Winter Solstice Celebration… Feel it.

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“May the long time sun shine upon you,
all love surround you,
and the sweet light within you
guide your way home.”

-Traditional Gaelic Blessing

Today we celebrate the Winter Solstice and a new moon.

Take the time to contemplate and release portions of yourself that no longer serve you, to make room for the new. We have all lived through so much change in the past years, now is the time to celebrate, as we are  encouraged to move forward, in our  OWN expression of light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leading Parallel Lives: Are A Mother & Daughter Really Walking on Different Paths

Celebrating her 16th birthday together in Scotland!

 

She’s in the last stage of puberty; I’m menopausal.

She’s experiencing the throes of first love; I’ve been thrown by love.

She’s finding herself; I’m rediscovering myself.

Two perspectives, one special relationship,

and, to top it all, she’s stealing my clothes, shoes, and jewelry.

The differences and similarities are uncanny, and more than enough to test any good woman on either end of the spectrum. While she’s bent over in pain, hugging a hot water bottle and sobbing over her cracked baby eggcup, I’m pulling off my clothes, stepping into a cold shower and weeping over the heel she just broke on my new red stilettos.

Celebrating her 16th birthday together in Scotland!

Celebrating my daughter’s 16th birthday together in Scotland!

Tissues, self-help books, exercise, journals, chick flicks, wine and chocolate are all imperative at this time for both of us, and that’s just the starter kit. Round two: meditation and yoga, both of us lying on our backs with our legs in the air, to get the blood back into our brains, calm the nerves, and give us a whole new perspective on any situation. A cup of tea helps to seal the euphoric moment.

writing in our Own it, Feel it,Live It Journal, soothes the soul!

writing in our Own it,Feel it,Live It Journal, soothes the soul!

Both of us are coping with a set of new dynamics as women. I’ve had to own up to my choices, respect that she’s becoming a young woman, and she’s now more than just my daughter. She’s learning to respect me as a woman with feelings, desires and dreams, too. Both of us are stepping into uncharted territory, even if my stilettos are more worn out than hers! She looks to the stars and thinks, “The world is my oyster.” Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘Enough of the oyster, now where’s the damn pearl?’ The truth is, I have a treasure chest of pearls, glistening with wisdom, many of which I will pass on to her. But the true beauty of living life now lies in the fact that there are so many more pearls waiting for both of us to discover!

 

OWN YOUR POWER!

We both need to conjure up the power of “S” as in my “Spirituality in Stilettos” workshops : Spiritual, strong, sensitive, soulful, sassy, smart, and ultimately support. And by support, I don’t mean a good bra, even though that is critical in my case.

Food and Exercise are  a hot topic ,as she’s working to stay in shape, and I’m working to keep my shape. Daily desserts are banned; however, the chocolate stash remains sacred.

THE POWER OF SISTERHOOD

Teaching her about my four friend categories.

As she works out the good from the bad, I’ve thrown out the bad and I’m focusing on the good.Friendships are as important as the water we drink, and time with your real “sisterhood” of friends is immensely important. I’m trying to teach her my approach to the four friend categories:

The friend who’ll have your back and carry you home after the party, whether you’re happy, sad, mad, or simply unable to string two words together.

The friend who is so much fun at the party, but just can’t help herself and doesn’t understand that it’s simply not cool to try and steal your boyfriend.

The friend who’s only being nice to you because she wants to be seen at the party and gossip about you later.

The friend you met on vacation, with whom you solved world peace over wine or lemonade, and wish lived nearby so she could come to the party.

Celebrating Natalie's 19th in London with my #1 High school friends,Mary's daughter & Cousin Caroline.

Celebrating Natalie’s 19th in London with my #1 High school friends,Mary’s daughter & Cousin Caroline.

Take care of number 1, enjoy, but beware of number 2, don’t waste your time on number 3, and see if you can cultivate number 4, even from a distance!

FEEL IT– ASKING THE SAME QUESTIONS AT 48 AND AT 18

She’s learning to love beyond herself and I’m learning the power of loving myself. We all want and need love, and it comes with the same breathless, heart-thumping excitement whether we’re 18 or 48. However, with a bit of wit and wisdom, hopefully by 48, we’re better at telling the scoundrel from the prince and feeling confident in our intuition. “Love,” however is another article unto itself!

She’s preparing to leave the coop. I’m not sure where to start without her in my coop. She tests the boundaries with a razor-sharp tongue that has the answer to everything, while I choose my battles, knowing that neither of us has all the answers.

