Beauty, Disability, Human Advocate, New York City
I have kept up with Xian's adventures over the years via Facebook. This amazing woman has not stopped moving and kept my spirits up in so many situations. The posts that really made impression addressed DOVE's inclusivity campaign called Real Beauty. Xian challenged the campaign organizers to include women with disabilities into their ranks. Since that video, Xian didn't let up. In 2015, she was chosen to be an “exemplar” for the AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge for the creation of assistive technology, where she worked with developers to help shape new technologies that would make it easier for people with disabilities to move through the world.
Xian is a vocal advocate for women, diversity, positivity and is such a fantastic person to know. I feel honoured and lucky to call her a friend.
2. Where is your hometown?
NYC, Born and Raised!
3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?
Beauty, Disability, Human Advocate
4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey?
First I had to throw out my fear (of rejection, stage fright, not-enoughness) - which I fought for years and years - but the breakthrough came in my twenties when I realized I had a message that was bigger than the fear - when I realized there were girls, and women struggling with self-esteem (something I knew so well because of my own struggle with it as a girl and woman) and when I realized I could and needed to help and be of service.
5. What did you study in school?
English at Wesleyan, I never intended to be a teacher. But I realize all the schools I attended from elementary school onward, encouraged uniqueness, and our power to change the world. So adopting that mindset was the most important gift going forward.
6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?
All I wanted to do since I was 13, was to write a memoir, but I was a writer who never wrote - and with the exception of my blogs and a couple of short stories - It's the one thing I have not done yet that I thought would happen by age 21 at the latest. Haha. Better late than never, right?
7. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?
The second shift beyond my fears, was not getting attached to one result or outcome - so not getting attached to one goal, person, or company I wanted to work with, like Dove, or Oprah, but just exploring the present doors, windows, and paths that opened up to me - just following the Spirit one delicious breadcrumb at a time. That mindset opened the scope of my life to something so much bigger than just one opportunity and meant that my life is bigger than I imagined. I teach at NYU, I have worked with AT&T, the White House, I'm on a Film Selection Committee, none of which I planned or asked for - those things came to me - the shift was having an open heart and not going by what I thought was possible. I never wanted to teach, I am not a technologist, and I'm not a politician or a film maker, that's why I say often, my job is to be me...but being open is a big part of this exciting ride
8. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?
I have had many disappointments in the moment, like heartbreak, or missed opportunities professionally, but with a long-term view of life I've seen that every "disappointment" had a purpose or something better came along instead.
9. Advice for other women?
As women we tend to give our power away. You are beautiful, you are enough, and other people's opinions only have the power you give them. Also, seek authenticity instead of perfection. It's more fun!
10. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it for "feminist values"?
Women are unstoppable and that is clearer now than ever. We all have a voice and as long as we live to our fullest potential, work together, and lift up each other (other women) - that has always been the way forward!
11. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?
I feel tallest when I'm in service - in prayer, in the classroom, speaking with others or to others, helping - that is the happiest place I know. I wake up smiling and grateful everyday that this is my life and through good work I grow taller everyday.
12. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?
Any adaptive sports - I loved surfing, waterskiing, parasailing, and soon, adaptive rock climbing - it pleases me most because it shows me and others what's possible - anything!
13. What do you want to be when you grow up? Future goals/challenges?
More service please! Not going to limit it with specifics!
14. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?
Still have lots. I'd love to be fearless, and wise at the same time (one can do stupid things without fear) but fear reminds me that life matters and I still care.
15. Anything you'd do differently (if you had another go at life)?
I would have started earlier if I'd known what was waiting for me, but even the detours have a purpose, so no regrets, only lessons!
16. What inspires you?
People who live without excuses, I still have quite a few. Hence, no memoir yet!
The future is bright.
17. What are you hopeful about?
The future is bright - I'm excited about what's ahead. I'm excited to be part of the greater plan.
18. What are some ingredients to a good life?
Letting go of expectations is critical to enjoying life more, being of service, creating a support system, believing in something bigger than yourself i.e.: Faith. My faith in God helps me to feel free, protected, loved, and I know I'm never alone.
19. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)
I love to give anything by Brene Brown: Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly.
I'm reading three books right now! Two on Leonard Bernstein, (one with font so small I need a mouse to help me read it), and one behind the scenes of the movie Casablanca. My reading list is so frightening long, it may outlive me...
20. Who is a “WOW Woman” in your life who inspires you (and why)?
I know so many women that are wondrous, generous, capable, selfless and still powerful - those who champion on behalf of women and the disability community because they believe things can always be better; Women like Loreen Arbus, Amy Bittinger, Anita Altman, Judy Heumann, and so many others. My mom always pushed me to speak up by her example. Her take-charge attitude is something I needed more of when I was a just a "nice girl" who was very afraid versus the woman I am becoming... someone stronger, someone with a message and a cause worth advocating for.
21. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?
Public Facebook Page: "Support Xian Horn Unite Disability and True Beauty"