Rebecca Eli: School Teacher, Wellbeing Coordinator, and Founder of Girl Empowered

Rebecca Eli

 

Meet Rebecca Eli, School Teacher, School Counsellor/Wellbeing Coordinator, and Founder of Girl Empowered. Rebecca is based in a remote mining town in South Australia, Australia. She is a school teacher, qualified personal trainer, yoga instructor, School Counsellor/Wellbeing Coordinator and has worked in schools across the state of South Australia for 16 years. She launched Girl Empowered to create a social enterprise that promotes the sustained empowerment of Girls physically, socially, economically, and psychologically. Along with founding Girl Empowered, Rebecca still works three days a week as a school teacher while she continues to build Girl Empowered and launch her flagship program Powerful Me.

Tell us a little about Girl Empowered. What called you to launch Girl Empowered?

The concept of Girl Empowered had really been circling in my head (and heart) for a year or so but I didn’t really have an idea of what it would look like. Empowering girls and inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves has always been something that inspires me in return, and is one of the most enjoyable parts of my career as a teacher and school counsellor. So the concept of Girl Empowered was really a culmination of my years of working in schools combined with the recent yoga studies I have completed. It really is a blend of sensible school and self awareness for tweens and teens.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in launching Girl Empowered?

Feel the fear and do it anyway. I held off on launching Girl Empowered for a while because really the self doubt and fear was overwhelming. It felt too big and the doubts were too strong. But I got to a point where I couldn’t ignore the pull at my heart any longer and I launched it. It was a low tech, low budget launch in the shape of a FB page and video which I shared on my personal page also. The video went crazy with over 11,000 views and messages from friends but also people I didn’t know who also felt so strongly about the message. This is a lesson I use when I create something new or launch a new offering, I still feel fear and doubts, but I do it anyway!

What are some of your biggest successes you have experienced since launching Girl Empowered?

Girl Empowered is still in it’s infancy but already I’ve had some great success. Hearing from parents the positive impact Girl Empowered has had not only for their daughter but also their relationship with their daughter has been positive.

Given too that I launched Powerful Me, the Flagship course from Girl Empowered only three months after I announced Girl Empowered was also a huge success. Topped off by reaching my target for course sign ups was also a success.

I am also in the early stages of writing a similar course aimed more at teens, so that too is a success because I didn’t have that planned when I initially launched Girl Empowered.

You recently launched your course Powerful Me, the flagship offering of Girl Empowered. What are some of the goals of the course and what would you like others to take away from it?

Powerful Me is a self awareness and self development program for tweens. The course content is designed to be delivered over six weeks to the parent with content relevant and aimed at the daughter but gives lifetime access. Each week contains videos for the daughter, information for the parents along with links to other resources. The course covers topics such as understanding strengths, emotional intelligence, understanding courage and communication skills. It is really designed to support tweens transition into the turbulent teen years with skills and understanding to help them navigate the dynamics of friendships which teens (and parents of teens) find are everchanging and challenging.

Along with running Girl Empowered, you’re a school teacher, School Counsellor/Wellbeing coordinator and a mother of three! How do you find a healthy balance with a busy schedule?

I am a school teacher presently and previously worked officially as a school wellbeing coordinator. Last year when Girl Empowered wasn’t yet conceived, I felt the pull to make some changes in my working life to free up more space for my own children but also to allow what is now Girl Empowered to emerge. So at the beginning of 2017 I reduced from full time teaching to three days per week. This has allowed the space to create Girl Empowered but also to find that very delicate work life balance for four of the most important people in my life, my three beautiful kids aged 8, 7 and 4, plus my husband.

What advice would you give to other women who are pursuing their passions?

Do it! You’ll feel fear, you’ll have doubts and others will tell you it’s not possible. Surround yourself with honest supporters and invest in yourself, whether that is time or training. Your message is important and to deliver it you need to be in your best shape, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

What is your personal or professional motto and how do you apply it to your life?

