C L Magazine Volume 4 | Special Issue 2018

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Volume 4

S pecial I ssu e 2018



Karamu House & The Musical Theater Project Collaborate on New Multimedia Event! February 7-10 • EXECUTIVE PROFILE: Erica Merritt, MA, CDP, BCC • What I Know for Sure About Purpose by Siobhan Sudberry • Finding Your Fitness Niche is a Cinch by Kevin Schmalzried • 2019 Winter Book Club Suggestions

’Tis the Season to be Jolly... And Organized! California Closets’ Franchise Owners Stephanie and Juan Antunez Can Help



COMMUNITIES. At Dominion Energy Ohio, going the distance for our customers means more than just delivering safe, affordable natural gas. It means being a positive force in the communities we serve. Our EnergyShareÂŽ program has raised $6.8 million and helped more than 70,000 people in Ohio alone. These resources, combined with more than 6,300 volunteer hours from our employees, have benefited organizations as diverse as the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America and the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition.

contents COVER


California Closets Franchise Owners Stephanie and Juan Antunez The dynamic couple went into business on Stephanie’s 40th birthday and haven’t looked back since! Inside they share lessons learned on business ownership and their philosophy on creating a harmonious balance between business and family time.




Shuffle Along by Martha Towns One of the most significant musicals of the twentieth century is coming to the historical Karamu House! Shuffle Along debuted in 1921 on Broadway and was written and produced by African Americans. Bill Rudman is bringing the story back to the stage in a multimedia concert called “The Impact of Shuffle Along.” His vision for the show inside... CAREER


EXECUTIVE PROFILE: Erica Merritt, MA, CDP, BCC Find out what motivated this entrepreneur to quit her 9-5 to start her own coaching and consulting firm working with corporations, notable nonprofits and government entities!


8 Ways Being Beautiful Will Keep You Inspired by Tamara L. McMillan Are you in need of personal, business and spiritual inspiration to jumpstart a successful year? Check out this list for the tools you’ll need to drive your personal and professional skills all year long! LIFESTYLE


Providing Grief Support for Children & Teens in the Digital Age by Jane Arnoff Logsdon Are you concerned with the impact social media has on your grieving teen? Hospice of Western Reserve can help! Learn what services they provide to teachers, bus drivers and students before or after loss. CONTENTS continued on page 6 SPECIAL ISSUE 2018 | 3

Publisher’s LETTER I Dream a World Free of Domestic Violence

Dear Readers, Unfortunately, every day we read of tragic cases and (often deadly), instances of domestic violence in America and around the world. Families, relationships and homes torn apart by random and planned acts of domestic violence involving wives, husbands, partners, siblings, parents, grandparents, and sadly our children; the innocent victims that cannot fight for themselves. Painfully as I write this letter, tears are streaming down my face for victims of domestic violence that I don’t even know. But I feel compelled to share a story of the loss of an amazing young woman, mother, daughter, niece, teacher and community servant, that I did know. Her name is Aisha Millicent Fraser. Aisha lost her life on Saturday morning, November 17, 2018 at the hands of her ex-husband (a former Ohio State Senator who went on to be elected a judge). Sadly, she was murdered while making an exchange of her two young daughters to their father (through his sister), at a location where he was not supposed to be. Although a legal protection order was in place, he was there, and he chose to take her life violently in front of her children, stabbing her to death. Did the system fail Aisha? She did everything right. Within two days of the first violent attack on her in a moving vehicle, also in front of her daughters (that resulted in her having facial reconstruction surgery), she filed for divorce and left the home with her babies. She also sought a protection order immediately. The husband was sentenced to two years in prison. But was released after serving only nine months of that sentence. Even though several weapons were found in this home at the time of his arrest, he was still released early after professing his false remorse, and letters from prominent citizens were submitted on his behalf. Upon returning home, he was embraced and given a high-profile government position in the community. Now, Aisha was again at risk. The rest is history. As a special and personal tribute to you Aisha Millicent Fraser, I will continue to say your name so that we don’t ever forget that you were here, and that you made a difference in our community and in all the lives you touched! In the spirit of the greatness in us all,

Alexandria Johnson Boone Publisher and Chief Editorial Officer and Chairwoman/Founder, Women of Color Foundation


Editor’s LETTER Dear C L Magazine Subscriber, The Journey Continues… This issue is packed with exciting stories and content that I can’t wait for you to check out. We are eager to share with subscribers a business profile on California Closets franchise owners, Stephanie and Juan Antunez. Our feature story provides an exclusive first look into one of the greatest musicals of the twentieth century. Find out where it will debut this winter. Be inspired in the New Year after reading articles that include self-care tips, best practices for business owners, goal The first issue of CL Magazine launched setting and more! January 2015. For the past four years, I have been afforded an opportunity to live a On behalf of the CL Team we wish you and dream that not even I, on my best day could yours a happy, healthy and blessed New Year! have imagined. After sixteen publications, Please be sure to stay in touch with us on countless hours of meticulous production social media and let us know what you think and wisdom of writers from across the world, about this issue. CL Magazine is still delivering impactful content to subscribers globally. With that Until next time... said, it is with a bittersweet heart I share my journey as Editor of CL Magazine has come Cheers, to an end. I am excited for the future and look forward to joining our extremely supportive community of subscribers on the other side Simone E. Swanson Editor and Chief Researcher of this esteemed publication. By now you’ve probably started to pack up holiday décor and are wondering if you should have gone back for seconds and thirds during holiday dinners. If you are anything like many Americans you’ve likely already created a list of New Year’s resolutions. With every New Year, the optimist is offered the gift to dream without limits and a chance to start a fresh journey. As we know, for every new journey started, one comes to an end.



CL Magazine Team Publisher and Chief Editorial Officer Alexandria Johnson Boone Editor and Chief Researcher Simone E. Swanson



Let’s Talk About It! Sex, Singles & Love by Antwan Steele Do you have what it takes to succeed in love? Seven important questions you should ask yourself before saying yes to that next date...


