Archive for the ‘Empowerment’ Category

A Genius in Our Midst

January 15, 2009


Stop the presses GBD!  Carolyn asked if there was some way we could show our support for the students at the Mirwais School for Girls.  OMG carolyn…are you a genius??  Because this is a genius idea!  GENIUS!

What do the rest of you think?  Got any ideas?  I emailed the reporter who wrote the article to ask how we could help.  Keep in mind that life is rough in Kandahar, so I’m not sure how feasible it is to send our support.  But there’s nothing wrong with trying, right?

News Day Tuesday: And you thought going to your school was tough.

January 13, 2009

At left, Shamsia Husseini took an exam with her classmates.  (photo: Danfung Dennis for The New York Times)

I remember when I went to school, all I had to worry about was homework, tests, catching the bus, getting to the cafeteria before the line got too long,…you know, typical stuff.  I never worried about being attacked by people who thought I shouldn’t be going to school because I’m a girl.

But sadly, that is exactly the kind of thing students and teachers of the Mirwais School for Girls have to worry about.  Back in November, a group of men attacked 11 girls and 4 teachers with acid.  Seventeen-year-old Shamsia Husseini (pictured at left above…you can’t really see her face) suffered the worst.  Her injuries were so bad that she had to be treated at a hospital abroad.  They were so bad that today her vision gets blurry, making it hard for her to read.

Not surprisingly, parents refused to let their daughters go outside after that.  So for four days, the Mirwais School for Girls was empty.  But four days was enough for the headmaster of the school, Mahmood Qadari, who proceeded to work tirelessly to fill those classrooms again.  He asked the local government for more police, a footbridge, and a schoolbus.  And he held meetings with hundreds of parents imploring them to let their daughters return to school.

And so today, just TWO months after the attack, the 40 classrooms of the Mirwais School for Girls are so full that additional classes have to be held in tents outside in the courtyard.  Did the government come through with the police?  No.  The bridge?  No.  The schoolbus?  No.

It seems that the only things that came through were the courage and persistence of the parents, the teachers, and most of all, the students.  Almost all of the 1300 or so students have returned to school, including 8 of the 11 girls who were attacked.

And yes, that includes even the girl who was hurt the most – Shamsia Husseini.  Last I heard, she was taking a geography test, trying to remember what the capital of Brazil was.  And if she did remember, she’d know more than a college graduate like me because I am absolutely terrible at geography.  😉

(I Googled it though.  The capital of Brazil is Brasília.  I never would’ve guessed that in a million years.  My two guesses were Rio de Janeiro, because of Carnaval, and São Paulo, because my plane landed there once on the way to Argentina.  Don’t tell Mari that.  She might hit me.)

If you’d like to read the full article, here it is.  There are also pictures showing the students going about their day in school.


January 11, 2009

What makes a good community? Answer this from both an online and offline perspective. Go!

Fab Female: Rene Blas

January 11, 2009

Rene Blas (photo: J. B. Reed for The New York Times)

Sometimes being fabulous is just about picking yourself up and moving forward after life has dealt you a couple of hard knocks.  When young people do this, it’s even more fabulous.  Cue Rene Blas, a 19-year-old who, along with her family, was evicted from their apartment this past fall because her father lost his job and couldn’t keep up with the rent.  While her family went to go live in family shelters, Rene was separated from them because of her age (she was too old), and had to go live in a women’s shelter by herself.  That can’t be easy to deal with…evicted from your home, separated from your family, and forced to fend for yourself.

But instead of falling through the cracks, Rene joined a bridge program for homeless youths, determined to make a future for herself.  She got a job at Starbucks, keeps in touch with her family regularly (including calling her younger brother to wake him up for school), and plans to study nursing at Lehman College.  As if working and studying weren’t enough, she also plans to run track for Lehman.

So yay to Rene!

You can read more of Rene’s story here.

I’m Baaack!

January 8, 2009

Hey Ladies!