“You have everything inside of you that you need.”

Whenever I doubt my experience, knowledge, expertise or am unsure about my next professional move, I go within, asking others is not my first option, I meditate, journal or pay particularly close attention to subtle signs and synchronicities I notice in my daily life. It sounds a little woo-woo but I totally believe that we have and are, all that we need.

My yoga practice has really strengthened my ability to meditate and stay centered but I work at it daily. I also work constantly with my mindset which was a huge challenge during the launch of Girl Empowered, but I really found keeping myself grounded and centered supported me during this time.

Keeping this self-focus balanced with positive, supportive friends and colleagues and working on maintaining my connection to my children and husband is also important. Without those connections, I am out of balance so fostering these relationships is important in keeping a real connection to myself.

How can our readers connect with you?

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iamgirl_empowered/?hl=en

Blog: https://girlempowered.blog/

Tetyana Golota Teaches Us How to Live Like No One Is Watching

Tetyana Golota Teaches Us How to Live Like No One Is Watching

I first met Tetanya at a local t.v. studio. She had been invited, by a local influencer, to participate in a panel that included interesting, impactful women, doing meaningful things in our city.

I was immediately struck by her overall joy, obvious gratitude and personable, engaging nature. She was welcoming, friendly and totally unpretentious. Uncommon; yes.

I learned that she was a local fashion designer and that her craft was born out of love and passion for beauty and creativity. Her creations were made out of repurposed fabric, like old Cavalli gowns. Eco-fashion. Green. I thought it was clever and on trend. I admired the way that she pursued something that she loved doing; something that brought her joy. That quality is uncommon too.

After my initial introduction to her that day, I met her again, a few weeks later, at that same t.v. studio. She was being interviewed and shared her story, which was more amazing than any of her accomplishments.

One of my initial thoughts about Tetanya, was that she lived like no one was watching. No one was judging. People rarely live with that type of abandon and sharp focus on what really matters to them, personally. She just took pleasure in every moment; every interaction with every person, every creation she had sewn. She was utterly humble. She seemed to be motivated by joy and love for what she was doing. There was an absence of detectable ulterior motives. She was very authentic.

As I listened to her interview that day, and in our own subsequent conversation, my observations about Tetanya were proven totally correct, and an incredible explanation of why she lives and thinks the way that she does was given.

An educated, life long career woman, life suddenly changed, when a cough and nasal problems revealed the presence of a brain tumor, just a day before her fortieth birthday. Within a year, the tumor, had doubled in size and while it was not cancerous, it was threatening her overall health and raised the spectre of death. She lost her peripheral vision. With daily changes to her vision, impeding it, and memory loss due to the tumor, she lost her job.

Through the battery of tests that she was subjected to, arthritis was discovered and diagnosed, as was fibromyalgia. These were new and additional burdens, unrelated to the tumor. Related to the tumor, was the possibility of being confined to a wheelchair.

Tetanya, was depressed and living in chronic pain.

Eventually, surgery, to remove the tumor, became inevitable. It was a risk though. The surgery could kill her, but, if she opted not to have the surgery, she would certainly die due to a complication brought about by the growing brain tumor.

On the day of her surgery, scared, Tetanya had her epiphany about how she wanted to live, if she did. She told me that her life flashed before her mind’s eye like a movie. If she didn’t die in the surgery, she would live a life that she loved, simplified, based on love for herself and others, and pure gratitude for life. She would not fear what others thought. She would take risks. She wouldn’t focus on social conformity but on the things that she really wanted and needed to be happy. She would do whatever she wanted to, without worry of what it may look like to others. She would delight herself in life, entirely, unfettered by fear.

Tetanya lived and has adhered to her promises to herself. Functioning on the basic belief that she has been gifted with a second chance at life, she has committed to living like no one is watching, doing the things that bring her true joy. Here is the thing: people are watching. Long before I ever noticed her, others have. As she has said, “yes”, to living a life that she truly loves, incredible opportunities have been given to her!

