Illustrious Alumni: Mindful Parenting with Dr. Shefali Tsabary

In 1993, Shefali Tsabary (PDT ’96) traveled from Mumbai, India, to the CIIS campus, which was located in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury District at the time. Only 21 years old, she couldn’t have imagined how her life was about to change.

“My true awakening occurred when I left India and arrived at CIIS to study in the Drama Therapy program, where I discovered the power of meditation and mindfulness,” she says. “That journey of self-awareness and introspection really taught me we are not who we think we are. The conditions of childhood do not define us. I learned that breaking free from the past and entering the present moment to live fully in the here and now is the most important journey we can take.”

This philosophy became the inspiration of Tsabary’s work with clients as she applied the Drama Therapy skill of quickly improvising solutions to problems. She was greatly influenced by her classes with faculty members Renee Emunah and Eva Leveton, and she expresses deep gratitude to them.

After graduating from CIIS in 1996, Tsabary completed a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University. Today, she is a keynote speaker who has presented at TEDx, Kellogg Business School, the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, and other conferences and workshops around the world where she shares her approach of integrating Eastern mindfulness with Western psychology — especially in the realm of parenting.

“We live in a time where there is the plague of doing, doing, doing that creates an internal disconnect within parents as they race against the clock,” she says. Tsabary observes that “childhood has become this big competition for achievement. This gives the child the message that they always have to achieve or become something in order to be worthy… rather than to unfold into who they already are.”

Tsabary has written three books, including the award-winning New York Timesbestseller The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, endorsed by Oprah as one of the most profound books on parenting she has ever read. Tsabary was recently invited to Oprah’s Lifeclass, where she met with parents, facilitated conversations parent-child conversations, and presented her insights to Oprah’s audiences.

In her third book, The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting, Tsabary encourages parents to pause and examine their awareness for feelings of fear, worry, and scarcity. Instead of automatic behavior that may lead to taking a hierarchical stance focused on managing the “lesser than” child, she encourages parents to recognize the disconnect that stems from their own projections and unmet needs. She advises, “Take that time to go within because when we don’t recognize that we’re in a state of fear, the fear is in charge and then we’re yelling at our kid.” Where did that come from? It came from not paying attention in the moment.”

She continues, “Parents are often so blinded by their own pain, fear, or anxiety that they’re not even seeing the kid in front of them. The awakened parent is one who understands that they are bringing to their dynamic so much of their own stuff: their ego, their baggage, their unprocessed legacies of shame, blame, and unworthiness.”

Tsabary coaches parents to commit to a regular self-love practice. She explains, “It’s a practice of developing the understanding that this lack, this sense of incompleteness, comes from false beliefs we’ve inherited from childhood because of the unconsciousness of our parents. They put it on to us and we lived with it, and then we put it on to our children. Breaking this chain, reorganizing ourselves, and developing new belief systems — I call it a revolution. The old way doesn’t serve us. This lack of self-love doesn’t serve us.”

Tsabary’s self-love practice includes Vipassana meditation techniques she learned at CIIS. She tries to incorporate formal meditation into her days and challenges herself to access a meditative state while doing ordinary tasks like washing her hands and brushing her teeth.

Tsabary enjoys participating in parents’ transformations. She says, “I help parents understand that first they need to work on themselves. Parents who learn how to tap into their inner abundance and divinity can convey their sense of wholeness to their children.”

She feels grateful to be part of guiding others to connect to simple, joyful, and liberated parenting methods. She concludes, “I believe in the power of story to get to the heart of the matter and to inspire people. If something I say or write rings true for someone and they become awakened, I feel grateful to have made a contribution.”

By Richard Buggs 



On Wednesday, November 8th, Assistant Professor of History Stephanie Jones-Rogers of UC Berkeley brought to light the market for enslaved wet nurses in nineteenth-century America in a talk hosted by the DHI Research Cluster Women and Gender in the World.

In a talk entitled “‘She could spare one ample breast for the profit of her owner’: White Mothers and Enslaved Wet Nurses’ Invisible Labor in American Slave Markets,” Jones-Rogers argued that studying enslaved wet nurses reveals white women’s complicity in expanding slavery in the south and demonstrates how white mothers were at the forefront of these market transactions. White southern women had created a “niche sector of the slave market” dedicated to providing them with the specific maternal labor that they sought from bondswomen.

