All posts by Victoria Reeves

Global Communications Consultant, Writer, Speaker, Artist, and International Traveler. I have been to 15 countries, so far, alone. I travel inwardly through writing, making my Journey Dolls, yoga, qi gong and hours of quiet meditation. In my more interactive moments, I act as a conduit, providing inspiration and clarity through my work as a writer, consultant, and speaker.

Announcing: Prosperity Career Coaching

After taking a “Design your Own Weebly Website” class at my local public library, and spending literally 95 hours developing my first professional website, I am happy to present:

http://www.prosperitycareercoaching.com/

WORDS ARE POWERFUL! Does your message stand out from the crowd?
Are you a…….
VISIONARY?
ENTREPRENEUR?
Soon to be – High School and College GRADUATE?
CAREER CHANGER?
MIDLIFE RE-INVENTOR?
Professional seeking WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
BUSINESS OWNER?

Check out
http://www.prosperitycareercoaching.com/
to learn about the fantastic Business Writing, Personal Branding and Career Path Coaching Services. A passionate and experienced Wordsmith, I offer a unique blend of Mindful Mentoring and Pragmatic Business Expertise.

I would love to help you put words around your vision, your passion and your dream career.  Let’s open doors to your future together!

Please contact Victoria at WordsmithVictoria@gmail.com

Hope, Diversity, Civil Rights and the Future of America

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

I would like to add “powerless”, “victimized”, “hopeless” and 100 other words to Ms Roosevelt’s empowering statement – on this day when I see my beloved United States of America portrayed as a racist, xenophobic, heartless oligarchy in the international media. I am embarrassed to be an American for the first time in my 52 years on the planet.

As a Caucasian woman married to an African-American man, who has consulted international clients from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and Poland for the past 20 years, diversity is intertwined in the fabric of WHO I AM.

When I engage, connect, and unify with these sacred members of the human family, we transcend race, religion, country of origin, politics, education.  We find that place of familiarity, that sisterhood and brotherhood that is imminent, powerful, transformative.

As a Global Communications Consultant, I literally meet new international students, professionals, housewives and travelers every day, both in person and on Skype/Facetime. This has given me a unique perspective on the election, our North American way of life, issues happening across the globe and the interconnected nature of our world in 2017.

When I see Trump banning asylum for Syrian refugees for the next 90 days, I think of my Syrian clients and friends, their divided families, the possibility of loved ones abroad dying from violence, starvation, illness.  When I hear about “The Wall”, I think of the 100’s of Mexican factory workers who were part of my ESL classes on the South and West Sides of Chicago.  I think of their families, their neighborhoods in Pilsen, or their aged mother or father back home in Cuernavaca who is dependent on that monthly wire transfer.  These are not abstractions on Fox News – these are real people and real stories and Trump’s ridiculous policies will have financial, medical, educational and life threatening implications on these mothers, fathers, employees, students, voters, community members.

Working with this global population over the years, there have been hundreds of intense discussions of geopolitical issues.  In this context, I am often called upon to act as a cultural liaison and to “represent”.

BUT I

CAN

NOT

REPRESENT:

  • This administration.
  • These distorted “values” of divisiveness, isolationism, poverty consciousness (we have to protect US interests) and oppression of everyone who is not a white, male, conservative Christian.
  • This pervasive hatred and this narrow-minded view of our global reality.

I can not take this sitting down.  These impostors in the White House do not represent me or millions of other loving, conscious, intelligent American citizens.

Despite my daily trips to the gym, positive affirmations and overall optimistic spirit, this is a dark chapter and I have an immense need to DO SOMETHING.  So I will write letters to Paul Ryan and anybody else who can effect change on these issues.  I demonstrated in the International Women’s March on January 21 and will continue to demonstrate for Civil Rights, Human Rights, the Affordable Care Act, Immigration and Refugee Rights and a Woman’s Right to Choose the destiny of her life and that of her future possible children.  I will continue to blog here, and to engage in discourse IRL (in real life) and virtually.