She has participated Vancouver Fashion Week as a model; the event’s oldest. Her work in eco-fashion has gotten her noticed by Vogue. She has been invited to participate in New York Fashion Week, as a designer. She has participated in numerous pageants representing women over 40; truly an underrepresented segment of the female population. She has entered and won, the Mrs. B.C. Pageant. She has been a featured speaker for, “She Talks”, which got an honorable mention from CNN as an International Women’s Day event not to be missed. In truth, this is only a brief list of her accomplishments and awards.

I think that we all love a success story, especially one that we can identify with because the scope of it is not beyond our own reach. Tetanya’s story is not beyond our own reach. We all can, just like she did, decide to live life on our own terms and no one else’s, focusing on the fact that it is, a gift. Life is a gift, a very personal gift, to each one of us.

Using that understanding as a starting point, there is a lot that we can do for ourselves and others, just like she is, and the result is fulfillment.

 


Anastasia Anthony Zervos, She is Fierce! Contributor

Anastasia Anthony Zervos. Anastasia is a realtor and freelance writer, living in Vancouver, Canada. Her latest project contribution, “Remember The Gospel: How to Move Forward in The Christian Life”, is available on, amazon.ca

Mira Joleigh: Life Coach & Founder of #Ambitionista

 Mira Joleigh

Meet Mira Joleigh, life coach and founder of #Ambitionista. Mira helps millennial women find their passion, rock their confidence and get paid to do what they love. Mira leads a dynamic online community, the #Ambitionista Success Club as a support network for her clients and facilitates the #YearOfMassiveAction, a mentorship program for new and aspiring entrepreneurs. Mira’s passions include feminism, social justice and LGBTQ equality. In her free time, you’ll find her hosting dinner parties and game nights, appreciating the nightlife of West Hollywood or “introverting” in nature.

When did you first learn about your field of work?

 

I first learned about life coaching back in 2006 at the age of 24. At the time I still had my corporate sales job and one evening, I attended a Chamber of Commerce “business after hours” event. A woman named Jennifer Powers stood up and introduced herself on the microphone saying “Hi, I’m Jenn. I’m a life coach. I help people set and reach their goals.” I’ll never forget my reaction. I had this zing of adrenaline and butterflies in my stomach. I thought to myself “Whoa, that’s a THING? I already do that for my friends and I’d love to make it my career!”

I was shy about meeting new people, but I felt bold in that moment and made my way across the room as quickly as possible. I enthusiastically introduced myself to Jennifer and invited her to lunch. The rest is history.

What called you to coaching women?

 

Over the years, I’ve grown into my identity as a intersectional feminist and have come to see how desperately our world needs more women’s voices, more women’s contributions and more women in leadership. When I thought about who I’d want to serve as a life coach, it felt natural that I’d focus on supporting women.

I also discovered in the first few months of my practice, that I was most energized when I coached women in their 20s and 30s. So now, I am an influencer among millennial women, helping them find their passion, rock their confidence, launch and grow their first businesses. (I’ve nicknamed my audience #Ambitionista)

What is the biggest lesson you learned in launching your own business?

 

I learned early in my business that successful people are aware of their “blocks” or weak points (usually indicated by fear or struggle) and work to conquer them. I know that my business can only grow when I grow, and that growth WILL be uncomfortable. Entrepreneurship is really a personal development program disguised as a business. I encourage you to actively look for the things that scare you, and rather than avoiding them, run right toward them. 

If you need a kick in the pants, start by conquering a fear that’s totally unrelated to business… like skydiving. If you can do THAT, you can do anything.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a life coach?

 

It’s so rewarding to build relationships with my clients and get to witness their transformation; not only during our time working together but also after they’ve completed their coaching program. I have former clients all over the world who I now see on social media kicking ass in their lives and businesses. It’s such a joy to know that I had a hand in helping them get there.

How do you define success? 

