How Activism and Entertainment Can Provide Careers for Women

Inspiration for Helping Others Get Their Voices Heard

Terra Renee

Terra Renee was born to a family involved in activism, but entertainment was her own idea for a career.  The two drives collided when Terra discovered a thousand other women who looked like her auditioning for a very small part in a TV show. Being young and naïve didn’t stop her from instantly realizing that she MUST create jobs for these women. She started writing a screenplay until friends urged her to apply for a grant. She won the grant, which was presented at a luncheon. That luncheon introduced her to another young woman who told Terra that she loved her grant application and wanted to be her publicist. Terra couldn’t imagine why she would need a publicist, but went along, and out of that meeting, African American Women in Cinema (AAWIC) was founded to be a one-time event honoring different women of color in cinema. Twenty-three years later, it is a fully functioning organization helping support women of color to take on roles of filmmaking “from soup to nuts” as Terra says.

Ironically, while writing that first screenplay, Terra took courses in film directing the School of Visual Arts as part of her search. She says that she met a Vietnamese man there who offered “to break her into the business.” When Terra laughed in disbelief, he introduced her to his friends who were producing short films. Terra worked with them in every capacity getting valuable on the job training, and when one of the friends got funding for a feature length film, Terra was hired as the first woman and woman of color associate producer. And when the director submitted it to the Cannes Film Festival, it won an award. The synchronicity of the work, the grant, and the award happening in conjunction with the founding of AAWIC all happened with such an “ease” that Terra says she knew, “This is what you were called to do, and you finally found it.”

YouTube University—A Safe Place to Learn

Terra has talked a lot about the opportunities technology has provided women in past interviews, but in this one, she mentioned how she consults YouTube University on a variety of issues. She says that while some people find it isolating, Terra says, “It’s a very singular space, and it does not allow room for anybody else. That makes it a very safe space emotionally.” So, if she can’t reach a friend on the phone, she types in the subject that is bothering her and says that she finds, “a litany of videos from women who face the same issue.”  She is puzzled that women have been taught so differently. She says that she doesn’t know if they expected us for the next million years to be in the kitchen and raise the children or what. While she thinks there’s nothing wrong with that, she adds, “But God gave us so much more. And we have a responsibility to contribute.” Terra says that it’s also our responsibility to create safe spaces emotionally for one another, reinforce the positive attributes that we have and not focus on the negative. “Balance, in my mind,” Terra says, “is the key to life.”

Women’s Perspectives that Inspire Terra

Terra said that she is encouraged by the women’s groups she has attended recently and the willingness to put differences aside and support each other. She mentioned one in which women announced that they were running for office and could use some help. And others replied that they didn’t have much but offered three or five dollars. Another example was a group of young women in technology who were reaching out to support one another and listen to each other’s issues. And finally, Terra told of being in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when President Biden spoke and how amazed she was to hear women who were born and raised in Tulsa, who had never heard of the Tulsa massacre. What inspires Terra is the new level of visibility for things that have been hidden for so long, and the flame it has sparked. She says it’s about understanding one another without prejudice, engaging, and from that dialogue, putting together an action plan. Terra thinks this is all very powerful, and exclaims, “Oh, Dr. Nancy, there’s another movement!”

Current Activities Giving Voice to Women in Activism and Entertainment

Terra has expanded her offerings over 23 years. In this conversation, she mentions several:

  • An educational series the last Friday of each month where various prominent leaders in the industry talk about various careers. This month, a sound recordist who worked on Michelle Obama’s, “Becoming” documentary is talking about sound as a career.
  • On the Clubhouse App, a weekly filmmaker series every Monday at 6:00 pm talking about the process, so new filmmakers won’t get discouraged and quit before we can see their talent.
  • The next film festival will take place online Nov. 4-6, 2021.
  • Talk with Terra podcast, every Thursday at 7:00 pm on RudyRadio.com.

Listen to this conversation for more of Terra’s insights and story and check out AAWIC website and Terra’s personal website for more information.

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How to Take Control with Mindfulness and Meditation

Retired Navy Seal Commander Jon Macaskill first learned mindfulness and meditation in the Navy where they used breathing drills to take control of their emotions while taking down a target or dealing with explosives. Except, he says, that they didn’t call it mindfulness and meditation, and he had a prejudice against it himself when years later, a counselor recommended it to him as a way to deal with stress and survivor’s guilt. However, he broke through the stigma and found the practice useful, not only to overcome his depression and anxiety, but also to improve his performance. Now he uses mindfulness and meditation to coach high performing teams to accomplish more and do their best. These tools, and several others, help him break through the clutter of multi-tasking and multi-communicating to help managers take control and achieve the most difficult of results—happy AND productive employees.

