The Impact of Women’s Foundations Coast to Coast.

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Women’s Foundations are catalyst’s for change and social change is certainly not for the faint of Heart. However, give a woman a voice and a choice and she’ll always rise up to the job at hand with the strongest of hearts.

This is the renewed conviction and sense of purpose I felt when I walked out of the “Women’s Fund Convening 2016″ in San Luis Obispo, Thursday July 14th.

Like minded women from Women’s Fund organizations up and down the Central Coast of California came together to connect missions, share ideas, and develop actionable solutions, to advance gender equity and economic, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing for all women.

Thank you to activist Tracy Gary for sharing her wisdom, educating us and facilitating our discussions for positive change.

It might start with a village, but in truth, it will take tribes of fearless women of every creed, race and age to  step up with compassion and commitment to develop, fund and implement sustainable solutions.

The good news is that women are already making a difference everyday in the USA through organizations such as The Women’s Foundation.  Only through collaboration and support can we continue to build a better world where not only women, but whole communities can thrive.

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Women’s Fundraising lunch Monterey County ”Building awareness in our communities”

As Bertie Elliot said in a recent interview we filmed with her…

“I ask each of you to look into your own hearts and ask …how can I help?

Thanks to members of the Women’s Fund of: Santa Barbara, Monterey, Northern Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern county and Ojai.

Own your choice to make a difference and feel the difference it makes not only in another life, but in yours too. Diane xo

Stop Trying to Find Yourself – Be Yourself.

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By Diane Danvers Simmons, creator of Own It, Feel It, Live It, for eHarmony Advice, published June 7th 2016.
In this fast-paced, high-tech world we often feel lost, confused, and absent of meaningful connections to self and others. We’re becoming numb, deflated to the negative behavior of the housewives of stupidity and the fantasy images too often portraying our gender.

Our lives spin like a revolving door and we certainly don’t have a year to sit on a mountain top to find ourselves, but here’s the secret, we don’t need to find ourselves …we’re right here, housed in this gorgeous vessel called a body, that’s been with us since the day we were born.

We just need let go of what think we should be and remember to just BE true to ourselves and recognize that our total well-being cannot be separated from what we think, feel, and do for a meaningful life…but how do we get there?

Own it, Feel it, Live it: These are three simple steps, our mantra for a new way of living by reconnecting and rebalancing our mind, body, and spirit, our core essence, for a deeper feeling of self, clarity, and growth for a happier, healthier whole life.

Step 1. Own Your Power

Be self-aware: step into a relationship of trust and well-being with no one other than yourself. Owning it takes courage, raw honesty, and real work, but it’s the place we need to go if we really want to understand why and where we stand today. Take back ownership of your life by…

Accepting responsibility for the choices you’ve made, good and bad, and understanding how they’ve impacted your relationships and the world.

Acknowledge that only you can change your story, your mindset, your attitude, your situation to be the author of your own story.

Acknowledge that our lives are a collective of past, present, and future. Take the best of the past, be present in your daily interactions and embrace that everything has a time and a place, so you can live a full engaged life.

Let go of toxic situations that deflate your soul. You don’t have control over other people’s choices or behaviors, but you do your own.

Step 2. Connect to Your Feelings
We are all pure energy in motion fed by our heart, ignited by our spirit, distracted by our minds, all housed in our bodies. The question for most is whether we feel balanced, connected to our whole being and passions or are we fragmented, confused, and stagnant?

Be present in your emotions by:

Feeling the waves of joy and pain that a life well-lived brings: allow yourself to be vulnerable, notice what triggers you, where and how you feel tension in your body, breathe through the emotion, journal it and let it go, so you can keep walking forward.

Actively engaging our senses daily: for example, when greeting a friend, look into their eyes, hear the tone of their voice, and embrace them so they feel your presence. When we enliven our senses we heighten our intuition for more fulfilling experiences.

Connecting to our breath, our hearts, our life source through meditation, a walk in nature or yoga to feel the wisdom and joy of your mind, body, and soul flowing in unity, hear the beliefs you hold true and embrace total well-being.

Step 3. There’s life and then there’s living…

To live life we choose to be flexible, mindfully observant, and joyously present. When our mind, body, and spirit are working in harmony, we function as a whole being, not a fragmented one. By blocking out the noise we can pay attention to our own voice, desires, gifts and needs with clarity thereby enabling what we think, feel, and do to flow seamlessly with confidence for happier, healthier lives. We’re free to BE who we are, what we love, and to love.

