100+ Extraordinary California Women
Share Turning Points in Their Lives

Profits from first two years donated to the Women's Foundation of California  


Tuesday February 20, 2018


Life Moments for Women video produced by the Film, Media & Social Justice Department

of Mount St. Mary's College.
Song "Women of Today" by Faith Rivera & Beth Eichel, performed by Faith Rivera.

The Magic Business Touch

on Thursday, 26 September 2013.

Based on the infographic below, the magic touch is a woman's touch when it comes to small businesses. The data, collected from resources such as the Small Business Administration, reveals that small businesses owned by women are more likely to yield positive revenues and account for 29% of all business enterprises.

Get Tech Savvy with These Ladies!

on Thursday, 19 September 2013.

The technological boom isn't exclusive to men. Although only 18% of women who graduate from college in the U.S. major in computer science, the number of women holding influential roles in technology is rising. Take a look at the fierce women in technology today who are defying norms and taking the tech world by storm!



The Understated Importance of Teaching Girls How to Be Financially Literate

on Saturday, 31 August 2013.


The tradition of women staying at home while their husbands go out and work is one that today's female leaders and workers are reinventing and defying. However, as a recent blog post written by Robin Patinkin for the Huffington Post states, many women are still not confident in their knowledge of and proficiency managing their finances. Balancing checkbooks and paying bills are still tasks that carry a male-dominated connotation, despite that a growing number of women are either the breadwinners or contribute to their household income. 

"Born in the "peak" year of the baby boom, money was the taboo conversation in our family and still is for many. Parents are more willing to discuss sex and drugs with their children than money. I was cared for by my father not realizing he built up credit card debt to buy me clothes, struggled to cover my college tuition and like his parents made many bad investment decisions. I am financially literate through self-motivated education, experience, mistakes, professional advice good and bad -- not because of my upbringing. As so many women of my generation say, "If I only knew then what I know now," Patinkin, a CFA and CFP at Cedar Hills Associates, LLC states in her post.

Read the rest of Patinkin's blog by clicking here, and tell us your thoughts below!

Better Together: Bridging the Age Gap Will Empower Women

on Thursday, 29 August 2013.


By Elysia Cook


Contributor and Website Manager


Although Life Moments for Women primarily draws upon stories from women with years of life experiences, the anecdotes are absolutely applicable to readers from a younger demographic. As part of Generation Y, otherwise known as the Millennial Generation, I feel that people often extrapolate the divide between members of my generation and those who are more mature. However, many of the lessons, obstacles, and aspirations that my peers and I face each day are not exclusive to our age group; rather, they’re similar (if not the same) to those experienced by women older than us.

Despite the discrepancy in time, feelings of love, loss, pride, anxiety, stress, thrill, and camaraderie are not restricted to a certain age group. This is not a novel concept. What some people overlook, though, is that these congruencies between today’s youth and its predecessors are often overshadowed by our differences.  The fast-paced nature of modern society draws a distinct line between those who keep up with the rapid changes in technology, policy, and social norms and those who either can’t—or choose not to—adapt to them.

It is no surprise that younger generations, who have grown up in this time of instant gratification and re-evaluation of traditions and legislature, find difficulty in establishing a common ground with older generations who grew up in a vastly different time period. Oftentimes, people assign a negative connotation to this gap: some older women believe that younger women do not exhibit grace and class, and are too focused on themselves; some younger women believe that older women are ignorant to the present and are stuck in the past. The list of commonly held stereotypes and assumptions about both groups could go on for a while, and it would be naïve to say that these preconceptions can be easily eradicated.

That being said, I believe that it is imperative for women of all ages to also acknowledge that while there are notable distinctions across the spectrum of age, we also need to celebrate together in our core, shared trait: despite the number of candles on our birthday cakes, we are all women, and can learn from each other in a variety of ways. We must laud not only the accomplishments of each generation independently, but also how the achievements of elder generations have molded the present day’s burgeoning women and leaders.

