“You have to be the change you want to see in the world”, Gandhi

It all started with a piece I wrote for the Keith Haring Foundation. I was stunned into action, astounded by how much my talented and benevolent friend managed to accomplish in his very short 31 years on this planet. Twenty years after his death, the charities Keith was so actively involved in are still being supported by his foundation today. That is called making a real difference! I began digging deeper within to start realizing my own purpose in this lifetime. My quest brought me to New York for the spectacular WIE Symposium. My head is still spinning with the sheer volume of information from every possible avenue.

Panels on the future role of women in technology, becoming an entrepreneur, fashion: dressing and addressing, break out sessions for young innovators, telling women’s stories through film. The health, wellness, and spirituality panel, women in advocacy, women leading the way in business, and creative campaigning.

Women, little more than girls themselves, from all over the world sharing stories of unthinkable atrocities and how they are conquering adversity to facilitate change in their communities. Their phenomenal message being, “do not look at us as victims, look at us as the leaders that we are.”

Sarah Brown, wife of England’s former Prime Minister, addressing the Millennium Development Goals on meeting our promises to girls and women everywhere; and the adorable twelve year old girl from South Africa who brought us all to our feet in a standing ovation when she so eloquently shared about how important education is and what it means to her future, and ultimately to all of ours.

A mind-boggling gathering of the worlds most intelligent, creative, successful women mentoring others like me, still finding my way, and searching for how I might make a difference. Arianna Huffington, Glenda Bailey, Sheila C. Johnson, Donna Karan, Diane Von Furstenberg, Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, Marianne Williamson, Ashley Judd, Cathie Black, Susan Smith Ellis, June Sarpong MBE, Melinda Gates, Baroness Amos – and that is just a fraction of all the luminaries in attendance. With energy like that all in one place at one time, miracles happen! It was a jaw-dropping day, during which I took copious amounts of notes and over 350 photographs from the front row while clarity began to spark in my mind over an idea I have for helping homeless women and children called “Tweet to Eat.” I’ll write more about that as it develops.

It is such a massive undertaking to process all of the events of the day, let alone describe it in an intelligible, concise manner here for you. Even though words and food are my medium, I am a visual thinker. I use my photographs to spark memories and ideas as the writing flows. That is my process, so I sit here with a lump in my throat, deeply saddened that these photos are lost. I tried, but unfortunately they were irretrievable from the camera’s memory card.

It is way too much information for just one blog anyway. As I slowly digest the magnitude of inspiration I experienced, I’ll continue to hope for my computer (and photos) safe return, and I will share insights with you bit by bit. In the meantime I’ll share one of my personal highlights of the day.

I felt such joy to see Christy Turlington Burns again. We originally met when she was just sixteen years old, shooting Duran Duran’s Notorious video and album cover, and I was heavily pregnant with Tatjana. As always, Christy’s inner beauty manages to outshine her impossibly gorgeous outer beauty. The supermodel, CARE advocate, and founder of EveryMotherCounts.org has directed a documentary on maternal health originally screened at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring, and is set to air during Mother’s Day on Oprah’s new network. ‘No Woman, No Cry’ is an enormous accomplishment inspired by her own personal experience, that will hopefully raise awareness and put an end to the unnecessary maternal mortality rates that soar out of control in so many countries.

It was a poignant moment when Christy threw her arms around me and asked how my daughter is doing after hearing her speak so passionately for women who might not otherwise have a voice. It really hit home that I never once worried about my own pregnancy, because I was fortunate enough to live in a country where advanced medical care is readily available. I am once again reminded of the tremendous blessings in my life, and the extraordinary people who bring them to my attention.

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  • October 1, 2010
    12:42 pm

    It sounds like it was such a truly inspirational event that you were lucky to be a part of and I am hoping to hear a lot more about it soon.

  • October 1, 2010
    8:49 pm

    Like the jacketCarly Guerrero

  • October 1, 2010
    8:50 pm

    It was a Keith Haring jacket I modeled for Harpers. It also happened to be the day I found out I was pregnant with Tatjana, so fitting!

  • October 1, 2010
    8:51 pm

    LOL, did you ever keep any of the clothes from shoots? You are quite the dresserCarly Guerrero

  • October 1, 2010
    8:52 pm

    Wow, I remember that photo.Suzanne Voelker

  • October 1, 2010
    8:53 pm

    Actually, Sarah Brown is quoting Gandhi, but it isl a good quote. I have a minor in women's studies — I would have just lapped at the pool of feminine strength and empowerment in that room. AWESOME! Thanks for sharing.Veronika Stevens

  • October 1, 2010
    8:56 pm

    Thanks Veronika – I made the correction! They will hopefully be doing one of these symposiums every year, so you should try to join us next year! Click on the WIE link, and sign up to join.Carly – you rascal, no, I very rarely got to keep the clothes from shoots, but I usually got lucky when I did shows. Azzadine was partcularly generous that way. I still have everything he gave me.

  • October 1, 2010
    11:10 pm

    And WELL you should. Alia's clothes are TIMELESS!!Justin Owls

  • October 1, 2010
    11:11 pm

    Wish my figure were too, so I could actually WEAR them!

  • October 2, 2010
    1:49 am

    What an amazing time you had in NYC. Great minds, wonderful, brilliant ideas and the most important thing….it brought everyone together. What a deep moment in time. Wish I could have been there. Again, so sorry for the photos. I'm feeling that lump in my throat too. Hope they and that computer re-surface. Fingers crossed.Aussie MumP.S. It does not matter that you may not fit into those old clothes. As long as you are healthy and happy with yourself, that is all that matters. We all love you anyway (in cyberland), just the way you are.

