Women

Women Helping Other Women – Guest Post by Brittany Larsen

Ahh the internet. That magical place where you can follow your high school classmates without having actually seen them in real life for ten years. When Brittany Larsen, who I was so jealous of in high school because she had a magical soprano voice, posted on her Facebook that she was starting a community for working women I knew I wanted to be involved. Never mind we haven’t seen each other since 2007.

Her new project supports women in all paths and her rallying cry to support one another as women is SO NEEDED in this world. I sent her an email and boom – another connection. She was so kind to feature me on her new blog and I’m happy to share her beautiful message with you – the first guest post of 2018. To women!

Author: Brittany Larsen

Website: www.livlyhood.com

I have always found beauty in things that are rare. I love finding what is different and seeking out the unique. I like to consider myself a connector and I love to find the links between people and their interests. This prompt got me thinking about what I consider to be beautiful, and I’ve realized what makes me feel beautiful is when I lift the people around me and find meaningful connections with them.

One thing I felt I struggled with growing up was maintaining uplifting female relationships, which is ironic given that I know Katie from High School and we just recently connected after a decade, so maybe I wasn’t as bad at it as I thought. When I got to college, I decided that I was going to focus on encouraging the women around me. I was in a predominantly female program (Broadcast Journalism) and it was extremely competitive. I wanted to figure out what made my fellow students tick and encourage them. For too long I felt like I had been competitive with the women in my life because of my artistic endeavors, so I learned a lot by trying to avoid gossip in my college years. At times this approach cost me friendships or “popularity,” which took some getting used to. But I persisted and tried to find the higher ground whenever I could.

In my first job out of college I struggled with this concept of lifting the women around me. I realized that working in a real career unfortunately had a lot more in common with my junior high experience than I had anticipated, and it likely didn’t help that I worked in politics. I quickly learned that back biting and negativity in the workplace were more common than I would’ve thought, especially from my female colleagues. I was frustrated with myself when I would get caught up in talking about things that just didn’t matter. Again, I had a choice to seek out the rare by finding women who would help and guide me, and women I could trust. I also had to choose to rise above the negativity. More than anything, I learned how to fight for myself and the women around me in a professional way. I am still not even close to being perfect at avoiding the stereotypes of working with women, which is why I have had to make a conscious effort to avoid negativity in my female relationships.

Here are a few ideas that you can start with right now that have helped me combat the stereotypes of women working with each other:

  1. Today, write a thank you note to a female mentor and express your gratitude for how she’s guided you. This can be a teacher, former manager, peer, etc.
  2. Publicly acknowledge a woman that you work with in a meeting for her ideas.
  3. Text an encouraging quote to a friend struggling with her career path.
  4. Next time you hear someone say something negative about a female coworker, find a way to redirect to one of her positive attributes or just change the subject.
  5. Stop yourself next time you make a snap judgement about a woman you work with or a friend’s career choices.
  6. When a friend posts about a new job on social media, congratulate them for their success.

It is truly a beautiful thing when women fight for each other, instead of against each other. This is one of the main reasons I recently started Livlyhood; a community for women who work.

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Women are already so naturally hard on themselves and I’m firm on the idea that we don’t need any negativity coming from each other. I’ve learned through trial and error that women can unfortunately be our own worst enemies. We don’t lose anything by positively recognizing the efforts of those around us, especially at work. In my current professional role, I manage a team of primarily female professionals and I constantly remind the women I work with that we have more in common with each other than what may be seen on the surface. I am so proud when they stand up for each other and positively encourage each other.

With Livlyhood, I hope to continue to shine a spotlight on my beautiful connections (both inside and out) and to share what they’ve taught me. Every woman is worthy of positive relationships, even in the workplace. The glorious thing is that we don’t have to be best friends to be kind to each other. I hope to contribute in a way that makes what is currently rare and make it commonplace… women helping each other climb the ladder of success in their careers.


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Brittany Larsen is an experienced communications professional with an extensive background in crisis communications and public relations. She currently leads the Public Relations Department at The Summit Group.

You can also find her here.

Twitter: @brittlesser  Instagram: @larsenlivlyhood

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We Didn’t Get the Baby – Guest Post From Becca

When Becca sent me an email asking to share her story I was touched. She told me she wanted to write about a different kind of loss – infertility. I thanked her for her honesty and for the way she chooses to look for beauty while moving towards acceptance. Thank you, Becca, for desiring to create connection, awareness, and strength for women experiencing infertility.

Here are her thoughts.

