When You’re In Your Power

When you’re in your power

Shame, fear and anger dissipate.
You change the molecules in a room.
You bring out the best in everyone around you.
You feel there’s enough–enough time, enough money, enough love.
You refrain from knee jerk reactions.
You feel light and airy.
You attract your desired amount of clients.
You see money in the bank.
You make decisions that are good for you, long-term.
You feel powerful and calm, and at home in your body.
You laugh easily.
You feel like you can do anything, and you do.

You have a world of exploration to do. The answers are all inside. If we had a world of confident, powerful, calm, secure women the entire landscape of American culture and society would change. And it starts with you.

Five Tips For Women On Boosting Your Confidence

I am a fan of the type of confidence that is humble; a quiet strength that needs no announcement.

Confidence comes from following a path in step with your passion. Confidence comes from true belief in oneself and one’s work. You know what you are building is powerful–you continue down that path even in the face of skepticism.

Whether you are a female entrepreneur or working your way up the corporate ladder in your job, confidence is essential to moving forward.

Confidence is a funny thing. Some of the most seemingly confident people are actually quite insecure, but have become very good at managing their own fears. While physically looking the part can help, true confidence comes from the inside. It comes from your core. And unshakable confidence is something developed over time (for most of us).

Below are five tips that will help you boost your confidence and help prepare you for any situation.

Five Results-Proven Tips for Female Confidence Building

1. Whisper sweet nothings to yourself. We talk about empathy in the business world, but what about empathy toward ourSELVES?  I encourage you to talk to yourself the way you talk to your favorite pet. How do you react when your pet falls down? Do you swear at your pet? Probably not. That being said, you should be as gentle with yourself as you are with your pet. Or think about how you would talk to a best friend if she were to fall down. It is said that what you believe will eventually come true. If you believe you aren’t enough you won’t go as far. This is true because if you think you aren’t enough you won’t push yourself as far as you would if you thought you could achieve anything. You won’t go for that opportunity, job or guy you think you really deserve. It starts with how you talk to yourself. I want to hear sweet nothings ladies! I want to hear self love from the roof tops!

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Confidence comes from preparation. Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Let’s use surfing as an example. If you’ve never surfed before, and you take your board out and you can’t stand up–of course your confidence will take a hit. But if you practice on the beach for a while before you go out there, and study up with some other surfers, your confidence levels will improve. You know you’ve got some tools in your surfer belt to be successful. Get it? Make it easier on yourself by heading out to the waves with the right amount of preparation.

3. Move. I honestly don’t know where I would be without the ability to sweat. Probably on a curb somewhere. Every single day I wake up and go move my body. It gets my chemicals flowing and puts me in a positive place. While I try and abstain from talking about exercise on Facebook, the truth is it’s a really important part of my day. I run with my dog Athena constantly. Running is a great way to get rid of toxic energy. Additionally you get some of the best ideas when you’re running. Take your dog if you can. If you hate to run (like my boyfriend does) I don’t care if it’s aerobics, jumping on your bed, or kung-fu–get out of bed and get moving. You will notice how much better you feel about yourself.

4. Follow your passion. When you focus on the aspect of your job that you love you’re enthusiasm will clearly shine through. If you don’t love anything about your job, you should probably quit. Life is too short. When you talk about why you love what you do, and why it’s personally meaningful, people around you start to light up too. That said even if taking out the trash is your favorite part of your job, find one thing that lights you up and talk about it. People are attracted to other people who are lit up!

5. Everything you do, do your best. Do you know people who try hard at everything they do? Some people call this a Type A personality or a perfectionist. I have been called a Type A before, although in no way do I see myself as that. I just can’t stomach the idea of not trying. Trust me there are days when I feel that way and I have to talk myself into trying (harder). We all hate to lose, and winning comes from truly applying your focus to everything you do. You’ve got one chance. Make it count!

What can you add to this list? What helps make you feel confident? Please feel free to comment below and share with me.

9 Steps to Mastering A Life Change

There’s nothing like Sheryl Crow’s award winning song “A Change Would Do You Good.” We all have periods in our lives where we realize we need to make change, but we’re not quite sure if we can leave our comfort zones for the arduous trek.

I love this song–it’s a wonderful anthem for how change can be powerful. Everyone can benefit from being a little more empowered.

