Thursday, December 27, 2012

End of Year Support for CHICKS ROCK!

Season’s Greetings!

Since January 2001, The Women's Mosaic(R) has offered over 100 successful opportunities for women to connect to themselves, each other and the world around them. You can read about our work in detail through the PDF online editions of our past INSPIRER Newsletters: One, Two, Three  and check out some Top Ten Fun Facts and Highlights here.

This year has been one of transition, as we have been providing the education, inspiration and motivation for our community mostly online through our blog CHICKS ROCK!, our Facebook page, and Twitter, which now has over 4000 followers! We also ran three of our popular Visioning Workshops and added more content to our YouTube page, including after the Sikh temple bombing earlier this year.

We are not quite sure what 2013 will look like in terms of live events, and continue to explore other ways to do our work in this ever-changing landscape. We will keep you abreast of any changes in direction and new programming; in the meantime we hope that we can count on your support and remind you to make your 2012 tax-deductible contribution before December 31st.

Simply use the DONATE button on our website,  below on the right sidebar of this page.

Looking back over the past decade, it has been most rewarding to see how numerous individuals who have been involved with our organization have benefited from their experience with us. We are extremely proud of our many members, volunteers, panelists and interns who have gone on to make major decisions and successful life changes as a result of the platform we provide, knowing that TWM has been a significant stop and foundation for them on their journey – thank YOU for helping to make that all possible!

We very much appreciate your support and send all the best wishes for a Peaceful, Prosperous and Healthy New Year!

P.S. If you are a past member, or would like to change your status to Member and take advantage of a variety of discounts as part of our group simply go to our MEMBERSHIP Page and use the buttons there or on the sidebar of this page. Recent discounts include Broadway shows, gym memberships and jewelry discounts. Contact us for more details….

P.P.S. If you donate $250 or more you can get a significantly discounted all-inclusive luxury Caribbean vacation courtesy of Elite Island Resorts. Contact us for more details :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happiest of Holidays and a Bright New Year

 TWM and CHICKS ROCK! wish you and your family a Joyous Holiday and a Peaceful, Propserous New Year!  We hope you get everything you want and more :)

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!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh Sandy

As everyone knows, New York has just been through a terrible storm that has brought the city to a stand-still. It didn't affect any of us the same way but it has certainly affected all of us. My Brooklyn neighborhood was practically untouched, as was the upper Manhattan neighborhood I holed up in just hours before the storm, but I know a lot of people who weren't as lucky. Power outages, flooded homes, trees knocked down everywhere; these are the things my friends and family have been reporting back when I check in on them. So even if you're one of the lucky ones, chances are that you're close to somebody who wasn't nearly as lucky.

It's incredible how the city changes during an emergency. There are the people complaining about inconveniences like the MTA shutting down; you have stores closing everywhere for days; and of course people are scrambling to get home or to figure out who they like enough to spend 48+ hours with. Everything is eerily calm and quiet. Once it's all over, you're happy to see your favorite bagel shop is open again, while the wine store across the street promises they'll be up and running by mid-afternoon. But then you find out that churches are calling people's homes to check in on all of them... and they aren't hearing from everyone.

As emergencies and disasters often do, this storm reminds us that we need to stick together in order to get through terrible circumstances. If there's any silver lining at all, it's learning that people will empathize and help whenever and however they can.

Friday, October 26, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Spooky Sights

Halloween is coming up next Wednesday. Some people go all out celebrating, and some couldn't care less when it's October 31st. What is your life like on this unique holiday? Do you dress up in a costume? Do you decorate?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Careful Correspondence

I was recently involved in a confusing situation at work, which involved an email I sent to provide guidance being misunderstood and causing the recipient to take offense. While that was not my intention, I can see why the tone of my correspondence was misconstrued. My company stood behind me, while at the same time suggesting I be more aware of my tone in my emails. I agree that this is something that I must do (as do most of us), especially since most of our interpersonal interactions happen via email, text, and social media. I decided to analyze my actions further so I do not make the same mistakes in the future.