To reinforce this notion, there must be interplay between the past, present, and future. Younger women can take away invaluable lessons from women who have experienced them before; even within different contexts, the fundamental ideas remain the same. Similarly, older women can observe and learn from younger women who exemplify the new wave of femininity within the private and public spheres.

Ultimately, it is the bridge between these two groups—rather than the space that divides them—that will empower women of all ages in contemporary society. The “Life Moments” that comprise the pages of the book are not only applicable to women of varying ages, ethnicities, and walks of life; they are indicative of how parallel we are, despite our ages, and how much stronger we are together.  

The Gender Gap in Startups and the Investment in Women

on Sunday, 25 August 2013.

Despite how much work women dedicate to their jobs and startups, the return is significantly less notable and there is a distinct lack of support for startups initiated by women. Take a look at this infographic put together by EZebis.com and get the numbers on this concerning fact.


For the full article, click here!


Burnt Out From Managing Your Home and Job? You're Not Alone!

on Friday, 26 July 2013.

Women all over the world are feeling the effects of holding jobs, running households, and maintaining a social life. Read this recent article by the Huffington Post for details on how women across the globe are handling the stress--or how they aren't:


European Women Working Full-Time Also Do Most Of The Housework: Survey

More women in Europe have taken on full-time jobs in recent years, but they haven't taken any work off of their plates at home, according to new data from the European Social Survey. A majority of women feel that their work is "never done," the survey found.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the large-scale survey is based on 250,000 interviews performed in over 30 European countries over the past 10 years. The researchers found that most women who are employed full-time are still pulling more weight at home than the men in their families.

Women's domestic workloads showed varied between countries:

  • In the UK, 70 percent of all housework is done by women (and nearly two-thirds is done by women who work more than 30 hours a week).
  • Nordic countries have the most equal distribution of domestic work, with Swedish women who work more than 30 hours per week doing less than two-thirds of the housework.
  • Southern European countries lag behind, with the least equal distribution of housework.
  • In Greece, over 80 percent of housework is done by women, and over three-quarters is done by women who work more than 30 hours per week

The situation isn't much different across the pond, where [more] women are increasingly taking on the breadwinner role, while also shouldering the burden of the housework. Among American families with children under 18, 37 percent of wives now earn more than their husbands, according to Pew Center research. Yet 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that women still spend more time on housework than men, totalling over two hours a day.


To read the rest of this article, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/24/women-working-home-second-shift_n_3641491.html.

Celebrate the Strides Toward Gender Equality and the Rise of the Businesswoman!

on Friday, 26 July 2013.

Back in July of 1848, the first Seneca Falls Convention was held to acknowledge and emphasize the need for gender equality. Fast-forward two centuries, and the role of women in today's society is one to be proud of. Although there are still discrepancies and hard-to-break norms between men and women in the workforce, women play a significantly larger role in the work place. Take a look at this infographic by OnlineBusinessDegree.org and see how women have taken the world by storm over the past 150+ years!

Looking for the Perfect Gift?

on Friday, 03 May 2013.


…mother love … one of the most moving and unforgettable memories of our lives, the mysterious root of all growth and change; the love that means homecoming, shelter and the long silence from which everything begins and everything ends.


~ C.S. Jung, Aspects of The Feminine


Since the launch of Life Moments for Women, 100+ Extraordinary California Women Share Turning Points in Their Lives a year ago, I am frequently asked to describe the common characteristics of the many accomplished women in the book.

“Successful women,” I say, “are in alignment with their true purpose; they do what they love, are willing to take calculated risks and refuse to give up in the face of adversity.  But first and foremost, they know that in order to get anything in life ─ you must believe in yourself.”

Then I explain that on the journey of interviewing 100+ extraordinary women, I came to appreciate mother-daughter relationships in a deeper, more meaningful way.  What I started to realize in my own life, I saw reflected in the stories I was gathering ─ that until a daughter is able to fully accept and honor her mother for the woman she is, or perhaps once was, (in spite of perceived shortcomings and faults) ─ she can never fully believe in herself.