We were put on earth to live meaningful and spiritually rewarding lives. As an individual you evolve, and benefit from setting measurable goals that keep you focused on a clear path. Every single day you can benefit from bringing you A game. A game can be applied to anything such as a project,  job or event a new relationship or health regimen. Staying focused, engaged and flexible will allow you to continually move to higher ground. While that means different things for different people, I’ve determined that to master any life change there are nine steps to mastering a life change.

When you want to bring change into our life, it almost never happens over night.

While some make success look easy, almost always they have personally gone through their own journey including years of hard work and struggle behind the scenes.

It is my personal belief that to flow with the natural current is to drive in the direction of our individual truth. We have to constantly iterate in our own lives moving with environmental or circumstantial change. Additionally there’s a flavor of necessary change–plain ol’ stuck-in-a-rut and need to change.


And here’s my animation that announces the nine steps with a short example of a “yellow house.”

Here are the nine steps I’ve outlined that lead to any habit change, emotion mastery or attitude change.

1. Denial

You know your life isn’t turning out like you had in mind originally, but you are so stuck in your habits that the thought of not having the crutch you rely on sounds terrifying. You refuse to believe that you have a problem and busy yourself so you don’t have to recognize that things need to change. You surround yourself with people who also lead the type of life that you do preventing anyone from reminding you that this is not the best decision for you.

2. Awareness

You’re getting tired of the same old results from the same actions. You see your life is not changing in the way you want it to. You don’t have the self confidence, groove and ease of life you felt you once had. You see successful people who have what you want and wonder what they’re doing that you’re not doing. You’re frustrated that things haven’t turned out differently, but you’re not quite sure you’re ready to make personal change. You’re starting to understand the “why” of making a change.

3. Research.

You start casually looking for answers. You google, you read books, you follow people who are doing what you want to do, and so on and so forth. With the web this is the easiest part. Most of the questions we have are just a click away. You make calls with people. You have coffees with people. You research events to go to, meet-ups to check out and so on.

4. Contemplation.

You have all the knowledge you need to move forward. Now is the time you are thinking if you are really ready to step out of your comfort zone. This could include going without something you’ve had as a comfort for a long time, or pushing yourself harder than you have. You are deciding if you are ready to make a life-long habit change. You are considering the pros and cons of taking action.

5. Planning.

You start writing down a plan. You create a step-by-step guide for how you will get from where you are to where you want to be. You continue to consider the  “why,” but now unpack the “how.” You take all the best tips from the meetings, research and reading you did and create a tactical plan of how you can apply this to your own life. You create achievable milestones for yourself that will push you forward without making it so difficult you give up.

6. Action

You’ve decided that the results you are looking for are worth the sacrifice or investment that you will have to make. You gather all the information from your research and start putting a plan into action.

7. Reflection

It’s harder than you thought it would be. Can you do this? Maybe you’ll throw it all away and go back to the old way of doing things. But you know you won’t be happy that way. This is feeling difficult, uncomfortable and taking longer than you thought it would. Can I do it? I’ll give it a few more days–and if nothing changes…..

8. Habit Change

You didn’t think you would get through those first hurdles, but you made it! You’re riding the bicycle. It’s much easier, more fluid, and fun than you ever thought it would be. It comes natural to you and is now part of your every day life. You can’t believe that you did it but you did. Now that you have made this life change, you want to see what else you can change in your life. It’s a no brainer–you’ve mastered it!

9. Mastery.

Your whole life is beginning to change. The way people react to you is so much brighter. You have more energy, you’re attracting different people to you than you used to, and you recognize who you used to be in other people (and you never want to be that person again). Life is great when you believe in yourself.

As a sidenote:
I have personally made a commitment that I won’t help people unless they ask me for help. There is nothing worse than trying to tell a family member or friend they need to change when they don’t want your help. People have to be ready to change, and there’s a process that comes with that.

Your Inner Glow: An Interview with Oakland Photographer Nancy Rothstein

There’s no question that representing yourself in a professional way online can be of great benefit. Having a headshot for your website and your social profiles that is clean, bright and flattering can be a real differentiator. Representing the best version of yourself helps send the right message to prospective new clients, recruiters or potential mates.

What I’ve learned is I grew up insecure about my looks. These insecurities have fueled many of the ideas in this blog and turned into a passion for helping other women feel good about themselves. I always say when I heal other women I heal myself, and when I heal myself I heal other women.

Over time I’ve learned to accept myself and embrace the very things that make me different. I’ve also learned that when I feel happy, I look better in photographs. I believe this is true for other women as well.

It has taken me almost three decades to feel mostly comfortable with myself. Today I know the importance of putting my best foot forward. While there are a million ways things that can go wrong with branding, having nice photos is one advantage that’s easy to take care of. We all need to do the best with what we have.

