This is the shape of our generation, ladies.
I just finished some research in prep for facilitating the 566 Sprints - goal crushing 6 month groups for midlife women leading with change in their lives.
I was curious about what has been different for us - what happened while we were growing up. I knew from experience that I have a blind spot about my own youth.
A few years ago I did some extensive reading about the civil rights movement, and I was shocked at the extent of murder and mayhem inflicted on African Americans and other civil rights workers in the south in the 1960s.
I knew it was bad, of course, but I was chagrined to be in my early 40s and just be learning the scope of what happened. How did I not know this stuff?
Well, my parents, in whose home respect for others was non-negotiable and racism not tolerated, sheltered me from it. TV was kept in its proper place, turned off and in the corner, except for evening shows we watched together and Saturday morning cartoons. I lived in the Northeast in my early childhood, what was happening along the back roads of the deep South certainly didn’t show up in school or our community.
The point is, sometimes its hard to see the reality of your own childhood until you step outside of it.
Through my more recent work producing videos for organic farms, non-profits working with homelessness and community health, and triple bottom line organizations, I sensed a difference in the pace of change. I can remember standing at Home Depot a few years ago, looking at a nice gas grill made in China , priced at $150, and thinking, "Things are too cheap right now".
I had not stepped back to get a broad overview until now. I was jolted into action by the natural disasters of the past year, which felt oddly personal to me even though I have not suffered to nearly the same degree as others have.
Every single place on the planet that my gypsy soul considers home was hit hard. Houston, where I grew up, Mexico City, where I live now, and Santa Rosa CA, where I lived for 5 years among natural beauty and an incredible community that nurtured my own midlife awakening.
I know, without drama or hype, that this is the new normal. Climate change is the hockey stick meta-metric. It doesn’t matter anymore if we agree on the reasons.
So off I went, googling major societal trends in food supply, consolidation of agriculture, (I was born in Iowa), rise of GMO and pesticide / fertilizer use, industrialization of meat production, cancer rates, prescription drug use, other health indicators, fast fashion, climate change, chemicals in breastmilk, chemicals in polar bears, rise of plastics, number of screens in public spaces, social media and smart gadget adoption rates. I posted a few of the results in this blog post.
If you were to paste all the graphs up on a wall and stand back, squint your eyes and blur your vision, the graphic above is what happened while we were growing up. I'm generalizing, but we pretty much bumped along for most of the century and then took a big ol’ upward swerve between the 70’s - 90’s, depending upon the indicator.
This is not your mama’s midlife ladies.
I did go looking for some good news, and of course it does exist - women reps in congress have increased, albeit not at anything close to a hockey stick spike. Lead levels in the air are way down in our major cities. Title IX was transformative for our generation. More women attending college and entering the workforce. Growing awareness of the importance of women in the global economy. Medical advances. Increased sexual freedom due to birth control, especially the Pill, although the long term effects on women’s health due to the hormones and menstrual suppression are in question.
I have felt for years like there was something out of sync with the “traditional” response to life changes, and particularly midlife. Now I see that “out of sync” is the exact term. We’ve been using a midlife map better suited to the early 20th century to navigate a more rapid pace of change.
The dark side of this is that, at a time in history when we don’t have a second to waste, women often internalize the challenges of midlife as something that they are doing wrong, and they get stuck.
Staying stuck is the exact opposite of how we are to experience midlife.
Women need a new, supportive approach to dealing. The struggle to juggle we’ve been patching together is not going to cut it going into the next 20 years.
What social statistics and the challenges of global climate change tells us is this - for women called to create impact with their lives, this would be helpful: take a fresh look at our environment and our life goals, do a quick and dirty SWOT, and adopt a framework that helps us build resiliency and mimic the rate of change around us.
This is the midlife mezcal cocktail that we need, not our mama’s gin and tonic toddies.
The risk if we don’t do this is that we lose the opportunity to contribute a balancing, healthy influence as the world rockets up this change curve and leaves us behind. Our young people who, quite frankly, could use our help and would like our leadership, are on that curve, too.
The challenges are immense. So is the opportunity. It doesn't matter if your journey is a passion for cupcakes or the cure for cancer, the thing that matters is that you make time for it.
Our families, communities, societies and the planet needs our collective female influence, resiliency and example.
Speaking of example, here is one of my favorites. We can see successful analogs of the framework above being modeled in pockets of society - The number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322% since 1997*, making black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. This progress against the backdrop of continued social challenges is particularly impressive.
There are a variety of factors that make up this statistic, of course. For the purposes of this piece, we see a group of women with strong sense of why they are here, many with deep spirituality grounding, leveraging today’s tools to connect with each other and resources online and create massive change. Their progress in this example is mimicking the overall trend of society.
The female journey, resiliency and impact is my jam, as the cool kids say. I’m producing a whole lotta content and related topics in 2018, we invite you to join us.
*“2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report” commissioned by American Express Open
Well here you have a mini-case study and a bit of a Fail in action.