This year, May 12th, is the day dedicated to all our mothers everywhere. Life Moments for Women is the perfect gift to honor and thank the women who brought us into the world!  It has been said that when daughters and moms read and discuss the stories together, the result is an unexpected sharing of their own life-moments! 

Remember to thank the many “other mothers” in your life too: women who stepped forward during a time of need ─ a loving grandmother, godmother, sister, or aunt, a caring cousin, neighbor or friend, a favorite teacher, a special boss or co-worker.

I am proud that Patty DeDominic and I dedicated Life Moments for Women to our   moms in heaven with these heartfelt words: 

“We dedicate this book to our extraordinary mothers, Mary Murphy Kohut and Eleanor Margaret Timm who loved passionately and never stopped encouraging our dreams.”   

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!


Maureen E. Ford,

Co-Author, Life Moments for Women

I Was the First Woman to Run For Mayor Of L.A.

on Wednesday, 17 April 2013.

In My Career, People Always Cared That I Was Female. Today, We’ve Got Better Things To Worry About.

     By Linda Griego

     *Reprinted from http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/ with permission from Linda Griego


The first person to show me women could be active in politics was my grandmother, an ardent New Dealer and lifelong admirer of FDR. We lived in Tucumari, New Mexico, and once I got my driver’s license (at age 15), she never let me go to school on an election day again. My job, instead, was to drive people to the polls. When I’d finished with one group, she’d have a list of new people for me to pick up.

In 1993, when I decided to run for mayor of Los Angeles, the first woman and Latina to do so, I called to tell her the news.

There was an unnerving pause. “You know, it’s a really hard job,” she finally said. “But you can do it.”

Today, odds are high that we’ll elect a female mayor of Los Angeles (two of the leading mayoral candidates are women), but what’s perhaps most remarkable is how little we’ve noticed that milestone. Things have changed a lot for women in business and politics, and in my career—sometimes on purpose, sometimes by chance—I wound up helping drive that change. It isn’t always fun to break a barrier (barriers can cause injuries), but it can be satisfying. I know that, because I had to learn it repeatedly.

In 1967, when I was 19 years old, I got my first paycheck. It was for $450, more than any check ever earned by anyone in my family. I was in Washington working for New Mexico’s U.S. congressman, Tom Morris. I’d gotten the job, which had started as an internship, right out of high school, in part because Morris was the husband of my first grade teacher. This was the era of the Vietnam War, and there was a lot of turmoil. When Martin Luther King Jr. got assassinated and Washington went up in flames, I called my grandmother to tell her what was happening.

“It was about time,” she said. “Sometimes you have to take drastic measures. You push people so far and they have to do things.” Her reaction was unexpected but calming: She wasn’t afraid for her little girl, so neither was I.

If working for Congressman Morris showed me that I could live on my own as a young woman in a big city far from home, my next job, as a caseworker for U.S. Senator Alan Cranston of California, showed me how to negotiate both bureaucracies and Capitol Hill boys’ clubs. I worked primarily on veterans’ affairs in both D.C. and in Los Angeles, helping returning Vietnam veterans with things like unpaid benefits and hospital bills. At one point, a glitch in the VA computers caused thousands of vets to lose their GI Bill checks, threatening their enrollment in school. When I told Senator Cranston, he sent me straight to the VA office. I wound up staying there three days in a row, refusing to leave until someone gave me definitive answers about when the checks would be delivered. He taught me one of my earliest lessons about advocacy: If you have to barge in, barge in.

At that time, very few women ran for office, and there were no women in California’s congressional delegation. Even female staffers were few. One day, when Cranston sent me to the Pentagon for a meeting about defense procurement, I got turned away at the door. I was told I must be lost; then I was told there were to be no women in the meeting. Stunned, I returned to office and told Cranston I’d been tossed out.

“Why?” he asked sharply.

“They told me there are no women,” I said.