Each day dip into the silence and ask these simple questions to stay on the path to living life by your own definition:

What am I choosing to focus my attention on, am I investing in my own dreams or someone else’s?

What feelings or sensations did this bring up in my body and where in my body?

Am I just functioning and going through the motions or am I participating in creating and living the life I want or just waiting for it to happen?

Diane Danvers-Simmons is a passionate, visionary global citizen who offers solutions to inspire women to embrace their core values and live life by their own definition with wit & wisdom. Through inspired Spirituality in Stilettos programming, uplifting Made by Survivors jewelry, impactful documentaries, and speaking engagements, Diane creates experiences and brands to raise awareness, uplift souls, inspire action, empower and connect people from all walks of life on one universal journey for a brighter, more enlightened future. For more information visit www.ownitfeelitliveit.com.

 

 

Giving from the heart – Feel it !

 

 

Enjoy our latest video for CFMC and remember the power of “Giving from your Heart” and the difference you can make in an-others life. It was such a joy to interview a woman, namely, Bertie Elliott, who lives in her truth and whose generosity shines a light on so many.

Thank you

Diane

The power and importance of supporting all women.

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This past weekend I was privileged to be able to mentor young women at CSUMB, as part of WELI, the Women’s Education & Leadership institute, career development program. .

I’m continually inspired by the beauty and powerful resilience of a women’s spirit, but saddened by the cruelty, hardship and unfair discrimination many endure. Even when others would of given up, these capable young women are positive and motivated to learn and step beyond the boundaries life has dealt them.

Success to them is much bigger than simply themselves, it’s the chance to make a difference in someone else’s life, in their community, a chance to reach out and touch someone else’s soul to break the cycle of poverty and abuse. These young women don’t live stuck in the past, instead they are hungry to learn , driven to make a difference and willing to go to school, work one or two jobs, all while caring for family members.

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GHGH GIRLS

When you think of heroes, think of these young women.They are the individuals who want to be the change we all want to be and see in the world, authentic souls who speak from a place of knowing.

The women I spent time with are Owning it in the most powerful way possible. I say to them …you are special, you can and you will succeed because you have everything right here inside of you…all they need is someone to take their hand and guide them so they have the tools to move forward.

Where there are programs that support women such as, WELI, The Women’s Fund, Rising International, Made by Survivors, there is HOPE, and where there is HOPE , there is a place for Women to Rise up..

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WOMAN’S FUND, WOMAN’S ECONOMIC INITIATIVE

I will finish with this thought…if we can make a difference, even if it’s just one person, one action at a time and give a girl, a woman a chance…we give our communities and the World a chance for a brighter future and in turn we too will feel the joy and expansion that comes from helping another.

Now, Own it, Feel it, Live it!

 

Spiritual Shuffle in the Sand, Owning it!

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Boxing Our Way Out of Life’s Boxes.

As the poetic champion, Muhammad Ali would say “float like a butterfly sting like a bee”…I’m not sure if he would  describe us in such eloquent fashion, but we certainly gave it a try.

“We can’t be brave without fear” Muhammad Ali.

I’ve never understood the benefits of boxing until my recent trip to Todos Santos. Admittedly, I was on a gorgeous beach surrounded by my fellow Angels wearing our latest accessory, an enormous pair of bright blue padded boxing gloves. Our first lesson in boxing was with non other than Ramiro Reducindo Radilla, the 2003 Pan American gold medalist. Only the best for the Angels- thank you Erica!

Eva’s right hook!

I  don’t think any of us knew what to expect, after all, isn’t boxing about throwing punches to weaken and knockout  your opponent ? The furthest thing from loving kindness and spiritual bliss.However, I have to admit, we did leave on a powerful, spiritual high!

Ramiro, the boxer,wasn’t just my opponent, instead, he became my teacher disguised as well padded punch bag with a cheeky grin! I learned that boxing is much more than a cardio work out of skill, strength, speed, reflexes and endurance …which sounds pretty amazing in of itself. Boxing in a strange way is literally, “Own it, Feel it, Live it “on steroids. It’s a true challenge , combining the ultimate of mind, body and spirit awareness and participation.

With arms flexed at a 45 degree angle, I practiced the four basic punches in boxing; the jab, cross hook and upper cut. Leading with my left hand, instead of my pre wired right hand, I shuffled ( just like Ali in my own mind) the one-two-combo  … This isn’t just exercise for the body, people, it’s exercise for the mind.

One, two combo shuffle!