Jones-Rogers emphasized that we cannot forget about the reproductive and maternal violence white women perpetrated against black bondswomen. Indeed, the commodification of slave mothers provides an important example of the disturbing “quotidian” horrors of slavery.

Jones-Rogers’ research has much significance in the field of nineteenth-century U.S. history, particularly because so little attention has been paid to non-masculinized enslaved labor. The few nineteenth-century historians who have discussed enslaved wet nurses, like Walter Johnson in River of Dark Dreams, downplay the extent to which white women capitalized on black breast milk.

The reason for this, Jones-Rogers’ contends, is because historians have focused their research on elite southern white women, while ignoring the ways in which non-elite white women used black wet nurses. By studying wet nurse advertisements in southern newspapers, Jones-Rogers’ uncovered a disturbing story of white women’s reliance on and exploitation of black women.

These advertisements, along with other primary source documentation, reveal much about the reproductive violence inflicted upon black women by their white counterparts. They show, among other things, how white women timed their pregnancies with that of their black wet nurses, and how they forced black mothers to dedicate the majority of their milk to white children, rather than their own children.

When black wet nurses became “unproductive,” that is, could no longer produce milk, they were replaced by white mothers who deemed them to be defective. White women did this rather than improve nutritional conditions for black wet nurses.

Because white women managed black wet nurses’ labor, they were the ones who determined the market for black wet nurses. Using a lexicon derived from the greater slave market, white women graded black wet nurses based on whether they were “likely” (meaning “likely to work out”), their skill level, whether the white children they nursed in the past ended up healthy, and whether or not their milk was “fresh.”

Freshness was determined by the age of the enslaved wet nurses’ infant. The older their infant, the less valuable her milk. Enslaved wet nurses whose infant died soon after childbirth were extremely valuable. White women appreciated the lack of the extra “encumbrance,” knowing full well that more time and resources would be spent on their own children.

Becoming a wet nurse had a number of detrimental emotional effects on black women, beyond those created by more traditional forms of slave labor. For one, it separated them from established kinship networks. It also made it more difficult for them to bond with their children, who were often separated from them for prolonged periods so that they could focus on servicing white children instead.

The extent to which white women had commodified black wet nurses’ labor can be seen in how they reacted to this emotional distress. Instead of trying to improve conditions for enslaved wet nurses, white women typically used their wet nurses’ despair as an excuse to sell them, noting in advertisements to other prospective buyers that this particular wet nurse was prone to “the sulks” or “madness,” lessening her value.

Black mothers were used daily for their bodily resources, with no regard for their personal well-being, often leading to their mental and physical decline. It is only with research like Jones-Rogers’ that we can truly begin to understand the depraved nature of the south’s “peculiar institution.”

This talk was organized by UC Davis Associate Professors of History Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor and Lisa Materson, directors of the Women and Gender in the World DHI Research Cluster, and also supported by the History Department Colloquium. Jones-Rogers’ upcoming book, Mistresses of the Market, will more thoroughly explore the topic discussed in this presentation.


– Nicholas Garcia, DHI Graduate Student Researcher and doctoral student in the Department of History

We All F*ck Up: The Importance of Loving Yourself Even When You Disappoint Yourself

By Vanessa Lewis of

Look, the act of self love ain’t never been no easy thing — especially when you’re experiencing copious amounts of scarcity, shame, disenfranchisement, or loss. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a 10 billion dollar skin-lightening industry in countries where the world’s darkest people reside. Forty-two percent of voting women wouldn’t have voted for Donald Trump (an anti-choice, anti-union, anti-poor, pro-war, sexual harassment enthusiast).

And I, processing yet another anguishing break-up with someone who’s made it overtly and painfully clear that they no longer want anything to do with me, would be focusing more on healing, pursuing my goals, and moving through grief, rather than spending my days staring at his facebook page, miserably pining for his affection and attention, and desperately reaching out to him even when I know better.

