A Week I’ll Remember

This past week has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. I feel full, inspired, and ready to try to integrate these experiences aka make sense of the madness. IMG_3053 Saturday I attended a fundraiser hosted by Haymarket’s People Fund for Community Change. The community conversation led by longtime anti-racism activist and author Tim Wise and Haymarket People’s Fund Executive Director Karla Nicholson focused on the recent lack of indictments, the Black Lives Matters movement and the impact of these events on the anti-racism community. I was drawn to the event because Tim Wise was my introduction to antiracism work (heard him speak my first semester of college at Mount Holyoke). The highlight for me was getting to talk to an inspiring Smith alumnae, currently Director of Client Services at Project Place.  I’m looking forward to meeting with her next month to learn more about her awesome work! Also, I loved Tim’s perspective on the importance of remembering that mistakes are part of organizing and activists and leaders should be supporting young people leading this movement. Monday was Martin Luther King Day. I participated in a protest against police brutality, mass incarceration, etc. Out of the 4 other protests I’ve been to this Fall, this one had the most children and most energy of solidarity, and the most inspiring speakers. I learned Samuel Jackon’s I Can’t Breathe Song, which gave me chills. Cassandra Bensahih, Community Organizer from EPOCA , was one of the speakers and it was amazing to learn about her organization’s work. Friday, I finally made it to an organizing meeting. I can’t believe they keep scheduling them on Friday evenings. Still, there seemed to be a great turnout (over 100 people). I left at 9:30PM and most people were still there! The setup was thoughtful and I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a segment on self care for activists! I so appreciated the question posed to the crowd: What can we do to make the movement inclusive to ALL people? As I headed to my car from this meeting, I was struck by the fact that I was literally walking around and between sleeping bodies who did not have a warm bed to go home to. My thoughts began wandering from short term solutions to anger. How could our society allow this to happen? How do we justify this? How do we look away and become numb to these human beings without family, without jobs, without beds to sleep in. IMG_3055 Rewind to Tuesday evening- it was the first Girls Empowerment (waiting for the girls to give us a better name!) group. This is something I’ve been planning and talking about for over a year now. I attended multiple trainings last year that fueled my passion for group work with teen girls and finally the opportunity arrived.The experience of getting the group started reminded me how patience and persistence pays off. I believe whole heartedly in the power of groups to transform us- and I couldn’t be more excited to create and hold space for these beautiful young women. I have no doubt these girls will change my life, in fact, in a week’s time, they already have.

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The next night, I joined two of my colleagues at Wayside for a panel and screening of A Path Appears. Despite some anxiety about being on a wait list, it all worked out. I was blown away by the documentary clip (focused on anti trafficking work in Boston) and can’t wait to see the rest on PBS. There was a huge acknowledgement of the real heroes of the story (not Nick Kristoff, the film producers, the celebrities, the nonprofit, etc. )—but the women who chose to share their story in the documentary simply for the sake of helping others. I was elated to learn Becca Steven’s Thistle Farms social enterprise is one of the select few organizations featured in the film because of their effectiveness in this issue. Can you BELIEVE the average age of girls who are trafficked in the US is 12-14?! My Life, My Choice (Boston NGO) begins their prevention work in middle schools. TUNE IN TONIGHT 10PM ON PBS.  Then this weekend I received tragic news about one of the families I’ve been working with over the past several months. I won’t be able to go on here due to confidentiality concerns. As you can imagine, I was tired after such an intense and full week. I was grateful to have planned an overnight with one of my closest friends. We snow-shoed, relaxed in a sauna & whirlpool, met an interesting social worker on a beach, cried, tried some delicious beverage with my mother, watched Broad City, cooked an insanely delicious salad for our friend’s housewarming/birthday party. I am definitely looking forward to this blizzard and getting to enjoy a quieter week since I’m ready to hibernate the rest of Winter! On a lighter note, I recently started dating again as an adult for the first time and these are my findings. 10407218_3426649820175_1425560900590800704_n

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Holiday Update Grateful to know you!

As 2014 is coming to an end, I’d like to share a little bit about what’s happened for me this year and also share a bit of what I’m envisioning for 2015!

I’m more inspired than ever to work with young adults who are seeking meaningful work and internship opportunities to help them discover their life’s purpose. If I can be of help to you or anyone you know, please contact me for a free consultation!

