You won’t have it all done. Meaning there is always going to be something to do. It’s futile to attempt to get to an ‘end’ point because the only one of those is your last breath.
As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Deborah Kagan.
Deborah Kagan is an author, mentor, and Mojo Recovery Specialist with years of practice being a turned-on woman. She supports entrepreneurs, small business owners, consultants, creatives and the career-oriented to tap into their innate power and connect with their mojo — a source of true self-esteem. Deborah’s new book Undressed: An Invitation to Claim Your Erotic Nature (Urano World) will be released on October 24, 2023.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
You usually hear me talk about my family of origin and upbringing as functionally dysfunctional. My parents split up when I was young, and I grew up fast as a New Yorker. By the age of 8, I would pick up dinner at the McDonald’s two blocks away — alone. By the age of 14, I got myself to a boarding school to escape the abusive household I lived in with my mom and her second husband. The shining light throughout my entire childhood and beyond was my paternal Grandmother. She showed be what unconditional love is and how to be an outstanding woman.
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?
I couldn’t get enough of Shel Silverstein as a kid. I had all his books. There was a smile on my face every time I found myself immersed in the pages. His words made me feel like it’s ok to be silly and have fun. I also had a sense that there was something behind the words but didn’t understand that at a young age. When it was time to write my entrance essay for college applications, one of the questions was ‘what book inspired you?’ I wrote about The Giving Tree. The book speaks to the part of us that’s willing to share and give of ourselves no matter what age, stage, or status we are. Being of service, sharing your heart, and offering to others is always possible. Even when it feels futile. And to this day, I still take the book out every year and read it at least once.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My first official speaking engagement was at a local community center where I knew the people that ran it and many of the regulars. I did all the prep, promoted, and had a nice crowd. I was a bit nervous, which is why I decided to ask a good friend and colleague to join and introduce me; plus offer some much-needed cheerleading. The room was set. Women were eagerly awaiting. I was introduced…and when I went to speak, nothing came out of my mouth. Zero. Zip. Crickets. I spat out a sentence or two and turned to my friend announcing they are actually the surprise guest speaker. They saw my panic, stepped in, and saved the day by giving a solid talk on the topic promised.
It wasn’t funny in the moment, but decades later I laugh about it. The biggest problem, besides healthy nerves, was that I was consumed with ego and concern about how I would come across. Would I be good enough? What will they think of me? What if I goof up.
The real focus, as I’ve come to intimately and thankfully know, when you present is the WIIFT (what’s in it for them) principle. When your focus is ‘out there’ on the people and how you can serve them, nerves quickly dissipate, and you are free to rock your mojo.
Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?
The big why underlying all my work is about supporting women who, like myself, have experienced domestic and sexual assault so that they can reclaim their bodies, feel good in their own skin, and live a turned ON life. UNDRESSED is a potent transmission that gives women the tools, inspiration, and permission to take themselves back and rock their mojo.
Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
This is a tough one because the seven erotic memoir stories throughout the book are all interesting. They serve as a get you in the mood/amuse bouche before the ‘Your Turn’ segment of each section. But if I must choose one, then it’s the story of seeing the Divine through finding my gspot. That was a game-changing moment in my life and the details are quite wild and juicy.
What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
In 2008, I attended the tenth anniversary of VDAY, a global organization to end violence to women and girls. I found myself walking into the Superdome Arena in New Orleans for the multiday event. Wearing a pink floor length ruffled skirt with white polka dots and a t-shirt with a cherubic kitten and the words, Love Your Pussy, under it, I bounced through the giant vulva decorated entrance. Two steps into the arena and what felt like a bolt of cosmic connection stopped me in my tracks. Boing! What the….? I stood frozen. Then I heard it. What I like to call, the shove from above. Some people call it a god wink or the voice of your Higher Self. It pierced me with a very clear message. Deborah, it emphatically said, it’s time to get up off your ass and do the work with women. Quietly I replied, OK. I’m not sure what you want me to do — AND I’m listening.