I’ve recently changed my hair color and I’ve never had professional headshots taken. I recently met a photographer at a NAWBO event named Nancy Rothstein. I learned more about her process, saw her incredible portfolio and wanted to work with her.

Nancy is passionate about helping women feel amazing about themselves, and having that glow come through in her photography. I love working with other women small business owners who are also on a journey to help lift up other women. I can’t say enough positive things about the experience I had with her. She was gentle through the whole process, and a true perfectionist. She made me laugh throughout our photo shoot. She is a true master of light and has an uncanny ability to draw that spirit out of you–and make it come through in your headshot. Learn more about Nancy’s philosophy and views on self esteem in our interview below.

Blake Landau: What is a common reaction you find from clients who are getting their head-shots done for the first time?

Nancy Rothstein: Many people come in saying something like:

I don’t photograph well
I’m not photogenic
I hate photos of myself 
I’ve never had a photo of myself that I’ve liked
I’m really uncomfortable in front of the camera

BL:  Is there a difference between men and women with regard to being self-conscious in front of the camera?

NR: I think it depends on the person. I’ve had both genders [clients] who are self-critical and uncomfortable. Both genders have come in with specific things about themselves that they don’t like. I wouldn’t want to generalize but I do think men are more comfortable with themselves. But I think pretty much everyone has challenges seeing themselves.

BL: Do you have any advice for people who feel insecure about their looks or their weight as far as appearing confident in front of the camera?

NR: Well the first part of that answer is at the root of my beliefs—to remember that your beauty is not skin deep. We’re all inherently beautiful—and it’s our human spirit that makes us beautiful. You know that’s true because you experience someone who is “beautiful” by society and media standards, and you know that it would be possible to interact with someone like that and feel that they’re actually ugly in the way they behave or treat other people. Real beauty is inside of us.

If we remember that real beauty comes from our spirit–and tap into that–we’ll naturally be more relaxed and express our beauty in a photograph. Internal beauty comes out through the face and the expression—it doesn’t matter how much they weigh, how many wrinkles they have, how many spots they have, gray hairs, make-up etc. When a person is shining through their eyes and their expression no one looks at that image and says, “oh they need to lose ten pounds.” They look at it and say “wow what a beautiful person.”

Beyond that technique is very important. You have to choose the right photographer. You want to choose a photographer that can bring your inner glow out. Who can help you to be at east in front of the camera, who can see you for who you are and understand what it is you want to express with your image and be able to draw that out.

There are proven techniques in photography that flatter the subject. In a still image you want to do everything possible to make the image flattering whether that’s lighting, camera angle or composition. Bad lighting can make a model look bad. Additionally we all have asymmetry in our faces. The way the photographer poses you and lights you accentuates the asymmetry or balances it. That’s really important in a still image. When we’re animated and interacting with each we don’t notice that. But real life and a still image are very different ways to be perceived.

BL: How do you help people relax when they’re getting their picture taken?

NR: I have a process that starts before the session in my phone consultation. At that time I talk to the client about what they’re trying to express. What aspects of their personality they’re trying to convey with the image. I also give them homework and have them think about things that relate to the qualities they want to portray in their photograph. In the example of a professional person I might have them think about their favorite client, or the feeling they get from being of service to their clients. It could be a feeling of competence of doing their best work. It could be a virtue they’re striving to embody. It could be anything. I don’t ask them to necessarily share it with me but reflect on it prior to the session. During the session I’m very actively coaching them to reflect on these things and to have their inner experience of tapping into those qualities. The ultimate goal is to create an authentic image that feels spontaneous in the context of a contrived photo shoot. That process which is a combination of mediation and method acting helps the subject to experience something authentic that specifically relates to how they want to be perceived during the session rather than looking at a camera and feeling self-conscious.

BL: Why do you love your job?

NR: I love interacting with people and I love creating dynamic images. I’ve been using a camera since I was seven years old. It ‘s a natural way for me to interact with the world. Lately one of my deepest satisfactions with my work is that I create images that remind people of their essential beauty.

All photos in this blog were taken by Nancy Rothstein. Find Nancy on Facebook and Twitter or her website

Don’t Throw In The Towel, Wrap Your Hair In It

We all have moments where we feel like throwing in the towel. And during these moments–when we’re feeling vulnerable–it’s easy to conjure up images of what women should do when they’re feeling down-and-out. Three things for me come to mind: chocolate, alcohol and shopping.

