Saturday, November 25, 2017

Culture

Her Angels Remind Us: Thanksgiving is a Time to Dance

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” – Wayne Dyer

Tell that to most people you know at Thanksgiving. Life can be overwhelming and the last thing we feel like doing is dancing. Our feet get stuck. It’s like trying to slide on unvarnished floors; there’s resistance. But I love Thanksgiving and the holidays. That’s when I feel my feet and hear my heart beat louder.

Wayne Dyer, Thanksgiving, holidays, angels, Anne H. Neilson, Angels in the Midst, Strokes of Compassion, Kathy Lee Gifford, art, WomanScape, dancing, GodThe music seems to slow and I cherish my friends and family who live each day fully, especially those who’ve overcome hardships like cancer. These women-friends enjoy each step and lift me up by their example. You know them. They’re mothers and daughters and sisters and lovers fighting to live and dancing with gratitude. They are like whispering angels reminding us that Thanksgiving is a time to dance.

Last year I received a special set of two books about angels. A friend who had battled breast cancer gave them to me. She’s a ray of pure light. The books were a collection of angel paintings by Anne H. Neilson entitled, Angels in the Midst and Strokes of Compassion. When my friend surprised me with them, I thumbed the beautifully bound pages with joy. I planned to read these author-signed copies sometime soon. But soon never came, and the books waited patiently on my glass coffee table.

Last night they whispered to me. Hang on before you jump to conclusions… I haven’t lost my mind. But something unexplainable drew me back to these books hiding in plain sight. I was tired and had slung my feet across the coffee table, exhausted by my pre-Thanksgiving prep. The holiday was days away but I had already spent hours shopping, cleaning and standing over the oven door. We’d soon sit down to enjoy a harvest feast like millions of other people in America, giving thanks for our bountiful lives.

Wayne Dyer, Thanksgiving, holidays, angels, Anne H. Neilson, Angels in the Midst, Strokes of Compassion, Kathy Lee Gifford, art, WomanScape, dancing, GodLast time I looked at Neilson’s collected paintings of angels, I didn’t hear the dance music. I don’t think I was ready. I soon learned that Neilson started painting angel figures after she prayed to God asking for a sign about her purpose in life. After painting a young child-like angel one night, she learned the next day that the youngest daughter of a family she knew had died in a car accident. Neilson gave her painting to them despite worrying what they might think. When the family saw it, they realized the prayer they had asked God for – a sign that their daughter was in heaven and happy.

Both Neilson and the family believed God had answered their prayers. Neilson had found her purpose and used the profits from her painted angels to help charitable organizations. Before opening Neilson’s books, I was also feeling overwhelmed. My desire to build inspiration in the world with WomanScape was daunting, and holidays still reminded me of my son’s passing five years ago. When I spotted the angel books and randomly opened one to the section called Stories Behind the Music, the floor seemed to fall out from under me.

I had asked God for a sign just as Neilson had. My feet slid over the unvarnished floor that felt suddenly smooth.

WomanScape started as a dance to celebrate life and my special friend, who suffered from cancer, had given me a dose of courage I needed in these two books. She  opened a door to the angels. The book is full of beautiful art – paintings and stories about the role of angels in our life. One of the stories explains how Kathy Lee Gifford visited Neilson at a show in Connecticut telling her that an angel had whispered for her to go and meet Neilson.

Wayne Dyer, Thanksgiving, holidays, angels, Anne H. Neilson, Angels in the Midst, Strokes of Compassion, Kathy Lee Gifford, art, WomanScape, dancing, God

Last year, last night, last time… I hope I never forget to dance. Thanksgiving reminders surround us every day. Just look to the people who foster rich meaning in our lives. Women I know like Margie, Jodie, and Kathy do this for so many. When you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I hope you are inspired to dance.

Each new day is a new beginning –

To learn more about ourselves,

To care more about others,

To laugh more than we did,

To accomplish more than we

Thought we could, and

Be more than we were before.

– Unknown

How do you measure greatness? What does it look like? If you’re a sports fan or a New York City Marathon runner, there’s an image of Shalane Flanagan that’s synonymous with great. It was splashed across the front page of the New York Times when she made history as the first American woman to win this race in more than 40 years.

But if you’re Maya Angelou, greatness is completely different. It’s the tenacious courage in her poetry that challenges us to be hopeful. With Angelou, we love in the face of great adversity and our flawed human condition. But in most cases, we associate greatness with awards, bestselling books, and standout actions. Only when we look beyond the marvelous feats and profound words, do we see greatness in a new light.

Greatness in Unsung Spaces

Shalane Flanagan, Maya Angelou, Great, greatness, being great, Mother Theresa, Walter Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky, Glen Gretzky, Maya Angelou, Lauri Holomis, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky Foundation, national treasure, Kevin Sylvester, Taylor, National Hockey League, #DrinkthePink, Biosteel, Dolly Parton, Imagination Library, Spruce Award, Coach Wally, entrepreneurGreatness thrives in many invisible places of the world. Whether it’s the slums of Calcutta, where Mother Teresa lived a life of quiet service to the destitute or the uncelebrated actions we do for others in a day, greatness can change everything.

This photo by Chris Barbalis shares all the colors of great when I circle back to Angelou’s famous words:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

If we take this message to heart, greatness lives inside us. It’s found in the quiet of the night, when a parent tucks her child into bed after reading a bedtime story. Or it hides behind the thoughtful son who calls his father each day to let him know he cares. So when I discovered a woman who embodied this greatness in the passion she brings to every facet of her life, I knew WomanScape needed to share her story.

Meet Lauri Holomis. She is a great friend. And, she also happens to be a modern-day wonder woman. Her list of accomplishments so early in life makes my head spin. She’s a devoted mother, loving spouse, published bestselling writer, and entrepreneur. If I wasn’t so inspired by the person she is and the positive footprint she’s making for team-humanity, I might be jealous. But the truth is Lauri is as great as the bestselling, award-nominated book she’s co-authored with Glen Gretzky.

Lauri Holomis: What It Means To Be Great

Shalane Flanagan, Maya Angelou, Great, greatness, being great, Mother Theresa, Walter Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky, Glen Gretzky, Maya Angelou, Lauri Holomis, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky Foundation, national treasure, Kevin Sylvester, Taylor, National Hockey League, #DrinkthePink, Biosteel, Dolly Parton, Imagination Library, Spruce Award, Coach Wally, entrepreneurOkay, so Lauri Holomis meets the usual standard for greatness having written a bestselling children’s book. But her passion and reason for writing the book with partner Glen Gretzky come from a higher place: a deep desire to share the spirit of Walter Gretzky.

Glen was an ideal writing partner for Lauri, as the son of Walter and brother of legendary hockey great, Wayne Gretzky. Writing Great immortalized Walter’s greatness as one of Canada’s national treasures.

The story honors Walter’s lifelong commitment to the sport and the wisdom he’s imparted to thousands of aspiring hockey players and their families. For decades, Walter has translated the greatest values of the game – friendship and team building – as an opportunity for camaraderie and positive character building.

In our competitive world and obsession with success, Walter’s philosophy and values reframe the meaning of true happiness and success in life. And who better than Walter to understand the pressure that kids and hockey parents feel in this highly competitive sport?  He’s proudly pictured in the above photo and standing on the far left, next to Lauri Holomis, illustrator Kevin Sylvester, and Glen Gretzky.

Shalane Flanagan, Maya Angelou, Great, greatness, being great, Mother Theresa, Walter Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky, Glen Gretzky, Maya Angelou, Lauri Holomis, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky Foundation, national treasure, Kevin Sylvester, Taylor, National Hockey League, #DrinkthePink, Biosteel, Dolly Parton, Imagination Library, Spruce Award, Coach Wally, entrepreneurThere are so many ways this message for kids is a timely and entertaining read. Taylor is the main character in the story whose joy at making the team quickly turns to frustration about not scoring goals.

I love the universality of Taylor’s name as both a girl’s and a boy’s name but the heart of the story speaks to a message we all need. Coach Wally helps Taylor to see that you don’t have to score goals to be great. Life is a team game and there are many ways we can all be great in life.

Taylor realizes this truth under the shadow of “The Great One”, an obvious connection to the legendary hockey hall of famer Wayne Gretzky. Wayne, who dominated the National Hockey League from 1979-1999, was called “The Great One” and is arguably the greatest ever to play the game.