First, I think understanding where the other person/party is coming from before getting into specific details is important. I only had one conversation with my now former client and his wife, and noticed the latter was much more talkative. I also discovered that they had different goals in mind than those provided by their company. This particular point should have made me contact my supervisor directly to alert her of this discrepancy immediately. While I did report the issue, I did not emphasize its seriousness to my company. While I am glad not to have brought it up during my conversation with the couple, I should have paused to clear up the confusion immediately with my company before moving forward.

I also wish I contacted my supervisor about an email she sent me to forward to the client about a sensitive matter. Because I went ahead and sent the email without realizing how it may be interpreted, I put myself in an awkward situation. I believe I should not have been given the task, because it was an issue to be settled between my company's and my client’s companies’ managerial and human resources departments. I will remember this in the future should a similar situation arise.

I am glad the situation is over, but others always arise to present new challenges. How do you handle the challenges of maintaining careful correspondence?

Friday, October 19, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Reading Material

All of us at CHICKS ROCK! enjoy reading--books, magazines, blogs, news--you name it, we devour it. We each have favorite things to read, and we have widely different preferences for what genres or type of reading material we enjoy. How about you? What do you like to read?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CHICK OF THE WEEK: Candy Crowley

Where Jim Lehrer failed, Candy Crowley succeeded. Regardless of your feelings about the U.S. presidential election, the first two televised debates and their respective moderators, can we all agree that Ms. Crowley did a far better job standing up to the candidates when needed? They made it very difficult at times to move from topic to topic and question to question, but she really did stand her ground with both of them. Some have called her pushy (somehow, I do not think a male counterpart would be described in the same way) but she did her job, and did it well.

Do you agree?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Ups And Downs of Public Speaking

Watching the second presidential debate last night made me think about my own public speaking skills. Like many others, I have trouble expressing myself effectively in front of a crowd. I notice that President Obama, Mitt Romney and many other politicians running for public office do not answer the main thesis of certain questions when put on the spot during debates; this annoys me, but I think I may have been guilty of something similar in the past. I certainly hope I have improved my ability to get to the point and not drone on like some people do. The art of public speaking really is all about being concise and focused when giving a speech or answering questions.

My ups and downs with public speaking started when I was in elementary school. Each time I had to give a speech on a topic, my resolve to do well would crumble when the class bully would make faces and mutter snide comments to make me feel uncomfortable. When my ineffectual teachers would ask me questions in front of my classmates about the points made during my speech, I would give clumsy answers and prove that I wanted to be anywhere but in front of them. I retreated further into my shell, not wanting to raise my hand to answer a question in class when I knew the answer or have anyone take notice of me at all.

I began to break the cycle in college when I took a public speaking course that forced me to face my fears. My professor encouraged us to use our strengths to make us more comfortable with oral communication in our personal and professional lives. I think this class made it easier to speak to a group of overseas-bound ESL teachers about my experience in Indonesia, and later for my sister’s wedding. I am my own worst critic, but I think I did reasonably well in those two situations.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the art of public speaking!

Friday, October 12, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Autumn Weather

By mid-October our school and work lives are typically back in full swing after summer vacation and time away. The return of those rhythms, plus the oncoming change of weather definitely symbolize fall. How's the autumn weather in your neck of the woods?

Friday, October 5, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Street Treats

I don't know what it's like where you live, but in New York the fall is a prime time for street fairs. Stroll down one of these decked-out avenues and you'll find artists with wares on display, businesses offering discounts, live music playing, and vendors selling tasty, fatty snacks like hot dogs, popcorn, elephant ears, and cotton candy. Have you been to a street fair or carnival lately? What is your favorite street food?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Link Love for 10/4/2012

It's time for another great round-up of great links! Let's jump right into the mix, shall we?

Alexia Vernon shares to how she moves past fear and involuntary physical expressions that can get in the way of communicating effectively with others when it counts.  
Girl w/Pen discusses Half the Sky, the two-part PBS documentary inspired by the non-fiction book   written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which focuses on gender-based violence in a pragmatic, "everywoman" way.

