Monday, February 18, 2008

Journey to India

In just a few day I will depart for a three week journey to India. I have never been to India before, except in my dreams.

My trip unfolds in two distinct parts. First I will travel for twelve days with my husband, celebrating our 20th anniversary by touring the incredible historical sights of the Rajasthan region: the Taj Mahal; Ranthambhore National Park; the Amber Fort and City Palace in Jaipur; Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace in the "Blue City" of Jodhpur; and Devigath Palace, Eklingji Temple and Nathswara Temples in Udaipur. These names feel so rich and exotic on my tongue and it feels like a dream that I will actually walk on their ancient pathways.

Then I will travel back to Jaipur to participate in the 'Making Way for the Feminine for the Benefit of the World Community'. This global summit of 400 women, men and young people from around the world will bring together leaders from a variety of diverse communities - spiritual, governmental, academic, policy makers, development professionals, human rights experts and young community leaders - to reflect upon what women have to offer that is different that can help steer the world community onto a new course. It is being organized by Global Peace Initiative of Women ( as a celebration of their five year anniversary.

Joyce Oneko of Kenya is traveling to Jaipur so she can speak about the intense situation in her country; women in the U.S. donated the funds to make her trip possible. Janet Pinto from Mubai will be my roommate and Indira Ghale is coming from Nepal to represent Dalit women. Elinore Dettiger and I plan to share a pot of tea and have a long chat.

I realize I have entered that interesting phase on the cusp of a grand journey that my friend Clare Peterson describes as the 'antechamber' -- the space between two radically diverse points in time and space. I feel I am not quite here and I am not yet there. The only option is to float along with the current and enjoy the ride.

Last night I gathered in sacred circle with a group of friends who each contributed a small treasure to a 'traveling altar' for my trip. Ginny, who tuned in by speaker phone from her new home on Vancouver Island, sent a small copy of a painting she did recently with haunting images of hands reaching out to make connection. Barbara was able to join us from Juneau, Alaska and brought a card describing the goddess quality of "Strength". Andrea's gift was a brilliant blue heart within a heart and images of three powerful Hindu goddesses. Joy shared an amulet that I can wear around my neck reminding me that I am protected by angels. Charlotte made a tiny folding paper altar with the words of Confucius: 'Wherever you go, there you are.'

I know that somewhere in India at some time in the coming weeks, I will set up my traveling altar and invite magical women there to light a candle and link their hearts with the hearts of these wonderful women from home. We will have a lived experience of the wise words spoken by Fred Molle, our driver in Tanzania in December 2006:

All women
Whole world
Same, Same.
I am so blessed.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The courage and wisdom of the world's women

In the past few days, I have been deeply touched by the courage and wisdom of two remarkable women I know in different parts of the world. Their stories are as different as the challenges they face, yet both are showing up fully to do what needs to be done.

My friend Joyce Oneko is a remarkable woman leader who is at this moment waking up every morning to the daunting realities of life in Kenya. She is working to try to bring food and basic supplies to the 'displaced persons' living at Mathare Camp near the slums of Nairobi; she is helping to plan a complex effort to transport 1,200 women and children out of camps and back to their ancestral homes; and she is personally sheltering women from ethnic violence in her home.

In a long report she just broadcast to her friends in the U.S. and Europe, she describes "Everyday of the week, I keep thinking we will wake up and find all this has disappeared and we are back to normal again. There are such horrific stories that sometimes it is like we are in a movie theatre, watching horror movies. ... How do I stay sane, and how do I stay the course? "

I know Joyce and I know that she WILL stay the course. It is what Joyce has always done day in and day out in the face of incredible challenges long before this particular nightmare began in Kenya. She stays the course and she does it with a lovely smile, with keen intelligence and with a deep understanding of the heart of the people and the land of her beloved country.

On another continent, my good friend Janet Pinto in Mumbai, India is living out another kind of feminine story of 'staying the course'. She is providing full time care to her elderly mother who has experienced a series of serious health problem over the past year. Janet has stepped away from her work in the world as an organizational development consultant; she has declined numerous invitations to travel internationally and to participate in global leadership opportunities; and she has focused her attention on providing consistant and loving care for her mum 24 hours a day.

Janet and I talk every Friday, and she tells me about the challenges and joys of this kind of commitment. "Sometimes, I feel like I am disappearing," she says. "Yet, this is the kind of sacrifice my mum made for me when I was little and this is what I will do for her."

I don't think that Janet thinks of herself as courageous or bold at this moment. I know from my conversations with her that she has begun to feel quite 'invisible' to the rest of the world, just as millions of women on every continent feel invisible as they commit themselves day in and day out to the details of caring for dependent loved ones. Our diverse cultures seem to share in failing to acknowledge this powerful form of leadership which requires great stamina, patience, self-sacrifice and compassion.

To Joyce and Janet: I am honored and blessed to know both of you. You and your loved ones are in my prayers.

To all the women of the world: Your unique leadership contributions are seen and valued. You are NOT invisible as you 'stay the course'.


Friday, February 1, 2008

At the Intersection of Sovereign and Sacred

Now is the time and we are the women who have come to lead our Earth back to Herself.
Now is the time to fully surrender to your own leadership.

Join Kathe Schaaf

At the Intersection of Sovereign and Sacred
A Journey of Surrender to Your Most Authentic Leadership

This is a unique opportunity, limited to 25 brave women…
to gather in sacred space and explore
your own edges of creative impulse and persistent resistance.

Saturday ~ May 3, 2008
9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
$85 includes lunch

The McCharles House ~ A Center for Living
335 South C Street
Tustin, CA 92780

Come together
in the energy of the new moon at the heart of Old Towne Tustin
surrounded by the peaceful beauty of the McCharles House and its gardens
in the company of deeply wise women
to explore your emerging identity
and celebrate your commitment to your divine assignment.

Register online at
For inquiries or information, call 949- 300-7060

This is the first workshop of a three part leadership series being offered by Kathe Schaaf in multiple locations across the U.S. in 2008. Kathe is a co-founder of Gather the Women, a global community of grassroots women leaders who have both inspired and informed her understanding of authentic leadership for the past six years.
For a peek at the remarkable venue where we will gather, visit