Parents Perspective

Feeling Inspired—Globally and Personally

toyota
Last week's Women in the World Summit brought together group of inspiring women—from world leaders to thought leaders—to discuss issues that affect women and families in the U.S. and around the world.

I was particularly impressed by this year's Toyota's Mothers of Invention, a program that awards $50,000 grants to women who actively contribute to their community and the world through innovation, entrepreneurship, and invention.

Tina Hovsepian created created Cardborigami, collapsible shelters made from water-resistant cardboard to provide temporary housing for the homeless and victims of natural disasters.

Ting Shih, founded ClickMedix, mobile technology that allows health care organizations working with underserved populations around the world to connect with medical specialists.

Doniece Sandoval founded Lava Mae, transforming a bus into showers on wheels to provide dignity for homeless people.

If you know a woman who deserves to have her innovative work supported, you can nominate her to be one of Toyota's next Mothers of Invention.

However, we are all mothers of invention in our daily lives—working to create habits and attitudes that help our families and ourselves grow strong.  Another presentation that stuck with me at the Summit was called "The Beautiful Brain," and it discussed the science behind self-confidence. Much of the discussion focused on how women and girls deserve to have body confidence no matter what size or shape or color they are, and Dr. Stacie Grossman Bloom, a neuroscientist at NYU Langone Medical Center, talked about how you can actually rewire your brain to feel more self-confident. By doing mental simulation exercises—imagining yourself being successful in any aspect of your life—you can create new connections between the neurons in your brain.

Afterwards, I had the chance to talk with Dr. Bloom—who is also the mother of three young daughters—about how practicing self-affirmation is especially helpful for moms. We all have times when we feel like we're not doing a good enough job or we feel guilty because we have to work when we'd rather be with our children. During those times of stress, the simple act of telling yourself confident messages—I am a loving mother, I am a good role model, I spend quality time with my children—can not only help you calm down but actually affect your brain chemistry in a positive way.

Diane Debrovner is the deputy editor of Parents and the mother of two daughters.