Broadly – A Window Into Women Experiences

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Do you like to get snippets into other women’s lives and cultures?

Maybe a 10-minute video that helps you understand what other females like and do around the world?

I find that videos are a perfect tool to get some insight into what others are doing. They are able to give you a picture into reality that no other medium can. It is almost like being there (but not really), that is why I like watching Broadly once in a while.

Broadly is a website and digital video channel that explores the women experience, whatever it may be- pretty non-specific, don’t you think? Almost all subjects could fall in the “women experience” category, don’t you think? I guess that is why they are called Broadly.

There are a lot of videos up on their You Tube channel with decent content. I do wish they were a little bit more objective and serious when researching certain subjects, but it is still a nice tool to have to feed my curiosity. It reminds me of my days as a producer of non-fiction. They were fun and educational, although they didn’t pay a lot of my bills (Thank you, George! – says the feminist).

My favorite video so far is this one about women in Kenya that have created their own villages where they rule. They are in charge of providing everything and have pushed men away from decision-making positions. This all sounds a little extreme, I know, but after watching this video you get to understand why.  Just listen to the men giving explanations about why women should be circumcised and kept away from power. It is sad and discouraging. These are real men that live in todays world! We have a long way to go, people, a long way to go, but this women are making a difference and they need our help.

Here is another one that I liked. It gives us a glimpse into one of the last matriarchies that exist in the world – the Mosuo. They live in China, close to the Himalayas. Here, women make decisions about the city and household. They make a living and take care of the family. Some of the scenes are funny and touching. In this culture, they have “walking marriages,” where men are not allowed to live in the same household as their partners. Children are raised by women, and come the morning, men need to leave and go to their own home. I am sure a lot of western men would love to have this kind of arrangement, don’t you think?

Other videos talk about topics like beauty, fertility, or sexism, subjects closer to home; like this one about maternity leave, which is eye opening.

Is there any media outlet that you like and touches on women’s issues? I would love to find out more of what there is out there. I would also LOVE to start making my own videos again… maybe something to consider for the future.

 

Also, a post about excellent non-profits that help women, and the importance of having a handy partner.

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Thoughts On Makeup And The #Nomakeup Movement

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My thoughts on makeup are simple: I don’t use it.

I am a natural member of the #nomakeup movement, which excuses, and justifies, my laziness. I am too indolent to spend more than 10 minutes grooming every morning.

On the other hand, I have plenty of friends that are experts at beautifying themselves and looking great while at it. I respect that. The thing is, I respect both ways. Each woman is capable of deciding what suits her best. There is no need to demonize anybody for whatever decision they make regarding the use of makeup.

This has been the problem of supporters and detractors of the #nomakeup movement. If you haven’t heard about it, here is Alicia Keyes’s manifesto. It explains the ideas behind it.

When I first read about it, I was all over it. This was my calling! Not using makeup was my feminist expression. An opportunity to explain at a wedding why I am not using mascara or lipstick, instead of admitting that I had miscalculated the start of the ceremony and was still watching TV 15 minutes before it started. I felt there was a new higher power that protected me. A social-allowance.

I do have makeup though. It is in a drawer that rarely gets opened unless Max is researching the bathroom area. What I have I bought 12 years ago, while editing a “how to apply makeup” tutorial for a makeup brand. Editing those videos enlighten me. I realized the power of decorating myself. I liked it and used it. I looked great, too.

That experiment lasted 5 days. After that, I realized that I didn’t care enough to spend 20 minutes everyday in a complex makeup session. Maybe I could simplify it? I tried. That simplification ended up nullifying and now I can proudly say that I tried to ride the makeup wagon to not avail. But I tried.

For me, not using makeup is a matter of time and priorities (I would rather use those minutes to read a book instead), not about feminism. On the other hand, I don’t consider makeup a synonym of femininity. You can be plenty girly without having to use it. At least that was my rationalization. And still is… but, honestly, I am not the most feminine of women to begin with.

What are your thoughts on makeup? What about the makeup movement? Do you think feminists should embrace it? Or, should we let women decide for themselves? Would love to hear.

