Woman Wednesday: Jessica M.

*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 Jessica M., Baltimore, Maryland

“There will be messy days, 2-steps-backward days, and you’re-rocking-it days, but as long as you keep showing up to your life, it’s progress.”

 

 Q: Tell us about you! 

A: I’m a full-time working mom of an active, fun-loving 7-year-old, and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance all the moving parts. I work as an administrator for Atwater’s in Baltimore. I never expected to find myself in a field of finance because my brain runs toward creativity, but Atwater’s is an amazing company! The effort is worth it because I fully support their brand and values of bringing wholesome food to your table. Check them out, seriously!

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m still in a place of discovering my passions and what lights my fire. I’ve always struggled with figuring out who I want to be, but most recently, my creative spark has gravitated toward disrupting photography. It’s become a tool on my journey through healing. Mostly what I create, from poetry to photography, has been for me and a select few, but I hope to one day take it a step further and share my truth to the world through an art series.

 

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My younger years were a little bit challenging but happy because I was surrounded by a loving family. When I was two, my parents discovered that I have severe bilateral hearing loss. I was immediately fitted with hearing aids and started speech therapy. One thing that many people don’t realize is that I don’t know sign language. Many people assume that I should know it. A lot of my understanding of speech comes from lip reading. Reading lips helps fill in the gaps of what I hear, distinguishing specific letters and sounds.

 

 

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Those working with me (as a very young child) thought I belonged in a school for the deaf like anyone else with a hearing loss, but my parents felt I shouldn’t be limited by my disability, so in 2nd grade, they started me in a mainstream private elementary school. Most teachers were extremely supportive throughout my school years, from taking the time to make sure I was following along okay in class to ensuring I had the best seat to see them. I almost hit a roadblock when I was accepted into a private high school because once they knew I was hearing impaired, they didn’t think I would be a good fit due to a bad experience with a previous hearing-impaired student. My parents, tutor, and I went to the school and fought for my right to be there because I shouldn’t be judged based on the actions of another.

 

I admit that I spent a lot of years embarrassed by my disability and have actively tried to hide it, feeling like I didn’t fit in. But as I get older, I’m learning it’s not a weakness. My mother always reminds me of the strength I’ve had in overcoming it by mainstreaming into an educational world that did not cater to my disability. When my parents started this path with me, there wasn’t a lot of education and understanding out there for hearing loss. My parents have always been my biggest supporters and advocates, and I am truly grateful that they believed in me.

 

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

A: Three years ago, I lost my Dad to cancer and that has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever been through. He was gone 3 months after his diagnosis. My family and I barely had time to process one piece of information before being hit with something new. It rocked my world losing someone so close to me. It shaped the way I experience health anxiety and dropped me into depression. Each experience that struck after the loss of my Dad eventually set me on the path of taking care of my mental health. That has been my biggest goal this year by starting counseling and learning the tools to cope with my anxiety and depression.

 

 

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Some of the most valuable things I have learned are that talking about your pain instead of bottling it up truly helps, and healing is not a straight, upward line. There will be messy days, 2-steps-backward days, and you’re-rocking-it days, but as long as you keep showing up to your life, it’s progress. And I don’t just mean getting out there when you feel crappy and getting it done anyway. If I feel down and need to lay in bed for a while instead, that’s progress too, because I’m allowed to put down the “happy mask” and say, “I’m not okay,” and care for my mental health first.

 

Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: In the past, I never really defined myself as a feminist, and I have thought, at times, all I was good enough for was caring for my home and family. The 1950s housewife seemed a normal thing. I personally think that if that’s what you want, then it’s okay. I wish I had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. But when it becomes a situation where you’re treated like that’s your only place and you’re not equal or you’re “less than” others, then it starts to get sticky. It’s all about choices and being able to have the freedom to make them without pressure, judgment, or fear.

 

When the #MeToo movement gained popularity, the education it provided made me realize certain experiences that happened to me in the past were not okay.
I’ve been in situations where I was made to feel “less than” and my consent was not given. I spent years trivializing those experiences because of a lack of resources and my own understanding.

 

 

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But the movement isn’t just for me, and I’m not the only one that needs a voice. I am married to a trans woman, which has opened my eyes to even more. Though the world seems to be becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community, there is still a lot of shame, bullying, and stigma placed on those who feel different in their skin. There is so much ugliness in this world, near and far, that it’s heartbreaking. I try to concern myself more with the fact that EVERYONE, regardless of gender, identity, race, religion, income level, who you love, etc. are valuable and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. I value unity and working together to make the world a place we all can thrive in.