Duly Noted by Linda Dooley Linda, an empty nester, found herself scared and lonely after dedicating 23 years to raising her children. Now, she has discovered a new joy and wants to share it with the world.

Creative Director Jennifer Coiley Dial Senior Copy Editor Michelle E. Urquhart Business Manager Paula T. Newman Assistant to the Publisher Bernadette K. Mayfield Photographer & Photography Editor Rodney L. Brown Database and Information Coordinator Cheretta Moore Social Media Manager Frechic Burton Dickson For advertising information please contact us at: advertising@CL-Magazine.com


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Finding Your Fitness Niche is a Cinch by Kevin Schmalzried Consider these important steps before signing up for a gym membership or personal trainer.


Reflecting on 2018...Planning for 2019! by Richard T. Andrews Could sharing your goals with strangers increase the likelihood of them coming to fruition?


9 Self-Care Tips Make time for yourself in the New Year by incorporating our game changing guide. Trust us, you won’t regret it!


Investment Advice by James P. Rooney Get all the exclusive details on how to take educated risks and invest in your favorite companies!


What I Know For Sure About Purpose by Siobhan Sidberry Take charge of your destiny by transforming your biggest regret into a lesson learned.

Subscribe free online: www.CL-Magazine.com

CLMagazine_ CLMagazine_ CLMagazine C L Magazine is published digitally on a quarterly basis by the Women of Color Foundation (WOCF), a 501 (c) (3), tax-exempt organization, for the benefit of women of and girls of all colors. Our offices are located at 4200 Warrensville Center Road, Medical Building A, Suite 353, Cleveland, Ohio 44122. Toll Free Phone number: 866.962-3411 (866.WOCF.411). Copyright © 2014-2018. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be distributed electronically, reproduced or duplicated in whole or in part, without written permission of the publisher. Readers and advertisers may subscribe for free at: www.CL-Magazine.com Magazine Production: GAP Communications Group


2019 Winter Book Club Suggestions We’ve got you covered on all the must reads for your book club this year!

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Cozy up by the fireplace this winter with one of these must reads

Winter Book Club Suggestions If Beale Street Could Talk BY JAMES BALDWIN Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions–affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche. Becoming BY MICHELLE OBAMA In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-toearth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations— and whose story inspires us to do the same. continued on page 10


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Winter Book Club Suggestions Women & Money BY SUZE ORMAN With her signature mix of insight, compassion, and practical advice, Suze equips women with the financial knowledge and emotional awareness to overcome the blocks that have kept them from acting in the best interest of their money—and themselves. Whether you are single or in a committed relationship, a successful professional, a worker struggling to make ends meet, a stay-at-home parent, or a creative soul, Suze offers the possibility of living a life of true wealth, a life in which you own the power to control your destiny. At the center of this fully revised and updated edition, Suze presents an all-new Financial Empowerment Plan, designed to get you to a place of emotional and financial security as quickly as possible—because the most precious commodity women have is time. Divided into four essential components, the plan will teach you how to protect yourself, spend smart, build your future and give to others. Conscious Capitalism BY JOHN MACKEY & RAJ SISODIA In this book, Whole Foods Market cofounder John Mackey and professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. cofounder Raj Sisodia argue for the inherent good of both business and capitalism. Featuring some of today’s best-known companies, they illustrate how these two forces can—and do—work most powerfully to create value for all stakeholders: including customers, employees, suppliers, investors, society, and the environment. These “Conscious Capitalism” companies include Whole Foods Market, Southwest Airlines, Costco, Google, Patagonia, The Container Store, UPS, and dozens of others. We know them; we buy their products or use their services. Now it’s time to better understand how these organizations use four specific tenets—higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management—to build strong businesses and help advance capitalism further toward realizing its highest potential. As leaders of the Conscious Capitalism movement, Mackey and Sisodia argue that aspiring leaders and business builders need to continue on this path of transformation—for the good of both business and society as a whole. Photos and summaries courtesy of Amazon.com


Good neighbors. Great Lake. Greater future. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Good Neighbor Ambassador Program offers career opportunities and professional development in communities affected by major construction projects. The result is better relationships and a brighter future for the region.

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Providing Grief Support for Children & Teens

in the Digital Age

It’s a brave new world. And technology is perhaps the biggest change that has influenced our society at all levels over the last decade. Technology influences everything we do now, from the minute (ordering food) to the significant (how we communicate). The impact of technology among children and adolescents can be especially significant. By the teenage years, a phone becomes the main means of communication, replacing talking with texting or Instagram. In fact, it’s not unusual to even find teens who are in the same room texting one another! continued on page 14

Jane Arnoff Logsdon, LSW, ACHP-SW School Liaison, Hospice of the Western Reserve www.hospicewr.org



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continued from page 12 What does this mean to each of us as we seek to nurture, support and guide young people? As the adults in their lives, we need to stay informed about the technology that is ever-evolving and impacting them in all parts of their lives. Their phones and devices are life lines for most of them, so technology surely influences the way they experience grief and loss. Social media is often the first place information about a death is communicated. Although we cannot completely shield them, our challenging but crucial task as adults is to learn alongside them and guide them through these strange waters. As a community-based nonprofit organization, one of the ways we offer guidance is through the school grief support programs provided by Western Reserve Grief Services. No connection to our hospice services is anecessary to take advantage of these resources. We work face to face with students, teachers and administrators, offering education and support about grief. We are also exploring ways to meet youth orientation to technology, such as an app to find grief resources. As the adults in their lives, it’s crucial to figure out our own orientation to technology and then model it appropriately. Western Reserve Grief Services offers a range of school services for anyone in the school setting, from bus drivers to teachers to students and anywhere in between. We provide immediate in school grief support to schools before or after the death of a school community member. Ongoing support may include our S.T.A.R.S. (Supporting tears, anger, remembrance, and sadness) grief support group for six to eight weeks which is conducted in the school for grades 1-12. For middle school and up, we offer classroom presentations, often integrated into a health class curriculum, where we explore anticipating a death, common grief reactions, coping, misconceptions about teens and grief and how to support a grieving friend. These sessions are presented in a conversational, inclusive manner so that students feel comfortable with this sensitive material. Professional development opportunities can be tailored to a school’s specific needs. Topics may include an overview of grief and loss, anticipatory grief, supporting students through loss, creative interventions for grieving students and school crisis response. As parents or guardians, you are your child’s primary advocate and school is such a crucial component of their world. If your child is grieving and you are not sure where to start, make sure your school administrators and counselors/social workers know about the Western Reserve Grief Services school program.


