Woman Wednesday: Ruby B. Johnson

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         


Q and A with Ruby B. Johnson, Sierra Leone, West Africa

“Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research.” 

 

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I am a mining engineer and currently work at a gold mining operation. I am also the founder and editorial director of STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. Premiered in September 2018 with its autumn issue, STEMher Magazine is a print magazine showcasing the education and experiences of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM) academia, careers, and programs. STEMher celebrates women thriving in their careers and inspires others to fuel their curiosity and interests in STEM; the status of individuals featured range from middle school through retirement. In one year, STEMher has featured more than 50 STEM girls and women worldwide from countries like the United States of America, Australia, Ghana, Canada, South Africa, India, France, Nigeria, Channel Islands, The Bahamas, Sierra Leone, and England. All magazine issues are available for purchase on stemher.com and Amazon Marketplace.

 

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Summer 2019 Cover

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone [in West Africa]. I moved to the United States when I was 12 years old, which meant growing up and completing my middle school and high school education in Maryland. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a BSc in mining engineering and a minor in women’s studies leadership. While in college, I founded When You Believe Foundation, a program that empowers women and girls through social media engagement, workshops, and donations. In 2012, I competed in my first pageant, Miss Sierra Leone USA, with the platform of advocating for the recruitment and retention of girls and women in STEM fields, since I was a STEM college student at the time and women’s empowerment was something I was passionate about. I won the pageant and with that title, I was able to travel across the country as well as in Sierra Leone, encouraging girls and young women to pursue STEM. After the crowns and titles, STEM advocacy and women’s empowerment continues to be my lifelong platform. I wanted to take this platform to another level to be able to reach women and girls I may never cross paths with, so I created STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine last year. 

 

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research. (1) From Monday through Thursdays, I work ten-hour days and a two-hour commute to and from work. Additionally, I am an entrepreneur who runs her own business creating content and putting together each issue for STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. I also serve in a couple of ministries at my church. Life gets busy. In the last year, I’m being intentional to prioritize my mental health. Making time to rest and slow down when necessary. In order to be productive with work, I have to take care of myself by sleeping, eating healthy, exercising, spending time with God through prayer, and meditation as well as reading my Bible. I have to be intentional about making time for myself, family and friends, as well as work. It’s okay to say “no” or “not yet” sometimes. I cannot fill the cups of others when my cup is empty. It’s also okay to ask for help—whether it’s in prayer, family and friends, community, or therapy.

 

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(2) As I navigate through the professional world and life in general, I’m realizing how important it is for one to control their narrative. Of course we cannot fully control what people say about us or how they feel about us; however, I believe we can play a role in those things. The way we carry ourselves is very important. We have to learn wisdom on when to speak up or be silent. We must be our biggest defenders and tell people how we want them to treat or address us. (3) Running a business is no easy feat and it’s time-consuming. In college, I learned to not study hard but study smart. I believe that’s important to do when you are a business owner. Being that I don’t have a business or journalism background, I spend a lot of time learning—asking questions, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and everything else in between. I want this magazine to go beyond, so that means I have to put in the work. I may not see harvest immediately, but sowing seeds each day counts. All in all, I believe it’s important to know who you are, stand firm on your values, always remember your why, and never lose your humanity no matter what environment you are in. 

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means being my authentic self, living out my God-given purpose, and being intentional about making a difference in the community. While working on my women’s studies leadership minor in college, I learned about intersectionality. I am a Christian woman, born and raised in Sierra Leone, a naturalized American citizen, a woman in STEM, usually one of few or only black people in some professional settings, and a family-oriented individual. I thrive because of these lived experiences but also have a heart and a curious mind to learn about those who are different from me. Feminism to me is never compromising my faith and also being compassionate to others. To me, feminism means to reach for excellence and nothing less.

 

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Woman Wednesday: Tabatha

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.   


 

Q and A with Tabatha, Washtenaw County, Michigan

 

Having a team is the cornerstone to success.” 

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: Baking! Confections Factory has been a part of my heart for well over 20 years. The concept of what we do is simple. Love in every slice. The mission is for every client to feel like they are [ back in their childhood years ] sitting at the foot of their mom’s apron tasting the delicate treasures that come from her oven. If I had to define my passion, it’s the smile I get from each customer with every delivery. There is no greater feeling than a good slice of heaven and a smile to go with it.

