Woman Wednesday: Margarete

*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 Margarete, Ulster County, New York

“The most valuable thing I’ve learned in life is to never lose the lesson life teaches.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I am passionate about living my best life, which includes helping others overcome life challenges, find hope and purpose, and doing all I can to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Whether I’m speaking to a specific group or at a national conference, my passion and determination is to inspire audiences to step beyond their limitations and guide them to discover the power within and redefine what personal success truly means in this adventure called: LIFE.

The harder question is how I got to this point.

Like most people, I have had some tragically sad challenges. The worst was in 2006, when my daughter Jena lost her battle with cystic fibrosis. It was then that my whole world changed. For a long time following that terrible day, it was hard to call up the strength to take action, to move forward, to take a chance at life. I had been taught to look for and find gratitude in each moment, but when my little girl “moved up” to heaven at the age of thirteen, there was nothing I could see or find other than my grief and pain. I felt I had no choice. But in time, I learned that every day, I get to choose how to live.

 

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I believe in hope, in embracing the beauty in the broken. Life always presents us gifts, yet sometimes those gifts are brutally disguised as pain and suffering. My daughter once told me that pain is not a valid reason for stopping, so I continued on. I’ve taken many steps to get to a place where I can take charge of my life to become an award-winning author of two books: Beyond Breathing and See You at Sunset, a professional speaker, and a national advocate for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I’ve taken steps to stay happily married for twenty-eight years to my handsome husband Marc, and I’ve been blessed to watch my son marry the love of his life, which was the best day of mine.

Crisis, fear, and the anxiety of crumbling under life’s challenges have crossed my path so many times, I’ve learned that if I could change my attitude, my health, and my mental well-being, my life would ultimately change as well. Each challenge I faced in life taught me something more about myself and the world around me. Every decision I made, whether I was presented with a multitude of options, or no choices at all, changed who I am today.

 

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Here’s the thing, somewhere deep in my soul, every journey and every obstacle I faced helped bring me to a place where I can feel calm among the chaos. Every day, I give thanks for a grateful soul, a mind that’s confident, and an open heart that’s compassionate.

That’s what I’m passionate about and want to share that with as many people who want to hear it.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My childhood was like most everyone else, complicated with drama, trauma, and not easily summed up as good or bad. I was a chubby middle child, diagnosed with dyslexia in 2nd grade, and my parents divorced while I was in the 8th grade. I lived in Germany with my great aunt when I was fourteen for a ‘cultural experience.’ I graduated from high school a year early and that same year, at age 16, I permanently moved out of my childhood house after an argument with my mother. I was pregnant before I got married and had two children before I was twenty-five. Both my children were born with a fatal genetic disease, cystic fibrosis, which currently has no cure. I’ve dealt with abandonment issues, weight issues, depression, and anxiety. All of which made me who I am today.

All our lives, all our stories, make us who we are, it’s up to us how we decide that value.

 

 

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

The most valuable thing I’ve learned in life is to never lose the lesson life teaches.

For all of my life, I’ve had a love of learning, and I’m pretty sure that’s why God, with his or her infinite wisdom and sense of humor, decided to fill the first half of my life with one crisis after another. Through all the trials and many errors, I’ve come to see that life’s challenges, including reaching midlife, doesn’t have to be a crisis.

 

 

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Wouldn’t you agree that sometimes life can come at you fast and a sucker punch can land without any warning? I’ve been there. I get it. In a split second, you’re in the middle of life-changing choices, insurmountable obstacles, and heartbreaking hardships. It’s what you do with the lesson just presented to you that can change the path you’re on. Chances are, someone has been down that path before and can help guide you out, if you let them.

If by me sharing my painful and crazy life journey can reach out and touch your heart in even the smallest way possible, and help you deal with and let go of the crises and pain in your life, then I’ll feel my words and stories have a purpose beyond what they already hold for me.

My advice to you is to share your story, it could make all the difference in someone else’s life.

 

 

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism, to me, is an emotionally charged word, placing a person as ‘a feminist’ if they are for feminism or they are ‘a non-feminist’ against feminism. To me, this is divisive, and I’m not about labels, division, or exclusion as much as I am for united, equal, and collective for the common good of all civilization.

It’s was such a powerful and resurfaced word that Feminism was Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017.

Feminism, by definition, is equality of both sexes, but its common understanding is the passionate responsibility of the equality of women in the workforce, home, and political front. Its wave of enthusiastic ideology and emotion can cause more opposition than necessary.