Shuffle Along In the early part of the twentieth century Broadway theaters were as segregated as the rest of the United States, a situation that changed dramatically in 1921.


uf 1921 Sh e h t f oo al phot

ast dway c

Broa Along


That’s the year that “Shuffle Along” opened on Broadway, one of the most significant musicals of the twentieth century. Not only was it one of the first entirely written and produced by African Americans, it sold tickets to everyone thereby desegregating the Great White Way. “Shuffle” broke some serious theatrical ground when it played 500 performances on Broadway and was a sensation across the country. Bill Rudman, director of The Musical Theater Project, has deeply researched the history of this seminal show including information from the Library of Congress. He has put it all together in a multimedia concert called “The Impact of

Martha Towns marthatowns6@gmail.com


Bill Rudman Director The Musical Theater Project

Heidi Lang Director of Development & Community Engagement The Musical Theater Project

Tony Sias President Karamu House

Shuffle Along.” He and Tony Sias, president of Karamu House, are co-producing and co-hosting the show, which will be presented in the beautifully re-imagined Jelliffe Theater at Karamu House. The show will include Rudman’s erudite commentary, rare still images and song and dance by Cleveland artists. Joe Hunter will be at the piano accompanying singers Evelyn Wright, Treva Offutt and Justin Woody. Cleveland’s ragtime authority, George Foley, will add his piano stylings. You will even have a rare chance to hear and see the talented Tony Sias sing and dance.

musician, was the driving force behind “Shuffle.” The only tune from the show that made it big was, “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” and if that doesn’t remind you of a certain United States president, you must be very young. Eubie Blake lived to be 96 years old and even in his later years he was a favorite guest of Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett on their groundbreaking television talk shows. They don’t make them like that anymore. (Writer’s comment.)

Tony Sias feels that “Shuffle Along” aligns perfectly with Karamu’s ongoing work Sias and Rudman see Shuffle for social justice. “So many as a “time capsule of 1921 people don’t know how hard America,” said Rudman. “It is it was (to produce the original evocative of a certain period show) and the effort it took of American history and we to elevate this project and will put it all into perspective.” bring it to Broadway.” He is delighted that the dates for This great show brought the show dovetail nicely with the Harlem Renaissance to Black History Month. the musical stage. George Gershwin, Fanny Brice and “Shuffle Along” will be other luminaries of white presented February 7-10 at musical theater gathered at Karamu House from which “Shuffle Along” to see what tickets are available by calling they could learn from its (216) 795-7077. Mention the ragtime music and spirited code JUSTWILD and you’ll dancing. “And it was a lot!” receive $5 off the $30 ticket. said Rudman. Heading the committee for The music was written by the “Shuffle Along” are community great Eubie Blake, a pioneering engagement co-chairs Alexcomposer and pianist. Lyricist andria Johnson Boone and Noble Sissle, himself a jazz Bonnie Kane Barenholtz.


e h c i N s s e n is a Cinch Fit

Finding Your

by Kevin Schmalzried

Kevin Schmalzried, CSCS, USAW Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, Cleveland Monsters (AHL)


As a strength and conditioning coach, one of the questions I often face from friends and family is, “Will you write me a training program?” While it is my job to help people in that manner, the question embodies a sort of cart-before-thehorse mentality. In certain settings, it’s entirely appropriate to put in the time to develop and follow a full training program with razor-sharp, exact numbers regarding volume, duration, intensity, etc. However, unless you’re already training at a high frequency and your livelihood depends on your physical capacity to perform a given task better than someone else, it’s unlikely to be a good starting point. A program of that depth can be intimidating, confusing, and extinguish your well-intended fitness flame before it really even burns. The simplest yet most crucial starting point is to establish a goal. What do you want from “working out” and why do you want it? The answers to those questions should be the backbone of your program. The “best” training programs from the “best” strength and conditioning coaches in the world won’t do much for you buried as a PDF in your computer or collecting dust on the shelf. Let’s say you’ve established your goal. You’d like to be overall more physically fit because you want to live a longer life of a higher quality. That’s a perfectly reasonable goal that (depending on your current level of fitness) really isn’t all that complicated to achieve. Progressively increasing your overall level of literal “activity” is a great, realistic way to get the ball rolling. Find ways to sprinkle in “exercise” where appropriate. Ride your bike to, from, or

after work, take a walk on a lunch break, check out (and participate in) a sports league at the local YMCA, go for a swim or paddle a kayak when the weather is nice, give skiing or snowboarding a try, commit to a short daily routine at home of a few sets of 10 body weight squats and push-ups. Is it realistic for you to commit to waking up at 4:30 a.m. on a daily basis and heading to a gym with an expensive monthly membership? Maybe, but that requires a lot more discipline than most people can commonly accept and exhibit. If that’s what works for you, great, but often setting such a high bar right out of the gate leads to failure in the long term. Starting your fitness routine doesn’t have to look that archaic or be that mind-numbing. Not everyone can cope with the clanging-banging simplicity of picking things up and putting them down routinely. For some it’s therapeutic, for most it isn’t, and that’s okay. The human body is capable of amazing things when progressively pushed to true physical capacity. However, that physical capacity can deteriorate rather quickly when we let it dwindle. So what’s a good starting point? Thirty minutes of physical activity every day is generally a good recommendation of where to begin. But don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to that on a daily basis if you and a buddy are in the middle of a good pickle ball session. The point is you shouldn’t even necessarily feel like you’re “exercising.” Find an activity you enjoy and see where fitness fits into your life, and it’s much more likely that both it and you will be sustainable over a longer period of time.