Author: Becca 

Her Website: Post IVF World

Her Mantra: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

To see the beautiful things in every day life is a very positive thing to do, although, sometimes I do find it hard. This is why I was so exited to do a post for Katie, not only will it (hopefully) be a good addition to her blog, it will also make me write about the positives I have found through my journey.  I experience really bad anxiety, mostly due to the lack of control I feel I have had over my life thus far. As a result I do have a tendency to overlook the positives.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Becca. I went through the Menopause at 15 and this has made life a little different for me. I have chosen to be open about my diagnosis with friends and family, where we talk about the way this change has effected me, us as a family, and my friendship group openly and honestly.

I consciously made the decision to speak about my experience in an attempt to make the process easier for everyone. I learned early on it isn’t just me going through the turmoil that can follow an infertility diagnosis at such a young age. My Mum, Dad, sister and wider family are still impacted too!

This openness has worked well for the most part, but sometimes I just don’t want to talk about this loss. My choice to remain quiet can be hard to explain to my support network.

I am not going to say that my journey has been all positive just because we are talking about ‘beautiful things’. My journey hasn’t been rosy all the time and I don’t want to paint an untrue picture of what it can be like to find out you are infertile, especially at such an early age.  If I am honest though, the diagnosis was the easy bit – that was just the beginning.

My partner and I have in recent years, had 3 failed IVF attempts, including 2 pregnancy losses and naturally they were hard times. These losses and the days following are ones which I don’t think I will ever fully recover from. I still think of those babies on a daily basis as ours, a potential future, a future that was taken from us.

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Photo by Claire Nolan on Unsplash

Saying all this though, I have for sure found some beauty in my journey. I have found how strong I am as a person, at times when I really thought life was battling against me. I fought through such gaping voids and I am still here.

IVF and infertility is hard on a couple. I’ve realized my partner and I are lucky in that we have been together since we were teens. It’s in our nature to be open and honest about our thoughts and feelings when it comes to our fertility journey.

I have known my partner, who is now my fiancé, since my school years. We were friends for a long time before we got together and because of that, my infertility was never an issue in our commitment to one another. We never had to have ‘that talk’. He quickly accepted this limitation it was just a part of me. We knew from day one of our relationship that it may be difficult to get pregnant and even then it was no sure thing.

Like any couple we have had bad times. We both dealt with IVF and the losses differently. We fought with each other, we shouted, we cried a lot.  We also had other things going on in life –  family loss and a failing business were surrounding us all at the same time as IVF. We struggled to keep our heads above water. Somehow, we managed.

It was touch and go many a time but our extended families were amazing with us. Sometimes we needed their support more than anything. Some days we didn’t want to see anyone at all and they took it all in their stride. What a beautiful gift it was that these members of our family let us take the lead and not pressuring us to ‘recover’ any sooner than we were able to!

Now, at age 28, I am proud to say we are moving forward. After finding out I was infertile at 15, being on an IVF waiting list for 7 years, and 3 and a half years of failure after failure, it makes me happy to be able to say things are better for us now. Today, we are a year out from the day we decided to end IVF. We didn’t get the baby we have always wanted but somewhere through the journey I think we both realized that it is first and foremost each other that matters. We are concentrating on that as much as possible!

My blog ‘www.postivfworld.wordpress.com‘ focuses on our lives after IVF, not dwelling on the past, but talking of the way things are now. This loss still lingers. I still struggle with my mental health issues.

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Yet, I’ve found new things that we live for like our new puppy Hector.

 

My blog has been an amazing solace for me, something that I can control, that is mine, that I can make what I want of it! The people I have met and the communities I am now part of as a result of this loss are way beyond anything I ever imagined. I wish I had found out about them years ago, a couple in particular are the Daisy Network (concentrates mostly on early menopause) and The Fertility Network UK who cover a much broader spectrum of infertility. I urge anyone who is struggling with infertility to get involved with some of these powerful organizations as it really does help one sort through the complex emotions associated with this reality. I am happy to direct you to the right places depending on your diagnosis or concerns!

So there it is, my story. A somewhat shortened version, but everyone has their own story, and everything is relative. I choose not to moan about what I have been through, nor am I here to make light of infertility and pregnancy loss.  I hope to raise awareness of infertility and direct people who may have similar experiences towards resources. I hope to reassure people that life can get better. Acceptance takes time, and recovery needs to be at your own pace, but rest assured, you are not alone!

 

Becca can be found on her blog 

Lessons in Solitude – Guest Post from Kirby Elaine

Life lessons come in many shapes and forms. When Kirby of The Joy List started following me on Instagram, I instantly loved her vibe. Her perspective is refreshing. Another person looking for good in the world, and perhaps more importantly, good in themselves! She was kind enough to share some of my musings on her blog, and I am thrilled to have her share her thoughts as a guest contributor here today. Beauty in solitude and returning to self.

