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Women at a Crossroads

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Fri, 01/12/2018 - 17:39
Sub Title
Angelia White's Magazine for Women


Following the death of close family members, Angelia White, mother of 3, embarked on a journey to find her purpose. Along the way, she found her passion for empowering women and sparked her newsletter-turned-magazine. HOPE FOR WOMEN is a quarterly publication for women at a crossroads, searching to live their best life. We set out to find what makes her dare... 

Where did you find the fire to start your magazine?

I had just lost my grandmother and father within three months of each other. At that time, I was on this search to find out “my purpose” and “what I was created for” so it was a combination of realizing how short and fragile life was…but it was time to get busy living it. I didn’t want to go on the journey alone but wanted to encourage other women that may be at a cross-road in their lives and desired to live their dreams and pursue their passions.

What inspired you to focus on women in particular? 

When I first started, it was actually a newsletter for a group of 50 to 100 women. I had an audience and I had every intention to inspire and empower them. I wanted to create and platform for "real women" to discuss "real topics" and their "real stories" and life journeys. It was a safe haven where it was a judgement free zone. We were all trying to love and live again. Many of us had been broken and still weren't sure of how to express those hurts so "Hope For Women" was the tool and the vehicle. Women because to release the shame in their leave so they felt they belonged and had purpose. So from that moment I knew this was my purpose. It grew quickly within the first year to a magazine (an inspirational companion).  

How did you discover your passion? 

It was in the moment when I took that leap of faith to launch Hope for Women. The immediate response and reaction was overwhelming. I soon realized I love seeing other women flourish and blossom into their best lives. It’s so rewarding watching and seeing other women believe in themselves.   

How do your personal strengths impact your professional life? 

Being resilient, remaining hopeful and letting things go. There have been so many things thrown my way even as a child. I learned early in life not to take things personal, forgive and move on because if you don’t it will hinder your progress in life…I’m not perfect, may make a few mistakes here and there but that’s OKAY. Get up and try it again! 

What one experience do you continue to learn from  today?  

Trusting the wrong person with your vision and having your own confidence. WOW! That was one of the toughest lessons I’ve ever learned. I basically handed my company over to this particular individual (to handle sales) and she mismanaged it so much to the point I thought it was unrepairable. Not only was I left broke and broken but the company was too. What it taught me was to have confidence and believe in myself. Not to make hasty decisions too soon just because you don’t think you have time. Everyone doesn’t have your best interest at heart and often people are looking for the best opportunity for themselves and don’t care what or how they get it. So today I’m extremely selective who I share my platform with, who contributes or have any part of the magazine.  

What do you  NOT  let get in your way?

Fear and the opinions of others.  

What motivates you to keep going? 

My faith in God, and my three children. 

Tell us about your inspiration to create.

I was smack dead in the middle of spiritual, emotional trauma and abuse. In that moment (me being the not selfish person I am) desired to inspire other women that may be in the same place. They were victimized over and over again and didn’t know how to escape or break free. So I created HOPE. I didn’t want to go on the journey alone so why not take a few more thousand women (who may or may not know how great there were) with me. Let’s heal and experience our greatness together.  

What would you tell your  20-year-old  self?  

Have COURAGE! Go. Be. Do. 

Three things  you want other women to know?   

1. They are amazing.  

2. They are capable of many things.  

3. Greatness lies within each of them.  

What is one thing that you would change in the world? 

That no one would be homeless or hungry, but everyone would have a place to dwell and eat.  

Angelia White

Angelia White is a mother of three and the Publisher, President, and CEO of Hope for Women. Motivated by her desire to encourage women and share their inspiring stories, she transformed a simple idea into an empowering endeavor when she started the lifestyle magazine in 2005. Hope for Women magazine is headquartered in Muncie, Indiana and is now read by over 100,000 women monthly. For more information visit

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The Female Farmer Looks Like This

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:07
Sub Title
An Interview with Audra Mulkern, Filmmaker

Think of a farmer. Did you picture an older white man in overalls and a piece of straw sticking between his teeth? Audra Mulkern wants to change that.

Realistically, women now make up 30% of farm operators in the U.S. (almost triple from just 3 decades ago) yet their work is often unappreciated or unrecognized. Audra founded “The Female Farmer Project” to shine a spotlight on hardworking female farmers around world through a multi-platform documentary. Combing stories, personal essays, photography and a podcast she is determined to give a voice to these women.

What initially got you interested in photographing farms and farmers? What sparked this blog?

One summer day, I was standing in the middle of my local farmer's market. I was just admiring the color and artful bounty that the farmers bring every week trying to decide what to buy next. I was watching the farmers interact with the shoppers, and each other and all of the sudden it struck me. Behind every single table was a woman. I wondered what was going on – was my community special to have so many women farmers? Or had I bought into a gender stereotype?  So I went to the library. Yes, strangely enough – that moment struck me enough to the point that I would go to the library to research. What I discovered amongst so many things is that women were missing from the narrative -- from the data, from the stories, from the pictures. So I decided to do something about it. Only problem, I wasn’t a photographer, didn’t even own a camera much less know how to use one. I had never written anything besides emails and Facebook posts, I didn’t know how to start a project mapping a group of people. Nothing. I had no experience, education, authority or permission. So I had to write my own permission slip.  