Sex, Singles & Love I felt like a weight of sadness had just been dropped on my shoulders. As I contemplated the conversation that had just ended, feelings of gloom continued to permeate the rest of my ride home. “I’m ready to give up on love.” These are the words I’d just heard from yet another individual who was fed up with the disappointments of their dating life. This time, the call I received was from a woman whose drive, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit I highly respect. In addition to operating booming businesses, she owns a beautiful home, drives exotic cars, wears fancy clothes, takes lavish vacations and has all that money can buy her. She works hard and makes her money honestly. She deserves everything she has and more. Nonetheless, with all of her successes, my good friend still can’t seem to get it right when it comes to men. I’m not saying this to sound judgmental, but rather in response to her dating profile

and history. In several of our conversations, she’s admitted this as well. During our most recent talk, as she expresses her frustrations, stating that she is done with relationships and plans on being single for the rest of her life, I humbly interject and ask her a question. “Do you think that you’re giving love a fair chance to thrive?” I explained to her that I am asking if she believes that she has properly set the stage for success in this area. Has she invested even half of the amount of planning and preparation that she would put into a new business endeavor? She paused for a moment before saying no. As the focus of our conversation shifted, we ended the call on a positive and hopeful note. Singles, it doesn’t have take two or three heartbreaks for us to get it right. Unfortunately, this is the case for many single men and women because of our dating habits. We move prematurely into relationships, go through a breakup and quickly get

Antwan Steele IG: @twansteele info@antwansteele.com


into another relationship to make ourselves feel better. This relationship is often premature as well, so it again, ends in heartbreak. Serial dating. This is a vicious cycle that needs to end. According to Crossway, a Christian ministry that’s widely respected for its research and resources conducted a report on nearly 7,000 readers and 62% of them stated that they regret their dating history. That’s nearly two thirds of people surveyed, an alarming statistic. True enough, we can’t change our past nor should we dwell on what was, but if we continue making the same mistakes, our past will always be our present and future. By asking my friend if she was giving love a fair shot, I was asking her to be more accountable for the state of her own love life. I was asking her to put some of the same passion and effort that she shows in the business world towards having a successful love life. Do the work beforehand. Set the stage before you focus on the supporting cast. Get yourself ready

for a relationship that isn’t perfect, but has the necessary foundational framework. I truly believe that successful relationships that lead to successful marriages start with singles that understand the importance of preparing themselves for love.

• Do you understand the basics of marriage? • What actions have you taken in preparing yourself to be a spouse?

By asking yourself these questions and answering them honestly, you will be able to gauge how truly ready you are to succeed As we approach yet another new year, let’s in love. What work do you need to do within change our perspective on how we approach yourself before complicating things even love. Here are seven questions you can start more with another person? Again, nobody with asking yourself: is perfect and you won’t be either, but if heartbreak is more preventable with proper • Do you know who you are in Christ? preparation, why not try it? Prepare your • Are you healed from emotional best and let God do the rest. wounds such as past relationships? • What is God calling you to do So for every love that slipped away and in this season? every potential “soul mate” that never came • Do the pressures of society keep you to fruition, I hope that one day you’ll meet in a constant state of discontentment? someone and you two will go on a date, and • Are you struggling with the that will be the last first date for the rest of temptations of lust? your life.





BACKGROUND What did you do professionally prior to buying your own franchise in 2005? I was an active community volunteer, busy raising our two children and worked part time.

How do you apply practices from your previous position in the work you do today? Hard work and dedication. I found that defining and creating a culture is critical for a new business. Once you have the culture instilled the speed bumps aren’t as big when you hit them. What inspired you to start your own California Closets franchise? Juan and I were looking for something we could do together. Growing our own business together meant that we could be on the same path and create the type of culture we wanted for a company. We bought California Closets on my 40th birthday and we haven’t look back since.

LEADERSHIP Juan, what makes Stephanie a great business partner? Stephanie is a great partner, it allows me to focus on the small stuff knowing that she has the big picture in hand. That goes both ways... we always have each other’s back and when we disagree we can hash it out without having to worry about losing an employee because we are working towards the same goal. What are the most important skills needed to become a successful business owner? Owning and running a business takes commitment and hard work. One has to be flexible to the client’s vision, but also have the knowledge to know when a client needs direction on a design. Being able to see the project from beginning to end is really important, making sure to keep the clients wishes in mind but also creating a space that works can be a delicate balance. Our designers have to design to that, making sure the client is happy and their needs for the future are met while providing extreme customer service.

Stephanie, who or what do you draw inspiration from? My family, I have strong women all around me. Women that have faced amazing challenges and are still standing. It is an honor to be part of their lives, they give me the inspiration to be the best boss and friend I can be.

LESSONS LEARNED Tell us about a time when you failed to meet the expectations of a client. What did you learn? There are times when you let the everyday challenges of running a company become louder than the client’s voice. That is when you fail to be the best continued on page 25


California Closets




continued from page 23 person/designer for your client. Every business owner has these moments, being able to learn from them is one of the most important things you can do. How do you balance career and family time? I am still wondering that myself. The best we have come up with is when we have family time we really focus on family and try to keep the emails and phone calls to a minimum. What has been the most valuable lesson learned about business ownership over the years? Don’t sweat the small stuff. When you’re running your own business you can become overly focused on things that if you just sit back they will work themselves out. Always keep the big picture in the front of your mind. FINISH THIS SENTENCE… I know a client is satisfied when… They stop focusing on you and begin to look at the design and they have that great smile on their face, they don’t need to say anything, you know they are thinking “This is going to be great!” I define success as… I have a lot of definitions for success. Somedays it’s just getting out of bed and others it’s reaching that goal you set for yourself 10 years ago. I would say that my best definition is the company as a whole. To have a sustainable company that people love to work for, Juan and I created that and that is success. The key to creating harmony while working with your spouse is… When you get home from the office you hang up your boss hat and put on the marriage hat. It’s hard to not talk about work when your partner is your partner, so we remember to keep it light and save the serious discussions for 9-5. SPECIAL ISSUE 2018 | 25