I will love my neighbor.  I will yield to merging traffic.  I will say “thank you” to my Starbucks barista.  When the weather turns, I will once again sit outside of Barnes and Noble with my “Open Discourse – Weigh in on the State of the Nation” sign.  I will set up a card table and chairs and wait to see who sits down.  Then I will give each brave participant 5 minutes to share their thoughts – to vent or cry or celebrate.  This is how I can effect change in my own community.  This is how I can contribute to empowerment, hope and equality.

This is what democracy looks like.

Who am I, What Do I Have to Offer and Why Should People Care?

storytelling-wordle

Laptop open and hair pulled back, I sip on an Americano and act as a conduit for my clients. First appointments are usually tentative, as we find commonalities,craft a path and map out goals. Subsequent sessions often involve hugs or tears, and delightful transformation. Participating with gratitude and humility, I sit back and watch the rainbow of humanity cross my path at my “Starbucks office”.

Who do I work with and why do they come to me?

Engineers, CEO’s, accountants, teachers, lawyers, pharmacists, graphic designers, sound designers, construction workers and restaurant managers – all of whom want to: edit a resume or LinkedIn page, discover their “special sauce” or Personal Brand, reinvent themselves professionally or actualize entrepreneurial dreams.

At least these concrete tasks are what usually motivates clients to send me a text or email in response to one of my many online ads.

Students also seek out my consultation: high school students trying to write better papers, undergraduates applying for select graduate programs, and PhD candidates writing complex dissertations.

American and international geniuses from Europe, Asia and South America all show up, with carefully crafted documents and hopeful dreams of change for the future.

These are the demographic markers of the hundreds of people I have worked with for over 20 years, as a writing coach, editor, academic/business/life coach, content creator, and personal brand consultant. I have titles and my clients have titles, which bring us together and help propel our careers, but underneath it all is the PROCESS.

What I really DO, on a spiritual and “deep dive” level is hold out the metaphorical microphone to whoever is sitting in front of me – provide the time and space and silence and patience for them to FIND THEIR VOICE.

Putting words around:
memories-dreams-accomplishments-fears-realizations-stories-conclusions-assumptions-facts-theories. I hyphenated that list because that is what stream of consciousness feels like, one long, continuous idea that is like an audio loop in our MINDS, an undercurrent or theme that seems disconnected except that it wakes us up in the night and recurs in our journal entries. Pulling on our shirt tails like an insistent child that needs something.

So what I do is provide the container for my clients to finally slow down long enough to give that child a chance to be heard, to elaborate on that whim or to clearly spell out that conclusion. It is cathartic and rewarding and satisfying. Being heard. Realizing that you actually have something to say and that you matter.

Words are powerful. Clarity brings about change. Taking a mental sabbatical, whether for 2 hours or a year, gives us the opportunity to let go of the grocery list mentality and take a broader view of our lives.

This is the work of honing our vision, setting, re-setting and course correcting when our compass is off track. Assisting others in this clarification process is impactful and important work. My obsession with story-telling began as a kid. I remember listening to Studs Terkel on the radio, and reveling in how he drew out the oral histories of regular Americans. Now, at 52, I am blessed to have a calling that involves encouraging and assisting others to find their true north.

In the end – what else do we have to show for our time here on earth but our story, our message and the tribe we leave behind?

What is your story and how do you support your tribe in sharing theirs? I would feel honored if you could share your story or any other feedback with all of us – in the Comment Section below.

Peace.
Victoria
Writer. Coach. Human.

Embracing or Fighting Invisibility after 50

image

We all know that society treats women differently after a ‘certain age’. As younger women, many of us enjoyed the external validation that comes from turned heads, smiles or extra attention when we asked for assistance at stores. Even if we identify as feminists, it still feels good to go through your day like Marlo Thomas in ‘That Girl’! We may not even have realized how good this attention made us feel, until it was suddenly gone or reduced.

However, after about 50, there is often a feeling of invisibility around men, as if they don’t need or want to work for our attention any longer. Suddenly, we may have to wait longer at a counter to get help or go through an entire day with no banter with random men, like we had before. We notice this indifference, either deeply or on a surface level, relative to how dependent we were on men before ‘the change’.

Other societal messages can contribute to a feeling of questioning our relevance or roles at this time, including being replaced by younger workers, our kids needing us less than before or just a general feeling of being ‘out of the loop’.

As with most experiences in life, we always have a choice in terms of how we look at this. We can FIGHT or EMBRACE invisibility after 50.

