Wendi Knox is Goddess of the Week!
“I’ve always hated social situations where no one really says what’s going. Everyone thinks that everyone else has it all together. But we’re all works-in-progress, grappling with the same issues. The more we open our hearts and speak our truth, the more light we can shine on each other.”
-- Wendi Knox, creator of Oh My Goddess
Wendi Knox, creator of Oh My Goddess, is on a mission to inspire women to be true to themselves, listen to their inner voice, and unzip their inner joy by sharing her own truth, humor and heart. “I feel like I’m part of a women’s liberation movement, but it’s the liberation of spirit,” she says. A former “Execu-Woman,” Wendi today writes the Oh My Goddess Bloggess, paints and sells goddess gift cards at stores like Fred Segal (see her gorgeous artwork below), hosts goddess events, is a mentor speaker for women’s groups, and has recently written a book that many of us will want to get our hands on (publisher TBD). Wendi is an amazing goddess of creativity, sharing her inner vision, heart and soul to help other women unzip their truth and live in alignment with who they really are. What a goddess!TB: How did Oh My Goddess come to be?WK: Oh My Goddess is a dream that has been growing inside me for a very long time. Ever since I was in a painting class 18 years ago when I found myself scribbling the words on a piece of paper and doing watercolor paintings in a very non-traditional, child-like whimsical style. Sometimes poems just showed up in the paintings.I had no idea where the images or words came from but I was intrigued. I had always loved Greek mythology as a child. As I started studying goddess culture and the divine feminine as it is emerging in the world today, I realized that a lot of the symbols in my paintings were symbols of the goddess throughout time.In time, I developed a vision of creating an entire brand based on a more accessible, personal version of the goddess to inspire women to “divine self be true.” But I couldn’t give birth to my dream because I had a great big Execu-woman job. I was the only female Senior Vice President Creative Director at a big ad agency, supervising all the ads and commercials for a luxury car line. I couldn’t afford to give it up.TB: So then what happened?WK: Then, about five years ago, I got laid off my job. I was devastated and scared to death at the loss of income and all that went with it. But I also felt this was a chance to give my heart wings.I used some of my severance money and took a giant leap of faith by purchasing the URL, ohmygoddess.com, which had miraculously gone on the market, and began working on a website, greeting cards, a book and tons of other gift ideas.My dream, ever since I was a little girl was to write and paint things to touch people’s hearts. As a little girl, I used to love staying up late creating greeting cards for the people I loved. So, it’s no accident that Oh My Goddess greeting cards were my first products.TB: What inspires your creativity?WK: Everything. I truly believe inspiration is everywhere. You just need to keep your eyes, ears and heart open.In advertising, you need to come up with ideas on demand. But my best ideasalways came when I wasn’t trying. I remember watching a William Wegman video on Sesame Street when my son was little. That little moment in our jammies led to commercials featuring the famous Weimaraners as the typical family in a Honda minivan. Another time, I was looking up at a Keith Haring print in my office. That gave my partner and I the idea to animate his artwork for another Honda campaign.Nowadays, my best ideas seem to come when I’m walking my dog Lucky in the neighborhood. One day a little breeze blew in a poem and visual for The Goddess of The Wind. Another day, walking past a flowerbed grew an idea for a post on Oh My Goddess Bloggess about the “perfection of imperfection.”
"I feel like we’re all radio stations and there are a zillion ideas out there in the airwaves. We just need to be open to receiving the signals. I must admit, I have always been very open to the messages."
TB: Tell me about Oh My Goddess Bloggess. What do you talk about on your blog and who are your readers? WK: Well, I finally overcame an acute case of blogaphobia and must admit, I’ve been loving the process. I say Oh My Goddess Bloggess is “a divine place to unzip your lip.”My intention is to spread joy, touch hearts and feed souls through my artwork, musings and schmoozings. There is a spiritual bent to my writing. But it’s not woo-woo up the wazoo. There’s plenty of self-deprecating humor and wisdom gleaned from real world experiences.So far, I’ve written about Edna, my Inner Critic … She isn’t pretty. My blogaphobia, aka “fear of trying new things.” Growing pains and pleasure. And the perfection of imperfection.My readers seem to be women-in-transition. Women who are either experiencing changes in their outside world from Execu-Women to entrepreneur, soccer mom to empty nester, women re-entering the work force or following their passions, or women changing their inside world from taking care of everyone else to finally taking care of themselves. They seem to relate to me because I’m open about what I’m going through. I say the things that others think. And that makes it safe to share---when we realize we’re not alone.
"In this world, it takes more than a village. It takes a goddesshood. That’s what I hope Oh My Goddess is creating."