 

Success is satisfaction in ALL areas of your life — on your own terms:

  • Living in a home, city and climate that nourishes you.
  • Taking great care of your physical, mental and spiritual health.
  • Having loving, supportive relationships with your partner(s), friends and chosen family.
  • Enjoying your hobbies, learning, growing and having great stories of adventure to tell later.
  • Having a career that lights you up, doing work that fulfills your purpose.
  • Having financial peace of mind and stability (abundance if you desire it).

What are some of your biggest successes you have experienced?

 

I’ve conquered many of my biggest fears and have gone on world-travelling adventures that some people can only dream of. I feel so grateful and privileged to live this life.

What advice would you give to other women who are pursuing their passions?

 

  • Learn to hear and follow your intuition.
  • Surround yourself with people who lift you up and inspire you to be and do more than you otherwise would.
  • Trust the timing of your life and enjoy being in the NOW, it’s really all you have.

What is your personal or professional motto?

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. 

We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us: It is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marianne Williamson

How can our readers connect with you?

 

You can visit Mira’s Website, join her #Ambitionista Success Club, or tune in to Mira’s weekly livestream show.

Betsy Hinze: Glass, Ceramic, & Culinary Designer

Photo by Mike Bragg

Meet Betsy Hinze, glass, ceramic, and culinary designer. Betsy believes that art should be experienced beyond something hung on a wall or displayed on a plinth. She knows there is beauty in functionality and creates objects that are designed for interaction. Describing herself as a “curator of experiences” her chosen mediums are food, fine craft, and community. She hopes to bring people together through interactive installations and performative events and offer them something more than just a beautiful object or a good meal; she leaves each person who attends with a profound and memorable experience.

When did you first learn about your field of work? What called you to it?

I wouldn’t say that I really learned about my field of work so much as invented it… as far as I know, there isn’t anyone doing quite what I’m doing! In college (Alberta College of Art and Design) I started designing experience-based work and loved it, so then I spent the next few years trying to figure out a way to turn that into a business. I got burnt out and frustrated that I would spend months putting together an event and producing so many dishes only to barely cover my costs (if that.) When I was at my most discouraged, I decided to do a free event, just for fun, and hide the invitations in the woods. Lucky hikers discovered them and RSVP’s to an enchanted dinner made out of foraged ingredients and served on handmade dishes. I ended up having so much fun with the whole process I set to work to design a plan that would make it a viable business. Now, I fund my free events through patreon.com, where people can sign up to contribute $5 or $10 monthly. Their contributions cover ingredients, materials, etc. Then after each event, I sell the artwork I created for the event as artifacts of the experience (complete with a Certificate of Authenticity) and that’s how I am able to pay myself for the work I do putting the events together.

What does success mean to you?

To me, success means being able to live comfortably and do what I love. I just want to be able to wake up in the morning excited about the work I’m going to do that day and be able to afford my own studio, a comfortable living space, and a little left over for travel. It’s less about a financial goal and more about a desire for balance – emotional and physical well-being are more important than a high income. I also want to feel like I am doing something meaningful in the world.

What is your personal motto?

Dream bigger and look closer. 

Name a woman, past or present, whom you admire?

Marije Vogelzang is a Food Designer from Scandinavia. She’s long been an inspiration to me because of the way she gets us to think differently about food, dining, and connection. She’s a working mother and (very) successful artist and yet always appears to be warm, welcoming, and generous. 

 

Photo by Mike Bragg

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting a business?

When you think it’s not working, just keep going. 

What is your favorite aspect of your workspace?

The fact that a good deal of it is in nature. I work in my glass/ceramics studio, my kitchen, and my home studio but my favorite “studio space” is out in the woods where I gather inspiration and forage ingredients to design my immersive nature-inspired sensory events. 

