Finding Fitness Away From Home

Date: February 24, 2015

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Shay de Silva

For the majority of my life, I didn’t give much thought to my body. I always exercised to feel good. An argument with my family in high school would be followed by a run. A late night with friends would be followed by a morning at the gym. Exercise gave me energy and helped ease my stress, so I viewed it as a luxury rather than a chore. Having a fit body was just a nice side effect.

After finishing my MBA, I launched a marketing and project management consulting business. I was fortunate to have truly interesting projects and incredible clients. In 2009, my husband’s job took us to Singapore. I was thrilled to get to live in a new part of the world, but traveling back and forth to the US to meet with clients really took a toll on my body. Between the jet lag and seriously long days, I found it difficult to keep up with my healthy eating and fitness routine. I was constantly exhausted and sick, and my pants were getting tighter by the day.

I spent a lot of time looking for a fitness routine that fit my lifestyle, but I had a tall order. I wanted to be able to download my workouts to my tablet or laptop, and I wanted workouts that didn’t need any extra gear—no weights, no equipment, no sneakers, no bands.

After struggling for more than a year, I decided to take responsibility for feeling good again. I couldn’t find a fitness program that worked for me. I felt awful, and things weren’t going to change on their own. For every trip, I started writing down workouts I could follow on the road and packing my own snacks.

Really focusing on how my body and mind were connected was a huge challenge for me. This whole experience ultimately led me to launch my own fitness business to help other busy women get and stay in shape. After struggling for so long on my own, I knew there must be other women out there with the same issues.

Entering the fitness industry with a normal woman’s body was also a bit of a challenge. I have a strong Pennsylvania Dutch background, and I’m fairly short, which means I’ll never look like a model no matter how much I work out and how well I eat. This is something that I’ve slowly learned to accept, but I think it’s something almost all women struggle with at some point. Regardless of how we look, we can always find someone who looks just a little (or a lot) better.

For me, exercising and eating healthy helps diminish those thoughts, because it completely changes my relationship with my body. Taking care of myself also helps me value what my body can do for me instead of what it looks like. I feel sad when I hear women talk about punishing themselves for eating a slice of cake by running the next day. Changing that focus to how we feel after eating a slice cake and how we feel after running makes a huge difference. Just those few seconds of attention that we give our bodies changes the way we make decisions.

Through my experience and work with my clients, I’ve learned that we all have different reasons for taking care of our health. No matter what those reasons are, I think we all just really want to feel good in our bodies. It’s easy to think we need the perfect house, or a big bank account, or an amazing wardrobe, but it’s hard to enjoy any of those things if we don’t have our health. Running around with kids, traveling, walking along a beach, and enjoying a beautiful day are all much better when we’re healthy.

My top three daily habits for having a happy and healthy body: get at least 10 minutes of fresh air, eat at least seven servings of fruits and veggies, move your body for at least 20 minutes. Create your own list of what makes you feel happy and healthy and post it somewhere you’ll see several times a day. We’re all different, but we can all feel great about our bodies.

Shay de Silva loves helping women look and feel their best by eliminating all excuses for not exercising and eating well. You can check out her online health and fitness programs at Fast Fitness To Go and follow Shay on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Image: Hartwig HKD. Find at Flickr here.

A Victim No More

Date: February 22, 2015

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Beenie Mann

Growing up in an abusive home led me to have an unhealthy relationship with food. There were times I wasn’t sure I would eat at all. So, every time there was food available, I ate. I ate way past the ‘full’ point. In a way, food was comfort to me. Needless to say, as the result, I grew heavier and heavier.

Being overweight, I was ridiculed in school and later by grown-ups. My self-esteem was pretty much nonexistent, my body had trouble handling the excess weight, and I was miserable. I was physically and mentally falling apart. Yes, I saw the looks, the glares; heard the whispers and snide remarks under people’s breaths. Many people assume fat people must be stupid and there were many times I felt like a 3rd or 4th class citizen. At the beginning of 2004, my body and soul ached so much I wanted to end my life. I just couldn’t deal with any of it anymore.

Fortunately, I have an awesome husband and amazing kids. I couldn’t quit on them. Changes had to be made. The following day, I made an appointment with my doctor (we were stationed in Germany at the time) to explore my options. She suggested weight loss surgery. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, we started the process. In August of 2004 I was scheduled for gastric bypass surgery. That was the day I got a second lease on life. (Thanks to the surgery I have lost 180 lbs and over the years kept all but about 40 off).

The spring of 2004 I enrolled with the University of Maryland Europe and started on my associate degree. I was able to take about 1 class per semester and graduated at the top of my class in 2007. I felt so good and knew I could do anything I put my mind to. Losing all that weight and getting my degree really helped me gain self-confidence, self-worth, and most of all self-esteem. It really does wonders.

Unfortunately, the years of abuse, neglect, and the massive weight took a toll on my body. Currently, I am dealing with the after effects of it all. Strangely, I am ok with it. It all made me the person that I am today and because of it all, I am able to help others by sharing my story. It always warms my heart when somebody gives me a big hug, a smile, a thank you, because my story has helped them.