It’s hard to believe that one year ago I was transitioning from my job at Planned Parenthood into a consultant, coach, and clinician-in training! I was scared to take the risk of leaving something good for the unknown. This past year has been challenging and transformational – I couldn’t have gotten through it without encouragement from all of you who I’ve met along the way.

Below are some of the amazing things that I experienced in 2014:

I moved in with 3 wonderful strangers-turned-friends in Boston for my first grad school internship at Wayside Youth & Family. Everyday I work with compassionate clinicians and resilient youth who remind me the value in being present and being seen.

Looking to 2015, I am excited for what’s ahead!

  • Facilitating aVOICES/”Healthy Relationships Begin With Us” girls group
  • Completing my 2/3 summer at Smith School for Social Work
  • Developing a thesis (Have any suggestions for topics?)
  • Hoping to study with Joan Roshi Halifax at the Upaya Zen Center (Know anyone in Santa Fe, New Mexico?!)

So, with deep gratitude, my wish for you is that your holiday and 2015 are filled with new adventures, joy, inspiration, and strength.

With appreciation,

Jocelyn Schur

Women’s Leadership: Our Worlds, Our Questions

Omega Women’s Leadership Intensive September 2013

Who are we?

Empty nesters; mothers; Wellness practitioner, inventor; Quality Assurance Supervisor for a large Biotechnolgy firm; passionate about developing people; Masters in Mental Health Counseling; Women’s health Nurse Practitioner; Vice President at a small educational assessment/evaluation company; mid-life; married; teacher; daughter, granddaughter, sister and friend “with a life full of all the chaos and wonder that follows those relationships”; department head at a global asset management company; Registered dietitian and licensed clinical social worker; professional vocalist in the United States Army Band; children’s minister in an Episcopal church; at a turning-point; single; financially independent; Executive Media Director for Geometry Global an advertising agency; foster dog mom; graphic designer at an Engineering company; musician, songwriter, instrumentalist, dancer and video artist; Director of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union; professor, author, poet, owner of insurance agency, life coach; board member; Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Creative Group; student of life; yoga teacher; fundraiser; Dean of The School of Entrepreneurship at Endicott College; President of local Rotary Club; performer

What are our most compelling leadership concerns and questions?

-How to interact with people in positions of power that are stuck in their ego and not truly wanting to hear what you have to say.

-I feel like an imposter – “who am I to think I can lead?”  I need help figuring out how to move beyond this so that I can share my talents and expertise.

-I am constantly challenged to find (and stay true to) my voice as a leader amongst the other the leaders in my organization who are all older males and tend to lead and manage through ego.

-Concerns include stepping out, being seen, playing small. Currently working through finding my way to be open enough to connect with people on a deeper level; helping them work through their own fears and discomfort, and the recognition that I need to face my own as well.

– I am wondering what I do that inadvertently diminishes those around me.  Where are my blind spots?  How can I provide leadership in a way that helps others to find their own solutions? What are the unknown fears that I have that keep me from doing what I am called to do?

-In my business collaborations with others, tending to my own needs while also honoring others’ needs is not always easy.

-My livelihood currently depends on the successful navigation of a culture that is traditionally hyper-masculine and often lacks awareness for the experiences of women. The Army needs change and strong women to guide that change. But can an organization that exists to engage in conflict be, for me, a place in which compassion and creativity are honored? Is there any hope that an organization like the US Army could become a training ground for peace-loving ambassadors? If yes, how does this low-ranking enlisted musician create that kind of change? Or, is it time to plant seeds elsewhere?

– How to be more confident and firm in my beliefs so that I speak up and find my voice versus being intimidated?  How do I effectively use my power and spend less time caring what others think of me and my decisions?

-My concern is a popular tendency to view men and women as innately different with respect to attitudes and behaviors. Women innately know how to love while men innately know how to lead (and other widely accepted feminine vs. masculine traits). How can we ever objectively determine how much of this behavior is learned rather than innate when the very tools we use to make the determination (such as the language we use to think and speak) are already steeped in the patriarchy that created this dichotomy? By supporting this idea of innate qualities based on a fetus’s sex, I fear that we are doing each other a terrible disservice: stunting man’s right and capacity to experience and express love from infancy and woman’s right and capacity to develop to her fullest, her mind, body, and spirit. I believe that we, as women, have so much to offer in constructing a new power paradigm because we know better than men what it’s like to be excluded, abject, invisible. As a result, we have a wider range of experiences from which to draw our skills and our vision.