Mindfulness and Meditation Is a Game-Changer

Jon says that taking time to listen to a guided meditation or just being quiet and paying attention to your emotions and your physical sensations in the here and now gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to focus your mind and pay attention. He calls it a game changer because he says when you are present with yourself, you’re present with everyone else, including your family and your co-workers. The small investment in self-care has an enormous return in terms of better communication, higher productivity and greater enjoyment of what you do.

He uses two examples in this conversation. When he first started meditating he shares how he reacted to his baby daughter’s 3:00 am feedings—first it was stewing about the pressures of the day and returning to bed for a sleepless night. After three months, however, he enjoyed her cooing and appreciated the miracle of her being, then slept until morning refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

With his second example, he shares how multi-tasking reduces the flow produced by mindfulness and actually causes more errors and reduces productivity. In his consulting business, he charts the communication in the organization for quality verses quantity. He says that he is always asked how can we communicate better in this day of hyper-connectivity? So he analyzes their interactions: if they’re sending a million e-mails, constantly sending SLACK messages and keeping the channels open while working on other things, a lot of communication is getting lost. Jon advocates “mono-tasking and focusing on one single thing at a time.” When people object that they don’t have time, he shows them how it creates more time and he points out that “not only are you going to feel better at the end of the day, but you’re going to have gotten more done.”

The Line Between the Leader and the Boss

Jon differentiates between the leader and the boss in the way they lead. The boss comes in with the heavy hand of a tyrant and objectifies his workers, so they serve as objects. Everyone is working for the bottom line. A leader, by contrast, knows he/she is leading people with lives and concerns about work and families, and enlists those people to work towards goals as part of the organization, not just as the head of the organization. Jon’s ideal leader is the “loved leader.” This is not a weak leader, but is strong and resilient. He says, “(A loved-leader) is somebody who is compassionate, can see what his or her people need. And if he or she is not the person individually that is able to support their people, then they can leverage their sub leaders, their subordinate leaders, to get their people what they need, so that they can accomplish the mission. I mean, I’m former military, so we’re always talking about accomplishing the mission.”

Men Talking Mindfulness, Strong Male Ally and Corporate Consultant

Listen or watch this podcast to find out more about Jon’s podcast, Men Talking Mindfulness where he and a co-host discuss different aspects of mindfulness, but do not limit their topics to men. Jon welcomes women guests, and they discuss feminine energy, masculine energy and issues and strengths of both. Jon also talks about his wife and mother as strong supportive women in his life that he depends on for support and who provide the foundation for his support of women’s equality and equity in the world. Check out his website, Macaskill Consulting to learn about his four pillars that build the foundation for success: grit, resilience, compassion and preparedness. Listen to this conversation for more about his work with Space Force and other organizations to identify blind spots and help them become more resilient with foresight for the challenges ahead.

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How A Champion of Women Lifts Women Up and Transforms Lives

Linda Rendleman is a passionate champion of women, who says that her path began when she was a child and always wanted to hang out with the children who had less than their peers. Helping others was at her core, so empowering women and girls through various means became her life’s work: as an author, the Women Like Us book series; an inspired speaker,  the visionary and founder of the Women Like Us Foundation, a global charity with the mission of transforming lives of women and girls who change the world, and most recently a transformational coach helping women rediscover their worth, gain clarity and healing from the past, and create their most confident next chapter.

Always forward thinking, Linda began one the first city women’s magazines in the country, “Indianapolis Woman,” and she started a website for women called, Business Women Connect, before anyone understood the impact a website that helped women network and share workplace strategies could have on the lives of women. After getting cancer, her life was redirected and she dusted off her dream of having a charity—a social profit that could transform the lives of women and girls and change the world in the process.  She turned her for-profit into a nonprofit (social profit) and set out to help as many women as possible.