I just returned from our first annual “Wild Women’s Adventure” in Ecuador. Four of us girls spent a few weeks in the Galapagos, Andes and Amazon… Really one of the best trips of my life. Due, I think, to the company more so than any environment. Between the 4 of us we have 112 years, 1 baby, 3 dogs, 1 cat, 1 husband, 1 engagement, 2 masters degrees, 4 very different histories and a lot of giggles. I found these women to be such a great source of inspiration and insight. We each have such very different lives but such similar values.

Highlights…in no particular order:

1) Blue footed boobies!!

2) Iguana fights.

3) New Year’s 12-grape ceremony (each grape represents one thing we want to bring into our 2009), Bangra dancing and effigy burning (the effigies represent those things we want to eliminate from the previous year) in the streets of Quito.

4) Horseback riding at the Cotopaxi volcano. so. fricking. amazing.

5) Random town rodeo in the Andes!! Lots of sugar cane liquor drunk people, injured horse fixing by said drunk people… but with such beautiful care and community, back empanadas with the locals, dancing with said drunk people to “Carraway, carraway”, and struggling to breath due to the altitude.

6) The sunset at Otovalo.

7) The markets, people, shopping, and general loveliness of a great and massive open-air market.

8) The weird Shaman in the Andes. More precisely, the hysterical and inappropriate laughter while he was spitting %90 alcohol and geranium down our friend’s shirt.

9) The drive over the Andes and down into the jungle.

10) The canoe, and subsequent hike into the jungle.

11) The community we saw in the jungle.

12) The really beautiful Shamanic ceremony we had. One of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had.

13) The knowledge I gained about the politics of Ecuador, and especially politics of the jungle.

Happy 2009!



$2500 Scholarship for Social Innovation

January 4, 2009

I totally forgot to tell you guys about this.  Sorry.  This is what happens when I don’t write things down.  Anyway, watch the video and go here for the official rules, details, and application form.  Some important dates:

  • January 15, 2009: Application Deadline
  • February 2, 2009: Finalists Announced
  • February 23, 2009: Recipient of the I Will Teach you to be Rich Scholarship for Social Innovation is announced.

Also, the site says the scholarship is for people in their 20s, but that’s meant as an upper bound on age – meaning people in their 30s shouldn’t apply, but if you’re a teenager you’re good to go.

Not a bad way to start off the New Year, right?  🙂

Good luck!

Help Me Help You

January 4, 2009

With the New Year, a lot of people renew their commitment to work on one or more goals they have for themselves.  So I was thinking we could use this blog to help each other out.  What kinds of goals have you set up for yourselves and what kind of information or resources would you find most helpful?  Anything and everything is fair game.  Whether it’s related to losing weight, playing an instrument, learning to draw/paint/take pictures, using software programs (for school, art, music, etc.),…whatever.  The internet is a treasure trove of information, and I don’t see why we can’t use it to help us out.  🙂  Auntie Kailin already posted a bunch of links with a lot of great resources in 10 Activities to Help You Make a Change in 2009.

So help me help you GBD!  What kind of stuff do you want me to post for you so that you can be well on your way to being the kind of person you want to be?

A Contest!!!

December 23, 2008


I would first like you give Kathy a shout-out…. She has been amazing with this blog, and has truly livened it up with her humor, intelligence and her outlook on life. Kendra and I love love love her writing! Kendra is doing well with baby Marcus, and is officially able to get out of her place from time to time… which is REALLY good because she was going a little stir-crazy. I am done on the Ville. I had a wonderful few months and will miss many of my Smallville peeps dearly.

So…. during this holiday lull, we are throwing out a really exciting contest for all teen girls from 13-17 in the L.A. area. If you are NOT in L.A. but are willing to get yourself there, that is fine too. A newsletter saying the exact same thing will be going out tonight or tomorrow… If you have questions just comment them, or e-mail them. If there are FAQs, I will post the answers before I leave on the 25th. Here are the details:


TIMEOUT RETREAT and GIRLS BY DESIGN partner for this unique retreat sponsored by Warner Springs Ranch in Temecula, California.