Due to my health, I am unable to have a regular job. However, I am not the type of person to sit around and wallow in self-pity. Totally not my style and really, it wouldn’t do anything anyway! Since I was not able to find a regular job, I decided to become my own boss. With all the opportunities out there to work from home, it gives me the chance to contribute to our family fund. Aside from the income, one of the aspects I like most, is the personal development that is being provided.

It wasn’t until this year though, that I really took advantage of the resources available to me. Because of it, I have learned so much about myself and I am learning more every day.

For the longest time I blamed my parents, my circumstances, or whatever I could think of for my misery. All those years I saw myself as a victim and acted accordingly. In the past few months I learned to consciously take responsibility for my feelings and actions. It is not easy and it is a lot of work. The rewards however, are immeasurable. I feel a lot more at peace with myself and the people around me. It really is hard to describe. Yes, I still catch myself falling back into the old patterns but I am catching myself a lot faster these days and then can re-direct my thoughts and feelings.

They say after every storm there is the sun and a rainbow. Well, they are right. I am so glad I never gave up and always believed that there is something good in any situation and circumstance. My husband and my two sons are what kept me going. They were always by my side, loving me and cheering me on, and kicking me in the rear when I needed it. Most of all, they never gave up on me. I love them so very much and will be forever grateful.

Beenie Mann is an entrepreneur, a mom of two incredible sons, and an Army wife. There is usually always a smile on her face because it is good to be alive. Connect with her:

Facebook - Get Well With Chocolate (Matters of Perspective)

Her website - Beenie Mann. Twitter.

Image: Gisella Klein. Find at Flickr here. License details here. 

Raising Boys To Value Women Starts With Us

Date: February 16, 2015

posted by Women Enough / Comments: 7 Comments / Tags: , , , ,

Valerie Boucher

As a mother of three boys I never really felt that concerned about the campaigns where the focus was on how to raise young girls and empower them with self esteem, how it is important to change the message that the fashion industry sends and how we need to start changing our own behaviors as mothers to set an example.

But then one day we were looking at a movie and one of my boys said that this actress was fat. As I looked at the screen I could not believe my eyes. This character was far from being fat. In fact, she was a very beautiful lady who in my eyes was just glowing.

That was a wakeup call for me. That is when I realised that being the mother of three boys I had a responsibility as well. To teach them what is real beauty. What a real woman looks like.

As they grow into young men, I decided that since they will be the ones looking at their wives in the future I need to make them see what I believe beauty is. And it needs to start at home, with me, how I was seeing myself.

If a woman feels beautiful, she glows, and it shows in every aspect of her life.

Being their mother, we are the first woman that our boys see naked. We are the first woman that they look up to. And if we don’t see ourselves as beautiful individuals, then how can we expect them to see us any differently. If we let the media, the fashion industry with their standards and the magazines everywhere influence our young men on what a woman should look like, then we are missing half of the problem. We may do all the campaigns in the world about empowering women with our real beauty; if we forget our boys then the battle will be so much harder to win!

This past summer I decided that I was going to wear a bikini at the beach with my kids for the first time in years. I avoided going swimming because I did not feel comfortable in my own skin. That was then.

I went to a bathing suit store, tried many of them, finally found one that I felt was fit for my body type and we went to the beach. When I heard my boys telling me how beautiful I looked I almost cried. Because I realised right then, that everything starts within you.

The scars of my pregnancies did not matter anymore. Because I had achieved one thing. To teach my boys that even though I did not look like the magazine covers, I was a beautiful woman. And we went to the beach every single day that we could.

And I began to talk to them in a way to make them see that the messages the media was sending were wrong. I showed them over and over the pictures of me pregnant, and I even let them see the scars on my belly as they called it their little house!

Focusing on the little girls to raise them as future powerful and confident woman is vital and necessary. But teaching our boys on how real women look, so that in the future, when they put their eyes on their wives they will make them feel beautiful too, is also important.

We as women, mothers, sisters and friends have a responsibility, and it’s to make the world see us as beautiful as we are.

Valerie Boucher: As a mother of 3 boys that are  all  into sports, hockey and soccer  i am surrounded by men. I feel it is my responsibility to help change the world and it starts at home.


Email: [email protected]


My eating disorder ate me and my life as a model

Date: February 10, 2015

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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

It has finally just hit me – I am free.

As I sit here, and do the dreaded task of organizing thousands of photos from my Iphone to folders on my USB, previews flash before my eyes. Photos from previous trips, photos from my “vacations” back at home, and everything in between. The one photo that hit me hard, and gave me the realization of freedom, was one of my mother and I at the airport just prior to my last departure.

I really feel as though I am a bird, finally being released from my cage.

Looking at the photo allowed me to visualize a different life. If I don’t want to, I never *have* to go on another modeling contract overseas again. Now, currently I am calling this return home a “break” but it may even be time I hang up my towel, other than the odd side job or direct booking. But I won’t set it in stone, or cry wolf.

This photo made me feel overwhelmingly joyful, an indescribable happiness that brought me to tears.

The painful airport goodbyes and stressful curiosity of what each contract would bring… no more. I would not need to worry further about when I will see my family, friends, and boyfriend next. I wouldn’t need to stress about the amount of calories I ate on the plane ride over, or if my body would be measured immediately after landing (who isn’t bloated after flying, right?). I would no longer need to wonder how many girls would be bunking (literally, bunk beds) in the same tiny a room, or how many I could befriend. Restrictions on how I live my life were now erased. If I wanted, I could now cut my hair, have flashy nails or even bronze my skin.

