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Starting Out Your Life As a Woman

Emma Watson's speech to the UN, delivered with such grace beyond her tender years, is filled with laudable sentiments and noble intentions.  She beautifully describes a theoretical ideal of women and men treating each other with the deepest respect and reverence, a far cry from her experience thus far in her short life of being demeaned as bossy, sexualised and not taken seriously.  

Her faltering, child-like voice and couture double breasted men's suit jacket (admittedly in shiny ivory and perfectly tailored) tell a different story to what she is saying.  She wants women to be taken seriously and yet her impression of what a woman is is not based on who she is, but what she thinks she is supposed to be.  The mismatch between her projection and the content of her words undermine the very authority she talks about wanting and not having.  

How much more powerful the impact of this occasion might be if she had perhaps started like this:

"Look at me, here I am a young woman just starting out on my life, here because I am famous for playing at being a girl growing up who isn't me, dressed up in these designer clothes which I choose because they appeared to me this morning to best represent what a woman is, and yet I feel so uncomfortable in them, and talking to you about something I dream about, something that I see as the only way forward for humans to live together in peace and harmony: for men and women to treat each other with respect for who they are not for what they do.  

"The honest truth is though that I don't have a clue what it is to be a woman.  I look around and I don't see any role models of women who inspire me to want to be me, to want to be a woman in my own right.  Right now, I feel as if I am being asked to play another role but no one can tell me how to do it.  Hermione, my alter ego of Harry Potter fame, might say ""just wave your magic wand"".  But I know that life really isn't that easy...... 

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Topics for Pondering

Be the Woman You were Born to BE is more than the 42 day online course.  Our Inner Circle, the private members' area, overflows with discussions, wisdom, experience, tears, laughter, ideas, guidance, and much more.  In the last month alone topics discussed have included:

Where we're at:

  • Nutrition for People with Cancer
  • Home rearranged 
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What's Happening on our Inner Circle

I'm often asked what we chat about online in the private members area, called the Inner Circle, of Be the Woman You were Born to Be.  Here's a selection of what we've been talking about in the last month: 

  • Loss of Innocence
  • Excess
  • The Demon in the Bottle
  • The Economics of Sex
  • Silver Splits  

 

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What's Stopping You?

This week marks the fifth birthday of Be the Woman You were Born to Be as an Online Course and Community.  When the idea was first conceived we envisaged that the main part would be the 42 day course delivered in such a way that there was simply no excuse for a woman not to take part: no matter what she did, it could fit around her life and lifestyle, no matter what, she could learn step by step HOW to become a woman .  That remains the case today.   

It's the community part which has evolved beyond even my wildest dreams, with 1,500 blog posts notched up, all on issues which we as women face in how we live our lives.  ...

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Where Are You Now?

This is what's been happening on the Be the Woman... Inner Circle, the private members area in the last three weeks.

The challenges and joys of children are touched on in the posts, Ode to African ChildrenScandinavian Fathers Do Have Them,School Run Tears and Education Values In a Box.  How our own experiences in the past can influence our current attitudes and our children is addressed in Deepest Desires

Show No Tell looks at the risks of interferingand seeing things for what they are not, whileThe Sword of the Tongue and Thump of the Fist addresses domestic violence.  ...

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What is the Greatest Calamity That Can Happen To You?

Someone posted this quotation on Facebook the other day:

"The greatest calamity that can happen to a man 
is that he becomes too serious and too practical. 
A little bit craziness, a little bit eccentricity, is all for the good." Osho

and it begged the question, what is the greatest calamity that can happen to a woman?  

What's your answer?  Here's mine: 

The greatest calamity that can happen to a woman
is that she becomes a little too crazy...

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Are You Maturing Or Just Growing Old?

The earnest young assistant at the beauty counter sidled up to me, just for good measure emphasising our yawning age differential with a "Madam, may I help you?".

"Both these would be perfect for you, Madam" he continued. "Rose is ideal for you as it's blended for that delicate English skin you have so carefully cared for", very kindly omitting the"for all these years" which was left hanging in the air. "And you have the one made from the finest frankincense, too", as he gently learned towards my body, leaving only the barest wrinkle of light between us. "What a perfect combination for you, the one we always recommend for the mature woman who..."