I wouldn’t have believed at 16 or 18 that I’d be looking at my life three decades later and asking the same questions: What do I do next? Who are the friends with whom I want to spend time? Does this person fulfill my idea of loving bliss? I’d thought it would all be smooth sailing at this point, with no major life decisions to be made. Truth is, I’m once again at the helm, choosing to change and expand my reality. I’ve shed the pressure of ‘I should’ and am once again embracing the optimism of, ‘I can’!

LIVE IT – WITH WIT & WISDOM:

We are both boundless, inquisitive women,learning to embrace and be present in each new chapter in our lives, as she heads into round one of womanhood and I’ve lost count of which one I’m entering!

What I’ve realized in witnessing my daughter’s parallel life is that I’m among the lucky ones, as I head into a new chapter in my life. We see the world with all of its glorious shades of color. We know we deserve to be recognized for who we are, not for who and what people think we should be. We’re pushing the boundaries and testing the waters, just like we did in our teens.

As mothers we are the guides, nurturers and role models for our girls. We need to trust our instincts, show humility with grace and strength, remembering that we are the teachers. Love, mistakes, and especially forgiveness, don’t make us weak; they make us human and strong.

21 and wearing my necklace,earrings,shoes and jacket!

21 and wearing my necklace,earrings,shoes and jacket!

For the mothers of teenage girls, here’s the good news:Her 20’s will restore your faith in the precious mother-daughter bond.

For mothers of teenage girls, here’s the good news: Her 20’s will restore your faith in the precious mother-daughter bond. On the road my daughter and I have traveled together, we’ve formed a loving connection and trust that no one can break it. As we both learn to Own, Feel and Live our own journeys, it’s great to know that along the way, we’ll also be sharing a glass of wine, a box of chocolates, conversations and memories that will endure in our hearts forever.

I’ll conclude by saying that, I believe that God does have plan for each of us and God certainly does have a sense of humor … and so should we!

P.S.- Warning for mothers of teenage boys…Here’s my number on tip, buy a well trained sheep dog!

Thank you for reading my story and please share with friends,mothers and brothers!

Diane xo

 

 

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Women in Film, Owning it,Feeling it,Living it!

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Last weekend I had the honor of moderating “The Women in Film” Panel discussion at the Carmel International Film Festival. In the process I felt reignited by the candid, lively, insightful conversations we had, as well as the laughter and wine shared with four exceptionally talented, accomplished, beautiful women who are “Owning it” in the Film industry. The Power of “F” in Film- Fearless, Focused, Far reaching & authentically Female …These women are totally Fabulous!

Five women with very different backgrounds,but, like minded in our approach to life, career and love of sharing stories represented this Panel: Cathryn Michon, Independent production co,”Surprise Hits,” director, writer and comedic actress. Bonnie Arnold, Big Studio film producer in nearly every genre.Currently Dream Works Animation “How To Train Your Dragon 1 & 2, previously Disney, Sony. Lauren Selig, Financier, Film Fund mgr,producer,exec producer, former President of IndieFlix, Philanthropist. Vivienne De Courcy, Screen writer and director of her first feature film “Dare to be Wild,”after a 20 year career as a Bond Lawyer.Myself, Diane Danvers Simmons, advertising, marketing, PR, Independent film and founder/spokesperson for my company, Own it,Feel it,Live it  and my Spirituality in Stilettos empowerment forums.

The Women In Film luncheon took place on the main stage of the Sunset Center hosted by Co Founder Erin Clark. Almost 200 people attended including festival filmmakers, producers, industry professionals, patrons, board members, and film lovers…please read on.

Media overview: The moderated Panel Discussion was the highlight of the program. High achieving women in film discussed their perspective on gender issues, women’s roles in film, financing, and support through relationship building. While the opinions varied, it was clearly obvious that each of the five women have worked very hard to get where they are and they enjoy their work. Their perseverance has allowed them to focus their energy, creativity and philanthropy on their projects of choice. Coverage by JoAnna Daum / Social Media Center Team — with moderator Diane Danvers Simmons.

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Some of the key discussion points:

1]Our consensus is simple, the issue is not male vs. female, it’s common sense, business sense and equality! Lets face it, if 50% of the world is female and 52% of the movie going audience is also female, should ‘t we be producing more films with women in front of and behind the camera?