Duly Noted AFTER 23 YEARS of raising children, and much of it as a single parent which kept me very busy, my children have flown the coop and I’m an empty nester. I was a bit nervous and afraid of what this might mean. What do you do after spending your entire life dedicated to raising little ones, nurturing their growth, encouraging their dreams, and loving their souls? What next? What now I ask? The house feels hollow. The silence is unusual. The laughter is missing. On top of this, one month after my last child went away to college, my dog died. Now I really feel alone, and yes, a bit sad. I tell myself that’s normal – and it is, albeit still difficult.

by Linda Dooley that over the years. I have a book filled with poems, thoughts and reflections based on life experiences, that I haven’t added to in more than 20 years. With my life less busy, I now have the “head-space” to be quiet, think and figure out what I want to write about. It’s always been my goal to write a book. So maybe this is the beginning of that dream! I never had enough money to travel, and would love to experience the world in a different way through new people, cultures, and languages. How wonderful would it be to get to some of the countries that have been on my bucket list, such as Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, Japan and so many more. What a surprise for me when I accepted an invitation to go on a mission trip to Uganda in the spring. And to top it off, it involves gorilla trekking in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in western Uganda! Who would have thought? My kids said, “You are doing what?”

Recognizing this as a transition period is important and finding a new rhythm in life is essential. All these years, I have put a lot of what I am interested in on the back burner to raise kids, like most parents do. So, I am reflecting on the next part of my journey. What new routines do I want to develop? What is life-giving for me? What energizes me? How can I best use my skills and talents for the I realize how important it is to be open to betterment of others and our community? opportunities that present themselves. I have always prayed, asking God to guide me in life, Time to make decisions and take hold of all and God has always answered my prayers that life has to offer. I love my new morning one way or another. This transition has once routine: the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, again taught me that there is so much in wrapping myself in a warm blanket, and life that we don’t know. So much to learn, reading my favorite spiritual meditation process, reflect and enjoy! Although change book, spending time in prayer. A great way is difficult for most of us, it is also a time of to start the day. I also decided I want to great personal growth - and I am discovering get back in touch with my creativity. I will new things about myself every day. So – this be taking a painting class in the new year empty nest experience has also offered me and am very excited. I always loved to write some new gems in life – and for that I am and haven’t done much of grateful.

Linda Dooley Freelance writer and former CEO, Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center l3dooley@sbcglobal.net


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Executive Profile Q&A

Erica Merritt, MA, CDP, BCC Founder and Principal Consultant Equius Group, LLC HOMETOWN: Cleveland, Ohio EDUCATION: Bachelor of the Arts

in Public Relations, Ursuline College Bachelor of the Arts in Organizational Psychology, Cleveland State University belief in social justice and strong work ethic Thinking back to your early years, was there are rooted in my upbringing. a teacher or professor that had a significant CAREER impact on your professional journey? If so, What professional accomplishment are please share. I have had the good fortune of you most humbled by and why? I started having amazing educators throughout my life. Equius Group, LLC in 2016 and for the first However, my most influential teachers were two years I spent almost all my spare time my parents, Doris and Willie Merritt. Neither doing consulting projects. Equius was my of my parents finished high school, but they side hustle. In mid-2017, I realized that I was were determined that my experience would essentially working two full-time jobs and be different. My mother and I spent countless found myself at a crossroads. Honestly, I was hours reading together and exploring the exhausted, and I wasn’t spending enough time arts through film, theatre and music. My with my family, though they were extremely mom taught me acceptance, she connected understanding. I decided that as much as I with people for who they were and through loved the work that I was doing full-time, I her I learned to do the same. My dad had an wanted to pursue my dream of being a fullamazing mathematical mind, he was like a time entrepreneur. I told myself that if it didn’t human calculator. I did not inherit that gift, work out, I could always re-enter the job but I did learn to stand up for what I believed market later. I stepped out on faith in January in through watching him. My dad was very of 2018 and I am elated to report that this involved with worker’s rights and was an year has surpassed my wildest dreams. active member of the United Auto Workers Union. My parents poured into me in so many On your most challenging day, where do you ways. I learned about love by watching them, draw inspiration to continue feeding your they were amazing partners. They have both passion for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion passed on, but I know that the lessons and training in the workplace? This is the work their love live on in me. My love for people, I am meant to do, the work of supporting EARLY YEARS


people and organizations to be healthy, connected and whole. Not every project that I work on is directly focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), but my approach is always informed by my understanding of their essential role in organizational culture and community life. Throughout my career I have, at times, been disappointed by what felt like a lack of organizational commitment to DEI. Now as an entrepreneur, I can determine whether a potential client project is a good fit for Equius while they are deciding if they would like to engage us. I believe the best leaders understand how to navigate dynamics of power & privilege and can employ systems thinking. Creating workplaces, communities and a world that works for everyone is going to require that kind of leadership. We need more organizations that practice equity and inclusion, not just assimilation. We’ll know we have arrived when a person’s education and career opportunities, and by extension life opportunities, are not determined by their race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other identity marker. Seeing glimpses of it working, little sparks of “what could be” that’s what keeps me inspired. What is the toughest decision you’ve made professionally? My toughest decision was choosing to leave my job

and pursue entrepreneurship full-time. My parents worked extremely hard to give me the opportunity to go to college and have a career so that I could go further than they had a chance to go. The idea of work as fulfillment and meaning was far from their experience. For my parents, work was about doing what needed to be done to take care of your family. As I considered my options, I could imagine my parents saying I was being ridiculous by even considering leaving my “good” job and benefits behind. Even as I transitioned, I was terrified that they were right. However, deep down I knew that was my fear talking. Ultimately, I chose to listen to the other voice that reminded me that my parents raised me to be courageous. PHILOSOPHY