What are some of the best things these farmers have taught you? If not directly, has sharing their stories taught you something?

I have learned to redefine what success looks like. Many of the women that I have met are first generation farmers, and like myself are on their encore career. They’ve had the corporate job and gave it up along with the security of stock options, health insurance, annual bonuses, and paid vacations for something entirely new with no guarantees. I have also learned to observe nature more carefully. I’ve noticed that women farmers and ranchers know almost immediately if something is wrong in their herd or flock. And I’m constantly impressed with the intellectual challenges that farming brings. I think at first glance people might brush off farming as easy. But wow – farming employs STEM all day every day. There is nothing easy about it.

Why do you think it is so important to share women's stories? Particularly female farmers stories?

I mentioned that women farmers were missing from the data and the narrative. What that means is that their contributions and their stories have not been told. Only for the last forty years has the USDA Census tracked gender statistics, and even then the questions have been gender-biased and resulted in incomplete data. By telling their stories, by providing a platform for them to tell their stories, we rewire ourselves for the empathy to make change. What change? To change policy that was written without women in mind. To help create paths for women to better access tools, training and financing. It’s critical to tell these stories.

Growing up, who were your most important influences? How did they inform who you were as a woman?

I grew up in the 70s and 80s – mid women’s movement. Many of the women around me were just beginning to work outside of the home, but perhaps not in their dream job or career. I truly feel that my mother would have made an amazing architect but she worked in social services. While important and fulfilling to her in many ways, I always had that lingering feeling that she and many of the women her age were held back by societal norms. I am grateful to them for paving that path. And now as a mother of an 18-year-old young woman – I am even more grateful because she feels powerful in her skin and her path has fewer obstacles than mine.

Describe a time when you realized women were treated differently than men… how old were you… what was the situation? What happened?

Early in my career at a large software company, I was in a conference room conducting contract negotiations with a Japanese company; it was a male negotiator on their side, plus his female secretary and a few other men. I too was the only woman on the other side with my male team. I had a male translator in the room and the Japanese businessman asked him if I had the authority to negotiate the contract. The translator made sure I knew what he had just asked. I was grateful to know that I now had the upper hand; his misogyny was his fatal flaw and I got everything I wanted in the contract. I hope his secretary was silently cheering for me!

When do you feel your most powerful?

When I have helped another woman tell her story. Too often women feel as if it’s bragging. It’s not bragging if it’s true.

Or the pressure to be perfect is so overwhelming that they apologize for their story. Your story is as perfect and valid as anyone’s. Find power in your uniqueness.

Or, and this is a big one. Women don’t feel like they have the authority. Remember, I didn’t have the authority to do what I do. But I wrote my own permission slip and I am asking women to do the same. Even if you have to sit down and type it up and sign it and tape it to your wall. Give yourself the permission and the authority - don’t wait for someone else to give it to you.

Were all about daring at HERdacity. What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

I have done a few crazy things in my life, like flying off to all parts of the world on my own at age 18. I worked for an airline and was determined to take full advantage of my free flight benefits. But honestly, sometimes the most daring and scary thing is to hit the send or submit button - but the feeling after you’ve done it is as amazing and adrenaline filled as if you had jumped out of an airplane!

Do you have a mantra?

“There is no path, the path is made by walking.”  

I love this saying by Antonio Machado, it’s part of a longer poem. But that one line gets me through the times when I feel like I am in the weeds. For me, it means to keep my head down and work to create my own path.


What do you carry in your purse or bag with you every day?

In my camera bag, in addition to my camera, I carry two lenses, an extra battery and charger, and a lens cloth. But I also carry a rain bonnet that I found in my husband’s great aunt’s camera bag. It’s from the 1950s, its unused and in a sweet little plastic container. It’s my talisman. I also have red lipstick, sharpies, a granola bar, and thank you notes. Because with red lips I feel pulled together, sharpies are never a bad idea, I get super hungry after a shoot and manners never go out of style – people love to feel appreciated. l love sending and receiving thank you notes. The things I don’t carry - insecurity, other people’s expectations or past mistakes.

What are 3 things left on your bucket list?

Great question! Hike Machu Pichu, take a pottery class and be published in the New York Times.

What are your go-to indulgences or guilty pleasures?

I didn’t have T.V. for almost a decade so I have been out of the pop culture loop. I recently got satellite and streaming services - and my guilty pleasure is watching the Real Housewives of New York. I’m still pretty far back in the seasons, but I’m hooked. What should I watch next when I’m done?

You can pick one superpower… what would you choose?

