Dare to Be You: There is no Right or Wrong Path to Freedom

Real women leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are extroverted, fierce, and outspoken; others are introverted, quiet, and gentle. Some dream of impacting millions, online; others love the delicate and deep connections that only happen in intimate and in-person settings, or away from people, in nature. Some thrive when redirecting the mainstream; others are on fire when working on the front lines, in the trenches, or in the margins, devoted to leaving no girl or woman behind.

It doesn’t end there. Some love to work with millennials and professionals; others feel most devoted to babies, children, and motherhood, or to women in their third act of life. Some focus primarily on women and their unique struggles; others work with both genders and get to the heart of the issues that affect us all.

The Common Denominator

In spite of their differences and the intersectional and non-binary complexities involving gender (too many to note them all), they have this in common. Each one of these brave trailblazers has run into obstacles—be it glass ceilings in their field or glass cages in terms of social rules. From birth on, they’ve been subjected to cultural notions of how to behave and act, and what to expect out of life as girls and women.

None of us are born with special immunity to patriarchal influences. You are therefore not broken or less-then for becoming aware of how you’ve been affected by gender inequality, for having human emotions in response to this oppression, and for learning to use your sane symptoms as guidance and momentum to do the work that’s needed to deeply heal yourself and these age-old patterns.

Some have dealt with additional -isms related to race, class, age, nationality, homophobia, and religion that complicated their journey toward freedom even more. Most, like you, are still exploring and dissolving traces of cultural imprints that messed with their psyches, self worth, feminine power, and body image.

They learned how to keep going in spite of the harmful stereotypes, confusion, self-blame, and misogynistic attitudes and encounters that crossed their path, and that unfortunately, still cross every woman’s path. By digging deep into their unique treasure troves of love and wisdom, they accessed the inner guidance, strength, and resources they needed to empower themselves and carve out their unique path to freedom in the outer world.

Can you imagine a world where all women are treated and compensated as equals in every setting and industry? A world full of pathways for the next generation of women leaders, whose visibility and triumphs are no longer hindered or held up by roadblocks, speed bumps, detours, dead-ends or death threats?

Trust Yourself, Rely on Your Tribe

The soul callings, pieces of advice, favorite books and flair of these daring and determined women are unique to each. Yet, there seems to be a unifying thread that weaves through the advice that they share: to trust yourself and to connect with and rely on a tribe for support.

Remember, BEING YOU inadvertently means that you and your mentors and peers won’t see eye-to-eye on every single thing. May you feel inspired by at least one like-minded soul sister and her supportive tribe and receive a few gems of advice that could enhance YOUR LIFE. Their courage and heart’s work have been instrumental in helping me shatter layer upon limiting layer and soar to heights I never imagined possible.

1). Evelyn Asher, MBA, creative communication strategist, wordsmith, multiple award-winning business consultant and executive coach at www.evelynasher.com, helps women in technology enhance their soft skills to gain a seat at the table and creates community for brilliant 60+ women in The Third Act: Pathways to Resilience.

Evelyn’s advice: “there are no ready-made maps to the top, especially for those in the first two stages of their career. No matter where you are today, the real takeaway is this: don’t look at your career as a succession of jobs to land, look at your decisions as a portfolio of experience to build.” – excerpt from The CEO Next Door

Favorite book: The CEO Next Door, by Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Bowell with Tahl Ray

2). Kerra L. Bolton, freelance writer, journalist and CNN contributor at www.kerrabolton.com, provides provocative, thoughtful news analysis and commentary about politics, social justice, and cultural trends in the United States and exclusive branded content to travel, lifestyle, and social sector organizations.

Kerra’s advice: her favorite saying comes from the Anne of Green Gables movie: “Joy is not what you get from the world. It’s what you bring to it.” We think that we will be happy once we get something, but our real joy is bringing our gifts, our talents, and ourselves in full service to the world.

Favorite book: any book by Toni Morrison

3). Julie Suzanne Brokken, artist, poet, photographer at www.juliebrokken.com, shares her vision of delicate and courageous wisdom, sacred laughter, and the deep, mystical, elemental beauty and medicine of the Divine Feminine to nourish, strengthen, and inspire your innately resilient, wild and joyful soul.

Julie’s advice: spend time connecting to Mama Nature so that you may know yourself as part of the intricate and resplendent web of life. Introspect, practice mindfulness, pay attention, cultivate resilience, trust your intuition. Be courageously vulnerable. Be open to grace. Breathe. Soften. Accept. Allow. Keep moving forward.