The past 5 years have been a non-stop motion of turbulence. Especially in the last 3 years, as I had been traveling 7 months of the year usually. I will say on one hand, I am blessed. I have gotten to see some of the most amazing places in Asia: Singapore, Tokyo, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. I also have gotten to meet some lifelong friends, receive special treatment when partying (models party for free in Asia) and attend exclusive events with A-list celebrities. I have seen myself appear on television, been on billboards, and have been asked by people seated beside me on flights, if they can take a photo with me, as they recognize me from the magazine in front of them. These moments surreal, but at what cost? Before you decide to jump into the industry of modeling, I ask you to consider everything. I don’t throw these examples out as “bragging rights,” but as a contrast to say “these are great things” BUT look at what is worth much more. Like peace, sanity, loved ones, self-love and freedom, the ability to let go of control.

My irreplaceable friendships I made overseas, the self-exploration, financial “luck” that allowed me to pay off schooling, and the opportunity to see places I never would’ve seen without this job… Make me grateful.

If you ask me, if I could go back – would I do it again? I just don’t know.

The real reason I am blessed is because I have a strong army of support behind me back home that kept me going.

Ever since I can remember, I have always had anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder). I worried more than the average person, handled stress differently, care a lot, and think differently, this made daily activities a lot more difficult. When I started traveling it forced me to spread my wings and take a leap of faith.

My first trip was the most intense one for me, being 6 months long, a lot happened in that timeframe.

When I returned home from that trip my anxiety and depression was at an all-time high, and I took time off from working internationally to seek help. It was too much all at once. Never had I traveled much before, and within the 6 month time frame, I dove head first into learning and embracing new cultures and countries, had a traumatic experience where I had to lock myself in a room to protect myself from outward forces, had nearly been physically taken advantage of, experienced the death of a loved one, the loss of a romantic partner, had possessions stolen from me, the realization of corrupt governments, visa complications, and personal illness on top of everything. As I mentioned, it was too much.

After 7 months of returning home, I finally recovered from my depression. Although I was “better,” I knew depression was a mental state that could return again at another time (and it did). My anxiety was also a lot more tamed, thanks to an amazing counsellor who guided and taught me how to manage these overwhelming feelings with useful techniques.

As time went on, I returned overseas to take on more contracts. I returned stronger than ever, but eventually slowly ran myself down again.

During trips overseas I would find the industry a difficult place even for the well-equip.

I would stress about booking jobs and the financial uncertainty. Agencies take a very large percent, and when you work overseas you are “advanced” all of your necessities such as accommodation, flights, photos and pocket money expenses. These fees are all eventually paid back through the hours of slavery the models put in. My longest job was 23 hours. If you are lucky, at the end you make profits. I, for the most part, had been very lucky.

I experienced restless days and nights, with the pressure to be thin. I can actually remember the day my perception on my own beauty changed. I had called my very first agency to ask them some questions about an upcoming test shoot (free photoshoot for portfolio usage, I did these for 3 years before traveling, to build a strong book) and that’s where the turn of events had happened.

“By the way, what are you doing for exercise now a days?” asked the director of my former agency.

As I excitedly told them about different fitness classes I had been enrolled in, step class, running, etc, he stopped me mid-sentence – “You need to stop, these workouts are making your legs bigger! Just walk. Walk every day for 90 minutes, and then your legs and hips will be smaller.” I agreed, hung up the phone, and cried.

I hadn’t even meant to fall into the traps of the industry. I had started out doing acting gigs and was a dancer when I was younger. As I aged I needed to get braces to straighten my smile, and that caused me to take a break from the acting side of work, and eventually I quit dancing for other reasons. To do modeling was just the urge to try something different. Little did I know that I was “the exception to the rule,” and that at just under 5’6 I would need to be extra thin to compensate for my lack of height. I hadn’t known that girls my height usually don’t get these opportunities I was being given. I also thought I was indeed, blessed.

These statements pushed me down a road of self-hate and carried on for years, until this day even. For years afterwards I would step on the scale, and measure my body by the inch each and every morning. This gave me validation. The good or bad news I would receive from the scale and my measuring tape would dictate my mood for the day, and let me know what foods I should/shouldn’t eat that day.

I could recite the caloric content of any food or beverage if asked, and always had my day’s intake calculated. I figured out the chemistry, the code to my body… and knew what I could and couldn’t eat together in a day to stay thin. When I would miss the mark, and over eat, I would sit in deep shame, often binge eat because I had “blown it already” and work extra hard the next week to ensure I get back to the body I had the week before. If my weight caught up with me, and I had access to a treadmill, I would stay on until I saw the number “1000” decreased from my caloric intake.

On one trip in particular I began feeling my depression immensely again, and when I am depressed, I often turn to food for comfort. I was never the type to “restrict” foods, or so I thought. If I was hungry, I would always eat. In fact, I ate every couple hours out of fear of getting too hungry and binge eating later. When I say “restrict” in quotations, it’s because I did in fact rule out many different foods deeming some good and others bad. Moderation wasn’t possible because I wasn’t allowing myself a little of the foods I love when I would crave them… it was often all-or-nothing, black and white thinking. I preferred to eat alone.