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Audra Mulkern, filmmaker
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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Fri, 12/15/2017 - 10:18
Sub Title
How to Preserve Your Sanity Over the Holiday Week

Tell the truth. How many movies have you watched this week? OK, don’t answer.


If there’s a support group for women who stay home with their entire family for a week each December, I haven’t found it yet. You may think I’m kidding, but along about the fourth day after Christmas (hey, that’s today!), I begin to feel like spilling all my troubles to absolute strangers on the internet or a local Meetup. I might even leave the house for that.


Can we be real? The holidays are rough for those who take comfort in a productive schedule.


Now, I know there are people who would relish the problem of too much family time, and I also realize there are extroverts who thrive on entertaining company in close quarters... This isn’t for them. This is for the rest of us.


Consider the melancholy some of us – not all introverts, by the way –  deal with over the holidays. The year’s door quietly closing forever. And the overspending. And the idiotic food choices we succumb to from about mid-November through Jan 1st.


Then, as if that weren’t fodder for open season on self-loathing, you’re trapped inside the house with all the people closest to you. For a very. Long. Time.


Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, chances are you have been in close unusually close cahoots with people you normally see coming and going from day to day, if not far less frequently. How soon the magic fades when there’s no work or school to break up the fun!


Is it any coincidence that there are Twelve Days of Christmas AND 12-step programs for overcoming negative habits, guaranteed to make you a better person – if not you, then someone else in your overfull household? (You know the one.)


Maybe you're like me, and it's already been too much Netflix, and too much Family Fix. On this, “the fourth day of Christmas,” the house is starting to feel like a pressure cooker.  If your creative juices have ben diluted in in wassail and inactivity, it’s probably time to break out. Here are some ideas.


Eleven ways to break out of the home pressure cooker:


  • Escape to a movie alone. By that, I mean leave the house. Find a flick that passes the Bechdel test, just for good measure.


  • Take a walk. The worse the weather, the better. Anyone who wants to come along with you may need the stress relief more than you. Take deep cleansing breaths full of fresh cold air.



  • Write in a journal, write late Christmas or New Year cards, write thank you notes, do a crossword puzzle. I learned long ago that when you have a pen in your hand, people don’t bother you. Try it.



  • Call someone. Texting doesn’t count. Holidays are just the time to catch up with old friends. Chances are that buddy on the other side of the country needs a time-out as badly as you.


  • Tidy up. Get a leg up on clearing out the Christmas decorations. We have a long Christmas week this year, and we had a long span between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so neatening up is fair game. A clean slate does wonders for your peace of mind.



  • Organize a closet or a room. Get industrious. Choose productivity when you “should” be relaxing. Self-care to you may mean something completely different from the norm. Go with it.


  • Escape to the bathroom for a mini-spa. A peppermint facial or a foot massage and pedicure. Bathrooms are a great place to catch a little quiet time, so you may as well get something done while you’re at it.


  • Read a self-development book in front of everyone. When someone tries to interrupt you, just read aloud the author’s words. In this way, you can legitimately share (with the ones who need it most) how to be a better person. Without irony or aggression… bonus.


Of course, you love your family. And the neighbors, and the dog, and the uncles and aunts, your mom and dad, your adult children, all the wee nieces and nephews, and all; but if you’re looking for ways to escape for a few minutes, there’s no need to apologize for taking ten.


Consider this a gift, and we’ll talk again in the new year.


Please, if you have any other suggestions for decompressing, add them in the comments below.


preserve your sanity over the holidays
preserve your sanity over the holidays
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Manage Your Time to Spread More Cheer

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Wed, 12/13/2017 - 13:04
Sub Title
The Ultimate Holiday Time Management List for Women Who Do Too Much

You know who you are…


When December rolls around, do you load up on parties, cooking and baking, gifting or charity work?


Maybe you’re one of those women who rings ALL the holiday bells. It’s the season of merriment, so more is more, right?


No, not if it means you enter the new year so bedraggled that you don’t catch up until March. If you find yourself piling on too much of a good thing, you can still salvage some peace this season.


Time Management for the Crazy-Busy Woman


Want to get better at actually enjoying the holiday with family and friends, and maybe even find time to feed your spirit?


Here are twelve ways to manage your precious time:


Whittle your list... 


of parties, of gift recipients, of donations, etc. Better yet, add yourself to the list. That way, you can say you’re already booked that weekend, and you won’t be lying.


Consider multitasking.


Combine chores with fun holiday activities, like a shopping spree with time spent with a loved one. Include an hour ice skating or painting pottery, or making a gingerbread house. Enjoy the time with a child or an older relative and relish the gift.


Plan in some self-care.


Put a necessary task on the calendar and make the intention to add some self-care, or an activity you enjoy. For example, wrapping presents could be spent with a holiday movie, a glass of wine or tea, or you could diffuse some essential oil into the air and enjoy your favorite playlist.


Buy the same gift for everyone.