 

 

I’d love to connect with you! 

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jnmeola

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackbird_f1y

 

 

Thoughts, questions, or comments?

Comment below! 🙂

Woman Wednesday: Lasheika

*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 Lasheika, Miami, Florida

“Everything happens for a reason, and don’t regret a thing because it’s all a part of your journey.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: Hi, my name is Lasheika. I am a mom of five boys and an author of experiences. I recently began my blogging journey, but my love of writing was recognized in middle school. I love to write and now that I’ve had experiences in love, life, family, and marriage. I choose to share those experiences with other moms in the hopes of them gaining more insight, support, and encouragement.

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was raised by my mom and step father. Just having a nonexistent relationship with my biological dad was enough for me to go looking for love in all of the wrong places. I became a mom at the age of 17, which was one of the most scariest and happiest times of my life. Two weeks after giving birth, I returned back to school. I graduated three months later. The birth of my son was a true game-changer for me. Seeing this little human made me push past my own emotions and shoot beyond the stars. Now, five kids later, I was more determined than ever to find my purpose. I felt that by having five kids and being able to maintain my sanity was something that I could share with the world. Me feeling neglected and then me finding love in my marriage and through the births of my children have me wanting to share my experiences with those who faced similar challenges.

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

A: I would want other women to stay encouraged, continue pushing forward in faith. Believe and know that God will never leave nor forsake you. Most importantly, nothing is a mistake. Everything happens for a reason, and don’t regret a thing because it’s all a part of your journey.

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism is our unique flawlessness. It’s the strength that we possess that no other has. It’s our ability to bear weight that only we can carry. It’s our boldness, our beauty, our courage and strength to overcome.

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Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

Comment below!

 

Woman Wednesday: Stacy

*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 World Traveler Stacy (traveler of over 40 countries), The Sunshine State of Florida

“My favorite quote is “There’s a sunrise and sunset in every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss any of them.”

 

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m passionate about seeing as much as possible of the Earth and sharing it with others. I love exploring new places, seeing nature, and being in a new culture. Sunrises and sunsets are my absolute favorite! My favorite quote is “There’s a sunrise and sunset in every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss any of them.”

 

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I currently work for a large school district in Florida and love my job.

Being able to work with kids, I’m able to instill my love of travel and inspire them from an early age.

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: We didn’t travel much as a family when I was young because of financial issues. When I was in my early twenties, I began exploring and found my true love for travel. I’ve never looked back! I would say my big trip in my 20s was Ireland. It was my first non-tour or “family” trip and opened my eyes to all the ways of exploring the world.

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Women and men being equal to each other. Same rights, same pay, etc.

 

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Having explored more than 40 countries on an educator’s budget, I always look forward to my next solo or group adventure. Check out my blog to join me on a memorable journey as we experience breathtaking views, authentic eats, and inspiring moments. Plus, get the ‘best of’ travel tips without breaking the bank. Transform your wanderlust into reality at sologatortraveler.com.

 

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Let’s connect! 🙂

Click here to check out my travel blog, learn tips and tricks, and follow me on my travels: sologatortraveler.com

Facebook: facebook.com/sologatortraveler

Instagram: instagram.com/sologatortraveler

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Idoia

*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 Idoia, Barcelona, Spain 

 

“Once you are on stage, there is this magic, that it makes you shine even though you are under pressure. If you miss a step, the key is to continue no one is expecting you to be perfect but you! It about forgiving yourself and continuing. A mistake is an opportunity to grow.”

 

 

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: The best approach to life is to be passionate in every second. It may sound cliché; however, there is no other way to live life meaningfully. In my point of view, during our lives, we have the chance to make positive impacts in our environment by understanding that life is full of good intent. I am passionate about people. Each of us has a story—something to tell the world. As human beings, we all deserve to be unique and to make mistakes in order to learn.

 

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Having said that, I feel grateful to work for one of the biggest online travel agencies in the world. Why? Because we bring people together as well as the world itself. Traveling has helped me to awaken my mind, to be open-minded and to see how beautiful diversity is. My role at the company is to ensure that travelers find the best deals for accommodation. This allows me to have a close relationship with the hospitality industry while working for a highly innovative travel platform. I would say that unconsciously, since I was a child, I knew that my life would be linked to travel. I will always remember the family trips around Spain with the car or summer holidays somewhere in Europe.

