Claire Stillman | Milwaukee empowerment photographer

What motivates and inspires someone to start a movement for change? I guess it isn’t one thing really. Everyone has different reasons and every movement a different tipping point. But as I stare down my own desire to start a movement toward empowering woman, I am curious about this question.

I’d like to introduce you to a very insightful woman and personal healer, Claire Stillman. This mother of three is naturally warm, patient and genuine. She has a soft voice and healing touch. But don’t underestimate her. Claire is fiercely curious and a dynamic change maker in our community. She is what I call #enlightenmentgoals. And an inspiration to me and my personal mission.

Her talents are many. She is a Thai bodywork practitioner, yoga instructor and community activist. If, like me, you shop at Lululemon in the Third Ward, then you may even recognize Claire. Her yoga stances are on display on the brick walls of the store.

Her passions for the healing arts, community development and creative expression are so inspiring. She is leading a movement as the executive director of OmTown Yogis, which is developing Omtown Meditators.

I was curious about who inspires Claire. She told me about a book she is reading called Magic and Mystery in Tibet by a fascinating woman, Madame Alexandra David-Neel:

“A native of France and born in 1868, David-Neel lived in Tibet for many years as a courageous explorer, practicing Buddhism, and as a historian and linguist speaking many Tibetan dialects. She lived among the lamas and magicians of Tibet, and in fact had the great honor of being received by the 13th Dalai Lama. She studied "philosophical Buddhism and Tibetan Tantra at the great centers; she meditated in lonely caves and on wind-swept winter mountains with yogi hermits." She witnessed forbidden Tibetan magic in the ancient forests. Her explorations took her to studying and practicing age-old mystical theories and psychic training practices of Tibet. She was welcomed by great sages and sorcerers, teachers and their disciples. Her writing is precise, neutral and matter of fact, while awe inspiring and culturally enriching. Her life was one adventure after another, approached with high intellect, curiosity and courage. She lived to the age of 101 and wrote over 30 books about her travels and studies. On top of all of this she was an opera singer in Indochina when she was maybe 27 yrs old!”

Wow! I think Claire is channeling Madame Alexandra right here in Milwaukee by wearing many hats and exploring life with a deep desire to make change.

So back to my original question of what do change-makers have in common? The only thing I can really come up with is not what motivates them, but rather what they resist. In most cases, people who are working toward positive change embrace the impossible. They look at that word “impossible”, reject the connotation of fear it implies, and simply take action.

So here I am inspired by friends like Claire and badass historical females like Madame Alexandra David-Neel to take action. And you should be too! Claire's photos are a testament to her power before the camera and the community.