TIMEOUT FOR TEENS is an overnight holistic retreat for teen girls where they will have the opportunity to attend rotations designed to empower them to have access to tools to achieve balance in their lives.
There will be an evening event introducing young female celebrities who will attend as speakers for the evening as well as mentors. Retreat is opened to all girls aged 13-17 in the Los Angeles area. Transportation, food and lodging is free thanks to the generous donation of Warner Springs Ranch ( and Kristin Kreuk. To be selected to attend, follow the directions below.

Answer the following question:

What do you want the world to look like in your lifetime? Send us a project that best expresses your vision of how you can contribute to make the world closer to that vision.

*Please submit your project in either a collage, painting, writing, video, musical c.d., or other multi-media format.

Send entries by February 1st, 2009 to:

Timeout for Teens

11551 Santa Monica Blvd. #401

Los Angeles, CA 90025

(include your full name, daytime phone number, birthdate and email address with entry)
We will select 30 girls and notify winners by telephone no later than February 15th, 2009. A packet with details of the event will be sent to winners via mail.



Men’s Magazines?

November 27, 2008

My Darlings!

It has been so long since I wrote last… Been working my tush off in TV-Land. And since it is American Thanksgiving, I have got a few days.

I am being approached to do some press for my new film Street Fighter, which comes out late February. There is a specific Men’s Magazine that I am being asked to do the cover of, and I have always turned down these offers in recent years. This magazine reaches a very large male demographic, which is important for the success of the film. I have my own personal hypotheses about what the effects these magazines are on both the male perspective of female, and on the general objectification of women. And I understand that I can only see what I can see… duh. So, I am wondering about your experiences with men’s magazines and what you think is positive or negative about them. What do you think is valuable about them, and what do you think is destructive? And what are your opinions on how to reach that important young male demographic without utilizing these resources?

Excited to discuss with you all!!!



10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy!

November 24, 2008

I came across this great article and thought that it may be something other ladies would be interested in as well.  I mean, don’t we all want to know the secret to sustainable happiness?

In this article, scientists help point out the 10 most “happy-making” things you can do.  Research proven!

Savor Everyday Moments

Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play. Study participants who took time to “savor” ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.

Avoid Comparisons

While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction, according to Lyubomirsky.

Put Money Low on the List

People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan. Their findings hold true across nations and cultures. “The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,” Ryan says. “The satisfaction has a short half-life—it’s very fleeting.” Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization.

Have Meaningful Goals

“People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” say Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. “As humans, we actually require a sense of meaning to thrive.” Harvard’s resident happiness professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, agrees, “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable.”

Take Initiative In School and At Work

How happy you are in school and at work depends in part on how much initiative you take. Researcher Amy Wrzesniewski says that when we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.

Make Friends, Treasure Family

Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive relationships, say Diener and Biswas-Diener. But it’s not enough to be the life of the party if you’re surrounded by shallow acquaintances. “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones” that involve understanding and caring.

Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

It sounds simple, but it works. “Happy people…see possibilities, opportunities, and success. When they think of the future, they are optimistic, and when they review the past, they tend to savor the high points,” say Diener and Biswas-Diener. Even if you weren’t born looking at the glass as half-full, with practice, a positive outlook can become a habit.

Say Thank You Like You Mean It

People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals, according to author Robert Emmons. Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness, and lower on depression—and the effect lasts for weeks.

Get Out and Exercise

A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expense. Other research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem.

Give It Away, Give It Away Now!

Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it. Researcher Stephen Post says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness, he says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.



The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want,
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Penguin Press, 2008

Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth,
Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2008

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment,
Tal Ben-Shahar, McGraw-Hill, 2007

Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,
Robert Emmons, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007