Lauri’s Business Success: The Gretzky Foundation & BIOSTEEL

Since the book’s release last winter, Great has become a bestseller in Canada and is also a nominee for the Ontario Library Association’s Spruce Award. The fan base for Great even includes country star legend Dolly Parton, who wrote to Holomis about adding it to the Imagination Library collection; a global book gifting program providing free books to children.

But Lauri’s desire to share Walter’s story and help inspire kids and parents to see the deeper meaning of great goes beyond her writing hat. She has worked for the Wayne Gretzky Foundation for years, helping the nonprofit raise funds for children and families across Canada and the United States. Part of the book proceeds are also directed to this fund.

Shalane Flanagan, Maya Angelou, Great, greatness, being great, Mother Theresa, Walter Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky, Glen Gretzky, Maya Angelou, Lauri Holomis, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky Foundation, national treasure, Kevin Sylvester, Taylor, National Hockey League, #DrinkthePink, Biosteel, Dolly Parton, Imagination Library, Spruce Award, Coach Wally, entrepreneurAs well, Lauri is one of a group of business entrepreneurs helping to leverage her talents in the professional sports industry. When Lauri explains the benefits of Biosteel in the nutritional sports drink marketplace, I understand how she is also championing a new fan base for women and mothers. The all natural, sugar-free and caffeine-free products touted in the #DrinkthePink campaign provide a vitamin/mineral/amino acid blend of components that promote wellness and healthy nutrition. https://www.biosteel.com/en-ca

When you consider Lauri’s busy professional life, she’s the first to tell you her passionate role as mother, spouse, and friend stands at the top of the greatness pyramid. Lauri says family is everything and greatness is being inspired to live each day with gratitude and love. When you meet Lauri, this truth resonates in her inviting smile and generous, heartfelt laugh.

Shalane Flanagan, Maya Angelou, Great, greatness, being great, Mother Theresa, Walter Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky, Glen Gretzky, Maya Angelou, Lauri Holomis, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky Foundation, national treasure, Kevin Sylvester, Taylor, National Hockey League, #DrinkthePink, Biosteel, Dolly Parton, Imagination Library, Spruce Award, Coach Wally, entrepreneurI realize Lauri helps to coin this new standard of greatness though Coach Wally’s words at the end of the Great storybook. It’s a simple explanation meant for children, but it challenges lessons from the most interesting Ted Talks and fascinating YouTube videos.

Taylor passes the puck and the team scores a winning goal in overtime. Coach Wally congratulates Taylor saying, “You made sure he could be great, and that we could be great.” Taylor responds, telling Coach Wally “It feels so amazing. It feels great.” Remembering Angelou’s words, “People will never forget how you make them feel,” I feel awfully great when I’m around people like Lauri Holomis.

To find Lauri Holomis and Glen Gretzky’s book in stores, visit the links here at Amazon or Indigo in Canada.

 

Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerismIt’s raining shoes! This photo of shoes hanging in Toronto, Canada’s Bata Shoe Museum says it all. The average American woman will own more than 268 pairs of shoes in her lifetime and spend more than $20,000. And, it’s not just women around the world who ware shelling out over $30 billion a year on shoes. The Boston Globe reports that men spent nearly as much in 2016, shelling out $26 billion globally.

In truth, shoe designers are emptying our pockets at a dizzying rate. They hope we’ll fill our closets with new sculptural designs that seem to be flooding the expanding floor space in department stores. This reflects our love-in with shoes and our exploding thirst around the globe.

Dubai’s Shoe Garden

My visit to the shoe concourse in the Dubai Mall of the United Arab Emirates speaks to this shoe obsession. I was floored by the endless stream of showcases featuring ultra-luxury collections. All were housed under the aptly named Shoe Garden.

Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerism

Shoppers travel down the garden path mesmerized by edgy shoe styles ripe for the picking. Whether it’s these $2,500 couture sneakers pictured below, or shelves of Louboutin’s ultra-comfy leisure shoes, I can’t help but wonder why we spend so much on shoes? And do they really have to be luxury designer brands?

Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerism
Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerism

The answer is more complicated than you think. Many WomanScape readers who read about The World in a Shoe learned that, historically, shoe styles are a poignant indicator of social status and culture. But when I look at the increased accessibility to online shopping and mass consumerism, it’s obvious that today’s global shoe purchases are less about traditions and heritage. The new buyers are putting their wealth and their status on their feet.

Shoes As Status Symbols

Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerismShoes are definitely a status symbol in today’s world. We all know the sexy stilettos by Manolo Blahnik that took center stage in the “Sex in the City” television series. Kerry Washington from television’s hit show Scandal is also known for her shoe obsession.  She admits they are the most important part of an outfit and, like other celebs, she loves the red soles and high-heels of luxury designer Christian Louboutin.

But these aren’t the only shoes in the spotlight. You can see in the photos that people are hungry for all kinds of shoes, including the collectable “sneakerhead” shoes. Many are bought as investments and do little more than sit on a shelf to be admired. In fact, the resale business of these status symbol shoes has created a $55 Billion international marketplace.

I’m honestly not much for sneaker shoes, but who can resist these Versace “Winged Dark Angel in Green” shoes by Brian Atwood? Sadly, I can’t but I must. My walking-on-needles days are over even though I love the sculptural skyscrapers by architect Zaha Hadid. Her futuristic shoes are brilliant even though I couldn’t stand, let alone walk, in them.

Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerismAnd how I see these manufacturing marvels of Hadid’s limited edition, chrome-plated, shoes with cantilever heels has also changed. The sophisticated injection-mold and vacuum cast process is certainly impressive. But I’ve become more sensitive to the global realities of our consumerism.

Many people don’t realize that more than 300 million children and 1.5 billion adults around the world could not afford shoes in 2015. We live in a world where the number of people living below the poverty line is increasing, and inequalities and political disparities are tugging at our hearts.

I can’t help but believe there’s something terribly wrong when you consider the weight of poverty and the 85% of all shoes that end up in landfill sites. Turns out I’m not the only one concerned.  Shoes are still symbols of status, wealth and individuality, but our spending choices and shoe production processes are addressing some of these issues. So where does this leave us?

Socially conscious millennials are pushing industry changes. Global demographics are getting the attention of savvy marketers who want to align our wallets with our hearts. There is a new global conscience shaping the shoe industry, and a growing middle class in emerging countries and G7 powers that’s underscoring this whopping effect on consumerism.

Purchasing power is shifting from the West to the East, accelerated by rapidly growing population in countries like India and China. And according to World Bank projections, the Asia-Pacific region will have the largest middle class in the world. By 2030, this middle class of young adults will capture 59% of all global consumption and a hell of a lot of shoes!

Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerismAt a time when the world is rife with social and political discontent, shoe producers are smart to tap our ethical and social concerns. Companies like Toms shoes have continued to step up and align themselves with consumer demands. Toms’ business model rests on a one-for-one philosophy. For every shoe purchased, a free pair of shoes is donated to people in need.

Toms has partnered with dozens of companies and non-governmental organizations, helping over 70 million people in 70 countries around the world since they opened their doors in 2006. Their meteoric brand success has also fueled their expansion into new industries like eyewear, bags and coffee. They continue to shape new campaigns like access to potable water, safe birthing and bully prevention around the world.

Reshaping the Shoe Footprint

Other shoe producers are focused instead on the environmental effects of consumerism and production processes. Companies like Rothys are focusing on renewable resources given the  growing environmental concern of landfill sites. Addressing these sites will also stop gap air pollution and groundwater contamination that comes from production-related gas emissions.

Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerismEven though Rothy’s shoes are hardly the skyscraper sex kittens of couture fashion, their classic style and comfortable fit are undeniable. They are made from recycled plastic water bottles that are cleaned and broken into tiny pieces before their fed into 3D knitting machines. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow loves these shoes and will tell you there are no seams and no waste.

The demand for socially conscious shoes that are beautiful has definitely increased. Designers like Stella McCartney are jumping in and sourcing sustainable and ethically sourced materials. Stella’s black star-studded shoes in the photo below exemplify eco-friendly and high fashion footwear.

Toronto Bata Shoe Museum, Shoe Industry, Dubai Shoe Garden, Christian Louboutin, Rothys, Toms, World in a Shoe, Manolo Blahnik, Kerry Washington, sneakerhead shoe industry, Zaha Hadid, Brian Atwood, Millennials, India, China, World Bank, Stella McCartney, environmentalism, consumerismOn the heels of #AmericaRecyclesDay, I’ve decided my next pair of shoes will be a smarter choice. I’ll think twice about the water bottles I’ve dropped into recycling bins and treat my feet to some hip star-studded solutions. That way my new shoes can rain goodness in the world.