Author: Kirby Elaine

Her Website: www.thejoylistla.com

Her Mantra: “love the life you live”

If you asked me three months ago what my greatest “achilles heel” was, I’d say loneliness. The vulnerability that came from sitting at home alone or walking through this world as one set of footprints was so foreign to me and not something I had any interest in exploring. Three months ago, I made a decision to begin what I am now calling my “Self Love Journey,” but let me say, this decision did not come without it’s challenges. For months I had felt a burning in my throat and sharp pains in the middle of my chest, and any time I placed my hand on my heart I heard a voice, a voice that so sweetly and simply said “you need to be alone.”

 
I tried to silence it, not wanting to give into the vulnerability of what actually being alone might hold for me. I filled the empty spaces with more food and more alcohol, I kept my mind busy with my bartending work and copious amounts of classes and scene work for Acting. And ironically, every time I sat down to write, I immediately found a distraction or reason not to. Ego control, anyone?

What I can now see so clearly is that I wasn’t ready for the whole truth, and writing is, and always has been a truth-seeking practice for me. I sit down and my fingers channel the truth of what lies inside my heart. So let’s just get down to it and say that my heart finally won the battle (thank you, my strong, beautiful heart). My solo Journey began, and what I soon found was that without the distractions and worries over others and how I was affecting every single person I came in contact with, and without the self-
doubt and self-sabotage, I was able to tap into the childish innocence I have always known was inside and that I have always valued so deeply as one of my gifts. Through the journey of being alone I have remembered and repaired the relationship of who I am to ME.

I am a lover
I am a lightworker
I am joyous
I am that girl who get’s excited over beautiful fruit at the market
I am the one who stares at each Sunset as if I’ve never seen one before
I hug people deeper and longer than maybe I should
I tell people I love them, all the time
I share my gratitude with myself and anyone who will listen
I don’t apologize for my new ways of thinking and living
I don’t shrink myself to fit was is “acceptable”
I laugh loudly
I speak up
I do things that others may not always like, and that’s ok with me, because no matter what, now I always lead with nothing but love, and I stand up for myself when I feel my boundaries have been crossed.

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Three months ago I was a different Woman. Myself, yes, but I was scared and overwhelmed and weak from self doubt and guilt. Three months ago I truly and honestly didn’t know why I was even still here, I didn’t understand how I could possibly have a purpose, and within three months (less, if I’m being honest) I have found my life’s work, my life’s purpose, and each and every day I walk around with my head held high, buzzing in gratitude and anticipation for the gifts the day ahead of me will bring.
No matter how alone you may feel now, no matter how lost or weary, know that there is a way out, and it comes from Self Love. It’s time to fall deeply, madly, head-over-heels in love with yourself. It’s time to empower yourself to live the life you deserve, and if you ever need guidance, never be afraid to ask, we may be just meeting now in these words, but I’m always here – THAT is my gift to you.

Stay hungry my friends, I promise that this life has SO much for you ❤
In light and love,
Kirby

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Kirby lives and works in LA and describes herself as the following: hugger. writer. actor. improviser. dancer. dreamer. lover of animals. advocate for a healthy mind|body|soul

You can follow her on her blog or on Instagram.

Pink Flamingos in the Pool

I sat down at my computer two hours ago with the intent of completing some overdue work. I have a task I eagerly look forward to. One of those tasks that I am a little bit afraid of – a ‘just need to sit down and pump it out’ task that still isn’t finished.

I opened up my computer, clicked to open Word and got the rainbow wheel of death. You know what I’m talking about. The ever whirring wheel that taunts you saying, ‘just a sec…. let me just load this one thing.’ You sit on your hands and grit your teeth and hope that the machine you use every day will respond to your gentle caresses and coaxing.

No luck.

Open Microsoft Office support, let them log on remotely (that’s ok right? I feel like I’m signing away all of me when someone remotes into my computer) and here I sit, uninstalling over 70,000! files so I can reinstall my Microsoft Office suite.

My task remains unfinished. My brain, and maybe the universe, are telling me to switch gears. Here we are instead, blogging. A much better use of time than staring at the screen as my trash bin empties on my Mac.

I drift back in memory to the wonderful weekend I just spent in Scottsdale, Arizona with my cousin’s best friends.

Lew, as we affectionately call her, is three years older than me and was always the epitome of cool. We grew up living two hours apart and spent major holidays, vacations, and summer play dates together. In elementary school I was in awe of her competitive soccer team and would get excited when her traveling team would come up north for a weekend game. In junior high I envied her Abercrombie and Fitch clothing and group of best friends. When I was in high school she would invite me to come watch a movie at her house nearby as she was in college. I’d marvel her home full of all things college – sports paraphernalia and the cute boys from the ‘guy’s house’ across the street.

She stood as Maid of Honor for my wedding and in three weeks time I will stand as a bridesmaid in hers.

