Published on July 31st, 2011 | by thevyne


The Year of the Grown Woman Redux: Have You Been Swagger-Jacked?

By Michelle Wonsley

Summertime, and the living is easy…or is it?  This January, we started the year with the enthusiasm and excitement of grown women ready to take on our lives, and the world, through our clarity, commitment and consistency.  So, how are we doing, ladies? If you’re like me, you’ve found yourself a little distracted by the warmer weather and your swagger has slowed to a saunter.  However, if you’ve got a fabulous cold drink and a hand fan and the heat isn’t holding you back, then what is it?

Often, our trip-ups and slip-ups are about how we see our circumstances and subsequently how we respond in those situations.  I’d like to introduce another principle, as an insurance policy when things go off the rails – creation.  As grown women we know that nothing turns our swagger up a notch like making things happen.  The ability to manifest things is a powerful tool that literally gives us our value and vitality in the world.  More immediately, the power of creation is what allows us to pivot quickly, turning an ambiguous situation into an empowering context.  That context becomes the space out of which our desired lives manifest.

Here’s a real-life example.

Exactly one month ago, I left a great job, ‘with good benefits’ to pursue a career in arts management.  My long-term vision is to create a cultural center that engages estranged community members through the creation and consumption of art. While I have sales, marketing, fundraising, recruitment, relationship management, and project management experience, I have never worked in the arts.  As such, my short-term goal is to continue to flex my functional skill set in an arts/culture context.  For what I’m taking on in life, this is a huge leap to make and one fraught with uncertainty, but instead of bemoaning my lack of contextual experience in the arts, I decided to create the context where I could gain the general management experience I desired. I crafted a fellowship structure that would allow me to do several 6-month ‘residencies’ at various cultural institutions, offering those organizations much-needed support while giving me the experience I need to successfully launch this new phase of my career.

I began to share my intention with as many people as I could.  One person with whom I shared this idea invited me to an event hosted by the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center.  While there, I introduced myself randomly to someone and 10 minutes into the conversation I realized I was being interviewed – for the role of a full-time apprentice Managing Director of a performing arts organization here in NYC.  The role would allow me to shadow the founder/creative director of the organization for at least a year before assuming the role of Executive Director of the organization.  It would be almost like doing a fellowship.  What you have to understand is that I didn’t mention my original fellowship idea at any point during my introduction or conversation.  But because I had created this as a possibility for myself, it showed up in my life.  While the story isn’t over yet — I still have another round of interviews to complete — the point is I manifested this opportunity by knowing what I was looking for, giving shape and form to my desire.  Because I knew what I wanted my next opportunity to look like, when I saw it, I recognized it and was prepared to take advantage. Regardless of the outcome, I am grateful for the opportunity and for the awareness with which I could approach it.

This is what you are capable of doing – creating your life.  A grown woman isn’t a grown woman because she is flawless, has all the answers and is always in control.  A grown woman is a grown woman because she is always empowered.  What gives us, as human beings, our power, is our ability to create–whether it’s a 30-minute culinary masterpiece or another human life.  So here’s to getting your swagger back, ladies.  You’ve got five months left in the year to create your next opportunity and make magic.


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