 

 

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

A: I would highlight two lessons. The first one is to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not knowing everything. Forgive yourself for that time you did not say what you wanted. Forgive yourself for failing. This is something I learned not so long ago, as I realized how tough I was being to myself. Indeed, it is essential to forgive to overcome difficult situations where you think you have failed. If there is not forgiveness, it will be much more difficult to continue your journey. It will feel as if you had an issue that had not been resolved with yourself.

 

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The second one is to be kind to others. When you meet someone, you don’t really know their story and what they have been through. In my view, each person behaves in a certain way because of a reason. Don’t blame that person for not being what you expected; there is probably an explanation for their behavior. Let the other person open up and tell you their story. Read what they are not able to say with words. We are sometimes afraid of showing vulnerability to others, while that is the moment when you are more honest and truthful to others and to yourself.

 

Q: What were your younger years like? 

A. I grew up in the northern region of Spain, in a beautiful region called Basque Country near the city of Bilbao.  I used to live in a little town close to the beach, and I played in the street until I was a teenager. I have now been living in Barcelona for three years, as I moved there to study for a bachelor’s degree in tourism and hospitality management.

 

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I remember my childhood full of curiosity—always wanting to try new things and ready for adventure. For instance, I used to dance urban style dances since I was nine years, then my older sister encouraged me to take up ballet lessons at the age of thirteen. I felt completely lost for the first year! I thought about giving up, but there was something that I found in ballet that completely changed my perspective of life. I understood how important is to accept myself in front of a mirror, both physically, but mainly, psychologically. Furthermore, to see how in life one should reflect, think, and then act. This is, I would say, how you find balance in life (but also in ballet 😉).  As I continued practicing ballet, I felt that I wanted to improve and learn more and more. It helped me to be resilient and to apply it to school, goals, personal relationships. When it was time for the summer festival of the dance school, we used to feel pressured the last weeks before the show. That is when I learned to trust myself and not to be frightened about failing. Once you are on stage, there is this magic, that it makes you shine even though you are under pressure. If you miss a step, the key is to continue; no one is expecting you to be perfect but you! It’s about forgiving yourself and continuing. A mistake is an opportunity to grow.

 

 

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

A: I feel that I am constantly learning and figuring out who I want to be. I do not believe in the only truth or the only answer. However, I have recently understood the importance of putting life in perspective and not making comparisons with others. We sometimes tend not to appreciate all we have in life because of making comparisons with others. This is especially relevant nowadays—as we are connected to other people’s lives in social networks 24/7. It is easy to compare yourself with the person you see on Instagram. Is it even fair to compare yourself with someone you don’t really know? It is not; you need to put in perspective your own goals and to look for inspiration rather than an exact role model.

 

I have learned that if I try to follow a role model, I forget about who I am and where I am going. I believe that even if you are not completely sure of where you want to be in the future, you already know where you do not want to be. This means that by following other’s steps, you do not necessarily end up where you want to go. It is more likely to feel that you have lost a chance to find your own way.

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism is the change to a more open and free society. It is not about just women or men; it is about the role models that have historically been associated with women and men. Feminism fights for women to be able to break the existing roles and to be whatever we want to be. It is the way to eliminate the barriers to do or act in a certain way because of the fact of being a woman.  For those who think that feminism is just about women, I would say that it is also about defending for men to be able to have different roles as well. For instance, many say that men shouldn’t cry, while feminism defends that men should be able to cry like any other human being.

Furthermore, feminism is also about creating a support bond with another woman. In other words, not to look at other women as competition, but creating a sisterhood relationship. Luckily, I feel that this change is happening within the women around me—at work and with my friends.

I believe that feminism is a small word for such a big meaning. There is a phrase of Simone de Beauvoir which states a deep message about feminism: “Feminism is a way of living individually but fighting collectively.”

 

 

 

Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

 

Instagram:

www.instagram.com/idoiahn

 

 

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Ioana

*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 Ioana, Cluj, Romania

 

“What I would like everyone to know and apply is passion! Find something that you love doing and go for it. Take time for it, show what you do to other people, involve your loved ones in your passion. Whenever you feel completely disappointed, desperate, and that life is completely pointless, turn to that color or canvas, pot or music, or whatever makes you feel joy.”   

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: Since I was very little, I loved playing with stones, rocks, mud, wood, and pretty much anything I could find on the ground of my parents’ garden. When I was about 12, my parents introduced me to a well-known visual artist here in Cluj, a sculptor.

 

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From that moment on, I started creating carved pieces out of stone, wood, clay, resin, bronze, and many other materials. This began as a childhood hobby but soon became a lifelong dream and career. I applied to the arts high school, followed by arts university, then a master’s degree in cultural management and then another master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels.