“You get back in a cab and get over there!”

“You should send Bob,” I suggested.

“If you’re my rep, you’re my rep,” he said. “You get back there.”

And I did.

In 1972, still working for Cranston, I moved to Los Angeles to enroll at UCLA for a bachelor’s degree. One day, while participating in a panel on nontraditional jobs for women, I met a telephone executive who claimed that women would never work as repairmen or as linemen because they didn’t want to muss their hair or break a nail. I told him this was ridiculous: With $15 an hour and some mussed hair you could put your kids through college; with $4 an hour and perfect hair, you’d be poor forever.

Three weeks later I got a call from Pacific Bell asking me to come in for an interview, and then I got offered a job as a foreman. I loved politics, and part of me wanted to run back to D.C. But I was married, and my life was in L.A. I took the job.

My time in Washington taught me about being a woman in a male-dominated white-collar setting. My time at Pacific Bell taught me about being a woman in a male-dominated blue-collar setting. I was based in a garage in San Gabriel with 90 male coworkers—and just one woman, a secretary. My job was to lead a crew of seven installation and repairmen. Figuring I’d last only a week, my supervisors gave me what they thought was one of the least-promising teams. But the guys were all Vietnam vets, and we got along great.

I got promoted pretty quickly, but no matter what I was doing, people would be surprised to see me. I’d walk up to a door and knock, and a kid would say, “The telephone man is here, and it’s a girl!” In emergencies, I’d get a call at 1:30 a.m., get my book, and go down the list of crew leaders to call. If their wives answered the phone they would hang up on me, not believing my post at the phone company could be occupied by a woman.

As I moved up the ladder, I got trained in finance, labor, and management, and eventually I decided I wanted to own my own business. Since the only thing I knew how to do was cook chili, I opened the Chili Stop, a takeout restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard between Beverly and Melrose, in 1980. A couple of years later, I teamed up with a group of investors to buy an abandoned firehouse downtown at Figueroa Street and Wilshire Boulevard, with the goal of opening a restaurant there. At that time, downtown was boarded-up buildings and parking lots, but we thought a renaissance was on the way, and we turned out to be right—much, much later.

This effort wound up being an education in municipal governance. I needed permits, but all I got from L.A. was obstruction. Everywhere I turned, the answer to my questions was, “No, you can’t do that.” Here I was, trying to create jobs and pay taxes in the middle of a recession, but I couldn’t even open the building! The Downtown News ran an article on me, and I vented all my complaints. Why was the no-can-do attitude so prevalent in the city bureaucracy?

My frustration with Los Angeles ultimately brought me back into public life. While I was running my restaurant, I had given fundraisers and been appointed for stints on the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Cultural Affairs Commission. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, in 1990, I got a phone call from the mayor.

“This is Tom,” he said. “Tom Bradley. Are you free to come talk to me about a position?”

I had met Bradley and worked on his campaigns, but I didn’t know him on a first-name basis. When he asked if I wanted to become a deputy mayor, I thought it was a joke. But Bradley felt I could help streamline the city permitting process for new small businesses. I signed on.

In 1992, the L.A. riots broke out, and Mayor Bradley, after 20 years in office, decided not to run for a fifth term. The field was wide open, and a lot of people I’d worked with— women’s groups, Latinos, friends, some politicians who were already in office—started asking me if I planned to join the race. I’d never seriously thought about it. I had never run for public office; the deadline for declaring candidacy was imminent; and I had no campaign organization and no campaign funds. But I also thought I’d be a good mayor. So at the end of 1992, right before the deadline, I jumped in.

I thought I’d been busy as deputy mayor, but running for mayor showed me what busy really was. Never before had my every waking moment been filled with such activity: Raise money; “meet and greet” voters; raise more money; give TV and radio interviews; raise more money; give news conferences; raise more money; tape political ads; raise more money; debate the other candidate. Did I mention raise more money? Like it or not, a candidate who does not have personal wealth to fund her or his candidacy must spend more time dialing for dollars than on any other campaign endeavor. Money equals credibility.