Getting Clear about your Mission

Linda says that early on in her work with the Women Like Us Foundation, she was very involved in sex trafficking and homelessness, but the overarching piece was always education. That was key in her own way forward, and she saw that as the path for others. However, they found themselves trying to change everyone’s lives. She said that, “you can’t do that. It’s like the story of the starfish. You know, you can help that one—throw that one back into the sea.” Then the foundation began narrowing their vision. As a result, she advises women starting a social profit not to waste time trying to help too many people. Narrow your vision until you have a clear message.

Now, Linda says Women Like Us works mostly in Kenya. They began supporting a woman who rescued girls from female genital mutilation (FGM). A tradition in Kenya undertaken by grandmothers and mothers to ensure their daughters are considered good marriage material. Linda says it is done because men don’t want the women to run away after they marry them because of their sex drives.  They also helped a woman named Anne who started a school in the deep Rift Valley area of Kenya called Victorious Teens International. Girls eventually drop out of school when they start their menstrual cycle and are made to sit in dirt or the grass.  Linda became close friends with Ann Kabui and was shocked when she found out the woman had died and was a victim of domestic violence herself. In the process of bouncing back, Women Like Us founded the Women Like Us Center in Nakuru, Kenya, to educate women on ways to transform their lives. They learn to sew and get a certificate so they can get jobs as domestics or start a microenterprise. They are also learning computers now; they grow vegetables to feed their family and have chickens and sell eggs. Linda says it gives her cold chills thinking about how happy she is for these women.

Women Like Us Book Series and Documentary

Linda wrote her books to share women’s stories. When we hear one another’s stories, we are inspired to learn more and support each other. In the 70’s and 80’s when Linda began her education and career, women did not support each other at all. They competed for the few jobs allotted to women and did not reach out to lift other women up. Linda says she was always a feminist and was outraged at limitations placed on women. Among her many radio and television shows, she also executive-produced the film documentary, Women Like Us.  Three Journeys.  One Mission. To Change the World, which follows three women through their travels, experiencing their personal journeys of adversity and evolution, along with witnessing the unimaginable social injustices women face around the world. She says that women she works with to support other women all feel like they are instant best friends because of their shared passion.

What’s Next for Linda and Women Like Us

Linda is reaching out to individual women who are wanting to understand their own next chapter. As an attentive listener, Linda is able to cut through the noise to hear the messages of personal stories that no longer serve us and need to be reframed. Check out her website, whatsnextforwomenlikeus.com for more information. And listen to or watch this conversation for more insight into Linda’s personal story and her rewarding work as a champion for Kenyan women and girls.

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How Passion Can Prevent and Finally End the Cycle of Abuse

L.Y. Marlow found her passion to prevent and finally end the cycle of abuse when she realized that it now threatened the life of her infant granddaughter, the fifth generation of her family to be a victim of unimaginable, life-threatening violence. She halted her 20-year corporate career and founded Saving Promise to raise her voice and join with others to end abuse as a way of life once and for all.

L.Y. followed her grandmother and mother onto the path of victimization. But she rejected it when she began to care more about the baby she carried in her 17-year-old body more than herself, and told her abusive boyfriend that he couldn’t hurt her or her baby any more. His answer was to kick her in the abdomen with his boot. L.Y.’s way out was education, which she pursued for 16 years at night while working and being a single mom. She got an MBA and worked for IBM to “create a new glass ceiling” until she became ill and was told by her doctor that it was not the lump in her breast that was killing her; it was her way of life. His famous words to her were, “Change your life or change your life expectancy.”

Get Still and Reflect on Your Passion

Before passion and purpose was “a thing,” and certainly way before working from home was even considered, L.Y. told her boss at IBM that she wanted to work from home three days a week. She decided that she wanted to write her story in the form of a novel called, Color Me Butterfly. It won 10 awards and L.Y. thought she had turned the corner on abuse. However, the same year the book came out, her daughter was almost killed by her abuser, and he threatened to kill Promise, who was only six months old. In desperation, L.Y. wrote to Oprah, looking for a voice louder than her own to finally stop the abuse. But when Oprah didn’t answer, she realized that stopping the violence was her purpose and it was her voice that had to be amplified to end the cycle of abuse.