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Images via Lenny

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Women For Women – Nonprofits We Should Help

The world is full of amazing  opportunities to help others. The Internet is a wonderful tool to be informed and act in a way that we couldn’t have 20 years ago so there is no excuse to be idle.

I was looking for nonprofits that help women to make a small donation, so I contacted the only expert I know, my friend (and cousin-in-law), Jessica. She has more than 12 years of experience working for nonprofits. She is smart, caring and industrious, one of those women that inspire you to be better. Also, she can read 3 books in a day, and it is one of the best cooks I know, so, there you go.

She recommended some nonprofits that I wanted to share with you. There are a lot of organizations out there that are doing great work and our involvement with them can be as big or as small as we want it to be, but we should be involved. A one time or monthly donation, volunteering, sponsoring, …you choose. There are plenty of ways to help.

Here is the short list:

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Limitless Horizons Ixil

This is a small organization that works in the community of Chajul, Guatemala. Chajul is a genocide-torn indigenous Maya community where few adults can read and most families live on less than two dollars a day. Here, Limitless Horizons uses education, and development programs to create opportunities for the community and transform Chajul. Through their Artisan Program, they have allowed women to have an income.

This is a successful small grass roots organization that involves the community in its daily activities and decisions. Here is more information about their results and financials.

Jessica belongs to the board of this organization.

jestcafe.com-global-fund-for-women Global Fund for Women

This is a big organization that stands behind movements for women’s human rights all over the world. They help strengthen groups who work with the most marginalized women in the world. They give funding that helps provide for the fundamental things: rent, computers, staffing, travel, training, security, and electricity. They also help connect these movements to other donors, as well as local or national women’s groups. These connections enable groups to share, learn, and rally together to strengthen movements for women’s rights.

Here is its financial information, and here are their results.

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Urgent  Action Fund For Women’s Human Rights

Urgent Action Fund partners with women’s movements worldwide to support women’s human rights defenders striving to create cultures of justice, equality and peace.

It protects, strengthens and sustains women and transgender human rights defenders at critical moments. They intervene quickly when activists are poised to make great gains or face serious threats to their lives and work. They use online, text and mobile funding applications to respond to requests from women’s human rights defenders within 72 hours and have funds on the ground within 1-7 days.

Urgent Action Fund has given over 1,000 grants to women’s human rights activists in 97 countries around the world.

Here is its financial information, and here is a list of some of the movements it has helped.

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World Pulse

World Pulse empowers women leaders on the ground by advancing their digital skills and leadership to mobilize around the world and create real social transformation. Today, tens of thousands of women from 190 nations are using WorldPulse.com to start movements and pressure global leaders to take a stand on the issues affecting their lives, ranging from the allocation of economic resources to securing leadership at all levels of society.

Their mission is to accelerate the global changes women seek by using digital communication to unite and amplify women’s voices, solutions and impact worldwide.

24,000 women from 190 different countries connect through World Pulse.

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Unchained At Last

This organization is my own recommendation, not Jessica’s. I heard about “Unchained at last” on NPR last year. This is the only organization in the US dedicated to helping women and girls leave or avoid arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives. Unchained provides free legal and social services and emotional support, while also raising awareness and pushing for relevant legislation.

Here is its financial information, and here are some of its results.

In my conversations with Jessica about nonprofits, she has always been in favor of giving tools to communities to allow them to help themselves. All the organizations above do just that: empower communities that are in need of change.

Remember, small gestures make a big difference, with whatever you give today, you are helping a woman in this world to have a better life.

I would love to hear about any nonprofits that you like or that we all should know- for women or others.

 

Also, a post about the myth about women being hard to work with, the importance of not criticizing how others do parenting, and, the life of a chocolatier.

First image from Steve McCurry

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A Surprising Consequence Of Traveling Without Children

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I took a trip to Chile for 10 days last month.

Before going, I felt a lot of guilt about leaving my kids for so long. They are 2 and 4 years old and I thought they were too little to be without their mom for 1/3 of a month! 10 days is a lot of days! I was afraid they were going to resent me.