Photo by Athena Delene Photography

Elizabeth Miner: Coach & Founder of Thrive This Day

Elizabeth MinerPhoto by Gregory Berg of Enso Photography

Meet Elizabeth Miner, coach and founder of Thrive This Day. Armed with a high school diploma Elizabeth raised two children as a single mother from below the poverty level, put both through college, and created a successful career as a paralegal, ending as a Sr. International Corporate Paralegal, before moving her part-time business into her full-time business and career. Elizabeth is truly living the life she dreamed about while helping others do the same.

When did you first learn about your field of work? What called you to it?

I am a coach, and it took me quite some time to understand the difference between a coach and a therapist.  At one point I decided to hire a coach because I was struggling with how to do something that felt more meaningful and still pay my bills.  When we began talking about how I liked to spend my time and what came naturally to me, she asked if I had ever considered coaching.  I let her know that I did not have a psychology background and was not interested in going to school for a degree.  This is when the difference between coaching and counseling was made clear to me and I realized that it was exactly what I wanted to do and had been doing for many years without realizing it.

The reason I am called to coaching is because it allows the experiences I have been through to help others.  I have managed through some tough times and the resilience I have developed has shaped the way I see obstacles.  This perspective I have cultivated allows me to help others change their perception of obstacles and learn how to overcome them with tools I have used over the course of my life.

What was the best piece of business advice you were ever given?

The best piece of business advice I have been given to date is from my sister, the accountant.  I approached her to ask her to take over my quickbooks because I really hated and didn’t understand how to input everything I needed.  She sympathized with me and told me she would help me but that in no uncertain terms would she do it for me because it was important for me to always understand my own books before someone else was in charge of them.  As much as I hated to hear this, I do know it was excellent advice!

What is the biggest overall lesson you learned in running a business? 

My favorite motto about running a business is that you will go far on your own, but you will go further with others.  I think collaboration and strategic partnerships are key elements to a successful business.  When I work with beginning entrepreneurs we spend some time brainstorming what other services and product their clients will also use so that we can approach these other services and products to bundle, collaborate, share and grow each businesses together.  I am always looking for ways to enhance my offerings and add to other people’s business offerings and build strategic partnerships or collaborate with others.

What does success mean to you?

This question is something I have spent much time on, in addition it is a question I ask my clients right out of the gate when I begin working with them.  It is critical to define success for the individual so that there is a target at which to aim.  For me, success means that I am able to live life on my own terms.  I am able to pursue projects and issues that are meaningful and important to me, that I can spend the amount of time I wish to with those that I love or am friends with at my discretion.  Success also means that I can fill my days with things that bring me joy, happiness and peace.  

What is your personal or professional motto?

My personal motto is “Our tomorrows are not guaranteed”.  I grew up from the age of seven with a mother that was in and out of the hospital with several cancers and catastrophic illness over 20 years.  I never knew anything but the fragility of life and how it can be taken away so quickly or that at any given time your world could just turn upside down and the activities that you loved to do would no longer be something that you can manage.  
From a young age I learned not to take my days for granted, not to wait for some anticipated time whereby I would be able to live life in a certain way because there was no guarantee that the day ever comes, or that when it comes that you can enjoy it.  I believe this has helped me create a unique perspective on failure – it is more important that I try and fail something than to possibly miss an opportunity.  This is the root of how I have lived my life and why I choose to chase my dreams today and not wait for a time in the future.

Name a woman, past or present, whom you admire and why?

There are so many women I admire for so many different reasons.  One woman that I will mention here is Brene Brown.  I admire her courage to explore issues that are messy, hard to define and uncomfortable to address and shine light on how they affect each person.  I think she has a brilliant way of sharing with the world how she grapples with the same topics she researches while having a clear distinction of how others can walk through the process she develops based on her own experiences.  Brene is brave enough to be the trial subject, smart enough to disect what is going on within herself emotionally, and secure enough to share her vulnerable stories with those willing to learn.  