That’s not to say that folks who use skin bleaching cream or vote for fascists don’t feel love for themselves. And I’ll put it on all that’s holy and sacred that I love and treasure every ounce and texture of my tender, sensitive, butter-cup of a heart.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes struggle to like myself, especially when I disappoint myself. And to be clear, I am disappointed with myself. Not because of how intensely I feel grief — I think that’s a beautiful and uncomfortable part of being courageous enough to love people sometimes — but because of the choices I’ve made as a result of that grief. This current situation is nothing new.

I have a history of repeatedly contacting my ex’s to work things out and try to re-establish some sort of connection, sometimes even after they have directly told me to back off and that they are happier now that things are over — like my last ex did 2 weeks before I last contacted him.

Yea. Sigh.

That choice not only hurt me, but it’s easy to see how it’s deep in alignment with rape culture — I intruded on my ex’s personal space against his wishes and prioritized my feelings and desires while disregarding the needs and boundaries he very clearly expressed.

Immediately afterwards, I was so disappointed with myself that I fell asleep that night wishing that I was someone else. Me. The person who screams self-love and radical self-acceptance all up and down the internet.

It wasn’t until I stopped myself from writing a facebook status about wanting to not be me that I paused. That wasn’t the message I wanted to send into the world, it wasn’t what I wanted to internalize for myself, and it sure as hell wasn’t a viable solution to my problematic behavior.


I don’t want to be someone else; I want to be a version of myself that’s conscientious and intentional about learning from my mistakes rather than shame-spiraling into self-loathing. I want to take such good care of myself when I’m hurt, angry, or grieving, that I have a self-nurturing practice to keep me accountable when my anguish makes wisdom and integrity less accessible.

I had to remind myself that the relationship that I have with myself can and will change, evolve, grow, heal and even deteriorate at times as the circumstances in my life shift. That’s ok. That’s what it means to be human, alive, not static.

Self-love is not an achievement. It’s a practice. A tedious and difficult practice. It’s easy to love yourself when you’re coasting, when you’re not in emotional pain, when you’re not fucking up.

It’s when we fuck up, when we’re distressed, when we experience scarcity, when things hurt so much its damn near impossible to breathe that it is most important to have a practice of self-love, of self-compassion, of nurture, of forgiveness. Those are the handlebars that help us make choices rooted in both collective and personal liberation in the first place, and that enable us to be introspective enough to take the risk of naming our wrongs and correcting them internally — and on someone else’s terms — when we mess up.


Those of us committed to social justice activism, liberation, and collective love rarely, if ever, talk about our mistakes, the harms we cause, and how those harms impact people — especially people in our intimate sphere and families — publicly. That sort of radical transparency, self-reflection, and accountability, in my opinion, is what’s missing from the public arena and discourse of social and transformative justice.

We celebrate the accomplishments of our movement workers. We sometimes glorify our hardships and create identity out of our pain and oppression. We laud perfectionism through call-out culture, where we’ve literally created a whole stage to heckle people’s inability to know the most up-to-date language and theory.

But we rarely talk about the often painful, rugged, confusing road we took to get here. We rarely talk about the time we said that unintentionally cissexist thing to the trans or non-binary cutie we were trying to cruise, or when we made the ableist joke about ourselves and hurt our disabled co-worker, or how we got defensive after being told our respectability politics are actually internalized white supremacy.

And if we can’t name the ways we perpetuate oppression, then how are we going to actually change oppression?


While I’m definitely not proud of the different microaggressions I’ve done or the harms I’ve caused, I am so grateful to all the people who have spoken up and named my behavior. I know that I wouldn’t have learned to grow or how to do better, if I let my shame keep me from really acknowledging my role in said mistakes. And I know I wouldn’t have the beautiful relationships I have now if I hadn’t done the work to hold myself accountable, apologize, and learn new behaviors.

But there are a lot of folks who don’t do that work when they get called out for some mistake they’ve made or some harm they’ve caused. Some folks become so ashamed that, instead of taking the critique as an opportunity to look inward and sift through some oppressive socializations and make some different choices, they internalize it and create an identity around that mistake.

Rather than doing the hard, messy work of learning to do better, they become defensive, claim we are too difficult to please, that we are snowflakes who forced people into voting for Trump.

The issue is not that we’re too difficult to please, but we don’t actually have loving models of growth and redemption, of forgiveness and accountability. We rarely honor the tedious space of learning and unlearning.