I was never the “puking type,” and when I had fellow model friends overseas who used methods of starvation, diets or purging, I hid my own insecurities and would reassure them they were beautiful, and thin. I would try to assure them they can’t do these things to their bodies. It is unhealthy.

I never wanted anyone to feel the pain I felt. I didn’t think they deserved it, and I knew they were indeed all so beautiful already.

See, I thought my problem was much less severe because I was still eating, and knew too much about food. I had been confused if my obsessive 24/7 thoughts of food and calculations were enough to be deemed a disorder, or if it was a “wimpy” disorder because I wasn’t actually puking.

During my depressive states, I would “lose control” and eat and eat until I couldn’t breathe. As though food was the one thing I had control over in my life. I kept eating and eating, and eventually on one of my trips, I found my solution. I began to use laxatives nearly every day to release the emotional and physical abuse I was doing to myself. My weight fluctuated a lot in the past 5 years.

This scarred me not only physically but most of all, emotionally, and left me with misconstrued perceptions on life that I still need to overcome.

When I receive a compliment, I would think it meant I needed to work harder. And worst of all, when a loved one or partner would tell me they love me… I could only wonder how they loved me, when I didn’t love myself.

My eating disorder and most of all my anxiety disorder… make me feel as though it takes up an entire half of me.

The other half I am left with is the real “me,” the “me” who is a good person, who likes to have fun, with personality, and a big heart. I often still wonder how people can love me as much as they do, when because of my disorders, they only get to experience half of me. The other half is constant worries and stress about life (anxieties other than my ED), depressive episodes where I am at a low point and in tears, and moments where I don’t feel in control. Sometimes I feel detached from my body. Medical professionals refer to anxiety as “The Beast,” as when it takes over your body, you aren’t really *you* in those moments. My anxiety has the tendency to make me always want to be in control of everything, and stress easily - I hate uncertainty.

Besides the financial and physical uncertainties, there were many other battles to deal with such as being away from the ones I love most, finding true and trustworthy friends and relationships overseas, slaving at jobs only to receive 60% of it, experiencing the nervousness of visa extensions and spending a lot of time alone.

I am now back at home in Vancouver, Canada and in returning home from my previous trip, my depression again cured. I am so happy to share this, and while I am working very, very hard around the clock to keep it in check when it creeps back… I am also actively seeking further help with my anxieties and for help for my newly diagnosed eating disorder.

I am very nervous to share part of my story with the world, but in doing this my intention is to extend a hand out to anyone who is feeling alone or who needs support.

I have an army of unconditional support behind me, and as I struggle to fight through all of these difficult battles, they will be there for my victory when that day comes. My amazing family, friends, mother agency and boyfriend are the most precious to me; they are always there when I need them.

Since I have returned home, and wanted to genuinely make a change, I have been making progress. I have taken the scale and measuring tape out of my bathroom. I have been trying my best not to calculate my caloric intake, and have been resisting forms of purging. I am learning to give myself grace, and trying to eat a wide range of foods I have excluded from my diet for so long. I will be reprogramming and using my anxiety techniques learned to serve me better and bring inner peace preventing depression.

The obstacles I am fighting will be exceptionally hard to break after 5 solid years. At times I feel physical pain and discomfort, leaving me in emotional distress…but I am on my way, wanting to finally recover from these nightmares. As I am not perfect I surely will be taking “wins” and “losses…” but I do hope to come out as the victor.

Credit: Originally published by Thought Catalog at

Kimberley-Rae is an international Canadian model who has spent the last few years working abroad all over Asia. She believes strongly in body image empowerment because of her personal past and experience working in the modeling industry. Kimberley aims to break the stigma around mental health and work to empower other women to regain their life back and not base beauty on the exterior.


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How To Ditch Diets For Good: It’s Not What You Think

Date: February 6, 2015

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Ellie Savoy

Losing weight for the last time in 2011 has been deeply liberating, empowering and totally freeing. No more conversations about being good all week, bad on the weekends, off the wagon, on a diet, feeling deprived, counting calories, pretending, making excuses or scrambling to lose weight for a special event.

I was never a chubby kid, an overweight adolescent or young woman, yet I never loved the body I was in. A bit of fat on my hips or stomach gave me reason to deprive myself of something I liked, usually chocolate! This negative body image stuck with me for years.

The dieting roller-coaster kept me trapped for over 25 years even for wanting to lose as little as 5 lbs. I never totally loved what I saw in the mirror. In addition, stress played a big role in my life as early as 20. I was an over-achiever always striving for the next thing. I had no idea that my body needed to be respected and appreciated. I thought it was a machine that would keep going forever. I would only stop when I was forced to because of exhaustion.

This happened many times. My eating habits, stressful lifestyle and lack of respect for my own body led me to being 30 lbs. overweight at my heaviest. You know how we often need some kind of trigger for change? Well, it took me three!

Trigger #1 - On June 8th, 2008 my mother died after being in ill-health for eight years. I heard many times throughout my life that you can’t take your things with you when you die and this really hit me between the eyes when my mother died. Nothing was going with her. What had I been thinking?