The most beautiful map of the world is sitting on my desk. It overflows with landscapes and contours not typical for an atlas.

The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil Gibran

That’s because author Mihaela Noroc’s new book, The Atlas of Beauty, is a map of faces. It’s shares her four-year journey collecting hundreds of faces and stories of women from over 60 countries. Each picture captures the beauty of their culture and the soulful spirit of women.

Even though Noroc’s art is so visually compelling, it raises deeper questions about the meaning of beauty. The pictures are magical and show most women without makeup. But in a National Public Radio interview, Noroc admits many women were hesitant to appear this way. Often they saw themselves as anything but beautiful.

What is beauty?

Why is this such a universal feeling among women? What is beauty in our visually-oriented world? Too often, beauty is fabricated and sexualized in social media profiles and images that applaud slender bodies, bigger lips, and wrinkle-free faces. Beauty is synonymous with flawless, idealized and conformist standards. What happened to the beauty in our souls and hearts? Have we space in the world for something more authentic?

Thankfully, what resonates in Noroc’s book is a deeper perspective on beauty. Noroc’s photos redirect our superficial views, drawing us into a more spiritual understanding of beauty. Her portraits are simple. Women are seen in the larger totality of their life experience. And, something about each woman shines from their center and outwards.

The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil Gibran

So where does the half a trillion dollar cosmetic industry fit in? For many, we are so hungry for beauty that we willingly spend time and money on endless beauty products. We want to feel attractive and and translate this feeling into happiness. Of course, this is natural but maybe we need to explore a deeper and more artful question: what is our true relationship with beauty and makeup?

Beauty Through the Eyes of a Makeup Artist

The advent of Halloween seemed like an ideal time to ask this question. When I saw the eye makeup photo above and the artful Halloween designs done by this young makeup artist I knew personally, I thought she might offer some interesting  insights about the role of makeup in people’s lives.

The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil Gibran

Her artistry is certainly undeniable in the variety of stunning and fun looks pictured below, including the cover image at the beginning of this article. She inspired me to reconsider the role of makeup. Like many artists, Kelley uses social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to promote her KelleyOnTheBeat glam makeup services. What captured my attention was a follower who asked her how she wore so much makeup. Kelley answered with a 30 second video and two simple words, “Like this.”

The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil Gibran
The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil Gibran
The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil Gibran

Over 2 million people watched that video! Kelley’s video was 30 seconds of faces filled with colors that were far from subtle. They broke all the rules. Her purple lips and rainbow glitter eyes created bold, bright looks that were both fun and fantastical. What I couldn’t understand was why women responded in droves to these glamorous and theatrical looks. Was it pure escapism or something deeper?

I interviewed Kelley about her creative inventions  and discovered an attitude to life grounded in the joyful expression of self. I think you’ll agree and see why her brand is a celebration of the sacred beauty in each of us. As with all art, “there is a ray that springs for the sacred depths of the soul and illuminates the body.” (20th century Lebanese writer, Kahlil Gibran.) Here is that interview.

Q&A With KelleyOnTheBeat

Q: Why do you love makeup Kelley?

K: I love how makeup makes women feel. When they look in the mirror, they see something new and a beauty they might not have appreciated before. I started experimenting on friends when I was a freshman in college, and saw how happy it made them feel. Before I knew it, people were asking me to do their friends’ faces, weddings and proms.

The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil GibranQ: What should every woman know about makeup and beauty?

K: Everyone can feel beautiful and do their own makeup. For me, makeup should be a creative outlet. It can be a source of confidence and enjoyment. Of course, everyone is beautiful without makeup. Beauty is inside. But makeup can help you share your creativity and personality with others. Recently, I’ve even noticed that more men are wearing makeup. I think James Charles is the first Cover Girl man. I’m not sure but what’s wrong with men expressing this creative side. I would love to be able to make up a man’s face. Not everyone has been supportive of men wearing makeup, but it’s nothing new if you look at history and other cultures around the world.

Q: What future dreams do you have in the industry?

K: I want to work for myself but I would love to build relationships and collaborate with other artists. It would be great to influence the marketplace and I hope to own my own shop someday to provide women and men with the services they want.

The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil GibranQ: Do you collaborate with other makeup artists?

K: Yes. I’ve worked with a group of about twelve other artists and actually initiated a few collaborative projects. We talk about products and have challenged each other to do color-looks and themes to motivate each other. I learned that I could take the lead and influence others to grow artistically and connect in meaningful ways. We’ve become friends and I am now an ambassador for Glam Glitters.

Q: Why do you do glam makeup?

K: Glam is the best way to be creative – natural and browns are simple. Glam is big and not necessarily for everyone but it brings in colors and diverse opportunities for interesting and fun techniques. Glam also forces people to have an opinion about makeup. In a way, it’s like art therapy.

Q: Where can people see your work?

K: My YouTube channel is up but I’m still busy with school until I graduate this year. I’m not concerned with making money right now and want to enjoy meeting people and answering makeup questions. I love doing Facebook live because I can interact with more people, get good feedback, and answer questions. I post my status when I’m LIVE and people usually share it by joining my friend list.

Important writer’s note: Kelley is the youngest of my three daughters and I couldn’t be more proud.

The Atlas of Beauty, Mikaela Noroc, beauty, makeup, culture of beauty, traditional makeup, creative artisty, KellyOnTheBeat, makup artist, cosmetic industry, soulful beauty, Kahlil Gibran

 

 

 

As we jump back onto the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, part of the larger Sideways wine region, we also travel through wonderful history.

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, May, Sideways movie, Viginia Madsen, Miles, Paul Giamatti, Fess Parker Winery, Kita Winery, William Benjamin Foxen, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, port, Chumash Tribe, Syrah, Cabernet, Mother Earth, Our Valley Oak, Santa Ynez Valley, Samala, Santa Rita region, Solvang, La Fond Winery, women winemakers, Joe La Fond, Santa Barbara Winery, vineyards, California wines, Wine Ghetto, Palmina Wines, Babcock Winery, tasting rooms, vitner, The Hitching Post, Sideway Movie Tours, Napa and Sonoma Vineyards,The character Maya, from the movie Sideways, sets up this second series of tours  beautifully.  This next line serves as the perfect introduction. Played by Virginia Madsen, Maya tells Miles (Paul Giamatti) how she approaches each glass of wine:

I like to think about the life of wine…How it’s a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained.

Foxen, Fess & Kitá Wineries

When my husband and I arrive at the Foxen Winery,  we enjoy both the history and their luscious wines in the busy tasting room. Foxen Winery is named in memory of British sea captain William Benjamin Foxen, who was the founder’s great great grandfather.

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, May, Sideways movie, Viginia Madsen, Miles, Paul Giamatti, Fess Parker Winery, Kita Winery, William Benjamin Foxen, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, port, Chumash Tribe, Syrah, Cabernet, Mother Earth, Our Valley Oak, Santa Ynez Valley, Samala, Santa Rita region, Solvang, La Fond Winery, women winemakers, Joe La Fond, Santa Barbara Winery, vineyards, California wines, Wine Ghetto, Palmina Wines, Babcock Winery, tasting rooms, vitner, The Hitching Post, Sideway Movie Tours, Napa and Sonoma Vineyards,Foxen arrived in Santa Barbara in the 1800’s, and purchased 9,000 acres of Rancho Tinaquaic which comprised what is now called Foxen Trail.  In fact, his ranch brand was an anchor that still  adorns Foxen wine labels today.

Next stop, Fess Parker Winery. It was large and accommodating, befitting this much-awarded winery.  Some of the bottles on display had small coon hats on their corks in homage to the former actor’s role as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone back in the 1960’s.  While Parker is no longer alive, he made Santa Barbara his home for many years. His vineyard is very

successful and his two lovely resorts in the area are flourishing under Fess Parker Enterprises.  We enjoyed sampling a wide variety of beautiful wines including two unique dessert wines, their Traditions Port Style Red Wine and their 2009 Finale.

In 2010, shortly after the actor/vintner’s death, Fess Parker Enterprises sold 1400 acres of their Camp 4 land to the Chumash tribe. Tara Gomez a member of the Chumash tribe, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Enology in 1998 (one of two women) from Cal State Fresno, convinced her tribe to make wine.  In 2010, they offered three different types of wine: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Grenache.