What have you come to learn about success? Execution is a huge predictor of success. Many of us have brilliant ideas that will never make it into the world because the space between our idea and our action is too great. I have learned that writing things down, saying them out loud to others and blocking out dedicated time to focus on the task increases the likelihood that ideas will come to fruition. I have learned that while successful people make it look easy, not all their endeavors are a success. They simply learn from their mistakes and

keep going. In the words of Rhianna, “Never a failure, always a lesson.” What is the most important lesson you’ve learned professionally? Several years ago, I was working for an organization that fell on hard times. They eliminated 11 or 12 positions and mine was one of them. At the time, I was crushed. It took me nine months to find a role that I wanted and that wouldn’t mean taking a pay cut. One of the things that I learned from that experience was that I am extremely resourceful. It was my surviving for those ninemonths, without a job, that gave me the confidence to step out on my own full-time. During those nine months, my husband and I didn’t do a whole lot of extravagant things, but we paid our bills on time each month and managed to hold on to a little savings. My mother always told me not to “put all my eggs in one basket.” Since I have been working, I’ve always had more than one stream of income. Sometimes it was teaching college courses, other times it was doing projects on contract, years ago I even made jewelry. Even now as an entrepreneur, I work with multiple clients at a time, pulling in other contractors when needed and I am always cultivating relationships that could lead to additional work in the future.


I’VE SEEN enough New Year’s Days to appraise them on somewhat of an even keel. The onset of a new year is a good time to take stock of one’s situation: to reflect on the past year – lessons learned, friends departed, goals achieved, things left undone, catastrophes avoided, miracles observed.

Reflecting on 2018... Planning for 2019!

It’s also a good time to make plans – big or incremental – for the year ahead. Oftentimes, these seem a lot like those from the year before, and even the year before that. I was once invited to make a list of the 25 things I wanted to accomplish in the upcoming year. I balked at the challenge – who wants that additional degree of accountability? If you express a goal, either you get at it or you have to call b.s. on yourself. Once I agreed to the exercise, the task got done in spurts. The first few were easy and unsurprising: lose xx lbs. exercise thrice weekly, create a new income stream, and so forth. Then I was stymied for a few days, before finishing in a rush that yielded so many previously unarticulated challenges that I had to combine a few to fit within my assignment. When I had finished my list, I found they grouped themselves along predictable lines: personal, professional, relational, financial, and so forth. Doing my periodic – and mostly pathetic – attempts to clean my continued on page 32

Richard T. Andrews Editor and Publisher The Real Deal Press


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continued from page 30 home office, I came across the list a few years after I had made it. I was pleased to see how many I could tick off [clean office wasn’t one of them] and how I had at least made some progress in almost all areas. It turns out that public goal-stating is a good thing. It makes us accountable to do what we tell ourselves we want to do. It makes us more intentional. Most human beings are reactive. We resist change, even when we know it’s good for us. Adults are as stubborn as children, if not more so. To paraphrase my favorite social psychologist (my wife), adults learn nothing they do not wish to learn. I consider myself a private person who rotates between poles of extroversion and introversion. I have learned as an adult that my public expression makes me more productive. So here are three things I want to accomplish in 2019, which I think will make my community a better place. Each is in some way intended as a proactive response to 2018 events.

I Find three ways to contribute to a reduction in domestic violence in our community.

myself and others on what our local elected II Educate officials are doing in our name and with our tax dollars, understanding that budgets are moral documents.

out on a weekly basis with at least one phone III Reach call to a friend to whom I have not spoken in at least a year. This will be an actual call, not an email or text.

None of these commitments is meant to be pathbreaking. I see life at this stage as neither a sprint or a marathon. It is the proverbial journey, and progress is more often incremental than geometric. I’ve made a note to myself to give account at year’s end. I invite you to do the same in your space. Best wishes for a Bountiful 2019! Richard T. Andrews is editor and publisher of The Real Deal Press, a digital weekly reporting on the interplay of race, class and power in the civic, business and cultural spaces in and around Cleveland, Ohio. 32 | CL MAGAZINE

8 Will Keep You Inspired Ways Being Beautiful

Hey Gurl hey, How are you? It’s been too long since we’ve last had an exchange. Since we just rang in the New Year. I wish to share some ways in which you can stay inspired in your careers and businesses. Staying consistent, I have listed 8 suggestions and broke them into three different categories. I invite you to use this list as a way to drive your personal and professional dreams.


Personal Having self-discipline is critical if we’re going to have any kind of success in life. The main difference between those who are successful and those that aren’t is discipline. Self-discipline equals self-love. Are you so in love with your purpose that you make the necessary adjustments? There are two kinds of pain: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. And regret lasts a lifetime. Distractions are rampant but the disciplined are able to stay focused and eliminate the noise. When you know your “why,” nothing or no one can corrupt it.

for ourselves. There’s a huge misconception that the battle is outward, when in actuality it’s inward.


Creating a ritual that supports your vision is indispensable. Our vision grows when it’s compelling enough to keep us engaged. There’s a significant difference between push and pull. Pushing is arduous and remains us of what we lack, where the pull sparkles at us. We can’t eat, sleep or think straight because our vision is so attractive that it doesn’t feel like work. Rituals are a part of making our visions real and cements it into the fabric of our beings.


Business There are too many words in my opinion that get a bad rap. Failure is definitely one of them. Being so inspired to do good, means not worrying about fear or failure. When we hear of persons who have done anything worth mentioning, they often share their failures. Like Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé and Hillary Rodham Clinton to name a few. They have embraced the idea that in order for them to I’m often asked how I came to experience be about something bigger than themselves, living my best life. My reply most times is failure would be a necessary ingredient. I too shocking yet simple. Success is available to have grown to love and appreciate being each and every one of us, I reply in a matter a failure fanatic. If I’m not failing, I’m not of fact tone. However, it requires us to get our succeeding which probably means I’m not minds right; as our thinking controls our lives. living a life worth mentioning either. There’s When we take hold of our thoughts, it’s then a small gap between fear and confidence. All that we can see them for what they really are. it takes is 20 seconds of courage to make a This is a major key alert for staying inspired difference in the world. in our personal existence. The way we think creates a reality As professionals it’s our responsibility to be



Tamara L. McMillan Award-winning Lecturer, International Speaker, Author and Consultant McMillan Empowerment Enterprises www.empowermee.com


ever diligent with acquiring masterHERship. It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur or in partnership with an organization. What does matter is your commitment to your brand. How are you continuing to learn, grow, add value and be your best? In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shares that we need at least 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to become world-class in any field. For me, this represents another way in which we can pay ourselves first!

mirror. There’s nothing more attractive than a queen who can stand authentically within her sovereignty and still empower.