We want people to see us for the radical activist we are now, but not the dynamic, messy journey full of missteps it took to get here. We like to pretend that once you’re there, you’re done. But that’s simply not true.

More TBINAA Radical Reads: How to Make Mistakes Without Beating Yourself Up


There’s a reason why religious folks go to church every week. There’s a reason why people go to therapy more than on one occasion. And there’s a reason why people exercise or practice their passion regularly.

Transformation is a lifelong process. It’s going to happen whether you are intentional or not. So we need to create the spaces and structures to support each other with that transformation, to encourage each other when we feel hopeless or stuck, and to celebrate each other for the beautiful potential that lives in every mistake we make.

And for me, at least in this article, it feels most important to remind each other that we deserve to love ourselves, and to be loved by others, even in the midst of our mistakes and fouls — it’s the only thing that will help us get through the ugly parts.

I can be mad at you and still love you. I can be mad at myself — as I am right now — and still love myself. That’s what makes love brilliant, it’s full of capacity. What makes love magic? Its ability to transform.

For those of us committed to self and collective liberation, it is when we fuck up that we need love the most.

The Body Is Not An Apology is an international movement committed to cultivating global Radical Self Love and Body Empowerment. We believe that discrimination, social inequality, and injustice are manifestations of our inability to make peace with the body, our own and others.

Parenting Looks Nothing Like What the Experts Say

Everyone’s winging it, but that’s not a bad thing.Harvey Karp makes soothing babies look like a cinch. In the video that accompanies his best-selling book The Happiest Baby on the Block, he holds one screaming infant after another, deftly rolls them on their side, and bam!—the crying stops. “Side position” is just one of the techniques to calm a baby in Karp’s repertoire. He also uses swaddling, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Bleary-eyed parents ooh and aah over how Karp can instantly activate a baby’s calming reflex, or “automatic shut-off switch,” using his trademark “five S’s.”

However, Karp himself has never raised an infant. I imagine if he had, he’d be intimately familiar with the sixth S: straight out of luck.

I discovered the sixth S shortly after having my daughter nine years ago. A childbirth injury had left me bedridden with chronic pelvic pain, and for two months I lived on an air mattress in my living room because I couldn’t make it upstairs to my bedroom. I couldn’t sit in a comfortable position to nurse; I couldn’t stand to change my baby’s diaper or squat to bathe her; I couldn’t bounce her to calm her down. My husband stepped up, handling most things baby-related while I healed.

But one night, my husband was passed out on the couch with a fever, and I was left to handle the nighttime madness on my own. It was 2 o’clock in the morning and the baby was screaming, clearly hungry. I had struggled with milk production, but the books had been adamant: Breast is best. But my daughter wouldn’t latch, so I didn’t really have a choice. My baby would have to settle for second-rate food: formula. Well, when I brought it to her, she wouldn’t take that either.

As she arched her back and screamed, I thought back to when she was born and how everything might have been different if I’d just gotten one more massage from my midwife instead of opting for drugs. The natural-birth books had all warned against drugs and surgery; why had I been so weak? Why hadn’t I just endured the pain and tried to turn the birth experience blissful, like all the women in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth?

In a fit of anger, I nearly threw the baby across the room. It’s the scariest feeling I’ve ever had, and I quickly put her in her bassinet, went back to my air mattress, and let her cry while I sulked. I was only weeks into being a parent, but according to the books, I had managed to fail at the three most important things so far—childbirth, breastfeeding, and soothing.

I’m not alone in my self-blame. Research shows that parenting books can be damaging to new parents, adding to mothers’ stress and heightening their chances of developing postpartum depression. The you’ve-already-failed messaging in these manuals is pervasive. Missed breastfeeding your newborns in the “golden” first hour of their life? Too late, your bond is irreparably harmed. Still using a pacifier after six months? Too late. Allowed your toddler to play with your phone? Not potty-trained by 3? Yelled at your kid? Too late, too late, too late.

Parenting is as high stakes as it gets—another person’s life is in your hands. And many of us look to gurus for easy step-by-step instructions on how to do it right. Don’t get me wrong, tips and tricks are great. But what the “experts” are telling us doesn’t always work. They don’t account for the fact that raising other humans is a messy endeavor. That each child and each parent is an individual with unique experiences and needs and quirks.

