Ladies – do YOU build up or belittle other women?

In the past few weeks, I have been a part of a project that is mostly (4/5) female. I have been shocked and disappointed by the women, toward each other and toward me. Only one word applies and it’s a word I detest: bitchy.

Ladies, it is possible to acknowledge the strengths of other ladies, hell, to maybe even learn from them. It doesn’t weaken you OR your strengths. It doesn’t make you look stupid. You know what does make you appear stupid?

When you are a non-native English speaker and you do not accept help from someone with academic degrees and certifications in English. When you have little to no experience in oral presentations and you don’t accept help from someone who has done interviews, performances, and presentations for the past 12 years of her life. That doesn’t make anyone think you are stupid – you demonstrates that stupidity all by yourself.

It also demonstrates you are insecure and that you have a fragile ego. This is something which we have in common, again, as women. Most women have fragile egos, a reality which they either “cop to” or “cover up.” It’s the “cover-up” Queens that are the scary ones. That word I hate? It exclusively applies to the “cover up” Queens.

The “cop to” Chicks, in all walks of life, I respect. They all have one life strategy in common – they are confident with the skill sets they have (and those they lack), and do not feel the need to denigrate, demean, or disparage other women who have lesser OR stronger skills. Why would they? They are confident.

The female lecturers in the MILE (Mira Burri, Arancha Gonzalez, Gabrielle Marceau, Victoria Donaldson, Lee Ann Jackson, and others) have amazed and inspired me.

Though fully within their rights to have tattooed on their foreheads, “I am an international law and economics Bad Ass,” they don’t. They impart knowledge and they ask questions. In fact, they ask, “what do you think about what I just said?” and I think they are genuinely interested in the answer.

I spent 8 hours next to Donaldson during a dispute exercise and she gave me priceless wisdom, support, and encouragement. Burri is exactly the same. Gonzalez, Jackson…they all are. They are strong, vibrant women at the tops of their respective fields. They are “cop to” Chicks, who are committed to supporting and strengthening other women, not being afraid of or intimidated by women who are or want to be strong.

Imagine if all women were “cop to” Chicks. Imagine the effect on Fortune 500 companies, legislative bodies worldwide, homes, religious centers, shops and streets. Everyone’s talking about Bernie and Trump revolutions, what are we doing? There is a fully-qualified, articulate, wonderful woman running for President?? What about that revolution?

Just imagine what we could do.

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This image comes from this gal’s blog and it’s fabulous:

In search of Audrey

There is a small village in the Romandie (the French-speaking part of Switzerland) that I must visit. As most of you know, I visit small villages in Switzerland largely to share with others via social media or my books how amazing this country is. But, this visit is different.

Years ago, Audrey Hepburn’s final home chose her, the same way this beautiful country chose me years ago; however, I didn’t know this Hepburn fact until this past week, when I learned it by happenstance. As I told Pierre Beret (clearly, I don’t remember his name, just the lovely Swiss-French accent), I remember her from two things, one of which is her simple, straightforward rendition of “Moon River.” It has enchanted me since I was a child.

“We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend, my Huckleberry friend, Moon River and me.” By the way, that’s one of the greatest lines of all time, in my humble opinion (lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Henry Mancini).

Though it is truly one of my favorite songs, my other memory of her is the Audrey Hepburn I saw in a photo in the early 90’s holding children in Somalia. I remember the article said she did this amazing work to pay forward the kindness she was shown as a child during and after the war. So, her gratitude for the innate kindness of others is the reason she carried the title of UNICEF Ambassador from 1989 until her death? Exemplary.

Getting back to Switzerland for a moment, I can say one thing with certainty. When one full-heartedly adopts Switzerland as one’s home, it is painful to have to leave for any reason or any duration of time. This country’s majestic mountains, breathtaking lakes, cultural depth, peaceful anonymity – one feels somewhat lost under the glittering stars, even midday.

(Perhaps, it should be noted, very few people feel the way I do about Switzerland. Not even the Swiss people.)

Pierre Beret told me, during my stalled train ride from Lausanne, that Ms. Hepburn had a similar, deep love, enthusiasm, and appreciation for this country. My “enthusiasm,” which most people say is “obsession,” is what sparked our conversation, I was going on and on about how much I love Switzerland, like I always do.

During the final months of her life, though aware she was losing her battle with cancer, she left her beloved home, in the Alpine paradise, time and time again. She still wanted to help. To bring hope, joy, sunshine, and goodwill, so she packed her bags and continued to travel around the world on behalf of UNICEF.

That self-sacrifice required a great deal of character, sense of purpose, and strength. It’s truly inspirational to me because I would be hard-pressed to say “yes” to the promise of 10 million dollars if I would agree to leave Switzerland for at least one week every year. I’m not kidding.

Naturally, what is interesting to most people about her are the films, I certainly understand that. She was a truly unique and remarkable actress. But, I find her love of this great nation, her devotion to helping the impoverished and imperiled children in this world, and her desire to raise her own children in such a peaceful, promising place…I find that interesting.

Anyway, for the lady that shared my love for this country and helping women and children in need – white rose it is. Exquisite ladies who love Switzerland deserve my most exquisite tribute.

I wish I had the contact information for the sweet, chain-smoking older gentleman that told me these stories. Pierre Beret, if you do read this, please write to me? I promise to treat you to a coffee the next time.

“I Don’t Want To”

At least 20 times a day, I am faced with the internal answer, “I don’t want to.” I usually ignore it. Why?

I’m an adult.

“I don’t want to” is a selfish answer. It is rarely, I’ve found, the right answer. Here’s my example.

Yesterday, I had the entire day planned from sun up to sun down. The crucial hour was the one between physical therapy and home. I needed to catch my train to get home to bake the birthday cake. I am in Switzerland. My train comes on time, two times an hour. Punkt.

After PT, I got on the tram. I put on my headphones and started my NYC streets focus. I would have 7 minutes to get my little orange train. This young guy kept making eye contact with me and it looked like he was trying to talk. “I don’t want to” was in my head and I kept listening to Van Morrison’s Plan B album.

But, the guy came over to me. I removed the earbud and trying to find out what he was saying even though I didn’t want to.

He was sick. Really sick. In fact, he almost passed out on me.

He was only trying to tell me that he needed some water.

I helped him off the tram and into a seat, fetched some water and crackers, and sat with him. He’d just had a long day, not enough water, and got dehydrated. It was simple.

I thought about it a lot this morning. My initial “I don’t want to” almost hindered me from doing exactly what I want to do with my life…help people in need of help. This is the rather quiet way I “Catholic Buddhist” in the world. I save the bible beating and “mean Messiah”-ing to others. I sort of do my own thing.

This morning, I also remembered Moni. She was just about to finish a triathlon last year when a man fell in front of her. Instead of listening to an “I don’t want to” because of exhaustion, self-determination, desire for a good time, etc., she stopped. When she realized he was very ill, she stayed with him. He died. Imagine if she had listened to all the reasons she “didn’t want to?” God bless my Moni. She’s one of my heroes.

I didn’t get the cake done because I didn’t make my train.

I made brownies instead. Is Martha Stewart going to give them a prize?…uh, no. But, we all ate them (not me, don’t like sweets) and had a great laugh. At a table full of good friends, everyone ate one of these “charming” brownies…even the people that probably “didn’t want to.” 😉

The "I Didn't Want To" brownies