I’ve Been Thinking
This quote has always been one of my favorites. It’s one that has always made me laugh and think. And since March is Women’s History Month, I’ve been thinking about her words a lot more these past few days.
I’ve been thinking about all of the trailblazing women who got us here, as well as the women who inspire us to keep moving forward. I’ve been thinking about trailblazers like my mother, who was a woman who refused to be put in a box. She was a woman who loved to hang with the boys, wear men’s clothing, smoke cigars and push boundaries.
I grew up with four brothers who were raised to treat me like one of the boys. My mother said it was good for me because I was going out into a man’s world.
I’m grateful for my mother, who charted her own course in every way and gave me the opportunity to do the same. I’m grateful for every woman who pushed before me.
I’m grateful for the women I was able to honor with a Minerva Award during my time as First Lady of California. Some were women who you already know, but others were everyday women doing extraordinary work on the frontlines of humanity. They have all accomplished great things, and their work has inspired countless others to do the same. I encourage you to watch our videos of their inspiring stories.
The truth is, every woman today stands on the shoulders of someone who pushed before her. My daughters’ generation has opportunities and choices that my generation didn’t. My generation had opportunities and choices that were unimaginable to my mother’s generation.
And so on.
Feminine power is available to every woman because power starts within. You don’t have to act like a guy, talk like a guy, or dress like a guy to be powerful. You have to talk, act, dress, and think like the person that you are.
It’s not a man’s world. It’s our world, and it’s ours to go make better.
So as we head into March, focus your mind on what is, not on what was. Focus your mind and your heart on your mission, your purpose, and your passion.
My friend Angie Johnsey – a healer and mind-reboot specialist – has helped me focus my mind.
When I started this year, I wrote about all of the things I wanted to burn, bury and stop bitching about this year. Now, here we are on the first Sunday of March and I’m embarrassed to admit that my list hasn’t been cleared. Angie has been helping me tackle my resolutions and clear my mind. Her advice has been so helpful that I thought, why not share her perspective with all of you? (You’ll find it below.)
After all, spring is around the corner, so it’s just the right time to make ourselves greater in mind, body and spirit. Then, when we need to use our voices to move humanity forward, we’ll be able to do it from a de-cluttered place. We’ll be able to do it from a place of certainty, calm and confidence.
Now more than ever, if you want to step out or step forward, you better be ready. Confidence is critical. Fear has no place. The judgmental voice has got to go. And you best be clear about your mission. Missions have got to be bigger than you; otherwise, it’s just not worth the arrows that will get thrown your way.
And remember, if you want to make history, you’re going to have to be bold. You’re going to have to be brave. And, you’re going to have to break more than a few rules.
You’re going to need someone like Angie to help you stay focused, someone like my friend Nadine to help keep things in perspective and make you laugh, and a family like the one I have to keep you grounded and feeling loved. You’re also going to need a whole tribe of others – like Betty, Jenny, Barbara, Katrina, Kristen and the women of Seneca Falls – to keep you inspired as you move forward. (I hope you enjoy learning more about all of them below.)
Rule breakers, this month is for you. You better be ready!
P.S. After I wrote this, I read this week’s New York Times Modern Love column. I cried for awhile, then I put myself in a time-out. What in the name of God, Maria, do you have to be been bitching about this year? Again, perspective is everything. This made me recall my mother’s words. Whenever I tried to complain to her about anything, she would say to me: “I don’t want to hear a yip out of you. Get out there and get something done in the world. Go make the world better.” So, in my mother’s words, no more yips out of you or out of me. Let’s just get out there and go make the world better.
In recognition of Women’s History Month, we here at The Sunday Paper want to use this space throughout the month to honor incredible women who are using their voices, their hearts and their minds to Move Humanity Forward.
This week, we honor Betty LaMarr as our Architect of Change of the Week. Betty is the founder of the EmpowHer Institute, an LA-based organization that is helping marginalized teen girls stay in school so that they can be empowered to seek fulfilling and productive lives.
In a city where an astounding 43% of African American students and 34% of Hispanic students do not graduate high school, Betty is inspiring these young women to work against the odds and turn their adversity into opportunity.
1. I was once that rebellious 13-year-old girl, living in Compton, CA, with my grandparents and with no idea what my future would hold. Finding myself pregnant at my high school graduation and forced to get married, that was the seed to EmpowHer. By the time I was 19, I was a divorced single mom with a high school diploma and a 2-year-old that I had to raise alone. However, EmpowHer did not come to fruition until I turned my adversity into opportunity and went back to school, graduated college as the first in my family and joined corporate America as another first for my family.
2. I left my corporate job and moved to South Africa for four years. Apartheid had just ended and Nelson Mandela had been elected. I wanted to be part of the hope. Despite the optimism in South Africa, I sensed the helplessness and vulnerability from communities. This insight helped define my new mission back in the states: to make sure that girls like me – the girls living in marginalized communities, the rebellious ones – have the opportunity to make the best of their lives. The result is EmpowHer Institute.
3. By teaching a girl a sense of self-worth and self-confidence, providing a mentor who serves as a caring adult, she improves her chances of not dropping out due to teen pregnancy by 98%! Do not let your circumstances define your destiny. Even if you face obstacles, stay focused on your goal, obstacles are lessons along the way. Persist!