Emily Núñez Cavness: Former U.S. Army Captain & Co-Founder and CEO of Sword & Plough

Emily Núñez Cavness

Meet Emily Núñez Cavness, former U.S. Army Captain & Co-Founder and CEO of Sword & Plough, a socially conscious fashion company. Emily channeled her passion for social entrepreneurship, civil-military relations, veteran empowerment, and sustainable design to embody the core values of Sword & Plough. Inspired by her experiences at the U.S. Army Airborne School and childhood growing up in a military family, Emily and her sister Betsy co-founded Sword & Plough in 2012!

What called you to the fashion industry?

 

My excitement around Sword & Plough and our mission to empower veteran employment, strengthen civil-military understanding, and reduce waste through stylish bags and accessories is what led me to the fashion industry. The “aha moment” for Sword & Plough occurred when I was a senior at Middlebury College and attended a talk at the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Several experiences from my life collided including growing up in a military family, being inspired to serve from seeing my dad’s, uncle’s, and cousin’s impactful military careers, being the only Army ROTC cadet at Middlebury and wanting to bridge the civil-military divide, as well as empower veteran employment.

I asked myself what in my life is sometimes discarded that could be harnessed and turned into something beautiful with a powerful mission? Immediately, I thought of military surplus. Then, as I looked around the room and saw my fellow students, I realized every person had a bag of some kind next to them. I thought, we could take these extremely durable materials that have such unique stories and turn them into fashionable bags that anyone would want to use. Next, I thought about who would be involved in the process and it made complete sense to incorporate veterans at every stage from design to manufacturing to fulfillment and sales. My mind was running so quickly and together with my sister Betsy, we knew this was an idea we had to pursue!

How has your military background shaped your business and work ethic?

 

The military trains service members to be organized, resilient, adaptable, leaders and communicators who are able to work as a team to problem solve. From deploying to Afghanistan, and serving in a Special Forces unit, to trying out as one of the first 100 women for the U.S. Army’s Ranger Training Assessment Course, all of these experiences taught me leadership skills that have helped me lead at Sword & Plough as well.

What are some lessons you learned in launching your own business?

I’ve learned that things often take longer than planned (especially in the beginning), that it’s important to build a community of mentors and advisors that you can go to for advice, and that it’s very important to surround yourself with a dedicated and skilled team that is committed to and excited about your mission.

What was the best piece of business advice you were ever given and how did you apply it to Sword & Plough?

 

Our dad gave us some great advice when we first launched Sword & Plough and things were especially busy, and that advice was to focus on the top three most time sensitive priorities and then move on to the next. This has been really helpful advice that we are able to apply every day.

What are some of your biggest successes you have experienced?

 

Sword & Plough has been very fortunate to receive several honors from being named by Business Insider as One of the Top 20 Most Inspiring Companies of 2014 as well as One of the Coolest Companies of 2015. We’ve also been honored at the White House, were named Forbes 30 Under 30 Fellows, raised over 15x our goal on Kickstarter, placed 1st in business pitch competitions at Harvard and Middlebury College, as well as contests sponsored by FedEx, Eileen Fisher, and MassChallenge, We’re also very proud that we’ve continually donated 10% of our profits to veterans organizations each year and have also donated over $30,000 worth of in kind Sword & Plough products to veteran charities. Some personal experiences that I’m especially proud of include serving in the Army, building a company with my sister that gives back to the community that raised us, mentoring other veteran entrepreneurs, and appearing on the cover of Women’s Health magazine as the “ultimate game changer.”

What piece of advice would you give other women who are pursuing their passions?

 

I would advise anyone who is thinking about pursuing a new idea to ask themselves, “What makes you really excited to start the day and how can you use that excitement to help others?” Once you get started down this exciting and purposeful new path, it’s also important to stay focused, persevere, and find a community of friends, industry colleagues, and mentors that encourage you.

What is your personal or professional motto and how do you apply it to your life?

 

I like the simple motto of being positive. I try to be positive and apply that mindset at every opportunity because, I think there is so much more we can accomplish and have fun doing so if we keep that in mind.

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