In Good Company shares how her sense of agency led to her achievements as the creator and owner of various businesses.  
One Writeous Chick explores the nuances of writer's block in her life, particularly how she makes herself write when her voice is the problem.

Savvy Ladies' tips to sticking to a healthy diet within a budget are invaluable, especially for those at risk for serious health problems.
What have you all been reading and writing online in the last few weeks? Be sure to leave links in the comments.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Renovations And Revelations

Since last month, I have been working with a contractor who is finishing renovations on an apartment in New York City that my family owns. It was something I did not expect to take the lead on, but I have enjoyed the process overall. There was some stress when it came to deadlines on choosing a bathroom vanity and light fixtures for the bathroom and kitchen by certain dates, but I have enjoyed imagining what the completed apartment will look like when everything is done. Before the renovations began, the apartment had a leaky faucet, dark walls that made the space feel smaller than it is, and an uncomfortably small kitchen. Now the plumbing has been completely re-done, the walls are a sunny yellow color, and the kitchen is part of an open floor plan that flows into the living room. It is a great space now, and I am glad to have contributed to making it that way.

While I am planning to live there, it will not be forever; every choice I made is in mind to increase the value of the apartment if it has to be sold in the near future, which is likely. I followed a budget, which was the hardest thing to do when prices of certain items were higher than I wanted them to be. Thankfully, the contractor I worked with guided me in the right direction by providing various options and price points on things like kitchen countertops, appliances, and refurbishing the bathtub instead of replacing it. I am grateful that he did his job so well AND educated me about what to pay attention to during the renovations.

The refrigerator has yet to be delivered, and there a few final details that need to be completed, but I can safely say the bulk of the work is done. I look forward to enjoying the apartment while I still have it, and will look forward to renovations’ projects that come my way in the future.

Do renovations’ projects put you off, or do you welcome the challenges they bring?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another Year, Another Apartment

I write this sick, exhausted, and having spent the weekend having a terrible moving experience. My new place is lovely but the gas isn't on, the tub doesn't drain or have hot water, the internet isn't set up yet, and I only just now got a real set of keys.

How's your October going so far?
CHICKS ROCK! wants your feedback. Click here to take a survey now and let us know what you think!

Friday, September 28, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Dreams and Visions

TWM's semi-annual Visioning Workshop takes place tomorrow. In honor of these self-reflective festivities, our question of the day follows the Visioning spirit: Is there a dream you hold in your heart that you have never pursued?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

UPDATE: What's Next For You?


You've read about our Visioning Workshops many times on CHICKS ROCK! all these years, but now we've got a video to give you an inside look!

TWM's Visioning Workshops are a great way to spend some quality time with yourself to reflect on who you are and what you want in life right now. You can read about Kekla, Pauline and Sally's and other guest bloggers Visioning Workshop experiences here.

The next workshop is coming up on Saturday, September 29th Sunday, September 30th from 11:30am-5:30pm  CLICK HERE for the invite and a place to RSVP.  Hope to see you then!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

See You Next Wednesday!

Pauline is beseiged with work and and not feeling well, so she hopes you take this opportunity to catch up on some of her old posts.
CHICKS ROCK! wants your feedback. Click here to take a survey now and let us know what you think!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Art in the Open

I've posted about this before, but I'm a total sucker for public art. Especially cheerful art that makes my day seem a little bit brighter.

In my adventures around the Miami area, I've been finding pieces that intrigue me. Here are a few of them:

I love the flamingo! She is so delightfully decked out. Apparently flamingos were one of the creatures featured in Miami area (Like how NYC had the apples for a while and I think it was Chicago that had cows?). Roosters are also popular around here.

This artist has colorful pieces up all over Miami. I like the style, although the locals seem to sort of be "over" his style. Very bright and cheerful, though, as far as I'm concerned.