For me, I’d instead focus on the constructive influence of women helping women. The underlying power that comes from a place of growth, humanity, and the ability to rise together while helping one another achieve each individual’s best possible life. The alliance of women reaching back and helping those who are struggling is where the real strength lies. Women being brave in adversity, sharing their story to help others, and using their voice against injustice is what I support. We, as women, can do so much to change the landscape of our future when we rise up, lean in, and stand tall without having to put down, degrade, or alienate any opposition that confronts the process of growth.

 

 

Let’s connect! 🙂

Contact page: https://margaretecassalina.com/contact/

Books:
Third book to come this fall! 🙂

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Woman Wednesday: Alysha

*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.  


 

 

“Don’t look at someone’s life and think you should be doing what they’re doing – you should do what makes you happy and what you are passionate about. I think life is too short not to live in a way that makes you approach each and every day with a full sense of joy and enthusiasm. There is always something to be grateful for and that can bring a smile to your face.” -Alysha 

 

 

Q and A with Alysha, Berks County, Pennsylvania 

Connect with Alysha:  

Blog: https://alyshathekitchenologist.com/

Instagram

LinkedIn

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Q: What are you passionate about?

A: In a broad sense, I am very passionate about helping individuals. More specifically, I have always believed that information is power. I knew that I wanted to work in a career that provided individuals with information so they could make the best well-informed decisions for themselves and their lives. This definitely intermingles with two things career-wise I am involved in: working as a clinical writer for a nonprofit organization in the healthcare field and as a recipe developer/food photographer for various projects that fall under my blog: The Kitchenologist©.

 

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Read and see more at  The Kitchenologist©.

 

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As a food recipe developer /photographer, I love showing people what to do with a “mystery vegetable” they may have or how to make a dish they love in a healthier version. I believe if you are able to educate someone or expose someone to something they have never done before, it could change the way they think and affect the way they act, which may ultimately influence their lives as a whole in a potentially positive way. In regards to food, maybe someone could make a healthier diet change at home by cooking more now that they have some recipes they enjoy versus grabbing fast food or eating out. I was inspired by the impact nutrition can have on your life after taking a class entitled “Sustainable Food Systems” in college where I had the opportunity to read food system research and work in our community garden, in addition to living abroad in Australia for a semester where I ate a lot of very simplistic, fresh foods. I felt a completely new appreciation for food, where it comes from and how it affects our lives as a whole after these experiences. There are so many information gaps that exist in our world today, whether it be healthcare or food, and I love being able to help bridge some of those gaps through what I work in.

 

 

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As a clinical writer, my career allows me to break down dense scientific information into key facts and data individuals can grasp and understand. I view what I do as “scientific translation” in a sense, and I love knowing the work I do helps individuals make better decisions for their hospitals and patients. I credit a speech I gave my sophomore year of college at Susquehanna University for the Honors Program as the reason why I was drawn to scientific translation and presentation. The speech was entitled: “Vaccines and the Childhood Autism Scare: Solely a Media-Generated Correlation.” A community member from the audience came up to me after the speech and thanked me,because she believed that she had given her son autism because she chose to vaccinate him and now knew that the facts proved otherwise. I later went on to work with Johns Hopkins Medicine on a research project looking at supplement manufacturer claims and was blown away by the evidence gaps existing. I have been incredibly excited to attend a few conferences for work this summer, allowing me to interact with a wider audience on these types of topics and facilitate these types of informative discussions.

 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up in a very loving and nurturing environment. My parents really balanced each other out when I grew up, with my dad really encouraging my younger brother and I to do well in school and my mom always asking us if we were happy (and making sure we were) in addition to fostering other passions like reading and drawing. In retrospect, having both of those perspectives was incredibly important to where I am today,because I have realized how important it is to work hard to be able to succeed. However, I also know that happiness is truly the key to everything. And if you aren’t happy, nothing else really seems to matter.

 

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My parents also made large decisions in regards to their careers before they started a family. My mom decided to leave her management job to raise a family full time, and my dad found a different executive position that would allow him to spend time with his family and not work 24/7. I did not realize how impactful that was in my life until I got older. My parents were at every soccer match, swim meet, softball game, honors ceremony, chorus concert, etc. I knew if I would look out in the stands, they would be there enthusiastically cheering me on. That really taught me the importance of supporting individuals you love. I have really strived to do that in my adult years by always making the trip to see a friend, visiting with family, sending out a check-in text or mailing off a snail mail letter. It truly means the world to know you have people who care about you and want to make that time to be with you and care about you.