As you can see from the picture Ramiro is a giant compared to me, but that made the challenge even more enticing, as we danced and  sparred  to the beat of one, two, three. The more I leaned into the punch, the more he back away, and then more I advanced again. I felt agile, powerful, and strong.I was in the moment, at one with myself and my opponent as the onlookers dissipated into the sand.

The Angels and I were literally bouncing Pogo sticks, fueled by an adrenalin high that made each of us feel invincible, evident by the smiles on our faces. Our  boxing experience was unbelievably empowering and symbolic in many ways.We Owned it, by stepping out of our boxes and I do believe we strenghened our wings that day, toward becoming Guardian Angels….

Boxing is mind, body, spirit unity in action, so get ready for some spiritual shuffling in my workshops!

Spirituality on the Sea of Cortez – Swimming with the Seals!

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If you’ve never been on a small bus with 10 women, just  think back to a school bus trip or ask Franchesco.I can honestly say, it doesn’t matter if a member of the female race is  5 or 45 …we always manage to cover every topic of conversation at a decibel level , that could put 200 bagpipers to shame .

 

Having a Whale of a time!

Having a Whale of a time!

Two boats, 5 guides, four crew, a chef , ugly life jackets, bikinis, sunscreen and we were ready to, Own it ,Feel it and definitely Live it, on yet another Eco adventure. This time to the rugged islands of the  Sea of Cortez.

First stop – Swimming with the Seals … not my first choice of mammal to swim with, in-fact the thought had never popped into my consciousness before, non the less, it was part of our exploration, of self and nature.

Harmless looking!

Harmless looking!

 

Sergio instructed us on the virtues of swimming with the seals.In one breathe he enticed us by describing the playful charms of a seal pup and  in the next, he put the fear of God in us, as he coached us on what to do, and not to do, if confronted by a 16 foot male.

That’s when I asked, “why can’t we be content with just snorkeling?!”

The next feat was to once again struggle into the confines of the tightest wet suit we could endure…beautiful new ones, but still tight enough to embarrass any good woman and I won’t tell you what Sergio suggested we do to warm them up!

 

Dressed and ready to Swim with the Seals!

Really happy I’m alive and singing!

Wearing Snorkel masks, flippers and wet suits to keep us intact, we all felt like seasoned experts, comical, but it’s amazing how a good outfit can make you feel. One by one, the brave Seal Angels began to dive and flop into the Sea of Cortez.

I was still questioning if I really needed to add this to my list of accomplishments, was I doing this because everyone else was {ego},or because I wanted to? I didn’t relish the idea of  being nipped by a pup, having bubbles blown in my face by a mother seal, or being annihilated  by a whacking great sea lion, however, I was curious.We were playing in their territory, so we needed to respect their law of engagement.

My anxiety dissipated when I witnessed the seals welcome us, just as any good golden retriever would.I was in awe and inspired to dive right into the acrobatics in that moment, lead by our fearless guides who dived deep into the turquoise waters, gracefully spinning like mermaids in rhythm and sync with the seals.

I didn’t dive deep, but I did become part of the show, the spectator behind a mask. I was awe struck, allowing the real performers to come to me. The seals were watching me, watching them, as they playfully swam under and around me …it really was like playing with puppy dogs! Luckily no sea lions took an interest in me, but even so I was out of the waters in record time.

Diving deep!

Diving deep!

I’m truly happy  I swam with the seals, even for a short while. I allowed myself to feel uncomfortable, but I didn’t allow it to immobilize me. I asked myself “What am I afraid of, when will I get another opportunity like this?” After all,I wasn’t alone, I had people close by who knew these waters and it’s wild life. This wasn’t about failure or success, let’s face the seals weren’t judging me and nor were my fellow Seal Angels.This was an incredible chance to connect with another species, in a way that I wouldn’t be able to anywhere else. I didn’t have to be brave and take the lead, instead it was a chance to tread water, be the observer and trust in the unknown, those around me and my own instincts.I simply allowed myself to be totally present and look at this adventure through different lenses.

And this my friends happen before Lunch … more to come!

I bet Charlie’s Angels never swam with Seals!

Own it and Feel what it’s like to really Live it NOW!

 

 Disclaimers-

No guides, Seals or wild life were intimidated or harmed on our adventure.

No sporting apparel or equipment company has offered to endorse, supply or photograph us.

Photographs courtesy of Anja and my I phone.

Alas, still no make-up , hair stylist , or stylist of any description assisted us.

 

 

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!

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 …