Growing up, my grandpa always gave us kids a silver coin (or several, depending on the spot price). Each year, I try to find a gift that satisfies a lot of different tastes. One year, I gave nearly everyone a kitchen tool I found I couldn’t live without; another year, I gifted a jar of a wonderful new spice. This year I found some mush-able pocket back backs. When you discover something versatile, affordable, and fabulous, buy ten of them.


Forget a tradition or two.


Just literally forget about them. You don’t have to feed every ghost from years past. If you want to take a break from your annual open house, give yourself permission. Someone else in the neighborhood will take up the slack if it’s important to them. Don’t forget you have every right to design the holiday YOU want and need.


And if you think you can get by with it, just play dumb. Try this. Say “Oh, my goodness, I forgot to make the oysters, I can’t believe it.” You can say that, can’t you? No one will die.


Keep children’s activities to a minimum.


Don’t say yes to every kid-friendly event in town. Your kid will thank you, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a calmer child. A busy kid is a cranky kid.  Remember the joy in looking forward to Christmas itself, without all the hullabaloo every single weekend for weeks leading up to the big day? Pure magic happens in the off-moments. December used to be a blessed and fun month, and it can be again. Your family depends on YOU to set limits for their sanity.


Double up with family member or friend.


Trade services during the busiest month of the year. Find creative ways to pare away driving time, shopping time, etc. and you might find it’s a habit you want to continue throughout the year.


Schedule the service.


Take advantage of caterers, delivery services, drive-through, and easy shipment options. OK, so the local caterer doesn’t offer Aunt Tia’s corn pudding like you can, but it can serve up scrumptious food and deliver it right to your door. Why not use them?


Expedite errands.


Whenever possible, check to see if the store allows you to order online and have the gifts ready and waiting at the counter for pick up. That way you don’t have to go in and get sucked into the consumer craziness. This one’s a game changer.


Don’t let stress build up.


When you’re at work, work. When you’re at home or playing, then play. Don’t mix the two. Get stuff done at work when you’re supposed to be working, and when it’s time to have fun, go all in. Respect others’ schedules and insist they respect yours. Pull the plug on social media when you’re trying to get something done at the office.  Put your phone in a drawer. Focus!


Build a buffer.


Create a margin of time around all your to-dos. Schedule in extra time to buffer your errands and tasks. Make it a priority to account for transitions and necessary transportation time so you don’t feel stressed and rushed. There will be traffic!


Share your calendar with your family members.


Make sure their calendars are in sync with yours. No surprises! Touch base at least every other day to ensure you’ve got that important business party on the books, or the children’s choir event on everyone’s mind. You might even schedule a movie or game night to enjoy with just your closest insiders. MAKE TIME to relax!


Peace on Earth


A few small tweaks to an obnoxiously full calendar can do a world of good toward promoting peace on earth, at least your little corner of it. The big idea behind time off at Christmas is to enjoy the people you love, to reconnect and reflect on the good stuff in life. If you don’t plan to enjoy it, you’ll choke on your schedule and miss the greatest gifts of the year.


How do you find ways to take it easy during the holiday season?


manage time, spread more cheer
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Double Duty: Style that Works as Hard as You Do

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Submitted by annageorgakis on Tue, 12/05/2017 - 15:14

You put so much effort into making the holidays perfect for others; sometimes it's a good idea to look inward.  How you feel and look matters.  You owe it to yourself to look at least as dressed as the turkey.  Here is one reader's suggestion on what to wear, whether you're cooking, moving chairs from the garage or posing for a photo.

It's an all-too familiar setting when you're hosting holiday events at your home… Every family member is either ready to eat or about to arrive, and you’re still running around throwing things in the oven, mashing potatoes, or setting the table, rocking yoga pants and a ponytail.

We often experience a downside to providing for everyone else- we neglect ourselves in the process. I know too well how much our clothing and overall appearance contribute to our confidence and happiness. 

With your comfort in mind, I created a Holiday Style Guide, complete with six outfit ideas, to help you feel self-assured and poised even while cooking and pouring holiday cheer, You are so ready to handle anything the holiday throws your way. 


outfit idea 1, holiday style guide


My first inspiration is this stunning Madewell x No.6 Silk Magical Dress in the color Vintage Rose paired with black tie-back booties. The Madewell dress loosely drapes over the body so you'll be able to run around with ease, and the wedge heel makes the boots comfortable enough to wear all day. Once guests start to arrive, throw on this set of two chokers also by Madewell to quickly dress it up.


outfit two, holiday style guide


I am loving this light pink bell-sleeved Tunic Top by Halogen. Nordstrom describes is perfectly, calling it "unapologetically feminine," to which I would have to agree. I mean, look at that velvet bow tie-back… Pairing it with gray straight leg twill pants keeps it casual (Bonus: they’re stretchy.) Adding a pair of snake print mules and Kate Spade silver studs adds an unexpected touch. 