I also got to see more sides of the city than ever before. One minute, my staff would have me meeting Sherry Lansing at Paramount. The next, I’d be walking around the neighborhood near USC—where I helped a woman pick up bullets in her front yard—and speaking at the Pico Union Boys & Girls Club. A little girl there told me she wanted to live in Beverly Hills when she grew up. “Where I live we hear gunshots every night,” she explained. “And I know that in Beverly Hills it’s only sometimes.”

Because I was a “first,” I got a lot of encouragement and support—financial and volunteer—from women. The political action committee Emily’s List supported my candidacy, as did Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and then-State Assemblyman Louis Caldera. Women from different parts of the country sent me donations. Having a woman among 10 male candidates made for good visuals on local television news. One of my few TV ads—I didn’t have money for many of them—got a lot of traction. In it, I wore black high heels and a red jacket (neither of which I’d normally wear) and strolled among six-foot-tall cutouts of my male competitors wearing the same gray suit. Every time the ad ran, my poll numbers went up.

Still, for all the attention I got for being a woman and a Latina, it was also a year after the civil unrest that left 55 people dead, over 2,000 injured, and more than 1,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. Racial tensions ran high. The Los Angeles Police Department leadership was in turmoil. People felt vulnerable. Richard Riordan’s campaign slogan, “Tough Enough to Turn L.A. Around,” was calculated to tap into that anxiety, and it was almost impossible for a female candidate to compete on that dimension. My campaign wound up raising nearly $800,000, a respectable haul for three months, but Riordan, who won, raised $4.6 million ($3 million of which were his own funds), and L.A. was ready for his message.

In the past 10 years, women have been elected to more and more offices locally and nationally. Leaders like Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Dianne Feinstein have dispelled doubts about whether women can be tough. Cities like Houston, San Diego, and Dallas have all elected women mayors. As with ethnicity, gender simply matters less to voters than it once did.

I’ve heard friends say it would be great for L.A. to have a woman mayor, and I agree. But Jan Perry and Wendy Greuel, the two leading female candidates, have had to work just as hard as any male candidate to win the support of female voters. If they win, it will be as candidates, not as women.

And that’s a very good thing.

Will Women Eventually Run the World?

on Wednesday, 06 March 2013.

By Patty DeDominic, Business Consultant and Leadership Coach at www.dedominic.com   


"Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights, once and for all."

~ Hillary Clinton 


Was it Beyoncé (or should we say Anne Doyle? Or Tama Kieves?) who mused that it’s girls who run the world?  Never has that rung more true than this March, with a plethora of events happening in your neighborhood for Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.                                          

If you didn’t get to attend the 6th annual International Women’s Festival this past February at the Bacara Resort & Spa you can watch the life feed video of the presentations from Health Wealth & Soul at the website www.womensfestivals.org.

You can also mentor someone, buy some books or join the conversation in your own way.   PBS recently featured the documentary "MAKERS: Women Who Make America" on Feb 26, 2013, which spotlighted women who have changed the world in multiple ways.  You can check out the affiliated website's fresh new look at www.makers.com, where you will find the latest videos from Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and pictures from the recent red carpet premiere of the documentary at the Lincoln Center. 

Join the conversation  on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #MAKERSchat!

Some of the women featured in the film:

*Media Mogul & Philanthropist Oprah Winfrey on her difficult upbringing, making the most out of a second chance, and turning her remarkable career into a platform to serve a cause greater than herself. 

*Dr. Ruth Westheimer on her journey from orphan of the Holocaust to nationally syndicated TV and radio host who continues to teach woman to take responsibility for their own sexual satisfaction.

*Rejected by the Firm: Justice Ginsburg reflects on the different life she might have led if law firms had been open to hiring women when she left law school.


Video Magic!

on Wednesday, 06 March 2013.

 When women share their stories, something magical happens …and that means the next generation of women already has a beautiful pathway to follow.