It’s wonderful to celebrate Gomez and her successful Kitá Winery. It provides Gomez with a real opportunity to give back to her tribe. The name of the winery – Kitá – means “Our Valley Oak” in the Chumash native language of Samala. It pays homage to the gifts of Mother Earth and certainly preserves the historical spirit of the Santa Ynez Valley.

It’s also worth noting that only 20 wineries of the 200 in the Santa Barbara region are run by women. While women vintners are making strides into the 3400 plus wineries in the greater state of California, the 10% of women who are winemakers highlight the underrepresentation of women.

La Fond, Palmina & Santa Barbara Wineries

On our last day in Sonoma we toured the Santa Rita region.  Driving past Solvang, a Danish themed town, we spotted the “windmill” motel where Sideways characters, Miles and Jack famously stayed.   We Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, May, Sideways movie, Viginia Madsen, Miles, Paul Giamatti, Fess Parker Winery, Kita Winery, William Benjamin Foxen, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, port, Chumash Tribe, Syrah, Cabernet, Mother Earth, Our Valley Oak, Santa Ynez Valley, Samala, Santa Rita region, Solvang, La Fond Winery, women winemakers, Joe La Fond, Santa Barbara Winery, vineyards, California wines, Wine Ghetto, Palmina Wines, Babcock Winery, tasting rooms, vitner, The Hitching Post, Sideway Movie Tours, Napa and Sonoma Vineyards,made our way to La Fond Winery, where we sampled light and fresh Chardonnays and medium bodied Pinot Noirs that were all reasonably priced.  These vintages are part of the Santa Barbara Winery, the first vineyard of the region.  Created  in the 60’s, Santa Barbara Winery is the granddaddy of them all!

Vintner Joe La Fond was a part of these early beginnings.  It’s amazing to see that after 40 years this small region has over 200 vineyards.  We enjoyed the scenic picnic area and beautiful jaw-dropping vineyard views while waiting for friends to join us for our afternoon tasting adventures.

Before long,we’re back on the road to Lompoc. It’s about a 15-minute drive through a vineyard lined highway from La Fond before we arrive at an area known as the Wine Ghetto.  This is an industrial park with several small wineries in close proximity.  While lacking the traditional vineyard views, the wines we sampled at Palmina Wines proved to be extraordinary and worth the visit.

You just never know what undiscovered treasures await. Palmina wines use many Italian grapes not normally found in California wines. The result is outstanding. We enjoyed delicious reds, ranging from the lovely Dolcetto delicious (served cold or at room temperature)  to the full-bodied Pinots and Syrahs.  We eagerly ordered a case of these wonderful vintages.

Knowing there is no rest for the thirsty, we head back to the vineyards at Babcock Winery for full bodied Chardonnays and delicious Pinot Noirs. Their tasting room were filled with eclectic wine displays and wonderful sitting areas. Different vignettes displayed everything from vintage album covers to camera displays. We loved the vintage typewriters next to a pool table made for our sipping pleasure.

Wandering with our  sampler, we were on sensory overload as you can see from the photo below. The nostalgic displays in the Babcock room were a feast for the eyes. Classic rock music tickled our ears, while full bodied and rich tasting wines rolled over our  taste buds. This vintner  had us opening our wallets and packing their bottled treasures to take home!

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, May, Sideways movie, Viginia Madsen, Miles, Paul Giamatti, Fess Parker Winery, Kita Winery, William Benjamin Foxen, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, port, Chumash Tribe, Syrah, Cabernet, Mother Earth, Our Valley Oak, Santa Ynez Valley, Samala, Santa Rita region, Solvang, La Fond Winery, women winemakers, Joe La Fond, Santa Barbara Winery, vineyards, California wines, Wine Ghetto, Palmina Wines, Babcock Winery, tasting rooms, vitner, The Hitching Post, Sideway Movie Tours, Napa and Sonoma Vineyards,

What better way to end our final night  than by stopping at The Hitching Post for cocktails and dinner?!  The bar was exactly the same as the one used in the Sideways movie. I’m sure the restaurant will never change it, so tourists and locals who frequent it regularly aren’t upset. Many photos adorned the walls from the movie filming,  appeasing fans.

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, May, Sideways movie, Viginia Madsen, Miles, Paul Giamatti, Fess Parker Winery, Kita Winery, William Benjamin Foxen, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, port, Chumash Tribe, Syrah, Cabernet, Mother Earth, Our Valley Oak, Santa Ynez Valley, Samala, Santa Rita region, Solvang, La Fond Winery, women winemakers, Joe La Fond, Santa Barbara Winery, vineyards, California wines, Wine Ghetto, Palmina Wines, Babcock Winery, tasting rooms, vitner, The Hitching Post, Sideway Movie Tours, Napa and Sonoma Vineyards,While enjoying dinner in a traditional red booth, we choose from  menu offerings like lobster tail, a variety of steaks and seafood with traditional sides.  Our group enjoyed steaks, rack of lamb and lobster all expertly prepared and served.  I kept sneaking looks for Miles at the bar, but he was a no show.

We  did our own freelance tour but there are many tours that offer pre-packaged options like the Sideways Movie Tour for die-hard fans.  Biking and tasting tour options are also offered along with more traditional tours.  Frequent wine events advertised online make trip planning easy.  Because many of the wineries are small family operations, it is always best to call wineries before leaving. You can check their tasting room hours and also make a reservation.

Heading home,  we celebrated our sizeable stash of wines for our modest cellar and the memorable meals we enjoyed.  We had fun spotting movie sites from Sideways and discovering a few smaller winery gems closer to home without having to drive to Napa and Sonoma vineyards.  Each winery has its own interesting and definitive history and traditions that make each one a unique discovery.

Overall, the Santa Barbara wine growing region has come into its own, with talented chefs and increasingly popular restaurants providing the perfect complement to the region’s expanding wines.  Vintners are expanding their variety of grapes, once better known in Italy and France, with delicious results.  And increasing numbers of female vintners will soon add another dimension to the Santa Barbara wine region’s popularity over the years to come.

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, May, Sideways movie, Viginia Madsen, Miles, Paul Giamatti, Fess Parker Winery, Kita Winery, William Benjamin Foxen, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, port, Chumash Tribe, Syrah, Cabernet, Mother Earth, Our Valley Oak, Santa Ynez Valley, Samala, Santa Rita region, Solvang, La Fond Winery, women winemakers, Joe La Fond, Santa Barbara Winery, vineyards, California wines, Wine Ghetto, Palmina Wines, Babcock Winery, tasting rooms, vitner, The Hitching Post, Sideway Movie Tours, Napa and Sonoma Vineyards,

Adrienne St. John, Chardonnay, Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, Foxen Winery, Imagine Winery, Italian varietals, Los Olivos, Napa Wine tTails, Pearl painting, Pinot Noir, President Bill Clinton, Presqu’ile Winery, Rex Pickett, Rideau Winery, Ross and Lindsay Rankin, Santa Barbara wine trail, Santa Ynez, Sideways Trails, Sonoma Wine Region, Syrah-Panty Dropper Boxer Dropper, Zaca Mesa Winery
WomanScape welcomes Contributing writer and published California photographer, Denise Benson. She is a creative storyteller who is passionate about history, new ideas, people, and cultures. For Denise, life is an artful journey and invitation to explore adventures in sailing, travel, food & wine, books, and nature. You can follow Denise’s colorful stories the last Thursday of every month.
As a California resident, Denise’s new series starts with a tribute to people who continue to battle destructive fires. This special publication, over two days, celebrates Sonoma and Napa Valley Wine Country.
Join WomanScape and Denise, by raising a glass to the spirit and industry of Californians!

International Festival of Authors, poetry slam, poetry, Toronto, Canada, IFOA, PEN Canada, Rashad Ramazanov, Spoify, Poetry Slam Inc., Enheduanna, Sumerian city of Ur, Mesopotamian poetry, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Julie Cameron Gray, artful poetry

Slam Poetry is poetic pugilism! That’s right, a tour de force, smack-down battle of words performed by a group of competing poets. Each is hell-bent on artfully entertaining and sharing creatively crafted ideas in poetic form. The prize money is barely enough to cover a few rounds of beer and there’s no real fame from winning.

