Who are you the champion for?

Happy birthday, Gloria Steinem!

Today the leader of the movement for women to develop their fullest human potential turns 78.

With Gloria Steinem in her home in New York City (Photo by Avionne Adams)

In last week’s SPARK! I told you what a privilege it was to spend an evening in Gloria’s home in New York City where she’d invited women leaders to participate in a salon for feminist.com.

As she has since the 1960s, Gloria continues to urge us to connect with each other for support and to make change and go for better lives.

Since that evening at Gloria’s, I’ve thought a lot about what a difference we make when we champion what it is we wish to improve in the world.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world…it is the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

Last week at the Women on Fire tea in New York, I was reminded of the amazing and powerful women in our community who epitomize Margaret Mead’s words.

Here are stories I want to share with you because they illuminate the power of each woman with an idea, an inkling, a possibility to spread enthusiasm and to be its champion to make a difference.

Woman on Fire Pier Boutin, of Housatonic, MA is a mom and an orthopedic surgeon.  In a transition period in her life a couple of years ago, she was on vacation with friends in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco when she discovered a four-year-old boy stumbling about with seriously clubbed feet pointed nearly backwards.

“I couldn’t not do something when I knew how to help him,” she said.  So she arranged for “Little Amed” to come to the United States.  For nearly a year she oversaw the direction of his multiple surgeries and cared for him in her home.

While Pier championed that one little boy, she was also mindful in connecting to his village, helping with health and education issues. (For pictures of Pier and Little Amed, see this past post.)

The friendship and knowledge Pier shared in Morocco has gone beyond just that one little boy, who today can walk, run and play!  The course of his life, in which he was destined to be uneducated, alienated and a beggar, has been righted.

And, until Pier, only a handful of boys attended school in that village. Now, that “Little Amed” is home in Morocco, the local school is filled with boys and girls getting an education.

Pier and her family have been inspired and lifted up beyond their imagination.

Gloria changed the course for millions of women.  Pier’s desire to help one child led to changes in a village and who knows what else!

Both women led movements.

You may not even realize it.  Many of you lead movements, too – whether it is to champion a local school levy as Woman on Fire Kim Dettmer did successfully in her Ohio town recently … or Tracy Stuck guiding college women at a major university to find confidence and direction in their lives … or Andrea Raynor as a Hospice chaplain to lead many through death and dying … or Susan Kruger-Woodcock in leading a movement to help high school students get better grades.

There are so many more of you leading a movement and using your talents and desires to change lives for the good.

The positive energy created by a movement of one person or a group to champion one person, one cause, one group, one program, one belief is what makes a difference in this world.

A movement is only composed of people moving. To feel its warmth and motion around us is the end as well as the means. ~ Gloria Steinem

Who and what in your world are you the champion of?  Where is it all going?  What do you need in order to take any next steps?  Let us know how we can help you by commenting below.

You can’t stop a Woman on Fire!

Today I am introducing you to a Woman on Fire whose inspiring mid-career choice was one she might never have predicted or imagined.  It happened because she was just following her heart.

Pier Boutin, of Housatonic, Massachusetts, was hiking in a mountainous village in Morocco last year when her eye caught the tiny figures of a little boy stumbling and his five-year-old sister helping him up as he fell down with each step.

The little boy had a serious and debilitating case of “club feet” and Pier, a mother and an orthopedic surgeon, was drawn to this little boy and knew she had to do something.

Dr. Pier Boutin with “Little Amed” at home in the Berkshires; his legs are in casts from his groin to his toes; only 4, and far from his home in Morocco, he rarely cries and brings such love and presence to his American family!

In the village, she met the little boy’s family who speak Berber.  Through translators she explained that she could help him.  In his village, a deformity such as his would prevent him from receiving an education or being employed.

Pier did what a Woman on Fire does.  She returned to the United States and  put to work every skill she possessed to change the course of life for this captivating and beautiful little boy she could not leave behind.  Nothing would stop her then — or now.

She raised money, organized his many surgeries and medical care, made arrangements for travel (he and his father had never ridden in a car much less fly on a plane to the U.S.) and that’s just the beginning.