 

52744559_393016344592510_903654981570134016_nPictured: Culinary baker and businesswoman, Tabatha. 

 

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Pictured: A delicious buttercream birthday cake by Tabatha from Confections Factory. Shipping is available in all U.S. states! 

 

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Chocolate strawberries, anyone? 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I have loved baking since the age of 8. Spending time with all the women in my family baking was the release we had and the bond we built together. Sharing recipes and watching them create sparked a fire I could never put out.

 

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Pictured: A peanut butter chocolate lover’s best friend!  

 

Pictured: Some of the delicious goodies you can order from Confections Factory! Their number one best seller? The cake named “Sexual Chocolate!” It is pictured on the bottom left. 

 

 

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: Having a team is the cornerstone to success. I used to do all of this solo. I never had outside support. I just thought this was a hobby. Then I attended a class in 2017 called “E-Series,” and it gave me my fire back. It showed me how to gradually put the right pieces in place and excel. Since then, I have been on a mission with God on one side and my team on the other. Right now, we are only a team of three, but it’s a mighty one. One person handles production and development so that we keep the flavors fresh, one handles the strategy, and I handle the baking. Then of course let’s not forget our pop-up staffers that assist with events and more.

 

 

Pictured: Tabatha, Graphic Designer Sheryl Morton, and Business Manager Brandi C. Shelton.
Not pictured: Christopher McGhee’ Kelly (but a special shout-out goes to him as Tabatha’s business partner)! 

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: I like this quote by Coco Chanel:

“The most courageous act is to think for yourself. Aloud.”

 

 

 

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Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you have a special occasion coming up?

Confections Factory ships anywhere in the United States! Click here to check out her bakery! Call or contact her on her page to order!

Click here to follow Confections Factory on Facebook!

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Angela

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Angela, Hunterdon County, New Jersey

Magnus Salon, Pittstown, NJ

“Before I was an esthetician, I had a different job that I thought was my “forever” job.  However, I was let go from this job with no warning and on Valentine’s Day!  And to make matters worse, we were right in the middle of buying a house and getting qualified for a mortgage.  At the time, I was so upset and couldn’t see past what was happening. Just a short time later, I landed the receptionist job at the wax studio, and now I am a licensed esthetician doing work I absolutely love! If I had not been let go from that other job, I never would have found my true profession, nor have the enjoyment in a job that I have now. Looking back, I can see how all the pieces fit together and it makes sense, but at that time, I had no idea. So, no matter what is happening at the moment, continue to push forward and do your very best.  What seems like the worst thing in the world can be a blessing in disguise.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about my family, my husband, my friends, my horse Ty, and my work. I guess that’s a lot to be passionate about, which may explain why I am so busy.  My mother introduced me to horses even before I could walk, and it has been a lifelong passion for me. Riding keeps me connected to the Earth and the outdoors (and basically keeps me sane).  For my career as an esthetician, I more or less fell into this through circumstance, but I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else!

 

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Pictured: Angela, her husband, and their friends on their wedding day (last year). 

 

After high school, I took several different jobs, including a receptionist job at a waxing salon. The owner thought I could be a good waxer, that I had natural talent, and she sent me to school to learn to be an esthetician. I immediately connected with the teachers and the classes, and I graduated at the top of my class!  This was something I could not have imagined in high school. I have learned that when you are passionate about something, the studying and learning parts come easier.  And I love my work!  For the first time in my life, I am truly good at something besides riding horses.

 

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Pictured: Angela’s sweet horse, Ty! 

 

When I am working on a client, whether I’m doing a facial, skin treatment, or wax, I want to help my client feel confident about themselves.  It’s not so much about our outer beauty as it is our inner beauty, and I feel that part of my job is to bring confidence to a client so that they can let their inner beauty shine outward. We are all different, and we all have different body types, different ages, different shapes, and sizes. But sometimes, a small difference can bring a person confidence in themselves, and when I can do that, it’s the best part of my job.  Not everyone’s goal is to look like a model in a magazine. My goal is to help my clients to better match their outside to who they see themselves on the inside so that they bring that new-found confidence into the world. When a client’s face just lights up, I know I have done that!