outfit three, holiday style guide


Okay, hear me out. This spotted J.Crew jumpsuit may be totally out of your comfort zone but trust me, there is not an easier and more comfortable outfit out there. You won't have to worry about finding a cohesive top and bottom; this jumpsuit does it for you. Adding these red pointy-toe pumps and matching tassel earrings makes this outfit a no-brainer.


holiday style guide, outfit 6


This lantern-sleeve top pairs perfectly with washed-black wide leg crop jeans, both from LOFT. The outfit is relatively casual on its own, but can be quickly dressed up with the addition of these light blue ankle strap sandals and a black onyx beaded bracelet. Interestingly enough, the black onyx gemstone has been known to protect against negativity, just in case you encounter the evil eye or the stray, barbed comment from that certain family member over the holidays. 


outfit 5, holiday style guide


For a more effortless look, I bring you these relaxed utility pants. They're perfect for a hectic day. But don't be fooled, they look so chic when paired with a black and white striped wrap top. Add a pair of platform slides and rose gold chevron studs and you'll have an outfit you'll want to wear all day long.


outfit 6, holiday style guide


Lastly, I have these gorgeous weekender jeans paired with this delicate ruffle bell sleeve top. This combination is so understated, yet stunning. Throwing on this silver layered necklace and a pair of block heels easily takes this outfit to the next level. 

Remember, self-care includes loving how you look and feel in your clothes.

The holidays are full of fun and stress, especially when you’re juggling expectations and trying to sprinkle magic for others. Spend some time and money on yourself, and make sure you don’t put yourself last in all the preparations. You deserve the same comfort and joy you bring to others.

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Self Care - What Is It and Why Should It Matter?

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Wed, 11/29/2017 - 11:13

Want to press a woman’s buttons? Tell her she’s not taking care of herself the way she should. 

Just read the comments below this provocative article about self-care and you’ll see that it’s a hot topic among women. When someone apart from yourself (in other words, anyone) admonishes you about self-care; it’s an opinion, it’s irrelevant, and it smacks of judgment.

Before diving in to the controversy, what is self care? According to PsychCentral, self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It is a conscious, deliberate act, something you enjoy, that you plan into your life. 

So why all the fuss? Why are there opinions about whether you’re doing it right?

First, no woman likes to be told how to take care of herself. It’s a little too personal. It would be like someone coming into your bathroom and telling you you’re putting your bra on wrong… it’s none of her business. 

A caveat: if you show up with your bra on backwards 10% of the time, then yes, those close to you may offer some advice. Furthermore, if one’s inability to get dressed means they’re not showing up at all, then please reach out. There’s a difference between omitting self-care and self-sabotage. 

Otherwise, save it.

In the real world, showing up is what matters. Not what you do to get there.

Second, telling someone who shows up, that she’s choosing the wrong things to show up to, is judgmental. It doesn’t matter whether it’s yoga class or the pantry, what you choose is your business.

One woman may insist on exercise, while another swears by a glass of wine and a novel. Neither one is right or wrong, although we might agree that some balance may be in order. 

Third – and this is crucial if we’re going to discuss self-care at all – comments about self-care are opinions, and reveal more about your source of stress and what you think about stress, than what calms, comforts and rejuvenates. 

Self-Care as Stress Relief

Hardly anyone would argue these days that self-care is selfish. Studies show that self-care is an integral part of wellness and stress management.

Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk, How to Make Stress Your Friend, emphasizes that your views on stress affect your health more than the stress itself.

And since stressors are always in flux in any given life, no single stress-relieving practice or balm is ever consistently appropriate. 

If ideas about stress are personal, and self-care is acceptable, then individual definitions of self-care must be acknowledged.

Tried and True Standbys

Every woman I know has her own ways and means she adheres to, feels passionate about, and practices when no one’s looking. She wouldn’t deviate from them unless she were held hostage against her will. Many are non-negotiable daily activities.

self care is a wonderful way to spread comfort and joy

These are the things that bring comfort and joy. In other words, they fall under the umbrella of self-care.

We have a nebulous collective definition of self-care precisely because self-care is personal, and connected to the way each of us addresses and satisfies our most personal needs.

Why are some of these personal treasures kept private, while others are trumpeted at top volume?

Like most personal issues these days, everyone has an opinion.

What an individual chooses as self-care is revealed in her bank balances, her browsing habits, unaccounted minutes or hours, and what goes on behind closed doors.

We’ll never agree on how to get this basic need met until we determine if it is in fact elemental to survival, or a few notches up on Maslow’s hierarchy.

“Selfish” but Necessary

One woman would never want someone to know how much she spends on lipstick, another obsesses about her next Netflix fix. One relishes her weekly date with the hand cut French fries ordered in the drive through and munched on the drive home. Another may yearn to escape with a walk in the woods, keeping a pair of sneaks in her trunk for unscheduled forays into the nature.

Are any of these activities better than another? More Instagram-worthy? If you’re addicted to organic tea, you could start a movement and share everything you know… but what if you’re just into naps?

The people who have definite ideas about what constitutes self-care are often the people who follow self-care practices that have been approved by their culture, or proudly hailed as redemptive by a celebrity or influencer.