Part of me wanted to cancel the trip, but my dad got sick and I wanted to see him. I found myself looking at ticket prices with the hope of taking my kids with me. I even consulted with George to see if it would be OK for me to take the children and leave him behind for 10 days. Luckily, my wise man talked me out of it. He assured me the kids would be all right; he reminded me of the difficulties involved in a 13 hrs plane ride with young children (duh!); and, he brought to my attention how hard it would be to see and enjoy everybody in Chile while attending the needs of those two (double duh!).

He was so right… what was I thinking? I decided to go and left the kids in the care of George and our wonderful nanny, Ines (she has been with us since Victor was 6 months old).

In the beginning, I was surprise about how little I missed my kids. I was so busy that I could hardly think about them. At the end of the trip, of course, the story was different… I was so ready to kiss and hug them for hours on end… I missed them terribly.

Finally, I got back to LA fearing they would be angry at me for leaving them alone for so long… I was SO wrong. I didn’t only get a LOT of love from those two (I wish I had a video of the reunification – it was beyond adorable), but, to top it all, they started a WAVE of PERFECT behavior. It was like they had reincarnated into flawless children that were deferent and sweet, went to bed on time, ate their food without complain, and didn’t fight for every single toy in existence. It was a miracle.

You see, before leaving, I thought we were stuck in a funk. Our moods and needs were not synchronizing and there was a lot of trouble all around – typical motherhood problems – but this 10 days trip solved it all. It was a MIRACLE that is still happening now… 2 weeks later.

Since I got back from Chile we are all dancing to the same tune and I love it.

What about you? Have you left your kids for longer (or shorter) periods of time? And, if you did, how was their behavior afterwards? On the other hand, if you haven’t left them for long or short periods of times… are you afraid to do so? Do you feel guilty about doing it? I always like to hear your comments.

Also, photos from my trip to Chile, a post about how many kids is enough, and pictures of our trip to Costa Rica.

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On Criticizing How Others Do Parenting

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Since having children, I have felt under scrutiny when I am in public places. Are my kids screaming too loud? Running too fast? Venturing too far? Is it OK that my child is laying on the restaurant floor and singing jingle bells at the top of his lungs? What are people going to think if he grabs that cheerio off the floor at the grocery store and puts it in his mouse…? (Darn! HE DID!)

You get the scenario, don’t you? I understand and agree with having children behave like decent human beings in public places. Nobody wants a monster vandalizing all spaces, but I also feel that people have no tolerance when the line of acceptable behavior is crossed.

Now, remember, this line depends on the individual. We know screaming, tantrums and crying are on the list of children’s behaviors that nobody likes, but it can be difficult to anticipate what are the small things that others will disapprove of, and believe me, they DO disapprove, and they WILL let you know.

Cut to a couple of experiences that had happened to me in the last 6 months:

Around the Holidays, I was in Target buying presents when Max asked to be taken down from the cart. He wanted to walk… A-L-A-R-M!! A 2 years old walking aimlessly around Target is NOT fun. There are things to be grabbed, hallways to run through, and toys to play with.  I put him down anywa, and tried to manage him with firm commands. He was actually pretty good, until he walked 15 feet away from me to look at some toy. An older woman walked by and asked him where his mommy was. I said: “I am here.” She looked at me with disapproving eyes while she shook her head in discontent. I am guessing I was too far away from my child for her comfort? I was surprised at such judgmental behavior, especially because I could have never imagined I was doing something wrong in the first place.

The exact same thing happened at the airport going to Costa Rica. My husband was no more than 10 feet away from Max when another family went by him and freaked out because his parents weren’t around. George immediately told them he was the dad, and they walked away saying: “I guess that is how people do parenting nowadays.” I was in shock once again.

These two events were heartbreaking for me. Not only because I was under attack, but also because they touched into my deepest fear of being a bad parent.

I think it is beautiful when strangers have a genuine concern for children’s safety. In my short motherhood road, I have found beautiful support and love from others, especially women. I have always thought of child raising as a community endeavor, instead of the individual task it has become, but it makes me angry and sad when this concern is accompanied by a stranger’s criticism that, without any background information, jumps so easily to condemn how others do parenting.

I am sure that there are situations where true child neglect is happening and an intervention is needed, but I don’t think it is helpful for anybody to hurt those you don’t know by publicly shaming their parenting skills, is it?

Anybody out there agrees? Or, disagrees? Would love to her.

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