06/10/2013 01:28 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Moms Change the World: Cynthia Occelli


Cynthia Occelli might very well might be an incarnation of Venus, right here on planet earth, and we should listen to what she has to say. Occelli, the author of Resurrecting Venus, has made it her mission to assist women in adding to meaning and material value to their lives. Sitting in her home, surrounded by hanging chandeliers, marble floors and a spiral stair case, overlooking the city of Los Angeles, Occelli drinks a homemade green juice fit for a goddess. She recalls when she was living in someone's garage, a nineteen-year-old single mom on welfare. She says a voice within, told her "Your past is no more an indicator of your future than the color of your neighbor's hair. You are free. Anything and everything good is possible for you, if you believe it to be true."

Her subsequent rise to success occurred like a pendulum, swinging from a deep belief in herself (bordering on delusions of grandeur) to feeling like a fraud and a loser. Occelli says that as she started taking steps to fulfilling her potential, she gradually stopped questioning her worth. One of the instructions she gives her clients is, "Do the thing you fear." Occelli says that when she first thought of becoming a lawyer, she was afraid that she would never measure up. But rather than listen to the negative tape in her head, she took the challenge and got accepted at law school. In showing up each day she proved to herself that she was very capable of doing what she once thought was out of her reach. Occelli graduated at the top of her class.

Today Occelli is the mom of two children to whom she has given the opportunity to truly discover their own identity. As a feminine-power coach, Occelli acknowledges that she sometimes struggles to teach her children the value of feminine attributes. "In a masculine society we value doing over being," she said, "and I'm still working that out within myself. I find that if it's 11 a.m. and my daughter is still lounging around in her pj's, I have the tendency to question her about the use of her time, and what her plans are for the day. Occelli's work with women assists them in embracing their feminine nature. "The feminine nature is kind, open, receptive, fluid, cooperative, and creative. For so long we have only celebrated and recognized masculine ways of being. We value accomplishment, competition, structure, individualism, and reward--those in society who are the fittest. I believe women can better define themselves by what feels good for them."

And while the masculine paradigm still rules, Occelli believes that there are clear shifts toward respect for a more feminine perspective, and accordingly a greater balance within our culture. She questions Sheryl Sandberg's theory that women need to "lean in." "It is my feeling that corporate America was created by men and for men. It is an industry where men shine and the industry works well for them. I worked in corporate America and succeeded. I also decided that I wanted something different for my life that did not exclude my children, allowing me to be home for dinner and family time each day. I don't believe women have to decide between work and their children. Why should we lean into something that was not created with women in mind," she asks? She goes on to say, "Football is a game created with men in mind. Sure women can play it, but should we? I encourage women to start their own businesses designed according to support the success of families, not just the bottom line."

Occelli feels strongly that women should not follow the herd. She says that being biracial (and the resulting exclusion from so many arenas), freed her to develop her own unconventional way to thrive. "I started loving that I could explore my own ideas and create my own rules. I want every woman to define success and having it all on her own terms, not according to what society says is right. I believe that never fitting in taught me to trust myself. I wanted very much to belong and be included, but when I realized being unique was a gift I started focusing how I could live the very best life I could create for myself. We each have the power within us to rise above and beyond the most difficult circumstances. For me, having a son was the impetus to do better. I could live in poverty and allow his father to treat me poorly, but when my son was born I felt he was entitled to have a good life. Within five years I changed everything because my son was watching me. If women can't (or won't) do it for themselves, they might find the strength to do better for the sake of their children.

Occelli walks this planet exuding warm elegancy that can be comforting and healing for those she encounters. Within her elegant nature, is a strength that validates her message; we all can benefit from understanding the nature of the feminine and how it operates in work, romance, parenting, and community. Her experience is proof that living your life as a feminine woman has benefits, including being surrounded by beauty, feeling good in your body, doing what you love, and believing in your ability to create the life you desire. Occelli is changing the world by teaching women to revel in being female, and to stand in the expansive power of their femininity.

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