 

Pictured: Angela’s eyebrow work (on her clients). In the circles, “before” pictures are shown above, and “after” pictures are shown below! 

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: Never give up. Period. No matter how hard life is now or how down you may feel, know that everything happens for a reason. Before I was an esthetician, I had a different job that I thought was my “forever” job.  However, I was let go from this job with no warning and on Valentine’s Day! And to make matters worse, we were right in the middle of buying a house and getting qualified for a mortgage. At the time, I was so upset and couldn’t see past what was happening. Just a short time later, I landed the receptionist job at the wax studio, and now I am a licensed esthetician doing work I absolutely love!

 

If I had not been let go from that other job, I never would have found my true profession, nor have the enjoyment in a job that I have now. Looking back, I can see how all the pieces fit together and it makes sense, but at that time, I had no idea. So, no matter what is happening at the moment, continue to push forward and do your very best.  What seems like the worst thing in the world can be a blessing in disguise.

 

 

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Pictured: Angela riding her horse. 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: For me, the family was always a big part of my life.  Every night we would have dinner together and talk about how our day was and what we would like our next day to be like.  If there was an issue, we would talk about it as a family.  So, because of this, I feel that I have a team behind me, people that are there for me.  And now, as an adult, my team includes more than just my family, but what I refer to as “my tribe,” which includes good friends as well.  My tribe is an important part of my life, and we work together to support each other.

School was NEVER my thing!  I struggled a lot. Because I have dyslexia, I never felt confident or comfortable in the classroom.  My brother was extremely studious and scholastic (as is my mother), so I always felt that I couldn’t keep up.  However, once I went to school to be an esthetician, I just blossomed! I graduated at the top of my class, which was something I never thought I could do.

The biggest thing I can say to people who feel discouraged with school, their job, or other parts of their life – is to just hang in and don’t be afraid to try new things.  One day, you will find your calling, what you were meant to do. Don’t give up!

Being raised with horses teaches you a lot of responsibility and respect. When taking care of a 1,200-pound animal, there are times your life is in their hands, and there are times that their life is in your hands.  Being able to bring that sense of responsibility, discipline, and commitment to my career has been an important part of who I am today. I truly feel lucky to have the clients that I do.  I guess it comes back to that old and wise saying: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  I treat all my customers with respect, and I am very grateful that they chose me and trust me as their esthetician.

 

 

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Pictured: Angela pictured with her husband and her dogs. 

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: For me, feminism is not about fitting a certain mold, putting yourself in a perfect little box or a perfect pedestal, or even anything to do with what society says a woman should be like. Feminism is about the ability to be a free spirit – to have the freedom of choice. Whether you choose to be a lawyer, a police officer, an artist, or a stay-at-home mom, feminism means that all these roles have value, and should be equally valued by society. Feminism is about having the opportunity to create your own best self, whatever shape or form that takes. It’s about being your own personal best according to who we are on the inside, not who society tells us to be.  Feminism is having choices, having freedom, and having the ability to live the life on the outside that matches who we are on the inside.

And as I said earlier, the best part of my job as an esthetician (and where I like to bring this freedom to my career) is when I can help someone bring out their inner beauty, feel confident in who they are, and help them to shine their own inner light – in whatever shape or form they choose to do so.  True beauty is something that is inside of us, and when I can be a part of bringing that beauty to the outside world, I know I am helping others. That is what is most important to me as an esthetician.

 

 

If you are in the area (New Jersey), come see Angela at Magnus Salon (click here for more) to get your eyebrows done, and let her make you feel amazing!

 

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Woman Wednesday: Jess

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Jess, Howard County, Maryland 

“If you have a setback in the process of achieving your goals, and you feel as though you’ve failed, take a moment to reflect on why you weren’t successful and what you can do to ensure that you won’t make the same mistake(s) again. Then forgive yourself and get ready for another try. Self-improvement is not an endgame; it is a constant process.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m passionate about self-improvement in all areas of my life. I am constantly reflecting on how I can become the best possible version of myself, the person that I visualize when I think “this is who I want to be.”