Reliance on trends and popular public opinion can be more stifling than liberating, however. Certainly, the media plays a part in our feelings about self-care. Yoga, meditation, daily 5:00 mommy juice (wink) may be trendy, but does that make those “me time” activities worthier than another’s? Pushing one self-care practice over another seems righteous and sanctimonious.

Let’s be honest. The most effective, deliciously indulgent self-care is the stuff that’s a wee bit um, selfish. That’s the point. Emerging from the self-care whole and intact, ready to face the day is the result.

You Do You

… and I say that with love. 

If you’re overly interested in defining self-care, it’s probably because you’re not getting enough.

The key word in self-care is “Self.”

Your problems are not universal and they don’t automatically make you virtuous. Neither are the ways you address them. In fact (you know this), many would probably view your problems as blessings. The overstressed woman holding three jobs has good reason to crave more self-care, but so does the one for whom just one job would be an amazing windfall of good fortune.

When you’re finally comfortable with the inevitability of stress – whatever your particular brand happens to be – then you can finally allow yourself (and others) the freedom to define self-care as you see fit.

Self-care is equally the arrows you duck and the extra hours you invest; as it is your leisurely, scandalous moments with pie or pedicures. 

As Voltaire wrote, “…Tend your own garden.”

self care what is it, why it matters
HERdacity Staff

Five Delightful Ways to Create an Environment for Success

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Submitted by Jen at HERdacity on Tue, 10/17/2017 - 10:45

In order to create and sustain a successful and profitable business, it is essential that you live/work in an environment that supports that reality.

We all wear many hats and have countless responsibilities each day which can feel overwhelming at times. Trust me I know - I have two thriving businesses a husband and three kids! Quite often we’re exposed to and surrounded by so much negativity for example the news, crabby relatives etc.; it can make it challenging to be positive.

As a business owner/professional, it is your responsibility to create an environment for yourself that will allow you to thrive, flourish and reach your goals.

Five tips to create an environment for success

1. Beautify your physical environment/space.


Set up an office/workplace that you love to be in. Make sure it’s comfortable, quiet, and clutter-free. Your workspace should make you feel powerful!  Chances are if you are using the kitchen table as your office that is not the case. You may have to get creative and set up a specific spot for you to call your own. Soft music, candles and artwork can add to the ambiance.


2. Be very selective with who you spend your time with.

Focus on surrounding yourself with like-minded positive individuals. Individuals that support you in your dream and mission. Entrepreneurs can often feel isolated around people who have jobs because they don’t “get us”. Unfortunately, the negative Nelly’s in our lives can sometimes be family members which makes it quite difficult so, it is even more crucial to have other individuals in your life that you can share your hopes and dreams with or bounce new business ideas off of.


3. Become an avid student of personal growth/development.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur, requires you to become the best possible version of yourself. This means that you must work on your mindset daily, learn everything you can to master your craft and learn tips and strategies on how to structure and build your business for success. For the last 20 years, I have immersed myself in countless books, trainings and seminars to help me be the best that I can be. I have an incredible hunger for knowledge. Be careful not to get distracted, you must first focus on building your business, then carve out time in your schedule for personal and professional development. Chances are you already possess more than enough knowledge to add great value to others and start building a profitable business. 


4. Visualize exactly what you want your day to look like.

I cannot stress enough, how important this tip is! Take a few minutes each morning to do the following: Go to a quiet place. Relax by taking 3-5 deep cleansing breaths. Then, think about all the things that you are grateful for in your life. (ie your family, friends, health, your business that you love) That should put you in a peaceful state. Finally, think about what you have planned for your day – go through and visualize exactly how you want your day to turn out. Be specific! Go through each appointment and each task and visualize your desired outcome. This whole process from start to finish takes only about 10 minutes but, it can completely change the course of your day. By setting daily intentions you will start to have more focused, productive and prosperous days - guaranteed! Trust me it works!


5. Get the support you need.

Hiring an experienced coach or mentor to assist you on your journey to developing a successful business can be the number one way to get results right out of the gate. Once you invest in yourself amazing things will start to happen, opportunities will start to show up that are in alignment with your goals. A great coach or mentor can shorten your learning curve and create a roadmap to success based on their experiences. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! This will save you countless hours of your time not to mention ultimately saving you a ton of money. They will also make you accountable for doing the work necessary to be successful. Make sure you do your due diligence and find the coach that is the best fit for you.

You are where you are today because of the decisions you have made to date. Now is your chance to take responsibility for where you are now and use the 5 tips above to create an environment for you to flourish in your life and business! 

Question: Which of these 5 tips will you start implementing right away? Please share.