The truth about all these short term answers….

Drinking is a depressant–it makes you feel up and then shoots you straight down. What goes up must come down. And shopping when you’re upset can lead to impulse buys and unfortunately for many women in America–credit card debt. All of these things provide short highs and eventually long lows. They simply don’t do what we’re told they should do–make us feel lovely and amazing.

So much of what we’re taught is the answer by the media and advertising is in fact the opposite of the answer. These ephemeral activities don’t leave us emotionally nourished, refreshed or invigorated.

A private moment with a quarter pounder with cheese, a dove chocolate or a tall glass of midori sour doesn’t give us internal nourishment. Real long-term success comes from taking care of our spirits. That includes nourishing our bodies with nutritional food and drink. Additionally financial stability is empowering. Rather than shop save money and invest wisely in your future. So I’m here to set the story straight on how to get yourself out of a rut. I beg you don’t throw in the towel, just take better care of yourSELF.

Kim K. having a great time at a party–probably after a long stressful week at work.
Am I the only San Francisco driver to see this billboard?

I’m not here to berate you about what you eat and drink. I’m here to teach you some simple tools during your dark moment that help you to feel enough. Remember, you’re enough!

Here are six tips you can use for when you’re having a “moment.”

1. Having a tough moment at work? Step outside and take ten deep breaths. Work isn’t the best venue for self-expression. It’s not a good idea to let your boss and your coworkers see you having a bad day (but we’re all human and we all have them). At the same time keeping your feelings at bay for too long will distract you from your work. Let yourself feel what you’re feeling in a safe space. Go outside for a walk, even sneak away to the women’s restroom for a three minute mediation. I don’t care where you can find three minutes of solitude–go find it. Your day depends on it. If you can sneak in a work-out, even better. I work out every day to put myself in a place of gratitude. We were meant to breathe deeply, move and emote. Exercise gets your breathing.

2. Don’t dive into your career stress, take a bath. The funny thing about advertising is we are often taught that when things get stressful, we should reach for a drink. We are taught that a private moment with a chocolate bar is that one panacea that will make us feel strong, competent and happy. The truth is food and alcohol are not the first things women should grab when life gets stressful. A bath can be a wonderful activity that can be nourishing, relaxing and rejuvinating. If you’re feeling like diving into your cabinet to down a box of Madeline cookies, a warm bath (with salts too) will nourish you (and there’s no guilt). Hot baths not only soothe your mind but your muscles too. Hot baths soothe the lungs, heart, stomach and endocrine system by stimulating nerve reflexes on the spinal chord.

3. Allow yourself to feel and process. Women need time to reflect on their lives, their careers and their relationships. There is nothing wrong with letting out a good cry if you need it. Crying helps us release. Crying balances our chemicals. Journaling can also be a great way to stay on top of your moods. By writing down how you feel, you take a load off–even if it’s a note on your iphone or your ipad. Jotting your emotions down can feel amazing.

4. Get a coach or therapist. All too often women don’t have boundaries in their lives. Families and friends cannot always help us in the way that we need. For many millennial women, our moms end up taking on the role of BFF–but at a certain point as women we need to find our own safe space to talk. When women don’t have boundaries in their lives–especially with private information–problems start to happen. By having an objective person like a coach (or even a therapist) you are better able to keep boundaries with your family, your friends and your coworkers. A coach can help you unpack your dreams and goals, and provide a step by step process on how to get there. Encouragement and support is provided along the way. Coaching is not therapy, and therapy is not coaching–however in both venues a woman is provided a private and safe space to vent. All women need a safe space to vent without concern for boundaries. Keep in mind referrals often provide the best coaches and therapists.

5. Write down what you feel proud about. Anything can look like a failure in the middle. Many successful and high achieving women are very hard on themselves. By giving yourself a pat on the back and putting on paper what you’ve accomplished you will have a different perception of where you are. Women have around 60,000 thoughts a day. Can you imagine if even 1/10 of these thoughts were “you’re lovely and amazing and you can do anything”? That’s not the case for too many women. For many women turning the majority of thoughts from a place of fear to a place of yes can be difficult.When you feel good about where you are, your next move will be a positive one. We need more persistent, calm, confident women out there so we start to see the numbers change at the top. Look at all that you’ve accomplished. Write it down. Then keep going!