~ Helen Iris Torres 


Little did I know our new Life Moments for Women video would be magical for me!

It began one year ago when I was privileged to attend the unveiling of the first “Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California” prepared by Mount St. Mary’s College. The response for this groundbreaking event at the college’s historic Doheny campus near downtown Los Angeles was overwhelming. An enormous tent was brought in to accommodate over 800 attendees!

The positive energy in the tent was contagious.   Women of all ages (and some men) were gathered in circles engaged in laughter and conversation. I was warmly welcomed by friendly students and staff who introduced me to several accomplished women.

College president, Ann McElaney-Johnson, proudly acknowledged the “vitality and diversity of the gathering” and thanked the hundreds of business and community leaders for their efforts on behalf of women.  A firm believer in the “transformative power of higher education,” Dr. McElaney-Johnson said this first-of-its-kind Report, was an opportunity to “create awareness, spark dialogue and inspire action” to help all women and girls achieve their full potential.

I was riveted by Geena Davis, actress and new Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, and other prestigious speakers who discussed challenges facing women in the critical areas of education, employment, technology, poverty, leadership, physical and mental health, violence and incarceration. Statistics were sobering, proving there is much work to be done around the world and in our own state.

At the end of the program, deeply inspired, I went to the office of Dr. Rosalyn Kempf Director of Women’s Leadership, with a copy of Life Moments for Women.  She wasn’t there, so I left the book and one of my business cards on her desk

Soon after that, Rosalyn invited me to speak to her class. Six months later, Patty DeDominic and I. along with Denita Willoughby, Anna Ouroumian and Adele Scheele spoke at the college’s Women’s Leadership Conference ─ and Dr. Pam Haldeman, Director of the Film, Media and Social Justice Department, generously agreed to produce our new video!

Thank you, Pam Haldeman, Kelby Thwaits and Charles Bunce for your many hours of precious time and endless patience in the production of our video.  Thank you Ann McElaney-Johnson, Stephanie Cubba, Rosalyn Kempf, Kim Kenny and everyone at Mount St. Mary’s College, for your commitment to the betterment of women.

Thanks to Mary Ann Halpin for the introduction to Faith Rivera. Faith, we are so grateful for the gift of using your song, “Women of Today” (www.faithrivera.com). Thank you to all the women who graced our video with their presence and inspiring message.

Recently, Patty and I spoke to mothers of the Palos Verdes National Charity League, a philanthropic organization for moms and daughters.  When I entered the room, a mother approached me with a smile.  She had purchased a copy of Life Moments for Women at a local gift shop and gave it to her teenage daughter to read on an airplane flight. 

When her daughter returned, she told her parents that she had read the entire book. Life Moments for Women changed her life! “In our house,” the mother beamed, “Maureen and Patty are rock stars!” That was the very moment when Helen Torres’s words in our new video rang true for me:  When women share their stories, something magical happens!    

I was a rock star!  (Who knew?)  Best of all, I learned that a young woman had suddenly discovered a beautiful pathway to follow.

Maureen E.  Ford, Co-Author, Life Moments for Women,

 100+ Extraordinary Women Share Turning Points in Their Lives


Note:  The second Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California will take place at Mount St. Mary’s College on March 21, 2013.  The event is complimentary, but seats are limited.   http://statusofwomen.msmc.la.edu   



The 2012 Election Results: A Winning Moment for Women

on Monday, 12 November 2012.

If we set aside our differing political views and focus our attention to women’s rights and equality, it is hard to deny that Tuesday’s results were a monumental win for women across the United States. This victory is a moment that will resound not only for the next four years, but also in the long-term future of American politics.

Women have chosen to elect a president who is dedicated to their support and well-being. President Barack Obama has proven his commitment to helping women achieve their political and social goals. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was the first bill Obama signed into law after being elected. President Obama has also made his position clear on women’s health issues and has supported the funding of important women’s organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Women should rejoice in the reassuring knowledge that we can expect this same commitment in the four years to come.