Don’t Look at the Monster

L.Y. pointed out that young people today had not been born yet when she wrote Color Me Butterfly, so she turned to non-fiction and told her own story—the story of the generations of women in her family that accepted abuse from their mates as part of their relationships. In her book, Don’t Look at the Monster: One Woman’s Journey to a Purposeful Life, L.Y. shares her life struggle, including her ah-ha moment when she realized that everything that happened to her was either “a gift, a lesson or a blessing.” This viewpoint transformed the way she looked at her suffering from that point on. The “no” response from Oprah became a gift. Returning to abusive relationships became lessons. She took a close look at her own monster, faced her fears and set out to win this fight for herself and the future generations of women in her family. What drives her is the knowledge that she isn’t the only one being victimized. There are many more women and generations of families that accept violence as a way of life. She carves a new path with Don’t Look at the Monster to get still and choose your own path, an empowered path that refuses to be the victim of a bully in the guise of love.

Focus on Prevention

L.Y. says that all of her efforts –trying to raise money and trying to change the trajectory around abuse –is to get people to focus on prevention, rather than reacting once the abuse has happened. She advises listeners to, “Try to find the gift, the lesson or the blessing in whatever you’re struggling with.” She launched “Monster Rise” as a platform to help women confront their fears and show them they can do anything they set their mind to do. She says that on the cusp of COVID, she sees this time not as a time of quarantine, but as “a time to become still, reflect and to say, when will I reemerge? When I emerge, who will I show up as?”

Visit LYMarlow.com and take the master assessment to find out what your monster is. She invites you to get it out of the closet. She is also offering a free strategy call called “FAST,” through which she helps women figure out their vision and mission in only three days.   To find out more of L.Y.’s story and perspective, listen to or watch this podcast. And be sure to get the whole heartbreaking, transformative story of using her passion to end the cycle of abuse in her book, Don’t Look at the Monster.

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A Better Way to Stay Safe and Stop Violent Conflicts

Allison Sands has all the tools to stay safe and stop violent conflicts whether she is in the alleys of Chicago or the center of extremism in the Persian Gulf. As a former FBI agent, she is trained in tactics to take down an attacker or disarm a person with a gun pointed at her head. But the skills she uses more often, and teaches through her company, Project Hummingbird, are those that can derail violence and actually keep everyone safe. She started this business because she realized that the way we’re doing things now just isn’t working. Every year  there are a thousand fatal officer involved shootings. She says this isn’t new. It happens every year. Although she was trained to physically dominate an opponent, as a woman, she says that most of the time she couldn’t outfight or outrun him, so she has to outsmart him. And for that, she relies on her earlier education in psychology and religion, where she set out to learn why people behave the way they do.

Allison says that her whole life has been a combination of her call to use skills and research for practical applications. The mixture worked well in the FBI and in counterintelligence and counter espionage when she used it to hunt terrorists and recruit spies, and it served her well in corporate security too. She founded Project Hummingbird to have a greater impact to provide solutions for this critical need, not only in law enforcement, but in security in general. Through Project Hummingbird, she teaches unique skills and techniques geared to avoiding violence rather than physically dominating an opponent. It directly applies to crisis counselors, healthcare professionals, and anyone who might potentially face a violent encounter. In today’s world, that really could be anyone.

Project Hummingbird’s Individually-Based Approach

There are definitely instances where lethal force is necessary, and Allison admits that we need training for that and says that she is not trying to replace it, but rather complement it. She says, “There’s a huge gray area between a peaceful confrontation and lethal force encounter.” It’s that middle piece where we learn to have conflict more effectively and constructively that will keep us safe. Allison called it “individually-based approach,” where each person is coached to understand their own stress responses and conflict style. Next, assess your surroundings—is action required at this time. Third, is to assess your desired outcome. What do you want to achieve? Next control your stress responses and stay true to your values. Is it really a conflict or are you just reacting instinctually to the situation? Finally, engage with communication to induce compliance. Project Hummingbird has standard statements to achieve that end. But the important thing is to control yourself and stick to achieving the outcome you desire from the situation.

There Is a Better Way

Allison says that the big picture is to recognize and accept that there is a different way—a better way than the reactionary way that we’re handling violence now. With all of the police shootings, year after year, we need to make this a foundational skill that should be taught in schools. That means completely reversing how we’re doing things now and using the so-called “soft skills” or “feminine skills.” Allison says that it will take a lot of patience, practice and introspection. It will also require strategies to put value-based skills at the center of the conversation, which aren’t as measurable and quantitative as physical toughness and speed.

Watch or listen to this podcast to hear more of Allison’s advice about how not to make yourself a victim and her analysis of how Capitol Police handled the assault on the Capitol and what would have helped them do a better job. For more information about Project Hummingbird, check out the website, project-hummingbird.org or Allison’s own website allisonsands.com.