Favorite book: Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

4). Kim Carpenter, Founder of World Changing Women at www.WorldChangingWomen.com, provides the support ecosystem for world changing women entrepreneurs, which includes mentorship and membership programs that help women to stand out, scale up and make the impact they were born to make.

Her advice: find your tribe of authentic women who truly support you. This has been the key to my success. Women in my life really have my back. I could not be where I am today without all of the support, guidance, mentorship, love and hugs I have received along the way. They constantly inspire me to keep going when times are hard.

Favorite book: Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers.

5). Sharline Chiang, writer, editor, publicist, communications strategist, mother at www.sharlinechiang.com, is dedicated to creating and lifting up stories about the experiences of people of color in this country, especially women of color.

Sharline’s advice: put yourself—your happiness, health and well-being—first: every day. Invest in self-care. It may sound selfish but once you truly place yourself at the center of your own life, you become your own greatest love. Everything else starts to fall into place and you will no longer have to exert as much effort trying to manage everything (and everyone) at once, trying to “make things happen” and risk burnout. You will be happier, healthier and begin to live life fully in the present.

Favorite book. The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston

6). Andi Forness, online dating coach at www.andiforness.com, helps women discover their relationship-sabotaging tendencies and teaches them how to use online dating successfully so they can finally find their guy and fall madly in love.

Andi’s advice: remember you are WOMAN and remember to lead from your feminine foundation instead of leading from masculine energy: threats, nagging, power plays, ultimatums and hard sales. All of which feel crummy to implement and isn’t particularly effective when a woman attempts to execute those strategies. Effective women leaders have learned and mastered how to lead from their feminine power to create community and invite others to support them and their mission.

PS. It works with dating and romantic relationships too!

Favorite Book: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

7). Cordelia Gaffar, holistic life coach, parenting expert, world-class speaker and international best-selling author at www.workoutaroundmyday.com, helps women sweet talk themselves from chaos into calm and shows them how to build a sanctuary that nourishes, energizes, and helps them achieve active, blissful, and fulfilled lifestyles with her Body Soul Shift signature program.

Cordelia’s advice: always consider the source of who is “offering” advice. Are they worthy enough, accomplished enough or understand your vision enough? If not, go with your own heart.

Favorite book: The Legs Are the Last to Go, by Diahann Carroll

8). Tomar Levine, MFA, intuitive life purpose and empowerment coach, artist, speaker, and contributing author of Overcomers at www.SoulGuidanceForYourBusiness.com, helps visionary women –- including late bloomers and Divine Misfits –– heal their wounds, clarify their purpose, and access the power of their soul to become beacons of light in the world.

Tomar’s advice: when you feel fear, instead of telling yourself “I’m scared,” say “a part of me is scared.” As soon as you do that, you shift from believing you are the scared one to becoming the witness, able to see, hold, and extend compassion and love to the one who is scared. We are made of many parts and each one, in turn, calls itself “I.” But really, “I” is the larger self that contains them all. Keep returning to that center.

Favorite book: Inspired & Unstoppable, by Tama Kieves.

9). Katie Mottram, published author of Mend the Gap: A Transformative Journey from Deep Despair to Spiritual Awakening, speaker and international movement founder of www.emergingproud.com, encourages and empowers peers with the help of her message and documentary to ’emerge proud’ with their personal stories to offer HOPE of not just recovery, but transformation to themselves and others.

Katie’s advice: don’t be afraid to sink out of head and into heart thinking; for this is where your truth hides, where your Soul whispers. Jump off that cliff; trust your intuition and be validated in doing so by a growing new world that values vulnerability and authenticity. This is real kick-ass strength. Dare to be your inner feminine ninja and reap the rewards of the energetic Universe.

Favorite book: Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown

10). Michal Spiegelman, intuitive transformation mentor, certified professional coach, Reiki Master at www.beaconsofchange.com, emboldens women to create turning points so that they can feel free, light, and fulfilled, and live at full power.

Michal’s advice: don’t let anything or anyone dim your light. You were born to be a beacon, a source of light and a guide to others. When life offers challenges, connect to your inner light (beacon in), rise and shine, so you can share your light with the world in a bigger way (beacon out). We have a world to change. When we stay connected to the light, we raise the vibration in the world, one woman at a time.

Favorite book: Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown

11). Barb Buckner Suárez, LCCE, FACCE, Becoming Us Facilitator, health educator, writer, coach and presenter at www.bbsuarez.com, is passionate about all things bellies, birth and babies, and believes that all women who choose to be mothers open themselves up to the gifts of vulnerability and strength that come in raising the next generation of humans.