I charge up my mobile phone when the energy is low and I don’t put diesel in my unleaded gas car. Why was I paying attention to that and not to myself? Why was I striving for more and more at the expense of my most valuable asset – my body and health? This was the beginning of a deeper inner journey and asking myself a lot of questions about my choices in life.

Trigger #2 - 21 months later on March 14th, 2010 my father passed away. It was so sudden and it knocked me sideways. I could hardly believe the news. This time my siblings and I had to take care of the funeral arrangements, all their belongings, sell our family home, paperwork and all the legalities. I felt like I was having an out of body experience. It just didn’t seem real that both my parents were gone in less than 2 years of each other.

The grief felt like navigating my way through thick fog and I felt deeper confusion around my own journey. My own mortality became a very real thing and it brought into focus how much life is a very precious gift.

Trigger #3 - The final trigger came in 2011. I was diagnosed with two uterine fibroids. I was given four options by my Gynecologist. Three of them involved surgery one of which was a hysterectomy. The other was to do nothing. I was freaked out by this news. How could this have happened within one year? I had no desire to have surgery. My life wasn’t being threatened but I knew I had to do something and I wanted to do something. I didn’t realize at the time that this would be the catalyst for changing my life for the better for good!

My focus shifted to becoming healthy, not being obsessed about my weight and being consumed with a bit of fat here or a blemish there. Over-extending myself and pushing my body beyond its limits stopped. I learned to say “no”! I started a hormone rejuvenation homeopathic program for three cycles that required a change in my diet and lifestyle along with using natural creams and drops.

I was totally committed. I did everything that I could to heal myself because I was afraid of what the alternative would be and I intuitively knew this was a gift. I had pushed the envelope far too many times and it was not sustainable for the long haul. The good news is the fibroids got smaller!

Looking back and reflecting upon the decisions I made over many years, it is so clear to me now that if I had kept things simple and made myself a priority instead of focusing on having more, I wouldn’t have been a yo-yo dieter, I would have been less stressed, slept better and felt more connected to my life’s journey and purpose. I don’t judge this. It has provided great personal growth. This journey has led me to helping other women ditch diets for good, find peace with food, focus on health and make themselves a priority.

I strongly believe the key to a healthy and happy life in this world lies in the decision of every woman to simplify her life and focus on making herself a priority instead of putting herself last. Our health can’t wait for us to be ready. Without our health what do we really have?

Ellie Savoy is President and founder of Diet Free and Healthy, Inc. She is a common-sense Board Certified Holistic Health coach who supports, coaches and teaches stressed out, over-weight and time starved women to break free from the drama of diets, lose weight naturally, look great and feel fantastic. Connect with her:

Facebook - Diet Free And Healthy, Twitter & LinkedIn.


Image: Foto_Michel. Find at Flickr here.


Living Life Outside The Box

Date: February 2, 2015

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Bri Seeley

For the past 10 years, I have limited my place in the world with a very narrow definition of myself. Being a fashion designer was the pulse of my life. It encompassed my every waking thought, breath, and movement. It was my passion and life purpose to bring joy to the lives of women through their wardrobes.

And then at some point, things shifted. I began to wake up every morning dreading the day before me. My energy output was still focused on being a Fashion Designer, but what was once my passion now became work. On the good days I felt like I was running on a hamster wheel and getting nowhere. And on the bad days, I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall incessantly.

I began praying for a shift, praying for change, praying for an opening in life by attending conferences, participating in teleseminars, meditating, and listening to podcasts for answers to break past my perceived barriers. And more importantly than any of these things, I started reaching out to my girlfriends for support. It was a Tuesday afternoon that I met a girlfriend for dessert and began sharing my frustrations. She responded very simply, “You place so many rules on yourself and live in these self-imposed boxes. What would happen if you started breaking your rules? How would life look and feel?”

I sat back speechless. No answers came to me as I repeated the questions in my head. What would it look like? Over the next several days I started to break my rules little by little. Anytime I told myself I couldn’t do something because of *insert silly excuse here*, I made a point to do whatever it was. From going on dates I would have normally turned down, to asking questions I wouldn’t usually ask, to partnering in collaborations I usually would have overlooked - I began to expand past the box I lived in.

The beauty of it is while I have had my revelation, this is only the beginning. I have begun to define myself only as an entrepreneur and thought leader. Because it’s these two concepts that ring true to the essence of my core. Whereas being a “fashion designer” or “author” or “blogger” are just the ways I show up in the world.

I guess in a way it’s fitting that I’ll be participating in the BARE Campaign later this month because what I found was this: in order to work through my life frustrations it was as simple as unraveling everything my ego had defined as “success,” stretching my wings, and showing up completely bare and authentic in every moment.

I began to wake up in the mornings and decide what my day looked like, instead of feeling like I was obligated to specific tasks. I actively invited and left time in my schedule to let magic to happen. I moved my fashion business out of the fashion district. I shifted my focus from my fashion brand that was sucking my time and my energy to developing a book that has the possibility of changing every life it touches. My life began to flow again.

I invite you to consider how your rules about life are holding you back. Because once you’re able to truly look past these arbitrary limitations is where life’s magic lies.