 

 

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I also would like to credit my parents for always showing my younger brother and I that money is not everything. My younger brother and I were incredibly fortunate to grow up in a home where we never needed for anything, but my parents were also not quick to buy us that “new thing.” Instead, they really emphasized the value of experiences by going on trips and going out to meals. As an adult, I find that I want to spend my money on travel and seeing the world. I would rather spend my money and time experiencing things and meeting new people versus getting a fancy car or new outfit. These experiences I find have made me grow and look at the world in ways I never thought I would, and it is a really beautiful and empowering thing.

 

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Moraine Lake in Banff, Canada

 

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

A: The first thing I have learned is don’t be afraid of not living up to other’s expectations – at the end of the day, you should only be living up to your own. Especially in your 20s, I just find there are a lot of things being thrown at you question-wise from a variety of people or what you see on social media in regards to topics like getting married, having kids, buying a house, going back to school, switching careers, earning more money, etc. All I can say is to do what makes you happy! Don’t look at someone’s life and think you should be doing what they’re doing – you should do what makes you happy and what you are passionate about. I think life is too short not to live in a way that makes you approach each and every day with a full sense of joy and enthusiasm.

 

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The second thing I have learned is to always try to understand and help people. People will have opposing views from you, different life stories, varying backgrounds, etc. but you should never miss out on the opportunity to have a conversation with someone who has different views than you or looks at something through a different perspective. Conversation and understanding is an opportunity to grow. Additionally, if someone needs a helping hand and you can provide it, don’t be afraid to pitch in and offer help. Doesn’t matter how simple it is. It could be just running to grab extra napkins for a coworker who spilled there coffee everywhere or helping to pick up someone’s spilledchange at the grocery store. Try to put out in the world what you want to receive back. I am always game for putting more goodout there.

 

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

A: I truly believe you attract the people and things you are supposed to in life through your actions and words. And I think that if you are doing what you love, you will attract the rightopportunities. I believe if you are a good friend, you will also attract great friends in your life. And I believe if you give love, you will receive it. I always think of this concept when I am having a really bad day. I always try to put positivity out there through my actions and words despite how bad things are. And I really do believe this has served me well in life. I know that it is definitely easier said than done, but I really have felt it has made such a huge impact on my life by acting in this fashion. Every day isn’t good, but I have always believed there is a piece of good in every day. And on days when it feels like absolutely nothing is going right, I am always thankful for my family, boyfriend, friends, pets and the good experiences I have had. There is always something to be grateful for and that can bring a smile to your face.

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Woman Wednesday: Kidron

*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 Kidron, Baltimore County, Maryland

WATCH KIDRON HERE VIA A SHORT VIDEO CLIP.

 

 “I was born in a very modest household, the daughter of a Financial Planner and a Phlebotomist (chemistry nerd). In many ways, I reflect characteristics of my parents, but I am very much like my father. I have always been told that I am “very bright,” but it wasn’t until I entered the world of finance that I felt I had finally found my place. I worked long hours…for less-than-ideal pay, applied myself to learn as much as I could, and over the years, I finally began to progress up the corporate ladder.

 

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Q: Tell us about your younger years.

A: I grew up in a small town in Pikesville, Maryland. I was scrawny, spunky, had a knack for making up bad jokes (that I thought were great), and I was good with my hands. According to  my mom, I spent a good deal of time “taking things apart” when I was younger, but also often putting them back together. The kids in the neighborhood also considered me a sort of “connoisseur” of the monkey bars, and a master of broken bicycle chains. My mom interpreted these inclinations as signs of a future “Mechanical Engineer.”

 

 

Q: What was high school like for you?

A: To put things eloquently, I struggled like everyone else. I was pretty awkward, didn’t fit in any particular social circles, and didn’t seem to have a natural gift for any of my classes. With the exception of two subjects: honors pre-calculus and a technology glass, I was pretty status- quo. I would not really characterize myself as a “math-kid” either. I loved algebra, and other studies, to which I could attribute logical flow akin to building Legos. Otherwise, high school was a time I would never assign as “pleasant”.

 

 

Q: What was the next step for you after high school?

A: My first “Big-Girl” job was working at as a Digital Life Sales specialist at age 17 for a big-name electronics store (shout out to my mom for encouraging me to apply for that job). Believe it or not, I’ve always had a “knack”, or natural proclivity, towards computer technology—as long as I can remember.

 

As shy as I was, I actually ended up being quite the strong salesperson. I knew hardware, software, operating systems, and cell phones like the back of my hand. I knew the products, I was charming, and I recommended practical solutions without over-selling. I was willing to teach the customers to help them make an educated decision about their purchase. I began to thrive, and before long I was promoted to “team lead,” in a full-time employment capacity.