Allison’s personal advice for women is to get over being polite. It’s okay to be rude. It’s better to be rude, cross the street, don’t answer your door to strangers, and stay safe than to become a victim.

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Channeling Adversity into Living a Life on Purpose

Elissa Fisher Harris is an inspirational example of how channeling adversity into living a life on purpose provides fulfillment and resilience. Her own experience growing up mostly homeless until the age of 13 taught her how uncertainty can make you fearful at a very young age; an autoimmune disorder in her 20’s taught her to seek out her own methods for holistic cures; being a victim of rape at a young age and losing two husbands from the same rare cancer taught her that life circumstances can’t be controlled. And all of it taught her that reaching out to others in the spirit of humanity and love heals in purposeful ways.

She founded her podcast, “A World On Purpose” to explore the stories, lessons, and innovative actions from changemakers who align their lives and careers with purpose, highlighting the key “Pivot To Purpose” that unleashes a positive, measurable impact on humanity. Elisa pivoted on a daily basis as a child reaching out to other children who needed help, which began her journey of “taking adversity in life and channeling it into vehicles for good.”

Today, Elissa is also a global leader, working as a partner and Chief Impact Officer with 5th Element Group, where she directs the company’s impact initiatives for their clients and develops omni-win strategies that help sustain and make the world a better place for all of us.

The 5TH Element Group—from Chief Impact Officer to Chief Storyteller

Elissa says that she didn’t really know what she was when a friend observed that she is a “strategist.” She says, “I knew how to put people together in situations where they could help each other and advance causes that they cared about.” Her career path was not linear, but she has consistently helped people “unify and do something great for the world.” She felt that she had found her niche as Chief Impact Officer, but she says that being Chief Storyteller is “profoundly important because stories create movements.”

She points out how social media has allowed people to tell their stories, and while there have been negatives, there have also been numerous positives—putting people together with services and each other for mutual benefit. Companies are now telling their stories and that is where the 5th Element Group comes in. Elisa says, “We are an impact-focused external board of advisors that are hired by donors, brands, impact investors, nonprofits, people that want to basically have strategies and advisory opportunities.” She points out that their clients are already great, but 5th Element creates strategic partnerships to amplify their impact in the world. With seven partners who have incredible skill sets and different backgrounds, they can grow that impact ten-fold beyond what one person in-house can do. They are involved with the Skoll World Forum that supports The United Nations Sustainable Initiatives, The Nobel Peace Prize Forum and many others to make a worldwide impact and truly effect change.

Ikigai—Reason for Living

Elissa says that she follows the Japanese precept, ikigai, and says that it resonated with her because the mere fact “that we’re alive means that we matter.” She says, “There’s something really unique and special when we make a conscious decision to say, I’m going to step outside myself and do something for someone else. And even if it’s one person, it doesn’t have to be serving hundreds of millions, which is great, too.” When your purpose is appreciating others for being human no matter what their background or income level, you are able to have compassion and be a sister, a brother, a friend, and love them until they prove you wrong.

Listen or watch this conversation for more powerful ideas and stories from Elissa and Dr. Nancy. Elissa says that Dr. Nancy was the first person to ask, “How can I help you?” A question Elissa is used asking. Check out her inspiring guests on her podcast, A World On Purpose, and learn more about how 5th Element Group’s initiatives are making an impact on the world.

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How My Friend Helen Makes the World a Better Place

After her fourth cancer diagnosis in March of 2020, Helen Knost examined her life and decided to create her own consulting business, My Friend Helen, with a mission to leverage her diverse experience to support dynamic teams and inspiring innovators to help them achieve success and create enduring social impact. How she got to that point begins with her parents who opened the world for their children showing them that there was a lot out there beyond their own little corner of it. They also instilled in Helen a need and responsibility to give back and support family and community. So instead of caving into any of the cancer diagnoses, she fought back, and so far, is winning.

Helen was working as a wilderness ranger at the age of 24 when she noticed a lump in her throat. With no health insurance through her job, she moved to Santa Barbara where her family was living and got a job that provided insurance benefits. It took three months to get insured, then another two months to get the diagnosis and her first treatment for thyroid cancer. She was told that she was cured, but in six months there was another tumor, and another surgery, and in another six months a third one. This time, they paralyzed her left vocal cord, and she was told she might not talk again. She said she doesn’t sing, but obviously she did talk again.