I think part of what attracts me to art in public is simply the fact that it's free, for all to enjoy. So many times there seems to be a price attached to the enjoyment of art, whether it be expensive tickets to theater and opera, museum admission fees, hardcover book prices,  the ever-increasing cost of movie tickets, or certainly the extravagant prices of many fine art pieces.

Don't get me wrong--as an artist who makes a living off of people buying what I create, I am by no means suggesting that art should be totally free, or that artists shouldn't be paid. But few people can afford to buy every book they read--that's why we have libraries. Few people can purchase fine art pieces, that's why we have museums, and not everyone can even afford the ticket price, which is why they often have flexible fees and/or free admission days.

Absolutely, I think artists should not have to starve, nor to give away their ideas and their creations, but I also believe in sharing the wealth of creativity freely.  Seems like a contradiction, no?

What do you think? Can the idea of free art and the idea of artists actually making a living exist and, not only survive, but thrive in the same economy?

Friday, September 21, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: Premiere Week

Most of the major television networks are airing their fall premieres this week and next. Which of your old favorites are back this year? Any new shows you're excited about this season?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Check In With Us Before The Year Ends

Can you believe that 2012 is almost over? Why not share some of the goals you hope to meet by the end of the year with us by writing about it! It will help give you some perspective and you can get support and feedback from others who are working towards their own accomplishments. So think about it and submit a guest post when you're done! We would love to hear from you.

Not sure what you'd like to do next? Let TWM's Visioning Workshop help clarify those goals for you! You might be surprised as to what turns up... The next workshop is Saturday, September 29th - Get more info and RSVP by clicking here.

CHICKS ROCK! wants your feedback. Click here to take a survey now and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Memories Of A Muslim Country

The violence which first erupted last week in response to a contentious anti-Muslim film brings up memories of Indonesia for me. I never saw chaos on the streets of Jakarta or elsewhere in the country, nor did I experience any anti-Western sentiment from those I worked with and lived near to, but I do remember how deeply devout some of my Muslim Indonesian friends and acquaintances were and still are, and how they never made me feel out of place because I was not a Muslim. At shopping malls and all other public places, there are rooms for washing before and after prayers, usually near the restrooms, and rooms for prayer. The daily call for prayer never made me feel uncomfortable; instead I always felt peaceful. I lived in a Muslim country and was not treated like an infidel; I made friends with Muslims and Christians alike, and both groups easily mixed with each other.

When I first heard about the riot outside of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, I must admit that it made my blood run cold for a moment; when I heard there was no violence or bloodshed (to date, I have not heard of any) I felt better. I visited this location several times, and always found it a calm place each time I was there, even when I was stressed out about my visa or some other matter. I knew of some anti-Western sentiment, but it never touched me directly. Of course, being of Indian descent may have helped me considerably, because in countries like Indonesia, being white equals being Western most of the time. It is only when I open my mouth to speak that my American accent reveals who I really am, which sometimes confused the Indonesian people I met and even my family members from India. Unlike the latter, the former never tried to make me feel uneasy about my unusual accent and Western identity.

I hate stereotypes of all kinds, and I am just happy to have the experiences of living outside of them, in this country and abroad. I would like to hear more moderate and measured voices between the extremist ones from the West and the East. Is that too much to ask for? Perhaps for now, it is.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

He's There, The Phantom of the Opera

More than a decade ago, I saw one of my first Broadway shows, The Phantom of the Opera. It was the first show I obsessed over: I bought the highlights soundtrack, tried to learn every voice part in "Masquerade," and imagined myself someday belting out "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" (even though I wasn't a soprano and didn't have an opera voice).

Because I love Broadway, people often ask me what show to watch and I always include Phantom in my list of recommendations. But I realized sometime this year that what was once burned in my brain was now an incredibly distant memory. I still knew the story and listened to the songs, but I could no longer visualize any parts of the show.