6. Catch a lack of email etiquette? Back away from the computer.  Ahhh technology. You have made it so easy for us to send quick messages to one another anywhere in the world. But perhaps this is a blessing and a curse. Most people haven’t studied email etiquette, and most people just aren’t very aware of how they come across in an email. How can I emphasize this enough….Get a rude email? Someone offend you by being brief, demanding and demoralizing? Turn off your email. Get out of there. Take a few hours to go away from the computer. Learn to not respond (or postpone responding) to rude messages. Just because someone sends you an email doesn’t mean you need to respond right away. The email offender probably was never taught how to practice email etiquette. This is not about you, it’s about them. This is probably how they talk to themselves–rude, abrupt etc. Be the standard by practicing email etiquette.

Remember, don’t throw in the towel. Take a bath and wrap your hair in it!

Are you in the Bay Area? Join me for a memorable workshop August 11th to “Empower You.

Double Dare, A Story of Fearless Women

Double Dare is a documentary that follows the stories of two famous American stunt women. The story follows Jeannie Epper Wonder Woman’s stunt woman and Zoë Bell stunt woman for Xena, Warrior Princess.

Zoë Bell grew up on Waiheke Island in Auckland where she became studied competitive gymnastics, Taekwon-Do, dance, high diving, scuba, and track and field activities–everything that would provide her the chops to do something like...Kill Bill. Bell began her career in 1992 when her father treated a stuntman for a head injury and came home with a phone number for her to call. [How about that for an example of how preparation meets opportunity?]

Uma Thurman and Zoë Bell on set of Kill Bill

Jeanne Epper is known as possibly the greatest stunt woman in history. She performed stunts in over 100 feature films and television series and is perhaps best known as Lynda Carter’s double on the Wonder Woman series (see photo below-she’s on the left). Her family lineage traces back to a colonel in Napoleon’s army. The Epper family pioneered stunts in Hollywood tracing back to the old Hollywood classics. Her entire family is in the business. Today she provides mentoring for other younger women in the field (including Zoë Bell as you will see in the short below).

The Qualities of Fearless Women

Zoë and Jeannie have full confidence. They push themselves. They have fun. They don’t complain. They don’t take themselves too seriously. They take rejection well, get up, dust themselves off and keep going. They’re emotionally fluid people who let themselves feel. Their emotional fluidity contributes to their physical grace. They move light on her feet.

I was so inspired by this movie Double Dare partially because I’m an adrenaline junkie. I am addicted to snowboarding and ran a full marathon last year to raise money for cancer. Once I moved to NYC on a whim. My happiest moments are when I’m pushing myself physically, mentally and spiritually and proving to myself I am stronger than I think I am.

I loved Double Dare for two reasons.

1. These two stunt women are now part of a small group of women who are trying to make change by supporting each other in the industry.

2. It’s a wonderful example of mentoring. In any field that is male-dominated it is so important that the older women mentor the younger women–even if there is no financial gain for them.

This movie was moving on so many levels. There are so few examples of women in media who are highlighted for how they push themselves and things they accomplish on their own terms. We need more content like Double Dare that illustrates how successful women get to where they are, and depicts actual real women who have overcome challenges–and how they continue getting back on the horse, literally.

We Got Our Groove Back, A Workshop Wrap-Up

As a younger version of myself I was consistently frustrated with the lack opportunities to sit around with like-minded women doing the life-work that I so badly needed.

The lack of resources and support I felt I had fuels the process of creating just that; environments, content and resources for women that I always wanted but never had access to.

Life can be very busy, and when we don’t make time for ourselves the days disappear in a blur of work commutes, deadlines and errands.

When we finally do make the time for our spirits we realize  how incredibly restorative and healing this time can be.

Usually we hide this “stuff” at the bottom of our closet. When we finally start digging around in there we discover gems we forgot existed.

In the launch Get Your Groove Back workshop this weekend we had a lot of aha moments. Throughout our mix of guided discussion, activities and even meditative exercises participants said, “wow I didn’t even realize I felt that way–not until I said it outloud…”

The Opportunity To Emote In A Safe Space

We read about the poor numbers of women in leadership positions–especially in sectors like technology.

It is my personal belief that we need to stop focusing on this external conversation, and on an individual basis look inward and ask ourselves what is stopping us. By teaching women to love themselves–to feel enough–and provide women with the tools to get through the everyday challenges, the glass ceiling in any aspect of women’s lives will disappear.

The truth is as CEO of GetSatisfaction Wendy Lea said in a video interview once women don’t need to act like men in the workplace. She says “the female part of you is a good part, don’t mask that, be that, respect that, honor it. When you mask it you lose yourself.” And she’s right.