International Festival of Authors, poetry slam, poetry, Toronto, Canada, IFOA, PEN Canada, Rashad Ramazanov, Spoify, Poetry Slam Inc., Enheduanna, Sumerian city of Ur, Mesopotamian poetry, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Julie Cameron Gray, artful poetry

Instead, the poets crave intellectual camaraderie, learning and the spirited challenge of wowing an audience. Their equipment – an impressive styling of verse, alliteration, couplets, spondees and a rich cadre of other poetry tools. But when I attend the 38th International Festival of Authors (IFOA) Slam Poetry Event in Toronto, Canada, I’m not sure about what to expect. Let’s just say, pun intended, that I am slammed. Slam poetry takes poetry to new heights as a living, evolving art form filled with exciting possibilities and insight.  

My Slam Poetry Experience

International Festival of Authors, poetry slam, poetry, Toronto, Canada, IFOA, PEN Canada, Rashad Ramazanov, Spoify, Poetry Slam Inc., Enheduanna, Sumerian city of Ur, Mesopotamian poetry, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Julie Cameron Gray, artful poetry

Here at my first slam poetry contest, I learn thirteen poetry-creatives will each have 3 minutes to perform an original poem. The crowd is boisterous as I scan the room for poetry newbies like me. I wonder if this will be an intellectual sparring of words as a young couple behind me keeps kicking my chair legs like impetuous children. Thankfully, the moderator Dave Silverberg (pictured above) takes the stage and explains the contest rules.

International Festival of Authors, poetry slam, poetry, Toronto, Canada, IFOA, PEN Canada, Rashad Ramazanov, Spoify, Poetry Slam Inc., Enheduanna, Sumerian city of Ur, Mesopotamian poetry, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Julie Cameron Gray, artful poetryFive randomly selected judges from the Toronto audience will score each poem out of a possible 10. And get this, the verbal-gymnastics style Dancing with the Stars contest encourages audience participation! We’re told to snap fingers, stomp feet or yell “hell ya” if we want to cheer on the contestants. The highest and lowest scores from each round are thrown out, and the final score is the sum of the three remaining scores. The top six performers advance to the finals and perform a final poem to determine the winner.

Before the slam begins, the audience is directed to an empty chair on stage. The face of an imprisoned writer from somewhere in the world is taped to the backrest. It’s meant to honor the pursuit of truth and remind us to cherish freedom of speech. This year’s photo chosen by PEN Canada recognizes Azeri writer and blogger, Rashad Ramazanov. PEN is a premier sponsor of the IFOA and this year’s Slam Poetry contest, and one of 148 nonprofit PEN organizations advocating for justice in the world.

Slamming Expectations

International Festival of Authors, poetry slam, poetry, Toronto, Canada, IFOA, PEN Canada, Rashad Ramazanov, Spoify, Poetry Slam Inc., Enheduanna, Sumerian city of Ur, Mesopotamian poetry, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Julie Cameron Gray, artful poetryThe slam starts with a bang, as Aton speeds through the story of his father who drank so much he decided to throw himself in front of a truck. The auditorium is stunned. Anton artfully twists his words like a surgeon doing open heart surgery until we exhale with relief. His father survives and celebrates his second chance at life.

Tonya follows Anton with a “I’m so gay” poem. It’s both funny and disturbing. You feel the painful and dehumanizing ways the world chips at her right to be loved. I begin to suspect all of the young poets will strut their disappointment and angst with the world. When Lottie reads “Her sister’s boyfriend” poem, she confirms this fear. My stomach aches from her sister’s spiralling drug addiction, and things get worse until the boyfriend dies.

Every story is riveting but I’m admittedly shocked at the creativity and brilliant wordsmithing. Halfway through the program Ola and Thunderman Robin each take the stage, and a rainbow appears. They are more than their courageous stories and social commentaries on addiction, sexuality, and sad familial conditions.

International Festival of Authors, poetry slam, poetry, Toronto, Canada, IFOA, PEN Canada, Rashad Ramazanov, Spoify, Poetry Slam Inc., Enheduanna, Sumerian city of Ur, Mesopotamian poetry, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Julie Cameron Gray, artful poetryOla’s poem is constructed like a Spotify playlist with each song dissecting her emotional sensitivities and philosophical musings. She moves from nihilism and Nietzsche to deeper existential questions. Ola is learned and insightful beyond her years. She shames my ignorant heart and unfounded concerns about slam poetry.

When Thunderman Robin follows Ola’s performance, the dust lifts from the cover of my beloved Yeats, Whitman and Dickinson. Robin lifts his head slowly and begins with, “Can we win?” After a pause he repeats the line with ferocity. What follows is a race by the audience r to keep up with Robin’s lightning-fast tongue. We see the challenges of being black on the corner of his neighborhood, where “criminals should be brothers.” Images of Martin Luther King, slaves rowing and Chicago street gangs blend into one artfully told story. It ends with “when we win.”

The Traditions of Poetry Continue

International Festival of Authors, poetry slam, poetry, Toronto, Canada, IFOA, PEN Canada, Rashad Ramazanov, Spoify, Poetry Slam Inc., Enheduanna, Sumerian city of Ur, Mesopotamian poetry, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Julie Cameron Gray, artful poetrySlam poetry is relatively new, with humble beginnings in 1990 Chicago. The first National Poetry Slam was held in a bar with a team of poets from Chicago and San Francisco. Today over 80 teams from the US, Canada, and Europe compete around the world through Poetry Slam Inc. Despite having a set of performance rules, the same traditions of poetry dating back to ancient times still apply.

These traditions include a focus on  recording history, genealogy and law, and poetry that’s often set in musical verse. Enheduanna, the first female poet of 23 century B.C., was a high priestess in the Sumerian city of Ur. She wrote forty-two ancient Mesopotamian poems as hymns and her accounts have survived as historical documents in modern-day Iraq.

Most of the slam poets I watched at the IFOA were millennials who crafted fast-talking verses that also sounded like song. International Festival of Authors, poetry slam, poetry, Toronto, Canada, IFOA, PEN Canada, Rashad Ramazanov, Spoify, Poetry Slam Inc., Enheduanna, Sumerian city of Ur, Mesopotamian poetry, Deanna Rodger, Dean Atta, Julie Cameron Gray, artful poetryThey spoke to topics that have stood the test of time; from our beliefs and history, to concerns about injustice and love.

In fact,  the art of slam poetry provides a window into our culture and history just like Enheduanna’s poems did. Slam poetry provides young people with an opportunity to be heard in a modern and intellectual way. It’s arguably more entertaining and takes poetry to new heights, beyond the borders of rap music and country and western songs.

I predict its popularity will grow as more people enjoy this new art. I even discovered a 2018 Women Around the World Poetry Slam in Dallas, Texas. What I do know is the audience jumped to its feet at the poetry slam in Toronto when two British poets performed after the first round of poems. Dean Atta did a piece from his new book of poems, I Am Nobody’s Nigger. It’s uplifting words of truth have graced major British museums and garnered national acclaim.

Likewise, Deanna Rodger is another popular British slam poet to watch. Her sharp wit and social conscious make an entertaining plea slam poetry and social justice. Politicians could learn a few things about affordable housing her her Landlord YouTube video. She challenges Baby boom landlords to offer affordable rent and fair living conditions. Similarly, her I Tell Her video attacks the cultural malaise of young people whose voices “get hung while her heart falls through the cracks of (their) broken esteem.”

This is the first time IFOA has done a slam but I plan to be back next year to hear more from these poetic new voices and brave performers. Shining a light on this artful poetry is important even if it seems like they are “working in the dark [because] it’s a work that must be done.” (Julie Cameron Gray)

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, motherhood, gender roles, gender equity, maternity benefits, Canadian Maternity Benefits, U.S. Maternity Benefits, maternity leave, competitive advantages, global economic growth, stalled women in the workforce, Who Decided Pregnancy Was a Disability, Bloomberg Report on Motherhood, Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, Global Comparison of Parental Leave, Mary Cassatt, UN Report: Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment, Mr. Jim Yong Kim, Ms. Christine Legarde, the International Monetary Fund, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Mr. Michael Spence, 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, motherhood, gender roles, gender equity, maternity benefits, Canadian Maternity Benefits, U.S. Maternity Benefits, maternity leave, competitive advantages, global economic growth, stalled women in the workforce, Who Decided Pregnancy Was a Disability, Bloomberg Report on Motherhood, Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, Global Comparison of Parental Leave, Mary Cassatt, UN Report: Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment, Mr. Jim Yong Kim, Ms. Christine Legarde, the International Monetary Fund, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Mr. Michael Spence, 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic SciencesI don’t think Austrian artist Gustav Klimt was thinking about the economy when he painted this serene picture of a mother and child.

