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Posts Tagged ‘Inspirational Women’

Jenn SavageJenn Savage, founder of A Heart Centered Life, is a Master Sufi teacher and healer.  She is passionate about helping women heal, and open their hearts more deeply to the realities of the Divine.  She is soulful and wise, and carries and aura of peace that is transmitted to her students and clients. Jenn holds healing circles where women can gather, grow, and heal spiritually. She is most excited about her work that helps women identify and move away from negative voices and stories of the past, so they are more able to access the Truth that lies at the center of their hearts.

She began her own personal healing journey at 17, when she was struggling to overcome depression, an eating disorder, and the effect addiction was having on her life.   At 19, she packed her little red car and headed south, to California, to start a new life.   Shortly after arriving in the Bay Area, she read The Tao of Pooh, and The Peaceful Warrior, which resonated deeply with her, and helped her to know at a very deep level that there was more to her than a physical body, and the symptoms that plagued her.

In 1996, she attended East West College of Healing Arts whereshe studied massage and continued her healing.  It was during this time that she awoke more deeply to her purpose as she learned about body-mind medicine and the power of holistic healing.  Her quest continued over the next 3 years as she traveled the U.S. and studied with spiritual teachers from all over the world.  In 1999, she met Sidi al Jamal, the Guide of the Shadhuli Sufi tradition, from the Mount of Olives in the holy city of Jerusalem, and she knew then her searching was over – She had found her spiritual home and the path she would follow.  Sidi carried the deep love and containment she had been searching for, and it has been through these teachings that she has been able to heal, and completely transform her broken heart.
Jenn is a gifted, insightful, merciful healer and is thankful for the opportunity to offer these sacred and ancient teachings to others who are ready to take the next step in their healing.  When she isn’t helping others, Jenn can be found roaming around local farmer’s markets, or chasing her 18 month old son around the neighborhood.

Jenn will be starting an 8 week Tending the Garden of Your Heart series on January 2, 2010.   The group will meet weekly in Portland from 930 am -11am.  The program cost is $199.00.  Early bird registration by December 15, is only $149.00.  Mention Flourish and receive an addition $20.00 discount.  She recently participated as a facilitator of a beautiful and insightful meditation process using clay at our Flourish Life on Purpose Retreat.  It was a life changing experience for several attendees.

Jenn’s website, http://www.AHeartCenteredLife.com, is currently under construction, but she can be reached via email at Jenn@AHeartCenteredLife.com, or by phone: 650.430.4115.

Wanting to know a little bit more about this wonderful woman, we asked Jenn a few fun questions.  Here’s what she had to say…

Who is your hero?
Women around the world who spend every day gaging their worth against negative images and social mores that devalue, exploit, or repress the feminine, are my heroes.  It is an honor to be part of a tribe that holds the key to creation and carry such deep and holy wisdom.
What is your favorite quote?
“When you find the Love, you find yourself…”
-Sidi al Jamal
If you were a pair of shoes, what kind would you be, and why?
I would be a favorite pair of slippers – One’s you can’t wait to slip into.  They are cozy, keep you warm, and bring comfort after a long day.   They are soft, with memory foam insoles, and a solid sole that supports you, and allows you the freedom to travel out in the world while wearing them.
What keeps you flourishing?
My own personal healing and spiritual awakening, the joy I get from witnessing my 18 month old discover and learn about the world around him, the support of my loving, patient, gentle and understanding husband, the connections I have with my women friends, anything that has to do with sustainability and doing our part to make as little of an impact on the world as possible, good food, travel, and helping others Remember how holy and sacred they really are!
I can’t wait to…
Finish my book, and take the teachings that are in my heart and soul out into the world!   I long for the day when I can reach a broader audience and participate in women returning to, and owning how beautiful and sacred they are.

Thank you Jenn!

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Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach is a wonderful book I’ve had for many years and I still take if off the shelf every now and then because there are so many beautiful kernels of wisdom and inspiration.   Just this week, I picked it up and  randomly opened it to the page for February 12 … Once Upon a Time You Trusted Yourself. I was so touched all over again that I wanted to share this idea with you.

“Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.”
– Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“Today, try to find a picture of yourself when you were about ten … travel back in time … age ten was probably the last time you trusted your instincts … Try to contact the girl you once were.  She’s all grown up now.  She’s your authentic self and she’s waiting to remind you how beautiful, accomplished and extraordinary you really are.”