So when my cousin got in touch with me about seeing something during Broadway Week, Phantom was the first show that came to mind. We finally went last week and I was blown away at how much I loved it! If it was even remotely possible, I loved it even more now than I ever remembered loving it before. The music, the drama, the emotion, the chandelier... Everything about it is perfect. I didn't cry nearly as much as I thought I would, but I also found myself holding my breath at times, which I certainly did not expect.

I am constantly amazed at the power of theater and music to move people the way it does. Some shows are great but others are mind-blowing, and I'm so happy to have had the experience again. Now that I'm taking voice lessons again, maybe in a few months I'll be able to master "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again."

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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Flux Capacitor

Strange as it sounds, I've been thinking about the movie "Back to the Future" lately. It was referenced in an episode of television I watched, and since then it's been on my mind. Particularly the magical time machine and its Flux Capacitor that sends Marty McFly back to the 1950s.

I think I was attracted to the phrase "flux capacitor" because my life has been in a considerable amount of flux lately. I've been traveling for almost six months, and writing, and dealing with unexpected events, and living life in a relatively unplanned way. It's been wonderful and challenging, and absolutely full of joy and uncertainty. A "flux capacitor" sounds like the sort of thing that could take such experiences and emotions and thoughts that often feel out of control and make them make sense, give them purpose.

Moments ago, I went to Merriam-Webster online dictionary and asked it to define "flux." I already know what the word means--change, transition, flow from one state to another--but as a writer, sometimes I like to see the technical definition. I usually learn something.

This is what it told me:

"Flux (n.): A flow of fluid from the body, as in (a) diarrhea, (b) dysentery."

That was it. No other definitions. Just a long, blank white page after that.

I cracked up laughing. What? Was it possible that I had been using this term wrong for years? Had I just created a blog post centered around the metaphor of my life as diarrhea?

Well, no, it turned out to be a glitch on the website. When I hit reload, it filled in the rest of the definitions, including the one I was looking for, which read simply: "change, fluctuation."

My sense of amusement continues. I've always considered it a strength that I can laugh at myself. And I realize that saying or doing something stupid from time to time doesn't make me any less smart. It was a nice reality check, too, because when I said my life was in flux, I definitely did not mean my life is watery crap. Not by a long shot.

So now I'm thinking that maybe the Flux Capacitor isn't all it's cracked up to be. Marty McFly goes to the past to try to change things, but when he gets there, he realizes it was a bit of a mistake and all he wants is to get back to the future.

I am luckier than Marty, I suppose, because I've never wanted to change the past. I'm happy with where I am and how I got here. But I do think there's value in looking back. All of this flux is leading somewhere...and hopefully that somewhere is a brighter, more coherent future.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

FRIDAY FORUM: What's Your Vision?

The Women's Mosaic's semi-annual Visioning Workshop is coming up. We all need to take a minute from time to time to reflect on our lives, where we've been and where we're going. Have you ever participated in TWM's visioning workshop? If not, what's stopping you? Do you have a clear vision of the future you desire?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What's Next for You?

You've read about our Visioning Workshops many times on CHICKS ROCK! all these years, but now we've got a video to give you an inside look!

TWM's Visioning Workshops are a great way to spend some quality time with yourself to reflect on who you are and what you want in life right now. You can read about Kekla, Pauline and Sally's and other guest bloggers Visioning Workshop experiences here.

The next workshop is coming up on Saturday, September 29th from 11:30am-5:30pm -
CLICK HERE for the invite and a place to RSVP.  Hope to see you then!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Divorce And Taking Sides

My parents are finally getting a divorce, and now that the proceedings have started and it is public knowledge, the reactions from family and friends have shown me who really cares about us and who does not. These revelations have made me stronger, and I feel liberated knowing the truth. For one thing, I am reminded that the ones who are truly there for my family and me are not always those who are related to us by blood.