He was capturing the beauty of motherhood and familial relationships. But do mothers have time to nurture this special relationship? Financial pressures and gender roles create attitudes and social behaviors that influence our family values. So when motherhood becomes a financial burden or a woman’s gender prevents her from contributing equally in the workforce, she is shortchanged. However, the problem is much larger. Wasted skills, lost intellectual capital and reduced participation in the workforce affect a country’s bottom line. Gender equality makes economic sense and championing family values creates global competitive advantages.

Snapshot of Canadian versus American Maternity Values

It’s no secret the United States continues seriously struggles with gender equality. We are in crisis mode and it shows in the workforce. Workplace demands are discriminatory because women struggle without systemic support systems vital for raising a healthy family.  For example, long-term studies prove that investing in women and maternity leave lowers infant mortality. It is an investment in a country’s economics. Women are more likely to breastfeed and the health benefits of this include a reduced risk of infectious diseases and better cognitive outcomes for the child.

Women who are given time to nurture their children and recover from childbirth establish a stronger relationship with their baby. Men play an equally important role in nurturing children and the family. They offer additional support and should also have the time to bond with the baby. Employers and governments need to provide networks that lay a strong foundation for future generation of workers. The economics are irrefutable: maternity and paternity leaves are a short-term investment that pays long term dividends.

But look at what’s happened in America. Women are waiting longer to have children because having a baby is a pay cut with further potential downside risks. Short maternity leaves mean higher childcare costs for families. Inflexible work environments force women to sacrifice job promotions, salary increases and a lost career track. An entire segment of a country’s qualified workforce – women – is grossly impacted and competitive advantages are lost.

http://www.npr.org/2016/10/06/495839588/countries-around-the-world-beat-the-u-s-on-paid-parental-leaveA 2017 Bloomberg Report shows the impact of a flat labor force in America. Progress has stalled over the last four decades since the late 80’s. On average, women in their twenties are waiting four more years longer to have children (up from 22 years to 26 years). Overall workforce participation starts to drop when women are in their 30’s and 40’s. It increases when they try to return in their 50’s and 60’s. I can’t tell you how many women I know that fall into this middle gap. They have experience and intellectual capital but their job prospects are pretty sparse. There is no precedent for the increased number of women forgoing their golden years and working into their 60’s and 70’s.

The chart below comparing American maternity benefits to Canadian benefits leaves a sour taste. Can you blame women for opting out? As mentioned in Who Decided Pregnancy Was a Disability?, the United States maternity leave is one of the lowest in the world, ranking alongside New Guinea and some of the South Pacific Islands. At the bottom of more than 193 other countries around the world, America’s family values are shockingly low. It also calls into question its status as a so-called “developed country.”

http://www.npr.org/2016/10/06/495839588/countries-around-the-world-beat-the-u-s-on-paid-parental-leave

Maternity Leave: Best and Worst Countries

This is the perfect time to introduce Malcolm Gladwell and his book Outliers: The Story of Success. Gladwell examines the performance of people in various sports, academia, and business fields, identifying why they are successful. Time and again, the greatest common indicators are culture and environment. It’s not a stretch to see that these same success factors also apply to how countries perform when it comes to championing women.

While you can’t actually see the culture of countries in the chart below, the environmental support for motherhood is apparent. And, don’t go jumping up and down! There is NO national legislation that protects maternity leave in the United States. The chart is a best case scenario for companies that choose to provide maternity leave. While more companies are seeing it as a competitive advantage in the marketplace, smaller companies with less than 75 employees don’t need to offer anything. This is significant point because small business is the backbone of America with just under half of the U.S. gross domestic product coming from this segment.

http://www.npr.org/2016/10/06/495839588/countries-around-the-world-beat-the-u-s-on-paid-parental-leaveHere is what you can’t see in the chart that’s worth sharing. Sweden provides 16-month parental leaves that can be shared between two parents! Australia provides 33 weeks for each parent, and then another 33 weeks to be split by them in whatever way they choose. I also noticed the most competitive countries have paid paternity leave for dads. Too many countries don’t include dads in the economics of the family. Why couldn’t this picture by American painter Mary Cassatt show a father hugging a daughter? This helps to explain why European women are more likely to work, particularly in countries like the U.K. and France because paternity leave is supported.

How to Get to Economic Growth

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, motherhood, gender roles, gender equity, maternity benefits, Canadian Maternity Benefits, U.S. Maternity Benefits, maternity leave, competitive advantages, global economic growth, stalled women in the workforce, Who Decided Pregnancy Was a Disability, Bloomberg Report on Motherhood, Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, Global Comparison of Parental Leave, Mary Cassatt, UN Report: Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment, Mr. Jim Yong Kim, Ms. Christine Legarde, the International Monetary Fund, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Mr. Michael Spence, 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

So where do we go from here? A United Nations Report, Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment, found that countries who remove discriminatory laws and accelerate women’s economic empowerment realize greater sustained economic growth. There are dozens of charts and reports that correlate gender equality to faster economic growth, higher income per capita and improved human development. These gains are even greater in countries like Germany, Korea, Italy and Singapore where women’s participation rates are low. In more developed countries like England, New Zealand and Latin American countries, improved maternity leaves helped create better income distribution while reducing poverty rates.

In the UN Report, more than 943 gender-differentiated laws documented in over 170 economies help to identify opportunities for economic improvements and competitiveness. Two thoughts on this: that’s a lot of gender bias embedded in our culture and environment, and why aren’t we listening to all this great advice! Call me crazy but there’s some serious high level thinking that went into the UN Report.

Some of the authors include people like Mr. Jim Yong Kim (President of the World Bank), Ms. Christine Legarde (Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund), Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women) and Mr. Michael Spence (Economist and recipient of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences).

Without watering the report down too much, the UN Report says countries must do these things to increase their competitive advantage:

  • Economies need to harness women in the workforce to grow (i.e. U.S. could grow the economy by 5% if they did this according to Bloomberg’s Report);
  • Women need to have babies to sustain workforce’s and grow economies;
  • Women need to be healthy enough to remain in the workforce and given time to emotionally bond and physically heal from childbirth;
  • Women need support systems to return to work and to be productive.  This means childcare, positive role models to change existing discriminatory norms and guaranteed legal protections;
  • Countries need to recognize and reduce unpaid work in the home by encouraging and valuing paternity leaves; and…
  • Women need a collective stronger voice that will ensure their visibility and representation in the government policy making and improved public sector practices.

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, motherhood, gender roles, gender equity, maternity benefits, Canadian Maternity Benefits, U.S. Maternity Benefits, maternity leave, competitive advantages, global economic growth, stalled women in the workforce, Who Decided Pregnancy Was a Disability, Bloomberg Report on Motherhood, Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, Global Comparison of Parental Leave, Mary Cassatt, UN Report: Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Economic Empowerment, Mr. Jim Yong Kim, Ms. Christine Legarde, the International Monetary Fund, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Mr. Michael Spence, 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic SciencesThe big question now is what businesses and countries will do with this knowledge.

I wonder if we need a fresh approach. Maybe we should be fighting for paternity leave and soliciting the assistance of men. This would create greater overall support for parental leave and securing equal rights. If we focus instead on parental leave – like many advances countries already do – we’ll bring a refreshingly twenty-first century way to approach gender equality!

At any rate, we need to build a more unified case for gender equality and those qualities that help mothers to bond with their children. When we champion the economics of motherhood the art of the family flourishes, alongside our shared humanity.

My conversation with Angelina Jolie last Saturday, September 9th at Toronto’s acclaimed International Film Festival (TIFF) was personal. Even though I had come to hear her speak in CBC’s (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Glenn Gould Studio with 200 people as part of TIFF’s annual In Conversation Series, Angelina said something that won my heart. Clearly passionate about her new role in film and what she intended to do, Angelina said:

I love diversity and believe our world is stronger for it. We have so much to share with each other and it’s the greatest way to deeply learn and create together.

Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, In Conversation With, Angelina Jolie, Artistic Director of TIFF, Cameron Bailey, cultural diversity, Girl Interrupted, Gia, Maleficent, Unbroken, The Breadwinner, Louis Zamperini, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Khmer Rouge, Jon Voight, Marcheline Bertrand, Changeling, A Mighty Heart, Disney, Sleeping Beauty, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, UN Ambassador, global activist, Lee Strasberg, Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton, Brad Pitt,This message is the essence of WomanScape – building cultural connections for learning and growing together! I sat riveted. And, over the course of this hour-long interview with TIFF’s artistic director Cameron Bailey, I escaped into Angelina’s world. Bailey’s job was formidable. He avoided the impossible task of listing the more than 48 movies Angelina has appeared in. Instead, he highlighted her most prominent accomplishments as an actor, director and humanitarian.

