, news, commercials, and even your peer groups, work and ethnic cultures or family and friends who are all, consciously or not, forces that can easily grab hold of your mind, body, spirit and/or bank account.  Don’t let your physical characteristics, family roots or societal dictates squash all the rhythms inside you that might be quite different from what those outside influences might have you believe, say or do.

Not sure exactly what your groove thing is? Give me a buzz and I’ll get you started with some basic choreography and point you in the right direction, because ultimately You Should Be Dancing your own steps throughout life, hopefully with a fun disco floor beneath your feet along the way!

P.S. For related thoughts on this topic, check out my posts:  Lucky Charms, A Fool’s Errand and New Rules.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Forgive But Never Forget

Since childhood, I have heard how important it is to forgive and forget, but like most people I do have a problem with following through with it. I am an easy going person, which often gives the impression that I can be taken advantage of, but I am also very observant and have a long memory, and will defend myself when someone tries to cross the line with me. I can forgive those transgressions, even if the other person is unapologetic. I do this by not holding a grudge and just having better manners overall. The forgetting part is something I do not think is necessary or right. Why should I forget the situation if it has taught me a valuable lesson? Forgetting makes it possible for the transgressed to be wronged many more times in the future.

I think this particularly true in abusive relationships; forgiving abusive behavior has to be reciprocated by the permanent end of that behavior through whatever means necessary. I have family and friends who have told me they forgave a significant other or family member for their mental and/or physical abuse, but it almost always re-occurs, and often worse than it was before. As a child and teenager I was often the target of bullies, both in my own family and at school, and have never forgotten what I went through. I believe that is the reason why I am not subject to that behavior as an adult, which I am grateful for. I convey this message to those who are still being victimized; my advice is usually not taken, but I feel good knowing that I have shared my feelings about these particular situations.

What your thoughts on forgiveness? Do you think forgetting the situation is key to the process of letting go?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Passing the Turkey*

This is one of my favorite past blog entries, originally posted November 24, 2008.  I've gotten much better at cooking Thanksgiving since then, and it has officially become my holiday...however this year I'm not the one cooking. So I'm going to reminisce via the internet:

My parents are coming in for Thanksgiving again this year. Thanksgiving has become my holiday, ever since I cooked my first turkey for my parents and brother in my tiny NYC studio apartment eight years ago. Ever since, I've remained the host of our T-Day meal. Even when we've been at my parents', it's still my show. I cook, carve, bake, and serve. And I love doing it.

I have fond memories of the big extended family Thanksgiving, cooked by mom and aunts and grandma, while the other adults watched football, and we kids scrambled around in the backyard until called. We set a cheerful table and the food appeared – a warm, delicious smorgasbord of dishes not to be seen again for a year.

The original magic of Thanksgiving is somewhat gone for me, now that I know how the stuffing gets into the bird, so to speak. But in its place, I've come to cherish the ability to create something pleasing for people I love. I've done it enough to feel comfortable, even confident, and to put most of my performance-anxiety aside. I no longer worry about ruining the bird (wouldn’t be the end of the world) or keeping people waiting to eat (it can ever be perfectly timed). I have finally hit my stride.

Each year, I find myself begging less and less wisdom from my mother’s experience. My mom doesn’t enjoy cooking, so she was happy to hand this off to me. Neither of us looked back. But I notice something larger going on. The rolling of generations. Soon enough, it’s likely I'll be "mom," and she'll become "grandma," and though those titles seem far away, we have already taken the first steps down an inevitable road.

I contemplate this while chopping and basting: the passage of time, and the changes we must go through. It’s a good feeling – nostalgia for what was, and anticipation of what might be ahead. A torch is being passed, from one generation to the next. Though, I guess in our case, you could say we're passing the turkey.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When My World Stopped

On Election Day last week, I went through one of the scariest moments of my life, which almost prevented me from voting that day. When most people were wondering if President Obama would be re-elected or not, my siblings and I were dealing with my Mom’s sudden medical emergency on her way to California to visit my sister and brother-in-law, which caused her plane to be diverted to Denver, Colorado so she could receive immediate medical attention. I almost fainted when an airline attendant called me from my Mom’s cell phone to tell me what was happening. I heard the paramedics in the background talking to my Mom and to each other as they prepared to take her off the plane as I kept asking if I could talk to her. Finally, the flight attendant told me she unconscious, which is when I almost dropped the phone. It was then that my world stopped; all I cared about was my Mom.

While I was calling the hospital and the airline to trace my Mom’s luggage as she requested, I heard news on the radio and TV about people standing on long lines around the region to vote, which was just background noise to me at the time. I only made it to the polls five minutes before they closed, and that was only when I knew she would be released from the hospital and checked in to a nice hotel arranged and paid for by the airline that night. If the situation wasn’t resolved that day, I would not have cared if I missed the chance to cast my ballot. I think anyone in a similar situation with a loved one would feel the same.

Thankfully, my story had a happy ending, but I know I am no better than those with in similar situations with unfortunate conclusions. I am grateful that Mom is OK, and hope to avoid anything like it again, if possible.

Can you multi-task when uncertain and scary personal situations strike?