The paternal side of my family continues to shun my mother, my siblings, and me by saying nothing at all. It is so true that silence speaks volumes, and in this case, it is not a surprise to me. My aunts and uncles from this particular branch of my family have never really approved of us, because we did not attend their church and subscribe to their particular view of the world. Ultimately, I will never feel bad about this because I have always been polite to them and loving to their children, as are my mother, brother and sister. The maternal side of my family has been mostly positive and kind to us, even though divorce is taboo in my parents’ culture as a whole. I do not resent the side of my family that turned their backs on us, because I know we did nothing to deserve it. I will always care about my cousins regardless of their parents’ feelings and attitudes, and know I have at least one aunt from my paternal branch who is sympathetic to my mother's difficult situation to some degree.

My friends have been very supportive, even those who come from cultures, religious backgrounds, and family structures that look down on divorce. They continue to show my family and me unconditional support and good will, and know when to dish out the constructive criticism I need if I find myself regressing rather than progressing in my life. I feel lucky, because I know there are too many people in the world who do not have enough emotional support during the most difficult periods in their lives, and feel isolated and in despair as a result.

Have you been shocked when family and/or friends shunned you during the worst times in your life? If so, how did you handle the situation?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What We Remember

I opened Facebook today and at least half of my news feed started with "11 years ago today..." Almost all of those status updates are from people who were in college or school in New York 11 years ago today. There are also a handful of simple "I'll never forget" status updates, mostly from people who weren't here at the time. It may be a fluke limited to my Facebook friends, but it made me wonder what the difference is between our experiences.

I imagine that the "never forget" refrain is a given for those of us who were in New York when it happened and are still here now, because there is no way to forget. We remember it all the time: when we're in the Financial District or anywhere nearby, when we're in any part of the city with a clear view of the Freedom Tower, when we talk about the origin of the Tribeca Film Festival or the River to River Festival or a similar event...

But today, we remember the specifics.

Those "11 years ago today..." statuses talk about what class or period they were in when it happened or, for those who are older, what part of their commute they were on or what meeting they were getting ready for. Our memories are full of disruption, feeling disconnected, and a whole lot of waiting. Schools were on lockdown and you had to be signed out by a parent but it was hard to get in touch with your parents and all you could do was wait. If you made it out of school and weren't within walking distance, you were in for an incredibly long commute home as you noticed the rest of the city was also at a standstill... more waiting.

We remember relief when a classmate got through to his sister and found out she hadn't made it to the office yet. We remember the west wing of the cafeteria being closed off but still being able to see the smoke in the air. We remember our commute the next day and the gaping hole in the skyline. We remember how quiet and empty everything was the next day.

It's not that this day means more to us but the more time that passes, the more I notice that it definitely means something different. At some point today, when we close our eyes, we'll see or hear or smell something in this city so vividly that we'll feel 11 years ago is today. "Never forget" seems a waste of words after that.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good Morning, Miami

This fall I am off on a brand new adventure! Most of you know, I am an author of books for young adults. I have two pieces of exciting news to report this week:

First, my fourth novel was published! FIRE IN THE STREETS was released a week ago, and it is my pleasure to post the book jacket for everyone to see. You can read more about the book HERE.

Second, this summer I was selected to be the 2012 YA Writer-in-Residence for the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Miami, Florida. I will be in Miami for the fall, teaching a writing workshop for teen writers. So I guess you can call me a Floridian for the next few months!

Since I'm just getting the hang of things here in Florida, I don't have a full post for CHICKS ROCK! today, but I just wanted to let everyone know what I am up to.

That's what's new with me...What's new with you?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

An Apple for the Teacher

The following was originally posted on September 6, 2011 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. 

I am not a teacher but an awakener. ~ Robert Frost

The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth. ~ Dan Rather

Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher. ~ Japanese proverb

It’s that time of year when notebooks and knapsacks abound and all sorts of new beginnings and nerves are in the air, bringing with it the possibilities and excitement that arrive with the start of an academic year.  Whether or not you find yourself in an actual classroom this Fall, we are all students in this school called Life, which means that anyone and any situation can be our teacher, and education can come in all shapes and forms.