Society teaches us to fight and struggle with getting older, to color our hair, spend $1000’s per year on face creams, antidotes to aging and gym memberships, all the while fading gracefully into the background in order to make way for the next generation.

huffingtonpost.com, salon.com and feministing.com have recently posted articles related to women and feeling invisible after 50. Some are angry and some offer hope about redefining ourselves.

Check out this thought-provoking piece written by Tira Harpaz:

http://feministing.com/2013/04/04/ageism-and-the-magical-invisibility-cloak/

My contention is that we can embrace this time as an opportunity to turn inward, free from the chore of gaining the approval of men or constantly focused on being of service to our families. In our ‘invisibility’, we can redefine what it means to be noticed and what we want to get noticed for. We can pay attention to ourselves, our own voices and find our lost selves. In other words, we can shift the paradigm on it’s ear and create our own 3rd chapter.

Let’s discuss fighting and embracing invisibility at our June 1st Midlife Reflection for Women MeetUp, 6:30 – 8:00pm, at Creative Coworking 922 Davis Street in Evanston $5 fee/cash only please. Share your thoughts and suggestions about noticing and being seen, and what kind of attention you are looking for in this chapter of your life. Please note that while we will touch on the challenges, the purpose of this group is to find solutions and support each other in the process.

First Time in Chicago: Women’s Wisdom – Rebirthing Ourselves with Soul

Women’s Wisdom – Rebirthing Ourselves with Soul
Balance. Integration. Expression.
Taught by Women’s Empowerment Coach, Memoirist and Journey Doll Artist – Victoria Reeves

image
Creativity and courage enable us to re-define ourselves in our evolution as women. Our roles may include girlfriend, wife, mother, employee, entrepreneur or friend, but who are we aside from those we love? We are not our mothers or grandmothers; we are a new generation of women. Transformative changes spur a nascent need to integrate our experiences into an actualized life path. Women’s Empowerment Coach, Journey Doll Maker, Memoir Writer and Soul Searcher Victoria Reeves will inspire you to visualize your ideal life and plan the steps to bring that vision into reality. Finding the words and images is the beginning. Sign up for all/some of the sessions in this 4 part series:

Session 1: Lecture/Discussion/Handouts – Cultural Messages/Icons of Women * Written Exploration on Changing Identities, Archetypes, and Tapping into Ancestral Power * VISION QUEST interactive event (ALREADY FINISHED)

Session 2 JUNE 8: Lecture/Discussion/Handouts – Creativity as a Vehicle for Healing * DOLL MAKING WORKSHOP! -make a Journey Doll that integrates where you have been and where you are going. All supplies included. Feel free to bring a piece of fabric, button, or bead to add to your doll.

Session 3: JULY 13 Lecture/Discussion/Handouts – Imagining and Affirming Your Synthesized Life * Affirmations as a Vehicle for Actualization * VISION BOARD WORKSHOP – to guide and remind us about our paths

Session 4: AUGUST 10 Lecture/Discussion/Handouts – Forming a Plan of Action * Coaching and Master Mind Activities * OPEN MIKE PERFORMANCE: 5 minute share about your journey/goals/plan in the form of a rap, poem, description, or visual art form * Master Mind activities

$40 per session, by reservation and payable in advance by PayPal to vesltraining@yahoo.com. Call or text Victoria at 206-617-5677 for more information and for private coaching information.

Joy Ride

image

There is no bad weather, just bad gear.”

Keeping this in mind, I put on my dark brown Frye Boots, heavy black sweat pants, two hoodies and a black army-navy surplus outer shell. I strap on my sparkly orange helmet and lined gloves, swing one leg over the leather seat and mount my Suzuki TS250X. It is a cold but sunny Sunday and I have a rare 6 hours free.

Sudden October winds almost push me off of Green Bay Road, and into the oncoming traffic, as yellow and orange leaves swirl down onto the road ahead of me. “All Things Considered” streams into my white earbuds, as I drive further and further north, away from my gorgeous but draining home.