After almost a decade of raising a kid and talking to parents for my podcast, The Longest Shortest Time, I’ve realized something: We’re all winging it. We are master improvisers, managing our kids’ daily curveballs with a mix of random ideas, physical comedy, and whatever tools just happen to be at our fingertips.

Through trial and error, I discovered some techniques that really did make things easier with my daughter. For soothing, blowing on her eyelids and stroking the top of her nose worked. For breastfeeding, I sat her upright and facing me, as if seated in an invisible chair—a position that nobody mentions in breastfeeding books.

I asked the listeners of my podcast to send in their own tricks. It turned out that to get their kids to stop crying, some parents were snorting like pigs in their infant’s ear. Others were fake sneezing, sprinting around the house, wagging their butt in the baby’s face, or writing with a finger on the kiddo’s back: S-L-E-E-P. Yes, this was the stuff. This was what parenting actually looks like. I kept asking for these strategies on my podcast and website, and they poured in by the hundreds. They were hilarious; they were spontaneous; they were weird. And they were nothing like the lofty ideals promoted in parenting bibles.

Take the perennial question of how to get little ones to eat their broccoli. Recipe books such as Feeding the Whole FamilyLittle FoodieThe Big Book of Organic Baby Food, and Little Bento will have you believe that any child can become a healthy and adventurous eater if you just make food delicious and cute enough. But the 8-year-old son of Jillian St. Charles, who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, wouldn’t have it: He had an eagle eye for veggies mixed into his muffins. So Jillian started throwing “fancy dinners”—breaking out the china and the crystal goblets, then shutting off the lights and burning some candles. Her son loved the drama of the low lighting, and had no clue that there was spinach in his marinara.

Screen time is one of the biggest things that parents fret about these days. The Tech-Wise Family, for example, advocates for no screens before 10 a.m. and while kids are in the car; Simplicity Parenting encourages no television or computers at all before the age of 7. But screens aren’t always evil and sometimes even come to the rescue—and not just on road trips. After a screaming match with her eighth grader over a book he had to read for school, Kate Kerr in Lyons, Colorado, decided to download an audio version of the book that her son listened to while playing video games. Years later, he is a computer programmer who listens to podcasts while working.

These strategies are born out of desperation—they are a far cry from the aspirational methods you’ll find in the books by experts. Often I wonder, Is there even such a thing as an expert in parenting? Anyone advocating a one-size-fits-all solution for raising kids is certainly not doing parents any favors. In reality, we’re figuring out what works moment by moment—and what works today might not work tomorrow; what works on one child might not work on her sibling. Often, the best we can do is accept each challenge as a given and go weird. Do something completely unexpected or absurd, kind of like the “Yes, and” principle in improv comedy, where performers build on one another’s ideas.

Yes, the toddler twins are tearing each other’s hair out and the 6-year-old is whining that she’s bored and the preteen is yelling that I’m the worst for taking away her phone … And let’s grab hands, turn our faces to the sky, and get it all out with a family scream.

Yes, the teenage stepdaughter wants nothing to do with me and refuses to speak a word in my presence … And I will write her a thoughtful letter, leave it on her bed, and invite her to write back.

The trial-and-error route is realistic and it’s custom-made. The experts are trying to squeeze parenting into a rigid plan for the masses, but there’s something to be said for just making it up as you go.

First moon. Menarche. Moon time!

Oooh!  In  honour of a girl’s first period here are some more ideas for planning her celebration:









Tips for a smooth pregnancy and blissful birth

Hi folks! Here are my recommendations:

