Grace in action

A large part of what give me meaning in my work is raising women’s consciousness: I am honoured to work with (and be friends with) extremely bright, career-driven women, who often feel they are lacking a sense of meaning in their lives and feel something’s missing. Often when something’s missing, it’s you, so we start with self-connection – to the body, connecting the clarity of our agile minds, to the compassion in our (often) neglected hearts, to the courage in the enteric nervous system in our gut. Only when we connect to ourselves can we bring our meaning to life.

The women noted below are my role models (I am slowly adding to this list – so many amazing women in the world!).  They blow me away with their courage in how they have brought their meaning to life through their work and I aspire to one day be as grace-full as they are.  Until then courage matters.

Eve Ensler – playwright, performer, feminist, activist

I am proposing that we re-conceive the dream. That we consider what would happen if security was not the point of our existence. That we find freedom, aliveness and power not from what contains, locates or protects us, but from what dissolves, reveals and expands us.

Ensler is best know for her play The Vagina Monologues and her philanthropic work: she founded V-Day – a movement to end violence against women and girls everywhere and has worked with rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo, establishing City of Joy – a transformational leadership community.  She documents her journey with uterine cancer in her memoir In the Body of the World. Watch her TED talk here – a wake up call to women living in their heads and disconnected from their bodies, everywhere.

Franki Raffles – feminist social documentary photographer

My tenuous connection to photographer Franki Raffles comes through Edinburgh Council’s Zero Tolerance campaign: in 1994, as a young trainee accountant at the council I attended a meeting in which funding for the campaign was an item on the agenda.  It was the first time that mass media social marketing techniques had been applied in a feminist campaign.

I did not appreciate that the woman who had shot the arresting images of women and children in familiar, everyday settings, juxtaposed with startling facts about domestic violence, had died that same year following complications giving birth to twins. She was just 39.

Her work went largely forgotten, until 2013 when her family gifted her entire archive, comprising some 90,000 negatives, assorted notebooks and journals to her alma mater, St Andrews University.  Her long time friend Dr Scott has preserved, catalogued and made public the work of a woman whose honest representation of ordinary women at work from the Isle of Lewis to China deserves much  wider appreciation.

Meg Wheatley – warrior for the human spirit

Nothing can temper the spirit of a warrior as much as the as the challenge of dealing with difficult people in positions of power. Only under these conditions can warriors acquire the sobriety and serenity to withstand the pressure of the unknowable. The Teachings of Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda quoted in Perseverance

I first came across Margaret (Meg) Wheatley when I read her book Leadership and the New Science which shows how discoveries in quantum physics, biology, and chaos theory enable us to deal successfully with change and uncertainty in our organisations and our lives (I went on to study with quantum physicist Danah Zohar).  She has worked as an organisational consultant since the 1970s, her work, books and writing being an exploration of new ways of being and thinking based on wisdom drawn from new science, history, and spiritual traditions.  More recently, she has invited us to see the world anew informed not by science but by sacred wisdom – a world “we modern ones have dismissed or ignored, but still held for us in the ancient wisdom traditions of most cultures”.

Sophie Sabbage – writer, inspirational speaker, transformational facilitator

What if there was a bigger prize than surviving cancer? What if cancer is your soul’s last and best invitation to become the person you were born to be? To heal the wounds you left open, to feel the joy you glossed over and to let life kiss you. Now and now and now.

Sophie Sabbage is living* with terminal cancer.  Read her book The Cancer Whisperer – even, and maybe especially, if you don’t have cancer. Watch the films on her website.  Be inspired to listen to life pounding on your shell begging you to break it open and kiss life. Now.

*As at December 22nd 2017 – this blog post shares Sophie’s latest health update.