By stating that women have chosen to elect our president, it is to acknowledge that the majority of voters this year were indeed women. Women made up 53% of voters and consequently were the deciding vote in this election. The surge in women voters serves to make something clear: women’s issues matter and cannot be ignored in politics.

Tuesday’s election results also were a historical moment for women representation in Congress. More women were elected than ever before, including the first openly gay Senator (Tammy Baldwin), the first Asian-American female senator (Mazie Hrono), and the first female military veteran wounded in combat (Tammy Duckworth). Massachusetts elected its first female senator and New Hampshire is the first state to send an all-female delegation to Congress.

The women elected do not all represent the same party; however, they have vowed to work together on women’s issues in order to counteract the dominantly male Congress. This mindset is vital to the advancement of women’s rights, and something we as citizens should recognize as well. The 2012 election results mean great things for the future of women, regardless of our political party. We should embrace this as a source of inspiration and motivation to mobilize on the local level for women’s issues. 

Let us celebrate in this winning moment for women of the United States and the progress to come!


Hilary Kay

Life Moments for Women (international) Intern

Graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara, 2012

The 2012 Presidential Elections: Gaining an Unexpected Perspective

on Tuesday, 06 November 2012.

Following the presidential elections from abroad has been an interesting and enlightening experience. I read the news daily and am able to watch all the televised debates, so I have managed to stay up to date as much as possible while living in another country.

While I often bring up the elections when talking with those at home, I had little hope for a good conversation on the topic with anyone in France. Even the Americans I know living here are immersed in their new life and haven’t been following the elections very closely. I would have never guessed who the first person would be to bring up the elections, or predicted the conversation that would follow.

I was doing some homework on a bench by the metro when my pen inconveniently ran out. The man next to me noticed as I shook my pen with frustration and offered me one of his own. He was very old, very French, and grinned back at me with a smile that lacked a few teeth. The man had noticed my accent as I thanked him and asked where I was from. When I told him that I was from America, he starting recounting in the most descriptive fashion the day he stumbled upon Bill and Hilary Clinton making a stop in the center of Paris!

After this fascinating narrative, he caught me by surprise once again by bringing up the current elections and asking for my opinion. He then responded with his own perspective that was more informed and insightful then many I would get from my American peers. I was caught off guard by this curious character, but I was very excited to discuss the topic with someone holding such a different perspective than anyone I know.

I’m grateful to have had this out-of-the-blue encounter. It has led me to believe you can never know where a new idea or perspective might come from. The most teaching and remarkable moments of life can often come during unexpected times and with the most unexpected people.

That is why I believe it is essential to have this mindset throughout the election process. If you’re feeling lost, take a minute to clear your head of all the political jargon and look for insight from where you might least expect it.

And most importantly don’t forget to vote!


Hilary Kay

Life Moments for Women (international) Intern   

Graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara, 2012

Let’s Vote for the Equal Rights Amendment!

on Tuesday, 06 November 2012.

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. ~ Alice Paul, 1921

When I first read those words 40 years ago, I believed the message was so simple that it would be added to the constitution in a few months. How naïve I was.

The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in Congress in 1923. It took 49 years until it passed both houses in 1972. Ten years later, the amendment was three states short of the 38 states needed for ratification.

Does it really matter if we have an ERA? Unquestionably! For women, full citizenship has not yet been achieved. Ever since we attained the right to vote, issues affecting women have polarized the nation.

Decade after decade, we are faced with a see-saw battle over most of the issues that define or affect women’s lives: health care, reproductive freedom, contraception, rape, domestic violence, equal pay, paid family leave, childcare, gender balance in office, gay marriage and lesbian rights. The fight for women’s equality is ongoing.

An equal rights amendment would “provide a fundamental legal remedy against sex discrimination and ……would clarify the legal status of sex discrimination for the courts.” Women would have a legal path to equal rights ending the need to fight issues on a case-by-case basis.

