When was the last time you expressed yourself without holding back? How did it feel? Maybe you spent ten minutes on an artistic practice that brought peace to a hectic day. Or maybe you had a tough conversation that brought needed change. Either way, you’ll be better off–and so will your community–the more you express who you are.
This year I’ve been learning a powerful lesson: You can’t make the world better till you get comfy with your voice. “Doing good” can mean a lot of things, of course. To me it runs the gamut between infusing positivity, sparking authentic dialogue, forming community, or even just making spaces prettier. (That’s right: I’m an unapologetic enthusiast of people who generate beauty. I’m proud to live in a metro area where a visitor’s association hires a yarn bomber to decorate the local hockey rink.)
I’m equally proud to live in a city that’s home to one particular badass. Her name is Ivy Kaminsky and she founded a nonprofit called Find Your Power, which “connects underrepresented women worldwide with resources that further education, advocacy, community, and employment.” To make it happen, this gutsy mom faced her fears and restructured her life.
First, she walked away from a stable job at a respected university, instead choosing to devote her talents to helping others. I recently sat down with Ivy to find out more. If you want to make a difference in this world, surround yourself with people who’re doing it already. Envelop yourself with this dose of motivation.
SH: What are your goals for Find Your Power?
IK: For many women, especially in developing countries, access to the internet is scarce. Beginning with some communities in South Africa, we’re using technology to help women gain independence. [Ivy’s story includes time in both Durban and Capetown, where she witnessed ongoing cycles of abuse. Stories of resilience at places like the Saarjie Baartman Centre inspired her.]
Along with our local, South African, and global community partners, we’re setting up web resources. They include local job searches, free online courses to learn marketable skills, places for selling products, and other needed services.
SH: In what ways does your nonprofit seek to help women find their voice?
IK: The more information people have, the more tools they have for raising their quality of life. They’re more likely to stand up for their rights. It’s important to me to set up a website with resources in many areas, so women can choose how to help themselves.
SH: In what ways has Find Your Power helped you find your own?
IK: Starting FYP helped me find my voice. This decision allowed me to look at other areas of my life and refuse to live small. Living that first step took courage. But it made me look at all my relationships and consider what was benefiting my life and what wasn’t.
Once I made that first leap of giving notice at my job, other actions followed. I started taking an online course on social entrepreneurship [at the Copenhagen Business School.] Its purpose was to write a business plan with a global team.
SH: When it comes to sharing your voice, what challenges do you face?
IK: Public speaking is a challenge. I’m an extrovert who can talk to small groups, anywhere, anytime. But the idea of big groups is something I have to get used to. Every time I agree to give a talk, I take a breath and say, “Yep, I’m doing this.” For me, growth has come with with being uncomfortable.
SH: What opportunities have come your way as a result?
IK: Meeting people has provided opportunities for real connection. When I see other people doing things, I can start to consider them for myself. For instance, this job depends on partnerships. Finding partners requires me to ask for things, and asking makes me uncomfortable. But every time I have, it’s been a growth opportunity and it’s been good.
While Ivy spoke these words, I typed as quickly as I could. The interview happened in about 15 minutes, in stolen moments between meetings. I’m just now processing the power of her message, as I take the time to write this post.
And I’ve just realized a funny thing: If I hadn’t done my own uncomfortable thing and started this blog, I’d never have met Ivy in the first place. I’m grateful my way of voice-finding led me to hers. Now, I can only hope it can help connect you to yours.