I was thrilled to fly to Arizona for a weekend girl’s trip for her bachelorette extravaganza. I was blessed with an opportunity to bask by a pool in the desert and to rest in a beautiful mansion. Blessed with many hours of conversation that were distinctly feminine. The conversations carried threads of hopes for marriages, our careers, their babies (no, no not me, just all of her friends).

Laughter bounced along the water ripples as one of us would occasionally jump off the diving board or fall in the pool after trying to balance on a floating flamingo.

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Lew and me on our floating creatures.

There is something powerful when women gather. Energy shifts, back rubs are given freely, tears are shed over iced glasses of rose wine. I didn’t know these women that well, and frankly, they have intimidated me all of my life. Looking up to a cluster of amazing women that have supported my cousin has often left me feeling jealous – why can’t I seem to foster decade long friendships with such ease?

The veil lifted, though, as I took time to speak with each of these ladies. My myths of glamorous girls formed into real people with real problems, hopes, dreams, and jokes. Lots of wonderful jokes. I started to feel like a part of them. And that is a beautiful thing.

Friendship with women can be hard. We form cliques, we gossip, we exclude – unintentionally, often in an effort to protect ourselves. Yet, if we can let down our own IMG_5081guard, and let people in a little bit, we can find a whole lot more of ourselves.

A social lubricant of three powerful margaritas sipped out of a penis-shaped straw may have helped. 

It felt wonderfully beautiful to be taken care of, to rest, to sleep in the sun.To share salads and crackers and bits of cheese. To float on flamingos, and unicorns, and swans.

 

 

 

 

Get your own flamingo here: GoFloats Flamingo PartyTube Inflatable Raft, Float In Style (for Adults and Kids)

When Life Unravels

Beautiful power exists when we share our stories.

I have had the honor of writing for Invoke Magazine again, and today another installation goes live. For those who are interested in the beauty of sharing truth, being honest, and vulnerable in online spaces, here is my article.

3 Ways to Cope with Grief and Uncertainty (from Someone Who’s Been There)

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Thank you to Anna and Emily for the privilege of contributing again.

With love, bravery, courage and hope.

 

“What I Believe About You”

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I think I found this picture on Pinterest, I can’t remember, and I’m sorry if I’m not giving appropriate credit. What I love, however, about this little quote is it encourages authenticity. And it encourages celebrating myself. I don’t think society does a great job of encouraging us to celebrate ourselves. We down play compliments, are quick to point out flaws, and are often afraid of tooting our own horn for fear of being arrogant, loud, self centered. Yes, there are plenty of those “me monsters”, as comedian Brian Regan would call them, but I think it is rare when we come across people who are worth celebrating that actually allow themselves to engage in self celebration.

This week I had a few choice encounters with beauty in this world. My favorite came in a really unexpected way. I was invited on a whim to participate in an online writers workshop called Women Who Write Rock  – a virtual retreat where for seven days women share their writing online, and participate in Skype sessions, and post on Facebook. This opportunity excited me, and scared me too, because while I love writing, I do not love criticism or critique and I really am kinda uncomfortable with people I don’t know. But I signed up, and it has been a really fun journey so far. I am on day 4 of 7 and I am responding to prompts and responding to other people’s writing. Beautiful writing with beautiful expression of pain, of joy, of experience, and of self celebration. I am getting positive feedback, and these other people’s responses – hundreds of women whom I’ve never met- are making me feel more at home in this world that doesn’t often celebrate women.

This week, my beauty to share with you is the affirmation that the workshop creator gave to us as we started our week of writing. Helene Rose, whom I’ve never met, inspired me and gave me such a confidence boost with her words.  These words are reminders we should repeat throughout the day. They should echo in our actions, and be whispered to ourselves when we feel crummy. They should be yelled from mountain tops, and sneak out through laughter. They should be celebrated. We should be celebrated. How do you celebrate yourself?

” What I Believe About You”

You are a woman of great strength and courage.
You have the ability to express yourself. It may or may not need prodding. But it’s there.
You have a right to be heard, your voice booming out to the world, for all to witness.
You have a unique story to tell. All women do.
Your presence on the earth is magnificent, and we need you. We need your unique contribution.
Your life is filled with challenge and heartache, but it’s for a purpose. To serve your soul.
Your inner creatrix yearns to be free, to express, to just be, without judgement.
You deserve every ounce of ecstatic joy and abundance that life has to offer.
You can overcome your fears and claim your place in heaven on earth. The earth will rejoice.
You are a kick-ass, warm-hearted, kind, compassionate, loving, fierce and powerful woman. A force to be reckoned with.
Your broken-heart only grows stronger, more authentic, and more open to love when it heals.
Your supportive feminine community yearns to witness your heart-opening experiences through your creative self expression.
You want to be held and we hold you, in loving compassion.
You are a shining star. XXOO, Helene ”

For more information about Helene, check out Bebrilliantnetwork.com