Across the nation, attacks on women’s rights continue. Here are some examples that have occurred this past year:


● Rush Limbaugh denigrates a young law student testifying before Congress on the need for access to contraception;

● The Komen Foundation denies funding to Planned Parenthood, an organization that offers free breast cancer screening to women, but it backfires;

● Republicans continue to oppose the reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act denying protection for immigrants, Native

Americans and LGBT;

● Georgia and Louisiana pass bills that criminalize abortion after 20 weeks gestation with no exception for rape or incest, joining six other states with similar restrictions;

● Congressman Tod Akin’s comments that “legitimate rape rarely causes pregnancy” create a national political firestorm.


American women remain far behind the rest of the world when it comes to equality. The U.S. Senate has refused to approve the treaty known as CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination on all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.) Adopted in 1979 by the United Nations, CEDAW is the only international instrument that comprehensively addresses women's rights, politically, culturally, economically and socially.

Throughout the world, this treaty is used to empower women and enforce their rights. The United States is one of four countries that have not passed the treaty including Iran, Somalia and Sudan, third world countries known for violations of international human rights principles.

Film maker Kamala Lopez created a video to educate voters, especially young people who are unaware of the need for an ERA. Her video reveals that three-quarters of Americans believe women have a constitutional guarantee of equality despite the fact that they do not.

Since women represent only 17 percent of the members of Congress, we lack the critical mass to impact public policy. With the U.S. Senate’s refusal to approve the CEDAW treaty, American voters must pass a national ERA to send a signal that women have a written guarantee to equal treatment in the law, once and for all.

But how do we get there? We must organize to pass the ERA! Make the ERA an issue for the 2012 presidential election. I call on all women to join forces and work for the advancement of our mothers, sisters and daughters. Women may differ on many issues, but we all share the belief of equality ─ the basic tenet of our democracy.



Susan J. Rose, a contributing writer to Life Moments for Women, was honored by the California State Legislature for her efforts on behalf of women and girls. Inducted into the California Women Leaders Hall of Fame, she is a founding member of the county’s Women Political Committee. Susan is currently working with Antioch University Santa Barbara to create a women’s leadership program.





Joy is on the Way

on Monday, 15 October 2012.


   When the doctor walked into the room and said, “You have breast cancer," I didn't know what to say in return.

   The first person I wanted to talk to was my sister. She had prompted me to pursue a mammogram and to see my doctor. I am so thankful for her gentle nudging. Doing things for myself just wasn't always at the top of my to-do list. So, it was breast cancer on Friday, and by Wednesday of the next week I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction had started.

   The family rallied and came to be by my side, especially my sister.  A registered nurse, she has a true gift of healing. It was early in recovery, and I had a long way to go, but I was absolutely determined to beat the cancer and move forward with my life. Still, my sister could tell something was very wrong. Climbing up in my bed, she looked at me and asked one simple question: “What is it?”  I had no answer because it wasn't possible to put my feelings into words.  “Do you feel like your life is out of control?'' she asked. 

   I immediately started to cry. I am talking about a cry from the bottom of the pit, the bottom of the soles of my feet.  A wail of a cry. For twenty minutes this went on. My sister and husband both just took me in their arms and held me and rocked me like a baby. Then, as quickly as my tears came on, they turned off - but not into silence.

   Suddenly, I began to laugh uncontrollably and at anything anyone would say! When my daughters entered the room, they had a very bewildered on their faces as if to say, “Are you okay Mom?  What the heck is going on in here?” It was an emotional release long overdue, like the manifestation of the verse, “Those who sow in tears they shall reap in songs of joy.”    (Psalm 126:5)

    Ever since that moment, whenever my cleansing tears start to flow, I know that Joy is on the way.

~ Barbara Collins


Barbara is a wife and proud mother of six beautiful daughters.  A native Texan, she resides in the Hill Country where she is an artist and host of online TV show called Madre Minutes (also the name of her blog.) Barbara serves as an ambassador to the Heart of Haiti through Macy's Department Store.


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