Much to notoriously tough corporate executive Martha Stewart’s chagrin, there is crying in baseball. Women shouldn’t feel like they have to stuff all their feelings down–because if you’ve ever done that before you know that eventually your repressed feelings blow the lid.

While crying at work isn’t the way to get yourself a raise, having a safe space to emote can be incredibly helpful–especially if you’re in the room with like-minded women who are going through the same thing.


Here are some of our participants making vision boards in the GYGB workshop.

***

“The world will be saved by the western woman.” -Dalai Lama

The above quote was volunteered at the closing of the workshop. The participant said in 2012 women can have anything they want–but we choose not to. We live our lives for other people, never feeling enough by their standards. The thing is we need to change the dialogue–and teach women how to live for themselves.

Empowered

It was wonderful to see people sharing a part of themselves with us, and additionally share tools they use in their own lives to overcome challenges–many that stem from the challenges of being a woman–feeling enough for others and for herself.

It was exciting to launch our first Get Your Groove Back workshop and see why they came.

Here’s what the participants had to say about their motivation for attending:

  • I want to speak from a place of passion.
  • I want to figure out what empowers me.
  • I want to learn how to stay focused in my life.
  • I want to work on expressing myself on a daily basis.
  • I want to learn better tools to take care of myself.
  • I want to rediscover and connect with my passions.
  • I want to work on a concrete plan I can develop and take away with me.
  • I want to develop more self awareness around my identity as a woman and as a professional.
  • I need to develop a new career personae and the confidence that supplements that.
  • I’m a CEO in a new job and I need ways to overcome my fear of stepping out.
  • I want to reconnect with my passion for life and start writing again.

Co-teacher Dr. Barbara Mark and I were delighted by the group that joined us for the session, and we felt blessed and honored to be in the presence of such great women. Here is what they said about their workshop experience with us:

  • It was clearly thought out, very well ran and extremely informative while being relaxing, warm, and inviting. All in less than 3 hours is quite an accomplishment.
  • I liked the openness of the participants–because it was a smaller group everyone got to participate and we felt comfortable doing so.
  • The activity on “triggers” helped me identify challenges and solutions within myself.
  • The sharing session was candid and made me realize that I’m not the only person facing the problems I face. I gained problem-solving skills that will help me moving forward.
  • The exercise that built insight connecting mind and body—the visualization and the vision board work were rewarding.
  • I enjoyed the small group and opportunity to share—I also enjoyed the hands on activity—getting to be creative and learning from the experience of others.

I am so grateful to these women who attended, and opened themselves up to us.

Closing Thoughts

There are days where I forget that people actually read my blog. I put some very personal things on the internet at the hope that you are reading out there. I also hope that the hard lessons learned that I’ve gleaned will help you in your personal lives. Because it’s the internet, I don’t always know if the messages resonate with you.

One woman showed up to the workshop and said she had read my blog Promises I Make to Myself. She said the blog resonated with her.

It’s moments like this that I know I am on this journey for a reason. I know the world needs this healing work–and I’m very pulled toward it.

*Dr. Barbara Mark and I will be announcing our second workshop shortly. The workshop will focus around female empowerment. The workshop will take place August 11th, 2012 from 1:00-4:30PM in San Francisco at the Full Circle Institute at 2325 Third Street | Suite 337 | San Francisco, CA 94107. There are only ten spots. The cost is $95. Feel free to email me if you would like to reserve your spot.

Hairapy Doesn’t Work

When I was 24 I remember walking home late one night from Manhattan to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I had just taken the L train back to Williamsburg and I was walking by a dive bar when a guy stumbled out of it.

He said, “You’re not pretty, but…..that’s ok.”

I remember walking home really annoyed that I had just been emotionally bombed. I didn’t even realize I was in a minefield. I was upset he had planted something so hurtful in my head that I would have a hell of a time getting rid of.

It was a blatant reminder to me that living in New York, even in Brooklyn I felt there was no way to escape the pressure to be thin, well-dressed and pretty.

You can feel it when you walk into a room. And I walked into many rooms where I was heavier than most of the women without designer clothes, with the wrong make-up, the wrong hair, and the wrong confidence. Or so I felt at the time.

The Hamptons

I remember being in the Hamptons one summer. I was very out of my element.

It was a group of mostly athletic frat guys from Long Island. These Italian guys were generally attractive, muscular and loud. When and if they were interested in conversing with me I always felt loved–which is an odd thing, as who could even see clearly with the amount of booze inhaled at these summer parties.