Bri Seeley is an entrepreneurial sensation that is passionate about sharing her story, and the stories of other amazing women. Her training and passion as a fashion designer led her to create a fashion label dedicated to femininity and helping women connect with their true selves. Seeley has paved her path by surrounding herself with inspirational women, which revealed to her a disheartening trend that she is dedicated to change. She recognized how intensely women search outside of themselves for happiness and validation, losing touch with what makes them women and conforming to external pressures of how women should show up in the world. This gap between how women define themselves and how society defines them has created an immense amount of discord and unhappiness. The recognition of this moved Seeley to begin the Inspirational Woman Project movement, which has begun with a series of 100 interviews compiled into a coffee table book.

Connect with Bri: Twitter @BriSeeley and @InspWomanProjct & her Kickstarter Campaign.

Instagram @Iambriseeley and @InspWomanProjct

Facebook: Bri Seeley Designs and The Inspirational Woman Project.

Image: iñaki de luis. Find at Flickr here.

Doll Smashing

Date: February 1, 2015

posted by Women Enough / Comments: No Comments / Tags: , , ,

Robin Korth

I looked in the mirror and really saw myself looking back at me. I saw me! My breath caught in my throat as I stared in a self-fascinated kind of horror at my own image. I was not thirty-five. I was not forty-five. I was fifty-one years old. Two-thirds of my life was well and truly gone. I was heading towards the “exit” sign, and I’d forgotten to start the engine.

In that moment, I understood that I’d been living all my now-piling-up years as the “walking wishful.” I’d been waiting for my life to begin. I’d been waiting for the real show to start. I kept thinking it was going to be just around the corner, just after the next event, just there—don’t you see it? But the “real show” hadn’t started and it wasn’t going to start without me. It was time for me to step into the center of doing life and stop waiting for “it” to just somehow magically happen.

This meant I had to face my past—the creation place of where I was now. I had to drop the “Let’s pretend everything is hunky dory” baloney and pick up the truth. The truth was that I had taken the hard, cold facts of my life and covered them with paper mache to create cheerful and charming dolls. I’d then placed these conveniently smiling and cartoon-happy versions of myself on the memory shelves of my mind.

For me to get truly honest, I had to go on a search-and-destroy mission. I had to smash open these make-believe dolls that were keeping me stuck. With crying courage, I began smashing them to the floor.

Wham! There was the truth that I was insecure in my talents because I had never owned them or worked to make them mine. Crash! There was the reality that I was a coward. I was afraid to speak openly about what I felt and what I really needed. Slam! There were my loneliness and anger, my confusion and resentment.

Truth splattered and splintered through my mind and heart as I continued to drive doll after doll to the floor spraying out more self-harming secrets.

There was the fact that I had been soul-lazy and fearful, that I had blamed others. Over there was the reality that I had gone along for the ride in my marriage. I had not brought my full self to it. Just there were the lost years with my children, because I myself had been lost. Up-close and scattered across the top of this whole broken mess were my despair and self-pity, my having given up and gone soul-quiet.

Then, I was done. All my dolls were smashed and my illusions destroyed. The myths of me were undone-I could use them as excuses and protection no more. I hurt and I ached as I stood in the middle of my truth. There were cuts in my soul where the spiking shards had left bloody marks.

As I stood there surrounded by this “debris of me,” an amazing thing happened. There were beautiful shimmers of light sparking off the floor. Glinting and glimmering up out of the dark were other truths of me that I had forgotten or simply let go. There was my courage. Over there was my very large heart, my huge capacity to love.  Over there were self-discipline, responsibility and strength. And shining the brightest were my willingness, enthusiasm and curiosity for life.

As I stared at the shattered pieces of my life on the floor, I realized how extraordinarily powerful I was. Look at what I had done! The life I had been living was the result of my actions and choices; my lack of actions and choices. What would my life be like if I claimed all of who I was with conscious thought and purposeful action?

Ever since this day, when I smashed my self-created and self-limiting dolls to the floor, I have chosen to live with honesty and courage, clear-eyed acceptance and seeking self-love. My life is now a daily journey of wonder, generosity and joy. I no longer have any dusty old dolls cluttering up the shelves of my mind and holding hidden pieces of my own heart.

Perhaps you’ve got some paper mache creations of your own. If you do, I wish you the courage to smash your dolls, break through the fantasies, see your truth and find the light of your own soul. Because within these shattered bits, you’ll find the limiting illusions you can finally throw away and the shining truths you can honestly claim as your true treasures and gifts.

Robin Korth enjoys interactions with her readers. Feel free to contact her at [email protected] or on Facebook.

To learn about her new book, “Soul on the Run,” go to:

You can also download her “Robin In Your Face” free daily motivational app by going to

Left Behind

Date: January 30, 2015

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Jacqueline Banchero

The iPhone 6 Plus is here! I have been waiting for it. Oh, the design. It’s sleek, lighter,  slimmer and has bigger frame to see the chubby cheeks of my grandbaby, Napoleon. Who cares that I may not be able to understand 98% of what the iPhone can do to make my life quicker, better, easier on this planet.

My excitement for a new phone equates to buying a designer purse or shoes. With my hand on my heart I say, “Lola, calm down, it’s ridiculous to upgrade. You upgraded in June to an iPhone 5s because the 4s was: Old. And you are still learning how to figure out the 50+ apps that are on it.”