Lastly, stay inspired by being beautiful! Imagine the different ways you can hold an appreciation for enjoying a cup of tea. Show your beauty by being an inspiration to a new colleague. Serve in the role of servant leader for someone who trespassed against you in the past. Share your beauty and bravery with the world daily by giving at least three women Spiritual complements. Beauty is best exhibited when By ringing in the New Year, many Americans we look for nothing in return. Honor yourself create a New Year’s resolution. Only to accept by giving freely, being kind and grateful. within a few short weeks that they weren’t really resolved at all. We must be resolute… Beautiful, and remain faithful to ourselves. We too often I hope this article has added value to your negotiate our destinies by not protecting life. I thank you for your time, energy and what we profess with our mouths. We must most importantly, I thank you for being you! be resolute in protecting the boundaries we Until we chat again, stay hungry but remain create. When we’re resolute, nothing or no humble. one should be able to impede that agreement. In love and libHERation, ~TLM Run your queendom with confidence and integrity. Since fault and responsibility don’t Tamara L. McMillan is an award winning adjunct lecturer go together, when you make a decision…make at SUNY Buffalo State, an international speaker and it right. Move forward with certainty that you certified consultant in Change Leadership and Creative did the best in all situations after gathering Problem Solving. Her company McMillan Empowerment the information needed. As a queen, remove Enterprise is certified with the State of New York as a yourself from the notion that it’s fair game to Minority-Women Business Enterprise. Platforms include blame. Rather, when things work out, look to Creative Problem Solving, Leadership, Organizational your team and when they don’t…look in the Assessment, Student Development and Self-Mastery.

6 7


9 tips for Embracing You are in a deep sleep when suddenly your alarm goes off, you muster up enough strength to open one eye to catch the time. It’s 4 a.m., Monday morning and you promised yourself you would wake up an extra hour early to exercise. You promised yourself this year would be different because you are putting YOU first. Seconds later you decide you’re being too hard on yourself, it’s better to start these sort of things mid-week and you roll over and fall back into slumber. If this sounds familiar, our list of 9 Self-Care Tips is for YOU! Life can get busy, but in order to achieve long-term joy you’ll need to set aside precious time to recalibrate regularly.


4. Express Yourself! Sign up for an art class, dance class or grab a journal and head to the park for a writing session. 5. Travel! Traveling with family and friends can be great. But there is something to be said about setting your own itinerary and not having to comprise your vacation time with others. 6. Meditate! Now you may be thinking, I’m way too cerebral for that. Not true, meditating can consist of you just being still and practicing the act of quieting your mind. Don’t underestimate the power of mindful practices. If you’re really struggling with this next time you are walking into a building… check to make sure you are indeed walking into that building!

1. Get Some R-E-S-T! Sounds simple, but incorporating at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night will allow your mind to recharge so that you can be fully present for your busy schedule of 7. Enjoy Live Music! Check online for a list juggling career and personal responsibilities. of concerts in your area, get dressed up and enjoy your favorite band perform. Remember 2. Declutter! It’s time to sweep those dust to allow yourself to be fully immersed in this bunnies from under your bed and organize experience! those closets to make room for the new blessings waiting to rush into your home. 8. Exercise! A large part of self-care includes Getting rid of junk and thoroughly cleaning being healthy. Sign up at your local gym and your home will help you think much clearer. make it a priority to get fit and stay healthy. 3. Schedule a Date Night with Yourself! Movies, dinner, Netflix and chill…you name it. Schedule a night on the town solo enjoying some of the things you love. Leave your cell phone in your purse and allow yourself to be fully immersed in the things you enjoy most.


9. Keep Your Pinky Promise! As women, we are typically diligent about taking care of those around us even if that means putting our dreams and goals on hold. Love yourself enough to keep the same promise you revere to others…with yourself.

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$Investment Advice

Poor decisions, mistakes and moments of regret can often carve pathways to future successes and triumphs. If, that is, we engage in clear and humble thinking to critically assess our errors, learn the lessons and make proper adjustments. If this process becomes our habit, we will specialize in turning momentary failures into future opportunities and successes. My subject herein is investing. In my 35 years in the business, I’ve experienced both exhilarating success and humbling failure, and along the way I’ve made every poor decision and mistake common to humankind. Here’s one that still resonates today: I began shopping at Amazon.com in the early 2000s. I bought a few books and music CDs (remember those?) and within the week, the soon-tobe ubiquitous box was on my doorstep. Their software worked perfectly and provided better complimentary product recommendations than any store clerk I’d ever met. Thus, I often bought more than I’d intended. It was easy, convenient and life-changing. Since then, as Amazon has vastly expanded its offerings, I’ve remained both an advocate and active customer. So, where’s the mistake I’m lamenting? It’s simple, really. While shopping in this brand new way, I did so in the singular role of consumer, rather than also thinking as an entrepreneur and producer. Amazon was transforming my life yet I never considered that if my life were being revolutionized by this online shopping experience, is the same also true for others? Thousands of others? Tens of thousands? Millions? Tens of millions? And if so, had I encountered an investment opportunity, maybe one of a lifetime? I never did put money behind my conviction by buying and holding shares of this revolutionary company, and here’s what I’ve missed. From May 1997, when Amazon was trading at $1.50 a share (accounting for stock splits) until today, the

