Saving the World One Woman at a Time – Part One

Published by Casandra on

Saving the World One Woman at a Time
Part One – Why Core Values and Identity Matter

*An excerpt from my talk at the Powerful Women Today urban retreat on March 23, 2017.

One of the most prophetic messages for women in our time came from the Dalai Lama in September 2009 at the Vancouver Peace Summit when he said, The world will be saved by western women.” 

There is much to derive from this statement, including the possibility that you can heal, support and take action on behalf of women and others who can’t. It has to start one woman at a time. And that first woman is you.

Before I dive into this incredibly, spine tingling statement, let me share why it resonates so deeply with me. From a young age, I wanted to make a positive impact on a global scale. Sounds ridiculous right? How could a young girl know she wanted to make a difference in such a grand way?

It was a high school course called World Issues that opened up a whole new perspective of the world. I became passionate about the social, economical and political issues that were affecting millions of people in developing countries. I learned about inequality, poverty, and violence against those who couldn’t fight back in particular women and children. I was heartbroken, angry, fascinated, and inspired. Problems exist everywhere but my desire to make a difference in other parts of the world crystalized during this time.

That school course put me on the path I still journey today. When I was younger, I took steps to empower myself. I started working part-time at the age of 13 to create a degree of independence and begin saving for my future. I realized I could attend university – it was never seen as an option in my family.  Most importantly I traversed a very difficult childhood with broken homes and broken parents.

I pursued my purpose a very meaningful and tangible by studying International Development at university and then went on to do my Masters in Capacity Building and Communication for Development. This led to traveling and working abroad for a handful of years that helped continue to shape my purpose. Upon returning to Canada, I spent 16 years in the non-profit sector specializing in client development, fundraising and stewardship to further the missions of countless organizations.

While I am very proud of my working career, it took the challenges of early motherhood to recognize and value the need to care for myself to truly flourish in my purpose to help others.   So let me tell you a bit about it.

After my third child, I faced my limits as a human being and I realized I ain’t Super Woman anymore.  I was severely sleep deprived, was dealing with post partum depression, and had very little support. I was so focused on nourishing my children, and tending to their needs, that I stopped tending to my own. I was exhausted, angry, and frustrated. I lost joy in my children, resented my husband and each day was a struggle. Who can relate?

But underneath it all, the flame of my spirit quietly flickered and fought for me. Feeling joy for my children again also became a driving force for change. I started to forgive myself for reaching my limits, and for needing support. I realized I couldn’t keep going without nourishing myself and I didn’t need to have it together all of the time. Above all, I accepted that I was a great mom the moment my first children were born.

As women, we easily and frequently push ourselves to the breaking point of exhaustion, and despair. But IF we are gentle enough, loving enough and courageous enough, we can also heal and transform from these moments.

A large part of coming back was reclaiming my identity. For me, my identify shifted from being a woman who has children to being “just a mom.” Please don’t misinterpret me when I say “just a mom” because we all know that role is an incredibly profound one. But I took this role so seriously and I was so empty that I let go of other parts of my identity. Our identity helps us makes sense of who we are and our place in the world. When we lose it, we can feel lost, ungrounded, isolated, and detached. It’s tough place to be but it’s also where incredible learning and transformation takes place.

Reclaiming my identity meant I wasn’t just being the best mom for my kids but the best woman. I wanted to be caring, patient and loving but also emulate values such as courage, perseverance, and nurture the idea of possibilities. Much of this is based on my core values. Core values are beliefs and convictions that guide and direct behaviour and support our identity and purpose. Knowing your values provides tremendous clarity and focus to take committed action for growth and development.

Click here to access a very simple exercise to identify your core values.

Once I realized I wasn’t just the best mom for my kids but the best woman, I owned it. I committed to seeking the support to help bring me back.  That included forgiving myself, being present and enjoying my kids, taking care of my health and wellbeing and hiring a coach.

My experiences with motherhood, along with work, travel and even the hardships of childhood gifted me a depth of wisdom and confirmed my passion to help others. It is why I am a coach. It is how I make a difference. It is also my life story and we each have our own. I chose to see the gifts and receive the learning from both the good and bad and I am still learning and will for the rest of my life. You also have a choice to harness the gifts in your life and make something from them that have meaning and purpose.

* This will be a four part blog series.  Stay tuned for Part Two – Let Your Feminine Energy Lead