Bio: Megan Tull is the best-selling author of The Passion Belief Method- Own Your Value and Earn Your Worth in Business. Her passion and expertise is to assist high-achieving, success-minded business owners in re-designing or creating their business to align with their unique value and true-self “their brilliance” so, they can position themselves as a leader in their industry and stand out in a crowded marketplace – Allowing them to authentically attract their ideal “star” clients with ease generating more profits and more fun in their business. A business that enables them to be fulfilled and make an impact a huge in the world by sharing their unique gifts all while leading an authentic, joyful life based on balance and self-care. Learn more about Megan at
Megan Tull

How to Develop Your Voice In A Room of Your Own

I'm lucky. This office has a window to look through as I write. In this, my first blog post at HERdacity, the fact of a window seems worth mentioning. Women writers look out into the world and then turn inward, culling thoughts and experiences to write what is real. 

And then... they share it. 

This small office has a view of a large ash tree and a whitewashed half wall made of concrete. It is a blessing. To be a female writer with the time to form thoughts, and string sentences together in a safe, quiet place; in the scope of history, I possess a luxury many women could never have imagined.

The ability to find and serve an audience is even newer, thanks to the wave of blogs and websites on the web. 

That last part – an audience – is not completely necessary for a lot of women writers.

So WHY do women write?

Humorist Gina Barreca lists several reasons why women pony up to the blank page in spite of the day-to-day obstacles. Collecting quotes of several famous women writers on the subject, she reminds women that in reading each other's words, "we are not alone in the oddity of our beliefs. [Fay Weldon]." 

When your private, most personal voice is open to the public…

Just this morning I was just talking with a freelance writer friend who uses her blog to muse about future dreams, concerns about culture, motherhood, etc... to "just get it out there,"she says. She only edits and hones her message for her clients. Her blog is more of a semi-personal journal. One she shares with the entire world. 

The truth is, with an audience comes the stress of being seen. If you know many writers, many of them introverts by nature, visibility isn't their first priority. Many women begin writing to simply affirm that their thoughts lead to order, and then, if they have some skill and a genuine voice, to a connection. If someone nods her head at the words they read, the writer has done a fair job of it. 

But how do writers know if they've made a connection? 

Most writers I know don't write for glory. As this morning's Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro claims, "I just hope that my winning the Nobel prize contributes something that engenders good will and peace.”  

Hope is good. Seeing those heads nodding in agreement (or, let's be honest, winning a Nobel Prize) is even more affirming.

Is it any wonder, then that authors who have something to say, stand up before audiences and, well, speak.

Authors as Speakers

Since HERdacity will be attending the Texas Conference for Women in a few weeks, and since it's Friday (a good day to recommend books), I was checking to see which speakers also had books. Of the 15 keynote speakers, only three are authors of books:

Mallika Chopra: Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy

Annie E. Clark: We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out

Diane von Furstenberg: The Woman I Wanted to Be

A personal How-To, a collection of personal stories, and a personal memoir.

The common theme: Personal.

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf asserts that in order to write fiction women need a private, quiet space, and some money. As we gradually acquire both the independence and the freedom to say the hard thing, and entrust it to the minds and hearts of others, women naturally share what is personal to them. (Let's hope the money will follow!)

As my writer friend Shell expressed this morning, she believes she has something to say that the world needs, but she just needs the space and time to edit her blog and publish a book. Ah, those age-old gatekeepers, space and time...

You’re never really alone.

Reading women allows us access to deeply personal (many times common) experiences and a woman's unique telling of it. Attending a talk, whether a TEDtalk video online, or a live event; can draw us even closer to that woman's story. The benefit to the speaker and her audience is the ability to witness each other nodding our heads in agreement.

Now it’s your turn. Let’s stoke this fire.* 

Many writers speak. Many speakers write. Name one author/speaker you've read/seen who has moved you with her personal story. 

*Stay tuned for more info on how to join an HERdacity Campfire.

Creativity Life's Work Opening The Next Door

This is lovely! I'm new to this group and pretty bummed that I just missed last week's entering the workspace event, but these posts are terrific. 

Going to check-out some of the readings you included in your post. Thank you!

Jen McGahan

The Challenges and Rewards of Running a Vegan Handbag Business

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Submitted by Kelly Smith on Wed, 09/20/2017 - 15:22

Few people can say that a small project they dreamed up in college goes on to become their career. For Nikki Duong Koenig, this became a reality. In 2003, Nikki started her company Cykochik Custom Handbags while a student at Southern Methodist University and in 2013 made the leap to solely focus her career on the bags. All of the bags are made of cruelty-free, vegan materials and also eco-friendly materials. Nikki shared with the HERdacity community what it is like being an entrepreneur in the fashion industry and how other entrepreneurs can work towards more animal and earth friendly products. 

What was the initial spark that drove you to start this company? Was it a single moment or a long process?

The start of Cykochik Custom Handbags was a culmination of a lifelong passion for making art and fashion. My conscious decision to make it an actual business started in the fall of 2003 when I decided to sell some of my handbags at my university’s Holiday Market; and the rest, as they say, is history.

You obviously hold your products to high moral standard being cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and vegan. What advice would you give to an entrepreneur who is trying to launch their product or shift their products towards these standards?

