Maya Angelou: A phenomenal woman…

Leaves a legacy and many lessons By Susan Caba Maya Angelou, poet, author and phenomenal woman, died earlier this week. I realized, when I heard the news,  that I really knew very little about her. I had read only her best-known book, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” So, with her distinctive voice echoing through the house in tributes to her passing, I Googled the poems I was hearing for the first time on the radio. What an eye-opener they were, especially “Phenomenal Woman.” That poem should be given to every girl on her 12th birthday, again when she graduates from high school and college, and thereafter pasted next to her bathroom mirror. The poem so courageously—no, I mean brazenly—celebrates attributes that, as women, make us powerful and in which we should be proud. Pretty women wonder where my secret lies… I say, It's in the reach of my arms The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me. Now, before you complain that Ms Angelou is referring to, and I’m lauding, the use of physical feminine charms as the source of our power, she’s not and neither am I. I read the … [Read more...]

What Would You Tell This 11th Grader? Teaching Our Girls (& Boys) to Speak Out, Stand Up

I’m Vietnamese. In AP History class, I think my teacher was a Vietnam Vet. He’s big and bulky. He often throws my papers at me and one day, called me Charlie, Chink, and other names. The principal heard him calling me those names and said nothing. Why didn’t I speak out? All of us in AP classes are driven, it’s important to us to get good grades. I needed to get the grade and put it behind me. I knew I wouldn’t have to have him for a teacher next year. (11th grader) YOUNG PEOPLE LEADING Saturday was one of my favorite volunteer days of the year here in my geographical (St. Louis) Main Street:  Diversity Day. We have an extraordinary 9-month youth leadership program that engages high school juniors from 30+ schools. The purpose of the event is to elevate young people’s leadership capacities so that they not only notice differences, but are able to speak out with honesty and act with more tolerance, more inclusivity, more bravery. Picture it: Young women with heads covered. Young men wearing crosses. Young people sharing that they’re gay. Young people openly talking about stereotypes of how others see their “rich” and “poor” schools and families. Youth talking about how … [Read more...]

Mainstreet Women Care About Future Generations: SEED Call to Action

Happy Winter Solstice! The power of Mother Nature shines and human plans pale. I was acutely reminded of this yesterday when snow kept me from reaching my family in tiny Ord, Nebraska – the Main Street I grew up on. (Photo of my Omaha 'snowed in' view.) Can hardly wait to see Cyndi, a hometown friend and Mainstreet Woman, who shared this during our interview for the upcoming book: What’s really important to me is that my children, who are adults now, and my grandchildren, have a world that continues to be a safe place. We’re changing our earth and I need to educate myself and my family because they need a safe place. We have to change how we are toward our earth – that’s the top thing that is important to me." Cyndi, NE Mainstreet Women all across the U.S. echoed Cyndi's voice:  we’ve got to learn, we've got to change. As Stefani, MO put it, “think seven generations that follow.” SEED INSPIRES A couple of months ago, I was rather crabbily sitting in the back of a full Southwest airlines flight from San Francisco to Portland, OR.  Two gentlemen squeezed in next to me:  Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel. These men took me from cranky to inspired in 5 minutes flat! Jon and … [Read more...]

Mainstreet Women: More What We’re Proud of & Wish Every Girl Could Experience Too

A WISH:  EVERY CHILD EMOTIONALLY SECURE It was hard times growing up in the ‘dirty 30s’ in America but I always had family around, I was never hungry. I had all my emotional needs met. We were secure. Not financially, but emotionally secure. Yes, every girl, every child – that is what I wish for them – to have the security that I had. *Elaine, NE #2 THEME:  EDUCATION, PROFESSION & PASSION According to the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Global Gender Gap report, U.S. Women are No. 1 in the world for educational attainment. Not surprisingly, Mainstreet Women are proud of their hard-earned education that enables them to pursue passions and professions. (The U.S. currently ranks 22nd overall. We're No. 55 in political empowerment, No. 33 in health and survival rates, and No. 8 in economic participation and opportunity.) For girls, I want them to know that education has made all the difference for me. Not my titles, I don’t use them though others do, but the fact that I did it. I have confidence that I can learn what I need to learn to succeed. Kathy, ID My education is what I’m most proud of. Despite not having a family who could do it for me, I had the … [Read more...]

Mainstreet Women: What We’re Proud Of & Wish Every Girl in America Could Experience Too

I want girls to feel fearless and have hopes and dreams that they can change the world in any way they want to. Rather than self-loathing, I want them to have self-love. If so many girls hate themselves, feel fat, don’t like their noses – all those messages they get from the media – if girls could be self-accepting and have self-love as a core, girls could rule the world." Beth, MS As 2012 comes to a close, ask yourself:  What would happen if you made it a priority to share with girls one thing you’re really proud of and want them to experience too? How would you feel if you reflected on your accomplishments every week? (How about on a walk, in a bubble bath, or with female friends?)  Mainstreet Women don’t readily toot their own horns. Whether it is Main Street modesty or something more (cultural messages that it is NOT okay for us to shout out our accomplishments), voicing wishes for girls was easier. Because most women interviewed also said that girls need more positive role models, this is worth paying attention to. Are you the one role model who will make a difference in a girl's life? Here’s an appetizer of some of my favorite quotes from Mainstreet Women and the top … [Read more...]

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