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I didn’t realize when I built an app that I’d be entering into a new world, but I have.   My background is theatre and I have a long life in yoga, but this week I found myself at the NYLatinoTech Meetup.  It was a strange place to be as I am neither latino nor a techie and I wandered around the room wondering just how long it would take for anyone to find out.  I decided to reveal myself quickly and we all had a laugh over doctored names shortened and changed so that they’d be easier to say.  Almost everyone had made a name adjustment as a child and heads up if you don’t know, but I wasn’t born Lara Land.

I was due to make a 4 minute presentation along side Vlearn, Healthy Menus, Livecube, and Know Your DJ.  I had no idea what I was going to say.  In addition, and not surprisingly, my ipad was not connecting properly to the big screen.  A mistake turned bonus, a gentleman downloaded my app on his devise so I could use it to make my presentation- Score!

How did it go?  Great.  I shared my experience as an entrepreneur delving into the app development world and everyone enjoyed the lovely Chloe.  But as I looked around the room, I couldn’t help but notice my nonlatinaness wasn’t the only thing that made me stand out.  I was one of just a very few women.  Where are the women in tech?  It made me slightly sad.

Then I remembered!  Two nights later I stood in a room filled with techie ladies at Webgrrls holiday event.  Webgrrls helps women learn about the latest technologies and how to use them in their careers.  It’s members are both designer/programmer types and entrepreneurs as well as social media experts, career women and more.  They have deep content on their site, fanatic networking events, and are probably most known for their TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs bootcamp run by the DigitalWoman, Nelly Yusupove.  Believe me, you want to know her!

The same week I was surrounded by women at an all Women’s Holiday event hosted by Anahi Angelone at The Corner Social.  (Look for some collaboration between Anahi & I in this sphere soon!) I felt motivated and inspired by the strong, supportive group around me.  As I look back on and evaluate my year, I see that embracing female connections has been key to my growth and will continuing to be so going forward.  It’s all there in Lean In (obligatory read of the season) and it’s always been there.  Women are still not earning what men earn and not holding enough of the executive seats out there.  We do often pull the strings from behind the scenes, but we shouldn’t have to be ghost writers.  And most importantly, we shouldn’t feel we need to compete with each other or judge each other by the silly stereotypical standards still being reinforced in our culture.  Allowing our fellow females to be the women they choose to be and refusing to engage in the kind of speak which brings each other down has to be rule.

I see my work and mission as going even beyond even that.  At Land Yoga we are now hosting Michaela angela Davis’ MAD Free movement dedicated to female empowerment.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year is to support Odanadi, an organization which fights human trafficking, a huge issue for young girls especially in India.  The yoga practice itself teaches us both our inner and outer strength and to embrace who we are.

So many of us find self acceptance too late or never find it at all.  That is why I’m thrilled about my children’s company, Chloe the Yogi.  Chloe introduces yoga to children as young as two, providing them with tools for reducing their anxiety.  The pressure on children these days is too much, especially that on young girls to meet a standard of perfection that doesn’t exist.  For years I’ve been working with this demographic and have seen how the yoga practice gives them confidence, balance, and a full and warm view of themselves which carries over into all they do.  I’m so excited about the Chloe platform because it allows me to reach a whole world of young girls and through technology introduce them to an environment where they can feel safe, supported and strong.  Our campaign, Spread Your Wings Wednesdays, starting this week is especially going to address these issues, so please get in on the conversation on facebook, twitter, and instagram.

Most importantly I hope to be an inspiration to these girls through my actions and deeds.  I’m jumping into technology as a novice and taking risks.  I’m sharing my dreams, my fears, and my mistakes with the strong supportive network of women around me.  I’m embracing all that I am and I’m hoping by doing so that the young people I mentor will feel not only free to, but compelled to do the same.