In preparing for our upcoming Life on Purpose Retreat our team was looking for just the right image of a woman filled with purpose and inspiration.   It wasn’t as easy as it should have been, but we finally chose this beautiful photograph.  We felt the power and saw the beauty.   Looking closer, we realized it wasn’t a woman, but a girl.  At that age when we were still so sure of our own power, before we gave it away or hid it.   At Flourish we’re out to reclaim that power for ourselves once again.  Fearless, feisty, fabulous, flourishing.  Come join us!

“Perhaps loving something is the only starting place there is for making your life your own.”  Alice Koller

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Nothing is more inspiring that when you hear a story about a woman with a brilliant idea and the vision and courage to bring it into the world.
circus

Jenn Cohen is one of those women.  She discovered the healing power of circus when she was just 13, while on a family vacation at Club Med and she’ll tell you that it changed her life.  Jenn has been involved in circus performing in one way or another for 20 years and it’s taken her all over the world.  She also just completed a Master degree in process oriented psychology.  And, she’s only 33 years old!  By combining her passion, a unique set of skills and a deep desire to make a difference, Jenn created The Circus Project initially as part of her Master’s thesis, but she says she has found her true calling.

Jen knew that the skills and self discovery gained through circus performance, could enable homeless and at-risk your to develop stronger physical and emotional integrity.  The Circus Project was born from Jenn’s inspiration, vision and much hard work and it is making a difference in the lives of many young people in Portland.

Last weekend, we had the honor to attend “Animare”, a Circus Project production and an outstanding display of talent, hard work and breathtaking aerial artistry performed by Jenn’s graduating students.  What a brilliant reminder that one person truly can make a difference in the lives of many.

If you’re ever secretly dreamed about running away to join the circus, here’s your chance…The Circus Project offers a variety of classes for “the rest of us” – that’s everyone from 1 – 99!   It brings new meaning to the term flying high.

Learn all about Jenn Cohen and The Circus Project.





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Don’t you just love those two words!  Makes you giggle just to say them.  Our upcoming Flourish event is all about being “tickled pink”, “in the pink” and all things pink & girlie – pampering, playing, indulging, shopping, eating, drinking, girlfriends, chatting, and laughing.  We’ve got it all put together into one fabulously fun afternoon in Portland’s South Waterfront at the beautiful Rilassi Coffee House.    Tickled Pink is for women of all ages who are ready to carve out a little bit of me time and get their PINK on.   Hope you can join us!

Here’s an invitation with more details or go to the Flourish website and sign up.

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marian

Marion

An artist, teacher, public speaker and ceremonial priestess, Marian’s passion and mission is to change the way we face death.  She is the founder of a unique and timely new business , A Fine Farewell, that produces beautiful handmade burial and cremation shrouds.

We were truly fascinated by her story and knew you would be too, so we convinced Marian to take a little time out of her busy schedule to sit down and share her journey with us.   Here’s her amazing story in her own words…

“Once, in my twenties, a friend said ‘what if you could live your life in 10 year increments?’   We all thought about that for a while, wondering how it would work, what we’d have to give up, what we’d gain.  It was a ‘romantic’ idea in my twenties, but I was happily partnered with a small child and didn’t see how it would be applicable to me.  (The friend who’d originally posed the idea had neither partner nor children).    Still the idea stayed in my mind.    Fast forward to me now, at 55.  While it hasn’t been exactly  ten year increments,  I have, in fact, had a few different ‘career changes’ since then.

At 19, after Catholic grade school, high school and catholic college, I took a giant “left turn”, picked up a hitchhiker (I’d NEVER done that before!) and fell in love.   I quit school -and my plans to transfer and get a degree in drama, (hah! ‘drama’ was when I told my parents!’).  I moved into a hippie commune with my love.   I got pregnant, had my daughter at home, immersed myself in the studies of parenting, metaphysics, art, wicca, macrobiotics, herbal remedies, transactional analysis, natural foods cooking and general ‘groovitudinous’ living.

I had a great run with that but it fell apart in 1990-91.  Leaving my marriage, and moving to a small rural women’s community was a pretty big shift.  But there was an inner voice prompting this – a voice which I have come to recognize and trust.  (in retrospect, it was that same one that shifted me to the side of the road to pick up that hitchhiking hippie)  It always asks me to do things I can barely even think of, much less speak, but it’s quietly persistent and when I follow it, the world opens up in ways I couldn’t imagine.   (this does not preclude the 4:00 a.m. terror visitations….but I’ve learned to ride them out.)    My daughter decided to stay with her dad.   That was hard to ride out but it was the best option, given all the factors at the time.  It was a culturally ‘unsanctioned’ choice.  More lessons…and we got through our rough patch.   My 33 year old daughter and I have a wonderful relationship now.

