Category Archives: Wonder Women

Hungry for a Healthy, Peaceful Planet

The pomegranate tree our daughter and I ate lunch beneath on a journey celebrating completion of her Ph.D.

Mary Beard’s book Women & Power:  A Manifesto skillfully traces women’s lack of voice and power in society from ancient Greece to today.  She makes the case powerfully enough that her unsettling questions began rattling around in my sleep — stoking my deep longing to live in a verdant, nurturing world that honors and affirms women, the earth, and dare I say it? Peace.

So, I shouldn’t have been surprised a few days later when my hair was metaphorically “set on fire” by an innocent-enough looking plaque at the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show.  The culprit.  None other than the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius.  The offense.  Comparing “Ian, the Chinese word for orchid to the ideal man, ‘chun-tzu'” and claiming orchids the “king of fragrant plants.”  Of course, I thought, orchids would give him cause to celebrate the ideal man.

The information plaque that raised my ire.

Mary’s 104-page volume is comprised of two lectures and supporting photographs.  While her examples are compelling, I doubt the book would have kept me awake at night had it focused solely on documenting the ways women’s power has been subverted and thwarted.  Wisely, she pushes the conversation forward; posing hard and uncommonly asked questions about women and power.  Like a compass, her questions all led me at 2 a.m. to a single true north question.  “What kind of world do I wish to live in?”

A butterfly our youngest daughter and I marveled at during an afternoon break from her med school studies.

This is not the first time this discomforting question has stalked me.  In 2006, I embarked on The Berkana Institute’s first and only learning journey to India.  I was well aware then that, despite my privilege, the world I was living in wasn’t to my liking.  I had become disillusioned after years of watching an uncanny number of women, including myself, overextend and overcompensate to fit into structures and systems we were having little, if any, influence in shaping, leading or changing.  I believed that as a highly educated society we could do better.  But how?

Living the question of “the world I wish to live in” took me to back to India in 2010, 2016, and 2017 and prompted a move to the Pacific Northwest from 2006 to 2014.  Happily, my quest took me places that didn’t require training to lower the timber of my voice or “to handbag” anyone, tactics Mary describes Margaret Thatcher employing in her rise and exercise of power.  Rather, it afforded me and others plenty of opportunities to redefine leadership, a process Mary sees as vital if women are to thrive.

A garden sculpture our daughter and I discovered while she was completing her internship in Memphis.

Today, two of my most frequent destinations remain movements constructed by women in the past 25 years – structures that “are not already coded as male” in Mary’s words and that don’t require male genitalia to be heard or to rise to the top.  These are not spaces where men appear at the center of every universe and they require neither monster budgets or posh headquarters to prove their worth.  In these revolutionary spaces, women are leading and all people — women, children, men, the poor, the most vulnerable — are respected, affirmed and encouraged to find and offer the gift of her or his leadership.

A 2016 Tacoma gathering to welcome Sr. Lucy Kurien, founder & director of Maher in India, back for her 4th visit.

I would believe such destinations Utopian in a “power over” world had I not spent a great deal of time observing, working and learning with their bold founders.  Creating frameworks outside of predominant structures is difficult, messy work.  Mistakes are made. However, these innovative organizations acknowledge and value the wisdom gleaned from missteps.  Freed from the astonishing weight and bondage of perfection and the eternal energy drain of having to fit in and constantly prove and re-prove their worth, women in these powerful organizations can fly like legendary Phoenixes to new heights — their own.

Reading Mary’s manifesto a second time cleared my head and my sleep.  In the Afterword, she finds hope in movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.  Still, like many women, she knows that a 6,000+ year old imbalance of power is no easy tower to topple.  Certainly, it will take a critical mass.  Reading this small but mighty book felt an awful lot like pouring fuel on a fire.  Maybe for now we just need a whole lot more fire.

14 Reasons I Admire Hillary Rodham Clinton Even More after the Election


  1. She broke a glass ceiling. Since our country’s founding, there have been more than 115 male candidates running on the top of a major party ticket in a Presidential race and one woman — Hillary.
  1. She won the popular vote. As of Dec. 4, Hillary Clinton has received 2,012,331 votes more than the President-elect and her popular vote victory continues to grow.  That is more votes than any white male Presidential candidate has ever received – including the President-elect.