Change is good, change is constant, change is everything. My son, Ralph, said to me, “Mom, you’ve got to ride the waves.” I agree. However, can we slow it down a notch? This is what I’m concerned about-my elderly relatives who I shuttle each week to Rite-Aid and the dentist to get their dentures adjusted and how they get left behind. This makes me sad, more so because I’m related to them and I see myself as a much older person when I look at them.

This week my Aunt Lucy asked if I can drive her to T-Mobile to see what is wrong with her cell phone. She is 91 years old, still has all her marbles, and she knows all the avenue names and street addresses. She even knows where all the cemeteries are located. She tells me she can’t hear the ring tone on her cell, she can’t get to her message box, and she lists a few more minor fixable issues. I looked at the phone, but had no success. I soon realized my limitations when it comes to computers and cell phones. I’m not as tech savvy as I would like to be. I have yet to learn about DropBox, WhatsApp, I-message, and Twitter.

Being left behind is no picnic. I notice more than anything with the elderly is they have no one to talk to. They are isolated. In their youth, they had a phone the size of a shoe box, could dial the number, and talk to a friend. Now, if you want to talk to your children you touch a small phone screen or you text, email, or Facebook them. All of these things are hard to do if you didn’t grow up learning how to do them.

What can we do to stay connected as we grow older? What is our responsibility to our family, friends, and elders? I do know that when I’m with my older relatives, I have to pray first that God will shower me with patience. I really need it. I also ask God to give me the ears to listen. On the flip side, I realize that I also need these gifts from God when I attend my computer class every Tuesday at my local senior community center. Seated next to me at Starbucks, I overheard the instructor, Bruce, telling a senior citizen how to navigate through her email. He noticed me eavesdropping. Then, he handed me his card. Would you believe he used to work for Apple as an tutor? I took that information and his card as a sign for me to take his class so I will not be left behind.

Dear God, change is never easy. I feel for my aunts and mom who have a difficult time keeping up with our technical world. My prayer is that everyone today will be more conscious of our senior citizens. Bless us with compassion and patience. Let us be first to notice them and say hi. Let us not overlook them. Remind us each day that it won’t be long until we are the ones who need a ride to the grocery store and dentist. Amen, Lola.

 Jacqueline Banchero is a 50-something, woman of faith, married, mother of two, actor, writter, blogger, speaker, woman. She enjoys staying home with her boys raising them to be young men - now that they are on their own it’s my turn to find my passion and share it with the world. Find Lola on her blog website, Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Spyros Papaspyropoulos. Find at Flickr.

Finding Purpose In The Crisis Of My Life

Date: January 10, 2015

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Tess Vergara

My greatest strength and accomplishment in life was in raising my 2 daughters singlehandedly. I separated from their dad at first sign of physical abuse towards our then 2-year old first born, literally after I gave birth to our second. I waited a few months to recuperate from a ruptured uterus, and on my 30th birthday I asked for a divorce. I agreed to counselling but it was a trick. He had planned to kidnap the kids to Hong Kong but I had my angels guarding me.

And because I was a stay at home mom and moved with him to the US on his work visa only six months prior, when we separated I became instantly deportable, homeless and with no source of income, no friends, no family, and a single mother of two toddlers. Without financial support from their father, I happily worked two jobs to give my daughters a great life. I was an ambitious, driven and determined single mom (still am!) who worked nonstop.

Within three years I was able to buy our first home, and a few years later, while people were losing jobs, I was able to buy real estate properties to rent out that helped me afford to send my daughters to private school from kindergarten through to high school.

But all this work took a toll on me - physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I didn’t realize how exhausted and depleted I was.

A certain sadness had grown inside of me with raising the kids alone for 15 years but looking back, it was the year 2009 that called me back home. It started with an arson on Easter Sunday, the death of my boss and confidante on June 30th and a betrayal and backstabbing by a few close people I had trusted. All of these were separate incidents that happened in the one year, and it was this year that broke the camel’s back. I had been carrying on, acting strong and putting out fires when I should have been grieving and processing my emotions.

Fate intervened and I broke my knee in a ski accident the same year at Christmas. I fell on my back after a loud snap from somewhere in my body. I prayed so hard “please, Lord, not yet. I just need a little time to get my affairs in order and make final instructions”. I remember counting my blessings as I looked around at nature’s splendor while I lay immobilized on the snow, waiting for help, feeling lucky to be alive. Then I thought to myself, “geez, I should have been more dare-devilish! Would have made the injury worthwhile!”

After the accident, determined to walk on high heels again and get my strut back, I took dance lessons as my rehab and soon enough I was walking and dancing and jumping and skating again. It was a pretty good scare, it opened up my eyes and gave me the resolve to live life to the fullest.

And then I got re-married. Who knew getting married would bring back unresolved issues from yesteryears? The slow build of depression and anxiety along with years of stress and self-neglect was a guarantee for exhaustion and burn-out. It also led to a meltdown at work - one I am not proud of but a huge writing on the wall that my energy was drained and I was taken hostage by crazy monkey chatter. What’s worse, I had alienated everyone I love, including the handful of friends who’d stood by me for so many years.

My husband described me as a matchstick ready to flare up at the slightest provocation and it stopped me in my tracks. There were no other people left to point a finger at but myself. What a rude awakening!