2] Perception vs. Reality : Sometimes we need to re frame expressions. Multi -tasking: is it a negative or a positive? Yes, women multi- task, they always have, but that’s because they’re Multi-dimensional, multi-faceted individuals. We’re capable of sharing the human experience, and in turn telling the human story on many levels.I do believe that’s a skill and talent needed to make a great movie.

3] Mindset: One’s mindset and attitude to work and life is the clincher. None of the women accepted the premise that they’re less capable or valuable than the next person, male or female, they go after their dreams with conviction and passion.They don’t live inside the box,and they certainly don’t allow gender differences or issues cloud their vision. Each focused on moving forward with courage, trust, perseverance and possibility where others may see road blocks. I finish with the message that we are proud to be women, we are different than men, and we don’t need to replicate being male to be successful. We need to value who we are, recognize our unique talents, find our voice and follow our dreams with grace. We should build relationships that support each other rather than tear us apart.We need to acknowledge and discuss the statistics, but not dwell in them.With so many sound bites today it can only behoove us to take the time to share our own experiences, to acknowledge that it takes more than an idea, that ones mindset and actions are the tipping point. We need to lead by example, mentor, seek out solutions and encourage women to take the “Fear” out of following their dreams.

As Vivienne’s movie title puts it so eloquently ….Dare To Be Wild!…

I will sign off by thanking Erin Clark who is the Co Founder and heart of the CIFF  and by saying to all women, Own it, Feel it, Live it with Wit and Wisdom….Diane Danvers Simmons

Viv, taking be wild to a whole new level!

Viv, “Owning it” and  taking “Dare To Be Wild” to a whole new level!

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Giving Young Women a Voice!

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It was such an inspiration and gift to produce this video for The Women’s Fund/CFFMC, under the guiding principals of Own it Feel it Live it.

The principals of Own it Feel it Live it, are simple for anyone to follow and working with the young women of ‘Girl’s Health in Girls Hands’ proved that these three simple steps ground us while freeing us at each phase of our journey.

Own your Power, is at the core of GHGH, as the girls make the choice to take a leadership role in creating the life they want to live .

Feel it, is the bridge to living it for the young women as they open up, share, and in turn let go of the experiences, good or bad, that have shaped their lives to date. They allow themselves to be vulnerable and in doing so learn that they’re not alone , that people do care .

Live it.Through commitment, access to education,information, support of leaders and mentors, GHGH is creating a generation of young women who will become compassionate future leaders.Young women who have grown to become an inspiration  and leaders within their peer groups.

In summary, by giving girls a voice, we see the power and spirit of unity. We see that by building self-worth and imparting leadership skills we can empower not only a young woman’s life, but also her community and the World at large.

Please enjoy, share the video and join the movement …in being the change that we all want to be and see .

My dream is to help women  Own it Feel it Live it, to build a better life for themselves and their families and in doing so a better world for us ALL to share !

Thank you Diane Danvers Simmons

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Conversations That Do Make a Difference!

Last night, in the company of  two hundred men and women,I, attended the “Women’s Economic & Leadership Forum’s” dinner in Monterey County.

An evening of good wine, food, conversation and most importantly continued ENLIGHTENMENT and HOPE !

An evening where courageous women shared their stories.Women, who’ve broken down the walls that could have prohibited them from reaching their dreams.Why, because they were given a chance, they had a mentor, someone who cared when others gave up. Women, who recognize that to grow, conversations, intimate discussions,  such as these must continue. Women must speak up and be willing to ask the hard questions, while recognizing that it’s not simply about empowering women, but also supporting each other. We need to have an honest perspective on life and our cultural and biological differences.

The goal of organizations such as ‘WELI ‘, is to educate, so we can have a balanced mix of men and women involved in economic prosperity and Global leadership .

An investment  today, in educating women right here, in America, is an investment in future generations. Studies show, time and time again,that when a woman succeeds, her family does too, and when a family thrives a community thrives.

Thank you, WELI, IMPOWER and the eloquent, speakers, Teresa Matsui Sanders and Kathy Matsui…passionate advocates for Women’s continuing education programs.

Women who OWN IT, FEEL IT and are now LIVING IT!

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Spiritually on Safari.

Playtime by the watering hole.

Tracking side by side on Safari with a remarkable diversity of animals, including the the “Big Five”, is truly a Spiritual experience. As the trivia and noise of western society subsides into oblivion, One’s senses are instantly ignited. Initially  self preservation kicks in; then you realize, they’re watching you watch them and they really don’t give a dam how many “likes” you’ll get on instagram!