She and her husband Dr. Mark Hyman, who are already parents of four, prepared and opened their home to love, nurture and protect Little Amedduring his many months’-long stay and extensive medical care and recovery.

And, Pier has done it all with such gratitude for Little Amed’s parents, marveling that they would trust her with their precious child.

Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Pier Boutin and Little Amed
Drs. Mark Hyman and Pier Boutin joyfully playing with Little Amed who loves Superheroes especially Spiderman

These past few months since Little Amed has joined the Boutin-Hyman family Pier sends regular updates about the little boy who has changedtheir lives.

When I see her emails in my inbox (and especially after I got to meet the amazing Little Amed last June), I always prepare for happy tears at the latest happenings with this darling child.

Here is an excerpt from Pier’s most recent update:

Little Amed is blossoming. He looks forward to school every morning.  He chooses his clothes for school and helps me prepare his snack every night.  He is so proud to hobble to class pulling his little backpack on wheels. At night, we have to hang his new drawings by his bed.

His teachers have integrated him and welcomed him wholeheartedly.  The children, not only in his class, but in the entire school have followed suit.  For example, Little Amed cannot run and play with a ball like the others, so one day he started to roll in the grass.  The kids apparently thought this was so funny and fun!  They all started rolling in the grass kicking their feet up laughing!

Little Amed is thrilled to attend school.  I wish every child could attend class with the same enthusiasm.

And, here is what I mean about Pier living the life of a Woman on Fire. She is living full out and, in doing so, at every turn the universe has risen to help her:

The kindness and innate humanity always shines through hardships. Today, I mention one of so many people who have come forward to help Little Amed, Mohamed Zabian.

While in the mountains of Morocco, the “I love you” watch my husband gave me years ago fell apart.  Upon my return (to the Berkshires), I immediately took it to Mohamed Zabian Jewelers.

While completing the paperwork, I mentioned I had a little boy with the same name at my house.  I proceeded to explain how I came upon this wonderful little boy with clubfeet.  Mr. Zabian asked to be added to my mailing list.  As I left, I asked for directions to St. Mary’s School.  I thought Little Amed should go to school, play with kids his own age, and learn to speak English.

Mr. Zabian knew St. Mary’s school had already started and there was a waiting list.  Enrollment was complete and the school was expensive.  Despite this, I decided I would plead Little Amed’s case to the school. Perhaps St. Mary’s would let him go there one or two mornings a week.

 Mohamed Zabian instructed me to go home and he would call me about the school the next day. Well! He certainly followed through for Little Amed and me. The very next day, Little Amed enrolled at St. Mary’s full time with the tuition paid in full.  Doesn’t it make your heart sing to hear of such generosity!

Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Pier Boutin, Debbie Phillips and Little Amed
 Dinner at the Hyman-Boutin home is not only fresh from their garden as they promote good health for all but full of love and life with Little Amed in the house! (Photos by Rob Berkley)

You are welcome to read more inspiration and to follow Pier and Little Ahmed’s latest surgeries and adventures by going to these sites:

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Amed/146240092113654

Blog: http://helpahmedwalk.wordpress.com/

Info/donation page: http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/little-mo-charity/

Here I am with Little Amed…I, too, fell in love with this little angel boy who will undergo further major surgery September 27.  And, after his recovery, he will be able to run and play with all the other children!  

And, last…

A huge and warm welcome to the many of you who’ve joined the SPARK!this week after hearing Janette Barber interview me on her show on Sirius XM or you read the profile that Capital Style Magazine EditorKristy Eckert wrote about Woman on Fire. We are so happy you are here!

Also, in less than two weeks, 150 women will gather in Columbus, Ohio for Women on Fire Day featuring keynote speaker Janette Barber, the Women on Fire book co-authors, and a panel featuring Debi LillyLiz Lessner and Mary Ellen Jones.

The event has sold out.  I can’t wait to see all of you there!

I’d love to hear how the universe has risen to help you when you’ve lived your life “full out.” Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.