Protected: “Every woman was said to have her own Juno; seek its council, and live up to its sacred destiny.”

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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

5 Favorites from Womensphere Global Summit 2014

A bit of time has passed since I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 5th Annual Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit 2014 in NYC. It’s never too late to share reflections and inspiration, so I’d like to revisit five favorites from Womensphere.

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  1. Lead by being different.

Men and women are different as leaders. Whether the presenters were discussing a new model of leadership, online media presence, or transforming pain to power-the consensus was clear: It is our differences that make us powerful. Define your own voice and the way it’s being heard. YK Hong, Multi-media visual artist & fashion designer, reminded us that “We are the architect of our own brand.” In my work with emerging leaders, I’m applying my learnings from the Summit and teaching youth to effectively utilize social media. This means building their networks, making connections, and sharing their values with the world. Technology has broken down barriers to communication and has empowered young people to “DIY” and become experts in anything! I ask my high school and college students: What does your profile say about you? How does your Linked In profile appear to employers? What messages do your tweets send to the world?

2. Numbers matter. As numbers change, policies will change. Diversify your friends, staff, life!

Multiple presenters urged women to consider running for office. Victoria Budson, Executive Director of the Women & Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School of Government shared that more women in executive positions will impact women’s issues, specifically women suffering for leaving workforce to have children. On the subject of diversifying your life, Diane Brady, Senior Editor of Bloomberg Business Week, suggested that people should be forced to travel abroad, and she quotes “Comfort the conflicted. conflict the uncomfortable.”

3. Passion and purpose are more important than balance. Most women don’t have a choice.

As we continue with the age old work/life balance debate, it’s important to be reminded of the big picture. Between Yasmine Ergas, Associate Director at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights Director at Columbia University, sharing statistics on women ironing children’s chests due to gender inequity and Saran Kaba Jones’, CEO & Founder of FACE Africa, data about death due to lack of access to clean water, we remember to be grateful that our hardships are rarely impacting our basic human needs. Deborah Jackson, CEO & Founder of Plum Alley, echoed this sentiment by urging us to gain perspective on the bad things that happen and ask ourselves: Will this really matter?

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4. Be your own best advocate.

Pat Mitchell, CEO of Paley Center for Media, walked us through a salary negotiation. While we hope gender expectations evolve in the future, women need to be mindful of how their assertiveness may be perceived in the workplace. We must mitigate the backlash by asking in a certain way that is relational and within the expectations of how women are expected to behave. By including comments like, “I am so pleased to join your team…” this will ensure you are more likely to be heard and not put people off. Diane Brady, providing a journalists perspective on leadership, expressed the need for more women to bring their ideas to the table. We must put ourselves out there and stop being so hard on ourselves. Women think they will get leadership roles based on merit, but we need to be better at asking for opportunities.

5. Be sharing and giving with your network.

This was another thread that united all of the presenters  at the Summit. Whether discussing how to leverage social media to connect and engage with leaders in your field or emphasizing the importance of mentorship, and establishing partnerships: technology has transformed and expanded what’s possible for our relationships. As someone who loves connecting with new people and discovering exciting professional opportunities, I now make sure to always ask myself how can I add value to [So and So’s] professional endeavors. Since the Summit, I  have been sharing dozens of job opportunities with my networks. I know how much I appreciated people who did this while I was in transition/seeking new opportunities.

There was a lot to love about this Summit. From the efficient table rotations to the thoughtful panels and career exploration opportunities.  One of my favorite parts of this Summit was experiencing women’s leadership from so many viewpoints. Further collaboration between the various industries represented at the Summit is essential for progress to be made on all global and domestic issues. We’ve got a lot to learn from each other, and I’m hoping to see more folks from the healthcare industry represented next year. Womensphere embodies the movement at large in how it was inclusive and committed to developing the skills of emerging leaders.

Jocelyn Schur is a entrepreneur, business owner at Schur Consultations, and soon to be Smith School of Social Work student.  She can be reached at SchurConsultations@gmail.com or http://www.JocelynSchur.com. She looks forward to your comments and  feedback!