A few weeks ago we did a soft re-brand from DreamBiz Test Drive to DreamBiz Blueprint and ran a couple of promotions under the new brand.
The thinking was that DreamBiz Blueprint would speak more directly to what is going through the minds of our audience - are they really thinking, "Gee, I wish I could test my idea"? Or are they thinking, "I wish I knew where to start" - something a blueprint implies more clearly perhaps than a test drive.
We did not go behind the scenes and change all of the course materials, all our social media "handles" (accounts on FB, Twitter etc) or much else.
That's what made it a "soft" rebrand. Why?
1) honestly, part of it was a lack of time to implement all the changes
2) lack of conviction that the new name would be measurably better.
Here was the strategic error:
Its OK to play out a hunch. Try to keep the process like, well, a mini test drive - we tested only the logo change and name for a couple of promotions, and not everything else in the business associated with the name. We'll still use the term blueprint as a generic description for the step by step nature of the course.
Viva la DreamBiz Test Drive!
I'm spending a quiet long weekend working on my book.
As part of the setting the stage, I make the point that this is not your mama's midlife, or grandma's. Fundamental societal inputs that were unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands, of years were altered for the worse in our lifetime.
I feel a bit like a Thanksgiving grinch, unearthing a bunch of bad news about obesity and the food system in the U.S.
Industrialization of our food system, introduction of plastics and chemicals are having widespread negative effect at the same time climate change is accelerating.
Here are a few key infographics. You may be tempted to get discouraged and that is understandable. Try not to. We've got suggestions as to how to keep from feeling overwhelmed at the end of the post.
This is not a rant post. I prefer to let the numbers and visuals tell their story. When we bring them all together like this, we get a more complete picture.
Lets start with some good news. We saw the adoption of Title IX in 1972.
More women enrolling in college.
Lead levels decreased and some large cities made big improvements in air quality.
And finally, more female representation in Congress.
Challenges: Food Supply
This is arguably the biggest and worst change that happened in the last 50 years. Farmland consolidation, industrialization of farming, GMO crops with greater fertilizer and pesticide use are feeding a food industry that is producing harmful processed foods that have increased obesity and diabetes and possibly autism at alarming rates.
As we export more and more processed food and industrialized farming practices, the rest of the world's rates of obesity and diabetes climb as well. I live in Mexico and see this first hand.
Many of us are gluten intolerant, or if not, we all know someone who is. However, sometimes these same people can eat bread or pasta products in other countries, or made from heritage wheat sources in the U.S.
This graphic comes from an article citing a study done on rats and mapping the incidence of several types of cancer, including thyroid, to the timing of the adoption of GMO corn and soy and the pesticide Glyphosate. I remember noticing a few years ago how many women seemed to be having thyroid issues, including me. (Although in my case its partly genetic; my grandmother, dad and older brother all had or have low thyroid.)
I already blogged about the increase of sugar in processed food during the low fat craze of the 1980s as a major shift that happened right under our noses. This graph shows how obesity rates increased from the time the low fat guidelines were implemented.
Autism. Causing a strain on families and our educational system. Some sources cite vaccines, others cite poor dietary options. Again, don't we all know someone who's life is touched by Autism, especially among our boys? Its infuriating.
This statistic shows prescription drug expenditure in the United States from 1960 to 2017.
Plastics and chemicals
One example: PBDE in Breast Milk.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, are organobromine compounds that are used as flame retardant. Like other brominated flame retardants, PBDEs have been used in a wide array of products, including building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles. They were introduced in the 1970s. The below chart is from a study of Swedish women. The source notes that breast tissue sampled in the 1960s from women in the San Francisco Bay Area reveals no PBDEs, today they have some of the highest levels in the country. They are carcinogenic endocrine disruptors and pass from the mother to the fetus and child.
Info like this can make us feel defeated before we even start. We all feel that way sometimes.
The main thing is to remember that you are not alone in perhaps not knowing what to do next, in feeling too busy.
This is what you do next: If you haven't done so recently, you re-assess where want to end up in a few years. Then you work back in 6 month chunks. That may not, on the surface, seem like it has anything to do with the bigger problems of the world. But it does.
I talk about this in Chapter 2 of the book, which I'm working on tomorrow. I really need to think of a name for it, right?
The second essential key is this - find a community of women who will hold you accountable to your biggest self, in a fun, exciting way.
Keep in touch and we'll be talking more about that soon too!
Greetings everyone -
Happy almost Turkey Day!
November is flying by, pretty soon we’re going careen right into the Turkey and stuffing, and then go cartwheeling into Santa’s lap. Ah, the holidays - I’ve learned to love them in a different way than I used to. Sort of like my period. Just kidding! sort of.
For the first time in a few years, I'm not cooking or hosting. Both of my kids are a gillion miles away, and my sweet man with a Mexican passport does not celebrate Thanksgiving, nor do the other 8.8 million people in Mexico City.