Angelina’s Acting Career

Dressed in a simple loose fitting white shirt and a long matching skirt that floated around her feet, Angelina was ethereal. She sat very still when the movie screen behind her flashed film clips that accompanied Bailey’s references to her mounting film credits. Not once did Angelina turn around during excerpts like this one below with Whoopi Goldberg. This was not the wild-child actress of years ago, or some Brangelina figure.

Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, In Conversation With, Angelina Jolie, Artistic Director of TIFF, Cameron Bailey, cultural diversity, Girl Interrupted, Gia, Maleficent, Unbroken, The Breadwinner, Louis Zamperini, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Khmer Rouge, Jon Voight, Marcheline Bertrand, Changeling, A Mighty Heart, Disney, Sleeping Beauty, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, UN Ambassador, global activist, Lee Strasberg, Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton, Brad Pitt,

No, Angelina’s composure and graceful movements matched her deliberately thoughtful and insightful answers. I confess, like most people, that I was curious to know who Angelina really was, in lieu of the fanfare surrounding her celebrity status in Hollywood. For years, we’ve seen photos of her beauty and tabloid-fodder stories that rip apart her past marriages to fellow actors Johnny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton and, until recently, Brad Pitt.

In many ways, I think this history has eclipsed her acting artistry and philanthropy. It is a far cry from the UN Ambassador and decorated global activist who started humbly as a young theater student-in-training with Lee Strasberg in New York. Angelina’s stardom happened quickly, after movies like the 1998 film Gia (about a model hooked on cocaine) garnered attention.  It showcased her depth of emotion, opening the door to more opportunities like the action hero figure she played in 2001, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. This led to a massive fan base and broad audience appeal, while opening the door to more serious dramatic roles and award, like her severe paranoia character in Girl Interrupted.

Dramatic scripts and meatier roles in movies like the Changeling and A Mighty Heart took her to new heights. In her personal life, Angelina adopted children from several international countries while also giving birth to children of her own. This likely influenced Angelina as she stepped into the world of Disney’s adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. The wide-eyed face and radiant smile that I saw on stage at TIFF was an equally captivating and scary sorceress in Maleficent (shown below). Angelina had become a very self-aware and seasoned professional.

Angelina as Director

Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, In Conversation With, Angelina Jolie, Artistic Director of TIFF, Cameron Bailey, cultural diversity, Girl Interrupted, Gia, Maleficent, Unbroken, The Breadwinner, Louis Zamperini, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Khmer Rouge, Jon Voight, Marcheline Bertrand, Changeling, A Mighty Heart, Disney, Sleeping Beauty, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, UN Ambassador, global activist, Lee Strasberg, Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton, Brad Pitt,So why the director chair? Angelina is the first to admit she never planned to move behind the camera when she started out in film. As the daughter of two film actors, Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand, Angelina felt destined to act. Her mother just assumed she would go into the family business. However, this changed when Angelina lost her mother to ovarian cancer at just 56 years of age in 2007.

This prompted new ideas and the kind of creative work we see in Angelina’s two films at TIFF. Both films directed by Angelina explore women from other countries. In the cover photo of this article, we see a clip from the BreadWinner. It is an animated feature about a young girl in Afghanistan who disguises herself as a boy to help her mother and sister. The other movie, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, is a Netflix film about a child soldier in the Khmer Rouge regime in 1975. (Photo clip below is taken from the movie.)

Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, In Conversation With, Angelina Jolie, Artistic Director of TIFF, Cameron Bailey, cultural diversity, Girl Interrupted, Gia, Maleficent, Unbroken, The Breadwinner, Louis Zamperini, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Khmer Rouge, Jon Voight, Marcheline Bertrand, Changeling, A Mighty Heart, Disney, Sleeping Beauty, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, UN Ambassador, global activist, Lee Strasberg, Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton, Brad Pitt,

Angelina says several factors explain her desire to be behind the camera.  She slipped into directing her first film, In the Land of Blood and Honey, when she wanted to learn more about the war in Bosnia and the history of Yugoslavia. A self-proclaimed history buff, Angelina says she’s always been very aware of the macro picture in filming – crews working together, the direction of the cameras, stylized costume and language, etc. Watching actors use their words and seeing the trans-formative power of scripts created a keen interest in writing. Bringing all of these worlds together just seemed like the next thing to do.

Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, In Conversation With, Angelina Jolie, Artistic Director of TIFF, Cameron Bailey, cultural diversity, Girl Interrupted, Gia, Maleficent, Unbroken, The Breadwinner, Louis Zamperini, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Khmer Rouge, Jon Voight, Marcheline Bertrand, Changeling, A Mighty Heart, Disney, Sleeping Beauty, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, UN Ambassador, global activist, Lee Strasberg, Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton, Brad Pitt,What’s clear when you look at Angelina’s entire body of work, is the progressive maturing of her point of view. In her humanitarian work, she hopes to leave the world in a better way. She feels the weightiness of being a role model for other women and girls, and wants the dignity of all people to matter. Her focus on cultural history and stories from around the world illustrates where Angelina is headed.

For Angelina, art can help people find peace and resolution. She is one of a new breed of female directors powering their way to the top of the box offices. TIFF announced that it would make a five-year commitment to increasing opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera. Angelina is one of those women who believes her films can help humanity to learn to grieve, to heal and to be empowered. Unbroken is produced in 2014, and examines the true story of World War II hero, Louis Zamperini. Louis fights to survive the horrors of Japanese war camps.

At the conclusion of Angelina’s interview, she did something I never would have expected.  She stayed behind for more than 20 minutes signing autographs and taking selfie photos. Talk about truly moving behind the camera! It’s clear that Angelina wants to communicate with young people around the world.

Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, In Conversation With, Angelina Jolie, Artistic Director of TIFF, Cameron Bailey, cultural diversity, Girl Interrupted, Gia, Maleficent, Unbroken, The Breadwinner, Louis Zamperini, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Khmer Rouge, Jon Voight, Marcheline Bertrand, Changeling, A Mighty Heart, Disney, Sleeping Beauty, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, UN Ambassador, global activist, Lee Strasberg, Jonny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton, Brad Pitt,

9/11, 911, National September 11 Memorial Museum, 911 Museum, New York City Reflecting Pools, global disasters, Canada, Spain, Iceland, natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, WomanScape, One World Trade Center, Marsh & McLennan, North Tower, South Tower, Afganisgtan, Iraq, War on Terror, Virgil, The Aeneid. Minoru Yamasaki, Come From Away, Broadway Tony Awards, Gander, Newfoundland, Peter Walker, numerologist, numerology, eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness, sacrifice, new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, the energies of positivity, oneness, racism, discrimination, Freedom Tower N145

Did you realize we dial 9-1-1 in an emergency and these are the exact numbers that recount one of the most tragic days in recent U.S. history?

Each year on 9/11, I remember the aftermath of lost souls while cherishing the 9-1-1 souls of the living. They are the world’s first responders. As emergency personnel, they sacrifice everything to keep us safe. Today’s article is dedicated to them. WomanScape thanks these brave professionals in the wake of looming and current global disasters. They are hope in the face of earthquakes in Mexico and Iceland, gale force winds from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and wildfires in Canada, Spain and California.

The Numbers From 9/11

My husband can see the unfolding horror from his office on the 45th floor of 1166 6th Avenue in New York. People are crying with wide-eyed faces pressed hard against the window panes. They see the smoke from the burning towers not knowing the fates of their company employees in One World Trade Center. More than 2 billion from around the world watch with them, via television or radio. It is

Monday, September 11, 2001.

The statistics of 9/11 are sobering. Nearly 300 of their brothers and sisters at Marsh & McLennan will never return home. Thousands of schools close in New York’s surrounding tri-state area, and hundreds of thousands of children are sent home. The 47 steel columns running through the 1,362 foot high towers from the North Tower and the South Tower crumble. When the jets from Flight 11 and Flight 175 hit, all 157 souls on board perish. The South Tower falls at 9:58 a.m. EST. The North Tower falls at 10:28 EST. Balls of fire erupt and burn for months.

