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: 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/

 

 

 

 

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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: Justine

*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 Justine, Somerset County, New Jersey

People always ask me how I can afford to travel as much as I do at this age. Something I’d like others to know is that whatever you want to do is possible if you really want to make it happen. I make traveling and seeing the world a priority. This isn’t to say that I spend an extreme amount of money on it either. I budget it into my expenses just like groceries. I need to see the world. And while I love my job, I always feel a constant urge to know that the world and my life is bigger than sitting at a desk or on a train. It’s always worth it, and it is totally possible!

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I love my job and the field I am in! I am a book publicist so basically, I get to tell people how great certain books are and then organize events and book tours for authors. I have always loved books; this is absolutely my dream! I majored in creative writing and English, did a bunch of internships, got my master’s in English literature, and was hired at the last company I interned at! Now I’m working at a company that works with a lot of books in translation that ranges in genre from thrillers to biographies and art books. I love being able to work on all different types of books and just talk about how amazing books are all day.

 

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Pictured: Justine in her element. As a book publicist, she loves reading books and helping authors.

 

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

A: Sometimes you can give something everything you have and work your very hardest and fall short. It doesn’t mean that you failed. So much of adult life is about timing, working hard, and luck. At times, you can go every extra mile, outwork people around you, and still not succeed as quickly or as much as you would like. These shortcomings put things into perspective, and when you can look back on them and actually say, “I gave that everything I had,” then you know you did your very best. Just because the outcome may not be exactly in our favor, we have to take these experiences and use them to make us stronger for the next time. In short, life is not always fair, and you can’t let it break you! Learn from it, and don’t give up! 

 

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Pictured: Justine in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I always liked to keep super busy when I was growing up. I loved shuttling between softball, soccer, basketball, piano, gymnastics, ballet, cross country, track, and any other summer camps or art classes I could weasel my way into. Looking back, I feel so sorry for my parents who had to drive me around everywhere, but I am also so thankful and grateful for them always encouraging me to try everything and practice everything I was doing. I learned about committing to something and following through from a young age, and I also learned how to be part of a team, which is something I think absolutely translates to adult life in work and relationships. Even growing up, I was obsessed with books! I remember being in second grade and spending every free second reading to win more personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut’s Book It program. While pizza initially stimulated my infatuation with reading, I quickly knew that I just loved books! I still very fondly remember my first author event during a first-grade assembly where a children’s book author, Dan Gutman, came to visit us and gave us each a signed copy of his book. I spent all my allowance buying all his books and thought that him coming to visit us was just about the coolest experience ever. Now I get to go to author events all the time!

 

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Pictured: Justine at the New Jersey Balloon Festival. 

 

A part of my story that I haven’t mentioned yet is my passion for traveling. I love taking vacations to countries that I haven’t been to yet and going on adventures. I do this at least twice a year. People always ask me how I can afford to do this at this age. Something I’d like others to know is that whatever you want to do is possible if you really want to make it happen. I look online on tons of different websites to find the most affordable flights and places to stay. I use my vacation days around small holidays to make the trips longer. I make traveling and seeing the world a priority. This isn’t to say that I spend an extreme amount of money on it either. I budget it into my expenses just like groceries. I need to see the world. And while I love my job, I always feel a constant urge to know that the world and my life is bigger than sitting at a desk or on a train. It’s always worth it, and it is totally possible!

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Pictured: Justine enjoying the water and beautiful views in Italia (Italy). 
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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means equality. I do not like being talked down to by men, being treated like I can’t do something as well as a man can, nor do I like being treated like I am a man’s property. However, to be honest, I’m not big on movements like the women’s march or large scale protests to assert feminism. I think that by showing the men you associate with that you are just as strong and smart(er) as they are, and asserting this belief into who you are is the best way to change the conversation. I think we need men to uplift women just as much as we need women to uplift women.

 

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Pictured: Justine and her significant other, Nick, traveling together in Iceland. 

 

I really think that the conversation about feminism needs to include men. I feel like there are two types of men: men who repress women and men who uplift women. The men who uplift women are able to do this because they are associated with strong women who are their equals. In my opinion, a great example of this is Barack and Michelle Obama. This may not be a popular opinion, but as much as I am rooting for women and “feminism,” I do think there is a lot of hypocrisy. I think that if a woman claims to be a “feminist,” she shouldn’t depend on her dad or her partner to do things like dealing with her car issues or squashing bugs. Once you get to this point, you can’t ignore other things that have become gender norms like men proposing to women, because we all still want our dream proposal and diamond ring. So, it’s not black and white for sure.

 

As a side note, I also believe that “feminism” is the cop-out men have been waiting for, and in 10 years, I believe “stay at home dads” will be the norm. So it’s a conflicting subject, to say the least, and this is a very loaded question. I could go on and on!


I think that this quote from the book,
“How to be Parisian,” sums up how I feel about feminism: “Of course you can open a bottle of wine by yourself. But let him do it. That’s equality too.”

 

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Pictured: Justine taking a stroll in Reykjavik, Iceland. 

 

 

 

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