So yeah, it feels a little strange, but in truth, its an example of getting what you ask for. And I've been asking for a window of time to just write. (I'll confess that it also helps me to know that I'm going to see my girl Jessie in London over Christmas!)
I'm not going all commando and off the grid for 4 days but in truth....
This year I am haunted by January 1. I am obsessed with clearing some stuff off my big to-do list.
I had an executive coach years ago who taught me to create a tolerations list and start scheduling time to mark it off.
By tolerations she met those things you are going to do, want to do, don’t want to do, should do, but for whatever reason you don’t do them. It can be anything from scheduling that check up, cleaning out your closet, catching up on tax paperwork, or
write your book.
I choose the latter.
So that is the main thing I will be doing from 12:00 noon tomorrow until whatever time Sunday night.
I’m working on the first version of a book about women, resiliency and feminine bravery.
Before you roll your eyes and think, "Kala, Eat Pray Love and Wild have already been written", hear me out. That's not what this is.
(By the way, am I the only woman in North America that didn’t think Wild was all that amazing?)
It is not a “tale of my awakening” (now I’m rolling my eyes, too), it includes some of my story, but not for its own sake.
I am more resilient and brave now, especially compared to a few of years ago. I’m grateful for that, because there is much more apparent risk in my life than there used to be. The jury is still out on several major points, yet I wake up more energized than I have been in years.
It doesn’t mean that I am not scared at times. No. We all know that being brave is not the absence of fear. Just the other evening I had a meltdown and picked a fight with my man. Totally projected my BS onto him. Not pretty.
What I've noticed is its like my soul is developing teflon. Things don't stick. I apologized, he accepted (to be honest, as a Mexican man who grew up around volatile Latinas, he's like, "is that all you got? its not a problem mi amor") and we moved on.
Over the past few years I’ve found the guides, the advice, the tools and truth. My success in reaching this point was a product of relying on a multitude of insights, learnings, and teachings from people alive and dead. And then taking action on them.
Here’s my twist. I’m obsessed with the journey. Maybe not so much with Cheryl Strayed's (author of Wild) but mine, yours, theirs - other women, other cultures, and men too.
Its because our paths are all linked, of course. I’m committed to creating practical fabulous work that supports women on their life journey, whatever that looks like for them, and builds community among us.
These are the first 2 topics. I think there are 5 total but we'll see what the Muse has to say.
1. How it works - the actual process I've observed women use over and over again to stay rock-solid centered in the middle of life’s hurricanes...or earthquake, or fire. Its also the process that kept me sane in dismantling a 26 year marriage.
2. Knowing where you are going - beyond goal setting.
I'm taking this on at the same time I’m producing some major projects for year end for my business.
We just finished up the Women's DreamBiz to Action Plan Summit for Women and I felt like I had a Facebook chip implanted in my eyeball. Those of you who are in my social networks are probably getting relentlessly spammed with the DreamBiz posts.
Thank you for not de-friending me. : )
I've got one more push with the DBTD coming late November. I “should” wait and focus only on that and on building out the DreamBiz Test Drive audience. Focus on one thing. That is what all the gurus tell you. My bank account certainly agrees with that.
Funny thing, have you ever noticed that those gurus are mostly men with an extensive support system of mostly women?
After surveying the wreckage of 2016 and its affect on women, I cannot wait. The next 20 years are NOT like any time in the past. The news is not all bad, either, but the challenges are huge.
It's crunch time, ladies, and "first world" women in midlife are one of the most powerful influences in the mix.
So I just hit you with the big picture, which again is exactly what all the gurus say not to do. That’s OK, I know you can handle it.
Beyond that, I know you get it.
Back to the little picture:
To keep myself accountable, I’ll be sharing an overview of each section starting this Sunday evening at 7:00 CDT, on YinCaravana's page with Facebook live.
Yes, I have mixed feelings about the venue, but we'll give it a try.
You don't have to do anything, just knowing you are out there will keep me on track.
If you want to come and watch, awesome. If you want to bring a friend, equally awesome. Whether I’m talking to dozens or just me, I’ll be there.
I'm not promoting this in any paid way, Facebook shares nothing for free anymore, and people are busy. Thats OK. I have no control over Facebook algorithms and people’s busy lives.
I do have control over 1) creating my stuff and 2) putting it out there.
That’s why I’m tying myself to the mast, I need the pressure of accountability. Just knowing you are all out there is incredibly helpful.
And by Christmas I’ll reach the end of the book that is really just the beginning of a bunch of magic for 2018.
Thanks so much for your support. If I can ever return the favor, please let me know!
Big Love - and Gratitude!
This is way bigger than a PS, so maybe it’s more like a stay tuned. Get your pencils out and put a big heart around late September.
I’m super stoked to be working on a Women’s Oasis Retreat to Costa Rica next year.
A good friend with a big soul is co-creating this with me for a small group of women. Her background includes a passion for sustainable travel, producing for the Travel Channel, Nat’l Geographic, and setting up the travel program for the American Institute of Architects. Hubba hubba! <3 a tiny bit more info here.