  • October 2, 2010
    2:32 pm

    Hi Julie Anne!It sounds like it was such a "girl power" event. Thanks for sharing. I like reading your blog.P.S.Did you mean Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates? ;)Joanna Janeta

  • October 2, 2010
    4:22 pm

    Hi Joanna – yes, and thank you for correcting me. I wrote that on my ancient PC, and was so frustrated with it taking triple the time it takes on my Mac(it was very late by the time I finished) that I didn't check it as carefully as I should have. There were a few very brave men there too! It was never meant to exclude men, just that the focus is on helping women find their voice – to help empower those (with good health care, education etc.) in countries that typically are not heard. Boys and men are integral to helping that happen!

  • October 2, 2010
    4:41 pm

    Was she sixteen then??? Wow! How young!Isabel Ortiz Bernad

  • October 2, 2010
    4:45 pm

    She was so young, but I remember thinking how poised she was and what a gracious young woman. There was a wisdom beyond her years emminating from her.

  • October 2, 2010
    5:55 pm

    Wow awesomeShannon Marie Moyer

  • October 2, 2010
    9:08 pm

    Notorious has always been my favourite DD album cover. I think that the photo is great, the outfits, the haircuts… Best image of the band ever, very smart 🙂 I used to dress like that back then, haha! And went to their 1987 (only ever) gig here dressed like that! 😛 Things we do when we are young!Isabel Ortiz Bernad

  • October 3, 2010
    5:22 pm

    I take it, it went well?Carly Guerrero

  • October 3, 2010
    5:22 pm

    I love the homeless women idea, I always have been a huge advocate in feeding the homeless downtown (I never talk about it though) and donating good, used clothes that my children out wear. I give directly or a non-profit organization because I don't want any money made off the stuff. I also have to make sure the clothes are NOT raggy @ all. My life IS blessed :)Carly Guerrero

  • October 3, 2010
    5:33 pm

    People tend to look past the homeless as if they were invisible. I can't help stopping to imagine what life on the streets must be like for them – especially vulnerable children and women. Many of these women are not mentally ill, drug addicts, or too lazy to hold a job (which if they are – they need rehabilitation, not forced into a human scrap yard). Often they are escaping abusive households, working more than one job trying to make ends meet, but just one sick child and the hospital bills that follow could put anyone of us without insurance out there – none of us are immune.

  • October 3, 2010
    6:16 pm

    That true it can happen to the best of people. We dont know where life will take us t n e given time thats y i try not to judge n e oneShannon Marie Moyer

  • October 3, 2010
    6:17 pm

    I agree 100%. Like I've said before, we are blessed for having the 6 kids and only Brent working, and no welfare (not a bad thing if women need it). My daughter right now is on the street and this is one reason that I appreciated you mentioning this. I don't know where she is but her's is selfish and it's killing me. People on the streets come from ALL walks and yes people are to easy to look down and walk right past the asking voice or held out hand (Portland is a very huge % rate of homeless). I want to help everyone I can…..Carly Guerrero

  • October 3, 2010
    6:18 pm

    my poin to that I hope someone will help my daughter too where I obviously can'tCarly Guerrero

  • October 3, 2010
    6:26 pm

    Carly – I hope she comes home soon. I was the daughter from hell at her age too (I had some lessons to learn the hard way, that my family and school just couldn't teach me). I'd like to think I eventually turned out okay, so don't give up on her. Your attitude is spot on – by helping others, someone out there will hopefully be doing the same for your daughter.

  • October 3, 2010
    6:46 pm

    Wow im getting chills n tears its nice to know that there r wonderful people out there like all of u who truly care. Im the same way.Shannon Marie Moyer

  • October 3, 2010
    7:45 pm

    Calendaring the next one and Jewels, you're always an earth angel!Cynthia Occelli

  • October 3, 2010
    11:46 pm

    It's so true that the homeless are out there for so many different reasons. At one point my aunt and her kids were on the streets because of my alcoholic uncle, and they didn't tell family because of the shame, and the way my extended family just is. Knowing how my uncle lived on the streets too, and that he never worked (he panhandled to buy drugs and booze, and my aunt worked to pay the bills), I am often hesitant about just giving money though, because I don't want to enable the behavior that keeps them trapped, you know? I try to help in ways that will help give their kids food or keep them warm, mostly giving to food pantries and to the electric company's benevolence fund.We went through time where my husband's very good job as an engineer suddenly disappeared, and we needed help too…it can hit anyone and everyone, especially with this economy.Have you noticed lately, one small way to help, at the grocery store (I see it at Meijer and at Krogers right now mostly), there are gift cards for the food pantry that you can grab, and donate to the food pantry locally after you check out? I have taken to rounding up my grocery bill to the nearest 10, and giving to those less fortunate. Just a little, easy way we can help someone in need every week.

  • October 4, 2010
    12:12 am

    Mari – I worked briefly with a fabulous non profit here in LA that helps women and children get back on their feet – I heard your Aunt's story so many times it broke my heart.It is so much easier to take for granted that people brought homelessness on themselves than to take the time and responsibility to care. It is so not the case the majority of the time, and it is a travesty that people go hungry every day right under our noses.I will look for the cards at my grocery store Mari, and ask my clients if I can round their bills up too. At least it is a start – every little bit helps. Thank you for sharing that with us!