 

This was also the time in my life when I was supposed to be in college. I graduated high school (barely) on time, and enrolled at a private liberal arts school, with the intention of becoming an Interior designer. I thought I could make a decent living on interior decoration, and I had enough demonstrable math skills to comply with the calculation-aspects of the job.

 

However, once I got to school, it wasn’t long before I started to realize I wasn’t that great at being an artist; and that making a comfortable living would probably require an advanced degree, and years before the salary was commiserate with my experience. I also started to advance more and more in my baby-career as a salesperson. I enjoyed it, seemed to have grasped some form of popularity never previously experienced, and I did well for a kid out of high school.

 

It wasn’t long before I was promoted at work, and the allure of obtaining that Bachelor’s Degree in Arts faded away; during the same time, footing the tuition bill for that full-time private education became something my parents couldn’t afford. I became disinterested enough to drop out.

 

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Q: Do you believe dropping out of college was the best decision for you?

A: I would not necessarily say that I “regret” dropping out of school then, but returning to continue my education further on in life certainly has not been any easier than when I was a relatively careless 19-year old. Thankfully, the skillsets that I had acquired and developed working as a salesperson had universal application in the finance world. In the fall, I was recruited to start my first professional position, working an accounts receivable role for a company in the Baltimore area. I still didn’t have a degree, but I was good with numbers, excellent with spreadsheets, and learned financial concepts easily. Working for this company helped me develop critical thinking and analysis skills, that were unsatisfied by the collections-oriented position. I spent about 18 months with that company before I moved on to other opportunities.

 

I knew that tenure and consistency is important for advancement in the world of finance. I sacrificed for these positions. I worked long hours… for less-than-ideal pay, applied myself to learn as much as I could, and over the years, I finally began to progress up the corporate ladder.

 

There is an invisible line between the “associate” and “analyst” experience leveled position (which generally required a Bachelor’s Degree of some sort) that was rapidly approaching, and I it knew would be challenging to cross. In order to move beyond billing and collections, I had to be able to prove I had the skills required to be an analyst. I knew that would be difficult without a 4-year degree, but I also learned that sometimes, those 3-day long training sessions for Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint skills carried weight in the eyes of managers and employers—because experience is also valuable. I signed up for company-sponsored, industry-approved classes, I did IT hardware and software certifications through our employer’s online training center as often as I could; and I kept a running list of everything I did. I also amassed a number of training hours that qualified for “Continuing Professional Education” credits, which is a huge plus. No matter how long I worked at any contact position, I made sure I had some form of evidence to show what skills I learned and what I achieved. I also learned on the job, sitting behind computer monitors. I learned to identify, explain, and resolve account variances. I read lengthy sales agreements, servicing agreements, tax publications, and experience in multiple aspects of the finance industry. I learned how to implement short term and long-term solutions through the use of process automation.

 

I also taught myself how to program, predominantly in Visual Basic for Application. It’s a scripting language that’s often used to display data or calculate data and automate processes or routine tasks. That was one of the skills I learned over the years, and programming was an effective tool I could use to gain a deeper understanding of the finance world. It was also a fun way to build things.

Eventually, I went back to school. I decided to change routes a little from my original Arts-direction, to pursuing an Accounting Major.

School is still an ongoing struggle for me, but I am happy to say that I am finally about to obtain my first Degree in Business Accounting (Certificate), have surpassed the Analyst experience level, and have become an intermediate-level Developer/Programmer/Financial Modeler in the finance industry. I am also enrolled in another University to resume my path to my Bachelor’s Degree, with a Master’s Certificate in Data Analysis on the side.

 

I landed my dream job as an “Engineer” like my mom thought I would be, except I build financial models for structured finance deals on a digital platform.

 

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Q: What do you want others to take from your story?

A: I’ve realized that in my life, for me to overcome what holds me back, and to be happy, I have to let some things rest in the shadows. If they don’t contribute to the betterment of myself and/ or humanity, they probably aren’t worth holding onto. I decided I had to push forward for what I wanted (and deserved) if I had to be the Little Engineer who Coded.

Work hard and persevere.

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Laura

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a new 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 Laura, Morris County, New Jersey

Watch Laura HERE via a short video clip.

“I try to challenge myself daily, to develop different parts of who I am and who I want to be. I’m a work in progress. We’re all works in progress, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing.”

 

One of my father’s hobbies was photography when I was younger, and I couldn’t help but want to try it out myself. In my preteens, I taught myself how to use a digital camera and shortly after, got into film photography. This jump-started my passion for photography. When I won a photography competition against a bunch of older women, at the age of 13, I became hooked. That photo is actually one of my favorite non-portraits to this day—a bumble bee on top of a flower in a Vermont garden. Now, I primarily like taking portraits. There’s nothing like helping someone realize their beauty and potential through a camera lens. Capturing pure happiness is my favorite.