 
I traveled a lot, this being one of my greatest passions in life—discovering new places and cultures and becoming inspired by other ways of living. Through many of these travels, I also organized exhibitions, cultural events, theater and performance events in countries such as Morocco, Armenia, Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden, and I also made a lot of friends everywhere. All of these experiences have shaped me, both as an artist and as a human being.

 

 

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Pictured: Art by Ioana.

 

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

A: None of it was easy. Each time I left, moved, traveled, I did it alone. I enjoyed traveling alone because this allowed me to discover the world in a very personal way. I lived in France for one year, didn’t speak the language very well, and didn’t know anyone in the city I moved to. It was very hard at times, and I wanted to come back home more times than I can count, but slowly, I learned the language, started meeting people, people began interacting with my art, and so, by the end of my stay there, I had an exhibition, friends, and a new language under my belt.

 

Armenia was another challenge, as I went there in an Artist in Residence program (AIR), without any idea of what to expect. My great-grandmother was Armenian, and I had this strong desire to visit the place I also had roots in. At that time, I was still working on war-themed art pieces and was deeply inspired by the history of Armenian people, both during the genocide in 1915 and the more recent one committed by Azerbaijan in 1988. I had this drive to show people what has happened before in our history because I believed that this could change mentalities and ensure a better present and future for people. I was quite rebellious and hardheaded in regards to my beliefs.

 

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When I came back from Belgium, where I got my master’s degree in sculpture, I was 25. At that time, I started craving order and responsibility in my life, so, because I was surrounded by doctors in my family, I started working in an oncology clinic as a manager. One year later, I started working at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy here in Cluj, and by the time I was 27, I had two jobs, no creative time, and a big hole in my life. I missed the sculpture and the arts. I missed my years of creative events organizing, so I started, slowly but surely, infiltrating my creative side into the business part of my life. I started designing posters and commercials for the institutions I worked in, developing promotion campaigns, and started making soap to giveaway to our oncology patients.

 

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Soap making was actually the moment of my awakening—as I was quite numb since I returned to my country. The colors, the essential oils…it’s a true therapy, this soap making activity. After that, I started making jewelry and slowly grew back my inspiration for sculpture. As I moved to a new house with a tiny garden, I rediscovered my love for gardening as well, and this became one of my biggest passions. Growing plants! And landscape design. This month I decided to start growing a vegetable garden for my family and am constantly reading about seeds, soil, and getting inspiration on landscape architecture sites. I guess I get this from my mother, who is a professor in landscape architecture and my grandfather who was a phytopathologist (doctor in plant disease).

 

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Pictured: Hand-crafted, natural soap by Ioana.

 

At the moment, I still work two jobs, but when I get home in the evening, I create something. This is my goal every day, whether it’s a silver ring, 20 soaps, or just transplanting plants, every day is a creation day! My dream is to be able to quit all jobs and only focus on my passion: art! So, I have these 3 things as creative pillars: sculpture, soap-making, and gardens. And the one thing I was lacking also arrived in my life, once I regained trust in myself and my creative side, my boyfriend.

 

What I would like everyone to know and apply is passion! Find something that you love doing and go for it. Take time for it, show what you do to other people, involve your loved ones in your passion. Whenever you feel completely disappointed, desperate, and that life is completely pointless, turn to that color or canvas, pot or music, or whatever makes you feel joy.

 

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Have faith in yourself. Also very important: Will is a self-training thing–if you don’t stimulate yourself, you won’t pursue your goals, so find things that stimulate you! Be it that one extra like on Facebook, a kind word from your partner, or selling one of your crafts at a fair, just do it! Be brave!

 

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: If we ask ourselves, “Is feminism important?” Just check this little historical fact: Women in Switzerland gained the right to vote in federal elections after a referendum in February 1971.

1971! One of the “most civilized” countries in the world!
So, what does feminism stand for? I believe that if we were not forced to live in a world ruled by men, in which we were treated as subhuman, pets, or worse, we would not have been obliged to react. Feminism is a reaction to oppression, demanding equality in rights, equality in perception, and equality in labor. This is what it means to me:
a necessary movement and attitude in the 21st century.

 

 

Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

 

Personal contact:

ioanas.tanasescu@yahoo.com

www.facebook.com/ioanas.tanasescu

 

My pages:

https://www.facebook.com/ArtfusionTransylvania/

https://www.facebook.com/SoapySculpture/

https://www.facebook.com/desculptura/

 

 

 

 

Ioana & My Lilianas would love to hear from you! Comment below! 

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