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What comes next? Thoughts on International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day and I find myself musing on the gifts feminine eldership and power could bring to our current disconnecting times.

My Friday morning started early with the first in a series of online calls. I've been working for myself for more than 25 years and in the online space for many years now. I'm used to seeing people in the virtual space, hosting and being part of meaningful conversations. I'm an old hand at to team meetings and planning events in this medium. I'm good at harvesting what we talk about and decide together, picking up every voice. I'm practiced at contributing to a strong sense of generative co-creation -- lifting each other to new thoughts of what might be possible. So far, business as usual. 

After the call, I found myself looking out the window to the sunny street below. Everything looked normal and inviting. But the content of our call left me looking at this scene with new eyes. We'd been talking about how we -- as a collective of facilitators and coaches -- could support our clients all over the globe to stay connected even if they couldn't meet in person.  With the rapid spread of the Corona virus large organisations are grounding their staff. People in various countries are panic buying essentials. One of the women on our call was from Italy and experiencing firsthand the quarantine situation of over 16 million people.

By the end of an ordinary day I often feel like I've been all over the world and sometimes I have to remind myself that actually, no one else but me lives in this tangible space. In the times I'm not working face to face with others, my sense of physical touch comes almost exclusively from a weekly massage. It is both an intensely connected and intensely solo existence at times.

I wonder how it would be if I could not go outside. And I'm wondering what comes next. I know the most important thing will be how I decide to see what faces me.

We have been experiencing the phenomenon of global connection since the the Internet took hold. It is easy to get swept up in the next big emotional wave. And they are coming with greater and greater frequency. Here are the first global emotional waves waves that in my opinion began the crescendo:

1997: A wave of grief sweeps the world as Princess Diana dies.

2001: A wave of fear impacts the world as the Twin Towers fall in New York.

2004: A wave of compassion circles the globe when the tsunami hits Thailand.

Similar waves have been coming with greater regularity and consistency since then, involving all of us who are connected to social media. We see ecological disasters as they are happening. We march with protestors. We are impacted by the consequences of industry, politics, the choices of the few and the many. It is easy to feel swamped and unable to process so much at once.

Sometimes these impacts fuel empathy and compassion, sometimes they fuel panic, as we are noticing now. And sometimes they give us a new sense of how we can deal with the acts of those in crisis. I am thinking of how Norway dealt with the shock of its mass shooting in 2014 by standing together to "punish the perpetrator" with a rise in kindness or how Prime Minister Jacinda Adern took immediate action in New Zealand last year to make sure the perpetrator's name was never mentioned, to put stricter controls around firearms and to encourage the embracing of the country's increasingly diverse population.

She took what might be considered to be a "feminine" stance -- moving quickly to shift the playing field and with an immediate demonstration of standing with those impacted. She did that quite publicly by donning a headscarf and other women followed suit. Her government, followed by the female-led government in Finland, takes a strong stance around citizen well-being. It is important to note here that this is a keynote in the mission of the European Commission as well.

It is one of the gifts of the feminine -- and I mean the feminine in both women and men -- to care deeply about others, to choose to make connections and relationships, to share, to steward life.

In a world economy run on the twin pillars of growth and profit, keeping the status quo is important. Yet we are the edge of something that threatens this assumed balance. It is time to look more deeply at what we consider important.

A pandemic could be the next way we decide to be fearful of each another. Or it could be the next way we decide to apply what we know in service of coming together to support humanity and the earth. Where fear is on the rise, love is an audacious stance. There's nothing fluffy here, but fierce, practical and relentless. Could love become more contagious than any virus?

Women have a unique role to play in what happens now -- in whether we decide to come together or fall apart, in whether we decide competition or cooperation is our practice, in the choices we make in the face of challenge and change.

Women, it will be the stories you decide to tell and share that will make a difference.

This is one day to remind yourself of the power and strength of the feminine. Remember the endurance, the grace and the grit women have shown down the millennia. Remember that we know how to survive. Take up the power of your own story and let it open the door to the unique gift you carry. We need you now. Together, there's no telling what we might achieve.


FEMININE ELDERSHIP RISING is an online adventure into feminine wisdom and eldership. It is a deep inquiry into what matters most and who we can be when we stand strongly together. The first international cohort begins on April 20. Please join us and check on our Each One, Reach One program aimed at supporting women all over the globe to take part.

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