-How do I stay true to the work and people for which I am responsible while answering the call of others beyond my department? How do I honor my values and be open to the perspectives and values of others?  How do I bring “me” to my job every day.

-How do I grow my self esteem and confidence to help me handle the challenges that come with being a leader, including fear of being alone and rejected?

-What does being a leader have to do with having a parter and being in an intimate relationship?

-I worry that I often push them to take on more than they can easily handle and that we all work harder and many more hours than may be healthy for the long-term.

-Developing methods/techniques for holding people accountable.

-What are some practices that can help me discover and become more fully in touch with my own feminine power?

Do you currently have any mind/body/spirit practices such as meditation or yoga? 

-Svroopa yoga daily and meditation daily. As well as Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT formerly Seemorg Matrix work) sessions weekly with routine homework.

-I practice yin yoga twice weekly and do walking or seated meditations daily.  I also listen to and practice the teachings of Eckhart Tolle.

-I practice yoga regularly (3-5 times per week) and teach one yoga class a week as well.

-Juicing, journaling, prayer, walking meditation, body flow.

-I practice different types of meditation for the relief of anxiety and unease. Singing meditation. I sometimes write my own mantras and chants that speak to the needs of the particular situation I’m entering. When I’m experiencing feelings of shame, I find guided meditations and deep breathing to be soothing and centering. I occasionally practice yoga.

-I use a deck of oracle cards first thing in the morning to bring myself into the day, and mediate along with Susan Piver’s open heart project blog two or three times a week.  My exercise is mostly gym work two or three times a week, but I find all these things contribute to helping me be whole and present in my body, as I’m extremely prone to living in my head.

-Consistenty I do a morning routine of stretching, tai chi and some yoga postures as well as breathing.  I love to fit in meditation.

-I started doing yoga about 3 years ago and it has become an important part of my life. I’ve always engaged in a certain type of meditation, which for me takes the form of “just being”. I enter into this state in several ways. At church as a child (I was raised Catholic) I would attempt to count the massive organ pipes, which was a surefire way to produce that soft, blurred stare that then begins to turn inward. Or I find myself repeating a phrase (often nonsensical) over and over and then realize I missed my stop again on the metro because I had lost track of time and space. Or I focus on an object and allow it to draw me out of myself and into it (although I tend to use this at times when I’m afraid and feel the need to “not be”). Or I sit outside in a natural setting and simply become a part of it. I also find great joy and even a boost in confidence from Zumba, dance exercise.

-I meditate pretty regularly and have cultivated a yoga practice on and off for the past 10 years.

-I practice meditation a few times a week and take dance classes which contain some yoga.

-I plan to create a weekly schedule of yoga and bodywork with a personal trainer this fall.  I also engage in yoga, meditation and self-massage at home in Brooklyn.

-I have an active yoga practice. I am also an Intuitive Tools student of Gayle Myers, M.D. and am beginning a clairvoyant class in November.

-I love to do yoga, meditate, dance, pray, walk and talk with the trees, do qi gong, reflect, swim, bask in nature.

-I have had a committed mindfulness practice for over eighteen months, and have been practicing metta as taught by Sharon Salzberg for the past 9 months.  I came to this practice through Dr’s. Marsha Linehan, Blaise Aguirre and Gillian Galen.  I am a patient of Dr. Galen’s and do Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) with her.  She introduced mindfulness and yoga as part of my treatment.  I can honestly say that my daily mindfulness practice has literally changed and saved my life!

What drew you to the Leadership Intensive?

-I want learn from and be part of a new Feminine power.

-In the midst of my own transition, I asked for support and guidance and this class showed up for me. It spoke to the place I was in and provided the right focus for my thoughts. There are a lot of endings in my life right now, together with all of the feeling and emotion that accompany deep loss. And yet, in the midst of this, creativity, birthing, and opportunity are present as well. I want to be clear on my intentions with what is being created, but also open to surrendering, honoring, and releasing what needs to go.

-I thirst for resources that will help me connect to my gifts and that will give me new ideas for how to lead others.

-I work in an organization that has been led by men for 40+ years and women are rising in leadership roles for the first time.  How to blend the masculine and feminine in our workplace is a current struggle and I hope to learn how to have an impact using “power with.”