By day’s end, the aftermath is:

  • 2,606 lost at the World Trade Center;
  • 246 lost in the air;
  • 125 lost in the Pentagon building;
  • 19 al-Qaeda hijackers lost; and,
  • 2,996 lost in total.

It takes 13 years for the National September 11 Memorial Museum to officially open in June of 2014. It sits on the crash site officials call Ground Zero.  The museum at 180 Greenwich Street is a permanent collection of artifacts and stories that continues to expand. The carnage from families destroyed reads like a runaway ticker-tape. The War on Terror signals the U.S. invasion into Afghanistan and Iraq. More families are torn apart and more math to tally.

9/11, 911, National September 11 Memorial Museum, 911 Museum, New York City Reflecting Pools, global disasters, Canada, Spain, Iceland, natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, WomanScape, One World Trade Center, Marsh & McLennan, North Tower, South Tower, Afganisgtan, Iraq, War on Terror, Virgil, The Aeneid. Minoru Yamasaki, Come From Away, Broadway Tony Awards, Gander, Newfoundland, Peter Walker, numerologist, numerology, eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness, sacrifice, new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, the energies of positivity, oneness, racism, discrimination, Freedom Tower N145

But when I do the math, the numbers take me away from the intimacy of each life lost. So each time I visit the museum, I make sure family and friends focus on the people who lived and died. I cry every time. This is especially true when I stand in front of the blue-tiled, concrete wall on the lower level of the museum. It is a giant tomb that separates visitors from nearly 8,000 unidentified human remains. It has become a controversial resting place of lives lost. But, it is impossible not to grieve when you read the inscription:

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

9/11, 911, National September 11 Memorial Museum, 911 Museum, New York City Reflecting Pools, global disasters, Canada, Spain, Iceland, natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, WomanScape, One World Trade Center, Marsh & McLennan, North Tower, South Tower, Afganisgtan, Iraq, War on Terror, Virgil, The Aeneid. Minoru Yamasaki, Come From Away, Broadway Tony Awards, Gander, Newfoundland, Peter Walker, numerologist, numerology, eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness, sacrifice, new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, the energies of positivity, oneness, racism, discrimination, Freedom Tower N145

This photo taken from the 911 museum website depicts a quote from Virgil’s poem, the Aeneid. Although critics say the quote is incorrectly used, the spirit conveys the importance of every life. It is comforting to know time will not forget us. This is significant because the greatest loss of life from this foreign attack on American soil was the rescue personnel who responded to 9-1-1.

After the Math: The Land of the Living

9/11, 911, National September 11 Memorial Museum, 911 Museum, New York City Reflecting Pools, global disasters, Canada, Spain, Iceland, natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, WomanScape, One World Trade Center, Marsh & McLennan, North Tower, South Tower, Afganisgtan, Iraq, War on Terror, Virgil, The Aeneid. Minoru Yamasaki, Come From Away, Broadway Tony Awards, Gander, Newfoundland, Peter Walker, numerologist, numerology, eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness, sacrifice, new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, the energies of positivity, oneness, racism, discrimination, Freedom Tower N145This number is critical as our planet earth fights to survive chaos. We are inundated with increasing threats of violence from terrorists, and climate assaults by mother nature. So the physical constructs from the 9/11 museum offer some timely insights. The founding stone from the World Trade Center and the Reflecting Pools built in commemoration of lives lost during 9/11 are wonderful examples of the critical role and hope created by first responders.

The photo above is a quote by architect, Minoru Yamasaki. It reminds us that peace depends on our humanity and the spirit of cooperation. Although I’d like to change some of the wording such as “the cooperation of men” to read “all people”, the intent is about our collective working together. As we face mounting national and global challenges, our hope rests on the men and women who work together across local, national and even international channels to offer support. Countless personal stories attest to simple acts of kindness, where police officers, medical teams, firefighters and first-aid agencies provide life-saving help.

9/11, 911, National September 11 Memorial Museum, 911 Museum, New York City Reflecting Pools, global disasters, Canada, Spain, Iceland, natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, WomanScape, One World Trade Center, Marsh & McLennan, North Tower, South Tower, Afganisgtan, Iraq, War on Terror, Virgil, The Aeneid. Minoru Yamasaki, Come From Away, Broadway Tony Awards, Gander, Newfoundland, Peter Walker, numerologist, numerology, eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness, sacrifice, new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, the energies of positivity, oneness, racism, discrimination, Freedom Tower N145Who can forget the stories of first responders from other countries that drove or flew to New York to help after 9/11? One such story was turned into a musical that picked up 7 Tony Award nominations. It showcases a universal message about what happens when a broader collective of people demonstrate what humanity means.

This was the storyline in the smash Broadway hit, “Come From Away.” The play recounts the experiences of 7,000 people stranded in Gander, Newfoundland after 38 plane were grounded immediately following 9/11. People from Gander shared their hearts and their homes, giving new meaning to the definition of first responders.

The North and South Reflecting Pools at the museum build on this story of hope. Yes, they are impressive sized pools each measuring a full acre in size. But they do more than reflect the footprints of the Twin Towers. They were built to accentuate the absence of what was (the former towers that are gone and the lives lost), but they also represent the healing powers of water and nature.

9/11, 911, National September 11 Memorial Museum, 911 Museum, New York City Reflecting Pools, global disasters, Canada, Spain, Iceland, natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, WomanScape, One World Trade Center, Marsh & McLennan, North Tower, South Tower, Afganisgtan, Iraq, War on Terror, Virgil, The Aeneid. Minoru Yamasaki, Come From Away, Broadway Tony Awards, Gander, Newfoundland, Peter Walker, numerologist, numerology, eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness, sacrifice, new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, the energies of positivity, oneness, racism, discrimination, Freedom Tower N145When you stand next to the pools, the frenetic traffic sounds and noises of New York disappear. Parklands surrounding the contemplative waterfalls inside each of the pools offer visitors the peace found in nature. But what I also see in the vision of landscape architect Peter Walker goes further than a calm place of sanctuary and remembrance. When you look into the pools of water that wash over the names of 2,983 victims, the sky is reflected in them. It’s captured best in the second photo below.

In the face of adversity, humanity looks to the sky for forgiveness, compassion and strength. Although it may seem like a stretch, numerologists and people from diverse cultures believe numbers are imbued with significant meaning.

For example, in the Hindu faith the number 9 is divine because it is the highest single digit. As well, numerologists believe 9 traditionally represents earthly lessons of forgiveness and compassion.  I discovered a laundry list of interpretative associations with the number 9 and can’t help but think of how appropriately they fit into the vision provided by the reflecting pools. Number 9 is associated with eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness and sacrifice.

The math gets even more interesting when you look at the number 1. How fascinating to think about 9-1-1 responders and the reflecting pool when you consider that 1 represents new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, and the energies of positivity! In Western traditions, number 1 is also associated with God and the oneness of God and man. In this light, the oneness of humanity eliminates racism and discrimination.

9/11, 911, National September 11 Memorial Museum, 911 Museum, New York City Reflecting Pools, global disasters, Canada, Spain, Iceland, natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, WomanScape, One World Trade Center, Marsh & McLennan, North Tower, South Tower, Afganisgtan, Iraq, War on Terror, Virgil, The Aeneid. Minoru Yamasaki, Come From Away, Broadway Tony Awards, Gander, Newfoundland, Peter Walker, numerologist, numerology, eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness, sacrifice, new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, the energies of positivity, oneness, racism, discrimination, Freedom Tower N145

9/11, 911, National September 11 Memorial Museum, 911 Museum, New York City Reflecting Pools, global disasters, Canada, Spain, Iceland, natural disasters, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, WomanScape, One World Trade Center, Marsh & McLennan, North Tower, South Tower, Afganisgtan, Iraq, War on Terror, Virgil, The Aeneid. Minoru Yamasaki, Come From Away, Broadway Tony Awards, Gander, Newfoundland, Peter Walker, numerologist, numerology, eternity, faith, service to humanity, spiritual enlightenment, selflessness, sacrifice, new beginnings, creation, striving forward, progress, the energies of positivity, oneness, racism, discrimination, Freedom Tower N145As we honor the memories of lives lived and the souls sacrificed for our freedom and good, let’s not forget those who stand for our protection. New York’s Freedom Tower stands watch over New York City, a gleaming beacon of strength and beauty. To my brother who is a policeman, to the brother that died a paramedic, and  to the daughter I love as an emergency room nurse, I stand in the shadow of your powerful conviction and never-ending hope.

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