  1. She embodied grace under pressure. Secretary Clinton delivered an amazingly gracious, positive, and composed concession speech less than 24 hours after watching what has clearly been one of the biggest dreams of her lifetime slip away — a second time.
  1. Taking the high road. When called names, bullied and threatened by her opponent, she maintained her composure and modeled strong, “specific, direct and non-punishing” response methods for women and men everywhere.
  1. She set a healing example. The day after her unexpected defeat she walked in the woods to seek solace – no derisive tweets, just a “thank you” on
  1. Standing up for the people. When the U.S. FBI director opened an investigation related to emails just 11 days before the election, she did not call him names, threaten or blame him.  Instead, she urged the agency to provide the American people with more information as soon as possible.  Two days before the election, the FBI Director announced that nothing in the newly discovered emails changed his conclusion that Clinton should face no charges.


  1. “Women’s rights are human rights.” A champion of women’s rights at home and around the world and a working mother, Secretary Clinton advanced an agenda that included pay equity and family medical leave in an attempt to build a more just and family-friendly society.
  1. Inclusivity was a hallmark of her campaign.  Rather than running a lean, mean campaign organization, she invited many to take part in her run for office.
  1. She clearly stated her pro-choice position. A long-time supporter of choice for women, Secretary Clinton clearly and unapologetically offered details on her pro-choice position on this controversial, often litmus test, issue.
  1. She apologized and took responsibility for the email server use. Rather than blaming her opponents, staff members, outsiders, the media or investigating agencies, she apologized to the American people.
  1. She called out “the good” in Americans. Secretary Clinton ran a campaign that focused on the strength of Americans – on our inherent goodness – as well as the ways we could improve.    
  1. Her language was respectful and persuasive. Secretary Clinton disagreed heartily with most of her opponent’s positions, yet she remained civil; choosing to communicate in a respectful, measured manner rather than to resort to demeaning, degrading, insulting words, tweets and epithets.
  1. She prepared tirelessly for the Presidency. A First Lady on the state and national level, a senator, and a Secretary of State with what is likely the most impressive resume of any Presidential candidate in history, Hillary Rodham Clinton was ready, qualified and fit to be President of the United States.
  1. She stretched and she remained true to her values. She strove to connect authentically with voters even more than in her previous Presidential campaign and she continued to advance an agenda that valued all people in our society – the wealthy and successful, the most vulnerable and marginalized, and everyone in between.     

For all of these reasons and more, I am sorry that it appears unlikely that we will have the opportunity to see her in action in the Oval Office.  Thank you, Secretary Clinton, for running a valiant race.

The Magic of Creating

hands play

Lindy Stockton, owner of The Collage Care in Evanston, thinks the idea of having a shop has been with her forever. “My sister Ruth and I are both makers. We talked about it a lot.”

Lindy, who opened the shop officially on Sept. 26 after a soft opening in July, didn’t just want a space where she could create. “I needed a place where my kindreds could come — particularly those who don’t think of themselves as creative. The Collage Cafe provides a space where we can create and share those stories.”

Lindy Laugh

For her, “creativity is fostering a sense of curiosity.” Lindy says the move from a successful head of change management for a large corporation to a shop-owner who handles “soup to nuts” requires her to learn as she goes. Key for her in this new role is remembering, “it’s just a decision. You can change up the decision. You aren’t married to it.”

shop view left

She’s pleased that 95% of people who walk through the door are enchanted. The relationship starts there, she explains. Her biggest learning as a small business owner is that it’s okay to ask people to help. When she noticed a hesitancy about suggesting her friends host a party at the cafe and invite their friends, she realized she had bumped up against one of her barriers. “Now I tell customers, I’m asking for your help. Tell two friends, groups or networks. She calls this the “tell two” approach.

brushes and sponges

Lindy began rediscovering her artistic, creative soul in a bigger way when a friend and student in a fine arts program mentioned that she was going to go to her studio. Lindy instantly realized she held a self-limiting belief that a person could only have a studio if she was making a living in the fine arts.”


Transitioning from the corporate world to small business ownership takes courage. “I’m fearless,” she smiles. “I’ve always been fearless.” As an afternoon kindergartner, Lindy’s mother instructed her to wait at school and walk home with her brothers. “I got tired of waiting so I walked myself home. I had things to do.”

“Everything we do in life is a choice. Some bring us closer to our goals, some take us farther away. I want this to be a space to explore and discover what’s important to you.”

Step into the shop, follow the cafe on Facebook or visit the website and you’ll notice, Lindy has a penchant for color. “I choose happy. Color and music play a significant role in enlivening the mood. I would hope when you walk in, you feel very happy here.”

You can meet Lindy in person at The Collage Café at 912 Sherman in Evanston or by visiting