  1. Trust and nurture yourself and your baby. Visualize the pregnancy and birth you want on a regular basis.
  2. Talk to a few women who’ve had positive (aka non-traumatic) experiences with birth.
  3. Relax, eat a decent diet (don’t stress about every little thing you put in your mouth) and enjoy the ride. Walk lots. Squats and yoga too.
  4. Watch a few youtube videos of Black women birthing naturally. If you’re planning to birth at home make homebirthing videos and films (on dvd etc) a priority. If you have a partner watch them with that individual.
  5. Get a doula and a midwife a.s.a.p. Ask solid questions like before you make any final decisions. Meet with doula (at least 3Xs during pregnancy) and midwife (every month) regularly. Choose wisely by ensuring that you really connect with them. If you’re planning to freebirth that’s cool too. P.S.-  The person you use as a doula can be a close friend or relative. The main thing is that it’s someone you really vibe with. It’s critical that they trust you, your body and birth itself. If finances are an issue consider having people contribute to your doula and midwife costs in lieu of purchasing items for your baby.
  6. If you’re planning a homebirth be very mindful of who is in on your birth plans. The less people who know the better. Stay away from naysayers.
  7. Don’t entertain vaccines. Point blank. Period. Yes, you’ll be offered them during pregnancy. Refuse them then and once your baby arrives.
  8. Have a simple game plan to deal with people who want to  tell you all about their difficult pregnancies and traumatic births. Don’t hesitate to cut in early and gently let them know that pregnancy is not the time to hear such things. Walk away if they continue. P.S.- Feel free to listen to these sorts of stories long after you’ve birthed.
  9.  Ask a close friend or relative to plan a mama blessing (aka blessingway) for you.
  10. Go easy on getting goods for your baby. They need very little things so go green (if you’r not already on that path). If you have a baby shower consider including your partner and their “people” (aka friends and family).
  11. Take a whole food prenatal throughout the pregnancy.  Keep in mind that many prenatals on the market are seen to be toxic by some holistic practitioners. These are phenomenal:
  12. Know that you are not obliged to take any prenatal or postnatal tests, procedures or ultrasounds. Educate yourself about all of them and make informed decisions.  NOTE: There are risks involved with all such things. Most are totally unnecessary and cause stress for any mama-to-be (even when we don’t realize it).
  13. If possible read 2-3 of the following books. Don’t read too much.      NOTE: I’m not a fan of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
  14. Affirm yourself (in mirror) and your baby often. Talk and read to your child on a regular.
  15. Journal whenever you feel to. Pay close attention to your moods, energy level, dreams, your senses etc. These will give you insight on the child you’re carrying.
  16. Create a birth plan. During your last trimester present it to your midwife/doctor and doula.
  17. Keep anybody or experience that causes you stress at bay.
  18. Order birth and homeopathic (specifically for childbirth) kits.
  19. Have birth plans (one for home and one for hospital) in the hands of midwife, doula and doctor at least six weeks prior to birth.
  20. Play music that moves and soothes you. Positive lyrics please.
  21. Distance yourself from anyone who is fearful of natural pregnancy (ie.vegan, void of common tests/ultrasounds) and/or birth (especially homebirth).
  22. Have a postpartum plan. You will need help. No shame. Ask others to prepare meals for you. Freeze them before baby arrives.  Arrange in-home help via family and friends at least for the first two months. If not hire someone if you can.
  23. Be home-based with your child for as long as possible. When considering childcare (outside of yourself) choose someone that is similar in philosophy and lifestyle.
  24. Build your village. Intentionally. Truly. You will need it for childcare and more.
  25. Take a natural childbirth course if you feel to. Follow your intuition on that. If you don’t take one that’s perfectly fine. As with all things trust yourself.


Note: These are the films I found useful when I was pregnant:

“Birth Day” from



A Tale of Sisterhood: Teaching Our Youth to Embrace Their Tribe

“Imagine a community of women inspiring it’s daughters, granddaughters, and nieces to refuse to twist their lives out of shape to fit into expectations; supporting them to refuse to please others by pretending to be less intelligent and gifted than they are; and empowering them to love their women-bodies, regardless. Imagine yourself as part of this community.” ~Patricia Lynn Reilly

More often than not, many women feel the need to compete or belittle one another instead of building one another up and supporting each other through this journey we call life.

There seems to be a notion that women being catty and well…mean girls, are natural part of life just like the boys will be boys notion.

However, I don’t think women are naturally mean spirited, conniving, catty people. I think more often than not, this comes when our own self-worth feels limited or when one feels insecure about themselves, their status, their achievements, their physique, etc.

I also believe the only way we can begin to change this is by showing solidarity as women as a whole. I think it begins by teaching our daughters that other girls are our allies—-not our enemies.

I think it begins by building one another up instead of tearing one another down. I think it begins by believing we are all phenomenal women.