Can you imagine sleeping on the floor – eating off boxes – storing your belongings in plastic bags? Sadly, there are many families right here in Westchester who cannot afford a bed to sleep on or a table to share a family meal.

Kate Bialo, resident of Larchmont, NY, is an attorney by training, a past President of the Junior League of Westchester on the Sound (JLWOS) and a long-time community volunteer. Through her volunteer work, she was aware of the great number of families in need in Westchester and was dismayed at all the furniture being put at the curb, so in 2007, she founded Furniture Sharehouse, Westchester's Furniture Bank, to put the two together. With seed money from JLWOS and grant money from the County, in 2007, she and a group of volunteers established a warehouse at the Westchester County Airport to collect gently-used furniture and redistribute it to needy families referred by social service agencies. Since 2007, they have distributed over 28,000 items of free furniture to more than 5,800 people who didn't have a bed to sleep on or a table to share a meal.

You know we at CHICKS ROCK! can't get enough of awesome women making a difference, so we want you to help Kate out:

Furniture Sharehouse has the opportunity to win $25,000 to support its operations. Kate has been selected as one of ten L’Oreal Paris 2012 Women of Worth, an honor which includes $10,000 for Furniture Sharehouse, and the Honoree who receives the most on-line votes between now and November 21st will receive an additional $25,000 for her organization.

So PLEASE HELP! You can VOTE DAILY (one daily vote per unique e-mail address) at this link:


Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Life as a Female Soldier in Iraq

In honor of Veteran's Day, we thought we'd share this TWM Spring 2008 eNewsletter article where we reviewed our special TWM Signature Panel Series event marking the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq featuring women who had recently served in our armed forces both there and in Afghanistan. You can read about the event itself in more detail as it was featured in Women's eNews, on Divine Caroline and TWM's Inspirer Newsletter.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

female soldier group
Our panelists left to right: First Lieutenant Jennifer Karakat (Army), Sergeant Chrissy DeCaprio (Marines), Sergeant Carolyn Schapper (Army); Specialist Petty Officer Emily Stroia (Navy), Staff Sergeant Luz Gonzalez (Army) and our moderator Adaora Udoji, co-host of The Takeaway on WNYC/PRI

On Tuesday, March 11th TWM brought together a diverse panel of women who have served in the armed forces for an intimate look at the military culture from a female perspective, exploring the issues that these women have had to deal with abroad, and how they have been able to integrate and re-adjust back to their life at home.   Thanks to all who participated in this conversation!

 Below you can read some of the responses from those who attended and link to published articles about it as well. 

My Life as a Female Soldier in Iraq is by far one of the best programs I've ever attended. Not only was I able to develop a greater appreciation for these women as strong, competent role models, but the personal tone was much more refreshing than the usual political one. Even when questions were posed that might at first seem political were really still about the women's personal experiences and the thoughts they have about the lives of their fellow soldiers. - Sally M.

This event was excellent. I thought that it would be anti-American and a lot of griping - but instead I took away a feeling of admiration and respect for these women. The format gave both speakers and audience a chance to participate. It was very enlightening - Great job!  -  Carol Anne P.

 The opportunity to hear women of such varied backgrounds was really eye-opening.  - Linda K.

I just wanted to send out a small note expressing how touched I was last night. I found myself reflecting on my grandmother throughout the whole evening - she served in the military in the 1940's during World War II, where she met and married my grandfather, who was in the military as well. Last night, I looked at the women who serve today, and the struggles they encounter and barriers they conquer. It made me so proud of what my grandmother had accomplished. I look back on what a strong a women she must have been to serve whenchrissy it was extremely uncommon for women to enlist; I also realized how far women have come in society, and how much further we still have to go. - Lisette M.

I am honored to be my mother's child, who served as a Lieutenant in the Indian Army as a nurse.  Seeing her struggles and what she went through to become the success she is today has influenced me to be the woman I strive to be, or at least half of what my mother is.  That said, having the opportunity to sit on a panel and speak openly and honestly about my own experiences in the military has made me realize that sharing our stories allows us to speak of our shining moments.  SSG Luz Gonzalez and I spoke of who and what we would be if it were not for the military and I felt such a connection with her (and the other women, who I could not be more in awe of).  I knew I was meant to meet her and relate to her and vice versa.  - Jenny K.

While most of the mainstream media continue to focus on scandals and corruption, it was a welcome relief to see and hear from some of the women who have lived un-glamorous and dangerous lives in service to this country. Regardless of how any of us feel about the War in Iraq, it is important to have events like "My Life as a Female Soldier in Iraq" to remember and honor that small, but significant minority of women who continue to change attitudes about gender in the U.S. military.  - Pauline K.




Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Iron Jawed Angels

In addition to Sally's helpful post, check out the HBO flick "Iron Jawed Angels" that TWM held a screening of in 2004.  It's a powerful depiction of what the end of the women's sufferage movement experienced to give us this precious right that we hope all of you are exercising today!

Click here for a synopsis on Wikipedia, too.

Election Day 2012

I don't know about you, but Election Day sort of snuck up on me! But you all know how important it is for me, so I'm sharing my absolute favorite voter resource to help you get the vote out today: helps you find your polling location, report problems, look up voter ID laws in your state, and more!

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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