After living at the women’s community, founding a Women’s Temple and running seasonal ceremonial events, that voice began to whisper again.  I couldn’t believe what it was saying.  “Move across the country, find a new home.”   “Get out of here!” was my response. But it was persistent.  And after several months, things at the community came undone and I could see it was time to go.

My two month trip across the country turned into a 10 month camping odyssey!   I learned that magic happens when I give up some of my agenda.  I also discovered, to my delight, that people really do want to be friendly, to be helpful, to assist a traveler along her way.   I landed in Ashland, Oregon and stayed for a time, fell in love and out of it, traveled to England for a long meditation retreat, and stayed on to work in the meditation center.  Then I got the idea to move to a community in Italy.   It was an artistic and spiritual community near the Italian Alps.   I spent a total of 7 months there, immersed in a ‘nucleo’ (family unit) with 9 others, 8 of whom  spoke little or no English.  (immersion language training!)  But no matter how I tried to shift the path I’d come to know— my wiccan/goddess/earth-based path — to fit into their teachings, ultimately it just wasn’t right for me.

Returning from this voyage, in 2001, I was exposed to the idea of “Natural Death Care” and the resonance I felt with these ideas led me to begin designing burial and cremation shrouds.   It’s been a long and meandering path but things are coming together nicely now, as the culture finally embraces the ‘green movement’.    I moved to Portland and am part of an awesome women’s entrepreneurial organization, The Savvy Collaborative, which has made all the difference in helping my business to grow.  I’m taking on more challenges with an art installation called “Over My Dead Body…Opening the Portal” (www.milepostfive.com) and an upcoming class called “Over My Dead Body…Creating a Sacred Burial Garment” .   Yes, I think you could say I’m “Flourishing”.   Writing about it helps me to stop and appreciate where I’ve been.”

We were dying to see what Marian’s thoughts were on our five famous questions.  Here’s what she had to say…

Who is your hero? My Hero…hmmm.   I have “serial heroes”.   Heroes  of the moment.   I’m inspired by people all the time and carry someone’s quote or actions in my mind for a period of time, emulating them.  So let’s see , who’s “up” right now?  I think it’s my friend ross.  (spelled  all in lower case)   She inspires me for her absolute commitment to trusting and following her heart… which has led her all over the world!  Also I admire her relentless intention to ‘find the gift’ in each situation.  She’s a great companion on the path, and a good support in remembering the power of words, reminding me to let go of old habits of diminishing speech and use my words to create my experience.  When we talk, I always come away feeling blessed!

What is your favorite quote? This changes over time, too, but a ‘repeater’ these last several months is: “Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.”   It’s from a poem called ‘The Mad Farmer Liberation Front’ by Wendell Berry.   I think I like most its implication of choice– the idea that one can choose to “BE” joyful.  And at the same time, it’s also like being given permission.  You know sometimes you get ‘down’ and then it’s hard to get back ‘up’ because it’s like ‘betraying’ your downer!  We get attached to the apparent ‘truth’ of our discouraging thoughts!  (aren’t we precious??)  This quote ‘busts’ that and says, “well ok, even if things are ‘as bad as all that’ – you still get to go ahead and be joyful! “

What keeps you flourishing? Dance!!!  Dance!!!   Connection with others (on or off the dance floor).   Making art for no reason.  And lastly, the fact that I am old enough to see that people can, and often do change.  Even the most stubborn situations or habits in my very own life have actually shifted with my own diligent attention.  This is huge, really.  This is something I just couldn’t know without being as old as I am.  So I am valuing myself at 55, for being 55…for the perspective it brings.  And did I say DANCE!

If you were a pair of shoes, what kind would you be and why? Shoes….hmmmm….  I always wear such dang sensible shoes…but  I’d love to be (and wear) a pair of handmade funky high heels…the kind with the heel not too high or too ‘skinny’.  Asymmetrically styled, two toned green and purple leather with an ankle strap.  And they’d be so comfortable that I could dance all night in ‘em.   Yeah…that’s it.

I can’t wait to… do more teaching and public speaking.  And to get my new class filled and begun!  It’s called “Over My Dead Body…Creating a sacred burial garment” !!    Starts Sept 3 runs for 8 weeks.    I also can’t wait ‘til we ALL can lighten up about Death!

Thanks Marian, we know you will “knock em dead” with all your creative endeavors!  If you would like more information about Marian’s upcoming workshop Over My Dead Body, creating a sacred burial garment, you may reach her at afinefarewell@yahoo.com or find more information on her website www.afinefarewell.com

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The Pink Phoenix Story …

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You may have seen the Pink Phoenix Dragon Boat Team during the Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Races.  In fact, you probably couldn’t help but notice them – they’re the team wearing pink life jackets.  You see, this team is made up entirely of breast cancer survivors.