FEMALE ARTISTS WHOSE WORDS MAKE YOU THINK
I’ve always been a big fan of words. The written word. The spoken word. Poetry. Prose. You name it. I like the way words move us. I like the way they make us think, the way they make us feel, and the way they challenge our perceptions.
I’m a huge fan of Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger, two female artists who have famously used words to make not just art, but statements as well. I’m the proud owner of Jenny’s work below, “I Feel You.” I remember so well the first time I saw it. It stopped me in my tracks. And Barbara Kruger. Let’s just say I hope to be an owner of a piece of her art at some point in the future. For now, I’m just a fan.
These women, and so many like them, deserve our attention. They change our landscape emotionally, politically and personally. I hope you enjoy their work.
Jenny Holzer has made her name by projecting words and ideas in public spaces. This particular piece is part of a series of three projections she did in San Diego in 2007. See more of Jenny’s work here.
Barbara Kruger is best-known for pairing found photos with assertive statements. Much of her work challenges ideas about politics, identity, and gender, like the piece on femininity above. See more of Barbara’s work here.
*Note: A piece previously published here was incorrectly attributed to Barbara Kruger. We apologize for the error.
STORIES TO PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
3 Tips For a Stress-Free State of Mind
My first goal was to bury the critical voice in my head. Angie developed three steps for how to conquer this negative energy and reduce the mental strain it causes.
“10 Things I Learned About Life on Oscar Sunday”
After the big mix-up at the end of the Oscars last Sunday, Nadine sent me these amusing thoughts. Her emails bring me joy on a daily basis. This one, like the others, made me laugh and think.
SOMETHING TO WATCH
A Close-Up Look at Life on the Brink of Poverty
In 2014, we released The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back, a comprehensive report that uncovered the startling fact that 1 out of every 3 women in America lives below, or on the brink of, the poverty line. Check out some of the report’s most important findings in our “She’s The One” video.
We also produced the award-winning HBO documentary Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert to drive home the point that there are faces behind these statistics.
At the time, Katrina was a single mom of three living paycheck to paycheck in Chattanooga, TN. Today, she is happily married and about to graduate from college with two degrees. Her dream? To work in film and TV.
“I’m working on my last two classes, I just ordered my cap and gown, and I did it all in two years,” she said. “It’s been hard, but my husband has supported me and we’re doing so good. I’m just so excited and so proud.”
A Spotlight on Real Women Doing Real Things
incredible women of her generation who are using their talent, their drive and their creativity to move humanity forward. Katherine calls her series “Real Women Doing Real Things.” In honor of Women’s History Month, we thought it was worth sharing here with you in The Sunday Paper as well.
Katherine’s latest column shined the spotlight on Kristen Turner, a lifestyle blogger and the founder of The Good Girl Almighty. The Good Girl Almighty is an LA-based social club that connects local young women with charitable organizations looking for volunteers. Kristen said that during a period of so much divisiveness, she created The Good Girl Almighty “to reestablish a sisterhood with the purpose of making a difference in the community through volunteering.”
SOMETHING TO REMEMBER
Seneca Falls, 1848: Where the Women’s Movement Began
Finally, as we also look ahead to International Women’s Day – a day that calls for equal rights for women around the globe – may we recommend taking a moment to learn more about where the movement for women’s rights began here in America.
The Seneca Falls Convention was the first women’s rights convention in the U.S. Held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY, the convention was organized by abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and convened over 200 women to “discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women.” Today, the site is maintained by the National Parks Service and is a tribute to the origin of women’s rights.
READ: “The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions”
Modeled after the Declaration of Independence, this treatise was read by Stanton and called upon women to organize and petition.
REFLECTION: YOUR SUNDAY SPACE
Each week, we invite you to share with us a picture of your peaceful place. We recognize that Sunday is not like any other day of the week, and as such, we want to get a glimpse into the places where you go to reflect, gain perspective and get centered.
This week, we share reader Josef Geisberger’s Sunday Space, which is across the pond in Munich, Germany. Josef says he likes to spend time with friends on Sundays in Munich’s public park, the Englischer Garten.
We want to see where you spend your Sundays reading The Sunday Paper. Email your photos to email@example.com.
JOIN US THIS WEEK
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THE SUNDAY PAPER TAGLINE:
We send a big thanks to all of you who voted and wrote in last week to weigh in on the tagline for The Sunday Paper. This is an ongoing process, and it’s one we want to continue to involve you in as we go along.
Our current tagline – “Moving Humanity Forward” – garnered the most votes in our poll, but several of you suggested we drop “humanity” and replace it with “us.” Do others of you agree with that?
Below are some of the ones we have narrowed down. We encourage you to weigh in on these as well and write us with your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHICH OF THESE TAGLINES DO YOU LIKE BEST?
1) Moving Us Forward
2) Moving Humanity Forward
3) A Positive Perspective to Power Us Forward
4) A Paper That Informs, Inspires and Connects Us
5) Strong Voices to Uplift, Unite & Inspire
A THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK AHEAD