The biggest hurdle during this time was that in 1995 there was no support system for people with cancer. She knew no one her age until she heard from some triathlete friends that they knew a young man in his 20’s that was “kicking cancer’s ass.” It was Lance Armstrong, and she was inspired by his fight and survival, and wanted to give back to the cancer community. She moved to Austin, Texas, to volunteer for the Livestrong Foundation, where a number of things happened: she met her husband, and was hired to work for the foundation. The skills she acquired in her 14 years there are just a few of the diverse experiences that Helen plans to use in giving back with her new business, My Friend Helen.

Cancer Warrior Told She Couldn’t Run Again

Dr. Nancy calls Helen “a cancer warrior,” observing that Helen had to learn what qualities she had that could help her be resilient and live past the cancer. One of the doctors’ predictions for Helen was that she would never run again. Helen said that she really wasn’t much of a runner, but when they told her she couldn’t, she decided to run a marathon—even though she had never done that before. When she crossed the finish line of the New York Marathon, she looked at the man who crossed on her right and he had a prosthetic leg; then she looked left and there was “a man about 5,000 years old.” Helen says, “Anyone can run a marathon. If I can and these two guys can, it’s what you put in your head. Don’t tell me you can’t run a marathon because I’ve seen the people finishing.” She promptly wrote a postcard to her surgeon from the finish line.

Services of My Friend Helen

When Helen considered what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, using her talent, gifts and experiences to give back were at the top of the list. She also wants to do about “a bazillion different jobs.” But she has boiled it down to three buckets. One is philanthropy.  She’s helping foundations design major gift programs by identifying their top donors, teaching them how they can make a major impact with their gift and how they can improve their relationships by showing donors how their gifts impact the mission of the organization. A second bucket is the chief of staff role. Helen likes working behind the scenes in support of people who want to make a social impact. Her third bucket is project management. Helen says that if it doesn’t require an advanced degree, she can probably do it.

She traveled widely with the Livestrong Foundation, and did all of these things with them and elsewhere. She has worked as a nanny, a kindergarten teacher, and landscape designer. But most of all, her strongest skill is being a friend, which is defined as “someone that supports and gives assistance; is authentic and trustworthy; a person that is dependable, loyal and has your best interest at heart.”

Listen to this conversation to hear more about her friendship with Dr. Nancy and her courageous story. Then check out her website www.myfriendhelen.com to see a list of services and to contact her directly at helen@myfriendhelen.com.

Drawing Hope from Women Writing History Project

Libby Tyson is a life-long learner who describes her ideal work as something that challenges her to think in different ways while making a lasting impact in the world. That is why Libby is a doctoral student the Department of History at American University and 2021 Graduate Collections. That is also why she applied to be an Archival Fellow at the National Women’s History Museum, where she heads the “Women Writing History Project,” which is gathering stories from women during these historic times of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Libby said that it wasn’t until her undergraduate program that she fully realized that people in history were just people dealing with issues like us. Before that, she says historical figures were more like two-dimensional action figures and regrets that she didn’t realize earlier that history basically is “about being human and what it is to be human.”

The Women Writing History Project is anything but 2D. Libby says it shows the resilience and creativity of how people behave during a crisis. And this gives her hope for the future. This creativity has been expressed in a multitude of ways. Libby said that no format was required for the submission of journals. While some women submitted traditional diaries, others made films, recorded memos on their cell phones, or recorded conversations with their families. One person submitted a woven project to express her thoughts about the pandemic, and another simply shared how having her favorite tea gave her joy. The stories are as different as the people who submitted them, but they all contain a common thread of creativity and the resilience necessary for weathering the worst of times.

That common thread, Libby says, “is that the journals speak to bigger themes, but also allow for smaller moments of how people are finding peace within harder times.” Dr. Nancy said, “I think that’s what the pandemic will show that some of the things that were most important are always important. And that we should never forget where we come from and really what makes us strong and what makes us healthy and what gives us joy.” Libby agreed, and said, “There isn’t one overarching story because there are so many and they are so vast, but at the same time, they are really beautiful.” She concludes, “That’s the underlying thread, I guess, they are really beautiful and very intense.”