The African “Big Five” include; Lions, Leopards , Buffalo, Rhinos and Elephants, named so by hunters from the colonial era as they were deemed the most difficult and dangerous to kill. However, I’m officially going on record and upping the number to the “Big Seven”, as Giraffes are certainly the tallest of all animals and Cheetahs the fastest!

Don't mess with me!

Don’t mess with me!

Watching them watch me, I’m  reminded that we are all the same, living, breathing creatures of the animal kingdom.We just prefer to adorn ourselves with fancy clothing, or in my case for this trip, sparkling leopard toes! Mothers protect, guide and nurture the young, while territorial males dominate their prey, as they go in or out for the kill!

 

clothes, toes all inspired by the beauty of a Lopeard

Clothes, toes & accesories all inspired by the beauty of a Leopard. Courtesy of  Terri Silacci

Survival of the fittest is the law of the land, or so I thought. In the wildeness, it’s not only survival of the fittest, but survival of the PRESENT;  those who are best in tune with nature and all that surrounds their own being.

The pair of cheetahs we tracked with had gone days without food, yet they moved with calculated precision and patience as they surveyed the distance to their prey. Their  bodies intuitively knew how much energy they would need to secure their next meal.  They listened and trusted their  internal compass as they knew to make a wrong move would weaken their  own chances of survival.

Deep stretch before the hunt!

Deep stretch before the hunt!

No more photos today!

No more photos today!

There is nothing that can quite prepare you for  the seduction and splendor of an African preserve, for the playfulness, intensity and innocence of the animals and game which through conservation programs can roam free.

The trappings of our everyday life became so insignificant and such nonsense as we embraced the quietness of the rising sun and the rich fulfillment of it’s setting each evening. Being on Safari truly is an spiritual experience ….as being PRESENT becomes the norm… there’s no rush for tomorrow…only the connection with the moment, the land and the animals that inhabit it.

sunset and a G&T to celebrate the end of a perfect day …

Sunset and a G&T to celebrate the end of a perfect day …

 

 

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His Legacy illuminates the World … make a difference in 67 minutes

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Today, on his birthday we celebrate “Nelson Mandela International Day”. A day created to honor him and keep his legacy alive. A day to remind people to be the change they want to be, the change they want to  see, and a day to encourage people to be an active participant in making the World a better place for all.

On this commemorative day in South Africa, his legacy is brought to life by each and every citizen through the Nelson Mandela Foundation and it’s “67 minutes for Mandela” campaign, a campaign that encourages people to devote 67 minutes of their time to a charity .

Few campaigns and Countries can boast a day where all of it’s citizens unite and step up to take on the responsibility of making a difference in their country. Millions of people do something big or small that will make a positive difference to others. This year for example , “Stop Hunger ZA” will rally thousands of volunteers to pack 67,000 meals for pre- school kids by each working 67 minute shifts. Another group will knit 67 blankets to donate to those less fortunate. In Port Elizabeth a 67 minute walk will draw attention to muscular diseases. These are just a few examples, but ultimately there are so many ways people can take 67 minutes out of their day to impact someone else’s life. This simple yet powerful idea  parallels  the 67 years Mandela served his country.

Today, July 18th, the whole World recognizes a fearless warrior of change. But one has to also recognize and respect how the people of South Africa maintain his legacy by working together and endeavoring to bring to life his values, vision and dedication to helping others.

I  have just returned from South Africa, a country of immense beauty, soul and hope. A country which has suffered, but a country that strives to move forward, where the spirit of Mandela touches each and every soul. I have a deep respect and feel immense gratitude towards the gracious people I met and the stories they shared with me on my recent journey.

We can all learn something from Nelson Mandela and his country, we can all donate 67 minutes of our time to a cause that is meaningful to us … Just imagine …As the great man said;

“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it” …

Own it, Feel it, and go out and Live it! … DDS

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The Gift of a Child…Feel it !

 

“THERE ARE TWO GIFTS                                                                                                                                                                                WE  SHOULD GIVE OUR CHILDREN;                                                                                                                                                  ONE IS ROOTS, AND                                                                                                                                                                                        THE OTHER IS WINGS.”….

These simple gifts of love empower our children to  go out into the World and LIVE IT, with confidence, passion and the freedom to explore the beauty of all of life’s possibilities.

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Today, we celebrate the 21st birthday of my beautiful daughter, Natalie, whose wings continue to carry her to far off lands and many an adventure!….right now in South Africa!

 

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