After that trip, I returned home to Los Angeles and met up with a girlfriend at Urth Caffe. Green tea latte in hand, The Shove showed up and turned a switch on in my mind. I blurted out, I got it! I’m going to start a women’s group. It’ll be a safe place to talk about our bodies, sex, intimate relating, spirituality, and being a juicy woman! I’m going to call it: The Pussy Power Posse. Emails were sent. Phone calls made. Women shared with other women. This was a grass roots effort. Eventually, small groups of women gathered in my tiny apartment’s living room, month after month. Sharing their pains, desires, concerns, considerations, and more. Each gathering ended in smiles, gratitude, acceptance, and the feeling of being less alone. The circle grew and we moved to a community space. And soon, the community space expanded across the world. The PPP (my affectionate name for the group) transitioned into the Rock Your Mojo® brand. Thousands of women have engaged in the virtual programs and live events over the years since then. Now, UNDRESSED is a book that offers women a new perspective on how to release sexual and body shame to experience pleasure, joy, and eroticism. We know that when women possess their fullest expression, confidence soars and from there, so does their work and personal lives.
Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Happily, there are more women than I can count that have been helped at this point. The story that jumped to my mind to share is about a woman who attended one of my live events. She heard about me from a friend, and something nudged at her to attend, which surprised her because she was in her early 80’s and was the main care person for her elderly husband. On the second morning of the event, she got up to the microphone to share. She was intensely radiant and glowing. She spoke about doing one of the exercises I suggested the night before and how transformative it was. She continued to say that she couldn’t believe she had held herself back for all these decades from truly being in her body for fear of what it might mean. She half giggled, half teared up and continued to share that at her age, she never anticipated feeling so alive and powerfully feminine. She was grateful to arrive at this experience knowing the rest of her years could be filled with the kind of pleasure and joy she came to possess.
That story always reminds me that it is never too late to become the woman you were born to be.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Get involved in some kind of personal development. Join a women’s community, hire a mentor, take courses, go on a retreat. There are endless options available these days. When you heal and grow, you transform and so will your community.
- Create community spaces for sexual wellness education. When you learn accurate sex education and have safe spaces to do so, you create healthy communities — mentally, spiritually, and sexually. Talk to your City Counsel. Hire speakers and experts to give talks. Every conversation reduces the stigma and shame surrounding what needs to be a normalized topic.
- Connect with groups that are already boots on the ground doing the work to take the government off our body autonomy. When women’s bodies are the target of oppression, we all lose.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is a way of being. It’s the ability to have a vision, communicate it, enroll others in it, and offer the space for others to contribute in meaningful ways. Plus, it helps to have the confidence and courage to put yourself out front and have the humility to step back when necessary.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2nS8_B9vBQ
- You won’t have it all done. Meaning there is always going to be something to do. It’s futile to attempt to get to an ‘end’ point because the only one of those is your last breath.
- Forget about your idea of the ‘right’ time. We all want things to happen in a certain time frame — and that’s human. However, our idea and desire of when things are supposed to happen are rarely going to happen. What’s for you will always find you. Trust the process.
- Be proactive and powerful with investing in yourself (personally and professionally). It took me a while to digest this one. There was a lot of time spent jumping over mental hurdles in this area. What I now know without a shadow of a doubt is: when you invest in yourself, others will too. Stand in your light and be the first one to fill your own bucket.
- Make pleasure a priority. The years of hustle and grind without pleasure sent me into significant adrenal fatigue. It’s never worth your sanity or health. Putting attention on creating opportunities for pleasure infuses your spirit and boosts your energy.
- You are the one. YOU are the one to do what it is you do, in only the way you do it. No matter what that is or how many others are doing a similar thing. You are the one to give your gift. Be abundantly generous with it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Be beautiful from the inside out.” ~ Esther Miller Kagan (aka my Grandma)
This quote is one of the reasons I do what I do.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Truthfully, it’s Stephen Colbert. I appreciate his wild breadth of talent, his intelligence, his support of women, and so much more. He’s one of the most embodied men I’ve witnessed, he has a solid marriage, seems to be a great family man, and he’s sassy. I have sense we’d have a lot to chat about and would love to have him as a guest on my podcast, The Real Undressed.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Deborah Kagan Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.