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Womanliness is the New Feminism

"Do you believe in feminism then?", delivered in a somewhat accusatory tone, was the response to my telling someone that I run the Be the Woman You were Born to Be Online Course and Community.

My experience tells me that any word that ends in -ism has a closed outlook, is somehow limiting, fractionalising something to compartmentaise it into a pigeon-hole to fit into someone else's judgement and opinion. Feminism has shrunk an issue which is absolutely fundamental to our society as a whole into considering facets and not the whole.

My reply therefore was "Womanliness is what we need to focus on", not quite the response that was expected from my interrogator.

Being a woman is a total experience in who you are, not what you have and do.

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Are You the Woman Your Husband and Children Want?

This week there have been ups and downs. Let's start at the bottom and work our way up.

The BBC's recent programme presented by Freddie Flintoff, one of my personal cricketing heroes, was the start of a whole new ball game of programmes about men. It was not about ego, opinion, lightweight education and amusement, nor emotion. This was about the rawest emotion of them all: depression. Then this week we had the sight of a widow at the inquest into her husband's death from hanging. What she is feeling we will never know, but "there for the grace of God go I" will be uttered by any woman who's been in a long term relationship with ups and downs and/or a husband who's experienced very high highs in his work life.

These stresses and strains are part of the evolution of a marriage, part of what makes marriage the highest form of meditation, and a process which develops and supports both parties.

Do you as a woman know how best to handle a man who's depressed?

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Me Isn't Out There But In Here

I've lost count of how many women have basically told me that they would love to leave their husband and go travelling to find themselves, as Lucy Valantine did according to an article in the Telegraph; it's what they wanted to do, might still do, will do, all because they think that life would be better and easier after such a bold move.  Believe me, I know, because I did that.  Actually that's not true because Nick and I did that.  Never once did it ever enter the equation that I would abandon Nick in my quest to change my life.   For me, and I stress that this was my experience, the whole point of putting our lives into free-fall was so that I could be a wife to him, serve him as my husband rather than spending all my waking hours with men whom I had made no contract to spend my life with.

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Society Solution: Women's Education

Now that everyone's back from their hols, we can return to the thorny issue of the civil unrest in London and many other major UK cities this summer. Although pundits and politicians all took time out, either by returning to the capital from their holiday destinations or writing some pithy piece, to get us to contemplate the causes of all this rioting. Over the summer much of it was about failures in general in the system but now Parliamentary committees are meeting to draw up action plans so this doesn't just remain a cerebral exercise.

There are key themes which appear from the summer's discussions: we need values and an education system which nurtures respect, leadership, care and discipline instead of greed, me-me-me, and boredom. I agree.

However, I feel passionately that there is one area which is not being addressed: women and educating them to be women.

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The Ideal Husband

There are a number of recurring themes to the questions I get asked.  Probably taking the number one spot is "I want a man".  The question comes in all shapes and sizes, dressed up with a stiff shirt collar or baggy jeans, but underneath, in its naked truth, it looks like this: "someday my Prince will come.... won't he?" This summer we've had not only a glut of strawberries and soft fruit but also of Royal weddings, which just like London buses, you can wait ages for then they all come along at once.  And what fairy tales they have been!  Kate (Middleton), Charlene, Kate (Moss) and Zara - it's been a veritable designer Olympics.  And just as we're already seeing copies of the wedding (and bridesmaid) dresses appearing on the streets, women are now searching out the right man to dress up for the day and live with, so they hope, for the rest of their lives.

Somehow inherently most women know that a man of calibre, the type you'd actually commit to spend the rest of your life with, is a rare breed indeed.  Here's the beginner's guide to spotting one:

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The Minimum Requirement For Any Woman...

When we first created Be the Woman You were Born to Be as an online course and community I wasn't really sure how it would compare to the many live Be the Woman... workshops which I had led. Sure it would mean that women all over the world would be able to participate, in a way which worked for them, but would we be able to maintain the intimacy and respect? The answer has been a resounding yes.There has though been one downside...

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