So many times in my life I would put on a mask and become someone else. This summer was one of those times.

Growing up I always felt like an outsider–and when I moved to New York I decided to reinvent myself. There was no better place than New City to put the past behind. I was like Madonna out with a new album–it was the early 20-somethings album and I had made a big leap.

Becoming the Blonde California Blake that Never Was

When I actually grew up in Orange County there were no glamorous TV shows about Orange County. But somehow when I left people knew about “the OC.” And being from California in New York was exotic. Everyone wanted to know why I left California. When I lived in California in actuality I was an artsy recluse hanging out with mostly academic type people who were interested in women’s lib. But when I moved to NYC I decided to become glamorous. I remember that was the time I became aware of the fact that I should carry a purse that was pretty. Because before that it never occurred to me.

I can remember walking to get my hair done one day in Brooklyn and thinking “that’s it! I want to be pretty. I’m going blonde.”

And it worked for a while. I felt I was treated differently when I was blonde. I felt sexier. I got special attention for my bleached locks.

I remember the first time I got it done my hair looked frightening, like someone had poured bleach all over my head. I cried and got it redone. I continued to get my hair done every six weeks. The cost was around $175 plus tip–and I did this consistently for five years. That’s more than $10,000 dollars–not including hair cuts.

Too bad changing your hair color doesn’t make you feel at home in your own skin. It doesn’t make you love yourself. That money could have been put to much better use, but you live and you learn.

Today

About one week ago I changed my hair to a darker color. I did this partially so it wouldn’t be high maintenance and as a way to bring back my authentic self.

When I got my hair done I cried. My boyfriend (“life partner”) Jacob asked me “Blake why are you crying?” I told him that I had dyed my hair blonde to be special. I cried for the death of my blonde personae. I cried because it was officially the end of an era for me. I’ve officially grown up.

And sometimes it’s not just hair.

I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish people like Lena Dunham were on TV when I was 24 to show that you can be sexy and be more than a size 0, and you can have brown hair and be appealing.


This girl ran and ran and ran. Literally. When actually the answers were all inside and to really see them you can’t run. You need to sit quiet and still. I don’t look like this picture anymore, and I’m fine with that.

Hair is used as a shield. We hide in our hair. We wear our hair in our face when we don’t want to be heard. We hide our fat in our hair. We can be overweight but if our hair looks perfect we at least feel secure in that.

But when you finally change the channel and decide to love yourself no matter your hair–you can feel amazing about yourself when you walk into a room, no matter who is standing in it.

Drunk dive bar goers, long island frat boys or the girl in the mirror–no matter who is looking back at you, you feel whole.

Empowerment Is An Inside Job; Project Enough

Beyond the broken-ness there’s a place that’s never been broken, and as women we need to help each other find that place.

We need to teach women how to come home to themselves. We spend our lives in a state of distraction. I’ve come to realize that true power comes from being “home,” literally. We women–if we truly want to be powerful–need to comfortable in our own skin. We walk around like the answers are out THERE. But we know in our heart of hearts the answers are in HERE.

I went to a retreat last weekend taught by my favorite author Geneen Roth, and she inspired many of the ideas in this post. More than anything she reminded me that we need to show women how to be home in their bodies. Happiness and empowerment is an inside job. We spend our lives shaming ourselves, busy with diets, the good girl-bad girl game, soaked in guilt, fear, deprivation…. The truth is shaming and torturing ourselves will never lead to making us more empowered human beings. As women who do we believe ourselves to be?

With all that being said, you’ve read my blogs about “getting angry,” and that might be part of the process. Whatever it takes to get women to wake up and see that there is a major problem with not only how we are treated by the media, but the fact that we say yes media companies, you’re right–we are purely sex objects.

Can you imagine if we could turn numbers such as the ten million women in the U.S. who have eating disorders, and make that ten million women who have cocky disorders. Yes please, because in this world–we’re far from it.

This project I’ve been talking about is really a movement that starts with you. I want you to start sharing your stories. I want you–women–to start telling the truth about what’s happening behind closed doors. It’s time that we stop lying to ourselves and to the world that what the media is doing is ok. It’s most definitely not ok, and it has to stop. We can make it stop. Together we have the power. Because we’ve had enough.

Project Enough


here’s a mockup of the site. It’s just a first version, what Project Enough could be.

Just to refresh you on Project Enough, it’s called Project Enough because we are enough and we’ve had enough.