It is often those who are closest to us who teach us the exact lessons we never knew we needed (or wanted) to learn - either directly, like my six year old niece, who in her own words very calmly told my brother she wished he hadn’t found the prescription sunglasses he lost for the umpteenth time because he needed to learn to pay better attention to his personal possessions and the harsher consequences of their non-recovery; or indirectly, like a co-worker, friend or family member who likes to talk a lot forces you to be a better listener, have more patience and/or set boundaries.

Whatever ‘class’ you are in, sometimes you must first fail miserably in order to then pass with flying colors, because we can’t learn a thing without making a few mistakes, a little trial and error to perfect that which we need to master…  Hopefully you can figure out that the experience itself was the teacher, or have someone around to help  glean what you need to learn and grow as a result.  The good news is that you will never repeat a ‘class’ when you’ve truly learned the lesson the hard way,  and if you’re lucky, sometimes you can even have a teacher who helps you skip several grades.

Whether you think like Pink Floyd or feel like Lauryn Hill,  learning is a lifelong process and everything serves its purpose in the bigger picture for you to graduate at the end of your life with honors.

So this September be grateful for all those amazing teachers you’ve had both inside the classroom and out.  Thank the role models, mentors and instructors who serve as great examples of achievement and inspiration as well as the challenging bosses, employees and clients, the bullies and mean girls, the tough coach, your current or ex boy/girlfriend/partner/spouse, your pain in the neck big or little brother or sister; anyone who gave you a hard time, and especially those difficult ‘tests’ you endured because they, too, helped form your character, and are all opportunities to make you a better you.

Need to repeat (or stop repeating) a few classes or get a little tutoring to bring you closer to the grade you deserve?  Give me a buzz and I’ll be sure you get a gold star or A+ on that project, because you can make you can make your life much closer to a 4.0 than you could ever imagine!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Battling The September Blues

Every year after Labor Day weekend, I usually feel somewhat let down. Summer is unofficially over, and soon the days will be shorter and colder. The school traffic across the street from my mother’s house takes over the area between 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM, with unscrupulous drivers double parking and blocking driveways during these times. This shift from summer to fall is the most uncomfortable for me, but I do find different coping mechanisms that help me make the transition easier.

First, I always try to make time outdoors. The problem I face sometimes is when I go to work in the morning and leave in the late afternoon/evening hours, when the sun is set or on its way to setting for the day. This dampens my mood, as I am sure it does for others. So I always try to spend a little time outdoors, whether it means leaving earlier, or getting off the bus, train or subway a stop or two before my intended destination so I can take in a little sun on good weather days.

Exercise really does help get me going too. When I do exercise, I always feel elated for the rest of the day. It must be the endorphins that are released during physical activity, which I find generate positive feelings within me. I freely admit that making exercise a part of my daily routine is challenging, but when I do it really boosts my physical and emotional health.

Finally, I think my eating habits also help me deal with the change of seasons in a much more productive way. I find that buying local and seasonal produce more often assists me in getting used to the changes in the days and the weather from summer to fall. For example, if I find apples from Chile versus apples from Northeastern U.S., I will always choose those from the latter category.

How do you deal with the change in seasons?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Labor Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I was going to write a bit about why, but it turns out I've already posted about it several times before: for instance, in 2009 and 2011.

All I have to add is this: when Labor Day passes, that signals the end of summer. Not just for me, but for the country as a whole, it seems. Regardless of the weather, come September it means putting away carefree summer attitudes and getting down to business. Back to life, back to reality, as the song goes.

We've had a great summer here at CHICKS ROCK! We hope you've enjoyed our Summer Retrospective, which included reruns of some of our favorite past posts. It's been fun for us to take a little look back at the past few years of our individual lives, and the life of this blog.

If you want to check out more past posts, you can always dip into our blog archives; if you're new to the blog it's a great way to get to know all of us better. If you've been reading us for a while, it's a nice trip down memory lane!

This fall, we'll be posting new content on Mondays through Fridays. And we want to hear from YOU! We love comments, guest posts, and all kinds of input that help us make this blog a conversation.


Friday, August 31, 2012


We're headed into a three-day weekend. What are your plans for Labor day?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

How Did You Spend Your Summer?