The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM)

Founded in 1996, NWHM is the nation’s leading women’s museum. Although it still only has a virtual presence, there are plans for a physical location in Washington, D.C. in 2022. NWHM is dedicated to uncovering, interpretating and celebrating women’s diverse contributions to society through preserving history and through educational outreach. All of its activities shed light on the countless untold stories of women throughout history. Libby says, “It also serves as a base for everyone to inspire and experience and collaborate and amplify women’s impact in all time periods.” The Women Writing History Project was the museum’s response to the pandemic, recognizing that while the pandemic affected the entire world, it had/has a special impact on women, with jobs going virtual, childcare concerns and an abundance of layoffs and furloughs. The museum created a space for people to donate their pandemic and coronavirus journals to reflect the changing times and pressures brought on by the pandemic and contribute to a larger archive of pandemic stories.

The Women Writing History Project

Libby says that NWHM plans to have a virtual library for viewing the journals by summer 2021. Until then, you can submit a journal or find out more information by clicking on the public programs and events tab on their website womenshistory.org to see the Women Writing History, a Coronavirus Journaling Project. You can also access the project on social media #historyisnow. The NWHM social handles are @womenshistory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Libby also invites anyone with specific questions to e-mail her directly at fellow@womenshistory.org.

Listen to this interview for more of Libby’s personal story and to learn why she believes museum archivists and curators are not only preserving our experiences and archiving our stories, but doing some of the most important work for the future.

Life, Work and Meaning—A Thoughtful Respite for Our Times

Michele Weldon Head Shot 2020Encore from October 2020

Michele Weldon is a storyteller and lifelong journalist, whose new book of essays reflect a theme of life, work and meaning—a thoughtful respite for our times. This is her sixth book; it has already won an award for best essay, and it’s titled after her father’s guidance for his six children, Act Like You’re Having a Good Time. Her father used this admonition to stop childhood bickering and stubborn refusal to behave well. Its result was to give Michele an overall view of “living life with intended optimism,” which is exactly what we need as an antidote for the uncertainty of COVID, outrage over racism and the “us” versus “them” political atmosphere. As Michele says in this conversation, “I think we need to treat each other on every level – from in our homes to the highest political divisions – with respect. The name calling and finger pointing and all of that needs to stop at every level, and to understand that there are a lot of people really hurting right now.” So Michele has offered a collection of essays to allow us to take a break from the pain and chaos, examine our own lives, reclaim the dreams that we’ve misplaced along the way, remember our humanity and hope for a better future.

Why Act Like You’re Having a Good Time?

Act Like Youre Having a Good Time Book CoverMichele says that she has been an essay writer for decades but had never put them all in one place. So for five years, she had this goal of doing just that. The theme, “Life, Work and Meaning” came about because she is a 62-year-old woman thinking about her life, reflecting on her accomplishments (or perceived lack of them) and her purpose for the future. She created the book to speak to women like herself, which she describes in the book as having “a big personality, which is code for women who say what they think, express ambition, and show an intolerance for systems and their enforcers that are biased, unjust, and limiting,” and also for younger women and men. It’s time to take inventory and plan how to make an impact. She hopes people who read the book will feel the respite from these challenging times and think, “oh, I think that way too—or I never thought of that.” She writes about memories from childhood, so it’s a friendly companion. She says, “It’s not intellectually challenging, but it can be emotionally comforting.”


Purpose—The Import of Life, Work and Meaning


With her work as a journalist, Michele is fortunate to be able to work from home, with the added benefits of not having to commute or travel. All of this extra time has led her to think about what she can do with it. She has rediscovered painting and is taking a weekly Plein Aire class, but this book, in combination with COVID, has made her think about her own life and what advice to share with others.

Michele currently serves on five advisory boards, each with a different mission, and a lot of people are asking for help right now. To answer that call, she is mentoring young journalists, who she might have turned down a few months ago, and thinking about writing another book just for them.  She says that some people are choosing to be really safe and insulated right now while others are reaching out to connect globally. Michele sees this extra time as an opportunity to figure out how she can create change in the world beyond her small circle of friends and family.

Michele advises, “The best we can be is empathic and kind and generous with ourselves and other people and not be quick to judgement, and definitely not try to hurt people or compete too hard at the expense of anyone. Just sort of calm down and recognize the humanity in everyone.”

Listen to this conversation for more of Michele’s personal story and learn how she embarked on a career in journalism. Check out her website www.micheleweldon.com for more about her books, keynotes, interviews, access to essays, and to contact her.

