My past week was defined by meaningful events and “moments,” and looking back on the whirlwind of it all, it certainly feels like a message. Here are the snapshots:

  • A fun and festive engagement party in Malibu for my beautiful niece, who has found her perfect life partner at a young age
  • The beautiful wedding shower I hosted with a group for a dear friend who discovered love the second time around (after raising her kids) – with a wonderful guy
  • Dinner celebrating the 50th birthday of a long-time girlfriend with whom I’ve shared many years of the crazy-town ups-and-downs of being a mom
  • A memorial service for a lovely friend who passed away far too young

It was a “circle of life” week, and each of the events were celebrations of amazing, powerful women who have made a difference in the world. The first three occasions marked joyous life events – beginnings and new beginnings – and the last a celebration of a joyous life well-lived, that ended too soon. A poignant reminder that it all goes so fast, and opens me yet again of the importance of spending time with the people who lift you up and bring you joy– those who vibrate at your level and don’t pull you down.

The range of emotions I’ve experienced over the last seven days left me feeling moved, grateful, exhausted – and strangely complete. I continue to be inspired by women who are interested in connecting to what moves them – to support and create meaningful moments, to celebrate the every day as well as the milestones – surrounded by those I love, and those who know how to love.

 

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Recently a friend mentioned that she had enjoyed an afternoon spent during our Northern California rainstorms alone in her cozy room reading a good book – a lovely few hours she called a ‘guilty pleasure’. Why not simply a pleasure?  So often women (and sometimes men, in this culture) feel the need to apologize for time spent relaxing, unwinding or taking a moment for pure enjoyment – with an unconscious belief that to be unproductive makes us less worthy.

Another friend confided that her husband had wanted to surprise her with a pop-up trip across the country for two days, and she felt overwhelmed with the idea of arranging and rearranging everything to make it possible – “Is it ‘bad’ that I don’t want to go?”, she asked? I realized how often I use this same phrase, when I just can’t – or don’t want – to rally. Is it BAD if I don’t want to do this? Lately I have become more aware of these negative figures of speech as they creep their way into every day conversations, and I realize that ‘bad’ and ‘guilty’ create a negative mindset that makes my world darker and my heart heavier.

These two examples illustrate simple words that we often throw around without really thinking, but are reflective of the cultural groupthink that ‘busy is better’ – and the more productive we are, the better we are. Sometimes we just want and need to do less, and that need can be highlighted during the winter months. Our bodies naturally sync to a seasonal rhythm, and with shorter days, darker skies, and colder weather it is time to build reserves and turn inward. In other cultures people don’t feel the pressure to be outside and totally active during this time, allowing their bodies time to rest and reset, so they are able to glide through the other seasons of the year in health and balance.

I leave you with two messages (that I intend to listen to, as well!) – first, pay attention to your body and honor what it needs. And last – embrace joy and fulfillment and contentment wherever you find it. Strike ‘guilty’ and ‘bad’ from your personal wordbook…and never feel guilty about pleasures again!

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Hello? Can we talk about Adele at the Grammys last Sunday? She racked up five awards including Song, Record, and Album of the Year at the 59th annual awards celebration and happily – and humbly – accepted…until her name was called for Album of the Year, and then she paid tribute to Beyoncé. “I can’t possibly accept this award,” she said during her acceptance speech. “The Lemonade album was just so monumental, Beyoncé. It was so monumental and well thought-out and beautiful and soul-baring… we appreciate that. All of us artists here adore you. You are our light.” The look of gratitude in Beyoncé’s eyes during Adele’s heartfelt words showed a sisterhood of respect and appreciation, and seeing this act of generosity onstage made an impact on many of the women I know. There is nothing better than seeing women supporting women. Collaborating not competing. I think of February as the month of love, and I ask: how can we support and love one another in our journeys, and raise each other up? It is always uplifting to be loved and acknowledged by other women – even when you are the Queen Bey! (If you missed Adele’s much-discussed acceptance speech, you can check it out here

For Sterrin Bird, founder of Pacific Advancement Partners, nonprofits are never ‘business as usual’ – creative and innovative thinking can support their missions with maximum positive impact. A nationally recognized leader in the nonprofit community, Sterrin has more than 25 years of experience in service to philanthropy, with an emphasis in capital campaigning and major gifts. She has held a number of significant leadership roles within some of the most prestigious organizations in the country. Her experience is extensive and impressive.