 

Q: What advice would you give to women?

A: Being yourself is a powerful thing.

 

Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: Feminism to me points to the big picture of equality and the ability to express who you are confidently without judgments or negative forces upon you.

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Q: Why should more women be in business or male-dominated fields?

A: Businesses thrive when different views and perspectives are brought to the table. Many types of people, including women, are needed to contribute diverse valuable ideas and opinions. This is especially the case when women are the target market. Women know women best.

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I knew I wanted to make a positive impact in others’ lives for a career, so I decided that studying psychology would be one way to start on that path. I got my BS in psychology and a minor in photography at a fairly small liberal arts school in central PA. I was lucky enough to study abroad due to my school requiring its students to have a cross-cultural experience as part of their core curriculum. I took the opportunity to go to the place I dreamed of going to since I was a little girl—Sydney, Australia! The beaches, lifestyle, and wildlife enticed me and it surely didn’t disappoint! It was an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience that I’ll never forget. I grew immensely during those 4.5 months by pushing myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible.

When I chose to study psychology in college, I knew that I would have the most job opportunities if I went to graduate school afterwards, so that’s exactly what I did! I ended up getting my Masters in Social Work, with a clinical concentration, from a large public institution the following academic year. During my master’s program, I was lucky enough to have two amazing field placements. First, I worked with high school students doing one-on-one therapy addressing various issues including anxiety, depression, family concerns, relationship issues, and whatever else the students brought to their session. I also co-facilitated a bereavement group with another counselor, which focused on all types of losses the students were experiencing.

After my first field placement, I became fascinated with the idea of working with college students and sought out opportunities to do so. I landed at a small liberal arts college near my hometown and their counseling center is where I fell in love with working with the young adult population.

What’s even more exciting is that this position eventually led to my current position as a learning support specialist. I now work with college students with disabilities that impact learning, primarily doing academic coaching. I meet with about 25 students for an hour per week to address any concerns they have that could impact their academic success. During these meetings, we go through all of their classes, review their grades, go over upcoming assignments, discuss learning strategies and skills that may be helpful, and sometimes do some work together. Another part of my job is co-facilitating an interpersonal skills group with the same population. The students decide what they want to talk about during that weekly group, but topics often include friendship or roommate issues, relationship concerns, academic concerns, family issues, and stress. It’s a space for students to discuss whatever is on their minds that week.

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Q: How did your younger years impact who you are today?

A: At 5’6” by the time I was ~10 years old, I was a bit physically awkward and wasn’t particularly comfortable with myself on the inside either. This was the case for all of elementary school and most of middle school. I considered myself a misfit who was trying way too hard to“fit in,” and I was compensating who I was in order to try to do so.

That all changed towards the end of 7th grade. I had had enough trying to be something I wasn’t—it was so clearly not paying off. A switch kind of went off in me that I needed to start doing things that were best for me, rather than what was going to make me “fit in.” This was when I started to find happiness in who I was and in my social life. I encourage all young girls to embrace who they truly are—there’s happiness in that.

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Q: What is something you want others to take away from your story?

A: The takeaway from my story is that doing what is best for you is the right path for you because you’re the expert on yourself. And when you work on yourself and you’re the best for yourself, you’re also the best for others. A perk of this is that people are attracted to others that are confident in themselves.

 

 

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Continue reading “Woman Wednesday: Laura”

Feminism

Feminism.

Is it a political view, a skin color, a gender?

No.

Feminism at its most simplest and truest form (the form it is meant to be) is the belief in the equal freedom and rights of women.

It follows the ideology that no matter what your genitalia may be, whether you’ve got a penis or vagina (or identify as male or female or other), you have the same rights as anyone else, and you receive equal treatment (or at least you should).

It is the belief that you should have the same freedom, rights, and respect as anyone. These rights should not be based on whether you were born male or female.

Do you believe in that? Is that something you would fight for? Then welcome, new advocate!

What is your opinion on feminism? We’d love to hear your perspective!

 

 

 

 

My Lilianas is offering women 100% cotton shorts with deep pockets and fashionable patterns available for purchase online! It is a small business that will be launching online this August, first on Kickstarter, then again–an online storefront via Shopify at www.mylilianas.com.

To get exclusive rewards when My Lilianas launches, as well as updates and more information, check out the Krowdster Prelaunch page, and send us your email! See you there!