You Have All You Need to Achieve Your Life’s Purpose

Auntie Anne Beiler is no overnight success. Her journey as one of eight children growing up in a loving Amish household to later found the world’s largest hand-rolled soft pretzel franchise is one of epic proportions. Anne has found healing and her life’s true purpose in confessing—telling her story, and the lessons she learned to help others tell their story and find their life’s purpose. In 2005, she sold Auntie Anne’s Pretzels to pursue writing and speaking to audiences around the world, inspiring people with her authentic stories and life experiences. Her mission is to help women overcome the pain, blame and shame of their past by sharing their stories. And she is pleased to announce her newest book, Overcome and Lead, available today from Amazon and her website.

Anne tells Dr. Nancy that she lived a fairy tale life, marrying her “Eighth  grade graduation sweetheart” and pursuing the life she had been raised to have as a wife and mother, when tragedy struck, and her life was changed forever in the blink of an eye. Her 19-month-old daughter was killed in her parents’ lane when Anne’s sister ran over her with a Bobcat. Not knowing how to cope with such a massive trauma, the young couple existed and went through the motions of life when Anne sought help from her pastor. Instead of helping, the pastor seized on her vulnerability and abused her. Anne hid the shame of it for nearly seven years before telling her husband. The subsequent healing caused both of them to want to help others. So, Anne bought a stall at a local farmer’s market and rolled and sold the pretzels she learned to make as a child. This early effort grew into Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and earned her awards for being among an elite group of women who have founded national companies and owned an international franchise company. She was also named as one of America’s 500 Women Entrepreneurs by “Working Women” and Entrepreneur of the Year by “Inc. Magazine.”

There’s Only One Auntie Anne in the Whole Wide World

Anne said that where women get in trouble is we compare ourselves to one another. She said we look at famous women who are doing great things in the world and think, “I’ll never be a Dr. Nancy. I’ll never be Oprah Winfrey. I will never be somebody else, no matter how grand and glorious they are and how much I wish I was.” When she started Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, she went from being a stay-at-home mom to operating two stores in one year, 12 stores the next year, then 35 the next year. She was overwhelmed and started feeling fearful because she looked around at others with successful businesses. She didn’t have what they did: formal educations, start up capital, even a business plan. But she couldn’t articulate her fear and whined to her husband about what she didn’t have. Finally he said, “Hon, why don’t you stop complaining and stop wishing that you were like someone else, because there is not another Auntie Anne that I know of in the whole wide world. And so, you are chosen to do this. And since you were chosen, God has equipped you. You’re going to learn as you go, and God will equip you as you go.” With this wisdom in mind, she began to focus on what she had: a great product, wonderful people working for her and a purpose in life. Anne says that is the great truth. When you find your purpose, it puts “fire in your bones.”

Overcome and Lead

Anne starts her new book by saying her greatest success is not Auntie Anne’s the pretzel franchise, but Auntie Anne the person. “In order to overcome our obstacles, we must overcome ourselves.” She goes on to explain that once you overcome the obstacles (doubts and fears) you’ve put in your own way, opportunities open up. And the more opportunities present themselves, the more there are. Understanding that she has unique gifts to achieve her life’s purpose was her most powerful truth. Then she relied on many of the things she was taught as a child. To value people, as she says in this interview, value everyone the same—from the top management to the person sweeping the floor. And do not shirk any aspect of work. Don’t ask anyone to do anything you won’t do yourself. Respect everyone’s gifts. She found that trusting, valuing, and respecting her employees created ownership within them. And when people feel they own the company, they build a strong company.

A Miracle Story

Anne says that her story is a God story, a miracle story. She found success in her life and business out of the deepest, darkest despair. She felt that she had lost herself. She warns others not to be gullible and believe the pack of lies that point you to an easy fix. She says that when you discover who you are, “which is a beautiful person that has talents and gifts and has a great purpose that only you can fulfill…you will overcome any obstacle that comes your way.”

Listen to this conversation for more of Anne’s compelling story and Dr. Nancy’s philosophy about seizing on our talents and abilities. Check out all of Anne’s books, The Secret Lies Within, A Twist of Faith and her new, Overcome and Lead. Each one tells different aspects of Anne’s story and shares wisdom and triumphs of faith and love. Go to her website, AuntieAnnneBeiler.com, to find out about bonuses you can get if you buy Overcome and Lead during the first week it’s available on Amazon. That week starts NOW.



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