Medicine Stories

June 15th, 2011

I have three close friends/colleagues who are working hard to interrupt old patterns of internalized oppression (i.o.), which the Urban Dictionary defines as the process by which a member of an oppressed group comes to accept and live out the inaccurate myths and stereotypes applied to the group.  All three of them are examining the stories they’ve been told (and now tell themselves) about how they are 1) not capable 2) lazy and 3) not smart or prepared enough.  All three are brilliant, wonderful leaders.  I find it amazing (and appalling) that they should spend even one nanosecond fighting these old patterns.

And then I took a little peek into my own i.o. closet, and saw that I carry some of those same patterns - that I’ve been told those same stories.  While I’ve done a fair amount of work in this area, I can readily see that there is still a bit more work for me to do.

It takes great courage to honestly look at internalized oppression – it’s like willingly hiking through the internal toxic sludge each of us carries as we try to lead.  Not fun, and rarely supported by those around us.  However when we decide to do this crucial work, it liberates us and can bring great satisfaction.

One thing I have found to be helpful is substituting my old stories with new ones.  I call them medicine stories, because they help me interrupt my often knee-jerk, learned responses, and replace them with new, intentional and authentic story.  Sometimes they sound like mantras, sometimes affirmations, and sometimes like just plain old truth.  In this case, the truth is that I am quite capable, work very hard and am a hugely brilliant woman!

Learning i.o. begins in childhood, when we had no choice about what we were exposed to.  It took time to install the old stories and patterns, and it can take time to unearth and interrupt them.  I know, however, that it can be done.  It’s an effort to consciously turn away from our toxic habits of mind, because it means that we substantially shift how we think and feel about ourselves.  It can mean that we choose to turn away from those who collaborate in maintaining the old patterns (who, sadly, are sometimes family, friends and partners).

Imagine what our world could look like if our leaders were free of debilitating lies about their worth.  What if none of us spent time fighting old demons – what could be possible for our children, if we don’t pass down those old tired-out narratives? Imagine what could happen if we committed to eradicating all of the internal stories that impede awareness of our magnificence (and then did the requisite work)!

So let’s tell a new story.  About the truth of our worth, and the worth of those around us.  Let’s commit to facing and uprooting every old lie that causes us to deny our brilliance.  We need new stories, new medicine, new mantras that remind us of who we really are – strong, learning, big-hearted, courageous and capable leaders who are helping to usher in a new world.

A world filled with wondrous children, wise elders and compassionate leaders.  Let’s not just tell a new story – let’s insist on living it.

From my heart to yours,
June 2011

Fellowship for a New California

Rockwood congratulates the first class of Fellows in the Fellowship for a New California: Developing Leaders of Immigrant Communities. With the support of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, this Fellowship provides leadership training to cultivate collaboration among leaders who are ensuring that California’s policies and practices are keeping pace with the changing demographics of our state. In particular, the program is designed to support leaders who are engaged in advocacy for justice, opportunity and fairness for California’s diverse immigrant communities.

The inaugural cohort of 22 leaders work in 15 cities throughout the state and includes organizers, advocates, faith leaders, and lawyers. Over the course of the intensive program, Fellows will attend one 5-day residential retreat, two 3-day retreats, receive professional and peer coaching, and additional leadership support.

Rockwood is looking for a New Communications Manager

Rockwood is seeking a Communications Manager to manage and implement its communications and outreach plans, with the goals of effectively marketing RLI’s leadership programs, cultivating and strengthening Rockwood’s Alumnae/i Network, and providing a platform for Rockwood staff, alumnae/i, and allies to share content and stories relevant to the field of transformational leadership development.

Ideal candidates will be solutions-oriented, positive, nimble, and dedicated to getting outstanding results in a timely way. S/he will possess a unique mix of traditional communications and new-media skills – from strategic communications planning and brand management, to copywriting, online project management, data management, and online social networking.  

Alumnae/i in the News

The Institute of International Education (IIE) announced this week that Amal Elsana Alh'jooj and Vivian Silver, Co-Executive Directors of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, have been selected to receive the 2011 Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East.

Amal Elsana Alh'jooj, an Arab citizen of Israel, and Vivian Silver, a Jewish citizen of Israel, will receive the Goldberg Prize in recognition of their efforts to promote peace and development by working to build a more just society in Israel. This is the first time that the Goldberg IIE Prize is being awarded to two women leaders.

Both Amal and Vivian are Rockwood alums and we’re so proud of their amazing and important work!