Even though summer officially ends Friday, September 21, most of us see Labor Day weekend as the beginning of the end of the season, especially those who are headed back to school. So as we start to say goodbye to the long hot days, we would love for you to share some of your summer experiences. Did you travel, and if so where to? Do you have some good staycation stories to share instead? Was this summer better or worse than last year's?

If you are interested in sharing your memories and thoughts, please check out our guidelines and submit a post. We look forward to your contributions!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Looking Back At High School*

This piece was originally posted on February 15, 2012. It is being re-posted as part of our CHICKS ROCK! Summer Retrospective, during which we will post a combination of new content and posts from the past. Enjoy!

I just received notification from the high school I graduated from regarding an alumni publication, requesting information and photos of me to include in it. I usually ignore most mail I get from the school, but I actually thought of calling the phone number provided and telling them to remove any mention of me. Why? Because my high school experience was not a good one, and it did not help that my parents paid good money for me to attend the institution. My elementary and middle school experiences were far worse than those I had in high school, but I did expect more from the latter, especially since my tuition increased every year while the quality of my education decreased. Most of my teachers were mediocre at best, with the exception of one who made me look forward to college.

The harsh treatment of the school administration towards my class during our senior year was what made me decide to never have anything to do with the school after graduation. The principal at the time decided to punish us for the bad behavior of the previous senior class, which led to deep resentments; it was as if a black cloud loomed over us until we graduated. I even remember that many people did not go to prom that year, and I was one of them.

Because my academic experiences before my undergraduate education were sorely lacking, I appreciate good teachers and school administrators even more, whether they are found in public and private schools. I started loving education when I went to college, because I met more educators who knew how to teach, and took classes that were both difficult and interesting at the same time. I really felt like a butterfly that had been a caterpillar for far too long before then.

I may just ignore the notification from my former high school in protest of the bad education I received from them. Perhaps that is best.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TWM's Summer 2012 eNewsletter

If you're not already on our mailing list, we thought we'd share our latest enewsletter with you here.  Please click here for the full version.

Well, hello there!  We hope you are enjoying the summer and making the most of the transformative opportunities this year has presented. It's been a while since you've heard from us, and we thought that doing so on the tail of the XXX Olympiad and right before UN Humanitarian Day and Women's Equality Day was as good a time as any!

Since completing our 10 year anniversary with our celebration last July, we've been in transition deciding what we want the next decade of our existence to look like. In the meantime, we've offered three Visioning Workshops and continue to interact with you on a virtual basis via CHICKS ROCK!, Facebook and Twitter, so be sure you are connected with us there.

When we started TWM in January of 2001, the world was a very  different place. It was pre-9/11, there were still plenty of people without email or cell phones, and the majority of women's organizations were only profession, ethnic or issue specific.  We set out to encompass and embrace all that a woman could be, discovering her own identity by connecting with, learning about and being inspired by the diversity of women around her - and we produced over 100 unique events to help make that happen.

We've come a long way in terms of women's leadership, organizations that have since been created and the more mainstream understanding and hardcore research demonstrating that the empowerment of women and girls are key to making the world a better place. In other words, it's now common knowledge that when women and girls benefit, the entire planet does. It's very rewarding to know that we were a grass-roots part of that effort!

So having accomplished much of what we set out to do, yet knowing there is much more work to be done, we wanted to ask you: going forward, what is it that you would like to see TWM do more or less of?  What kind of programs do you want to participate in, on or off-line experiences you would like to have and existing needs we might be able to fill?  Send us your suggestions, feedback and comments via email or on Facebook.

Until then, we hope to see you at our upcoming workshops and we'll be sharing some video clips of relevant past events with TWM Flashbacks both here and in emails to come. If you're new to TWM, there are plenty of links in this newsletter to catch up on what we've been up to thus far. 

And last, but certainly not least, if you've been on this journey with us especially as a TWM Member or donor- THANK YOU!  We wouldn't be here without 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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