TB: What have been some of your biggest challenges?WK: Hmmm…where to start. I would have to say, that nothing has come particularly easily to me. But in time, I’ve learned to see that there are gifts in every struggle.For example, I began my career writing labels for noodle soup packages and worked my way up to the only female Senior Vice President Creative Director in what is still very much a man’s world. “Having it all” meant having all the stress, chauvinism, politics and tears. The gift was that I learned to value myself enough to not allow any more of those situations in my life. These days, I only consult for companies that respect me and my voice.Another major challenge was when I lost my job at 50. It was devastating, especially since I had a husband who was an entrepreneur (French for no health plan) and a son to support. I had been at my agency for 15 years—it felt like family. It was a huge shock having to reinvent my life at 50.The gift was that I now have a life full of possibilities. I am no longer imprisoned by a job that no longer resonates with who I am. I’ve learned that I have more resilience than I ever imagined. My marriage became stronger as my husband grew in new ways as well. I’ve gotten to be so much more involved with my son’s life. My bank account isn’t as fat and happy. But I am alive with dreams and self-expression. And it is such a joy.Most importantly, I learned that Who I Am is not What I Do. And when I lost all the “security” of the outside world, I learned to discover it within. After years of not feeling like I really belonged, I found that sense of belonging inside of me. In fact, I believe that the cards, books, speeches and blog that I am creating are literally the gifts that have come out of my struggles. By sharing my inner wisdom, my humor and my heart, I hope to encourage other women to unzip their inner joy.TB: How have you overcome some of your challenges? After years of being “at the top of my game” in advertising, I need to re-learn so much for my own business. It’s especially challenging being techno-phobic and not having an IT department I can call in when I need them. Or a marketing department, or a graphic artist, or a web person, etc.I long for the day when I can do the things that I love and that are my natural gifts … writing, painting, creating and speaking, and have either a business partner or team who are doing what are their gifts -- all the stuff I’m not good at it.I have such a big vision that it gets frustrating to not be able to implement everything I see in my mind’s eye. Yet, if I look back at where I was, I can see tremendous forward movement. And I need to revel in that, knowing that “the hows” will reveal themselves one step at a time.I don’t have the financial resources yet to hire everyone I need. But I have been blessed to create a “goddesshood” of support around me. I have discovered a tribe of the most giving women. And the wisdom of cross-mentoring with younger women. I trade my wisdom about relationships and branding with them and they share their social networking savvy with me.Instead of women competing with each other -- the old “cat fight” paradigm -- I have received so much help … just not in the form I used to have it. It requires a lot of trust, faith and patience, not to mention the courage to ask for what you need.TB: What advice would you give a woman who wants to access her creativity, but feels blocked or fearful in some way?WK: When I first started taking art classes, it wasn’t to “become an artist.” It was the one time in my life when I didn’t have a plan or a goal. It was just dreaming on paper -- a way to release myself from the prison of my mind. I feel that all of us are spinning so fast, trying to accomplish so much. Yet, real creativity happens in the spaces between doing.I would say give yourself a little nurturing time every day. Instead of checking off something on a “To Do” list, spend a little time daydreaming a “To Be” list.The biggest impediment to creativity is that voice inside our own head, the Inner Critic. I call my Edna. Edna’s the one criticizing me right now. She’s saying “why would anyone interview you? What do you know?” Edna seems to pipe down the most, when I lose myself and find my soul. That happens for me when I’m meditating, walking in nature, lying on the grass under the birch trees, looking up at the sky -- just like I did as a little girl, painting and writing.I would say that your creativity will find you, when you give yourself those little pockets of peace and self-love. Give yourself that same sweet acceptance that you would give a child or a pet. That’s when you’ll feel free enough to express your creativity in whatever form it comes out -- without judging, analyzing or comparing. It also helps to find a group to explore your creativity with. Where it’s just about sharing, fun non-judgmental and process-oriented.TB: You are out and about now speaking to groups of women through Oh My Goddess. Tell me about this.I did quite a lot of presentations in my past life as Execu-Woman. But usually, it was in boardrooms, full of extremely stoic and non-giving individuals.I’ll never forget what it was like the first time I was asked to share my story in a room full of 60 women (ages 25-65) at a mentoring event. Against a background of my paintings, I spoke about The Gift of Struggle: Finding What’s Right When Things Go Wrong.After years of working in a corporate culture, where I was basically told to “zip it up,” you can’t imagine how gratifying it was to speak my truth, and have it received with so much laughter, tears and huge hugs at the end. I was surrounded with such adoration, you’d think I was Mother Theresa or someone. I realized right then, that sharing my struggles with heart and humor, could literally and figuratively be a gift to other women.TB: What does being a goddess mean to you?WK: To me, it means loving and accepting all the different parts of myself. For years I didn’t feel like I belonged in the corporate culture and that I couldn’t really be myself. Once I started listening to how I really felt – really honoring the voice of my heart, and really seeing who I was and what my gifts and passions were, now I feel like I am being seen by the outside world. What I notice is that I am able to be more seen and heard in the outside world because I am seeing and hearing myself better on the inside world. Instead of pushing against myself, I am embracing myself. It’s such an amazing process.
Being a goddess to me is really about that feeling of integration within -- loving the goddess of anger, loving the goddess of joy, loving the goddess of wisdom – all the different parts of you coming together in one fully accepted human being.
TB: What is your ultimate vision for Oh My Goddess? WK: I see it as a global licensing brand using my art and my work to create Oh My Goddess products in a cross-section of categories like Oh My Goddess notepapers and journals, Oh My Goddess dinnerware and tea sets, etc. I want to create a whole world of Oh My Goddess products that women can give each other to inspire themselves and each other to create a goddesshood. TB: If you had a loudspeaker that you could use to reach every woman around the world, what would message would you want to impart?WK: Listen to the voice within. She is more powerful, more creative, more beautiful than anything you’ve ever imagined. The more you allow her to speak up, the more you’ll have the life you’ve dreamed of.
Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a writer, editor, and reporter dedicated to the empowerment of women and girls. Her work has been featured by The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, NPR, and other national media. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post on women’s issues and reports on the inspiring work of women changemakers. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.