Can you imagine a world where media companies and the corporations that pay them created messaging campaigns to tell women they were worthy and amazing–not problems to be solved? I want to encourage women to share there stories of vulnerability, strength, introspection, self-development, doubt, tragedy, triumph, jubilation.

We need to see that all women are going through the same thing, and put an end to the judging, the name-calling and the gossip. We need to band together.

I want to create a magazine that is feminist in nature without apologizing about it. The women’s movement has disappeared, and what we are fighting today is a much bigger, omniscient monster–possibly more destructive than anything in the past. I’m looking at you Gen Y–we need to stand up!

While there are many women’s magazines out there that address these issues, a lot of them have a tone of sarcasm. That was never enough for me, and I am not embarrassed or apologetic about being spiritual, and seeking out an honest conversation about what it is to be female in America in 2012.

I also feel that eventually this magazine could turn into something bigger, to empower women across the country and the world. We ignite this movement with crowdsourced storytelling. Good writing that comes from the heart–writing that is honest, sad, funny, engaging, relevant, raw storytelling.

Assembly Line Messaging

Today there’s much talk about where our food comes from. There are plenty of documentaries that trace the path of the food once it leaves the assembly line. Pressure groups have brought this to the attention of policy makers and the corporations–many of whom have changed their corrupt ways because of the pressure put on them.

I believe the same needs to happen with the media industry. The media industry today is also an assembly line pumping out images of hyper-sexualized young women—and these images are everywhere. You cannot escape it. Turn on the t.v. Walk outside. Open a magazine.

Do the media companies trace the side-effects of their messaging? Do they hear the stories of anorexia and bulimia? If they saw the faces of the victims–many of whom aren’t even old enough to vote, would they stop?

Someone needs to control the media industry’s outright attack on women’s bodies, and it’s not going to be anyone but us to call them on it.

If you want to get involved, I need writers to contribute their personal stories. I need someone who wants to build this website. I need people to back it in any way they can. And more than anything I need you to tell all the women that you know that we’ve had enough, we are enough, and we’re going to make change.

Your Bliss Has Been There All The While, Waiting For You

Yesterday I attended a wonderful talk sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners NAWBO featuring Dr. Louann Brizendine author of the national best-selling book The Female Brain.

I was lucky enough to be siting at her dinner table. In our group Dr. Louann talked about how women make great entrepreneurs because we tend to be better networkers, finding the support we need outside of work to keep ourselves supported, nourished and connected. Men don’t tend to do this as much, and once they leave their corporate jobs, things are never quite the same.

When I was in my early twenties, I believe I would have been more successful had I been a better networker—involved with female support groups, mentoring and even coaching.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know–and I struggled as an early 20 something year old as a result.

Thoughts on Any Major Life Change

Often we have to go outside of what is expected of us by our families and social circles to find out who we really are. When we decide to shift in our careers, or even in another area of our life, it’s helpful to have people around us to empower us, to encourage us—to help us find the strength within ourselves to go after what we really want.

When I’m challenging myself in a new way or going outside of my comfort zone, my thoughts turn to high school when we studied the hero’s journey (think Joseph Campbell, the true philosopher behind Star Wars whose life philosophy was “follow your bliss”).

Joseph Campbell said, “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

While women go through the hero’s journey, we need support, encouragement and more than anything we need to talk about what we’re going through. Consider this coupled with the pressures on us to always be “good girls.” Many of us have dreams that are never explored–what “could be” behind that forbidden door. Often it’s full of joy and success and excitement.

Consider this quote from Oprah: “Sometimes you find out what you are supposed to be doing by doing the things you are not supposed to do.”

Dr. Barbara Mark and I are creating this environment for you in our co-produced workshop “Get Your Groove Back” taking place in San Francisco June 30th, You will walk away from our workshop with some key tools to help you live your fullest life, and go after the dream you’ve pushed to the back-burner.

I’m very excited to see people signing up for our workshop specifically designed for 20-somethings who are looking for more meaning out of their careers, and are looking to build the self-awareness and confidence to take the next step. Consider joining us for a rewarding Saturday afternoon. We will be doing some fun activities, not like what you did in your religious schools as kids with cut-outs and straws.

We’ll be making you a more powerful, confident and self-assured you. I promise you that.

Join the Get Your Groove Back Workshop for Career Girls. Please share with your friends.

GYGB | June 30th, 2012 |  1pm-4pm | cost: $35 | 2325 Third Street | Suite 337 | San Francisco, CA 9410

Please visit me here to sign up.