“The Field Museum will sponsor a lecture about the shrinking bee population world-wide, and how this has affected pollination and reduced crop yields”, and then, “The Ebola virus has come to America and the implications are frightening,”

The silver gas tank warms the inside of my thighs as I speed up, hitting the open road. Mile by mile, I increase the distance between my body and mind and the city. Somebody, somewhere, has a wood stove or a fireplace working, and I peal through a short corridor of distant smoke.

“According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter in Chicago could be even colder than last, with record-breaking temperatures.”

I wonder why I always listen to NPR, a constant stream of words and ideas, many of them negative and fearful, and about things I can’t even control anyway.

Here it is early October, and just last night we had snow and freezing temperatures. It feels as if the city is standing on a precipice, staring down into a canyon of fear about the future: cold, broke, sick, under or unemployed, mad about government policies and spending, afraid of drive-by’s and concealed weapons and worried about saving up enough money for Christmas.

Hand on throttle, wind slipping in under my plastic face shield, loud noise of the engine drowning on the radio as I accelerate, I balance myself on the bike and speed off into the unknown, away from mini-malls, mail boxes with overdue bills and a sink full of dirty dishes.

On the bike, I am a solo traveler, an adventurer out for a weekend ride, a dark-clad image speeding through small towns and down country roads, a kind stranger who is up for anything.

Seattle to Chicago – Speeding Up and Slowing Down

imageAfter struggling to survive in the fourth most expensive city in the USA (Seattle) for the past 6 years, we finally decided to pack up our meager belongings and take the 2000 mile journey back to our hometown, Chicago. Chicago, where the average salary is closer to $40,000 a year vs $100,000 for an entry level engineer at Amazon. Chicago, where plumbers, gardeners, teachers, lawyers and Walmart workers all live on the same street. Chicago, where I can hear 5 languages when I enter the Harvest Time Foods family grocery store, including Spanish on the piped-in radio station.  Chicago, where I just experienced a glorious month of August, swimming in Lake Michigan and spending every day at the beach, reading fun novels and letting the sun heal me.

I have done this journey before, always alone with my son Avante, packing up a truck full of stuff, attaching a tow dolly, driving the car onto it and hauling the entire load across mountains, deserts and lone stretches of road where “no services” signs bring up fears of breaking down on a 90 degree day far from a town. My husband Johnny always flew before us, setting up a job, a place, finding a community.

I have moved from Portland to Chicago, from Chicago to Seattle and now from Seattle back to Chicago, criss-crossing the country over a 10 year period of time, trying to find a home where all three of us (mom, dad and son) can find our way, make friends, learn, grow, prosper, and be healthy. If I could get back the expenses for gas, hotels, truck rentals, security deposits, and start up fees for utilities, we could have probably put it down on a house somewhere, set up shop,
built a home and a business and a life for ourselves…

But we didn’t. We were and are gypsies, acquirers of experience and friends and music and art and festivals and new foods and new languages. We are rich in memories and references, great at conversation and story telling, funny and vibrant and full of life. We have always done what we wanted to do and followed our bliss and up until now, this act of ‘living our right livelihood’ has made perfect sense.

Up until now. In about 30 days, I will have the honor of celebrating my 50th birthday, and this has brought up all sorts of questions about where a person is supposed to be at 50, what they should
have accomplished, what they should OWN and what this birthday means in a global/celestial sense. Lots of fun topics that used to keep me up at night before I enrolled in this 35,000 Calorie Challenge at my YMCA. I have to exercise, hard, for an hour a day, for 100 days straight. Today is day #10 and I have alternated with water aerobics and 10 mile bike rides, every other day. These days I sleep like a baby, out of exhaustion.

However, the questions still tug at me.

Who evaluates our success? Us or society? How much is enough to have earned, accomplished, experienced? Why are we satisfied with what we have at certain points, and woefully disappointed in our lot on other days? Especially when it is the same lot, the same job, the same apartment, the same family.

But it is not the same. I am new here, in my old/new city. Trying to find work and friends and sanctuary in a fast-paced world. Trying to fill my days with structure and purpose and productivity, whether it’s cooking for my family, working with a student or sculpting my body at the Y. Either way, I just want to feel at home in my skin, in my relationships, in my two-flat apartment with it’s wood floors and 1902 wainscoting trim around the ceilings. Waiting to exhale and hopefully stay put for a while – my spirit and pocketbook can’t endure much more change.