As a third-grade teacher, I am always looking for better ways to engage and instruct my students, whether it’s something small like using a magnifying glass to be “Story Problem Detectives,” or something big, like transforming my classroom into a tropical rainforest, complete with a humidifier and real plants. Every lesson that I teach, I ask myself, “What went well?” and “What could I do differently to make this lesson better?” The book that I’m reading now, “The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough,” is a great source of inspiration, and it also provides concrete steps to help me improve my teaching.

I strive for self-improvement in other areas of my life as well. I want to be physically stronger, I want to be more organized, I want to be more financially secure, and I want to be more fearless in pursuit of things that excite me. I’m always working on some part of myself.

It can be hard not to beat myself up when I make mistakes that put me further away from reaching my goals. But it’s something that I’ve been working on a lot lately.

 

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Pictured: Jess in her classroom. She does whatever she can to make learning fun for her students. 

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: Striving for perfection doesn’t work. It’s an absurd amount of pressure to place on yourself, and it’s setting yourself up for failure. You are a human being. You’re not perfect, and you never will be. Perfection is an unattainable goal, and it’s unreasonable to expect it of yourself.

You can, however, always strive for improvement. I personally have started changing my mindset to think “progress, not perfection,” and that has done wonders for my stress level.

I wrote a lot about this in a post about my New Year’s resolutions on my blog, which you can find here if you would like to read it: https://averageadventuress.blogspot.com/2019/01/new-year-new-words.html

 

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Pictured: Jess rock climbing. 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: One of the stories I’ve heard the most about my childhood is the one that my dad likes to tell: When I was about three years old, my family was getting ready to leave the house (we may have been going out to dinner or to the park, that’s the part that no one really remembers). I was sent upstairs to get my shoes. After several minutes, my dad hollered up the stairs that if I didn’t come back down with my shoes soon, I would be left behind. No response from three-year-old me. He came up the stairs to investigate, and there I was, on the floor of my room, silent tears streaming down my face as I fiercely struggled to tie my own shoelaces.

I like to say that this story sums up two of my three main personality traits: stubbornly independent (to the point of pigheadedness at times) and a perfectionist, holding myself to high standards (sometimes impossibly high). This simultaneously drives my desire for self-improvement and makes me very anxious.

 

 

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Pictured: Jess at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. 

 

My third main personality trait: I’ve always been an introvert. As a kid, I remember feeling tortured every time my parents made me order my own food at a restaurant or introduce myself to someone new. Speaking to strangers was the absolute bane of my childhood existence.

I started playing the violin in 3rd grade, but I was hands-down the quietest in the entire orchestra until high school when the director decided he was going to bring me out of my shell. Throughout my four years of high school, he pushed me to take on leadership roles within the orchestra, and he even tutored me during the summer (to the point that I became concertmaster of the orchestra and played a solo in the spring concert my senior year). This was something beyond unthinkable to my ninth-grade self.

That one teacher had such a profound impact on my life. The confidence I found in orchestra spilled over into other areas of my life. It also cemented my desire to become a teacher. I want to do for students what my high school orchestra director did for me.

I’m still an introvert. I’m still stubbornly independent. And I’m still a perfectionist. I think these things are the anchors of who I am. But I’ve found ways to make these traits work for me, rather than allowing them to be obstacles between me and my goals; I’m turning them into strengths.

 

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Pictured: Jess playing kronum (a hybrid sport of soccer, handball, and basketball, played on a circular field with 4 goals). 

Q: What would you like others to learn from your story? 

A: To become the person who you want to be, you must make a plan; it’s not just going to happen on its own. I start with the big goals I want to achieve, and I look for small steps to get me closer to achieving that goal, one step at a time.

For example, reducing the amount of trash I send to the landfills is one of the big goals that I’m working on. Small steps toward this goal include using reusable grocery bags and produce bags, using reusable water bottles and coffee cups, and saying “no” to freebies that I don’t need. As I master each “baby step,” I move on to another small goal. Big changes don’t happen all at once; the small changes add up to big change.

If you have a setback in the process of achieving your goals, and you feel as though you’ve failed, take a moment to reflect on why you weren’t successful and what you can do to ensure that you won’t make the same mistake again. Then forgive yourself and get ready for another try. Self-improvement is not an endgame; it is a constant process.

 

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Pictured: Jess during her recent skydiving adventure. 