Barb’s advice: In the age of “Pinterest Parenting,” it’s more important than ever to be REAL rather than RIGHT. We were never meant to parent in isolation, so find your live and local “tribe” who will support you in this most sacred work of mothering. Understand that while many “experts” have ideas about how to parent children, none of them will ever know your child the way you do. Trust yourself.

Favorite book: Becoming Us: 8 Steps to Grow a Family That Thrives, by Elly Taylor.

12). Jessica Valor, speaker, business strategist, master energy healer and mentor at www.jessicavalor.com, delivers programs to thousands of women and men entrepreneurs every year on the topics of conscious leadership, intuitive intelligence and personal development.

Jessica’s advice: you are Sacred. By awakening to the true power living within, you accelerate your Divine purpose. You are here to share your Essence and leave a legacy. Now is the time for you to align your intentions with your direction and commitments. Your success is measured by the breaths you take that are centered in love and by choosing to be available for what you truly desire.

Favorite book: Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton

13). Deva Vidya, way-shower, high priestess, published author of Awaken, Priestess! and intuitive healer at www.Deva-Vidya.com, leads women’s gatherings in the Way of the Sacred Feminine, where she calls the Tribe of Sisterhood to hear and heed the call, reclaim their power and awaken to their innate truth and wisdom.

Deva Vidya’s advice: “we must witness our behavior and recognize when we step out of our truth and power. We must take responsibility for our own actions. When we blame the other and/or are attached to our expectations of how they should be or what they should do, we make ourselves victims. It does not help to make others wrong or change, for what brings us back to our center is making changes that are healthy and loving for ourselves.” – excerpt from Awaken, Priestess!

Favorite book: The Presence Process: A Healing Journey Into Present Moment Awareness, by Michael Brown

14). Dr. Jo Anne White, international bestselling author, speaker, certified life, business and spiritual coach, energy master teacher, executive producer/host of Power Your Life Radio and TV at www.drjoannewhite.com, helps you transform and consciously and holistically create more success and wellness in every area of your life, work and business.

Dr. Jo Anne’s advice: trust in your inner awareness and unique creative gifts that nudge you, loudly or silently, to unearth your genius, unleash your brilliance and fearlessly share you with the world.

Favorite book: Rise Sister Rise: A Guide to Unleashing the Wise, Wild Woman Within, by Rebecca Campbell

Be (a) Well Bonus Resource: Learn to BE at least 1 degree more PRESENT in WHOLENESS than in wounding so that you can resist with resilience and persist with passion and purpose.

Visit Loraine Van Tuyl’s online home-base, the Sacred Healing Well, for free gifts and laser-sharp guidance: her elegant soul alchemy action map, a barrier-busting meditation, and the first chapter of her book, Amazon Wisdom Keeper: A Psychologist’s Memoir of Spiritual Awakening.

Check out her private Facebook group, Empowering Gaia’s Goddesses & Global Game-changers, for true sisterly support from high-caliber women leaders from all walks of life and fields. Step up your game and expand with Gaia’s grace and guidance with her Soul Sanctuary Alchemy self-empowerment course. Game-changing playbook and sign-up list here.

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  • Loraine Van Tuyl, PhD, CHT

    I empower sensitive wise trailblazers with soul authority tools to heal from oppressive patterns and restore trust in their heart compass.


    Hello! I'm honored to offer my guidance in this forum and sincerely hope that it will help you BE (a) WELL so that your wellspring of self-love, wholeness and clarity spills over to everyone around you.   I'm a shamanic ecopsychologist, Depth Hypnosis practitioner, and author of Amazon Wisdom Keeper: a Psychologist’s Memoir of Spiritual Awakening. My second book, Soul Authority: Liberatory Tools to Heal from Oppressive Patterns and Restore Trust in our Heart Compass will be released in the spring of 2022 (North Atlantic Books).   I believe that the most effective way to heal and renature our spiritually-arid, denatured patriarchal world is to excavate and support our deep wells of wisdom, dreams, and game-changing missions. My two-decade devotion to awakening sensitive old souls has led to the empowerment of hundreds of trailblazers in psychology, holistic health, academia, the arts, social justice and entrepreneurship.   My work has appeared in Thrive Global, Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and Byrdie. I have presented and provided trainings to master- and doctorate level therapists and healers at the UC Berkeley Counseling Center, the American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and the Native American Health Center. I've also enjoyed providing meditations and guidance as a guest expert for numerous podcasts, radio shows, and women’s groups nationwide.