She inspired me with her authenticity when I met her many years ago through the Junior League of San Francisco. I quickly learned that she is the go-to gal when it comes to nonprofit fundraising: smart, savvy, a straight-shooter…and someone I instantly wanted to know better.  We’ve been sharing stories, cocktail time and laughs ever since. In her free time, Sterrin can often be found enjoying summer sunshine or winter skiing at Lake Tahoe with her two children Thomas and Mary.

For more about Sterrin and Pacific Advancement Partners click here

Casual Conversation with Sterrin…

Good advice is a gift — what is the best advice you’ve been given?
The very best advice I’ve been given is to bring your authentic self to everything you do – to pretend you are anything other than exactly who you are in business (or anywhere else) is doing you, your colleagues, friends and family and the organization you serve a disservice. It can be very scary to show up as yourself, warts and all – especially if you’re having a bad day or have challenges going on personally – but you need to always be authentic – because it builds character and trust in YOU – from the inside out.

What is on the top of your bucket list?

The top of my bucket list? That’s a good one. I’d really like to spend a month in Italy – I’ve never been there and I’d love to go and immerse myself in the culture, the people and (of course) the food and wine. I’m aiming for summer 2017!

Who would you invite to your ideal Girl’s Night?

Famous people? mmmm – I’d love to have dinner with Michelle Obama, Chelsea Handler and Joni Mitchell – with a side of Wanda Holland Greene!

Regular people? My 4 best girlfriends who are all so different from one another

What is your go-to piece of clothing?

A crisp white blouse from Lafayette 148 NY – it’s a classic and can be dressed up or dressed down…

What do you sing when you are alone in your car?

These days Mat Kearney – I love his music…especially the album City of Black and White…and if I’m with my kids, it’s usually Taylor Swift…yes, I’ll admit it!

What is the best compliment you have received?

The best compliment I ever received was from a former colleague who said that I showed her what leading from the front of the room looked like – she said that I showed her (and others) that it was possible to be a mom, be real, tell the truth and be vulnerable while leading a huge national team through an enormous re-organization with humor and grace.

Runner up would be that people always compliment me on my skin…I’m blessed with good genes and look younger than I am…

How has your life been different than you imagined?

I never imagined that I would be divorced and raising two kids while balancing and managing a career on my own – but here I am, doing exactly that. I also never imagined that I would be as happy as I am doing just that while standing in my own power.

What is your most-used word? (And what word do you wish everyone would stop using?)

It’s not a word – it’s an expression…I am always asking people if I am making sense while I am expressing myself – it’s a way to get feedback in the moment –

Who is your celebrity crush?

George Eads

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Expensive Red Wine

What is your favorite museum?

Musee d’Orsay in Paris…I love that they turned a train station into a magnificent museum

What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

Their eyes….I always look for smile lines…you can’t hide that kind of genuine happiness and I want to be around it…

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The past week has certainly been an emotional one. My Facebook feed is still filled with images of so many friends – women, children, men – coming together- who were out to peacefully march, stand up for their beliefs, and make their voices heard. We’re just getting started. That is the message from the Women’s March organizers and participants, after millions of people worldwide took to the streets – literally – to walk the walk and talk the talk. As we move ahead I like to remember that it isn’t necessarily about what I am AGAINST but it is about the rights and causes that we stand FOR preserving and making even stronger.  How to keep the momentum of the moment? So many women I know are asking ‘What’s next?’, as am I, so I’ve gathered a few links to organizations and campaigns to keep us engaged, and moving forward. Together.
Ten different actions for the first 100 days from The Women’s March organizers:
https://www.womensmarch.com/100/

Write letters and make calls – Countable makes it simple to follow issues that matter to you – and to contact the lawmakers who vote on those issues.
https://www.countable.us/

Promoting non-partisan actions the average person can take, this  social media campaign aims to get you active in community and government.
http://thebighundred.com/

Keep the conversations going. This platform was created to make it easy to gather, plan, and hold each other accountable for action.
https://www.nextstepssalon.com/

Only you know your #WhyIMarch passions – consider setting up monthly recurring donations to the causes you care most about.

Gloria Steinem said at the Washington March, “This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life. It is wide in age, it is deep in diversity. Make sure you introduce yourselves to each other, and decide what we’re going to do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, and we’re never turning back.”

 

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