My advice would be to do a lot of research into every aspect of the manufacturing process. Learn how things are produced and how they impact people, animals, and the planet.

What sorts of challenges might come along and how can they overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges will be creating or sourcing products that meet all of the high moral standards of cruelty-free/vegan, eco-friendly, and fair-trade. For example, a product may be cruelty-free but it’s not eco-friendly or fair-trade. A way to overcome it is to do your research and work with manufactures/producers who share the same moral standards as you do.

Growing up, who were your most important influences? How did they inform who you were as a woman?

My parents and my older sister were my most important influences, growing up as the youngest child. My family fled Vietnam as political refugees after the Vietnam War when I was three years old. My parents left their family, home, careers and risked their lives (also mine and my sister’s) for a better life for their children in the United States. Their courage, determination, compassion, and resiliency through trials and tribulations throughout my childhood instilled the same traits in me as an adult.

Describe the time (if ever) when you realized women were treated differently than men… how old were you… what was the situation? What happened?

I can't recall a specific experience when I realized women were treated differently than men. Even though my parents were "progressive" in raising me and my sister, they still had some traditional cultural expectations of us as girls/women. They occasionally made comparisons of what a girl should/shouldn't do versus a boy.  For instance; I was a "tomboy" as a child, I liked playing outside with boys without my shirt on, which my mom did not approve of.  I then started to question why I couldn’t do some things as a girl that boys could.   

When do you feel your most powerful?

I feel most powerful when I am able to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Whether it’s literally speaking up for animal rights or human rights on a public stage or influencing lawmakers/politicians/CEOs through petitions and protests.

We’re all about daring at HERdacity. What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

The most daring and scary things I’ve done in my life have also been the most fulfilling so far.

The most recent one was quitting my seasoned marketing career in 2013 to dedicate 100% of my time to growing Cykochik Custom Handbags and helping to make our world a more compassionate, sustainable, and happy place for all living beings.

Do you have a mantra?

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Ghandi

What do you carry in your purse or bag with you every day?

I carry multiple Cykochik bags inside each other, like a nesting doll. A wallet inside of a clutch, inside a tote.

What are 3 things left on your bucket list?

Travel to South America, Africa, and Antarctica.

What are your go-to indulgences or guilty pleasures?

My indulgences are quite times to myself; to meditate, create art, or read.

You can pick one superpower… what would you choose?

My superpower would be to make people feel happiness!


Reese Witherspoon’s Guide to Equality: Be Unapologetically Ambitious

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Submitted by Kelly Smith on Tue, 09/12/2017 - 05:53

What will it take to tip the gender scales? If you ask Reese Witherspoon, one of the most likeable women in Hollywood, she'll tell you women have got to stop worrying about being… well, likeable.

“What is likeable anyway? I’m allergic to that word,” The actress and producer wrote in a blog titled We Have to Change the Idea That a Woman With Ambition Is Out Only for Herself, for October’s issue of Glamour magazine.

In the magazine Reese focused on her personal struggles managing her own ambition… and how women have to do a better job of owning their power.  Here’s three things we can all learn from Reese’s personal journey… 

#1 Inequality sucks…but you’ve got to get past it and keep kicking ass

Most of us can picture Reese starring in Legally Blonde. Or maybe you’ve heard about her more recent HBO Show, Big Little Lies. What you don’t get to see— is the blood, sweat and tears Reese puts into her work as a producer. When she first started in Hollywood, women had less visibility on and off screen. So she had to create her own entertainment studio to honor the stories of powerful women.

Is it fair? Nope. But in her blog she writes,

“You can complain about these things. You can get stuck in the emotion of it—and sometimes I do, and I get really angry. I’ll get pissed off and stomp around the house. The anger comes from such a deep, real place for me. But my mother always said to me, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself.’”

“…Nobody hands me anything. I’ll wake up earlier; I’ll stay up later. I will put my money where my mouth is. I have to read faster, and I respond quicker than other producers. I have to call and call and call executives until they say yes to my projects.”

#2 Choose your allies carefully 

Reese is busy and admits that means sometimes people aren’t worth wasting your time on. If someone doesn’t value your own strength, cut them out of your life. This advice pertains to everyone from supervisors, friends and even your significant others:

“Run away from a man who can’t handle your ambition. So many men think ambition is sexy…”

#3 You’ve got an inner voice. Listen to her!

Face it, you probably have a good idea of what you want. Now is your time to reach out and get it. 

"That’s my advice: Just do what you do well. If you’re a producer, you’ve got to produce. If you’re a writer, you’ve got to write. If you’re in corporate America, keep working hard to bust through the glass ceiling... If you are one of those people who has that little voice in the back of her mind saying, “Maybe I could do [fill in the blank],” don’t tell it to be quiet. Give it a little room to grow, and try to find an environment it can grow in."

And if all else fails... channel your inner Elle Woods.

Read Reese's full blog here

Larissa at HERdacity