Believe in yourself, your worth, and be proud of your accomplishments. Do not diminish yourself or someone else because you feel they have accomplished more than you. Do not brag because you believe you have accomplished more than someone else.


I believe in women. I believe in the power of sisterhood, friendship, and TRIBE. I believe in the healing spirit of women everywhere.

I am in awe of women in history, women of different cultures, women in literature, our mothers and ancestors who have gone before us and paved the way. I believe in you and me and the power we have to unlock the secrets of the past.

We are not evil seductresses who fed Adam the apple or Pandora’s Box full of secrecy and lies. Women over time have received a bad rap and as a result it has caused division and competition and a catty nature amongst women.

I have a desire to bring forth the ways of the old burning through my blood. I believe in coming full circle: maiden, mother, crone.

I believe within each of our breasts we carry the strength of warriors, goddesses, nurturers, and everything in between.

I want intimacy between women to blow to the four corners of the earth breathing in the elements of earth, wind, and fire.

We are here to belong, to connect, and to see into the depths of each other’s soul. But, how do we get there?

A Tale of Sisterhood, Friendship, and Tribe:

Long before the world was like we know it now, there existed a Wise and Mighty Tribe of ya-ya’s.

The ya-ya’s were a band of women, strong and beautiful, who roamed the country.

The stars in the sky loved them so much that they would dip down and allow the ya-ya’s to ride through the sky, so that they could travel all around the world.

Our mothers, who raised us, were the first ya-y’as and were most beautiful and loving. People adored them and no one messed with the tribal ya-y’as.

We also learned to love the inner gifts that naturally spring from being raised as a woman, which include charm, manners, quiet strength, and the ability to laugh at one’s self and not take things too seriously.

We remember that the meaning of life is about opening up, being in touch with our spirit and our feelings and finding the friendships of a lifetime.

The Lady of the Moon is our guardian and her silver light reflects the goodness in us all. She is here to teach us that the true mission of the ya-ya’s is to empower women and serve as a place to help us remember who and what we are.

We know that women are divine love, full of generosity, kindness, creativity, and wonder.

We wish to help women “remember” that these gifts are within each of us. We share them with others, so that our inner light can come out and shine.

The Lady of the Moon, knew that so many of us had been forced to move from our birth places and so she promised to be with us always. She also told us stories of how we would one day meet our other ya-ya sisters and be reunited.

We no longer live in our birth homes and we know that our town does not realize we are loyal, but, we the ya-ya’s, secretly know our history and we are loyal to our tribal sisters and the women who were there before us.

We come together in appreciation of women and sisterhood and celebrate how much joy there is in this world.

We believe that in coming together, if only for a few brief moments, that the spirit of the ya-ya restores us, renews us, and reminds us of the wonderful women that we are and were always meant to be.

Find your tribe and connect. Bring in your daughters, nieces, friends, and family. Create crowns of glory to showcase your inner goddess and celebrate you femininity. Celebrate being a woman—-a female. Raise your young with strength and the lesson to honor their fellow sisters and not compete and tear one another down. Give each other Goddess names and dance under the light of the moon.

Have a girls camping trip. Around the bonfire, repeat after me (while drinking a chalice of hot chocolate):

“These are the headdresses of the queens that have gone before us. They come from Indian holy ground… the jungles of the ancients… prairies of the Norwegians… and the forests of the mighty Amazons. The royal crowns of our people.”

[Pour some of the hot chocolate into a chalice]

“This is the blood of our people, the wolf people, the alligator people, the crow people, and the moon women from which we gain our strength to rule all worlds.”

[Pass the chalice around for everyone to take a sip]

“We are the flames of the fires, the whirling of the winds. We are the waters of the rains and the rivers and the oceans. We are the rocks and the stones. And now by the power invested in me, I declare we are the mighty Ya-Ya priestesses. Let no man put us under. Now our blood flows through each other as it’s done for all eternity. Loyal forever. We raise our voices in the words of Mumbo Gumbo… YA-YA!” (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells)


Maybe rituals and symbolism isn’t your thing? If not, I’m sure you will find an equally creative way of teaching other girls and women the power of sisterhood and friendship.

Today, I challenge you: Celebrate being a woman. Celebrate sisterhood. Uplift one another and stand strong together as a unified bond of one…