And that’s how I got into coaching. I was my first client and its the best investment I’ve ever gifted myself. I was in a state of confusion and pain. Not physical pain but a yearning for something more. As I journeyed inward - digging, weeding, clearing antiquated beliefs that no longer served me, I experienced a lightness of being each time a layer was peeled. It felt so good and liberating. The transformational shifts I experienced through self-love and empowerment, breaking free of the box I unconsciously built for myself, is a process I love to share with others.

Now here I am reminded that we are all called to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. We all have a unique purpose that we have forgotten. We get so caught up with life that we forget how to live, truly, deeply, lovingly, meaningfully. It is my goal and desire to facilitate that awakening - to elevate awareness, self-esteem, self-respect, self-care, self-compassion - and lead others from heartbreak to heart-and-mind fully opened, awakened to their intrinsic beauty and infinite love.

Tess Vergara is a facilitator for awakening consciousness and very passionate in assisting highly motivated individuals to recognize and bring forth their unique self – the unique gift and brilliance within so they can come alive, make quantum leaps in life, business and relationships, and set the world on fire. Tess is a Certified Master Strategy Coach and a Certified General Account and also highly trained in Strategic Intervention, Unique Self Awakening and Awakening Coaching Training. She integrates 25+ years experience in Finance and Accounting with her intuitive and masterful coaching to offer a unique, practical and strategic approach to spiritual awakening.

Image: Neal Sanche. Find at Flickr.

Unlikely Hero

Date: January 5, 2015

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Kellie Fitzgerald

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I could ever be anyone’s “hero”. Yet, today I received a rather lengthy and certainly heartfelt email from someone I have never met, had never even heard of, until this email arrived.

In this email this individual said I was their hero and that until they found my book, my facebook page and blog they’d believed no one else could ever understand how desperate their life was, how truly bleak their future seemed. In short, they’d never found a role model they felt spoke directly to them.

This email made me cry, a deep, knowing, cleansing cry as I at once identified with their story. Their story was my story. Well, of course there are differences, but at the very core our stories are the same. I am honored, deeply honored, to have received this email. And while I am honored because of their very kind words, I am mostly honored because their words are confirmation that I have survived. I have arrived. I have come through the darkness and am now in a place to light the way for others.

See, I was born to an unmarried teenage mother at a time when that simply was not done. My resulting childhood was not necessarily a happy one as my eventual step-father was perhaps the only person as miserable as my mother. Our home was dysfunctional, although I did not know it at the time. I don’t think the word dysfunctional was known then and if it was it certainly wasn’t widely used as it now relates to families. My parents had many children with inadequate means of supporting them in any sense of the word. As the size of our family increased, so did the confrontations, and the violence. By the time I was a teenager I had retreated into my own world and tried to stay as far away from all of them as I could.

History does repeat itself and I found myself a mother actually a year younger than my mother had been when she’d had me. Determined to somehow do things differently, I married my daughter’s father even though I knew of his drug and anger issues. I spent the next many years being routinely hit, choked, and stomped on, and suffering mental, psychological and emotional abuse that would take decades to recover from. There were many times during this very dark period of my life I actually prayed earnestly for death.

Once I finally reached the point in my life where I was finally on the right track and things were looking positive, I got sick. I had moved on from my very abusive first marriage and was in a serious new relationship. We were both excited that I had become pregnant. But just beneath this wonderful event was the fact I had become sick. I didn’t realize how very sick I was becoming or that I was actually in danger of dying until I was rushed into emergency surgery. This pregnancy was actually a tubal pregnancy and my fallopian tube was about to burst, it had already begun leaking. Once in surgery doctors found several cysts and ovarian tumors. While little was made about it while I was in the hospital during a post-operative follow-up appointment it was confirmed that the material that was removed during my surgery was actually the very type of material that develops into ovarian cancer. I had been extremely lucky.

This was my new beginning. While I had always been interested in spirituality, I began to truly learn and read with a new sense of voracity. While the next several years were far from perfect, I learned to be grateful that I was alive. When this relationship ended, I was devastated and again I was thrown back into a very deep darkness. But, I never truly stopped learning or growing and each time I started again, I started from a very different place. A much stronger place. I’ve undergone additional life-saving surgeries since that first one. My life, it seems, has been a series of surviving events that most people I’ve known tell me they could not have handled. But, I know they could have. You truly never know what you can handle until you’re in the very midst of it.

All of which brings me back to the email I received from someone calling me their “hero.” If I have made a difference in this person’s life, then I am grateful to have done so. I do not think I’ve done anything so spectacular as to be given the title “hero.” I’m just me, a survivor, a wife, mother and soon-to-be grandmother. I’m a writer who has found her voice, finally, after so many years.

Kellie Fitzgerald has arrived at this particular point in her life by taking the scenic route, often filled with pratfalls and new beginnings. After a life spent experiencing trials by fire while simultaneously navigating choppy waters, she is passionate about helping others navigate their own paths and become the very best version of themselves they can be. Having been told early in adulthood that as an employee she would make an excellent entrepreneur, Kellie has started, grown and/or run several small businesses. Currently she is a real estate broker and life coach in southeastern Arizona and, as usual, lives with a rather large menagerie of animals and way more gardens and other projects than any truly sane person would attempt to handle.

Image: Pig & Pepper. Find at Flickr.