 

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Pictured: Jess surrounded by Legos in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Author, Dee J. Stone

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Author, Dee J. Stone 

“Don’t be afraid to put your work out there. It’s very daunting at first, but it’s so rewarding when people read your book and tell you how much they love it. What makes us feel good is when we get a message from a reader telling us how she had a pretty hard day and our book made her feel better.”

 

Q: Who are you?

A: We are Dee J. Stone, a pseudonym for two sisters who write and publish young adult and adult novels on Amazon. We’ve been doing this for over five years. Here is our Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Dee-J.-Stone/e/B00BA4JK8S/ref=series_rw_dp_un.

 

Q: What got you interested in writing?

A: We were always creating stories since we were little kids, although we didn’t know that at the time. As young kids, we would sit with our dolls and play for hours, creating a story and running with it. When we were a little older, around middle school, we would draw comics and create stories that way. But we didn’t actually start writing until high school. We started off writing plays before moving onto novels.

 

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Pictured: Dee J. Stone’s most popular novel, “Merman’s Kiss.” Available for Kindle or paperback, click here. 

 

Q: Why did you choose self-publishing and can you explain it?

A: Self-publishing is when you write and publish a book all on your own, without reaching out to an agent and/or publisher. A self-published author has to handle every aspect of the publishing process including providing a good cover that would catch readers’ attention, editing, proofreading, and marketing. Many authors hire other people to take care of the cover and editing, though marketing is usually on their shoulders. The reason we chose the self-publishing route was that we like the freedom to make our own choices when it comes to our books.

 

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Pictured: Dee J. Stone’s novel, “Cruiser.” Available for Kindle or paperback, click here. 

 

Q: Can you tell us about some of the books you have published? 

A: Sure! Our most popular books are a part of a paranormal romance series called “Merman’s Kiss.” Here is the link to the series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0772WT36Q/ref=series_rw_dp_sw. It follows the story of Cassie Price, who stumbles across a merman that has washed up on shore. The two of them become close and eventually fall in love.

Another series we have is a superhero series called “Keepers of Justice.” It’s about a school for kids with powers. Here is the link to the series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N0AO6N5/ref=series_rw_dp_sw. We also have a fairy-tale retelling series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L6K6VT1/ref=series_rw_dp_sw. We write in many genres, such as paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, and romance.

 

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Pictured: Book one of the series, “Keepers of Justice.” Available for Kindle or paperback, click here. 

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

A: Don’t be afraid to put your work out there. It’s very daunting at first, but it’s so rewarding when people read your book and tell you how much they love it. What makes us feel good is when we get a message from a reader telling us how she had a pretty hard day and our book made her feel better. Another piece of advice would be to make sure you give your book to someone to read before publishing it. Someone who is not a family member or friend and can give you honest feedback. A writer constantly needs to learn from her mistakes. And another piece of advice? Try not to take bad reviews too seriously. Every book gets them, and they hurt really badly, but try to focus on the good reviews and continue writing.

 

 

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Pictured: Dee J. Stone’s “Falling for the Genie,” available via Kindle or paperback, click here. 

 

Q: Is there anything valuable you have learned throughout the writing/publishing process?

A: Stay true to who you are and what you believe in. Many writers feel like they need to change themselves in order to fit in and sell more books. If you want to sell, you may need to make some changes to your writing, but you shouldn’t have to compromise your beliefs. Readers will love your story if you write it well and touch their hearts.

 

Q: What would you like others to learn from your stories?

A: We believe in writing characters who respect one another. When we write romance novels, we try to portray sweet and kind guys/men who treat women with the utmost respect. There are so many books out there that have male characters who don’t treat their women very kindly, and that is not something we believe in. Hopefully, readers will walk away from our stories with a better understanding of how people should treat one another.

 

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Pictured: “Chasing Sam,” written by Dee J. Stone, available via Kindle or paperback, click here. 

 

Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: Expanding on the previous question, we believe that feminism is about people respecting one another. No two people are created the same, and there will always be a difference of opinion or arguments. It’s how a person treats other people that matters. Feminism is not only about women feeling equal to men, but showing men how to treat women, and how women should treat one another as well.

 

As the golden rule goes, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

 

 

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