Their name, Pink Phoenix, is taken from the pink ribbons worn by breast cancer survivors and from the mythical bird that consumes itself in fire and rises from its own ashes-a triumphant symbol of rebirth and renewal of human spirit, not unlike the renewed commitment to life after surviving cancer or any life threatening disease.

Interestingly, the team was not founded by a breast cancer survivor, but by an avid dragon boat paddler, Dorothy Atwood, who was inspired by a team of blind paddlers.  Founded in November 1996, with help from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the first team had 25 members.

None of the women had ever paddled before. They ranged in age from 29 to mid 60s and they were in different stages of physical fitness.  This didn’t stop Dorothy. Her desire to share the sport she loved so much had her out several times a week from February through the end of summer teaching and training this new team.

The team has grown from those first 25 members to more than 80! Pink Phoenix has raced in Rose Festival every year since. In fact, the team has raced in venues around the world.

Watch this video of the Pinks in action!   Our own Flourish member Deandra Ellerbe is a proud member of the Pinks.  These are all truly flourishing women.  Go girls!  We’ll be down on the Willamette cheering you to victory.

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“But, I just don’t find myself that interesting!” That’s what we heard when we asked Gabby to be our Flourishing Friend for May.   Excuse us, but we beg to differ and you will too, when you learn how this amazing woman turned one of her life’s gabbyandnatashacraterlakesaddest moments into a vision that is truly making a difference for women everywhere.  Her business is booming these days – Go girl! – but she took a few minutes to chat with us about what makes her a flourishing woman.

Growing up a Military Brat really helped Gabby understand “we are all in this together!”  It takes all kinds to make up this world and that, for Gabby, is what make’s the world a more interesting place.

Born in Germany, she lived most of her life in Georgia until making the move to Oregon several years ago. And, by the way, she thinks Crater Lake is the most beautiful place on earth.   Gabby worked many less than inspiring jobs, but when she took a real estate course as a college elective, she was immediately hooked.   “I could not believe you could buy a home, live there and enjoy it, write off the interest on your taxes and then sell it and keep the profit (most of the time).   I thought why isn’t everyone doing that?  I need to help people do this!”  That was the beginning of her real estate career and Gabby has never looked back!  Sixteen years later she owns her own successful company, Realty Solutions and the profits helped fund her true life passion, the non-profit she started, Jessica’s Hope.

Jessica’s Hope was founded in honor of her mother who lost her life after a 5 year battle with Ovarian Cancer .   Her focus is on raising awareness and money in the search for a test for ovarian cancer.  Gabby wants everyone to know that there is currently no definitive test for ovarian cancer.  Therefore most women get diagnosed in the late stages of the disease.  There is a 90% survival rate with early detection.  Her passion shines through when you talk with her – she’s a woman on a mission!  Gabby funds all administrative costs for Jessica’s Hope through her real estate company so that 100% of donations go to The Ovarian Cancer Institute at Georgia Tech where they are looking for a test.

The Jessica’s Hope website is a great resource for information, inspiration and support.   They also have a very creative on-going fundraising program.  Make a purchase through the online store from one of their great partners and a percentage every purchase goes directly to support the organization.   You can also use the portal to shop at places like Amazon.com and they will give a portion of your purchase price back to Jessica’s Hope.  We all love to shop and this is an easy way to do something good at the same time!

Who is your hero? Cliché but true – My mother is my hero.  Although she is not around physically, her spirit is with me every day.  She had a great work ethic and was very independent. What makes her my hero though, is her kind soul.  She always found the good in someone.  I don’t remember a time when she said cruel or mean things about anyone.   Her favorite saying was “you make your bed, you lie in it”, but I always knew that she would always be there to help get me up again.  In her mind it was the right thing to help other people when you could.

What is your favorite quote and why? My favorite quote is “if you continue to do the exact same thing, you will continue to get the exact same results”.  I am not sure who came up with this quote, but it can apply to your personal life as well as your business life and if something is not working in either, I look for something I can do differently.

What keeps you flourishing? I enjoy life.  I work hard, but I play hard also.  As I have gotten older I’ve learned to take time for me.  It truly is the secret to keeping your sanity.

If you were a pair of shoes, what kind would you be and why? I would be a pair of Michelle K.’s  They are comfortable with a subtle style.  This describes my personality.  I am often told that I have a unique style.  I like to call it comfortable and honest. Michelle K’s are comfortable with a simple, honest style.

I can’t wait to… Wake up tomorrow and see what adventures the day brings.  “The only day you have is the one in front of you, so choose wisely what you do with it!”

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