-A growing sense of frustration at gender issues, exacerbated by living in a small place with more ingrained sexism than I’d expected.

-To help develop a stronger voice for myself. I can engage productively in one-on-one conversations, but once I am in a group setting I lose confidence in my ability to speak at all. It’s possible these two goals may contradict each other (being so stressed in a group setting that I am immune to the positive energy surrounding me, and thus unable to profit by it), but I hope I will (dare to) discover otherwise.

-I am interested in expanding my management and leadership skills and doing so in a way that balances my interests in mind-body-spirit with my work life.

Grateful for the inspiration and support from my community of amazing women.

     In September 2013 I packed for an unknown voyage. My relationship was in question and I had just left a great job that seemed perfect for me on paper. In reality, I had lost sight of who I was without the relationship, the apartment, the job, the external signs that I was moving forward in my life. For many of us, the Omega Women’s Leadership Intensive became our “before” and “after.” Returning to the Omega Institute for a week felt like the next right thing. I knew the organizers and trusted they were creating something magical. For weeks I contemplated whether it made sense to quit my job before or after this weeklong workshop. I could never have dreamed up this convention of powerful women. I was feeling really down, I couldn’t comprehend how I had been invited to join this sacred circle. I had a case of imposter syndrome-there must have been a mistake, I insecurely thought.
     This week at Omega reignited my passion and hunger for all that makes me come alive. The adventures and risks I took in the 6 months following this experience have been invaluable to me. But this piece is a reflection, and a Thank You to those women who continue to give me so much.
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What I took with me on my journey:

A robust support system of women whose faith in me would sustain me in the years to come
An understanding of how to set goals, hold myself accountable, and integrate my personal and professional visions
Friendship and mentors
The profound experience of sisterhood
How shall we live?
Singing, coaching, heart centered, running, partnering, speaking out, raising children, running for office, dancing, feeling, leading, creating, advocating, shifting office cultures, taking care of ourselves, hugging, renewing vows, executing our own visions, writing, yoga, integrating, collaborating, volunteering, laughing, directing, healing.
Some comments from the circle that stayed with me:
I’m learning to accept support.
My daughter in my mirror. I want to be present and engaged.
I want to have more dance parties with my son.
I want to know it feels like to see myself as beautiful.
If I start practicing self-care, I know it will trickle down to everyone else. I want to shift the culture at work.
I want to bring mindfulness, love and kindness to organizations-this should be a priority.
I’m writing a book dedicated to women that suffer.
My hands have touched so many women at critical moments.
OWL Intensive has been a womb.
I want to heal myself.
I want to create a sexual healing center to help women tell their stories.
When you realize your power, you are dangerous.
People feel safe with how you are. When you change, they become afraid.
I am so vast that I contradict myself.
This video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsFha77l3RY&feature=youtu.be (2.40 seconds for young girl dancing)
Together we dreamed of the worlds we wish to live in, we cried, we danced, we hugged, we hula hooped, ate ice-cream, played music, and believed in each other’s visions.
I learned to lead from my vision, not my agenda. I learned that even in a world where bios and profiles are easily accessible, it’s better not to know superficial details for authentic connections to thrive. I learned the difference between being at home and feeling at home in your body. I arrived depleted and feeling undeserving and left with ideas and energy that helped me take big steps including starting coaching people through transitions, fundraising and social media consulting, and beginning a clinical social work masters program. One of the most exciting “takeaways” was meeting other women who shared similar visions who I could collaborate with in the years to come.
Since the intensive in 2013, I think of this sacred circle often and draw strength from their inspiring lives and ongoing encouragement. Since the Intensive, I’ve seen many of these women, in their homes, planning conferences, presenting their visions to the world, and they are truly memories I cherish. I look forward to many many more!
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    This holiday, I danced with my mother on the beach beneath the moonlight. With live steel pan drumming, I let go of the self-consciousness that contains me day in and day out. I mirrored my mother and she mirrored me. In that moment, I felt wild and free. After, we walked onto the dock where a young Trinidadian couple were sharing a romantic evening. The man commented that his date was admiring us dancing out there. I left hysterically, unable to believe someone would admire our ridiculous dance moves. I realized it wasn’t our dancing she admired, it was our courage to dance. I wish courage for every being out there–to dance their bliss, sing their song, and feel wild, free, and at home in their body.
*Photo Credit to the magnificent Julie Gelfand