James P. Rooney Retired Senior Vice President, Stockbroker, Financial Advisor and Wealth Manager Merrill Lynch


stock has risen to $1,500 a share. You can do the math. Worse still, 2008’s brutal bear market took Amazon’s stock down 60% to below $40 a share. Can you imagine that? Believe me; it wasn’t easy to buy any stock in late 2008 and early 2009, never mind an internet retailer losing money regularly. It was a courageous enough feat to simply hold onto what we owned, not sell everything and go into hiding. With the clarity only hindsight offers, however, that was the buying opportunity of my lifetime. Had I taken the risk to invest in my strong consumer conviction with $30,000, for instance, I would have a cool $1.1 million in Amazon shares today. Thus, my lament. Amazon’s success is an extraordinary example, of course, but we can all think of dozens of other potential investment opportunities front and center every day. We shop with them, dine with them, and otherwise use their services and buy their products regularly. We use Google’s search engine, Netflix’s entertainment services and Apple’s iPhones. We share our lives on Facebook, our opinions on Twitter and our pictures on Snapchat. We buy sneakers and athletic gear from Nike and Under Armour, and our entertainment centers from Best Buy. We ship and receive our packages through Federal Express and UPS. We cruise with Carnival and Royal Caribbean, book hotels on Priceline and TripAdvisor, lodge at Marriott and Hilton-branded hotels, drink coffee at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts and grab lunch at McDonalds and Chipotle. The list goes on.

As we do, are we also critically assessing these companies as potential investments; and are we attempting to spot smaller, under-the-radar companies and doing the same due diligence? Are we consistently looking for the outstanding growth companies of the future? Is this a habit, a mindset that we carry with us throughout each day? The wealthiest people I’ve met during my financial advisory career were generally from two classes: either successful business owners, or those who worked hard and excelled at their chosen careers. One commonality in both classes is they took educated risks and invested their savings into the greatest companies of the day, those busy enhancing the lives of millions. Generally, they chose leading companies in industries they were most familiar with, providing them an advantage over their peers. A generation ago, the growth names included Exxon Mobil, Proctor and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Costco, Disney, Coca Cola, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, Cisco, Adobe and others. Many are still alive and thriving. In the present day, you well know some of the great growth companies from the products and services you use regularly, either at home or work. They are changing your life for the better and in rare cases, revolutionizing it. It’s important to note that I’m not recommending the purchase of any of the companies mentioned herein, especially at this later stage of the economic cycle. I’m instead advocating a new method


of thinking and behaving: Consumer, entrepreneur and producer all wrapped into one. Also, I am most certainly warning you away from active trading. The most successful investor of our lifetime, Warren Buffett, at the dawn of 24hour trading is known to have asked, “24-hour trading? When are people going to have time to think?” One of Buffett’s main investment tenets is to, “think a lot and act a little.” He believes every investor should have a card that gets punched each time an investment decision is made, a card with only twenty total punches over a lifetime. “If we only had twenty,” he says, “we’d think long and hard about every investment beforehand.” We’d study the company carefully, the market cycle and other relevant data, and we’d move judiciously. We’d, “think a lot and act a little.” If we are unwilling or unable to put the time and effort into the analysis, Buffett believes, we should be an optimist, nonetheless and use a low-cost S&P Index fund as our chosen investment vehicle. I’ve always considered it smart to listen to and mirror extraordinarily successful people in all walks of life. HERE ARE THE TAKEAWAYS: 1) As you navigate your way through the day, think and act not only as a consumer but as an entrepreneur and producer as well. Stay aware and awake to the never-ending opportunities. 2) What stores, restaurants, services, leisure experiences, technology breakthroughs, etc., have been superb in your experience? Which ones have changed your life for the better, improved your health, helped your business efficiency, or provided you more time with your family? Are they public companies? Will they soon be? 3) Carry a journal with you. Take notes – review them – add to them – discard some. Save interesting articles and ideas in an investment file and review them periodically. Make it an active, daily practice. Create a target list of investments and cull it often. Read target company reports. If you need help understanding their financials, seek help. 4) Keep a store of cash available at all times, especially when the market has tripled in value in the past eight years (i.e. 2018). Remember the old Wall Street saw: “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” Be prepared, both financially and emotionally, to act when the market presents an irresistible opportunity, as it always will (i.e. 2009). In the meantime, think a lot, act a little, and methodically build your wealth. Until next time, stay well and prosperous.



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What I Know For Sure

About Purpose I READ Oprah’s book, What I Know For Sure last year, and I loved every bit of it. I was so inspired while reading this book and I felt like Oprah was speaking directly to me, she just makes you want to be better. After reading the book, I started thinking about what did I, Siobhan know for sure. It’s not an easy question to answer for yourself and it will require time to define what’s important to you. I’m sure as I get older what I know for sure will evolve, but for now this is what I know. I know that I’m on the right path to creating the life I want and it feels good to be able to type it and say it out loud. For as long as I can remember I didn’t know which path I should take. It took a lot of soul searching and prayer to figure out what my purpose was and then begin to walk in it.

What I know for sure...

I know that I love and believe in my husband and I want to see him succeed as I much as I want to succeed. I know that being an entrepreneur will not be easy but I made a decision to choose myself. I know for sure that I have a deep connection with God and I’m not afraid to say it. I know that I want to be healthy inside and out. I know that I am good enough. I know that with hard work, consistency and persistence that I WILL live the life I desire. I know that everything will not always go as planned and I will make mistakes along the way. I know that I am worth it.

It took me awhile to get clear on what I really wanted for my life and every day I’m learning more and more about myself. Sometimes I wish I would have known what I know now much sooner, but everything has it’s perfect I know for sure that I’m passionate about time. empowering women to be free to create the life they want and to unapologetically live life I was stuck for a long time trying to figure things out on my own. This is the very reason on their own terms. why I created the Get Unstuck Workbook, to I know that I am in control of my destiny and provide women with a guide to help them it all starts with my choices. begin to reflect on what they wanted for their life. I love the quote, “each one, teach one.” I know that I want to travel the world and When you learn and grow from something, have a sustainable business then it’s your responsibility to share it with that allows me to do that. the next person. I know that I’m doing the best I can as a mother with the tools that I have. I don’t have it all together by any means, but every day I try to be better than I was the day before.

Siobhan Sidberry Clarity Cultivator and Speaker, BeFree Project www.befreeproject.com hello@befreeproject.com


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